“What would I have done in their place?” Sven Ortoli wonders as he walks the streets of Pompeii. Flee or stay as Vesuvius begins to agitate? The locals have never experienced or heard of an eruption. No scientific model. What to decide from scratch?
Finding the right start
Unfortunately, Sven does not know the UniPhiM1the universal philosophy method and looks the wrong way. He seeks within himself the answer, while exceptional situations reveal to the collective what type of individual we are. It is the world’s view of oneself that must be used and not the other way around.
Each of our inner realities is built in its own way. There are as many “Vesuvius restless over Pompeii” as there are inhabitants in the city. How can we conceive of a decision theory from this immeasurable diversity? It could be vague and general at best, probing the ontological depths of the human soul, but inapplicable to the individual, who has defined a particular universe.
From decomposition to Bayesian composition
“How to react to the exceptional?” questions the coherence of each inner world. This is a bad question, almost an oxymoron: ‘exceptional’ concerns only oneself and ‘how to react’ is addressed at random. The correct version is “Why would I react like this, myself ?” Will I delay, decompose, torn between all possible attitudes? Or react impulsively, short-circuiting a reflection that is not my strength?
Or will I turn my deep initial uncertainty into a reasonable approximation? I can summon all the useful criteria while keeping the final uncertainty active. It is not incompressible. On the contrary, I can reduce it with Bayesian thinking, an natural way of thinking developed at so-called “smart” people, which only needs to be fed with relevant data.
Cook the individual recipe
But Bayesian thinking is not enough to make a good decision-maker. What the exceptional reveals is the confidence of each one in her identity core. Her self-appreciation. When intelligence has determined the best path, it is still necessary to stick to it.
The trickiest thing for a decision-maker is to extend her criteria to the collective that associates with her. A solitary effort is rarely the most suitable. It fits into the others, positive and negative. The individual decision must undergo a social cooking. It can come out burnt and indigestible. It is better to worry about it in advance.
Not very good at building an anthill
Sven ends his Vesuvian evocation nicely with a parallel on the contemporary socio-climatic volcano, ready to explode too. Leaving this planet is not a possible choice. The catastrophe threatens the human anthill.
But real ants will come through better than us, without technology. How is this possible, when their Bayesian and decision-making capacities are far inferior to ours? Because our efforts remain solitary, groupist, uncoordinated. There is no longer a lack of self-confidence. On the contrary, this trust is exploding the Earth. Wild individualism that no longer includes the collectivization of one’s personal path, which refuses to subject it to social cooking.
Human ants are in disarray. Never so connected by networks. Never so much telescoping others.