# Truth-Seeking Modes

Been on a Venn diagram kick lately, since being primed to think in Venns by Harris campaign. This one summarizes an idea I’ve long been noodling on: The healthiest way to relate to a truth-seeking impulse is as an infinite game, where the goal is to continue playing, not arrive at a dispositive “winning” right answer. Trivial truths might have such win conditions, but no interesting truth can be “won.” It can only be healthily related to, because it will produce an inexhaustible supply of salient novelty.

A “healthy relationship” to a suspected truth is, I think, a dynamic equilibrium at the intersection of the three forces illustrated above. And every unbalanced configuration is unhealthy. This is the second such dynamic equilibrium Venn I’ve made recently. Yesterday I had one in my newsletter about cozytech. There I characterized it as “individually delusional, collectively rational.” I think that’s true here as well. The ring of six 1/3 and 2/3 subsets is a buffet of delusion traps. But the center is healthy.

There is something deeper going on here and I think the n=3 case is just the simplest stable dynamic equilibrium emergence of a less deluded disposition from a bunch of more deluded ones. It’s building a reliable gestalt subjectivity out of unreliable component subjectivities. The self as complex engineered artifact.

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1. Carrington says

So, if the 3x Venn is the simplest variant of unstable sets to get to a minimally stable set, is it iterative? Or are the variations a fugue?

2. Josh W says

I tend to split what you call infinite horizon into two parts:

– extravagant extrapolation, which is the bravado version of falsifiability, where you look for theories that expand out to cover a large amount of things, this expansionist push towards including more ideas can be thought of as a dissatisfaction with localised empirical laws, but also an aging physicists’ preference for sprawling over unrelated spheres of knowledge, the infinite game element is the desire to continue to sprawl, connect, unify, and tie together with simple or at least familiar principles.

– Cartesian/simulation anxiety, which is wanting to get underneath what seems apparently straightforward and convince yourself that there is actually a solid foundation, presuming that you will soon be subject to some illusion and trying to stave off the embarrassment by hedging appropriately and pre-empting looking like a rube or a self-conned ideologue, by excluding all the usual biases or failure states.

In the first case, the goal is to extend a domain of confidence as widely as possible, whereas in the latter, the goal is to somehow overcome problems of induction by finding things that could appear identical to the phenomenon you are looking at but without actually being what you think it is, and having exhausted all reasonable or halfway reasonable alternatives, convince yourself that doubting in that way is unreasonable.

In either case you are dissatisfied with partial or temporary answers, but your attitude to approximation is entirely opposite, with the former seeking to expand the domain of the “good enough” answer, getting back of envelope estimates of consequences so that you can rapidly draw testable conclusions, see if your architecture can also model effectively what something else models etc. whereas the latter frets about the steps of proofs and about deepening the apparent hold that a theory has on a given space of knowledge by looking for its sensitivity to minor changes within the space it has performed well in before, and may even restrict a previously apparently broadly applicable theory to the range in which it actually works, making it more rigorous and more cautiously applied.

I also think that open ended curiosity can also have an interesting relationship to admiration and trend-following, as you observe that others are having fun with an idea and want to play with your own version too, so that it reflects in a sense a willingness to be seduced, in a way sometimes that benefits from isolation, and giving yourself stuff to play with and explore that others aren’t, and other times benefits from being very clued in, so that you can jump ahead to the most interesting frayed edges of investigation. Relationship analogies and concepts of fidelity vs exploration crop up very obviously here, and people will unprompted talk about ideas being hot or even sometimes “sexy”.

There’s probably a way you can fold this relationship framing back into the others too.. care most obviously, and also simulation anxiety, though extrapolation is I think the least “intimate” and possibly least interpersonal of these orientations.

3. Henry says

Consider Foxing as the intersection Infinite Horizon and Open-ended curiosity. While hedge-hogging eases first-principles eternalist anxiety (FPEA) through reductionism, it doesn’t actually embrace distractable insights. Contrast this with derping, a true blend of Personal Care and Infinite Horizon (one could argue that derping is the true hedge-hogging), and vibing, a true blend of emotional intuiting and distractable insight chasing. Foxing actually eases FPEA through accumulated models and frameworks, and is an observable reality with astute influencers (share frameworks with your audiences to empower them)

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