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Comment author: Yelsgib 01 August 2008 06:01:42AM 0 points [-]

To what extent do you think:

1.) Culture itself evolves and follows the same principles of evolution as humans and honeybees?

2.) Culture defines worldview and horizon of knowledge/decision/ideation?

3.) Culture's means of communicating information to infants (e.g. "My First Big Book of A B C's") are evolving/changing to encode "more correct" ideas of the human organism (i.e. teach better)?

You seem to be avoiding theorizing on how society/culture -does- affect our maturation?. Can we bound this? Can we say anything effective about it?

In response to Reductive Reference
Comment author: Yelsgib 03 April 2008 03:13:25AM -1 points [-]

Can we make statements of the form "X is Y" without the statement "X exists" being true? Because Eliezer does about reality - therefore I assume there is some sense in which he believes it to "exist." Note that my questions were directed towards his definition, not the claim itself (since I still obviously don't understand the way that Eliezer uses words).


To answer your questions:

"Where is the universe?"

Right here.

"What color is half-past three?"

For certain definitions of color in certain logical frameworks involving the entities "color" and "half-past three," half-past three is colorless.

"How many zeros does it take to make a baker's dozen?"

Thirteen (duh).

In response to Reductive Reference
Comment author: Yelsgib 03 April 2008 02:04:37AM 2 points [-]

Do you think it's possible that the word "exist" is overloaded?

In what sense does snow "existA" but love does not "existA?"

In what sense does "reality exist?" Is this tautology? If so, state it.

"This is the point missed by the postmodernist folks screaming, "But how do you know your beliefs are true?""

Does setting up straw men serve some sort of emotional purpose? Why do you keep doing it? You haven't performed an analysis of the "postmodernist position" - you just keep pointing fingers and saying "they're dumb."

The (non-moron) post-modernist folks are screaming "How do we even know that 'reality exists?' Obviously we do not -know- so it must be definition embedded in cultural/computational context. Therefore when we make statements like "snow is white" what we really -mean- is the set of cultural/computational primitives that that statement can be reduced to. There is no other sense in which the word "mean" makes sense."


What about self-referent phenomena? Are you actually claiming that no beliefs are disjoint from so-called "logical definitions?"

Comment author: Yelsgib 02 April 2008 09:47:49AM 0 points [-]

I agree with Robin that there needs to be meta-analysis of what's been going on in Eliezer's recent posts and replies to those posts.

As a concrete example, Eliezer continually sets up the "silly post-modernist professor" archtype, but I haven't seen anything even vaguely resembling a critique of more serious post-modern thought (like Foucault, for instance). In any case, post-modernism makes sense under some interpretations - e.g. if it is taken to mean that "truth" is dependent on context (since statements cannot have meaning without relation to a set of semantic primitives).

As a direct reformulation - Eliezer has not addressed how I personally think about consciousness/why I personally think it is a hard question (not that I have necessarily expressed it explicitly). I agree with Scott's frustration that he seems to continually hark on morons. Maybe I'm a moron, too, but I'd sure like to know in what way!

This isn't meant to be harsh - really I do enjoy Eliezer's posts a lot and think that they are really insightful. I just haven't been satisfied with the level of sensitivity towards other people's opinions which has been displayed here. Eliezer says that we can turn questions understandable by asking why we think them. Well then why do I think I am conscious and that this is "special?!?" I have no clue! I can't even imagine what an answer to that question would look like!

In response to Savanna Poets
Comment author: Yelsgib 19 March 2008 02:35:28AM 1 point [-]

Now here's something to sink the teeth into - a sort of challenge - can we do better?

I guess my reaction to this post is a sort of microcosm of my reaction to most of the content of this blog - I think that our biases are -necessary-, in fact, I think they are the way that we think. They are easily exposed and routed out in our interactions with very basic things, but can you tell me how to get rid of my biases in thinking about Category Theory? How do I get rid of my biases when reading the works of Foucault?

Our biases are a consequence of our computational contexts. We cannot get outside of our computational contexts.

Thus, I am beginning to think that the "right work" of the intellectual is to -expose- and -inspire- rather than to -criticize- and -condemn-.

This post speaks to that. We cannot get out of our computational contexts, but let's evolve them together so that we have the foundation required to inspire, yo! Thanks for this post - it's certainly inspired a lot of thought in me.

In response to Fake Reductionism
Comment author: Yelsgib 18 March 2008 01:09:42PM 1 point [-]

Let me suggest a mechanism which explains Keat's (and my own - and every adult's [?]) "loss of wonder."

Part of what we do in using language is pointing to things and making noises so that other people who are experiencing the same thing (presumably) associate the noise to the thing. Now we have a nice way to refer to the "same thing."

The word "rainbow" then corresponds to more than just the visual input - it is all things associated with the rainbow. It is many things not explicitly associated with. It is a -loose- association. It feels free. It allows room for imagination. It is not serious. The point is that the word "rainbow" is like an arrow pointing straight into our emotional centers at THAT THING which is important (whatever it is) and that we love.

"Reducing" the rainbow to knowledge of light interacting with water droplets has a lot of effects:

1.) Some part of you always thinks of the science, the actuality, the existent when you think "rainbow" from now on. You can't help it. You can't just shut it off.

2.) Everything that you -didn't- know (the wonder, etc.) dissipates since you have reduced the phenomenon to an explanation with a bumper sticker (the qualia associated with the explanation).

3.) Your focus shifts from the experience of the colors, the relation of the colors, etc. to the words associated with the colors.

Words are boring. Experience is great. Get these words Off my plate!

In response to Fake Reductionism
Comment author: Yelsgib 18 March 2008 04:50:25AM 0 points [-]

I actually don't understand your point at all.

Before Keats found out about what rainbows "really are" he experienced wonder while looking at them. After, he didn't.

What else is the man supposed to do? He's got to try to investigate his experience, right? Where did he go wrong?

You are reducing his cognitive processes to those of a bumbling fool. They're complex, you just don't understand them. It doesn't seem like you're making enough of an effort.

Comment author: Yelsgib 11 March 2008 02:38:28AM 0 points [-]

I ask you again - what is the other option? How can we deal with the world other than via "mind-projection?" I claim that you do it too, you just do it in a more sophisticated way. Do you have an alternative in mind?

Comment author: Yelsgib 10 March 2008 05:58:59AM 1 point [-]

"Why do I believe I am conscious?" = "Why am I conscious?"

Comment author: Yelsgib 05 March 2008 06:52:02AM -2 points [-]

"This often confuses undergraduates (and postmodernist professors) who discover a sentence with more than one interpretation; they think they have discovered an unstable portion of reality."

I don't really know how to read this sentence. Are you claiming that there is a fixed, stable reality? Are you claiming that the postmodernist professor is implicitly claiming the existence of a fixed reality?

I think the more articulate postmodernist professor would claim "we cannot make reference to a fixed interpretation of phenomena outside of an assumed cultural reference." -You're- the one talking about "reality."

You are using terms like "proposition," "question," etc. very loosely. Could you please clarify what the pertinent "question" that the huntergatherer and the astronomer are trying to "answer" is? What "propositions" do they assert?

I would make two claims. First, I claim that everyday people going about their everyday business are not trying to answer claims/make propositions. Second, I think that "truth" as a linguistic concept exists only in very specific contexts.

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