What's Your Intellectual Curiosity of the Moment

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What's Your Intellectual Curiosity of the Moment

Postby Carleas » Fri Feb 23, 2018 4:56 pm

I go through phases of intellectual curiosity, areas I explore and obsess over that shape my thinking for a while. They generally flow from one area to another, with each area seeming to answer an important or interesting question from the previous one. They aren't always unique, but one is usually dominant. For example, at the moment I have several tabs open about network scaling, which is a rabbit hole within the broader area of complex adaptive systems that I've been interested in for a couple years now. It's an outgrowth of my interest in law and economics, and a bit of a return to philosophy of neuroscience which I was into in undergrad.

Does anyone else do this? If so, what are you into, and how did you get there?
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Re: What's Your Intellectual Curiosity of the Moment

Postby Serendipper » Sat Feb 24, 2018 2:59 am

Freedom of speech and you know how I got there ;)

I like philosophical problems in general, or solving problems in general, so if it's something to gnaw on, I'll probably at least nibble :character-cookiemonster:
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Re: What's Your Intellectual Curiosity of the Moment

Postby Gloominary » Sat Feb 24, 2018 4:33 am

I also go through phases where I get really interested in just one or two subjects.
I'll explore them in depth and detail for a few weeks, sometimes a few months if I'm really interested, and once I've learned everything there is to know, or at least the gist of it, I'll move onto something else.
For example, one time I became obsessed with color theory, color blindness and tetrachromia, another time I became interested in typologies like MBTI and enneagram.
However, sooner or later I make my way back to philosophy, it's always been my main interest.
I've been meaning to delve deeper into ethics, morals and values, but lately it's philosophy of politics and law that've piqued my interest.
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Re: What's Your Intellectual Curiosity of the Moment

Postby Carleas » Tue Feb 27, 2018 5:09 pm

Gloominary wrote:However, sooner or later I make my way back to philosophy, it's always been my main interest.

I do think of my pet interests as areas of philosophy. But I define philosophy very broadly, as more of a way of approaching a question or idea as opposed to a distinct set of topics. For any area of thought, there's a "philosophy of" that area, and that's usually what I'm doing. I'm not nearly well enough steeped in math to understand many of the intricacies of network theory, for example, but I try to get deep enough to grasp it in a hand-wavey way; enough so that I can see if there's something there that will enlighten or refute my more general beliefs.

Law vs. philosophy of law is a good example, and somewhere I've spent some time. By the end of law school, I had a good grasp of a few areas of law, and I could cite case names for various positions. I knew the rules of evidence. But that kind of understanding is mostly useful for getting good grades in law school (and appellate practice or being a judge, and of course for legal academia), and I've forgotten almost all of it. But I kept a philosophy of law that influences my social and political philosophy more generally. Approaching law as an area of applied philosophy made me a better student, so long as I also took the time to learn the law as a body of facts. But I was in it for the philosophy (and the piece of paper that let me get a job negotiating contracts, even though I literally did not read a single contract in law school).
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Re: What's Your Intellectual Curiosity of the Moment

Postby WW_III_ANGRY » Wed Feb 28, 2018 1:00 am

Carleas wrote:I go through phases of intellectual curiosity, areas I explore and obsess over that shape my thinking for a while. They generally flow from one area to another, with each area seeming to answer an important or interesting question from the previous one. They aren't always unique, but one is usually dominant. For example, at the moment I have several tabs open about network scaling, which is a rabbit hole within the broader area of complex adaptive systems that I've been interested in for a couple years now. It's an outgrowth of my interest in law and economics, and a bit of a return to philosophy of neuroscience which I was into in undergrad.

Does anyone else do this? If so, what are you into, and how did you get there?


Yes, this is very similar to me as well. I am currently exploring more of a non combative, absurdist phase. The stranger got me there as well as losing my job. I picked up a book by Pinker today at the library, "The Stuff of Thought" and is something I am looking forward to reading, I suspect that will be my next step.

I'm fairly neurotic now as well, currently hoping to land a job that I got an acceptance offer. I am freaking out over a background check even though I don't have anything really to freak out over. I just need this job. Part of where I am is due to being in between jobs right now and am in a weird mood, that ultimately isn't very good. What I need is to get through my first day of work, then my next 30 days, to make sure I have some stability right now. My mind is all over the place.
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Re: What's Your Intellectual Curiosity of the Moment

Postby Zero_Sum » Wed Feb 28, 2018 5:52 am

As much anti democratic literature that I can get my hands on.
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Re: What's Your Intellectual Curiosity of the Moment

Postby Meno_ » Wed Feb 28, 2018 6:38 am

Find a clearer demarcation between opportunity for, and scarcity of kindness, without it becoming a metaphor.
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Re: What's Your Intellectual Curiosity of the Moment

Postby Mr Reasonable » Wed Feb 28, 2018 12:15 pm

I'm interested in why people feel as though they must choose, and then mindlessly advocate for either a right or left extreme political position. Uccisore and Peter come to mind. They're both worst case scenarios of guys who always reason from one extreme or the other. Thoughtless, mindless repeaters of propaganda who never considered a middle ground where truth might be found. You always know exactly what they'll both say on any given issue. It is laziness? Is it ignorance? Is it blind adherence to flawed principle? Who knows? What's interesting to me is how they both toe the line no matter what. Uccisore is probably the worst. Not because of his position, but because of his unbending adherence to it without any consideration for the truth. Peter is leftist for sure, but at least bothers to confront the opposing side of the debate.

Why do people blindly adhere to an ideology without end and suspend critical thinking? The polarization of positions relating to policy. That's what interests me.
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Re: What's Your Intellectual Curiosity of the Moment

Postby Chakra Superstar » Wed Feb 28, 2018 10:23 pm

WW_III_ANGRY wrote:
Carleas wrote:I go through phases of intellectual curiosity, areas I explore and obsess over that shape my thinking for a while. They generally flow from one area to another, with each area seeming to answer an important or interesting question from the previous one. They aren't always unique, but one is usually dominant. For example, at the moment I have several tabs open about network scaling, which is a rabbit hole within the broader area of complex adaptive systems that I've been interested in for a couple years now. It's an outgrowth of my interest in law and economics, and a bit of a return to philosophy of neuroscience which I was into in undergrad.

Does anyone else do this? If so, what are you into, and how did you get there?


Yes, this is very similar to me as well. I am currently exploring more of a non combative, absurdist phase. The stranger got me there as well as losing my job. I picked up a book by Pinker today at the library, "The Stuff of Thought" and is something I am looking forward to reading, I suspect that will be my next step.

I'm fairly neurotic now as well, currently hoping to land a job that I got an acceptance offer. I am freaking out over a background check even though I don't have anything really to freak out over. I just need this job. Part of where I am is due to being in between jobs right now and am in a weird mood, that ultimately isn't very good. What I need is to get through my first day of work, then my next 30 days, to make sure I have some stability right now. My mind is all over the place.

Good luck, man.
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Re: What's Your Intellectual Curiosity of the Moment

Postby Silhouette » Thu Mar 01, 2018 1:23 am

Mr Reasonable wrote:Why do people blindly adhere to an ideology without end and suspend critical thinking? The polarization of positions relating to policy. That's what interests me.

I do this myself, I think, though I am extremely conscious of when I do it because I'm interested in it too. I surround myself with opposing ideas in order to try my best to reason myself into not doing this, but also to familiarise myself with what kinds of things people will try to counter my bias with.

I can give you some reasons why I think I do it when I do, to the extent that I do it:

Firstly I have an aesthetic preference towards mathematical solutions with their definite answers.
I'm also very competitive and am particularly driven to reach a better and deeper understanding than others before they do.
Also I want change to actually happen, and it doesn't feel like anything will if stalemates and repetition are all that's ever achieved.
I think there's a certain element of identity and familiarity with particular areas to which you've taken a profound liking.
Likewise it can seem very alien and strange to try and embed yourself into a mindset that is contrary to this.

Obviously there's cognitive dissonance in trying to adopt an opinion in seriousness that opposes your own. Maybe there's some group loyalty at play for some, though I've never felt this. And also, obviously, if you have already been convinced by one side of an argument, then taking the other side seriously can seem irrational. The open and scientific mind will be much better trained at overcoming these things, and may even actively pursue alternative evidence and reasoning just to disprove any prevailing theory within themselves or amongst others. Some people prefer to take a side, some people prefer not to. Taking a side has a combative appeal, to those who are more out to be aggressive and get some immediate feeling of satisfaction rather than achieve any impartial enlightenment, which requires patience and rigor.

As a general phenomenon, I think the quick fix of polarisation has a lot to do with its current popularity. It's very easy to come by simplified arguments one way or another these days, and people seem to absorb these and reel them off without it even occurring to them to think critically because any critical thinking has been sold as already done for them and distilled into a trustworthy product. It's a kind of consumerism of ideas for the layman who ironically fancies his or herself as smarter than some group of people that is presented as far more black and white than they almost always are. There's a poster on this forum, UrGod, who embodies this to a tee.

I like to think I've got a pretty good understanding of the whole thing, and that I'm pretty well equipped to defend myself against it, but I am also aware that in thinking so, I may just be reinventing the same analysis such that I fall prey to it all over again but in a different way...
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Re: What's Your Intellectual Curiosity of the Moment

Postby Ierrellus » Thu Mar 01, 2018 3:08 pm

For the past 30 years my interests in reading have centered on neuroscience and explanations of human consciousness. I love a good book on the mind from Humphrey to Pinker and so many other good writers on this difficult topic. I also have interest in evolutionary theory, especially topics about psychology as affected by genetic evolution and about AI. Although I tend to post mostly in the religious forum, my love is science, which I believe is not averse to religion.
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Re: What's Your Intellectual Curiosity of the Moment

Postby Carleas » Thu Mar 01, 2018 5:27 pm

WW_III_ANGRY wrote:I picked up a book by Pinker today at the library, "The Stuff of Thought" and is something I am looking forward to reading, I suspect that will be my next step.

I am a fan of Pinker, but haven't read that one. I read the Language Instinct, and I would guess that The Stuff of Thought expands on those ideas.
WW_III_ANGRY wrote:Part of where I am is due to being in between jobs right now and am in a weird mood, that ultimately isn't very good.

Good luck with that, it sounds like you're on track. I have a bad habit of getting into self-help style books when I'm between jobs. They don't really do much for me, but they do help me feel in control.

Zero_Sum wrote:As much anti democratic literature that I can get my hands on.

Like what? I have a passing familiarity with the work of Jason Brennan, who wrote Against Democracy. That book caused a small stir not too long ago for rejecting democracy based on arguments from voter ignorance. I see his position as creating more problems than it solves, but I confess that that perspective is under-informed.


Mr Reasonable wrote:Why do people blindly adhere to an ideology without end and suspend critical thinking?

For obvious reasons, this is on my mind a lot these days too, though I've mostly resigned myself to the conclusion that it's a hard-wired aspect of the human mind. And I recognize it too readily in myself to have much hope that it can be overcome by any significant portion of the population.

Ierrellus wrote: I also have interest in evolutionary theory, especially topics about psychology as affected by genetic evolution and about AI.

I just finished Paul Bloom's Just Babies (I have an 18-month old, so parenting and child development are obligatory areas of inquiry), it has some interesting things to say on evolution and psychology, particularly on separating genetic influence from social influence.

I've also been reading a bit about consciousness, stemming from a debate about vegetarianism and the moral worth of animals. I've basically come to reject that the 'hard problem' is actually all that hard.
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Re: What's Your Intellectual Curiosity of the Moment

Postby Zero_Sum » Thu Mar 01, 2018 10:13 pm

Carleas,

Currently I am reading Robert Michels, "The Iron Law Of Oligarchy", and Hans Hermman Hoppe, "Democracy: The God That Failed"
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Re: What's Your Intellectual Curiosity of the Moment

Postby Gloominary » Fri Mar 02, 2018 2:03 am

Carleas wrote:
Gloominary wrote:However, sooner or later I make my way back to philosophy, it's always been my main interest.

I do think of my pet interests as areas of philosophy. But I define philosophy very broadly, as more of a way of approaching a question or idea as opposed to a distinct set of topics. For any area of thought, there's a "philosophy of" that area, and that's usually what I'm doing. I'm not nearly well enough steeped in math to understand many of the intricacies of network theory, for example, but I try to get deep enough to grasp it in a hand-wavey way; enough so that I can see if there's something there that will enlighten or refute my more general beliefs.

Law vs. philosophy of law is a good example, and somewhere I've spent some time. By the end of law school, I had a good grasp of a few areas of law, and I could cite case names for various positions. I knew the rules of evidence. But that kind of understanding is mostly useful for getting good grades in law school (and appellate practice or being a judge, and of course for legal academia), and I've forgotten almost all of it. But I kept a philosophy of law that influences my social and political philosophy more generally. Approaching law as an area of applied philosophy made me a better student, so long as I also took the time to learn the law as a body of facts. But I was in it for the philosophy (and the piece of paper that let me get a job negotiating contracts, even though I literally did not read a single contract in law school).

Right, philosophy is very broad for me too, and while it's not necessary to be an expert in math and all the sciences, I think it does help your philosophy to be acquainted with math and many of the social and natural sciences, there can be a lot of overlap and transferrable insights.
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