Do not give up, approximate!

Followup to: Acknowledge and allow for your needs

In his post ‘The End of Rationality‘ muflax wrote:

I’m basically done with rationality.

Ok, seriously now. I’ve always enjoyed XiXiDu‘s criticisms on LW, but for over a year now, whenever I read his stuff I wonder why he keeps on making it. I mean, he has been saying (more-or-less correctly so, I think) that SIAI and the LW sequences score high on any crackpot test, that virtually no expert in the field takes any of it seriously, that rationality (in the LW sense) has not shown any tangible results, that there are problems so huge you can fly a whole deconstructor fleet through, that the Outside View utterly disagrees with both the premises and conclusions of most LW thought, that actually taking it seriously should drive people insane […]

The keyword here is approximation. Just because general relativity and quantum mechanics break down in describing singularities it doesn’t mean that we’re “done with” those theories.

If some type of otherwise rational behavior leads to absurd, undesirable or unbearable consequences, then, in the absence of a better heuristic, you approximate the behavior as far as possible.

All you have to realize is that a reflective equilibrium is possible. A state where you balance all kinds of evidence with your preferences, elementary needs, computational and general resource limitations.

There are basically four weighted levels:

  • Level 1: Contemplation/Rationality (conscious, reflective high-level cognition (trying to do what is objectively right).
  • Level 2: Instinct, intuition and gut feeling (tapping your unconscious evolutionary resources).
  • Level 3: Satisfaction of elementary needs (doing what you have to do because you need to do it (this includes having fun); paying attention to your limitations;).
  • Level 4: Doing what you want based on naive introspection.

Level 1 should as far as I know have the most weight. But the weighting can change based on the circumstances. For example, if Level 2 is sufficiently strong it can cause you to discount some Level 1 considerations.