Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Moderation (Kamran): Arrested in Addiction

(1) Most anyone in the world would, if asked, categorize an addiction to anything as "bad." The person would not even have to be literate or educated to make this categorization.

(2) But how many of these persons could give a coherent answer as to WHAT makes an addiction bad? Some would, no doubt, give the example of gambling or drugs and answer that addictions can kill you, financially and even, yes, literally.

(3) But the world is today populated with billions of people that are addicted to things that are not drugs nor gambling. Their addictions are neither financially ruinous nor lethal. So what- precisely- is so bad about these types of addictions? Aren't they harmless and not worth taking seriously?

(4) The bad of ANY addiction- including the most serious addictions- is that they ARREST the full and free and complex development of human personality. Who has the greatest chance of reaching the fullest human perfection? The person with zero addictions or someone with only the most harmless trivial addictions (these must ACTUALLY be trivial objectively considered, and not just by the subjective evaluation of the person him or herself). Most people are loathe to consider themselves addicted to anything when in fact they are simulatenously POWERFULLY addicted to many different things which are by no means trivial or harmless.

(5) Addictions ARREST and keep persons riveted to the object of their addiction. Opportunities for self-betterment and self-development in other areas are routinely ignored, rejected, or not even evaluated because the addiction is keeping one fixed in place, immobile.

Often, what appear to be activites in totally unrelated areas are often simply pursued in furtherance of the addiction. Men's addiction to sex and particularly sex with "beautiful women" are prime examples of this phenomenon. Men pursue all sorts of activities in order to boost their "chances" in the domain of their addiction.

(6) Corporations worldwide understand that the best consumers are addicted consumers. They have and will do whatever they can to keep and increase the number of addicts worldwide. Similarly, one's social circle of friends is increasingly likely to consist of people that are addicted to the same things you are addicted to. Given these realities, the only way out of addiction is for someone to TRULY value above all else the full and free and complex development of his multi-dimensional personality. This must be one's deepest commitment. It is only from the strength of this commitment can one sail beyond the land of addictions.

Moderation (Kamran ): A NEW Plutonic path to greatness.

(1) Division of labor and excessive niche specialization has made much of the globe very very good at doing/knowing very very few things. Our ancestors may have speculated that as life got longer, people would be blessed with the time to master more things of value. This has not happened.

(2) Regardless of the causes, ONE-DIMENSIONALITY is the reality for most people today. The rice farmer in China is in this way no different than the Manhattan banker who is in turn no different than Beverly Hills' best personal trainer. ALL are very good at doing very few things. Each may convince him/herself that their "area" is vastly more important than all other areas; these are fictions, not realities, created for narcissistic sustenance. Through their specialization- different though it may be- each of these persons may reach perfection in their crafts. This will bring them some form of achievement, success, and pride for hard work over decades. They are entitled to these feelings because of their achievements, limited though these achievements may be to one small "slice" of reality.

(3) Emerging for the first time is another path to greatness and rightful pride, self-esteem, and self-congratulation. This path is not one that follows the road of niche specialization; in fact, it explicitly rejects this road for something different. This path is one of reaching sub-elite though still impressive mastery in as MANY domains as one realistically can over 7 to 8 decades of life. Let us name PLUTO as a person interested in this notion of greatness and discuss in more detail Pluto's varied achievements.

(4) The important concepts here are "sub-elite" "impressive" "many" and "realistically." Each qualification is vital to understanding this notion of Plutonic greatness. The achievements of PLUTO are likely to be sub-elite simply because he has not devoted his entire life to any of these areas. Today, almost any elite achievement in any realm is made by someone that has devoted their entire life to the realm.

However, Pluto's achievements in any realm must still be impressive. They must be of a nature that the vast majority of persons to ever step into this realm never reach. Think a half-marathon time of 1:30 or less; a bench press of 250 or more; a book publication by a respectable publisher.

Pluto's achievements must also be many and varied. If they are not, he is just another person doing niche specialization. It is hard to put a number on how many realms Pluto's achievements may span; but, at minimum, it will be more than 15. Realistically, Pluto can expect to achieve this as he would have some 3-4 so years to master 15 realms over the course of a 55 year adult life (ages 0-20 are for most a washout with puberty, schooling, and lack of freedom preventing any serious achievements in any area).

(5) Moderation is critical to Pluto's quest for this type of greatness. It needs to be practiced constantly. Pluto must continually exit realms where he has already achieved sub-elite mastery; he cannot become addicted or enthralled with any realm which itself requires a large serving of the virtue of moderation.

Humor (Kamran K): Toward a Renaming of America!

(1) The United States is not at all united. For some time, one could perhaps claim that the love of money united everyone in the US. But that, too, is changing and a large minority of the population is giving up the pursuit of riches on ethical, spiritual, and even practical grounds (recognizing how futile chasing the American Dream has become).

(2) Now, therefore, we propose the following names for the US, names which reflect the reality of this land we so cherish and love:
  • Sugar Heaven
  • The IWant2TalkAboutMe Republic
  • The United Smiles of America
  • DogsRUS
  • The Republic of Incoherence
  • The Indebeted States of America
  • The United Cell Phone Addicts of America
  • America, Inc.
  • Alcoholus Americanus Republica
  • The Land of Chubby People

Courage (Kamran K): Categories of Choice

(1) There are four categories of human choices: easy, intermediate, complex, nearly impossible.

(2) Analogy can be made to choices handicappers make in horse races. Four categories:
  • Easy. One obvious stand-out choice that towers over the field on all the relevant metrics (class, speed, pace, pedigree, jockey/trainer). Further, this horse is in race containing a small field of 4 to 5 other horses. The horse is not attempting to do something new (first time turf or first time stakes). These horse have odds somewhere around 3/5 and below. They are regarded by the public as "sure things" and win a very large percentage of the time. If these horses do lose, it is usually the result of some freak occurrence that could never have been forseen (injury, interference). The handicapping of these races is very easy for most bettors.
  • Intermediate: One or two rational compelling choices that are not stand-out can be identified in the field. While these horses have clear virtues that make them deserving favorites compared to the remaining horses in the field, they also have some obvious "warning signs" that would make some bettors wary of betting on them, particularly at fairly low odds. These warning signs could be a long lay-off, a poor last start, never raced at this level, track, or surface, extremely cold jockey or trainer. The identification of these not always "obvious" warning signs makes these races somewhat challenging for most bettors. Favorite horses in these races have odds somewhere between 4/5 and 2/1 in fields ranging from 7 to 9. These horses lose about 70% of the time.
  • Complex: The favorites in this race are NEARLY indistiguishable from 3 or 4 other horses in the same race. Meaning, though there are rational and compelling reasons to favor these horses over the others, these reasons are based on slight edges on a few of the handicapping factors. These horses have odds somewhere between 2/1 and 4/1 in fields with about 10 to 12 horses. They lose as a matter of common course. Bettors who crack these types of races are very well rewarded.
  • Nearly impossible: The race is a free-for-all. No compelling rational reasons exist to favor any of the horses over any of the other horses. If a favorite does emerge, it is only because the public has randomly chosen one or two metrics and ranked the horses according to these limited criteria. The field of horses is also HUGE, with 15 to 20 horses lining up at the start. These horses lose almost all of the time; although they are favored, it is notable when they actually do win. Bettors who crack these types of races are usually rewarded with huge payouts.
(3) The choices humans face within reality fall within the same categories. A slew of examples will develop our point here. (a) Should one regularly drink plain water or soda/fruit juice for one's hydration needs? (Answer: water; category of choice: easy). (b) Should one pursue formal education in university/grad school or immediately join the work force upon completing high school? (Answer: usually college/grad school provided one has the temperament to study hard and is in a field with solid long-term prospects; category of choice: intermediate). (c) Whom should I select as my closest friends or romantic partners? (Answer: those persons that have demonstrated their integrity, loyalty, humor, and kindness to you over decades of life; category of choice: complex) (d) Nearly impossible: what are the human virtues that are most valuable and most worth cultivating and how does one actually cultivate these virtues and grow in their practice over time? (Answer: would take many thousand page volumes to even BEGIN to answer; category of choice: nearly impossible) (e) what speed should I drive on highways and local roads? (Answer: around the speed limit; category of choice: easy)

(4) The analogy to horse racing yields one sobering conclusion. In that world, bettors receive immediate feedback as to whether they choose correctly or not in any of the categories of races. There is no mystery here; usually, the horse either cruises to the win or struggles badly and runs up the track. 

Human reality offers no such indisputable immediate feedback. One's choices are made and then the results of those choices take years, often decades to "take fruit." Even then, one can declare to one's self that one has made nearly no mistakes, has aced all the choices. No "hard" reality will refute such illusory tricks.

Human courage in those who possess it resists this trick and insists BOTH on honest grading of one's choices and the tenacity to keep pursuing  the correct choices in the complex and nearly impossible categories as well as corrections in the easy and intermediate categories.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Politics (Kamran K): POWER to the People...Finally.

(1) By way of various trial and error experiments, man has currently reached the political paradigm of representative democracy. Periodic elections are held in which the people vote for representatives who will (hopefully) effectuate directly their wishes in terms of political preferences and represent competently their interests in the selection of political means.

(2) Human history has dramatically shown this "solution" to be a rather woeful one. All across the globe, societies have failed to reach lasting solutions to political problems, great and small. The will of the people is but rarely exercised, with money, political partisanship, individual narcissistic egos, and lack of intelligence and creativity being recurring problems plauging the political arena.

(3) Our commitment to the open system and its embrace of trial-and-error methodology bids us to propose trial and error experiments that could improve politics and eventually bring about political progression, a politics which gets better and better as time marches on.

(4) For this to happen, one must first understand the necessary ingredients of a flourishing political space. These include:

  • Access to the most accurate and relevant information/data bearing on the issues.
  • The creativity and intelligence to  devise superior political solutions.
  • Mechanisms to determine the will of the people with regard to these solutions.
(5) By way of the Internet, it may soon be possible to implement a direct democracy model containing each of the elements of a flourishing political space. Every quarter, the acting government will publish on a website the top 5 political issues of the upcoming quarter. With respect to each issue, the Democratic and Republican position on the issue will be explained in a one to two page summary document containing links to underlying information and other background material. 

For example, with respect to "gun control", the Democratic position on the issue would probably be that fewer people should own guns because such societies are safer, it should be harder to obtain a gun for the vast majority of the population, people that own guns currently should turn them in for a cash bonus or tax write-off, and so on. The various studies and data on this issue should be either include in the one to two page document or linked to it for anyone to evaluate as they see fit. 

The people will have two weeks to review the various positions and vote on EACH one as they wish. No one would be limited by party affiliation to always vote the Democratic position on the issue or vice-versa.

(6) The benefits of such a system are multiple. The people will continually feel empowered as they would indeed directly resolve the most important political issues of the day. The representatives of the people would be just that, representatives of the people's will and ONLY responsible for determining the best political means to political preferences already expressed by the people. 

Politics (Kamran K): US Electoral College solution

(1) While the electoral college is a good solution to the problem of simple mega-dense city and state urban majorities winning every single time, the system can be manipulated such that one can win the electoral college while losing the popular vote and losing all the mega-dense city and states. All one needs to do is promise huge economic and other benefits to small states, suburbs, and farm communities and piece together a winning coalition with as little as 40% of the popular vote.

(2) Obviously this solution is deeply undemocratic and easily manipulable by clever politicians.

(3) Because a strict popular vote would reintroduce the problem the Framers sought to avoid (power forever concentrated in the mega-dense cities and states), a hybrid solution should prove the most compelling solution to the nation's electoral tensions. The hybrid solution recognizes some value to winning the US popular vote without making that value overwhelming in determining the Electoral College winner.

(4) The hybrid solution is such:

  • 310 votes is needed to win Electoral College.
  • 40 votes is awarded to the candidate who wins the US  popular vote.
  • The states' various Electoral College votes remains in tact and subject to periodic revision based upon population changes etc.
(5) Importantly, the electoral college boost is only about 7% of the present total Electoral College votes available. If the boost were any larger, it would effectively render the Electoral College moot with a candidate able to win the 5 or so largest states, gather the popular vote winner bonus, and then win the US presidency despite losing some 40+ US states. It would be absurd to call such a person the chosen president of the US.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Moderation (Kamran K): Checking all the Boxes

(1) Because the Internet is accessible everywhere- and because so many people are using it for so many hours of the day- one could perhaps say it no longer matters where one lives. What difference does it make where one lives if one spends most of one's life on a computer staring at a screen engrossed in some activity or another on the World Wide Web?

(2) This view has superficial appeal but will ultimately be rejected for the many reasons set forth below. Despite all the dizzying changes this century has brought, man is still a social animal with social needs that are best met FACE TO FACE. It still does matter where one lives because one cannot and should not spend most of one's life "online." The human experience is trivialized and infantilized online, causing all who overindulge to miss out on large swathes of the human experience.

(3) Cities can be evaluated for livability based on the following primary criteria:

  • Density of decent fellow men and women (TIED FOR MOST IMPORTANT CRITERIA). Decent men and women are open-minded, inquisitive, generally friendly, somewhat intelligent, co-operative, and civic-minded. 
  • Overall attractiveness of the physical environment and climate (TIED FOR MOST IMPORTANT CRITERIA).
  • Access to cultural activities and attractions of varying types
  • Cost of living
  • Ease of living
  • Quality health care and food preparation standards
(4) Using this metric, one can see many blockbuster cities immediately fail several of the criteria. Overpopulation of the world's largest cities (NYC, London, Mexico City, Tokyo, SF) have made EACH of them extremely unattractive on the cost of living and ease of living metric. So, too, these cities have a large density of persons gathered in a small area but many of these persons have lost their fundamental decency, cheerfulness, and humanity because of the competitive struggle and many burdens they face to survive in these places.

(5) On the other side of the spectrum, many hundreds of suburban cities worldwide offer extremely low cost of living coupled with total ease of living. There is no traffic in many of these cities and housing and the other necessities of life cost a small fraction of what it would in mega-cities. These benefits come with costs; these smaller cities are SMALL and this means there are very few of one's fellow men there and hardly any nighttime places where people congregate to talk and entertain themselves. Cultural activities and attractions of quality are very few and far between. The nearest hospital may be several hundred miles away. The physical environment is often stunningly beautiful but also dangerous because it has not yet been totally "tamed" by man.

(6) Given all of this, the perfect city may be the most moderate one, blessed with some strength in each of the 6 criteria. This city will probably be a somewhat remote (about 60-90 miles) suburb of a large city, far enough away that the traffic, congestion, and expense of the mega-city has largely died out upon reaching its borders. It will have respectable medical facilities of its own as well as access to those of the mega-city. As a moderately sized city close to a mega-city, it will have enough population to support a downtown area where people can congregate and converse most nights of the week. 

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Justice: (Kamran K): Animalistic versus Humane Natural Selection

(1) Darwin's doctrine of natural selection is one of competition. Simply summarized, species compete with all their animalistic might for scarce resources. Between species, and even among members of the same species, those that have the necessary traits to compete most effectively WIN and pass on their genes more numerously than those who lack these traits, who LOSE, and who are ignored and bypassed in the sexual selection phase.

(2) This process is ANIMALISTIC and AMORAL. It is animalistic, meaning human morality has not yet entered the picture.  For something to be animalistic it simply means that something has happened through sheer force or willpower. It wasn't right or ideal but it did in fact happen. Rape is animalistic. An animalistic result MAY also be just, humane, moral, etc. or it may fail all of these tests as in the case of rape. All depends on the individual circumstances.

(3) In the human realm, natural selection is proceeding in all areas of human life but most primarily in the following SIX arenas: access to well-paying jobs, access to quality education, access to attractive mates, ownership of a desirable home in a desirable location, access to quality health care, and access to leadership positions within the society. Natural selection is now proceeding within humanity in an ANIMALISTIC fashion divorced of moral considerations including the demands of justice.

(4) In each of these SIX areas, competition has exploded and accelerated so tremendously that infants born today will find themselves in a few decades in a virtual CIVIL WAR to access these social goods. The bar is continually being set higher for these goods because of competition, so high that most kids born today won't be able to meet these demanding standards EVEN IF THEY TRIED. Some may be able to meet these standards but will have to work so hard to do so that they will become incredibly one-dimensional stunted human persons. Their personalities will be CONSUMED by the competitive and constant struggle to gather the basic necessities of life. 

(5) The evidence for these assertions is available, in plain view, for all to see at any time. Admission rates to all top US colleges and post-grad/professional schools have been in a steady decline for decades. Even if one is an academic super-star one could get rejected from many schools. In cities like SF, NYC, Boston, LA, etc. only a couple BOTH of whom have high-paying jobs (more than $125k annually) can comfortably afford a decent home. Even such a couple can no longer afford a home in the best parts of town. Attractive men in their late 20s to early 40s struggle to get a single date a month, let alone enter a relationship with an attractive mate. The evidence that humanity has entered an animalistic amoral natural selection process is simply irrefutable at this point.

(6) As a critical aside, persons considering having children should SERIOUSLY consider whether they wish to birth a child into this environment. Why bring a human being into a world where he/she will literally have to spend most of his adult life in fierce competitive struggle to gather the basic necessities of a decent civilized life, comforted/diverted only by the occasional social media "like" or occasional binge-drink "night out" or TV show/favorite song.

(7) The alternative to animalist amoral human natural selection is conceivable at least on the level of abstract pure form. This abstraction could be titled many things, but the key point to be made is this natural selection process has had its animalistic tendencies blunted as much as possible and humanity and justice INTERJECTED to the maximal extent.

In this natural selection scheme, the society as a whole would strive to make the competition for the basic necessities of life relatively SANE and moderate. By no means would lazyness be encouraged by guaranteeing to everyone all of the fine things of life. Rather, one would be assured a more or less decent home, decent health care plan, decent education, realistic opportunity of finding mates, and a well-paying job so long as one woke up each and every day and worked for the society in some productive fashion for at least 4-6 hours a day. There would be a social contract between every person and his or her society that this is all that was required for one to secure and maintain the basic necessities of life at a decent level.

(8) Those societies that choose not to correct the present animalistic tendency of human natural selection will pay a tremendous price for their neglect and decision to leave things "as is." Quite predictably, they will see large and entire swaths of the population "give up" civilized living and turn to crime, violence, fraud, drugs and other addictions in order to survive. The civilized society that still exists will continually be attacked by these persons to an extent never seen before. The problems that are seen in many metro cities today of crime and drugs and violence and fraud will multiply perhaps 100 times what they are today, as HUGE segments of the population will gather together to secure whatever they can "get their hands on." They will regard this activity of theirs as their only choice, their only way of surviving. They will, over time, come to see the odds SO stacked against them, the competition so fierce and brutal, that they will see "no other way out."

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Moderation (Kamran K ) : Resisting the HYPERinteresting Arms Race

(1) For reasons that would take many treatises to fully explain, the active practice of moderation as a virtue has been largely forgotten by peoples worldwide. When this happens- and indeed whenever it happens- two things quickly ensue: (a) the people become more and more addicted to whatever happens to trigger dopamine pathways in their brain (while this varies somewhat among persons, there are usually a few common activities involved) and (b) the people become absorbed in various ARMS races of various sorts that know no signs of ending and in which the competitive struggle to win the ARMS race has become detached and separated from actual benefit to human persons engaged in the arms race.

(2) Beginning as early as Rousseau's time, the intellectual elite began to conceptually trash the "common man" who- despite his relentless and difficult toil in factories- was often referred to as the "petty bourgeoisie." The common man who simply worked a factory life and then came home and ate simple meat and potatoes with his family and kids was increasingly imagined as "boring" and "not interesting."

This was itself the outgrowth of a NOVEL tendency on the part of humans to view themselves as INDIVIDUALS and to judge each other as INDIVIDUALS. For many many generations, humans did not so view themselves. They were members of tribes clans churches or other communities and had no individual identity separate from these things. It did not even occur to anyone to regard anyone as an INDIVIDUAL, let alone judge them as boring or "not interesting" because they for example did few things other than work on the farm, have kids, eat basic food, and then shit and piss somewhere and restart this cycle of living again the next day. Ad infinitum.

(3) Life in this country proceeded in the same community-first way for many decades. It was not terribly important to one's reputation in the community whether one had an interesting set of hobbies, went to interesting restaurants or bars, traveled to "exotic" locations across the globes, had interesting sexual tastes or kinks, wore unusual dress with a motley crew of colors and designs, or even had unusual philosophical and ethical beliefs including whether one was vegan, polyamorous, a feminist or enviromentalist, and so on and so forth.

None of all this seemed to matter to people in most US communities in the 50s-90s. Why? What did matter then? Generally, what seemed to matter then was an overall evaluation of one's character and personality as either productive or unproductive to one's family and overall society. If one was generally productive, then this ensured one's generally high reputation in the community; if one was not productive, this generally ensured one's low reputation in the community. All of the other details as to one's personality, behaviors, and viewpoints were viewed as MINOR TRIFFLES and vastly insignificant compared to this first ultimate assessment.

(4) The situation is very different now, particularly among the younger (under 40) segment of the population. What has happened is an absolute REVOLUTION in how people are valued, made popular, achieve status and increase ranking in competitive struggles for money, sex, honor, and all the rest. And as with most modern competition, what started as a competition between a few has become an arms race for all (or nearly so).

(5)  The blog author has been aware of this development for quite some time. His review of thousands of dating profiles confirmed that the young of today DESPERATELY wish to project a digital image of their lives and their own personality as HYPER-interesting. When one starts to look for it, one sees this trend nearly everywhere, at all times. The unspoken unwritten mandate is this: thou must project thy life to others as HYPERinteresting, constantly changing and fluid, not "bound" to any traditional viewpoints or "dogmas," containing a very wide array of RANDOM interests and likes, which all constantly are changing. Randomness in particular is celebrated because- at the very least- randomness is different.

For many, perhaps most of today's youth, the desire to be perceived as living a hyperinteresting life TRUMPS all other social wants. Meaning one wishes to be perceived as a hyperinteresting individual MORE STRONGLY than one wishes to be perceived as a fair and decent person, as competent in one's work, or as a good friend or family member.

(6) A digression is warranted here. Today's youth caught up in the hyperinteresting arms race should have read their Nietzsche. Carefully. They didn't and have become non-interesting in their pursuit of hyper-interesting for reasons that Nietzsche knew full well.

Simply, if one is to have a UNIQUE certain style and taste, then it should be actually unique. Meaning it has not been copied from others and is not EASILY copyable by others, either now or later. So thusly if one is to be unique by virtue of owning a dog, it should be a dog that no one else actually has and can not easily obtain. One's relationship with that dog should then also be unique and not of a nature that one sees everywhere. If these are not so, then one should recognize that one will not be HYPERinteresting to others by virtue of one's dog; one must locate one's hyperinterestingness in something else.

The youth of today- with but VERY rare exception- all seem to center their claim to being HYPERinteresting in the VERY SAME set of behaviors and values. These include: (1) a complete and full embrace of political liberalism, with everyone liberated to do and say whatever they want whenever they want to, (2) a complete and full rejection of corporate life and the serious pursuit of money or a career, (3) a fondness for travel to very exotic locations, (4) a fondness for fashion of unusual colors and styles, (5) a complete and full embrace of pet ownership as a valuable "life-changing activity," (6) an embrace of "healthy" eating (which is actually not healthy at all given the fondness for alcohol) and regular exercise); with respect to the eating, a rejection of "bland" or other "junk" foods, and with respect to the drinking, again a rejection of "bland" boring beers and spirits, (7) a passion for "trying new things" such as skydiving, (8) a rejection of traditional marriage and traditional duty/responsibility-centered relationships, (9) a rejection of traditional media and popular shows and an embrace of niche-centered programming, typically found on YouTube, (10) an embrace of selfies and filtered photographs of RANDOM locations, and (11) a penchant for involvement in various social justice movements which seek to establish new rights for peoples and even animals. This list is not exhaustive.

In addition to the same basic things being used by millions of youth as the foundation of their claim for being hyperinteresting, the hyperinteresting project of many fails because it is too bound up in negativity. Being against various things is- in the long run- not a great method of becoming interesting.

(7) One could interject at this point and ask what is the vice in any of this? What is the harm in any of this behavior? As with all other arms races, the initial participation in the competitive struggle brings benefits. The negatives only begin when one can't get out of the cycle and FEELS PRESSURED to continue COMPETING MERELY for the sake of WINNING some prize that doesn't even exist.

So, for example, there is nothing wrong- and indeed much to be celebrated- in the development of a unique human personality that has- over time- developed a whole host of unique behaviors and values OF MERIT AND SUBSTANCE. The merit and substance requirement is critical and prevents one from becoming TRULY interesting by virtue of a fondness for MERE randomness. One could develop a robot that woke up everyday and RANDOMLY displayed an interest for this or that, said random things that betrayed random emotions, etc. This would ultimately become annoying rather than interesting.

(8) Our reflections on the modern hyperinteresting man will continue shortly.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Humility (Kamran K): In the Zone between 0 and Perfect Knowledge.

(1) Socrates boasted that he was the smartest and best man alive because he alone truly and fully knew how ignorant he was of the things most worth knowing. Is this type of humility desirable or possible today? What would be a more honest assessment of the state of human knowledge as we find it today, both in individual human persons and in humanity as a whole.

(2) It could hardly be challenged that humanity has IN FACT learned millions, billions, and trillions of things since Socrates lived. In a digital form, the world wide web is a testatment to all of the facts and information- as well as reasoning and ethical values- humanity has learned over the eons. So, too, the millions of books found in thousands of libraries worldwide each provide evidence of ample knowledge humanity has amassed in the past 2000 years.

(3) Having said that, in almost any area of human knowledge it could also be maintained that quite literally nothing is known absolutely perfectly. Perfect knowledge as to any fact or information is a truly high bar. To have perfect knowledge of anything (say the perfect diet for human health and fitness) means that one is already in full and complete possession of all information and facts relevant to the issue. But even more is needed. One would also need to demonstrate a mastery of all potential objections to the validity of any area of one's claimed knowledge. And finally one would also have to show the continued accuracy of all of the facts and information one claims to know perfectly, requiring some sort of annual updating of one's facts and information.

(4) With respect to (seemingly) ANY area of human knowledge one considers, perfect knowledge still eludes humanity and, by extension, individual human persons. Humanity and individual persons surely do know many things, even one could say a "shit load" of things; but none of these things is known perfectly.

Anyone interested in approaching perfect knowledge on any issue will routinely engage in the following behaviors: (1) browsing for new studies and information relevant to the issue; (2) interacting with leaders in the field; (3) carefully isolating what in fact is known and what is not; and (4) creating and conducting trial-and-error experiments to illuminate grey areas.

(5) Many persons do of course act (or pretend) as though they have perfect knowledge. The requirements of public life- particularly the requirements of politics, the media, business affairs, and even dating- often demand that persons act as though they have perfect knowledge on some issue when their knowledge is usually imperfect but still "good enough" for most purposes most of the time. But when challenged in some crisis or in circumstances that are challenging and non-repetitive, one sees that their knowledge is lacking in some form or another.

(6) It may take humanity many thousands of years to reach perfect knowledge on any issue of significance. It may take even longer than that for the really hard issues, like how to distribute economic goods fairly or how best to pursue human happiness or how to include people's religious beliefs in the context of an otherwise secular society. Or how to reach zero murders, robberies, or rapes in a given decade in just one country, let alone worldwide.

(7) Until then, the sober-minded will continue to view with skepticism the claims of any and all persons that claim to have fully mastered or perfected knowledge on issues, big or small.