Comments

  • Emotions, values, science & nihilism.
    If I had to weigh up the implications of every action I would not have time to act. The problem of action is Like that of Buridan's ass there are lot's of equally valid options and if not equal an array of questions to be posed about each actions.Andrew4Handel

    Of course, if you had to work out all the implications on paper before you did anything, you wouldn't have time. You would, like Buridan's ass, starve to death trying to decide which bale of hay to eat first.

    Fortunately, we don't have to work everything out on paper. Our reasoning can work through a decision, talking into account responsibilities, recent and more distant experiences, and other factors, in just a few seconds. That doesn't mean you will always do what is best, but you will make a decision and you won't starve to death between two bales of hay,

    Let's say it is cold, windy and sleeting, and I am walking in the storm. A car pulls up by the sidewalk and somebody says "get in". I might get in, and I will try to weigh the risk before I do. It doesn't take long to analyze the situation, at least to make a gestalt assessment--just a few seconds. On the other hand, if it was a nice afternoon and a car pulled up and somebody said "get in" I almost certainly would not. Why? Nice people don't offer rides in nice weather.
  • "The meaning of life is to give life meaning"
    ↪Bitter Crank What I was trying to point out is that there seems to be an ethical element to assigning meaning. The meanings we assign to our lives don't exist in a vacuum; they affect other people. This is why there is an ethical constraint in play. And that to me is why ethics and meaning are aspects of the same thing. Which is why I don't think the notion that "there is no inherent meaning and we assign it ourselves" holds up. If meaning is subjective, then ethics are too; yet ethics are what constrain meaning.Noble Dust

    I agree with you that there is an ethical element inherent in assigning meaning to our lives. Meaning is, most likely, at least somewhat subjective, and ethics are also somewhat subjective. Just because they are subjective doesn't mean that it doesn't matter what they are, or whether meaning and ethics have no connection. I might say "For me, the meaning of my life is to live ethically." How could that not be subjective?
  • "The meaning of life is to give life meaning"
    It is only a small directional purpose of how that farmer is to conduct his time until he
    A) finds some absolute purpose or meaning for that matter
    B) Dies
    intrapersona

    Purpose, meaning...

    If the farmer's life is given meaning by tilling his crops until he dies, why should you complain? I said I didn't think there was any god-ordained meaning to life. There is no "intrapersona-ordained meaning" either. We all do the best we can to get through life, birth to the grave. There will be a mix of meanings from high to low, practical to abstract.

    You don't know what an "absolute purpose or meaning is" any more than anyone else does, so why expect this farmer to come up with one?
  • Emotions, values, science & nihilism.
    For example say I want to know whether I should spend the day studying at the library or volunteering for a homelessness charity there is no right answer.Andrew4Handel

    It is not necessarily the case that "there is no right answer". In fact, you have most likely confronted such choices a number of times and have decided, each time, what is the right answer for you to do.

    So what should you do?

    You will take several factors into account: Can you afford to skip studying a whole day? If you don't study and get a low grade on the final exam, what will the consequences be? Volunteering at the homeless shelter is good and important, but it will need volunteers in two weeks (after finals are over) as much as it needs volunteers today. And there are other factors that you might examine.

    What is the most important thing for you to do? You are a student, it's costing a lot of money for you to be in school, shouldn't you do your best to succeed? You are a good person, the homeless are suffering, and shouldn't you help them?

    Let's say you decided to study in the library. That would be a good thing to do. It will help you fulfill the expectations of your parents who are paying for your education. You sign up to volunteer at the homeless shelter later.

    Conversely you might decide to spend the day at the shelter. That would be a good thing to do. It will hep you fulfill the expectations of your parents who want you to be a good person.

    The two choices seem to be finely balanced. Both are good, but with consequences that are not entirely clear. This may be as close to the truth as you are going to get. What you will do depends on what your personal priorities are.

    If you are sensible, you will make your decision to conform to your highest priorities.
  • Is pencil and paper enough?
    Irrelevant cultural side note: Why do we assign these mind numbing tasks to a billion Chinese? Do we suppose they have nothing better to do with their time. Why not a billion Africans? A billion Europeans and North Americans? Isn't it enough that they have to make all this junk we buy, without having to do all this calculation on top of everything else?

    Paper and pencil, or printed code, isn't enough. A human being can read instructions for performance -- Swan Lake or making a cake -- but reading the instructions does nothing, Until the individual executes the instructions -- dances or breaks eggs, nothing happens.

    I don't quite understand how human beings performing computer code would result in an experience.

    LtCdr Data has to execute instructions of some kind to notice what is going on around him. So do we. We are much less aware of our instruction set, until we try to do something new and difficult. Then we have to step our way through the instructions. A computers memory contains instructions, but they have to be executed for the computer to "experience" anything.
  • The psychopathic economy.
    A minuscule percentage of humanity will survive to enter the post-industrial age. It will not be paradise.unenlightened

    No. It will not be paradise. Understatement of the century.

    Your initial assumption is true, in that 7 billion+ economic actors is beyond the control of actual policy-establishing-and-enforcing human agents, like presidents, parliaments, economic unions, Central Committees, treaty organizations, and central bankers. If (more likely when) the major global economic and political arrangements fail, immiseration will fall on the masses, not the elite. And then the deluge.

    In a rational economic system, providing for the basic needs and some wants of 7 billion people could keep everyone usefully occupied. Unfortunately, economics is not "rational". Never mind the 8 richest men§ that Oxfam says have as much wealth as 1/2 of the 7 billion others. The richest 10 million people, and the economic and political apparatus that they live within, control more wealth than just about everybody else on earth. They will be able to arrange a more pleasant post-industrial-globally overheated survival

    The entire population of the earth, minus the bourgeoisie, mostly lacks class consciousness. We are not a cohesive "class" with well articulated class interests. We have not, and we can't effectively resist or redirect the economic forces that are going to be our Waterloo. (A few scattered small groups are attempting various future-oriented strategies, but these efforts are altogether insufficient. Not wrong, just not enough.)

    We're screwed.

    § per the link from Bill Gates (Microsoft); Amancio Ortega (fashion chain Zara); Warren Buffett (Berkshire Hathaway); Carlos Slim Helú (Grupo Carso); Jeff Bezos (Amazon); Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook); Larry Ellison (Oracle); Michael Bloomberg (Bloomberg financial information).
  • Education and psychology
    there's a whole train load of educators who have some excellent ideas about how to organize education both for the good of the individual and for the good of society. Why don't we follow even some of their suggestions?

    1. Because, in the view of our top gestapo leaders, there isn't an evident need to provide excellent education for all American youth, and once more, there never has been. We have never been generous with high quality education across the board. (Though, we have at times done a hell of a lot better than we are doing now.)

    2. The top gestapo leaders haven't decided what to do with large numbers of people who are not economically useful. Uneducated, unskilled poor people are not terribly useful in a modern, post-industrial economy.

    3. The top gestapo leaders aren't especially interested in personal fulfillment on individual's own terms. That is much too chaotic.

    4. The top gestapo leaders are not interested in an electorate composed of well informed thinkers. "What good would that do us?" they ask.

    5. The top gestapo leaders are not interested in spending a lot of money improving the lives of ordinary people. "What have ordinary people ever done for us?" they ask.

    and so on.

    You know, top gestapo leaders like the people who have been running things for quite a long time.
  • Is sex as idolized elsewhere as in the West?
    One of Planned Parenthood's tag mottos is "Every child a wanted child." Most of Planned Parenthood's efforts go into family planning. What have you got against that?
  • Resentment
    ruthlessness, greed, and ambitionm-theory

    Absolutely these are not sufficient to get one to the top of the wealth pile. Quite right, lots of people who barely make it up the first few steps out of the basement are also ruthless, greedy, and ambitious.

    But... Given talent, given favorable conditions (like a head start), given generous bankers willing to lend the money, given high unemployment to keep wages down, given strong demand for minerals which you happen to own, or smelting equipment that is ready to go, AND ruthless ambitious greed, one will get to the top.

    Bill Gates had help getting to being a multi-billionaire a couple times over. It takes the help of investment bankers, for instance, to get small businesses rolling. It does take talent. It takes luck: Bill couldn't have know exactly how his little DOS program designed for the measly IBM personal computer toy would work out; IBM couldn't either. But... it worked out well. Many, many copies of DOS sold. Then Windows. Then Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and all that; Access; huge labor forces scribbling code. Sweetheart deals nailing Microsoft software into every PC.
  • Resentment
    I'm a marxist. I'm quite prepared to take most of what the rich have got.
  • Education and psychology
    Some people in the United States, home of some colossal educational failures, are getting superb educations. They attend public and private schools known to offer effective conservatively defined education with at least some intent to develop the unique potentials of individuals. Maybe 10% to 20% of young people receive this education. Their parents are either wealthy enough to live in the communities with the best schools, or they can afford to send them excellent private schools.

    Maybe 25% of the remainder receive something like adequate education mostly in public schools--suburban, exurban, and rural schools. The remaining half of all school children receive inferior education in either the conservative or liberal model. The personal uniqueness is ignored, they learn a minimum of basic skills, they are offered an indifferent curriculum.

    From one point of view, the schools are mostly doing a fine job because their real task has been, since the 1960s, to manage the workforce. Part of this was to meter the flow of workers into work, part of it was to keep people in the role of consumer, and part of it was to keep people off the streets as long as possible.

    From an even more extreme view, it doesn't matter to 60% to 80% of the students in school what happens during their "formal education". In the real world of the late 20th, early 21st century, what people really need to know can be taught by the 24/7 media of radio, television, internet, film, and print. Not a joke: The real function of most people is going to be a consumer who works in simple dead end jobs. What is taught in school (reading, writing, arithmetic, history, biology...) is mostly irrelevant to the mass of young people. At the present time, most of them are not going to be employed in demanding work (those people are getting high quality educations) and their most important role is as a passive consumer. You don't need to know about Homer or algebra to work at McDonalds or at an Amazon fulfillment center. You don't need American History to shop for clothes, food, toasters, etc.
  • Resentment
    ruthless, greedyAgustino

    It isn't the climb to the top that gives people ruthless, greedy, ambition. It's ruthless, greedy, ambition that drives them up and on -- despite whatever adverse headwinds, insults, and so forth they endure on their way to the top.
  • Resentment
    I would not say it is the liberal view to "revile anyone who has self-love and to teach that the proper mode is to be poor, helpless, and full of self-loathing."m-theory

    I agree. This sort of morality has nothing to do with liberalism or conservatism. It's the psychology of twisted people, whatever their political views.
  • Resentment
    There is a brand of morality that simply rejects anyone who has power.Mongrel

    That is true, there is such a brand, and it is indeed buried in resentment. However, quoting Jesus probably won't help a lot here. If Jesus came to overthrow the kingdoms and powers of earth, we have to interpret that as eschatology. In God's unfolding judgement, the first (powerful, rich) will be last and the last (the meek, the poor) will be first. The orders of status will be up-ended.

    Take away the end of this world, the Kingdom of Heaven, the final judgement, and so on, and the preaching of Jesus loses it's fizz. If this is an unredeemed and irredeemable world, it makes no sense to celebrate meekness and poverty.

    My guess is that resentment comes before the morality. "We are extremely dissatisfied with our wretched lot. "Some people are in the penthouse, eating foie gras pate; me and my wife are in the shithouse eating beans and hay..." "I hate those people; they don't deserve what they have got. I want more. I need more. I deserve more!" They hate the rich, especially if they are in close proximity.

    A number of moralities come to mind. An anarchist might justify taking an elevator up to the penthouse and throwing a bomb into the middle of the rich folks' soirée, ridding the planet of the lot of them. The communist might take them all down on the elevator and line them up against a wall and shoot them. Some will denounce them for being privileged, for having power, and send them to North Dakota to work on the fracking rigs. They won't grieve when the rich folks go bankrupt.
  • Resentment
    According to the eminent philosopher, Alan Jay Lerner, "It's not the earth the meek inherit, it's the dirt." Camelot
  • Psychology, advertising and propaganda
    What I'm looking for is education regarding the side-effects of capitalism (to continue the medical metaphor) rather than an excision.Baden

    Educate The People about the side effects of capitalism till the cows come home--it won't make any significant difference. Capitalism is a remorseless system, and it isn't going to play nice. What is it about providing an ever increasing flow of profit to shareholders don't you understand?

    I think it would be worth the sacrifice of some economic and even some technological growth in order that human growth be focused on more.Baden

    Human growth will be the focused on more by capitalism as soon as it is commodified and becomes a profit center.

    "Abandon hope all ye who enter here" the sign over hell and capitalist meliorism reads.

    What should you do? “The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it.” Karl Marx, Eleven Theses on Feuerbach. We have nothing to lose but our chains and a world to gain. So, workers of the world...

    "But Hollywood is full of anti-corporate sentiment, and is now firmly seated on the green anti-consumerist bandwagon."
    — jamalrob


    You are mistaken. Progressivism is the new form of organisation of capitalism. In order to get people to work for the big and large corporations (which is becoming normalised, and a matter of prestige), they introduce all sorts of PR moves such as being green, such as levelling down hierarchies, and so forth. This is a way to get people to accept their chains. On top of this, Hollywood is reshaping morality in order to maximise the efficiency of capitalism. See my post here.Agustino

    Exactly!
  • Psychology, advertising and propaganda
    Right. Supporting philosophy with advertising worked out so well for the old Philosophy Forum.
  • Psychology, advertising and propaganda
    "When Heav'n had overturn'd the Trojan state
    And Priam's throne
    Mongrel

    It's been quite a while since I read Homer (36 years...), but as I recollect...

    Isn't Virgil's line about overturning the Trojan state a concern appropriate to Rome, but not to the very distant time of Homer? And if so, isn't the existence of the Roman State the result of radically different economic circumstances than what Priam (or anybody else in the Iliad or Odyssey knew)?
  • Psychology, advertising and propaganda
    It is possible that we exaggerate the influence of various media, which we like or don't like.

    We know, for instance, that children do not readily acquire language from television. A talking box is no substitute for a voice box, especially that of one's caregiver. Children don't pick up accents from television, either. If they did, some children would have British accents (too much PBS and Masterpiece Theater) or they would talk with standard California or northern Midlands accents. They don't. They sound like their peers and parents. If media were so influential, wouldn't we see more influence in language usage from television?

    There is no overwhelming evidence that media strongly influences behavior. Various people have been looking for solid proof that it does influence behavior, and there isn't as much strong evidence out there. I am speaking here of imitative behavior. People watching programs with violence, sex, crime, and so on, don't become sexually violent criminals committing all sorts of violent crimes.

    There is evidence that watching a violent program has subtle, short-lived effects on choice-making. So, after watching a brutal scene from a film, people tend to answer various unrelated questions differently than people who had seen a boring film about highway maintenance.

    Similarly, people who watch a lot of porn generally do not lead sex lives even remotely like the sex lives of the people in the videos. Again, watching a sex scene very well might change the way people respond to questionnaires for a short period of time.

    So, we can say porn, sex, violence, etc. do affect people, but it is short term, and it doesn't change people's patterns of life.

    Can we say the same thing for television advertising? People watch it, they are affected for a short period of time, but they do not change their basic behavioral patterns. It might. For one thing, advertising is constructed with more care than the average television program is. The imagery is punchier, and the repetition of specific scenes is, over time, quite high.

    There are ads for a product, and then there is the product itself. The experience of watching an ad for the #1 selling Ford F-Series pickup is one thing; seeing F-Series vehicles on the road is another thing, and contemplating the F-Series on the sales lot is something else again. My guess is that without on the road sightings, talking with owners, looking at the pickup in parking lots, and so on, the advertisements wouldn't drive the sales as high as they are.

    One thing about people: Getting messages through our thick skulls and getting us to carry out our instructions correctly turns out to be quite difficult. People don't just do what they are told. They just won't rush out and buy whatever junk food they are instructed to buy. And they buy junk food they probably never see advertised. There is also sensual experience. There is junk food I like because it has high sensory appeal--a particular local store brand of potato chip. Why do I like Kix better than Shredded Wheat (which I actually eat a lot of)? I haven't seen an ad for breakfast food for many years. I like the crunch of the large-pea-sized pellets, taste, color, and mouthfeel of Kix. I like the big bright yellow box it is packed in. The manipulation may be inside box rather than on the television, but it does work. Kix is a Friday night party compared to Shredded Wheat's Monday morning back to work scene.
  • Psychology, advertising and propaganda
    aside from the problem that we don't have good comparable data from 75-100+ years ago for mental illnesses and general happiness/unhappiness...Terrapin Station

    Going back to 1916, no. But post WWII, which is 70 years ago, I think there is comparable information. the General Social Survey is around 40+ years old, Gallops surveys go back 70 years. (Gallop, Inc. generously declares "For more than 70 years, Gallup has built its reputation on delivering relevant, timely, and visionary research on what humans around the world think and feel. Using impeccable data...") While the diagnostic standards for manic depression, schizophrenia, psychosis, catatonia, and so on might have been and might still be a bit dicey when it comes to telling one illness from another, these severe illnesses have always been obvious, whatever the cause was thought to be.

    I agree that the definitions of the minor mental illnesses aren't comparable. The Freudian diagnostic regimens were tossed out the window, and pre-1960s and post-1960s diagnoses isn't readily comparable. I have no idea what, exactly, a practitioner meant by "hysteria" for instance.

    I'd bet anything that apparent increases in minor mental maladies per capita are just as related to some combination of the following:

    (1) People with psych degrees needing clients in order to sustain their careers; that encourages diagnoses of conditions that require regular visits,

    (2) Pharmaceutical companies having similar motivations,

    (3) People hoping to acquire some type of government assistance and/or excuses for special treatment at work/special employment situations
    Terrapin Station

    Yes, all of the above applies. Diagnoses are needed for return visits, but even more important, diagnoses are needed to get paid by insurance companies. And I would add that it isn't all scam and racket. Some therapists really are very competent and helpful. (So ask yourself, what kind of scam do philosophers have going to justify their existences on college campuses--and who else bothers to employ them?)

    As for disability, some people have achieved disability status who seemed to be just fine, but in the US, at least, "disability" was always grudgingly awarded.

    (4) Munchausen syndrome/factitious disorder, where people have a desire for attention/special treatment/etc.Terrapin Station

    I am more interested in Reverse Munchausen Syndrome where people feign sanity but are actually stark raving mad.