x. General Views on Life and Stuff -retired- -look at 'Thoughts'

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===RETIRED===READ THOUGHTS===04/13/11====

Here's an article on my general views on, to sound clichéd, life, the universe and everything.

-I'm a determinist, as in, I don't believe in human free will. Though its true that there are natural processes that are inherently undeterministic, human free will is deterministic. Atleast unless someone shows that quantum mechanics is involved in brain activity such that decisions become indeterministic. I feel that the belief in the soul, in free will, and in ego are inherently related and lead to each other. The "soul" and "ego" connote some inner entity, in whose existence I don't believe.

-Emotions,feelings,thoughts etc etc...are simply the work of neurons firing away in certain patterns. This may sound rather unromantic and cold to attribute emotion to just neurons firing but actually I think its pretty amazing that such simple things can give rise to such complex thought processes.

-I'm agnostic. Why? Because this idea of a supreme being seems to have been cleverly framed in a such a way that it cannot be disproved. Concomitantly, it cannot be proved either.

-Life is pretty pointless, you come into this world with nothing and you leave with nothing, anything you do will keep dimnishing in significance till it is completely lost. The only way you can possibly live on in this world is through your children. Some say the point of life is happiness, but what does pursuing happiness lead to? Nothing, because you will die anyway.
-I don't agree with Kant's categorical imperative, because I feel it only applies in a perfect world - it's idealistic. Though admittedly it is very elegant and I wish I agreed with it.

-I don't take the nihilism to the point of unbridled hedonism, I prefer secular humanism, because IMHO secular humanism can lead to a happier life for everyone. Related to the above point.
-Besides hedonism is paradoxical, since you use your intellect to decide that the point of life is pleasure, which makes you as good as an animal without any intellect.

-Speaking of animals, I feel humans have greater rights than animals because nothing exists outside of human consciousness. Ofourse, be nice to them, I'm not saying they have no rights.

-Everyone should do a basic course in or read about basic philosophy, psychology and science because without these you can't understand the world. You may say that ignorance is bliss, but ignorance is not bliss, it is a false bliss. Only when you know, are you ignorant, because the knowledge you gain opens your eye to how much you don't know and don't understand.

-Politically, a Social Democrat. You need entrepreneurship and private enterprise but on the other hand you need universal healthcare, schooling and some amount of welfare.

-I think I agree with the communitarian movement, I just haven't dug deep enough, but I like what I've read.

-On art, I believe the appreciation of art is completely subjective, your tastes will not match anyone else's and that art is the result of some sort of inner urge to express onself. For me, the final resulting work of art is more important than the process of its creation - the whole what does it mean. Art uses the everyday to create something gestalt, that gestalt lies in the intepretation. Art only has relative/subjective and no objective/absolute value.

Thats all for now, I hope I haven't muddled up the terms, I know what I believe in but I'm not too good at labeling the beliefs. I'm sure some of these sound naïve but I haven't the time to explore philosophy fully.

Hey sweet list! :) You seem to favour science over the thought that everything (including our emotions) is all in the mind.

-I'm a determinist, as in, I don't belive in human free will. Though its true that there are natural processes that are inherently undeterministic, human free will is deterministic. Atleast unless someone shows that quantum mechanics is involved in brain activity such that decisions become indeterministic.

I think free will does exist, as life and all our experiences are entirely contingent, and until we discover some kind of time machine we will never know. But determinism sounds too much like fate to me, not everyone has a path, you have to chose to do it.

-Emotions,feelings,thoughts etc etc...are simply the work of neurons firing away in certain patterns. This may sound rather unromantic and cold to attribute emotion to just neurons firing but actually I think its pretty amazing that such simple things can give rise to such complex thought processes.

Exactly, some people believe it is so complex it could not possibly just be electronic activity in the brain.

-I'm agnostic. Why? Because this idea of a supreme being seems to have been cleverly framed in a such a way that it cannot be disproved. Concomitantly, it cannot be proved either.

I agree, definite disbelief in a God is pure arrogance, but until I get some hard proof I'm reluctant to believe in a higher being anyway. But how are you defining God newhoo? The Creator, You Conscience, The World Itself?

-Life is pretty pointless, you come into this world with nothing and you leave with nothing, anything you do will keep dimnishing in significance till it is completely lost. The only way you can possibly live on in this world is through your children.

Pro creation is another purely scientific thought, but I really don't like it. It encourages people to be superficial. You dress and act in a certain way which is more likely to attract the opposite sex = You have more children. I personally believe the ultimate purpose of life is self fulfilment, and a feeling of contentment (as happiness can never be achieved merely idealised).

-I don't take this to the point of unbridled hedonism, I prefer secular humanism, because IMHO secular humanism can lead to a happier life for everyone.

I agree

-Everyone should do a basic course in or read about basic philosophy, psychology and science because without these you can't understand the world.

Says Plato :P lol. I see your point, but many value Philosophy as unnecesary, and Wittgenstein famously encouraged some of his students to stop studying it because it would bring turmoil in their minds and bring an unsastified life.

-Politically, a Social Democrat. You need entrepreneurship and private enterprise but on the other hand you need universal healthcare, schooling and some amount of welfare.

I agree, although should healthcare be free if the person has put themself in that position? Eg. Smoking or Drinking too much, there might be other patients with the same urgency to be seen who are just as critical who have had no part in bringing about their injury/illness.

What are your epistemological opinions on knowledge? Eg. Rationalism (Descartes) or Empiricism (Hume) or something different (Kant)?

I think free will does exist, as life and all our experiences are entirely contingent, and until we discover some kind of time machine we will never know. But determinism sounds too much like fate to me, not everyone has a path, you have to chose to do it.

Yeah, I like to think that decisions are decided by me, just by myself, its good for my ego, but when I reason it out I come to determinism. Well, it may sound like fate, but...even if I believe in determinism, I'm not going to drop everything and say its all fate am I? In other words, actually it makes no difference whether you believe in determinism or not, since life is going to go on as usual. Its like agnosticism I guess, makes no difference to this world if you believe in God or not, life is going to go on as usual.

Exactly, some people believe it is so complex it could not possibly just be electronic activity in the brain.

Is that a reference to intelligent design? I don't agree with it, I believe that eventually like science has explained things thought to be beyond its scope, it will one day uncover the mysteries of the brain.

I agree, definite disbelief in a God is pure arrogance, but until I get some hard proof I'm reluctant to believe in a higher being anyway. But how are you defining God newhoo? The Creator, You Conscience, The World Itself?

Well, I take God to be a "supreme being" or "the creator". Basically taken in the traditional sense.

Pro creation is another purely scientific thought, but I really don't like it. It encourages people to be superficial. You dress and act in a certain way which is more likely to attract the opposite sex = You have more children. I personally believe the ultimate purpose of life is self fulfilment, and a feeling of contentment (as happiness can never be achieved merely idealised).

Fair enough, since having children is one way of fulfilment anyway.

Says Plato :P lol. I see your point, but many value Philosophy as unnecesary, and Wittgenstein famously encouraged some of his students to stop studying it because it would bring turmoil in their minds and bring an unsastified life.
I'd take the turmoil anyday over ignorance. Think about this, if you don't think about life, its meaning and its purpose and try to work out the answers but just do the 9 to 5, 6 days a week that everyone else does, are you truely alive? Are you really thinking or just living life like everyone else? I find it immensely satisfying to read and understand the basics of these 3 subjects.

I agree, although should healthcare be free if the person has put themself in that position? Eg. Smoking or Drinking too much, there might be other patients with the same urgency to be seen who are just as critical who have had no part in bringing about their injury/illness.
Now! No complicated decisions on healthcare. I take healthcare to be given on the basic premise that each person does whatever is within their capacity to ensure they are in the best health. If people smoke, well, you could say that government should ban smoking then. Basically, everyone should have access to universal healthcare, because you can't really tell how much is the person's fault.

I have to read up on Epistemology properly sometime, college's started and I've been doing this new track, so I haven't had that much time. If I'm not wrong, Epistemology can get really complicated. Hmmm...IMHO the only way you can actually know something is in a system has been constructed by our rules, like mathematics, so you can say "2+2=4" but you can't be completely sure of any predictions made for the world. For example, in the 1890s physicists thought physics was complete, but it is still being refined today. Now I'm not sure of where this belif falls, and then if you can't be sure of anything, how can I be sure of this belief? Which is why its a "belief" and not a "truth"?! See? Epistemology is too much, gotta stay away from it.

I disagree, the most interesting form of philosophy is Epistemology, it really racks your brain and makes you think. Also, it has some extremely interesting views and good arguments.

Fair enough, since having children is one way of fulfilment anyway.

It can be for some people, not others.

I'd take the turmoil anyday over ignorance. Think about this, if you don't think about life, its meaning and its purpose and try to work out the answers but just do the 9 to 5, 6 days a week that everyone else does, are you truely alive? Are you really thinking or just living life like everyone else? I find it immensely satisfying to read and understand the basics of these 3 subjects.

You have to face the fact most people aren't interested in the subject, and of course the phrase "Ignorance is Bliss" has a ring of truth to it, wouldn't you say?

Now! No complicated decisions on healthcare. I take healthcare to be given on the basic premise that each person does whatever is within their capacity to ensure they are in the best health. If people smoke, well, you could say that government should ban smoking then. Basically, everyone should have access to universal healthcare, because you can't really tell how much is the person's fault.

Cocaine is illegal, yet people still do it and get admitted to hospital, so how does that work?

I disagree, the most interesting form of philosophy is Epistemology, it really racks your brain and makes you think. Also, it has some extremely interesting views and good arguments.
Oh, then I must read up on Epistemology.

It can be for some people, not others.
All right then, having children could be one way of fulfilment.

You have to face the fact most people aren't interested in the subject, and of course the phrase "Ignorance is Bliss" has a ring of truth to it, wouldn't you say?
Yeah, I agree most people couldn't care less, but what do you feel about what I said about this in the previous post? Ignorance is Bliss is true, but then, I read this somewhere, only when you gain knowledge do you realise how ignorant you were. Besides, its not that knowing philosophy makes me depressed or anything, quite to the contrary actually. Other people might be troubled by philosophy but, for me, I'd choose knowledge over ignorance anyday. If one is ignorant then one would be living for happiness. I feel happiness is important to a degree, and for me I get satisfaction (i.e. happiness) from philosophy. I guess thats how it works for me.

Cocaine is illegal, yet people still do it and get admitted to hospital, so how does that work?
I suppose they'd get some sort of sentence for using it, after going through hospital. However, IMHO the percentage of people using healthcare because of drug use will be negligible, and nothing is perfect. You can't not have universal healthcare by saying drug users will abuse the system.

"I'd take the turmoil anyday over ignorance. Think about this, if you don't think about life, its meaning and its purpose and try to work out the answers but just do the 9 to 5, 6 days a week that everyone else does, are you truely alive? Are you really thinking or just living life like everyone else? I find it immensely satisfying to read and understand the basics of these 3 subjects."

So...contemplating your own existance is what makes you truly alive? That's like saying, if you're playing Super Mario, but don't contemplate the source code, are you ever really playing it? In college I knew a lot of people enamored with philosophy and psychology but it really doesn't get them anywhere. Let's suppose the world really does rest on an elephant and it really is turtles all the way down. What difference does it make? Much of philosophy becomes just a matter of semantics anyway (free will/no free will/determinalism), good for those random midnight epiphanies that you swear would change your life and really don't. Now science may come to the point where we can actually use quantum theory and holographic principles to come to some kind of breakthrough but that hasn't happened yet and all we're left with is various philosophical garbage and interesting but insubstantial scientific theories. So if you don't think someone's, like, truly alive by not understanding philosophy, (and I'd guess the average person knows more about those three subjects then you'd think) I'd like to know which areas of life you particularly care about and why.

That's nonsense.

Yes, it does. I'm not talking about the normal, humdrum, biological meaning of alive, where when a cell metabolises you can call it "alive" (not sure what the exact biological definition is) but I'm talking about sentience. For example, an amoeba is alive, but is it sentient? I say no.

I'd apply your Super Mario analogy in a slightly different manner. Yes you are playing it even if you don't care about the source code, because the source code is some something humans have invented and you can easily understand the algorithm if someone explains it to you, its not like the purpose of life or something which is difficult to answer. Instead, if you wish to use the Super Mario analogy, then I'd apply it thus. Say you were Mario, then you would be alive only if you didn't just jump on turtles, rescue princesses and such like but wondered why you were jumping on turtles? What do you have against ducks? Whats up with the princesses? And so on.....

What different does philosophy and psychology make? Well what difference does anything make? You enter this world with nothing and you leave it with nothing. What you do doesn't make any difference because sooner or later you're gonna be dead, and your lifespan is nothing more than the blink of an eyelid as compared to this universe and nothing you do can make you immortal.

Would you be blissfully happy and know nothing of philosophy or psychology or have a deep interest in these subjects and be full of doubts and questions? I'd choose the latter anyday. Trying to understand this world, reality and why we are here on a nondescript planet, orbiting an ordinary star in just another of the millions of galaxies in a universe whose vastness defies imagination is a fundamental question.

So if you don't think someone's, like, truly alive by not understanding philosophy, (and I'd guess the average person knows more about those three subjects then you'd think) I'd like to know which areas of life you particularly care about and why.

I'm not making any observation on the average person knowledge of these subjects. Though many people are more worried about where the next meal is going to come from, so they couldn't be bothered with/don't have the time for philosophy. You don't have to understand any of these "terms" or "theories" or "philosophical garbage and interesting but insubstantial scientific theories", you just have to have an active interest in the world around you to be truly alive. As I said I am interested in science, psychology and philosophy. Science because it is the basis for understanding our physical world, psychology because it appears to be the way to (along with neuroscience) resolving the mystery of how our brain works. Kind of weird, our brain can't figure itself out =p And philosophy because it concerns questions like the purpose of life, what is real and so on.

"you just have to have an active interest in the world around you to be truly alive"

Well if you put it that way I'd say anyone over the age of seven has pondered these deep questions at some point. Everyone has "sentience". It was phrased to imply that in order to be truly alive you'd have to study philosophy, yadda yadda yadda.

Now if you were in fact Mario who could only be 'truly' alive by pondering why you have to do these things - I'm sure if he was a real person he would. He'd probably also know that if you spend all your time philosophizing about the Mushroom Kingdom he'd run out of time, throw his hands up, and die. I see that in people a lot too, it's not that they don't contemplate the 'deep issues', it's that they realize it's pretty much a dead end (although it does give a sense of intellectual superiority) and go on with their lives.

To answer your question:

"Would you be blissfully happy and know nothing of philosophy or psychology or have a deep interest in these subjects and be full of doubts and questions?

Except I can't, it's kind of a trick question. You're asking, would I rather be in bliss but not interested in philosophy or be miserable but interested? Of course I'd choose the former as I don't know what it's like to have a deep interest in philosophy. Besides, I think everyone has at least some knowledge of human behavior, evolution, and the cosmos. It's like asking someone who loves pop music if they'd rather be blissfully happy with their shallow radio hits or would rather take on dark and serious and complex albums that make you very emotional. Nobody would ever answer that question with the opposite of what they already liked.

What different does philosophy and psychology make? Well what difference does anything make? You enter this world with nothing and you leave it with nothing. What you do doesn't make any difference because sooner or later you're gonna be dead, and your lifespan is nothing more than the blink of an eyelid as compared to this universe and nothing you do can make you immortal.

This has nothing to do with "in the context of the universe", I mean "in the context of your life", which is not "nothing" but in fact everything we've got. Take a man who spends his life trying to solve difficult Sudoku puzzles vs. a man who spends his life trying to solve the mysteries of the universe. The first man's task is indeed "trivial" but he can accomplish his goal and finds lots of satisfaction. The second man's task is indeed "very important" but he will in all likelihood never solve anything and will probably be frustrated (and boring at parties, too). Now if these subjects truly interest you, which in your case they certainly do, then surely you can get plenty of enjoyment out of it and that's absolutely fine - however to suggest the Sudoku man isn't sentient or "truly alive" because he doesn't really care where man came from is absurd.

Well if you put it that way I'd say anyone over the age of seven has pondered these deep questions at some point
Thats great.

It was phrased to imply that in order to be truly alive you'd have to study philosophy, yadda yadda yadda.
No, I didn't mean to imply that everyone need to take a philosophy course to be "alive".

He'd probably also know that if you spend all your time philosophizing about the Mushroom Kingdom he'd run out of time, throw his hands up, and die.
I'm not saying you need to spend your entire life in deep thought or anything, just enough to give life a good examination (and maybe figure something out?)

You're asking, would I rather be in bliss but not interested in philosophy or be miserable but interested? Of course I'd choose the former as I don't know what it's like to have a deep interest in philosophy.
Each one to himself, though I feel that some interest in philosophy is useful intellectually. Otherwise what differentiates humans from animals? Humans are capable of higher mental processes which animals simply are not capable of. Agreed with example, but someone who likes pop hits could develop an appreciation for deep, complex albums. I listened to commercial nonsense for so long because I simply wasn't aware of trance, and now that I am, I haven't heard a top 40 track in ages =] Note: You don't have to be "miserable if interested", you can still be happy :p

Take a man who spends his life trying to solve difficult Sudoku puzzles... ...however to suggest the Sudoku man isn't sentient or "truly alive" because he doesn't really care where man came from is absurd.
Sounds like a Sudoku - solving machine to me, which renders him "non-sentient" but if he has spent atleast some amount of time thinking about life, his beliefs and something more than that just solving Sudoku puzzles, then yes he is sentient.

No, I didn't mean to imply that everyone need to take a philosophy course to be "alive".

Yeah, that's my mistake. I did gather that from the way things were worded but it seems that's not really the way you think.

someone who likes pop hits could develop an appreciation for deep, complex albums.

Right, but my analogy is saying that you're asking a person to choose between being a fan of one or the other. So they're forced to choose between liking what they currently do, or something else that IS satisfying, but for completely different reasons. That's why I wrote "miserable if interested", the way the question was worded, it seemed like: "you are blissfully happy, or..."

Sounds like a Sudoku - solving machine to me, which renders him "non-sentient" but if he has spent atleast some amount of time thinking about life, his beliefs and something more than that just solving Sudoku puzzles, then yes he is sentient.

Well, I'm talking of those things in terms of "life's work" but not necessarily all the things they do. Every human is sentient but they don't all really spend much time pondering the origin of it. If you're saying every human being needs to ponder these things to be sentient, well, I suppose at least the ability to is what makes us different than animals, but I would never insist someone who didn't was a machine or something, although I'm sure just about everyone has wondered at some stage in their life. It's only natural...

Right, but my analogy is saying that you're asking a person to choose between being a fan of one or the other. So they're forced to choose between liking what they currently do, or something else that IS satisfying, but for completely different reasons. That's why I wrote "miserable if interested", the way the question was worded, it seemed like: "you are blissfully happy, or..."
Gotcha mmm..hmm so you have two satifying choices, then I guess you can do both. I listen to trance and I still like Crazy Frog ;p

well, I suppose at least the ability to is what makes us different than animals
Yup, but if you don't use that ability, is it as good as not having it? I do think so though as you said, since us human beings are simply smarter, we naturally ponder and think about the universe whether we like it or not, and therefore we are sentient, while amoebae and their ilk will never do such a thing and are therefore not sentient.