About these Rules

Normative rules for thinking useful thoughts. Many sections are not complete or fleshed out, and there are many more rules to add. They should be used as all rules are: contextually, though not too contextually.

A note: most of these rules are not fit for use in conversation with other people, unless those people have been heavily vetted beforehand (and even then, they ought not to be used in the public sphere). They are not memetically fit, which while entirely different from their capacity for helping one to discern truth will nevertheless hurt someone who uses them in discussion with the average person. They are best used to improve one's own thoughts, privately.

To add:

Use “insofar”s; continuify

Identify the kind of dichotomy to see if you can coherently project points to poles


Relational Rules

Rules that guide the relations we make between ideas: of representational relations, such as metaphors, of diversity relations, such as the formation or unification of categories, and so on.

1. Use Metaphors as Conceptual Aids, not Crutches or Flourishes

Explanation: Except for pedagogical purposes, metaphors should not be used unless they actually tell us new things about the thing the metaphor refers to, which things would have been otherwise more difficult to reason about.

Justification: When one seeks to draw a metaphor between a prospective phenomenon and a well-known phenomenon, it is easy to let the metaphor guide the understanding of the prospective phenomenon when it has no license to. If it does not have such a license, then it can be no more than a rhetorical flourish; but even then, it is empty at best, misleading fluff at worst. If you are not writing to find truth but to mislead/convince or for artistic purposes, then it may be useful, but it should otherwise be avoided unless actually has a license to use it. This would likely take the form of an equivalence at a deeper level — for instance, if one can effectively argue that the two things are generated by the same dynamics — which proves promising in independently rederiving many aspects of the prospective phenomenon.

Example: When thing B emerges in some way from thing A, we may want to say that A "gives birth" to B, drawing a metaphor to the process of gestation and childbirth. But, for this metaphor to be useful, there needs to be some underlying reason that the emergence relationship between A and B is similar to the relation of pregnancy and childbirth.

An example reason: is there some gestatory period where B can be said to reside "in" A, with A providing room or resources for the growth of B; is there a clear end to this period at which B becomes independent and can exist "outside" of A, without the direct provision of room or resources? If so, then the metaphor of giving birth would lead us to ask some actually useful questions: to what extent does the "fetal environment" influence the growth of B? does it develop in stages, perhaps according to some morphogens? what would it mean for B to be miscarried or stillborn? i.e., how can it be prevented from growing to completion inside A, or rendered unable to survive on its own without A's providence?

Further analysis of these points may reveal that the metaphor breaks down in certain places, but the point is this: that elaboration on and analysis of some underlying reason why this metaphor should be valid primes us to ask interesting, new questions.

1.1: Beware Unlicensed Philosophical Explanations for Deep Facts

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