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What I've been reading
This is an experiment for a new type of post. Instead of posting just my writing, I’ll present thought from other people. If you like it, let me know and I’ll do it more often.
I searched my Twitter follows’ “best essays” and compiled a moderately sized list. The topics are refreshingly diverse. One of the first was Nick Szabo’s 2002 essay Shelling Out: The Origins of Money. Starts with a discussion of the Wampum shells traded among Native Americans. I appreciate (though have reservations about) the evopsych angle on the development of money.
Against Conditionalization. The cornerstone of Bayesian epistemology is the Dutch Book argument. Basically, the argument goes, if you don’t update your beliefs probabilistically according to Bayes’ rule, you are subject to a ‘dutch book’ game where someone can bet against you and always bankrupt you after enough bets.
On Vervaeke’s 4 P’s of knowing. The concept "Apples are red" is one type of knowing. It 'exists' in the prefrontal cortex of the brain. You might call this 'factual' or 'propositional' knowing. Most of schooling is about this. It brings you closer to ‘truth’. How to ride a bike is another type of knowing. You might call this 'procedural knowing'. Procedural knowing is about skills; it brings you power. Knowing what it is like to see the world from different perspectives (e.g. feeling how a conservative Christian conceive of marriage) is called ‘perspectival knowing’. The final most fundamental type of knowing is ‘participatory’ — it’s about knowing how to be in a certain environment. (hard to explain in a sentence). These 4 P’s of knowing have come up again and again in my conversations.
The West Lives On in the Taliban’s Afghanistan. “these subjects of the Islamic Emirate could not be kept from watching Stranger Things or Game of Thrones or Japanese anime; they had a better knowledge of Breaking Bad than I did. On Twitter—they, like so many Afghans, were avid users—shared soyjack memes and called themselves “sigma males.””
The Long, Slow Death of Globalization. Makes the case that we have failed to appreciate how the majority of economic development under globalization has been heavily concentrated in East Asia.
Pain Management Workbook author interview with Ezra Klein. Many good metaphors for understanding chronic pain. I found the tone of the author a bit patronizing ‘science says X’ at times though I am probably not the target audience.
“I read through Plato during my fifteenth summer, and convinced myself that Socrates was right – virtue was knowledge. That claim was music to my ears, for I had doubts about my own moral character and a suspicion that my only gifts were intellectual ones. Besides, Socrates had to be right, for only then could one hold reality and justice in a single vision. Only if he were right could one hope to be both as good as the best Christians (such as Alyosha in The Brothers Karamazov, whom I could not – and still cannot – decide whether to envy or despise) and as learned and clever as Strauss and his students.” From Richard Rorty’s memoir essay.
Implicit-explicit gradient of nondual awareness or consciousness as such. “Here, I propose an implicit–explicit gradient of nondual awareness to be added as the z-axis to the existing 2D map of consciousness.”
Peacemaking among higher order primates. A surprisingly beautiful meditation on conflict resolution when the facts themselves are unclear. “The man who is curious is no longer certain that he is right. Certainty is therefore the enemy of peace.”
The third day. A deep reflection on the relationship between representation and reality. “It is a curious fact that in most metaphysical debates, numerous otherwise disparate (even diametrically opposed) positions share
a common if rather abstract presupposition. They all assume that
the various constitutive forms of separation—semantic, ontologi-
cal, conceptual, abstractive—must be all-or-nothing affairs.”
Heidegger’s Hidden Sources (very high context required for this. argues Heidegger concealed the influences of Daoism and Zen. This is a big deal)
Sustainable Energy — without the hot air (very clear; numerical view of energy as helpful antidote to confusing sentiment).
The Elephant in the Brain. (many errors, but provocative and generative)
Kenny Werner’s Effortless Mastery (on learning Jazz but really applicable to all creative pursuit. so far very enjoyable)