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Thread: Velvet determinism

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    creator kari's Avatar
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    Velvet determinism

    Imagine you walk into a room padded by a hundred velvet pillows. The walls, floor, and ceiling is made out of a thick sturdy and smooth velvet too. The velvet is a relaxing colour. You can just relax in this room! You slowly nuzzle into this soft nest of velvet pillows and sleep.

    In philosophy we have hard determinism and soft determinism. Hard determinism is the view that the world is strictly deterministic - we have no agency. Soft determinism is the compatibalist view that although the world is governed by causal relations, free will exists in that framework.

    I think there's another kind of determinism. It's the kind where we are sleepwalking through life. That we make decisions, but our decisions are primed by external influences, and directed by internal and primal encodings. It's not quite hard or soft, it's both, smooth but impenetrable, like good velvet. This isn't a new idea, maybe it's even commonly accepted.

    We are reactionary creatures. We are all feelers not thinkers.

    A feeler is one that makes a decision based on warm intuition: a distinct instinct, gut feeling, or compulsion.
    A thinker is one that makes a decision based on cold facts: a rational argument, logical consistency, or a pros & cons list.

    There's a study in the book Stumbling on Happiness that argues for the intuitive approach. I read it a long time ago and since then I have repeated it whenever fucking possible but I don't even know if I'm recalling it correctly. Anyways, the study got two groups to purchase a painting. Group A were told to make a decision based on intuition - basically whatever the painting they felt instinctively attracted to. They got Group B to choose a painting using supporting reasons, e.g. how much the painting cost, how the painting would match room decor, etc. A follow-up survey showed that the intuitives were much more happier and their decision than their roboty counterparts.


    I think this can also be explained by evolutionary psychology. I guess to discuss fulfilment, you have to discuss survival. Intuition is the ancient wisdom, passed down genetically or epigenetically. We are compelled towards certain things because they maximise chances of survival.

    Ever since rocky_bollocks told me about Haidt's research on morality I've been hooked on this idea. Studies show that people make moral decisions based on intuition first, and any moral rationalisations are made post-hoc. I keep encountering this idea in a lot of things I read now (hi baader meinhof !)

    Intuition holds a lot of truth, a lot of wisdom, a lot of practicality. I find that deviation from intuitive inclinations leads to a lot of psychological distress. If you repress your intuition, and refuse to follow your gut feelings, your body tends to rebel. If you ignore your body's signals for rest, and constantly work even when tired, you risk chronic fatigue. If you go on strict diets, and ignore real hunger signals, you risk binge eating disorder.

    I'm trying to reconcile all these ideas. I guess, the answer to all things in life, is balance.

    TO LIVE A COMPLETELY RATIONAL LIFE IS PROCRUSTEAN, and in some ways blind. There are a myriad cognitive biases that plague that rational man. We can build systems to help us, we lose vitality but we gain progress.

    TO LIVE A COMPLETELY INTUITIVE LIFE IS DEBASING, we return to creature-state. We return to nature, we grow sideways but not upwards.
    I fucking hate the cold! - Wim Hof

    Check out my art. https://www.instagram.com/karililt/

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    It's all true for different people. You could be born with a nonfunctional or missing part of your brain that makes you 100% not something, while another person is very much like it. Anything that's not literally impossible, there could be a person like that. It's just about statistically how often people are a certain way. This stuff doesn't even interest me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BarIII View Post
    It's all true for different people. You could be born with a nonfunctional or missing part of your brain that makes you 100% not something, while another person is very much like it. Anything that's not literally impossible, there could be a person like that. It's just about statistically how often people are a certain way. This stuff doesn't even interest me.

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    I like your model, kari. I've got a similar one but I'd call it the Dionysian-Apollonian dichotomy.

    Velvet determinism is a catchier name in any case.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sappho View Post
    I read a good half of her post before replying. That may be the most I ever read about...what is this, philosophy or psychology? Either one...I'm confident I made an informed decision to dismiss both fields.

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    Faster. Than. Ever. Sloth's Avatar
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    The velvet determinism you describe sounds like an unconscious soft determinism, but still soft determinism. In a way it would still be a choice to decide to not consciously choose.


    Quote Originally Posted by kari View Post
    I'm trying to reconcile all these ideas. I guess, the answer to all things in life, is balance.

    TO LIVE A COMPLETELY RATIONAL LIFE IS PROCRUSTEAN, and in some ways blind. There are a myriad cognitive biases that plague that rational man. We can build systems to help us, we lose vitality but we gain progress.

    TO LIVE A COMPLETELY INTUITIVE LIFE IS DEBASING, we return to creature-state. We return to nature, we grow sideways but not upwards.

    I think as a species we might have reached a point where we can't not apply both into every situation. That study you mentioned had me thinking "how did those two groups know for sure they didn't quietly add certain elements of the other to their decision process?"

    It makes sense to me though that it might be easier to "not apply" rationality to something since our frontal lobe was the last part of our brain to develop. Nevertheless it's there now though, and it persisted in our species for a reason: it must be really useful. So yeah, balance between the "two modes" (as I'm thinking about it, there are probably a lot of "modes" that make up what we're trying to describe) seems like an obvious simple truth, so it's funny to me when I find myself in situations with people where they think it makes sense to disregard either intuition or reason (though I think there are probably good arguments for allowing one or the other to have a heavier weight in certain scenarios).

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    Meae Musae Servus Hephaestus's Avatar
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    I think one of the things that muddies the issue is the assumption that if free will exists, it is universal, or at least universal to humans. I suspect it is not, and even where present it is a difficult thing to exercise. Most of the time, people trundle along. Free will is what allows us to jump tracks and force our way into new and deliberately chosen patterns of behavior. But it is difficult and exhausting, so must be employed judiciously if we're going to get any lasting benefit from it. Free will is the ability to reprogram our patterns of behavior, even if only for a moment.
    Most of time, when people ask why something terrible happened, they don't realize they are looking for someone to blame.

    --Meditations on Uncertainty Vol ξ(x)

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    Now we know... Asteroids Champion ACow's Avatar
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    Can a person develop themselves such that logic and their intuition fall into alignment, rather than being set up to be assumed opposing forces?

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    Quote Originally Posted by ACow View Post
    Can a person develop themselves such that logic and their intuition fall into alignment, rather than being set up to be assumed opposing forces?
    What? And develop sanity? That's crazy!
    Most of time, when people ask why something terrible happened, they don't realize they are looking for someone to blame.

    --Meditations on Uncertainty Vol ξ(x)

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    yeah, that's what you expect, to live balanced, but usually people do what they please at every moment, we cannot deny we tend to care more about ourselves in the present, i mean, what's so wrong about that?, why moralize everything? that's against mother nature, isn't it?, perhaps the big paradox of human development, there's no god, only science and i can't tell if the punishment of our own remorse has been greater than that of the gods.
    i'm all about wine, sex and music baby. keep it simple, let me show you some tunes.

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