Propagating By Negation

Learning slowly (or at least the intent to learn slowly on a large time scale) allows one to give sufficient space to a continual learning process. But this is not sufficient for learning as a generalist insofar as the ideal education process is not linear: space is needed in many dimensions. Education is idiosyncratic, and we have been blinded of this by standardizing it. To me, the most coherent lens for viewing a deviation from linear education is through the idea of growing virtues from passions. I think this can be generalized to growing agency from experience.

What does this mean?
Experiences (after the fact, from an objective reflection) can have have two general narratives: (1) you want more of that experience. (2) you don’t want more of that experience. For example, some cultural groups have an ideal of valuing experiences that compound contentment over time (#1) greater than experiences whose satisfaction is gained mostly within the moment that they are experienced (#2).

What I am trying to explain to myself here is a positive interpretation of type #2: “Once you suffered passions and called them evil. But now you have only your virtues left: they grew out of your passions.” (Nietzsche) . My connotations of the word ‘evil’ differs from the author because i am not a moral relativist. I believe in the evolution of a zeitgeist on both a social and personal level. Would today’s world contain more violence if the World Wars never happened? I have no idea, but I think applying a similar idea on an individual level, with a morally defined boundary is an interesting lens for nonlinear education.

Why is this dangerous (inefficient?) as a morally driven optimizing consequentialist?
Because this says that there are benefits to living out experiences that carry motivation within your current life’s disposition, even if they cause cognitive dissonance on some level (in the moment, or in the future).

The benefit exists in the longer run: experiences can work as a strong tool for internalizing higher values, desires, and preferences. Sometimes it is useful to propagate by negation.

“Our values grow out of our passions. Thus all values–those which apparently deny and slander as well as those which affirm and embrace life–express the needs of living beings. The difference is simply that values of the former type express the requirements of suffering and decadent forms of life; whereas those of the latter type are expressions of healthy, ascending forms of life.” (Kathleen Higgins and Robert Solomon)

But maybe all of this is just a formula for handling cognitive dissonance by coming out of life events with a good narrative of an unproductive experience.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s