Punpun Straussianism 1
This Series is Unreadable
I’ve been wondering whether there is any content at all I want to give only to paid subscribers. I think I’ve stumbled upon something. This series is impossible to read for someone not familiar with my writing or at least writing that I draw upon. It’s also tough to interpret anyway. Nonetheless, it’s a fun puzzle to play for a few people I’ve tried sending it to. I also believe that I get to some important philosophical points, especially in later parts. If you pay for this series, hopefully your motivation is fun. Don’t pay for it expecting some kind of deep ML research or anything like that.
Robin Hanson uses the parable of the elephant and the rider to describe the function of the conscious human brain. The elephant is our instincts – a primal beast that the rider can hardly control. The rider is the conscious brain: you. The rider makes the best of his situation by rationalization. He says where the elephant is going, or where it has gone, and makes up a reason for why the elephant went that way. This way, the rider can appear to have control and mastery.
Obviously this is only a story and not the absolute truth. There is some function of conscious cognitive processes in filtering and generating actions. But it is a shift in thinking about human psychology in the correct direction.
I’m often described as “spicy”, on twitter, substack, or especially in person. I always make sure to very strongly disagree with that characterization. I believe some pretty unpopular things. But that isn’t how I define spicy to me. Spiciness describes a provacateur, an edgelord, someone who plays up the degree of conflict in a position. They are elephant matadors, provoking the instincts of others. I do nearly the opposite. I attempt to hit the center of the distribution. I obfuscate some of my thoughts. I take the edgelord aesthetic and use it to distract the elephant from taking an idea too seriously while the rider slowly internalizes it.
Let’s talk about Oyasumi Punpun. I’m about to spoil the entire series, so stop now if you wish.
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