On a Second-Order Pragmatism

constant escape

winter withered, warm
Well perhaps there can be two kinds of second-order pragmatism: the kind you mention, where by appealing to one set of values you can indirectly mobilize a different set of values, in other people; and another kind, where you are doing this to yourself. I think your point about it being grounded in self-interest is critical, but what would you say about applying all this to yourself? Granted I'm likely blinded by bias (IE I really want these things to work), but my firsthand experience is promising. But it might just be too tedious and complicated.

That is, instead of appealing to the base instincts of others in order to achieve a higher-order end, you appeal to your own base instincts - but it seems to require some kind of ability to navigate your own blind spots, which is paradoxical, and pull your own strings, in order to sustain the felt legitimacy of the first-order, base motivation. And it also requires, as in the Adam Smith example, an awareness of how the consequences of our actions ramify up into higher-orders - like how ideologies, nations, cultures, are somehow distinct things, "larger" than humans.

Applying it to other people would almost definitely be manipulative, unless the whole strategy can be rendered transparent, which isn't capital "I" Impossible, as far as I can tell. Applying it to yourself might just mean psychosis, with little benefit outside of supreme philosophic achievement.
 

luka

Well-known member
Staff member
Constant Escape, I'm beginning to think this is all in aid of trying to make yourself give up internet porn. This is the motivating guilt you are trying to engineer out. Am I correct?
 

constant escape

winter withered, warm
I actually no longer feel the guilt about that - beyond mere flashes here and there - but I am trying to harness a kind of libidinal energy, and use it to drive a lot of this. And I feel it working, over the last year and a half. It does feel like I am shackled, in a way I have trouble articulating, to being attracted to things like porn, but it seems like an increasingly ersatz attraction. To be perfectly frank, I've reached the point where I feel some arousal bugging me as I'm watching a lecture about something, and I just pause it, do the deed, and return, and I can focus more clearly.

But you are right in that there is a connection - if I wasn't doing all of this, I very likely could have more of a pronounced or robust addiction to porn. Right now it is almost purely a going-through-the-motions, getting-it-out-of-the-system activity, and one that I would like to abandon altogether, and for that reason I feel a residue of shame, but that shame doesn't last long. But I've tried fighting it for a long time, and this just seems like an easier, and more productive approach.

I do think way more about all this stuff than I do about sex or porn, for whatever that is worth. Like, as soon as I wake up.
 

constant escape

winter withered, warm
So yeah I think you're right for the most part, but as of late I haven't been trying to give it up - because it doesn't seem like a problem. But if you have advice regarding how to harness/sublimate any of this stuff, I'd like to hear it.

It feels like a baseline programming hangup that really doesn't lend itself to what I'm trying to do. The question, even, of starting a family doesn't seem all that wise, given the direction of the world - as much as being a father would, arguably, be the experience worth having among all the experiences that are commonly valued.
 

suspended

Well-known member
no no no that's all very silly have a family, build something

the world will be fine, especially our corners of it
 

suspended

Well-known member
I do feel for those will be struck by droughts and famines the coming century until we figure out shit out and get the technology to tamp back on climate change, it's obviously bad, there is obviously a responsibility

but your children will likely be born into the safest most prosperous moment in human history

don't let memes get you down about the contemporary
 

suspended

Well-known member
atomization's rough but it's also countered by a generation of groundwork: just like immigrant families need to raise economic capital, atomized parents need to raise and invest social capital for their kids
 

constant escape

winter withered, warm
It is a bit silly I suppose (for what its worth, its more the Guy McPhersons of the world that get me down - I stay away from memes, as they confound and somewhat frighten me).

What about groundwork from a position of nihilism? Do you think nihilism is a serious trend among people under, say, 25? Or do you think it is something that will evaporate? My approach to counter nihilism is just to learn as much as I can, which is proving to be a pretty stable form of occupation (as opposed to turning to entertainment). Aside from that, the only approaches I can think of are spiritual.

Also, what do you think about dopamine cleanses? Not sure how good a term that is, but I mean minimizing the amount of things that bring pleasure (which necessarily entails withdrawal), and reevaluating what ought to play that role. Not sure how well I'm saying this, but what seems to happen with me is that by keeping the good feelings in check, the bad ones are also kept in check. This is coming from a position from which the world seems to offer much more bad than good (again, nihilism).
 
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