Philosophistry is now a book!

New Ideas

Asking whether or not we're in a simulator is uninteresting because it's ultimately like asking whether or not God exists

It's like asking whether or not we're in a dream or we're in some other being's thoughts. The question starts in earnest as a physics inquiry, but it clearly becomes a metaphysical one, which presumes the existence of something beyond physics.

♦     ♦     ♦

Class labels should be tied to how one "makes a living"

The twenty-first century requires a refreshing of class labels. Gone are traditional upper-, middle-, and lower-classes. What's needed is something that matches the way people work. Here is such a hierarchy:

  • Transcendent
  • Capitalist
  • Expert
  • Working
  • Broke
  • Broken

Capitalists are people who live on the dividends from their investments. They, and the transcendent above them, truly comprise the "leisure class."

Experts are lawyers, doctors, and professors as well as top-notch architects, designers, and programmers. These people typically have much more money than they need, and they are usually in high demand for their expertise. Theoretically, they don't have to work but rather "live to work."

The working class includes anybody that still "works to live," even if they love their job. This label includes teachers, plumbers, accountants, and people with stable desk jobs. They have something on the order of $5,000 to $15,000 saved up plus some optional home equity.

The broke class has roughly $0 or negative in the bank. They typically include low-level service workers, such as order-takers at fast food restaurants or employees at retail outlets.

The broken class includes the homeless and those in prison.

The transcendent class includes those who hire capitalists, and as a result, live in a world completely removed from money. (Capitalists still worry about money occasionally since that's their source of freedom.)

♦     ♦     ♦

Geometric Self-improvement

In mathematics, any point in space can be represented by what's called a "linear combination" of basis vectors. The point (2,5), for example, can be represented as 2 * (1,0) + 5 * (0,1), where (1,0) and (0,1) are basis vectors. Any point in two dimensions can be represented as a multiple and then sum of those variables.

Likewise, virtue can be represented as a linear combination of basis vectors. The Josephson Institute developed the Six Pillars of Character, which could represent the axes of a six-dimensional space: Trust, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring, and Community. Any interpersonal conflict can be represented as a linear combination of those pillars. For example, if a good friend talks behind your back, the act has a helping of mistrust (a * Trust) combined with an element of disrespect (b * Respect). Or if your teammate at work ignores your emails and brings your project down, the act has a sense of recklessness (c * Responsibility) combined with dispassion (e * Caring). There isn't a wrong or slight that isn't some combination of those pillars. The benefit of this model is that if you can master those six axes, you can master whatever it means to have good character.

♦     ♦     ♦

Platform-less Democracies

Democracy means coalitions are required to pass legislation. So if Black Lives Matter becomes unpopular, so does climate change. Since the Democrats and Republicans roughly take turns occupying Congress, the environmentalists may have to wait a couple election cycles before having the spotlight again. If the Democrats fail to deliver, the environmentalists may have to wait a generation to switch parties, a gamble that isn't guaranteed to pay off. Is it possible to create a version of democracy without platforms?

♦     ♦     ♦

The cost of socks should approach zero

By now, the cost of socks should be nearly free, at least according to traditional economics. And yet, at Wal-Mart, the price of socks remains static or rising. Some of this has to do with the fact that much of Wal-Mart's costs are real estate. And yet Amazon, a company with no storefronts—and thus no real estate problem—has the same issue with pricey socks. The larger issue is that traditional economics doesn't scale. If Wal-Mart can sell a more luxe sock to more people, all of a sudden the cheaper sock disappears. And this isn't necessarily a knock on the rationality of buyers. Big retailers, for marketing or efficiency, drop or hide more affordable options. Theoretically, the bargain hunter could scour the rest of Internet and find the cheapest sock, but they would discover that only small retailers sell cheap socks, but only in bulk or with higher shipping fees than Amazon. Productivity is up, trade is up, but we can't necessarily realize those unless we realize them at scale.

♦     ♦     ♦

The social classes are gendered in a barber pole pattern

The social classes have gendered roles. The upper-middle-class is the most feminine, with lithe professors and an emphasis on respectful, politically-correct discourse. The upper-class is more masculine, with titans of industry and others looking to scale the highest peaks of wealth. Then, the top out-of-sight is feminine again, angelic in their security at the top of the firmament.

Going back down from the upper-middle-class, the middle-class is also feminine, focused on equal marriages and appeasing everybody above and below them. The high-proletariat, though, is masculine, with the six-figure plumbers and contractors being the kings of professions that favor strength. On down, through the low proletarians, are a return to femininity in the form of maternal safety nets to protect everybody who is one layoff away from poverty. And then below, we swing back to the masculine anger that comes with being destitute or bottom-out-of-sight.

♦     ♦     ♦

Without outlets for emotions, some emotions might not exist in the first place

Opportunities to grieve, such as in the arms of a friend, not only accentuate grieving in that moment, but may accentuate it in the moments, or days, leading up to the opportunity. In other words, if everybody in your circle presents a stiff-upper-lip towards loss, your grief might lessen because you don't anticipate having a use for the emotion. The effect might seem like repression, but because it's socially influenced, it lacks a sense of imposition and it doesn't backfire.