Supervaluation

Back in Wales, Koanic once told me about a recent idea and I joked “And because you’ve just had this idea, it must be the most important idea there ever was, which explains everything and will solve every problem.” The substance of this joke relies on personal familiarity with the phenomenon which I will call “supervaluation”, defined as “the result of the brain’s rewiring process which is produced by the extraordinary release of neurotransmitters accompanying an exceedingly clarifying insight, which tends to prioritize the newly clarifying concept above all others”. This is the intellectual analogue to the acting man’s One Thing, except that instead of the acting man rearranging his lifestyle to sacrifice everything in expedience of maximizing his Great Vision (e.g. Griffith’s kingdom in Berserk) the intellectual man rearranges his perspective to reinterpret all sensory experiences through the lens of his Great Idea. It becomes his One Ring to rule all other, an absolute principle, a power which overrules any other to determine the fates of nations, and often an object of abstract worship.

This has a positive effect and a negative one. The positive is the endowment of effortless focus—when your brain has tricked you into thinking there is One True Framework it becomes easy to fully develop the idea with all its examples, epicycles, and implications. One becomes absolutely convinced that “this explains everything”, such that new phenomena need only be traced back to the singular principle as a counterfactual exercise without any doubt of success. Supervaluation is also necessary for the addiction to insight which produces intellectuals in the first place and, in combination with the addiction to performance which characterizes the creative personality, may produce the endogenous personality which is so essential to ingenius accomplishment. In fact, I dare propose that without the euphoric, fanatical conviction of supervaluation it would not be possible for a Newton or a Beethoven to sustain the effort necessary to properly develop their insights. Gravitational motion could have ended as a marginal note like Fermat’s last theorem, and the Fifth Symphony could have ended like so many false starts, a decent one-off riff played to impress friends between loyal renditions of Wonderwall and Black Hole Sun.

The negative effect is the flipside of this absolutist conviction, which is the compounding error of insistent overgeneralization and its resulting perversions from this creative fixation. We expect Archimedes sacrificed a bit of his honor among the polite society of Syracuse by forgetting his nakedness in the blinding light of his discovery, and if not for occupying the instinctive archetype of the village shaman he would likely have been hounded out of town entirely. After all, if there were room left for other concerns in his imagination, he would balance these priorities in their sensible order and never once miss a meal or a night of sleep in pursuit of his singular drive. This means that a creator may well see the warts in his creation, in order to perfect the thing within its own boundaries, but he will never see it in its proper perspective as a relatively limited concept among many others. He thinks “this explains everything” while more level-headed intellects would conclude “this is a top-tier insight, as it provides a 0.1% advantage over what was previously observed”. So we see again that a genius is typically not the beneficiary of his own inventions, and in this sense because he is by nature too emotionally invested to explore within them to step back and see their smallness in context.

The supervaluation effect may be a bit more manageable under the following circumstances:

1. Greater experience accumulated over many insights, so that pattern recognition of the effect kicks in (not unlike the common sense foresight of a drunk person managing the consequences of drunkenness). It is typically the intellectual who has only had one or two big ideas who is prone to really overextend himself.

2. Higher IQ, which enables better adaptation in all sorts of small ways in both positive and negative contexts. It is typically the lower-IQ artists, intellectuals, and geniuses who are most incapable of balancing their addictions with ordinary concerns (with exception made, perhaps, for self-aware geniuses determined to manage their addiction).

(Ref: geniuses of extraordinary IQ who remained relatively high-functioning like Euler, Newton, and Pascale.)

3. Old age, which generally diminishes the capacity to maintain heightened passions in favor of more domestic appetites. This is, of course, assuming that the dysfunctions of supervaluation have not already compounded to produce a miserable, diseased recluse riddled with ever-worsening neuroses.

4. Verbal tilt, which for whatever reason appears to protect against many of the perversities which characterize visual artists. I suspect this may have something to do with greater cortical thickness producing a stronger Ego proportional to the stronger Id of the white matter-dominant visual thinker.

(Vox Day once proposed something to this effect as well, noting that the unusually intelligent tend to fall into either neuroticism or narcissism, with the latter being relatively functional. This is likely what has protected him from the supervaluation of his SSMV idea overgeneralizing into sociosexual status-based morality, despite his relative inexperience with novel insights. Others have gone much farther down that road, with Jordan Peterson quite ironically being the most extreme moral Darwinist I know of.)

A fun anecdote: Koanic understood my joke, being a genius, but didn’t think it was funny because he’s far more of a perfectionist than I am and has been burned more deeply by the experience of supervaluation.

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22 Responses to Supervaluation

  1. Obadiah says:

    People with strong extraverted thinking are particularly susceptible to this phenomenon (replace term “formula” with term “superevaluation” in the following passage by le friendly wizard cape wearing HFA swiss psychologist man):

    “We will first discuss the extraverted thinking type.

    In accordance with his definition, we must picture a, man whose constant aim — in so far, of course, as he is a [p. 435] pure type — is to bring his total life-activities into relation with intellectual conclusions, which in the last resort are always orientated by objective data, whether objective facts or generally valid ideas. This type of man gives the deciding voice-not merely for himself alone but also on behalf of his entourage-either to the actual objective reality or to its objectively orientated, intellectual formula. By this formula are good and evil measured, and beauty and ugliness determined. All is right that corresponds with this formula; all is wrong that contradicts it; and everything that is neutral to it is purely accidental. Because this formula seems to correspond with the meaning of the world, it also becomes a world-law whose realization must be achieved at all times and seasons, both individually and collectively. Just as the extraverted thinking type subordinates himself to his formula, so, for its own good, must his entourage also obey it, since the man who refuses to obey is wrong — he is resisting the world-law, and is, therefore, unreasonable, immoral, and without a conscience. His moral code forbids him to tolerate exceptions; his ideal must, under all circumstances, be realized; for in his eyes it is the purest conceivable formulation of objective reality, and, therefore, must also be generally valid truth, quite indispensable for the salvation of man. This is not from any great love for his neighbour, but from a higher standpoint of justice and truth. Everything in his own nature that appears to invalidate this formula is mere imperfection, an accidental miss-fire, something to be eliminated on the next occasion, or, in the event of further failure, then clearly a sickness.

    If tolerance for the sick, the suffering, or the deranged should chance to be an ingredient in the formula, special provisions will be devised for humane societies, hospitals, prisons, colonies, etc., or at least extensive plans for such projects. For the actual execution of these schemes the [p. 436] motives of justice and truth do not, as a rule, suffice; still devolve upon real Christian charity, which I to do with feeling than with any intellectual ‘One really should’ or I one must’ figure largely in this programme. If the formula is wide enough, it may play a very useful rôle in social life, with a reformer or a ventilator of public wrongs or a purifier of the public conscience, or as the propagator of important innovations. But the more rigid the formula, the more, does he develop into a grumbler, a crafty reasoner, and a self-righteous critic, who would like to impress both himself and others into one schema.

    In accordance with the nature of the extraverted attitude, the influence and activities of such personalities are all the more favourable and beneficent, the further one goes from the centre. Their best aspect is to be found at the periphery of their sphere of influence. The further we penetrate into their own province, the more do the unfavourable results of their tyranny impress us. Another life still pulses at the periphery, where the truth of the formula can be sensed as an estimable adjunct to the rest. But the further we probe into the special sphere where the formula operates, the more do we find life ebbing away from all that fails to coincide with its dictates. Usually it is the nearest relatives who have to taste the most disagreeable results of an extraverted formula, since they are the first to be unmercifully blessed with it. But above all the subject himself is the one who suffers most — which brings us to the other side of the psychology of this type.

  2. Obadiah says:

    The fact that an intellectual formula never has been and never will be discovered which could embrace the [p. 437] abundant possibilities of life in a fitting expression must lead — where such a formula is accepted — to an inhibition, or total exclusion, of other highly important forms and activities of life. In the first place, all those vital forms dependent upon feeling will become repressed in such a type, as, for instance, aesthetic activities, taste, artistic sense, the art of friendship, etc. Irrational forms, such as religious experiences, passions and the like, are often obliterated even to the point of complete unconsciousness. These, conditionally quite important, forms of life have to support an existence that is largely unconscious. Doubtless there are exceptional men who are able to sacrifice their entire life to one definite formula; but for most of us a permanent life of such exclusiveness is impossible. Sooner or later — in accordance with outer circumstances and inner gifts — the forms of life repressed by the intellectual attitude become indirectly perceptible, through a gradual disturbance of the conscious conduct of life. Whenever disturbances of this kind reach a definite intensity, one speaks of a neurosis. In most cases, however, it does not go so far, because the individual instinctively allows himself some preventive extenuations of his formula, worded, of course, in a suitable and reasonable way. In this way a safety-valve is created.

    The relative or total unconsciousness of such tendencies or functions as are excluded from any participation in the conscious attitude keeps them in a relatively undeveloped state. As compared with the conscious function they are inferior. To the extent that they are unconscious, they become merged with the remaining contents of the unconscious, from which they acquire a bizarre character. To the extent that they are conscious, they only play a secondary rôle, although one of considerable importance for the whole psychological picture.

    Since feelings are the first to oppose and contradict [p. 438] the rigid intellectual formula, they are affected first this conscious inhibition, and upon them the most intense repression falls. No function can be entirely eliminated — it can only be greatly distorted. In so far as feelings allow themselves to be arbitrarily shaped and subordinated, they have to support the intellectual conscious attitude and adapt themselves to its aims. Only to a certain degree, however, is this possible; a part of the feeling remains insubordinate, and therefore must be repressed. Should the repression succeed, it disappears from consciousness and proceeds to unfold a subconscious activity, which runs counter to conscious aims, even producing effects whose causation is a complete enigma to the individual. For example, conscious altruism, often of an extremely high order, may be crossed by a secret self-seeking, of which the individual is wholly unaware, and which impresses intrinsically unselfish actions with the stamp of selfishness. Purely ethical aims may lead the individual into critical situations, which sometimes have more than a semblance of being decided by quite other than ethical motives. There are guardians of public morals or voluntary rescue-workers who suddenly find themselves in deplorably compromising situations, or in dire need of rescue. Their resolve to save often leads them to employ means which only tend to precipitate what they most desire to avoid. There are extraverted idealists, whose desire to advance the salvation of man is so consuming that they will not shrink from any lying and dishonest means in the pursuit of their ideal. There are a few painful examples in science where investigators of the highest esteem, from a profound conviction of the truth and general validity of their formula, have not scrupled to falsify evidence in favour of their ideal. This is sanctioned by the formula; the end justifieth the means. Only an inferior feeling-function, operating seductively [p. 439] and unconsciously, could bring about such aberrations in otherwise reputable men.

  3. Obadiah says:

    The inferiority of feeling in this type manifests itself also in other ways. In so far as it corresponds with the dominating positive formula, the conscious attitude becomes more or less impersonal, often, indeed, to such a degree that a very considerable wrong is done to personal interests. When the conscious attitude is extreme, all personal considerations recede from view, even those which concern the individual’s own person. His health is neglected, his social position deteriorates, often the most vital interests of his family are violated — they are wronged morally and financially, even their bodily health is made to suffer — all in the service of the ideal. At all events personal sympathy with others must be impaired, unless they too chance to be in the service of the same formula. Hence it not infrequently happens that his immediate family circle, his own children for instance, only know such a father as a cruel tyrant, whilst the outer world resounds with the fame of his humanity. Not so much in spite of as because of the highly impersonal character of the conscious attitude, the unconscious feelings are highly personal and oversensitive, giving rise to certain secret prejudices, as, for instance, a decided readiness to misconstrue any objective opposition to his formula as personal ill-will, or a constant tendency to make negative suppositions regarding the qualities of others in order to invalidate their arguments beforehand-in defence, naturally, of his own susceptibility. As a result of this unconscious sensitiveness, his expression and tone frequently becomes sharp, pointed, aggressive, and insinuations multiply. The feelings have an untimely and halting character, which is always a mark of the inferior function. Hence arises a pronounced tendency to resentment. However generous the individual sacrifice [p. 440] to the intellectual goal may be, the feelings are correspondingly petty, suspicious, crossgrained, and conservative. Everything new that is not already contained formula is viewed through a veil of unconscious and is judged accordingly. It happened only in middle of last century that a certain physician, famed his humanitarianism, threatened to dismiss an assistant for daring to use a thermometer, because the formula decreed that fever shall be recognized by the pulse. There are, of course, a host of similar examples.

    Thinking which in other respects may be altogether blameless becomes all the more subtly and prejudicially, affected, the more feelings are repressed. An intellectual standpoint, which, perhaps on account of its actual intrinsic value, might justifiably claim general recognition, undergoes a characteristic alteration through the influence of this unconscious personal sensitiveness; it becomes rigidly dogmatic. The personal self-assertion is transferred to the intellectual standpoint. Truth is no longer left to work her natural effect, but through an identification with the subject she is treated like a sensitive darling whom an evil-minded critic has wronged. The critic is demolished, if possible with personal invective, and no argument is too gross to be used against him. Truth must be trotted out, until finally it begins to dawn upon the public that it is not so much really a question of truth as of her personal procreator.

    The dogmatism of the intellectual standpoint, however, occasionally undergoes still further peculiar modifications from the unconscious admixture of unconscious personal feelings; these changes are less a question of feeling, in the stricter sense, than of contamination from other unconscious factors which become blended with the repressed feeling in the unconscious. Although reason itself offers proof, that every intellectual formula can be no more than [p. 441] a partial truth, and can never lay claim, therefore, to autocratic authority; in practice, the formula obtains so great an ascendancy that, beside it, every other standpoint and possibility recedes into the background. It replaces all the more general, less defined, hence the more modest and truthful, views of life. It even takes the place of that general view of life which we call religion. Thus the formula becomes a religion, although in essentials it has not the smallest connection with anything religious. Therewith it also gains the essentially religious character of absoluteness. It becomes, as it were, an intellectual superstition. But now all those psychological tendencies that suffer under its repression become grouped together in the unconscious, and form a counter-position, giving rise to paroxysms of doubt. As a defence against doubt, the conscious attitude grows fanatical. For fanaticism, after all, is merely overcompensated doubt. Ultimately this development leads to an exaggerated defence of the conscious position, and to the gradual formation of an absolutely antithetic unconscious position; for example, an extreme irrationality develops, in opposition to the conscious rationalism, or it becomes highly archaic and superstitious, in opposition to a conscious standpoint imbued with modern science. This fatal opposition is the source of those narrow-minded and ridiculous views, familiar to the historians of science, into which many praiseworthy pioneers have ultimately blundered. It not infrequently happens in a man of this type that the side of the unconscious becomes embodied in a woman.

  4. Obadiah says:

    But yeah, like you say ingenuity basically would be impossible without superevaluation; Jung seems to be describing some fairly extreme cases in his writing

    • Aeoli Pera says:

      >Jung seems to be describing some fairly extreme cases in his writing

      I wish he wouldn’t exploit the Mandela effect just to plagiarize my great idea and explain it much more comprehensively.

  5. Obadiah says:

    Brian Uecker/PMAN is a great example of an extroverted thinker who has subjugated everything around him (in his intellectual-online periphery at least) to The Formula/The Superevaluation

    It seems probable that Calvinism’s root is in this style of cognition.

    • Aeoli Pera says:

      My favorite quote from Frankenstein:

      “””
      The summer months passed while I was thus engaged, heart and soul, in one pursuit. It was a most beautiful season; never did the fields bestow a more plentiful harvest or the vines yield a more luxuriant vintage, but my eyes were insensible to the charms of nature. And the same feelings which made me neglect the scenes around me caused me also to forget those friends who were so many miles absent, and whom I had not seen for so long a time. I knew my silence disquieted them, and I well remembered the words of my father: “I know that while you are pleased with yourself you will think of us with affection, and we shall hear regularly from you. You must pardon me if I regard any interruption in your correspondence as a proof that your other duties are equally neglected.”

      I knew well therefore what would be my father’s feelings, but I could not tear my thoughts from my employment, loathsome in itself, but which had taken an irresistible hold of my imagination. I wished, as it were, to procrastinate all that related to my feelings of affection until the great object, which swallowed up every habit of my nature, should be completed.

      I then thought that my father would be unjust if he ascribed my neglect to vice or faultiness on my part, but I am now convinced that he was justified in conceiving that I should not be altogether free from blame. A human being in perfection ought always to preserve a calm and peaceful mind and never to allow passion or a transitory desire to disturb his tranquillity. I do not think that the pursuit of knowledge is an exception to this rule. If the study to which you apply yourself has a tendency to weaken your affections and to destroy your taste for those simple pleasures in which no alloy can possibly mix, then that study is certainly unlawful, that is to say, not befitting the human mind. If this rule were always observed; if no man allowed any pursuit whatsoever to interfere with the tranquillity of his domestic affections, Greece had not been enslaved, Cæsar would have spared his country, America would have been discovered more gradually, and the empires of Mexico and Peru had not been destroyed.
      “””

  6. Obadiah says:

    *supervaluation

  7. Obadiah says:

    >Rescued from spam

    TY

    >I wish he wouldn’t exploit the Mandela effect just to plagiarize my great idea and explain it much more comprehensively.

    Carl was a smart boy.

    >Frankenstein quote

    If only, if only, if only.

  8. Obadiah says:

    I could write extensive, Onion-style satirical posts about Edenism’s Supervaluation of the inescapable, adamantine, categorically-absolute and all-powerful influence that facial phrenological traits have, have had, and will always have on Every Single Action that Every Single Human Has Ever Taken And Every Single Thought That Every Single Human Has Ever Had or Will Ever Have in All of History–but my widespace other-centric locus of ego prohibits me from taking the piss out of your deepsock spergy coherence-obsession.

  9. bicebicebice says:

    “Obadiah says:
    December 28, 2018 at 7:22 am
    I could write extensive, Onion-style satirical posts about Edenism’s Supervaluation of the inescapable, adamantine, categorically-absolute and all-powerful influence that facial phrenological traits have, have had, and will always have on Every Single Action that Every Single Human Has Ever Taken And Every Single Thought That Every Single Human Has Ever Had or Will Ever Have in All of History–but my widespace other-centric locus of ego prohibits me from taking the piss out of your deepsock spergy coherence-obsession.


    “facial phrenological” Ok i’ll bite. All downies look the same because of genes, all downies behave the same because of those genes. A 100% Swedish Melon will show up as 100% swede on dna-tests, but he will have those internationalist cool kids traits and pretty soon hang out in international circuits because of the wavelength antenna so to speak. Or, rather, lets call it supranational instead of national. Bootleg-zimbabwe headbinding does not produce the same effect, then again, bash a normal at the right sweet spot and pretty soon he is great at math and speaks jamaican fluently.
    Tabula rasa is not real because God is not a communist but life has some great sandbox elements, for sure. Not gonna deny that.

    99.99999% is still good enough, just ask any marketer if data helps sells products. IF all of this is not, then you still get ; sapes (monkeys-in-manpants buying what the pied piper shills). Which means Edenism, again.

    Itz just that stimple.

  10. Aeoli Pera says:

    >but my widespace other-centric locus of ego prohibits me from taking the piss out of your deepsock spergy coherence-obsession.

    Also, lol.

  11. Pingback: Description of the subjective experience of supervaluation | Aeoli Pera

  12. Obadiah says:

    >“facial phrenological” Ok i’ll bite. All downies look the same because of genes, all downies behave the same because of those genes. A 100% Swedish Melon will show up as 100% swede on dna-tests, but he will have those internationalist cool kids traits and pretty soon hang out in international circuits because of the wavelength antenna so to speak. Or, rather, lets call it supranational instead of national. Bootleg-zimbabwe headbinding does not produce the same effect, then again, bash a normal at the right sweet spot and pretty soon he is great at math and speaks jamaican fluently.
    Tabula rasa is not real because God is not a communist but life has some great sandbox elements, for sure. Not gonna deny that.

    I’m saying that I think phrenological traits are one of multiple legit factors in determining behavior but I think they represent a general pressure-setpoint rather than an all-powerful deciding factor for a person’s behavior in any given situation, which can have several external and internal factors influencing a person’s thinking and decisions which are disconnected from that person’s phrenological traits.

  13. Obadiah says:

    For instance, a person’s early life experiences with peers and siblings, distance of parents from child/parental philosophy, socioeconomic standing and general life history are factors which are external in origin and are all going to impact that person’s subconscious assumptions about things which will influence how their overall personality develops and will influence their basic behavioral setpoint.

    >life has some great sandbox elements, for sure.

    I agree; I wouldn’t be a giant racist for instance if I didn’t think race existed

  14. Obadiah says:

    Phrenology and external factors are both legit and both affect and feed back into one another.

  15. Obadiah says:

    #FreeGucciLazer

  16. Schrödinger's Psych Evaluation says:

    I have the perfect idea about how we should be running things. I just need to work all of the bugs to death. I mean, work all of the bugs out. I mean eliminate the worthless insects who fail to appreciate my flawless vision. I mea– Shit. Nevermind.

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