Comments on “Non-theistic eternalism”


Pleasure or Happiness or Success

Even happiness, pleasure and success are attractive substitutes for God. They offer the similar promises and ploys, don’t they. They can not offer the meaning they promise (unless someone is extremely lucky). Aren’t they the rulers often suggested in secular societies where religion has been ousted? They are the offer for the ultimate source of meaning.

I can imagine bumper stickers which say, “The person who dies with the largest number of toys wins.” This feeds consumerism, for example.

But like reason, aren’t these also desirable focuses and tools? Isn’t it the balanced, non-addictive use of such tools important to avoiding the pitfalls.

Happiness, pleasure and success may actually be what feeds eternalism too, no? People aim for these goals using their theologies and ideologies. But gee, that is what non-theists share with theists. It is the all-too-serious exclusive fanaticism that we want to avoid – a relaxing into nebulosity, I imagine?

Varieties of eternalism

Awhile back I tried to produce a catalog of different models for the foundations of reality, the bottom level of the universe’s architectural stack. All of these I guess are varieties of eternalism, or could be if subscribed to with an overly literal attitude.

Like Sabio above, I don’t quite think of eternalism per se as a root source of human misery. It’s the literal, clinging-for-dear-life attitude that it inspires. People want to feel that there is something solid underlying their existence, because the alternative can be terrifying.

Maybe it’s tedious but I always try to see a political or power dimension of these issues (see the last section of that post, on status). People who subscribe to them are enlisting in an ideological struggle, they are trying to align themselves with something strong enough to get them through life. Both religion and science can be pretty strong, but not strong enough to carry all the metaphysical weight people insist on putting on them.

'Data', the new ruler in product development?

As I read this part, I couldn’t help but think of the current trend in tech: Data-Driven design. Companies are all creating big analytics and data science departments to crunch the data, and using that to decide on the next features and priorities. They won’t accept a new feature idea unless it’s thoroughly backed by data, even if that data is messy and arbitrary. I kind of suspect that it might all implode when they realize that data cannot predict or describe everything, and we’ll enter an Intuition-Driven-Design era, with its own biases.
I miss the time when we used a little of this, a little of that, depending on the problem.
This may be too much of a tangent- my brain may just be using your post as an excuse to eek out these lingering thoughts - but hey, I’ll just leave this here anyway.

The solution to everything!

Yes, “X is the solution to everything!” is pretty much the emotional essence of eternalism. (And, of course, the motor of cycles in the tech industry.)

Big Data (with optional deep learning sauce) is the flavor du jour. As you point out, big data that has systematic skews (which it almost always does, because cleaning big data sets is infeasible) can lead to big mistakes.

I have a post on deep learning hype brewing. I did some “adversarial replication” of backprop results in the early 90s, and I think some of what I learned then probably applies again now.

“A little of this, a little of that” might resonate with some of what I said in “How To Think Real Good.”

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