Blog: Rounding our Logs

Rounding our Logs
Rounding our Logs
Date: 2018-May-03 02:56:44 EST

I sometimes daydream of being in a world where people spend a lot more time thinking about what valid arguments look like ; not the kind where pedants codify rules and insist others ahere to them, but rather the kind where people use those rules as signposts in adolescence, continually hold debates in their heads, and by adulthood develop a deep awareness of rhetoric, persuasion, and how we may think. In a mix between a daydream and an inner debate (on the walk to work, where I get a bit of thinking done most days), the phrase "We have no obligation to round all our logs" popped into my head as a way to refer to an intuition - given that any maxim will lead to actions that will be seen in many evaluative contexts, we should not feel obliged to defend that maxim as if it were designed for the particular context we're debating; some amount of mis-fit is to be expected for any rule that applies to a broad set of situations, and we should accept at least a reasonable amount of this. To do otherwise is to either stay forever in a learning mode (never settling down on views because any log will have some rough edges), to discard important axes of analysis to avoid that, or at least to be easily manipulated.

Another inner debate - an argument about the level of brandedness of certain strata of society, with one side seeing it as a terrible defect, and another seeing the style of higher strata as being little different in substance because the style of that strata amounts to the same thing; is the brandedness itself the shame, or the obedience? To muddy the waters interestingly - if only a few companies, or even just one, were to make the stylish clothes and just market them under different names, is that not as tight a leash? Or is the fixation on the brand transformative? I don't have an answer to this.

At a recent software event at DigitalOcean there was a talk by someone I once interviewed with there. She looked to be a pretty good manager, and her talk made it clear that she really thought about things and put in the effort to communicate well. There was still part of her talk that bothered me ; it sounded like she wanted her people to bring their personal lives a bit into work as a bonding thing, and I've come to feel that that's likely actually a bad thing because it introduces areas of conflict that would not be visible if we just interact with each other at work on a fairly surface level, or at least don't have the expectation to bring our whole selves in. Most of the people I've worked with, for example, I've had no idea if they were religious, and in some jobs I never talked about being non-straight, or having been single for a long time, or having been depressed for a long time. Even having everyone else sharing creates an unwelcome pressure to do the same. During the interview process I came to feel there was a cultural incompatibility between her and I; maybe it's for the best that we didn't end up working together, although I still believe that she's probably generally a good boss (despite the disagreement on how much of oneself to bring to work).

I sometimes wonder how much our evaluative contexts might be embedded into our neuroscience/genetics ; it seems plausible to me that there are shared parts of being human in games of "king of the hill" - maybe even brain regions that are always contributing to our motives based on power, advantage, affirmation of a community, and a number of other distinct ends that provide security to humans in the EEA. If this is so, I wonder if we might be able to extract their content, or if like in a Hopfield network, we can only weakly infer from the effects.