Ep. 28 - Awakening from the Meaning Crisis - Convergence To Relevance Realization



my notes


  • Problem formulation helps avoid combinatorial explosion and helps deal with ill-definedness and process from which move from poor problem formulation and good problem formation is insight

  • Insight is crucial to being a rational cognitive agent

  • In addition to logic, psycho-technologies to improve insight are crucially important/indispensable

  • Insight: relevance realization is recursively self-organizing, restructuring itself in a dynamic fashion

  • Insight Important both for:

    • Changing ill-definedness
    • Avoid combinatorial explosion
    • Self-corrective: overcome the way in which relevance realization machinery making things salient and obvious to you


  • Ability to categorize things massively increases ability to deal with the world

  • Otherwise would have to deal with everything as raw individuals

  • If can categorize together can make predictions about how any one will behave

  • Allows to communicate with common nouns

  • Central to ability to be intelligent

  • Category: set of things that belong together

  • Not necessarily because they share an essence

  • Nelson Goodman:

    • We’re often equivocating between logical/psychological sense when we invoke similarity
    • Logical sense: similarity is partial identity: share properties, more share more similar you are
    • Problem: any two objects logically overwhelmingly similar. Bison/lawnmower: just have to pick properties share in common:
      • Both in northamerica
      • Both can kill you
      • Both have an order
      • Both weigh less than a ton
      • Indefinitely large number of similarities
    • But those aren’t the important properties, picking the trivial, not the relevant - obvious ones that stand out as salient
    • Psychological similarity: relevant comparisons
      • Context matters
      • Logical doesn’t change but context makes the category
  • Difficulty of making a robot to do this.

  • Agency: can determine the consequences of behaviour and change behaviour accordingly.

  • Build a machine that can do that.

  • Give it basic problem: wagon, handle with a battery

    • Robot try and take food to a safe place and consume it
    • On the wagon is a lit bomb
    • Robot: pulls the handle, consequence of pulling the handle is to bring the battery along - intended effect
    • Bomb goes off.
    • Made the robot only look at intended effects of behaviour, didn’t look at side effects of its own behaviour
    • So give it more computational power,
    • This time it doesn’t do anything
    • Trying to determine all the side effects: even trivial ones- combinatorially explosive
    • Come up with definition of relevance (can’t do he’ll argue later):
      • Which side effects are relevant or not
      • Goes up to wagon still sits there calculating
      • Making two lists - one irrelevant the other relevant, list keeps going
    • Have to ignore the information, not even check it
    • Relevance realization is intelligently ignoring irrelevance and zeroing in making the relevant stuff salient


  • Communication: central to being a good problem solver
  • Linguistic communication
  • When use language to communicate problem is that always conveying beyond what you’re saying. Always has to be.
  • Communication depends on being able to convey more than say. Have to depend on you to draw implications in order for me to convey above and beyond what saying
  • Ex: shout “excuse me”, I’m out of gas - there’s the gas station
    • Hoping that anyone who hears assumes it’s me, and by saying excuse me requesting your attention, for a minimal amount of time, for not too onerous problem
    • I am the person making the noises
    • I don’t mean I’m out of gas, mean the vehicle, asking to help find gasoline for the car
    • Know that assume the car isn’t completely out of gas but can go nearby
    • Other person says “Oh” indicates going to give you a bit of attention, make a statement seemingly out of the blue “there’s a gas station at the corner”, you will figure out nearby, can get there, still open, can buy it, etc.
    • Essential that both understand or else will be humorous or angry
    • Each one of those sentences, would be combinatorialy explosive. Can’t say everything want to convey - rely on reading between the lines.

(hmm, so this is important in understanding the big problem in communication of reading too much in. We have to read in some things, but we can go too far. Often we go way too far and just get it wrong, leading to anger.)

  • We follow maxims:
    • Assume people following some maxims
    • Ex: ask someone how many kids they have, I have 1 kid, tells someone else has 2 - well if have 2 must have 1
    • Didn’t give the information needed to try and pick up on what I was conveying
    • 4 maxims:
      • Assume trying to convey the truth
      • Assume trying to convey the right amount of information
      • Manner: put it in the format most helpful to us
      • Relevance information

(bias can come in and alter these maxims when we’re dealing with the outgroup:

Assume not trying to convey the truth. Assume trying to cherry-pick information. Putting it in a manner intended to be vague or misleading. Deliberately ignoring relevant information. It is crucial to recognize when one is doing this in order to have a productive discussion.)

  • All reduce to the one maxim: be relevant
  • Don’t demand people speak the truth, asking people to be honest or sincere: saying what believe to be true
  • Don’t mean tell me everything that’s in your mind, mean, convey what is relevant to the conversation in context
  • Key to ability to communicate is the ability to convey relevant information
  • Key to intelligence is capacity for relevance realization
  • Selective attention, decide how to hold in working memory what’s important to you.
  • Dealing with combinatorial explosion in the problem space, interacting with the proliferation of side effects
  • How do I organize it?
  • All feedback
  • Relevance problem:

  • That’s the problem of trying to determine what’s relevant, core of what makes you intelligent
  • Deep and profound - relevance realization at the core of what it means to be intelligent

Convergence to Relevance Realization

  • Going to use this construct to show how it can be used for meaning
  • RR crucial to insight, insight is central to wisdom
  • RR crucial to consciousness and attention, altering state of consciousness crucial to wisdom and meaning making
  • What makes someone wise is ability to zero in on relevant
  • Meaning: proposal: nomological, narrative and normative were connections that afforded wisdom, self-transcendence
  • Saw relationship to salience and truth, connects up to reality
  • Connects us together in the optimal way
  • What if when we use metaphor of meaning we’re talking about we find things relevant to us, to each other, parts of ourselves relevant to each other, how we’re relevant to the world, the world relevant to us
  • All this language of connection, language of establishing relations of relevance between things.
  • Maybe there’s a deep reason why manipulating RR affords self-transcendence, wisdom, insight, because RR is the ability to make connections at the core of meaning, at threat from meaning crisis
  • Create new psycho-technologies, reappropriate older ones, coordinate them systematically to regenerate these fraying connections, relegitimate and afford the cultivation of wisdom, self-transcendence, connectedness to each other and the world

A post was merged into an existing topic: Ep. 29 - Awakening from the Meaning Crisis - Getting to the Depths of Relevance Realization

A post was merged into an existing topic: Ep. 30 - Awakening from the Meaning Crisis - Relevance Realization Meets