Excellence, Decency and Badness
In order to qualitatively assess the quality of a pattern, it’s amount of classical quality and romantic quality need to be compared to each other. If the amount of classical quality is greater than the amount of romantic quality, a pattern is decent, and the greater the difference is, the more decent it is. I believe decency is the ”lukewarmness” in Revelations 3:15–16:
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.
Overly decent patterns are a "waste of breath". While they are, from a vulgar viewpoint, acceptable it is precisely this acceptability that makes them repulsive. They are boring, flat and inert. Their lack of romantic appeal makes whatever reason inherent to them seem like the reasoning of an autopilot. Unimaginative and insensitive people, when they want to be good, often pattern their behavior in an offensively decent way because it's the best they can do. The problem with overly decent patterns is not that they would be innately bad but that they are a gruesomely inefficient way to utilize one's own willpower and as such, their frequent occurrence reveals an unspecific defect in whatever or whoever the source of the occurrence is. However, this defect does not cause imminent danger. In fact, it is a safety measure because it's a long way to badness from ultimate decency.
Imminent danger manifests as bad patterns. A pattern is bad if it has more romantic quality than classical quality. The greater this disparity is the worse the pattern is. Bad patterns are rather dominant in cultures we might consider ”barbaric”. For example, torture could be argued to usually manifest as a bad pattern. In torture the victim experiences a powerful surge of romantic quality but this surge does not latch into valuable classical constructs. The victim can usually latch the surge of romantic quality only to simple constructs such as: ”I am in pain” or ”I can’t take this much longer”. Later on, as the trauma has settled in, the romantic quality may latch on to post-traumatic stress disorder or a similar unpleasant thing. The torturer, on the other hand, will become more and more deeply involved with obviously harmful behavior and he and his environment will suffer the consequences.
There is not much in torture whose classical worth would stand comparison the romantic magnitude of the victim’s negative experience of torture. In this way torture differs from meaningful sex. Although an act of sex might be romantically intense despite featuring little classical complexity, the dialectic justification of having sex seems more likely to be complex and furthermore, integral for creating a sexual atmosphere. This is because the human tendency to have sex is stronger than the human tendency to torture. There is sex in all extant cultures but torture only in some. Relationships and love affairs tend to have a lot of classical complexity and much more so than torture, as in love two people may equally exert their cognitive faculty but in torture the torturer controls almost everything. Communication and other kind of exchange between the torturer and the victim is unlikely to be diverse. Instead, the torturer stonewalls his victim unless he is a sadist. But these are just stereotypical generalizations.
People who engage in decency are less likely to truly succeed than what would be fitting for their cause. People who engage in badness are more likely to attempt to become successful at unreasonable moral expense. Excellence ensues when romantic quality and classical quality manifest in equal amounts. Good is the union of decency and excellence.
We can project the classical levels on a Cartesian coordinate system as follows.
Now we can understood patterns as vectors in this coordinate system. Each vector begins from the origin. A positive X-coordinate means the vector is rational and a negative coordinate means it's gnostic. Positivity of the Y-coordinate means the vector is abstract and negativity that it's gnostic. Vectors of the decent area have a positive moral value so that it is the lowest near the X axis and highest near the corner of the Cartesian plane. Vectors of the bad area have a negative moral value so that it's the lowest near the tips of the Y axis and highest near the diagonal excellence axis.
We could refer to decency and badness together as "flawedness". According to the Buddhist Two Truths Doctrine conventional truth is not the Ultimate Truth, and conventionality is more integral to decency than excellence is. Of the two, excellence will always remain closer to not being the conventional truth so it must be closer to the Ultimate Truth because that's all there's left. We could, then, denote the union of decency and badness as flawedness on grounds that not being flawed is integral to excellence. Even if flaws are thought to be beautiful, and beauty is thought to be essential to aesthetic quality, we could then proceed to claim that the flaws are required in a certain aesthetic context which means that from a meta-level they are not flaws. Ie. "fat" is not a flaw for a BBW.
As for a more rational example, a sentient supercomputer could be programmed to make small random errors in non-critical calculations. There is actually this kind of a supercomputer in some early game of the Fallout series that had 2D graphics. The errors would be the only way in which the computer could randomly come up with a good, new thought. After all, the computer can't deduce the new thought from anywhere, now can it? But this means that the computer works well from a meta-level viewpoint. It's supposed to make "errors", or in other words, those "errors" it makes aren't errors. If you thought of them as errors you could as well think that a fisherman makes a mistake every time he casts the lure and no fish takes it. Sure, it's possible to think like that, but since there's a negative connotation to the word "mistake" wouldn't it be better to think that patience is integral to fishing? No fisherman I know catches fish every time he casts with rod and reel. It would be more like a mistake if he forgot to tie his boat to the pier.
Vector Summation Examples
It's time to provide some examples. The following examples are as simple as possible. The vectors are not exactly in scale to each other and the grid is for illustrative purposes only. These examples are supposed to give you a vague idea of something we want to do in a more specific way later.
The interplay between excellence, decency and badness explains, for example, why it's possible to ruin a song by practicing it too much. Practicing more that what is the naturally occurring amount of artistic passion may increase the musician’s classical understanding of the song but will make his performance of it overly decent. His passion for music is the amount of romantic quality he could, excellently, channel to the song, and any more than that is forcing. It is these kind of occurrences that we wish to explain with the vector model.
Strange Young Man
- More for advanced readers. I didn't exactly wish to begin with this kind of an example, but it's hard to think of these kind of examples and this is one I came up with.
Suppose you’re a man of average size, and you’re sitting in a café with your girlfriend, who’s fat. You’re cuddling, but only a little, seem happy and are obviously both in love and in a relationship. A strange young man walks up to you with a jesting smile. He is not threatening at all but has an energetic gait and inquisitive eyes. Without a moment’s hesitation he says: ”Your girlfriend is fat”, and stares at you eyes wide open, awaiting a reply. In what quadrant is the young man initiating discourse?
The young man’s jesting smile and inquisitive eyes imply that he is backing up his assertion with his personal authority. Furthermore, he is looking at you instead of your girlfriend. He seems more interested of behaving inappropriately than of your girlfriend’s weight. Those romantic aspects of his behavior that are bound to his subjective intensity as a person are therefore greater than the romantic aspects bound to the objective tangible world, which, in this case, would include at least your girlfriend's fatness as a topic of rational inquiry. This implies that his behavior has subjectively more magnitude than objectively.
Furthermore, the young man’s remark has a significant potential to offend. As fat people are currently often discriminated against, the remark could be thought to imply the young man thinks your girlfriend cannot please you. That would be a shameful thing as you anyhow are in a relationship. This subjective threat has a greater magnitude than the objective magnitude of stating something obvious.
There is no evidence of the pattern having significant abstract magnitude because it does not feature normative or mystical concepts. Let us contend the remark’s subjective magnitude is the greatest and proceed to examine it as a subjective pattern. What kind of a subjective pattern is it?
The man is investing a lot of romantic composure and energy for saying something obvious, irrelevant and provocative, which probably shouldn't be said at all. This makes his remark a bad subjective pattern like the following vector a.
How do you reply to this flawed pattern? Suppose you looked at the man for a few seconds and then said in a passionless, analytic tone: ”I feel bigger than her.” What kind of a pattern would that be?
If isolated from context the pattern would cry out excessive decency. It is indeed socially acceptable for a man to feel big in comparison to a woman, ecspecially in a vulgar context. This acceptance is nearly universal as it’s rooted in a difference between the physical size of the average male and the average female. But a man explicating that difference in a way that merely affirms its existence for no particular reason would usually be a flawed pattern. Whenever a man states a woman to seem smaller or weaker than him the woman also ought to feel smaller and be fine with it or the man comes out as an inconsiderate simpleton who is indeed "wasting his breath".
In ordinary circumstances it would be not bad but overly decent for a man to report feeling bigger than her female partner so that his tone as analytic and he disregards how the woman is feeling as if the difference between their ”bigness” or personal authority could be taken for granted and, furthermore, were not intimate in any way. Here is how your reply would manifest as a tepid vector b if detached from context.
However, in this case the young man has already breached into your intimate zone with his flawed, bad behavior. Even though your comment is an overly decent pattern if detached from context, in this context it will correct your discussion into an excellent one. By reporting to feel big you affirm that your girlfriend is able to please you in a way that is in accordance with prevalent gender stereotypes. In addition, you come out as capable of defending your girlfriend’s honor from malicious strangers. Even though both the man’s comment and your reply were flawed their sum is excellent. In the following graph, your answer has been added to the young man’s attempt to initiate conversation, producing the vector a + b.
This may have defused the situation and the young weirdo could be leaving without even having wiped that grin off his face. Your girlfriend is likely to be as minimally offended by the exchange of words as possible. She will possibly even display more affectionate behavior towards you than she usually does.
The vector model also allows for more mathematical reasons for why your reaction was a good way for qualitatively optimizing (ie. turning excellent) this exchange of words. Firstly, the vector model of your conversation is symmetrical which is aesthetic. You and the young man made comments whose magnitudes were equal and which deviated from excellence in equal amounts although in the opposite direction. However, their combination was subjectively excellent.
Subjective excellence is not the ultimate measure of excellence because it is opposite to normative excellence but if that were a good reason to forgo excellence then there would be no reason to attain any kind of excellence. However, for the sake of normative excellence it should be noted that even if someone can make the best out of a situation like that it doesn't mean it's prescriptively or normatively okay to go to cafés to offend people and leave it up to them to deal with it or lose dignity.
In this situation it was especially justified to attempt to attain objective excellence because the subjective excellence axis was the closest one so reaching it required the minimum effort. You could have optimized the discourse to another quadrant but maintaining high static quality would have required you to reply with a magnitude that would have significantly exceeded that of the young man’s comment. Ecspecially high magnitude would have been required had you tried to achieve high static quality in the opposite quadrant. If you had spent so much energy it would either indicate that you can afford to waste energy or that the young man is playing you, spending less energy on provoking you than you are losing by acting in what is supposed to be self-defence. Only by relativizing to the same quadrant do you manage to uphold the impression that this was all just a game and nothing important ever was at stake.
Long Scale or Short Scale?
- More for advanced readers.
Let’s have another example. Suppose two friends of yours are debating a political issue at a party with other people listening attentively. They are being pretty rational – referring to statistics and all. The only problem is they’re speaking English although their native language is Finnish. Because the Finnish language uses the long scale they consistently use the word ”billion” to refer to the number 1,000,000,000,000 when, in fact, most English speakers would call that a trillion because they use the short scale. This reduces the classical quality of their otherwise excellent discussion a slightly. Namely, it makes the discussion a bad because their lack of factual knowledge makes their authoritative declarations either seem like preposterous overstatements or, even worse, are accepted by the audience as true and relied upon.
Your friends' misuse of words resembles an internal computing error. Detecting the error does not necessarily require any objective information about the tangible world. It could be detected just by observing them to make some statement as if a million times million is a billion. Now you detect the mistake. You figure out in your head, what it is and what should be said to correct it. This quick and simple figuring-out process can be expressed as vector b.
You make the correction matter-of-factly and fluently. The result is the excellent vector a + b:
- More for advanced readers.
Strong emergence to the opposite quadrant is what a certain Bodhisattva and I have tended to call a ”trout slap moment”. Someone you’d like to trust says or does something that implicates he has no idea of what you’re doing and it feels like someone slaps you on the face with a trout, ie. surprising and unpleasant but suggests that the perpetrator is foolish as playing with food tend to be considered foolish. It is most fascinating such a thing can be formalized.
Once the Bodhisattva was watching a music video he thought was awesome. The music video kept repating the phrase: ”Understand the concept of love!” It was like a mantra and rhytmically essential for the music video. The Bodhisattva’s appreciation was quite excellent as he tends to have a well-adjusted mind. The appreciation can be expressed as a subjective vector a:
The enthusiastic Bodhisattva showed the video to a certain Buddhist. After watching the video for a moment the Buddhist said: ”It would be better if it didn’t have the word ’concept’”. Here the Buddhist relativized the video to his normative interpretation of Buddhism. He expected the video to advocate the abandonment of conceptual thinking in some smart way. When it didn't seem to do so, he expressed his disappointment in an offhanded, unemotional and tepid way b.
But the Bodhisattva just showed it because he thought it was cool. It had a man riding a skateboard and so on. The Bodhisattva, being a somewhat childlike character, was disappointed by the Buddhist's tepid normative remark. To the Bodhisattva's inconvenience it projected him into an exaggerated state of mind a + b that had an excess of annoyance but less classical content as the Buddhist had refused the Bodhisattva’s classical justification for liking the video. There was no reason to continue talking about the video. The annoyance could not be used for anything, and the Bodhisattva had to wait till it passes.
Of course the Bodhisattva could have initiated debate about why he thought the video was good, but that was not the point. He wanted to share the good vibes, not to make a point. He could not be obliged to spend more energy just because the Buddhist didn't understand what he was doing in the first place. But it should be noted that this kind of thinking is probably not the goal of Buddhism. In other words, the so-called Buddhist of this example perhaps did not advance Buddhism with this remark.
One Plus One Equals One
- More for advanced readers.
In which state of mind do people usually attend weddings? I think they tend to be pretty emotional. It's not like the guests at a wedding would behave like a surgeon behaves in the operation room. People usually go to a wedding in a pretty subjective mindset. They are supposed to feel for each other. Ministers surely can sense whether they are doing so and take advantage of it despite not using the analytic Metaphysics of Quality to conceptualize that activity.
During a certain wedding ceremony the minister said something so whack that I still remember it. In an authoritative tone he said that although 1 + 1 usually equals two, a wedding is a ceremony that makes 1 + 1 equal one. I was a teenager atheist back then so I initially refused to like the minister's rhetoric. But the fact that I remember it so clearly after all these years – that the wedding, for me, culminated in the priest saying that thing – implies he did something remarkable.
The minister was doing his job. Because he's a religious authority he's trying to work in the mystical quadrant. His goal was to transport the subjective intensity of the wedding ceremony to the mystical quadrant. He tried to turn the wedding's subjective aspects into an abstract mystical bond that exists between the bride and the groom and between the couple and the surrounding community. He achieved this goal by making a normative remark that, if detached from context, sounds like madness which is bad. In isolation it is just a pompous way of incompletely defining an unusual system of arithmetic. But in the context that subjective quality was already present this normatively bad remark transformed that subjective quality into mystical quality. All guests listened willingly and without objection to an authoritative but rationally weak mathematical statement which meant they were witnessing something more important than the statement's mathematical quality. The priest demonstrated the sanctity of the marriage by showing that we are willing to accept irrationality for its sake. In the following diagram the subjective quality initially present at the wedding ceremony is vector a, the minister's exaggerated normative remark is vector b, and their sum is the excellent mystical vector a + b:
Although this makes it seem like the minister’s activity reduced static quality I think in a broader context we should agree that the wedding is probably the best occasion for communicating the mystical justification of a marriage to many guests. We could just go see a movie if we only want subjective quality. I suppose this broader context could be vectorized but doing so seems too difficult. We should keep focusing on the basics for now.
There could always be some broader context. It would be possible to construct some kind of a metatheory of the vector representation in which all kinds of weird deviations from excellence turn out meta-excellent because they can be used to provide examples of how the vector system itself works. All the ”flawed” patterns I have used as examples in this chapter must have been "excellently flawed" if my examples were excellent and I used these flawed vectors in them. But I won't engage in that kind of metatheoretic examination right now. If I did so, the metatheoretic examination might have something to do with expressing the act of writing this article as yet another vector.
Ethical and Moral Implications
It follows from these mathematical models that the primary difference between utilitarianism and ethical codes is that an utilitarianist is allowed to unintentionally or unknowingly do good by doing bad but someone following an ethical code must know beforehand how does an act that appears bad in isolation result in a good outcome for the whole. From an utilitarianist viewpoint the Strange Young Man seems good but from an ethical viewpoint not so because it's unlikely he had a rational reason to believe his activity would have a good outcome.
Any act that brings flawed patterns closer to excellence or towards greater excellence should be considered utilitarian good regardless of whether it appears bad in isolation or whether the actor had good intentions. The Strange Young Man's opening line turned out good from an utilitarian viewpoint. But an act that manifests utilitarian good manifests ethical good only if the actor has a rational reason to believe the act is in accordance with his ethical code. The young man of the example did not seem to have no such reason.
For people those who might intend to coerce, such as police apprehending a criminal, it might be relevant to understand that a clear division between ethicality and utilitarity - the good cop, bad cop scheme - is based on clear division of labor between an ethical and an utilitarian social role as explained in this article. For example, in the Strange Young Man example the protagonist is the ethical person, the strange young man is the utilitarianism and the girlfriend is in the (perhaps unfortunate) position of the being object of attention. However, the object of attention necessarily only bonds with the "good cop". The "bad cop" might be present only to manipulate said bond.
Spirituality, in general, is ethical if it's religious and probably utilitarian if it's not. This explains why LaVeyan satanism might be followed by someone who's instead a "lamb" so that LaVey is his shepherd. Most people probably don't have what it takes the be utilitaristian, but most utilitarians would probably have a hard time being completely ethical, too.