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Scopes Interacting with Life

2024-05-03 · 5 min readHow our interactions are affected by the scope we interpret the world inThis is an addition on my past post on Simulations. I would suggest reading it (it's quick):TLDR; I think that when acting people live in layered abstractions on reality that make actions easier. Think "Doing homework is good." where as a value system it is generally good, but of course can have faults (ie. if a piano is about to fall on your head in 5 seconds but you haven't finished your pset). A lot of general ennui comes from too many abstractions to which people forget what they actually want—people should probably introspect and minimize/be intentional with their abstractions.


In addition to simulations, I think a very important thing to note with decision making is scope. If you imagine simulations as extending your "decision realm" vertically, I would say scope is horizontal to that—what exactly should be included into your decision calculus?For example take the same homework example I used in the TLDR: "Doing homework is good." What exactly what considered while making that abstraction? What was the reasoning behind that?
Maybe if your scope was only your high-school and limited by time till graduation, you might think doing homework is beneficial to beating out the rest of your classmates and think nothing of it. Your reasoning could even be for a literal prize like getting valedictorian or some similar achievement. This is contrasted by another scope like your position in the entire world. By doing your homework you might be able to have good sustainable relationships with your teachers, so later on you could ask them for help to find jobs. Maybe doing your homework would help build ethos around you as a person being able to be on top of things, leading to more opportunities down the line.Though the processing/how hard you need to think changes with scope, some people get locked into an extremely small scope of what they can change in the world. If you only think locally, then of course the only change you can have is local. A global scope encompassing over as much as possible, is necessary to have higher levels of influence.

Conflict & Competition

Although you probably see where I'm going here by saying higher level scopes are probably better long term to achieve things in the greater scheme of things, but I'll go one step further and say that a lot of competition based conflict is over scopes.An easy way to think about this is through a game theoretic perspective. Take a math class with a terrible curve. Only one student gets an A and the rest fail the class. Its pretty obvious that if you scope your life to just the realm of the test, you should be the most competitive person you could possibly be. Never share your homework, sabotage people whenever possible, twist the rules however you can to get the best score in the class. This is a regular prisoners dilemma.Now tweak the parameters a little. Change the scopes to the end of time and to the entire world + more. The test is less of a life altering moment, but just a tool to utilize in achieving your goals. Help as many people as possible, build connections, be as outwardly non-competitive as possible. This of course is != not trying at all. An optimal person would study 24/7 and beat others, but in a way that would never let on that they are competitive. The balance of maintaining relationships and succeeding on the test would be the optimal outcome. This would be a repeating prisoners dilemma.Most games in life are repeating (ie. your life won't end if you fail) yet people are still competitive. Why? I think the answer is scope. Most people forget the global scope that is key to gaining perspective and achieving what you want. We see so many cases of this happening in the real world too—take workplace skirmishes, or arguments between people. Arguments, grudges, and more are just not optimal with conflict itself being self defeating when raised to the global scope.

quick sidenote about how scope is different from abstractions

I think its really easy to conflate the two, so I'll just make a quick note here. Scope is the realm of goals in which you build your abstractions on. For example in the pass fail example, an abstraction would be "You should tear up everyone else's notes". Breaking down abstractions to the lowest level usually reveals the scope in which a person is acting in, which can reveal dubious scopes

So now what?

I'd never try and say something as totalizing as all conflicts are derived from difference (though I think this honestly could be a defendable stance), but I think a large portion of them are. Sometimes the scope is global for someone with life or death scenarios, but a lot of the time we aren't facing extreme situations like this.In those cases I think we actually see a lot of media call for a return to base reality, reflecting what a lot of people think. For me, I think of shows like Three Idiots or manga like Vinland Saga. Some crazy quotes from Vinland Saga I love are "You have no enemies. Not a single one." or "A true warrior doesn’t need a sword."I feel like these media really resonate with me for a very specific reason—I genuinely think these are true. Not in a crazy, psuedo-communist everyone should be kind way, but in a practical day-to-day action decision way. People who act like they don't have enemies or view conflicts in a global scope always have an edge and often get what they want.----Either way, this was an extension I've wanted to make for a long time on my simulation essay which I reference oh so much. Hopefully something came from this and feel free to start a conversation with me about this anytime. I'm guaranteed to almost always be thinking about it and I'd love to hear any takes
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