Department of Isn’t (Robin Hanson, Gnostic)

by on April 11, 2010 at 6:06 am in Philosophy | Permalink

Food isn’t about Nutrition
Clothes aren’t about Comfort
Bedrooms aren’t about Sleep
Marriage isn’t about Romance
Talk isn’t about Info
Laughter isn’t about Jokes
Charity isn’t about Helping
Church isn’t about God
Art isn’t about Insight
Medicine isn’t about Health
Consulting isn’t about Advice
School isn’t about Learning
Research isn’t about Progress
Politics isn’t about Policy

That's from him.  No sex?  Can that somehow be signaling to get more sex?

Partial spectator April 11, 2010 at 6:49 am

I think Robin is way more sophisticated than that. Plus he recently wrote several posts like this one.

Millian April 11, 2010 at 7:18 am

Contrarianism isn’t about Beliefs

E. Barandiaran April 11, 2010 at 7:54 am

Tyler, Jerry Seinfeld’s case for nihilistic delusion is profounder and better presented than RH’s. I recommend to watch JS than to read RH.

Steven Schreiber April 11, 2010 at 10:33 am

Software isn’t about code.
Processors aren’t about logic gates.
Metals aren’t about atoms.

Etc.

Pointing out that for every X a cause of Y there is a further cause Z for X isn’t anything more than noting that we’re not at the beginning of our event chain.

The problem Hanson has is that he’s really done nothing since but get caught in that loop. Hence he’s unable to formulate anything which leaves it because he insists that you can’t push the elements of Z until things behave in an acceptably non-Z way.

Even then, he’d argue that it was really Z for the same reason that Dawkins demands we not see ourselves as selfish jerks because our genes are. Even if we are selected for honesty, etc. because it makes good for genes doesn’t mean we have an ulterior motive.

k April 11, 2010 at 4:14 pm

But monism is about obsession with the wrong idea

vt April 11, 2010 at 8:47 pm

Steven, I think you’re misrepresenting Hanson’s argument. First of all, “X is about Y” doesn’t mean that X is the cause of Y, but that Y is the goal and X is the means for attaining it. Secondly, Hanson’s point isn’t to look for random alternative reasons, but that there is a *single* type of reasons replacing all those Ys:

“I’ve argued that much of our behavior is poorly explained by the reasons we give, and better explained as ways to signal abilities, loyalties, etc.”

In other words, he’s proposing a more concise model of human bevahior (compared to the “homo hypocritus” model).

Robin Hanson April 12, 2010 at 10:08 am

Must I claim that no X is about X? Sex is a good candidate for something that we aren’t very deceived about what it is about.

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