30 Oct 2021 02:15 - 03 Jun 2023 03:13
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    • “What is a nebulous mass, just out of idle curiosity?" "A possible growth in the body." "And it's called nebulous because you can't get a clear picture of it." "We get very clear pictures. The imaging block takes the clearest pictures humanly possible. It's called a nebulous mass because it has no definite shape, form or limits." "What can it do in terms of worst-case scenario contingencies?" "Cause a person to die." "Speak English, for God's sake. I despise this modern jargon.”
    • Nebulosity is a term introduced
      introduced to me, that is, he didn't invent it.
      by Meaningness to indicate a certain set of qualities of our experience:
    • “Nebulosity” refers to the insubstantial, amorphous, non-separable, transient, ambiguous nature of meaningness.
    • You should read his work for the long version, but my short version is that: maps capture only particular selected features of reality. The Rationalist response is to pursue better and more detailed maps
      a tendency parodied by Borges in "Of Exactitude In Science".
      ; the way of nebulosity involves acknowledging that this effort is basically hopeless; that while we can obviously improve both the amount of our knowledge and its accuracy, the inevitable gaps and mismatches between our knowledge and reality are not going to go away; and we should learn to embrace the inescapable consequences.
    • Well, that might diverge from the Meaningness definition, since he also says:
      • However, often the difficulty is not that we don’t know what the true meaning is, but that it is inherently ambiguous. It is a feature of reality, not of knowledge.
    • So my epistemological-flavored view of nebulosity might not be the same as his. However, I don't think this makes much practical difference. The world may have an exact (non-nebulous) description, but there is no way we are getting our crude little minds on it, so it doesn't matter.
    • Actually on reflection I think his view is better; because for most of the concepts we care about (not atoms, but high-level concepts like chairs or games or social groups) there really is no stable reality that minds are just incapable of representing.
    • This is not what you would call a great insight; it's been kind of an intellectual cliche since Wittgenstein and Nietzsche
      I think my own exposure to it came through the less respectable route of Robert Anton Wilson's writings, but I guess that is nothing to be ashamed of.
      at least. But reading about it as philosophy is one thing, and feeling it in your bones is something else. It is actually kind of terrifying, properly understood, and there is no mystery why people would be motivated to deny it.
    • It's somewhat unfair, but I think of Rationalists almost definitionally as those who are in deep denial of nebulosity
      postrationalism seems to be an effort to re-introduce some nebulosity onto what is still a fundamentally rationalist framework.
      . They aren't idiots about objectivity, the way the Ayn Rand cultists are, but they still think in terms of an objective reality and models that are more or less accurate – that's what LessWrong means. And look, above I was doing the same thing until I caught myself, so it's not like I'm immune.