by Garrett O. Hansen
Posts tagged with nature
Late spring. Just after the last frost. I was walking home barefoot, facing the sun. Above one yard with plenty of white dandelion heads I saw in the polarised light golden motes dancing, circling each other, bobbing and teasing each other. They looked like golden fairies.
Discontinuities in the 2-D level sets and how they might look one dimension higher.
Gully, gulch, defile, draw, glen, cañon, ravine, rill, gorge, arroyo, rambla, strath, Guadal, rill, couloir, wash, …— protëa(@isomorphisms) March 5, 2013
In game theory the word “strategy” means a fully specified contingency plan. Whatever happens—be it a sequence of things, a conditional branching of their responses and my responses—∃ a contingency.
(A function is a ≥1-to-1 association from elements of a source domain to elements of a target codomain. I’ll owe ya a post on how this is not the most intuitive way to think about functions. Because it depends which domains you’re mapping from and to. Think for example about automorphisms—turning something over in your hand—versus measures—assigning a size to something.)
For example, extraversion vs introversion. This is one of the less disputatious dimensions of human variation from the MBTI. We can observe that some people (like me) gain more energy by being around people and feel like sh*te when they spend too much time alone, whereas others (like my best friend) replenish their reserves by being alone and drain them when they go out in public.
I can think of other aspects of myself that are obviously responses to situational stimuli rather than innate constants.
Besides being motivation for me to learn more maths to see what comes out of this way of thinking about people when you layer abstract algebra over it, this view of people is a reminder to
Someone who piss me off may not be “a jerk”, it may not be about me whatever, s/he may be lag-responding to something from before I was there. Or s/he may not have adapted to a “nice guy” equilibrium of interacting with me. Who knows. I’m not seeing all of that person’s possibility, just a particular response to a particular situation.
On the other hand, if they really are acting wrong, it’s up to me to address the issue reasonably right away, rather than let my frustration passive-aggressively fester. Wait ten years for revenge and they’ll be a different person by then.
The final suggestion of people-as-functions is that there’s always something buried, something untapped—like part of a wavefunction that will never be measured, or a button on a machine that never gets pressed. You may see one version of yourself or someone else, but there’s more latent in you and in them—if you’re thrown into a war, a divorce, the Jazz Age, the Everglades, a hospice, a black-tie dinner, poverty, wealth, a band, a reality show about life under cruel premodern conditions—that may bring out another part of them.
UPDATE: peacemaker points out the similarity between people-as-response functions and the nature/nurture debate. I think this viewpoint subsumes both the nature and the nurture side, as well as free will.
UPDATE 2: As I think through this again, I feel quantum measurement really is a great metaphor for interacting with people. You only evoke one particular response-complex from a person on that particular time. And the way you evoke it perturbs the “objective” underlying thing. For example if yo’re introduced to someone in a flirtatious way versus in a business setting.