Life stance

This is an attempt to document my personal ideology. That is, the beliefs I hold most strongly.

If you squint, you might make out a life stance, statement of principles, of even infer life rules. I like to see it as a proto-manifesto.

My understanding of the world is a house of cards made of beliefs. Some trivial ones are base on my experience with reality, most of them are a priori, the higher up the deductive stack the less effort it takes for me to modify them.

Near the bottom of the stack, though, are some slow-moving beliefs that represent, to me, truths.

For now, this is a scratchpad of thoughts that I hope to distill into a list of concise statements. Then I can monitor the change and more explicitly question them.

The universe is consistent and therefore understandable. As individuals, our capacity to model the world is insufficient for understanding very much of it. Yet working together and across time we are able to build and test models that help us reach larger scales and greater detail.

At any given time in history, some of those models are wrong and we will never have a complete understanding because the universe includes ourselves and our culture.

Consciousness exists on a spectrum and is hard to measure. Sentience is a conventiens label we give things that seem so conscious they remind us of ourselves. Personhood is a a closely related set of rights we like to give things that remind us of ourselves so we can live in a safer world.

Everything is connected, nothing of noteworthy complexity can be clearly defined without the ecosystem that supports its continued existence. The ecosystem of a stone is very slow-moving and safe, but most of the things we care about are much more sensitive.

Morally good choices are those that respect the safety and thriving of persons and the complex ecosystems that allow them to exist.

We are products of our culture as much as we are of our biology. Our culture, then, is an ecosystem that deserves moral respect.


I think of ideologies as branded collections of principles, so learning about how these clusters have evolved and are labeled helps me think about my own core beliefs.

I presently consider myself a (philosophical) materialist, a deep ecologist and thus environmentalist and thus a vegetarian, a communalist (in the Bookchin sense),.

Deep Ecologist means I find value in complex “living” things for their own sake. I believe humanity’s understanding of the systems we are a part of is too constrained for us to have confidence that we can safely modify them. So, it’s best to aim to limit our footprint.

Communalist is very related but in the social sphere. I believe human cooperation does not scale well, so it is best for us to focus on peace and prosperity in local contexts and then between contexts, rather than define and enforce shared rules for everyone, everywhere.