Old vs New, Mindfulness and Innovation

It seems like there is an inherent calm to studying the Old. Be it an old novel, the writings of a philosopher of past eras, or an analysis of historical events. Time and psychological distance awards us a context in which to situate these things. We gain a better sense of knowing them. There is an inherent quality filter as new creations overwhelm the weaker of the old. A Darwinism of thought. What remains tends to be the more valuable thinking and writing. This is useful for understanding a particular person or time. It also seems to help with tackling the problems of the future.

Zen stones in water

The best of the old is packaged wisdom. Wisdom feels nice; it affords a sense of security and solidity. Something that we can build upon. It can also provide us with tools and frameworks for dealing with the new. New problems which are reframes of old, new inventions which leverage past advances.

Seeking mindfulness, especially through meditation, feels like manufacturing a sort of internal wisdom. One seeks a steady, stable, quiet state. Cultivating such a state lends a feeling of comfort and calm. This is useful and feels especially necessary when the outside world is noisy. Advertisement assaults our attention. The news cycle induces anxiety. Technology doesn’t seem to be helping, at least not yet.

Singular focus on inner calm feels nice, but it hides a side effect that also arises with pursuit of wisdom. When one moves inwards or backwards, one can develop a disconnect with the outside (aka the real). This may feel fine psychologically, but it seems there is some sense of selfishness. Finding inner stability is good, but having a positive external impact is even better.

The outside, the new, is where innovation happens. Social, scientific and practical. Yesterday’s Game of Thrones episode, the latest published physics research and the hot tech startup. The outside is new and full of noise. It is anxiety inducing but also exciting. And without it, humanity stagnates. Finding wisdom and inner peace is a great goal, and an even better one is to extend that outwards.

Post-capitalism Links 7.23.2015

  1. Pope Francis leading a socialist revolution?
  2. The end of capitalism has begun – As the world economy becomes primarily information based, will we see reduced reliance on centralized corporate entities and monetary systems in favor of decentralized trust mechanisms and electronically mediated barter of labor time?
    1. La’Zooz: The Decentralized, Crypto-Alternative to Uber
    2. Bliive: Brazilian barter website turns time into money

Bonus: Price stickiness is not a mystery, and it is not psychology – Corporate and household debt priced in nominal terms as a primary driver for wage stickiness, and hence unemployment. Does pricing debt in non-monetary terms, such as labor time, eliminate this effect?

Ethics and [Effective] Altruism Links 7.20.2015

  1. The Logic of Effective Altruism
    1. Catherine Tumber Responds – Parallels drawn with Carnegie are interesting. Although I think a major counterpoint here is that raw economic growth has alleviated the majority of poverty within the last 20 years alone.
  2. Other People’s Mothers – Critique of Singer and utilitarianism as too reductionist. Theory vs practice of applying his concepts of Person-hood and altruism as prescribed. Not particularly damning of Effective Altruism, other than touching on the idea that adding just a bit of uncertainty to a toy model can completely throw off cost/benefit intuitions
  3. The Copenhagen Interpretation of Ethics – Emphasizes how difficult it can be to do a little bit of good rather than some idea of optimal (from a publicity perspective). Touches on the idea of how hard it is to analyze social cost/benefits of an act. To me, this suggests caution in following EA (effective altruism) arguments that suggest things like donating malaria nets being clearly more beneficial than Arts/Humanities charity.