"I remember feeling like a person, and feeling like people were ontologically distinct from animals, and I don't know how it's possible to pick up the pieces after that illusion has gone.

"I remember caring about parochial political concerns. I cared about gender equality, and educational freedom. And, and, I cared very badly about being respected for being intelligent. But now that I see that the latter was just a standard male primate status-seeking drive gone haywire—or not gone haywire, but functioning normally—and that my less-obviously-selfish concerns were driven by idiosyncratic features of my own psychology that few others have any reason to care about—none of it seems as compelling anymore.

"Then what is compelling? Well, I'm terrified of the pain of being physically hurt, so if I don't know what's real and I don't know what's right, I can always fall back on 'pain and suffering are bad.'

"But there has to be more to morality than that. I complained about how people in institutional contexts optimize for not-being-personally-blamed and no one is actually trying to do anything. But of course passive helplessness is the result when you don't have any goals except not-being-hurt.

"I want to be Innocent and Safe with Probability One, but Probability One is an absurdity that can't exist. In a sufficiently large universe, random fluctuations in maximum entropy heat death form a Boltzmann brain Judeo-Christian God who will punish you for masturbating. But somehow I'm not worried about that.

"But I shouldn't be thinking about any of this. I have my own life to tend to, and it looks great; the rest of space and time will have to take care of itself. I seem to have memories of being in the save/destroy/take over the world business, but now it seems more convenient to be agnostic about whether any of that actually happened."

One thought on “Remembering

  1. I basically agree, but I'll note that even well after reaching a similar "equanimity" (if that's what it is) I still did (and do) sympathize with your posts on educational issues in particular.

    This probably just means that my abstract intellectual pleasures haven't gone away, making the fact that they aren't particularly nurtured and facilitated by human institutions nominally designed to nurture and facilitate them as salient a fact as ever (even if it's not a confusing fact any more).

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