Monday, November 29, 2010

To ponder

I value isolation, because in a world without memes, there are no bad memes.

I value lifelessness, because in a world without feeling, there are no negative feelings.

Nihilism does not apply to the current universe; however, if we can obtain absolute assurance that life will never produce anything of any degree of real, positive value, then working toward achieving a state of absolute valuelessness will become ideal.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Re: The Pragmatic Paradox

Problem 1: Assuming that conceptual systems such as "pragmatism" exist anywhere beyond their places as constructs of cognition convenience in the mind

There is no such thing as pragmatism beyond the meme; it's just a summation word used to define a number of philosophical tenets, and has no innate physical basis. Therefore, it could be stated that pragmatism -- or any ism, for that matter -- is similar to, for example, government-imposed age requirements in that both are artificially constructed for convenience, but neither can be directly deduced by the physical properties of the universe. Put simply, there is nothing preventing us from inventing a new ism similar in scope and definition to pragmatism, but with one additional or one less tenet; ultimately, it's just a word, while its individual constituents are what we should instead be discussing. Even if "pragmatism" weren't useful, again, it's just a word for a handful of concepts, so if any one of those concepts were independently functional, it would be ideal to implement it, regardless of the flaws inherent in "pragmatism" itself.

Problem 2: Assuming that pragmatism has no use

It sounds like your professor is confusing the utility of pragmatism with the lack of useful ideas in his life. Just because you're incapable of inventing ideas of practical merit doesn't mean that the ideal itself is impractical; everything around us has been implemented as a result of its practical value. "I don't see any use in thinking up useful ideas" is a non-sequitur, and even contradictory, as you've pointed out. More likely, the intended meaning was, "I don't see any use in any of MY ideas, so looking for useful ideas must not be useful." Is this more accurate interpretation any more logical? No. In fact, it's so stupid that it actually succeeds in reducing philosophy to its semantics component, all for the glory of some adorable platitude and a bit of ego sex. Tell him to grow up!

It's not about emotion...

It's about psychology. Our psychological dispositions are each composed of an array of complex experiential data derived from various constituents of sentience, including sensation deprivation (desire), fear, mental sensation (emotions), physical sensation, visual sensation, auditory sensation, olfactory sensation (smell), thermal sensation, balance sensation, and gustatory sensation (taste). These constituents are, as part of a continual process of psychological development, the root cause of all destructive tendencies inherent in sentient organisms, from preferring junk food to healthy food to falling in love with a person who's wrong for us to selfishly favoring those whom we have feelings for over others. They're also all fundamentally negative by design, and stem from an imposed, baseline state of discomfort which can only be relieved by death; furthermore, discomfort is imposed by unintelligent physical forces for the ultimate goal of preparation for genetic reproduction, and nothing more.

With this in mind, it should be quite obvious that sensation is the only physical quality which possesses de facto value in the universe -- until proven otherwise, that is. Therefore, the reduction of its adverse effects should be a prime directive of our civilization, not only in localized instances, but also where the continual, unregulated creation of new sentient life occurs.

Conclusion: Human psychology is not a prerequisite for logic to run as a process on sufficiently capable systems. Furthermore, in being so frequently prone to corruption, human psychology actually hinders the advancement of logic everywhere that it exists alongside that mechanism; in fact, the sheer intensity of subjective sensation as perceived by organic memory stores makes it an extremely effective motivator for individual, multicellular organisms; thus, it retards the logical process of improving reality, as the more effective it is for individuals, the less effective it ultimately is for sensation as a phenomenon. In other words, the required immediacy of action of an organism in dire situations precludes the possibility of practical, comparative analysis being carried out while free from intervention in the form of emotional and physical biases.

I don't want a balance between emotion and logic; I want the outright elimination of all that is negative -- and thus, valuable -- in the universe, and will continue to want this until it is demonstrated that other forms of value exist outside the realm of chemical-based sensation.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I don't live to feel good or be happy

I don't live to feel good or be happy, and I think that anyone who does is disgusting. Happiness is a short-lived (sometimes lasting only a few seconds) mental sensation which, because of the reward pathways in the brain, creates a false perception of value. When the sensation dissipates, like any other addict, we immediately want more of it, and will stop at nothing until we have more, regardless of how irrational and paltry all of the little moments that we define as "good" ultimately are. This, in turn, facilitates the dichotomy of actual mental and physical sensations on the one hand, and the perception of those sensations as desirable ideals on the other. Incidentally, the perceptions are themselves generated by what are essentially false memories that do their best to "sell" experiences as things we'd enjoyed more than we really did while they were occurring. Clearly, then, we spend a preposterously tiny portion of our lives being happy -- a third of life is spent asleep, and most of the rest of the time is dedicated to the chase that eventually ends in those few seconds or minutes of satisfaction.

Desire is problematic for what I perceive to be fairly obvious reasons, but if you'd care to know more about why mindlessly filling a figurative pool over and over again is stupid, I have a story called "A desire has never been fulfilled for anyone" that you should check out (hint: if a problem that you're experiencing only goes away when you tend to it in finite intervals, and comes back almost immediately after you've cleaned up the mess, then you're perpetuating the problem, probably for selfish psychological reasons related to feelings of accomplishment -- not fixing it).

Regardless of the efficacy of repetitiously consuming and experiencing as regards the fulfillment of our desires, keep the following in mind: Everything that we crave results from deprivation. If we ignore our cravings for long enough -- especially those most directly beneficial to the maintenance of our bodies to the end of producing genetic copies of ourselves -- then the deprivations grow. Thus, in addition to faulty perceptions facilitated by the brain's reward pathways, we also experience a kind of natural punishment for failing to procure the things necessary to temporarily satisfy our urges. Does punishment for not obtaining something that fails to cure your problems make any kind of rational sense?

1. No organism has ever survived; there is no such thing as survival of the fittest. Nature doesn't care about survival of organisms; it cares about survival of genes, which almost always means reproduction.

2. Happiness is ephemeral, intermittent, and a persistent attempt at filling deprivations created by our biology; these deprivations only exist to keep us interested in our environment long enough to reproduce. If the environment, in lacking intelligence, fails to provision us with nourishment of various kinds, then we suffer tremendously as our deprivations deepen.

Given the above, it should be obvious that our enjoyment of life is not only meaningless in the long run, but also nothing more than a way to stave off horrific suffering. Taking a so-called "negativist" approach to life, then, we have no choice but to opt for responsibility, education, and discussion over hedonism, happiness, and self-indulgence. Furthermore, we must concern ourselves with eliminating the problems that we see, rather than merely with perpetuating our particular desires, or "fixing" our own problems for psychological reasons. Getting into a relationship is not going to solve your financial or health issues, let alone anyone else's.

None of this by any means implies that we should be miserable in some attempt to symbolically convey selflessness, however; we can't escape our desires, and so should humor them to some practical extent. The humoring of what pleases us in itself isn't the problem that I have with modern society; my problem is that we go far beyond humoring our desires to the point where they are the reasons for why we exist at all. In a world where an astonishing proportion of humans are below the poverty line while the rest slave away at office jobs on medication for a third of their existences, we can definitely do better.

So why is this phenomenon, this perverse self-indulgence, so prevalent in today's society? If I had to guess, I'd say that the collapse of organized religion and the rise of so-called advanced technologies has played a major role. Now that we don't have to worry about our crops seeing it through the winter, or whether the earthquake was caused by god, we're so free -- and lacking in direction -- that we've become pigs. We've fixed the means to our various ends, but the ends are a veritable mess.

The next time that you think to yourself, "The world would be so much better, if only I had _____," remember this post. Whether it's a boyfriend, a better paying job, the ability to say that you've tried some hallucinogenic substance, or a bigger apartment, remember that you will not survive in the long run, and neither will anyone else. Further, when presented with the chance to engage in discussion about how to improve our society, don't pass it up in favor of indulging in something that will make you feel good, and don't allow your desires (other than the desire to reform planet Earth) to rule your life. Maintain a balance, always!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Love is stupid

Unlike some who view love as problematic, I don't think the problem is that it isn't real; I think it's that it's an irrational, uncontrollable preference perpetuated by unfounded evolutionary incentives. This might not seem too problematic at first glance, but when you consider the huge amount of time and energy wasted -- often in vain -- to woo someone because of what makes their personality superficially intriguing, it becomes obvious that love is a very, very bad aspect of our perverted psychological dispositions. If an elderly man whom I randomly meet on the street one day is the most intelligent, productive, kind-hearted, and pragmatic person I've ever encountered, why shouldn't I work alongside him, or at least engage him in discussion, more often than I would chase after women? Why shouldn't I move in with him, buy him gifts, take him to dinner? I have no feelings for him whatsoever -- aside from the baseline feelings that I have for all sentient creatures -- but isn't that a good thing? Doesn't that make him a more objectively worthy companion than someone who makes my heart flutter?

We can't control whom we love. We can't control what kinds of foods taste good, either, but we know which ones are healthy and which ones are unhealthy. Perhaps there are loves that are healthier than others, too, but love, unlike food, is not necessary for our survival. Trapping others in our emotions and personal dramas, then, is both egoistic and selfish, for it promotes preferential thinking -- a clear sign of a non-functional civilization. Further, the preferences created by love are meaningless, as I'm sure anyone who's experienced unrequited love can attest. Everyone, no matter their gender or how their smile or confidence makes us weak in the knees, must be judged by the same standards.

I highly, highly doubt that anyone you've ever loved was chosen because they were among the best and brightest of mankind. Love may not be an illusion, but its benefit to society certainly is.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Remove the human element

Remove the human element from "nature," and let's see how lovely it is then. If you, even for a moment, stop projecting your own desires, psychological disposition, and relative perspective of the world onto nature, you'll quickly realize that humans are the only living things that care about, well, anything. Sorry, but that's how it is -- aside from humans, nothing cares about much of anything aside from itself or its offspring.

1. Humans are the only animals that can cry.

2. Humans are the only animals that can laugh.

3. Even though plenty of highly functioning mammals are capable of compassion, grief, and joy, they're still quite a paltry part of life on Earth. 99.9% of living organisms -- especially when we tack on the first three billion years, when no life would have been visible to the naked eye, and certainly wouldn't have been multicellular -- wiggle around in the dirt for a few days, suck up enough food in order to poop out a jillion copies of themselves, then die. There is nothing glorious, beautiful, or moving about three billion years of worms, bacteria, and parasites, and if you think otherwise, you are figuratively in love with a vile, indefensible woman solely because she is physically beautiful. Never mind her modus operandi or that disgusting birthmark; she's hot!

In other words, nature lovers are only concerned with looks, and are even in denial when it comes to the preponderance of aesthetic unpleasantness that exists in nature, though that's not what matters in this case. The ultimate point, here, is that beauty is subjective, deceptive, and even manipulative. The sooner you realize this, the more pleasant a place this planet will be for all of us.

Do you love life? Great. Now make a list of your favorite things about it, and let's see how many of them would exist without humans. Seriously, I'd love for someone to do this; I'm curious to know if even a handful of what we cherish predates our emergence. Note: I'm not referencing the objects of affection, but rather, the subjects who perceive the objects as worthy of affection. For example, yes, flowers predate humans by quite a bit, but before humans, nothing thought that flowers were pretty. Get over it.

Ask yourself this question: "What do I enjoy about being alive?" Think hard about whether any of your answers are even physically possible for an organism that is not a human being.

Do not invoke New Age or spiritualist platitudes while thinking about this; instead, also ask yourself, "Is what I'm thinking about right now observable with scientific instruments? If not, then why do I think that it exists? Who told me that it does? Are they trustworthy? Are they fallible? Am I arrogant to cling to this? Am I doing so because it makes me happy, or because I've done some thorough investigation in the name of the truth?"

Do you love nature, or do you love that work of art called Nature which mankind has conceptually fabricated? Funny how we pride ourselves on overcoming religious dogma, where answering every unknown with superhumans is the name of the game, then commit the exact same error while gazing longingly at the mess of suffocation and heart attacks taking place in the jungle. When we're not ascribing human properties to god, we're making nature out to be just another one of us -- a friendly, flower-sniffing human being. We're the crazies in Independence Day holding up the welcome signs just before the aliens blow up Washington.

When will we grow up?