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Life Is Precious

People who care about their life try to better themselves.
By me, partially inspired by Ayn Rand in We The Living.

It sounds pretty obvious. Here's why it's important:

People often, for a wide variety of reasons, do not give learning their best effort. I knew these people do not care about truth-seeking and creating knowledge as much as Popper or I do. But I hadn't made the connection before that what they don't care about, at root, is their own life, in the way Rand cares about life. Life is not precious to them; they aren't dead set on making the most of it.

When someone is careless and wasteful during their own free time, they are disrespecting their own life. When people decide some of their problems are too hard and permanently give up on solving them, and try to be content settling for less, what they are really giving up on is life.

Elliot Temple on July 6, 2009

Comments (26)

What degree of effort is sufficient for one to be caring for one's own life, and what degree is insufficient?

Rihatsu at 5:27 PM on July 7, 2009 | #1794
If one likes his life, he doesn't care what the minimum is, he just lives as much and as well as he can.

Elliot at 5:33 PM on July 7, 2009 | #1795
Life is problem solving, perhaps? Sounds familiar.

But Rihatsu is right to draw attention to the trade-offs. At some point, tackling a problem may be too costly, and create even bigger problems. Although the presence of problems is one of the defining features of life, so is the desire to reduce the size of whatever problems are tackled.

Lee Kelly at 10:35 PM on July 7, 2009 | #1796
One always has multiple things they could do, and has to prioritize. Something very advanced could be put off for decades. The important thing is to be doing something.

Elliot at 10:55 PM on July 7, 2009 | #1797
You said something about Ayn Rand! *fireworks*

People quit on life and on learning because they cannot create the knowledge to solve their problems. They found out that the truth is that their life won't get anywhere interesting anymore.

Anonymous at 2:27 PM on July 8, 2009 | #1800
I don't understand the fireworks.

Elliot at 2:29 PM on July 8, 2009 | #1801
I'm glad you understood the rest.

Anonymous at 2:36 PM on July 8, 2009 | #1803
Are you trolling?

Elliot at 2:37 PM on July 8, 2009 | #1805
No.

Anonymous at 2:38 PM on July 8, 2009 | #1806
I didn't say or imply I understood the rest. You didn't explain about the fireworks. I don't see what you're trying to accomplish.

Anonymous at 2:39 PM on July 8, 2009 | #1807
Just happy you finally wrote about her.

Anonymous at 2:47 PM on July 8, 2009 | #1808
No comment on the rest I said?

I don't understand why you think everyone can create knowledge. It's obvious not everyone does. Some create, some copy. Can you explain?

I also don't understand the value of learning the truth.

This is the truth I have learned: I'm programmed to die and to be replaced by something better. The people that welcomed me into the world will all die and I will be left alone in a hostile word that has passed me by and where I cannot be anything anymore. This doesn't make me happy and I rather not have known this. Had I died ignorant and happy it would have been better.

Anonymous at 2:39 AM on July 9, 2009 | #1811
> I don't understand why you think everyone can create knowledge. It's obvious not everyone does.

You created knowledge about what my blog post was saying.

I created knowledge about what your comment was saying.

There's no way to know those things without creating knowledge about them. No truth is manifest. One has to read, *interpret*, criticize interpretations, and tentatively choose one as best.

Communication is impossible without knowledge creation.

--

You might like to watch Aubrey de Grey's TED talk about fighting aging.

Elliot at 9:15 AM on July 9, 2009 | #1814
I'm talking about creating ideas and things that didn't exist before. A conversation or even learning what was already discovered is not the same as Aubrey de Grey finding the cure for ageing.

And it's a time machine I need.

Anonymous at 11:04 PM on July 9, 2009 | #1816
First you said you didn't understand one of my statements. I told you what I meant. Now you say you are talking about a different meaning of the word 'knowledge'. But you were asking about what *I* said, so that should be interpreted with my terminology.

On another note, I know of no evidence or argument that any two people ever had *exactly* the same idea.

Elliot at 11:11 PM on July 9, 2009 | #1817
I meant to say I don't understand why you don't make a distinction between learning what is already known and actually creating knew knowledge.

Creating original knowledge, making a major scientific breakthrough, coming up with a new idea nobody did before, is different than learning your time tables or having a conversation. Why do you think it's not? Why do you menial things everybody does creating knowledge? What is the purpose of that?

People cannot have exactly the same idea because there's loss in copying. If the ideas are similar enough or variations of ideas that already existed, they are fluff, and although they might serve a purpose in spreading knowledge around, they do not matter as much as new ideas. New ideas change the world.

Anonymous at 1:12 AM on July 10, 2009 | #1819
New and non-new knowledge are both created in the same way. Via conjectures and refutations.

Can all people make a significant, new contribution to human knowledge? Sure. What's to stop them? Besides brain damage.

Elliot at 7:45 AM on July 10, 2009 | #1820
I don't think they are created the same way. A new idea is something that never existed in the world before. Saying that all knowledge creation is the same and is conjectures and refutations explains nothing.

I do not know what people need to have to create new knowledge, but whatever it is, it's very rare.

Anonymous at 8:03 AM on July 10, 2009 | #1821
Conjectures and Refutations is the name of one of Karl Popper's book, and also a description of the process, also known as Critical Rationalism. There's some further information here:

http://www.curi.us/blog/post/1180-how-to-ask-questions-5

Elliot at 8:10 AM on July 10, 2009 | #1822
If the book taught you that there is no difference between having a conversation and creating new ideas, it doesn't answer my question.

Anonymous at 9:04 AM on July 10, 2009 | #1823
"Can all people make a significant, new contribution to human knowledge? Sure. What's to stop them? Besides brain damage."

Do you think there exists brain damage where people can create enough knowledge to have a conversation but they cannot create much more?

I have witnessed a situation where a person could not even have a normal conversation because his brain damage caused a time delay so big, he was replying to people the next morning. He didn't seem to live in real time anymore. Yet he could still understand words.

What I think is that only a few people are so lucky to be born with brains so good that it allows them to create new, valuable knowledge.

Anonymous at 1:22 AM on July 11, 2009 | #1830
Not everyone can create the specific knowledge needed for a specific problem. This is why, for instance, some people specialise in certain professions and not others.

You don't totally control your mental processing. Your mind is something you possess and you are aware to a certain degree. It does its own thing for the most part. For instance, a person learning to ride a bike is not doing any conscious calculations. Dreams are random thoughts of your own mind appearing to be a world outside of you.

Learning is not effort if your mind can do it. If your mind cannot do it, if you reached its limit, what you feel is pain and it can be disabling.

Many people who are altruists and don't judge their own individual lives precious, still learn and create great things to God or the state or to save the planet or whatever.

Anonymous at 11:44 PM on July 13, 2009 | #1839
Can you give an example of an experiment or observation you would take as a refutation of your theory about people not being universal knowledge creators?

Elliot at 8:05 AM on July 14, 2009 | #1843
Show me someone evidence of a universal knowledge creator. Show me someone who can learn equally well in everything with no limits.

Anonymous at 2:27 AM on July 15, 2009 | #1846
The wide variety of knowledge created by humans is evidence of being universal knowledge creators. From poetry to spaceships, atom bombs to Walmart.

What sort of further evidence do you want?

Elliot at 8:27 AM on July 15, 2009 | #1850
It's not evidence that each individual can be a universal knowledge creator.

Anonymous at 6:52 AM on July 18, 2009 | #1855

What do you think?

(This is a free speech zone!)