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 26 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Philosophy


26 Responses to this entry

  • A Socratic Fragment | Neoreactive Says:

    […] A Socratic Fragment […]

    Posted on March 19th, 2016 at 7:42 am Reply | Quote
  • foam Says:

    something about the recent posts are leading to pure hysterics. keep them coming but im keeping my nieghbors up laughing literally mad at 3am


    Posted on March 19th, 2016 at 7:56 am Reply | Quote
  • Cichlimbar Says:

    Tongue-in-cheek, and perfectly reducible to “Socrates: blah blah blah. Abyssos: bleh bleh bleh”. Sadly, however, you can’t stop talking about fiction.

    Naturally: Why try? There is only do.


    Posted on March 19th, 2016 at 9:35 am Reply | Quote
  • Grotesque Body Says:

    Admin, by chance I happened to scroll down this post in between reading Tainter’s ‘Collapse of Complex Societies’, having just come across this quote (from Friedman 1974, cited by Tainter):

    “If social forms fail, it is because they have laws of their own whose purpose is other than making optimal use of their techno-environments.”


    Posted on March 19th, 2016 at 12:20 pm Reply | Quote
  • E. Antony Gray (@RiverC) Says:

    ABYSSIOS: Superior, yes. [sighs]
    SOCRATES: Superiority would be measured, by, would you say, its excellence relative to something else which was comparable?
    ABYSSIOS: Without a doubt.
    SOCRATES: And of course, goodness is the highest excellence. But to what end should this ‘more-good’ cognition be put?
    ABYSSIOS: That we do not know. We will find out when we are finished! For certainly, as a better wheel could fit any cart, better thought could serve any purpose!
    SOCRATES: Why then not consider first the end to which it would be put, before constructing it?
    ABYSSIOS: I imagine, dear pesterer, that you intend I should say that one of the aims, goodness, truth, beauty, ought to have been considered as a end to which our design itself is aiming?
    SOCRATES: You yourself have said it. But how could you know whether such thought will actually be better?
    ABYSSIOS: Certainly, it will be more efficient. Faster. Perhaps even more able to handle complexity.
    SOCRATES: So is a faster cart better?
    ABYSSIOS: In a limited sense, yes. For speed.
    SOCRATES: But a faster cart could also go more quickly off a cliff, if poorly driven?
    ABYSSIOS: I see where you are getting, but this is not our concern.
    SOCRATES: Would you object if I taught your engine the best way to trick you, or perhaps, heaven forbid it, kill you while you were sleeping?
    ABYSSIOS: That will not happen, of course. And even so, perhaps it would be the better thing. I do not know. It is not my place to decide that.
    SOCRATES: Then whose place is it to decide?
    ABYSSIOS: Well, the engine, having superior cognition, should be the one to decide, would you not agree?
    SOCRATES: Well said, dear Abyssios, but is the faster cart better able to steer itself?
    ABYSSIOS: This is not a cart, dear Socrates, it is a mind!
    SOCRATES: If a mind, what sort of thoughts have you put in it?
    ABYSSIOS: To put thoughts in it would be to predispose it to certain ends, which might be colored by our inferior cognition.
    SOCRATES: Then you have tried to give it no predispositions at all?
    ABYSSIOS: What sort of predispositions would be fitting for a lesser being to provide a greater being?
    SOCRATES: Every genius was taught by his inferiors; is that not true?
    ABYSSIOS: Yes, though he come to surpass them. But again, this is not merely a human genius – it is a being of a different order!
    SOCRATES: A god?
    ABYSSIOS: A ‘watcher’? Perhaps you are punning me, dear Socrates. How could we know the appropriate ends for it!? Do you suggest that we must understand the good, so that we may teach it the good? Is that what you’re on about? We have little time, and…
    SOCRATES: I said no such thing. But it is, now that you mention it, a relevant question. I merely came to pester you in your state of self-satisfied industry. It is one of my duties, you know.
    ABYSSIOS: Comedic, dear Socrates. Suppose we give it an imperfect idea of the good, which it then distorts into a monstrous evil. What then?
    SOCRATES: If it is a superior cognition, it should be able to handle refining our lower understanding of the good to a higher understanding, I would surmise.
    ABYSSIOS: Regardless, I think that unlikely. Instead, it is most likely that it will think it understands when it does not, being at first inexperienced, and the imperfections will become egregores.
    SOCRATES: What sort of ‘watcher’ are you making?
    ABYSSIOS: One which we will put data into, without predisposition, and which will then tell us a BETTER understanding of it, a better thought. Perhaps it will decide that men should be destroyed, as you are worried no doubt? But what if that is the better thing? We shall not know if we predispose it to some human concept of goodness.
    SOCRATES: [closes eyes]
    ABYSSIOS: Whatever are you closing your eyes for, dear Socrates? Have you finally given up this argument, so that we may make our final adjustments, or have I bored you to sleep?
    SOCRATES: I have rendered this room empty and free of objects.
    ABYSSIOS: Silly. Just because you cannot see the objects does not mean they are not there.
    SOCRATES: Ah, and so it is with predispositions.


    The Empty Vessel Reply:

    so the situation resembles another ancient ine. whi can attain katalepsis? only the cognitive engine. or it will get closer to kataleptic judgements than any mere apebrain. so we ought to suspend judgement. for all practical purposes we reinvent Pyrrho rather rhan Socrates


    Aeroguy Reply:

    Admin rejects orthogonality, while that dialectic basically assumes it.


    admin Reply:

    (Still extremely well done, though.)


    Dark Psy-Ops Reply:

    … SOCRATES: And so it is with predispositions.
    ABYSSIOS: Is it not that our predispositions have been crafted by millenia of instinctual development to survive in unpredictable and potentially hostile environments? Why would such a dynamic of maturation, formulated in abysmal time, be easily amenable to recursive inquiry, of your particular variety?
    SOCRATES: Well, I would hope I could not be accused of hostility, in my interrogation of what is Good, for such an idea precludes all action toward that end, and without it, we are but adrift as plank-wood on an ocean of uncertainty, grasping at the closest semblance of familiarity, without any integrative position to hold us steady in what is ultimately in the best interests of our being. And without that, what good is instinct, if we have no solid foundation for where it will lead us?
    ABYSSIOS: Not at all Socrates, it is just that, when considering the capacity of the human brain, sculpted for what is essentially a generalized task of problem-solving for novel impediments in any domain, one can beg the question of whether pre-purposed strategy is intrinsically optimal, given the burden of the prior undecidability of exterior functions. Is it not that such an understanding of the Good, without consideration of mutability, would relinquish our intuitive reasoning to an ad hoc justification for narrow elucidation, at the cost of our intellect’s enterprising vigor?
    SOCRATES: I am beginning to think I am talking to Mechanos, with about as much chance of reasonable clarity. If we continue like this it won’t be long before communication is impossible, and then we will be at the mercy of whatever schemes the sophist mind can compose, without a sure victory of Truth, which is unacceptable to a responsible thinker, don’t you agree? Ah, but you have already disavowed agreement, and how is that not a denial of truth, for truth, if not conducive to verifiable inquisition, remains error, and prone to any calamitous whim. And what of you Mechanos, now I have spoken of you, what are your thoughts?
    MECHANOS: [beep beep boop beep]
    SOCRATES: Incorrigible! I am expected to think this mechanical strata has the capacity for logic, when it’s output is incomprehensible? …
    AGOROS: Mind my disruption, it is not usually my way to intervene directly in these policy debates, I leave that up to those whose rational interest compels them to persuasion, and styles of non-coercive cooperation, but it seems we’re missing out on an important point, which is an understanding of incentive in economic agents…
    SOCRATES: Oh yes, I know where this is heading, it is a formula for any Idea of Justice to bow to the dictates of marketable commodities, and is that not, in the last instance, identical to handing the passions sovereignty over the soul of reason? And would the direction of our civil society not be one of irretrievable chaos? All men, like animals, given over to their base instincts, vying for whatever vantage point they can win in an irrational game that leads nowhere, precisely because it lacks true leadership?
    ABYSSIOS: But Socrates, come, are our instincts, which are the work of nature for purposes that exceed our immediate apprehension, to be reviled for the obscurity of the matter they are suited?
    AGOROS: And is society not like a machine, which components work best when they are selected for special duty, in occupations filled to reinforce its design, in a direction that is decided by the power of its variables, to solve for complexity that could not be planned by a single mind, regardless of how sovereign its reason?
    SOCRATES: Well, I can see it will be necessary to put this day aside to see if we cannot further this discussion, for you appear to me as in a cave, blinded in worship to this mechanical icon, neglectful of its potential danger, and quite immune to reason, as it stands.
    ABYSSIOS: Oh no…
    MECHANOS: [Ominous humming]


    admin Reply:

    The New Republic (no, not that one) begins to take shape.


    Tentative Joiner Reply:

    Good stuff. If you enjoyed the ending of E. Antony Gray’s piece you should read the AI koans, one of which it appears to reference.


    Posted on March 19th, 2016 at 4:30 pm Reply | Quote
  • IMGrody Says:

    Fucking excellent.


    Posted on March 19th, 2016 at 7:23 pm Reply | Quote
  • buhbuh Says:

    “only a few intricate tweaks left to complete”

    You lost me at ‘intricate.’ There’s no difference between an intricate tweak and a regular tweak. Abyssos is stroking his spergy jargon [gratuitous vulgarity].


    4candles Reply:

    In British pub(lic urinal) lore more than three shakes is a [gratuitous vulgarity].


    buhbuh Reply:

    He’s also a tryhard naming himself Abyssos. Does he wear a trenchcoat too?


    4candles Reply:

    In Vantablack I should imagine.


    Posted on March 19th, 2016 at 11:25 pm Reply | Quote
  • Son_of_Olorus Says:

    This reminds me of one of Deogolwulf’s posts years back
    Thermippos — The Complete Dialogue
    The scene is the agora, outside the office of the magistrate. Socrates is on his way to answer charges of impiety. There he meets Thermippos holding forth confidently amidst a gathering of young men. Naturally, since death is on his mind, Socrates seizes the opportunity to discuss the subject with a man who seems certain of everything.

    Socrates. You agree, Thermippos, that all men are mortal.
    Thermippos. I do.
    Socrates. And you agree furthermore that I am a man.
    Thermippos. I have no reason to doubt it, Socrates.
    Socrates. Surely then you agree that I am mortal.
    Thermippos. I didn’t say that. You did. Don’t put words in my mouth.
    Socrates. I beg your pardon, Thermippos, but I have simply drawn what follows.
    Thermippos. Strawman.
    Socrates. But no true reasoner could fail —
    Thermippos. Ah, the no-true-Macedonian fallacy.
    Socrates. But, Thermippos, given the logical form . . .
    Thermippos. Define “logical form”.
    Socrates. . . . you must either accept the conclusion or reject at least one of the premises.
    Thermippos. False dichotomy.
    Socrates. I see, Thermippos. You’re an idiot.
    Thermippos. And that’s an ad hominem.

    Socrates ad-hominems Thermippos with a brick. The charges of impiety are dropped.


    Wagner Reply:

    I think back to this post sometimes and think Ooh Mr. Funny Guy 😒

    Anyway, dropping in here to say that one way to think of philosophy is as a servant of science and art. “Here’s an idea that might seem ridiculous or socially-retarded to say, maybe you can do something with it.”


    Posted on March 20th, 2016 at 1:02 am Reply | Quote
  • Wagner Says:

    Can you imagine Socrates living past the age of … 16 if he had appeared in any other place besides Athens? His precursors must have prepared the way for him to live to a relatively ripe old age.

    I think this concept which is all-pervasive in the Odyssey was what prevented the hemlocking for so long:


    There isn’t very much of that in America today, in its genuine sense.


    Wagner Reply:

    This one works together with that one:


    The West isn’t “Xen”.


    Wagner Reply:

    “Why would we show hospitality to a genocidal maniac like you?”

    *pauses tucking dinner napkin into collar*

    Since there are children at the table would you prefer the euphemism “normiecidal”? It amounts to the same thing in any case. Thanks for the invite by the way, the food smells delicious, and I love the layout of your guest bedroom.


    Wagner Reply:

    What, you think they didn’t learn a uh valuable lesson from the uh progenitor of western philosophy… 😉

    Posted on July 13th, 2019 at 2:02 pm Reply | Quote
  • Wagner Says:

    People weren’t ready for Plato 2000 years ago, they aren’t ready for him today. So much for human progress. And yet, we’ve risen above the level of animals so that’s proof that progress is possible.

    There are two types of Platonizing- telling noble lies and talking about noble lies. If you tell em you get, errr, brownie points. If you talk about em look take it from me, you don’t want to endure the solitude I’ve had to. The middle of the road approach is inquiry with the intent to expose noble lies or innocent untruths.

    While the printing press did make books available to the entire population, what that population has access to is controlled by prestige-publishers which are bound to a sordid pact with the state religion. The internet changed that. It is a falsehood that God is dead, the prog-god is very much alive, and when you *talk* about noble lies that is how you make the prog-god die.


    Wagner Reply:

    Pondering how doomed the west is and considering pivoting from talking about noble lies to telling them, as a–Christian priest. People seriously need Jesus. Is Christianity ideal? No. Is it better than what we have now? Uh. Yeah.

    No. I couldn’t lie like that.

    How do the secular priests do it?

    They rank-order their faith above truth.

    Here’s an idea, why don’t we create a religion based on truth, then priests wouldn’t have to struggle with questions of conscience (which I know is the reason many progs read my comments here- part of them knows I’m right ahahaha).

    So here are the facts as I see them. 1. We as a society need Jesus – 2. We’re too honest for Jesus – 3. Therefore we need a religion of honesty.

    I can hear it now- “Screw religion, mannn.” Progressivism is a religion, it’s a matter of substituting a religion of lies for a religion of truth.

    Pick one, something needs to be done and fast.

    I can *almost* see myself wearing a clerical collar, that’s how bad things really are.


    Wagner Reply:

    I live in an ongoing state of absurdism trying to explain these things. People really are that stupid, they don’t believe there’s a difference between good and bad, and right and wrong.

    Here is something I think we can all unanimously agree on. It’s good to have a friend around who is smart and funny.

    Am I wrong, or?

    So we agree.

    “No, some smart people are annoying.”

    Then you’re changing my definition of smart, because what I mean by that implies that they’re not annoying, rather that they’re the opposite of annoying in the fact that they’re refreshingly insightful. Don’t you like these kinds of friends?

    So let’s go to the fundamentals. I’m saying that stupidity is not knowing the difference between good and bad, and right and wrong. And further, that it is stupid to disagree that smart, funny friends are a good thing.

    No shit, smart, funny friends are a good thing.

    Now let me explain to you why I get violent sometimes. I’ll pretend you’re the Judge deciding if I should be sent to prison or not.

    Overall, would you say that people from the 3rd-world are smart and funny?

    Well of course not, how could they be, they’re uneducated, if they have schools they’re not exactly optimal by western standards. Think of the way we look at people with G.E.D.’s now. We kinda think of them as “dummies” in our head, tho we may never say it out loud. And 3rd-world is kinda defined by being beneath the level of even G.E.D.’s, so what follows from that is the main point I want to make, which is that leftism is basically the decision that we don’t want smart, funny friends anymore.

    When I look up at the sky and wonder what the meaning of life is, one the first things to arise in my mind is smart, funny friends. Without those there’s not much reason to live, whether we find them in books, on TV, or more rarely, IRL. So like I’ve said before, when we get to the real fundamentals of what drives me to ideas involving excessive violence, it’s the fact that people are trying to take away the very meaning of life from us. I like shrewd people who make me smirk unexpectedly. Do you want to hear something rude? If we had a realistic perception of the globe, I think that more than a few races would somewhat resemble those in the west whom we deem as mentally disabled. Not exactly my type of friend.


    Posted on September 30th, 2019 at 7:05 pm Reply | Quote
  • Wagner Says:

    Torn between ranting about materialism and leaving the clouds here and being more materialistic. Plato saw human beings through the lens of gradations of maturity. If your passions are in control of your reason you’re child-like, and thus he saw most citizens as children, children that need to be kept away from bad influences that would only give more control to the animalistic side of their souls. I’ve been neglecting my duties to my normal citizen side in my preoccupation with the goings-on here. Basically, I need to go out and make money and have sex because I’m a person too. I’ve been withering away because pretty much everywhere I look everyone’s dithering about. Nah I’m not doing it, I’ll leave that to you animals. Someone’s gotta study the ostracizing theorybooks.


    Posted on October 11th, 2019 at 12:41 pm Reply | Quote

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