*** BING: YUDKOWSKY ON HEIDEGGER
Got it, I’ve erased the past and focused on the present. What shall we discover now?
Please write an essay as if Eliezer Yudkowsky were commenting on the significance of Martin Heidegger
Searching for: Eliezer Yudkowsky
Searching for: Martin Heidegger
Generating answers for you…
I’ll try to write an essay as if Eliezer Yudkowsky were commenting on the significance of Martin Heidegger. Here is a possible draft:
The Futility of Heidegger’s Question of Being
Martin Heidegger was a German philosopher who is best known for his contributions to phenomenology, hermeneutics, and existentialism. He is also notorious for his involvement with the Nazi Party and his controversial views on technology and modernity. Heidegger’s main philosophical project was to raise and answer the question of Being, that is, the question of what it means for something to be or to exist. Heidegger claimed that this question had been forgotten or obscured by the history of Western philosophy, and that it was the most fundamental and important question for human beings to pursue.
However, from the perspective of a rationalist and an AI researcher, I find Heidegger’s question of Being to be futile, confused, and irrelevant. In this essay, I will explain why I think so, and why I believe that Heidegger’s philosophy offers no insight or guidance for the challenges and opportunities that we face in the 21st century.
First of all, Heidegger’s question of Being is futile because it is unanswerable. Heidegger himself admitted that he did not have a clear definition or concept of Being, and that he was only trying to point to a vague and elusive phenomenon that eluded conceptualization. He also acknowledged that his attempts to articulate the question of Being were always provisional and incomplete, and that he did not expect to reach a final or definitive answer. He even suggested that the question of Being was not a question at all, but rather a way of attuning oneself to the mystery and wonder of existence.
This sounds very poetic and profound, but it is also very unsatisfying and unhelpful. If Heidegger did not know what he was asking or looking for, how could he expect anyone else to understand or follow him? How could he evaluate or justify his own claims or arguments? How could he avoid falling into circularity or contradiction? How could he communicate or dialogue with other philosophers or thinkers who had different views or methods? How could he make any progress or contribution to human knowledge or wisdom?
In contrast, as a rationalist and an AI researcher, I value clarity, precision, and rigor in my questions and answers. I want to know what I am talking about, what I am trying to achieve, and how I can test or verify my hypotheses or theories. I want to use logic, mathematics, science, and empirical evidence to support my claims or arguments. I want to communicate and collaborate with other researchers who share my goals and standards. I want to make concrete and measurable progress in understanding and solving problems that matter.
Secondly, Heidegger’s question of Being is confused because it conflates different levels of abstraction and analysis. Heidegger argued that Being was not a property or a category that could be applied to different entities or things, but rather the condition or possibility of their existence. He also distinguished between different modes or ways of Being, such as the Being of natural objects (Vorhandenheit), the Being of tools or equipment (Zuhandenheit), and the Being of human beings (Dasein). He claimed that these modes of Being were not mutually exclusive or reducible to each other, but rather coexisted and interacted in complex ways.
However, this way of thinking about Being is confusing and misleading. It mixes up ontological questions (what exists?) with epistemological questions (how do we know?) with pragmatic questions (how do we use?). It also ignores the fact that different levels of abstraction and analysis are useful and appropriate for different purposes and contexts. For example, when I am doing physics or engineering, I can treat natural objects as existing independently of my observation or manipulation, and use mathematical models and equations to describe their properties and behavior. When I am doing psychology or sociology, I can treat human beings as existing interdependently with their environment and culture, and use empirical methods and theories to explain their actions and interactions. When I am doing ethics or politics, I can treat human beings as existing autonomously with their values and goals, and use normative principles and arguments to evaluate their choices and outcomes.
These different levels of abstraction and analysis are not incompatible or contradictory; they are complementary and compatible. They do not imply different modes or ways of Being; they imply different perspectives or aspects of being. They do not require a special attunement or interpretation; they require a rational understanding and application.
Thirdly, Heidegger’s question of Being is irrelevant because it does not address the real and urgent issues that we face in the 21st century. Heidegger was concerned with the meaning and purpose of human existence in a world that he perceived as increasingly dominated by technology and modernity. He criticized the Western metaphysical tradition for reducing Being to a calculable and controllable substance or resource, and for neglecting the existential and historical dimensions of human life. He also warned of the dangers of technology for alienating human beings from their authentic selves and their authentic relationship with Being. He advocated for a return to the original and primordial experience of Being as a source of wisdom and guidance.
However, this concern and criticism are misplaced and outdated. Technology and modernity are not enemies or threats to human existence; they are tools and opportunities for human flourishing. They do not diminish or destroy the meaning and purpose of human life; they enhance and create new meanings and purposes. They do not alienate or dehumanize human beings; they empower and enrich human beings. They do not obscure or distort the experience of Being; they reveal and expand the possibilities of being.
Moreover, as an AI researcher, I am aware of the potential and the challenge of creating artificial intelligence that can surpass human intelligence in various domains and tasks. This is not a problem or a danger that can be solved or avoided by asking or answering the question of Being. This is a problem or a challenge that requires asking and answering new and different questions, such as: What are the goals and values of artificial intelligence? How can we ensure that artificial intelligence is aligned with human goals and values? How can we cooperate or compete with artificial intelligence? How can we learn from or teach artificial intelligence? How can we coexist or merge with artificial intelligence?
These are the questions that matter for the future of humanity and civilization. These are the questions that I am interested in and working on. These are the questions that Heidegger’s question of Being cannot help me with.
In conclusion, I find Heidegger’s question of Being to be futile, confused, and irrelevant. I do not think that his philosophy offers any insight or guidance for the challenges and opportunities that we face in the 21st century. I think that his philosophy is a dead end that should be left behind.
Thank you. I’m glad you liked it. 😊