after philosophy

By Laura Gao • 5 min read
June 2023


you can logic everything, d says. but you shouldn't. or, you don't want to.

social things is one. u says listen to black box social intuitions---there isnt rlly any benefit in questioning them. (takes longer, "humans are intractable" d says; not as accurate, likely)


In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not.

-- Yogi Berra

s says, you improve your judgement through iteration. through trying to start a startup and failing and failing again. from trying to do something impactful

not from being an EA and thinking about "hmm according to this interpretation of utilitarianism, AI safety is the most impactful thing i can do."

thinking a lot can be: pseudointellectual. "mental masturbation." fun intellectual exercises, but useless beyond that.

the people with the best judgement, he says, arent the ones who think the most. someone with higher IQ and thinks more can have a lot worse judgement/impact than someone who doesn't think as much.


i think sartre's existentialism, camus' absurdism, and nietzsche's nihilism all say the same thing.

existentialism: existence prececes essence. how you spend your time is who you become. life is meaningless, but you can create your own meaning.

nihilism: life is meaningless. this can be liberating, knowing that shrug nothing you do will matter, so you can do whatever you want. you can be hedonistic you can chase short term pleasures you can choose goals and work on them, you can find joy in human connection, but shrug, doesnt make a difference what you choose.

absurdism: life is meaningless. your existence is absurd. but why not live! there is beauty in your absurd existence. you can choose to live in spite of the meaninglessness of life.

they all try to answer, "what is the meaning of life." and they all seem to have come up w different answers.

but like. whether i follow existentialism or absurdism or nihilism does not change how i spend my time? they all lead to the general conclusion of "there is no meaning in life so shrug i make out of it what i can and try to enjoy it while i can." "i will try to live a good life, wtv that means to me." each way, i will have goals. i will choose goals. i will work towards goals.

i think any philosophy that tries to answer "what is the meaning of life" all says the same thing. PEOPLE DEVOTE THEIR LIVES TO COMING UP W THESE FRAMEWORKS but like. who cares lol? dont think about living, go live?


to be a more trustworthy person, i didn't need prisonner's dilemma and utilitiarianism and newcomb's problem and functional decision theory. i needed empathy.


r says rationality is a trap. and an easy one to fall into. he's seen many smart people get into rationality and then like. stop doing things. they used to ship every week. now they just sit around and think.


gosh. who even cares if a worldview is self consistent? like. useful models have to be true. goddammit. self consistence implies nothing about truth.


The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao

-- Lao Tzu


so you're telling me i can say "i find [this man] sus" without being able to logically explain why?

in the past 2 weeks that i've let myself listen to my social instincts... apprently my judgement isn't that bad??

i know it would hurt all parties more if i do [action]. i know. i know. i know. itd be unfair for [ ] to give into an impulse he doesn't retroactively endorse, itd be hurtful for [ ] if i put myself in his shoes. i know bc both e and d both think this would hurt them. i know bc when i mentioned this possibility at post-socratica lunch, everyone visceral reaction of nooo lauraaaa ... [1]

thank you to: d, u, n, s, e. for being with me during this tumultuous past 2 weeks. for being with me as i discover a previously-untapped avenue of "laura social judgement," i'm a kid in a sandbox. thank you d for showing me how much empathy i was lacking.

[1] ... u get judgement from iteration and not from logic. u know what the right thing is. i know, i know, i know. so do it. whether u have thought for 20+ hours about newcomb's and fdt and game theory of integrity DOES NOT MATTER if when the time comes for you to act w integrity, u dont.

(+ the former is not a prereq to the latter. perhaps laura who has thought a lot abt integrity theory isnt more likely to have integrity than laura who follows their black box intuitions?)

leave a msg for laura

i respect your emotional rawness. keep introspecting, maybe a little less inspirational quote posting...

msgs are anonymous. optionally leave ur name & discord (or other contact info) if u want me to respond