Friday, April 11, 2008

cut him. CUT HIM!!

The irritating Eliezer Yudkowsky is very proud of his essay on the virtues of rationality. I also like it, partly because it is satisfyingly annoying. I did like this quote from Miyamoto Musashi
The primary thing when you take a sword in your hands is your intention to cut the enemy, whatever the means. Whenever you parry, hit, spring, strike or touch the enemy's cutting sword, you must cut the enemy in the same movement. It is essential to attain this. If you think only of hitting, springing, striking or touching the enemy, you will not be able actually to cut him. More than anything, you must be thinking of carrying your movement through to cutting him
I often think this watching sport where (I think) I can tell when one side switches to focusing on the components that make up good play rather than the actual goal of play. In tennis every single shot should be hit with the aim of maximising the odds of winning the point, which is why a risk averse strategy on match point annoys me so much. Soccer teams one goal ahead often try to run the clock down at the end rather than taking advantage of their opponents risk taking.

I think this is a huge problem with university studying and intellectualising in general. We learn a bunch of fancy intellectual tools but haven't the faintest clue how to use them. And learning an intimidating academic vocabulary is a way of bullying people who haven't got it.

Thinking about rationality like this also helps show how important it is to pose the topic properly. The point in the quote is to kill the other guy, but what are you arguing about?

No comments: