Why Philosophy

  • All life attempts to maintain homeostasis
  • The more complex the life, the more complex the homeostasis that has to be maintained
  • People are extraordinarily complex creatures and thus have to maintain an extraordinarily complex homeostasis
  • In order to acquire resources to maintain homeostasis, we must balance between two competing approaches
    • Exploit existing resources
    • Find new resources
  • Philosophy is about deciding how and when to strike out for new resources versus continuing to exploit existing resources
  • “Resources” defined broadly
    • Models of the world
    • Ways of living in the world


  • Nietzsche thought that society had over-optimized towards preserving and exploiting existing sources of value rather than striking out into the unknown
  • Wanted more people to go out into the “wilderness” of unexplored and radical ideas to find new sources of value for themselves and for society
  • Felt like the pendulum had swung too far in the direction of stability, on the continuum of stability vs. exploration
  • Wanted a return to a more Roman-esque set of values, where people were rewarded for going out and finding new sources of value for their civilization
  • Thought that society was forgetting how to explore - people didn’t realize how much preparation and resouces were required to productively explore unknown physical and mental terrains

How Does This Apply To Your Life

  • Local maxima exist at every level, including ordinary day-to-day life
  • You should look at your own life and think about whether what you’re doing is working out as well as well as it could be
  • Think about how you’re gaining value from how you relate to other people
  • Realize that it’s unlikely that you’ll get to a new global optimum by continuuing to iterate on a local maximum
  • In order for society to progress, we need people to go out and explore ideas that are considered “beyond the pale”
  • However, exploration requires preparation, you can’t abandon stable sources of value on a whim
    • Know the limits of your field
    • Invest in acquiring the material resources needed to ensure that you’ll have enough time to explore a new field