Is / Ought

Accept                             -                       Aspire
Maternal                          -                      Paternal
Communal                      -                       Individual
Communism                    -                      Capitalism
Saturn                              -                      Apollo

The world for Nietzsche is full of people who are incapable of accomplishing what they hope to accomplish, people who want in vain to be brave, generous, strong, perhaps even cruel, or at least notorious in some way - people who want to, but cannot, leave a mark on history.

These are “the suffering,” those who […] have finally convinced themselves that their weaknesses are actually their virtues, the results of their choice rather than the shortcomings of their nature; they even take their weaknesses to be reasons why they will someday be rewarded “in another life.”

Unable to distinguish themselves from the rest of the world, they come to consider uniformity a virtue and impose it on everyone: this is how “the herd” is created.

The values of the weak, which Nietzsche considers moral at least in part because they are intended to be virtues that all must exhibit, aim to ease suffering caused by impotence by construing such impotence as an achievement.

The weak actually suffer from envy, from ressentiment, of the few “fortunate accidents of great success” who are not like them and who are unaffected by the morality of the herd.

[Alexander Nehamas]
Nietzsche: Life as Literature, p. 120-1

Morality is in Europe today herd-animal morality - that is to say, as we understand the thing, only one kind of human morality beside which, before which, after which many other, above all higher, moralities are possible or ought to be possible. 

[…] with the aid of a religion which has gratified and flattered the sublimest herd-animal desires, it has got to the point where we discover even in political and social institutions an increasingly evident expression of this morality: the democratic movement inherits the Christian.

[…] at one in their tenacious opposition to every special claim, every special right and privilege (that is to say, in the last resort to every right: for when everyone is equal no one will need any rights? -); at one in their mistrust of punitive justice (as if it were an assault on the weaker, an injustice against the necessary consequence of all previous society - ); but equally at one in the religion of pity, in sympathy with whatever feels, lives, suffers (down as far as the animals, up as far as 'God' - the extravagance of ‘pity for God' belongs in a democratic era - ); at one, one and all, in the cry and impatience of pity, in mortal hatred for suffering in general, in their almost feminine incapacity to remain spectators of suffering, to let suffer; at one in their involuntary gloom and sensitivity, under whose spell Europe seems threatened with a new Buddhism; at one in their faith in the morality of mutual pity, as if it were morality in itself and the pinnacle, the attained pinnacle of man, the sole hope of the future, the consolation of the present and the great redemption from all the guilt of the past - at one, one and all, in their faith in the community as the saviour, that is to say in the herd, in 'themselves'...

[Friedrich Nietzsche]
Beyond Good and Evil, 202

[...] it is an essential characteristic of the personal and modifiable technics of Man, in contrast to the genus technics of animals, that every discovery contains the possibility and necessity of new discoveries, every fulfilled wish awakens a thousand more, every triumph over Nature incites to yet others. 

The soul of this beast of prey is ever hungry, his will never satisfied - that is the curse that lies upon this kind of life, but also the greatness inherent in its destiny. 

It is precisely its best specimens that know the least quiet, happiness, or enjoyment. 

[Oswald Spengler]
Man and Technics, p. 58

To rise in the social scale, even in calm and normal times, the prime requisite, beyond any question, is a capacity for hard work, but the requisite next in importance is ambition, a firm resolve to get on in the world, to outstrip one's fellows.

Now those traits hardly go with extreme sensitiveness or, to be quite frank, with ‘goodness' either. For 'goodness' cannot remain indifferent to the hurts of those who must be thrust behind if one is to step ahead of them [….] If one is to govern men, more useful than a sense of justice and much more useful than altruism, or even than extent of knowledge or broadness of view—are perspicacity, a ready intuition of individual and mass psychology, strength of will and, especially, confidence in oneself.

With good reason did Machiavelli put into the mouth of Cosimo dei Medici the much quoted remark, that states are not ruled with prayer-books.

[Gaetano Mosca]
The Ruling Class, p. 449-50

When you explain the way in which we behave on a genetic level there’s something that is missed, which is why I’m much more fond of explaining it in historical terms; [accepting that] ‘these are the things that have always been with us,’ and then to an extent making your peace with that. It means that you have a reasonable approach to things that you can’t do anything about.

You’ll never get rid of the hucksters, the liars; you’ll never get the world without hate. So have reasonable aspirations.

[Douglas Murray]
'Trust, truth and media in the pandemic, Douglas Murray' (53:00)

"I can't ever lose control with you"

The beloved compels us to be on our best behaviour, to be the best we can be at this moment in time.

And, inasmuch as this best behaviour runs contrary to our default patterns, it may sometimes seem like an act; as if we are playing the part of being good, whilst deep down maybe it isn't who we really are.

But the act needn't seem false; it is necessarily put on, and in putting it on we are able to craft ourselves, mould ourselves into the shape we want to be.

"Enough. Remember who you are"

Maintaining the act involves a frequent remembering. To stay on course may require constant minor adjustments, because we all forget the way from time to time.

Abstinence becomes a sign of inner strength, the hardest act to maintain. In conquering of one the strongest instincts (one of the strongest defaults), we light the road that leads to other victories.

The chaste brain has tremendous energy and gigantic will power. Without chastity there can be no spiritual strength. Continence gives wonderful control over mankind.The spiritual leaders of men have been very continent and this is what gave them power.

Chastity in thought, word and deed always and in all conditions is what is called Brahmacharya. Unchaste imagination is as bad as unchaste action. The Brahmacharin must be pure in thought, word and deed.

[Swami Vivekananda]

Related posts:-
A Higher Power
Walk a Straight Line
Stand Tall
Sailing the Turbulent Seas
The Middle Path

Daniel Schmachtenberger - The Portal

'Daniel Schmachtenberger on The Portal (with host Eric Weinstein), Ep. #027 - On Avoiding Apocalypses'
The Portal

54:07 - Basically economics has perverse incentives - we try to create law to bind it, but economics is deeper in the stack of power than law is. So you get a legal system that is supposed to bind the perverse economic incentives, but mostly ends up legislating in the benefit of it.

57:45 - If I’m perfectly ethical I’m going to lose in politics, because I won’t be able to get anybody to support me - so I make certain compromises.

1:52:55 - Up to a tribal scale people could do a better job of accurate information sharing because there was less incentive to disinform each other, because it would probably get found out - and we depended on each other pretty significantly. The Dunbar limit seems to be a pretty hard limit on that kind of information sharing. 

Tribes never got beyond a certain scale within a certain kind of organisation, and if they started to they would cleave - if they were going to get larger they would have to have a different kind of organisation.

One thing that we commonly think about is a limit of care and tracking - up to [say] a hundred and fifty people I can actually know everybody pretty well, they can all know me, and if I were to hurt anybody I’m hurting the people that I’ve known for my whole life.

Something like universal interest of that group, or a communalist idea makes sense if there are no anonymous people, or very far spaces where I can externalise harm. I basically can’t externalise harm in the social commons when I know everybody well. I also can’t lie and have that be advantageous. 

There is a communication protocol that anyone who has information about something within that setting can inform a choice where that information would be relevant. They can actually communicate with everybody fairly easily. If there’s a really big choice to make everybody can sit around a tribal circle and actually be able to say something about it. As you get larger you just can’t do that.

I think there’s a strong cleaving basis in not wanting to be part of a group that would make decisions that I’ll be subjected to that I don’t get any say in - unless it’s really important. [For instance,] tribal warfare is starting to occur more often, and so having a larger group is really important. In which case the bonding energy exceeds the cleaving energy.

1:58:29 - We still have incentives to figure out how to game the game as long as we still have separate interest.

Separate interest - where any in-group can advantage itself at the expense of an out-group, or any individual can itself at the expense of other individuals; which is grounded all the way down to a private balance sheet -  is an inexorable basis of rivalry.

Rivalry, in a world of exponential tech, self-terminates. 

Given that I don’t think we can stop the progress of tech, I think we have to create fundamentally anti-rivalrous system, and I don’t think we can do that with capitalism, or private-property ownership as the basis of how we get access to things.

2:32:02 - I think we get a certain level of empathy up to the Dunbar number just through mirror neurone type effects - the fact that I know these people, they know me, we’ve lived together and so on. If they’re hurting, I’m going to see it because they aren’t somewhere far away. Similarly I’m less likely to pollute in an area I’m in than through an industrial supply chain that pollutes somewhere that I’m not.

Proximity [is significant because] as we start to get to much larger scales, when I [cause something] there is an effect but I don’t get a feedback loop on it. A broken open feedback loop is a problem. 

3:11:40 - I think that status is a hyper-normal stimuli […] what porn is to sex, sugar and salt and fat concentrated in a Frappuccino, or a McDonalds is to food - void of the actual nutrition […]

In an evolutionary environment we couldn’t necessarily have more than 150 people pay attention to us - now we can have a huge number of people pay attention to us and have it metricised with likes.

I think it is like sugar, a hyper-normal stimulus that is [unlikely] not to be bad for us, and we have to have a very mature relationship to it. Addiction of any kind - any hyper-normal stimulus that decreases normal stimulus - is going to end up being net bad for us.

I think one of the metrics for how healthy a society is, is inverse relationship to addictive dynamics. 

A healthy environment conditions people who are not prone to addiction, which means having more authenticity of choice. Addiction or compulsion writ large is less authenticity of choice.

If there is a healthy status relationship - in a tribal environment, where I can’t really lie and people are watching me, and know me - if I’m thought well of it’s because I’m actually doing well by everybody and I have authentic healthy relationships, as as opposed to [being able to] signal things that aren’t true, get more status though negative signalling about other people, and so on - that is the same kind of thing as the fast food, or the porn.

So I think we have a hypo-normal environment of the healthy stimulus which actually creates a baseline well being. Most people, when they go camping with their friends and they’re in nature in real authentic human relationships, they’re checking their phone for dopamine hits from email or Facebook less - because they’re actually having an authentic, meaningful, engaging interaction.

But in a world where there is a lot of isolation, [little] connection to nature and meaningfulness, that hypo-normal environment creates increased susceptibility to hyper-normal stimuli. Hyper-normal stimuli happen to be good for markets, because on the supply side addiction is good for the lifetime value of a customer, but is bad for society as a whole.

Centre of Attraction

You get periods where there is no pattern, and then you get into an area where you get a particular pattern, and then you get into no pattern again. It’s a bit like old fashioned radios, where you tune the radio set and get a station, and then there’s a noise in between, and then you get the next station. You come in and out of these resonant frequencies.

These are like basins of attraction. [There are] patterns that we get at [certain] frequencies, and [there is a] minimum amplitude needed to create the pattern […] There is a point where you get the pattern clearly with a minimum of energy and there is an area around it where you have to have more energy to make [the pattern] happen.

If you look at the vibrations at these bits in between, what you see is something on the cusp... It’s what Chaos mathematicians call a ‘chaotic pattern’, where it is drawn between two attractors.

The in-between is an unstable area.

[Rupert Sheldrake]
Dynamic Patterns in Water as Analogue Models

That’s a hallmark of truth - it snaps things together.

People write to me all the time and say that, “It’s as if things were coming together in my mind.” Well, that’s what archetypes do, [they] glue things together. The proper expression of unconscious being teaches people what they already know. It’s like the Platonic idea that all learning is remembering.

You have a nature. And when you feel that nature articulated […] it’s like bringing the levels of being into synchrony, that’s what you feel. What [you] think, and what [you] feel have come together. And you feel that ‘snap’ [into] a simpler state, [and you’re] not rife with contradictions any more.

[Jordan B. Peterson]
'Jordan B Peterson | *NEW 2017* | full-length interview'

While studying turbulence, physicist David Ruelle (1971, 1980), coined the term strange attractor to describe the tendency of systems to move toward a fixed point, or to oscillate in a limited repeating cycle.

A pendulum is a good example of a fixed point attractor. It moves closer to its steady state over time, as it gives up energy to air friction.

Strange attractors imply that nature is constrained. The shape of chaos unfolds relative to the properties of the attractor.

An interesting property of the strange attractor is that initial conditions make little difference. As long as the starting points lie somewhere near the attractor, the system will rapidly converge upon the strange attractor. 

[David S. Walonick]
'General Systems Theory'

The direction of self-organization is always away from disorganized complicatedness and toward more organized complexity. "Greater levels of performance" thus refers to more efficient processing of energy and matter flows, all in the service of the enhanced integration and cohesion of the whole. 

Autocatalysis's "goal" is its own maintenance and enhancement in the face of disintegrating pressures from the environment. It is to that extent partially decoupled from and independent of the environment: autonomous.

Commentators on Aristotle's concepts of formal and final cause have often noted how these become entangled in living things. As we saw, Kant identified teleology with self-organization: an intrinsic physical end such as a tree both produces itself and maintains itself as itself, that is, it aims to preserve and promote its overall identity despite a constant turnover of components. 

This description is obviously true of dissipative, autocatalytic processes. As they select for inclusion in the web molecules that enhance overall activity, autocatalytic cycles "aim" at greater performance by constantly pruning and streamlining their pathway structure. To maintain itself as itself, an autocatalytic web functions as an "attractor": a rudimentary precursor of final cause.

[Alicia Juarrero]
Dynamics in Action, p.127

All attractors represent characteristic behaviors or states that tend to draw the system toward themselves, but strange attractors are "thick," allowing individual behaviors to fluctuate so widely that even though captured by the attractor's basin they appear unique. 

The width and convoluted shape of strange attractors imply that the overall pathway they describe is multiply realizable. 

Strange attractors describe ordered global patterns with such a high degree of local fluctuation, that is, that individual trajectories appear random, never quite exactly repeating the way the pendulum or chemical wave of the B-Z reaction does. 

Complex systems are often characterized by strange attractors. The strange attractors of seemingly "chaotic" phenomena are therefore often not chaotic at all. Such intricate behavior patterns are evidence of highly complex, context-dependent dynamic organization

[Alicia Juarrero]
Dynamics in Action, p.155

One mark of such complexity is that variations in behavior are often not noise at all: irregularities can signal the presence of a strange attractor. When behavior is constrained by a such an attractor, it is the variations that are interesting, for there, lurking behind what at first glance appears to be noise, complex dynamic attractors are in play. 

The more general and abstract the intention, the more complex the behavior allowed. 

One significant advantage of a complex dynamical systems perspective, therefore, is that it can account for differences and irregularities in behavior, which covering laws (and a fortiori behaviorism) could not.

[Alicia Juarrero]
Dynamics in Action, p.222

Strange attractor: Low resolution, permissive of variation, pattern not necessarily discernible until zoomed out. A vague centre.


Personal                              -                      Universal
Individual                           -                      Collective
Subjective                           -                      Objective

Is it [...] impossible to present a view as true, by which one can live, without also presenting it as a view that is true necessarily, by which all must live?

[Alexander Nehamas]
Nietzsche: Life as Literature, p. 36

The Poincaré map is a dimensional compression technique whereby three dimensions are displayed in two dimensional space. Unlike a photograph, which implies the third dimension through perspective, the Poincaré map involves the third dimension in its creation.

It is interesting to speculate on the nature of the patterns revealed by Poincaré maps. The map itself is created by using a line drawn through the origin as a reference for defining the y-axis of the map. Different maps are produced for each of the infinite selections of lines through the origin. Patterns appear and disappear depending on the selection of the reference line.

One interpretation might be that our concept of "order" is incorrect. We generally perceive of "order" as an absolute (i.e., the quest for the "true" nature of things). Poincaré maps imply that order is not an absolute, but rather, something that can only be understood relative to an observer.

An observer using one reference line might see order, while another observer using a different reference line might see chaos, or a completely different pattern. In other words, the nature of a system is a matter of perception and/or beliefs.

[David S. Walonick]
'General Systems Theory'

The history of philosophy is to a great extent that of a certain clash of human temperaments.

Undignified as such a treatment may seem to some of my colleagues, I shall have to take account of this clash and explain a good many of the divergencies of philosophers by it. Of whatever temperament a professional philosopher is, he tries when philosophizing to sink the fact of his temperament. Temperament is no conventionally recognized reason, so he urges impersonal reasons only for his conclusions.

Yet his temperament really gives him a stronger bias than any of his more strictly objective premises. It loads the evidence for him one way or the other, making for a more sentimental or a more hard-hearted view of the universe, just as this fact or that principle would. He trusts his temperament.

Wanting a universe that suits it, he believes in any representation of the universe that does suit it. He feels men of opposite temper to be out of key with the world’s character, and in his heart considers them incompetent and 'not in it,' in the philosophic business, even tho they may far excel him in dialectical ability.

Most of us have, of course, no very definite intellectual temperament, we are a mixture of opposite ingredients, each one present very moderately. We hardly know our own preferences in abstract matters; some of us are easily talked out of them, and end by following the fashion or taking up with the beliefs of the most impressive philosopher in our neighborhood, whoever he may be.

But the one thing that has counted so far in philosophy is that a man should see things, see them straight in his own peculiar way, and be dissatisfied with any opposite way of seeing them.

[William James]
Pragmatism and Other Writings, p. 9

Nietzsche is so suspicious of Plato and Socrates because he believes that their approach is essentially dogmatic. He attributes to them the view that their view is not simply a view but an accurate description of the real world which forces its own acceptance and makes an unconditional claim on everyone’s assent.

Apart from objecting to their specific ideas, he objects even more to the fact that philosophers “are not honest enough in their work,” that they write as if they had reached their ideas in an objective and disinterested manner, motivated only by the search for truth.

But according to him these same philosophers “are all advocates who resent that name, and for the most part even wily spokesmen for their prejudices which they baptise ‘truths’ - and very far from having the courage of the conscience that admits this, precisely this, to itself; very far from having the good taste or the courage which also lets this be known, whether to warn an enemy or friend, or, from exuberance, to mock itself.”

It is in the interest of dogmatic approaches to hide their specific origins; in this way that are enabled to make universal claims. 

Having an origin is being part of history, and this implies that it is at least possible also to have an end. It is just this possibility that, according to Nietzsche, dogmatism must render invisible, since it aims to be accepted necessarily and unconditionally - not as the product of a particular person or idiosyncrasy but as the result of a discovery about the unalterable features of the world.

This is one of the reasons, as we shall see, why Nietzsche engages in the practice he calls “genealogy,” for genealogy reveals the very particular, very interested origins from which actually emerge the views that we have forgotten are views and take instead as facts.

Nietzsche’s opposition to dogmatism does not consist in the paradoxical idea that it is wrong to think that one’s beliefs are true, but only in the view that one’s beliefs are not, and need not be, true for everyone.

[Dogmatism and metaphysics] are attempts to project one’s own views on the world, and they are just as much attempts to hide precisely this projection from themselves as well as from their audience.

They lack “the courage of the conscience” that either in warning or in mockery admits that the view being projected is nothing more than a reading onto the world of the conditions under which its own author can thrive, and which need not be the right conditions for everyone else […] 

Accepting a view is therefore not simply a question of assenting to a set of propositions, as the matter is sometimes put. It also involves accepting the values that are the preconditions of that view and the mode of life that is implied and made possible by those values.

And since Nietzsche believes that there is no mode of life that is proper, desirable, or indeed possible for everyone, he also holds, very consistently, that there is no set of views that commands universal assent by virtue of depending merely on the features of the world in itself or of human beings as such.

[Alexander Nehamas]
Nietzsche: Life as Literature, p. 32-4

What makes one regard philosophers half mistrustfully and half mockingly is […] that they display altogether insufficient honesty, while making a mighty and virtuous noise as soon as the problem of truthfulness is even remotely touched on. 

They pose as having discovered and attained their real opinions through the self-evolution of cold, pure, divinely unperturbed dialectic (in contrast to the mystics of every rank, who are more honest and more stupid than they - these speak of 'inspiration'): while what happens at bottom is that a prejudice, a notion, an 'inspiration', generally a desire of the heart sifted and made abstract, is defended by them with reasons sought after the event - they are one and all advocates who do not want to be regarded as such, and for the most part no better than cunning pleaders for their prejudices, which they baptize 'truths' - and very far from possessing the courage of the conscience which admits this fact to itself, very far from possessing the good taste of the courage which publishes this fact, whether to warn a foe or a friend or out of high spirits and in order to mock itself.

The tartuffery, as stiff as it is virtuous, of old Kant as he lures us along the dialectical bypaths which lead, more correctly, mislead, to his 'categorical imperative' - this spectacle makes us smile, we who are fastidious and find no little amusement in observing the subtle tricks of old moralists and moral-preachers.

Not to speak of that hocus-pocus of mathematical form in which, as in iron, Spinoza encased and masked his philosophy - 'the love of his wisdom', to render that word fairly and squarely - so as to strike terror into the heart of any assailant who should dare to glance at that invincible maiden and Pallas Athene - how much timidity and vulnerability this masquerade of a sick recluse betrays!

[Friedrich Nietzsche]
Beyond Good and Evil, 5

Learning transforms us, it does that which all nourishment does which does not merely ‘preserve' - : as the physiologist knows. 

But at the bottom of us, “right down deep', there is, to be sure, something unteachable, a granite stratum of spiritual fate, of predetermined decision and answer to predetermined selected questions. In the case of every cardinal problem there speaks an unchangeable ‘this is I'; 

about man and woman, for example, a thinker cannot relearn but only learn fully - only discover all that is ‘firm and settled' within him on this subject. 

One sometimes comes upon certain solutions to problems which inspire strong belief in us; perhaps one thenceforth calls them one's 'convictions'. Later - one sees them only as footsteps to self-knowledge, signposts to the problem which we are - more correctly, to the great stupidity which we are, to our spiritual fate, to the unteachable 'right down deep'.

[Friedrich Nietzsche]
Beyond Good and Evil, 231

The kind of blogging I do has to be based in personal obsession, in spats and rivalry, in a kind of light, oblique but perpetual autobiography.

There has to be a subject for all this data to make any sort of situated sense, and that subject has to be seen to have a body, clothes, a way to wear those clothes, and so on.

As soon as I get tugged out of that embodied, situated world I get bored and anxious and mistrustful.

I want to know always who's speaking, how old they are, what culture they were raised in, what their vested interests are, and so on.

For me, the Anon is suspicious because I can't see what s/he looks like or what life his/her comment is rooted in. For the Anons (or some of them), I'm the suspicious one, because my comments are far too obviously rooted in an ego, a persona.


An interpretation can appear to be binding on everyone only if the fact that it is an interpretation remains hidden. And this can be achieved only if the interpretation in question is presented as a view that is objectively true of the world and is addressed to all human beings simply as human beings, as rational agents, or […] as children of God.

To say of a view that it is an interpretation is not to say that it is false. It is, rather, to say that it is a view that, like all views, is produced by specific interests, for specific purposes, and that it is appropriate for specific types of people. 

And though this does not make the issue of truth irrelevant, the ultimate question to be asked of an interpretation concerns the interests it promotes: for what type of person is it appropriate? Whom does it benefit? […] interpretation is always an effort to reveal and make obvious the character, the type of person, and the type of life which a view promotes and elevates.

Nietzsche believed that the goal of every philosophical view is to present a picture of the world and a conception of values which makes a certain type of person possible and which allows it to prosper and to flourish. 

“We seek picture of the world in that philosophy in which we feel freest; i.e., in which our most powerful drive feels free to function […]”

[…] asceticism denies the radical contingency of history, the fact that every institution is subject to change, revision, and even elimination. But even more important, it denies that many modes of life are possible at the same time, and that this pluralism, despite its undeniable dangers, holds greater promise than the uniform levelling that Nietzsche finds to be implicit in Christianity and in all other absolutist codes.

[Alexander Nehamas]
Nietzsche: Life as Literature, p. 126-9

Consider the historical horizon of Nietzsche. 

His conceptions of decadence, militarism, the transvaluation of all values, the will to power, lie deep in the essence of Western civilization and are for the analysis of that civilization of decisive importance. But what, do we find, was the foundation on which he built up his creation? Romans and Greeks, Renaissance and European present, with a fleeting and uncomprehending side-glance at Indian philosophy - in short "ancient, mediæval and modern" history. 

Strictly speaking, he never once moved outside the scheme, not did any other thinker of his time.

What correlation, then, is there or can there be of his idea of the "Dionysian" with the inner life of a highly-civilized Chinese or an up-to-date American? What is the significance of his type of the "Superman" - for the world of Islam? Can image-forming antitheses of Nature and Intellect, Heathen and Christian, Classical and Modern, have any meaning for the soul of the Indian or the Russian? 

What can Tolstoi - who from the depths of his humanity rejected the whole Western world-idea as something alien and distant - do with the “Middle Ages," with Dante, with Luther? What can a Japanese do with Parzeval and "Zarathustra," or an Indian with Sophocles? And is the thought-range of Schopenhauer, Comte, Feuerbach, Hebbel or Strindberg any wider? 

Is not their whole psychology, for all its intention of world-wide validity, one of purely West-European significance?

[Oswald Spengler]
The Decline of the West, Vol. 1, p.24

In this matter of morale, Western mankind, without exception, is under the influence of an immense optical illusion.

Everyone demands something of the rest.

We say “thou shalt" in the conviction that so-and-so in fact will, can and must be changed or fashioned or arranged conformably to the order, and our belief both in the efficacy of, and in our title to give, such orders is unshakable. That, and nothing short of it, is, for us, morale.

In the ethics of the West everything is direction, claim to power, will to affect the distant. Here Luther is completely at one with Nietzsche, Popes with Darwinians, Socialists with Jesuits; for one and all, the beginning of morale is a claim to general and permanent validity.

It is a necessity of the Faustian soul that this should be so. He who thinks or teaches “otherwise" is sinful, a backslider, a foe, and he is fought down without mercy. You "shall," the State "shall," society "shall" — this form of morale is to us self-evident; it represents the only real meaning that we can attach to the word.

But it was not so either in the Classical, or in India, or in China. Buddha, for instance, gives a pattern to take or to leave, and Epicurus offers counsel. Both undeniably are forms of high morale, and neither contains the will-element.

[Oswald Spengler]
The Decline of the West, Vol. 1, p. 341

Even Nietzsche, that most passionate opponent of "herd morale,” was perfectly incapable of limiting his zeal to himself in the Classical way. He thought only of “mankind," and he attacked everyone who differed from himself.

Epicurus, on the contrary, was heartily indifferent to others' opinions and acts and never wasted one thought on the “transformation" of mankind. He and his friends were content that they were as they were and not otherwise.

The Classical ideal was indifference to the course of the world - the very thing which it is the whole business of Faustian mankind to master - and an important element both of Stoic and of Epicurean philosophy was the recognition of a category of things neither preferred nor rejected.

In Hellas there was a pantheon of morales as there was of deities, as the peaceful coexistence of Epicureans, Cynics and Stoics shows, but the Nietzschean Zarathustra - though professedly standing beyond good and evil - breathes from end to end the pain of seeing men to be other than as he would have them be, and the deep and utterly un-Classical desire to devote a life to their reformation - his own sense of the word, naturally, being the only one.

It is just this, the general transvaluation, that makes ethical monotheism and - using the word in a novel and deep sense — socialism. All world-improvers are Socialists. And consequently there are no Classical world-improvers.

[Oswald Spengler]
The Decline of the West, Vol. 1, p. 342

[…] Locke, the founder of modern psychology, was evidently inspired by the Cartesian conception when he thought fit to announce that, in order to know what the Greeks and Romans thought in days gone by (for his horizon did not extend beyond Western 'classical' antiquity) it is enough to find out what Englishmen and Frenchmen are thinking today, for 'man is everywhere and always the same'.

Nothing could possibly be more false, yet the psychologists have never got beyond that point, for, while they imagine that they are talking of man in general, the greater part of what they say really only applies to the modern European; does it not look as if they believe that the uniformity that is being imposed gradually on all human individuals has already been realized?

[René Guénon]
The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times, p. 92

Related posts:

Daniel Schmachtenberger - The Future Thinkers Podcast (46)

'46: Daniel Schmachtenberger - Phase Shifting Humanity'
The Future Thinkers Podcast

27:19 - We take this tree, with this radical, contextualised, complex value, and take it out of its context and give it this reduced, abstracted, simplified value metric. 

We’ve done that to eighty percent of the old growth forests that the earth has spent billions of years developing, [and] 90% of the large fish species in the ocean. What does that capital then really do, other than continue to [reproduce and maintain itself].

It’s a process of abstracting value - from complex value to abstract value - and then extracting and accumulating it. Capitalism does that, but socialism and communism have other versions of doing [- they] were really only subsets of this kind of resource concentration system

That’s the core, that’s the ring of power that has to be broken: abstraction of value, and specifically a reductive abstraction; extraction, so you remove the content form its context; and accumulation.

And that’s how you take a complex system - that is resilient -and turn it into a complicated system - that is not resilient, that is becoming progressively simpler - and kill it.

Eric Weinstein (Notes)

Eric Weinstein: Revolutionary Ideas in Science, Math, and Society | Artificial Intelligence Podcast
Artificial Intelligence Podcast

33:13 - I don’t trust [Steven Pinker’s] optimism […] more and more kinetic energy, like war, has been turned into potential energy, like unused nuclear weapons - [but] if you don’t have a potential energy term, then everything’s just getting better and better.

Daniel Schmachtenberger (Notes)

'War on Sensemaking 4: Pandemic & Conspiracy, Daniel Schmachtenberger'
Rebel Wisdom

29:53 - One of the things that I find with regard to conspiracy [is that] people have an aesthetic bias, where anything they hear as a conspiracy is rejected up front. They just auto-reject it without studying it, even though history shows how much people have conspired.

On the other hand there are people who, if they hear any conspiracy they assume it’s probably true and if they hear that anything came from an authoritative institution it’s probably corrupt.

36:10A lot of people have a strong bias towards wanting certainty. Which means that they will adopt more certainty than the epistemic that they went through should warrant. 

It’s generally wanting security, and conflating security and certainty. Recognising how big of an infinity the unknowable is [means we have] to make very deep friends with uncertainty to not be mentally ill. That doesn’t mean that [because] there is uncertainty […] nothing can possibly be known - the fact that I can’t know anything with perfect certainty doesn’t mean that I can’t know things with much higher relative certainty based on certain epistemic processes that inform my action.

A mature relationship with certainty and uncertainty [means] that [we’re] not uncomfortable with either. 

There are a lot of people [with a postmodern mindset] who are actually uncomfortable with any uncertainties, even relative ones. The assumption [is] that all certainty is probably imperialism. But there is a lot we can say with pretty high certainty about [for instance] the molecular properties of water, or the speed of sound, or [other things] that are pretty well established.

It is important to seek certainty - to seek a better and better undemanding of reality [in order] to inform more responsible choice-making. In order to do that I have to admit and be comfortable with [an] amount of uncertainty, so that I can assess where I’m currently at and [ascertain how to progress].

42:12 -  Do I think that there are people erring on the side of unfounded conspiracy theories, and with more certainty - yes, definitely.

Do I think there are also other people erring on the side of being comfortable with more authoritarianism […] that are actually under-paranoid about what we the authorities are telling them and how they will handle things - yes. 

I think that both of those are happening, nearly equally. I’m more concerned by the second one.

I think that there is a problem with people saying that there isn’t a virus, but I think the people who call for national security actions to solve this - that leave authority states - also creates a problem that could be worse than the virus.

50:39 - I definitely see people that have a towards or away-from conspiracy bias, that corresponds with their general bias in how they relate to authorities. 

(This is a pattern that we can observe enough of the time that it’s interesting to look at. The reason I’m careful in saying things like this, is that when someone over-norms their patterns that’s where sense-making becomes bad).

I have seen, relatively often, people who generally think that government bodies [...] mostly regulate in the right interest, [and that] you can largely trust authorities. These people also generally have a frame that ‘things are mostly getting better in the world.’

Generally those people did better in childhood - at school [for instance]. Often times their parents were more successful, or they did better relative to them. So they have this experience that ‘the system actually works for me, and that the authorities are actually trustworthy, and that I have a good relationship with them’.

This creates an intuitive, felt sense, wherein even if they’re in an environment where that’s not true ([even] if it was true in the little micro-environment of their childhood) that’s still the felt sense. They sometimes will keep that forever, or sometimes they have to be disabused of it at some point.

Other people have the general sense that most authorities are probably corrupt and probably abusing power, and that most institutions can’t be trusted, and that people with less power can be trusted more, and [that] there is usually some process of corruption that is required for climbing power ladders.

Those people generally weren’t very successful at climbing the ladders, and often had authorities around that abused power or [had a negative experience with authority] whether that was school, or church, or whatever it was.

I’m giving an example of a kind of bias that can occur which is a towards or against authority bias; a kind of result that can happen - more likely to believe in conspiracies that the authorities are bad, or more likely to reject that the authorities are bad; and the kind of developmental environment that could give rise to it.

Daniel Schmachtenberger (Notes)

36: Daniel Schmachtenberger - Phase Shifting Humanity
The Future Thinkers Podcast

2:21 - I wouldn’t talk in terms of an ultimate system, I’d talk in terms of ongoing evolution - so rather than utopian, as one has previously thought of a perfected system, we’re going to think of a protoptian process of emergence into more elegantly ordered complexity that has more and more emergent properties.

6:29 - We were under half a billion population for all of human history as far as we know - two hundred plus thousand years - until the industrial revolution, and then in just over two hundred years we went up to over seven billion people and growing. That is a profound exponential population curve.

Not only have we been growing in population but we have been growing in resource consumption per capita, so this is a mutiplicative issue.

9:40 - The technologies it takes to build this kind of sustainable regenerative, thriving new set of world systems is technology that we developed via capitalism and linear materials economy, and the military industrial complex.

So they served an evolutionary relevance in terms of where we’re going and they have just completed a particular evolutionary relevant life cycle and now we’re going through a discreet phase shift into a new life cycle, very much like a fetal time period. 

An embryonic time period is unsustainable - a baby couldn’t stay in the belly after 40 weeks, that’s not how it works. It’s a finite evolutionary period of unsustainable development, to then go through a discreet phase shift into a fundamentally new period.

14:45 - If we define a civilisation where we have a sustainable population that does not require imposition from the outside - some kind of eugenics, or birth-limiting programme - it is an emergent, self-organising phenomena.

We’ve already seen places in the world where, when education gets high enough, economics, female empowerment, etc - populations stabilises, and can even decrease to find the right level. We’ve seen that in Japan, and some of the Scandinavian countries.

So to have a steady-state population that is within the sustainable caring capacity of the planet connected to a post-growth materials economy, where the materials that we are using are being designed in a cradle-to-cradle way. Their recyclability after use is built in and there is no such thing as waste. The new stuff is being made from old stuff so it doesn’t require virgin resource acquisition.

We have a system that doesn’t require trash or extraction - that’s what post growth means, is post necessity for growth, so it actually can be sustainable. And we just keep increasing the efficiency of how we utilise those resource and attenuating the forms that they are in.

17:57 - The other major thing that economics has done is human incentive.

When there is a bunch of shitty jobs that society needs done for the quality of life that is related to infrastructure - that nobody, if they didn’t have to, would want to spend all of their life doing - then we need to get people to do these jobs. Adam Smith talked about this, Marx did - this is the core of economic theory.

So if you do some kind of communism, where everyone’s needs are met by the system, then how do you get the people to do the shitty jobs? The state has to force them, and we call that imperialism and that’s why we don’t like communism.

Capitalism says, we’ll let the free market force them - if they don’t do the shitty jobs, they just go homeless. That’s really not freedom - it just moved the forcing function from the state to the market. 

24:50 - There is an important difference between appreciable wealth and exchangeable wealth. When we think about a rainbow or someone complimenting you, or seeing a smile, it’s not extractable and exchangeable wealth for anyone. None of these are things you can put on a balance sheet. But when you think about what makes life most rich, it’s largely these things - that fit into appreciable, but not quantifiable wealth.

One of the beautiful things that happens when the primary balance sheet that we’re paying attention to is the balance sheet of the commons - the natural world commons, and the built world commons, that everyone has access to without possessing - is that we have a system that gets to start optimising for appreciable wealth generation. We’re not only focused on exchangeable wealth accounting systems.

27:05 - One of the issues of the inability to make sense of almost anything is how much of any news or idea has some kind of financial interest associated with it. 

How much education is an advertorial? How much of science is actually just the R&D arm of capitalism funded by something that has a vested interest attached?

Think about what it means to create system that remove all of those agents so that there are no vested interest agendas.

29:55 - That’s the key of the future of macro-economics - the alignment of agency and wellbeing, and that correlates with closing the loop.

We’re closing the loop between agency of individuals/well being of others - moving from an open loop system, where I could affect things but not internalise those effects in the cost equation, to [a system where] all [affects are] internalised in the cost equation.

That corresponds to a world view where my sense of self and my sense of the rest of the universe are not fundamentally separate concepts. I wouldn’t exist without oxygen, or the plants that make the oxygen, or the bugs and fungus that makes the plants work to make the oxygen.

I am not an individual. I have a self-organising membrane that has some individuality to it but I am an emergent property of everything else. 

So when you close the loop between sense of self and sense of others, then what’s in my best interest [is] whats in the best interest of others. There is loop closure between ‘advantage self at the expense of others’ or ‘sacrifice self for the well being of others’, both of which are nonsense in a radically interconnected system.

What we’re looking at is closing all the causal loops so that everything that influences decision making is being informed by everything being influenced.

35:47 Economics conditions human behaviour. And infrastructure actually conditions human behaviour - it ends up being not net-neutral mimetically. 

If you have infrastructure where the only way to get electricity is from coal, which we know is causing inexorable harm to other life - you cannot have full empathy in that infrastructural system.

You actually have to down-regulate your empathy to justify getting along. You’ll not want to look at certain pictures and videos because you know you’re contributing to things you can’t really handle contributing to.

You’ll turn down your awareness, you’ll change your behaviour, you’ll turn down empathy, because infrastructure is actually predisposing patterns of mimetics and behaviour.

41:08 - There is a foundational principle that says complexity will evolve within any organisational system inexorably, because there’s movement, and with movement there are self-interacting dynamics, and that’s going to lead to increased complexity.

Complexity will evolve within any organisational system until it actually exceeds that systems capacity to manage it. When it exceeds it you will get increased chaos, and then increased entropy, and then the dissolution of the organisational system.

Then you’ll get the entropic step down to the previous level of organisation, or out of the chaos you get the emergence of a higher level of organisation.

That’s the place I’d say we’re at globally.



[...] the Eskimos have a word, kunlangeta, which means “his mind knows what to do but he does not do it.” This is an abstract term for the breaking of many rules when awareness of the rules is not in question.

It might be applied to a man who, for example, repeatedly lies and cheats and steals things and does not go hunting and, when the other men are out of the village, takes sexual advantage of many women - someone who does not pay attention to reprimands and who is always being brought to the elders for punishment. One Eskimo among the 499 on their island was called kunlangeta.

When asked what would have happened to such a person traditionally, an Eskimo said that probably “somebody would have pushed him off the ice when nobody else was looking”.

The Yorubas have a similarly abstract word, arankan, which means a person who always goes his own way regardless of others, who is uncooperative, full of malice, and bullheaded.

There are parallels between kunlangeta and arankan and our concept “psychopath” - someone who consistently violates the norms of society in multiple ways. Also some of the specific acts of wrongdoing which Eskimos and Yorubas recognise might in our society be called evidence of “personality disorders.” In Western psychiatry, this term refers to sexual deviations, excessive use of drugs or alcohol, and a variety of behaviours that primarily cause trouble for other people rather than for the doer.

It is of considerable interest that kunlangeta and arankan are not behaviours that the shamans and healers are believed to be able to cure or change. As a matter of fact, when I pressed this point with the Yoruba healers they specifically denied that these patterns are illness.

[Jane M. Murphy]
'Psychiatric Labeling in Cross-Cultural Perspective', Science, Vol 191, p. 1026




Psychopathy is a personality disorder described by [various] personality traits and behaviors [...] Psychopaths are without conscience and incapable of empathy, guilt, or loyalty to anyone but themselves.

In the journal Psychology, Crime, and Law, researchers Board and Fritzon administered a self-report personality inventory to a sample of British senior business managers and executives. They concluded that the prevalence of histrionic, narcissistic, and compulsive personality disorders was relatively high, and that many of the traits exhibited were consistent with psychopathy: superficial charm, insincerity, egocentricity, manipulativeness, grandiosity, lack of empathy, exploitativeness, independence, rigidity, stubbornness, and dictatorial tendencies.

We now know that some organizations actively seek out and recruit individuals with at least a moderate dose of psychopathic features.

Some executives have said to us, “Many of the traits you describe to us seem to be valued by our company. Why shouldn’t companies hire psychopaths to fill some jobs?” A proper, scientific answer is that more research is needed to determine the impact of various doses of psychopathic characteristics on the performance of different types of jobs.

The “optimal” number and severity of such characteristics presumably is higher for some jobs (such as stock promoter, politician, law enforcement, used-car salespeople, mercenaries, and lawyers) than for others (such as social workers, teachers, nurses, and ministers).

[Paul Babiak & Robert D. Hare]
'Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go To Work'

We believe there is no evidence that any treatments yet applied to psychopaths have been shown to be effective in reducing violence or crime. In fact, some treatments that are effective for other offenders are actually harmful for psychopaths in that they appear to promote recidivism.

We believe that the reason for these findings is that psychopaths are fundamentally different from other offenders and that there is nothing “wrong” with them in the manner of a deficit or impairment that therapy can “fix.”

Instead, they exhibit an evolutionarily viable life strategy that involves lying, cheating, and manipulating others.

[Kevin S. Douglas,  Gina M. Vincent & John F. Edens]
'Risk for Criminal Recidivism: The Role of Psychopathy'


Going to extremes


But it’s better for us not to know the kinds of sacrifices the professional-grade athlete has made to get so very good at one particular thing […] the actual facts of the sacrifices repel us when we see them: basketball geniuses who cannot read, sprinters who dope themselves, defensive tackles who shoot up with bovine hormones until they collapse or explode.

We prefer not to consider closely the shockingly vapid and primitive comments uttered by athletes in postcontest interviews or to consider what impoverishments in one’s mental life would allow people actually to think the way great athletes seem to think.

Note the way ‘up close and personal’ profiles of professional athletes strain so hard to find evidence of a rounded human life–outside interests and activities, values beyond the sport. We ignore what’s obvious, that most of this straining is farce.

It’s farce because the realities of top-level athletics today require an early and total commitment to one area of excellence. An ascetic focus. A subsumption of almost all other features of human life to one chosen talent and pursuit. A consent to live in a world that, like a child’s world, is very small […]

[Tennis player Michael] Joyce is, in other words, a complete man, though in a grotesquely limited way […] Already, for Joyce, at twenty-two, it’s too late for anything else; he’s invested too much, is in too deep. I think he’s both lucky and unlucky. He will say he is happy and mean it. Wish him well.

[David Foster Wallace]
'The String Theory'