Basic Lens Model Theory


People are complicated, but frameworks are comparatively simple. This is not a theory about people, this is a theory about the lenses they use to see the world with. I’m not yet describing specific frameworks, I’m essentially describing a meta-framework that can be used to describe lower-level frameworks, like a template that can be applied to a particular person’s collection of beliefs in order to classify their framework(s). In this meta-framework, each framework (including this one!) can be thought of as a particular lens. We’ll be measuring lenses along three axes and providing some categories that different lenses can fall into based on this.

The first axis is the axis of aperture width or the Sheet vs Ribbon axis. A very wide aperture lens (a sheet) will be all-encompassing and be applied to everything, whereas a narrow (ribbon) aperture lens will be more specific and only apply to certain contexts or domains. The usual term for a person who prefers one sheet lens is a hedgehog, whereas the term for a person who prefers many ribbon lenses is usually referred to as a fox.

The second axis is the axis of opacity or the Glass vs Amber Axis. A glass lens attempts to construct as transparent and invisible a view of the world as is possible. To change metaphors back to Plato’s Cave, an ideal glass lens has polished the cave surface to a mirror shine, allowing the clearest view of what is casting the shadows. An amber lens optimizes for something other this reflective quality, be it interestingness, comfort, happiness, or meaning, the amber lens subtracts and replaces parts of the light coming in, modifying the field of view in certain ways. Creating an imaginary friend and being able to render an image of them into your field of view is an amber lens hack. All lenses possess some imperfections and no lenses are perfectly transparent, but the poles tend to cluster around whether or not transparency is being optimized for.

The third axis is the axis of Hardness or the Crystal vs Cloud axis. A crystal lens is hard, in the sense of it being taken seriously, believed in strongly, and defended vigorously. A crystal is stiff, solid, unyielding. A cloud is, conversely, none of those things. The hard sciences are crystal beliefs, but so are the major religions in most cases. As you move away from Crystal and towards Cloud, the lens begins to take on a playful, unserious quality. It basically tracks whether a particular framework is strongly or weakly held and defended, whether it tries to justify itself in some way or not.

This shakes out to eight potential lens types, which we’ll be going into more detail about later. I’ll be editing this post with links to extended descriptions of each lens type as I complete them, including a few example lenses for each type to give an idea of what sort of varience there might be within a particular category, and stepping down from the abstract into the more specific as we go along.



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