Thanks, this is exactly what I was looking for. Not a new idea then, though there’s something to be said for semi-independent reinvention.
The obvious munchkin move would be to develop a reliable means of boostrapping a basic mental model of constructivist learning and grounding it in the learner’s own direct experience of learning. Turning the learning process on itself should lead to some amount of recursive improvement, right? Has that been tried?
I noticed I was confused about how humans can learn novel concepts from verbal explanations without running into the symbol grounding problem. After some contemplation, I came up with this:
To the extent language relies on learned associations between linguistic structures and mental content, a verbal explanation can only work with what’s already there. Instead of directly inserting new mental content, the explanation must leverage the receiving mind’s established content in a way that lets the mind generate its own version of the new content.
There’s enough to say about this that it seems worth a post or several but I thought I’d float it here first. Has something like this been written already?
I get the feeling that we’ve been talking past each other. I took you as mixing levels in a confused way but you may have been trying to address what you took as someone else’s confusion.
I broadly agree with your last two comments and feel like you’ve somewhat misunderstood what I was trying to say. I think our views are more-or-less compatible but articulating them to the point of mutual understanding may be more effort than it’s worth.
Yeah, subjective experiences are real. Point is, there’s no term for them or any of our other mentalistic concepts in physics. You can redefine them to fit but it seemed to me that TAG was trying to apply the intuitive notion of meaning in the context of physical determinism. Hence, leaning further into the frame in order to propagate the update. Once you get the mind as a physical thing, it adds up to normality again.
Related: Thou Art Physics.
Category error. “Meaning” is not a thing in the deterministic frame. It’s cause and effect all the way down. If you want to think in terms of deterministic physics, you have to think entirely in terms of deterministic physics.
Try grokking timeless physics if you haven’t yet. Visualizing yourself as a four-dimensional atemporal structure should help clarify the intuitions.
Ontologically distinct enlightenments suggest path dependence. That seems correct on reflection; updating and reframing.
Enlightenment is caused by a certain observation about mind/reality that is salient, obvious in retrospect and reliably triggers major updates. The referent of this observation is universal and invariant but its interpretation and the resulting updates may not be; the mind can only work with what it has.
In other words, enlightenment has one referent in the territory but the resulting maps are path dependent. This seems consistent with what I know about spirituality-related failure modes and doctrinal disagreements. Also, the sixties.
So yeah. Caution is warranted. Just keep in mind that your skull is an information bottleneck, not an ontological boundary.
I think it’s some mix of genuine improvement and legibility bias.
We really have learned more about the world and made many aspects we care about more legible. On the other hand, we also tend to focus on what we see and ignore what we don’t, so improved legibility in some areas may make us more likely to pay attention to those at the expense of others.
Things get extra tricky if we optimize too hard on legible metrics. To the extent illegible things matter, we can goodhart and incur illegible technical debt that’s masked in the short run by legible improvements.
MWI is deterministic, so how much striving you do or do not do is determined.
Deterministic or not, you are the process by which it is determined, and conversations like these are inputs for the process. This adds up to normality: you’ll keep on determining whether you believe in the intuitive notion of free will or not.
At the extremes, people have one of four life goals: To achieve a state of nothingness (hinayana enlightenment), to achieve a state of oneness (mahayana enlightenment), to achieve a utopia of meaning (galts gulch), or to achieve a utopia of togetherness (hivemind).
These are not distinct things—they’re alternative ways to frame one thing. All roads lead to Rome, so to speak. The way I see it, full enlightenment entails attaining all four at once. Just don’t get distracted by the taste of lotus on the way.
The SSC sequence (plus a whole bunch of other things) inspired me to think of deities as mythic representations of cultural collective intelligence. The God-shaped hole could then be understood as a psychological adaptation for collective intelligence, and religions as collective intelligence operating systems.
There’s a lot more that could be said on this topic but it seems to deserve its own sequence. Perhaps I should write one.
Speculation based on my experience with and research on the sorts of transformations that spiritual practice and psychedelics sometimes facilitate:
This has to do with our sense of meaning and fittedness-for-purpose of our mental frameworks. When we try to go against these, we expend willpower and become fatigued. When the task is meaningful to us and fits well with our frameworks, we engage effortlessly, like water flowing downhill.
I’ve had major transformations that exhibit this pattern: some previously interesting activities become dull and boring, and some new activities become meaningful and interesting. If I try to persist in the old activities, I quickly become fatigued and lose interest. Once I switch to the new activities, I can spend hours with effortless focus. Sometimes I’d had prior experience with the “new” activities and found them boring at the time.
I agree with Gordon, though I’m not entirely satisfied with his articulation. This topic is notoriously difficult to talk about given how the referents are entirely mental and phenomenological.
John Vervaeke’s ongoing lecture series, Awakening from the Meaning Crisis, seems to be getting at this. We’ll see where it goes.