Wild, Embodied, Modest, and Not Snappy
Socratic Social w/ The Stoa Village. Every Friday @ 7:00 PM ET. RSVP here.
An event to get excited about:
Living with the Global Problematique w/ Peter Jones. October 5th @ 6:00 PM ET. RSVP by clicking the image below.
Peter Jones, from the Faculty of Design at OCAD University, visits The Stoa to deliver a talk on the “global problematique,” aka the meta-crisis.
October 1st, 2020
I am a tad overextended right now. In addition to the stuff I am doing at The Stoa, and my work on other projects I have on the go, I am also taking a few facilitation courses. I am totally getting Zoom’d out. I want to still write every day, because I love writing every day. These espresso-fuelled mornings are prime time for my mind though, and I have other writing projects to do. Given this, I will attempt to make these entries shorter and snappier, until things clear up.
Today I want to expand my thoughts on reasoning, because it is one of the courses I eventually would like to create, but with much more sexiness than the other reasoning courses out there. The reason why this is such a focus for me, is due to my experience seeing people at debate clubs: most people have borrowed opinions, not reasoned arguments.
So I would like this course to address a number of things, while aligned and sensitive to all the attractors at The Stoa: communitas, dialogos, memetic mediation, anti-debates, etc. It would go through the basics like deductive and inductive reasoning, and cool things like guarding premises, dealing with what Robert Fogelin calls deep disagreements, getting a sense of one's credence levels, and Paul Graham’s excellent hierarchy of disagreement model.
The constraints of reasoning are also something I want to consider, these are more about what Dave Snowden calls “enabling constraints,” rather than “governing constraints.” The latter are constraints that force you to do something in a certain way, while the former are constraints that open up the possibility space.
Before I go into this further, I do want to confess I am feeling something close to the impostor syndrome here. When I create or coin a new term in these journals—and I am definitely coinage happy here—I get a slight sense of embarrassment, and the thought emerges: has this been written about before? Am I redundantly coining shit, and is one of those annoying really smart arrogant people going to call me out?
I am well-read enough. I have probably read over 500 books in my life, in addition to all the lectures, articles, podcasts, and documentaries I have taken in. This pales in comparison to a real intellectual though, and I notice within me, and maybe others who are intellectually-inclined but are not bona fide intellectuals, the following thought occurs: I need to read more before I can make an intellectual statement.
To double-click on that thought, I am feeling into the fearful felt-sense that supports it. When I translate this felt-sense, it says: I am afraid of looking stupid, and not being seen as smart, at least as smart as I want to be. Ah, that is easy to deal with, and nothing some good Stoic reframing cannot handle.
I am not that smart, and that is okay. I am smart enough to do whatever it is I am doing in the world, and that is okay as well. As an aside, I might dedicate a whole entry to intelligence, because we collectively have so many sticky insecurities around that theme.
To do another Stoic reframe: it is awesome to be called out when you are A) wrong, or B) being conceptually redundant. You get to learn something, while being humbled if you are in the need of humbling.
Yet another reframe: context is important, and even though something may have been said before, it may need to be said again in a more accessible way. This is being sensitive to the reality that there are many perspectives of reality in existence.
The last reframe, is this: I do not have time to be in consuming learning mode, or maybe I am too lazy for that, and that is okay, because that is not what these journals are about. These journals are about “thinking out loud” and when I think out loud I stumble on potential concepts, ones that could use some sexy coinage to refer to them in the future.
The secret is you do not need to wait for the high-status intellectual gods to come up with terms, you can just come up with them yourself, and when you do not need the term anymore, you throw it out. It is that simple. This is also helpful in exercising a very important cognitive muscle: thinking for yourself.
I will circle back to the constraints of reasoning now. Some high-status intellectual god may have said this before, and better, but here are my thoughts on the three constraints needed: you’ll need to reason in a way that is wild, embodied, and modest.
I recently wrote about wild reasoning, and this is reasoning without a predetermined outcome. If you believe (or deeply feel) that if people just started reasoning well they would believe whatever galaxy brain shit you believe, then you are not reasoning wildly, or well for that matter. Wild reasoning is a kind of reasoning where you genuinely do not know where you, or others, will end up when they embark on reasoning.
The second constraint is embodied reasoning. To bring up my favorite quote from Epictetus once more: Don't explain your philosophy. Embody it. Basically, this is reasoning in a way that will influence your body to move. Your body could move to the polling booth, to protest on the streets, to the (wisdom) gym, or to clean your room—the idea here is for your reasoning not to be detached from your body.
There is way too much disembodied thinking going on. This is why I stay silent, or leave, when intellectual conversations go way above my paygrade, or have a masturbatory quality about them. It is important to have your reason localized to your body in such a way that it does not float too far beyond it.
The third and last constraint is modest reasoning. As I mentioned in a previous entry: when you reason well, you put reason in its place, and if you listen to that reason, then you get to listen to something else. This is about not overextending reason, so you do not apply it to areas where it should not be applied to. This is also about all that transrational and metarational stuff the cool kids talk about. This is also about listening to the daemon.
So, this entry is definitely not short, nor snappy, as I wanted it to be. Now I will drive to my local coffee shop, get myself a delicious cortado, and do some more reframing as to why this was not a bad thing.