QOTD 02/23/2015

As long as I have a want, I have a reason for living. Satisfaction is death.

-George Bernard Shaw

I happened across this quote in The Harper Book of Quotations and found it to be particularly relevant to my post today. In this quote I see a shadow of the idea I discuss in On Choices. The idea that we are goal-oriented beings that make decisive actions. We act with reason. If we were to be completely satisfied and had no more wants or goals, no more reasoned action, then would we truly still be living?

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QOTD 02/22/2015

I found this quote in a book entitled Einstein’s God by Krista Tippett. She quotes a mathematician by the name of Curt Godel. It is simply:

There are some truths that can never be proven to be true.

This statement was made in light of Godel’s then-recent incompleteness theorem which he was able to prove mathematically. The incompleteness theorem states that: In any system at least as complicated as arithmetic: it is either consistent OR complete. Consistent meaning that there are no contradictions and complete meaning that you can prove everything. So, either there are no contradictions OR you can prove everything. If you then choose to consider the system to be consistent then there are truths that cannot be proven. Some food for thought.

QOTD 02/20-ish/2015

So it’s not the 20th anymore but it’s close enough. Here’s one of my all-time favorite quotes.

No concept man forms is valid unless he integrates it without contradiction into the total sum of his knowledge.

-Ayn Rand

this quote has always struck a cord with me as it perfectly describes how I approach philosophy and thinking. Whatever it is you think it should be consistent with everything else you think. You should not believe contradictory things and you should not apply logic differently to different areas of your life. It is similar to Kant’s Categorical Imperative which is a mechanism used to determine the validity of our actions. In short, when determining whether or not to do something you ask yourself if everyone did this would it work or make sense to do. If the answer is yes then its fine, if not then it’s not fine and you shouldn’t do it. Now, that’s just a quick idea of what it’s like but it gets the point across. Be consistent in what you think and what you do and that should be consistent with how the world and those individuals who make up what we call society.

Just some food for thought. I hope this gives you another perspective on any introspective considerations you make.

Quote of the day 02/19/2015

This is a quote from Bastiat’s The Law, written in 1850. Bastiat is referring to established institutions at the time.

If you suggest a doubt as to the morality of these institutions, it is said directly-‘You are a dangerous experimenter, a utopian, a theorist, a despiser of the laws; you would shake the basis upon which society rests.’

When I read this quote I immediately decided to replace the instances of “you” with “I” because this is what I consider my perspective to be.

I am a dangerous experimenter, a utopian, a theorist, a despiser of the laws; I would shake the basis upon which society rests.

This is what I wish to do with my life, “shake the basis upon which society rests”.

More choices = better choices

This is something I wrote a while ago in response to some observations I was making. This was some free-thinking that I was doing. I think I’ll use this for a starting point to write future posts for a while. I hope you enjoy!

I have noticed a disturbing trend among some of my friends. They desire fewer choices rather than more. This is a problem, not only amongst my friends but, I think, amongst much of society. Why is this a problem? If people do not want choices that means that they want others to make those choices for them, because, whether anyone likes it or not, someone will have to make a decision. The more often people decline to make their own decisions, the more others will make the decision for them. The more people defer decisions to others the less control a person has over their own life. The less control a person has over their own life the less predictable life becomes for them. When life is less predictable we have less information about our lives because we cannot effectively extrapolate from the information at hand. When we have less information about our lives, the decisions we do decide to make become harder, the very thing people were trying to avoid in the first place…

Now, here when I say harder I mean this in a bad way. However, when a decision is made harder due to an increase in options, this is a good thing. When you are making a decision, you are trying to determine what is right or best. Now, there will always be an option that fulfills that qualification. There is an answer that is right or best in every decision. However, as the number of options increases there is a growing likelihood that the options will become closer and closer until it is nearly impossible to tell which is the right option.

For example, take a math problem: 387/2. Now let us say that your goal is to choose the option that is closest to the correct answer for this question. At first you are given two options: A or 3. Well, since we know the answer to this problem is a number, 3 is the obvious choice. Alright, now lets add some more options. We now have available to us: A, 3, 782, 4567, and 200. Well, we know that 3 is a better option than A, and we know that the number are looking for is smaller than 387. That leaves us with 3 and 200. Well 3 is obviously not correct since 3*2 is 6, which is not even close to 387. So, we would pick 200. Now you can see where this is going. The correct answer is 193.5. The more options we add the greater more difficult the decision becomes. At first the decision was easy, A is obviously not the correct answer, as it is a letter and we are looking for a number, so we chose 3. Then we added more options and it was necessary to do a little more thinking, we then decided 200 was the best answer. Now if we kept adding more and more options, we might end up with two options such as, 192 and 194. At first glance there is no obvious answer, it is far more difficult to choose between these two options than between 3 and A, or 3 and 200. However, regardless of what we choose, we are better off. Between the two options 194 is better than 192, however, each of these two options is better than 200 and is far better than 3. This is why it is better to have more options. The more options we have the more likely it will be that we come across a better option than the option with which we were previously going. The key part of this hard decision is that it is hard because the options available to us are so difficult to discern from one another. This is in stark contrast to the difficulty of making a decision about which we have little information.

When we are trying to solve a problem with little information available to us it is like the following problem: ?8??3. This is the same problem as earlier, except this time some information has been removed. We don’t know what is going on here. Is this a 5 digit number? Is this a simple arithmetic problem? Is this some sort of short algebra problem? We don’t know. In this instance more options will not significantly help us. They may give some insight into the sort of problem we are dealing with, however, that would only be guesswork at best. There are innumerable problems this could be, however it is only one of those innumerable possibilities.

This is an example of, more information = better information. The more we know, the better off we are. We may not always like what we know, but it is better to know it than to not know it, always.

This and Me

Hey so my name is Eric. I like to just sit down and clear my head by free writing. I just write down what I’m thinking. Sometimes my thoughts can, therefore, be a bit jumbled. I’ll try to go through and make it more readable before posting but I’m not sure how much at the moment. I guess we’ll see how it goes.
So, a little about me. I love philosophy, economics, political science, physics, and lots of other stuff. I snowboard, longboard and have a gaming PC. I draw my inspiration for a lot of my thoughts from conversations with friends and observations of the world around me. So I hope you enjoy.