Musings on who I am...

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    Musings on who I am...

    Post by Hart on Thu Jun 13, 2013 5:31 am

    The beingness of any human has the potential to be seen as a plurality of roles.
    There is the most obvious, and most easily grasped view of ourselves as a body, and in a certain sense a mind, within the manifest world. This is the view, for example, of myself sitting here at my desk typing away at my laptop, along with the set of values (ethics) I am currently choosing to apply to this role. In this view of myself I am a subject of observation. But why? And by whom?
    The second of the beingness’s that I identify with, is myself as a free—in the sense of my ability to do so without finite foundations—choosing entity. In this case I am nothing but my ability, and potential to choose in any situation that I—once again—choose to apply to myself. My value set, experience, and past knowledge from the above, subjective, version of myself are not forceably applied to this version of myself unless I so choose to apply them. In other words what I am in this identity, is no more than what I commit myself to being. In this sense I am absolutely free, and to an extent I am a timeless and immortal entity.
    This latter version of myself, culminating in the statement that I am beyond time—and therefore space—and therefore in effect immortal and eternal is to my mind as I am thinking now, a very enticing thought. But is this correct? And why do I feel as if this is a positive realisation, when I know that how I value things, what I base—whether consciously or unconsciously, I believe, at this point does not matter—my feelings of this realisation being positive or negative, good or bad, is a freely chosen commitment on my part, that although was made by a past self, requires either my confirmation or rejection at the exact present. To clarify, my choice as to who I am, will be no different now as I am thinking of it, as it will be in five minutes from now, or ten, or five years, or one hundred etc. therefore the choice of who I am is a choice that is beyond the manifest world
     
    The foundation of our seemingly foundationless ability to freely choose, in my opinion, is the assumption—due to our experience of the world within the veil of values produced by this same ability to choose, of people so similar in function to that of our subjective selves—that they MAY too have a ‘beyond the veil’ version of consciousness.
    Due to our connections within ‘the veil’ to the subjective versions of these beings, it pushes our consciousness into our own subjective role—in effect, attempting to singularise a plurality of roles, to enforce our subjective values onto our ablity to freely choose and vice versa.
    But because this is based on an assumption that is unprovable—we cannot say, beyond a doubt, that the people we see indeed have the same self-reflective explicit consciousness as we know, instinctively and through our own self-reflection, that we have—and that even if it somehow were provable, our only connection/relation to them is through an experience that is a product of our ability to freely choose, we are left with an uneasy feeling caused by the disjunction between what we know—that is our own self-reflective, freely choosing explicitly conscious mind—and our longing to discover the truth of something, but whose only proof—no matter how compelling—is based in a production of this mind.
    So we assume that behind the people we meet is an entity that is our absolute equal. But this assumption is a direct contradiction to what we are—and ability to freely choose. If I am my ability of—not a product of—free choice, then no matter what I choose, regardless of the situation, then I am absolutely equal to another being with the same ability to freely choose. Which shows that my choices themselves are not important, do not define my identity.  And therefore my ability to choose freely—which is in fact the only true beingness I am—is not my identity. A paradox that causes me unease.

    EDIT: Forgot to explain, this is me pondering why we are the way we are... Please comment and share your opinions.


    Last edited by Hart on Thu Jun 13, 2013 6:52 am; edited 1 time in total


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    Re: Musings on who I am...

    Post by Encore on Thu Jun 13, 2013 6:50 am

    Sometimes I wonder about the meaning of life. Not from a biological perspective, because there it is simple "Reproduce and continue the species". We as humans are sentient, fully aware of out surroundings and what happens when something bad is committed.

    I reached the conclusion that the purpose of your life is what you make it be, what you wants it to do.

    Violence, crimes and despair runs through society as a whole, but we are working together to improve it. Some might say the humanity is f*cked, but I think it might not be so black and white.

    The world is a place that is easier to change than most think, and while some might say that the current generations are a bunch of ignorant, stupid bigots, I think optimistic, trying to see the good in the bad.

    It might be that the world is going downhill, it might be that we as a race is led by clueless bigots, but there are people that aim to be more. Perhaps it is just to improve their local school or to fight ignorance, they have the potential to change the world. It is the generation that leads the world today that thinks less of young people, failing to see that all thinks less of younger people. Older persons know from experience what is right and what works. Younger people do not, forcing them to learn all of it anew.

    Societies problems does not lie in religion, violence nor drugs, rather it is because of lowered expectations and ignorance.



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    Re: Musings on who I am...

    Post by Hart on Fri Jun 14, 2013 12:47 am

    Alrighty then, today I am going to add my thoughts on depression. I try to keep it objective, as I have quite a complicated personal view on the matter.

    Depression is a distortion to the way we normally think. It has, roughly speaking, three aspects, or three different ways in which it can lead to the unpleasant feeling described by the term ‘depression’.
    The first is a change in our outlook, the way we view the world around us. While individual objects like this cup of coffee or this laptop may seem the same, we begin to view the world as a whole as a colourless exspanse. Dull, flat, unprofitable and without anything significant within it.
    The second aspect of depression is related to our sense of purpose. In a life without boredom, we feel the pressure of the will; the pressure to act upon our wants and goals until we see them come to life. This could be getting good grades, learning how to draw or any number of things. The only thing it requires is a long or short term goal on which to focus our energy. This becomes a problem when we find ourselves without a goal however, because we continue to feel this pressure. But since there is no goal for us to apply it to, we feel frustration. The terrible feeling of longing after something you do not know. Similar in a sense to being stuck in a game without knowing what needs to be done (remember this example, because I’ll try to use this metaphor to explain how to fix the feeling of boredom/depression). So now, in addition to wanting to fulfil a/any goal—which is currently unsatisfied as we have no goal on which to focus—we also have a will-to-will; we want to be engaged in some activity or pursuit, to have some goal on which to focus our first and unsatisfied desire.
    The third aspect is the culmination of the first and the second. Seeing as we now find ourselves deprived of the ability to act on our goals—because we now find ourselves without any such goals—we now see ourselves beyond the usual flow of human life, people going about their business, fulfilling their goals, because we can no longer personally relate to something that is such a large part of human drive. In realising this, we feel as if we have been expelled from the ‘game of life’, and we are now able to view it as such. Simply a game in which the moves of everything within it are entirely devoid of point or purpose, simply filling up the time between birth and death. Viewed by someone suffering from depression, life then is a completely meaningless, and perhaps more unsettling, alien phenomenon.

    IDK if I thought this would help anyone. I doubt it but it’s really just a way for people to understand the feeling. And I also find it comforting to know why I feel the way I do sometimes… maybe you’re the same?

    Well those are my thoughts on the cause and nature of depression. I also have more thoughts on how to move past it, and also how it can be utilised in terms of making you more resilient, and also why I think it can be a great asset at times (the viewpoint of life above, while alienating you from your peers can give you a more objective view on things, similar to one aspect of the conscious-mind from my OP) which I will post when I descramble them.


    Last edited by Hart on Fri Jun 14, 2013 1:04 pm; edited 2 times in total


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    Re: Musings on who I am...

    Post by Eko on Fri Jun 14, 2013 3:49 am

    I find the question, "Why we are the way we are" is a bit misleading. Asking a question like that or any question in general implies there is an answer, while at the same time excluding the possibility that there is not one. For a while, when I first started philosophy classes, I was overly obsessed with questions about why we are here and what is our purpose. I eventually came to two conclusions: one, there is no ultimate purpose or reason for our existence and two, that it is up to us as individuals to create our own purpose. Now to most people this would come off as asserting that people are conscious creatures that make choices; this would seem to assert some notion of free will. Here is where I part ways the majority of society and human history by saying that we probably don't have free will and it really is an impressive illusion.

    Building the case against free will is not as hard as people think or make it out to be. All I need is to be granted that science has revealed accurate information about our biological processes. First, is important to note that our decision making is a result of sense-data. Sense-data is exactly as it sounds, data collected from our senses; it is also called knowledge by acquaintance. Our "decisions" result from the intake of sense-data and our neurological processes. Another extremely important fact to not is that we actually see very briefly into the past. Now to be clear here I am not talking about seeing into the time of the American Civil War, but rather seeing what happened milliseconds ago. This is because it takes light time to travel to the eyes and processed by the brain. As a result of our biology functioning in this way there is delay in the time we receive the information to the time we become aware of the information. 

    A resoundingly simple way to highlight this lack of free choice is with a simple thought experiment. To start I'll explain the thought experiment. All you will be doing is thinking of a city, any city anywhere in the world. It does not matter which one or why. You can choose whichever city you like and go with that one. You can even change the city and it won't affect the experiment. It seems like this would be without a doubt a demonstration of free will. 

    So, pick a city. I will assume you have it and are satisfied with your selection. Why did you not Chicago, or Annapolis, or your home state capital, etc? Did you choose which cities occurred to you when I asked the question or did some cities just occur to you?

    The most plausible answer is that some cities simply occurred to you and you didn't get to choose which ones did or didn't. While this may seem to be a trick using semantics, it is important to note that free will assumes and implies the ability to choose from a range of options unhindered by exterior forces.

    Now this isn't a knock down argument against free will, but it is definitely worth considering. The question of free will in general is definitely worth pondering. However, I personally feel we have the bare minimal understanding of free will. We can choose between only what occurs to us at that time. If some sense-data doesn't trigger a particular neural event then it isn't going to be an option for you. In this way all of our options are limited by our biology and the way our body interprets and processes sense data. Unfortunately I am not as good as others at articulating this argument, but this is the most basic form.


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    Re: Musings on who I am...

    Post by Hart on Fri Jun 14, 2013 6:18 am

    +1 to your post Eko as I agree with much of what you say.

    Why we are the way we are does indeed imply that there is a definitive answer; and I agree there is likely none to be found. You said you’ve attended philosophy lectures, so the closest thing to describe my own view of the purpose of life is quite similar to yours mixed with that of ‘Later Nietzsche’. I’m not sure if there’s someone closer to my own view but he’s fairly close, as I find it a lot more reasonable and preferable to be able to dictate what I intend to be rather than have there be some grand (or humble) purpose for me.
    For this reason my own view of how great a degree of freedom of choice is available to us is slightly different to yours I think.
    The thought experiment in your post is a good way of showing that choice, free or not, requires an external 'stage' or situation to necessitate choosing, and of course the only way to recognize the characteristics of this situation is through sense-data etc.
    But while it shows that our range of options can be limited by our biological faculties, IMHO I think you may be confusing freedom of choice with omnipotence, or I may simply be using slightly different definitions of the two to you. In my mind free will is my ability to choose freely WITHIN any given situation I find myself, only taking into account the facets of the situation my senses can comprehend--while the free will you describe appears to me to require that I already know all possible occurrences and options in this scenario--something I would liken to omnipotence, at least in terms of knowledge. (Please clarify this if I've still got the wrong end of the stick)


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    Re: Musings on who I am...

    Post by Eko on Sun Jun 16, 2013 5:24 am

    For me free will/free choice would be defined by unhindered choice. This is essentially the same definition you gave, but in my opinion there is no such thing as free choice when your options are extremely hindered by forces you may not even be aware of. Fortunately, free will and freedom to choose is such a well made illusion that no matter what the science is, there is always a reasonable argument for free will.

    More on the original topic, I consider people in general to be very basic creatures. We act on the same impulses as every other animal on the planet. What I think makes the most difference between us and other animals is the context in which our lives occur. We live, most of our species, in cities or in close proximity to other people. While we have built great big things and have even went to the moon I think it is very important to be aware that we are only 2% different than chimps. It wouldn't be very hard for us to imagine what a species that is 2% different from us would be capable of. This all comes into my most important position; which is that we should not take ourselves too seriously. 

    Probably the most annoying thing about our species is that everyone takes themselves so damn seriously. Almost everybody is overly sensitive about one topic or another and can't seem to function without their sensitivities being respected. Personally, I think people need to realize that we are at base animals and not overly special in any way. This is largely due to me not believing there is some divine creator. As I see it, if there is no creator then there really is no ultimate purpose or meaning to our lives. To me this makes everything all the more beautiful.


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