Re: the topwit’s desire for constructive feedback

I heard a saying recently that “Normal players want to be left alone, good players want to be coached, and great players want the truth.” It struck me that this maps well by analogy to the dimwit, midwit, and topwit’s attitude toward educational instruction. Dimwits are ignorant and want to remain so, midwits want to be taught, and topwits want the truth. But it’s instructive to note that in the context of athleticism, “truth” does not refer to a magic word one invokes to explain why Republicans are morally superior to Democrats or why Catholics are superior to Great Satan Martin Luther. Great players don’t want trivia or philosophy, they want an objective, actionable evaluation of their skills and talents. They’re perfectly happy to train themselves, and will do so no matter what, all they want from a mentor is guidance to optimize their self-training time and efforts.

This also maps reasonably well to the topwit attitude toward auto-didacticism. They aren’t interested in trivia because it isn’t actionable, and they aren’t interested in opinions that aren’t objective. They’ll find the truth on their own, but there’s great value in having your relative shortcomings pointed out to you. That’s why I picked the term “constructive feedback”. It’s all about getting to that next level.

Expanding on this idea a bit, the desire for constructive feedback explains the appeal of both Ayn Rand’s objectivism and, paradoxically, German romanticism. For a Randian, market feedback is a perfect proxy measure for value, which makes it the perfect choice for feedback: the virtuous are rich and the rich are virtuous. Combine this with the Power of Positive Thinking and you have Americanism. By contrast, German romanticism holds instinctive reactions to be the perfect proxy measure for value, as a post-rational reaction to Cartesian skepticism. Add the idea of each race having its own collective unconscious and you have the Nazi ideology.

All of these are probably reactions to urbanization, as people’s work became increasingly abstract and feedback became divorced from the action of working. When you do yardwork you get immediate, concrete, objective feedback on it (that’s why I love doing yardwork) such as the pleasure of smelling cut grass and seeing a tamed lawn of grass where there once was overgrowth and chaos. But when you submit a grant application for your academic department it’s a lot like the feeling of submitting a job application: “That was probably a giant waste of time, but there’s a small chance I’ll learn in a few months that it was a good use of time.”

It makes a lot of sense then that Nazism and objectivism would come to blows. That which is profitable is rarely aesthetic, and that which is aesthetic is rarely profitable. And you could do a find-replace of “muh dollar” with “muh aesthetics” in Atlas Shrugged and have reproduced the canon of esoteric Hitlerism. The historical problem for Nazis was (and is) that war is more like business than it is like art, and they will put themselves on the wrong end of the Sukhomlinov Effect at every opportunity. You have to give them credit for being sincere in their religious beliefs, to the point of very severe personal consequences. I wouldn’t like to see an objective comparison with churchgoers on that.

About Aeoli Pera

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2 Responses to Re: the topwit’s desire for constructive feedback

  1. aiaslives says:

    > And you could do a find-replace of “muh dollar” with “muh aesthetics” in Atlas Shrugged and have reproduced the canon of esoteric Hitlerism.

    LOL this is true. Objectivism was so early to the labeling people as NPCs that people have been butthurt about it for decades. And when someone tries to meld HBD with it, objectivists are mostly quiet, with some brave idiots quoting !science! about how we’re the same species. As you know, Atlas Shrugged is a novel full of white people. The Mexicans are quite literally a menace, it’s a big event. Even D’Anconia is an outsider in his “own” country, and is properly white. The reaction to this was making Eddie Willers (Dagny’s second-in-command and the son of the Taggarts’ groundskeepers, and the second-tier guy in love with her) black. A lot of boomers hated it and the movie tanked (it was a really bad movie either way).

    Ayn Rand’s “heir” (she put it down on paper), Leonard Peikoff, wrote a book called “The Ominous Parallels”. Search for the cover.

    > Ayn Rand chose Leonard Peikoff to be her successor as the spokesman for Objectivism. And in this brilliantly reasoned, thought-provoking work we learn why, as he demonstrates how far America has been detoured from its original path and led down the same road that Germany followed to Nazism. Self-sacrifice, Oriental mysticism, racial “truth,” the public good, doing one’s duty–these are among the seductive catch-phrases that Leonard Peikoff dissects, examining the kind of philosophy they symbolize, the type of thinking that lured Germany to its doom and that he says is now prevalent in the United States. Here is a frightening look at where America may be heading, a clarion call for all who are concerned about preserving our right to individual freedom.

    It was published after her death, but she wrote the introduction.

    > As to my personal reaction, I can express it best by paraphrasing a line from Atlas Shrugged: “It’s so wonderful to see a great, new, crucial achievement which is not mine!”
    >New York
    >November 1980

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