Sunday, August 7, 2016

Study Notes: June 26-August 6, 2016

What I've been watching and reading in this time: 
Also check out: 
  • DoubleBlinded, "a new service for self-discovery and crowdsourced clinical trials." 
Homework for the future:
  • Read the posts linked to by "Responses to the Anti-Reactionary FAQ.". Eventually. 
  • Still on the to-do list: studying the Austrian School of Economics.
  • Also on the to-do list: All of those themes that I decide I want to play with, and cool bits that attract me, and things like that? Let's get systematic about that, put them into a single document (might be public, might not) and work with at least one of them every week. Systematic. Systematic. I do it best when I do it systematically. 
  • Also, don't forget to flesh this section out a bit more with goals in general, and maybe include a section on which of those goals were accomplished since the last update.
  • Timothy Scriven, "Many humans in the actual world (myself included) think that it would not be a good outcome if humans were simply eternally strapped to a bliss machine. Maybe these demons--inverting our values--feel exactly the same. The pain that the sufferers would feel if achieved through chemical or whatever means would not be 'real' or authentic to them in the same way this is not authentic to us but in reverse. Maybe they would regard stories about places where everyone is in pain all the time, but it's just the result of stimulation, as dystopias in a similar but inverted way to the way we feel about brave new world dystopias. Better a not perfectly tortured Socrates than a perfectly tortured pig, they might say. [...] In other words, maybe they're not inverse utilitarians, but a more sophisticated form of reverse consequentialist--heck maybe they're some kind of reverse deontologist (perhaps they agonise in their ethics classes about whether or not it is permissable to let one go even if it will damn 20.)"
  • Anders Sandberg, "If Hell is a sadomasochistic attractor state, then Thamiel does not need to keep demons in line. Everybdy is converging to make things as bad as possible." 
  • Anders Sandberg, "Golachab seems to be doing something more sophisticated than merely causing pphysical or mental agony: it tries to pervert values in a meaningful way. Presumably there is much rejoicing in hell when a minor sinner of their own free will decides to do something really bad. Evil bioethics is all about setting up the right 'biological' conditions for this to happen in a morally acceptable or efficient way." 
  • Two McMillion, ""I like that Hell is horrifying. It should be horrifying. You should never think of Hell and think lightly of it. Everything about the idea of Hell should shock and horrify and sicken you. And the fascinating thing is that the reaction of many readers to this chapter will be exactly what Thamiel said. You'll be sickened. Maybe frightened. Maybe pushed closer to existential worry. But after a while it's going to fade, and you're going to live exactly like you did before, and that is either the most comforting or the most horrifying thing in the world." 
  • LPSP, "There could be several gods embodying different combinations of these principles, trying to work together to make a functioning universe but failing in places." 
  • Walter, "God/Admin running the sim/whatever, isn't maximizing our welfare. There is presumably a purpose to the universe, but it can't be derived from within it. Look at  the fictional universes we've created and imagine their inhabitants trying to contextualize our reasons for their creation? Explain to a tetris block why he must fall, and you can only communicate with notions that exist in his context. You get something like '[Tetris] [Pause] [No-Match][Unpause] [Matches] [Score][Tetris][Increase]'. Something of 'it amuses our young to kill endless legions of you in order to demonstrate how high they can r[a]ise the score' is lost in translation." 
  • Two McMillion, "If the thing that prevented you from doing wrong was anything other than your own beliefs about right and wrong--if you did not steal because a police officer was nearby, or did not kill because you were afraid of prison--then you have not succeeded in becoming a good person." 
  • Two McMillion, "Calvinists believe in free will. However, Calvinists deny the existence of contra-causal free will. If you’ve read the LW sequence on free will, it’s actually very close to the Calvinist idea. According to Calvinists, people follow their own desires, and fallen people have no desire to follow God. They have desires for many other things, and they have free will in how they dispose of those desires. But they’re not going to choose to follow God because they don’t ultimately have any desire to do that. They may have desires for socialization or warm and fuzzy feelings or the like that draw them towards visible religion, but their desires will be for the benefits of religious activity, not for God and his law. God therefore shares no moral responsibility for the wrong that humans do; they are following their desires with their free will.
    • Two McMillion, "Keep in mind also that much moral progress is invisible. It is possible for two people to do the same thing, and for one to sin in doing it and the other not to do it. Thus it is not always possible to look at someone and judge their goodness or badness with perfect accuracy (of course, looking isn’t completely inaccurate, either)."
    • Two McMillion, "Adam’s sin is imparted to all of his descendants (ie, all people everywhere). God could have made each person responsible for their own sin, as with the angels. However, allowing Adam’s sin to be imparted to other people also allows Christ’s sacrifice to be imparted to other people. It’s the exact same process in both cases, except that in one goodness is being imparted and in the other case evil is being imparted. (This is one reason why fallen angels cannot be saved.)"
    • Two McMillion, "American slavery was a great evil, but that evil would not have been improved by freeing only half the slaves. Zoom in the evils of American slavery and you will find that they are just as present in the lives of each individual slave as they are in slavery as whole. The part contains the whole; evil is an onion turned inside out."
    • Two McMillion, "You ask why God would create people when he knows some of them are going to be damned. Well, why should he not? Should an author not write a book because he knows that some of the characters are villains, doomed to be defeated? The creator is not accountable to his creation. God is under no obligation to save anyone."
    • Two McMillion, "Ultimately, the proper question is not, 'Why does God damn people?'--he does that because they do wrong- but 'Why does God save people?'- which he does for no reason other than that he chooses to."
  • Two McMillion, "It’s also worth pointing out that Lewis’ view of Hell, like his view on much else, underwent an evolution during his lifetime. His most commonly quoted passed that are seen as “watering down” Hell come from The Problem of Pain, which was written relatively early in his career. A Grief Observed, which was quoted above, was written years later, and it’s clear by then he had started to see Hell as more awful than he had previous thought.
  • Two McMillion, "Many early interpreters, who were closer to the cultural context of the parable, saw the Rich Man’s request that Lazarus be sent to give him water and tell his brothers about Hell as incredibly insulting and demeaning towards Lazarus, an invocation of what we might call 'privilege' today. I agree there’s some wiggle room there, but I incline towards the view that the Rich Man in the story is sorry he got caught, not that he did wrong."
  • Nornagest, "I’ll give it an eight, but maybe I’ve read more depictions of eternal torment than average. (It’s a weird little genre, but I don’t think it’s wrong to call it a genre.)"
  • Good Burning Plastic, "Sounds like Eliezer’s Fun Theory is useful for writing dystopias as well."
  • Viliam, "A similar description — much longer, but without some of the psychological parts — of Hell is used in Jiří Kulhánek‘s Expecting Eternity."
  • A., "I guess I’ll keep hoping for the kind of ending Tolkien talks about in 'On Fairy-Stories'-–for a eucatastraphe, for an impossible happy ending after all hope is lost. Think what you like about Tolkien or Christianity, but this kind of ending does seem to make stories either last or at least get stuck in your head. I don’t know how easy it is to do this successfully, but we do know that quite a few storytellers managed."
  • Neike Taika-Tessaro, "For what it’s worth, even though I personally didn’t need it (though I did brace for it since I couldn’t be sure, but that didn’t harm the enjoyment), I am very glad you put the content warning there for other people. I would think your readership is used to a lot of light-heartedness so far and suspect a lot of people might have otherwise been caught off guard. So, on the assumption that the number of people helped is non-zero: Thank you very much for putting it there, on behalf of everyone who was helped. :)"
  • Kinetic_Hugh_Reeve, "Hell is at the center (ie bottom) of the Earth, like in Dante. (Earth also being at the bottom, where the lower-grade universe components settle.) So the depths of Hell are the farthest place in the material world from the source of everything. In Dante, from the light and motion that originate from God and enter the universe at the highest sphere. Here, the divine light from Ein Sof streaming down through whichever sephirot are still intact. Either way, all that stuff of existence has to travel farthest, and through the most intermediaries, to reach hell. So when Uriel let loose his crawler script to refactor the universe, it took a very long time to fully take effect. There were some remnants of the old order until the Middle Ages. It’s possible that the mundaning of the world hit hell, and maybe the deepest reaches never fully changed. Metaphorical souls metaphorically sank to the metaphorical depths, until they sank far enough to become literal. Thamiel and the demons would have kept retreating, evacuating operations into still functioning zones, their long retreat ironically ending after a poorly-located Bible reading. Then they went back on the attack."
  • Stone Soup Scientist, "I haven’t had a nightmare in about a year, and Scott has gone and screwed up that streak. For me, the worst part about the dream was just the knowledge of it – I wasn’t in hell, but I knew it was coming. I don’t think I’ve ever felt despair like that. So… good job, Scott?"
  • Chrysophylax, "There’s also the point that many awful people were not sociopaths: Hitler, for example. Many of them were the heroes of their own stories, nihilists and so on. I imagine that having literal demons tell you that you are the third worst person ever and constantly praising you for how evil you were, when you thought you were the good guy, is pretty unpleasant. Add in a constant terror of losing your privileges if you don’t seem pleased about all the evil you now regret, and having to keep oppressing the victims who hate you most, and I think it adds up to pretty effective psychological torture."
  • barquentinian, "it's pretty clear that the unfortunate Mr. Santoni has accepted one of those 'deals' whereby the demons say they’ll torture him less if he helps them torture other people more, but during the whole process of filming they’re reminding him that he has no reason to trust them and no recourse if they go back on their word. I predict that it will turn out that, as part of that deal, the young woman being painted blue is going to receive a kind of torture that has already been inflicted on Santoni, taking his place during his respite. The kicker is that he knows her from his life on Earth, cares about her in some way, and is now responsible for what’s going to happen to her."
  • MugaSofer, "To be honest, I found this a lot more convincing than Surface Detail, which was merely tacky. 'And every step you take on this road, know that it’s actually made of the powdered bones of children, and they feel every step as terrible pain! Because they’re still connected to the bones! And it’s held together with, uh, blood, which also feels pain, because we enhanced it! Woo!'"
    • MugaSofer, "And then, Grey Boy used his power, and the PRT agent experienced ten to the fourteen dolors."
  • Aegeus, "Basically, I think 'God is not omnibenevolent' is the easiest answer to theodicy in Unsong. Or perhaps 'God’s definitions of good and evil are incomprehensible to humans,' which is functionally the same. (It’s also a very appropriately Jewish answer to theodicy. The Torah has several occasions where humans argue with God over his decisions, and win the argument. Clearly, the writers of the Old Testament didn’t think much of the divine plan."
  • The Coment King, "it’s not that the concept of grace doesn’t exist – it’s just gone awry for some reason."
"What happens with murder in an anarcho-capitalist, voluntary society?"
  • RPrevolution: "The victim's family sues him. He can either agree to show up in court or refuse, but either way there will be a trial (in absentia if he refuses). He's found guilty and he can pay blood money or be killed." 
  • [deleted]: "execution is murder. it is not justice. it's vengeance. [...] dude simply gets economically black listed for failing to appear at a court hearing. he then must leave to a place where he is unknown or appear in court."
  • [deleted]: "Google Glass or even a smart phone could provide augmented reality and facial recognition of almost any given human. You could flag those with bad records by showing a little red triangle over their heads or something." 
"Police, Courts, and Laws"
  • "The arbitrator has no police force. His function is to render decisions, not to enforce them. Currently, arbitrated decisions are usually enforceable in the government courts, but that is a recent development; historically, enforcement came from a firm's desire to maintain its reputation. After refusing to accept an arbitrator's judgment, it is hard to persuade anyone else to sign a contract that specifies arbitration; no one wants to play a game of 'heads you win, tails I lose.'"
  • In the absence of government, agencies that protect against theft or coercion may also offer protection against loss as a matter of course. 
  • "They might limit themselves to passive defenses, installing elaborate locks and alarms. Or they might take no preventative action at all, but make great efforts to hunt down criminals guilty of crimes against their clients." 
  • If something is stolen from me, then my protection agency will investigate the crime. Having determined that it was stolen by a given person, it will issue a bill to that person to cover the theft and the agency's activities. The criminal may appeal to his own protection agency, and then the two will refer to an arbitrator. 
  • "In our society the law under which you are judged depends on the country, state, and even city in which you happen to be. Under the arrangements I am describing, it depends instead on your protective agency and the agency of the person you accuse of a crime or who accuses you of a crime. In such a society law is produced on the market." 
  • Different protection agencies will subscribe to different courts or legal systems. Where protection agencies conflict in their legal systems, they will find some way to arbitrate (e.g. the pro-capital punishment protection agency may agree to forswear capital punishment in exchange for not paying court costs). 
  • Courts do not just govern over law but "discover" law; "the market will generate research intended to discover correct laws." 

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