Problems, living and non-living

I do not do well when my thinking loses direct contact with my own core moral impulses. And by moral impulses, I mean whatever it is behind my mind that invests the world with purpose and value. My moral impulses drive me to pursue problems I feel as live problems.

Problems that feel insignificant to me even while I factually understand  and acknowledge their importance cannot become my problem, no matter how much I want to “own” them. (Unless I somehow manage to link them to one or more of my live problems, something I’ve gotten pretty good at.) These problems are not alive to me, and I have difficulty mustering attention and energy for them, and I can’t make myself remember their content no matter how hard I try. My mind seems to resist and expel “non-living” problems

A decade ago I viewed such problems with contempt and disparaged them as trivvial chickenshit. I viewed my live problems as vastly important, not only for me but for the world.

But now the conclusions I’ve reached pursuing my live problems forbid all contempt for what others value. However, if I am not alert this principled respect can  tempt me to lapse into respecting their contempt for what is simportant to me, and what still seems to me to be the most important problems in the world*. I still do not believe the importance of these problems is an artifact of my personal taste.

I have rejected contempt as a self-defense weapon, so I cannot actively disrespect unphilosophical contempt for philosophy. But that does not entail respecting it.

* I believe every one of the crises the world faces is a consequence of philosophical degradation. Humanity cannot solve its biggest problems because it still misdiagnoses design problems as technological ones. (That is, people tend to fixate on what objective systems need to be engineered, and fail to consider the hybrid objective-subjective systems upon which engineered systems depend. They see the engineered system as primary, and design as a superficial “layer” that can be added and tweaked — not as the foundation upon which engineering problems are defined. And the toughest design problems are tough due to the toughness of philosophical problems that defy crisp design problem definition: “How do we even think about this problem?”

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