Elayne Level 03
  • Member since Dec 5th 2018
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Posts by Elayne

    Yes, a first principle is an axiom. It's something you start with that you can't prove, nor is it logic based. An assumption that other parts of your model use but can't prove. It's not the same as a fact, because by its nature it actually can't be shown to be accurate. If it ever IS shown to be accurate by some kind of evidence, then it is no longer a first principle.


    If your first principles are wrong, then anything derived from them is wrong.


    However, a first principle that there exists an observable reality can't lead to other reliable conclusions without evidence... because choosing that as a first principle means observations are required for other conclusions.

    On misunderstood evidence-- there is evidence 😂 that giving more accurate evidence to stubborn people does not change their mind. It makes them dig in their heels. If they are determined to believe nonsense, they'll do it, and logic doesn't work any better than evidence. I deal with this when it comes to immunizations. Appeal to feelings and values is actually more effective when folks are just hesitant.


    Sometimes it's just a matter of finding the evidence which has emotional salience. For baby walkers, I noticed a long time ago that parents didn't react when I explained about injury risk. I might as well have said blah blah blah. They just figured they could prevent it. But when I mention other evidence, that walker use is associated with developmental delays, their eyes get big and they appear alarmed. They don't know how to prevent that, so it has emotional salience. Once I realized what worked (by observing), I was more successful in achieving behavior changes.


    I completely agree on imagining the options and noting the feelings that arise. I do lay out the pains and pleasures, but not as an abstract thing-- I have feelings in the evaluation process. So it's primarily non-rational. I won't say irrational-- that has a bad rap. Irrational is against logic, but non-rational is just using other brain functions. It's evidence and feeling based, not like a math problem. And it's not completely non-rational, but reason is not the primary tool.

    Addiction is mostly pain and then all pain, from reports of my patients. Initially the "hits" cause pleasure but eventually they don't anymore. But the addicted person keeps going for the hits in hopes they will work again, and to avoid withdrawal symptoms, which are even more painful.


    The desire in addiction is not pleasurable, although in other non-addiction settings, desire can be pleasurable.


    Anger can occasionally be pleasurable in my personal experience, but the kind of anger I see drummed up on social media appears to be unpleasant for the experiencers. It seems mixed with a lot of unpleasant fear, unpleasant resentment, unpleasant bitterness. I am mostly not observing people who report enjoying it. Lots of folks saying they feel very stressed out.


    The goal of the designers is just to keep people hooked so they can be marketed to. Not to make them feel ongoing pleasure.

    Don my understanding of the engineered goal of social media sites is that it isn't intended to cause pleasure but to create addiction. Which has been called wanting without liking. They are pretty good at creating that response. There are very brief rewards from getting likes to one's posts and comments, but the main experience seems to be unfulfilled desire generation. Our nervous systems are vulnerable to being exploited that way.


    Sometimes people can feel pleasure at having biases confirmed, but much of the politically biased content is angry/paranoid in tone. It's possible for people to get hooked on the excitement of anger with really getting much pleasure from it.


    If people were really getting reliable pleasure from social media use, the fact that some or all of the information was false would be relevant if it set the person up for unexpected pain or shortened pleasure/life. If social media were engineered to avoid those pitfalls of painful consequences somehow, then it might work out to be a wise choice. But just as with a pharmaceutical, that would depend on the trustworthiness of the product/designer and whether it was as advertised. I haven't seen a false belief system yet which has lived up to its promises, so I would need overwhelming proof of effectiveness before signing up.


    I do make use of small mind tricks-- there is some evidence that seeing beautiful natural scenery is mood enhancing. A hospital window with trees in view, for instance, can improve recovery. Whenever possible I prefer to get the whole experience-- inhale the terpenes from the trees, etc. But even just a photo can trick the brain into some of the same benefits. So if I'm working in a windowless room, I use photos of mountains or beaches to make use of an illusion of being somewhere I am not. Yes, I consciously know I'm not there-- but part of my brain is responding to a ruse.


    Apparently placebos might even help when people are told they are getting placebos. I've seen one study on this.


    However, when we use ruses, it's wise to watch for unexpected consequences. I read a book on artificial flavoring, the Dorito Effect, summarizing research on how a flavor may signal our brains we are taking in certain nutrients, but if the flavor comes without the nutrients, it throws off our appestat. That's the kind of thing I would investigate for in any technology proposing to deliver pleasure along with some sort of ruse.

    I would need to explain what the Canon is, but otherwise I have had this conversation multiple times, quite successfully, while teaching med students! I have said uh oh, the answer you just gave sounds reasonable/logical, but what does the evidence say? And they find out what they thought is not accurate. This is an every day thing with new students. I teach them that relying on reason instead of looking to see if there's evidence can have fatal consequences for their patients, and we have a whole discussion on the pitfalls of both formal and informal reasoning. I rarely have the same student mess up in that way twice, because I make such a big deal about it that they start checking themselves before talking to me 😂.


    So you could replace that with "logic and reasoning are prone to error, so instead, use observations/evidence to find out about reality." It's best if you can also give examples (evidence!😂).

    Don do you have evidence social media is making people have bliss? I thought the prevailing evidence was to the contrary. I assume that's why Cassius said no.


    Cassius, yes, the riddle-- well yes, I added the term supernatural because I thought it was an argument against the kind of gods people who believed in supernatural gods were proposing. However my point still stands that he was posing hypotheticals about a type of creature he didn't agree exists. If it was him.

    Don that _is_ the condition of the hypothetical. In a hypothetical, it's not necessary for the stated condition to be possible. For instance, when Epicurus talked about what a supernatural god would be like-- if all powerful and all knowing, then clearly not loving-- he knew there were no supernatural gods. So it is unnecessary for there to exist such a technology in order to talk about what the wise choice would be IF it existed.


    Speaking outside the hypothetical-- obviously there is no such thing currently. Could there be a technology developed which actually learns from individuals what they enjoy and dislike? And which adjusts actions over time-- maybe a nano-robot kind of pill? Maybe so. It's not a completely ridiculous idea. I doubt I would trust it, but that doesn't mean I would be correct.

    As I understand it (leaving out later meanings such as in Marxism), it meant using logical arguments to arrive at the truth. That doesn't mean all discussions are dialectical, and IMO the difference is that we would use evidence, including referring to feeling, in our discussion. We are not using flights of logic to get an answer but referring to our experiences and how we feel about things. Predicting how we might feel about possible future events (hypotheticals) is not the same as using logic, because we are drawing on our experience.



    I think Plato also used it in reference to discussion of ideals. Which we aren't doing.

    Don I've said repeatedly that the Devil is in the details and I'd tend to be distrustful of the sellers. And I think such a pill is highly unlikely to ever happen. But yes, as Cassius says, that is the hypothetical, and that is why I answered the actual hypothetical question as presented 😉.


    Now, it's fine with me if someone wants to say "that hypothetical would never happen, so I'm not going to answer it." But that's different from changing the hypothetical and then saying someone who answered the actual question is wrong. We would be answering two different questions and the conversation would be confused, as it has been here!

    Godfrey the instrumental use of choice and avoidance is only instrumental so long as it works better than anything else. So far, that's what we've observed. However, if some new technology comes about to change that situation and relinquishing choice and avoidance provides maximal pleasure, then that new strategy would be the wisest choice.


    Analogies are never perfect-- my condo analogy was meant as an example of how one choice can reduce access to subsequent choices, and that's not always bad.


    Let me try again-- I chose to have two children. By doing so, I affected my body in permanent ways. I can't choose to be nulliparous now-- it's done. We make choices frequently that limit other future options. To do it one time would be an extreme, of course, but I see nothing in the philosophy that would rule out making one optimizing choice vs going for a series.

    Don if the fullness of pleasure is in a pill, you haven't cut yourself off from anything. Again, that would be a huge decision and I'm not likely to trust such a pill purveyer. But the Epicurean life is about pleasure, and about the methods that work to get it. He recommends choice/avoidance because they work. If something else worked better, he would recommend something else. It's a pragmatic thing, not an absolute.

    Cassius I'm not using logic. I'm using descriptions of what PD 10 says and what it doesn't. When Epicurus puts pleasure first, it's an actual feeling. I'm just describing the options in the choice, in terms of the desired feeling. I'm using prudence in weighing options, but nothing I'm saying is based on formal logic. It's descriptive.

    I think that's not what EP means, and PD 10 does not say that either. That's taking PD10 too far.


    Nowhere does Epicurus say a person should refuse to make a one-time decision for permanent complete pleasure on grounds that it's better to have less pleasure along with ongoing choices! That hypothetical is not taken up in PD10.


    In context of the whole philosophy, choice and avoidance are used to obtain pleasure. Choice and avoidance are not stand-alone goods but skills in service of the goal. So there would be no reason to forgo pleasure and retain choice-- IF one were certain of the result.


    Just practically speaking, sometimes I can make one long time choice, such as I did when I purchased my condo, for pleasure. Of course, I could sell it, but pragmatically I have limited the ease of choosing to live elsewhere tomorrow. I could have retained more freedom of choice by taking a home with the shortest possible lease, so I could exercise choice frequently. But that kind of thing doesn't show up in PD10 nor elsewhere.


    Epicurus is not focused on creating the maximum number of choices over the longest duration.

    Don if it was a true bliss pill as advertised, then it would provide reliable pleasure. Otherwise it's just false advertising. As I've said already, I'd tend to be distrustful of it, given the history of pharmaceutical promises! 😂 But if it were really as advertised, there's no clear Epicurean argument against it.


    And yes, that is exactly what I am trying to say-- that as I see it, when you used PD10 to argue against a hypothetical it wasn't designed for, Cassius and I replied bringing in the context of the whole philosophy. I am trying to show you that you were doing what you said we had done. I see it as the other way around-- we were limiting the PD to its specific context without taking it to any general conclusion that would contradict the rest of the philosophy.

    Don if I'm not mistaken-- and I may be, I didn't go hunt through and check-- I thought you were the one who brought up PD 10 as evidence Epicurus would advise against the bliss pill. So that is why I mentioned it again-- you said we were making it do things it wasn't written to do. And I was countering that the whole reason PD 10 came into play on that question was that you used it as an argument. But by your proposal to limit PD10 to only a specific circumstance, it doesn't apply anyway. If you weren't the one who started that, then my reply wouldn't make as much sense 😂.


    I think you are reading far more into PD10 than it says. Epicurus doesn't take it as far as you have. It's not stated as a universal piece of advice.

    Don then maybe you would be more inclined to agree if I frame it as what PD10 does _not_ say? PD10 does not say that prudence is more important than pleasure. It does not say anything that would rule out a bliss pill, IF said pill was known to reliably give the person in question pleasure-- if it was an accurate decision, to take the bliss pill, and had the intended results, which would have to include not having anxiety over imaginary things like gods. PD 10 does not say that it would be impossible to use prudence accurately to choose a bliss pill, because it is not considering that particular hypothetical, so it can't be used as evidence Epicurus would say no.


    PD10 does not say anything to rule out the pleasures of the profligates if the painful consequences could be removed, or if they could be combined with the pleasure of information about reality that would remove false fears. Nor does it say anything to rule out the possibility that there could be an individual who successfully enjoyed those pleasures without having pains. So it can't be used as an argument against that possibility, which would certainly be permissible in the whole context of the philosophy.

    Don, if you don't take each PD in the context of _all_ the PDs, then you can easily wind up "proof-texting" and drawing conclusions Epicurus did not make.

    Cassius, I don't mind it so much when people use reasoning to explain a point as long as they do not imply that a conclusion can be drawn from logic that is as valid as conclusions from observations, and as long as they don't get caught up in worrying whether observations that challenge their logic are challenging the philosophy itself, because that is not a thing with EP. The logic at all times must follow the observations, never lead them, and the logic must constantly be available to revision when the observational premises broaden.

    Cassius maybe what you are noticing is just accurate communication of observations? Not logic? If I say that any time there isn't pain there is pleasure, by my observations, and I've observed no 3rd condition-- then anytime I say there's no pain, you can conclude that means there is pleasure. But you aren't extending a chain of logic. You are just referencing my past descriptions. You aren't making any new conclusions about reality or getting new information, just understanding my language. Just to converse, we have to do that-- but we don't actually require words to be aware of the feelings and phenomena being described. It's just a matter of knowing what people are talking about, not working a logic problem.