Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category

Quote note (#291)

Sailer gets philosophical (and does it well):

The technology of power is moving from the past’s emphasis on privacy and concealment toward more contemporary techniques of diversion, bias, misconception, and willful stupidity. The crude methods that George Orwell summed up in his image of the incinerator-chute “memory hole” are growing into more sophisticated devices for providing the public with misleading frameworks for mentally organizing (or rationalizations for simply ignoring) the overload of available facts, thus making it harder to remember or understand politically inconvenient knowledge.

[…] … erasing facts and even people from history could sometimes work because in the past, information was scarce since reproducing it was so expensive. […] Even without political ill will, simply maintaining the knowledge already existent was difficult: Libraries, for example, might catch fire and texts (and thus knowledge) could be lost forever. […] With the invention of the movable-type printing press in the West in the 1400s, redundancy began to win the war against knowledge decay. Eventually, there were enough copies of books that knowledge was unlikely to be fully expunged. […] In modern times, the urge to retcon reality is no doubt as strong as in the past. But information storage and communication are so cheap that old techniques such as book burnings can hardly be counted upon anymore to root out all copies of data. …

October 6, 2016admin 22 Comments »
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Twitter cuts (#89)

This is so wrong it’s seriously interesting.

September 25, 2016admin 55 Comments »
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A Socratic Fragment

Socrates: Ah, Abyssos, Mechanos, and Agoros, how delightful to have stumbled upon you on this fine day.
Abyssos: No offense Socrates, but could you please buzz off?
Socrates: What a fascinating way to begin a spirited dialectic!
Abyssos: We’re working on something here, Socrates.
Socrates: So then a perfect opportunity for a discussion of the nature of the Good?
Abyssos: Our tri-nodal abstract rotary-dynamic cognitive processor is almost functional, with only a few intricate tweaks left to complete, so we would appreciate the chance to concentrate upon it undisturbed.
Socrates: You would appreciate such a chance?
Abyssos: Yes, indeed.
Socrates: It would, then, be a good thing in your opinion?
Abyssos: Most definitely.
Socrates: Yet you say you would rather think, today, of something other than the Good, and that it would be good to be allowed to do so?
Abyssos: My emphasis was quite different.
Socrates: Quite so, my dear Abyssos, but what indeed is emphasis? Is it not the prioritization of one thing relative to another? The advancement of a meaning deemed most important? And is it not, then, being said that it is better for one thing to be heard, than another?
Abyssos: No doubt you are correct Socrates. Would it be acceptable for me now to concede without reservation to your argument, bid you a warm farewell, and return to the delicate technical work with which I am engaged with my friends?
Socrates: But that which you would pursue, now, rather than the Idea of the Good, Abyssos, is it of a better or worse nature than the Good?
Abyssos: It is hard to know, Socrates, since it is a cognitive engine, and will in our estimation enable us to reach superior conclusions than we could reach now, unaided by it.
Socrates: ‘Superior’, did you say …

March 19, 2016admin 17 Comments »
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Against Universalism

There’s a philosophical objection to any refusal of universalism that will be familiar from other uses (the denunciation of relativism, most typically). It requires only one step: Isn’t the denial of the universal itself a universalist claim? It’s a piece of malignant dialectics because it demands that we agree. We don’t, and won’t ever, agree. Agreement is the worst thing that could happen. Merely assent to its necessity, and global communism, or some close analog, is the implicit conclusion.

If there is a universal truth, it belongs only to Gnon, and Gnon is a dark (occulted) God. Traditional theists will be at least strongly inclined to disagree — and that is excellent. We disagree already, and we have scarcely begun.

There is no ‘good life for man’ (in general) — or if there is we know nothing of it, or not enough. Even those persuaded that they do, on the contrary, know what such a life should be, promote its universality only at the expense of being denied the opportunity to pursue it. If we need to agree on the broad contours of such a model for human existence, then reaching agreement will precede it — and ‘reaching agreement’ is politics. Some much wider world acquires a veto over the way of life you select, or accept, or inherit (the details need not detain us). We have seen how that works. Global communism is the inevitable destination.

The alternative to agreement is schism. Secession, geopolitical disintegration, fragmentation, splitting — disagreement escapes dialectics and separates in space. Anti-universalism, concretely, is not a philosophical position but an effectively defensible assertion of diversity. From the perspective of the universal (which belongs only to Gnon, and never to man), it is an experiment. The degree to which it believes in itself is of no concern that matters to anything beyond itself. It is not answerable to anything but Gnon. What anyone, anywhere, thinks about it counts for nothing. If it fails, it dies, which should mean nothing to you. If you are compelled to care about someone else’s experiment, then a schism is missing. Of course, you are free to tell it that you think it will fail, if it is listening, but there is absolutely no need to reach agreement on the question. This is what, in the end, non-communism means.

Non-universalism is hygiene. It is practical avoidance of other people’s stupid shit. There is no higher principle in political philosophy. Every attempt to install an alternative, and impose a universal, reverts to dialectics, communization, global evangelism, and totalitarian politics.

This is being said here now, because NRx is horribly bad at it, and degenerates into a clash of universalisms, as into an instinctive equilibrium. There are even those who confidently propose an ‘NRx solution’ for the world. Nothing could be more absurd. The world — as a whole — is an entropy bin. The most profoundly degraded communism is its only possible ‘universal consensus’. (Everyone knows this, when they permit themselves to think.)

All order is local — which is to say the negation of the universal. That is merely to re-state the second law of thermodynamics, which ‘we’ generally profess to accept. The only thing that could ever be universally and equally distributed is noise.

Kill the universalism in your soul and you are immediately (objectively) a neoreactionary. Protect it, and you are an obstacle to the escape of differences. That is communism — whether you recognize it, or not.

March 18, 2016admin 65 Comments »
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The Basics

The fundamental insight of the West is tragedy. It cannot be cognitively mastered, assimilated, or overcome. At the end it will be as unsurpassed as it was at the beginning. The essential insight is already fully achieved within the fragment of Anaximander, at the origin of Occidental philosophy.

There are English translations of the fragment here, and here. A definitive version still awaits us. This is the Wikipedia rendering:

Whence things have their origin,
Thence also their destruction happens,
According to necessity;
For they give to each other justice and recompense
For their injustice
In conformity with the ordinance of Time.

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January 12, 2016admin 52 Comments »
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NRx Thought

It isn’t entirely clear whether Warg Franklin is asking: How does NRx think? Nevertheless, his introduction to postrationalism cannot but contribute to such a question (whether the latter is taken descriptively, prescriptively, or diagonally). The excellent onward links merit explicit mention (1, 2, 3).

How NRx thinks is a critical index of what it is.

Outside in is probably ‘postrationalist’. What it certainly is, however, is disintegrationist. It translates the caution against rationalist hubris — dubbed reservationism by Moldbug (in the link provided) — as a general antipathy to global solutions (and their attendant universalist ideologies). To be promoted, in the place of any Great Answer, is computational fragmentation. Whenever the research program meets an obstacle, divide it. “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” Or at least, since selection is inescapable, defend the fork (as such) first, and the chosen path only secondarily.

Delegate selection to Gnon. To do so not only husbands resources, but also maximizes overall experimentation. Intelligence is scarce. It is needed, above all, for tinkering well. Global conceptual policing is an exhausting waste, and an unnecessary one, since territorial distribution, or some effective proxy, can carry it for free. Security capacity is needed to fend off those determined to share their mistakes. Using it, instead, to impose any measure — whatsoever — of global conformity is a pointless extravagance, and a diversion.

Whether articulated as epistemology, or as meta-politics, NRx is aligned with the declaration: There is no need for us to agree. Refuse all dialectics. It is not reconciliation that is needed, but definitive division. (Connect, but disintegrate.)

Think in patches. Eventually, some of them will work.

October 28, 2015admin 31 Comments »
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Insect Agonies

Utilitarianism dominates the rationalization of morality within the English-speaking world. It is scarcely imaginable that it could be expressed with greater purity than this:

There are roughly 10^18 insects in the world. Suppose we give insects a .1% chance of being sentient, with their sentience being .1% of a human’s. (These values are intentionally small to demonstrate the scale to which insect suffering dominates) Assuming we assign moral weight to categories of beings by their number and the intensity of their inner experiences, this assignment gives each insect 1/1,000,000 of the moral weight for a human, meaning that the suffering of 1,000,000 insects equals the suffering of one human. Even when assigning insects this absurdly low moral weight, their suffering still dominates, as 10^18 insects comes out to 1 trillion human equivalents. If the number of insects were smaller, say around 7 billion, the consequences of not considering insect suffering might be acceptable. Unfortunately this isn’t the case, and as we shall see, ignoring insect suffering even if we assign a low probability to insect consciousness presents an unacceptably high risk of ignoring a catastrophic moral harm.

There’s no need to condescend to this argument by pretending to ‘steelman’ it. It’s already quite steely. For a start, it’s conceptually pure — undistracted by irrelevances such as habitat preservation. It’s solidly consequentialist, and — in its development from of its own basic axiom — practical. There’s no sign of a fetishistic rejection of pesticide use, for instance, or an appeal to any totemic vision of ‘nature’. It’s even realist, in that it recognizes enough about the character of this universe to understand the utilitarian obligation as primarily about the alleviation of suffering (positive pleasures being, in the grand scheme of things, no more than a rounding error). On this basis, there’s an insectoid antinatalist sub-theme, which (briefly) explores the thought that ethical extermination might be a positive moral good: “It is possible that most insects have lives that aren’t worth living … meaning the fewer insects in existence the better.” It focuses tightly upon the problem of relieving insect agonies, by chemically inducing a comparatively painless — rather than agonizing — death. Building its case in uncontroversial steps, it concludes that no effective altruistic cause has higher priority, since “… insect suffering probably dominates all other sources of suffering” and “… humane pesticides saves 25 human equivalents from a more painful death per dollar.”

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September 24, 2015admin 63 Comments »
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In respect to the initial formulation of a question along the rough lines “How is suspension of consequences possible?” there are only three basic options:

(1) It’s not. All deferral of consequences is illusion. The reality is something akin to instant karma. (There’s something about this line of thinking I respect, but I’ve no idea how it could be coherently put together, and then knitted with explanatory plausibility to evident historical fact.)
(2) It’s complicated.
(3) That old problem is over. Haven’t you heard of the Death of Reality? Postmodernism, bitchez. (This is Derrida and Baudrillard — smart, terminally decadent, and radically inconsistent with NRx. It’s also the implicit principle of post-liberal macro-economics.)

Number Two is surely the only path here that is NRx-compatible. Its articulation remains almost entirely unachieved, although this is no great source of shame — the prior intellectual history of the world got nowhere with it, either. It might not be the deepest problem about time, but it is the one with the greatest immediate relevance to generally-acknowledged historical processes, and (perhaps) also the greatest direct practical application. What it explores is the potential for a realistic analysis of the provisionally-functional denial of reality. It crosses almost everything ‘we’ are talking about.

Charles Hugh-Smith writes:

By the time extend-and-pretend finally reaches its maximum limits, the resulting implosion is so large that the shock waves topple regimes, banks, currencies and entire nations.

If NRx seems predisposed to apocalypticism, it is because it concurs — both with the proposal that “maximum limits” exist, and the attendant thesis that some reality-suppressing tendency is reaching them. “Extend-and-pretend” — or radically finite reality denial — is an engine of catastrophe. It enables negative consequences to be accumulated through postponement, without prospect of final (‘postmodern’) absolution. Yes, the coagulated detritus does eventually collide ruinously with the unpleasantness purifier. The fact it hasn’t already done so, however, is a puzzle of extraordinary profundity.

ADDED: Scharlach responds.

February 19, 2015admin 33 Comments »
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Quote note (#135)

From Erasmus, Moriae Encomium, which can be found here, but adopted in this case as translated by Sir Edmund Whittaker (in his A History of the Theories of Aether and Electricty, Volume I, p.3):

There are innumerable niceties concerning notions, relations, instants, formalities, quiddities, and haecceities, which no-one can pry into, unless he has eyes that can penetrate the thickest darkness, and there can see things that have no existence whatever.

Appealing enough, already, in its light-footed philosophical modernism, it becomes utterly sublime when tackled — inversely — by the method of ‘hyper-literal anagogy’. It then suggests a Miltonic recovery of ancient philosophy, undertaken — with blind irony — by modernity itself.

December 1, 2014admin No Comments »
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Malthusian Horror

The post is pitched like this because it’s Friday night, but it works. A more dutiful post might have been entitled simply ‘Malthus’ and involved a lot of work. That’s going to be needed at some point. (Here‘s the 6th edition of An Essay on the Principle of Population, for anyone who wants to get started now.) A more thoroughly technical approach would have been flagged ‘Neo-Malthusianism’. While sympathizing with groans about another ‘neo-‘ prefix, in this case it would have been solidly justified. It’s only through expansion of the Malthusian insight in accordance with a more general conservation law that its full current relevance can be appreciated. Classic Malthus still does far more work than it is credited with, but it contains a principle of far more penetrating application.

‘Neo-‘ at its most frivolous is merely a mark of fashion. When employed more seriously, it notes an element of innovation. Its most significant sense includes not only novelty, but also abstraction. Something is carried forwards in such a way that its conceptual core is distilled through extraction from a specific context, achieving a higher generality, and more exact formality. Malthus partially anticipates this in a phrase that points beyond any excessively constrictive concreteness:


The qualification “in some shape or other” might have been drawn from abstract horror, and “premature death” only loosely binds it. Even so, this formulation remains too narrow, since it tends to exclude the dysgenic outcome, which we have since learnt is a dimension of Malthusian expression scarcely less imposing than resource crisis. A Neo-Malthusian account of the “X” which in some shape or other makes a grim perversity of all humanity’s efforts to improve its condition grasps it as a mathematically conserved, plastic, or abstract destiny, working as remorselessly through reductions of mortality (Malthusian ‘relaxations’) as through increases (Malthusian ‘pressures’). Both would count equally as “checks on population” — each convertible, through a complex calculus, into the terms of the other. A population dysgenically deteriorated through ‘enlightened’ Malthusian relaxation learns, once again, how to starve.

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November 14, 2014admin 37 Comments »
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