Yesterday’s post was god-awful. Good idea, worst writing of all time. Let’s see if I can improve on that a little.
Something else I noticed yesterday is a common reason I tend to talk past people. It is because they don’t have a mental concept for the idea that something subjective can be correct or incorrect. As with most things, they will overcome this ideological shortcoming with common sense if they have to for some practical problem. But without being forced, aspies will fall back on their absolute == objective assumption and muggles will return to their feelings and mystical woo.
See, for a couple of centuries now we in the West have worshiped the god of Rationalism. Why? Because left to our own devices, we humans return to a base state of nature using only Kahneman’s System 1 style of thinking. That is, heuristics, instincts, intuitions, feelings- very reactionary stuff. Rationalism corrected for our most prevailing shortcoming as a species, and allowed us to develop into abstract, scientific thinkers. We trained System 2 diligently and fervently, in order to overcome System 1 biases and miscalculations and fallacies. We made doctors and engineers and scientists out of healers and mechanics and magicians.
Then the industrial revolution happened, and we migrated to sterile suburbia and lost touch with the blood and soil and System 1. Things that were once considered “common sense” are now rare, and buried under so much senseless academic paper. There is a reason we refer to these things as “sense”, because that’s exactly what it is. Familiarity, memories of sight and touch and sound and smell. In the modern day, it is not at all unusual for “engineers” to graduate without knowing what an engine even looks like. And we trust these people to build better engines? With what, pure calculus?
Math is great. I am a fan. Well, most of the time (she can be a real bitch sometimes). But you can do calculus all day and it’s not going to replace your brake lines. For that, you need some assurance that your mechanic really understands the ding an sich (in 2015 how many people would trust themselves to do this?).
Okay, so I’ve reviewed the objective-subjective distinction for you. System 2 is the objective one, got it?
Here’s the thing that gets most aspies’ panties twisted: subjective impressions can be correct and incorrect. They can be precise and accurate or not. One movie can be better, in an absolute sense, than another movie. One essay can be better than another. But you can’t prove that it’s better. You can make arbitrary judgments about what makes a good movie, but in the end you are trying to make a subjective thing objective. Can’t do it. Ain’t gonna happen. You can assign numerical scores, and break your analysis down into fine-grained categories, and be the fairest of fair judges, and it doesn’t change the fact that you’re turning a bunch of little judgment calls into one big judgment call.
It is absolutely necessary to understand that judgment and reason are symbiotic. You switch back and forth between them constantly. Wisdom without knowledge is lost, and knowledge without wisdom is blind.
What you need to understand is that something can be absolutely superior to something else without there existing a method to prove that it is. Again, so many panties in bunches. People imagine themselves disagreeing about something, and they want to be able to argue about it. But when you get to the bottom of the matter, all you can do is assert that your arbitrary judgment call was better than the other guy’s arbitrary judgment call. And you can be absolutely right! And still, you can’t prove it objectively, in a way that all reasonable men must accept. You just have to hope that the other guy is being absolutely honest about his feelings. (Which is vanishingly rare, so now you can see why people try to frame it in objective terms.)
Absoluteness is about correctness and rightness and truthfulness. Objectivity is about provability according to axioms. When something is “objectively” correct, it’s because it follows the established rules. When something is “subjectively” correct, it’s because judgment fits reality.
This bit about subjective correctness is precisely the reason why genius requires absolute humility along with intellectual honesty. You simply cannot achieve massive creativity without a heavy reliance on System 1, but the proper use of this system requires such humility as can only be obtained by humans possessed of a crippling inferiority complex. We do not tend to be humble unless we spend our lives meditating on the vastness of the universe. You also cannot be intellectually dishonest, for reasons I need not elaborate for Enkidu’s Rationalist children. So although a genius requires high intelligence, and the conviction that he is unique among men and therefore has a special task ordained for him by destiny or divine command, he can’t allow himself to believe this somehow makes him good.
This is probably why materialism aids intellect and retards creativity- the atheist retains objectivity and loses the absolute reference frame. It takes a very serious inferiority complex to overcome the certain knowledge that you are special. Bertrand Russell serves as an example of the rare atheist-genius combination, fostered by unusual intellect and extreme depression.
See, this is what I’m talking about. We spend so much time warning ourselves away from the misuse of our instincts- and the way charlatans and advertisers take advantage of them- that we never talk about how to use them correctly. Most people apparently don’t even realize you can have right feelings and wrong feelings. I’m going to change this even if I have to do it completely by myself.