Saturday, December 4, 2010

Revised problem-solving hierarchy chart

The following is a hierarchy chart that I've devised as a way to grasp the scope of the source of all problems (or symptoms, more accurately) in the universe. The idea is that, through the process of decomposition, we can granulate problems into logical sets of parent problems (causes/sources) and child problems (symptoms). This helps us to ascertain starting points in our various attempts at solving problems systematically; it also helps us to ascertain the viability of the bottom-up methodology proposed by this blog. While a top-down approach might sound more rational due to the apparently definite nature of this list, the fact of the matter is that this list is anything but definite, and life dictates that we tackle problems on a case-by-case basis while working toward a goal or set of goals.

Until you 1. methodically define the scope of the problem, and 2. decompose the problem into logical, irreducible constituents, you may make progress with respect to its parts or symptoms, but you will nevertheless remain in the dark regarding the source itself, and your attempts to solve the problem will lack both structure and coherence. We should outline everything in need of fixing in this reality; doing so will greatly expedite the process of making the universe an acceptable place.

An extant system ostensibly lacking in planning, intent, goals, and true functionality -- the universe
        I. Life and evolution (natural selection, genetic drift, et al.)
                i. Sensation (olfactory, gustatory/taste, tactile, balance, location,
                thermal, auditory, visual, mental/emotional)
                          i. Attachment and fear, which cause one another in a positive feedback
                          loop; lack of foresight in nature
                                   i. Attachment to assumptions, preconceptions, absolute notions,
                                   or beliefs of any sort; static belief systems
                                              i. Cognitive dissonance; confirmation bias; other logical
                                              fallacies and cognitive pitfalls
                                              ii. Generally underdeveloped cognitive algorithm; poor
                                              cognitive programming
                                              iii. Condescension; humiliation; dehumanization
                                              iv. Arrogance; certainty
                                              v. War and other forms of physical violence
                                              vi. Apathy
                                              vii. Other kinds of social conflict
                                              viii. False sense of security
                                              ix. Creation and maintenance of a static personal identity;
                                              egomania; self-esteem
                                              x. Attention-seeking; social appearances and statuses
                                              xi. Societal and social competition
                           ii. Depression; anxiety; fight-or-flight; fear (also noted above under
                           attachment); grief; melancholy; other kinds of negative emotions
                           iii. Sensory distractions erroneously perceived as positive
                                     i. Entertainment; pleasure; hedonism
                                     ii. Hallucinations; cognitive distortions
                                     iii. Other distractions
                           iv. Physical suffering not derived from logical errors among humans
                                     i. Predation; carnivorous consumption
                                     ii. Parasitic relationships
                                     iii. Accidents
                                     iv. Natural disasters
                                     v. General competition among living organisms

Note: All mental suffering is the result of a kind of perceived deprivation. Whether you're running for your life or looking for something to eat, all desires are the result of a negative state of being, with a termination of such states only being possible as a result of some form of pleasure or relief. No desire is positive, for all desires, by definition, require that their subjects run from a stimulus, or a sensation caused by such a stimulus. Yes, even basic drives like hunger are fulfilled as a result of organisms running away from a negative sensation toward a state of relief. Likewise, a literal, physical chase, while also initiated by a negative sensation, involves a form of relief that is chased as an object of desire.


  1. For a post in the "start with these" list, I find this provides very little context. I think an introduction to what this is and how it should be read would be helpful.

  2. You may be right. Initially, this list was part of another post altogether, but when it got updated, I thought it was important enough to have a post dedicated to it.

    I'll see if I can update it soon. I haven't read it in a while, but if I remember correctly, there was an amendment or two that I needed to make to it, anyway.