Philosophical idiocy on my part *self-indulgence warning*

  • NickoftheNort...

    Posts: 1416

    Mar 29, 2008 9:38 PM GMT
    Partly due to that damned "Religion kills" thread, I am increasingly thinking regarding my atheism and ending up on a bit of a dumb problem.

    Through my atheism, I assert (as a matter of faith) that there is no inherent or ultimate value or meaning to this existence; the values or meanings we assert are personal deceptions that enable our social structures.

    Now, this provides me with a partly dour outlook on life for my part; there is no purpose to life or living unless I'm willing to lie to myself and create some.

    On this matter, I feel that I value honesty as an important virtue and that I should therefore not work toward establishing some deceptive value or meaning.

    Problem: if there is no inherent value in existence, then there should be no inherent value in truth. Therefore, there is no value in my current decisions toward being truthful to the non-existence of inherent value / meaning.

    So...I feel stuck between lying to myself about the importance of being truthful about the "non-meaning" of the universe or possibly lying to myself about the value of other things and making something up so as to establish some kind of foundation for more meaning and value (such as the value of being truthful to myself and my understanding of our existence...goodness-damned d'oh!).

    Blargh! Mental regurgitation over. Human unit preparing for bed.

    Cheers,
    Nick
  • Artesin

    Posts: 482

    Mar 29, 2008 9:43 PM GMT
    We live, we die what more can you really expect? Nothing can really be accomplished in the end, it only serves for our entertainment and to get away from the fact that our lives are pretty meaningless in the end, weather its admitted or not.

    However, the best thing to do is just to live in the moment rather than thinking of what is or what is going to be. A devoid perspective will only make life seem more blique than it already is.
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    Mar 29, 2008 9:46 PM GMT
    I refuse to indulge in such a depressing and self-destructive view on life. Nothing like contracting a potentially fatal disease to make one appreciate living.

    You are welcome to your opinions.
  • NickoftheNort...

    Posts: 1416

    Mar 29, 2008 9:57 PM GMT
    D'oh yet again.

    Within minutes of posting this bit of self-indulgence, it strikes me; the answer:

    Because I value it / them / these things.

    There is no need for any other vindication or justification. My appreciation of something is all that I need to appreciate it; my recognition of that appreciation also allows me to be honest about it, without lying to myself.

    Personal agency. It's a good thing.
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    Mar 29, 2008 10:02 PM GMT
    Is this true, "there is no inherent value in existence"?

    That is the basis of your condition.

    I would argue there is inherent value in existence. There is value in the here and now, without any consideration of any divinity or hereafter.

    We are sentient. We have feelings of pain and pleasure. We can appreciate our existence. Therefore, there is value in our existence to ourselves.

    And there is value to others for their existences, too.

    I feel the basis for right and wrong, morality, and law comes from this value in all our existence.

    It is wrong to do something that interfers with another person's individual existence.

    Killing someone without justification is wrong. It interfers with another person's existence.

    Laws that ban behavior that do not interfer with anothers existence are wrong. Such as anti-gay laws.

    No one has the right to impose laws on others that are not hurting/interfering with others existence.

    We all have only one life in this world and should have full capability to get from this existence whatever one wants and can, so long as it doesnt interfer with others ability to persue their existence.

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    Mar 30, 2008 12:17 AM GMT
    Since one has worked as a nurse in Aged Care. One has seen first hand, the devastation's of old age. One has had to ponder. Why do so many endure this. For one they really have no other right, thanks to religion meddling in our politics. No right, to the choice of death. Yet so many of them, because of their faith, do not want the right to die. As they look at this as a sin, and the ones that do. Have no such right, thanks to religion meddling in our politics.

    Well my atheism, allows one to be truthful to oneself about this issue. I do not fear death, as heaven and hell, are right here, on this earth! So One has put a used by date on life. I will if able to, choose when I die. One is in their last 20 years; maybe even 10....

    This is not an act of depression. But more self preservation, to keep from decaying, as old age does. Not to be some veggie, in care. Or be in so much pain, that just to have a piss, is an effort. yes I advocate for the right to die. Only an atheist can be this humane.
  • auryn

    Posts: 2061

    Mar 30, 2008 12:44 AM GMT
    Sounds similar to the type of existential thinking that made Descarte come up with "...cogito ergo sum".
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    Mar 30, 2008 2:02 AM GMT
    I have a reading assignment for you:

    51AXY533E1L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-dp-5

    The Science of Good and Evil : Why People Cheat, Gossip, Care, Share, and Follow the Golden Rule by Michael Shermer
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    Mar 30, 2008 2:52 AM GMT
    NickoftheNorth said
    Problem: if there is no inherent value in existence, then there should be no inherent value in truth.


    I am also an atheist, Nick. Here's my way of thinking:

    Rousseau wrote of the "Social Contract", as did John Locke in England. Although Locke approached this more as a political issue, it can be seen from a purely social one as well. In short, when you perform any particular act to or against someone, you license that person or entity to do the same to you. We do not wish to be murdered; we do not murder. We do not wish to be stolen from; we do not steal.

    We do not care to be lied to; we do not lie. See, fear of God or afterlife consequences need have no part in this. And I have vastly over-simplified these thinkers' ideas, but this is what it boils down to. The Golden Rule, as in all cultures, but this time with some actual reason behind it.

    No wonder they called it the Enlightenment. We could use another.
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    Mar 30, 2008 4:08 AM GMT
    Yes, following JP, you seem to be saying that ethics depend upon a belief in God. In fact, the post-structuralists -- Derrida in particular -- demonstrate how the rejection of absolute truth leads one to a deeper consideration of ethics.
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    Mar 30, 2008 4:20 AM GMT
    Yup, I think we spend too much time thinking about the afterlife. We seem to treat the dead far better than we treat the living.
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    Mar 30, 2008 4:27 AM GMT
    I recommend that you read about Buddhism and talk to a Buddhist, not that I'm trying to recruit you or anything. I'm not a Buddhist. I'm a nonreligious Spiritualist. Although, you may feel perplexed by your point of view, I feel that you will enlighted by a few notes of wisdom from a Buddhist monk.

    My hope is that you'd take on a new perspective on life. Maybe experience a paradigm shift over the course of time...

    And if looking into any religion isn't your cup of tea, than maybe you can take a look at the Circle of Reason website. But virtues and values are something to live by, and can be just easily be seen as means to living out this existence.

    I hope that these don't come off as cheap lies or tricks of the mind, but as a real way of allowing yourself to have a purpose without having a designated faith.
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    Mar 30, 2008 5:12 AM GMT
    Nick, as you can probably tell form other posts I have made .. I talk too much .. lol .. But I think life like love has its own meaning and reward. Too many mental constructs can blur our a more simple and "pure" experience of life. I think I could be happy as a tree .. well unless someone chops me down lol.

    Anyway, I once heard the Dalai Lama speak. He said, "I have been asked what is the meaning of life .. I say it is simply to be happy" I was kind of taken by surprise by it. I liked that answer. He went on to reason and show how he thought so.

    I think if we can enjoy the world around us as we are tied to it, it is its own reward. Even if life is just chemical, it can feel good. Life is an adventure and our day to day life with the world and people around us is enough to keep me interested and wanting more. There need not be any higher purpose or ultimate goal even though exploring those things can be fun and even consuming.

    No one asks the meaning of life when they are consumed in a lovers embrace for example. It is just there and it is beautiful.

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    Mar 30, 2008 5:26 AM GMT
    Oh, and I forgot one more "meaning." You can provide something to others. You have something to contribute. People can love you. The collective ideas of people around the world give us a forward momentum. You can provide someone friendship. I enjoy reading your postings. Your "meaning" is tied to the meanings of others.

    Now I have to go provide meaning with some friends in a game of darts! Have a good evening all.
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    Mar 30, 2008 6:21 AM GMT
    ides saidYup, I think we spend too much time thinking about the afterlife. We seem to treat the dead far better than we treat the living.

    yep. please don't bring flowers to my funeral. As there want be one. You have left it to late.

    Please do not come and see me, when I am dead. it is to late. I will not be there.

    Please do not cry for me when I am gone. Come laugh with me, while I am still here.
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    Mar 30, 2008 7:37 AM GMT
    NickoftheNorth saidD'oh yet again.

    Within minutes of posting this bit of self-indulgence, it strikes me; the answer:

    Because I value it / them / these things.

    There is no need for any other vindication or justification. My appreciation of something is all that I need to appreciate it; my recognition of that appreciation also allows me to be honest about it, without lying to myself.

    Personal agency. It's a good thing.


    I like this and what ActiveFit has said, and agree. I've been a Buddhist for years, and for me it all boils down to the experience of happiness in the here and now. That's what I value. Actions have results that are experienced as either happiness, suffering or neutral/neither pleasure nor pain. If I watch the results of my actions and adjust future actions for happiness, taking into account both the long and short term, I find my life getting better all the time, even if the circumstances aren't always what you would consider positive. I don't need a god, or someone to tell me what should make me happy. I just let my experience tell me what is generating happiness for me or others.

    Funny, I learn more from my mistakes though. It's when I goof and hurt someone that I feel the most pain. Thankfully, making amends does seem to fall into the happiness category.

    Anyway, that is my "meaning" in life, so to speak.
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    Mar 30, 2008 8:40 AM GMT
    Your all in luck because my laptop battery is showing 16% and red!

    Obscene just had to drag Derrida into this.

    If our moral universe is a semiotic construct (as it almost certainly is or how else do you explain most of what we do as anything other than pathology - which I do not believe it is) then what harm does G-d do?

    By the way, Nick, this film instantly made me think of Woody Allen's "A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy".

    This semiotic construct that is my own "magic lantern" that allows me to see into the spirit world and believe in a shared delusion does no harm.

    Before you start bringing fanatics into this I would argue that:

    1. fanaticism is self-standing and does not require attachment to anything (witness anarchists, no-global, eco-terrorists, brigata rosso, Fred Phelps, and so on.)

    2. this is usually connected to a pathology (like Chucky's endless droning on about the wicked portly elves that tormented him in his sleepless nights)

    Anyway, I don't think that religious belief require deconstruction particularly (and thus my thought that Derrida and his ilk only complicated their own lives whilst swilling Pernod in St. Germain de Pres.)

    Where I think a religious belief becomes transcendent and metaphysical is when it is connected to its real roots (and those one doesn't deconstruct but rather peels of the layers of varnish that have accumulated since the Romans decided the contours of modern theology 1000 odd years ago).

    I describe it this way. If you live in Manhattan you get used to the sounds of traffic. After awhile your brain really doesn't hear them anymore. The sound is filtered out as useless information. This is a protective measure that makes it possible for the brain to process more relevant data.

    I suppose this has happened with the "music of the spheres" as well. It isn't that we don't hear it but rather that our brains deal with that information on a more somatic level as the consequence of an evolutionary process. Part of this is the electromechanics of what we see and what we ignore for the convenience of our operating "kernel".

    There is the other evolutionary component that keeps our soma tuned to what we need in the here and now. For example, we have traveled through space time together with the light from the big bang. Over the eons that light has doppler shifted mostly to microwave radiation (this is a background noise that is actually filtered out of line-of-site microwave telecommunications).

    We live in a bath of light from what we may perceive as the origin of our universe and yet, our brains don't see that spectrum. However, the fact that we do not see this light doesn't mean that it doesn't exist.

    Albert Einstein said "G-d doesn't roll the dice". That is also what I believe.

    Now my battery is really dead.

    Ciao
    Terry
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    Mar 30, 2008 12:35 PM GMT
    um....

























    42

    LOL

    Seriously. Life isn't meaningless to ME. It is meaningless nonetheless, but never to me.

    Also, my life has a purpose: TO CONQUER EARTH icon_twisted.gif
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    Mar 30, 2008 3:17 PM GMT
    Relative to Buddhism, I've been a meditation practitioner for over 20 years, but I've never "become" a Buddhist.

    I don't see a hell of a lot of difference in Christianity and Buddhism. Karma ("do unto others...") is a lot like heaven and hell, and Buddhism is full of gods and goddesses. I understand these are different expressions but they require the same kind of suspension of rationality.

    Ursa: The "harm" of god in the post-structural analysis is the creation of a fixed, organizing absolute. That is completely at odds with the Derridean project.

    I'm not taking a position about that, but it is interesting to question whether one may adopt these "delusions" without enabling fundamentalism.
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    Mar 30, 2008 7:07 PM GMT
    obscenewish said

    Ursa: The "harm" of god in the post-structural analysis is the creation of a fixed, organizing absolute. That is completely at odds with the Derridean project.



    Neither wishing to debate philosophy nor enter into discussions that are exceptionally arcane, I would only say that any system, any pattern, and anything at all has a strong tendency to defy deconstruction or post-structural analysis. Even in entropy there is order.

    Where there is order (no matter how subtle or oblique to observe), there is the implication of an original absolute. This is the a priori assumption from which the Derridean project unfolds.

    I did try to point out that the underpinnings of extremism aren't pegged to theological constructs but to any construct at all carried to an extreme (nomen est omen).

    The belief or not in a supreme being is absolutely neutral morally, in just the same way the belief in Santa Claus per se is morally neutral.

    Does the pinwheel spin out from a belief in G-d to despicable action at the extremes of human behaviour? (undeniably yes.) However, it is the assumption of causality (there is G-d and therefore extremism) that is, to use your word, "at odds with Derridean project."

    In fact causes and effects, though always extant, are always highly dependent on initial states. Since the initial state, or cause, cannot be known with precision (and furthermore defies knowing with precision in increasing dimensions growing exponentially from the degree of precision applied) then the effect cannot be predicted with precision.

    This lack of discernible causality comes around full circle to mirror the post-structuralist pretext without negating or supporting any particular base construct (religious or otherwise). Therefore the existence or inexistence of an uber being (or organizing principle) doesn't have any effect on a deconstructed model exactly because that model reflects what is knowable and what is not knowable owing to the provability of high dependence on initial states (and this has been proven again and again).

    In that sense the observations of Derrida and his contemporaries aren't so much incorrect as they are unoriginal.

    To my mind Henri Poincare already said the same thing 100 years before and before him the polytheist Greeks (and proto Greeks) had the thing pegged as well.

    In fact the construct of Western thought in its entirety (and at its origins) fit post structural analysis into a nearly Socratic structure 1000's of years before Mssr. Derrida blessed us with his breathtaking grasp of the obvious.

    A rose, is a rose, is a rose.

    Ciao
    Terry
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    Mar 30, 2008 7:25 PM GMT
    I started wikipeding with "Derrida" cuz I never heard of him...now my head hurts! Too much too fast. I gotta find the "Derrida etc Guide for Dummies" It all sounds very interesting.
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    Mar 30, 2008 9:05 PM GMT
    I often get into this way of thinking. If our beliefs/habits/attitudes/morals are guided by religion, that's fair enough.

    But if you are an agnostic (leaning heavily towards atheism), such as me, you may begin to heavily think about why we are here if there is no God, and WHAT we should live by.

    I remember reading the God Delusion and Dawkins mentioned our morals were already instilled in us through memes. I believe that to a certain extent. But we are basically animals who eat to survive.

    Why do we think that stealing, killing etc is wrong? I'd never do it, but why I'd never do it I am not sure - is it because of the way I was brought up, is it just me, or is it due to evolution and memes?
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    Mar 30, 2008 9:09 PM GMT
    michaelback said

    - is it because of the way I was brought up, is it just me, or is it due to evolution and memes?


    I wouldn't pretend or presume to know the answer to your question but I would posit that the answer might be yes, yes, yes, and yes.

    This supports the idea that effects are not traceable to causes and therefore the measurable is a more reliable social constant than the unknown.

    The fact that you don't steal is enough. The effect, whatever the cause, carries the day.

    Terry
  • Squarejaw

    Posts: 1035

    Mar 30, 2008 9:22 PM GMT
    ursamajor saidI would only say that any system, any pattern, and anything at all has a strong tendency to defy deconstruction or post-structural analysis. Even in entropy there is order.Where there is order (no matter how subtle or oblique to observe), there is the implication of an original absolute. This is the a priori assumption from which the Derridean project unfolds.


    Oh my gosh, me and the gals at the laundromat were talking about that just this morning!

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    Mar 31, 2008 12:41 AM GMT
    I suggest that there is a purpose for our lives. We're part of the earth, like rocks and trees, so we must have some purpose. I suggest that we are the part of the earth that can percieve the rest of the cosmos and project the earth into it.
    I like to think of it like this; all the events of the creation of the universe came together at the time of your concepetion to create you. There's an incredible number of variables to come together to make that happen. Each of us is the winner of an incredible lottery. So don't waste all that effort.