Monday, May 14, 2007

GTD, chess and Objectivism

There are some parallels between these. Ayn Rand considers the three cardinal values in life to be reason, purpose and self-esteem. In GTD the the two big questions are what you want to achieve (or in other words, what's your purpose?) and what's the next action. So purpose plays a big part in both these. Also true in chess, except that 'goal' is a more commonly used term, and in chess there's also a correspondence to GTD's 'next action', which of course in chess simply is 'next move'. Objectivism doesn't have a direct correspondence to 'next action', but then it's a philosophy and that would be too narrow a concern. That's why Objectivism and GTD work so well together -- Objectivism identifies broad principles (including that productivity is a virtue) and GTD is a system that applies parts of Objectivism (such as being more productive) to your dialy life. That's how I see it anyway, and I know GTD is somewhat popular among Objectivists (and would be more so if people knew about it).

As for chess. I think of chess as a magnifier of these and other principles, perhaps especially purpose and causality. Living is often ambiguous and bewildering. You don't know what you want, or how do get it, or what follows, or the identity of certain objects. Chess is much more manageable. Much of what makes life bewildering and complex is removed, yet those really important principles in life remain in chess, writ large. You still want things in chess, and things follow, and things have identity. Chess creates a sense of order and clarity, a much needed feeling.


Wahrheit said...

I think you've drawn some excellent parallels here, and it reminds me of why I think that chess was so popular in the Communist countries--it is logical and objective, unlike the bewildering and arbitrary nature of a communist government, plus it is something controlled by the individual, with his own thought and creativity. Chess can't be played "collectively," though the Commies (Soviets) did try to run the Candidates so that one of theirs won every time. But the chess club offered the average Soviet citizen a place of refuge from the idiocy of the System.

XY said...

Yes. And of course Ayn Rand wrote about that in her "open letter to Boris Spassky" (and the book with Q&A:s). I was going to relate what I wrote to that letter/essay, but didn't have time and I'm still unclear about a few things. Interestingly, she's negative to excessive chess playing.

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