Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

joaolkf comments on Fixing akrasia: damnation to acausal hell - Less Wrong Discussion

2 Post author: joaolkf 03 October 2013 10:34PM

You are viewing a comment permalink. View the original post to see all comments and the full post content.

Comments (25)

You are viewing a single comment's thread. Show more comments above.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 04 October 2013 03:08:08AM 3 points [-]

but against which you can do much

Presumably a typo for "you cannot do much".

There are probably less elaborate reasons for akrasia in general. It's much too easy to come up with something that looks like a good practice than it is to come up with something that actually is a good practice. This is true for self-imposed tasks and more true for other-imposed tasks-- the latter are more likely to be for someone else's advantage.

A generalized rebelliousness sub-routine is an important safety factor, even though it, like any other subroutine, needs to not be in charge.

Comment author: joaolkf 04 October 2013 12:47:41PM 0 points [-]

Yes, it was a typo. Thanks for the correction. I agree that akrasia can be advantageous. Obsessing over one goal wouldn't be advantageous in the environment of evolutionary adaptedness. It might not be advantageous at the present time, on average. However, I think that for those on the intellectual elite, it seems that not being able to overcome akrasia is, on average, modulo my post, bad. We are often confronted with very long term goals that would payoff if followed, our lives are quite stable and we can trust better the information we have. (Although, there's more need for fine tuning probably). But, you being right is one more reason for my conclusion, and it remains a fact that (most) rationalists are trying to overcome akrasia in general, without paying attention to the specificities.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 04 October 2013 01:22:36PM 0 points [-]

Here's another possible angle on the question: I'm smart and depressed. I have a lot of smart, depressed friends. If I see someone on line and I think "How intelligent! How polite! What a pleasant person to read!", the odds seem awfully high that within three or four months, they will write something about serious problems with depression.

When I mention this, the usual reaction is, "The world is so messed up, It's natural for intelligent people to be depressed". I find that hard to believe, though I'm inclined to think that the procession of future disasters (I'm old enough to remember serious fear of nuclear war, followed by overpopulation, ecological disaster, and global warming-- it hasn't let up) probably has some emotional effect.

In any case, I'm wondering if what you're seeing is a symptom of depression which should be addressed from that angle. And I'm also wondering whether I'm selecting for too little aggression.

Comment author: joaolkf 04 October 2013 02:38:35PM 0 points [-]

You just lost me there. I thought I knew what you were talking about before, but I have my doubts now, since I have no idea of what you are talking now. I do not understand what is the relation with depression. Further, as a data point, I can say that I'm not depressed (happiest than 100% on my ZIP code), never been depressed, nor have depressed friends, or want to have depressed friends or think this is a good and justifiable approach to life. But mainly, I do not understand how this relates to the question.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 04 October 2013 03:34:40PM 2 points [-]

Akrasia might just be a symptom of depression rather than something more complex.