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TheAncientGeek comments on Guardians of Ayn Rand - Less Wrong

58 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 18 December 2007 06:24AM

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Comment author: TheAncientGeek 14 December 2016 12:00:09PM 1 point [-]

No fixed ideas! No fixed ideas! No fixed ideas!

Except the Sequences, which are canon.

Comment author: JohnBuridan 14 December 2016 06:08:37PM 3 points [-]


There is a distinction (and I think a good one) between canonicity and fixed ideas.

I think it is always good, adding nuance and historical depth to one's thought, to read the Canon in any subject area. My library science hero Peter Briscoe characterizes a subject area's canon saying " in general half the knowledge in any given subject is contained in or two dozen groundbreaking or synthesizing works," (pg. 11). The value of reading these "canonical" works is not that they are the dogmas YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE, but that these are the ideas you have to engage with, these are the people you need to understand, reading x, y, and z is fundamental to your engaging in conversation with this community of scholars.

The Sequences, hate some or love some, are part of the Canon around here.

Canonicity causes fixed ideas only in so far as it focuses the conversation and methodology. Responses to a certain idea "will naturally tend towards a certain, limited range of positions (like, either bodies can be infinitely divided, or not - and in the latter case one is an atomist)," (Rule 1 for History of Philosophy, Peter Adamson).

Briscoe's little book "Reading the Map of Knowledge" is, to me, canonical reading for being a rationalist. If you're interested, it's like 6 bucks.