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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality - What if Harry was smarter than Ender? (Page 8)

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Author Topic: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality - What if Harry was smarter than Ender?
Rakeesh
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I'm not mistaken, you simply misunderstood. I didn't say that aside from Ender's toon were 'neurotypicals' (and really, again, what a stupid term that is, incredibly ironic), I said that they didn't believe there was no reason for neurotypicals to exist.

Your insistence on discussing neurotypicals and their worth is pretty strange in the context of this story, where Harry and Draco have just had a striking example of how stupid and self-defeating it is to simply write off whole swaths of people. The truly brilliant leaders and geniuses figure out how to work with what they've got and improve on the originals.

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Raymond Arnold
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quote:
The truly brilliant leaders and geniuses figure out how to work with what they've got and improve on the originals.
I think this isn't quite the lesson we're meant to be learning here. At least from Harry (it's closer to what Draco is experiencing). Harry doesn't write off his army as uselessly average. He honestly believes they have potential if they would only change the way that they think. (That's half of it - the other half is that changing the way people think is simply a fun experiment). His mistake is not that he doesn't work with what he has and/or improve the people around him. His mistake is that he doesn't see how HE can learn from those people.

Also worth noting: the Ron that Harry agreed with Draco about being "useless" was not the Ron who is loyal, brave, and a good chess player. The Ron that Harry was agreeing about (if we're to take Harry's words at face value, a notion I still dispute) was the Ron who talked about a ridiculous sport for 20 minutes, and that was all Harry knew about at the time.

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kmbboots
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And that was all he needed to know before making that judgement. And having never even seen the game.
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Rakeesh
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Heh, yes, a purely rationalist outlook would have insisted Harry reserve judgment about the sport until, y'know, making actual observations of it himself. To say nothing about making an assessment based on the information of someone he regards as very stupid.

quote:
His mistake is not that he doesn't work with what he has and/or improve the people around him. His mistake is that he doesn't see how HE can learn from those people.
That's another of his mistakes, but it's not the only one. He's not making use of what he's got, exactly. He's looking at what he's got and thinking, "This could be useful if I changed it." That's not quite the same thing. It might seem like quibbling, but it's a distinct difference. Whereas a more effective leader and genius would attempt to both improve what he's got, and use what he has currently to the maximum potential. That's what Hermione did, thus it's no surprise she won.

I agree we shouldn't take Harry's words at face value, but I am also very dubious as to whether Harry places a high premium on virtues like loyalty and bravery. Which is really quite strange given his taste in fiction.

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Raymond Arnold
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quote:
And that was all he needed to know before making that judgement. And having never even seen the game.
You're lumping two different statements Harry makes together, and seeing the worst in him because of it. One of the two statements is that Quidditch is dumb. No, Harry is not particularly tactful about that. I happen to enjoy having arguments like that so I don't register it as "Harry being mean," but I can certainly understand why it would make him unlikeable to a large block of the population.

The second statement is "yeah." This is responding to Draco's statement "he doesn't seem like he has a reason to exist?" This is after Harry has already sharply told Draco (and Ron) not to be rude to each other.

Assume for a moment that all Harry meant by "yeah," was that Ron is annoying and boring and he doesn't feel like hanging out with him, as opposed to literally "he shouldn't exist at all ever." Also assume that Ron had been talking about something you consider suitably boring and nonsensical. What exactly would you have said to Draco in that particular circumstance?

quote:
I agree we shouldn't take Harry's words at face value, but I am also very dubious as to whether Harry places a high premium on virtues like loyalty and bravery. Which is really quite strange given his taste in fiction.
I think Harry places plenty value on loyalty and bravery. We certainly see him doing lots of brave things, as well as showing loyalty to the people he does care about, even if so far those people consist basically of... his parents. Neither Draco nor Hermione have exactly given him reason to be loyal so far. As much as they are both his friends, they are also both his rivals (and in the case of Draco, genuine enemies).

We've seen him be loyal to causes (helping people in need in general), and I am willing to bet that at this point he'd consider himself loyal to Neville, Fred and George. He values them for the same reason he values Ron in Harry!Classic, AS WELL as for the additional talents they bring.

The thing is that he doesn't value loyalty by itself. You have to choose your loyalties intelligently. Draco is hella loyal to Slytherine ideals. Harry considers this (rightly, IMO) a very Bad Thing™, something to be subverted and destroyed. I think Harry (and probably the author) would argue that true rationality will result in you being loyal to the correct things by default. Which is why he values rationality above all else.

SIDE NOTE: It's worth noting that Neville's primary positive characteristics are goodness and bravery (or, at least, a desire to be brave). While he hasn't specified it, I think Harry does value that at this point. It's also worth noting that those are the SAME things that make Ron valuable in the original story. This, in particular, is why Ron is unnecessary as a character. He and Neville are very similar to each other, except Neville has a bigger and more interesting character arc. I think the author's choice to eliminate Ron and let Neville fill that niche is the correct one.

quote:
He's looking at what he's got and thinking, "This could be useful if I changed it." That's not quite the same thing. It might seem like quibbling, but it's a distinct difference.
See my above points. I think he sees value in his friends already. What he's specifically missing is that he doesn't see most of his friends as having intelligence in addition to their other values. I do see what you're saying, but I think it only applies very specifically to his beliefs about their intellect as oppose to their other qualities.

Final random note: I do think Ron would have been better served in the original story if his "good at chess" thing had been played up more, so that he filled the "Sokka" role: the comic relief AND strategic thinker. And it's looking like he may end up getting to play that role here, even if we don't get to see much of it at first.

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Rakeesh
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quote:
One of the two statements is that Quidditch is dumb. No, Harry is not particularly tactful about that. I happen to enjoy having arguments like that so I don't register it as "Harry being mean," but I can certainly understand why it would make him unlikeable to a large block of the population.
The problem is not 'Quidditch is dumb', it's the implicit statement 'and you're dumb for liking it so much.'

quote:
I think Harry places plenty value on loyalty and bravery. We certainly see him doing plenty of brave things, as well as loyalty to the people he does care about, even if so far those people consist basically of... his parents. Neither Draco nor Hermione have exactly given him reason to be loyal so far. As much as they are both his friends, they are also both his rivals (and in the case of Draco, genuine enemies).
Hermione certainly has. In this story, she has continued keeping her agreement with Harry despite his - against her very reasonable and strenuous objections - nearly gotten her killed at least once, with the 'screw the it's-dangerous warnings' experiments. She also didn't narc on him, though given how close she came to death would have been perfectly within her rights to do so.

quote:

We've seen him be loyal to causes (helping people in need in general), and I am willing to bet that at these point he'd consider himself particularly loyal to Neville, Fred and George. And he values them for the same reason he values Ron in Harry!Classic, AS WELL as for the additional talents they bring.

I wouldn't put Fred and George on such a list in this story, because so far their relationship has been one of amiable transaction. Neville is a different story, though.

quote:

The thing is that he doesn't value loyalty by itself. You have to choose your loyalties intelligently. Draco is hella loyal to Slytherine ideals. Harry considers this (rightly, IMO) a very Bad Thing™, something to be subverted and destroyed. I think Harry (and probably the author) would argue that true rationality will result in you being loyal to the correct things by default. Which is why he values rationality above all else.

You might be right. I hope so.
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Raymond Arnold
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I edited my above post a bit. I may agree with you about Fred and George in terms of loyalty. Harry definitely sees value to them, whether loyalty is part of the equation. While he might not be loyal them out of genuine friendship I'm sure he'd go out of his way to help them if they were in trouble.

I actually saw his relationship with Hermione as similar to how you saw his relationship with Fred and George - more of a transaction than a friendship. Also bearing in mind that he and Hermione ARE rivals. So while he'd protect from (perceived) genuine danger (such as when he steps in front of her when Snape appears), he's not actively looking out for her when it comes to things that they are rivaling over.

In the last few chapters they became closer genuine friends, but then shortly afterwards their rivalry got kicked up a notch, so I think it'll be a while before we see true friendship between them.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
In the last few chapters they became closer genuine friends, but then shortly afterwards their rivalry got kicked up a notch...
Which is a recipe for luuuuuve. [Wink] j/k
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sinflower
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quote:
Final random note: I do think Ron would have been better served in the original story if his "good at chess" thing had been played up more, so that he filled the "Sokka" role: the comic relief AND strategic thinker. And it's looking like he may end up getting to play that role here, even if we don't get to see much of it at first.
I think Ron would've been better served in the original story if he had shown any of the mental qualities chess requires in his everyday life. As it is, it seems like Rowling just waved her wand and said "Ron is smart! He is a strategic thinker!" and expected us to believe it, rather than showing Ron actually behaving like a smart, strategic thinker (which he doesn't). Same with Hermione, but to a lesser extent: she's absorbs vast quantities of knowledge, but she doesn't seem to do much with it besides repeat it back at opportune moments. That's what I like about this fic. Yudkowsky doesn't just say "Harry is smart! He is a rationalist!", he actually takes us into Harry's thought processes so we can understand why Harry is supposed to be smart and rational, and why his strategies could work in real life without the help of a benevolent author. (Another trope I dislike: the "genius" comes up with a convoluted "clever" plan requiring many different events to all occur exactly right, and lo and behold, they do! Isn't he brilliant?)

Also, rivalry could totally be the beginning of ~true lurve~! ...which is why I think Hermione and Draco are meant to be. And their love will be pure and beautiful. So pure and beautiful that it will shatter the harmful construct of class prejudice and usher in a new age. I know I'm right. (Failing that, I ship Hermione and Blaise Zabini.)

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Raymond Arnold
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I actually thought Blaise was a girl for a long time and until this actual chapter, where he is finally referred to by pronoun. I assumed the author was setting things up for a Blaise/Potter ship. [Roll Eyes]

Granted, Blaise could still be gay. For that matter, since we've already given his personality a massive overhaul, so could Harry.

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rivka
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Blaise? Like Blaise Pascal? So NOT a girl.
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Raymond Arnold
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I've never heard the name "Blaise" before (only vaguely remembered it from Harry!Classic), except for in another story I read where the main character is a girl with Blaise as her last name. It also sort of sounds like Blouse. So, with apologies to Mr Pascal, I'm gonna have to say that Blaise is a pretty girly sounding name to me. (Hm... unless it's pronounced "Blaze"?)
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rivka
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That IS how it's pronounced.
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Raymond Arnold
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Okay then. I still don't feel particularly ashamed about this.
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rivka
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I don't recall stating or implying that you should be.

Now, if you get it wrong the next time, we may have to have words. [Wink]

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King of Men
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quote:
The thing is that he doesn't value loyalty by itself. You have to choose your loyalties intelligently. Draco is hella loyal to Slytherine ideals. Harry considers this (rightly, IMO) a very Bad Thing™, something to be subverted and destroyed. I think Harry (and probably the author) would argue that true rationality will result in you being loyal to the correct things by default. Which is why he values rationality above all else.

Harry may believe this, but Yudkowsky absolutely does not.
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Raymond Arnold
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Interesting. Given that that entire essay is Yudkowsky discussing in detail WHY he used to think that way, with arguments that were compelling enough at the time to persuade himself, it seems rather likely that Harry would feel that way, as a young rationalist who has already been shown to believe a lot of wrong things.

I'm not finished reading it, but this is my favorite paragraph so far:

quote:
Eliezer2000 lives by the rule that you should always be ready to have your thoughts broadcast to the whole world at any time, without embarrassment. Otherwise, clearly, you've fallen from grace: either you're thinking something you shouldn't be thinking, or you're embarrassed by something that shouldn't embarrass you.

(These days, I don't espouse quite such an extreme viewpoint, mostly for reasons of Fun Theory. I see a role for continued social competition between intelligent life-forms, as least as far as my near-term vision stretches. I admit, these days, that it might be all right for human beings to have a self; as John McCarthy put it, "If everyone were to live for others all the time, life would be like a procession of ants following each other around in a circle." If you're going to have a self, you may as well have secrets, and maybe even conspiracies. But I do still try to abide by the principle of being able to pass a future lie detector test, with anyone else who's also willing to go under the lie detector, if the topic is a professional one. Fun Theory needs a commonsense exception for global catastrophic risk management.)


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Raymond Arnold
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Okay, I am getting infuriated by this website. I just read a bunch of stuff about how hyperlinks are seriously messing with human reading comprehension. And here is a site full of hyperlinks, almost every single one of which is something that I a) am no familiar with, and b) am interested in reading about.

I'm consigned myself to reading through some arbitrarily large chunk of the website, but I would much prefer to do so in a way that, instead of hyperlinks, simply presents the relevant content in a meaningful order.

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King of Men
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Seeker, thou hast asked, and it shall be revealed unto thee. Behold: The Sequences!
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Raymond Arnold
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Thanks.

Having read the first section you linked, I'm not sure if it means the same thing you implied it did. Pure rationality does not guarantee human morality. But we're not talking about purely rational computers, we're talking about human beings who are starting with human-centric-viewpoints, who might either be rational or not. I do think that rational humans will tend to agree with each other given similar data sets, and since part of rationality is periodically stopping to consider ways in which your data set may be inaccurate, the end result is that valuing rationality above bravery and loyalty is, well... rational. [Smile]

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Raymond Arnold
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OMG, this chapter was amazing. (Somewhat frustrating in that I currently am not entirely sure WHAT just happened... I am not Slytherin enough to keep track of all the plots).

Edit: Okay, reread parts of it, sort of get it now.

I always didn't quite figure out the extent to which "Enemy's gate is down" really made sense underwater until the second time through, since that means YOU have a clear view of your enemies against the sunlight, but your enemies have a harder time seeing you. Interesting that Harry DID get to say it, but not quite for the same reasons.

[ July 25, 2010, 12:02 PM: Message edited by: Raymond Arnold ]

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Carrie
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quote:
Harry had thought he wouldn't ever get to say those words, not while he was still young enough for them to be real...

The Chaos Legionnaires were looking at Harry in puzzlement, as their general swam with his feet pointing up toward the distant light of the surface, and his head pointed down toward the murky depths.

"Why are you upside down?" the young commander shouted at his army, and began to explain how to fight after you abandoned the privileged orientation of gravity.

I almost applauded my computer (and, therefore, the author) when I saw this. I definitely did laugh out loud, though. [Smile]
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Raymond Arnold
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This last chapter was fairly intense, and bugged me. I expect it to bug various other people for various reasons.

SPOILERS BELOW

I don't like Dumbledore being portrayed as an delusional fool. This isn't because I think it's *wrong* to portray him as such (and I totally understand the author's reason for doing so). I just don't like it. I think this may be my version of the "Harry's a jerk for not liking Ron" moment. Dumbledore was a cool character, so using him mostly as commentary on the ludicrousness of the old-wise-wizard-who-only-speaks-in-riddles trope just feels disrespectful to me.

Even if, in all honestly, it's kinda deserved. Dumbledore happened to be right about everything, it hinged on everyone in the story being, well, crazy. Which is the point of this whole fic, so... eh. Dunno.

I AM genuinely annoyed that this is not a strict single point of departure fic. (or two point, if you have one for Harry and one for Quirrell). I think it's far more fun to try to figure out where the few changes were made and why they affected the story the way they did, rather than having changes like Sirus and Scabbers show up at random for no discernable reason. Consequently I can't tell if this is his attempt to write the original Dumbledore character, in new circumstances, or if he considers himself to be changing Dumbledore's character.

I'd like to imagine that the original Dumbledore would have been more of an equal to Harry than this one is portrayed as, but I have to admit that the original Dumbledore is never shown responding to the kinds of logical issues that Harry is presenting.

I also want to get into the argument-for-cryonics that the chapter is also advocating, but it's late and I'm tired and I think I may want to do so in a separate thread.

[ August 22, 2010, 02:38 AM: Message edited by: Raymond Arnold ]

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Jhai
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I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on the argument on death, Raymond - another thread would probably be best. (I didn't really see it as an argument for cryonics, but instead an argument for fighting death any way possible.)
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Raymond Arnold
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It was an argument for fighting death any way possible, but that's a crucial building block for the argument for cryonics, and I happen to know that the author is a die hard cryonics advocate. It probably wouldn't have occurred to me if I didn't know that.

I want to start the new thread, but I'm not sure how to set up to adequately provide the necessary background ideas.

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TomDavidson
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BTW, Raymond, I think Dumbledore absolutely "won" that conversation with Harry in chapter 39.
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Raymond Arnold
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Really?

I wouldn't say that anybody particularly "won" anything. I think Dumbledore did learn more from the conversation than Harry thinks he did. I also think that Dumbledore does have experience that Harry doesn't have, and that the author is aware of this fact and Harry will eventually realize. But none of that really translates to a statement of "absolutely won the conversation" in my mind. (Even if we're defining "winning" in the perhaps healthier non-zero-sum-manner of "learning something that we didn't know before.")

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TomDavidson
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Learning something from a conversation is not the only way to win it.

The things Dumbledore told Harry were full of more truth and more wisdom than the things Harry told him. Harry simply lacked the wisdom to realize it.

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Raymond Arnold
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I'm not sure that Dumbledore a) said anything that was particularly true/wise that Harry didn't already know, b) the things that Harry is currently missing basically hinge on life experience, which he is probably going to eventually get regardless of Dumbledore's intervention. At best, Dumbledore planted some memes that might later come to fruition, and if Dumbledore is going to end up "responsible" for Harry's learning something useful, I think it's going to take more than this one conversation.

So... I could understand a viewpoint in which my initial assessment was grossly underestimating both Dumbledore and the value of his ideas, but I really don't understand a viewpoint in which you'd say "he absolutely won that conversation." Wise people say wise things to less wise people all the time. But unless the wise people can actually use their wisdom to affect the world, "winning" seems like a strange term.

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Juxtapose
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Which things Dumbledore said did you think were particularly wise?
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Raymond Arnold
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(yeah, I am curious about Juxtapose's question also. Because honestly I still don't really see it, I'm just willing to accept that as a young person without much experience, I may be victim to the same things that blind Harry in the chapter)
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TomDavidson
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Harry has not contemplated the possibility that "he" is more than his body. I'm not talking about a soul: I'm talking about his own self-projection. If you engage in behavior which jeopardizes or cheapens the self you want to be in order to extend the life of your physical body, you have already killed yourself and replaced it with someone only superficially similar.

Dumbledore, as written, does not understand this; he sees the continuation of self as something only enabled by the soul (although, if we are to trust to canon at all, souls definitely do exist in the Potter universe). But Harry, as written, understands even less. Dumbledore cannot articulate why turning into a monster to prevent the ending of one's existence is a foolish exchange, but is aware of the monstrousness of the attempt; Harry is better equipped to articulate one aspect of that truth, to observe that ending lives to preserve your own is baldly selfish, but does not do so because he is, at this stage, highly sympathetic to stupid, baldly selfish worldviews. Even worse, he is completely ill-equipped to articulate the other half of the truth: that even if Voldemort had not supernaturally whittled away parts of his soul (and his humanity) by entering into pacts of dark magic, the being known as Tom Riddle who had originally initiated that process had long ago annihilated himself.

Self-preservation is a fool's game, because the self is ephemera.

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Raymond Arnold
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Still mulling over Tom's statement, but I will note that this is a chapter worth reading the Author's Notes for.
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King of Men
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quote:
Harry is better equipped to articulate one aspect of that truth, to observe that ending lives to preserve your own is baldly selfish, but does not do so because he is, at this stage, highly sympathetic to stupid, baldly selfish worldviews.
But Harry does articulate the point; he refuses to use any life extension that depends on human sacrifice. I think you are misreading Harry very badly. To say "I want to live" is not the same as saying "I want to live even if only by the self-destroying means that Voldemort used". Like Dumbledore, you are thinking in terms of story, where immortality can only come through the sacrifice of something good; sour grapes, in Harry's phrase. But the world does not necessarily work like that; this is the insight Harry has internalised so deeply that he can't articulate it. The world does not care if you live to be a thousand. There is no necessary sacrifice that you have to make; if you are smart enough, you can have your cake and eat it too.

There is no narrativium.

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Raymond Arnold
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quote:
There is no narrativium.
[ROFL]
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King of Men
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Ok, it's funny; but I'm being serious. It looks to me as though Tom is genuinely thinking in terms of narrativium here. I said this in the context of politics the other day, but it's just as true here: It must be possible for one head to contain two thoughts. You do not ahve to accept death just because there are other things you would consider even worse; to admit that death is bad is not the same thing as saying it is the One Great Evil against which no sacrifice can possibly matter.
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TomDavidson
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But I would say that Dumbledore, in saying that he would not like to die right now, but fully expects to welcome death in a few years, is speaking here from the perspective of someone who has seen that exact thing happen. That he has, himself, seen outcomes which are worse than death.

Now, you can argue that those outcomes might not be inherent in immortality or the methods used to achieve it, but one can hardly blame Dumbledore for not immediately jumping to the realization that Harry is obliquely maintaining the possibility of alternate outcomes; certainly, there's no reason to think that if Harry were to present a serious option that did eliminate those negative outcomes that Dumbledore would fail to see the potential. His concern is rooted not in some reversed fear of death but rather in what he has, himself, seen the avoidance of death do to people. I mean, bear in mind that Dumbledore's greatest challenges have come at the hands of enormously intelligent people willing to do literally anything to a) perfect humanity; and b) avoid death. The guy's not being irrational to assume that these people would have exhausted the easier options first.

Heck, as a sidenote, I think even Harry might well grant that someone who lived for, say, six centuries might well not be recognizably human (to other humans, at least) by the end of that time.

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King of Men
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Dumbledore has seen people with no alternative work their way through the stages of grief, and come to acceptance; and has done the same himself, pre-emptively. Fine. But he's using that as an argument against searching for an alternative. That-does-not-follow!

quote:
Heck, as a sidenote, I think even Harry might well grant that someone who lived for, say, six centuries might well not be recognizably human (to other humans, at least) by the end of that time.
I think you meant "to other humans who had not lived for 600 years", there. And I think Harry would respond "Then those humans had better learn to expand their notion of humanity", as indeed our society has done many times already.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
But he's using that as an argument against searching for an alternative. That-does-not-follow!
Not quite. The most monstrous acts of his lifetime have been committed by people searching for alternatives. He has no reason whatsoever to believe that any alternative exists, and knows from personal experience that searching for an alternative can produce monstrosities.

quote:
And I think Harry would respond "Then those humans had better learn to expand their notion of humanity", as indeed our society has done many times already.
Only if we grant that living to 600 years old and ceasing to be recognizably human is worth doing in the first place.
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King of Men
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Well, I tell you what, I'll do the experiment. Yes, I'm willing to take that risk.
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TomDavidson
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Fine with me. Bear in mind, though, that in series canon, one of Dumbledore's closest friends has done that experiment and comes to the same conclusion at the end of the first book.
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Raymond Arnold
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The experiment to try and become immortal and see if you become a monster? Assuming I'm parsing that right, your data would be irrelevant, since you (as far as we know anyway) do not live in a world filled with magical power that lets you rewrite the apparent laws of physics on a whim. I would add that in such a world, with power keyworded to pseudolatin designed for human vocal chords, I would not at all be confident that narrativium does not exist. At least not when I'm 11 and I've been studying magic for all of 3 months.

Harry may find that his chances of safe immortality improve dramatically if he uses magic to survive the for the normal-for-wizards two hundred-ish years, by which which Muggle science would be able to do it with no dark rituals involved.

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Jhai
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I'd like to note that Dumbledore has seen Harry do the impossible in Dumbledore's field of study after studying magic for all of 3 months. To assume that - because Tom could not find a path to immortality - Harry won't be able to find a path to immortality is pretty poor thinking on Dumbledore's part. Really, extrapolating from the experiences of one (both Flamel and Riddle) is rather stupid.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
To assume that - because Tom could not find a path to immortality - Harry won't be able to find a path to immortality is pretty poor thinking on Dumbledore's part.
Why? Remember, in all of Dumbledore's life experience, looking for immortality is an enormous danger. And Harry has gone to some lengths to keep Dumbledore from being aware of his experimental methods. All Dumbledore knows is that Harry is a weird, gifted, incredibly smart kid with a dark side who, like Tom Riddle, thinks that he should be looking for a way to cheat death. That Dumbledore strongly advises him against this is not irrational at all.
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Jhai
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What is your evidence that in all of Dumbledore's life experience, looking for immortality is an enormous danger? At most, we have two people (Riddle and Grindelwald). Anyone who makes large claims (an enormous danger) about something as big as the search for immortality on the basis of only two other people's experiences is pretty stupid, IMO.
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TomDavidson
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IIRC, pursuit of the Philosopher's Stone is also a common way to come to a bad end. So it's a non-zero number of immortality pursuers, none of whom have produced a result he considers positive. Given the data available to him, that Dumbledore warns an eleven-year-old potential Dark Lord away from that path doesn't seem even slightly unreasonable.

Mind you, I don't think Dumbledore would be irrationally opposed (much) to Harry's approaching him, years later, with a series of controlled experiments on the topic. But for the purposes of this conversation, Dumbledore was absolutely saying the right things -- except, sadly, he was saying them to someone who was determined not to hear them.

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Juxtapose
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Then I would argue, in that case, that Dumbledore wasn't saying the right things, even if he turns out to be right on the subject.

"Self-preservation is a fool's game, because the self is ephemera."

Going back to this, I think Harry might respond that self-continuation might be a better name for what he's after.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
Then I would argue, in that case, that Dumbledore wasn't saying the right things...
There's no way that this Harry would ever give serious consideration to the argument, "In my professional opinion, the temptation of immortality is not something that you, at eleven years old, are ready to contemplate facing."
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Raymond Arnold
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Quirrel says a lot of things Harry disagrees with all the time, but he takes those things seriously and thinks about them because Quirrel a) respects his intellect, b) communicates in a way that makes it clear he is thinking about, or at least willing to think about, the ramifications of what he's proposing. I don't think the burden falls on Harry for being a young naive rationalist here. Well, it does, insofar as all young and naive rationalists would do well to hurry up and become more mature rationalists as fast as they can. But only so much of that can be done through study. A lot simply hinges on having more life experience and a more fully developed adult brain.

One of my parents is an atheist, the other a Catholic. Theoretically, I should have had equal opportunity to be influenced by them both. But throughout my life (and most importantly, during my young formative years when I was most vulnerable to memes from adults that I trusted, good or bad), my Mom never communicated her beliefs to me in a concrete, logical manner that would have appealed to me. (She actually specifically said things like "I don't think logic is all that important).

Since growing up I've met religious people that express themselves more rationally. If I had been exposed to them during my formative years, my life may have turned out differently.

Point being, a sizable portion of the burden here falls on Dumbledore to make a better effort to understand Harry and speak in a language that Harry will understand/respect, if Dumbledore actually wants to impact him.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
Quirrel says a lot of things Harry disagrees with all the time, but he takes those things seriously and thinks about them because Quirrel a) respects his intellect, b) communicates in a way that makes it clear he is thinking about, or at least willing to think about, the ramifications of what he's proposing.
I think Quirrell, as written, respects Harry's intellect only up to a point. [Smile]

quote:
a sizable portion of the burden here falls on Dumbledore to make a better effort to understand Harry and speak in a language that Harry will understand/respect
No argument. Bear in mind, though, that Harry is deliberately misinforming Dumbledore as to the impact his words have on him.
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