Re: I-Prime (WAS: E-Prime)

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Fri, 09 Jul 1999 01:12:29 -0500

Freeman Craig Presson wrote:
> On 8 Jul 99, at 19:16, Eliezer S. Yudkowsky wrote:
> >
> > By request, let me amplify on that: You have to reduce your mind to
> > elements, then attribute properties to the elements instead of to the
> > monolithic "I".

> A lot of those self-analysis problems do seem to be easier to state, if not
> to resolve, when you recast them as selves-analysis problems. "I" have
> internal conflicts in large part because "I" have chosen not to acknowledge
> that "I" have a rather large number of sub-personalities with different
> priorities. Several schools of psychology implicitly acknowledge this by
> assigning personality traits to more or less artificial high-level groupings
> such as id/ego/superego or child/parent/adult.

Remember how I was talking about systems knowledge and diligence? The psychologists to which you refer are simply lost in the woods. At least on a Unix system, if you type in a command that doesn't exist it will complain at you. Not so the mind, where the mere expectation that a signature will exist is enough to create the signature. The first and most basic mental discipline, the skill that is the means of acquiring other skills, is watching the patterns that appear when your eyes are closed... without letting your expectations influence them.

The "groupings" to which you refer, as well as the "sub-personalities", simply don't exist. The modules of the mind just don't come in brands so easily comprehensible, or morally significant. If any part of the mind seems to have "meaning", any sort of emotional flavor, it is almost certainly a figment of your imagination. I went through the same stage, of course, flipping through theories by the dozen. I didn't really begin to acquire a solid, usable understanding of the mind until I tried to design one.

The difference really is very much analogous to the difference between graphical user interfaces and command-line systems, or between macroscopic objects and microscopic physics. When you deal with the low-level elements of the mind, you have left the realms of the intuitively comprehensible.

           Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
Running on BeOS           Typing in Dvorak          Programming with Patterns
Voting for Libertarians   Heading for Singularity   There Is A Better Way