Over the last 12 months I changed so much that I am sometimes somewhat terrified about what I have become, but it all makes sense. Actually, I am still struggling to find out what I have become and what to do with my life next. The complexity of my whole history and my philosophical constructions is hard to untangle. I don’t expect you to understand me, but I want you to understand me better. In theory, I could try to create a false impression of myself, but any such deception wouldn’t be nearly as powerful as showing my true colours. It’s simply not worth claiming that I am a “normal person” to those who read this. You and me will be able to communicate more effectively, if you know how I think and what crazy quirks I have. I really don’t want to be confused with something that I am not.
My life history
Any story about my life I can write here is necessarily incomplete, for various reasons. So I will only mention what I think is most important from the perspective of my most recent changes. I will try to be as brief as possible and as complete as necessary. As a story it’s probably not very uplifting or entertaining. For that I apologize in advance. Anyway, I don’t expect anything like compassion. You have my permission to hate me for what I have been and become. Seriously though, most of my life story is just mundane crap, and I mainly have to tell it in order to create some context for my most recent changes.
I was born in 1983 in South-west Germany to a humble and honest immigrant family from former Yugoslavia. My father was absent for long period of time due to his job as truck driver. My mother is a very simple person who spoiled me, because she didn’t have the discipline to be strict with me. My 8 year older brother was a strong influence on me, because he was pretty smart (and a smart ass) and fascinated with computers. In kindergarten I had trouble with fitting in due to my immigrant background and the nerdish influence of my brother. I often despised kindergarten back then. Due to my relative social exclusion I was prone to getting hooked on video games at age 6. The outside world then became mostly a nuisance for me at least since then. That probably created a vitamin D deficiency. Also, my diet was really terrible back then. The vitamin fortified corn flakes were the tastiest and healthiest food I usually ate in my childhood.
At school I was often bored and sometimes started fights because of that. Once that ended with me getting hurt so badly that I started moderating my behaviour. Also, I once nearly died from falling into a frozen pond in Winter, because I thought the ice was thick enough to carry me. From that point on, I have become very careful and anxious in general. At age 8 I started getting skin problems (psoriasis) and the first symptoms of ME/CFS, a devastating and badly understood classically untreatable disease that sucked out the life energy out of me. Because back then nobody in my area had any idea that this disease even existed, nobody could help me with it, and it was interpreted as general sickliness.
Despite that disease I was doing well at school, even though I was always looking forward to getting out of there, so I could watch TV or play video games. Star Trek (starting with The Next Generation) was a major influence on me in my childhood. With age 13 I started getting episodes of depression. They were mostly symptoms of ME/CFS, but nobody understood that. Anyway, I became interested in philosophy from that early age. I stopped believing in god and switched to ethics lessons instead of religion lessons in school. Due to my own experience with suffering and my perceptiveness I got very worried about all the suffering and injustice happening in the world.
That kinda changed when I had a spontaneous and incredibly strong spiritual experience at age 18 at which I felt connected to a cosmic network of love which put the suffering on this tiny spot of a world into the right perspective: Compared to the flourishing alien life in the cosmos it’s completely irrelevant. That insight created a feeling of bliss which was so strong that I thought it would kill me – and it wouldn’t even stop on its own. I had to consciously shut that feeling down, so that I could think about what to do with my life next with a calm mind. This had put my philosophical curiosity on overdrive.
Soon later, I developed what I called “philosophy of diversity”, which assumed a kind of karmic balance between positive and negative feelings: You can only increase both at the same time, since they are basically different sides of the same coin, because they are tightly linked though contrast and compensation effects – kinda like Yin and Yang. My goal was to maximize diversity and through that both positive and negative feelings (since I considered that cost to be unavoidable). Nevertheless, I was snapped out of that relative foolishness by a friend, and have become more of a classic utilitarian since then.
Even though I was totally interested in philosophy, I studied mathematics and physics, because I wanted to understand how the world works on a deep level, and because I appreciated mathematics as a universally useful tool. A few years into my studies I developed an ontology I now call “mathematical modal realism”, though I never thoroughly formalized it. It basically states that every world that can exist as mathematical structure is real. There are a lot of disturbing conclusions from that, which I don’t want to dive into at this point.
I never got a full degree, because my father died in the middle of my studies, which made my ME/CFS worse. It eventually got so bad that I couldn’t do any work and had to quit university in order to be able to apply for social security. At least from that point of I focused all my strength on overcoming my disease which I barely started to identify some time after already having left university.
I recovered through the empirical approach of trying all kinds of medical interventions in a matter that was as systematic as my energy levels allowed them to be. It took me years to find out how to stabilize my health with various powerful supplements, meditation, appropriate exercise, low carb diet, and some other lifestyle interventions. During my recovery there were two big breakthroughs:
- The discovery that antioxidants improve my condition significantly. I need to take very high doses of powerful antioxidants in order to remain healthy. It’s known that conditions similar to ME/CFS are associated with high levels of oxidative stress – which especially hurts the mitochondria, the cellular “power plants” of the body.
- The paradoxical insight that my health becomes better when I seek pain, rather than to avoid it! My hypothesis is that this is due to the beta endorphins that are released under painful stimuli, and which help to regulate the nervous system and the immune system (which are apparently very badly affected by ME/CFS).
Now I can manage this disease so well that it only impacts me minimally. There are still some residual symptoms, but my ability to control them gets better with time. This is especially astonishing since there is no effective conventional treatment for that disease and I’ve been suffering from that disease for about 24 years! Remissions after such a long duration are almost unheard of! That I’m now able to do normal stuff without getting fatigued is a small miracle.
This recovery is a really big deal, especially since normally healthy people cannot nearly guess how extreme that disease is. To get an idea of how crazy it is here’s a comparison. Imagine you are 80 years old and are suffering from a permanent flu and mental fog. That’s the baseline, when you are feeling good. In bad phases, you are effectively housebound or even bed-bound. Even then, people expect normal performances from you, because they don’t accept the existence of that disease, since it doesn’t register on regular medical tests, and the symptoms aren’t very visible. They can’t help you and often assume that you are faking it, even if you have no motive whatsoever to do anything like that. The social exclusion is quite extreme, because you don’t have the energy for regular activities, or social activities that maintain social relationships. Everything feels like an extreme strain. And even when you manage to do any activity that is perceived as strenuous, you are punished with a delay of hours or days. The punishment consists of a severely reduced energy level that can stay for days or weeks. And when you feel bad about that, it only gets much worse. So, you need to learn to go through these phases of extreme debilitation with an unnaturally calm mindset. Luckily, I was only moderately affected by ME/CFS. There are far worse cases, and some of them end fatally.
This challenge put me through lots of phases of depression, agony, and despair. I got so good at dealing with them that I eventually considered my phases of depression as “cute”. They are nothing compared to the overall hell that is ME/CFS in general. Even though I realize that depression is a truly horrible disease, from my own experience, I can say that ME/CFS is far worse! After I have successfully emerged from this purgatory I have basically lost my fear of anything. There is virtually nothing that can scare me. And I don’t write that lightly. I really mean it!
My struggle with ME/CFS transformed me completely, especially over the last 12 months. Dealing with such a disease really taught me humility. I used to overestimate myself over and over again. Only when I realized that even with my best efforts I only had a small success of actually significantly improving my condition, I got cured of my arrogance. Dealing with a challenge like that often pushed me to the brink of madness, and sometimes even beyond that.
Learning to control that disease actually seemed to require a shift in my mindset. I had to learn to remain clam in any situation, no matter how crazy or painful it was. Also, I needed to learn to seek and tolerate pain, rather than seeing it as something negative that is to be avoided. My new focus is seeking strength and wisdom more than anything else. Before that I was striving to minimize suffering. That’s quite a radical change. My personal definition of “strength” is the ability and willingness to push through pain and suffering, by the way. Actually, I don’t claim to be exceptionally strong according to this definition. I endured ME/CFS, because I had no other reasonable choice, not because I wanted to.
Still, I am used to deal with such incredible challenges that “normal” challenges start leaving me bored. I want to change the world. Anything less is not acceptable for me. But that’s mainly because I’m a hardcore philosopher, first and foremost, and only secondarily because I journeyed through my own personal hell, which makes me get bored my more mundane challenges.
The transformations in my mindset motivated me to come up with a philosophy I tentatively call epistemological consequentialism. It basically poses that we should strive to maximize wisdom, because we don’t know what’s actually the best thing to do – yet. After all the philosophical insights and tribulations I had, it seems that I stopped really caring about my own personal happiness. Even the collective happiness of all sentient beings on Earth became a rather shallow issue to me. After all, the happiness of the cosmos is dominated by what we and our descendants will do with the cosmos at large. And we need to be as wise as possible in order to do the most right thing.
My love for capitalism
The book “The Singularity and Socialism” by C. James Townsend kindled a love for capitalism in me.
Since then I have come to despise many “leftist” ideas. Even though capitalism may not be perfect, it’s the best system that we have. It’s good at leveraging collective intelligence and encourages people to work for the collective good, even when they think they only pursue their own individual interests. Capitalism is really good at creating wealth. The problems that seem to be caused by capitalism are usually much more pronounced in other systems. What I think is best about capitalism is that it incentivizes people to create progress, whether they want or not.
My appreciation for the role of the government
I used to idealize anarchism quite a lot. But the more I reflect on economic issues, the more I learn to appreciate that the government is really necessary to make the economy run as nicely as it does – even if complete self-organization is a nice ideal to have. Certain coordination problems are really to solve without governments. Markets are good at optimizing the allocation of private goods, but for public goods governments really make much more sense. Also, markets can’t deal with externalities effectively on their own. A strong government is needed to solve problems connected to externalities. Unfortunately, the strength of governments has been undermined by globalization (which is otherwise an economically quite beneficial process).
Instrument of the Cosmos, forged by Metafire
One of my previous internet handles was “Metafire”: An imaginary kind of fire that takes ordinary fire as fuel and consumes it, while it burns much hotter than ordinary fire. Metafire primarily stands for reason burning so fiercely that it burns up the passion and emotions that gave rise to the necessity of reason. This metaphor reflects my struggle to try to become the best person I can possibly be through using reason and rationality.
I used to feel deeply, but more recently my affect has become more subdued. The fires in which I have been forged have served their purpose, and have left me being the relatively level headed person that I am now.
My most recent way of seeing myself is as instrument of the cosmos: A part of the cosmos that operates on itself in order to become aware of itself and improve its own quality. I identify deeply with consciousness, valence, and the cosmos as abstract concepts. I want to serve the cosmos as best as possible. It deeply dissatisfies me that I am still struggling with human weaknesses. I feel ethically compelled to strive towards becoming godlike, even if I personally would prefer a more modest existence with less responsibility and attention.
I am very aware that what I write here sounds very outlandish to most people. It takes very special circumstances to make a human identify as instrument of the cosmos. I am grateful for everything that I experienced that helped me to become who I am now, even if it hurt like hell!
What I believe now
- Reality is much much bigger and more complex than anyone of us can imagine, and is based on some kind of ultimate structure/mathematics
- Value systems exist as part of Reality, and are subject to their own dynamics
- Striving to achieve cosmic wisdom is natural value system for philosophically mature entities. It may be eventually replaced with the application of ultimate wisdom, but that is speculative at this point.
- Civilizations progress through a natural course of development towards more complexity, knowledge, technology, and power, and eventually towards true wisdom
- We should work on ourselves and upgrade our minds through technology, so that we can maximize our wisdom.
- Identities are subjective philosophical constructs and objectively meaningless
- Wisdom is much more important than well-being. The common obsession with well-being may be natural, but it’s not even very functional.
- Control and power are worthless without the necessary wisdom to use them for the right purposes
- Self-discipline is extremely important. The level of self-discipline of most human beings is outright pathetic.
- Comfort is our enemy, because it makes us weak
- Capitalism is a force of good that disciplines people to usually do the right thing – exceptions don’t invalidate this general rule
- Naive egoism is a sign of philosophical immaturity. We are all connected and distributed.
- Religions suffer from hubris in that they falsely assume to know the will of the gods
- We actually don’t know what is ethically right or wrong, since our ethical systems are only transitional frameworks that should be replaced with more sophisticated systems
- Humans are bad at obtaining happiness by pursuing happiness
- “Friendly AI” makes no sense, because the concept of “friendliness” actually makes no sense
- We should use any challenge as chance to become stronger
- It would make sense for everyone to seek for strength and wisdom, but it’s not necessary for everyone to do that
- We have a good chance to become godlike, but even if we fail, that’s ok – since we live in a multiverse and weak civilizations naturally self-destruct