Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Words of Wisdom

Eliezer Yudkowsky:
Rationality is not for winning debates, it is for deciding which side to join. If you've already decided which side to argue for, the work of rationality is done within you, whether well or poorly.

Julian Sanchez, on being 'exactly good enough to suck':
All of us, whenever we try anything at which we're not naturally gifted, are condemned to pass through this unfortunate phase. We're no longer just goofing about, subject to the comfortably lax criteria of the cheerfully hopeless—what a marvelous finger painting for a five year old! But neither are we yet (much optimism lurks in that "yet") proficient enough to be any damn good... If we want to improve past a certain point, we're forced to accept that getting better will, at least initially, make us worse.

Timothy Burke:
I just do the things I love and ask my daughter if she wants to do them with me... I don’t tell her it’s a duty for her to do it because she’s a girl and she’s fighting hegemonic narratives about gender. I do it because I still like to do it, and so it’s my culture and my life and I share it...

The problem with the commandment: no. “That scene is bad: do not watch it.” “That image is bad: feel bad about it.” “That character is bad: do not like him or her”. It puts a kid in an impossible position: but I like fairies! I like pink! I like war toys! I like video games! I like television! even though Mom and Dad say I must not. Desire doesn’t just become mysterious suddenly at 18, it always is. Being the censor puts us in an impossible position, because we have to playact at virtues we don’t feel in any deep way ourselves. “Why, yes, that image was quite bad, my darling! Let’s, uh, watch the movie again so that we can reacquaint ourselves with its offensiveness.” ... Maybe we change culture best by viewing and doing and being what we desire and love best, and less by trying to perform the role of an ideal and virtuous self.

Update: and Peter Levine on 'optimistic' vs. 'resentful' populism:
There is a powerful, optimistic kind of populism that says: We can make wealth, and everyone can be better off, but we need to make sure that everyone is included in productive work. This is much better than the kind of populism that presumes there is a fixed quantity of goods, of which the powerful have taken more than their fair share...


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