Re: META: SL4 can osscilalte to high-entropy states

From: Chris Capel (
Date: Thu Dec 01 2005 - 10:13:51 MST

On 12/1/05, pdugan <> wrote:
> The objective isn't for one
> person's ideas to "cream-pie" the others, or for us to make intellectual
> comparisons, the objective is, at the least, that we and our children will be
> able to survive a few decades from now.

Your comparison is a bit silly, I think--switching from very
short-term to very long-term contexts--but I agree that we should keep
in mind the long-term context of our discussion.

On the other hand, it's important to look at what the intermediate
goals of the list should be. I think the objective should be, for any
individual poster, to try to educate themselves as much as possible in
all the relevant ideas, and to contribute new ideas when they're
fairly confident that those ideas are both on-topic and deserve
hearing. (I also think the poster should take into account their own
intellectual level and general background knowledge when making this

> We're in this together, and for that
> reason perhaps the list should be more open to right-brained, intuitive
> suggestions, even if adequete explanation cannot be provided. Unexplainable
> notions are not nessecarily worse than useless,

Not necessarily, no, but they are in general. If they're
unexplainable, then they remain bound to the person with the concept
until the time when they find the proper words to explain and defend
them. Until then, pontificating upon the ideas is always worse than
useless. The idea might have a very high individual value, but that
value doesn't translate into valuable list contributions.

> if Einstien hit on relativity
> by intuition, it isn't impossible that some other individual, otherwise
> disregarded and disorganized, might just hit on some clue to quantum gravity
> or a unified theory.

Neither of those latter are particularly relevant to this list,
though, so I'm not sure discussion on those topics ought to be

> Thirdly, as the resident game designer on this list, I'd like to bring the
> perspective to the table that elegant and robust systems don't just have
> useful scientific value, they can also have artistic value,

I've been thinking recently about the value of fiction in learning. I
think that good fiction is probably just as essential as good
non-fiction. Fiction tends to give one new ideas about how to
visualize things, how to use metaphors in structuring one's knowledge
so that one can take advantage of one's sensory cortices and all of
their built in processes, so that more things can be intuitively
apparent when thinking about subjects. The value of these metaphors
can be immense. I feel that, in learning about mathematics, I haven't
really learned a fact unless I can visualize it. I've heard many or
most people are the same.

Non-fiction can cultivate these metaphors, it has to reach a much
higher standard of internal consistency than fiction, and the ideas
must be much more concrete. But fiction and art can do this, too. In
fact, they can take very nebulous and unformed ideas and do a good job
of communicating them, perhaps to others who will be able to form them
into a concrete vision.

Desipite this, I don't think this list is the place for that sort of
thing. Nebulous and unformed ideas cannot be discussed, as there is no
shared language with which to dissect them. This list is for

> and it just might
> be art that makes the difference between a Prevail scenario and a Shriek.

How so?

> In
> this capacity Geddes stabs at a TOE, though sometimes overwritten and not
> terribly elegant, are nice food for thought.

The best way to acquire metaphors is through art. Geddes' writing may
have metaphors, but it's certainly not art. His ideas are presented in
a relatively impoverished context, which robs his readers of most of
the processes that led to those concepts. A fictional world in which
the concepts are developed as part of the plot would probably restore
this, and it would allow readers who see so much surface nonsense in
his ideas to discover what he has in mind that give them inner
consistency. His trying to present them technically is much worse than

Chris Capel

"What is it like to be a bat? What is it like to bat a bee? What is it
like to be a bee being batted? What is it like to be a batted bee?"
-- The Mind's I (Hofstadter, Dennet)

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