• schopenhauer1
    1.6k
    Now it is the case that being conceptual creatures, we have progressed to the point where even our own existence - individually, or collectively - becomes something we can question the value of.apokrisis

    Yes, a major point- humans can do this and are the only Earthly animals to do this.

    The question now is have they become unstuck in some meaningful fashion. Have we become so enlightened about certain metaphysical facts that we should volunteer to strike ourselves from the evolutionary record? If that is your case, then present the argument.apokrisis

    Can you clarify what you are trying to say? I see you have some finer point, but it is layered in this quasi-rhetorical questioning. Do you mean to ask whether we as humans can reflect on our own existence, find it wanting, and decide not to continue procreating? In that case, indeed we can do that on an individual level. Of course, my argument all along is not everyone will stop procreating, but rather to get people to question the ends of their own existence, what they are living for in the first place, and to recognize certain aspects of existence- instrumental nature, striving-for-no-ends, etc. These are concepts that indeed are very human due to their self-reflective nature.

    You seem to propose some ends- that of an organismic equilibrium (after perhaps "corrections" of extinction) and vaguely have to do with how energy acts and dissipates. But how is seeing humans as acting a way that is part of this super-organism (i.e. cannot help but lead towards some telos) not simply being a self-fulfilling prophecy? In fact, by somehow promoting grandiose notions of participating in the super-organism, this seems more Romantic than many other philosophies you slap with that label. If it is inevitable that the super-organism acts a certain way, then there is nothing we can do, that we are bound to reach some equilibrium that is not of our conscious choosing... thus doing nothing, you are then choosing something and thus fulfilling a self-fulfilling prophecy.. acting as though there are no choices when there clearly are.. see that?

    But trying to both draw a sharp line between instinctive and encultured behaviour in a way that denies a historic continuity of evolutionary logic is a waste of time. Bad philosophy from the get go.

    If you want to argue for the legitimacy of anti-evolutionary ethics, then that is what you should stick to as the focus.
    apokrisis

    I don't even know what that means "anti-evolutionary ethics". We can choose not to procreate. That in itself is obvious.
  • Rich
    3.1k
    Yes, a major point- humans can do this and are the only Earthly animals to do this.schopenhauer1

    I have no idea what evidence you have to conclude this.
  • schopenhauer1
    1.6k
    I have no idea what evidence you have to conclude this.Rich

    I guess I cannot show you the mind of other animals, but based on their behavior and the fact that they lack linguistic ability- I can feel confident saying that other animals don't really reflect very much on why they are alive or the value of existence, or other existential questions.
  • apokrisis
    3.2k
    I don't even know what that means "anti-evolutionary ethics". We can choose not to procreate. That in itself is obvious.schopenhauer1

    Is it that difficult? If evolutionary logic defines what is natural, then doing something contrary to that logic lacks a natural justification. You would have to explain why the choice - as a general one you advocate for a whole species - is not merely possible but somehow ethically cogent.

    Do you mean to ask whether we as humans can reflect on our own existence, find it wanting, and decide not to continue procreating? In that case, indeed we can do that on an individual level.schopenhauer1

    Yeah sure. If that is your choice, then who cares. The breeders win in the end.

    And that choice may be pretty rational if you put economic self-interest at the top of your list these days. Or if you feel that life is complicated enough already.

    But it is where you elevate anti-natalism to a general good that your argument is in want of ... an actual argument.

    I just like to keep the various different position clear and distinct, not mash them together as you are now doing in your recent anti-natal threads.

    Of course, my argument all along is not everyone will stop procreating, but rather to get people to question the ends of their own existence, what they are living for in the first place, and to recognize certain aspects of existence- instrumental nature, striving-for-no-ends, etc.schopenhauer1

    OK. Then that is a change of tune. Great. You are not against procreation itself, you are against a social system with poor general outcomes.

    Who could disagree there?

    But how is seeing humans as acting a way that is part of this super-organism (i.e. cannot help but lead towards some telos) not simply being a self-fulfilling prophecy?schopenhauer1

    Well it probably is inevitable. But still, at least recognising the true nature of the situation gives a possibility of choosing a different path.

    Or more pragmatically, if you view things as already fated by nature, you can make your own life plans accordingly.

    In fact, by somehow promoting grandiose notions of participating in the super-organism, this seems more Romantic than many other philosophies you slap with that label.schopenhauer1

    How I am promoting rather than diagnosing?
  • Rich
    3.1k
    I guess I cannot show you the mind of other animals, but based on their behavior and the fact that they lack linguistic ability- I can feel confident saying that other animals don't really reflect very much on why they are alive or the value of existence, or other existential questions.schopenhauer1

    Who knows what they may be thinking? Probably nothing like humans and so what? They may have evolved beyond humans and just enjoying life.
  • schopenhauer1
    1.6k
    Is it that difficult? If evolutionary logic defines what is natural, then doing something contrary to that logic lacks a natural justification. You would have to explain why the choice - as a general one you advocate for a whole species - is not merely possible but somehow ethically cogent.apokrisis

    I mean this sounds like some modern Natural Law Aquinas theory. Natural justification? You are putting the cart before the horse. Humans can have a range of thoughts, actions, and beliefs. If humans can do it, believe it, or think it, then that is something that this species can do, and is ergo natural.

    Yeah sure. If that is your choice, then who cares. The breeders win in the end.apokrisis

    I guess if you want to get into it, then there is the idea of counter-factual outcomes- something I know you appreciate. A child that could have been born but didn't, is a true statement in the real world. An outcome with an alternative outcome is something that exists in this world. Whether or not there is a comprehensive species-wide outcome of zero is not relevant here. That is something you are asserting into the argument that was never there- at least from what I am personally arguing (as opposed to perhaps consequentialist-antinatalists or something like that).

    OK. Then that is a change of tune. Great. You are not against procreation itself, you are against a social system with poor general outcomes.

    Who could disagree there?
    apokrisis

    Sort of, it is a system that seems to promote the distractions from such existential questions. However, I think people will start to question things more and are doing so. Why are we doing anything is a great place to start. All possibilities become no possibilities... The do nothing no-goodnik or the do-everything-over-achiever. It's all the same.. what is it all about.. The Nietzschean coke-addled.. mountain-climbing, socialite debonair extremist- the eternally reposed, ascetic monk sitting on the mountain.

    Well it probably is inevitable. But still, at least recognising the true nature of the situation gives a possibility of choosing a different path.

    Or more pragmatically, if you view things as already fated by nature, you can make your own life plans accordingly.
    apokrisis

    Funny you say that, because that goes the same with procreation. It probably is inevitable but could be different path..

    As far as fated by nature, what matters is that we survive/maintain our comfort levels/get bored and need entertainment. Any self-reflecting human with existential curiosity looks at this and wonders, what the hell for.. We know achievement happens, but are platitudes of "exploring opportunities and achievements" really going to be the best we are going to do for the almighty answer for this? I've asked people in other threads to explain Platonic perfection, what a utopia looks like, what does completeness look like, etc. No one usually has a good answer. It is all striving because we are born and can't do otherwise. Well, why cause the striving? It goes beyond utilitarian calculus, and platitudes. It goes to a more profound look at things- one of a holistic perspective.
  • schopenhauer1
    1.6k
    Who knows what they may be thinking? Probably nothing like humans and so what? They may have evolved beyond humans and just enjoying life.Rich

    Hey, in a way I agree with you. To have a bird's life.
  • Rich
    3.1k
    Hey, in a way I agree with you. To have a bird's life.schopenhauer1

    Yes, that is the point. Personally I like the whales or maybe the highest form of life, the great Methusalah tree. Now that's living. Maybe a bit too meditative though.
  • schopenhauer1
    1.6k
    Yes, that is the point. Personally I like the whales or maybe the highest form of life, the great Methusalah tree. Now that's living.Rich

    Funny how we are admire things that we are not- what looks like simpler ways of life. Lives comprised mainly of instinct or just growth in the case of plants. Whatever seems to diminish the kingdom of self-awareness it seems. As E.M. Cioran said bitingly: “Better to be an animal than a man, an insect than an animal, a plant than an insect, and so on.

    Salvation? Whatever diminishes the kingdom of consciousness and compromises its supremacy.”
  • Rich
    3.1k
    Salvation? Whatever diminishes the kingdom of consciousness and compromises its supremacy.”schopenhauer1

    Oh, I think it is quite conscious, just more quiet about it. The most evolved may not have to go around patting itself on the back. Remember, these life forms have been around a heck of a lot longer than humans.
  • Bitter Crank
    5k
    it tends to dissolve the imagination into the doings of neurons, genes, endocrines, enzymes, and so on. It is deliberately deflationary to the imagination.Wayfarer

    I don't find that to be the case. Neurons, genes, endocrine glands, enzymes, neurotransmitters, synaptic gaps, the limbic system, pre-frontal cortexes -- on and on -- All play a role. But neurotransmitters are a means to an end, not the end. Even though neurotransmitters operate in synaptic gaps, and neurons operate both chemically and electrically, and even though genes direct the activities of all this stuff, it is still YOU that have experiences, imagine, compose, write, philosophize, not the glands and synapses. If you are surprised by a snake or a big spider in an unexpected place, you feel (I sure do, anyway) a a shiver of fear. Sure, it's a chemical -- adrenaline -- that causes the shiver, but it's a real snake, a real big spider, and my very real fear.

    but there seems to be a difference not only in degree but in type as to how human personalities are constructed from linguistic-conceptual cues combined with genetic predispositions.schopenhauer1

    Don't forget experience -- another factor in us being who we individually are.
  • apokrisis
    3.2k
    The do nothing no-goodnik or the do-everything-over-achiever. It's all the same.. what is it all about.schopenhauer1

    Does it actually feel the same? And is there a balance of the two that feels even better?

    You seem to be presuming your conclusions again. What you say does not tally with either psychological science or my own experience.

    But perhaps you have proved the case for you?

    ...what matters is that we survive/maintain our comfort levels/get bored and need entertainment.schopenhauer1

    Sounds a pretty minimal idea of a life to me.

    You reduce living to some kind of consumptive activity. You seem to see no role for creation, challenge and variety.

    So again you assume your conclusions by speaking of life in as meaningless a way as you can imagine. Rhetoric 101.

    I've asked people in other threads to explain Platonic perfection, what a utopia looks like, what does completeness look like, etc. No one usually has a good answer.schopenhauer1

    Utopia is already the wrong answer. Perhaps the dichotomies of heaven and hell, good and evil, just don't apply to nature. Your frame of reference is already wrong.
  • schopenhauer1
    1.6k
    Don't forget experience -- another factor in us being who we individually are.Bitter Crank

    Yeah that's what I meant by linguistic-conceptual as that is the preconditions for which humans usually experience the world and integrate his/her personality from environmental interaction.
  • Joshs
    195
    I was sorry to hear that John Shotter died. I was exposed to Vygotsky and Bahktin through his variant of social constructionism. There doesn't seem to be any room in Shotter-Gergen's model for the contribution of bodily feeling in discursively formed meaning, since the immediate site of affect-conceptual interaction would be a single body rather than interspersonal. Of course , one need not treat embodied processes as non-symbolized. They could be thought of in terms of an intrapersonal semiotics.
  • WISDOMfromPO-MO
    720
    I think you may be right here, but maybe you can elaborate.schopenhauer1

    Imagine solitary confinement at a jail/prison. Imagine a person living in that environment from the moment of his/her birth with no exposure to society. Imagine him/her then being free at the age of 18. He/she would know nothing about "sex", let alone have the attitude that it is "part of life".

    The biology that we classify under sexuality, such as being sexually aroused by certain experiences, might function involuntarily, but everything else, such as what to do when aroused (approach a person and introduce yourself; think about something else and get back to work; rebuke Satan; perform a certain sexual act; etc.) will have to be learned. 99% of what we call "sex" is like the latter--it is learned, not something one is born with.

    People unwittingly concede the fact that so much of it is learned when they talk about, oh, teenagers "experimenting" with sex or when they say that if you don't enjoy it you don't know how to do it right.

    Humans may be born with a sex drive, but it is a fallacy to jump from that fact to saying that the countless attitudes, understandings, actions, etc. that constitute "sex"--especially sex that is enjoyed--are programmed into our genes to ensure the survival of our species. But not only is it popular to have that questionable--and probably scientifically shaky--ideology, it is popular to use that ideology to justify promiscuity; attack traditions, especially religious traditions; build support for certain policies; etc.

    We recognize the wide scope of culture with respect to just about everything else. We recognize that people in some cultures practice communal defecation while in other cultures the thought of defecating in the presence of others, let alone outside of a stall with a toilet to sit on, is never even on 99.9999999 percent of people's radars. Yet, with something as complex and varied as human sexual behavior we like to think of it as all being in our genes.

    It is some of the worst narcissism and ethnocentrism you will encounter. Not only can people not see sexuality other than from their own perspective, they say that their perspective corresponds with immutable laws of biology and the entire natural world.
  • Wayfarer
    5.3k
    Even though neurotransmitters operate in synaptic gaps, and neurons operate both chemically and electrically, and even though genes direct the activities of all this stuff, it is still YOU that have experiences, imagine, compose, write, philosophize, not the glands and synapses.Bitter Crank

    So, you wouldn't have agreed with Francis Crick, when he said that '“You,” your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.' (where 'no more' is pretty well an exact synonym for 'mere')?

    Materialism adopts the language and rhetoric of philosophy, but its conclusions are strictly anti-philosophical.

    — Wayfarer

    Can you elaborate on this?
    schopenhauer1

    Well, it's a big subject in its own right. Philosophical materialism takes various forms - Neo-Darwinian, Marxist, scientific, to mention a few. But the obvious basis of all of them, is that only material or physical objects are ultimately real. So everything can ultimately (and that word carries a lot here) be understood in terms of material forces described by physics and chemistry. Human characteristics and attributes are said to be supervenient on those fundamental realities, but explicable in terms of them. Life itself is basically understandable in terms of material interactions - physics and chemistry again.

    Historically, materialiist philosophies have always existed - Epicurus and some of the Stoics were materialist. Platonists were generally not. Obviously none of the spiritual traditions are. But materialism got a big kick along with the Enlightenment, courtesy of the French philosophes in particular, and later through the work of some very influential theorists, for example Thomas Hobbes. The so-called 'Scottish Enlightenment' which produced Adam Smith and hugely influenced John Locke and also Charles Darwin, was also basically materialist in orientation. Materialism is usually criticized as 'nothing but-ism' - that life and mind are 'nothing but' the output of the 'selfish gene', or neuro-chemicals, or some other entity or substance that can, in principle, be made subject to scientific explanation.

    So overtly or covertly, materialism in various forms is hugely influential in the secular West. It is assumed by the secular intelligentsia that life, the universe, and everything, have an explanation which is ultimately findable in terms of the so-called hard sciences, even if many details remain unknown at this time. And this is argued by materialist philosophers of all schools and persuasions, using the techniques and rhetorical skills of philosophy. But the reason I say it's anti-philosophical, is because, if materialism is true, then there's no wisdom (sophia) to be had. We are simply a species of animal, that makes patterns of sounds, that create an illusion of meaning, for the brief moment of a meaningless existence.
  • Bitter Crank
    5k
    So, you wouldn't have agreed with Francis Crick, when he said that '“You,” your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.' (where 'no more' is pretty well an exact synonym for 'mere')?Wayfarer

    Once upon a time we didn't know anything about nerve cells and their associated molecules. We knew what we felt, our joys and our sorrows, and we knew who we were. Discovering the mechanisms for sensation, memory, thinking, emotion and so forth (stuff that goes on in and between neurons in the brain) doesn't change who we are or what we feel.

    I don't know why Crick, or anybody else, takes the view that we are "no more than" the mechanism.

    All sorts of mechanisms are operating when we make or hear music. Music moves us even though we know that music is transmitted by vibrating air produced on various mechanisms. That there is a mechanism doesn't reduce the value of music, does it? We know how pipe organs work; there is a lot of mechanism stuffed into the organ loft. All the electronic and mechanical mechanism doesn't reduce the glory of a great organ, it just makes it possible.

    Some confuse the chemical messenger with the message. Parents don't adore their newborn baby because oxytocin is emitted; oxytocin is emitted to carry love. Sure, oxytocin has an effect when sprung on an unsuspecting person in a lab, but the result is temporary.

    Just because a passing ship has photographed far distant Pluto, and just because another ship either has left the solar system, or will soon, just because explorers are rolling around Mars, doesn't turn space into some sort of heaven. Mars hasn't recently been the God of War, and Jove hasn't been the big cheese in the pantheon of Gods since... a couple thousand year, give or take a century or two.

    Maybe something mysterious is lost when knowledge of the cosmos is gained, but it isn't as if the hard-won knowledge about the cosmos cheapens it. The same for the hard-won (and still incomplete) knowledge about the brain doesn't make the mind just a big calculator that can be taken apart and revealed to be a box of levers, wheels, nuts, bolts, and springs.
  • Bitter Crank
    5k
    But the reason I say it's anti-philosophical, is because, if materialism is true, then there's no wisdom (sophia) to be had. We are simply a species of animal, that makes patterns of sounds, that create an illusion of meaning, for the brief moment of a meaningless existence.Wayfarer

    Did wisdom come through and within human thought or did it come from outside human thought? Aren't we the authors of such wisdom as we know?
  • Πετροκότσυφας
    533
    And it’s not a biological differentiation, but an ontological one - they’re actually a different kind, or mode, of being.Wayfarer

    Where does the difference between "biological" and "ontological" leads? If it's a different mode of being, then a whole lot of other animals surely have their own peculiar mode of being. Are they something more than animal too? It might be argued that every species has it own mode of being. Is every animal species something more than animal? If it is so, then how can the distinction between humans and mere animals be maintained?
  • Wayfarer
    5.3k
    I don't know why Crick, or anybody else, takes the view that we are "no more than" the mechanism.Bitter Crank

    Because they're 'philosophical materialists; Crick is a notable one, being a Nobel Prize winner, and co-discoverer of DNA. And the narrative is that science dispels the illusion of anything beyond the physical. That’s why they’re described as ‘reductionist’ - because they reduce the spiritual and mental to the physical. You’re not amongst them, purely as a matter of instinct, whereas I’m always inclined to argue against that attitude. But there are many for whom the scientific account threatens their sense of who and what they are. As I tried to explain in your Against All Nihilism thread, nihilism is a frequent consequence, or symptom, of the dissolution of traditional sources of morality in the acid of modernism and post-modernism. It doesn’t seem to affect you that way, which is a good thing, but it often does have that effect.

    Did wisdom come through and within human thought or did it come from outside human thought? Aren't we the authors of such wisdom as we know?Bitter Crank

    Obviously a profound question. You would have to ask yourself, in what does wisdom comprise? which is the basic question of philosophy, if ever there is one. Taking my cue from the Greek tradition, in particular the Dialogues of Plato, I think one starting point might be The Apology.

    Is every animal species something more than animal? If it is so, then how can the distinction between humans and mere animals be maintained?Πετροκότσυφας

    Which of the other animals species is able to consider such a question?
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