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Oct 12, 2022·edited Oct 12, 2022Liked by Tree of Woe

"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it"

Proverbs 22:6

[The original can be also understood as "Train a child according to his way" - the way particular to the child]

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Just so!

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Absolutely stunning. The construction of the piece is brilliant, and the topic, and your treatment of it, inhabits the space with an elegance that makes me appreciative and envious all at once. Really sir, well done. Apologies for the wanton gushery, but I had to say something.

The content, both arguments and conclusions, leaves me in a very uncomfortable space; I am the fat girl who writes a nutrition blog, if I may edge in on your metaphor. It is not enough to know what is right, one must do right. I live opportunistically and preach structure. I wasn't completely blind to it, but the piece slammed it home powerfully on a gut level, for I am also struggling with my actual diet. This really is a powerful rhetorical structure you have here. I humbly suggest you consider selecting some of those tough morsels and chewing on them at length, and if you excrete a book, so much the better.

[Editor's note: the writer of this comment was dragged out back and shot immediately after posting, so no need to complain about the food puns.]

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Thanks for the kind words! The Diet/Morality insight came to me almost 10 years ago but it's taken a lot of further reading and thought to solidify it. I couldn't figure out how to approach it in a way that included religious morality. What really brought it to the forefront of my thought was when I encountered the notion of Gnon, suggesting that the difference between a secular and religious approach could be substantially lessened, and also when I saw how game theory could be applied to analyze Christianity.

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Oct 13, 2022Liked by Tree of Woe

Overall, this is an interesting analysis that makes some solid points in a way most people have not heard before. However, the diet-moral code parallel breaks down in two places.

The first is when considering the purpose of the exercise (diet, moral code). While it can be argued that diets are ultimately for promoting well-being, not all moral codes have this practical purpose. For example, some moral codes are designed to enable specific types of achievement beyond the current condition, in some cases to the detriment of well-being.

The second is the extrapolation from individual well-being to well-being of the group sharing the practice. The diet followed by an individual affects only that individual, and is unlikely to impact others. In contrast, the moral code followed by an individual is likely to affect that individual's relationship with every other person they interact with.

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Hi Jim, thanks for the thoughts.

With regard to your first point -- my position is that all moral codes have the purpose of promoting wellbeing. Those that accidentally do not actually do are, therefore, bad moral codes. Those that intentionally do not are even worse, and are moreover confused about the purpose of moral codes.

If someone were to say "the purpose of dieting is to build skyscrapers," and therefore that we ought to consume steel rebar and concrete, we would instantly see that is absurd. Steel rebar and concrete are needed to build skyscrapers, but dieting does not have skyscraper-building as its purpose. Therefore your diet is bad.

For similar reasons, if someone were to say "the purpose of morality is to serve Satan," and therefore that we ought to sacrifice babies to Satan, I would say: It's true that sacrificing babies serves Satan, but morality does not have Satan-service as its purpose. Therefore your moral code is bad.

As for the second point, I partly agree but partly disagree. A person's diet dramatically affects their health, and that in turn dramatically affects those who love and care for them. My mother-in-law drank herself to liver failure, causing my wife no end of grief and woe. That aside, I think the theory needs to be expanded to explore our effects on others further, yes.

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Regarding the social as supposed to private impact of diet, consider aesthetics. Most would prefer to be surrounded by healthy, beautiful people, rather than to walk down streets on which skeletal concentration camp victims and bloated lard tubs listlessly shamble. Beauty uplifts, and ugliness depresses. Ungoverned appetites leading to unhealthy bodies therefore creates an environmental detriment for others that reduces everyone's quality of life - not just that of the individual with the poor diet. It follows that diet, like morality, also serves a public function, thus supporting your contention that diet and appetite are a good metaphor with which to consider morality.

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The elephant in the room is that there is always a tragic tension between the individual and society. What is good for the individual is often not good for the society. Hence the insistence in many moral codes upon self-sacrifice (to various degrees.) That is probably one of the issues you had in mind when you mentioned game theory. I think it is so important, though, that I would appreciate and enjoy your addressing it explicitly.

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Agreed. I will be exploring this further in a follow-on essay. When we consider the purpose of morality, I'll show that we need to include reproduction and not just survival, and that inherently introduces rules that relate to altruism and society. This is what distinguished the Dietary Theory from, say, a purely Randian theory of personal egoism.

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Oct 12, 2022Liked by Tree of Woe

"As with our analysis of diet, then, we cannot come to certain conclusions about moral codes that are applicable to all people."

On this point I disagree, at least as far as the big stuff goes - in dietary terms, whether you should eat any protein at all, let us say. People might quibble at the details due to the aforementioned biodiversity - but unless we're also talking about non-humans (be they angels, aliens, or animals), I think a universal moral code is possible.

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Right. I think our disagreement is mostly disagreement about the specific semantics. I agree that there are "big things" that are virtually universal, hence the reference to natural law.

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It's certainly true that there are elements of morality that will prove universal, perhaps even across species distinctions. In the dietary metaphor, it is universally true that all creatures must metabolize - they require nutrients and energy, as well as a means of excreting that which is unnecessary, useless, or harmful.

However, the specifics of what constitutes an optimal diet may still differ profoundly. Just so an optimal morality.

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I thoroughly enjoyed reading this.

I have considered something similar to this before regarding how incorrect diet or food stuffs can and will cause damage to you if your ancestors did not consume them (eg Africans and lactose or Europeans and rice).

I would think it would be interesting if you would be able to pair any of Plato's ideas or even Thales or Anaximanders ideas.

Only in that as much as I appreciate Aristotle I think he is over used especially today.

To this, when reading, I got me thinking about how one would prove this to be true since is falls into a Tripart issue in that the only means to 'prove' it requires either evidence, cyclical thinking or dogma.

And each of these can't prove this article and its statements to be true since;

1. Evidence - can be requested ad infinity

2. Cyclical thinking - is a chicken egg problem (which comes first), diet or morals?

3. Dogma - it is because I said so.

Thus I would state (tee hee, all dogmatic like) that truth is none of the three 'proofs' and does not need physical proof (muh science, Aristotle, Plato ect...) But is just belief or deeper the meaning of belief which is love (indo-european) as in to have love for the thing in and off itself.

That is truth and unfortunately that does mean that the only universal is that there isn't one for man as there are different men. Dito I suppose

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I've written a lot about that Tripartite Dilemma, yes. I still haven't resolved it but until it is resolved it certainly remains an issue....

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Oct 12, 2022·edited Oct 12, 2022Liked by Tree of Woe

You are what you eat huh?

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.

Phillipians 4 v8

I know that's not really the point of the article though.

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That's totally relevant to the article. One of the big "ah hah" moments for me is that the traditional values of Christianity are very compatible with the conclusions I reached. Everywhere I turn, I find what is essentially "good nutritional advice" in the Bible.

Chicken Soup for the Soul, as it were...

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Oct 12, 2022·edited Oct 12, 2022Liked by Tree of Woe

"Objective for each individual"

There is a term (Professor Vervaeke at the University of Toronto, who I had the privilege of being a student to) coined to talk about this-

"Trans-jective".

Relevant: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/transjective

Also Relevant (longer read + watch): https://andrewpgsweeny.medium.com/transjectivity-5f280ef1189b

The idea being to speak of a notion whereby the interplay and "exchange" between the 'world' (object(s)) and conscious agents (subject(s)) gives rise to a set of entities/relations that are in a sense "real" (in certain aspects 'more real' than their parent entities/relations) in ways that go beyond the distinction traditionally held between the "I" and the "it".

In terms of using more traditional concepts; what you have formulated is a variant of Ethical/Moral Naturalism- which is the Meta-Ethical stance that Ethics/Morality is a set of propositions and that said propositions can be resolved (in part or full) by going out "into the natural world" and (more or less) using scientific and related empirical systems to find 'schemas of best fit'

Relevant: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/naturalism-moral/

More specifically, what you have formulated is the "Neo-Aristotelean" variant of Moral Naturalism which seeks to speak of function and the Agent's ability (or lack thereof) to pursue said function to its proper conclusion (i.e. "Virtue"). This is the "Good Life" (above and beyond the "Bare Life" of Agamben et al) then, where the function has been properly 'blossomed'.

Feel free to have a go at Section-3 in the SEP link! There is plenty there (with regard to contemporary developments in Neo-Aristotelean formulations) in Moral Naturalism. Plenty likewise in the Bibliography with regard to where said contemporary ethicists "are moving toward" with regard to Neo-Aristotelean (and other) formulations of Moral Naturalism.

Here is a snippet:

>>One important school of thought here is represented by philosophers whose work is inspired by that of Aristotle. This view has its roots in the writings of G. E. M. Anscombe, P. T. Geach, and the early Philippa Foot, among others. Its contemporary representatives include Philippa Foot (2001), Rosalind Hursthouse (1999), Martha Nussbaum (1995), and Judith Jarvis Thomson (1996, 1997, 2001, 2008). As this list makes clear, this is very much the official metaethical theory among many important contemporary virtue ethicists.

According to (neo-)Aristotelian virtue ethics, the primary moral concept is that of virtue. Virtue is a property of people; virtuous people are good people. So what does it take for someone to be a good person? Aristotle’s influential answer to that question is that what it takes to be a good thing is for that thing to successfully perform its function. And, Aristotle argued, all living things have a proper function, which is determined by their nature. Just as hammers and nails have different functions which spring from the nature of those things, living things have functions that are also determined by their natures. Worker bees are supposed to collect honey—worker bees that do this well are good bees. Venus flytraps are supposed to capture flies—those that do this well are good flytraps. And humans are good if they pursue their function, as dictated by their nature.<<

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Yes, I am 100% a Neo-Aristotelian in the tradition of Rand, Macintyre, Foot, and other writers. Tara Smith's Viable Values," Philippa Foot's "Natural Goodness" and Macintyre's "After Virtue" and "Dependent Rational Animals" were hugely influent on me, as well as Aristotle's classical ethics.

Where I differ from Aristotle is that Aristotle tried to find the function of man, whereas I instead tried to find the function of morality. I think the latter is a stronger approach given what we now know about systems. A heart clearly has a purpose; it's less clear that a man as a whole has a purpose.

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Interesting! Two questions (if you don't mind):

First, Would you then say that the issue to resolve (for someone with your philosophy-set) is more the question of "Why pursue Morality-proper at all", rather than "Why ought man be Moral?"? Are you then able to address this former query?

Second, If we just go back to this Diet analogy (that you touch upon in your piece) we can always ask an Open Question (and here I am tongue and cheek going back to Moore):

"Is it True that *insert Diet-system here* is good?"

We can pull some hairs on that usage of "good", but we get this Dilemma still:

Either *insert Diet-system here* is (analytically equivalent) to "the good", or it is not. If it is... then the question "Is it True..." is Meaningless.

However, intuitively this is not the case; and so it is an "Open Question".

Therefore, *insert Diet-system here* is not (analytically equivalent) to "the good".

By analogical transfer, we can say the same holds true for some X, where X is a decision-set pursued by a particular individual, community, etc.

It seems that your system/formulation would have to address this matter as well, how would you go about doing so?

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First question: If a person doesn't care about his weight and health, then he has no reason to care about his diet. Likewise, if a moral actor doesn't care about his own wellbeing, then he has no reason to care about his moral code. He is simply amoral. An immoral person is one who acts self-destructively. (I'll broaden this next week to include kin groups etc.)

I believe the chief error that contemporary secular morality makes is in trying to insist that morality somehow has a normative force outside of its function. It doesn't. It is always and everywhere about wellbeing. Moral codes that claim to be about something else are as wrong as diets that claim to be about building skyscrapers.

The idea that morality relates to wellbeing would not have been controversial to anyone prior to Kant. For instance, in Christianity, if I am a good person (as Christianity defines it), I am rewarded with Heaven. If I am a bad person, I am punished with Hell. Indeed, one could argue that the *whole point* of Christian morality is to make it clear that anti-social actions are bad for your wellbeing! But if you don't care about your own spiritual wellbeing -- if you say "I don't care about eternal damnation to Hell, I just want to have sex with succubi and sacrifice babies," what can the Christian moralist say? Nothing. He can simply condemn you as damned. Christianity is often quite explicit about the link between morality and wellbeing: "The wages of sin are death." That's exactly what I say, too: A bad moral code leads you to an early grave. It's really with Kant and his epigones that we are introduced to the idea of a morality that isn't related to your own wellbeing.

Second question: I'm not completely sure I understand your intent, but I will do my best to answer what I think you are asking. I'm going to start by re-stating the sentence to be:

"Is it true that the Perfect Moral Code for you is good for you?"

In this question, "The Perfect Moral Code for you" is analytically "good for you." It must be; it's definitional.

"Is it true that the Perfect Moral Code for you is good?" is unanswerable, because good is agent-relative. Good for who?

"Is it true that the Perfect Moral Code is good?" is unanswerable, because both moral codes and good are agent-relative.

"Is it true that this particular Moral Code is good for you?" is empirical.

"Is it true that this particular Moral Code is good for a typical person?" is empirical.

"Is it true that this particular Moral Code is good?" is unanswerable, because good is agent-relative.

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Oct 12, 2022Liked by Tree of Woe

I love this. Diet is a great framework for thinking about morality, in particular because the entire focus is on what a person can control: their own choices.

It seems like utilitarianism is primarily outwardly focused and cares about individual choices only in terms of how they effect “what is outside”. It works far better as a system for governing, say, a corporation or a government or an AI. I think this outward-collective focus is why so many people like it. You can shift from thinking about your own personal choices and how they affect you - which is humbling, complex, and does not invite political action - to thinking about choices that affect lots of people and thereby motivate collective political enterprises.

The diet framework for morality gives no advice to, say, governments or corporations. If one of your strongest appetites is “being part of a material thing which is bigger than me and shares my values” , the diet theory of morality does not satisfy that appetite, but utilitarianism does.

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Thanks! I agree with your analysis here.

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Brilliant! Can't wait to read part 2. I love that your models that take human biodiversity into account.

I like the term "biospirit" to describe the way culture reflects the particular biodiversity of it's members.

(e.g. I'm confident our victimizers have chosen to deliberately bring large numbers of people of different biospirit into our once relatively homogenous nations in order to undermine our wellbeing and ability to resist further depredation.)

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I very much appreciate this analogy and will probably apply it in professional discussions and training going forward, but I take exception to the ontological leap you make in ascribing a functional definition to wellbeing. The very nature of wellness being inextricably linked to value, it must be conceived of as subjective. To use your dietary model, we really can't say that someone who eats a hypercaloric diet which, say, infringes upon functional status and degrades longevity, isn't entirely aligned with their own values in doing so. We know not the intensity of the satisfaction that accompanies such indulgence in the psyche of the individual in question. We also can't see how this value racks and stacks against competing priorities in said individual's life. Health is the state of optimal wellbeing, which makes it necessarily subjective. That is not to say we can't make judgements, which is why I suspect you're interested in establishing an objective standard, as evaluation and discussion becomes very tedious without such. We can look at how well an individual's values align with their behavior and use that as an objective yardstick. Alignment. Of course, you can't see inside someone else's head, and often people lack the self-awareness required to even evaluate this for themselves, but it is an objective standard nonetheless because everyone DOES have values and we all DO take action. This might be a pedantic distinction with little consequence, but I argue that it is more internally consistent and I think striving towards this type of consistency generally facilitates ratiocination in ways that might not be immediately appreciable. I would argue that we can only speculate that the healthy at any size folks are wrong given that every single one of them that has lost the weight is absolutely thrilled that they've done so, but perhaps this is selection bias at work. Of course, when people say healthy they aren't always using my very precise and useful definition, which is tied to the same limitation of language and communication that all those who deny biological reality depend on to escape definitive proof of their malintent and ideological inconsistency. Thanks as always for the thought provoking read, and if you're ever interested in getting into resistance training to build up a functional reserve and optimize your health (the positive correlation between those two things being speculative at the moment), don't hesitate to reach out!

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Wow, I feel pretty dumb, should've read this one first... You were the editor of Escapist Magazine? Used to love Zero Punctuation back in the day.

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Beautifully written. So beautiful that I was tempted to let you get away with breaking the is/ought barrier using Proof by Definition. But my spleen wouldn't let me. Red bile is accumulating.

You wrote that "The purpose of a diet is to maintain the dieter's wellbeing." The definition of "wellbeing" is subjective. True, we can say that a diet that kills you tomorrow is objectively not maintaining the dieter's wellbeing -- unless the dieter has good reason for suicide. But if the objective purpose of a diet is to keep one alive, all diets are bad; the death rate still stands at an inconvenient 100%. (This Inconvenient Truth invalidates Ayn Rand's Proof-By-Definition moral system as well.)

One might argue that maximizing wellbeing means a good diet extends lifespan as much as possible. If so, then a diet that stunts the growth of children is in order. Short people live longer. [https://180degreehealth.com/blue-zones-bullshit/]. Whether a long life in a stunted condition is maximizing wellbeing is debatable. A similar objection arises for trying to extend life through caloric restriction. Is a long life in calendar years at a low energy level truly living longer? Does time spent sleeping or having brain fog count as life?

Earlier you wrote that the function of diet is "to enable wellbeing - to live at a healthy weight with healthy body systems." Well, the Tastes Like Cardboard Diet will enable anyone to maintain a healthy weight, but whether this optimizes wellbeing is debatable. (See The McDougall Plan or The Potato Hack for examples of the Tastes Like Cardboard Diet.)

For me, the healthiest diet I ever ate was a watered down version of Guy-Claude Burger's raw paleo diet (see "Instinctive Nutrition" by Severen L. Schaeffer). On that diet I had ripped abs, perfect digestion, rapid wound healing, and could achieve Total Consciousness in 3 minutes and 23 seconds [https://www.theonion.com/monk-gloats-over-yoga-championship-1819563855]. I quit the diet despite these benefits. Maintaining it ruled out going to restaurants or eating at someone else's home. Humans are social animals, and communal meals are thus part of our wellbeing.

Suppose we define wellbeing in terms of net happiness-hours. Eating donuts produces momentary pleasure, and thus some happiness hours. But eating donuts also produces subsequent malaise and shortened lifespan. A rational hedonist would limit donut intake to that level where the marginal bliss of donut eating equals the negative of the marginal resulting malaise.

Or we could use a somewhat more social definition of wellbeing. People who are healthy are less burden to their family members, the health insurance pool, or the government healthcare system (for those kind of countries). Being healthy is thus a mix of pain avoidance and social duty. But even there, we have problems. Take smokers, for instance. Their maladies are costly, and thus the unconstitutional retroactive fine on the tobacco industry. But death by natural causes can also be costly, and worse yet, healthy non-smokers live longer and thus burden the Social Security system. Maybe donuts, cigarettes, and Doritos should be subsidized by the government for the good of society…

To mix the personal and societal, perhaps maximizing wellbeing should be defined in terms of net productive days: an active life with few sick days and a quick death at the end of a long -- but not too long -- life maximizes a mix of personal happiness and contributions to society. But even there, the case for broccoli and grass fed beef is debatable. Healthy cooking takes time. Processed foods are great time savers. Many a heroic coding binge have been fueled by Jolt Cola and delivered pizzas.

And those are the direct quibbles. Do note that billions of people subscribe to the notion that dietary choices are moral choices for reasons other than personal health.

Vegans object to any form of animal products because they involve animal enslavement and/or killing. And there is a whole spectrum between veganism and uncaring meat eating. Some would limit their meats to animals with limited brain power. Some demand that their meat animals have a decent life before being turned into dinner. (Eating factory farmed pork violates both criteria bigly. Pigs are smarter than dogs and conditions on typical hog farms are arguably worse than for dogs raised for dog fighting.)

Then there are social and environmental moral considerations. The planet is too overpopulated for more than a small elite minority to eat Paleo. The rest have to settle for diet heavy in seeds and/or starchy roots for fuel. Such environmental constraints have been incorporated into diets going back to ancient days. For example, eating pork in an arid climate is very piggy, since pigs don't sweat and thus need shade and ample water -- resources in short supply in the Middle East.

Finally, many people eat in order to meet the dictates of their respective religions. Eating is a frequent activity, and eating according to prescribed diet vs. appetite invokes Will over Animal Self. Eating according to the dictates of one's religion is thus an ongoing exercise in Revealed Preference for one's deity(ies). It also provides some social isolation from those worshiping competing deities.

This last criterion is arguably the most important. A healthy afterlife is more important than a healthy finite material life. But even here, we must mix the subjective with the objective. Not everyone wants eternal life. Indeed, there are major religions devoted to *ending* eternal life [via reincarnation].

Sorry, deriving an ought has both objective and subjective criteria. Nice try, though. You did better than Ayn Rand.

\

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Well, I think you're quite wrong!

I had intended to go into this in next week's update but I'll address it briefly here. If we want to speak from a strictly secular perspective, wellbeing is the simply the state in which your evolutionary fitness is maximized on an ongoing basis. We could bypass the word wellbeing entirely and simply say that the purpose of diet and morality is fitness maximization; I think that shorts the value of the word wellbeing, but it gets us to the same place.

Fitness maximization can be mathematically modeled without any subjective parameters. It can be inclusive of altruism, because of the indirect fitness aspects of kin selection and group selection. It's forward looking and, unlike Rand's worldview, isn't stuck on your individual life.

Now, there are, of course, different strategies for fitness maximization. Evolutionary biologists generally divide them into two strategies, r-strategy and k-strategy, for maximizing fitness, which succeed better or worse in different environments for different creatures with different genetics. They could be further sub-divided all the way down to the optimal strategy for any given individual in a given environment.

But the existence of multiple strategies doesn't make them subjective. The strategies are objective and can be modeled with game theory. It's just that the exact strategy for any given individual at any given point is impossible to know in advance. Decision-making in conditions of uncertainty gives the the *appearance* of subjectivity. But it is not actually subjective.

For instance, let's say that some scientific studies suggest that eating salt is good for people with my genetics, but other studies suggest that eating salt is bad. No one knows for sure. I *must* make a choice on this. But the salt either will, or will not, be bad for me based on my genetics. My seemingly-subjective choice will be objectively determined.

As such, as moral philosophers we can only hope to trace the broad outlines of what is generally adaptive, with traditions of successful ways of life broadly supplying the evidence we use to make our evaluations. The moral actor will often times have to look to past examples, habits, and heuristics to decide what to do, and it may or may not work out. There may even be moral luck. This is why the ancient Greeks said, "judge no man happy until he is dead."

Anything that doesn't bear directly or indirectly on fitness maximization is simply what the Stoics would call "a preferred indifferent." You can choose based on your particular appetites. If it turns out that the Japanese diet and the Mediterranean diet have exactly the same health benefits, it's just a choice of preferred indifferents.

I first developed this theory 20 years ago working with Robert Nozick at Harvard. I've written much more than I've published here. The question in my mind back in 2000 when I first explored the topic was whether the secular explanation for morality can be squared with religious explanations for morality. At the time, group level selection and inclusive fitness was poo-pooed and "selfish gene" types were dominant but further study has persuaded me that they're wrong. The expansion of the concept in turn, led me to see how the concept of Gnon, Nature or Nature's God, makes it compatible with much of religious morality as well. The inference from Gnon is that an omnibenevolent creator would not set up a universe where fitness maximization (fully understood to include direct and indirect fitness) would be sinful. "Be fruitful and multiply" is both God's directive and evolution's directive.

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If we are talking evolutionary fitness, cheap and socialization potential are the two parameters to maximize. Cheap, so you can afford to have a bunch of kids, and socialization potential so you can meet a mate -- or mates. Wacky health maximizing diets can improve physical beauty, and thus mating potential, but given what I see in the grocery stores, plenty of fat and ugly people are having children. I don't see many large families at the Whole Foods Market.

Between the welfare state and feminism, the k strategy is an evolutionary dead end these days. A diet including sufficient recreational drugs to inspire irresponsible casual sex can lead to lots of bastard children for the state to support.

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Maybe. Maybe not. I'll defer further response until my next post, though, as I prefer to think and write in long form. Cheers!

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deletedOct 12, 2022Liked by Tree of Woe
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Good essay. I used to doubt the existence of true (spiritual) evil. I no longer doubt it. Anyone who can't see the evidence before us now is blind by choice.

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Oct 13, 2022·edited Oct 13, 2022Liked by Tree of Woe

> I used to doubt the existence of true (spiritual) evil. I no longer doubt it.

I'd like to hear your thoughts on this subject as well.

My challenge is that I have to compartmentalize. Here is an example: was the COVID response a conspiracy or a spontaneous convergence? I believe that it was both: a "conspiracy" on the spiritual level of evil that manifested itself in an apparently spontaneous way through individuals and groups that allowed themselves to be influenced by that evil. But many people would not share in that approach. So I have to look for close substitutes, like shared ideology or quasi-religion (e.g. progressivism, wokeness) that influenced the convergence. It's not quite the same, though.

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deletedOct 13, 2022Liked by Tree of Woe
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>Ever heard of leviathan? Or behemoth? Apparently they’re Old Testament chaos monsters that thrive on insanity

Yes. Those are mentioned in the book of Job and discussed in Jewish esoteric writings (e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midrash) and even in the Talmud.

I have not studied those discussions in any serious depth, though. As far as I remember they are manifestation of the raw power of the world. Including its chaotic aspect. They do not represent evil that can channel itself through people. But again, I never looked into it in any depth.

>Inhuman and malevolent

Definitely extremely malevolent. Inhuman in the sense that it originates outside of "normal human operation".

As a related aside, if I remember correctly there are some spiritual/mystical approaches that believe that not all alive human bodies have a soul (or the astral component, etc.) My interpretation is that they are talking about psychopaths.

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> The term psychopath is not an official diagnosis. Instead, a doctor may diagnose someone with specific traits they associate with antisocial personality disorder.

There are people who have no conscience. I am using the term "psychopath" in that sense. Not as a diagnosis.

>Despite what you've been told a demon cannot just possess or influence a human soul willy nilly

When you say "you" do you mean me personally or "one" ("Despite what one's been told...")? Because I personally absolutely do agree with that, as I wrote in the original comment: "...through individuals and groups that allowed themselves to be influenced by that evil"

> All alive human bodies have a soul

That's the matter of doctrine. I personally agree. But I am willing to entertain the other approach.

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