Lately I've been thinking over some common threads to my writings in this spot over the past three years. Well, perhaps the most general overarching theme is "Here's another pervasive mode of thinking that annoys me!", but there are certain commonalities between those failed thinking modes and I decided to write about one of them today. (Or I decided to write about it back at the beginning of the year but then wound up taking a six-month-long hiatus from this blog due to a continual work-related time crunch, so in the end I'm writing about it now. Somehow after lamenting in my last post what a long gap of time it had been, I managed to top myself.) One of those commonalities lurking behind the mental processes I've criticized in several past essays -- the one I want to discuss today -- is when people assume that maximizing truth and morality means aiming indefinitely far in one direction. Or, to put the misconception another way, that going as far as possible in one direction will always be a win-win. Read more...
(an analysis of E. Price's recent article on students' invisible mental barriers)
After last year's sequence of lengthy blog entries on the whole high-agency vs. low-agency dichotomy, I wasn't intending to write any more on that for a good long time. I really wasn't. Although I could imagine some subjects that touch on that stuff that I hoped to write about in the farther future, I was figuring on 2018 being more or less a determinism/agency-discussion-free year on Hawks and Handsaws.
Then just the other day, I came into contact with this article on Medium entitled "Laziness Does Not Exist" (with subtitle "But unseen barriers do."), which struck a nerve with me as it quite straightforwardly talked about a number of, well, those particular issues. And I decided that, instead of filing the article away to pull out at some Designated Time For More High-vs.-Low-Agency Posts, I should write down my thoughts and feelings now while they're running fresh through my mind. Read more...
During parts of college and early graduate school, I got mildly involved with some atheist/agnostic/some-general-category-of-nonbeliever clubs at my universities, primarily out of an appetite for hanging out with other students who wanted to ponder the kind of controversies that most interested me at the time. At around the tail end of this period, when I was preparing to extricate myself from my second university's atheist society for good, I was befriended by a young evangelical Christian who was about to leave the university and start a full-time career in missionary work. His recent approach had been to reach across the aisle and engaging with his ideological opponents: the campus atheists.
"You're a rotten driver," I protested. "Either you ought to be more careful, or you oughtn't to drive at all."
"I am careful."
"No, you're not."
"Well, other people are," she said lightly.
"What's that got to do with it?"
"They'll keep out of my way," she insisted. "It takes two to make an accident."
-- from The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald