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If You Like This Orange...

-27 [deleted] 01 April 2015 02:42AM

If you like this orange you must like that orange.  Well, maybe.  Tastes change, and maybe I already had an orange a little while ago, and maybe I'm not in the mood while someone else would be glad to have it, so it doesn't follow that because I liked this orange I must like that orange.

Comparing oranges and oranges seems like a set of two objects, but it's really four.  There's you, there's the orange, there's the other orange, and there's the perceived relation between you and the two oranges.  When it's just you and the oranges, things usually find a simple way work themselves out.

But when someone else comes into the room it's seldom oranges and oranges.   Other people are ever ready to tell you what you like.  If you like this orange you must like that apple, because they're both fruit.  Nah, can't stand apples unless they are baked.  It doesn't matter that they are both fruit, I don't care for apples.  Then the helping helpers will infer the inverse.  If you like this orange you can't like that apple.  Watch me - I'll like an apple just to spite you, or choke it down because there aren't any oranges to be had.

The nonsense comparisons just get more nonsensical.  If you like this orange you must like that color orange, you must!  That's the way it's always gone!  Well, I say if you like this orange you must like that porcupine.  See how silly it sounds?  As long as someone sees that fourth object in the set, a connection between the two things and you, they will hard-sell you that the orange and the very-not-orange are fully fungible.

That fourth object in the set, the perceived relation between the other three, gets its power from being invisible and assumed.  The assumption of relations in the set overpowers all the other objects in the set.  If you like this orange you are an orange-ist, because there's (a) you (b) the orange (c) your liking of the orange and (d) anybody that likes that orange is an orange-ist, that's the relation between you and the orange caused by your liking it.  The invisible fourth object in the set, the assumption of a relation, is now a stand-in for you.  You are no longer a person who in one place, in one time, in one way, liked an orange.  You are are an orange-ist.

If you are friends with that guy / read that book, and that guy / book exposed that idea, and that whole other guy with that idea did that thing, then you did that thing!  The four step process of replacing the man with a mannequin is the start of superstition.  Religion is realized in the replacement of the representation for the real.  Hard to believe that belief is so beleaguered but right here on this very planet in this very year there are nations where if you draw the wrong cartoon, read the wrong poem, or question the wrong answer, you go to prison.  Or worse.

Here's how they make the rotten trolly run.  If you said this one thing this one time then you believe - no, you are - this other thing.  A clergyman is not only a clergyman, they are a Good Person.  Good People do Good Deeds, and if the clergyman doesn't do good deeds, or if he does bad deeds, well, he's still a Good Person.  All four stations of Goodnessity are there: the clergyman, the Good Deeds clergymen are associated with, Good Deeds associated with Good People, and halleluia! clergymen are Good People.  And oh my but the four stations of Badnessism are there as well.  If you tell that one joke then you're a Bad Person.  That joke has the Bad Word in it, Bad People use that Bad Word, Bad People do Bad Deeds, so you did a Bad Deed!

It's four things. You, that thing you like, another thing and the proposed connection between the things. That connection is presented as more important than you.  The evidence shows that nothing is more to me than myself.  I'd not be here to tell you if this was not the case.  What other people think and do about me has its influences, but I don't confuse that with right or wrong or especially not Rights and Sins.  Egoism is the school of thought closest to my own, and that association draws from my own luster.

The pressure to be packed in a package deal comes in many forms.  Don't like too many kinds of art or music, be part of a scene.  Don't hold political or philosophical views, be a member of a party or a school.  Don't be online, be in a social network.  And most of all don't have a yen for truth, beauty and strength - be spiritual.

When the crowd crowns you with a trait, you're trapped.  To be identified as a whole by one of your parts is cutting.  Oh you're a massage therapist?  I have this pinch in my back.  You're a car mechanic?  You know, my car is just outside.  You do stand-up?  Tell me a joke, funny guy.  I heard you're a porn star, is that right?  Let's see those tits.  So you're a professional wrestler, eh?  I like that other wrestler better, the nice guy.  In every variation we are made out to be not ourselves but the thing other people think you are.  Man, that dude's a racist.  Heil hitler, you cartoon-drawer!  Her over there, she has a suicidal level of self-hatred and is an active enemy of all women.  She quit her job to be a mom when she was in her 20s.  There's something just creepy about that family down the hall, they're always happy.  Yeah, they're Mormons.  Fake vegan meat supports the aesthetic of carnivore culture.  No one more intolerant than the loud champions of toleration, no one more ready to divide than the unifiers of diversity.

In the United States, a slave knew he had a place: that of a slave.  In India, an Untouchable knew he had a place: that of an Untouchable.  The modern moral minders, starting with Stalin onward, developed a different delineator.  If you are seen to stray too far from the approved set of beliefs, you have no place.  You are to be stripped of your job, your career, your credentials, your home and your money.  The Good Guys in the White Hats are ever vigilant for any infraction.  Call them the improperatzzi.  What a remarkable coincidence that the virtue they advocate is the same as the group they are a member of.

I can't say I judge all men in all moments anew.  I've also decided to not ask you to do so.  That sounds too much like work.  I don't have the time or energy, much less the inclination, to always cast aside generalities, stereotypes, and biases.  In this very essay I may lump a whole spectrum of people I disagree with into the base categories of liars and fools.  But you and I both know some people are just jerks, and some people are solid citizens.  I'm a member of some groups, a friend of others.  Everyone I don't like has me in common.  If it suits me I'll give you a chance, but maybe I'm busy or angry that day and you're just going be hidden behind what I think of you based on some other thing at some other time.  You'll live.  My opinion isn't even all that important to me.

The troubles come when people decide that those who are different aren't to live.  Except for liars and fools, everyone on the planet knows that the Religion of Peace currently holds the title belt for murdering those who think or act differently than they do.  I keep hearing that there's a majority of Muslims who aren't like that, but I also keep not hearing about what they are doing to enlighten their brothers and sisters who keep misunderstanding Islam in the same way, century after century.  Maybe the numbers are there for the majority to reform the minority, but let's see some action.  A sound public shaming is a good start, and in this regard I do my part.  But again - I limit myself to that most pathetic and un-magical of all activities, writing, when I disagree.  The beheaders, the child-rapers, the enslavers, the kidnappers, the hijackers, the perpetually grieved - the Muslims - not so much.

There's no controversy, only a nontroversy.  A man can like music by ADULT. and Mildred Bailey.  A man can know a great deal about far right politics without being of the far right.  A man can be interested in beliefs about UFOs without believing in UFOs.  The scolds and the bullies secretly know this but don't want you in on their game.  They know what is bad for other people because they've seen the evidence - but somehow, they saw the evidence and didn't suffer from the exposure.  They are good enough to tell you what's good for you, but you aren't.  No thank you, you pinch-faced busybodies, I'll decide for myself what I like and do and think and believe.  I'll even take my lumps for the luxury.

The heart wants what the heart wants.  So does the groin.  I've made up a name for those who think otherwise: quantisexual.  A quantisexual is deeply invested in quantifying sex.  Who can have sex with who, what the arrangement is named, who shares that name and who doesn't.  Who is doing it right, who is doing it right but for the wrong reasons, who is doing it all wrong.  Not satisfied with the real-life cooties you can get from sex, a quantisexual invents forms of ritual contamination and cleanliness.  If you have even one stray thought about your own sex, you're bisexual.  If you're bisexual then you're queer.  If you're queer then you have to support all the other queers in all their queeriosities.  Even if you don't have sex at all there's a whole slew of cooties you can accessorize yourself with like 'cis' and 'demisexual' and 'asexual.'  The name for a thing becomes more important than the thing itself, like sheets being more sexy than what goes on between them.  The alphabet soup of alt-sex has more rules and restrictions than the Roman Catholic Church.  Quantisexuality is a fetish.  Hip hip hooray if you were born that way or if, by pretending it's your thing, you get to join the right in-groups.  Sex will go on without your names for it.

Standing at the rich banquet of life, far too many go with a cuisine they've been gifted by someone not even alive to share the meal.  Only these foods go together, and only in this order, and in this amount.  Not because to do otherwise leads to sickness or death, but because, well, other people might... see...  See what?  Me getting a few of these and a few of those, concerned less than they, enjoying more than they.  You do go on if you must keep kosher, hold halal and avoid fish on Friday.  All the more for me, pal, or maybe I'll just have a bite and be done.  What we do and like isn't limited to one item from column A and two items from column B.  Life is not a family meal or a package deal.  Beliefs and interests are all a big mess and probably not very important, so pull them together in a way that makes sense to you.  Just don't insist I sign on to your supper club.

The thing you like is the thing you like.  You didn't used to like it, and maybe you won't like it later.  You don't have to explain or understand it.  You don't have to get my approval for it.  If it stops working for you, you stop working for it.  Move on, and I'll be doing the same.

- Trevor Blake is the author of Confessions of a Failed Egoist.

Comments (18)

Comment author: metatroll 01 April 2015 08:43:16PM 7 points [-]

I may not understand what you are trying to say, but I will defend to the death our right to downvote you for saying it!

Comment author: Jiro 01 April 2015 03:19:19PM *  4 points [-]

Standing at the rich banquet of life, far too many go with a cuisine they've been gifted by someone not even alive to share the meal.

Argument by analogy leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Comment author: Manfred 01 April 2015 09:44:46PM *  4 points [-]

Would you venture that analogies are like poison to you? That metaphors are black holes that suck in information?

Comment author: Dentin 01 April 2015 04:25:03PM 3 points [-]

This is a blatant attempt to advertise the amazon book link at the bottom of the post. The post itself could have been generated by Markov chain, and is devoid of interesting content and ideas. Downvoting.

Comment author: joaolkf 01 April 2015 08:44:48PM 1 point [-]

I am so glad that finally some intellectual forum has passed the Sokal test. Computer Science, Sociology, and Philosophy have all failed, and they haven't tried with the rest yet.

LessWrong, you are our only hope.

Comment author: metatroll 01 April 2015 09:22:11PM 1 point [-]

You must be joking. The relevant test is "reading comprehension", and Less Wrong comprehensively failed. This essay says many things with which rationalists would agree, if they had been said differently. But some collective cognitive occlusion has apparently

notices the date

Oh. So you are joking. I guess you got me. looks away Well played, well played.

metatroll is the author of Confessions of a Failed Troll.

Comment author: somervta 02 April 2015 01:57:44PM 5 points [-]

The relevant test is 'Do I want to see more things like this on LW', and the answer is no, because I value clarity more than seeing things I would agree with did I understand them.

Comment author: ChristianKl 06 April 2015 09:03:49PM 1 point [-]

This essay says many things with which rationalists would agree, if they had been said differently.

The assumptions behind that sentence are funny. We should welcome someone on the basis that he says things we can agree with as opposed to the person reasoning clearly.

Comment author: faul_sname 02 April 2015 06:46:11AM 0 points [-]

I think that the relevant joke was that this was a rambling, 2000 word restatement of "politics is the mind killer".

Comment author: faul_sname 02 April 2015 02:10:59AM 0 points [-]

Look at the date.

Comment author: Dentin 02 April 2015 04:31:17AM 6 points [-]

Regardless of date, I don't want to see material like it on LW, as it lowers the general level of discourse.

Comment author: tim 02 April 2015 03:37:05AM 2 points [-]

Oooh I see. Now the post is interesting and worthwhile.

Comment author: gjm 02 April 2015 03:34:56PM 2 points [-]

I don't know whether tim is being sarcastic or sincere, but I don't see how the post is funny when treated as an April Fool, nor how it's worthwhile when taken seriously. I wouldn't go so far as to agree that it could have been generated by Markov chain, and some of the things it says are true and worth saying if one can get past the intensely annoying presentation, but I don't see anything here that's new or super-interesting or well expressed, nor do I see any joke beyond "hey, I did an annoying thing and it's April 1".

I may well be missing something. Trevor, if you're reading this and not too offended at the negative reaction you got, it would be interesting to know what effect you were aiming at.

Comment author: [deleted] 06 April 2015 03:53:16PM 1 point [-]

Regarding criticism of my writing: inspired by Karl Popper, I seek out criticism that will help me be, well, less wrong.

Regarding argument by analogy: I do a bit, but I've seen worse. It has its place. I don't care for Harry Potter in the original, film or Yudkowsky versions. The later perhaps being slightly longer yet slightly more up-voted than my post.

Regarding my style: many philosophies have both a function and a form. In writing, some philosophies have a message to convey and a style that it is often conveyed in. There is a style to objectivist essays, Maoist essays, Buddhist essays, and often there is a style to less wrong essays. I wrote my egoist essay in the egoist style, in honor of those egoists who led to me including Max Stirner, Dora Marsden, Apio Ludd and especially Malfew Seklew. Egoism - it's not for everybody.

Regarding April Fools' Day: please believe whatever invokes the strongest response in you, be it positive or negative.

Regarding solicitation of payment for goods and services: I checked, and there is no policy against it. I also waited, over a year, to see if in the lack of a policy there was a trend or tradition regarding links to commercial services. The trend is that such posts exist, and whatever criticism they get is never based on including a commercial link. This is true be the link for the author's own good or service, or for a different good or service. A few examples: 1 2 3. The difference is the tolerated and celebrated commercial links, the ones that do not lower the general level of discourse, that are not downvoted - those links are or claim to be altruistic. Mine is selfish, fitting even for a failed egoist such as myself. I don't say that maybe if you pay me to tutor your kids then maybe they will learn something. I don't say that maybe if you donate to my think tank then maybe I'll save the world from hostile AI. I say, guaranteed and without controversy, that two things will happen to those who buy my book. First, they will get a book. Second, I will earn several dozen pennies in royalties. Altruistic maybe is okay, egoistic promises no? I like the game of Less Wrong and am happy to play by the rules. If commercial links are allowed, or limited, or banned, I can go with it or go away. But it'll be more fun for me if I get to play by the same rules as everyone else.

  • Trevor Blake is the author of a book. There is no such thing as a so-called "search engine" so don't even try to look for it.
Comment author: Kindly 06 April 2015 09:37:11PM 4 points [-]

Regarding my style: many philosophies have both a function and a form. In writing, some philosophies have a message to convey and a style that it is often conveyed in. There is a style to objectivist essays, Maoist essays, Buddhist essays, and often there is a style to less wrong essays. I wrote my egoist essay in the egoist style, in honor of those egoists who led to me including Max Stirner, Dora Marsden, Apio Ludd and especially Malfew Seklew. Egoism - it's not for everybody.

The things that make your writing style unapproachable are not features of "the egoist style", at least according to what my superficial inspection of "the egoist style" discovered. What makes your writing style unapproachable is the lack of indication you give of what you're trying to prove.

I decided to investigate the first name on your list, Max Stirner, who has the admirable character trait of being long dead and therefore available to read on Google Books for free. I skimmed the bit of The Ego and His Own which was under the heading "All Things are Nothing to Me". Here is what I found.

Stirner begins by saying "People want me to care about everything--God, country, and so on--except myself. Is this reasonable? Let us look at what God and country have to say about it." He then fulfills his promise by explaining, in the next few paragraphs, how those causes are selfish; addressing, in turn, "God", "country", and "and so on". He ends by giving his own answer to what he thinks he should care about.

You, on the other hand, begin with oranges. I follow along with this game for a few paragraphs, and eventually discover that you did not mean oranges when you said oranges. I considered re-reading those paragraphs to see what you did mean, but get bored and skip to the end, where you tell me that it's okay to like things I like. Well, okay. This doesn't seem like a controversial conclusion; if you were arguing for this all along, then maybe I was right to skip to the end. Maybe I skipped the bit where you explained how some people disagree, so I can believe that your conclusion is interesting. Oh well.

Stirner signposts. Stirner makes promises about what he will talk about and then keeps them. If I had been interested in engaging with the substance of Stirner, rather than his style, I would have read carefully the paragraphs where he explains why God's cause is a selfish cause. Not having done that, I can still point to those paragraphs, because Stirner told me where he would explain this. I can summarize Stirner's argument, not because I am good at summarizing, but because Stirner gave me several summaries.

If you don't tell me where you are and where you're going, I have no means or inclination to follow along with you.

Comment author: Jiro 06 April 2015 07:44:39PM 0 points [-]

If all you say is that when someone buys your book, they get a book and you get money, that's off-topic. This is not, after all, a forum about "the things you can do that get Trevor money". Just because it is uncontroversially true isn't enough reason to go about saying it here.

Commercial links aren't rejected just because they are commercial links, but it is unlikely that a random commercial link would be relevant, and they certainly can be rejected for not being relevant.

Comment author: Manfred 01 April 2015 09:49:52PM *  0 points [-]

I'll apply the consequentialist voting paradigm and upvote. Maybe people are thinking this is an april fools prank because it's kind of dense and orange. You know. Like most pranks.

Comment author: Slider 01 April 2015 01:15:18PM 0 points [-]

Arguing about a wavefunction being real vs just a representation doesn't seem to initiate religion in the bad sense even if one argues that the wavefunction is real. Such people would still propably agree on the practical consequences for experiment setup. The focus on the argument seems to be about people for the "abstraction users" that have different practical outcomes. The criticism should be in that the transformation is wrong rather than using a transformation in the first place.