Is life absurd

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Greta
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Re: Is life absurd

Post by Greta » May 26th, 2017, 7:27 pm

Grotto19 wrote:
Weight wrote:Is life absurd? Why or why not? Is there meaning to life? How can we create meaning if there is none to begin with? I am doing a study on Albert Camus and would like to hear your views on the subject and know if life is absurd or not. Thanks.
I have posted on this recently as it is a growing problem in my life. I posted under "The most difficult question...why should one live?" in general philosophy. I still rise each day and do what I should according to society, but I cannot provide a single reason why. And from that lack of reason I grow tired. Like digging a hole and then filling it in again. Over and over. Pointless yet I do it each day.

Is life absurd, my heart says no, but my mind thinks yes, though aches to think no.
Is it absurd to overuse the mind, whose initial purpose was simply to protect and maintain the digestive system, so that it becomes self destructive?

Blank the words from your mind and the problems and weariness will go away. They are only words in your head, much less real than the environments that you ignore while focused on the words in your head. Instead of trying to find words with which to communicate thoughts, treat the words as an impediment to gaining a deeper perception - to come closer to the sensitivity you had as a child before applying labels to everything.

I say this, not from "above" as any kind of teacher, just another whose mind tends towards over-activity. It's a great feeling to articulate what one thinks and feels, but the feeling eventually becomes empty without continuing to draw in significant non-verbal attention and resultant "brain food".

The heaping of abstractions on one another is what robs us of energy - the disconnection from and objectification of nature (including the animal aspects of ourselves), which is our emotional power source. One needs to re-energise by backing off from the analyses and simply being at times.

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Re: Is life absurd

Post by Grotto19 » May 27th, 2017, 3:27 am

Greta wrote:[
Is it absurd to overuse the mind, whose initial purpose was simply to protect and maintain the digestive system, so that it becomes self destructive?

Blank the words from your mind and the problems and weariness will go away. They are only words in your head, much less real than the environments that you ignore while focused on the words in your head. Instead of trying to find words with which to communicate thoughts, treat the words as an impediment to gaining a deeper perception - to come closer to the sensitivity you had as a child before applying labels to everything.

I say this, not from "above" as any kind of teacher, just another whose mind tends towards over-activity. It's a great feeling to articulate what one thinks and feels, but the feeling eventually becomes empty without continuing to draw in significant non-verbal attention and resultant "brain food".

The heaping of abstractions on one another is what robs us of energy - the disconnection from and objectification of nature (including the animal aspects of ourselves), which is our emotional power source. One needs to re-energise by backing off from the analyses and simply being at times.
So you’re saying my purpose is to digest food? If so thanks I can now off myself in piece for being completely irrelevant. I know you’re trying to be deep here but the mind is not a tool to help provide food to the body. Critters were reacting to stimuli to get food long before self-awareness. I am near certain you have this backwards.

As for being childlike before labels, that is exactly my problem. All the labels now mean nothing. Nothing means anything. For the top Buddhists this is probably perfection letting go of everything. But in my space nothing having any meaning or value…..

Let me put it another way. If nothing matters nothing means anything. Tomorrow when I wake up, why should I do anything at all? Why eat, why bathe, why go to work, why talk to people etc. Now we can say to avoid pain. But a life of avoiding pain only would probably be best served by just not being anymore. That’s a whole lot of work with no payoff.

As I said before go into your backyard and dig a hole, then fill it back in, then repeat that over and over again for no reason. Would you do that? Would you do something with no meaning for your whole life? And if so why? Would you honestly spend the rest of your life digging a hole and filling it back in again? And if you would why would you? What is the point of that life and all that work? That is my point. I cannot “quiet the voices in my mind” because I need a reason to dig the hole and fill it in, I have buried several pets in my life and each time I had a reason to dig the hole and fill it back in. But now I think it does not matter I could have just lain the pet down atop the ground, and for all purpose I could have just laid down next to it and perished too and it would be of no matter.

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Re: Is life absurd

Post by Papus79 » May 27th, 2017, 3:50 am

I don't know what you're metaphysical bearings are but I think you're bringing up a lot of good reasons as to why naive materialism/physicalism fails us existentially in most cases. Some people can find the flexibility within themselves to say that non-fundamental meaning or emergent meaning is good enough, to an extent I'm starting to feel comfortable with that as well but - somewhat cheating full buy-in of that - I'm in a situation where I've seen an experienced things that don't allow me to be a physicalist, ie. that consciousness begins on and is snuffed out at the end of the human brain.

I had some truly awful times through most of my childhood years, off and on through my 20's, and through my early and even mid 30's - late 30's are currently looking better. What I figured out in the whole mess, on one level, is that you only change the world with respect to your environment and can only change your environment by selective omission of the negative that you can't change as well as partaking in habits of action and thought that give you something that you find worthwhile back. Once you've customized your choices of how you will or won't interact with the world to the best that your life allows you then have to turn inward to figure out what causes you comfort, what causes discomfort, and for the things that cause discomfort see if you can figure out how many are voluntary and can be phased out. From there its also figuring out how to look even deeper into your own subconscious life and the symbolism it works in, not in any effort to coerce it but rather to sort of learn to endear yourself to it and swim in it in such a manner where you get greater reciprocation from the parts of yourself that aren't just your frontal lobe or conscious strategist facing off against both the world outside and trying to simultaneously dodge internal pitfalls (both physical and the unanticipated mood surprises) that are so difficult to logically make sense of in any easy or straight-forward fashion.

-- Updated May 27th, 2017, 3:55 am to add the following --

An even simpler way to phrase all of that might be: learn what parts of yourself you can't change and try to accommodate them, then at the same time look at rebuilding yourself from the parts that you can change to better fit the context of the world you find yourself in.

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Re: Is life absurd

Post by Greta » May 27th, 2017, 8:18 am

Grotto19 wrote:
Greta wrote:[
Is it absurd to overuse the mind, whose initial purpose was simply to protect and maintain the digestive system, so that it becomes self destructive?

Blank the words from your mind and the problems and weariness will go away. They are only words in your head, much less real than the environments that you ignore while focused on the words in your head. Instead of trying to find words with which to communicate thoughts, treat the words as an impediment to gaining a deeper perception - to come closer to the sensitivity you had as a child before applying labels to everything.

I say this, not from "above" as any kind of teacher, just another whose mind tends towards over-activity. It's a great feeling to articulate what one thinks and feels, but the feeling eventually becomes empty without continuing to draw in significant non-verbal attention and resultant "brain food".

The heaping of abstractions on one another is what robs us of energy - the disconnection from and objectification of nature (including the animal aspects of ourselves), which is our emotional power source. One needs to re-energise by backing off from the analyses and simply being at times.
So you’re saying my purpose is to digest food? If so thanks I can now off myself in piece for being completely irrelevant. I know you’re trying to be deep here but the mind is not a tool to help provide food to the body. Critters were reacting to stimuli to get food long before self-awareness. I am near certain you have this backwards.

As for being childlike before labels, that is exactly my problem. All the labels now mean nothing. Nothing means anything. For the top Buddhists this is probably perfection letting go of everything. But in my space nothing having any meaning or value…..

Let me put it another way. If nothing matters nothing means anything. Tomorrow when I wake up, why should I do anything at all? Why eat, why bathe, why go to work, why talk to people etc. Now we can say to avoid pain. But a life of avoiding pain only would probably be best served by just not being anymore. That’s a whole lot of work with no payoff.

As I said before go into your backyard and dig a hole, then fill it back in, then repeat that over and over again for no reason. Would you do that? Would you do something with no meaning for your whole life? And if so why? Would you honestly spend the rest of your life digging a hole and filling it back in again? And if you would why would you? What is the point of that life and all that work? That is my point. I cannot “quiet the voices in my mind” because I need a reason to dig the hole and fill it in, I have buried several pets in my life and each time I had a reason to dig the hole and fill it back in. But now I think it does not matter I could have just lain the pet down atop the ground, and for all purpose I could have just laid down next to it and perished too and it would be of no matter.
The first life was just a metabolism, no brain. In multicellular organisms the digestive system evolved before the brain, first with glial cells and then nerve nets preceding encephalisation. So the brain's initial function is to protect the metabolism - the life itself. Since then, brains have increasingly become the main game, consuming proportionally far more energy than other parts of the body.

I was not trying to be deep. I dislike the Buddhist notion of full withdrawal and rejection of everything. Rather harmful and nihilistic. Still, stepping back and giving the poor old brain a break from all that churning around is simply logical, and the easiest way (aside from hard exercise or intoxicants) to do this is to take a break from labelling everything and just be for a while. Allow yourself to experience things that you have no intention of apprehending and articulating. Speaking for myself, that makes me feel good, in which case I'm not going to ask why I should get up or do anything. I see no reason why suffering and the examined life need operate in tandem.

Why should you even expect to have the game of life worked out before participating? The idea for most of us is to simply gain the experience needed to work something of life out.

-- Updated 27 May 2017, 07:50 to add the following --
Papus79 wrote:I don't know what you're metaphysical bearings are but I think you're bringing up a lot of good reasons as to why naive materialism/physicalism fails us existentially in most cases. Some people can find the flexibility within themselves to say that non-fundamental meaning or emergent meaning is good enough, to an extent I'm starting to feel comfortable with that as well but - somewhat cheating full buy-in of that - I'm in a situation where I've seen an experienced things that don't allow me to be a physicalist, ie. that consciousness begins on and is snuffed out at the end of the human brain.
I have experienced those things too. Nonetheless, I don't understand those peak experiences and doubt anyone else does either. I enjoyed them, was blown away by them, thoroughly confused at how some aspects of it could be possible by them, and gained new (and much needed) insight from them - but they remain largely beyond my comprehension. For me, they not only cast doubt on physicalism, but also the way people refer to the physical and non physical generally. I had the sense that we are all "not quite getting it" and my gut feeling is that it in some way relates to how we perceive and experience time.
Papus79 wrote:I had some truly awful times through most of my childhood years, off and on through my 20's, and through my early and even mid 30's - late 30's are currently looking better.
Ditto. Things often get surprisingly better, especially for complex types, who tend to be late bloomers. IMO the 40s are better still. Not so pleased with the 50s due to almost constant physical issues but at least some of that is self inflicted.

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Re: Is life absurd

Post by Papus79 » May 27th, 2017, 9:57 am

Greta wrote: I have experienced those things too. Nonetheless, I don't understand those peak experiences and doubt anyone else does either. I enjoyed them, was blown away by them, thoroughly confused at how some aspects of it could be possible by them, and gained new (and much needed) insight from them - but they remain largely beyond my comprehension. For me, they not only cast doubt on physicalism, but also the way people refer to the physical and non physical generally. I had the sense that we are all "not quite getting it" and my gut feeling is that it in some way relates to how we perceive and experience time.
I agree, they're tough to approach both on rarity and, at least at this point, not a whole lot of precise scientific exploration (at least in mainstream) toward understanding either mystical states, flow experiences, etc. let alone cataloging of experiences to brain centers or neural networks.

I'll share the following more for everyone else because on a lot of levels it helps explain why I think supervening purpose not only has plenty of dignity in and of itself but I'll also get into some of the experiences we're hinting at above.

I think what specifically forced me passed the strictly conscious talking to subconscious interpretation (ie. still neuron to neuron) is that I've noticed a qualitative difference in certain levels of it. If a person lets say takes a hallucinogen, mild dissociative, or gets really deep in meditation, if they get visual flanging a bit like a slide-show of random images gliding through each other like clouds - that's pretty simple and neurological, it's really a sort of hypnagogia but its also similar to what Oliver Sacks describes as Charles Bonnett syndrome, ie. the occipital part of the brain looping back on itself. On the other hand there are things that can happen which are very different - like feeling a presence and every neuron in your body, possibly more than just your neurons, lights up as if its independently having an emotional reaction to that presence, or times where you can acquire what I'd best describe as 'touch at a distance', the best analogy I can think of is you don't see the particular presence, object, etc.. but it's as if a grid of something like radar, think Ben Affleck in Daredevil, is extending like radar out to several feet beyond your body. Also, when something particularly intense and unusual happens it seems to be coupled with very strange synchronicities, not like some stoner or hippy looking at the clock off and on all day and then being like 'Woah! 3:33! Head asplode!. Closer to jumping out of bed bolt upright from being fast asleep and looking at the clock at 3:33 AM and going right back to sleep or having electronics in the room burn out, under ordinary usage conditions but during an encounter, that had worked fine for years.

What the particular flavor and shape of these experiences has done to my belief about consciousness is its made me increasingly something of a radical functionalist, ie. considering the possibility that sentience could be part and parcel with dynamic systems and possibly even dynamism itself. That's sort of in line with the James/Russell neutral monism outlook, in some ways it might jive with Christof Koch's outlook although I don't think he'd be particularly comfortable with talking about much past neurons.

Either way though I do think it tends to at least suggest that even if purpose isn't fundamental the insinuations or precursors of purpose are in nature deeper than our own individual attempts to find it. The more obvious examples even available to physicalists would be that as animals we're part of an ecosystem and everything finds its area of specialization where the whole thing works toward dynamic equilibrium; honey bees and bats are clear examples of something having a purpose. Similar things could be said of the cold-water conveyor belt on the ocean floors around the world and, back to the level of human life, we're in a human-to-human machinery called society where personality types, talents, preferences, etc.. work some type of balancing act and our place in that balance is also a supervening purpose. What radical functionalism or 'dynamic systems as a category might be conscious' speaks to I think is the possibility that the stacking of experiential fidelity that we find in evolution might be a tendency that's perhaps even exploited chance rather than being purely arbitrated by it. To that end we may very well go into the future and in the next ten or twenty thousand years we might even add new structures that rest on top of the frontal lobe that do even higher levels of work, come with even more pristine self-conscious awareness, and so on.

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Re: Is life absurd

Post by Greta » May 28th, 2017, 8:47 am

Papus79 wrote:What the particular flavor and shape of these experiences has done to my belief about consciousness is its made me increasingly something of a radical functionalist, ie. considering the possibility that sentience could be part and parcel with dynamic systems and possibly even dynamism itself. That's sort of in line with the James/Russell neutral monism outlook, in some ways it might jive with Christof Koch's outlook although I don't think he'd be particularly comfortable with talking about much past neurons.

Either way though I do think it tends to at least suggest that even if purpose isn't fundamental the insinuations or precursors of purpose are in nature deeper than our own individual attempts to find it. The more obvious examples even available to physicalists would be that as animals we're part of an ecosystem and everything finds its area of specialization where the whole thing works toward dynamic equilibrium; honey bees and bats are clear examples of something having a purpose. Similar things could be said of the cold-water conveyor belt on the ocean floors around the world and, back to the level of human life, we're in a human-to-human machinery called society where personality types, talents, preferences, etc.. work some type of balancing act and our place in that balance is also a supervening purpose. What radical functionalism or 'dynamic systems as a category might be conscious' speaks to I think is the possibility that the stacking of experiential fidelity that we find in evolution might be a tendency that's perhaps even exploited chance rather than being purely arbitrated by it. To that end we may very well go into the future and in the next ten or twenty thousand years we might even add new structures that rest on top of the frontal lobe that do even higher levels of work, come with even more pristine self-conscious awareness, and so on.
There was a wonderfully dysfunctional interaction in a panel discussion that included Christof Koch and a philosopher whose name escapes me. Koch expressed the view that mind and matter were different domains and the philosopher pounced (having locked horns with Koch earlier and keen to kit back) - "You're a dualist!" he cried triumphantly. At that point I learned that "dualist" might be an accusation that scares philosophers hoping not to be thought of as superstitious, but doesn't do much when applied to to a brain scientist who thinks that the whole monism/dualism concept is trivial philosopher noodling :)

It seems to me that when it comes to humans in nature, we tend to see ourselves as actors rather than acted upon because we judge ourselves to be the highest level of the Earthly systems. As a result, there's a common notion that humans are like an alien parasite or a cancer destroying the Earth. I see humanity rather as a functionary and facilitator of metamorphosis of the biosphere as part of the Earth's trend towards dynamic equilibrium. Ironically (absurdly?) the way we animals trend towards equilibrium is with a ceaseless drive to grow and reproduce. We are like many little bangs popping on the tail end of the big one.

Initially biology may have started on Earth as a means of breaking down the buildup of free ions on organic molecules on the surface as the result of geologic activity. If we were rocks at the dawn of life (and capable of caring lol), we might have felt that this new-fangled life thing was a terrible disaster - destroying the Earth's longstanding non living material by "infecting it", turning it into itself. The "infection" of life, of course, is now so widespread that most of the Earth's surface, once sterile with pristine nonliving material, is now covered with messy, acquisitive life. Still, most of the Earth remains geological. So we have a thin layer of life exploiting a bulk of geology.

Two billion years later, the "victorious" microbes ran into trouble with new multicellular "monsters", gobbling up millions of the smaller critters with a single gulp. Increasingly multicellular organisms took over, but most life is still microbial. Now there's a layer of animals, plants and fungi exploiting a bulk of microbes.

The process repeated again with humans. Intelligent life (allegedly us) is destroying simpler life and turning the energy gained from those lives into babies, ie. ever more intelligent life. A now layer of humanity exploiting a bulk of simpler life.

Now institutions - collectives governed by automated rules and logic (effectively a rudimentary form of AI) - are consuming the resources generated by individual humans and taking control of them. A layer of institutions exploiting a bulk of humans.

Institutions are, as we all know, a massive PITA on a personal level but they can do some interesting things that individuals can't do from a planetary point of view. For instance, they will eventually be capable of protecting the planet from asteroids and have no doubt already spread some of the Earth's life to other worlds, and much more will follow.

So why would we humans be compelled to supersede ourselves - to join together in crowded groups that drive us somewhat crazy - fiercely competing, harassing, pressuring, exploiting and coercing each other. We form groups that grow and grow until they become self interested (and selfish) entities in their own right. Why should we do it? Why don't we give cities and the institutions the finger and lead a peaceful tribal life out in nature? We did do that, of course, and the city people came in and took over.

This whole maddening human edifice seems to flow directly from our early microbial ancestors' survival and growth instincts, flowing all the way through to our institutions and their increasing interesting in bringing space into the commercial sphere. Many judge humanity for its sins against nature, but I don't see how there was ever any real choice for such a dominant, newly-intelligent species. It's not as though we have experience in being a lone abstractly intelligent species on the planet. Barring major cosmic or geological bad luck, it was always going to turn out like this for humans. We are the way we are because of life's intrinsic drive to survive and expand its influence.

So what can we make of these seemingly endless fractal layers of reality and where it will go? The universe and the Earth are vastly more complex, ordered and interesting now than they were in their chaotic, overheated and tempestuous early states. That gives me hope for the future that life will probably become something truly incredible, an optimism you appear to share.

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Re: Is life absurd

Post by Papus79 » May 28th, 2017, 12:16 pm

Greta wrote:There was a wonderfully dysfunctional interaction in a panel discussion that included Christof Koch and a philosopher whose name escapes me. Koch expressed the view that mind and matter were different domains and the philosopher pounced (having locked horns with Koch earlier and keen to kit back) - "You're a dualist!" he cried triumphantly. At that point I learned that "dualist" might be an accusation that scares philosophers hoping not to be thought of as superstitious, but doesn't do much when applied to to a brain scientist who thinks that the whole monism/dualism concept is trivial philosopher noodling :)
It seems tantamount to saying 'You're a theist!' but I really don't think it's an intelligent criticism when the two things are information vs. biology or something on that order rather than God vs. Satan, soul vs. body, etc.. The claim are nowhere near being on the same order and 'dual' really could indicate anything you decide to focus in on that there's two of or two aspects of and when the nitpicking is that bad it should be ignored.
Greta wrote:Two billion years later, the "victorious" microbes ran into trouble with new multicellular "monsters", gobbling up millions of the smaller critters with a single gulp. Increasingly multicellular organisms took over, but most life is still microbial. Now there's a layer of animals, plants and fungi exploiting a bulk of microbes.
I'll raise a glass of Kefir to that!
Greta wrote:This whole maddening human edifice seems to flow directly from our early microbial ancestors' survival and growth instincts, flowing all the way through to our institutions and their increasing interesting in bringing space into the commercial sphere. Many judge humanity for its sins against nature, but I don't see how there was ever any real choice for such a dominant, newly-intelligent species. It's not as though we have experience in being a lone abstractly intelligent species on the planet. Barring major cosmic or geological bad luck, it was always going to turn out like this for humans. We are the way we are because of life's intrinsic drive to survive and expand its influence.
I've seen posters people have made and thrown on Facebook, with a hill, forest, and waterfall made to look like a woman crying and something like a gun made of industrial apparatus held to her forehead. My criticism of that art is that yes, it portrays one particular side of what's true, but it doesn't at all show the other side - ie. all the different ways that nature's been killing us ruthlessly for millions of years. We and nature can equally be pitiless in our self-interest but I do at least think we're getting better at identifying our excesses. One of the best possibilities is we might learn some important things about de-desertification and influencing rain cycles for the better. To recover, lets say, significant parts of the Sahara, the southwest US, etc. from desertification alone could be a significant carbon recovery. They're starting to build seed drones as well that can shoot tree nuts into the earth at the right distance from others packed in nutrients in such a way that's good for their odds of growth. To that end I think we might be able to stabilize the situation.
Greta wrote:So what can we make of these seemingly endless fractal layers of reality and where it will go? The universe and the Earth are vastly more complex, ordered and interesting now than they were in their chaotic, overheated and tempestuous early states. That gives me hope for the future that life will probably become something truly incredible, an optimism you appear to share.
I think natural pressures are on us to now tame, both in numbers and types of activity. With vast open wilderness, low head-count, and low technology especially we were primed for constant warfare, brigands on every road, etc. etc.. We became a race that balanced power and both repelled tyrants and checked neighboring kingdoms and countries through warfare. Now we have situations where nukes have been scaring the heck out of us for about 70 years, no one has wanted to declare war on nuclear countries, and now we have a situation where North Korea is back in the news in a big way. If we can step the world's hostilities down and eliminate the last few of the really rogue regimes whether through internal revolution, international special forces infiltration, etc.. we might be able to keep this piece on track. The only thing I do worry about is that Russia supposedly lost track of a lot of its nukes. No idea what that means, hopefully ISIS never gets their hands on such things, the only good news there is that for as terrible a loss of human life as it would be for a terrorist organization to nuke a port city from a cargo ship or something like that there wouldn't be a set country for someone to push a rain of nukes off on and glass the whole place.

But yeah, major punctuation and lapses of common sense notwithstanding I do think humanity's set to find equilibrium with nature and that we might either set another canopy of something up.

BTW - I thought this five minute video was a pretty good summary of some of the things I've seen out there to date on the information trace of consciousness with explanations of recursion and something of an ontic structural realism flavor:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3aP905vW-c

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Re: Is life absurd

Post by Greta » May 28th, 2017, 9:17 pm

Papus79 wrote:
Greta wrote:There was a wonderfully dysfunctional interaction in a panel discussion that included Christof Koch and a philosopher whose name escapes me. Koch expressed the view that mind and matter were different domains and the philosopher pounced (having locked horns with Koch earlier and keen to kit back) - "You're a dualist!" he cried triumphantly. At that point I learned that "dualist" might be an accusation that scares philosophers hoping not to be thought of as superstitious, but doesn't do much when applied to to a brain scientist who thinks that the whole monism/dualism concept is trivial philosopher noodling :)
It seems tantamount to saying 'You're a theist!' but I really don't think it's an intelligent criticism when the two things are information vs. biology or something on that order rather than God vs. Satan, soul vs. body, etc.. The claim are nowhere near being on the same order and 'dual' really could indicate anything you decide to focus in on that there's two of or two aspects of and when the nitpicking is that bad it should be ignored.
Yes, it was a cheap shot, and it was accordingly dealt with at the time.

Roger Penrose made a similar point to Koch, except that he added mathematics as another domain https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9Q6SWcTA9w. I disagree. Maths is a language. All that he says about maths could be applied to any language. When he says "[non-calculated mathematics] has been around since the beginning of time", so have untold stories. Maths is just the most precise way of telling a story.

I personally think that a dual reality is a possibility, or an apparently dual monist reality with subtle connections.
Papus79 wrote:.... all the different ways that nature's been killing us ruthlessly for millions of years. We and nature can equally be pitiless in our self-interest but I do at least think we're getting better at identifying our excesses. ... desertification ...
Interesting info about possibly repatriating dry areas. When Japan was wealthy there was once a plan to green up desert Australia for Japanese use but they fell away. Now the country is largely a Chinese mine for coal, iron ore and gas (and real estate), with Chinese farming perhaps the next big step. If our government is smart (a very big "if") they could issue farming licenses cheaply to Chinese investors on the proviso that they repatriate desertified lands.

Sorry, this is too interesting and I'm off topic. I agree with you. There's long been variants of the "noble savage" myth or "noble nature". I subscribed to those delusions for years. I had a turning point holidaying on holidays at the Barrier Reef a few years ago (a lot of coral was already bleached by then, unfortunately). I was standing on a beach looking out at the tropical sunset and looked to the side, seeing various buildings and man-made structures. I felt resentful that we had despoiled this natural beauty with our crap and then it struck me - without all that "human crap" I wouldn't survive for a week amongst all that "beauty". I started to appreciate the enormous efforts made by our ancestors leading up to today's talented, dedicated and hardworking people working to create these structures that kept me and other snivelling whiners comfortable and alive :)

If the wild was pleasant or safe we wouldn't have worked so hard to leave it and to control nature in our human territories. In terms of modern day living and health, it seems that we need a balance of our relatively sterile safe places and getting down a dirty with bacteria, insects, plants and so forth, thus many people find activities like gardening and bushwalking to be grunding and enervating. We still need to keep the animal aspects of ourselves happy even as we work to transcend it. Absurd? Nope, just the paradoxes thrown up when trying to apply language to transitional forms in nature.
Papus79 wrote:
Greta wrote:So what can we make of these seemingly endless fractal layers of reality and where it will go? The universe and the Earth are vastly more complex, ordered and interesting now than they were in their chaotic, overheated and tempestuous early states. That gives me hope for the future that life will probably become something truly incredible, an optimism you appear to share.
... nukes ...
Even in that worst case scenario, almost all traces of human existence on Earth would be gone within 10,000 or so years, aside from maybe some space junk occasionally returning to Earth. From there, I would expect rats would be originators of the next intelligent line. After each extinction event there is always enough previous genetic information around for life not to start all over again, hence evolutions kick-start after a major extinction is always faster than the time before. If humans disappear, any intelligent beings following us would have the advantage of finding our stuff underground when they start excavating. Earthquakes too will unearth some very interesting things should we fall and be succeeded.

Thanks for the video link. Very good, I will need to revisit to properly absorb. I have wondered about the relational aspect of the mind, that when I see, hear or smell something I am, in a sense, touching them with my sense organs (not as racy as it sounds :).

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Re: Is life absurd

Post by Judaka » May 28th, 2017, 10:49 pm

Are we really going to sit here and talk about the feelings of rocks and nature's self-interest to refute the functional reality of what the human mind has evolved into? There is a causality that comes with being human which is not arbitrary and life today is ostensibly at least partly a consequence of that and this applies to all things that exist within the physical world. However you do not speak of causality for the sake of scientific debate but rather to establish values and describe how it was that you made sense of this world. It seems to me that firstly you guys are discussing what is and how to feel about it and how that made you feel, how to think of and co-exist with reality as you interpret it, how does that differentiate you from Grotto? As for this topic, Absurdism/Nihilism are not rejections of causality but of objective morality and some sort of universal order, one cannot speak of the purpose of nature as though it exists for humans like that its purpose is to shape us or test us, we can talk about the causality of nature but not as though it serves a function. To characterise Absurdism as a rejection of causality is disingenuous, Absurdism is the rejection of a higher moral order that makes sense of the world through a higher moral order, a hierarchy of values that transcends opinion and creates objective meaning. Perhaps you guys have just gone completely off-topic and didn't mean it this way but I had to retort on the suspicion that it was not completely off topic.

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Re: Is life absurd

Post by Papus79 » May 29th, 2017, 2:06 am

I don't even know that we were coming down against absurdism, particularly as you described it as a realization of something like the lack of a divine conscious plan. Per Nietzsche we killed God and as a consequence we are stuck trying to figure out how to locate touchstones in a world that, aside from some laws of physics, doesn't seem to hold a whole lot in the way of constants. I think Sam Harris and Jordan Peterson, among others like them, are good at weighing what's left over and I do think there are at least general suggestions - even if they're quite general like 'personal integrity makes the world a better place' in which the question of 'How much?' would be 'Your mileage may vary'. In that sense its sort of a 'something's better than nothing', particularly since most people aren't philosophers, they're short-range pragmatists, and it has to be something that can work for them as well as children where its really the most important.

Grotto seemed to be posing the 'how-to' question on meaning and that's what we seemed to be exploring.

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Re: Is life absurd

Post by Judaka » May 29th, 2017, 8:19 am

Well I suppose it is fair to say that you differentiate from Grotto in that you cope using your radical functionalism approach and in that respect I think it is pertinent to demonstrate ones own strategy for dealing with nihilism or at least some form of nihilism. I think I skimmed the first time and made some assumptions because upon rereading it I don't think my comments are justified, sorry about that. You have probably actually said exactly what I think but with such different language and contexts that I did not recognise it.

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Re: Is life absurd

Post by Papus79 » May 29th, 2017, 11:14 am

As far as my overall view I'll put it this way - I've seen a lot of people speak particularly highly of Tom Campbell's My Big TOE but my only problem is that what he's outlined is too parsimonious to be real. That might sound like a strange claim but he's indicating the construct of things as if all relevant actors in the mix are conscious enough to say as much. He's never explicitly said that but his World of Warcraft analogy of reality being resolved in as we look at it (ie. nothing behind our 'heads') seems to cut a sharp divide on what's a continuum of consciousness.

OTOH, and you might see in my screen name if you're familiar with French Martinism at all, I spent quite a few years digging through the western mystery traditions, the Hermetic Golden Dawn stuff, did join a couple orders because I wanted to see what the stuff (ie. Hermetic Qabalah, meditation on the tarot, ceremonial magic, etc.) actually delivers neurologically and psychologically for a person who tries them out. The people who had a lot of positive experience - ie. Franz Bardon, Dion Fortune, William G Gray, Israel Regardie, Manly P Hall, etc.. and some of their more modern predecessors like Nick Farrell, Peregrin Wildoak, to some extent John Michael Greer and Mark Stavish, seem to speak of the classical four elements (ie. fire, water, air, and earth) as if they're speaking of a behaviorism within nature and dealing with interactive qualities rather than having had trouble locating an elementary or high school that taught the periodic table. I think that gets interesting as I look into different current ideas that are being presented in the philosophy of science world that attempt to deal with complexity and consciousness - ie. Ontic Structural Realism, Contextual Emergence, and one of the more interesting overall philosophic trains of thought - neutral monism. These seem to be heading in an objective direction to examine what western 'magic' for the lack of a better word was trying to chip away at starting from the subjective direction.

One of my ongoing challenges with the esoteric world is there's a lot of symbol-salad in the mix and it's difficult enough to sort out what has method to it and what's just there because certain people have full buy-in to another person's ideas that it seems I can only make those decisions on a piece-by-piece basis by playing with and introspecting on the symbolic associations I'm given to make up my own mind as I gain enough insight into what they are to do so. At the same time I can't complain - the two orders I'm in have inexpensive weekly monographs, they both charge between $10 and $20 a month and it's been really good for my psychological health as I've been able to sort of use things like the Tree of Life, ceremony to certain ideas and quarters, etc.. a bit like a DIY psychological pharmacy. As for people 'walking the paths' I do think they might be teaching themselves, through meditation, to have something like a much more organized DMT blast-off.

Is that world objectively real outside human neurons? I can only speculate but from my own experiences thus far - it seems like the world is a conscious machine and you start finding the consciousness in the timbers and rafters of things when you have a hypnagogic experience, waking up or going to sleep (more often waking up slowly) that really goes somewhere equally alien and logical. I don't know if all of that might have been way too much information, I just think there are a lot of ways in at this information to examine it and the really cool thing about the esoteric work is I can do it, get some of the same things going that hallucinogens or dissociatives give people, and still pass a drug test. :)

-- Updated May 29th, 2017, 11:19 am to add the following --

I'd add with that conscious machine bit though - it's a bit alien, it seems more asleep than awake from my own observation, so as a cohesive whole you find a sort of sleepy/dreamy network of things doing what they do. In that sense it doesn't seem like what we have here working toward any plan it understands, it seems probably closer to something that's somewhere between animal and vegetable in mentality of that makes any sense.

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Re: Is life absurd

Post by Judaka » May 29th, 2017, 1:04 pm

Honestly the only thing I got out of that is that you are talking about ontological and epistemological philosophy. For me I have never taken any interest in these fields but clearly you have and so I think you are the best person to explain to me what you find intriguing about them. I have always thought of them as being unable to provide the kind of proven positive claims that I require in order to take seriously. I also would like to know what is the result of a belief in an ontological or epistemological theory? Are there any benefits to talking about the world in these terms?

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Re: Is life absurd

Post by Papus79 » May 29th, 2017, 2:58 pm

I think I can help with that.

I tried being a very prim-and-proper 'strictly the objective peer-reviewed facts' type of atheist for a while in my life but it didn't quite work for a couple reasons. One was massive suffering in my life, a lot of very malignant challenges where you could say as a white cis-straight male I had all of the benefits of being anything but and got to see social Darwinism pointed at me daily in a very clear and malevolent manner. The other part, really bizarre synchronicities started popping up in my life, ie. the usual sensible rules of life started finding some very bizarre 'when it rains it pours' examples where all the rules start breaking down and life goes from being flat and boring to everyone I know either having exceptionally good or exceptionally bad luck (more the later, I had the first luckily) at the same times with no causal correlation.

I think ontological and epistemological philosophy probably won't make much sense and will seem like a wack attempt at word-salad trying to compete with valid science unless you start experiencing the kinds of things that suggest that materialism as we think of it really doesn't cover the full scope of what's happening. In that case as a metaphysical theory crafted for its own sake it seems to posit all kinds of things that just aren't needed, OTOH if a person's had a load of mystical experiences and really strong synchronicities to go with it they're stuck either pretending it didn't happen and going on with their lives or trying to reconcile the gap between what they've experienced and current mainstream physicalist/materialist consensus. I think the physicalist outlook sounds it's most ironic when Sean Carroll speaks of it in lectures - ie. we know everything there is to know! We're just leptons and quarks with nothing else going on aside from different canopies of complexity! All of that's a swell theory if there really is nothing else going on. Anyone whose had a really unusual or intense dream about something bad happening to someone and wakes up to find out that it's true or any other type of thing happen that's completely disallowed by that model is forced to say when listening to someone like Sean 'That sounds like a great theory but that's about it'.

-- Updated May 29th, 2017, 3:13 pm to add the following --

The other piece, the emotional level - this is the difference between participating and being involved with the universe rather than keeping it sterile, separate, and having a rather cold and alienating view of the material world. Considering that free will is a very dubious proposition and everything we even want to do is and was fed into us, we seem to be a collection of things or factors that got injected by something that wasn't us. That sort of makes us knots of universal material and data that isn't distinctly our own in anyway and I think that actually walks out - not just philosophically but in all of the implications that either determinism or semi-chaotic lack of free will creates.

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Re: Is life absurd

Post by Judaka » May 29th, 2017, 5:40 pm

What kind of mystical or spiritual theories are you talking about? Also would you mind explaining how ontological and/or epistemological helped you to deal with your circumstances?

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