Thought Experiment 1

(1) Here’s a thought experiment. Suppose you’re someone you despise. If you find that hard to imagine, suppose you hold the grudges (s)he does. If you find that hard to imagine, suppose you do not hold the grudges you do. If you find that hard to imagine, suppose there’s no reason in the world to hold grudges. If you find that hard to imagine, suppose a different world. If you find that now what distinguishes you from that person has disappeared, you’re right. There is nothing you can do to become what you hate. So despise it. End of experiment. 

(1.1) Let’s try again. Some presuppositions: you recognise that mutual hatred and categorical resistance might prove to be problematic to transcend, or at least highly tiresome. You also recognise that a world-wide clash of opposing factions might turn out to be rather gruesome or too much like a Hollywood plot for you to take seriously as an option. Yet you think you’re right. End of experiment.

(1.2) Once more. You have given up acting from pre-specified suppositions. You are now convinced that action is its own presupposition. Your logical sense is still vaguely irked by the indemonstrability of the presupposition that action is its own presupposition, but you have acquired a nonchalance about contradiction by attending to your own (by your previous axiomatic-prone mind experienced as) maddening empirical existence. That is, time has made you somewhat of a pragmatist. In your now refreshingly sturdy belief-system, all is directed to what you consider optimal: principlelessly directing all towards the optimal outcome. You do not see how reflection on the consistency of your belief-system will benefit its efficiency. As a matter of fact, you have better things to do. End of experiment.

(1.2.1) Same experiment, slightly adjusted parameters. Let ℷ be the idealism coefficient (IC).  Suppose in the last application ℷ was equal to zero. Increase it ever so infinitesimally, just enough to add that narratively exciting element of irrationality to your decision-making. Given that the IC variable has a disproportionate impact on the equation of your life, this increase can really amount to for example a mere 1* ,  just enough to do something stupid. Compared to the previous set of parameters’ values, that is. Where before you were a bell curve, you are now an archive stacked to the ceiling with printouts of identical bell curves, amongst which there is, unbeknownst to the relevant authorities, an unidentified one on which a mentally disadvantaged statistician’s kid with lots of enthusiasm, little craftsmanship, and too little supervision has lived out its art-brut-aspirations. By and large, you take care of your own interests, the borders of which autarky are penetrated hardly more than once, but by a crusading new-age guru in outraging fluorescent garb on an asinine moped to which is attached a banner denouncing the “WORLD-GOVERNMENT OF SATANIC JEW-CHICKEN MUTANTS”, whose passage, however brief, has deregulated the quiet Germanic peacefulness of your law-abiding neuron-citizens enough to have you end up on a relevant-authority-sponsored paid ‘holiday’ leave to a psychiatric ward not so much of your choice, where every distinct particle of your regulatory system, with its normalizing best-of-all-worlds Gestalt gone AWOL, independently pontificates to all the other independently pontificating particles about the transcendental necessity of unifying government according to the dictates of pure reason as you sit slumped in your mobility moped drooling, being fed by principled idealistic care workers whose respective rational intelligences they cannot keep from faintly despising you. End of experiment.

(1.2.2) Reconstruction of experiment (1.2.1) without preceding veil of ignorance. Technically this means that the thought-experimenter is free to pick a draw from the stochastic variable X (remember that small X represents any possible idealism-inspired constancy-rupturing action with grave consequences for the subsequent development of the simulation, differently stated any possible outlier with respect to the range of actions considered as generally optimizing behaviour for a self-interested individual with a healthy dose of will for power).

It seems acceptable to presuppose that after the troublesome output of experiment (1.2.1), the thought-experimenter prefers to put his/her bet where the money is and pre-specify a high value for the happy-ending coefficient J (in non-narrative settings also called the certainty equivalent) even if this comes at the expense of potential risk-rewarding pay-off. In other words, you’ve let your simulated-reality avatars die a cruel death somewhat too often to still get anything but a numb self-loathing enjoyment from it, so you decide to try and build Mr. and Mrs. Perfect an empire without any cheating, not because you’ve suddenly glimpsed the enlightening merits of the good life, but for the exhilaratingly prostitutive challenge attached to trying to become what you despise (compare experiment (1)).

So you live a good life. It has taken a considerable amount of trial and error to get where you are, and you’re aware that the difference between the presuppositions you have foresworn and the technical adjustments you’ve permitted yourself to make is minimal. What the heck, you think experimentally to yourself, have I not contributed my fair share to think myself to where I got? Your IC is, by technical specification, still where you left it last try, so you’re not even a completely despicable asshole: every now and then, when your mind is not too preoccupied with thinking up a good life for yourself, you apportion some of your mental energy to think for others, to think of a good world where you can think of someone you despise and understand his/her motivations (however mistaken) and tragic socio-economic background, think of a world without scarcity of cervical CPU usage where everybody has the chance to live the life you think, think of a world without unfairly distributed technical specifications, think of a world where trial is meaningful because you don’t control the outcome, think of a world where you shouldn’t feel bad for resetting, think of a world that isn’t just a thought, think of a world that embraces you, think of a world you can’t end, think of a world that’s it, that’s all there is, that’s what you do with, that’s nasty, that’s brutish, that’s short, but that’s there, that’s with you, that you’re with, that’s here. Here is a thought experiment: think of a world.

Wake up. You’re in one.

End of experiment.

David Van Dijcke