Open questions

Here’s a list of questions that I’m looking for leads on. If you think you can answer any, or are able to point me in the direction of writing that deals with similar issues, please reach out; my contact is suspendedreason(at)

  1. How to conceptualize the relationship (and differences) between lossy compression, dimensionality reduction, and coarse-graining? All seem like useful ways to think about representation and modeling. Are there similar terms or concepts?
  2. Does the “high-context vs low-context culture” distinction just reflect core information-theoretic dynamics, e.g. that the more assumptions (expectation structures) you share with a receiver, the less bits it takes to pass a message to them?
  3. What are the dynamics that give rise to the “diminishing returns” idea (and similar Pareto-type effects, such as “low-hanging fruit,” the 80/20 rule, etc)?
  4. Why is Kantian transcendental psychology an answer to Bourdieusean social-game ontological reductionism?
  5. Is the ontology-epistemology distinction coherent from a pragmatist perspective on representation?
  6. Is it necessary to dive into quantum physics in order to make progress on questions about reality, representation, and truth? My hunch is no, that this is a nerd snipe, but every once in a while I have doubts.
  7. Has anyone reconciled the microsociology or ethnomethodological approaches (developed by Goffman and Garfinkel) with more formal evolutionary or ethological or game-theoretic frameworks?
  8. How should we think about and approach the tensions and tradeoffs involved in e.g. striving for alertness without anxiety, or evolving a thick skin without losing sensitivity? My hunch is that the apparently dichotomous/incompatible concepts need to be broken down into constituent parts, and the desirable aspects (e.g. avoiding misfortune, lower emotional stress) decouples whenever possible, so they can be remixed and recombined in some Pareto efficient way.
  9. Has anyone heard of a “J. Libniz”? I have his name written down on a scrap of paper and no idea why.
  10. How to be think through the tradeoffs involved, when trying to make intellectual progress, between a research-heavy, tradition-indebted approach (that risks suffocating originality with musty frameworks), and an inventive, irreverent approach (that risks reinventing the wheel)?

I’m also looking for:

  1. Rationalist/EA/SV party reports.
  2. Reactionary takes on architectural movements we now see as an unquestionable golden age—e.g. anti-Gothic polemics from when Gothic overtook the Romanesque, or anti-Classical polemics when the Renaissance overtook the Gothic.
  3. Good “modernity is not modern” takes—affinities between the medieval and modern world, arguments that e.g. modern psychological and psychiatric practice resemble medieval medicine, historical examples of societies that saw themselves as modern (but we now view as medieval, primitive, etc)
  4. I’ve heard rumors that there are studies which show significant differences in PTSD among patrol units (world happens to them) versus active mission units (they have to the world). Never been able to locate a source, but I want to research this more if anyone has leads.
  5. Introductory reads on Hindu cosmology and deities.
  6. Overviews of the American Gilded Age.
  7. Reconciliations of realism and pragmatism, or idealism and realism.
  8. Good resources on cats, cat psychology, cat communication.

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 )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: