Showing posts from May, 2022

The Lion and the Worm

[CW: discussion of creepy bugs and animal suffering, some links show those things. IANAB] What's the difference between parasites and predators? I'll re-ask this question in different forms as we go. I invite you to figure out the answers for yourself. I'll give an answer, but it may be wrong and it's definitely not the whole story.

Expanding the domain of discourse reveals structure already there but hidden

To understand a complex system like a mind or an ecosystem, we have to understand a tangled web of objects, features, processes, relations, correlations, clusters, constraints, causes, and so on. It helps to find underlying explanations and generating process, and to find deep reasons that explain why many relationships are the way they are. To find those underlying explanations, it helps to know relationships between relationships: which relationships cause, explain, or constrain other relationships. When staring at an assembly of relationships and asking which relationships explain other relationships, it can seem like we're at a loss for where to go; sometimes there are clearly relationships, but there's no clear way to extract any further order, because there's no basis on which to say that one relationship explains another——the relationships are just there, and that's it. By way of example/analogy, suppose we look at a list of facts like [3×4=12, 12/4=3, 4=12/3, 1

Harms and possibilities of schooling

To explore better possibilities for nurturing new minds, and to care about the problem in the first place, it helps to remember what's wrong with what we do to new minds. John Taylor Gatto speaks about this from experience and insight: Seven Lessons Taught in School, 1991 (If you're going to read the following, at least read the seven lessons (part I) of that essay.) Here's another list of harms caused by schooling. 1. You aren't a mind, and don't bother trying to behave like one. Children naturally attend to things until they're done with them: From Maria Montessori, My System of Education, 1915: IPFS pdf link A little girl, about three years of age, was deeply absorbed in the work of placing wooden blocks and cylinders in a frame for that purpose. The expression of her face was that of such intense attention, that it was almost a revelation to me. Never before had I seen a child look with such "fixedness" upon an object, and my conviction abo

Rituals and symbolism

[Context: In the seven years I've been living in the Bay Area, I've attended two Rationalist Solstices. Both times I basically hated the experience. I don't really know why, but in thinking about it I think I've understood something worth saying about rituals and symbolism. (I don't think what follows is a crux for me about Rationalist Solstice (I don't even know if it applies); I'd guess that has more to do with people gathering in large groups in general seeming harmful, distortive, or hostile or something.)] On Friday evening--Erev Shabbat (= evening of the day of rest)--Jews light candles and say a brachah. I was told by adults that this is done to symbolize a separation between the week and the holy Shabbat. On Saturday evening, when Shabbat is over, Jews do Havdalah (= separating): they light another candle; smell spices; and say more brachot. I was told that the warmth and light of the candle serve to remember to us the warmth and light of Shabbat a