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Comment author: [deleted] 14 August 2012 09:45:38PM 1 point [-]

Another thing I thought about is that there weren't that many straight lines and right angles in the ancestral environment, so i think it's likely that the module in the brain for "getting" perspective doesn't come from a blueprint in the DNA but rather it arises in response to stimuli in the early life. If this is right, there might be differences between people who spent their early childhood in rural vs urban environments.

In response to comment by [deleted] on Why Are Individual IQ Differences OK?
Comment author: Danfly 14 August 2012 10:05:47PM 2 points [-]

An old psychology professor of mine once gave an anecdote of a tiger that was kept in a cylindrical room during its early phases of development. It grew up to have a warped sense of spatial awareness and was unable to function properly for the most part. I don't know the details surrounding the story, so I can't confirm it right now, but I'll see if I can find the study (assuming it does exist).

Comment author: Will_Newsome 16 July 2012 09:48:05AM *  5 points [-]

I'd appreciate links to essays or summat that give a clear-eyed assessment of the extent to which women were or weren't willing or unwilling chattel at various points throughout history. You seem to be referring to background knowledge that I don't have—the only "knowledge" of the history of the lot of women (and the culture of gentlemen) I have comes from clearly ideological narratives. Excepting the classical era, it seems like it'd be difficult for me to find analyses that avoided implicit moralizing and stuck to factual description. I'm especially interested in the lot of women during the High Middle Ages, which I tend to think of as a high-point of civilization. I would be surprised to learn that the lot of women then was as bad as it seems like it was in classical antiquity, or as it seems like it is today in much of the world including many Western subcultures.

(Interestingly I notice a small "arguments are like soldiers" effect going on on my part: when you say "yay for progress" you're specifically talking about women's rights, but my brain automatically reached for cached counter-examples to "progress" that have nothing to do with women's rights, and wanted to ask why someone who's studied complex systems and group epistemology is going along with the progress narrative, even though you never actually said nor really implied that you were going along with the progress narrative in general. I hope this is because I care about historiography and not because I've been mind-killed by ideology.)

I'm confused that you linked to the Wikipedia section on the influences of the Battle of Jena-Auerstedt. From what it says Prussia's subsequent reforms were primarily military in nature, and the occupation by France only lasted a few years. There doesn't seem to have been substantial cultural reform—(should we expect Prussia to have adopted the leftist norms & ideology of France due to such an ephemeral military occupation?)—and politically the primary consequence seems to have been an increase in German nationalism, which doesn't seem to have been such a good thing given the next century and a half of German history. Is there a primary source that goes into more detail about the relevant cultural consequences of Prussia's defeat in the War of the Fourth Coalition?

ETA: Just realized how off-topic this is. Also close to mind-killing if not itself mind-killing. Perhaps better suited to PM or email.

ETA2: This Wikipedia section is pertinent, though lacking in citations.

Comment author: Danfly 18 July 2012 11:17:16AM *  5 points [-]

My knowledge of women's history in the high middle ages wouldn't be very good. However, as an Irish archaeologist, I can tell you that the chattel slavery of women in early medieval Ireland was so abundant that a female slave or cumal was treated as a unit of currency, being equivalent to 6 to 8 séoit (one of which is equal to the value of a three-year-old heifer). If I were still a student I would be able to find you more academic sources, but I've lost access to most of the journals I used to use. From what I remember, this practice did fall into decline after the arrival of Normans, though this generally attributed to a decline in economic significance rather than a shift in social conscience. If you can access J-Stor, "Lest the Lowliest Be Forgotten: Locating the Impoverished in Early Medieval Ireland" by JW Boyle will provide you with good background on this. I know it's not exactly what you were looking for, but it as an area which I am, to some extent, qualified to talk about.

Comment author: [deleted] 09 July 2012 09:04:30PM 2 points [-]

Oops. I didn't see anything about a moratorium.

In response to comment by [deleted] on Rationality Quotes July 2012
Comment author: Danfly 18 July 2012 09:31:03AM 2 points [-]

Ah. I see what my mistake was now. It was just a recommendation by AngryParsley. It wasn't anything official. As I'm still something of a newbie here, I figured it was said by someone with a bit more clout.

Comment author: [deleted] 09 July 2012 10:23:40AM 7 points [-]

"Man's unfailing capacity to believe what he prefers to be true rather than what the evidence shows to be likely and possible has always astounded me. We long for a caring Universe which will save us from our childish mistakes, and in the face of mountains of evidence to the contrary we will pin all our hopes on the slimmest of doubts. God has not been proven not to exist, therefore he must exist." Academician Prokhor Zakharov, Alpha Centauri

In response to comment by [deleted] on Rationality Quotes July 2012
Comment author: Danfly 09 July 2012 07:28:33PM -2 points [-]

Wasn't a temporary moratorium called on smac quotes recently? I have to admit this was one of my favourites from it though.

Comment author: timtyler 07 July 2012 10:09:23AM 0 points [-]

This one left me wondering - is "population ethics" any different from "politics"?

Comment author: Danfly 07 July 2012 11:08:14AM 0 points [-]

Interesting point, but I would say there are areas of politics that don't really come under "ethics". "What is currently the largest political party in the USA?" is a question about politics and demographics, but I wouldn't call it a question of population ethics. I'd say that you could probably put anything from the subset of "population ethics" into the broad umbrella of "politics" though.

Comment author: Danfly 04 July 2012 11:56:20AM *  3 points [-]

I'm by no means an expert on this, but I was under the impression that Wittgenstein meant that language was an insufficient tool to express the "things we must pass over in silence", e.g. metaphysics, religion, ethics etc., but that he nevertheless believed that these were the only things worth talking about. My understanding was that he believed that language is only good for dealing with the world of hard facts and the natural sciences and, while we cannot use it to express certain things, some of these things might be "shown" by different means, in line with his comment that the unwritten part of the tractatus was the most important part.

This conclusion from one of hist lectures largely sums up how I would understand his view of many of the "things we must pass over in silence".

"This running against the walls of our cage is perfectly, absolutely hopeless. Ethics so far as it springs from the desire to say something about the ultimate meaning of life, the absolute good, the absolute valuable, can be no science. What it says does not add to our knowledge in any sense. But it is a document of a tendency in the human mind which I personally cannot help respecting deeply and I would not for my life ridicule it."

This is largely the way I have been led to interpret it through reading other people's interpretations and it is probably wrong, but I thought that I'd try and express it here, because I do have a strong desire to expand my knowledge of Wittgensteinian philosophy. One thing which I do think is quite likely though, is that Wittgenstein would consider any written "interpretation" of his work to ultimately be "nonsense" insofar as any written part of it is concerned.

Comment author: Danfly 06 July 2012 10:27:16AM 0 points [-]

I just noticed how poorly written part of my above comment was. I think I've fixed it now. I'm glad to see a positive response to it at least, since it shows that people care more about substance than the clarity of writing, which seems more than a little apt when talking about Wittgenstein. It also indicates that I haven't been entirely misled in my interpretation of a notoriously difficult philosopher.

As much as it might be fun to pretend that my strange writing style was intended as a way of reaching people with "similar thoughts" in a truly Wittgensteinian sense, it was not. It was a boring old mistype. I am nowhere near smart enough to pull that off.

Comment author: ChristianKl 04 July 2012 10:01:23AM *  5 points [-]

This misses the point that Wittgenstein made. Inventing better terminology doesn't help you if you don't have any information in the first place.

Something might have happened before the big bang. The big bang erased all information about what happened before the big bang. Therefore we shouldn't speak about what happened before the big bang.

Gods might exist or might not exist. We don't have any evidence to decide whether they exist. Therefore we should stop speaking about gods.

To come to a question that more central to this community: We have no way to decide through the scientific method whether the Many Worlds Hypothesis is true. According to Wittgenstein we should therefore be silent.

Inventing new terminology doesn't help with those issues.

Comment author: Danfly 04 July 2012 11:56:20AM *  3 points [-]

I'm by no means an expert on this, but I was under the impression that Wittgenstein meant that language was an insufficient tool to express the "things we must pass over in silence", e.g. metaphysics, religion, ethics etc., but that he nevertheless believed that these were the only things worth talking about. My understanding was that he believed that language is only good for dealing with the world of hard facts and the natural sciences and, while we cannot use it to express certain things, some of these things might be "shown" by different means, in line with his comment that the unwritten part of the tractatus was the most important part.

This conclusion from one of hist lectures largely sums up how I would understand his view of many of the "things we must pass over in silence".

"This running against the walls of our cage is perfectly, absolutely hopeless. Ethics so far as it springs from the desire to say something about the ultimate meaning of life, the absolute good, the absolute valuable, can be no science. What it says does not add to our knowledge in any sense. But it is a document of a tendency in the human mind which I personally cannot help respecting deeply and I would not for my life ridicule it."

This is largely the way I have been led to interpret it through reading other people's interpretations and it is probably wrong, but I thought that I'd try and express it here, because I do have a strong desire to expand my knowledge of Wittgensteinian philosophy. One thing which I do think is quite likely though, is that Wittgenstein would consider any written "interpretation" of his work to ultimately be "nonsense" insofar as any written part of it is concerned.

Comment author: Mitchell_Porter 29 September 2010 10:05:32AM 18 points [-]

I'm pretty sure they do hate freedom

Here's something that Muslim university student wrote:

When, in a society, the sovereignty belongs to God alone, expressed in its obedience to the Divine Law, only then is every person in that society free from servitude to others, and only then does he taste true freedom. This alone is 'human civilization', as the basis of a human civilization is the complete and true freedom of every person and the full dignity of every individual of the society. On the other hand, in a society in which some people are lords who legislate and some others are slaves who obey them, then there is no freedom in the real sense, nor dignity for each and every individual.

Qutb hates "liberal" freedom, but he considers it internal slavery to animal desires, and it correlates with external slavery to a human hierarchy. Whereas knowledge of Islam humanizes you, and a shared knowledge of Islam allows people to live without dictators, because order comes from an impersonal source - shariah law - rather than the whim of a governing class.

Qutb definitely values a form of freedom, but says it can't exist unless you have Islam first.

Comment author: Danfly 21 May 2012 08:44:57PM 0 points [-]

When you put it like that, it actually sounds a lot like the Kantian notion of heteronomy versus autonomy.

Comment author: Monkeymind 08 May 2012 04:04:51PM 2 points [-]

BTW, I will go by whatever the house rules are. I am not here to be argumentative or disagreeable. I am here to learn. I do not argue for the sake of argument. I argue to become Less Wrong!

Originally I thot this was a physics forum. I came to this thread and got into the discussion w/o reading through the website. My bad! I have tapped out of the thread and will leave it alone. If you must censor me can you please delete all my posts, to be fair. It is hard enough to get people not to take things out of context as it is.

Comment author: Danfly 08 May 2012 05:29:38PM 1 point [-]

If you were looking for a physics forum, this is probably more along the lines of what you were looking for.

Comment author: Danfly 02 May 2012 12:59:02PM *  10 points [-]

This prompted a memory of something I read in one of my undergrad psychology books a few years ago, which is probably referencing the same study, though using two different examples and one the same as the above example (though the phrasing is slightly different). Here is the extract:

Hindsight (After-the-Fact understanding)

Many people erroneously believe that psychology is nothing more than common sense. "I knew that all along!" or "They had to do a study to find that out?" are common responses to some psychological research. For example, decades ago a New York Times book reviewer criticized a report titled The American Soldier (Stouffer et al., 1949a,1949b), which summarized the results of a study of the attitudes and behavior of U.S. soldiers during World War II. The reviewer blasted the government for spending a lot of money to "tell us nothing we don't already know."

  1. Compared to White soldiers, Black soldiers were less motivated to become officers.

  2. During basic training, soldiers from rural areas had higher morale and adapted better than soldiers from large cities.

  3. Soldiers in Europe were more motivated to return home while the fighting was going on than they were after the war ended.

You should have no difficulty explaining these results. Typical reasoning might go something like this: (1) Due to widespread prejudice, Black soldiers knew that they had little chance of becoming officers. Why should they torment themselves wanting something that was unattainable? (2) It's obvious that the rigors of basic training would seem easier to people from farm settings, who were used to hard work and rising at the crack of dawn. (3) Any sane person would have wanted to go home while bullets were flying and people were dying.

Did your explanations resemble these? If so, they are perfectly reasonable. There is one catch, however. The results of the actual study were the opposite of the preceding statements. in fact, Black soldiers were more motivated than White soldiers to become officers, city boys had a higher morale than farm boys during basic training, and soldiers were more eager to return home after the war ended than during the fighting. When told these actual results, our students quickly found explanations for them. In short, it is easy to arrive at reasonable after-the-fact explanations for almost any result.

Source:Pass, M. W. & Smith, R.E. (2007) Psychology:The Science of Mind and Behavior (Third Edition). McGraw HIll: Boston, pages 31-32

In hindsight, I guess I must have known that it would be a good idea to hang on to my undergrad textbooks. Or did I?

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