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Tags atheism , epicureanism , hedonism , nihilism , philosophy , stoicism

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Old 25th November 2013, 07:44 PM   #1
Philosofer123
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My Philosophy of Life

Over the past few years, I have formulated my philosophy of life, a 13-page Google Doc that may be found by Googling "Philo Sofer" and clicking on the first link ("My Philosophy by Philo Sofer").

In the first half of the document, I present and defend the following positions: atheism, afterlife skepticism, free will impossibilism, moral skepticism, existential skepticism and negative hedonism. The second half of the document is devoted to ways to achieve and maintain peace of mind.

I have found the entire exercise to be very beneficial personally, and I hope that you will benefit from reading the document.

The purpose of this thread is to solicit feedback so that my philosophy may be improved. I welcome any constructive criticism that you may have.

Enjoy!
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Old 25th November 2013, 08:20 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Philosofer123 View Post
Over the past few years, I have formulated my philosophy of life, a 13-page Google Doc that may be found by Googling "Philo Sofer" and clicking on the first link ("My Philosophy by Philo Sofer").

In the first half of the document, I present and defend the following positions: atheism, afterlife skepticism, free will impossibilism, moral skepticism, existential skepticism and negative hedonism. The second half of the document is devoted to ways to achieve and maintain peace of mind.

I have found the entire exercise to be very beneficial personally, and I hope that you will benefit from reading the document.

The purpose of this thread is to solicit feedback so that my philosophy may be improved. I welcome any constructive criticism that you may have.

Enjoy!
Wake up, eat, do what you have to, eat, sleep.
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Old 25th November 2013, 08:52 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by tsig View Post
Wake up, eat, do what you have to, eat, sleep.
That could just as well apply to a dung beetle. The bit about "do what you have to do" is a bit vague and yet leaves out a lot.
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Old 25th November 2013, 09:12 PM   #4
Akri
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I didn't read it all, but here are some bits that jumped out at me:

Originally Posted by the document
With respect to self-interest in this life, all other goals ultimately reduce to happiness (by repeatedly asking and answering “Why does one want X? For Y. Why does one want Y? (etc.)”)
ETA: Looks like I misread "reduce to happiness" as "reduce happiness". Feel free to skip this section.

I disagree that having other goals reduces happiness. I've found that my happiness increases when I have a goal that I am able to meet. Meanwhile if my only goal is "be happy" then I can't fulfill it, because I don't know how to simply make myself happy. Happiness is an emotion I feel in response to certain stimuli (such as accomplishing a difficult task). I can't tell myself "be happy", but I can set up goals which, when met, will result in my being happy.


Quote:
The most effective way of which I am aware to achieve and maintain happiness is to aim for the achievement and maintenance of peace of mind
o I define “peace of mind” as the absence of significant negative emotions, while still retaining one’s mental faculties
Why is it important to maintain one's mental faculties if the goal is simply to be happy?

Quote:
o Peace of mind is sufficient for happiness
Peace of mind entails that one is content
If one were not content, one would have significant negative emotions, which precludes peace of mind
How are peace of mind and contentment different? Because it looks like you've defined them the same way, thus making this entire bit of reasoning a waste of time.

Quote:
o Peace of mind is the best enduring state of mind to which one can reasonably aspire
 This is because emotions that feel better than contentment are temporary in nature
Why do you assume that contentment can be permanent, while other emotions can't be?

Quote:
I define “positive emotion” as any emotion that feels pleasurable.
Emotions can be pleasurable and not pleasurable at the same time, so this definition is going to give you trouble.

Quote:
o Atheism eliminates negative emotions (such as fear and anger) directed toward God
o Afterlife skepticism eliminates fear of an unpleasant afterlife, and fear of ghosts
o Free will impossibilism eliminates a whole range of negative emotions, including guilt, regret, shame, remorse, indignation, anger, disgust, outrage, resentment, contempt and hatred
None of those things eliminate negative emotions. They simply make the emotions irrational. But rational emotions still happen all the time, and it can take quite a bit of work to get deal with them. Simply knowing that the emotion is irrational might be enough to prevent you from acting on the emotion, but it will not be sufficient to prevent you from experiencing the emotion.

Quote:
However, with respect to one’s own past actions that may have hurt others, one may still apologize, attempt to rectify the situation, and vow to act differently in the future.
But if you don't believe in free will isn't this a completely empty vow? Then again if you reject morality then there's no reason to be opposed to lying to people. But then AGAIN if you don't care about deceiving people, then why would you care about apologizing for having hurt them in the past?

Quote:
Cultivating self-sufficiency and emotional detachment promotes peace of mind
Detaching yourself emotionally in order to achieve peace of mind seems a bit like cutting off a limb in order to keep the limb from feeling pain.

Quote:
 Cultivating friendships promotes peace of mind
So we should be emotionally detached, but cultivate friendships. Right. And we do this how, exactly?

Last edited by Akri; 25th November 2013 at 10:40 PM.
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Old 25th November 2013, 09:43 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Akri View Post
I didn't read it all, but here are some bits that jumped out at me: (snip)
I didn't read very much either, being a bit busy. But I think you misread something at the beginning. It's "reduce to happiness" not "reduce happiness." In other words, I think he's saying that if you do the right things for the right reasons you'll end up happy without having sought it. Well, I hope that's what he means anyway.

If I have time I'll try to read the thing, though I tend not to be too crazy about such dissertations and suspect that a more thorough reading of others might make it unnecessary, as well as suspecting that such writings are best used for one's own clarity of mind and filed away rather than posted....but I'm willing to give it a shot.

In the matter mentioned above, it's pretty likely that one of us is right and the other wrong, and given the few who have responded, I would suggest that Filo might need to work on unambiguous wording.
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Old 25th November 2013, 09:50 PM   #6
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I'm not able to read through it all right now, but I notice that you are a moral skeptic and have put Mackie and Garner in your recommended reading list.

Perhaps you will be able to help out Wowbagger on another thread as he is going to argue against that position in a debate coming soon, but he doesn't understand the argument yet.

http://www.internationalskeptics.com...d.php?t=268964
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Old 25th November 2013, 10:23 PM   #7
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I glanced through the text a bit and have a couple of things to add.

One is that it's probably too dense and long for most people.

Another is that although peace of mind is a grand thing to cultivate and would agree it's a major goal, it is not always compatible with the kind of thoreauvian simplicity that seems to be advocated here. Living can be complicated, and doing what you think needs to be done may not be so simple or so easily calculated as to cost benefit.

finally, as to recommended reading, I notice Epicureans but no Stoics. I would add Epictetus' Enchiridion to the list. It's short, and it has two handles.
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Old 25th November 2013, 10:40 PM   #8
Akri
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Originally Posted by bruto View Post
I didn't read very much either, being a bit busy. But I think you misread something at the beginning. It's "reduce to happiness" not "reduce happiness." In other words, I think he's saying that if you do the right things for the right reasons you'll end up happy without having sought it. Well, I hope that's what he means anyway.
You're right, I did misread that. Thanks for the correction.
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Old 26th November 2013, 12:28 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
That could just as well apply to a dung beetle. ......



<--------



It strikes me as rather odd that a person's very first post on a forum is a link to something he has written elsewhere, but I hope this doesn't follow the normal pattern. I'll assume this is a genuine request for feedback. If so......





.......you'll adjust YOUR philosophy to account for OUR comments? Really? Is that not an implicit admission that it isn't yours (ie applying to your life)?

Last edited by MikeG; 26th November 2013 at 12:33 AM.
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Old 26th November 2013, 07:01 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
That could just as well apply to a dung beetle. The bit about "do what you have to do" is a bit vague and yet leaves out a lot.
So?
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Old 26th November 2013, 07:36 AM   #11
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It's YOUR life -- it's not ours. It is not up to us to critique it because our cultures and our lives and our needs are much different than yours.

Things that are significant to me are not significant to you, and vice-versa.
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Old 26th November 2013, 07:50 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Philosofer123 View Post
Over the past few years, I have formulated my philosophy of life, a 13-page Google Doc that may be found by Googling "Philo Sofer" and clicking on the first link ("My Philosophy by Philo Sofer").

In the first half of the document, I present and defend the following positions: atheism, afterlife skepticism, free will impossibilism, moral skepticism, existential skepticism and negative hedonism. The second half of the document is devoted to ways to achieve and maintain peace of mind.

I have found the entire exercise to be very beneficial personally, and I hope that you will benefit from reading the document.

The purpose of this thread is to solicit feedback so that my philosophy may be improved. I welcome any constructive criticism that you may have.

Enjoy!
This seems similar to a stoic attitude, which is fine, except it won't do for artists, and others -- including those who want to live with heightened emotions -- such as those who want to embrace tragedy -- or those like Proust or Nietzsche who want to use their suffering as raw material, or those who simply have no choice. Here I mean choice in the ordinary sense, not the philosophical sense.

I've only had time to read the first five pages or so, and skim the rest.

Sure, no gods, no afterlife.

When it comes to Free Will, I'm a Compatibilist, following Dennett.

Sure, no objective moral facts from On High, but morality as a mix of common sense, anthropology, and consequentialism. The last part for the exceptional or interesting dilemmas, and maybe even garden-variety personal choices, too.

Sure, existential skepticism.

I don't like your section on Death very much. Here Epicurus has the last word:
Quote:
Death does not concern us, because as long as we exist, death is not here. And when it does come, we no longer exist.
It's important to distinguish between first-person (or subjective or internal) perspective and third-person (or objective or external) perspective.

From first person perspective, there is no deprivation, no endless blackness, no Nothingness, even. It's hard to put the absence of anything into language.

From a subjective (first person) point of view, we might as well be immortal, except that that way of saying it ignores the aging process and the suffering before death, so it doesn't help all that much. Hit middle age, and you're aware that you're dying, slowly.

From the external pov, we see the people we love suffer and die, and we see everything we've loved -- except for math -- destroyed. So life has a built-in pathos.

Calling something "rational" or "irrational" isn't the last word -- how much we value rationality is an open question, too.

Peace of mind, equanimity, sure, but the problem here is distinguishing between different levels of experience and self-observation. I, for one, am happier if I don't attempt to be happy directly. That is, I'm happier if I allow for unhappiness and discontent as part of my life.

And, as one's faculties wear down, one will have to give up one's control, one's equanimity. One will become querulous, childlike, foolish.

There isn't some project of "achieving peace of mind" that will settle everything once and for all. Realizing this makes me happier.

Very Important Point: There isn't really something called a "positive" or a "negative" state of mind. There isn't some process of addition or subtraction, and there's no need for some way of looking at things that assigns those values to different feelings. "Positive" and "negative" are language cliches.

For example, there's "laughing and crying" -- at the same time. Is that a positive or a negative state of mind?

There are times of creativity and times of bovine oblivion. Which times are better?

The problem with all attempts at rational psychology is that -- when the rubber meets the road -- values are somewhat arbitrary and we can't decide particular cases. Take the philosophy of Kant -- look at his particular prescriptions for policies. Some are absurd.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Moral-Fool.../dp/0231145098

For some criticism of Kant that I found stimulating, see:

_The Moral Fool_ by Hans-Georg Moeller.


So, everything you've said is reasonable enough in a limited sort of way, but don't trot this stuff out in an argument with your lover, and certainly don't believe that we can choose as if choosing for the whole world -- without a lot of casuistry.

When I say that I have problems with top-down reasoning such as this -- when the rubber meets the road -- I'm thinking of, in particular, sections like this:

Quote:
 Certain daily habits promote peace of mind

o Relaxing while listening to music

o Enjoying the outdoors

o Conversing with a friend

o Meditating

o Practicing gratitude (reminding oneself of those things for which one feels fortunate)

o Reading and pondering philosophy

o Sleeping in a cool room (helps reduce the incidence of stressful dreams)
----------------------------------

Not bad, not good, not interesting, somewhat comical.

You might as well say: -- avoid hot and cold beverages -- avoid tight clothing.

etc.

Sure, observe "negative" emotions with a view to ameliorating them, but: What if you can't? Embrace them fully? Breathe, in and out?

This way of looking at things would make me far less happy than I am.

--------------------------------------

Your "realizations and psychological methods" might simply be the result of your psychological needs -- and strengths and weaknesses -- and not a method that will work for everyone, all the time.

Me, I wanna be a little cray-cray.

Last edited by calebprime; 26th November 2013 at 07:54 AM.
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Old 26th November 2013, 04:49 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by tsig View Post
So?
So your prescription is worthless.
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Old 26th November 2013, 04:50 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by MikeG View Post
<--------
Ha ha! Yes, I think your avatar did pop into my mind as I typed that response.
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Old 27th November 2013, 12:16 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by MikeG View Post
It strikes me as rather odd that a person's very first post on a forum is a link to something he has written elsewhere, but I hope this doesn't follow the normal pattern. I'll assume this is a genuine request for feedback.
The non-return of the OP suggests that I was being overly optimistic. At least not many put in the effort that Calebprime did.
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Old 27th November 2013, 01:09 PM   #16
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Akri, thank you for a very thoughtful critique of parts of my philosophy. You make some interesting and valid points. Let me try to do my best to respond to your comments:

Originally Posted by Akri View Post
Why is it important to maintain one's mental faculties if the goal is simply to be happy?
If I did not include retaining one's mental faculties in the definition of peace of mind, then one could achieve peace of mind (now simply defined as the absence of significant negative emotions) by, for example, knocking oneself unconscious. Also, many of the psychological methods in the document for maintaining peace of mind require a certain level of cognitive functioning to be effective. Finally, generating positive emotions by reflecting on the fact that one is not currently experiencing negative emotions (see near top of page 6) requires a certain level of self-awareness and self-reflection.

Originally Posted by Akri View Post
How are peace of mind and contentment different? Because it looks like you've defined them the same way, thus making this entire bit of reasoning a waste of time.
In my view, peace of mind is both necessary and sufficient for contentment. I felt that some argument was required to establish this non-obvious conclusion, which is why I spent time on formulating those arguments.


Originally Posted by Akri View Post
Why do you assume that contentment can be permanent, while other emotions can't be?
I know that contentment can be lasting because I myself have maintained a state of contentment for long stretches of time. I am not aware of anyone who is in a continual state of joy or bliss, and I believe that it is generally accepted in the psychology community that such strong positive emotions are temporary in nature.


Originally Posted by Akri View Post
Emotions can be pleasurable and not pleasurable at the same time, so this definition is going to give you trouble.
I think that it is generally accepted that a number of emotions are purely pleasurable, such as those listed on the middle of page 6. But I see your point. Perhaps the definition should read "purely pleasurable" rather than simply "pleasurable".


Originally Posted by Akri View Post
None of those things eliminate negative emotions. They simply make the emotions irrational. But rational emotions still happen all the time, and it can take quite a bit of work to get deal with them. Simply knowing that the emotion is irrational might be enough to prevent you from acting on the emotion, but it will not be sufficient to prevent you from experiencing the emotion.
Good point, Akri. I really should say that these things render such emotions irrational, which as you point out, does not necessarily eliminate them.

Originally Posted by Akri View Post
But if you don't believe in free will isn't this a completely empty vow? Then again if you reject morality then there's no reason to be opposed to lying to people. But then AGAIN if you don't care about deceiving people, then why would you care about apologizing for having hurt them in the past?
One may still vow to act a certain way--and carry out one's vows--in the absence of ultimate responsibility. Please note that I do not deny that we have compatibilist free will.

I would apologize to make the individual feel better, which may benefit me through my feelings of empathy for that individual.

Originally Posted by Akri View Post
Detaching yourself emotionally in order to achieve peace of mind seems a bit like cutting off a limb in order to keep the limb from feeling pain.
Interesting point, but it does not counter my claim that emotional detachment promotes peace of mind. Many of my recommendations for reducing or eliminating negative emotions may also reduce or eliminate positive emotions. But as I argue, peace of mind is sufficient for happiness, and it is the most effective way of which I am aware to achieve and maintain happiness.

Originally Posted by Akri View Post
So we should be emotionally detached, but cultivate friendships. Right. And we do this how, exactly?
I agree that there is a tension between emotional detachment and cultivating true friendships. But that does not counter my claims that each of these methods individually promote peace of mind.

Again, Akri, thank you for your thoughtful critique. I look forward to any additional comments or questions that you may have.
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Old 27th November 2013, 01:11 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by bruto View Post
finally, as to recommended reading, I notice Epicureans but no Stoics. I would add Epictetus' Enchiridion to the list. It's short, and it has two handles.
In fact, I have recommended several Stoic books, including the Enchiridion, on page 12.
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Old 27th November 2013, 01:16 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by MikeG View Post
<--------



It strikes me as rather odd that a person's very first post on a forum is a link to something he has written elsewhere, but I hope this doesn't follow the normal pattern. I'll assume this is a genuine request for feedback. If so......





.......you'll adjust YOUR philosophy to account for OUR comments? Really? Is that not an implicit admission that it isn't yours (ie applying to your life)?
Yes, I am looking to improve the document, so others' feedback may well result in changes to the document. In fact, I may make a couple of modifications based on Akri's feedback. That said, the philosophy is still my own, and applies to my life.
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Old 27th November 2013, 01:18 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by bruto View Post

Another is that although peace of mind is a grand thing to cultivate and would agree it's a major goal, it is not always compatible with the kind of thoreauvian simplicity that seems to be advocated here.
While living two miles away from the family home.
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Old 27th November 2013, 02:52 PM   #20
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Calebprime, thank you for your extended comments.

Originally Posted by calebprime View Post
This seems similar to a stoic attitude, which is fine, except it won't do for artists, and others -- including those who want to live with heightened emotions -- such as those who want to embrace tragedy -- or those like Proust or Nietzsche who want to use their suffering as raw material, or those who simply have no choice. Here I mean choice in the ordinary sense, not the philosophical sense.
I argue in the document that peace of mind (the absence of significant negative emotions) is sufficient for contentment. And if one is content, then one has no desire or need to experience positive emotions, but rather just a preference.

As a personal aside, I would characterize my disposition as Epicurean, rather than Stoic. That said, the document contains a number of Stoic techniques for maintaining peace of mind.


Originally Posted by calebprime View Post
When it comes to Free Will, I'm a Compatibilist, following Dennett.
The regress argument in the free will impossibilism section of the document demonstrates that ultimate responsibility is impossible, which renders irrational a number of negative emotions, including anger and regret. This is why I define free will in terms of ultimate responsibility.

Originally Posted by calebprime View Post
Sure, no objective moral facts from On High, but morality as a mix of common sense, anthropology, and consequentialism. The last part for the exceptional or interesting dilemmas, and maybe even garden-variety personal choices, too.
The lack of objective moral facts (the way I characterize them) supports negative hedonism, as it eliminates a competitor to happiness as an ultimate goal; namely, "act in accordance with objective morality".

Originally Posted by calebprime View Post
I don't like your section on Death very much. Here Epicurus has the last word:

It's important to distinguish between first-person (or subjective or internal) perspective and third-person (or objective or external) perspective.

From first person perspective, there is no deprivation, no endless blackness, no Nothingness, even. It's hard to put the absence of anything into language.

From a subjective (first person) point of view, we might as well be immortal, except that that way of saying it ignores the aging process and the suffering before death, so it doesn't help all that much. Hit middle age, and you're aware that you're dying, slowly.

From the external pov, we see the people we love suffer and die, and we see everything we've loved -- except for math -- destroyed. So life has a built-in pathos.
I actually use Epicurean arguments in the "Death" section of the document in order to establish that it is irrational to fear death. That said, I believe that death (defined as the ending of the dying process) is harmful, and nothing you have said counters what is in the document to support this contention.

Originally Posted by calebprime View Post
Peace of mind, equanimity, sure, but the problem here is distinguishing between different levels of experience and self-observation. I, for one, am happier if I don't attempt to be happy directly. That is, I'm happier if I allow for unhappiness and discontent as part of my life.
I don't buy into that type of paradoxical thinking. It is clear to me that there are a number of direct methods that will make one happier than one would otherwise be, and the document contains a number of these methods.

Originally Posted by calebprime View Post
And, as one's faculties wear down, one will have to give up one's control, one's equanimity. One will become querulous, childlike, foolish.
This does not invalidate the pursuit of happiness while one still has one's faculties.

Originally Posted by calebprime View Post
There isn't some project of "achieving peace of mind" that will settle everything once and for all. Realizing this makes me happier.
Why does that realization make you happier?

Originally Posted by calebprime View Post
Very Important Point: There isn't really something called a "positive" or a "negative" state of mind. There isn't some process of addition or subtraction, and there's no need for some way of looking at things that assigns those values to different feelings. "Positive" and "negative" are language cliches.

For example, there's "laughing and crying" -- at the same time. Is that a positive or a negative state of mind?

There are times of creativity and times of bovine oblivion. Which times are better?
I never claimed that there are "positive" or "negative" states of mind, only positive and negative emotions. And I define "positive" and "negative" in terms of what feels pleasurable or uncomfortable, not in terms of mathematical quantities.

Originally Posted by calebprime View Post
When I say that I have problems with top-down reasoning such as this -- when the rubber meets the road -- I'm thinking of, in particular, sections like this:


----------------------------------

Not bad, not good, not interesting, somewhat comical.

You might as well say: -- avoid hot and cold beverages -- avoid tight clothing.

etc.
The quote you cite is rather unimportant in the context of my overall philosophy. It is also the most idiosyncratic section.

Originally Posted by calebprime View Post
Sure, observe "negative" emotions with a view to ameliorating them, but: What if you can't? Embrace them fully? Breathe, in and out?
The document provides a number of methods of dealing with negative emotions that, for whatever reason, you are unable to ameliorate, including: elimination of judgments, realization that change is the only constant, recognition of triviality, and dichotomy of control. These methods will prevent one from suffering in virtue of the fact that one is currently experiencing a negative emotion.

Originally Posted by calebprime View Post
This way of looking at things would make me far less happy than I am.
Why?

--------------------------------------

Originally Posted by calebprime View Post
Your "realizations and psychological methods" might simply be the result of your psychological needs -- and strengths and weaknesses -- and not a method that will work for everyone, all the time.
Most of the methods are based on taking a broader perspective on one's situation, and so should be generally applicable. That said, while I aspire to objectivity, I realize that not everyone will benefit from attempting to follow my advice. This does not bother me, as the primary purpose of the document is to advise myself on how to live well.
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Old 27th November 2013, 03:04 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Philosofer123 View Post
In fact, I have recommended several Stoic books, including the Enchiridion, on page 12.
Sorry, must have missed that. Good.
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Old 27th November 2013, 04:25 PM   #22
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Good answers.

I'll think about this some more, and read some more of your text.

The basic answer to your "Why" question, I think, is that I find happiness in excited states of mind rather than contented ones.

Contentment tends to feel sort of dead and sad to me.

Omne animal post coitum triste, as my homies say.

The conventional wisdom -- who knows, maybe the only wisdom -- is that as we age, the happiness of contentment replaces the happiness of excitement.

By excitement, I don't mean: Strobe lights, or snorting cocaine off the snout of an alligator, or power*, or even danger. Nor Nazis in stylish polished leather boots.

(Although, who knows, I wouldn't rule that stuff out for others, only me.)

I mean the excitement of the mind working at its peak, or ecstatic self-forgetting in the presence of art.

A sorta Schopenhauerian, Nietzschian kinda thing.

More later.

============

* here meaning political, personal, monetary, or physical power
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Old 27th November 2013, 04:45 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by calebprime View Post
The basic answer to your "Why" question, I think, is that I find happiness in excited states of mind rather than contented ones.

Contentment tends to feel sort of dead and sad to me.
If you feel dead and sad, then you are not really content.

That said, to go beyond contentment sometimes involves excited states of mind, such as joy.

So, in my view, both contentment and certain exited states of mind (such as joy) count as happiness.
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Old 28th November 2013, 09:07 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by Philosofer123 View Post
Akri, thank you for a very thoughtful critique of parts of my philosophy.
You're welcome

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If I did not include retaining one's mental faculties in the definition of peace of mind, then one could achieve peace of mind (now simply defined as the absence of significant negative emotions) by, for example, knocking oneself unconscious.
You say that as if knocking ones' self unconscious is necessarily a bad thing, yet I don't see anything in your philosophy (which I admit to not having read all of, so I may have missed a relevant bit) that would make losing ones' mental faculties a bad thing. You've declared it bad here, but it seems to me that you haven't actually explored why it should be bad in order to work that reasoning into your philosophy.

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Also, many of the psychological methods in the document for maintaining peace of mind require a certain level of cognitive functioning to be effective.
But if the ultimate goal is peace of mind, and a person can achieve that piece of mind via the loss of their mental faculties, then what does it matter if they are unable to use some of the methods you suggest?

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Finally, generating positive emotions by reflecting on the fact that one is not currently experiencing negative emotions (see near top of page 6) requires a certain level of self-awareness and self-reflection.
You defined peace of mind as simply the absence of significant negative emotion. The ability to ponder this lack of negative emotions never entered into it.


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In my view, peace of mind is both necessary and sufficient for contentment. I felt that some argument was required to establish this non-obvious conclusion, which is why I spent time on formulating those arguments.
This does not answer my question at all. The question was "how are peace of mind and contentment different?"

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I know that contentment can be lasting because I myself have maintained a state of contentment for long stretches of time. I am not aware of anyone who is in a continual state of joy or bliss, and I believe that it is generally accepted in the psychology community that such strong positive emotions are temporary in nature.
Alright. But why does it matter that other emotions are more temporary than contentment? Does something bad happen if I constantly aspire to be happy, but spend most of the time being content with only brief spikes of more positive emotions?

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One may still vow to act a certain way--and carry out one's vows--in the absence of ultimate responsibility. Please note that I do not deny that we have compatibilist free will.
Alright then.

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Interesting point, but it does not counter my claim that emotional detachment promotes peace of mind.
That's because I wasn't trying to counter that claim. I was trying to point out that, to me, the loss of emotional attachment is not in any way worth the peace of mind gained.

Additionally, I'm not sure that true emotional detachment grants peace of mind. That's something I would associate with mental illness (both because some mental illnesses can cause that state, and because some people with mental illness will seek out that state as a coping mechanism), rather than with a healthy state of mind.

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I agree that there is a tension between emotional detachment and cultivating true friendships. But that does not counter my claims that each of these methods individually promote peace of mind.
So you're simply offering each of those as ways to achieve the end goal, and not saying that both should be done?
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Old 28th November 2013, 10:55 AM   #25
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Akri, thanks again for your thoughtful feedback. I appreciate your continued engagement with my philosophy.

Originally Posted by Akri View Post
You say that as if knocking ones' self unconscious is necessarily a bad thing, yet I don't see anything in your philosophy (which I admit to not having read all of, so I may have missed a relevant bit) that would make losing ones' mental faculties a bad thing. You've declared it bad here, but it seems to me that you haven't actually explored why it should be bad in order to work that reasoning into your philosophy.
Recall that happiness is the ultimate goal (for reasons provided in the document), and that peace of mind is just the most effective way of which I am aware to achieve that goal. And one cannot be unconscious and happy at the same time. Therefore, knocking oneself unconscious (to achieve peace of mind) would thwart the ultimate goal for which one is striving (happiness).


Originally Posted by Akri View Post
But if the ultimate goal is peace of mind, and a person can achieve that piece of mind via the loss of their mental faculties, then what does it matter if they are unable to use some of the methods you suggest?
Good point (though remember that the ultimate goal is happiness, not peace of mind). I would just note that in practice, one would not be able to know that one will achieve happiness via the loss of one's mental faculties. And since losing one's mental faculties would preclude a number of methods to maintain peace of mind (and through this, to maintain happiness), the ex ante tradeoff in practice would not be worth it.

Originally Posted by Akri View Post
You defined peace of mind as simply the absence of significant negative emotion. The ability to ponder this lack of negative emotions never entered into it.
Again, the ultimate goal is happiness. By losing one's mental faculties, one may lose the ability to self-reflect on one's lack of negative emotions (and to be happier as a result).

Originally Posted by Akri View Post
This does not answer my question at all. The question was "how are peace of mind and contentment different?"
Peace of mind is the absence of significant negative emotions, and contentment is being satisfied with one's situation. My arguments show that peace of mind is both necessary and sufficient for contentment, which is a non-obvious conclusion.


Originally Posted by Akri View Post
Alright. But why does it matter that other emotions are more temporary than contentment? Does something bad happen if I constantly aspire to be happy, but spend most of the time being content with only brief spikes of more positive emotions?
Nothing bad happens in that situation. But that does not refute anything in my philosophy.

Originally Posted by Akri View Post
That's because I wasn't trying to counter that claim. I was trying to point out that, to me, the loss of emotional attachment is not in any way worth the peace of mind gained.
You appear to be saying that the loss of emotional attachment would result in fewer positive emotions, which would be worth more to you than the negative emotions that would be eliminated from the loss of emotional attachment. But if one has peace of mind, then one is content and therefore does not feel the need or desire for positive emotions. By contrast, with emotional attachment, one may not be content for much of the time due to the negative emotions associated with emotional attachment.

Originally Posted by Akri View Post
Additionally, I'm not sure that true emotional detachment grants peace of mind. That's something I would associate with mental illness (both because some mental illnesses can cause that state, and because some people with mental illness will seek out that state as a coping mechanism), rather than with a healthy state of mind.
Remember that peace of mind is defined simply as the absence of significant negative emotions. Almost by definition, emotional dettachment would reduce or eliminate certain types of negative emotions. If you are arguing that emotional detachment would cause other types of negative emotions, then please elaborate. Merely "associating" emotional detachment with mental illness does not show anything.

Originally Posted by Akri View Post
So you're simply offering each of those as ways to achieve the end goal, and not saying that both should be done?
Almost. I am saying that each of those promotes peace of mind. What I do not explicitly say is that in some cases, one must choose between them, and I do not provide explicit advice on how to choose. I would examine each case of potential good friendships, try to determine how beneficial each potential friendship is expected to be, and allow emotional attachment when the expected benefits of the potential friendship outweigh the expected costs of emotional attachment. Perhaps easier said than done, but I believe that this is the best way to go about it.

Again, thank you for your detailed comments and searching questions. Please feel free to critique other parts of my philosophy as well.
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Old 2nd December 2013, 08:09 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by Philosofer123 View Post
Recall that happiness is the ultimate goal (for reasons provided in the document), and that peace of mind is just the most effective way of which I am aware to achieve that goal. And one cannot be unconscious and happy at the same time. Therefore, knocking oneself unconscious (to achieve peace of mind) would thwart the ultimate goal for which one is striving (happiness).
Alright. What about being on drugs? Drugs impede ones' mental faculties, but they can make the user happy.

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Nothing bad happens in that situation. But that does not refute anything in my philosophy.
You said we should aspire to peace of mind rather than more positive emotions. But if nothing bad comes from aspiring to the positive emotions then why not do so? Isn't happiness the ultimate goal?

Quote:
You appear to be saying that the loss of emotional attachment would result in fewer positive emotions, which would be worth more to you than the negative emotions that would be eliminated from the loss of emotional attachment. But if one has peace of mind, then one is content and therefore does not feel the need or desire for positive emotions.
Assuming that one can achieve peace of mind through emotional detachment. I don't accept this assumption to be universally true. It certainly isn't true for the people I know with dissociative disorders.

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Remember that peace of mind is defined simply as the absence of significant negative emotions. Almost by definition, emotional dettachment would reduce or eliminate certain types of negative emotions. If you are arguing that emotional detachment would cause other types of negative emotions, then please elaborate. Merely "associating" emotional detachment with mental illness does not show anything.
Research dissociative disorders. Or look up the studies done on how the lack of emotions impedes even simple decision-making (without being emotionally attached to either outcome people are unable to make choices). Or talk to someone who has severe clinical depression (after a certain point with depression you stop caring about anything).
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Old 2nd December 2013, 10:58 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by Akri View Post
Alright. What about being on drugs? Drugs impede ones' mental faculties, but they can make the user happy.
As I am sure you know, getting hooked on drugs has a number of negative consequences that can disturb one's mind. However, hypothetically speaking, if a "wonder drug" existed that makes one happy and has no adverse side effects (including addiction or any side effect that would harm those for whom I have empathy), then I would have no problem with it. But remember my claim: aiming for peace of mind is the most effective way of which I am aware to achieve and maintain happiness. I am not aware of any wonder drugs.

Originally Posted by Akri View Post
You said we should aspire to peace of mind rather than more positive emotions. But if nothing bad comes from aspiring to the positive emotions then why not do so? Isn't happiness the ultimate goal?
I said that aspiring to peace of mind is the most effective way of which I am aware to achieve and maintain happiness. At the same time, I note that positive emotions can make one feel even better, and that prudence and moderation are the keys to enjoying them. But "aspiring" to feel positive emotions all the time is an unrealistic goal, and one is a recipe for disappointment. Also, "aspiring" to feel positive emotions all the time may result in bad decisions (such as taking drugs) that will produce positive emotions in the short term, but may disturb one's mind in the longer term.

Originally Posted by Akri View Post
Assuming that one can achieve peace of mind through emotional detachment. I don't accept this assumption to be universally true. It certainly isn't true for the people I know with dissociative disorders.
I see no reason why one cannot achieve peace of mind through emotional detachment. To frame it as a question, what negative emotion does emotional detachment necessarily cause?

Originally Posted by Akri View Post
Research dissociative disorders. Or look up the studies done on how the lack of emotions impedes even simple decision-making (without being emotionally attached to either outcome people are unable to make choices). Or talk to someone who has severe clinical depression (after a certain point with depression you stop caring about anything).
Dissociative disorders and depression in involve other negative states of mind that are not related to emotional detachment. And emotional detachment is not the same as "lack of emotions". My philosophy allows for positive emotions.
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Old 2nd December 2013, 11:48 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by Philosofer123 View Post
As I am sure you know, getting hooked on drugs has a number of negative consequences that can disturb one's mind.
Yes. But while you're on the drug you're happy and don't care about the negative effects. When the drug wears off you take more. Near-constant happiness without caring about the negative side affects. Which means near-constant peace of mind as well. If your ultimate goal is simply to be happy then there's no reason to object to this way of doing things. In fact this may be the best way to achieve happiness.

After all, happiness is simply your brain releasing certain chemicals that make you feel good. Since your goal is simply the releasing of these chemicals drugs is a pretty good way to go about it.

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I see no reason why one cannot achieve peace of mind through emotional detachment. To frame it as a question, what negative emotion does emotional detachment necessarily cause?
It causes the lack of emotions, which is in no way the same as peace of mind, and it certainly does not lead to happiness.

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Dissociative disorders and depression in involve other negative states of mind that are not related to emotional detachment. And emotional detachment is not the same as "lack of emotions". My philosophy allows for positive emotions.
How will you experience positive emotions if you are emotionally detached? Where will these positive emotions come from? What will trigger them? You're not going to use drugs, so what will you use? You won't derive happiness from friends, family, or pets, because you have no emotional attachment to any of them.

And dissociative disorders cause emotional detachment, which is very distressing for the sufferers. If you think that the emotional detachment aspects of dissociative disorders and depression have nothing to do with why those conditions are problematic then you clearly haven't done any research on the topic.
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Old 2nd December 2013, 12:26 PM   #29
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You appear to be looking at this from the perspective of "What can I remove from life to make it better?" Let's spin that around: Let's say you were a human conciousness in an oyster that experienced constant, never-ending orgasm. Oysters have no real choices in life--they are non-cephalized benthic, sessile filter feeders. Would you consider that a good life? If not, why not?
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Old 2nd December 2013, 02:51 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by Akri View Post
Yes. But while you're on the drug you're happy and don't care about the negative effects. When the drug wears off you take more. Near-constant happiness without caring about the negative side affects. Which means near-constant peace of mind as well. If your ultimate goal is simply to be happy then there's no reason to object to this way of doing things. In fact this may be the best way to achieve happiness.

After all, happiness is simply your brain releasing certain chemicals that make you feel good. Since your goal is simply the releasing of these chemicals drugs is a pretty good way to go about it.
In practice, this does not work. Most drug addicts experience severe and chronic negative emotions, for a variety of reasons related to their drug addiction and the problems it causes.


Originally Posted by Akri View Post
It causes the lack of emotions, which is in no way the same as peace of mind, and it certainly does not lead to happiness.

How will you experience positive emotions if you are emotionally detached? Where will these positive emotions come from? What will trigger them? You're not going to use drugs, so what will you use? You won't derive happiness from friends, family, or pets, because you have no emotional attachment to any of them.
Again, emotional detachment is not equivalent to the lack of emotions, and it does not cause a complete lack of emotions. I can be emotionally detached and still enjoy such positive emotions as gratitude (simply feeling fortunate that I am alive and well), amusement, wonder, and serenity, among others.

Originally Posted by Akri View Post
And dissociative disorders cause emotional detachment, which is very distressing for the sufferers. If you think that the emotional detachment aspects of dissociative disorders and depression have nothing to do with why those conditions are problematic then you clearly haven't done any research on the topic.
Then perhaps you can enlighten me and explain why emotional detachment itself--as opposed to dissociative disorders or depression--is "distressing", as you claim. Keep in mind that one does not have to suffer from a dissociative disorder or depression to cultivate emotional detachment.
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Old 2nd December 2013, 02:59 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by Dinwar View Post
You appear to be looking at this from the perspective of "What can I remove from life to make it better?" Let's spin that around: Let's say you were a human conciousness in an oyster that experienced constant, never-ending orgasm. Oysters have no real choices in life--they are non-cephalized benthic, sessile filter feeders. Would you consider that a good life? If not, why not?
Yes. And if you disagree, please explain.

But let me add that I would not choose to become a joyful-human-consciousness-in-an-oyster, solely because this would likely harm those for whom I have empathy, including family and close friends. Facing such a choice would constitute one of those extreme hypothetical situations (such as Nozick's Experience Machine) where empathetic feelings would not be adequately incorporated into one's state of mind.
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Old 2nd December 2013, 05:44 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by Philosofer123 View Post
Again, emotional detachment is not equivalent to the lack of emotions, and it does not cause a complete lack of emotions. I can be emotionally detached and still enjoy such positive emotions as gratitude (simply feeling fortunate that I am alive and well), amusement, wonder, and serenity, among others.
Why would you feel fortunate that you're alive and well if you're not emotionally attached to your life? Actually why would you want to be alive at all if you're emotionally detached? Why would you care?

Also, I find it interesting that you didn't list happiness among the amotions you expect to achieve while emotionally detached, and instead relegate it to the "among others" section. I would think that your ultimate goal would make the start of the list, or at least be worth mentioning explicitly. Especially since I specifically challenged the notion that you could be happy without any emotional attachment to things from which you could derive such happiness.

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Then perhaps you can enlighten me and explain why emotional detachment itself--as opposed to dissociative disorders or depression--is "distressing", as you claim.
Because human beings need emotion to function properly. Emotional attachment is an important part of how we make decisions and interact socially. Being emotionally detached doesn't simply mean that you don't feel negative emotions, it means you don't care about anything because caring is a type of attachment. And if you don't care about anything you can't function properly, because that kind of emotional attachment is a necessary part of human decision-making. But even if you could make proper decisions you wouldn't want to, because emotional detachment means you don't care if you're making proper decisions.

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Old 2nd December 2013, 06:23 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by Akri View Post
Why would you feel fortunate that you're alive and well if you're not emotionally attached to your life? Actually why would you want to be alive at all if you're emotionally detached? Why would you care?
I would care to be alive because I care about being happy. Emotional detachment, in the context of the document, refers primarily to detachment from other people. It does not preclude caring about being happy (which is virtually unavoidable due to our psychological constitution), and related to this, it does not preclude the enjoyment of simply being alive and well. In fact, it supports the enjoyment of life by eliminating a number of negative emotions. And as I point out in the document, one may take pleasure in the fact that one is not currently experiencing significant negative emotions.

Originally Posted by Akri View Post
Also, I find it interesting that you didn't list happiness among the amotions you expect to achieve while emotionally detached, and instead relegate it to the "among others" section. I would think that your ultimate goal would make the start of the list, or at least be worth mentioning explicitly. Especially since I specifically challenged the notion that you could be happy without any emotional attachment to things from which you could derive such happiness.
Recall that I define happiness as any of a spectrum of agreeable mental states ranging from contentment to intense joy. Happiness is not an emotion itself; it is a range of emotions that includes the positive emotions that I listed.

Originally Posted by Akri View Post
Because human beings need emotion to function properly. Emotional attachment is an important part of how we make decisions and interact socially. Being emotionally detached doesn't simply mean that you don't feel negative emotions, it means you don't care about anything because caring is a type of attachment. And if you don't care about anything you can't function properly, because that kind of emotional attachment is a necessary part of human decision-making. But even if you could make proper decisions you wouldn't want to, because emotional detachment means you don't care if you're making proper decisions.
Again, emotional detachment is not the total lack of emotion. Nor does it mean that one does not care about anything. Our psychological constitution is such that just about everyone cares about being happy. And emotional detachment does not preclude happiness, as shown by the list of positive emotions that I previously listed that are consistent with emotional detachment. Therefore, one who is emotionally detached may still be effective at making decisions that promote one's happiness.

Last edited by Philosofer123; 2nd December 2013 at 06:28 PM.
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Old 3rd December 2013, 12:21 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by Philosofer123 View Post
I would care to be alive because I care about being happy. Emotional detachment, in the context of the document, refers primarily to detachment from other people.
You want to be detached from other people, but you also want to have some people you care about. Correct?

If that's the case then you're using an overly-dramatic (and misleading) phrase to refer to normal human interactions. Not caring about every single person you ever cross paths with isn't "emotional detachment" anymore than not liking every single food you encounter is "food detachment".

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And as I point out in the document, one may take pleasure in the fact that one is not currently experiencing significant negative emotions.
I'm not sure that the simple absence of negative emotions is enough to cause pleasure. In order to feel pleasure at the lack of negative emotions you need to be actively aware of their absence. So if you've been experiencing a lot of negative emotions then you may be very pleased when you're no longer experiencing them, but if a lack of negative emotions is the default then you'll stop thinking about it.

After all, how often do you stop and think to yourself "man, it feels so great to not have a bullet wound in my chest"? For a less ridiculous example, do you constantly pause to enjoy the fact that your clothes don't itch? Obviously if you were just wearing itchy clothes then changing to something comfortable will bring great pleasure, but if you haven't worn itchy clothes in over a month then you may not even think about the experience unless something directly draws your attention to it.

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In fact, it supports the enjoyment of life by eliminating a number of negative emotions.
Which ones?

And does eliminating negative emotions actually support enjoyment of life? There are certainly some enjoyments that can't happen without negative emotions. I feel a great rush of pleasure when I overcome a challenge that had been frustrating me before. And negative emotions can be great motivators in the right context (the founders of Child's Play Charities were initially motivated by their anger at the media for portraying gamers in such a negative light).

Quote:
Again, emotional detachment is not the total lack of emotion. Nor does it mean that one does not care about anything.
You cannot care about something that you are emotionally detached from. Caring is an emotion directed toward something, and to be emotionally detached from that thing you can't have any emotions toward it. So you cannot care about the things which you are emotionally detached from.
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Old 3rd December 2013, 12:55 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by Philosofer123 View Post
Over the past few years, I have formulated my philosophy of life, a 13-page Google Doc ... I welcome any constructive criticism that you may have.

Interesting. I have a brief comment on Free will impossibilism. There is more than one way to look at this issue, but if we consider free will to be the ability to make a conscious decision, then logic and measurable evidence suggest that free will is an illusion ( though a very convincing one ). The reasoning is that thoughts require the combined effort of many neural connections, but before millions of connections can be established, someplace the first connection must be made, followed by the next and the next and the next in rapid succession, sometimes so fast they may seem synchronous ( but there is no definitive evidence for that that I'm aware of ). So by the time a thought emerges from the brain into consciousness, it's already fully formed, so you literally don't know with 100% certainty exactly what you may or may not decide next. Recent studies with brain scans have proven this by being able to correctly predict what answer a participant will give before they are aware that they will make that choice. So if choices are made before we're aware of them, then how does that count as what we commonly think of free will?
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Old 3rd December 2013, 02:12 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by dafydd View Post
While living two miles away from the family home.
Yeah people often forget (or conveniently ignore) the fact that at least Thoreau had the good sense to only pretend to get away from it all.

As to the broader question of the OP if you are assigning a "philosophy" to your life you are almost certainly making it more complicated then it needs to be. Get enough sleep, eat healthy foods, take at least one good dump a day. Once that is taken care of trying to reduce the suffering of conscience creatures and try to learn at least one new thing about the world a day.

Everything else is just a metaphor.
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Old 3rd December 2013, 08:06 AM   #37
Dinwar
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Originally Posted by Philosofer123 View Post
Yes. And if you disagree, please explain.
We aren't discussing my philosophy of life. If you're unwilling to discuss yours, why bother with this thread?

To answer your question, no, I would not consider it a good life. I have specific goals I want to accomplish in my life, and I can't do that as an orgasmic oyster.

Quote:
But let me add that I would not choose to become a joyful-human-consciousness-in-an-oyster, solely because this would likely harm those for whom I have empathy, including family and close friends. Facing such a choice would constitute one of those extreme hypothetical situations (such as Nozick's Experience Machine) where empathetic feelings would not be adequately incorporated into one's state of mind.
Okay. So the only thing keeping you from becoming an orgasmic oyster is your "empathy" (however you define it) towards family and close friends, the latter of which you chose. This means that what's preventing you from living a life of pure bliss is your obligations to others. They are holding you back.

More seriously (not that the above isn't a serious criticism, but it's a criticism of your wordig not your meaning), it's your assumptions about harming those around you that prevents you from taking the path you deem to be a worthy end. It's what you think they think. Note that you talk about empathy, NOT knowledge of their opinions. You talk about feelings, not data.

You've also set empathy up as the critical aspect of morality. There are a number of assumptions inherent in such a set-up, not the least of which is the idea that emotions are dominant over rationality--which contradicts your whole anti-emotion stance.

Quote:
And as I point out in the document, one may take pleasure in the fact that one is not currently experiencing significant negative emotions.
Pleasure is the absence of pain?

Originally Posted by Akri
You cannot care about something that you are emotionally detached from. Caring is an emotion directed toward something, and to be emotionally detached from that thing you can't have any emotions toward it. So you cannot care about the things which you are emotionally detached from.
I want to emphasize this point. I once thought as you do, Philosofer123. It is a VERY serious error--a potentially deadly one, and I mean that quite literally. Emotions and emotional attachment are CRITICAL to life. Human life requires action, and actions require choices. Studies of dissociative disorder clearly show that emotions are vital to making choices, and my own experiences bear this out. When I could shut emotions down entirely, I couldn't decide on anything. I was very obedient, but not very involved. A person without emotions (or is "emotionally detached" or whatever euphamism for this state that you wish to use)--speaking from personal experience--is essentially a robot made of meat. They suck at being a human, because they've abandoned one of the things that makes us human; they suck at being a robot because meat is fragile.

It seems to me that your entire philosophy is nothing more than a defense mechanism against what you consider negative emotions. The fact that you equate pleasure with the absence of pain is a very good indication of that. The thing is, such a view is false. Pleasure is every bit as real as pain, and every bit as rational (which is to say, some is, some isn't). The trick isn't to cut yourself off from them, or to dissociate yourself from emotions--the trick is to figure out why you experience negative emotions and to fix those problems, while at the same time seeking out positive ones. And no, I don't expect you to believe me, not in one conversation. It took me a decade to work through that error. I'm giving you my answer; unfortunately, you have to work out the details yourself I've found.

Originally Posted by JoeBentley
As to the broader question of the OP if you are assigning a "philosophy" to your life you are almost certainly making it more complicated then it needs to be.
The fact that someone can make such a statement on an ostensibly educational forum and expect to be taken seriously is quite a damning commentary on Western civilization. What you're saying is that we shouldn't engage in introspection, that we shouldn't try to figure out why we do what we do and what to do moving forward. The whole of our culture is built on people who quite emphatically disagree with you.
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Old 3rd December 2013, 10:48 AM   #38
Philosofer123
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Originally Posted by Akri View Post
You want to be detached from other people, but you also want to have some people you care about. Correct?
There is nothing in my philosophy that implies that I "want to have some people I care about". Good friendships promote peace of mind, but not because I care about my friends--that's just a side effect.

Originally Posted by Akri View Post
If that's the case then you're using an overly-dramatic (and misleading) phrase to refer to normal human interactions. Not caring about every single person you ever cross paths with isn't "emotional detachment" anymore than not liking every single food you encounter is "food detachment".
There is nothing overly dramatic or misleading. What I mean by emotional detachment--detachment from other people--should be clear in the context of the document:

"Cultivating self-sufficiency and emotional detachment promotes peace of mind. Dependence on others (whether it be emotional, psychological, financial, physical or otherwise) makes one vulnerable to a variety of circumstances that can disturb one’s mind."

Originally Posted by Akri View Post
I'm not sure that the simple absence of negative emotions is enough to cause pleasure. In order to feel pleasure at the lack of negative emotions you need to be actively aware of their absence. So if you've been experiencing a lot of negative emotions then you may be very pleased when you're no longer experiencing them, but if a lack of negative emotions is the default then you'll stop thinking about it.

After all, how often do you stop and think to yourself "man, it feels so great to not have a bullet wound in my chest"? For a less ridiculous example, do you constantly pause to enjoy the fact that your clothes don't itch? Obviously if you were just wearing itchy clothes then changing to something comfortable will bring great pleasure, but if you haven't worn itchy clothes in over a month then you may not even think about the experience unless something directly draws your attention to it.
I did not say that the simple absence of negative emotions causes pleasure. As you point out, one needs to be actively aware of their absence, and there is nothing stopping me from being actively aware of their absence for the rest of my life. I can always remember negative emotions that I felt as a child, and feel fortunate that I am not experiencing those emotions now.

Originally Posted by Akri View Post
Which ones?
Grief, empathetic suffering, anxiety and fear related to things that have happened or may happen to those about whom you care.

Originally Posted by Akri View Post
And does eliminating negative emotions actually support enjoyment of life? There are certainly some enjoyments that can't happen without negative emotions. I feel a great rush of pleasure when I overcome a challenge that had been frustrating me before. And negative emotions can be great motivators in the right context (the founders of Child's Play Charities were initially motivated by their anger at the media for portraying gamers in such a negative light).
Eliminating negative emotions may also eliminate certain types of positive emotions. But as I point out in the document, once one does not suffer from significant negative emotions, one does not feel the need or desire to feel positive emotions.

While negative emotions may increase motivation, one does not need negative emotions in order to be motivated.

Originally Posted by Akri View Post
You cannot care about something that you are emotionally detached from. Caring is an emotion directed toward something, and to be emotionally detached from that thing you can't have any emotions toward it. So you cannot care about the things which you are emotionally detached from.
Agreed. But so what? This does not refute any of my points.
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Old 3rd December 2013, 11:33 AM   #39
Philosofer123
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Originally Posted by Dinwar View Post
We aren't discussing my philosophy of life. If you're unwilling to discuss yours, why bother with this thread?
I answered your question, and I am happy to discuss my philosophy.

Originally Posted by Dinwar View Post
To answer your question, no, I would not consider it a good life. I have specific goals I want to accomplish in my life, and I can't do that as an orgasmic oyster.
But then the question immediately arises: why do you want to accomplish your goals?


Originally Posted by Dinwar View Post
Okay. So the only thing keeping you from becoming an orgasmic oyster is your "empathy" (however you define it) towards family and close friends, the latter of which you chose. This means that what's preventing you from living a life of pure bliss is your obligations to others. They are holding you back.
I define "empathy" in the document. And it is not my "obligations to others" that is preventing me from living the oyster life, it is simply the fact that I empathize with them.

Originally Posted by Dinwar View Post
More seriously (not that the above isn't a serious criticism, but it's a criticism of your wordig not your meaning), it's your assumptions about harming those around you that prevents you from taking the path you deem to be a worthy end. It's what you think they think. Note that you talk about empathy, NOT knowledge of their opinions. You talk about feelings, not data.
You can never be certain what another person feels. But why is that relevant?

Originally Posted by Dinwar View Post
You've also set empathy up as the critical aspect of morality. There are a number of assumptions inherent in such a set-up, not the least of which is the idea that emotions are dominant over rationality--which contradicts your whole anti-emotion stance.
Remember that I am a moral skeptic, so I do not set anything up "as the critical aspect of morality". I never claim or assume that "emotions are dominant over rationality". And I do not have an "anti-emotion stance"--I simply strive to eliminate negative emotions.

Originally Posted by Dinwar View Post
Pleasure is the absence of pain?
No. All I am saying is that one can take pleasure in the realization and understanding that one is not suffering.

Originally Posted by Dinwar View Post
I want to emphasize this point. I once thought as you do, Philosofer123. It is a VERY serious error--a potentially deadly one, and I mean that quite literally. Emotions and emotional attachment are CRITICAL to life. Human life requires action, and actions require choices. Studies of dissociative disorder clearly show that emotions are vital to making choices, and my own experiences bear this out. When I could shut emotions down entirely, I couldn't decide on anything. I was very obedient, but not very involved. A person without emotions (or is "emotionally detached" or whatever euphamism for this state that you wish to use)--speaking from personal experience--is essentially a robot made of meat. They suck at being a human, because they've abandoned one of the things that makes us human; they suck at being a robot because meat is fragile.
You have not been reading this thread very carefully. I define emotional detachment as detachment from other people, not detachment from everything.

Originally Posted by Dinwar View Post
It seems to me that your entire philosophy is nothing more than a defense mechanism against what you consider negative emotions. The fact that you equate pleasure with the absence of pain is a very good indication of that. The thing is, such a view is false. Pleasure is every bit as real as pain, and every bit as rational (which is to say, some is, some isn't). The trick isn't to cut yourself off from them, or to dissociate yourself from emotions--the trick is to figure out why you experience negative emotions and to fix those problems, while at the same time seeking out positive ones. And no, I don't expect you to believe me, not in one conversation. It took me a decade to work through that error. I'm giving you my answer; unfortunately, you have to work out the details yourself I've found.
Again, I am not saying that "pleasure is the absence of pain" (see above). And I do not define emotional detachment as "dissociating myself from emotions" (see above).

On a personal note, I have been living my philosophy for a few years, and I consider myself to be a very happy person--despite having faced certain challenges and setbacks that would likely make most people unhappy. So I am a living counterexample to your bleak portrayal of what you believe would happen to someone following my philosophy.
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Old 3rd December 2013, 11:49 AM   #40
Dinwar
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Quote:
On a personal note, I have been living my philosophy for a few years, and I consider myself to be a very happy person--despite having faced certain challenges and setbacks that would likely make most people unhappy. So I am a living counterexample to your bleak portrayal of what you believe would happen to someone following my philosophy.
So you don't actually want to discuss it. You've already got the answers, and want to preach. Got it. I'll not waste your time or mine any further.

ETA: The reason I'm saying that is that you played what you consider a trump card. Nothing anyone says is going to sway your opinion about this, because you've got what you consider sufficient evidence. Until and unless you are willing to accept that your evidence isn't complete--something that my experience suggests cannot come from outside--this conversation cannot be productive. Any time any of us presents an argument, you can simply say "But I'm living my philosophy and I'm happy." You're not looking for critiques if you find that argument sufficient. I'm not upset by this or anything, and don't mean to sound like I am--I merely am recognizing that this conversation isn't going to go anywhere, so there's no point in it.

Last edited by Dinwar; 3rd December 2013 at 11:54 AM. Reason: To add reasoning.
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