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13 years ago @ Armed and Dangerous - Irrational Expectations · 3 replies · +1 points

> Really? Why is that false? Did God tell you that it was false?

Whut? Who? Where? Oh... I see... Er... may I risk an assumption? Have you been so often exposed to the monist extreme - i.e. Fundies who thing god gave them an exact recipe about how to live an good life - that the only defense you see against it is the other extreme - relativism? M

ay I ask you to re-read my previous and comment and try to grok pluralism ("there is objective good but we don't know for sure what it is") as a middle way between monism ("I know the objective good fer sure, god told me!") and relativism ("no objective good just subjective preferences") ?

Otherwise. Why, it's almost obvious what is the purpose of human life: happiness, eudaimonia, a meaningful, good life - something we'd feel no regret remembering to at 85 years old. It's almost self-evident. It's hard to define it in words, but we know it when we see it.

Desire in its raw, unreflected-on, uneducated, untransformed, unrefined sense is allegorically equivalent to demanding that the whole world to be covered by leather in order to not hurt our feet. It's a natural thing and hard to get rid of and very few people ever did and it's not realistic to ever expect most people won't be mostly desire-driven - but hardly the best strategy.

The intelligent strategy is rather to put on a shoe - this allegory means this: to try to transform and change ourselves in order to become suitable for the purpose of a good life, much like a knife must be sharpened in order to be suitable for cutting. (Or, change ourselves in order to be capable to change the world, that's the same thing.)

Now, nobody has a fixed recipe that would be perfectly suitable for everybody on how to do this. This is why we need pluralism, the middle way - to experiment, to look for it, to approximate and debate it etc. To find ways. Many ways. No recipe cast in stone. But to look for them, we must. Er, should.

Now I'm realistic and perfectly accept that society cannot be transformed into a utopia and most people will pursue desire in a very raw way, others in a somewhat educated, somewhat transformed way, and only few ever are capable to focus their attention more on self-betterment than on desire.

But as much of it as can happen is a good thing, objectively good. I mean the search itself is good, as I can't tell for sure where to find it.

Again, not talking about governments here. This requires guidance from people better from us, and electing people who are better from us is a laughable idea - how could we even recognize them? Similary, the tyrant is always a "man of the people" so unsuitable for the task. It's outside governments, as they are understood in the modern world. But this must happen - or we sacrifice the whole potential that makes life worth living.

I mean everything ever that work reasonably well, from a good marriage or relationship to a good teacher-student relationship was always based - usually not consciously - on a self-betterment basis and not on a desire-basis i.e. other-betterment basis. Yes, in your life too, probably. It was my greatest shock when I discovered that it always worked this way in my life, anything I ever got anything working worked by changing myself and not demanding that the world be changed. (Or I changed myself to be capable of changing my world. That's the same thing.)

It's not new - just recognizing why and how everything worked in our life so far.

Please read the pomocon article linked above. It's very enlightening, I mean, the second part, the stuff about "education as Eros" and not the religious part, of course.

13 years ago @ Armed and Dangerous - Irrational Expectations · 5 replies · +1 points

On Barack: I think both Aaron and me fully agree with you that as long as governments are populist - i.e. democractic or tyrannical - then they better be as Libertarian as possible. So there is no argument here.

I think I'm mostly just trying to put my finger on the deeper issue that goes beyond the question of economics and governments. Regarding economics and governments we largely agree, I just can't agree to the deeper case of subjectivism in the issue.

Let me think a bit... I think I can put it this way: subjectivism is OK as long as we are talking about the fulfillment of desires. If it's only about technical knowledge, "techné", about how to fulfill a desire, the individual knows best, and that's why within the framework of desire-pursuing modernity Libertarian-democratic governments are the least evil. No argument regarding this. Modern populist governments almost always try to override liberty because they think they know better how to fulfill our desires, and they are almost always wrong in that. Do we agree in this? Good. Next step then.

Really, where I want to go beyond subjectivism is not how to fulfill our desires but to decide _what should we desire_, and even that that we should have some other goals than the fulfillment of the desires altogether.

This goes beyond the whole scope of modernity, because the core - and false - message of modernity is that the fulfillment of desires is the highest good. So this does NOT apply within the scope of modernity - economics and democratic and tyrannical governments, as they are all concerned with the fulfillment of desires - but outside it. It applies to the traces of our heritage from pre-modernity.

I could imagine an elite to tell us what should we desire and when should we abandon desire altoghether. In fact that's even necessary and nothing we would call a life worth living can survive in the absence of it. But they could be neither democratic nor tyrannical.

The best way to put it is that in the modern sense of the word, they should not govern at all - just lead _by example_.

So I think in this I am talking about something entirely different and outside the scope of government as it is understood in the modern world.

Read this, please:

13 years ago @ Armed and Dangerous - Irrational Expectations · 8 replies · +1 points

I think I'm with Aaron on this one. On one hand, the lowliest forms of governments - i.e. democracy or tyranny/dictatureship, as the two lowest, see Plato why - should be, as much as possible, Libertarian, because they represent the worst instincts of the masses, thus, at least, if they are fairly Libertarian, the better kinds of people are not forced to obey the worser kinds. Now if we were talking about a different kind of government than democracy or tyranny then not... but that's unrealistic now.

However, I don't like your value-agnostic relativistic-liberal argumentation. Of course objective good exists. We just don't know for sure what it is. But it's existence can be derived from the fact that people debate about it.

See, nobody debates about whether Thai food is preferable over Chinese or not - we understand it to be a matter of subjective preference and no one except or close friends can be expected to be interested in our subjective preferences.

But the very fact that people debate, say, classical music, classical culture over pop culture or po-mo means one or the other must be objectively better. People never or rarely debate about mere tastes or preferences. Same stuff for Linux-Windows-Mac - all that hot debate means there must be one _objectively_ better, that debate is about much more than just personal tastes.

OTOH the very fact of the debate means we don't know for sure what the objective good is. I mean if we would know it, we would just measure it like length or weight can be measured and when it's measured it's not debated thereafter. It's not measured yet, it is still debated, therefore we don't know what the objective good is.

So, our job is to look for the objective good, to try to appromixate it, to guess it, to search for it.

If you think about it makes perfect sense f.e. about the Linux-Windows-Mac or open-closed source debates here: everybody assumes one is objectively better, nobody knows for sure which one is i.e. nobody can prove it beyond doubt, nobody can prove in the same way you can prove beyond doubt that one object is heavier or longer than the other - but we all are trying to find it, to approximate it, we all are searching for it.

Never falling into any of the above extermes, relativism (your view) or monism (f.e. the Fundies of religions or the Commies are monists).

This view I described here is called Pluralism, more info: google John Kekes. The great middle way between relativism and monism: yes, there is objective good, no, I don't know what it is and neither do you, but we can - and should - try to guess it, look for it and approximate it and debate it and all.

Or, you can call it reading too much Plato :-) Still better than a value-agnostic relativism, to me that's just too non-judgemental, too often fails the test of common sense.

13 years ago @ Armed and Dangerous - The Economic Case Agai... · 1 reply · +1 points

Well that's one Schelling-point within the category of software but I'm thinking of others too. For example, training time per end user.

For Apache is next to none: one guy maintains 10 servers with 500 sites with a million unique visitors per year. Apache training/study for the guy per end-user: next to nothing, a second, maybe.

Retraining your accountant to use OpenOffice: significant.

Firefox: Just. Works. No training needed. No learning needed.

But again, this is just ONE Schelling-point. What you mentioned is another one. I think there are others.

We don't need to form a priori theories here - just see what the market does, and try to explain it.

13 years ago @ Armed and Dangerous - IntenseDebate plugin i... · 0 replies · +1 points

Is there a way to switch between threaded and simple? Such, as to check up what new comments were written in a post since the last time I checked it?

Threaded has the advantage of making sense of 100 comments. Unthreaded has the advantage of checking up on the last N comments.

13 years ago @ Armed and Dangerous - Irrational Expectations · 0 replies · +1 points

Too much Adam Curtis and too little Theodore Dalrymple / Roger Scruton etc., I suppose.

13 years ago @ Armed and Dangerous - The Economic Case Agai... · 1 reply · +1 points

"If you give someone a program and ask him not to copy it to someone else, yet he does, only he is liable for the breach of this contract, not the one whom he copied it to. The contract is between him and the provider, not between the one who he gave it to and the provider.
This simple fact actually breaks both GPL and many proprietary licenses without government. "

Sorry, can you elaborate it? I don't grok why going after those who distribute GPL'd software with proprietary mods is anything but the enforcement of a contract, in the same way as if the RIAA would only go after those who buy a legal copy of music CD and seed it on Pirate Bay would be nothing but the enforcement of a contract?

I think if the RIAA goes after those who themselves obtained an illegal copy and seed it further is indeed governmental intervention, because this person has signed no contract. Only the original seeder breeched the contract: the guy who bought the music legally and seeded it or otherwise copied it.

Similarly, if person A downloads a GPL'd software, modifies it and distributes it in a not-GPL-compatible way to person B, A breached contract. If B distributes it further, he breached no contract. But A did. RMS is right to go after A but not B.

Does he actually go after B? Is this the core idea in your argument? If yes, any evidence please that he ever went after B?

(BTW I'm not a "freetard" I'd just like to see clearly.)

13 years ago @ Armed and Dangerous - The Economic Case Agai... · 0 replies · +1 points

Wow... that International Lisp Conference pic is indeed... interesting. I suppose they all use Emacs SLIME on their Macs?

13 years ago @ Armed and Dangerous - Irrational Expectations · 0 replies · +1 points

OK - this is an extreme case. Economics isn't really about extreme cases.

But. 10K farmers who have a surplus of wheat but are very short on proteins, IF they are irrational, they will just sit around and complain. It takes a rational trader to approach them and offer meat in exchange for some of the wheat.

This again is a a bit of an extreme, theoretical case.

But in the real world you can observe how often the unemployed sit around and complain that there are no jobs and it doesn't occur to them that jobs can be made... it takes a different sort of person to make jobs.

I think in a country of 100M people if a strange, selective pandemic would kill off those top 40,000 people who have what it takes to be a good entrepreneur - much more than just intelligence: drive, determination, ambition, greed, lots of psychological sense, risk-taking, common sense, courage and a thousand other things - the economy would grind to a friggin' HALT until, supposedly, some foreigners help restarting it or a new generation grows up.

Something similar happens if those top folks are not killed but they find it more profitable to get money out of the government rather than to pursue market inefficiencies.

Then there is no one left with the ability to pursue the inefficiencies and the market just doesn't work, because the market doesn't solve problems, it just enables talented entrepreneurs to solve problems - if they want to.

If they are _forced_ to, in a sense, that no other avenue to wealth is left open i.e. no corruption, no nepotism, no crime, no siphoning of money out of the state.

This is my general theory why the market in my homeland, Hungary, just doesn't work: entrepreneurs find it easier to make profit from the government. I suppose Russia must be similar?...

13 years ago @ Armed and Dangerous - Irrational Expectations · 1 reply · +1 points

"Markets don’t seek efficiency because investors aren’t rational. Yeah, well, gas molecules aren’t rational either, but they obey very simple regularities in large numbers."

Um. I agree with the general direction, but not with the wording. This is typically Neoclassical stuff: trying to import the way of thinking of natural sciences into social sciences. But people aren't stones or atoms, they don't obey to general laws of nature, they think and act independently. If markets were efficient at any time, there would be no need for entrepreneurs whose arbitrage comes exactly from inefficiency and solves that particular inefficiency. If markets were efficient, all entrepreneurs could go on an indefinite holiday because the rate of profit would be equal to the basic rate of interest. No one would win more or lose anything.

So, yeah, on one hand, I agree, but this Neoclassical wording leaves you open to criticism that you assign some mystical rationality to some sort of an impersonal natural law. This when you get the "Market Tooth Fairy" kind of criticisms. Basically it just sounds too much like "reification", and too much like faith.

So it's better to put it this way: the market isn't a force, but the sum of demand and supply, and in itself doesn't solve _anything_.

It's basically a playground for entrepreneurs, not natural forces but thinking people, who seek arbitrage.

Arbitrage they can only find in market inefficiencies in the unregulated case and by taking profit from it, they are solving or at least lessening the inefficiency. Thus entrepreneurs are always in pursuit of solving inefficiencies, though never managing to solve them all. (In a regulated market: entrepreneurs often don't give a fuck about inefficiencies but pursue regulatory or jurisdictional arbitrage instead.)

The only real purpose of the market is to set up entrepreneurs to go on and profit from inefficiencies, which by that they solve.

And those inefficiencies come largely from people being irrational, but it's not the sum of irrationality is what solves i.e. can't say 10000 irrational people are smarter than 1 irrational person. No way.

It is rather the rationality of the entrepreneur that solves it.

I think such a bit "heroic" view is more proper than the "gas molecules" view. (Just dont' overdo it, Schumpeter's heroism is OK, Rand's isn't I think.)