Your Function

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by wesmorris, Nov 4, 2003.

  1. river-wind Valued Senior Member

    ok, I re-wrote my theory, attempting to use Wes's posts as a basis to start from. This attempts to explain his "best" action idea, as well as my "correctness in action". it is long.

    The basics:
    This theory assumes that you have a rudimentary knowledge of chaos theory (beyond just the idea of the butterfly effect, but have actually studied it in a class or read a book on the theory), that you understand the idea that borders between what make up “you” and what makes up “outside of you”is a very complex issue, and that photons are both waves are particles at the same time. If you understand all that already, then read on. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then the following won’t make sense, and may sound crazy.

    In a world of self-regulating systems, attractor points, detractor points, we have a systems which can largely exist indefinitely, as long as there a constant input of energy. Stable energy input and enough time, could, in theory create a system which was completely cyclical – the system will vary one direction, then center itself, and vary back the other way, on and on, forever. (think the Aztec calendar for the idea of cycles within cycles that I’m talking about here)
    Variations in that energy input can add variations to those cycles, creating new, unbefore seen situations and combinations. Certain cycles, before orbiting around an attractor point can be bumped to a different attractor point given enough of an energy change, creating an entirely new set of cycles to interact with the rest of the world.

    This is how I seen the universe around me. I see these cycles, these re-occurring instances combining in new ways to create new things, but it is all the same cycle. This is a philosophy based on the basics of chaos theory.

    Now to break from that slightly, consider Einstein. Relativity. The specific idea that the point of view that you have changes how you perceive the universe. This is not a new idea, it has been suggested in ancient religions around the world. Walk in another man’s shoes, see things from their point of view – these suggestions on how to live come from that idea that someone else may see the exact same thing that you do, but it may look completely different to them. You cannot understand an argument that you are having until you put effort into understanding the other person’s side.
    In a given argument, it may be that both opponents are very close to agreement, but one is missing a critical piece of information. Or the two people may simply have to different cultural backgrounds, and the assumptions on which the argument are based do not mesh.
    What ever the cause of the argument, we put effort into fighting through them because we believe, through experience or faith, that we are right. The ideas that we have are obvious, everyone should understand them
    Yet our ideas differ from the person next to us, and we both stand there, believing that we are the correct one.

    Why is that?
    Simple. Because if we believed that the person next to us was right, and we were wrong, then we would be changing our own beliefs, and would then be right again. This actually happens a lot. We have a set idea, someone comes along and teaches us the folly of that idea, we go “ah-ha! Of course!” and come to believe what we were just taught. We tend to forget that this too is an argument, simply one in which we accept the loss and move on. We don’t fight to defend our own beliefs in those cases, because we see that our original assumption was wrong. That what we had known to be the truth moments before to be correct is no longer the truth.

    Back to relativity. We can easily see things, with effort, from another person’s perspective. We can image what things look like from their angle, and see what that difference may cause in how they see the world itself.
    For an example. Let’s say that I am sitting in the corner of a room, and there is a large white sphere in the center. Wesmorris is sitting in the far corner, on the other side of the room. He says” hey, look, there is a black sphere between us!”
    I immediately retort, “white sphere, you mean.”
    His reply? “No, black sphere, look at it.”
    I respond by first looking at the sphere again, and then saying, “Um, I’m looking right at it, it’s white…”
    Then the sphere turns 90 degrees. Both wes and I notice for the first time that the sphere is half white and half black. It looks black to him only because the half visible to his perspective. It looks white to me for the exact same reason.
    We know know that the sphere is both white and black, and there are two visable points from which the sphere can appear to be unform, even though it isn’t.

    =--This, first off, is not my example. I read it in a book somewhere. The following is the addition to the example--=
    The above is a perfect example of physical relativity.
    I want to explain a minor addition to this example – temporal relativity. The me in the above example which sees a white ball knows only a few things. I see a sphere, I see a white ball, I am in a room, so is Wes. I can deduct that Wes is seeing the ball from a different angle, and may see something differently than I do, but I have not gotten that far in my thinking yet.
    For the time being, I am physically separate from Wes’ perspective. I am also temporally separate from my future self, which is aware of the dual-color nature of the sphere.

    Was my assertion that the sphere is white wrong? From my current temporal self Ithe future one), I can say yes, the ball is not only white; but only because I know something now which I didn’t know then.

    Was my assertion that the sphere was white, given the knowledge I had at the time, wrong? No. I, at the time was unaware of anything other than what I knew – Until Wes informed me that the sphere was black, I had no reason to assume anything else that what I percieved. I was right in my assertion – given what I knew at the time. The statement, for me, then, was accurate.

    Was the information I provided in the statement correct? No. Given that I am a limited being, my statement turned out to not encompass all the factors of the situation. Once I learned more, I changed my understanding of the situation to better reflect the state of it. Even when I percieved the sphere as only white, it was in fact dual-colored. The assertions was wrong, me making the assertion was not wrong.

    This, I believe is what Wes was talking about before (wes, disagree if I am wrong). Both correctness from a physical and temporal perspective, taken then to also include perspective on concepts, not just physical objects.

    =--this begins my addition, who this theory then relates to everyday action--=
    Given this, anything that I do or say right now, assuming that it is based on all that I know, and has the goal of being beneficial, being ‘good’ as it were, is the correct thing to do.
    If later, it turns out that my action was not the right thing to do, but I didn’t have the knowledge to predict that at the time, the action can be re-defined as the wrong thing, but *my action, taken by me, at the time* is still correct.
    No matter what happens down the road, my temporal self, at the time the choice was made, decided based on all the possible evidence and knowledge, and therefore acted ‘correctly.’
    (I am defining the word correctly as the best possible action that can be taken given the choices available to the individual. Those available choices are defined next.)

    Now, back to chaos theory cycles.
    Wes mentioned, I think, that even given everything that I have learned in my life, there is only a subset available to me in order to make a decision. So even if I once heard the white/black ball story before, if I don’t think of it at the time, for the purposes of the decision about what the ball ‘is’ to me, that story doesn’t exist. For that temporal Me, at least.
    How do the thoughts that we have find themselves at the right or wrong place, at the right or wrong time? I don’t have an easy example for this, but it looks a hell of a lot like a chaotic system with thousands of attractor points, and the “influx of energy” in this case is new thoughts, new experience. And that influx is not stable. You get different levels of information to your conscious mind at different times, depending on the situation, on your state of mind…
    The available information that you have when it is time to make a decision, that subset of all the knowledge you have, which is both a sub and superset of all human knowledge over all temporal existences, is what you have to base your choices on.
    It is largely out of your hands. Right?

    Wrong. If you understand and learn the ebb and flow of your own thoughts, you can push those cycles into new ones. You can move the patterns towards attractor points which are more helpful to your decision making process. You have the ability to choose what you would like to have available to yourself when choices present themselves, and can therefore take control of your own ability to choose.
    Back to the sphere example. If I am aware that my perspective may lead me to inaccurate views of a given situation, then I can decide to remind myself of that fact over and over again. I can actively say to myself, everyday, every minute, “what I see may not be the case.” When I find myself in an argument with someone, find myself getting angry, I may remind myself that my view is not always fully informed, and I may pause long enough to learn what I need to see it from their side.
    If I do that, practice that everyday, then it will be second nature when I find myself in that room. Iwill look across at Wes, say correctly that the sphere is white. I will be correct even then, because I will be aware that when I say “the ball is white”, I mean “the ball is white, for me.” When he replies that it is black, I will stand up, and investigate before replying.

    And I will be correct, even after I find that I *was* wrong.

    And I will be wrong every day of my life, because I have neither infinite time, or infinite brainpower to understand all the universe at once. I will always have more to learn. I will, as long as I allow myself the freedom to learn everything I come in contact with, always be correct in my actions, because they will truly be the best that I am capable of. Even if a second later, I learn the wrongness of my action, that action was still taken when it was the best thing. So it was the best. And having learned it’s wrongness, I will never repeat it.
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2004
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  3. wesmorris Nerd Overlord - we(s):1 of N Valued Senior Member

    But he ended up agreeing with me.

    I'm not sure what to say about that. *shrug*

    I think I'm onto something or I wouldn't argue it.
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  5. wesmorris Nerd Overlord - we(s):1 of N Valued Senior Member

    Interesting post that is gonna take some time to address river-wind. I really want to address it so if I space it off give me hell about it at some point please.
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  7. river-wind Valued Senior Member

    /me picks up pointy stick.

    wes: poke #1.

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  8. wesmorris Nerd Overlord - we(s):1 of N Valued Senior Member

    Well, borders are abstract constructs, so it can be as complex or as simple as you can properly define I'd think.

    Hehe, what if I just want to think you're crazy?

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    I have very rudimentary knowledge of chaos theory. I read the first chapter or two of a book on it once. I dug the idea but it started getting weird fast and I didn't follow it much past "attractors" or whatever. Maybe I shouldn't read on, but I'm gonna risk it.

    Hehe. No crazier than I sound, so.. hehe. Okay, just to prove it here is what I posted in a thread about time the other day:

    I can't let "sounding crazy" stop me from getting this bullshit out of my head and onto some medium for perusal. Hehe.. as long as you can back up your argument, I'd say bring your crazy ass on! LOL.

    What about entropy? Personally, I think the "life force" is the exact opposite of entropy in the sense that "life" (things that are alive) bring order from chaos. I say the "life force" as in, whatever it is that makes things want to be alive in the first place, which is actually IMO, interaction with compactificated dimensions. I think a certain chemical combination/configuration allows a compactificated dimension to apply a force in the three dimensions (plus time, which is I believe as I mentioned above) that our bodies inhabit. That force tries to counter entropy (e.g. "survival"). All life forms utilize it or they would not be "alive".

    Hehe, how's that for crazy? I'm on a roll!

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    Isn't that basically the butterfly effect? Kind of I suppose.

    "all the same cycle"? Hmm. Why the same? I suppose there is a commonality to it. There is an unknowable objectivity (it can perhaps be inferred, but it would always be an impression of a thing rather than thing itself) to the subjetiveness of our interaction with our environment.

    Actually that's where most of my ideas come from, taking relativity to the extreme and applying it to the individual, knowledge, perception, etc. The physical world is only meaningful in terms of its subjective effects, quite literally. Like, explicitely literally as the only route to meaning is through a POV. With no perspective, there can be no meaning.

    Hey I didn't know that was next but I already addressed it! Hehe.. I like it when that happens. Yeah I'm down with that for sure. As a matter of fact it would be challenging for me to see things differently after having embraced the truth and implications of the notion some time ago.

    Well for real you have to consider how the mind works regarding these types of issues. You have a conceptual inter-relationship in your mind which is a product of your particular experience. While there may be significant similarities in the overall features of yours as compared to whomever, the details of the picture must reveal a wholly independent formation, constructed by your brain, representative of your experience and processing thereof. Your brain is a context generating machine. It's function (for the purposes of this context) is to conceptualize the experience it gathers from stimulous. Based on these conceptual inter-relationships (which are of course, deeply influenced by not only external stimulous, but things like hormones, hunger, chemical imbalances, drugs, etc.), your current stimulous and 'momentum of mind', you seek the subjective good regardless of what you tout as your conscious opinion.

    Hey did you see the recent thread "conservation of self"? I was talking about this there! Hehe.

    Because we have invested in our experience, as it is what has gotten us thus far.

    Okay you lost me there. I don't think that "being right again" is a detractor. I think it is that you have to damage your conceptual inter-relationships by applying the will to tear down the deficient conceptual structure at the potential risk of a larger conceptual structure collapse. It is easier to build on what you have already built in this case, as tearing things down can jack other inter-related things all up if you follow me.

    If your mind is agile and prepared for such an endeavor, yes. Note that thinking is really an act of exploring conceptual inter-relationships in a way that only you can. If you consider a X dimensional linear/discrete matrix-type inter-relationship, you might see what I mean. Your "you" encompasses some subset of that x=dimensional blah blah at any given time. Something like that anyway.

    That is SO dependent on who you are. Notice the people in class who argue with the professor or who do poorly in their work. Lack of comprehension is sometimes an unwillingness to let go of preconception, or rather, a reservation regarding the reconsideration of things upon which you have possibly already built other things...

    That made me think to mention that the "amount of investement" (or rather the perception of the importance of the concept as to the whole of the relationships, or the 'intensity of it' maybe) is a key factor in the stuff I'm been discussing. It's like if I just learned something, got it wrong, blah, it's probably a lot less of a loss than something I learned a long time ago that I've built all kinds of theories, etc. upon. The more the investment (or emotional attachment) the more difficult it is to change. It can be made easier if your conceptual inter-relatinships have been efficiently constructed... in a smooth manner like where the removal of individual dependencies doesn't put the entire structure at risk.

    I liked it. I did mean to mention though.. well actually there are a number of things to mention.

    For instance, if I do not trust you... will i believe you that the ball is white?

    Another thing was about the whole agnosticism deal whereby the idea of a half-white, half-black ball shouldn't be all that surprising.

    Okay I thought there was more but it's not flowing so I'm moving on.
    Shit man all of the sudden I lost my steam. I think I've churned out enough horseshit for one post so.. hehe.

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    I wonder if what I've said is actually as true as it seems to me. Hrmph. I suppose that something I'll always wonder, no matter how many people agree with me. It is definately though, more comfortable and more I dunno.. warm fuzzy kind of stuff, when people endorse one's ideas. I suppose that's part of the internal risk/reward I've set up for myself, or that was set up by my brain and enhanced through my experiences. Fleh.

    I'm out!

    what do you think?
  9. river-wind Valued Senior Member

    I'm in agreement here. What I was thinking of, however, is simpler than what you are talking about. When you are a little kid, and you first see people adding numbers, you may have an idea about what they are doing -you guess. you may even tell people that you understand this whole "math thing".
    However, once someone shows you, your version of math may quickly be dropped, and the version you are taught becomes part of you almost instantly. (In actually, this is a bad example for me, as I realy suck at math. For me, it took about three years for simple addition to become a part of me. Most people, I'm sure, had a faster time with it than I did).

    When you're a little kid, do you tend to blindly trust people? Did your parents specifically have to instruct you not to talk to strangers, because otherwise, most people were ok with you? Your lack of trust in my statement would, IMO, be an example of past expirience; you have some reason to not trust me. Note that once I have knowledge of the dual nature of the sphere, I then went back and, instead of argueing with you (in the revised example), I remained quiet, and simply explored to situation. It could be said that in this case, I have learned not to trust my own perception.

    ++++ good point. I'll have to address this issue.

    All in all, the only thing that I see about this whole theory which could cause problems is with mentally ill individuals. The whole "as long as you are acting for the betterment of others, and with everything that you know, then your action at the time is right" has a few things about it that could be abused. There are other things pertinant to that statement which I haven't attempted to get into here; the most important for preventing the abuse of this theory is that of whole truth with yourself. Brutle honesty, even when it is painful to consider. This forces both the good and bad effects of every action to be considered; quickly a person will learn to watch their actions, or else suffer the guilt of the negative results.
  10. water the sea Registered Senior Member

    OK, I know this is coming soooo late, but I thought it was a very interesting topic and that one issue remained sort of open. I bet it was already done somewhere, but who could know, the space of SF is just overwhelming ...

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    The issue of doing "the best" -- what is "the best"?
    What I like so much about Wes' theory is that it is so wonderfully not burdened with "chasing ideals" -- in the sense of ideals that we perceive as standards set by society. Example:
    John is learning German. The best German is the German spoken by the native speakers of German (that is The standard, The absolute best -- disputable though, see note). The fact that Germans are much much much better speakers of German than John [and here comes the main point:] does NOT mean that John's efforts are little or that he is not doing HIS best.
    For John's efforts to learn German, it is completely irrelevant how good those Germans are.

    At best and most, their German is just giving John orientation in which way to work and to learn German.

    Unless John is lying or in denial, he is doing the best he can -- in fact, even if he is lying or denying or being lazy, he is still doing his best, even though his (mis-)actions may seem perverted or meaningless to an outside observer.

    Also, you know the proverbs "It is easy to be smart afterwards" and "After the war, everybody wants to be a general". Such proverbs are saying that things we learn afterwards, after the decision made and put into practice, do not change the fact that we made the best possible decision at the time that we made it. If we judge past decisions by the benefit of hindsight, we are not likely to ever be happy with the things we made. Judging the things we did in the past as good or bad from the POV of later knowledge is an attitude that hinders future productivity and creativity. Of course, we should by all means learn from our mistakes (and our victories!); but that doesn't change the fact that in the past, we did exactly what we could (do best at that time!) and nothing else.

    This is why the original thesis
    can be read also as a matter of attitude and one's own evaluation of one's own work, rather than trying to make an absolute scale of what is a worthy effort and what is not.

    Anyway, that's how I understood it.

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    What is The Best Standard, The Ideal is sometimes disputable and ellusive: like in the case with German -- which native speaker would you take? A TV moderator? A teacher? A housekeeper? Also, there are some stinky rules in German that learners are better at than some natives, because the learnes actually had to learn those rules.
    The standard is more clearly defined when it comes to tests in school, running a certain distance and such. (But even that can be surpassed!)
    But for the most part, when it comes to making decisions in everyday life (What car to buy? A red one or a green one? A Ford or a Toyota?), there are no such "absolute" standards; there are only one's own, depending on each person's experience, motivation, time, priorities ... = context.
  11. wesmorris Nerd Overlord - we(s):1 of N Valued Senior Member

    Exactly. Right on and extra on even.


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    Focus? Improvement.

    For some reason it seems to me that if you don't understand these points clearly (or at least, the structure of your mind has encompassed them even though they may not be conscious), you will be stunted and basically part of your mind will atrophe.
  12. water the sea Registered Senior Member

    I think I can understand at least one source where this problem with "the absolute best" comes from. In short:
    Too much television watchin' got me chasin' dreams

    This line from Gangsta's Paradise pretty much sums up the discussions about what is "the best", and the misperceptions of it, how it becomes "shitty in brainville". Someone picked up some ideals somewhere, not realizing that the context of those ideals is completely different from his context. Why do people chase such ideals? Initial poor self-esteem, I guess.

    Why improve? And how?

    There is another nifty spin of your initial thesis:

    Improvement is possible (only) if you believe that what you do is best for you at a given moment (I'll shorten this into AGM) and that what you do is the best you can do at AGM. >>
    If you believe that what you are doing at AGM is the best at that moment, this also means that you are more or less aware that you are striving to make the best, that you are stretching yourself to make the best possible at that moment. The key to improvement is striving and stretching oneself -- and at the same time making sure that you are aware of the strife and the stretch. It's self-perpetuating!

    If you think that you are doing the only possible thing that you can at AGM, and you don't think this is the best one, your chances to improve are slim (even random, actually). Namely, if you think that you are not doing the best possible, you, in one way or another, consider yourself an underachiever. And if you are so sure of being an underachiever, you cannot improve. That is, even though you might learn things, you don't value that -- as they don't live up to those [illusionary sky-high] standards that you have set for yourself.
    This is not often to be found in this pure form; but there is a milder version of it -- it is when people say "Yeah, I didn't make a really good choice and I could have done a better work. But hey, one shouldn't be so pessimistic." or "I've done a lot of progress, but there is still a lot of progress to be made."

    Things make sense only if we look at them from the POV of how they are/were, and not from the POV of how they should be.
    The should-be POV is useful only when later on analyzing and evaluating events for the purpose of learning from experience, while the worth and the sense of those past events remain intact.

    You started such a spiffy theory

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  13. tablariddim forexU2 Valued Senior Member

    In other words:
    You are what you are, do what you do and by your will you affect society on a small or large scale.

    In other words:
    And so do organizations, which are a conglomorate of individuals, only they, affect society on a larger scale.

    That goes without saying, but it's more like, hence the world you see before you, exactly how we all recreate it.

    No, I think function and purpose are 2 different things and both can evolve over time, or change in a split second.
  14. boombox scumbucket Registered Senior Member

    Its funny to think about suicide in the light of what you just said.
  15. wesmorris Nerd Overlord - we(s):1 of N Valued Senior Member

    Yeah pretty much.

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    I was just trying to put it into the context of function. Do you think it was overdone?

    Yeah again pretty much and again I was just trying to think of it in terms of function in order to minimize bias. Again too much you think? It seemed to me that I was really spelling it out!

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    Perhaps stating the obvious. I'm never sure I can tell the difference between insight and the obvious. It pisses me off.

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    Yeah that's probabaly a little more correct, thank you.

    They certainly are.

    My point though was that you are in "harmony" (so to speak) then your function and purpose (in terms of the purpose you provide yourself (since that's the one you can actually change)) are aligned. You don't think so? I mean it like a theoretical optimal point rather than something necessarily attainable. It's something to strive toward maybe, if harmony is your thing.
  16. water the sea Registered Senior Member

    From the film The Three Kings:

    The most important thing in life is necessity.


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    Everyone does at every moment exactly that what he must do. Whatever that is.
  17. tablariddim forexU2 Valued Senior Member

    Sounds kind of ideal(istic).

    By will or by accident, you either find a purpose and try to function within it, or one is instilled into you directly by a third party, so you are not always in control of it. This is why it can change at any time, without your choosing.

    Your function is to bring your purpose to fruition. Any enduringly successful person will know and could testify, that at at least at some point in their lives, their purpose and function were perfectly aligned and working in harmony, they'd had to, otherwise, enduring success would be unattainable.
  18. wesmorris Nerd Overlord - we(s):1 of N Valued Senior Member

    It is idealistic. That's why I said:

    "Optimally, I think function and purpose are equivalent."

    Pardon. I use "optimally" and "ideally" synonymously. When I say "optimize" I'm thinking of it in terms of a "function" like in linear algebra, than can be "optimized". I always think of it as "the most efficient" or "getting the most for the least", which is pretty much always idealistic in that attempts to maximize it can never reach the optimal point.
  19. tablariddim forexU2 Valued Senior Member

    So you're just saying that we should strive for the ideal equilibrium of purpose/function? Ok, got no problem with that.
  20. water the sea Registered Senior Member

    "You have to find your own swing. It is somewhere out there in the harmony of all there is, or will be."


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    Everyone has his authentic swing. Sometimes, some people forget it. It may get covered by wishes, ideals that weren't fulfilled. But that authentic swing is always there, you just have to find it.

    A more poetic take on this topic, from the film The Legend of Bagger Vance.

    (Unless someone specifically tells me to STOP posting quotes from popular culture that are applications of the theory preseneted here, I'll post more of them until I ... until I ...

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