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Is life absurd

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Papus79
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Re: Is life absurd

Post by Papus79 » May 29th, 2017, 8:46 pm

My answer on how philosophy helped with my circumstances:
Papus79 wrote: 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.
I sense myself as part of a dynamic system rather than something or someone completely alone whose off trying to figure out how they can influence it or how they can find meaning. That view doesn't completely abate suffering, if something bad enough happens I'm as dialed in to that moment usually as anyone else, just that any time when my life is not in an emergency I'm not dealing with crippling depression or anxiety anymore. It's helped me to not be my own worst enemy when I don't have crisis to deal with, in fact I increasingly enjoy the time I have alone with my own thoughts because it's getting more comforting as time goes on.

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Re: Is life absurd

Post by Greta » May 29th, 2017, 9:53 pm

Judaka wrote: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?
No one was discussing the feelings of rocks, just the similarities in dynamics between entities in various parts of nature as part of a pretty free-ranging discussion.

Anyone who hasn't noticed that humans have unique emergent properties is probably familiar with all of the space programs run by other species [sic]. It's not the point and never was. I simply believe that humanity cannot be understood without context against the progressive developments of pre-human, and even pre-life history including our existential situation in the cosmos, and to just focus on humanity's works as though the journey started a few decades, centuries or millennia is shallow, persistently throwing up "mysteries" rendered understandable and even predictable when contextualised with nonhuman reality.

We humans cannot avoid being part of the Earth's systems, whether we want to convince ourselves that we are free agents largely operating outside of nature's influence or not. It's a great source of absurdity - humans mentally and emotionally distancing from our roots, as though our nonhuman past is an embarrassing idiot b@stard son kept under the stairwell to be ignored as much as possible.

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Re: Is life absurd

Post by Judaka » May 30th, 2017, 2:24 am

Papus79 wrote:My answer on how philosophy helped with my circumstances:
Papus79 wrote: 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.
I sense myself as part of a dynamic system rather than something or someone completely alone whose off trying to figure out how they can influence it or how they can find meaning. That view doesn't completely abate suffering, if something bad enough happens I'm as dialed in to that moment usually as anyone else, just that any time when my life is not in an emergency I'm not dealing with crippling depression or anxiety anymore. It's helped me to not be my own worst enemy when I don't have crisis to deal with, in fact I increasingly enjoy the time I have alone with my own thoughts because it's getting more comforting as time goes on.
Cool, my life has not been filled with hardship but I have always been a pariah and I formed a similarly dynamic and constructive philosophy around nihilism (Although ignorant of that term at the time) whereby values are malleable and now I feel what were once my weaknesses are now my greatness strengths. I do believe that everything I say of nihilism is true but even if it wasn't it doesn't matter, making the truth work for you as well as your values is better than suffering for the truth, an unappreciated and non-reciprocated offering...That isn't to say I am dismissing your views as untrue but that I think many could benefit from any view that allows for political manoeuvrability and a healthy ego and it is great to see a view that seems rather different from mine fulfil that same purpose, this is the kind of stuff I was hoping to see by coming to a forum like this.
Greta wrote:No one was discussing the feelings of rocks, just the similarities in dynamics between entities in various parts of nature as part of a pretty free-ranging discussion.

Anyone who hasn't noticed that humans have unique emergent properties is probably familiar with all of the space programs run by other species [sic]. It's not the point and never was. I simply believe that humanity cannot be understood without context against the progressive developments of pre-human, and even pre-life history including our existential situation in the cosmos, and to just focus on humanity's works as though the journey started a few decades, centuries or millennia is shallow, persistently throwing up "mysteries" rendered understandable and even predictable when contextualised with nonhuman reality.

We humans cannot avoid being part of the Earth's systems, whether we want to convince ourselves that we are free agents largely operating outside of nature's influence or not. It's a great source of absurdity - humans mentally and emotionally distancing from our roots, as though our nonhuman past is an embarrassing idiot b@stard son kept under the stairwell to be ignored as much as possible.
Your usage of the word absurd in this thread is what triggered that response and you are still using it, I know that it is a word but are you talking about Absurdism? The topic of this thread? I have already said my piece on that so I will address the first part of my earlier comment before, in regards to bringing up the history of the Earth and human evolution in response to something like an existential crisis. However if this was simply incidental and the conversation went that way and it wasn't related to Grotto's comment then I will not lambaste somebody for being interested in science. The reason I brought up the rocks is that you are not purely talking about the science of the human mind and at times of personifying nature and talking of it as though it had a function but to digress the story of the universe is a story of causality and whether that makes us part of the system of causality (nature/nurture) or having transcended that (choice) is an interesting question and I think that is worth debating but I have had two thoughts while reading what you had to say.

First is that when people start to talk about history or science in huge swathes they portray a greater consciousness of subsumed conflicts and nuances that existed throughout nature and Human existence. However in reality collectively we have no control over each other and trends are bound to emerge. This is for me as, with all things, described through causality but it demonstrates as much about human nature as it does on any number of influences on the trajectory of our path and of the universe. Specifically for mankind that which we create does not follow the same rules that apply to humans yet still influence our trajectory, that what we are to interact with does not follow our rules but changes our history and that thought - values and cultures have trends and rules that extend beyond what any human is capable of controlling. I think human history in particular has nothing to do with what the majority of people wanted but how people came to come to power and what kind of attitudes and values those people had. What unity is described with terms like humanity dissipates when studying actual history, nobody can be the sole arbiter of all causes for change and what controls change is really outside of human hands. It is a series of complicated interactions that extend beyond human nature, beyond human architecture and the systems that we have created and it certainly goes beyond nature itself - one of the least impactful causes of change and the present. Regardless of whether we talk of human nature or the nature of the world, unless we are simply acknowledging causality then what is it you are seeking to say? If nature to you is causality then it is a meaningless statement to say that we are affected and affectors, I do not know what one could learn from this and I don't think you meant it that way. Indeed the very idea of nature in a universal sense seems to simply encompass everything and to speak of it to me is to speak of causality - where before humans all was nature and all was under nature's influence. Defining it that way makes intelligent species problematic in that we are taking back some of that which once belonged to nature? The influence over all things, the explanation for all things and all that is acted upon and acts. It is not that humans transcend it but that we are simply included?

Secondly in an evolutionary sense what is now was once something else and it may be an interesting conversation recreationally but functionally it is seldom relevant, a rock used in a slingshot does not require an understanding of how the rock was formed, one does not gain nutrience from food only when they are able to name the various vitamins and minerals and what it is that they do. There is a level of actuality that precedes essence and ought to be considered in matters of dealing with things in the present. We may not be able to fully understand the present without the past but is it an understanding that allows for a new possibility? What has been made available to the nihilist or existentialist that was not before by talking about his meagre origins? This indeed only applies so far in as it was directly intended to do this and perhaps as I said earlier - the intention was to offer a new way of interpreting reality that alleviates despair and worked for you and that's not something I would condemn. How anything created in the past impacts the present requires evidence to show it exists in the present and this evidence should be substantial in of itself and not when combined with our understanding of our pre-human history and for this reason I question the usefulness of talking about it. I will admit to say that you were discussing the feelings of rocks definitely was immature and untrue so I apologise for that. I always aim to adopt the mindset of a student but I am not always as good at it as I'd like to be.

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Re: Is life absurd

Post by EMC2 » November 22nd, 2017, 6:13 am

People who think that life is absurd are people without children.

Children give purpose and meaning to life and makes it purposeful.

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Re: Is life absurd

Post by Steve3007 » November 22nd, 2017, 4:43 pm

I have children and I think life is absurd. I'm teaching my children to think that too.

Am I the exception that proves the rule?

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Re: Is life absurd

Post by Greta » November 22nd, 2017, 5:18 pm

If breeding like an animal is the only way of imbuing life with meaning, then why do we humans do all the other stuff? A distraction to keep us out of bother until reproduction?

Does the absurdity level remain low for the 40% or so of parents who separate?

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Re: Is life absurd

Post by Steve3007 » November 22nd, 2017, 5:38 pm

Once you've split up the absurdity level gradually rises until after 10 years it's pretty much the same as if you'd never had children. Like giving up smoking.

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Re: Is life absurd

Post by Greta » November 22nd, 2017, 6:11 pm

Ten years? More like thirty :)

A list found on the internet of high achievers who never had children:
Socrates, Hannibal, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Virgil, the emperor Hadrian, Gregory the Great, the Venerable Bede, St. Boniface (the English missionary to the Germans), Hildebrand aka Pope Gregory VII (who created the Roman Catholic Church as we know it), Abelard and Heloise, Joan of Arc, Savonarola, Erasmus, Leonardo da Vinci, Queen Catherine Howard, Lady Jane Grey, Mary I, Elizabeth I, Henry III of France, Queen Christina of Sweden, Newton, William III and Mary II, Charles II of Spain (famous only for what he did not do, including not having any heir), Alexander Pope, Frederick the Great of Prussia, Charlotte Corday, Alexander I of Russia, George Washington, Jane Austen, John Keats, Jane and Thomas Carlyle, Pio Nono, Florence Nightingale, Emily Bronte, George Elliot, Henry James, George Bernard Shaw, Vincent van Gogh, Lenin, Sydney and Beatrice Webb, Adolf Hitler, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Frieda Kahlo, Edward Heath, Noel Coward, Anne Frank

Not so absurd, so there might be a tad more worth to a human life than just breeding.

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Re: Is life absurd

Post by Steve3007 » November 22nd, 2017, 6:19 pm

I like the way Adolph Hitler sneaked into that list of high achievers. I guess you can say what you like about him, but he did improve the roads.

And only one pope (unless we count Alexander). I thought not having children kind of went with the territory for high ranking Catholic clerics. Only theoretically, I presume.

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Re: Is life absurd

Post by Greta » November 22nd, 2017, 9:30 pm

Heh, I missed him. I think we can discard Dolph and the Popes (how's that for a band name?) and still have plenty enough childless people who found much meaning and purpose in their lives.

Societies are basically pyramids. As with ants, we have our own versions of queens, drones, soldiers and general workers - along with specifically "middlemen" like merchants (who are now part of the ruling caste), experts and creatives. Each group will have a different approach and priority for reproduction.

Due to human diversity of aptitudes, roles and needs it is often an error of logic to impose one's own aptitudes, roles and needs on to others. Why do we do it? Because, general workers are subject to a high level of control and conformity, with most of the controls being administered within the group via social pressure rather than from up on high. This motivation driving behaviour no doubt has helped humans thrive, enforcing a level of cooperation that results in survival and thrival.

However, a life of "churning it out for the man" and reproducing would be painfully dull for many experts and creatives, and others in fields that are deeply challenging, interesting and compelling.

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Re: Is life absurd

Post by Jklint » November 22nd, 2017, 10:14 pm

Steve3007 wrote:I like the way Adolph Hitler sneaked into that list of high achievers. I guess you can say what you like about him, but he did improve the roads.
Whether you like it or not, for better or worse, Hitlers influence on the second half of the 20th century was second to none. In spite of his hideous reputation which, no doubt, in great measure he deserves, at least he wasn't as stupidly naive as the last century's two combined hero idiots called Churchill and Roosevelt. One can only imagine how Stalin must have enjoyed being so highly regarded until, of course, his "separate ways" became apparent.

It may cause you a great deal of surprise but without Hitler, Churchill would have been nothing more than a footnote in history. Also Roosevelt would certainly not have been elected for a 4th term (perhaps not even for a 3rd) had he not been a "war president".

When it comes down to Hitler and the Nazis, one can always expect the most flagrant anti-historical statements imaginable as long as it colludes with modern PC sensibilities which only serves to distort history instead of revealing it.

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Re: Is life absurd

Post by EMC2 » November 23rd, 2017, 5:46 am

Greta wrote:If breeding like an animal is the only way of imbuing life with meaning, then why do we humans do all the other stuff? A distraction to keep us out of bother until reproduction?

Does the absurdity level remain low for the 40% or so of parents who separate?
Humans are not animals, so humans don't breed. Only animals breed. Humans progenate.

Here you are equating "having children" to "breeding" which I think you mean actually mean as "having sex". Having children is not equivalent to having sex. They are although related, very different concepts.

Well I think you are wrong. It is not only making children that is the most meaningful, that is holding the baby for the first time, but the entire process of seen your children grow up is the best thing in life.

The overwhelming percentage of people who commit suicide are ones without any children. Only a very small percentage of people with children, very small compared of the total percentage of people with children commit suicide.

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Re: Is life absurd

Post by Greta » November 23rd, 2017, 4:51 pm

EMC2 wrote:
Greta wrote:If breeding like an animal is the only way of imbuing life with meaning, then why do we humans do all the other stuff? A distraction to keep us out of bother until reproduction?

Does the absurdity level remain low for the 40% or so of parents who separate?
Humans are not animals, so humans don't breed. Only animals breed. Humans progenate.

Here you are equating "having children" to "breeding" which I think you mean actually mean as "having sex". Having children is not equivalent to having sex. They are although related, very different concepts. Well I think you are wrong. It is not only making children that is the most meaningful, that is holding the baby for the first time, but the entire process of seen your children grow up is the best thing in life.

The overwhelming percentage of people who commit suicide are ones without any children. Only a very small percentage of people with children, very small compared of the total percentage of people with children commit suicide.
Humans most certainly are animals. Thus humans breed. They also "propagate" and reproduce, or whatever other synonym you prefer.

The reason why people buy into this myth - that life is only meaningful when bonded and breeding - is that it is an all encompassing role. So if the marriage or children are lost, one's entire life's devotions are lost, making life appear meaningless for a time. It is the level of absorption that creates meaning, not the targets of absorption.

Profundity can be found everywhere and anywhere once the anthropocentric blinkers come off. The more people who recognise this, the fewer who will fall into pointless despair over a romantic falsehood. If breeding and rearing are all that save human life from absurdity, then nature, space, creativity and learning are meaningless. Just a backdrop to The Great Human Ego Show. Further, given human populations are unsustainable, interests outside of breeding are increasingly more meaningful and helpful.

Of course, if one wants children, they are following the same path as billions of others, human and otherwise, playing our roles as links in the chain of life - as does everyone, whether we partake in breeding or not.

-- Updated 23 Nov 2017, 18:09 to add the following --
Judaka wrote:
Greta wrote:No one was discussing the feelings of rocks, just the similarities in dynamics between entities in various parts of nature as part of a pretty free-ranging discussion.

Anyone who hasn't noticed that humans have unique emergent properties is probably familiar with all of the space programs run by other species [sic]. It's not the point and never was. I simply believe that humanity cannot be understood without context against the progressive developments of pre-human, and even pre-life history including our existential situation in the cosmos, and to just focus on humanity's works as though the journey started a few decades, centuries or millennia is shallow, persistently throwing up "mysteries" rendered understandable and even predictable when contextualised with nonhuman reality.

We humans cannot avoid being part of the Earth's systems, whether we want to convince ourselves that we are free agents largely operating outside of nature's influence or not. It's a great source of absurdity - humans mentally and emotionally distancing from our roots, as though our nonhuman past is an embarrassing idiot b@stard son kept under the stairwell to be ignored as much as possible.
Your usage of the word absurd in this thread is what triggered that response and you are still using it, I know that it is a word but are you talking about Absurdism? The topic of this thread? I have already said my piece on that so I will address the first part of my earlier comment before, in regards to bringing up the history of the Earth and human evolution in response to something like an existential crisis. However if this was simply incidental and the conversation went that way and it wasn't related to Grotto's comment then I will not lambaste somebody for being interested in science.
Yeah, sorry, I was just following the conversation's flow. Indeed, we are not rocks, although every atom of a rock is potentially part of a person in the future :)
Judaka wrote:The reason I brought up the rocks is that you are not purely talking about the science of the human mind and at times of personifying nature and talking of it as though it had a function but to digress the story of the universe is a story of causality and whether that makes us part of the system of causality (nature/nurture) or having transcended that (choice) is an interesting question and I think that is worth debating but I have had two thoughts while reading what you had to say.
I like to think that, rather than personifying nature I am attempting (seemingly not very well) to "naturise" persons, so to speak - to regain human context that was lost in our delusional dreams of divinity. The dinosaurs were gods amongst flatworms once. Now we are the "gods", but actually just dominant and using that dominance to increase the gap between humans and other species.

Imagine if Australopithecus and Habilis and Neanderthal were still alive, bridging the gap between "man and beast", would we think the same? Ha! On second thoughts we'd still see H. Sapiens as special and the others to be beasts, just as the Luba people in Africa consider pygmies to be subhuman.
Seemingly this conceit appears to be an inevitable natural dynamic associated with dominance, seemingly a naturally selected attribute.

I do have a general beef about philosophers disregarding the natural world, which I consider to be a logical error.
Judaka wrote:First is that when people start to talk about history or science in huge swathes they portray a greater consciousness of subsumed conflicts and nuances that existed throughout nature and Human existence. However in reality collectively we have no control over each other and trends are bound to emerge ... I think human history in particular has nothing to do with what the majority of people wanted but how people came to come to power and what kind of attitudes and values those people had.
Yes. It appears logically that all of the sustainability problems of the Earth today have always been inevitable; it's always been a matter of "when", not "if". Now it is a matter of "how" - how soft or hard a landing will be experienced before a new equilibrium is reached?
Judaka wrote:If nature to you is causality then it is a meaningless statement to say that we are affected and affectors, I do not know what one could learn from this and I don't think you meant it that way. Indeed the very idea of nature in a universal sense seems to simply encompass everything and to speak of it to me is to speak of causality - where before humans all was nature and all was under nature's influence. Defining it that way makes intelligent species problematic in that we are taking back some of that which once belonged to nature? The influence over all things, the explanation for all things and all that is acted upon and acts. It is not that humans transcend it but that we are simply included?
Humans are nature - we cannot be otherwise - and thus we still follow nature's rules like any other animal, just with more bells 'n whistles.
Judaka wrote:Secondly in an evolutionary sense what is now was once something else and it may be an interesting conversation recreationally but functionally it is seldom relevant, a rock used in a slingshot does not require an understanding of how the rock was formed, one does not gain nutrience from food only when they are able to name the various vitamins and minerals and what it is that they do.
Meaning and absurdity are not about functionality.
Judaka wrote:What has been made available to the nihilist or existentialist that was not before by talking about his meagre origins?
By learning of those "meagre" origins one learns to ever more appreciate that they were far from meagre.

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Re: Is life absurd

Post by Synthesis » November 24th, 2017, 7:44 pm

Greta wrote:I like to think that, rather than personifying nature I am attempting (seemingly not very well) to "naturise" persons, so to speak - to regain human context that was lost in our delusional dreams of divinity. The dinosaurs were gods amongst flatworms once. Now we are the "gods", but actually just dominant and using that dominance to increase the gap between humans and other species.
I guess if we choose to keep score using malfeasance and treachery as markers, perhaps you are correct, but using nearly any other system of measure, I believe we are likely near the bottom of the pack.

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Re: Is life absurd

Post by Papus79 » November 25th, 2017, 10:37 am

I might add a small piece here.

I think cultural maturity is a big deal and it seems to come in from a lot of directions. On one hand we have to be in a position where we can actualize our best selves and have a culture that's clement to such things; any situation that makes cannon-fodder out of human beings or asserts survival of the fittest as a necessary objective tends to seriously detract from cultural integrity. Another point is that we got so excited about throwing off religion and showing how sophisticated we are now not to believe in what's seen as bronze-age superstition that we had to make forty to fifty years of sociological blunders. For a long time our culture seemed to hate symbols, considered them fundamentally religious, anyone saying suggesting that we needed social cohesion got sniped at and anyone that came out with Jungian ideas would be treated as having some sort of crypto-religion. I'm at least glad we're starting to wake up to the understanding that human beings are primarily symbolic creatures, Jonathan Haidt and Jordan Peterson have pushed that issue quite successfully considering current events, and that our use of symbols and social organization matters. As for my third point - if we can extend the length of human life we may also deepen the maturity of our culture in that we'll be actively carrying a greater degree of learned wisdom and human knowledge (typically the lower the average age of a country the bigger the hell hole it is).

I do think we're getting to the point where we may be able to technologically shift how human beings deal with each other and to that extent even if we're dealing with nihilism it'll be in a much more pleasant and creative format then it is now and I could see us improving that a lot in the next century so long as we don't get swept up in nation state battles, nuclear events, etc..

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