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The Intellectual Social Game

GISTE wrote:

how does this concept of knowledge being contextual connect to parenting?

  • if a parent sees a problem with something his child is doing, it’s crucial for the parent to consider the child’s reasons for doing it. without incorporating the child’s reasons in the knowledge creation process, the parent is ignoring the context of the knowledge the child is acting on. doing so would reliably have the effect of the child either dismissing the parent's idea, or obeying it. instead, parent should ask child why he’s doing what he’s doing (to the extent the child wants such discussion), in order to help the child, and himself, evolve their initial ideas towards mutual understanding and agreement.

GISTE is playing the intellectual social game. that's why he uses words like "crucial", "incorporating", "reliably" and "evolve". and it's why he wrote a long paragraph with overly complex structure. (btw he made it a bullet point list but it's the only thing on the list. i didn't just omit the other bullet points from the quote.)

i call it a social game because people learn to play this game from other people, and it involves interacting with other people.

people learn social games by observing what others do and then try to approximate it themselves. this is how they learn other social games like smalltalk, being in an audience, or parenting.

the "game" terminology is used by Thomas Szasz and Jordan Peterson. i don't know who originated it.

they are games because there's a set of rules people are following. and if you play well, you get rewards (e.g. people like you, think you're smart, and want to play with you again).

the rules for social games are mostly unwritten. (some people are trying to change that, e.g. the Girls Chase book writes down a bunch of social dynamics and dating rules).

how do you learn a game with unwritten rules? you watch what other people do and copy it. (and maybe you make some mistakes and get punished and learn to be conservative.) that's how people learn social interaction.

this is why people don't do intellectual discussion in a precise, rigorous way. because they're just copying approximately what they say other people do, rather than understanding how to think, how discussion can facilitate learning, etc.

part of the intellectual discussion game is writing big words and fancy sentences. so people do that. even if you tell them not to. they are bad at learning from and following written rules. it's not how most people deal with life at all. (some people are good at following written rules in a specific area, e.g. programmers. but they're still usually normal people outside of their speciality.)

science works (or doesn't work...) mostly by people trying to copy the science game from other scientists, not by them learning the scientific method from a book and then following it.

the science game as practiced by most scientists living today is primarily a social game. it involves popularity, social status in the field, people with more authority and more control over money and hiring, people who get published in more or less prestigious journals, people with or without tenure, etc

and books don't tell you how to play the science social game and succeed in your interactions with other people. how do you get a reputation as a genius, get invited to the best parties, get paid well, get to decide who else is paid well (give out rewards to friends and allies), etc? you look at other people who are succeeding at these games and try to understand how it works.

you actually should read some books, btw, to do well at those games. but not books about science. stuff more like How To Win Friends and Influence People. most people don't read much, though i think reading books like that is more common with the most successful people.

people even use words as a social game. words have written rules (the dictionary). but people don't primarily learn how to use words from the dictionary. they hear and read other people using words, then they try to use those words in similar ways. they just guess the meanings from real world usage. it's very informal and error-prone.

people commonly correct others on mistaken word use when they are playing the social game badly. some word uses make you look like a child, fool, or ignoramus. people punish those with social rebukes.

but people rarely correct others just because their word usage is wrong according to the dictionary. (most people don't even know what the dictionary says, anyway, so they can't correct those mistakes.) so people end up misunderstanding many words and using them wrong.

this leads to problems when they try to discuss with someone like me who knows what words actually mean and uses the dictionary regularly. we're playing different games. i think my way is correct and has major advantages for truth seeking, so i don't want to switch games. and the other people don't know how to switch games. so it's hard to discuss.

people's use of words is very imprecise because it's based on loose guesses from what other people say. they don't know precisely what words mean. they just know enough to communicate with normal people without being rebuked.

people's arguments are imprecise because they use words imprecisely. and because their approach to arguing is to learn it as a social game. the whole social game approach involves lots of approximation and doing things that are sorta in the right ballpark and hoping no one says anything bad about it.

GISTE's approach to philosophy discussion works like that. (and it's the same for most other people). he knows what kinds of things people say in the intellectual discussion social game, and he strongly resists talking in a different way (e.g. more simple, clear, and childlike).

the quote above isn't even very bad, btw. people write way worse stuff all the time.

some of the professionals even study Kant in order to learn to make their writing harder to understand. then it filters down. non-philosopher intellectuals copy intellectual game playing behavior from academic philosophers. then some lesser intellectuals copy them and write material for more sophisticated lay people who pass it on to typical lay people who pass it on to idiots.

this is why it's so hard to find serious truth-seeking discussion. who does that? everyone just learns the intellectual social game instead!


Elliot Temple on July 12, 2017

Comments (3)

GISTE replied agreeing with my analysis!

curi at 12:41 PM on July 12, 2017 | #8811
> the whole social game approach involves lots of approximation and doing things that are sorta in the right ballpark and hoping no one says anything bad about it.

is this why ppl dislike criticism?

kate at 8:49 AM on July 14, 2017 | #8829
criticism is great if you are going for the truth and want your ideas to be ACTUALLY RIGHT.

it's much less appreciated if you've accepted a standard of approximately right or sorta in the right ballpark.

especially if, at the same time, you want your ideas to *look* right.

kate at 9:06 AM on July 14, 2017 | #8830

What do you think?

(This is a free speech zone!)