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A thought inspired by Wednesday’s Daf (page) in the Talmud, Gittin 22

A thought inspired by Wednesday’s Daf (page) in the Talmud, Gittin 22

Why do they lie?

This post presents a philosophical idea inspired by the text of today’s Daf. The Daf is one page in the Talmud that tens of thousands of people study each day. I explain the connection to the text in a comment below. My purpose is to show that there are underlying philosophical assumptions in the Talmud that can have great significance for anybody today trying to understand our complex reality.

Deception is related to perception.

One could argue that the most fundamental component of life is the module that can adapt. Even a single-celled organism adjusts its behavior in response to the concentration of nutrients in its environment. In this sense, all forms of life, at every level of composition, perceive and respond accordingly. More complex organisms learn to flourish by constructing vast structures using this basic building block. These advanced abilities identify patterns of perception that can predict specific outcomes, which may be desirable or must be avoided.

Adaptation is now moving beyond the biological. In recent years, computing has evolved from machines designed to execute procedures into systems that can perceive and learn.

Deception is the art of presenting a different version of reality, so that instead of the victim selecting the behavior that will advance its own flourishing, it will produce behavior that is in the interest of the deceiver.

Deception predates the human invention of putting immediate experience into words, which allowed people to alter words despite being unable to change non-verbal immediate perception. The animal kingdom uses deception too. For example, a tiger stalking its victim will hide in the grass upwind of the gazelle. The gazelle’s perception of reality will, therefore, be missing the smells and sights that indicate that it must start running now.

The tiger, at this moment, does not see the gazelle as a life of its own, or as an agent trying to further its own flourishing. For the tiger, the gazelle represents only meat.

Human beings sometimes see other people not as agents with their own interests but as machines capable of performing physical labor or computational work. At other times, we look beyond other people to the resources that their interests prevent us from accessing in order to further our own goals. In that case, they are just in the way.

One solution to the problems and opportunities created by other people is to offer an exchange. Another solution is to use deception to change their version of reality so that their behavior will accomplish our own goals.

The defense against deception is to hold on tight to what truth we can gather about our context.

The human organism looks beyond the immediate present, and holding onto the truth also requires protecting records from the past. If these records can be falsified, their value is undermined.

Today, we face a crisis brought about by the ability to create false records of reality. This undermines the ability of all the players on this planet to make decisions based on their best understanding of the world. Moreover, in order to deceive, it may not be necessary to falsify the record; harm can be done by undermining and disvaluing these records.

We need to be able to trust and value our own records from the past. This trust protects our freedom and agency from being hijacked by other agents’ interests.

submitted by /u/eliyah23rd
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Source: Reditt