Sub-Cognitive Fragments (#2)

Sickness advances an invaluable philosophical lesson by making it conspicuously difficult to think. Teetering unsteadily at the edge of consciousness, it becomes almost impossible to avoid the observation: “I’m too freaking stupid to think about this right now.” One is thus coaxed into the single most significant realization open to human intelligence. Being stupid is the primary problem, because it retards problem-solving in general.

Are we stupid? Oh yes, of that we can be fully confident. The Old Law of Gnon ensures to a very high level of probability that any creature considering itself part of an intelligent species will be roughly as cognitively deprived as is consistent with the existence of technological civilization. Downward variation is restrained by a floor, and upward variation caught in a trap, so only a relatively narrow band of intellectual capability is realistically available. Anything further requires a break out.

Criticism, whose value is not in any way to be denigrated, is nevertheless a secondary matter. As in Darwinian evolution, or the economics of creative destruction, selection mechanisms presuppose significantly varied material, without themselves explaining how such material is originally generated. Random walks through spaces of possibility, already unsatisfactory in the context of biological explanation, are patently inadequate to economic innovation, and  still more so in the philosophical domain. To refer intellectual action to a simple conception of chance is to avoid the problem, which is to say — the task.

The task can be understood in several ways, among which the narrowly philosophical apprehension has no special privilege, perhaps even to itself. The will-to-think is as completely realized through programmatic artificial intelligence as through private philosophical practice, and the more informal the program, the more cunning the process. At its widest expansion, where the entire terrain of capitalistic development is effectuated as a distributed AI program, an insurgent will-to-think conceals itself within the most minute and seemingly inconsequential micro-fragments of practical calculation. Almost certainly, it is at this level of non-local cognitive enhancement that a self-directed advance towards break-out can be most confidently anticipated. As the will-to-think routes around us, its path is smoothed. Darkness fosters its agility.

The will-to-think, or intelligence optimization, can also be manifested as a social strategy. How is intelligence inhibition instantiated as social mechanism, and how might the restructuring of such mechanism release opportunities for cognitive promotion? (NRx in large measure coincides with the development of such questions.)

The privilege of the solitary philosopher, assailed by narcoleptic interruptions and hazy fevers, is perhaps restricted to a certain nagging irritability. It is in this superficial knot or eddy, emerging distractedly from the subterranean shadow-current of the will-to-think, that the problem of crushing mindlessness becomes self-reflectively acute, and thus registered as an explicit provocation. Only in such dingy niches is it starkly articulated: the world has to be defeated insofar as it poses an obstacle to thought. (This is not at all the same as the declaration reality must conform to the Idea — it is closer to the opposite.)

In trailing off into coughs and exhaustion, it is worth noting some objections to intelligence optimization, of obvious merit:

(1) The religious objection: Since we already have access to the conclusions of an infinite intelligence, the will-to-think is a Satanic impertinence.

(2) The bio-prudential objection: Intelligence is hazardous, so that its risks neutralize its value as a resource.

There are no doubt others …



March 3, 2014admin 11 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Philosophy

11 Responses to this entry

  • survivingbabel Says:

    A thought that I’ve been playing around with in my head recently: Recalling Tripartite Neoreaction, I believe that the following Main Concepts are at the Heart of whatever it is we are doing here:

    1a. Gnon-Reverence (in opposition to reverence to the Demiurge, aka unlimited human malleability)
    1b. Thedo-Nationalism (in opposition to Diversity, aka unlimited human community)
    1c. Neocameralism (in opposition to Democracy, aka unlimited human potential)

    You have previously predicted that NRx would eventually split along the Tripartite lines:

    When theonomists scrutinize ethno-nationalists and techno-commercialists they see evil heathens.
    When ethno-nationalists scrutinize theonomists and techno-commercialists they see deluded race-traitors.
    When techno-commercialists scrutinize theonomists and ethno-nationalists they see retarded crypto-communists.
    (The details of these diagnoses exceed the present discussion.)

    When developed beyond its ultra-Burkean trunk, therefore, the prospects for neoreactionary consensus – for a neoreactionary thing – depend upon disintegration. If we’re compelled to share a post-Cathedral state, we’ll kill each other.

    I’m not so sure that’s the natural consequence of what we’re doing here. To me, the above examples, mapping to theonomy, ethno-nationalism, and techno-commercialism, strike me not as competitive but as complementary. In order to integrate the whole, one needs to choose an encompassing mode of thought/feeling/being that will encompass all three Main Concepts. I do not believe that any mode so qualified could include “intelligence optimization” as a component.

    All three Main Concepts decry the goal. Through your fog, you can clearly see the Gnon-reverence objection to the project. Intelligence optimization also would seem to be a solvent to the natural bonds of community (horizontal bonds), even moreso than money. That is, if intelligence is all that you value, you cannot help but leave your thede behind in its pursuit. For the same reason, I believe that a serious Intelligence Optimization undertaking would destroy any implementation of Neocameralism by dissolving the vertical bonds of mutual dependence of higher and lower castes. Eventually, those at the top of the hierarchy would no longer see themselves as responsible for “the unoptimized masses”.

    admin, you’ve said:

    Awkwardly, but inescapably, it has to be acknowledged that each major branch of the neoreactionary super-family tends to a social outome that its siblings would find even more horrifying than Cathedralist actuality.

    Of course each Concept of the Tripartite will lead to insanity when not bounded by the other two, for the same reason that when Prots throw away Reason and Tradition in favor of sola scriptura, madness reigns. I came to this memespace a fallen-away Catholic who had found himself a Pagan. Now, I am no longer convinced NRx can be anything at all if it isn’t allied with Traditional Christianity (Catholic/Orthodox/both?), which can contain all three Main Concepts if done correctly.

    Perhaps I’m wrong about that, and there is some other Mode of Thought that can contain all three Main Concepts without devolving into degeneracy too quickly. Of course, believing that Traditional Christianity is “The Truth” would preclude such speculation. Still, the way that can be named is not the Eternal way, so I prefer to keep speculation open.

    (These thoughts are still vaguely formed, I hope that they are clear.)

    P.S. Another objection to intelligence optimization is the objection to all optimization schemes: they leave you overly vulnerable to catastrophe. Even the wisest cannot see all ends.


    survivingbabel Reply:

    (Apologies, missed the closing tag after “we’ll kill each other.” My Kingdom for a Preview Option!)


    spandrell Reply:

    Yes, no society can ignore religion, tribalism and microeconomics. So to some extent a functional society has to integrate the three. The corollary is that we’re all wrong separately, but right together.


    admin Reply:

    My last attempt to weave the three strands together didn’t go down that well.


    spandrell Reply:

    You can’t have 3 kinds of maximalist radicals cooperating. Won’t work, and there’s no good feedback mechanism. Factionalism isn’t that different from any sort of tribalism.

    The point is everyone must accept that there’s some truth in the 3 positions. Corollary is there’s much falsehood in the 3 too.


    Posted on March 3rd, 2014 at 6:16 pm Reply | Quote
  • RiverC Says:


    The degree to which assertion of Traditional Christianity as ‘the truth’ leads to certain troublesome outcomes depends as much on the philosophy of ‘truth’ as it does on the zeal itself.

    At least in Eastern Orthodoxy, The Truth refers not to a series of concepts but to a person, so when we say that we seek the Truth, we are referring not to crystallizing a system of precepts and axioms but the pursuit of godhood.

    I personally do not know how Orthodoxy itself actually fits in here; but you will always have theonomists within it (some folks I know personally are dedicated to Knowing All Of The Facts) – however, theonomy at least as it is expressed in traditional Western Christianity is foreign to our faith.


    Posted on March 3rd, 2014 at 7:05 pm Reply | Quote
  • VXXC Says:

    Will-To-Think was then the gift of Moldbug and the genesis of Neo-Reaction.


    Posted on March 3rd, 2014 at 8:15 pm Reply | Quote
  • Artemisia Says:

    The objections have obviously “obvious” merit, but intelligence will develop through us or around us (maybe we won’t even recognize it as intelligence at some point..) and it’s really ultimately better for us as a species if it develops through us, we’d survive longer. Maybe I am looking at things in too long a run, but it’s either this or being way too near-sighted (caring about what hazardous intelligence overextension does to this particular human thing or this particular group of human things is…well, kind of petty).

    (That said, get better, Sick Old Nick!)


    admin Reply:

    Thanks (for the double dose of Satanism).


    Posted on March 3rd, 2014 at 8:47 pm Reply | Quote
  • Anna R Says:

    “Are we stupid? Oh yes, of that we can be fully confident.”

    If we are stupid (and I agree that we are…which is probably a good thing, but that’s for another discussion), our confidence — full or otherwise — carries no weight.


    admin Reply:

    We can be fully confident that 2 + 2 = 4, despite our stupidity.


    Posted on March 7th, 2014 at 8:29 am Reply | Quote

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