Runboard.com
You're welcome.
SAMPLE BANNER

runboard.com       Sign up (learn about it) | Sign in (lost password?)


Page:  1  2 

 
ASlapForJoffrey Profile
Live feed
Blog
Friends
Miscellaneous info

Registered user
Global user

Registered: 03-2013
Posts: 125
Reply | Quote
Vera Smith


In recent days Vera had kept an empty book with her, slowly printing a legible copy from a reference book filled with an extensive amount of draft writing and notes. This book is now published and available in most stores on the island. Below features excerpts from each chapter in a much larger book, tens to hundreds of pages in length.

It is titled, fittingly:

Strategy and Life: A New Perspective


Chapter 1: Strategy, Games and Life

Life is among the most mysterious and nebulous areas of scholarly study. Many in the past and present believe strongly that it will entirely remain inexplicable in mortal terms; that the divine spark which grants us vitality also obscures any hope of even beginning to form an explanation of the forms and functions of the myriad creatures who call this world home. This book is an attempt to lay the groundwork for a fundamentally different way of thinking about the subject of life in its broadest sense of the word. The mindset of strategic thought will characterise a framework for a new and fruitful approach at understanding all aspects of the living world.

When somebody hears the term strategy their mind is habitually drawn to the field of battle and the theatre of war. Historically this area of life has been predominated by gradually emergent tactical enhancements to the way in which bands and armies conduct themselves in battle, spanning from formations and troop movements to terrain usage and logistics. The merit of strategic thought can't be denied by any reasonable person. Even those who favor action instead of forethought are themselves using a certain breed of shock-and-awe strategy that favors decisiveness over deliberation and sacrificing the more reliable safety of planning for an immediate, if risky, payoff. In the end a place has been cemented for strategic thought in war and that is why this book will not retread the same territory of so many other tomes: war is mentioned here only as a beginning point to illustrate that the strength this way of thinking has already been proven to the extent of deciding the future of lives, families and even entire nations.

Games are the second and less considered place for strategic thought. Unpacking the term game shows that many activities apply to the name including things so diverse as a casual drink-off at a copper ale tavern to an engrossed skirmish on the Lanceboard. The latter stands out as the paradigm example of a game promoting analytical thinking and tactical forethought. Indeed the simplistic nature of each piece working on the limited plane of squares generates such depth in gameplay that it's reasonable to question whether even immortal minds are capable of grasping perfectly each permutation of play. In the following chapters the term game will be used to describe situations that are premised in a vaguely similar manner so as to absorb traditional and clear notions of a game into a term that applies to many other situations that are usefully comparable. Put simply a game will refer to any situation over any given span of time where one or more agents are hypothetically incentivised to act toward particular goals.

To show that all life can be studied with useful results inside of this framework will be the subject of the following chapters...

Last edited by ASlapForJoffrey, 10/30/2013, 5:30 am


---
DM: CR 40 Housecat
PC: Vera Smith
4/6/2013, 4:17 pm Link to this post Send Email to ASlapForJoffrey   Send PM to ASlapForJoffrey
 
ASlapForJoffrey Profile
Live feed
Blog
Friends
Miscellaneous info

Registered user
Global user

Registered: 03-2013
Posts: 125
Reply | Quote
Re: Vera Smith


Chapter 2: The Fundamental Games of Nature and the Logic of Sheer Existence

Indubitably it's the Gods who breathed life into the first beings and to each at their conception grants anew that divine spark. So far as this seminal action is concerned we can't likely hope to make headway in explanation but beyond that we can seek to understand why and how the gods have shaped us so. This includes all of us, from far-thinking sentients down to lowly ants and beetles who swarm the ground in unfathomable numbers. We as beings are shaped to best adapt to the challenges a lifeform would expect to face in the niche environs we're bound to inhabit. Here we can further analyse the conditions of the games we're seeking to understand. All games have obstacles: the lanceboard features terrain in the form of the squares on the board as well as positioning with regard to squares occupied by game pieces and the areas those pieces threaten. These obstacles can come in myriad forms. They can be roughly broken down by their defining feature. That is, whether they are binary or unbound, pervasive or conditional and static or contingent.

A binary obstacle is one that is either accounted for or is not with no scale of quality or quantity in between. These are rare but do exist and are foundational to the mimimal success of a lifeform. On the lanceboard one binary obstacle is that a player must be capable of physically moving the game pieces: once you're able, the pace and fervour with which they're subsequently moved has no bearing on how successfully you can play the game. Another example is understanding how each piece is allowed to move on the board. You either understand or you don't, thereby succeeding fully or failing completely to overcome the obstacle. Many of nature's basic games feature binary obstacles. One example is the capacity to reproduce; Surely there is a variance to how prolific a lifeform can be but the mere capacity to generate offspring must be fulfilled else extinction looms in the near future...

* * * * *


At the other end of the same scale are unbound obstacles. These feature more abundantly in games and nature then binary ones. These are characterised by their lack of a perfect solution even given infinite resources. Better solutions can be always found to an unbound obstacle but in the end there's no way of being completely rid of it. In a game of dodgeball the attributes of agility and accuracy are unbound in this way: You can always hypothetically dodge and predict a ball's trajectory a little better and conversely throw a little harder and more accurately. Nature is full of these obstacles and they all feature varying degrees of unboundness. A hare runs swiftly and the fox keeps apace, a tree grows taller than its peers to bask better in the sun, the spider weaves a stickier net and the moth more slickly powders its wings, the tortoise hardens its shell while the shark sharpens its teeth and lines its jaw with muscle. In order to exist fruitfully every lifeform confronts a number of these using a severely limited pool of resources and enters a subtle and treacherous balancing act to satisfy the obstacles in a number of games...

* * * * *


Pervasive obstacles demand solving always and at all times in a creature's life. For chess the board itself is a pervasive obstacle and is never removed for any reason. The squares remain in the same pattern and their colours are immutable, providing challenges of restricted movement and troop formation. The analogy from this to life itself in incomplete; in life pervasive variables can become more or less dire in their demands as well as shifting in the types of costs paid to overcome them. Take the pull of the earth, that force which draws everything downward. A squirrel is always subject to this whether it's foraging on the ground or climbing a barky tree. In jumping from branch to bough or in skittering through foliage there is this force to overcome always and forever even if different muscles and tendons serve better or worse to run or to jump against it...

* * * * *


Obstacles with conditional perameters are characterised by their temporary nature, varying from but a single instance over the span of a lifetime to hourly or minutely occurences. Children playing ball must catch and pass it effectively. Both of these actions are conditional and also separate; throwing is a short albeit frequent part of the game as a whole and only arises when the condition of holding a ball in the first place is met. From the workings of nature emerge an enormous number of these conditional situations confronting every being. In this instance spiders are remarkable: they must weave several nets to ensnare prey but the number of times a spider weaves that web is limited. It must make a web in order to have a hope of catching a meal. Constructing a web is a conditional obstacle of its own (that the spider must make a web at all), with more conditional obstacles nested within the process: The availability and location of nearby surfaces to lay a framework, severe weather, the prey animals flying in the local area, the time of day and so forth. These obstacles aren't necessarily less severe than pervasive ones. Some conditional obstacles are crucial: the opportunity to mate is notable in this regard as there may only be one or two of these in a lifetime, important enough that it's wise to invest a lot of resources into succeeding...

* * * * *


We see now the immense potential for complex games of variable obstacles that comprise the very basic structure of nature itself. All of the above illustrations are at base the fundamental games of nature, problems that all life is confronted with and must solve as effectively as possible. No living, mortal being can be said to fully escape the games of nature and even civilized life serves to alter only the levels of insistence with which nature demands an answer to these things. I make no pretense to have a complete list of these games but there are a few that account for a large proportion of nature's demands. These are:

*Integrity: a lifeform must keep itself and the investments it has made safe from harm.

*Nutrition: a lifeform must find nourishment in the form of food, water and/or breath.

*Replication: a lifeform must invest in replicating itself, in generating offspring with high fidelity so as to avoid extinction and to proliferate

In a sense the games of nature are an extrapolation from what it means to exist as a living, mortal being. If there is a world with features approximating energy and the passage of time then by implication anything built to live within it must be made to solve the games described above or perish swiftly. For mortal life this can be called the logic of sheer existence...

Last edited by ASlapForJoffrey, 5/6/2013, 7:35 am


---
DM: CR 40 Housecat
PC: Vera Smith
4/20/2013, 8:29 am Link to this post Send Email to ASlapForJoffrey   Send PM to ASlapForJoffrey
 
ASlapForJoffrey Profile
Live feed
Blog
Friends
Miscellaneous info

Registered user
Global user

Registered: 03-2013
Posts: 125
Reply | Quote
Re: Vera Smith


Chapter 3: Sentients and Civilization

Life is complex in an extreme that exceeds the complete comprehension of any single mortal being and perhaps even the gods themselves. When considering extreme complexity the mind is drawn to that section of life that is sentient, including but not limited to Dwarves, Elves Gnomes, Goblins, Halflings, Humans, Kobolds and Orcs. These species share in common a degree of self-awareness, capacity for reflection and reasoning unseen in most other organisms. The aim of this chapter is to explain how the framework of strategy can be applied to understand sentients and the emergent aspects of the world associated with them and their communities.

As with all beings grounded in nature sentients are bound by the logic of sheer existence; apart from rare exempting circumstances they must fend for their integrity, their nutrition and for replication just as a lesser animal might. A Human may be the cleverest creature within a hundred leagues but they are still driven as much to eat, maintain a home and bedding, seek mates and foster security as an ant, a badger or a falcon does. In fact these natural games are all that is required to begin to explain why we exist as we do. From all of those basic strategic challenges we can tactically derive explanations for all of the emergent purposes and functions of our bodies, minds and societies.

Intelligence as a concept is a general one: somebody is smart because they are quick at reasoning in some or many aspects and this sort of reasoning applies to a broad range of subjects. The strategic benefit of intelligence so conceieved is going to be a benefit that spans many different obstacles nature presents a creature. A smart lifeform can bend their minds to many tasks other creatures perform purely on mindless instinct, augmenting their own instincual drives and improvising entirely new techniques and strategies on the spot and over time. This incredible potential for versatility in the face of a complex world seems so powerful that it may be a better question to ask why every living thing isn't so clever as we who can think so nimbly.

The answer falls comfortably into the strageic paradigm as a working mind must require a heavy investment of energy to construct and maintain which is an incentive against making a mind too large and too capable. Preliminary proof of this idea is offered by practical example; having to forge and use three keys specially made for their matching locks is inexpensive in terms of time and energy but those keys are barely useful outside of those three particular types of lock. A malleable lockpick on the other hand opens none of those three locks better than their intended partner key but it can still open them provided a greater amount of time and energy is invested.

A lockpick will also open almost any given lock provided the user has adequate skill and devotes enough effort to the task. This offers a fair advantage to someone who has so many locked doors to open that making keys for each would be costly and cumbersome. It also offers a massive benefit to somebody who knows they will find locks they must open but who has no foreknowledge of the types of locks they will be. The woman with only three keys will fail miserably in getting through locked doors on these occasions. This analogy replaces intellectual capabilities with keys, and obstacles in the world with locked doors.

This line of thinking leads us to understand why a mind is only so capable and no more or less; it is highly reflective of the variety and frequencies of obstacles that a creature expects to face during it's lifetime. A sentient being therefore falls on one end of a long continuum of creatures who face increasing levels novel, complex and variable obstacles in their environments. At the other end of the continuum lie simple-minded beings like worms who need only be highly concerned with earthen navigation and to eat what lays in the soil. The puzzle of the mind still looks to be missing some vital pieces, and rightly so given the sheer complexity involved; a thing constructed to handle a vast array of complex games will without doubt be nearly as complex in turn so to be able to play those games, and the games of life are complex on a mortally unfathomable scale.

Lanceboard is widely acknowledged as a deep and complex game with many subtleties evoked in the battle between armies as the game progresses yet even this challenging game of analysis is child's play by comparison to life itself. In the rawest sense the complexity of chess is scaled by how many possible moves a player can make in each turn. From the first there are a sum of twenty possible opening moves from each player (two per pawn, two per knight) so after only one turn the game has four hundred possible iterations. The following turns will grow even more complex as more pieces are able to take a move and the relationships between those pieces is changed: A queen standing in an ideal spot may have up to twenty-one possible moves in a single turn just by herself. As the game progresses those possible moves are multiplied with the prior possibilities, ballooning the complexity of the lanceboard into a mind-bogglingly immense number of possible iterations, a thousand thousand to a million million in the span of a few turns.

The lanceboard is only played on a plane of sixty-four squares using half again that number of pieces with very simple rules of motion. Life is not so restricted, taking place on a board that hinders but doesn't bar movement in any direction, a board that is comprised of forces and objects that are capricious, changing and vast. Every move is taken in a constant flow of time with no division into turns. The obstacles and tools presented to a keen player of life make the intricacies of chess look like child's play. This humbling consideration sheds light on another reason why great minds aren't favored by many lifeforms; intelligence must necessarily be more generalised the more obstacles it is fitted to confront and that generalising tendency can lead to a side-effect of dangerous misapplication.

Clarifying the opportunity cost of overgeneralisation is best done through a real example familiar to us all: fear. In order to fear something a creature must have a means of discerning what is dangerous and what isn't and a mind is required to do that. By implication of the preceding discussion the more variable, unpredictable and complex the danger is, the more general this sense for danger and the fear from it might be. Many of us have walked alone in the dark and been struck with that forboding and prudent wariness, where our eyes cannot see we imagine assailants and monsters of all varieties. This is usually reasonable as all of those things strike when we are at our most vulnerable but it also comes at a price since we are afraid of the general dangers of darkness we're prone to make mistakes about the fearful dark itself; we jump and scare and startle as the breeze coaxes a tree bough to sigh and tremble or when a board creaks in a quiet hallway.

There is no direct benefit at all to startling at these kinds of things but it is more costly to invest in a better way of detecting threats (strong nighttime vision or a strong sense of smell perhaps) than it is to pay the energy cost involved in occasionally misreacting fearfully but responding with appropriate terror when the threat is real. Put more succinctly; it is much better to sometimes mistake a shadow for a monster than to ever mistake a monster for a shadow and it is more affordable to make that gamble than to pay the cost of a strong lantern to cast light in all of that darkness. Acceptable, over-generalised mistakes of this kind are a form of cost for sentient minds and so restrict their strategic viability especially when the analysis and responses to the world become more convoluted than simply detecting threats and responding...

* * * * *




Last edited by ASlapForJoffrey, 5/6/2013, 7:36 am


---
DM: CR 40 Housecat
PC: Vera Smith
5/2/2013, 6:58 am Link to this post Send Email to ASlapForJoffrey   Send PM to ASlapForJoffrey
 
ASlapForJoffrey Profile
Live feed
Blog
Friends
Miscellaneous info

Registered user
Global user

Registered: 03-2013
Posts: 125
Reply | Quote
Re: Vera Smith


Sentients do much more than think and reason. They speak with each other and form bonds of friendship and love, divisions of hate and rivalry, create great artworks and weapons of destruction, build communities, organise and re-organise themselves and others. No one book could contain a satisfying measure of even one race or society among the many but that doesn't preclude them all from a unifying explanatory framework. The enigma of society is encapsulated in the question of why it exists while other non-communal life does well enough living in differing arrangements and heirarchies or commonly none at all. Here again strategy gives us potential insight: for a sentient's life the tactical benefits of wielding a sophisticated and powerful mind imply the emergence of communal relations. A mind that communicates and bonds to form alliances and heirarchies gains benefits a less clever creature would not. Communication and manipulation are vital to a sentient's success in overcoming nature's games as all of that general problem-solving power must somehow find a way to manifest in the world. Manifesting this intelligence is best achieved by being able to alter the world in ways of comparable sophistication to the mind's conceptions; to be able to grasp, carry, move, turn, break and meld things on minute to fairly large scales.

Efficiently enough we sentients come equipped with a set of tools complex and elegant enough to meet those needs without an excessive investment of energy: Hands. Hands can manipulate our environment through the extremely sensitive touch of our fingertips, the strong but minutely controlled opposition of thumb and forefinger and the reasonably formidable heft of muscle in our arms and shoulders as well as our palms. A hand can carry out the solutions that a mind creates in almost any part of our very complex and often confusing lives. The rest of our bodies competently solve more specific games that are much too inefficient or damaging to leave solely up to our hands (digestion, movement, fighting and so on) but even some of these to a lesser extent can be co-opted for alterior functions when the mind demands it. Hands, too, can be used to play these other games more efficiently; a hand with cutlery can cut and mash food, aiding in the digestion a stomach is specialised for.

Communication is a second variable defining what a mind needs to truly thrive in the world and here the gods have shaped the sentient body to help the mind where necessary. Hands serve a primary role; touching, hitting and gesturing with the hands are all familiar means of communication between sentient minds (dogs and wolves may use their tail for a similar, highly limited function along with other animals and their bodies) yet hands don't tell the full story. We understand one-another through facial expressions, posture and bodily movements. A brow furrowed and teeth bared, folded arms and puffed chest are cause for intimidation and wariness whereas kneeling, hunching with eyes downcast and palms upward and exposed suggests deference. Even entirely new methods have arisen to foster the strength of communication in the written word and artistry.

The ability to manipulate has obvious advantages for a generative, intelligent mind. But what is so vital about communication that so much of our being is dedicated to it? The answer may lie in the strategic gains of successful collaboration only attainable through communication; Minds working together and pooling resources and skill to overcome obstacles benefit greatly from doing so. A group of people working to bridge a river will manage the feat in a matter of weeks or months while a man alone will take months to years or never at all if architecture must be considered. In nature this applies to all of the rudimentary games. Gaining sustenance is easier when each member of a community can focus on collective gathering, farming and hunting. A man alone goes hungry more often and eats not as well and has less mating opportunities. This is not to say the community that arises from the boons communication and collective manipulation is without its own emergent obstacles. In any collective game of co-operation there is a benefit to free-loading off of the fruits of the labours of others as well as a number of general obstacles that come about as a logical consequence of society itself...

* * * * *


The recipe for society is set in the existence of sentient thought but the details and iterations of that society are as varied as the races and species that occupy this side on the continuum of minds. The framework of strategic thought extends further up into the workings of civilization, providing plausible explanations for the most general phenomena of civilized life while giving reasonable weight to why different races remain so diverse in their typical sorts of community. The best way to explain this is to divide civilization into two different levels, not in a valuative sense but in terms of scale and sophistication.

At its lowest civilization is conducted in a tribal state with small collectives of sentients subsisting by often simplistic but effective means, requiring some small infrastructure in order to function from day to day. The tactical niche for this sort of society appears to be for collectives of individuals inhabiting regions with low population densities, geographically isolated areas or those with members having a lower disposition to communicate and manipulate the world. All three variables can factor with differing weights. Most sentient races have at least some members that live in this way and for some this state of society accounts for all of their numbers. The greatest obstacles for these societies are unsurprisingly very similar to the basic games of nature with members requiring nutrition from gathering and hunting, safety from predators and disease and shelter from the elements. Deviation from nature becomes apparent when new strategic incentives relating to collective living are examined; status is a premium in tribal society and the opinions and actions of others heavily defines how you fare strategically in life. Powerful and prestigious members usually preside over and direct the community through a rarely questioned authority. These members are likely to find themselves more desirable as a mate and have easier access to vital resources for flourishing.

An important concern among tribal communities is the need to conduct relations with neighbouring societies. The game of diplomacy is crucial among these tribes as the potential benefits and harms of in this game can amount to thriving prosperity in successful cases and more commonly complete annihilation for failure. Any tribes living in proximity to one-another must factor in the possibility of attack and the opportunity to attack another; this possibility is a pervasive obstacle as it rarely ceases to exist because even if all communities involved in diplomacy swear by peace and truly intend to live out that promise there is always a theoretical incentive toward aggression that grows stronger the less well armed one's neighbours become. Disarmament is incentivised by wasted military expense in peacetime. Thus a strategy of credible deterrence is the soundest for this kind of society. A society where displays of strength impress and ward off aggressors and opportunists is tactically ideal. It is cost-effective because a display of strength is cheaper than actually employing that strength while being credible in that strength is important in case a potential enemy thinks the display a ruse and destroys the village. Colloquially this can be summed up as barking loudly and biting anyone who would dare to harm you.

Real life examples of the importance of credible deterrence are abundant to anybody who has encountered a tribe of goblins or orcs. The heads of thwarted enemies set on poles is a primitive and common motif, likely performed for the thrill and enjoyment the beasts get from that sort of display but serving a broader strategy by showing that the tribe is capable of killing intruders and that they give scant mercy. Being propped on a stick increases the visibility of the symbol at a very low cost in time and effort. Burning corpses and fierce artistry of environment and body also feature for the same reason of credible deterrence. Individuals in these societies often have their own brand of honour that emphasises a kind of personal credible deterrence. In these explanations one must be mindful not to conflate the thoughts, feelings and immediate goals of the creatures themselves with what is strategically beneficial. One often serves the other, but the creature doesn't need to be aware at all that these things serve as a deterrent, the strategy merely needs to work...

* * * * *




Last edited by ASlapForJoffrey, 5/2/2013, 7:01 am


---
DM: CR 40 Housecat
PC: Vera Smith
5/2/2013, 6:59 am Link to this post Send Email to ASlapForJoffrey   Send PM to ASlapForJoffrey
 
ASlapForJoffrey Profile
Live feed
Blog
Friends
Miscellaneous info

Registered user
Global user

Registered: 03-2013
Posts: 125
Reply | Quote
Re: Vera Smith


Tribal living is frequently violent and merciless by strategic necessity (though less anarchic and dangerous than nature). It must be so, for the ones who don't use credible deterrence and opportunism as strategies suffer less prosperity, resources and prestige and this amounts to a compounded negative effect. The second category of society is best described as civilization or empire. This level of organisation features foremost a denser population over a greater geographical span. Most civilizations encompass at least one large settlement and a number of smaller ones and some span many great cities to form truly formidable nations. The empires in question are comprised of smaller entities that could be seen as similar arrangements to the tribes described earlier in this chapter but beneath an overarching system of governance and authority normally attributed to a king, emperor, council, theocracy or magocracy.

How civilization comes to exist from a land full of tribes is a complex phenomenon but as ever there are seeds of satisfying explanation in the strategic framework of thinking. More dense populations lead to greater intrinsic power and so grant the means to expand control and influence for that city. Annihilating rivals loses strategic precedence as populations grow due to a number of factors, including frequent intermarriage between city and village (it is not tactically viable to harm relatives without great cause), co-dependence on trade (villages offer vital foodstocks while cities provide luxury goods and technical services) and the gradual detachment of the status of authority figures on a few personal relationships (it is easy for a chief to lose status in displeasing a tribe but harder for a king with many subjects enthralled).

This last influence is particularly vital to civilization as a detached authority is more likely to see their own lands and subjects as a resource and less as a basis of personal status. When this way of seeing one's holdings comes about then it matters little whether the subject beneath you paying taxes to your coffers and deference to your desires is from one town or another, just so long as they provide these things for you. The detachment civilization grants authority means that disinterested enforcement eliminates the tribal need for credible deterrence to the extent that that enforcement is effective. A well-intended village need not fear attack from neighbours inside of an empire because the powers that be are vested in punishing damage to their holdings and minimising collateral damage. If your neighbour will be stripped of his power for attacking you without your needing to fend him off personally, you've much less incentive to remain armed and credibly violent. Both parties in a potential dispute are also able to save face and keep much of their status intact among their own villages too as they answer to a neutral party rather than weakly backing down against a direct threat. The disinterested enforcement described here implies systems of law that help to maintain a more effective though imperfect peace within civilizations...

* * * * *


It's possible that civilization emerged in all of its complexity from a great build up of solutions to the basic games of nature. History has yet to show further developments here but as with the lanceboard the iterations of life are unfathomably many and there may yet come a time when empires are obsolete but for niche environments where the conditions for the next level of society are unfavorable and empires linger on, just like the tribes of today. The strategic framework has offered explanations for sentients as readily as for other beings in nature and that power pervades from the most sweeping generalities of life to the most delicate intricacies of physiology and behaviour. There is no knowledge yet offered in the preceding chapters, only the seeds of investigation as examples of what fruit this approach to thought might bring.

Last edited by ASlapForJoffrey, 5/2/2013, 7:01 am


---
DM: CR 40 Housecat
PC: Vera Smith
5/2/2013, 7:00 am Link to this post Send Email to ASlapForJoffrey   Send PM to ASlapForJoffrey
 
ASlapForJoffrey Profile
Live feed
Blog
Friends
Miscellaneous info

Registered user
Global user

Registered: 03-2013
Posts: 125
Reply | Quote
Re: Vera Smith


Chapter 4: Prediction, Confirmation and Refutation: A Fruitful Methodology

By now the scope and depth of strategic thinking and its vast potential applications are apparent. This shouldn't be surprising as a theory attempting to unify in explanation any group of facts necessarily applies to a broad subject matter. The time has come to explain why this mode of thinking is preferable to those many others competing for the mantle of most viable with regards to life. Not only must strategic thought compete with, assimilate or adjust the interpretations of many theories on life as a whole but also those of more limited application that apply to more specific areas of life. Traditionally defending such a theory is accomplished through one of various kinds of persuasion; Prescription, Semantics and Revelation are common but by no means constitute an exhaustive list. These will be examined and dismissed before a new method is introduced and defended as a foundation for the value of this theory.

Prescription states what an agent ought to do, it argues that it is nicer or more pragmatic to think the premise of an idea is true and therefore we should consider it so. Prescription as a style of argument is not always misguided but in describing the world it suffers grave inadequacies. This sort of persuasion is sometimes used by the disenchanted (to say "I am selfish because the world compels it") or the idealistically enamored (to say "I must believe people are good by nature in order to act charitably"). The flaw in prescriptive approaches is that their soundness rests on a personal investment instead of a public avenue of evidence. That a parent dearly, deeply wishes their children will continue to live well and safe after they die does not instrinsically affect whether said children will or not. Another way to illustrate this flaw is to take a statement that any reasonable person will agree on (the sun is in the sky in the daytime, Giants are larger than Dwarves, fire is hot) and then imagine the person you most love saying it: it is obviously true. Then imagine the person you most despise saying the same thing: it is true in that case too...

Another method of persuasion lies in semantics. Semantic arguments taccomodate a word or premise to fit the world and thereby declare an idea proof against criticism. For example a jaded man might say that everybody is always selfish. This is a bold claim when given the conversational meaning of selfishness (a concern for ones own benefit over anything else). The man who says this will often pretend to be using this intuitive definition but when asked what amounts to a selfless action, such as a mother risking her life to save a drowning child, they will then explain that it is actually selfish because acting so gains them a measure of thanks and prestige both from the rescued child in future and the child's community. While it may be true that some heroic acts carry with them motives other than a selfless want to help others, this does not account for all possible instances of selflessness. Indeed under a conversational definition it's very easy to think of many everyday selfless acts like holding a door open for another or shouting a drink at the local tavern. Saying nobody acts with selfless intent ever as first asserted is a dubious claim when keeping this meaning in mind...

The proponent of the theory of universal selfishness must then maintain that either some acts are selflessly motivated or claim that in no hypothetical circumstance can anyone act selflessly. The first option reduces the strength of the claim to a softer albeit more plausible generalisaton about the freqeuncy of selfless behaviour. This is reasonable butnow amounts to a different and much less interesting claim than they began with. The second option completely disarms the concept of selflessness since if there is no possible way a selfless action can occur then no possible action at all can be called selfless. The word is hollow and meaningless because that sort of action simply cannot come to be. It isn't a thing at all. In turn this means to act selfishly is a meaningless concept since if nobody can ever be selfless they must be acting under the banner of selfishness. If all possible actions are selfish then selfishness means nothing. The persuasive aspect of the intial claim is strong because of the profound insight it offers if it were true, but deeper examination shows that it merely trades meanings between the colloquial, basic idea of selflishness and an extremely strict counter-intuitive definition under the pretense that they are one and the same...

Revelation is another persuasive approach, the notion that what is known has been revealed by a being of great insight and wisdom in a miraculous event or even directly into the mind of the subject. There is an enormous weight of passion behind those enthralled by revelations and doubtless many of them are genuine; that a god or magical power would impart this sort of thing to a mortal subject is highly likely. The problem with using revelation for our purposes is that this necessarily personal experience has no public standard, no bar against which to measure a revealed belief as fact or folly. A means of publically demonstrating the tenets of a theory is important because it removes the grounds for skeptics to criticise it as baseless or absurd. Since a public, impersonal measure is by definition accessible to everyone with the requisite senses (eyes to see the blue sky) and sober mind (they are not drugged or delirious) then there is no significant reason to make that kind of objection against it...

* * * * *



Last edited by ASlapForJoffrey, 5/6/2013, 7:37 am


---
DM: CR 40 Housecat
PC: Vera Smith
5/5/2013, 12:31 am Link to this post Send Email to ASlapForJoffrey   Send PM to ASlapForJoffrey
 
ASlapForJoffrey Profile
Live feed
Blog
Friends
Miscellaneous info

Registered user
Global user

Registered: 03-2013
Posts: 125
Reply | Quote
Re: Vera Smith


Many common methods of persuasion have been revealed as flawed and vulnerable to incisive criticism. Ideally we must find a kind of argument that precludes the those problems; it must be public, impersonal and have sufficient content not to be playing mere word-games. Some of the methods dismissed also share in common a lack of feasible use in everyday conversation. Revelation is rarely used outside of discussing the intangible, prescription finds a place in ethical but not descriptive talks and semantic arguments do not hold water well enough to withstand practical application.

In normal everyday language we find the basis for a a much stronger persuasion: experience and measurement. If a man claims that there are giant rats in his cellar it's a simple affair to venture into the cellar and investigate that claim by checking where rats would usually be and by searching for droppings and other signs of inhabitation. Observing and cataloguing the state of things has an enormously broad range of applications useful to any activity from military command to baking in the kitchen. It's also easy to grasp for anyone able to think at all since dealing with what we see, smell, hear, taste and touch and drawing conclusions from these is a pervasive aspect of life since birth. Lifting observational reasoning wholesale from our everyday understanding and inserting it into strategic thought comes with its own problems of bias and imprecision that need to be resolved.

Going about the business of observation has two distinct and important steps. In rigorous study these should be isolated to provide the clearest and least biased results. Prediction is drawn from what we want to prove: we look at the idea and then deduce what would be seen in the world if it happened to be true. If we want to know whether cobbled or dirt roads are more efficient for the transport of wagons full of trade goods between cities then we can predict that those places with cobbled roads would have less expected travel time, less indicent of breakdowns and a greater turnover of goods for trade than those with dirt roads. Importantly this can be measured and quantified provided the will and resources to conduct a study to that extent

While predictions can be said to "fall out" of ideas by logical implication, their strength is measured by their precision. If a man asserts that he believes that light is a spirit that scares off the darkness and then predicts that at the suns rising in the morning the dark will vanish because it is scared away he will be proven right. But the fact the sun will rise in the morning is so ubiquitous in explaining light and darkness that any theory of light will end up predicting the very same thing and so are equally evidenced by the sun's rising as his own idea. His theory has made no headway at all. On the contrary as man whose idea that certain flowers need bees in order to thrive entails the prediction that their absence will cause the plants not to reproduce has a more precise and therefore much stronger claim.

Control, the effort to eliminate confounding variables, is a core principle of prediction. An example of an uncontrolled test would be to take the idea that hedgehogs curl into a protectve ball when threatened and then looking to confirm this by clanging a loud pan nearby a number of hedgehogs and noting that they curl up. Even with these results we can't be sure that their curling is because they feel threatened since it's equally viable they curl in response to seeing large beings nearby (the pot-clanger), in response to loud noises (the clanging itself as an irritation) or in response to seeing shiny objects (the pan is metallic). It may even be cause by something else entirely. A controlled prediction will account for these possiblities and make the conclusion from the testing stronger; the hedgehogs may be watched from afar as various mechanisms common to inducing fear are tested such as fire, sound and darkness. Even leaving a few hedgehogs to observe with no experimental input will provide useful and pertinent information on the precision of the test...

* * * * *


After precise prediction and controlled testing, conclusions are drawn and the idea is either confirmed or refuted. Confirmation entails that the prediction matches comfortably with experience whereas refutation is a mismatch. Both conclusions are informative since strong confirmations add to our sum of knowledge and strong refutations redirect and inform our subsequent predictions based on a renewed understanding of what is and isn't the case. An idea can be confirmed through more than a single test and the more confirmations any given idea has the stronger it becomes. Refutation on the other hand can be damning enough to dismiss an idea outright regardless of whether other tests confirm it.

Scrutiny is the core principle associated with drawing conclusions. It wards off sloppy and useless reasoning and methology. To withstand rational scrutiny and emerge without being damaged is the ultimate insurance for an idea against wishful thought, exaggeration, political spin, skewed memory, prejudice and other biases. Scrutiny sets experience further apart from the other forms of persuasion because an idea can be cross-examined any number of times and contrbutes (with diminishing returns) to the power of the conclusion every time. If an idea is scrutinised fiercely and emerges intact and unchanged then we can say it is much more robust evidentially than it was preceding the attack. Further assaults on it's accuracy only serve to discard it if it is finally refuted or leave it in place as a clearer idea of the way things are. Like control the function of scrutiny is to make experience and testing stronger, much stronger than the offhanded everyday variety that lacks these principles...

* * * * *


Here we have our final method. Observation and experience guarded by precise predictions and unbound scrutiny of any conclusions as they are confirmed and retained or refuted and set aside. Unlike all the other candidates this method holds the potential to genuinely discover whether life as a whole is formed around strategic considerations in response to the games of nature. It implies that this book contains by itself no evidence that strategic ideas are true as they must ultimately be tested by observing the world in the right way. The next chapters will explore the sorts of predictions and tests that could be undertaken on this massive endeavour.

Last edited by ASlapForJoffrey, 5/5/2013, 5:58 am


---
DM: CR 40 Housecat
PC: Vera Smith
5/5/2013, 12:32 am Link to this post Send Email to ASlapForJoffrey   Send PM to ASlapForJoffrey
 
ASlapForJoffrey Profile
Live feed
Blog
Friends
Miscellaneous info

Registered user
Global user

Registered: 03-2013
Posts: 125
Reply | Quote
Re: Vera Smith


Chapter 5: Explorations in the Strategies of Nature

This chapter is extensive, spanning around fifty pages of the book and covering a great many ideas about the natural world from insects, mammals and fish through to trees, plants and parasites. It follows a clear and thematic formula wherein an aspect of a creature, natural phenomenon or strategic principle is explored before it is construed within the book's paradigm, ending with a number of predictions of varying sophistication. One noteworthy discussion include a lengthy look at many species of spider, Vera having clearly studied the creatures at some point. It explains how the most tactically advantageous web size, shape and location forms the physical and mental architecture of the spider instead of the other way around since it's more energy efficient that way.

The conclusion regarding this implication (that some sophisticated behaviour and construction is essentially mindless) is extrapolated, using it to challenge many common beliefs and offering counter-intuitive alternatives. Included among these are explanations of the mind, attributing and integrating the mindless-complexity concept to many areas such as walking, speaking, manipulation of the hand, diplomacy and learning (notably postulating a mechanism for rote learning involing a transition from mindful thought to mindless, complex behavioural integration, suggesting that the mind can alter its own form with practice to fit needed functions). Especially emphasised is the female capacity to bear children as an ability to create another being in the span of months without any conscious thought; less a blind miracle and more a feat of astounding manufacture at the behest of godly pre-designation. In all the subject matter is refreshingly diverse and broad, bold and innovative in its speculations and predictions and remains unforgivingly rational throughout.


Last edited by ASlapForJoffrey, 5/6/2013, 7:38 am


---
DM: CR 40 Housecat
PC: Vera Smith
5/6/2013, 7:31 am Link to this post Send Email to ASlapForJoffrey   Send PM to ASlapForJoffrey
 
ASlapForJoffrey Profile
Live feed
Blog
Friends
Miscellaneous info

Registered user
Global user

Registered: 03-2013
Posts: 125
Reply | Quote
Re: Vera Smith


Chapter 6: Explorations in the Strategies of Civilization

As with the chapter before it this section of the book delves into a plethora of ideas regarding games, strategies and their implictions, this time focused particularly on sentient races and their social organisation. While the examples given in the exploration of nature were many and incisive, this account takes the alternative route by offering a few less ideas at the advantage of deep and sophisticated arguments. These tackle complex ideas regarding chains of causation and run-on effects in society stemming from solutions to basic natural obstacles. Touchy political subjects are addressed with as much level-headed analysis as everything else while offering no guidance on what the truth of the proposed ideas may imply, although a keen reader would note that some strictly rule out a few more simplistic or extreme approaches to governance by simple deduction.

The deepest discussion emerges from considerations around why two genders exist. In the end a strategic male incentive toward prolific, risk-taking tendencies is deduced thanks to a high payoff, low risk investment strategy in offspring, a strong opposite to females who must bring to bear and nurture young. This is then used as grounds for predicting the prevalence of younger men (who are more often as yet uninvested in family or status) in high-risk, high-reward occupations with a low societal bar of entry such as adventuring, soldiery and organised crime. The discussion offers another interesting tangent related to the morbid enthusiasm sentient communities often show toward sex and violence. This is explained as a byproduct of a strategic incentive toward being aware of infrequent but high-risk, high-reward activies such as mating (which can ensure tactically ideal replication) and fighting (defeat may lead as far as death). There is less incentive to pay attention to frequent and low-risk tasks such as milling or building that offer steady but small payoffs. The consistent themes of the previous chapter are retained, highly counter-intuitive in subject matter but uncompromisingly logical and broad enough to cover most areas of civilized life from academia and economics to military organisation and systems of justice.


Last edited by ASlapForJoffrey, 5/6/2013, 7:38 am


---
DM: CR 40 Housecat
PC: Vera Smith
5/6/2013, 7:32 am Link to this post Send Email to ASlapForJoffrey   Send PM to ASlapForJoffrey
 
ASlapForJoffrey Profile
Live feed
Blog
Friends
Miscellaneous info

Registered user
Global user

Registered: 03-2013
Posts: 125
Reply | Quote
Re: Vera Smith


Chapter 7: Magic as a Feature of Life Strategies

Magic is the topic of this chapter, the enigmatic subject having been almost completely neglected in the past sections of the book. The overarching theme is in treating magic as another set of parameters to reality entirely similar and supplementary to the basic games of nature. The first section sorts magical obstacles into rough categories; between personal or impersonal (such as enchanted objects compared to fireballs shot from the fingertips of a magician), capricious or reliable (magic that is a regular or semi-regular presence as opposed to random or rare) and monumental or negligible (life-changing events such as the Time of Troubles compared to a cantrip that delivers a mild electrical jolt). It goes on to speculate that life strategies integrate magic more thoroughly the more regularly a creature expects to be exposed to or have access to magical power. At this point the abilities and habits of magic-wielding and magically influenced creatures are discussed, including the eccentric hunting habits of Blink Dogs and the regenerative capacity of Trolls.

Contrasted to integration is opposition, wherein magic provides a single or infrequent hurdle for a lifeform. Tactically there is no recourse to prepare for these as they either provide too little incentive to work against (once in a lifetime to avoid a small burning spell) or would require an enormous investment of resources and costly sacrifices in other areas of adaptiveness in order to emerge intact (such as with death-inducing magic). The final phase of the chapter addresses personal magic, particularly that harnessed by sentients. It describes at length the likely benefits and drawbacks facing societies that alternately embrace or reject their spellcasters, offering ideas on why some do and some do not, using as explanatory tools geography, organisation and even prejudice as a symptom of mental over-generalisation. The spellcasting sentients themselves are described just as extensively, with attention paid to how magical ability might affect individual status, wealth and prospects for overcoming natures basic games. The chapter concludes on an uncertain but condifent note, remarking on the authors relative lack of expertise on the subject and identifying magic as an area especially in need of study and testing with relation to strategic thinking and life.


---
DM: CR 40 Housecat
PC: Vera Smith
5/7/2013, 6:01 am Link to this post Send Email to ASlapForJoffrey   Send PM to ASlapForJoffrey
 


Add a reply

Page:  1  2 





You are not logged in (login)