Sunday, May 25, 2014

Rock Bottom

The world is too complicated for us to deal with as it actually is. We have to make simplifying approximations in order to be able to make any sort of decisions. But at times it is important to acknowledge that these are just approximations. We may want to change which approximations we make. Fundamentally, we don't know anything. Our senses only give us limited infomation and what information they do give is sometimes incorrecy. Our reasoning is similarly flawed. The closest we can come to absolute certainty in a proposition is a degree of confidence sufficiently high that we are able to completely neglect the possibility that it may be wrong; yet it is far from rare for people to feel such confidence, and yet be wrong. There is no objective good and bad. We call things good because they seem good to us. On subjects in which personal preferences widely vary we are generally aware thaat our prefernces are "just" personal preferences. When preferences are universally or nearly universally shared, we think of them as being in some sense correct, and we think of people holding contrary preferences as somehow defecticve. But at some level they are all "just" preferences; even if a preference is universally held, hypothetically one could have the opposite preference. Our preferences are not arbitrary, of course. Preferences that cause those holding them to die young tend to get weeded out of the population. But that still doesn't mean that these dead guys were wrong or defective in an absolute sense. No one's preference are perfectly tuned to maximize darwinian fitness, and I dont think anyone would argue that they should be. Every individual is different. We have different abilities, different knowledge, different desires, and different relationships with other people. Equality is a concept that is meaningful only for numbers. One person's vote may be the equal of another's, but to say the people themselves are equal is simply gibberish.