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Monday, March 7, 2011

How to build ourselves and a community at the same time.

A popular theme in my writings is the fact people don't care about us. They care what we can do for them. I would like to bring new light to this belief. I do believe this is only true, because of the current structure of society. Karl Marx once argued that reaching a state of communism would allow us to return to the hunter gatherer style communities we once lived in, but on a more developed scale. I think this may be a little idealistic, but who knows what the future will look like. At one time in history before civilizations existed, caring what people could do for us, and caring for others were the same thing in many cases. In tribal life, taking care of others more directly helped them take care of us for survival and well being. This is harder to see in a civilization with many indirect benefits of helping each other. However, we can still develop some direct communities we interact with too, and create a cycle between caring what others can do for us, and caring about them as people to a point the two become so intertwined, they become hard to distinguish from each other.

One thing I would like to argue is there is a middle way we can reach this on some level. It uses some concepts of game theory, Hegelian Dialectic, and Kant's categorical imperative. The communal way of living isn't on a macro scale as Marx would argue, but in communities we directly interact with. What we want is to develop our ties to communities. The first concept is the Hegelian Dialectic. When we meet people, there are two things taking place. First, we don't see them for who they are, but what we would like them to be. Second, they are pretending to be someone they aren't to make a good impression. A mistake many people make is to rush forward believing what they see, and what others are pretending to be.

The dialectic I propose is to do so mentally instead of physically. Instead of acting on our impulse to show too much caring too soon, which exposes our facade, and shows we can do anything a person wants like a puppet, we need to understand we are creatures of games. In this game, acting on the belief someone can be more than they are is a fallacy. We need to take the time to see people for who they are, and not what we want them to be. We want them to see us for who we are too. This takes months or even years on different levels depending on how much we care to see. The Hegelian Dialectic is to have a thesis, antithesis, and synthesis in order to reach truth. Every belief we have of someone can be tested by showing a little piece of ourselves at a time, and seeing if we are getting a positive or negative response back. Think of it like putting a penny in a mutual jar, and waiting to see if the other party puts a penny in too. Until they do, there's nothing else to show them about what we can do for them. These interactions eventually synthesize into the reality of what two people or parties can actually be and do for each other. Reality reveals itself for us when we sit back an enjoy the ride.

There are many concepts in game theory that can be applied, but the problem in many cases, is the fact we may not know the kind of game we are involved in. One game theory rule that works well is reciprocal altruism or tit for tat. In this game we always cooperate at first, keep cooperating as long as the other person is, cheat or defect if they cheat, and cooperate again if they cooperate. It is best to always defect in finite games, but a community is full of infinite games, where we aren't sure when we'll never see someone again. In this case, it's best to seek cooperation with tit for tat. How do we know our strategy is working? We use our emotions as a barometer for right and wrong. If we perform an act, and the reaction, or lack thereof feels bad, we should discontinue the action toward a person or party. If it feels good, we know we can likely perform the action again with positive results.

The Kantian idea I want to propose is the categorical imperative. This implies there are certain maxims we should live by as universal truths. I'm not claiming these truths exists, but there is an applicable concept here. The idea is to treat everyone by the same maxim. We obviously shouldn't treat everyone in a community the same way all the time, but there are some situations where we can treat each other equally, and this uses another game theory concept. I'll give the example of liking someone as a mate or spouse. You don't want to expose your feelings too soon, because it will cause a chain reaction of both parties continuing to pretend, and show other than we really are, until finally, one party exposes themselves for their reality, causing the other to lose their whole investment. If we follow the categorical imperative to treat everyone equally by certain maxims, we don't expose ourselves too soon. If there is something we want to do for that special person, it has to be something we can do for all our mutual friends, like giving a present, or taking interest in their lives. This spreads our investment out among the community, and allows them to see us as a legitimate person who cares about everyone. At the same time, we have created a blanket of good deeds that camouflage our feelings toward that one special person. If the action we desire is one that would feel awkward to our mutual friends, like asking for a phone number too soon, we shouldn't do it till we have the phone numbers of many other mutual friends to the point it feels simply friendly to ask for such.

You may be thinking, this is far too long of a process to see if someone likes you. I'd argue we have lost our patience at this time in history. We're too quick to try making people into what we want, and not what they want to be consciously or not. Making our life what we want is something we do in a market, social market, or in contrast to inanimate objects, but people have a nature we can't explain in many cases. There are situations where we can become more conscious of their motives than they are. However, their nature is to be that way, and we shouldn't seek to change something more powerful than our desires - nature. Even if we manage to do so temporarily, nature will reassert itself over our plan for others. The best long term relationships I've seen work, were five or ten years after a couple knew each other since High School in a community, or after many years of developing a real friendship in a community. I think these work best, because all the little games were played at the friendship level over many years. The foundation of friendship is much more solid than love alone. Even if love doesn't work, these people will remain good friends. At the same time, we didn't lose out on our investments. We built a community that thinks highly of us, and speaks well of us, and it's only a matter of time before the right people for us sees us positively, because of our good reputations.

Caring is categorical and not general. Sometimes you may hear someone say, that person doesn't care about you. If they are willing to interact with you on occasion, they care about something you can offer. We can't always know what the benefit is for others, but we can tell if we feel benefited. It's not till both parties feel a desire is being fulfilled in a situation, that we have cooperation in a given category. The mistake many people make is putting too much hope into a potential future of a given category where there's no cooperation on the other end in the present. If they aren't cooperating now, they likely never will. The reason we perform acts are to see if we will get a positive reaction back in a given category. If there is no reaction, or a negative reaction, we should no longer perform an act toward someone in a category. We should try to perform acts we can do for the greatest number in a community. The reason is we are likely to get the most positive returns compared to investing in an individual continually we haven't developed ties with yet, hoping they will be something we want, instead of being who they are. At the same time, we can see who didn't react, or react positively to our similar acts toward many, and use that to determine if we should act toward them in a particular category in the future. We shouldn't focus on the voids in our lives when it comes to people, but the things we have in order to build them up. We perform acts to test our boundaries with people, and see how much we matter to them in given situations. The situations we know we have cooperation in are the ones we should repeat, and discontinue those that aren't favorable to us. What can happen in time is a spillover effect. If we focus on the categories and situations that do work, we build trust with people, and eventually this can spill over into categories where they would not cooperate with us prior. We shouldn't put our hope into those other categories working in the future that aren't now, but it's a good reason to keep focused only on what we know is working.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

What is love (and hate)?

For all relative things in existence, there is one constant beneath them all...

Love is used in a broad context of applications to the point it has vague meaning when looked at more carefully. People will say I love this song, or I love this sweater, but they will also say, I love my child, mate, or friend, and each time it gets used in a different context, it is meant in a slightly different form. When I asked people what love is, they gave all the usual answers. They would say things like, it is going out of your way for someone no matter what, or it is someone you always want to be around when they are away, but these answers do not define the broad use of the word as it is used in all its numerous contexts.

Sometimes you get a situation where someone has a crush on another person, and they will get asked if they love that person. They sometimes say they like them, but do not love them. This is where we can start examining what love is more deeply. It is obviously an attraction to something, but when placed relative to liking, it appears love is a stronger version of liking something. We can safely assume they are both words to reflect forms of caring about something or someone. If this is the case, like and love are on a spectrum of caring with many other words that could possibly be placed at points on the spectrum that mean like more, and more, and more till love is finally reached, but most people will use the word love liberally regardless, because it is an easy blanket term to throw over things they care about without trying to look closer at the reasons why in themselves.

Visual Spectrum:

(Forms of caring, and how much we care.)
Like <----like more-------really like-------> Love

Maybe we should look at the types of things people say they love before moving on to understanding why. Things people love are inanimate objects, music, pets, friends, family members, children, and spouses. There may be more, but these are the most frequent objects of affection you hear people use the word love towards verbally. Once again, the word love is thrown around liberally, so nobody can love a jacket the way they love their spouse, and this is the reason I put them all under forms of caring. Perhaps it would be easiest to start with the simplest objects, and define why they are loved before moving on to more complex objects. We can use a jacket as an example, because unlike living objects, the jacket cannot feel anything back towards us. This makes love a one way struggle by the user toward the object. Why would someone care about a jacket? The jacket keeps us warm when we get cold. We most likely like the way the jacket looks too compared to other jackets. We picked this jacket over others for a reason at the store. Was it just warmer, better looking, or both? I would say the combination varies depending on the situation we are buying the jacket for. If we care primarily about warmth, we lean more towards a purchase for warmth. If we are buying this to look attractive for work, school, or another occasion, we are buying it for aesthetics more. This means we can care it keeps us warm, but another reason we care is it makes us appealing to others. We like the jacket beyond warmth. We like it makes us more attractive to others. There is a primary and secondary purpose for the jacket depending on how much we care for warmth versus our attraction to others it gives us.

This leads to the conclusion nothing is good in itself, but that everything is good for other things through interconnection. If we look at music, we like the way a song sounds because it makes us feel more strongly on an emotional level than without the music, but we also like that we can share the music, and see other people's emotional level intensify through facial expressions if they like it too. Once again, we like the song because it makes us feel good, and we like the way it makes others feel towards us when they listen to it in front of us. When they feel good in front of us, we have two factors of satisfaction. We like the music, because of what it does for us, and the other people caring more for us when we play the music for them they like, which makes them like us more.

Now a pattern can be seen forming. We do not like the jacket in itself, but the fact the jacket makes us feel good either in warmth, attraction to others, or both. We do not like the music in itself, but the fact it makes us feel good listening, and that others can like us more while playing it for them. Just as we defined levels of liking and loving are all levels and forms of caring, it can now be said everything we care for is cared for because of what it can do for us. What about people? We care about our friends, because they keep us from feeling alone, help us when we are hurt, and give us people to tell about ourselves, so we can feel important. Why do we care about making them feel good? It is because they take the time to make us feel good. We care about benefiting ourselves first.

This is where an illusion occurs in reciprocal interactions at the cultural level. We convince ourselves we love people for who they are in themselves first, that we go out of our way for them because of who they are in themselves, and listen to them for who they are. It is obvious we do these things because people do something back for us we like, or we developed the habit through past interactions where reciprocity was taking place in hopes that showing interest in others in the present will get us rewarded in back similar in the future like the past. The same is true for a spouse, and a child is cared for by a mother no matter how badly it treats the mother most times, because nature gave mothers a natural tendency to protect their genes. Genes are a part of ourselves a mother wants to pass on, so a child's well being in this sense is because of what it can do for the mother, which is allow part of herself to live on after she dies. We love a jacket, because we care what it does for us. We care about people, because of what they do, or we think they might be able to do for us, but we care for nothing in itself for itself. People who seem altruistic to help others for god are only doing what god wants in return for the reward of heaven and god's love. God is said to love us no matter what, but will not lead us into a good life, and leave us in hell if we do not do what god wants. We only do things for god, because we want god to give us a good life. God only does things for us because we love god, or because god hopes we can love god. Even god only cares what benefits god.

Why do we hate something? Many would say it is for the opposite reason we loved it. I would say not always for the opposite reasons. Once again, we are on a spectrum, and this spectrum is the same one as before. It is just much wider.

Spectrum of caring:

Hate<-----dislike-----like----->Love
I
I
I
Indifference

Hate cannot be the opposite of love. It is at a different end of the spectrum of caring, but it is still a form of caring. If your jacket develops holes, goes out of fashion, or is not attractive to enough of the kind of people you want to be attracted to you, then you begin to dislike it. Some would even liberally use the word hate for how much they dislike a jacket. The same goes for a song that gets old, or a person who begins to displease us more than they please us to a point we do not want to deal with them. We dislike or hate something when we want an object to do something for us and it cannot do it. We dislike or hate people when we want them to do things for us, and they are not capable and/or do not care about what we do enough to want to satisfy our desires in return. After we care enough about something that manages to lose satisfaction, we reach a state of indifference toward it. Love and hate are both forms of caring for what objects or people can do for us in our lives. The opposite of both is indifference. When we feel nothing and no longer care, we are finally on the opposite side of the same coin. The opposite of caring is indifference. The opposite of both love and hate is indifference.

The only constant in life is ourselves. The only thing we never become indifferent towards is ourselves. We are the constant all things relative to us are continually judged by in worth to ourselves.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Ethics for a better life.

The Fragmented being:

Much of Western history follows the concept of something constant that exists at our core. Sometimes it is a soul, or the natural version of ourselves beneath the artificial layers put on us over time. I would say there are some things that stay constant, like our personalities. No matter how much our morals, habits, and characters change, if a friend from the past we always had good chemistry with talking appeared, we would be able to continue talking with them as if hardly any time passed. There always has to be at least one constant or set of constants beneath all the relative things that exist afterward; sort of like an anchor, or standard things must stem from that we choose to base things off of. Two plus two always equals four. The law of gravity is constant, and we who are always changing are constant as a living being until we die. Life in general is constant, even though there a many relative lives that compose, and replace life in general. A tree is always a tree, even though trees come in many sizes, shapes, and species.

We are individual beings, but within us are constant changing cells, habits, ideas, and though we are individuals, we come in and out of groups, and groups are in institutions, and institutions are in societies. Each of these layers is an individual unit, but they are made up of more little units at each level. Heraclitus said, the only constant in life is change. It is this constant that sets the standard in his statement that all other things keep changing relative to, which is change itself, which is a constant concept. If we are made up of these constant changing parts, then the only things that could possibly be argued to be good are the constants, because they are dependable. For some this is personality, for others god, and for others scientific laws. Everything on top of these things is not dependable though.

If you contrast this with my concepts about why morals don not matter in another writing I did, you will find that since most things in life are not dependable, we can only do what feels good in a given time, and feelings are one of the best guides to personal actions. It is because life is always changing, that feelings are always changing, and we are always changing too. Rationality in itself is inseparable from emotions, and if things are always changing, rational things are changing too, and we cannot just exist on a rational model that things would always change in contrast to. Even Kant's Categorical Imperative is flawed when it claims we should think if our actions toward a person in the way we would treat all people. If we treated everyone the same, there would be many cases others would harm us, or take advantage of us, or not care for how we are treating them in some cases. Each person we interact with is a new unique situation we have to feel out, and all we have is our experiences to contrast them with.

This is perhaps an ethical writing. In “Why Morals Don't Matter”, I talked more about how we interact in daily life, but ethics is slightly different than morals. Morals are more about traditions, interpersonal relationships, codes of conduct, and character traits we develop from existing in the middle of these things. Ethics is stepping back from our daily moral life of how things are, and stopping to examine how they ought to be. The deontologist would argue the means justify the ends, so for example lying is always wrong. The consequentialist would say the ends always justify the means. You would probably contrast my writing on morals more with virtue ethics. Since life is always changing, the means or ends may be more beneficial depending on the situations. Being that there must be a constant beneath any concept do deal with relative changes, let me say we are always constant in our lives till we die. Although we are always changing, and so is life in general, we should be the constant standard that all decisions are based off of. We cannot base our ethics on what benefits others, because their lives are always changing relative to ours, and they just like us are always changing. This is why my ethics fit my morals. Where my morals state we should do whatever feels good, my ethics state we can only do this by doing what benefits ourselves first, and others secondarily.

We have to live this way because life is fragmented and always changing in contrast to us and with us. What feels good is always changing. In some cases, making more money feels good, but then our health may fail us, so getting healthier becomes more important than making money, or maybe we have enough money to feel comfortable, and then want company, but the priorities are always changing. The one thing that is constant is we want to do what benefits our desires in all those cases, or we are worthless to ourselves and others till then concerning any aspect related to our unreached desire at the time being.

Just like any law of science that is constant, the desires we have are always to benefit ourselves. No matter how we try to cut it, the world of constant change cannot be benefited by us seeking to help it primarily, and ourselves secondarily, because it will keep changing in contrast to us. Therefore, we should only do things for the world we think will benefit us by doing them, because we are the constant in our lives. If we make our primary focus helping others before ourselves, we are likely to have our own lives fall into decay, or help them in a way that may not be best for them, but if we help them in a way we think will help us, we are more likely doing something that will satisfy us more long term, because we are the constant in our lives. Teaching a man to fish helps feed a man, and keeps them from begging for our fish. Giving a man fish will keep them coming back for more fish, which keeps taking away from us. However, maybe we are giving fish so they give us company, which may be our current desire. The constant change in desires, toward a constant changing world, with constant changing people, means nobody can truly care about us as individuals. We can only care about ourselves, and what others can do for us, because we have nothing at our core constant enough that they can love us. They love the parts of us that currently compose us, and when those parts of us change, they change relative to our fragment's current composition, or they find someone else who has a composition of fragments that they desire more at this time.

People can only love us for things that are constant. There appear to be three layers to a human being. The first is attributes. Attributes are the physical outer layer people view upon initially crossing us. I may have good looks, musical talent, mathematical abilities, and these are all surface things people see. Some attributes fade over time, such as looks, or even memory of skills. Though they may be appealing up front, they are only good for initially luring people in, and may be good for status when we stand with someone for a given time. The next layer is character. Character is the moral habits we incur over time through our interactions with others. In most cases we make choices based on feelings, that are based on experiences and memories. These create reflexes we use to decide right and wrong in given situations. Characters change slowly over a lifetime, and change even more slowly the older we get. Character is a series of emotional reactions to our numerous environments over time. The last layer is personality, and personality is fairly constant throughout life. We inherit levels of interoversion and extroversion, levels of neuroticism, and environments can turn certain personality traits on and off, the same as character traits. Personalities are a little less flexible than characters though. They are born with us, and die with us, and since they do not change much in themselves, it is important to find environments that reflect them best in our favor. Since environments are changing all the time too, we just need to keep moving where it feels good.

You may be wondering what all this has to do with ethics, and now that I have laid the groundwork, I can explain. If the world is in a state of constant change, we are the only constant in our lives to base all these changes off of, and the only thing that matters is being able to calculate our long term desires to feel good, then how do we do this? In order to find happiness in things that are always changing, we need to build our happiness off of things that can build on themselves with over time. There are three layers to the self. There is the biological self, and the cultural self, and the individual self. The biological self gives us natural desires. They are food, sleep, sex, and I would go to argue, a desire to alter consciousness through physically extreme acts like drugs, or intense bodily struggle with the environment. The thing with biological desires, is they are recurring. You will always get hungry, sleepy, horny, and a desire to get consciously altered again. These things cannot be made priorities, because in themselves, they are always reaching deprivation quickly from their last time filled. Instead, they should be sought moderately, and secondarily in order to support the priorities that can be built upon over time. Those things we may want to build on of course, are given to us by culture. Culture will give us art, music, writing, knowledge, and all other desires we could want. Where culture gives us WHAT we desire, our individual decides HOW we desire what culture has to offer, and where these two meet, is how we figure out what we can build on, and keep coming back where we left off, unlike the biological desires that only fill us once, and must be chased again for one more filling. The desires we can chase that keep filling us up more without going into deprivation as individuals are things like knowledge, musical and artistic talents, fitness, and friendships. If we eat, sleep, and do conscious alterations moderately enough to give us the strength to chase these priorities, then we will be healthy enough by not being fat, have more time due to not over sleeping, and be with the program with new conscious insight more than always be high for the sake of it. Sexual appetite is also only a single serving in itself, but when accompanied by a friendship we can maintain longer, it is merely a secondary moderated activity for a greater activity – the activity of friendship. When biology is moderated, the priorities can be more highly optimized toward giving us a more satisfying life, because we can keep expanding on them to have more variety for more changing situations in the future.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Why Morals Don't Matter.

What Makes Up Our Actions?

A lot of my themes in more recent times have revolved around habits. Habits and emotions to me are phenomenon I believe explain most of our behavior. Emotions can be positive or negative. They can bring pleasure or pain. Nobody ever really finds a happy life. Life is a struggle with moments of pleasure and pain that increase or decrease happiness at given points in our lives. We want to be happy, so we develop habits based on our subconscious memories of the most pleasurable and painful experiences, and base future choices on the most pleasurable and painful conscious memories.

The remembering self, and the experiencing self are two different selves. The remembering self perceives pain and pleasure from experiences at the most extremes. When feelings are extreme emotionally, and then end abruptly they leave the most impact as being remembered very painful or very pleasurable. When an experience ends more gradual by slowly reducing the pleasure and pain of that experience, we tend to remember them less pleasurable or painful than they were, and are more likely to do painful things again, and pleasurable thing less in these cases. That is the remembering self. All conscious future choices are based on the remembering self despite real feelings of the existing self in our present. We live in the remembering self, even when it has nothing to do with the current experiencing self. All past experiences determine what kinds of choices we will make in the future.

Those experiences that are not extreme enough to recall consciously still create some level of pleasure and pain in our subconscious to continue or discontinue a behavior through habits. Where habits are subconscious, voluntary choices based on memory are conscious, but they both are driven by feelings. We want to feel good and not bad. We do not have a lot of patience in most cases, and are more likely to seek pleasure sooner than later with our choices. It is in our biological makeup in order for us to survive as we did for so long in a world that no longer looks like ours. The biological makeup is an important ingredient, because all the ancestors in our lineage had personal experiences in their lives, and each one of them contributed to our current biological makeup. In other words, we are made up of a compilation of the habits developed over millions of years by those in our lineage that came before us. We are not born as complete blank slates when it comes to many habits. We want to eat, sleep, have sex, and feel like part of group or community. On top of this we have artificial physical pleasures that mimic the the originals, like processed foods that have high salts, fats, and sugars, which were scarce and essential to survive way back, so they are addicting, drugs that keep us awake so we can go longer without sleep, pornography to mimic sex, and online networks to mimic physical communities.

Just as there is a physical world created by technology that mimics our biological desires, there is a non-physical reality that mimics intangible experiences. The intangibles came through our interactions with other people in past societies, and traditions, codes of conduct, and interpersonal struggles have created habits we also carry with us in our everyday interactions at a subconscious level. We act as we act, because society and culture have created a layer over the biological frame that has an artificial pleasure and pain enforcement created by beliefs about right and wrong over past interpersonal struggles, and we still act them out today as we are the accumulation of all those habits. One way to look at this is like culture and society as a labyrinth of artificial customs, and at the end of the maze are biological habits. The labyrinth changes shape more quickly in time than the biology. The labyrinth is composed of social mores and folkways. Social mores are more ethical with our beliefs of how we ought to be based on abstract beliefs in religion and laws layered over our biology, and folkways are more informal rights and wrongs that we might get dirty looks for, but will not be enforced strongly. These social rules attempt to punish us for behaviors a society or a culture deem wrong, and they came about through the traditions, codes of conduct, and interpersonal struggles of our closer ancestors. This in a sense is artificial pleasure and pain. The pleasure and pain are real, but why something is actually considered right or wrong does not always cause biological harm. In many cases it is emotional harm, and since it is naturally in our biology to want to feel accepted by a group of some kind, this labyrinth of rules enforces us to act as we otherwise would not have in nature. They are manifestations of problems more than real problems due to abstract concepts of reality invented by our culture.
On a deeper level we have the individual self with our own personal experiences of pleasure and pain. One way to look at this is, we are a prop in a play, and culture is the stage we act on. Within a cultural stage, we are more likely to have certain kinds of pleasure/pain experiences than if we were acting on another cultural stage. On another cultural stage we would be surrounded by numerous other kinds of props in the form of artificial physical addictions, and artificial intangible customs. The stage we act on creates a greater probability in the type of personal experiences we have. Although we all have different issues as individuals based on our personal experiences, we still have a greater probability of similar issues when we exist in the same social ecosystem. This is why institutions such as the family, military, or a financial firm will give us different environments that influence our pleasure/pain scenarios, and definitions of right and wrong based on pleasure and pain.

Does Morality Matter?

Up to this point we have habits and feelings determining our actions for more pleasurable experiences, a conscious self making choices based on the most potent memories, which can in fact be flawed, because we only remember the sharpest potency in emotion that ends abruptly as the real experience, unconscious habits based on the most pleasurable feelings, a biological self seeking more pleasure, a cultural labyrinth created by a lineage of struggles that define good and bad conduct enforcing a level of punishment and reward, and ourselves as cultural props with personal experiences and a biological lineage of our own that seeks to be a certain way.

This biological lineage does not seek to harm others for any reason. It is only when others cause us pain that we feel the need to harm them. At this point some would make the argument that it is our rationality that keeps us from making the choice to act on our feelings and impulses. I would argue the complete opposite. It is our feelings and impulses that keep us from harming others, and rationality is nothing more than a maze to emotion as a labyrinth is to culture, and as impulses and feelings are to biology. In other words, rationality is the artificial maze of experience in our cultural stage based on memories that we act on consciously combined habits we act on subconsciously to get to the end point of feeling more pleasure. Conscious rationality takes into account all past memories applicable to an issue, and tries to find out the best way to get to pleasure. If we did not care about pleasure, we would be robots crunching numbers with no desires to use those numbers to take us somewhere. It is for this reason rationality is the slave of pleasure, feelings, desires, and habits. Habits are the subconscious reactions we have based on prior experiences, and biological makeup seeking pleasure.

The case would then arise when someone says, we cannot just go around doing whatever feels good. I would say, yes we can, and I will tell you why. If someone makes the argument that doing drugs will give us brain damage, or killing someone might feel good, then how can it be justified that doing what feels good is really good? For the same reason memories determine conscious choices about our present, and habits are reflexes from the same past. Growing up we have experiences seeing others do drugs, being educated on drugs, and possibly trying drugs too after hearing and seeing things or people that convince us the experience will be pleasurable or painful. This is our cultural stage. As an actor we think about if we try or do not try drugs based on our interpersonal relationships, traditions, and codes of conduct (laws). These are our pleasure and pain experiences as a prop on the cultural stage. We are going to do what we think will bring the most pleasure. If we do drugs after assessing all this information, and do not like the feeling afterward, we will have a more painful than pleasurable experience, and not try that drug again, and do again it if it was good. If we see people around us that have been doing a drug long term, and see bad side effects, we will take this into account too. Obviously, there will always be deviants who will do what is bad for themselves and/or to culture, even after a bad experience, and it is because on a biological level a deviant minority is natural in cases environments change abruptly, and a new behavior is more beneficial for survival, that the cultural maze reflects this same pattern. If there were never deviants in culture, societies would never change, and this is what causes the struggle for change over time. The struggle is not for good or evil, but change, and the outcome of the struggle is where good is defined at the end. It is good, because after all the struggle, what is left is what the most people agree on will feel good and legalize. The same goes for murder. It is not in our biology to naturally harm others unless they harm us. In a system with no rules, we would not hold ourselves back, but culture created a labyrinth, and a maze or social mores and folkways creates a layer of rules that can punish and harm us based on our actions. These rules once again were developed over time through interpersonal relationships, traditions, and codes of conduct (laws), and through our experiences as an actor on the cultural stage we learned the laws, and that ignorance is no excuse for the law, saw others get arrested on TV or through education, or in person for particular actions, and although we do not know all the laws consciously, our subconscious habits use their reflexes to stop us before we kill knowing that greater harm will come to us if we harm now in the short term to feel good. We know from experience that in some situations when we harm people, we felt worse afterword, and for that reason our reflexes stop us, but it all comes back to conscious memories, and subconscious habitual memories that we choose to act on in a way we think will maximize pleasure to ourselves – not on a the greater more good. Once again deviants will exist due to nature mixing up their genetics to sociopathicness, or experiences that deemed their actions okay in certain circumstances, and these once again are the tools for change in a changing world that will help the majority population adapt after a struggle to a new way of life. If it is truly the proper way then it will prove itself in time when the struggle ends. If we have what others consider bad habits at our subconscious level, we become conscious through cultural and social conflict too, and in a diverse culture, there is a greater chance of us having a conscious experience that alters how we try to act in the future.

It is because culture has a set of rules on top of biological rules that can cause additional pleasure and pain, that we change our actions to other than pure biological ends of such. Culture can give us pleasure and pain at the artificial level by having people show disdain for our actions through bad looks, and ignoring us based on social mores and folkways, and this level of maze rules in many cases is enough to change our behavior, where as in nature, we would possibly need a physical confrontation followed by memories each time to teach us pleasure and pain. In a sense culture has evolved to make us more peaceful in confrontation, but at the same time it has enslaved us with artificial rules based on old ways that may not be the best choices in our new environments. Some cultural rules may not be the best for us, but if we truly feel acting against them will feel good, and it proves so, then we are either the deviants for the new direction of culture, or a failed attempt at it. Rationality only exists to figure out based on experience, the best way we know of to feel good. In the end, the only thing that matters is feeling better than we did before we acted, and the more long term those feelings can be the better. Folkways can be seen as cultural habits, which are less conscious. Social mores can be seen as cultural rationality, because they are based on things like religion and law that tell us how we ought to live in theory. Since we are surrounded by these concepts, they bind our rationality at some level to what path culture has taught us, and will allow us to feel good. Beneath this we have our own experiences of what we think has and will feel good. We will always do what we think consciously and unconsciously will feel good, and with all the rules in culture and biology, morals in the ought to sense do not matter in our lives. We will attempt whatever we think will feel good surrounded by cultural and biological rules, stop if it does not, and that morally will determine right in wrong in the end – doing what feels good is the only good moral rule to live by.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Religion 1.0 - Why the oldest models are sometimes the best.

Everything we do unconscious or subconscious is a habit. When we reach a point of conflict with the environment we exist in, we become momentarily conscious. This moment is our limited chance to potentially change the way we live concerning the particular habit brought to temporary light.

All things that exist are mirror images of the same things in other forms greater or smaller in the scheme of existence. This is a concept I relate to fractals. The reason this relates to habits, is because a habit is something that exists at the individual level. It comes about due to a point in life we had to become conscious due to conflict with our environment. When all the pieces fell where they may landed after our struggle, we incorporated or traded off a habit in order to better survive that current environment. As we travel through life, we enter new environments, and sometimes these environments are conducive to our habits, and our ability to feel happy with them. In other cases, our old habits become impediments to our new surroundings, and only with continual attacking of our cognitive dissonance we may finally change a habit. The more ingrained the habit, the longer and more fierce the attacks against us must be. If we do not adapt, we are left a habit that leads to greater misery or death (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fractal).

The reason I bring up habits is because incorporating this concept with the idea of fractals leads me to believe that habits are more than an individual phenomenon. They can exist in a group, institution, culture, or society. This can translate into mass habits, or the way a population adjusts to environmental threats that force them to change the way they perceive their environments and life itself. A couple of similar ideas relating to large scale habits can be seen in historical institutionalism and neoinstitutionalism. Each institution is full of many individuals that compete for survival and power against other institutions and/or the environment they all exist in. Just like habits we may take on as individuals, these institutions may have incorporated some bad habits that no longer serve their their ability to flourish in a future environment. This too leads to increased misery or death of an institution (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Institutional_theory).

Habits not only come about due to the physical confrontations we have with environments, but also the verbal confrontations. The perception we have of the physical interacting with the natural world, our technological inventions, the words used to describe these new inventions, and the abstractions to explain the intangible we believe in are all ways we perpetuate hyperreality. Hyperreality is the hypothetical world that is merely a reflection of the real world. An example of this is a copy machine, where we have a reflection of the original, and can be deceived into thinking we have the original. This exists on larger scales throughout history, like when Renaissance Italy began to mimic the classics of the Ancient Greeks art, writings, and architecture. We see it in status symbols like the cars we drive, and how much they represent our prestige. The thing we perceive is a social construction that may have been invented in our own time, or a time long ago, and when we buy into the hyperreal, we are no longer interacting with the real, but reflected ideas that give us psychological comfort in our current environment. Sometimes these comforts will stay in place even when the environment changes leading to greater misery or death (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperreality).

At some point in history, all social constructs were created to reflect something physical in the environment we existed in as individuals or larger scale units of people. Before real things were replaced with human inventions to represent the real, whether those inventions were physical or not, we had no words, and only actions. With these actions came substances that gave us the ability to survive and/or flourish. We had the warm sun on our bodies, food from the world around us, and animal hides that kept us warm at night. This was the state of nature with the religion of animism. Although the explanations for the actions of nature always relied on a soul possessing every aspect of it, the social construction of the soul was a representation of the original physical world before humans manipulated it. The first words were reflections of the physical things humans interacted with on a daily basis, and whatever souls they thought possessed those objects. In time humans began inventing tools, growing their own food,building towns, and each step of the way, the old words and abstractions of the past were passed along into cultural habits of hyperreality that slowly became further removed their source. Eventually, there are words that no longer have a physical object, but instead are abstractions of the intangible shadows that reflect what used to be. These shadows then became integrated with the new physical environment's ideas and vocabulary (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animism#Animism_and_religion) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_constructionism).

At this point I borrow some ideas from Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Discourse on Inequality. The idea is there was a religious state of nature. It was a state where animism was a reflection of the physical environment, and what it could do for us and to us. Each step we took further from that initial nature imprisoned us more by giving us less equality with the souls we interacted with, because the shadows they became were no longer among us, but were abstractions of the originals layered upon each other over time, with words that could only explain each new abstraction, and no longer the source they came from. Each new religion was a hyperreal version of several others, and other aspects the new environments they existed in. These new social constructs became a prison for us, because we could no longer believe in ourselves and our equality with the religious state nature. The newer the religions, the more they made us slaves to other people, religious institutions, and the intangible abstractions we put in power over ourselves. Just as Rousseau knew we could not go back to the state of nature, we cannot go back to the religious state of nature. The only thing we can do is reintroduce animism in the current environment and state we are at, and once again begin to worship the physical world we interact with each day. Just as the general will could only be understood by having regular assemblies, we need to have continual struggles with our current environments, and should worship nothing more than the objects we give souls to around us. These struggles need to seen as something in themselves relating to a particular environment, and if the old beliefs and habits of what benefits us in the physical is not compatible with new environments we should abandon them. Since we cannot get rid of our human made inventions, we can learn to worship them as equals to ourselves too, but always remember that they only have as much power as we choose to give them, and the people we interact with. In other words, we should be the head god in the pantheon in our newly formed techno-animistic worlds (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discourse_on_Inequality).

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Constant changes and their virtue.

I decided to start writing a bit again today after some encouragement from a friend. I used to think I was working toward some kind of grand scale theory, but these days I feel the desire to write a philosophical thought as it happens to come to mind, and if in time those thoughts happen to coalesce into something greater so be it.

Today I am writing about the changing facets of life. The argument I intend to make here is that change in not only inevitable but change is good. We base most of our evolutionary models on the idea that life is always changing. In older western philosophical thought there was this desire to find things constant and objective that we could not understand at the level we normally exist at everyday here and now. I do believe that things in fact have an essence or basic form, but only at the material level we exist at and not on some supernatural level we cannot comprehend. All dogs have a basic form. All trees have a general form. Within each basic and general category there are more specific forms such as a type of species. All humans too have a basic form. All forms exist relative to other forms and because of this we categorize and distinguish them in order to more easily understand them. It is because of these differences there is competition for each form's survival in the world, and it is because of this competition that forms slowly change over time. The forms that fail in their pursuit for survival disappear while the stronger live on. Those forms that change very slowly to many ancients were thought to be constants but they change so slowly that they only appeared that way on the surface. Everything in life is constantly changing into something else even though our senses may not be able to perceive such directly.

The reason this idea is important is because some things change much faster than others and these things are events that take place within our current lives while we are still here. If survival is attained through constant competition then the only way to potentially be the best at something is to observe ourselves relative to others we come into contact with. There are some philosophers who believed we could have true power and control if we spent time alone in the wilderness or a reflective state where we have no other human competition. I take this with a grain of salt on the stance that I agree we have much less competition when in seclusion, but will eventually develop new habits for this environment. I believe Socrates was one of the best philosophers because he continually interacted with the public environment by questioning it and making others ask questions. A philosopher that secludes themselves do have more control in their environment, but when they lack the competition of other humans in certain realms such as intellectual thinking or physical fitness they become sluggish after some time, but in return they may become more productive at other tings. Spending time in public is good and stepping away from it is just as good because they create constant changes. You can see the foreshadowing taking place as combine the word constant with competition and changes.

This works itself into the point I am going toward. The problem with the ancients seeking constants is that a constant lacks competition and without competition there is no desire to become greater at anything, because a constant is already at its destination. I will however argue that there are some kinds of constants that are changing and these constants are the best kind. How can a constant change? I would say the same way water can change to ice or vapor. It is the same way a tree can get stronger or wilt. They remain the same in basic form but they exist different relative to others in their environment, because there were certain constants that were necessary in order to make them change in more specific form. For example the tree regularly needs sunlight and water to survive. These are constants but too much of either would kill the tree just as too little would also. It is the ability of the tree to get the right balance that allows it to be its strongest possible relative to the other trees of its kind. All the trees are competing for resources like water to become stronger but resources are scarce which causes nature to innovate the basic forms of the trees over time to better survive. Those better suited to survive with less or more will fair better in their life and as long as the environment stays the same their offspring will fair that way too who are similar to the parents who survived.

As humans in a “civilized” society there are many kinds of competition too. Resources are just one of many kinds of competition. In a society like this there is an abundance of many resources that cause us to choose to work less where we otherwise would have in nature, but that does not mean many other kinds of competition are not taking place. Just like the example of the tree we are now in a position to choose moderation like limiting our food intake but not so much we become emaciated or too much where we become obese. Food is a constant we need throughout our lives, but in order to eat the right amount to have a certain kind of body that will be desirable to others we have to struggle to control this constant. This is an example of a constant that is always changing. It is changing because as we move through life into different environments the temptations change and well as the availability of foods. This constant changing makes us feel good as long as we have a feeling of control over the constants in our environment. The best way to do this is to put ourselves in environments that are conducive to how we want to be until we develop habits we can carry into other environments, and return to those environments we developed those habits in on occasion to keep them steady. It is the constant changing of environments by choice that keep life interesting and the struggle of maintaining the old habits we prefer that make life feel exciting.

In many cases we have an ideal life that involves ideal people, such as a mate, career, or lifestyle, but when we actually attain these things they eventually become old and dull just as the places we came from, but if we can take constants with us that keep us struggling no matter where we are in most cases we can struggle with these virtuous constants. I call them virtuous because life feels bad without a struggle, and after a struggle we seek another struggle to keep life interesting, but many struggles only cause us pain. The struggles that come with the constants are struggles that are those that produce eustress instead of distress. It is to continually work at being better at the same thing throughout life. I already gave the example of food control. Things we can control at a given place and time and have to struggle to maintain give us a rush on some level when we want to maintain a habit we approve of, and these things we can control on some level help us ignore the things we cannot control in the same environments.

More examples of constants I have found in life are music, art, exercise and intellectual thought. John Stuart Mill argued that the mental pleasures were higher than the physical pleasures. I disagree because things like music, art, and exercise are all physical and we can struggle at these too while receiving great pleasure that can keep reproducing itself. I would also add the argument that the mind and body are connected and the plasticity of the mind changes with actions of the body. We can take on these hobbies and continually try to improve on them over time. As we struggle to improve these things that remain constant but remain a struggle we produce eustress, and these things are constants we in many cases struggle with in private where we have more control of our environment, and then move to compete with them in the public and then back again. This continuous moving of constant habits into changing environments causes stress on the habits to become improved or die off. This constant struggle of habits we approve of is what will keep life exciting even when many of the environments and people we choose become dull and old.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Argumentation as a method of control.

In many cases we tend to think about complex ideas to test how smart we think we are. In a lot of these cases we get so wrapped up in things we forget that life is about people. When it comes down to it everything we do is connected to people, because we too are people. Even the most obscene things and ideas people come up with are tied back to people, and how we are connected to those ideas.

The purpose of my stating this is I have started analyzing different people's argumentation methods. We all like to debate ideas at times, and every person is a political animal. The difference between politics and law to me is that in politics we do not have to answer questions. We only have to give responses. In law we have to give answers to questions. Since people are political animals in many cases we like to create responses to situations instead of providing answers.

In a news show I heard Darwin's great grandson came to America to be a writer. One of the things that stood out to him was how much Americans tend to buy into superstition like astrology. Claiming things occur because of god's will or mysticism without any evidence to base their claims on. This had me pondering a deeper question about human action. If people are willing to put beliefs into ideas they do not have answers to in order to find comfort instead of fear through ignorance in their environments, and more ignorance without valid premise allows them to find comfort, then this observation is likely a survival mechanism. On top of this idea I superimposed the concept of survival of beliefs with no evidence to political debate grounded in the same kinds of beliefs. When I say political debate I do not mean we are speaking about government in everyday life, but that everyday interactions we have are about power and control. They happen so subtle we do not realize it, but in observing argumentation styles I have seen the modern survival of the fittest taking place in competition for social construction of beliefs and ideas that help people maintain self esteem in order to survive in their environments.

The most common argumentation style I have come across in general is averting a rebuttal to a conclusion by creating a new sub-topic, and instead of admitting defeat and/or making a counter-rebuttal, most people tend to create sub-topics out of topics at hand to avoid defeat. They do this in a political manner by changing topics and giving responses that are irrelevant to a matter at hand. The purpose of this defense is because people do not like to see flaws in themselves, and instead of looking at flaws and correcting them, they instead quickly reach for something different they can be right about. An example of this can be I refute a claim such as all apples are red. I state that not all apples are red because I have seen green apples. Instead of admitting defeat a common strategy for someone would be to say, yeah, but there are certain fruits that are all red. This has nothing to do with the topic at hand. It is merely the creation of a subtopic to distract you from the current topic. Of course in real life a debate is much more fast paced and it can be hard to catch this, but my common counter strategy has been to point out for example that other fruits are irrelevant to apples on this topic. In other words, I try pulling them back into topic as much as possible and beat them in the head till they cannot escape anymore.

Another argumentation method I have come across is the changing of definitions to situations instead of accepting situations flaws. I know a person who exists in the future I guess you could say. He only talks about the technology of the future. Everything comes back to people and not just things. We can care about things, but the only reason we care about things is because they can somehow change our relations with people. My belief therefore, is that the reason he lives in the future all the time is because he feels his life sucks now. If he had to live in the now he would not be able to live with himself. He could however change his actions in the now in order to get more control over his current environment, but he took an alternative survival approach, which is to deny the present and live in the future where everything in his life will be better someday. An example of changing the definition of things is when I try calling him on the possibility he may being escapist by always dwelling in the future. He claims that it is just foresight. I point out I have foresight about being an attorney someday, and I am excited about it, but I do not always think about it and talk about it, because I am secure in knowing that future, and O do not dwell in it. I live now and worry about my actions effects on now and the near future. By changing the definition of the same action to one with less negative connotation he could try convincing himself he was not in a world that not ours.

Another argument method is redefining premises when conclusions are proven false. An example of this is when I had a friend claim we should only care about things that give us direct benefits, because indirect benefits are irrelevant. My rebuttal is you cannot separate direct and indirect benefits. He tries making some complex political argument, and I stop him saying the situation you are describing has too many variables and exists at a highly macro level. We should observe such phenomenon at the micro level with less variables, because if it exist there then the same phenomenon must exist at macro levels too with many variables. I tell a story of a guy I worked with who told me about his band during lunch in more detail and much longer than I cared to hear. I could have said I do not care to hear this and hurt his feelings, but I listened because he might not listen to me later when I care about something, or the fact I have to work with him could have caused him to make my work day much harder than it had to be. Listening to the story was an indirect benefit connected to a direct benefit of enjoying work more. Fist he tries changing definition by saying that is a cost, and I respond a cost is an indirect benefit, because costs do not benefit you directly, they benefit you indirectly and connect to something directly beneficial. When he was cornered he claimed he was just trying to say we should focus on things that seem more likely to give us benefits versus trade offs that give us less. That was changing the premise after I put holes in the conclusion. Some people cannot admit they are wrong.

The last argumentation style I found the most interesting. In this one people tend to stay on topic, but they also tend to throw a lot of complex jargon and concepts in the air too. This one takes me longer to pick up on, but once I do I can take the appropriate action. This method is used by people who tend to have a higher level of insecurity in their environments, so they are seeking to gain control of it by adding a lot of nonsense concepts and jargon to the atmosphere in order to create a state of anarchy. Now that there is a bunch of clutter existing with the simple idea you were putting forward anything can go in a state of chaos, and this is where they try to seize control of the environment. These same people tend to like giving advice you do not want, because this too is a method of controlling you in their environment. In many cases they combine these two methods by making things very confusing and then giving you advice with confusing information that is not relevant to the situation at hand, but since all the mechanisms are about control, survival, and power that all connects back to people, this is more about their insecurity around people by showing off their intelligence in a way that make people confused and inferior than actually helping you or coming to a conclusion with valid meaning. My example of this is when I was telling someone I need someone to speak Spanish to if I am going to get better. The response was theta waves are higher when we are younger, and as we age beta waves increase that cause oxidization, and that is why it gets more difficult to learn, and there is music that plays theta waves you can listen to while you learn. This goes on for about five minutes and he finally stops. Then I say, yeeeaaah. I need someone I can speak Spanish too. I was not asking for advice on how to learn in general, or even how I can learn Spanish better. I made a statement explaining exactly what I need. This method was more about control and confusion by making the environment cluttered than helping me.

I guess to sum things up I would say, everything we do is because of people and for survival. Even in our everyday modern world that seems civil we are in combat with nature, and people are part of that nature where our current ideas of how to live are constantly being tested. Things we can test in practice will always be more valid than things we speak of theoretically only. In many cases we like to escape into a world of theory that can never apply to making the way we live each day better. It is purely a distraction that exists to speak of things that are not actually about current situations, but are being used to gain control over people in current situations as a method of survival.