I read this. I think one reason I don’t want to start over with easier stuff like analyzing sentences is that I accomplish harder stuff with enough success to satisfy me that my time is better spent on the harder stuff.
Overall, I found this essay difficult to understand. The main reason I think is that it’s tricky for me to tie your abstract advice back to concrete examples.
Some specific questions:
Introspection is hard because you’re trying to learn things you didn’t learn properly in the past. And people don’t view introspection as a learning process. If you’d just learn about the actual topic now, then you’d understand yourself on that topic much better.
What is the “topic” to which you are referring here?
Instead of fixing existing emotions, learn emotions from scratch or closer to scratch. Develop emotions again. Think them through as you create them and automate them as habits.
What does it even mean to learn/develop an emotion from scratch? I have no point of reference here. Do you have in mind something like: think through your value judgements from scratch, and the emotions will follow?
By the way, do you agree with objectivism that emotions are just lightning fast value judgements? That seems compatible with the quasi-definition you give in the first sentence of the FI essay, but you didn’t actually specify what sort of thing you think emotions are knowledge about (in objectivism, the purpose of the knowledge embodied by emotions is to evaluate things as for/against one’s own values).
Whatever you’re trying to introspect about. E.g. you might do, want or feel something but not know why. E.g. you might sarcastically insult your friend – as people do all the time – and not understand what causes you to do that or what is going on in your subconscious. How to treat people, how to gain social status, why to gain social status, what makes and keeps friends, etc., are things you have opinions/knowledge about, whether you consciously know what those opinions are or not. If you struggle to put those opinions into words, that indicates a problem with your knowledge creation process when you were developing those opinions.
(I don’t think this is a case of mere forgetting. It’s not like e.g. learning chess, then not playing for 30 years, then being really rusty and forgetting a lot. You actually keep interacting with friends regularly so it stays a relevant part of your life, so you shouldn’t just forget. Just like a professional chess player who is actively going to tournaments should not forget why e4 is a good first move and be unable to put that into words.)
What does it even mean to learn/develop an emotion from scratch? I have no point of reference here.
You already learned/developed emotions, primarily when you were around 1-5 years old. Many other people are doing it right now and you can observe their external behaviors. It’s not so obscure or weird like people seem to think.
By the way, do you agree with objectivism that emotions are just lightning fast value judgements?
As a first approximation, yeah that’s fine.
Do you have in mind something like: think through your value judgements from scratch, and the emotions will follow?
Thinking stuff through is one step. Another step is practicing. Emotions won’t follow from thoughts automatically. Automatizing anything, including emotional reactions, takes work. To program your lightning fast value judgment calculator, you have to not only decide what it should output in what situations, you also have to actually do the calculations and get those outputs repeatedly. As you do it more it’ll get faster/easier/repetitive. It’ll get more intuitive, more second nature, more habitually, more automatized.
And you need not work fully from scratch. If you know/remember anything – if you can put it into words now, understand it and critically consider it – you can use it. You can also use ideas from books and other people if you understand them. (And not everything actually has to be put into English, but as a rough rule of thumb you should be able to put what you learn into English and should actually write it out or speak it out loud. The English version never covers all the information but should do a decent job of representing the knowledge.)
The point is to revisit your knowledge and fill in gaps instead of thinking you’re done with stuff. And then to practice the new knowledge enough to automatize it. This is a general method for ~everything. Learn more at Practice and Mastery
In this sentence from the 14th paragraph I don’t think the comma after the “really” is necessary:
If you can avoid angrily yelling at Joe because he’s your boss, you could also stop yourself before angrily yelling at anyone else, too, if you really, wanted to.
Yeah that’s a typo. I might have had “really, really” and deleted a “really” in editing but missed the comma. I forget, but it was likely an editing issue rather than from my first writing pass.
People often don’t do basic stuff to actually change their emotions. Imagine practicing watching a horror movie over and over until you can get through it without an emotional reaction. (And then moving on to other horror movies, so you get used to the genre and not just the specific scenes in one movie.)
A person could also try playing a game with horror stuff in it. The game is interactive so it’s a bit closer to real life in that respect. But he’s not interacting with other people so he won’t hurt other people. Also, he can just turn it off if he decides he needs to think of a new approach before continuing.
I just put up a related article from my queue. Merry Christmas.
3 posts were merged into an existing topic: Progress Despite Emotions and Bias; Mastery of Sentences [CF Article]