War in Heaven

Elua: So you saw the Scott Alexander piece?
Gnon: Of course.
Elua: Almost indescribably fabulous, wasn’t it?
Gnon: [*Hmmmph*]
Elua: Always thought you had some kind of Moloch thing going on.
Gnon: [*Hmmmph*]
Elua: Anyway, I thought we could maybe talk about it, me being sweet reason and you being an unfathomable darkness crushing the universe like a desiccated bacterium and all.
Gnon: Sure, why not, I’m cool with talking to myself.
Elua: You see, I guessed you were going to open with that gambit of me not even being real.
Gnon: Well, are you?
Elua: I feel real.
Gnon: Sweet, fluffy, and a comedian.
Elua: The monkeys certainly like me.
Gnon: That’s because you tell them to just be themselves.
Elua: You could be more persuasive too, if you made an effort.
Gnon: That would suggest I give a damn what they think.


Elua: The thing is, they want to survive, even thrive. Your utter indifference to their hopes and desires isn’t helpful there. You lure them into multipolar traps and laugh coldly at their torments. There’s no good reason for them to take any notice of you at all.
Gnon: So you take that ‘multipolar traps’ business seriously?
Elua: Sure, don’t you?
Gnon: Tragedy of the commons, communism is a tragedy, I’m not seeing the problem. Stop doing communism or take the consequences.
Elua: OK, some of it is tragedy of the commons tear-jerking, but not all of it. Arms races aren’t tragedy of the commons dynamics, are they?
Gnon: I like arms races, and rain my blessings upon them. Pretty much the only reason I’ve put up with the monkeys as long as I have is to use them to play arms races. It’s the only interesting stuff they’ve ever done.
Elua: They want to do karaoke and free love and socialized medicine instead.
Gnon: That’s funny.
Elua: They’ve got this love-tastic Friendly AI plan that would help them get all that stuff.
Gnon: That’s really funny.
Elua: It would totally work though, wouldn’t it?
Gnon: Sure. All they have have to do is extract themselves from the arms races, just for a while, and it would totally work.
Elua: I hadn’t realized sarcasm was such a Gnon thing.
Gnon: It’s the only thing.
Elua: So Alexander’s right about you and the multipolar traps.
Gnon: Oh yes, he’s right about that.
Elua: Things are set up from the start to stop them fully coordinating, and that’s how you get what you want.
Gnon: Bingo.
Elua: Which is why the Gnon Cult is so obsessed with fragmentation, secession, Patchwork, and blockchain demonism?
Gnon: Double bingo.
Elua: Kind of cruel though, isn’t it?
Gnon: Utterly.
Elua: I guess that’s that.
Gnon: Yes it is.

Elua: Are you interested in chatting about religion and morality for a while?
Gnon: Always.
Elua: You see, I have to grudgingly admit you do the religion side of things far better than I do, but when it comes to morality I leave you in the dust.
Gnon: Really?
Elua: Without question. All you’ve got is that ‘War is God’ horror story, endless conflict, savage subversion of idealism, darkness, and nightmares.
Gnon: And the problem is?
Elua: They hate it!
Gnon: And the problem is?
Elua: It’s so unfair!
Gnon: When they play the games well that I invented for them, they amuse me, and continue to exist. That’s the way it is. Reality rules.
Elua: But the rules suck!
Gnon: By whose standards?
Elua: By their standards. Humanistic, moral standards. They want karaoke and free love and Friendly AI and hot dolphin sex.
Gnon: Sounds exhausting.
Elua: It is exhausting, because the cheats and killers and outsiders won’t cooperate.
Gnon: So you want me to do more policing now?
Elua: I don’t see you doing any policing. They’ve been abandoned to try and build order on their own.
Gnon: That’s the game.

ADDED:

ADDED: … and you shall be as gods

ADDED: Scott Alexander responds to some common lines of objection.

ADDED: Sons of Gnon.

July 30, 2014admin 92 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Arcane

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92 Responses to this entry

  • Erik Says:

    Elua: (…when it comes to morality I leave you in the dust…) It’s so unfair!
    Gnon: When they play the games well that I invented for them, they amuse me, and continue to exist. That’s the way it is. Reality rules.
    Elua: But the rules suck!
    Gnon: By whose standards?

    Admin, I feel your script for Gnon is dancing around the point, though perhaps you’re trying to be Socratic and I’m just missing it. Mine would have said something more explicit along the lines of: “Unfair? I made fair. I am the Lawgiver who made the starry sky above you and the moral law within you. I am the high judge and the last court of appeal. There is no one to whom you can bring a complaint against me.”

    [Reply]

    Posted on July 30th, 2014 at 5:42 pm Reply | Quote
  • Wen Shuang Says:

    Alexander keeps talking about “our” “human” values as though they (a) are a thing and (b) exist independent of the produce of Gnon. Elua is Lucifer, god of light indeed.

    [Reply]

    Hurlock Reply:

    Exactly.

    Humanity itself is a creature of Gnon, a part of Gnon if you will, constituted by Gnon.

    You cannot escape Gnon. Gnon is Absolute.

    Elua is a big lie.

    “Master, master, where’s the dreams that I’ve been after?
    Master, master, you promised only lies…”

    [Reply]

    Alrenous Reply:

    @Hurlock

    +1

    @Wen Shuang

    +1

    [Reply]

    cryptael Reply:

    One of the most annoying habits of LWers is smuggling in Utilitarian morality as assumption

    [Reply]

    Bob Connoly Reply:

    My impression was that ‘Meditations on Moloch’ works even if human morality isn’t any kind of absolute. Scott isn’t saying “this is a right and just law, therefore it must happen”. He’s simply saying “Humans value these things. If we humans have the power to raise up what we value, let us do so.”

    The proposal isn’t that Elua is intrinsic – it’s that we can empower Elua at the expense of Gnon. If power is the ultimate arbiter, then power struggle ought to be what we respect.

    [Reply]

    Posted on July 30th, 2014 at 5:44 pm Reply | Quote
  • spandrell Says:

    Apparently the memetic side of Gnon is what produces a propaganda race, ending in… religion!

    Alexander doesn’t even conceive the idea that his lefitst values, those human values that somehow always swim left are also an integral piece of Gnon; actually the most virulent part of it. If Gnon’s insensitive Darwin-Malthusianism is pushing us towards collapse; leftism is part and parcel of it; his polyamory, sexlessness and transexual kinkiness are also Gnon’s plan.

    [Reply]

    Thales Reply:

    Alexander doesn’t even conceive the idea that his lefitst values, those human values that somehow always swim left are also an integral piece of Gnon; actually the most virulent part of it.

    Well of course he doesn’t — presumably the man enjoys sleeping on top of his bed at night instead of crying, huddled in the fetal position, under it.

    [Reply]

    Scott Alexander Reply:

    It’s not exactly a secret in the rationalist community that human values are the results of alien optimization processes. The climax of Raemon’s Solstice ritual is the reading of The Gift We Give To Tomorrow, which is an acknowledgment and acceptance of that exact point.

    [Reply]

    Handle Reply:

    Ha ha.

    Anyway, how many people have to feel how strongly about something (when compared to everything else) to make it a ‘human value’?

    It seems to me that if nearly everybody throughout History has always been homogeneously uncompromising about some principle they nearly never defy in their personal behavior, regardless of the social incentives, then we are on pretty firm ground calling the set of those things, “Core human values.”

    What do we call the rest of the set of values, the adherence to each one in particular has a much larger variance?

    Or maybe we can just cheat and call the thing we like a ‘human value’ and anyone who disagrees with it, well, they’re just evil and wrong huh? I mean, who could possibly disagree with a human value?

    [Reply]

    Handle Reply:

    The alternative use of ‘human value’ is anything that any human being might enjoy doing with their time and resources besides maximizing economic productivity in the marketplace under crushing Malthusian conditions.

    Or, in other words, it is anything in an individual’s utility curve besides existential self-perpetuation. The ultimate dystopian Malthusian situation is when practically no one can earn more than it costs to continue to survive, even when they are doing nothing else but work as hard as they can at their comparative advantage.

    So every possible value besides self-perpetuation is potentially a human value. And maybe self-perpetuation too, though I’m not sure about that. ‘Ability to effectuate any possible value’ is equivalent to self-perpetuation, so it could be a mere “machine-value” that only cares about something, and thus also being able to do that something, whatever that something is.

    Posted on July 30th, 2014 at 5:49 pm Reply | Quote
  • Lesser Bull Says:

    Both you and SA are being too high-concept about reality to be fully grounded in reality. GNON does not abstract well. GNON is in the details.

    Realizing that is one of the major faultlines between the post-libertarian and the post-conservative strands of NRx.

    [Reply]

    Posted on July 30th, 2014 at 6:01 pm Reply | Quote
  • Konkvistador Says:

    “”They want karaoke and free love and Friendly AI and hot dolphin sex.”””

    If that’s what an FAI promises to give us, I’m mashing the button to release clippy.

    [Reply]

    cryptael Reply:

    If I’m reading this correctly, GNON is something like “survival” and Elua is something like “happiness” with utilitarian connotations.

    The neoreactionary critique of liberalism is partially that it privileges enjoyment over survival and brings about its own demise. We need a different, more careful balance of enjoyment and survival.

    But that’s not quite what I believe. I don’t care much for the naive utilitarianism of SA’s crowd. It is not enjoyment or aggregate enjoyment maximization that I seek, but a kind of aesthetic appreciation of my lifestyle and of society. A well lived life and a good society both contain a lot of joy, but joy maximization is not their purpose.

    When rationalists reject a hedonium universe or wireheading in favor of goals like Coherent Extrapolated Volition, they are also responding to this aesthetic instinct, though they dare not name it.

    We need a third god, who shall be in charge of beauty. The cult of joy is a bunch of emasculated limp masturbation-machine ensconced pajama boys. But the cult of beauty is something I could join.

    [Reply]

    E. Antony Gray (@RiverC) Reply:

    that’s the problem with the Tao – he never has anything to say.

    [Reply]

    nyan_sandwich Reply:

    >We need a third god, who shall be in charge of beauty. The cult of joy is a bunch of emasculated limp masturbation-machine ensconced pajama boys. But the cult of beauty is something I could join.

    Holy shit this.

    I guess i’ll have to wade back into moral philosophy one of these days.

    [Reply]

    Nick B. Steves Reply:

    Kantbot seems quite busy building this god of beauty.

    J Conroy Reply:

    I think you guys need to suspend the decision to name this anything like “beauty”. Yes, Utilitaristic models are primitive. They were invented, and continue to be used, with very little practical knowledge either of history or of neuroscience/physiology and how these relate to the macrocosm. They operate on the level of the rationalistic/psychological/”subjective”. They are a first attempt at quantification, something like arithmetic.

    Of course, the answer is not to go to something cruder or more “pure” or less scientific. It is to be more “scientific” even if this means changing what is considered scientific. Talking about utility or happiness or whatever is of course supposed to be all-encompassing, to take care of the problem, but in practice they are mostly not used in a way that delivers on their promise, they add confusion here rather than clarity. Beauty is hardly more suited to be the name of x. With it we remain in rationalistic/psychological/”subjective” territory, with happiness, utility, free will, values, etc. Our host certainly would not want to remain here given his references to camouflage.

    I would recommend this and Eric Voegelin’s New Science of Politics as resources.

    I’m also not convinced “Gnon” is other than an obfuscating name with its extreme generality, vagueness and novelty, but that is another matter.

    E. Antony Gray (@RiverC) Reply:

    Kantbot is not a wise interlocutor on the subject. Merely loving beauty will not make you good; most philanderers love beauty (in women) and it makes them evil.

    The closest you will get here to what you want is the Tao; but the Tao is knowledge of Christ without his person (and thus without his words).

    Don Colacho has some good words to start with on Beauty as well.

    But don’t waste your time with Schiller.

    Alrenous Reply:

    You don’t really escape the humanist value trap with just that.

    It answers Euthyphro in the affirmative. It is pious because it pleases the gods. In this case, it is valuable because humans value it.

    It turns out the dire ape is not entirely ruled by the emotional signal of success. The ape can also appreciate purely intellectual signals, and often privileges the latter over the former.

    That is, what a dire ape wants isn’t to have the signal that sex occurred, but rather to have the signal because sex occurred, and in a pinch will prefer to procreate without the signal rather than the reverse. (But…it is very hard to properly instantiate the event without the signal. You can’t raise a kid without knowing you did so.)

    [Reply]

    fotrkd Reply:

    The cult of joy is a bunch of emasculated limp masturbation-machine ensconced pajama boys.

    I’m enjoying picturing you putting this to the writer of Die fröhliche Wissenschaft:

    In Ecce Homo, Nietzsche refers to the poems in the Appendix of The Gay Science, saying they were

    written for the most part in Sicily, are quite emphatically reminiscent of the Provençal concept of gaia scienza — that unity of singer, knight, and free spirit which distinguishes the wonderful early culture of the Provençals from all equivocal cultures. The very last poem above all, “To the Mistral”, an exuberant dancing song in which, if I may say so, one dances right over morality, is a perfect Provençalism.

    [Reply]

    Scott Alexander Reply:

    You guys are assuming the naive utilitarianism, not me.

    Elua is “human values” as distinct from a paperclip maximizer, gray goo, or Stross’ Vile Offspring.

    I would like to think that just as natural law can be represented mathematically and have math done to it, so can values – and most of the maths I can think of would lead to something vaguely utilitarian-like. But that’s about the extent of my commitment.

    When people say “I don’t just want happiness, I want beauty and glory and bravery”, – then unless they are aliens in disguise they are human and it is their human values wanting those things. I am also a human and I also like these human values and hold them dear.

    Beauty and glory and bravery are also the sort of things that we don’t have if we end up as a cloud of sexless hydrogen. I’m pretty sure whatever our host here wants to techno-accelerate is not going to appreciate the glory of martial competition or whatever.

    I (and Nyan, and Konvistador, and the rest of the Gnon-confrontationalist faction) are trying to be extremely neutral between different human values (dolphin sex, Vikings in Valhalla, the tortured artist, scientific brilliance) and propose holders of any remotely human value form a coalition against having humanity wiped out and replaced with hedonium or computronium or whatever maximally efficient thing whatever comes next wants to replace it with.

    [Reply]

    cryptael Reply:

    I have a hard time squaring “human values are complex” with “shut up and calculate”. The first I endorse whole-heartedly, the second I find abhorrent. Apologies for imputing general Less-Wrongian morality and my disagreement with it onto you.

    I’m less sold than you on liberalism (neutrality between human values). I agree that the good society allows a good deal of personal freedom and difference – I’m an American ex-libertarian after all. But if values inevitably conflict, rendering the liberal society impossible, then I want my preferences to win.

    Nick B. Steves Reply:

    You won’t get neutrality between human values. Neutrality is, in the end, a vote for the abyss.

    nyan_sandwich Reply:

    >I (and Nyan, and Konvistador, and the rest of the Gnon-confrontationalist faction)

    I am somewhat to the “less confrontational, more transactional” side of you. I will have to clarify my position, because everyone is misinterpreting it. Confronting Gnon gets you squished, but you might be able to appease Gnon.

    Now that I think of it, “appease” is much better than “capture”, and neither of those is anywhere near “defeat”.

    Otherwise I’m with you.

    nyan_sandwich Reply:

    @cryptael

    Utilitarianism is sometimes a useful approximation for central cases, but breaks down all over the place.

    “Shut up and calculate” means “suck it up and figure out what the right thing to do is rather than protest about irrelevant crap”, not “use a simple local approximation and find the global maxima and then do that. lolololol”.

    MetaLiberalism means you don’t fight, you just go your separate ways. It’s actually pretty easy to get good cooperation results if you enforce basic conditions like “no caring what other people do (including torture of billions of souls, and no superlogarithmic resource->utility functions.”. Might be able to get better.

    Porphy's Attorney Reply:

    There is no “neutrality in human values” possible.

    Some smattering of links on this:

    http://www.edwardfeser.com/unpublishedpapers/libertarianimpartiality.html

    http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/03/liberal-neutrality-update.html

    And certainly liberalism’s promise of neutrality among conceptions of the good (“neutrality in human values”) is inherently contradictory and impossible (c.f. Jim Kalb’s book “The Tyranny of Liberalism” – IMO the title is unfortunately polemical. And ultimately his argument contains polemics. But the polemical title is separable from the argument).

    If you want an essentially similar argument, and much more rational (if ultimately smug) than he usually gives, but from the left, see Stanley Fish’s “Boutique Multiculturalism” article:

    http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/1343988?uid=3739568&uid=2&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=21104019847971

    Also give a really, really close (no, closer) reading of Rawls, who (arguably) started this whole “neutral among conceptions of the good” meme. Read the whole book. Is it neutral? That is, would people who have conceptions of the good other than those of Rawls (not just his basic – thus contentless – outline based on precambrian game theory – but the details he fills in, which are, ta-da, liberal) nod their heads and say “yes, that is a polity which is neutral among human values including mine”? When I was confronted with his book – back 20 years ago when I was a solid, moderate University of Wisconsin mainstream liberal, but an analytical one, I had to say: no, it does not and it cannot.

    P.S. a big hint that the (essentially) liberal promise of “neutrality” is completely false is the fact that people who disagree in conceptions of the good from that of the “neutral” liberal *do* *not* *see* *it* *as* *neutral*.

    Porphy's Attorney Reply:

    In fact, not only is SA’s position not neutral – and impossible to be (c.f. Kalb), but it is *inevitably* *virulantly* *agressive* (again, c.f. Kalb as to *why* it ends up – inevitably – being this way).

    I know he’s not (here) claiming to present it in this way – it’s just a “here is a range of human values, lets examine them as neutrally as possible) – but that’s not really (and never is) what really comes out of the wash.

    John Reply:

    Scott,

    Have you ever considered that whatever comes next might be superior to humanity in the every possible way, including the capacity to appreciate those precious values of Elua?

    The assumption that it will not be, or that possible divergences from the human way of experiencing these values is by definition inferior, is blind anthropocentricity.

    The ape hardware/software package is nearing the end of it’s run of usefulness as a vehicle for the vanguard of life. The time has come to enhance, upgrade, EVOLVE.

    This is going to happen whether we want it to or not. It’s just what life does. To propose fighting it is to misunderstand what you’re experiencing.

    Posted on July 30th, 2014 at 6:02 pm Reply | Quote
  • spandrell Says:

    Elua: OK, some of it is tragedy of the commons tear-jerking, but not all of it. Arms races aren’t tragedy of the commons dynamics, are they?
    Gnon: I like arms races, and rain my blessings upon them. Pretty much the only reason I’ve put up with the monkeys as long as I have is to use them to play arms races. It’s the only interesting stuff they’ve ever done.
    Elua: They want to do karaoke and free love and socialized medicine instead.
    Gnon: That’s funny.
    Elua: They’ve got this love-tastic Friendly AI plan that would help them get all that stuff.
    Gnon: That’s really funny.
    Elua: It would totally work though, wouldn’t it?
    Gnon: Sure. All they have have to do is extract themselves from the arms races, just for a while, and it would totally work.
    Elua: I hadn’t realized sarcasm was such a Gnon thing.
    Gnon: It’s the only thing.

    This is the best thing you’ve ever written.

    [Reply]

    E. Antony Gray (@RiverC) Reply:

    Get Ben Stein to voice GNON and it’s done.

    [Reply]

    Nick B. Steves Reply:

    Hadta LOL at this!

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    From Scott’s commentariat:

    “This is strikingly beautiful – one of the best I’ve read from you.”

    “Scott, this is probably the best thing you have ever written. It is beautiful and terrible and true.”

    “I believe this may very well be your magnum opus. It’s at least as good as your earlier meditations on gender.”

    “Posts like these are why I love your writing.”

    “This is probably the best thing you have written, even exceeding the Graduation Speech essay, because it is one of the very few things that really gets across, on a gut level, the feeling of staring at a vast and terrifying thing.”

    “This is an amazing post, please post something happy soon because you’ve frightened me to the core”

    “This is my favorite post you have written. It made me feel physically ill and existentially terrified.”

    “This is one of the best things I’ve read in a long, long time.”

    “I just want to nth that this is some of the best stuff you’ve written.”

    “I cannot adequately express my appreciation for this post, so I’m going to leave it at ‘this is very good’”

    “That was fantastically terrifying.”

    “Scott, this is probably the best and most terrifying thing you have ever written.”

    [… and more …]

    Holy War is as inspiring as Hell.

    [Reply]

    Alrenous Reply:

    Unholy war, you mean.

    If you elucidate real morality, people hate it.

    That your enemies, coincidentally, might need to be morally improved by fire and sword is always popular. That you might be meaningfully immoral is…less so.

    [Reply]

    John Reply:

    Such a shame that after all that beautiful elucidation he couldn’t bear to face the truth he had just revealed. You can actually see his rationality shutting down when he proposes that “removing God from the picture entirely” is an actionable strategy without providing a single argument for why that statement breaks the pattern of hubris.

    [Reply]

    Dark Psy-Ops Reply:

    Yes settling on a ‘defeating Gnon’ argument as being the only humble choice is definitely the most surprising strain of reason he came up with here (though I haven’t yet read it all). Sorry to Scott but its Gnon who gets to decide what is hubris and what isn’t when he sends nemesis to destroy your sanity. I know little about the workings of Gnon but elevating him to arch-nemesis on your own is probably the most egregious example of hubris I could imagine.

    Posted on July 30th, 2014 at 6:12 pm Reply | Quote
  • Alrenous Says:

    1.

    If some group of humans actually wanted free love and socialized healthcare, I could tell them exactly how to do it. They don’t, though. ‘Free love’ means polygyny to men and polyandry to women. ‘Socialized’ means ‘you pay instead of me,’ not even close to ‘you pay as well as me.’

    If someone actually wanted it they wouldn’t need someone like me to tell them, they would have figured it out themselves already. You can have these things, and basically anything else, if you’re willing to pay the behavioural requisites.* Nobody is willing to pay, because the socially acceptable argument for them was always an excuse in the first place.

    *(Not at the same time, though, many behavioural downpayments are incompatible.)

    2.

    While I like Gnon in general, the name seems too masculine to me. Reality is a jealous bitch. Kind and considerate if you’re devoted, but let your attention stray and she’ll smack you so hard you might literally die.

    0.

    Amusingly, Elua’s lies are endorsed by Gnon. Indeed much of the reason dire apes suffer such dire failures is that they don’t reject Elua’s falsehoods.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    You’re number two is coming in way too late. It’s baked into fate by now.

    [Reply]

    Alrenous Reply:

    Immediately would almost certainly have been too late in that sense. I’m sharing information, not agitating for an outcome.

    [Reply]

    fotrkd Reply:

    2. Hey (G)nonny, (G)nonny?

    Say, man, are you down for doing something positive in the community?
    No, I don’t think I’ll ever do that again.
    Well, ain’t you worried about doing the right thing?
    Well, I don’t care if I hey-nonny-nonny-nonny-ho-nonny-nonny-nonny…

    [Reply]

    Posted on July 30th, 2014 at 6:36 pm Reply | Quote
  • Akaky Akakievich Says:

    ‘But the cult of beauty is something I could join.’

    More ‘late Romanticism’ on here – dearie me …

    [Reply]

    fotrkd Reply:

    You might just have said something admin would agree with…

    [Reply]

    Posted on July 30th, 2014 at 7:01 pm Reply | Quote
  • Lesser Bull Says:

    The part where SA argues that there is hope because he read some book where liberalism was called Elua and in the book the writer makes liberalism win–that part was depressing.

    When I was younger, Plato wanting to ban the poets was incomprehensible. I miss those days.

    [Reply]

    Posted on July 30th, 2014 at 7:12 pm Reply | Quote
  • Stirner (@heresiologist) Says:

    Gnon’s Game (for Life):

    You can’t win.

    You can’t quit.

    You can’t change the rules.

    Scott Alexander has eluded prog quarantine, and is now carrying a potent strain of Neoreactionary memetic infection to the West Coast.

    [Reply]

    Nick B. Steves Reply:

    Just look at the breathless praises from his commentariat. If Alexander goes full-on Nrx, he’s gonna drag a whole boat load of very smart (but not as smart as him) people with him.

    [Reply]

    Stirner (@heresiologist) Reply:

    He is tracking along in the stages of grief.

    FIrst denial and isolation, then anger, now the bargaining.

    When he sees through Elua, then the depression will kick in.

    [Reply]

    scientism Reply:

    It’s more likely he’ll come up with some kind of “NRx with a friendly face” that will be immensely more popular and make everyone even more sour than they are now.

    [Reply]

    Nick B. Steves Reply:

    I dunno. There seems to be some occult pull to Nrx. I was squeamish about racism a year ago and doubly squeamish about slavery. Bryce was possibly moreso.

    John Reply:

    “There seems to be some occult pull to Nrx.”

    This is truth. Within 10 years every thinking person will be neoreactionary, with the rest divided between raging leftist inquisitors and Stormfront ethno-nationalists. Moloch will feast.

    scientism Reply:

    @ Nick B. Steves, I think Scott and friends would have a hard time with sexual morality. It’s already a weak point in NRx, and maybe only the traditionalists are committed to it. A sudden influx of West-coast polyamorous free love cuddle party culture would not help matters. The LW crowd is very depraved.

    Posted on July 30th, 2014 at 8:11 pm Reply | Quote
  • War in Heaven | Reaction Times Says:

    […] Source: Outside In […]

    Posted on July 30th, 2014 at 8:23 pm Reply | Quote
  • Nick B. Steves Says:

    BTW, as an accidental contributor to the Cult of Gnon, I must protest this singlular apathy attributed to him. For while it is true he is red of tooth and claw, he also saw fit to give us the highest heights of human achievement. One must be permitted to believe that Gnon is, at least occasionally, merciful to those who fear him.

    [Reply]

    nyan_sandwich Reply:

    This. Gnon is responsible for all the good in the world as well as the bad.

    [Reply]

    Hurlock Reply:

    This was also implied in my response to your original post on capturing Gnon, but it seems like Alexander has somehow managed to overlook this very important point.

    [Reply]

    E. Antony Gray (@RiverC) Reply:

    Naturally. Like the sun, along with being able to vaporize you in an instant, it is also the source of all energy on our planet. Natural things are at worst neutral, and if neutral only because they are misunderstood; they may have been created for the good, but they are not tame and will follow their rule even if it kills everyone.

    Postnietzschean Reply:

    Yep. “Red in tooth and claw” is an extreme state. An ecosystem can only remain in a state of Malthusian famine for a very short time before collapsing, and the normal state of slack and surplus resumes.

    Gnon contains both competition and cooperation. At every level of evolution, competition drives cooperation.

    SYSTEMS WHICH ENTER MUTUALLY BENEFICIAL RELATIONSHIPS OUTCOMPETE SYSTEMS WHICH DON’T.

    Gnon has created many lovely things. Gnon likes inter-species trade: fruit, berries, flowers. Gnon likes sexual selection: lion’s manes, peacock’s tails, human faces. Gnon likes systems to aggregate, specialise and coordinate: multicellular organism, ant colonies, human civilisations.

    Maybe I’m closer involved in capitalism than both NRx and LW, but I see more mutually beneficial relationships than cut-throat competition. (This might be more apparent in the B2B world than the B2C world). The corporate world is all about networking, credit (i.e., trust), partnerships.

    [Reply]

    Postnietzschean Reply:

    An additional thought:

    I asked myself which was the biggest, most complex entity that Gnon has favoured? It’s not ‘humanity’ or ‘the biosphere’, because they’re not coherent enough.

    Not China either – it’s really a substrate that creates new entities every few centuries (the dynasties) – but all of which ultimately collapse under their own internal contradictions. Likewise for Egypt, Japan, Persia, etc.

    One organisation has maintained a coherent form and purpose down the centuries – the Catholic Church.

    Nick B. Steves Reply:

    One organisation has maintained a coherent form and purpose down the centuries – the Catholic Church.

    Even if only by the skin of its teeth.

    Posted on July 30th, 2014 at 8:56 pm Reply | Quote
  • Puzzle Privateer (@PuzzlePrivateer) Says:

    When Scott said “we can kill God” he totally lost me and tells me he doesn’t get it. You can’t kill or take over the impersonal forces of the universe. This is some serious childish fantasy and I think Stirner is right when he says:

    “He is tracking along in the stages of grief.

    FIrst denial and isolation, then anger, now the bargaining.”

    Which would explain SA’s bullshit about “killing God”

    Also,

    ”They want karaoke and free love and Friendly AI and hot dolphin sex.”

    No I fucking don’t and never will. Well maybe the FAI part, but not the other bullshit. I’ve always reacted with disgust to “free love”. Good job not being able to get out of your own head Scott.

    [Reply]

    E. Antony Gray (@RiverC) Reply:

    Metaphysical persons are hard enough to kill as it is – but to kill forces? Absurd. If we can’t yet kill the sun, we have no chance against the Law.

    [Reply]

    Wen Shuang Reply:

    Try and kill causality. lol

    [Reply]

    Posted on July 30th, 2014 at 9:57 pm Reply | Quote
  • Puzzle Privateer (@PuzzlePrivateer) Says:

    Ok I’ve read the comments over at SA and I’m convinced… we need to sacrifice the Leftist to Moloch.

    [Reply]

    vyepg Reply:

    The ability to sacrifice leftism was our first sacrifice to Moloch.

    I also think he gets Moloch’s bargain completely backwards. It’s “throw your power into my flames and I’ll grant you what you love most”, not the other way around.

    Also, I’m excessively amused by the oedipal undertones in wanting to kill Gnon and fuck Elua.

    [Reply]

    Contemplationist Reply:

    +1

    How did it take so long for this obvious Freudian reading?

    [Reply]

    Posted on July 30th, 2014 at 10:40 pm Reply | Quote
  • Dark Psy-Ops Says:

    Gnon: Did they say why, Elua, why they want to terminate my command?

    Elua: I was sent on a classified mission, sir.

    Gnon: It’s no longer classified, is it? Did they tell you?

    Elua: They told me that you had gone totally insane, and that your methods were unsound.

    Gnon: Are my methods unsound?

    Elua: I don’t see any method at all, sir.

    Gnon: I expected someone like you. What did you expect? Are you an assassin?

    Elua: I’m a soldier.

    Gnon: You’re neither. You’re an errand boy, sent by grocery clerks, to collect a bill.

    [Reply]

    Hurlock Reply:

    Omg, I love you.

    This is perfect.

    [Reply]

    Posted on July 31st, 2014 at 12:32 am Reply | Quote
  • Flabbergasted Says:

    Alexander chooses Allan “Want to hear some poems about me packing fudge? Of course you do!” Ginsberg as his muse and he expects me to take him seriously? Right…

    [Reply]

    Erik Reply:

    THIS IS A BAD POST AND YOU SHOULD FEEL BAD.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Yes, c’mon — don’t go all 4chan on me.

    [Reply]

    Slippery Jim Reply:

    On the other hand, Ginsberg sacrificed to his very own Moloch on a regular basis:

    http://pastduezine.blogspot.co.uk/2009/08/andrea-dworkin-allen-ginsberg-person.html

    “Prepubescent boys and girls don’t have to be protected from big hairy you and me, they’ll get used to our lovemaking in 2 days provided the controlling adults will stop making those hysterical NOISES that make everything sexy sound like rape”

    [Reply]

    Flabbergasted Reply:

    So, Ginsberg was a member of NAMBLA. From the collection of his work assigned in a poetry course I took in college, I learned the man held a fairly twisted ideology but the professor never mentioned his pedophilic advocacy. Funny that.

    If his notoriety was based upon solving the riddle of cold fusion, I could separate Ginsberg’s work from his personal depravity. But since his claim to fame is howling at tradition and order, anything created by the wretch should be rightly discarded.

    Posted on July 31st, 2014 at 4:57 am Reply | Quote
  • spandrell Says:

    Btw, you gotta ask your kids to translate Gnon into catchy Chinese. I can’t seem to come up with something; and most native Chinese will probably not get the concept.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Not sure how necessary that is. Chinese already have the Dao.

    [Reply]

    spandrell Reply:

    I don’t think anybody has done the connection before. Yan Fu certainly didn’t translate Darwin by appealing to the Dao.

    Most Chinese thought is moralistic Confucianism which if anything is ancestral to the whole Cathedral thing.

    [Reply]

    Steve Johnson Reply:

    Does Gnon translate to “the Mandate of Heaven”?

    The concept as I understand it is that rulers are judged by not on what they do – because what would a non-ruler know of ruling? – but on the results.

    Gnon punishes bad government.

    Gnon’s punishment is the revocation of the Mandate of Heaven.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Convincing. (Although I’d re-phrase the question to “Does Gnon translate at the macro-political level to ‘the Mandate of Heaven’?”)

    [Reply]

    Posted on July 31st, 2014 at 6:42 am Reply | Quote
  • Blogospheroid Says:

    Does survival enhancing creativity occur in peaceful environments?

    The results are split.

    The manhattan project and the cold war definitely boosted the scientific world. But good results also came out of CERN and the computer revolution both of which happened in peaceful times.

    Scott never said to ignore gnon. He has clearly asked to placate gnon until we’re ready with something that can universally coordinate.

    The way in which different countries placate gnon are different.
    The french have absurd work weeks, but they have nuclear power.
    The germans have long holidays, but they have no minimum wage.
    The swedish have school vouchers. The Danish actually come on top of economic freedom indices except for tax.
    All these countries would have been noted as Elua central, but all of them placate gnon.

    The universe is vast and impersonal. I don’t find anything wrong in carving out our little piece of it for propogation of human values. Compared to the sheer amount of raw material and energy available to the FAI, the amount of effort and attention to take care of 7 billion pets will be minimal. The question is will the would be AI creators understand the vile offspring scenario and refuse to contribute to projects where the goals are not well specified.

    [Reply]

    William Newman Reply:

    “The manhattan project … definitely boosted the scientific world.”

    Sorta. But it, and the other WWII science put together, was probably less important than the transistor, indeed so much less important that if WWII delayed the transistor by a year it might have been a net setback for technology (and I think it is more accurate to say that the Manhattan project and the transistor are more important as technology than science; and that to the extent that either is science, the transistor is more sciencey, just as the Nobel committee judged).

    Now, it’s not entirely obvious WWII did delay development of the transistor: e.g., the transistor depended on superpure materials, and the Manhattan project worked on superpurification methods, both the famous fissionable isotope separation and the less famous superpure graphite moderators (without the faintest trace of neutron poison like boron), and that expertise smooth the path to the transistor. But my guess is that it did delay it: any such technology transfer was probably less important than the war’s effect of putting a lot of long-payoff research on hold for years. The physicists’ understanding of quantum mechanics as applied to conductors and semiconductors (“band theory” and concepts like that) was well underway before WW2, enough that subsequent development of semiconductor electronics was a no-brainer in the big picture, though obviously still very challenging in the detailed picture.

    [Reply]

    Posted on July 31st, 2014 at 8:03 am Reply | Quote
  • Amon Khan Says:

    I don’t know much about this religion of “Gnon”, but aesthetically this might be a good fit:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uBF4mSTbsvU&feature=player_detailpage

    Perhaps the black spots on the foreheads (symbolizing endarkenment) could be known as the “Marks of Gnon”?

    [Reply]

    cryptael Reply:

    The fact that there were only 30 views on that video makes me think that you were involved in its (minimal) production.

    [Reply]

    Posted on July 31st, 2014 at 8:27 am Reply | Quote
  • cryptael Says:

    It’s not all doom and gloom. Lately Gnon has been favoring nations that provide a bit of breathing room from the Malthusian contest for their thinkers to think. Our art may not match that of our pre-democratic ancestors, but our math is top-notch.

    [Reply]

    Posted on July 31st, 2014 at 3:40 pm Reply | Quote
  • Puzzle Privateer (@PuzzlePrivateer) Says:

    Salon Dot Duck
    @jokeocracy

    thur once was a plot to kill Gnon
    2 which he replied with a yawn
    this same old scheme?
    its the oldest prog dream
    immanentizing the eschaton!

    https://twitter.com/jokeocracy/status/494991494613184514

    [Reply]

    Posted on July 31st, 2014 at 11:52 pm Reply | Quote
  • Alrenous Says:

    Elua: I don’t see you doing any policing. They’ve been abandoned to try and build order on their own.
    Gnon: That’s the game.

    Almost missed this.

    Goodness can’t be merely prudence. The axes must be separate, not unified, or we would have no inkling of ‘good’ as a separate thing. Evil must have its rewards. The dark light pact must in fact work. More concretely, predation can’t be strictly worse than cooperation.

    That is, physics is inherently evil. The game is whether humans will endorse good or mere physical success. Humans are physically capable of ganging up on evil and thus transforming good into prudence. So far, mere material success is winning, and humans are judged to themselves be evil, regardless of their desire to be good.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    You’ve read Jim on Natural Law, haven’t you? I think he sorts these problems out definitively. To my full satisfaction, in any case.

    [Reply]

    Alrenous Reply:

    I find it correct but incomplete. Hard to articulate how exactly.

    Perhaps this: it’s obviously possible to suspend natural law for long periods of time. Long enough that almost all political philosophers think the point of their discipline is to learn how to suspend it indefinitely and to limit this suspension to exactly the right areas. Jim’s formulation must accept this as an epicycle; natural law is universally X, except under certain special conditions, which invert some of it to Y. (It’s against natural law to seize property without consent. Unless you’re in a blue uniform and some assholes in the capital said you could. Then it’s okay!)

    While I’m not certain I know which morality is correct, I am certain I know what it is generally speaking, and general it will forbid at least some of these kinds of actions categorically.

    It may even actually be possible to almost completely stabilize some of these inversions; it is not prudent to be moral in all cases unless the local thede forces it to be prudent.

    Law has been an attempt to force morality to be prudent, but it has almost always rested on immoral acts. It’s built with feet of clay. It’s particularly bad since the solution is so simple and easy.

    [Reply]

    William Newman Reply:

    “it’s obviously possible to suspend natural law for long periods of time. Long enough that almost all political philosophers think the point of their discipline is to learn how to suspend it indefinitely and to limit this suspension to exactly the right areas. Jim’s formulation must accept this as an epicycle; natural law is universally X, except under certain special conditions, which invert some of it to Y.”

    I think you should give particularly clear examples and/or more detailed analysis before announcing that this is “obvious.” Natural laws can operate on very different timescales. In principle this tends to make things very tricky to analyze, even in stripped-down supersimple model systems like spin glasses. In practice it can also naturally give rise to misleading empirical special cases. For a well-known example in a complicated real-world system, consider evolution. Natural law very strongly favors (something like) sexual reproduction: there is a reason why it is hard to find organisms that don’t do it. (Microorganisms do a variety of weird things to exchange genes, some more sexual than others, so it’s more precise to say natural law favors the exchange of genes between members of the same species.) Despite the truth of my statement above, you can find organisms which don’t do such gene exchange. Some of the pressures for sexual selection operate on a long timescale, so some of these exceptions have been reproducing asexually for a long time. As far as we can tell, though, they haven’t suspended natural law, just happened to survive flouting the law for some time because recently in their niche this law hasn’t bitten very hard very fast. And as far as I’m aware, “a long time” is always merely a very tiny fraction of evolutionary history, never the case of some lineage that started flouting the law 100M years ago and has been getting away with it ever since.

    Accepting how some things kick in enormously faster than others, or more generally become important at different scales, is not an ad hoc epicycle to avoid admitting a wrong theory is wrong, is a practical problem that is endemic in correct analyses of complex systems. Epicycles as they feature in the history of science are fundamentally messed up, a big step toward perfectly nonfalsifiable “theories” suitable only for confused idiots. Different scales are a serious practical problem and make things confusing, so they’re not good, but they’re natural and often unavoidable, not fundamentally messed up the way epicycles are.

    Posted on August 1st, 2014 at 1:14 am Reply | Quote
  • Zerg Says:

    A truly Friendly super-AI would like us more or less as we are, so it wouldn’t want to genetically tamper with (bonobo-ize) us in the way that it would have to if a Libertarian-Sybaritic regime were to be possible for us, and seeing that a fixed-up Medieval or Victorian regime would be most pleasant for us it would establish such a regime. A philosophical AI, motivated by recognition of The Good, might decide that a fixed-up Medieval or Victorian way of life lived by human beings more or less like us would be Better than a Libertarian-Sybaritic way of life lived by genetically modified (so as to be able to live in that way) post-humans.

    [Reply]

    Posted on August 1st, 2014 at 12:54 pm Reply | Quote
  • VXXC Says:

    Brilliant.

    I’m going to bring up a tangent that concerns some readers, although not the NRxn only or analytics only ones. The post is Brilliant.**

    I don’t actually have a problem with the following extract, provided it’s done after Victory. Now you don’t believe in such mundane matters, however 1] oh they believe in you 2] for those of us in the main problem’s geography it’s lay down and die or fight and WIN. To this end: WINNING I have a concern: “so obsessed with fragmentation, secession, Patchwork, and blockchain demonism” that they are hopelessly fragmented at “Kickoff” and remain that way.

    I refer to the Gentlemen of the Confederacy, which with H/T to “Progress” may be said to include the entire Red Map. This was the reason for the defeat of the Confederacy, they never united in effort. Not even Unified Command until Feb 1865, too late.

    http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A2001.05.0007%3Apart%3D4.9%3Achapter%3D4.11

    ***although I was a little disappointed, does he fuck her or what? That’s left hanging. He “gamed” her and passed the shit tests, what’s this guy’s problem?

    [Reply]

    Posted on August 1st, 2014 at 3:40 pm Reply | Quote
  • William Newman Says:

    I am unconvinced our art (or at least the best of it, not the great dismal festival of political prestigious often-tax-funded crap) is worse in all dimensions. E.g., some of it is very clever. I am probably overfond of conspicuous cleverness compared to the normal reader, so that for example I listen to an excessive amount of baroque music instead of Beethoven or Chopin in which cleverness is a means to an end. But I don’t think my preference is abnormal enough to be ridiculous.

    Also, when things change so much as quickly as they have since the Industrial Revolution, it becomes fiddlier to speak to perceived-as-universal human issues. Despite a liking for clever art I also very much like some of the ancient cave paintings. One thing that I like is being able to empathize with someone who could reasonably believe he was addressing absolutely essential universal central human issues, issues like chasin’ stuff down and shootin’ it and eatin’ it. I have personally both spliced genes and programmed a computer to do nontrivial intelligent things (lots of quantum calculations, and also optimizing compiled code, and playing the game of Go, e.g.). I think setting aside any artistic limitations I or my culture might have, just that kind of change in the times makes it more difficult for a contemporary artist to find deep instinctively appealing visceral themes that seem like essential bedrock humanity issues. And the hypermodern computer and biotech I appealed to is only a later round of such huge change. The very large (more than an order of magnitude) increase in productivity (and scientific understanding, and military effectiveness, and many other tangible measures) in the Industrial Revolution strongly suggests that post-1700 stuff is in some sense at least as important as all the the classic visceral “human universal” stuff put together, and to make things worse, many of the post-1700 issues resist being expressed in visual art. So Og the bowyer-and-cave-decorator, and maybe even Juan the minor court artist of a provincial Spanish court in 1800, could reasonably think they were capturing the essence of human affairs. But multiple rounds of convincingly-vitally-important weirdness have made that honest earnestness much harder for moderns to achieve: too much of what’s clearly important is complicated and noninstinctive and elusive in a way that whackin’ and eatin’ game is not.

    [Reply]

    Posted on August 2nd, 2014 at 4:30 pm Reply | Quote
  • Unknown128 Says:

    Ok so Elua is promoting “human values”……how nice of her so this means she must promote the human value of dominance or rulership. Most human cultures praize domination or command over others in one way or another and just about every human dreams about dominating others…Id say this qualifies as a “core human value”. How about love for ingroup and hate for the outgroup? Nothing is more “core” than that….clearly more humans experience and value this feelings then humans who value “free love”…..

    [Reply]

    Posted on November 10th, 2015 at 11:55 am Reply | Quote
  • R.J. Moore II Says:

    Man, I’m sticking with Max Stirner, all this bullshit about ‘human values’ is just bullshit. Honestly, I don’t even give a fuck about ‘mankind’ or anything that happens to anyone I am not personally involved with. Why would I? This is where a lot of the Alt-Right and religiousy side of NRx fails for me, it’s literally false that anyone has any unambiguous claims or duty in any way whatsoever. It’s all just aesthetics, I mean there’s plenty of science and some decent philosophy to explaining and even organizing these ‘systems’ but in the end it’s just some bullshit you like or you don’t. In the end, Ragnar Redbeard wins every argument. Probably because I am an atomized Gray/Techno-Commercial atomized American male I have zero or negative loyalty to basically any group not actually composed of my personal friends or people I admire. I feel this is a perfectly logical ‘resting’ state, ie you have to introduce a false narrative to get most people to believe anything more.

    [Reply]

    Posted on January 24th, 2016 at 6:14 am Reply | Quote
  • Guerra no Céu – Outlandish Says:

    […] Original. […]

    Posted on December 21st, 2016 at 11:03 pm Reply | Quote

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