Equality, Unconditional Love, and Monism of Value and Being

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Equality, Unconditional Love, and Monism of Value and Being

Post by Scott »

What if pain is as good as pleasure?

What if discomfort is as good as comfort?

What if failure is as good as success?

What if death is as good as birth?

What if the rain is as good as the sun?

What if the running antelope and the chasing lion are equally good?

What if hell is just more heaven in disguise?

What if everything is good, and there is no such thing as bad?

No evil; Just love?

No time; Just eternal perfection?

No ugly; Just beauty?

No judgement; Just being?
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Re: Equality, Unconditional Love, and Monism of Value and Being

Post by chewybrian »

"Men are disturbed, not by things, but by the principles and notions which they form concerning things. Death, for instance, is not terrible, else it would have appeared so to Socrates. But the terror consists in our notion of death that it is terrible. When therefore we are hindered, or disturbed, or grieved, let us never attribute it to others, but to ourselves; that is, to our own principles. An uninstructed person will lay the fault of his own bad condition upon others. Someone just starting instruction will lay the fault on himself. Some who is perfectly instructed will place blame neither on others nor on himself." Epictetus, "The Enchiridion"
We might be tempted to carve out an exception for pain. But, your list more or less amounts to opinion all the way down the line. You are free to change your opinion, which in turn can change your assessment of the situation. It's not so much "what if" the situation were different, but "what if" you decided to view it differently. If you do, effectively, the situation changes.
"If determinism holds, then past events have conspired to cause me to hold this view--it is out of my control. Either I am right about free will, or it is not my fault that I am wrong."
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Re: Equality, Unconditional Love, and Monism of Value and Being

Post by Scott »

Hi, @chewybrian,

That is a great quote by Epictetus! Thank you for sharing. I love Marcus Aurelius's Mediation, but, aside from Aurelius's journal, Epictetus is my favorite Greek stoic, arguably the funniest and most well-humored.

I agree that it generally is not merely a question of 'what if' the things suggested in the OP are the case because each one--and their antithesis--is arguably a self-fulfilling belief. Perhaps it's as though beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and we have the power to change our eyes to see as much beauty as we want.

Sometimes seeing hypothetically can help one see truly, especially by revealing how little is actually different in a much more beautiful hypothetical world. It can be so much better, and yet fundamentally the same, which can be revealing and enlightening.

For example, if someone is holding onto resentment towards a dead parent and asks how they can get rid of that terrible feeling resentment, a counselor or wise friend might ask, "what would it be like if you forgive them? What would forgiveness look like? What would your life look like now if you had already let go of the resentment this morning?"

A child convinced that there is a monster in the corner of the dark room can be asked, hypothetically, what if it wasn't a monster but just a coat rack that looked like a monster? The trick might work whether the monster was never there or the child is a powerful young wizard that has the power to create real monsters via self-fulfilling beliefs.

Imagining the projection is different can be the first step--or really only step--to changing the projector and thus the projection.
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Re: Equality, Unconditional Love, and Monism of Value and Being

Post by Sy Borg »

Scott wrote: April 7th, 2021, 5:34 pm What if pain is as good as pleasure?

What if discomfort is as good as comfort?
Pain and discomfort and inevitable. Further, if you don't inflict pain on yourself, nature will do it for you - and in a way that's not under your control. Thus we work, even though it's often a PITA. Thus we exercise, even if it would be more comfortable to watch a movie, as inactivity brings many ailments over time.

But nah, no way are pain and discomfort as good as pleasure and comfort, unless one enjoys leather masks, studded straps, codpieces and a cat o' nine tails!

Scott wrote: April 7th, 2021, 5:34 pmWhat if failure is as good as success?
Nah, success is better. Again, failures are inevitable and you have to risk them. If you don't, life will concoct more failures, eg. you stay in a bum job for fear of rejection and reduce your prospects.

Scott wrote: April 7th, 2021, 5:34 pmWhat if death is as good as birth?
It depends. For most, death would suck. But some in their twilight years will welcome the respite.

Scott wrote: April 7th, 2021, 5:34 pmWhat if the rain is as good as the sun?

What if the running antelope and the chasing lion are equally good?
In each example, balance is key to "goodness". Those living near bushland or on flood plains have a visceral sense of what happens then the balance is tipped.

If too many lions wipe out a population of antelopes, then the latter's target food plants to start to take over large tracts of land, unbalancing the whole ecosystem. If there are too many antelopes, though, their target plants disappear, again unbalancing the ecosystem.

Scott wrote: April 7th, 2021, 5:34 pmWhat if hell is just more heaven in disguise?
That's basically a mythological version of pain vs comfort, as per above.

Scott wrote: April 7th, 2021, 5:34 pmWhat if everything is good, and there is no such thing as bad?

No evil; Just love?
Another way of putting it is that the universe is still in a very early stage of its development. Thus, what we see as evil is just lack of development. Nature has, over time, become more capable of reason, mercy, and discrimination. All of that has happened in just fourteen billion years. How much more could happen in another 14b years? And the next 14b? The universe will still be producing new stars for another thousand billions years ...

In summary, we don't judge a toddler for being an unstable and amoral lunatic. In most cases, those qualities reduce markedly with maturity.

Scott wrote: April 7th, 2021, 5:34 pmNo time; Just eternal perfection?
If "perfection" thought of as "it is what it is and them's the breaks", then okay.

Scott wrote: April 7th, 2021, 5:34 pmNo ugly; Just beauty?

No judgement; Just being?
As regards these ideas in my own life, I came to realise that the world does not just consist of human opinion. That only makes up a small, meta layer that masks the reality of non-human entities and events that can lie hidden in plain sight.

Because opinion is powerful and influential, it's easy to treat people and their opinions as all that matters. For decades, I seemingly hypnotised myself into anthropocentrism. After all, treating humanity as everything and disregarding nature is a time-honoured and effective "life hack" for getting ahead in society.

In truth, that's one more way we can "sell our souls". Often it's only when people lie on their deathbeds that they start to notice and appreciate actual reality. Many regret an overstressed lifetime, ignoring the extraordinariness all around them in the world at every moment because they were too obsessed with personal politics to notice or enjoy it.
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Re: Equality, Unconditional Love, and Monism of Value and Being

Post by Scott »

Scott wrote: April 7th, 2021, 5:34 pmNo time; Just eternal perfection?
Sy Borg wrote: April 8th, 2021, 2:48 am If "perfection" thought of as "it is what it is and them's the breaks", then okay.
Yes, I agree.

In that sense of the words, it seems that we agree that everything is perfect.

If everything is perfect, then it is equally good, right?

If everything is perfect, then there is no true or real badness, right?


Scott wrote: April 7th, 2021, 5:34 pmNo ugly; Just beauty?

No judgement; Just being?
Sy Borg wrote: April 8th, 2021, 2:48 am As regards these ideas in my own life, I came to realise that the world does not just consist of human opinion. That only makes up a small, meta layer that masks the reality of non-human entities and events that can lie hidden in plain sight.

Because opinion is powerful and influential, it's easy to treat people and their opinions as all that matters. For decades, I seemingly hypnotised myself into anthropocentrism. After all, treating humanity as everything and disregarding nature is a time-honoured and effective "life hack" for getting ahead in society.

In truth, that's one more way we can "sell our souls". Often it's only when people lie on their deathbeds that they start to notice and appreciate actual reality. Many regret an overstressed lifetime, ignoring the extraordinariness all around them in the world at every moment because they were too obsessed with personal politics to notice or enjoy it.
Those are all very wise words. :)

An ancient Greek stoic meditation of which I am very fond is to frequently imagine oneself on one's death bed. In that way, one can gain the useful products of that perspective while still possibly having many years left in their life.

Similarly, I've heard the spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle say that spiritual awakening is essentially the process of dying before you die, which can seem like a contradiction but presumably isn't and instead presumably refers to a process that others call ego death.

On our death bed, will we wish we had chased bodily comfort and bodily pleasure more? Will we wish we had succeeded more in obtaining wealth, bodily comfort, and sensual pleasure? Or will it be the inner peace and unconditional love felt even through times of petty human discomfort and pain that seem to actually matter? On our deathbed, would we get closer to or maybe fully realize unconditional acceptance and unconditional love, and the fact that, whatever it is, it is what it is, always and forever? Will we value what we took from the world in terms of sensual pleasure, financial success, and material comforts, or will we value what as consciousness itself what we gave the world--including the would-be human zombie in the mirror--in terms of appreciation, acceptance, forgiveness, love, meaning, and inner peace? Perhaps being on a literal death bed triggers spiritual lucidity and/or inner peace in many humans.

But we are already all essentially on our death beds whether we realize it or not. We are not dead yet, but human death is coming very soon for each of us. We are all effectively diagnosed now with terminal illness and imminent death.

If it makes sense to be at peace then, on a literal deathbed, then I think it makes sense to be at peace now.
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Re: Equality, Unconditional Love, and Monism of Value and Being

Post by Atla »

Scott wrote: April 7th, 2021, 5:34 pm What if pain is as good as pleasure?

What if discomfort is as good as comfort?

What if failure is as good as success?

What if death is as good as birth?

What if the rain is as good as the sun?

What if the running antelope and the chasing lion are equally good?

What if hell is just more heaven in disguise?

What if everything is good, and there is no such thing as bad?

No evil; Just love?

No time; Just eternal perfection?

No ugly; Just beauty?

No judgement; Just being?
What if pleasure is as bad as pain, comfort as bad as discomfort, etc., everything is bad, there is no such thing as good, no love just evil, etc.? :) The difference between these positive and negative views is just attitude.
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Re: Equality, Unconditional Love, and Monism of Value and Being

Post by Scott »

Atla wrote: April 9th, 2021, 12:07 pm What if pleasure is as bad as pain, comfort as bad as discomfort, etc., everything is bad, there is no such thing as good, no love just evil, etc.? :) The difference between these positive and negative views is just attitude.
Generally speaking, I am inclined to agree.

If it is agreeably a matter of perspective, then that raises the question, to what degree then is perspective a matter of choice?

If heaven is inner peace, and inner peace is a choice, then is hell is just heaven for masochists? That is, in a poetic way of speaking at least.

The philosopher Albert Camus wrote the following with which I also agree:
Albert Camus wrote:There is but one truly serious philosophical problem and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. All the rest – whether or not the world has three dimensions, whether the mind has nine or twelve categories – comes afterwards. These are games; one must first answer. And if it is true, as Nietzsche claims, that a philosopher, to deserve our respect, must preach by example, you can appreciate the importance of that reply, for it will precede the definitive act. These are facts the heart can feel; yet they call for careful study before they become clear to the intellect. If I ask myself how to judge that this question is more urgent than that, I reply that one judges by the actions it entails.
I do think life is worth living. And I think this world, reality as a whole, is better than nothing, much better.
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Re: Equality, Unconditional Love, and Monism of Value and Being

Post by Nick_A »

Scott
I do think life is worth living. And I think this world, reality as a whole, is better than nothing, much better.
This isn't a gotcha question but I can see why people can answer it differently. Do you believe that the universe is here to serve Man or is Man here to serve the universe? If the purpose of Man's existence on earth is to serve a specific universal need, then suicide is against universal needs. If the universe is here to serve Man, then being unnecessary, suicide is our choice.
Man would like to be an egoist and cannot. This is the most striking characteristic of his wretchedness and the source of his greatness." Simone Weil....Gravity and Grace
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Re: Equality, Unconditional Love, and Monism of Value and Being

Post by Sy Borg »

Scott wrote: April 8th, 2021, 2:26 pm
Scott wrote: April 7th, 2021, 5:34 pmNo time; Just eternal perfection?
Sy Borg wrote: April 8th, 2021, 2:48 am If "perfection" thought of as "it is what it is and them's the breaks", then okay.
Yes, I agree.

In that sense of the words, it seems that we agree that everything is perfect.

If everything is perfect, then it is equally good, right?

If everything is perfect, then there is no true or real badness, right?
Scott, how do you square these ideas with the fact that the vast majority of living things must kill to live? Consider all those sentient animals, with much potential for bonding and love, their lives cut short, often in cruel and harsh ways.

Personally, the only way I can square this issue is to think of reality as a work in progress, and that better models of existence will evolve or be devised, which are the same thing in fact, if not technical.

Scott wrote: April 7th, 2021, 5:34 pmNo ugly; Just beauty?

No judgement; Just being?
Sy Borg wrote: April 8th, 2021, 2:48 am As regards these ideas in my own life, I came to realise that the world does not just consist of human opinion. That only makes up a small, meta layer that masks the reality of non-human entities and events that can lie hidden in plain sight.

Because opinion is powerful and influential, it's easy to treat people and their opinions as all that matters. For decades, I seemingly hypnotised myself into anthropocentrism. After all, treating humanity as everything and disregarding nature is a time-honoured and effective "life hack" for getting ahead in society.

In truth, that's one more way we can "sell our souls". Often it's only when people lie on their deathbeds that they start to notice and appreciate actual reality. Many regret an overstressed lifetime, ignoring the extraordinariness all around them in the world at every moment because they were too obsessed with personal politics to notice or enjoy it.
Scott wrote: April 7th, 2021, 5:34 pmAn ancient Greek stoic meditation of which I am very fond is to frequently imagine oneself on one's death bed. In that way, one can gain the useful products of that perspective while still possibly having many years left in their life.

Similarly, I've heard the spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle say that spiritual awakening is essentially the process of dying before you die, which can seem like a contradiction but presumably isn't and instead presumably refers to a process that others call ego death.

On our death bed, will we wish we had chased bodily comfort and bodily pleasure more? Will we wish we had succeeded more in obtaining wealth, bodily comfort, and sensual pleasure? Or will it be the inner peace and unconditional love felt even through times of petty human discomfort and pain that seem to actually matter? On our deathbed, would we get closer to or maybe fully realize unconditional acceptance and unconditional love, and the fact that, whatever it is, it is what it is, always and forever? Will we value what we took from the world in terms of sensual pleasure, financial success, and material comforts, or will we value what as consciousness itself what we gave the world--including the would-be human zombie in the mirror--in terms of appreciation, acceptance, forgiveness, love, meaning, and inner peace? Perhaps being on a literal death bed triggers spiritual lucidity and/or inner peace in many humans.

But we are already all essentially on our death beds whether we realize it or not. We are not dead yet, but human death is coming very soon for each of us. We are all effectively diagnosed now with terminal illness and imminent death.

If it makes sense to be at peace then, on a literal deathbed, then I think it makes sense to be at peace now.
I like the "dying before you die" idea too. Memento mori.

Like Eckhart, I used to suffer from depression. Sometimes I would reach a point where I would mentally "commit suicide", as opposed to physically (a situation where cowardice is useful). I would put aside everything I was attached to and simply go through the motions as though I did not actually exist. I'd go to work and do what was required, but with a hollowness inside. At that point, inevitably, suddenly I would be performing tasks more effectively than usual and everyone would start liking me, as opposed to the usual state of irritation I engendered.

Then I would start feeling better, and my little ego would start to grow. Before long, the easy inspiration of egoless living would dry up in inverse proportion to the expansion of my ego. That was instructive.
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Re: Equality, Unconditional Love, and Monism of Value and Being

Post by Alias »

Scott wrote: April 7th, 2021, 5:34 pm What if pain is as good as pleasure?

What if discomfort is as good as comfort?

What if failure is as good as success?

What if death is as good as birth?
If those, then no living organism has a basis for a value system or a motive to do anything. If that were true, life would have gone extinct long before it got round asking this kind of question.
What if the rain is as good as the sun?

What if the running antelope and the chasing lion are equally good?
Those are entities in nature which necessarily coexist and to which no value can be attributed, since no value-making entity has possession of them.
What if hell is just more heaven in disguise?
Hell and heaven are concepts projected by a value-making imagination, and if they were interchangeable, the concepts would cancel each other out of existence. How, BTW, does one 'disguise' even a basinc heaven, let alone more heaven?
What if everything is good, and there is no such thing as bad?
Then there is no such thing as good, either - just value-neutral stuff.
No evil; Just love?
Where would that love originate?
No time; Just eternal perfection?
Then the universe will have run out of entropy and resolved itself into a single static chrystal.
No ugly; Just beauty?
There are several ways that could be achieved, including the systemmatic eradication of all things deemed - by some value-making entity - ugly.
No judgement; Just being?
Then none of the preceding concepts or words would ever have been invented. Nor probably language of any kind.
Those who can induce you to believe absurdities can induce you to commit atrocities. - Voltaire
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Re: Equality, Unconditional Love, and Monism of Value and Being

Post by Scott »

Nick_A wrote: April 11th, 2021, 8:32 pm Scott
I do think life is worth living. And I think this world, reality as a whole, is better than nothing, much better.
This isn't a gotcha question but I can see why people can answer it differently. Do you believe that the universe is here to serve Man or is Man here to serve the universe?
I can answer that question, but I worry my answer might not be clear without first specifying this point: Strictly and spiritually speaking, I don't think you or I are human.

Thus, I would answer that, at the most fundamental, cosmological, and/or spiritual level, if these human meat-suits we call our bodies have a purpose (i.e. are here to serve anything), then I think these human meat-suits we call our bodies are here to serve both us and the universe, and I am not certain those are two different things. In other words, I am open to the idea that fundamentally you and I are one, and we are the universe; but I am also open to the opposite, such that we are not the universe. One could say I am agnostic about whether you and I are the universe.


Scott wrote: April 8th, 2021, 2:26 pm
Scott wrote: April 7th, 2021, 5:34 pmNo time; Just eternal perfection?
Sy Borg wrote: April 8th, 2021, 2:48 am If "perfection" thought of as "it is what it is and them's the breaks", then okay.
Yes, I agree.

In that sense of the words, it seems that we agree that everything is perfect.

If everything is perfect, then it is equally good, right?

If everything is perfect, then there is no true or real badness, right?
Sy Borg wrote: April 11th, 2021, 10:29 pm Scott, how do you square these ideas with the fact that the vast majority of living things must kill to live?
That's a good question, and it is why I included the question about the lion and the antelope in the OP.

I don't see anything objectively bad about a lion chasing an antelope. I don't see anything objectively bad about the lion failing to catch the antelope and starving to death, or the antelope failing to escape and the lion eating it.

Rather, the beautiful dance between the lion and the antelope seems to me to be an indirect manifestation of an inexorable balanced pattern that is inexorably necessary for existence to exist, an inexorable pattern that is arguably best represented by the yin-yang. Neither the yin nor the yang is good, but as a whole the yin-yang is good, in my opinion. Thus, the duality of value represented by the yin vs the yang is reducible and fundamentally monistic. Granted, one could go a step further and say the value of the whole is valueless, neither good nor bad, and thus go from value monism to value nihilism.

Also, as @Atla mentioned in an earlier post, one could in theory share my monism but see the whole (e.g. the yin-yang as a whole) as being bad, which presumably entails the opposite of inner peace. In other words, presumably, such a person would see life as not worth living, and such a person would presumably think that it would be better if nothing existed at all ever.

Sy Borg wrote: April 11th, 2021, 10:29 pm I like the "dying before you die" idea too. Memento mori.

Like Eckhart, I used to suffer from depression. Sometimes I would reach a point where I would mentally "commit suicide", as opposed to physically (a situation where cowardice is useful). I would put aside everything I was attached to and simply go through the motions as though I did not actually exist. I'd go to work and do what was required, but with a hollowness inside. At that point, inevitably, suddenly I would be performing tasks more effectively than usual and everyone would start liking me, as opposed to the usual state of irritation I engendered.

Then I would start feeling better, and my little ego would start to grow. Before long, the easy inspiration of egoless living would dry up in inverse proportion to the expansion of my ego. That was instructive.
Philosophy aside, human to human, I am so sorry to learn of your bout with depression, and I am so glad that it seems you have recovered from it and come out the other side perhaps, or at least hopefully, stronger and wiser for having gone through it. Either way, as it is now, you are a very thoughtful, kind, and intelligent person. Though we only know each other through these forums, I do consider you a valued friend with whom I love communicating.

Scott wrote: April 7th, 2021, 5:34 pm What if pain is as good as pleasure?

What if discomfort is as good as comfort?

What if failure is as good as success?

What if death is as good as birth?
Alias wrote: April 11th, 2021, 10:55 pm If those, then no living organism has a basis for a value system or a motive to do anything. If that were true, life would have gone extinct long before it got round asking this kind of question.
I don't think that argument is valid because there is a difference between not having a valid reason versus not having any reason or motivation, even one that is ultimately baseless, invalid, or illogical.

In other words, even if my alarm clock goes off in the morning due to a computer glitch or some illogical miscalculation, it can still go off.

Scott wrote:What if the running antelope and the chasing lion are equally good?
Alias wrote: April 11th, 2021, 10:55 pm Those are entities in nature which necessarily coexist and to which no value can be attributed, since no value-making entity has possession of them.
I am not sure what you mean here in regard to the figurative lion chasing the antelope. Can you explain a bit more what you mean?

Scott wrote:What if everything is good, and there is no such thing as bad?
Alias wrote: April 11th, 2021, 10:55 pmThen there is no such thing as good, either - just value-neutral stuff.
If you replace "then there is" with "then it is just as possible that there is", then I agree.

In other words, since 0 is a number on a one-dimensional number line, nihilism is effectively compatible with monism. Thus, monastically, there still seems to be three forms of monism:

1. Good, but no bad
2. No good or bad
3. Bad, and no good

Thus, for example, one look at reality as a whole and think:

1. This is better than nothing.
2. Value Nihilism: This is equivalent to nothingness.
3. This is worse than nothing.


In a more illustrative but thus poetic example, one can look at the perfectly balanced yin-yang as a whole and think:

1. The yin-yang is good; As a whole, it is better than nothing, despite the perfect balance between the components (the yin and the yang).
2. Value Nihilism: The value is neutral; the yin-yang is valueless; it's value is equal to nothingness.
3. The yin-yang is bad, as a whole, it is worse than nothing, despite the perfect balance between the components (the yin and the yang).


In another illustrative but thus somewhat figurative example, an impotent third-party can look at the lion chasing the antelope and say:

1. This is beautiful and good.
2. This is neither good nor bad, neither beautiful nor ugly. This is equal in value to nothingness.
3. This is ugly and bad. Reality is bad. Mother nature is bad. It would be better if there was nothing.
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Re: Equality, Unconditional Love, and Monism of Value and Being

Post by Alias »

Scott wrote: April 12th, 2021, 5:18 pm [A: If those, then no living organism has a basis for a value system or a motive to do anything. If that were true, life would have gone extinct long before it got round asking this kind of question. ]
I don't think that argument is valid because there is a difference between not having a valid reason versus not having any reason or motivation, even one that is ultimately baseless, invalid, or illogical.
Validity and logic don't come into existence for some billions of years. Had the proto-plankton not preferred life to death, pleasure to pain, etc., it would not have made the monumental effort to survive and evolve. Had it not evolved, there would be no life-form to invent the concepts of good and bad. Indeed, the concepts, and all value judgment, arose from the life=good/death=bad attitude of things that knew no logic and required no validation.
Scott wrote:[What sun and rain; antelope and lion are equally good?]
[A: Those are entities in nature which necessarily coexist and to which no value can be attributed, since no value-making entity has possession of them.]
I am not sure what you mean here in regard to the figurative lion chasing the antelope. Can you explain a bit more what you mean?
I mean that nature is not god or bad - it just is. All sentient creatures have their own subjective, specific value system, but there is no objective value system to encompass all nature. Humans - afaik the only creature to ask these questions - are part of nature; they may prefer some elements over others, but cannot judge the value of any element, except as it relates to themselves. The fact that lions eat antelopes is simply a fact - neither good nor bad, because it's not under the purview of a valuating mind.

Scott wrote:[What if everything is good, and there is no such thing as bad?]
[A : Then there is no such thing as good, either]
If you replace "then there is" with "then it is just as possible that there is", then I agree.
Only if you replace "what if" with "what if it's possible that" in order to balance the if>then statements.
In other words, since 0 is a number on a one-dimensional number line, nihilism is effectively compatible with monism. Thus, monastically, there still seems to be three forms of monism:

1. Good, but no bad
2. No good or bad
3. Bad, and no good
Except you can't have the concept, or the word, for "good" or "bad" in any objective context, or without a counterpart to contrast it against. If there is nothing that's not good, "good" is superfluous and becomes simply "all that is".
Thus, for example, one look at reality as a whole and think:

1. This is better than nothing.
2. Value Nihilism: This is equivalent to nothingness.
3. This is worse than nothing.
Fine. You're certainly free to think any of those things, but your opinion doesn't affect reality.
Does this exercise have a purpose or function?
1. This is beautiful and good.
2. This is neither good nor bad, neither beautiful nor ugly. This is equal in value to nothingness.
3. This is ugly and bad. Reality is bad. Mother nature is bad. It would be better if there was nothing.
All perfectly valid expressions of subjective judgment - using a vocabulary shared by species that invented language based on experience, needs, perceptions, preferences and thought processes that its members have in common.
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Re: Equality, Unconditional Love, and Monism of Value and Being

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Scott wrote: April 12th, 2021, 5:18 pmOne could say I am agnostic about whether you and I are the universe.
I feel like you mean something more than what I'm thinking. I would say unequivocally that we are the universe, along with everyone and everything else. Still, I don't tend to think at such scale. Rather, I see us as part of the Earth, little chunks of the biosphere, which I see as being like a bridge between the crust, hydrosphere and atmosphere. So, what we are doing is what the Earth is doing, and vice versa. Actually, I see us as being part of the Sun too. It's 99.8% of the solar system's mass, so Earth are essentially a lump within its extended atmosphere.


So I do not see us as destroying the Earth, rather we are the planet's agents of change, being lead by the nose by our physiology, mentality and environments.


Scott wrote: April 12th, 2021, 5:18 pm
Scott wrote: April 8th, 2021, 2:26 pmIf everything is perfect, then there is no true or real badness, right?
Sy Borg wrote: April 11th, 2021, 10:29 pm Scott, how do you square these ideas with the fact that the vast majority of living things must kill to live?
That's a good question, and it is why I included the question about the lion and the antelope in the OP.

I don't see anything objectively bad about a lion chasing an antelope. I don't see anything objectively bad about the lion failing to catch the antelope and starving to death, or the antelope failing to escape and the lion eating it.

Rather, the beautiful dance between the lion and the antelope seems to me to be an indirect manifestation of an inexorable balanced pattern that is inexorably necessary for existence to exist, an inexorable pattern that is arguably best represented by the yin-yang. Neither the yin nor the yang is good, but as a whole the yin-yang is good, in my opinion. Thus, the duality of value represented by the yin vs the yang is reducible and fundamentally monistic. Granted, one could go a step further and say the value of the whole is valueless, neither good nor bad, and thus go from value monism to value nihilism.

Also, as @Atla mentioned in an earlier post, one could in theory share my monism but see the whole (e.g. the yin-yang as a whole) as being bad, which presumably entails the opposite of inner peace. In other words, presumably, such a person would see life as not worth living, and such a person would presumably think that it would be better if nothing existed at all ever.
That's the objective view, the aerial view. Yes, there's no objective badness in predation but, by geez, there's a ton of subjective badness!

Imagine being a gazelle, wide-eyed, gasping for air after a harrowing chase, feeling the sharp sting of teeth pushing into her throat and the struggle to breath, while lacerated by claws. It's simply horrific, no matter which way you slice or dice it. The only mercy is that most large predators prefer their catch to be still, so they usually kill before they start eating. But not all. Let us take a quiet moment to reflect on all those who were eaten alive ...
If I did not think there was potential for life to become something more benign, I would join the antinatalists you refer to. But I feel it more likely that biology is a phase, not a destination.


Sy Borg wrote: April 11th, 2021, 10:29 pm I like the "dying before you die" idea too. Memento mori.

Like Eckhart, I used to suffer from depression. Sometimes I would reach a point where I would mentally "commit suicide", as opposed to physically (a situation where cowardice is useful). I would put aside everything I was attached to and simply go through the motions as though I did not actually exist. I'd go to work and do what was required, but with a hollowness inside. At that point, inevitably, suddenly I would be performing tasks more effectively than usual and everyone would start liking me, as opposed to the usual state of irritation I engendered.

Then I would start feeling better, and my little ego would start to grow. Before long, the easy inspiration of egoless living would dry up in inverse proportion to the expansion of my ego. That was instructive.
Philosophy aside, human to human, I am so sorry to learn of your bout with depression, and I am so glad that it seems you have recovered from it and come out the other side perhaps, or at least hopefully, stronger and wiser for having gone through it. [/quote]
Thanks Scott. You are kind-hearted. Every day I hear of people experiencing things I can hardly imagine, not to mention what other animals endure, so I feel super lucky in this life. Philosophical thinking has played a major role in my learning to get over myself, at least somewhat.

What is philosophy on a personal level but cognitive therapy? A reprogramming of oneself with (hopefully) better algorithms. We are the only species that consciously reprogram themselves. One's mentality can change everything in our lives so, as with technology, philosophy is a power best used with care, but it tends to be allowed to run wild. We can see from what happened in the US in recent years how people can program themselves (or be programmed by others) for good or ill. Then again, we look at China's attempt to program a level of homogeneity to reduce the workload of organising 1.3 billion people, and it's clear individual potentials are being reduced for greater cohesiveness of the whole. I don't see any answer to these issues other than time.
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Re: Equality, Unconditional Love, and Monism of Value and Being

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Scott wrote:What if everything is good, and there is no such thing as bad?
Alias wrote:A : Then there is no such thing as good, either
Scott wrote:If you replace "then there is" with "then it is just as possible that there is", then I agree.
Alias wrote: April 12th, 2021, 6:48 pmOnly if you replace "what if" with "what if it's possible that" in order to balance the if>then statements.
Deal! :)

Scott wrote:In other words, since 0 is a number on a one-dimensional number line, nihilism is effectively compatible with monism. Thus, monastically, there still seems to be three forms of monism:

1. Good, but no bad
2. No good or bad
3. Bad, and no good
Alias wrote: Except you can't have the concept, or the word, for "good" or "bad" in any objective context, or without a counterpart to contrast it against. If there is nothing that's not good, "good" is superfluous and becomes simply "all that is".
I agree, in the sense that if reality as a whole is good, and if everything that exists is good (or at least neutral), then therefore though in binary-based conceptual thinking it generates the concept of an opposite, the conception of a bad thing must be fictional. In other words, all objectively bad things must be fictional due to being bad.

I agree with that logic.

Needless to say, that logic alone does not prove that everything fictional is objectively bad. In other words, it only proves that what is objectively bad is therefore fictional but not that what is fictional is necessarily objectively bad. It leaves open the logical possibility that there are fictional alternative realities that would be equally good if they had been actual. However, it's possible that other logic or arguments could close that door, or that that door is closed but we just cannot know it, making it so that the one reality is the perfect reality and any deviation from it would make things worse. I am agnostic about such a claim. One reason I am not overly eager to close the door on the idea of equally good alternative (but fictional) realities is due to my experience of seemingly free-spirited creativity which seems to require choice between two or more equally beautiful and equally possible (i.e. equally capable of being made to be right/actual) options, but the counter to that might be one who claims that free-will is an illusion and in some way or another there is no free-spirited creativity, no free creation or eternal (i.e. spacetime-transcendent) creation at all, and thus presumably in some way or another I and all other conscious agents are predestined to exist within unchanging perfection rather than the active artistic creators of it. Again, I am agnostic about this. It's the paradox of reality: Something exists rather than pure nothingness which thus suggests some kind of timeless creation that is more fundamental than space or time, which would have to work similarly to if not entirely identical to pure true randomness to properly transcend (i.e. be more fundamental than) time and space and causal determinism that otherwise infects a world of space and time absent of metaphysical randomness and/or transcendental timeless creation, not to suggest that those two things are actually different.

Scott wrote:Thus, for example, one look at reality as a whole and think:

1. This is better than nothing.
2. Value Nihilism: This is equivalent to nothingness.
3. This is worse than nothing.
Alias wrote:Fine. You're certainly free to think any of those things...
I agree. Perhaps the more interesting question is whether or not you are free to think anything except one of those three things, which logic would seem to indicate you cannot. In other words, it seems you are forced to choose between those three things: nihilism, resentment, or love--namely in terms of one's conscious attitude towards reality as a whole.

Alias wrote: but your opinion doesn't affect reality.
Isn't my opinion a part of reality? If something affects my opinion, doesn't it affect reality?

Does a dreamer's opinion of a dream affect reality? Is that case even if the dream is unreal? Is it arguably even more the case if the dream is unreal? Perhaps the realest thing of all is the conscious dreamer's opinion of the dream; what do you think?

Granted, some would argue that the feeling we have that via conscious will we can choose to change the dream from pleasant dream to nightmare to pleasant dream again is an illusion too, just as much as the dream. Some people even argue that consciousness is just an illusion, that it doesn't really exist. I don't agree with that outlook. I don't think consciousness is an illusion. I am more on Descartes side about that: Cogito Ergo Sum.
Alias wrote: Does this exercise have a purpose or function?
Two questions:

1. What exercise exactly?

2. What does it mean for something to have a purpose? Perhaps teleology is a symptom of servitude and antithetical to freedom of spirit. What do you think?

To be be more illustrative, if success is as good as failure, and the running antelope and chasing lion are equally good, then teleology seems to be like the emergent rules of a game, like the rules of a soccer game and the contingent goal of kicking a ball into a standing net, a standing net that may be literally called a goal. In a way, it's all play pretend. If one of the kids playing starts crying, we could say it's time to wake up and realize it's just a game. When the dream turns into a nightmare, then maybe it's time to realize it's just a dream. Even lucidity isn't objectively good or bad, despite the fact that relatively speaking circumstances can make it relatively and/or subjectively good or bad to a specific subject with emergent preferences of game-like purpose-driven programming. If one is enjoying a dream, waking up to lucidity may be in a sense dispreferred, even if experiencing that dispreferenece paradoxically requires believing lucidity is neither possible nor meaningful (i.e continuing to believe one is not in a dream and/or is not in control of what is happening at all even slightly even just in terms of their impotent seemingly third-party conscious opinion about it).
Scott wrote: 1. This is beautiful and good.
2. This is neither good nor bad, neither beautiful nor ugly. This is equal in value to nothingness.
3. This is ugly and bad. Reality is bad. Mother nature is bad. It would be better if there was nothing.
Alias wrote: All perfectly valid expressions of subjective judgment - using a vocabulary shared by species that invented language based on experience, needs, perceptions, preferences and thought processes that its members have in common.
Indeed, perhaps to truly appreciate reality with unconditional love, to see beauty not merely with human eyes but the eyes of the spirit, one may need to transcend thought, especially verbal thought, petty human words. Meditation is claimed to be helpful for this. Many scientific explorers have spent countless hours engaging in meditative study with countless books by experts written to share the empirical data of those explorers' discoveries. Both the science of meditation and the science of consciousness are very interesting, indeed.

If you were to say that neither consciousness nor objective holistic reality speak English, I would agree. If you were to say that there is undeniable objective beauty to this world that transcends even words themselves and that is coherent if not identical to the very concept of reality itself, I would agree. Of course, if it truly transcends words, then if you said something seemingly opposite to those things, I might agree with that opposite thing too.
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Re: Equality, Unconditional Love, and Monism of Value and Being

Post by Scott »

Sy Borg wrote: April 12th, 2021, 6:53 pm
Scott wrote: April 12th, 2021, 5:18 pmOne could say I am agnostic about whether you and I are the universe.
I feel like you mean something more than what I'm thinking. I would say unequivocally that we are the universe, along with everyone and everything else. Still, I don't tend to think at such scale. Rather, I see us as part of the Earth, little chunks of the biosphere, which I see as being like a bridge between the crust, hydrosphere and atmosphere. So, what we are doing is what the Earth is doing, and vice versa. Actually, I see us as being part of the Sun too. It's 99.8% of the solar system's mass, so Earth are essentially a lump within its extended atmosphere.
As humans, we humans are part of the Earth and part of the universe. I agree with that.

Nonetheless, when I say that in a sense you and I are not humans and that I believe you and I are spiritually identical with each other and that thus we together might possibly be identical with the universe as a whole, I don't mean that we would be part of the universe but that we would be the universe. To me, that is a very plausible explanation for this mysterious thing of consciousness, which not only certainly exists but that seems to be what we are. In other words, it seems to me that we aren't bodies with consciousness, but consciousness with bodies. The separate bodies are different, but the consciousness does not seem to be to me. Cosmologically, I favor monism not just of value (per this forum topic) but also in terms of metaphysics and the philosophy of mind. If the Universe is the body to our shared consciousness, and I wasn't allowed be agnostic about dualism versus monism in terms of the philosophy of mind, I would favor the monistic view that the cosmic consciousness and cosmic body (i.e. the whole universe minus any consciousness) are fundamentally one, like electricity and magnetism.

But strictly speaking I instead aim to be agnostic about that grander monism.

In contrast, I am not agnostic about the monism of value proposed in the OP of this topic.

In other words, I am not agnostic about the fact that I believe that it is better that something exists rather than nothing, that is is better that this reality exists than nothing at all, that in a way there is something objectively good and cosmologically beautiful about both the chasing lion and the running antelope, that even pain has a beauty to it, that even when this life seems like a nightmare more than a pleasant dream it's still worth living and dreaming.

And perhaps the very fact that there seems to be a choice between living a nightmare or having inner peace--to be able to re-program ourselves as you wisely put it--is the source of a form of salvation and grace, a spiritual safety net, that makes it all so inexorably good.

If it's all a matter of perspective, then bad is just good for masochists. Even I like a good horror movie, or an action thriller, or a tear-jerker. Even those with inner peace can shed sad tears and scream loud fears. We give the meaning to life, not vice versa, because the movie has no meaning or use if nobody watches it. We are at least the movie watcher, if not the director and actors and stage too.
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