Categories of my Writing

First written May 2022.

On my top posts page and on my older writing page, I organize my writing roughly chronologically. But could I organize it topically? That might be helpful to some people who want to find something to read, and might also give an overview of what my project is.

This page is likely to be added to or perhaps changed over time.

Types of Altruism

One way to categorize my writing is by "type of altruism". I think I'm basically only interested in altruism and religion (and everything else follows from that), and while those two terms are not identical or talk about identical things, they have a lot of overlap. I think it may be the case that my aspired-to religion is necessarily all altruism, and my aspired-to altruism is necessarily all religious, so that for me altruism and religion are two aspects of the same thing, or they will be someday.

(I would define "altruism" to be the orientation toward what is not you, or more strongly (what I mean here), care for the well-being of what or who is not you, or for the well-being of the whole of all beings or all value (which maybe should be called "ethical omnism"). And "religion" as personal orientation toward God, a personal ultimate being.)

"How can we love?"

In 2014, I wrote a book called How Can We Love? (and added a second part in 2016). The question of "how can we love?" is meant to work two ways: "how can we love people given that they have done wrong and do wrong?" and "how can we implement altruism / love?". It was my attempt at the time to integrate the Drowning Child Illustration and the New Wine System into my thinking, and apply them to one or more controversies. I would consider it not to be a full digestion of those two ideas. Notably, I think that I didn't really understand the New Wine System at the time. It is also not radically theistic. So the effect is to adopt the New Wine System as a tool for a non-New Wine project. (I didn't realize I was doing this at the time.) That project would be something like "be humanistic, in an altruistic rather than grievance-justice based way". Go out in the world and work on something. I wrote a practical response to this and I think it's telling that basically it says "Go do things that ordinary Christians and non-Christians do", as though you could just join their organizations and pass as one of them, and as though never saying anything that would challenge their worldview to the point of them adopting the New Wine System. It does mention holiness, though, a more New Wine concern, as does How Can We Love?. But I feel like for me, the emphasis of my life and writing in the How Can We Love? era (the main part from 2014 to 2018, but still present in some later writing) was on humanistic altruism, not on holiness or (as I would put it now) preventing the second death.

Writing that goes in this category

How Can We Love? and I think everything else from 2014 - 2018. Things to Do, Trustworthiness is Potential Simplicity.

Exilic-Familial

How Can We Love? is about confronting people so that they start to do something, and then go make the world a better place. I wouldn't go so far as to use Eliezer Yudkowsky's language of "winning" with How Can We Love?. But I think there is something akin to "winning" in the How Can We Love? energy. "Winning" is easy to like if everyone can win together, and maybe the economic emphasis of the EA world works with a Yudkowskian desire to win. But in the political world, winning is a mixed thing. A lot of times, winning makes people lose. Maybe winning isn't such a good thing.

International competition (competition between nation-states) is why we have to have capitalism and war. Capitalism and war are part of why we have to have out-of-control technological progress. Most X-risks as anthropogenic and are downstream of out-of-control technological progress. So it looks like if we could solve international competition, that could help us to have more humane societies (taming or possibly replacing capitalism) and maybe (if it's not too late) slow down our adoption of dangerous technologies. Maybe the analogy of "when is the best time to plant a tree" applies here. The best time for planting trees and to start taming international competition is thirty years ago, but the second-best time is today.

In the political world, people have histories and identities. I think for a person to be a full person, they often or maybe possibly always need to have a history and an identity. Fortunately, we have some choice as to which histories and identities we adopt. So the "exilic" identity is that of people in exile, using the exilic Jews as a template and inspiration. My possibly idiosyncratic reading of them is that they were people who had the ability of winning taken from them, who could not continue to try to win, and who thus were freed to look on their past honestly, seeing the mixedness, brokenness, and evil of it, not excluding that aspect of the truth from their identity, as they might in an attempt to keep winning. I think this might be something that could defuse some escalated and trauma-infected political situations, allowing for elite cultures (or populaces) of nations to trust each other.

Another thing that I find inspiring about the Jews is that they were / are a family based in holiness. When I was younger, I was drawn more toward the desert, kind of like the inhuman moral truth. I do think that moral truth has some value -- we gaze at it and then go change our lives -- and that the truth has value in itself. I don't know if I will ever be able to reconcile or say which is better, the truth, or well-being. I suppose both are needed. I think for the moral truth to be brought into the world, there need to be people who are working toward that. And that people groups that pursue holiness need to be familial so that within them people get married, have children, are friends, and so on. So how can holiness be implemented in a "familial" way as well as in the desert way?

(In the desert, there is just the individual, God, and the truth, and the individual has no ties to society, or support from it. I think this is a good stance to take and perhaps in private we should all be desert people, but realistically we (generally speaking) are going to have families and friends. And, even in the desert, the relationship between the desert human and God is (or should or could be) a familial one, and we come to understand family, often, from seeing it in people around us.)

Part of being a family is having a family identity, shared history, stories, and so on, so, it's not too much of a stretch to include discussions of different cultures in this category.

These kinds of thoughts motivate another set of writings, which are basically this-worldly oriented and don't have to be radically theistic or New Wine.

Writing that goes in this category

Establishedness and Loving God, part of Patience. The Future of Beauty connects to some exilic-familial themes.

Radically Theistic and New Wine

"Radical theism", in this case, means both an epistemic and ethical theism. In other words, to see the world as though God really exists (epistemic) and to be oriented toward God's well-being and interests (ethical -- compare to "humanism" as an ethical stance). It is very easy to be focused on the visible world of humans (and their invisible but blatant needs, desires, opinions, etc.) and to fail to care about God, as though he doesn't exists or as though his feelings and experiences don't matter. Sometimes people say "well, you go so far down a path, but you haven't really gone all the way", like Calvinists being maximally Reformed, or Nietzsche being the real atheist among supposed atheists. I fear that I am in their tradition if I want to say Christianity is not fully itself if it is not radically theistic. I hope that radical theism is the thing which we should really make the root of our thinking, feeling, behaving, trusting, etc. I don't think that Reformedness or atheism are the thing we should go all the way down the path toward, and the fact that people can go all the way down the path of paths that are not worth going that far down is a sobering thing. But, I personally think that radical theism is what I ought to pursue more of, and the "How can we love?" and "exilic-familial" areas of thinking and writing are a kind of thicket or forest to get out of, in order to make sure I can see and walk toward what is most valuable, although they are useful and to some extent connected to that valuable reality.

For me, theism is a New Wine thing. To properly understand God and what is good requires us to think in a New Wine way. I don't have as firm an idea of what that means as I do of the "How can we love?" and "exilic-familial" paths. I am more in the process still of discovering what it basically is.

I would say that the most urgent thing is the risk of people dying the second death, by hardening, failing to come fully in tune with God. This basic idea is one which I have not fully integrated into me.

So far I have more to say from a "longtermist" perspective, and at a cultural scale, rather than on the scale of "where does the risk of second death show up in people around you and what can you do about it".

Writing that goes in this category

The whole MSLN project, Establishedness and Loving God, X-Risk review, Cultural Moloch, Omnisubjective Sexuality, The Future of Beauty.

Aletheism

"Humanism" is altruism oriented around humans, "theism" is altruism oriented around God, while "aletheism" is altruism oriented around truth. The truth is pursued for its own sake -- to know what is, and to say what is known of what is.

Writing that goes in this category

Being generous, I would include the whole MSLN project because it tries to honor truth, by trying hard to prove something.

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