Register a SA Forums Account here!
JOINING THE SA FORUMS WILL REMOVE THIS BIG AD, THE ANNOYING UNDERLINED ADS, AND STUPID INTERSTITIAL ADS!!!

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us $3,400 per month for bandwidth bills alone, and since we don't believe in shoving popup ads to our registered users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
  • Post
  • Reply
Good Soldier Svejk
Jul 5, 2010

Great times call for great men


Nap Ghost

I'd like to thank Nurge for inspiring this, but I think it's a pretty broad topic.

For as long as humans have been capable of thought we've scraped mercilessly against this notion of "terrible questions" (I believe this is a philosophical term though I cannot find an originator apart from some Mormon author, though I remember a professor in college using it to describe this collective set of unsolvable philosophical problems so I am stealing it if it's meant for something else)

The big questions: What is the value of life? Where does morality come from? Why bother? I'd like to start by offering Nurge's premise from another thread:

Nurge posted:

Sure. I'm saying that no one is important. People are not important. There is no inherent morality. Society gives us the idea that people are worth something.

I'll say as a refutation that I consider myself a humanist, probably by way of the works of Schopenhauer and a younger interest in Buddhism. As such, my refutation for misanthropy/anti-humanism relies on a premise that life is inherently a state of suffering that we collectively attempt to mitigate, and that suffering is more easily reduced as a group working together than as an individual.

So poo poo-post or effort post, but let's start with the topic: What is the value of people/humanity? Is there one? Where does it come from, and If so what morality should govern them. Where does that moral code come from? Religion? Evolution? Philosophy?

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

ArfJason
Sep 5, 2011



i dunno if id extrapolate from saying "people are not important", which in a cosmic scale is just factual, to saying that it means someone does not care whether someone else suffers or does not want to minimize suffering. you can recognize the fact that morality did not come prepackaged into the world as a segue into talking about morality's arbitariness, how different societies have different moral standards, how it has changed along with specific societies, how it has changed on a macro scale, etc, and how that means we get to define it under whatever lens works for our particular sociohistoric moment. this is no way a defense of the original poster or that quote, since i find them a jackass most of the time, just that i dont think both lines of thought are mutually exclusive

Who What Now
Sep 10, 2006


Statistically you'd think that I'd sometimes fluke into typing a decent post. Nah. Only the most tedious, shitty posts, all day every day baby!

Don't bother engaging me, I don't ever get the hints to fuck off.




People aren't important but we still need to treat them as if they are. The only value that matters is the value we impose, there is no such thing as inherent, fundamental worth as part of the material universe.

burdt
Feb 27, 2009

i wanna make it (wit chu)


people are as important as other people deem them to be. the qualifiers we add to how we rank this importance is highly contextual and depends on all the greatest hits (ideology, religion, how often you were not hugged as a child).

individually, caring for others is a choice. depending on how far you zoom out and who you group together, then the ways in which these groups express care and code it into a moral standard and/or daily practice define those groups. yes, that is fully circular and wholly dependent on the observer. deal with it.

finally, how these individuals and groups see themselves and each other and the relative importance they ascribe to how they do things is the definition of poo poo posting.

Good Soldier Svejk
Jul 5, 2010

Great times call for great men


Nap Ghost

ArfJason posted:

i dunno if id extrapolate from saying "people are not important", which in a cosmic scale is just factual, to saying that it means someone does not care whether someone else suffers or does not want to minimize suffering. you can recognize the fact that morality did not come prepackaged into the world as a segue into talking about morality's arbitariness, how different societies have different moral standards, how it has changed along with specific societies, how it has changed on a macro scale, etc, and how that means we get to define it under whatever lens works for our particular sociohistoric moment. this is no way a defense of the original poster or that quote, since i find them a jackass most of the time, just that i dont think both lines of thought are mutually exclusive

Who What Now posted:

People aren't important but we still need to treat them as if they are. The only value that matters is the value we impose, there is no such thing as inherent, fundamental worth as part of the material universe.


That's a really good point, and I think it's hard to refute "there is no value to existence" without invoking some sort of religious argument. I don't think I have an answer for that myself.
Why do we go on living when the alternative is arguably much more pleasant and utterly inevitable anyway. I don't know that I have an answer for that in my own mind... maybe fear of non-existence?

I think when it comes to discussion of morality and... I dunno... moral relativism/comparative morality (I might be misusing these terms, but the comparison of different moral systems/cultures) for a long time the discussion was ruined by the liberal impulse to say "yes, every culture has different beliefs and those are equally valid in their contexts"
Where that falls apart for me is in my own inability to carry that to its conclusion. If all moral systems are equally valid I should be able to shift my own to any other one arbitrarily, and I know I can't. I believe in the supremacy of my own beliefs. I think there are values that are inherently more important than others, like... the promotion of human autonomy and well-being over the preservation of chastity, etc.

I'm not sure if I'd go so far as to say these fundamental values beneath the moral systems are an innate part of humanity or... existing, thinking creatures, but I do wonder if it's something that runs deeper than a societal level. Something in the lizard brain, you know?

ArfJason
Sep 5, 2011



i guess that's because culture is a powerful force. It is a wholy existing "system" from the moment you are born. it tailors what you speak, what you think, what you wear, and even what you see (iirc the inuits can see more shades of white due to having language that defines more shades with concrete words, arising from their need to better differentiate them in their environment). As such, of course you, a 21st century (now im assuming) northamerican male will have certain values, rooted in liberal ideals, just like how japanese have their own, and how victorian english people had their own, as did the renacentists, the zulu, etc etc. as an arbitrary concept that is firebranded into our being from day 0 i dont think its that bad to recognize that maybe theres limits to how far you can push your beliefs, as long as you just keep trying to remember other people go through the same, and try to change for the better. its also worth noting that this isnt an appeal to supremacy of any one kind, but rather that cultures should acknowledge each other while giving space to evolve and mutate, intermingle, etc. Pretending theres a one size fits all to socioeconomic problems for every place is one of the big engines of the neoliberal capitalist machine, and i dont think that's too far fetched to say of culture or morality either

burdt
Feb 27, 2009

i wanna make it (wit chu)


Good Soldier Svejk posted:

That's a really good point, and I think it's hard to refute "there is no value to existence" without invoking some sort of religious argument. I don't think I have an answer for that myself.
Why do we go on living when the alternative is arguably much more pleasant and utterly inevitable anyway. I don't know that I have an answer for that in my own mind... maybe fear of non-existence?

the best answer I’ve found for myself is curiosity for what tomorrow brings. sure, it’s nice to know that I have the option to fully opt out but the cost is not getting to know what happens to all the threads I’m invested in. not to mention that other people are invested in my thread and cutting myself out of their life would really gently caress them over.

this is from an individual lens. where it gets interesting is when social values and self-destruction collide. to me, the “gently caress it we’re all gonna die anyway” behavior of late comes from the existential threat that change brings to a lot of us.

I think the lizard brain part you mentioned is behind that. above all things, there’s an undeniable value we give to stability and when that’s challenged we begin to lose our poo poo.

Stability will mean a lot of things to different people. regardless of what it is, it seems many of us are fighting tooth and nail to maintain it for ourselves and those we care about.

Good Soldier Svejk
Jul 5, 2010

Great times call for great men


Nap Ghost

burdt posted:

individually, caring for others is a choice.
I'm with you save for this assertion. I think that's ascribing the power of choice to something a lot deeper in the psyche than say... choosing soup or salad for lunch. The desire to help/harm/ignore others is not something the average person can flick into different positions at their discretion.


ArfJason posted:

i guess that's because culture is a powerful force. It is a wholy existing "system" from the moment you are born. it tailors what you speak, what you think, what you wear, and even what you see (iirc the inuits can see more shades of white due to having language that defines more shades with concrete words, arising from their need to better differentiate them in their environment). As such, of course you, a 21st century (now im assuming) northamerican male will have certain values, rooted in liberal ideals, just like how japanese have their own, and how victorian english people had their own, as did the renacentists, the zulu, etc etc. as an arbitrary concept that is firebranded into our being from day 0 i dont think its that bad to recognize that maybe theres limits to how far you can push your beliefs, as long as you just keep trying to remember other people go through the same, and try to change for the better. its also worth noting that this isnt an appeal to supremacy of any one kind, but rather that cultures should acknowledge each other while giving space to evolve and mutate, intermingle, etc. Pretending theres a one size fits all to socioeconomic problems for every place is one of the big engines of the neoliberal capitalist machine, and i dont think that's too far fetched to say of culture or morality either

I think this generally tracks but the question then becomes: "what do you do in the face of cultural practices that you/your society considers so abhorrent as to demand condemnation/response/intervention?" Are there any universal standards or, when we encounter something we find to be vile is our best course to ignore it rather than try to change it?
I'm hitting up against the question "is any attempt to re-shape a culture, even in the name of human rights and through non-violent means, inherently a sort of imperialism" which I guess is a tangential question

burdt
Feb 27, 2009

i wanna make it (wit chu)


Good Soldier Svejk posted:

I'm with you save for this assertion. I think that's ascribing the power of choice to something a lot deeper in the psyche than say... choosing soup or salad for lunch. The desire to help/harm/ignore others is not something the average person can flick into different positions at their discretion.

I find the way we treat homeless people is an example of flipping that switch. yes, all people have rights and value but I will not make eye contact with a homeless person because they remind me that’s not the way things actually unfold for a variety of convoluted reasons that ultimately result in the homeless person’s situation. those convoluted reasons are choices people make, there’s no denying that.

hiding behind objectivity is another way we might rationalize choices that hurt others. individuals and bureaucracies do that all the time; it’s the great curse of our neoliberal turn, the fantasy that we could rid ourselves of our subjectivities through rational thought.

to me, morality shouldn’t have to hide behind ideology, values, or objectivity. for morality to retain its worth its contingent nature should be acknowledged: wholly subjective, prone to influences, entirely contextual, and in no way universal.

GalacticAcid
Apr 8, 2013

NEW YORK VALUES


I would say the meaning of life is, a cold beer

Good Soldier Svejk
Jul 5, 2010

Great times call for great men


Nap Ghost

burdt posted:

I find the way we treat homeless people is an example of flipping that switch. yes, all people have rights and value but I will not make eye contact with a homeless person because they remind me that’s not the way things actually unfold for a variety of convoluted reasons that ultimately result in the homeless person’s situation. those convoluted reasons are choices people make, there’s no denying that.

hiding behind objectivity is another way we might rationalize choices that hurt others. individuals and bureaucracies do that all the time; it’s the great curse of our neoliberal turn, the fantasy that we could rid ourselves of our subjectivities through rational thought.

to me, morality shouldn’t have to hide behind ideology, values, or objectivity. for morality to retain its worth its contingent nature should be acknowledged: wholly subjective, prone to influences, entirely contextual, and in no way universal.

I think we fundamentally agree when it comes to the practical application of moral systems. Where we appear to differ is in the approach towards an ideal form of those actual actions/thoughts/etc. It's a question of whether the expression "I want to be a better person" has meaning or not.

GalacticAcid posted:

I would say the meaning of life is, a cold beer

This is basically sensualism/hedonism and it's a very valid and pleasing way to approach interacting with our crazy world.

indigi
Jul 20, 2004

picture me workin McDonald's!
I'd rather pull a mac on you
sorry Ms. Jackson, but I'm packin


Pillbug

GalacticAcid posted:

I would say the meaning of life is, a cold beer

but how hoppy is it.

Sheng-Ji Yang
Mar 5, 2014




GalacticAcid posted:

I would say the meaning of life is, a cold beer

i just wanna grill for gods sake

comedyblissoption
Mar 15, 2006

Is a saint not entitled to the skin of his foot?






a man is but a miserable little pile of secrets, op

anime was right
Jun 27, 2008

death is certain
keep yr cool


weed

Good Soldier Svejk
Jul 5, 2010

Great times call for great men


Nap Ghost

Sheng-Ji Yang posted:

i just wanna grill for gods sake

See, to me, this just reinforces that desire is the cause of all suffering in life.
It's not the grilling that makes you happy, it's that not-grilling causes you pain.

If you free yourself from the desire to grill you will be happy without need.

Algund Eenboom
May 4, 2014



ArfJason posted:

Pretending theres a one size fits all to socioeconomic problems for every place is one of the big engines of the neoliberal capitalist machine, and i dont think that's too far fetched to say of culture or morality either

Agree w this... interesting thing imo when you apply it to a political philosophy, for example Maoism, which begins as a dogmatic Marxism-Leninism and evolves based on specific aspects of both Chinese culture and the Chinese into something related, but distinct.

And culture imo is never inseparable from political philosophy. U can see this when amerikans in the forum say that making epic gritty memes is doing socialism, bc we’re so alienated from any ability to change amerikan politics that we engage in little micro-cultural acts and glom onto anything that seems 2 promise a sense of community with others. If I make the gritty meme and laugh at the gritty meme, I embody the philosophy of the ideal “gritty socialist” which I have created along with other, and this forms a substitute for actually doing anything in the real world , or “irl” as I call it, especially since people might not even have the ability to act politically with other irl at all

I guess speaking in terms of morality the same thing applies, no matter how much we want to say gently caress to the system, we always must remember we embody elements of it and things like pure selfishness, alienation and frustration find themselves as part of one’s morality and personal politics. So it is one thing to proclaim a morality for itself, and another to embody it through thought and action. Sorry if this is irrelevant, wanted to contribute but I don’t have much to say about the concept of morality in and of itself

Algund Eenboom
May 4, 2014




This^^^

Good Soldier Svejk
Jul 5, 2010

Great times call for great men


Nap Ghost

Algund Eenboom posted:

I guess speaking in terms of morality the same thing applies, no matter how much we want to say gently caress to the system, we always must remember we embody elements of it and things like pure selfishness, alienation and frustration find themselves as part of one’s morality and personal politics. So it is one thing to proclaim a morality for itself, and another to embody it through thought and action. Sorry if this is irrelevant, wanted to contribute but I don’t have much to say about the concept of morality in and of itself

My intent for this thread was never to keep it to a narrow topic of discussion. This is more the... have a few glasses or a bottle of wine or vodka and talk about poo poo that fucks with your head kinda philosophy, which is the best kind, and I would argue, the truest form of its study.

For instance, you mention us as individuals inherently "embodying" elements our society, and I agree 100%. Our identities can only exist in accordance with or as refutations of external, shared, cultural concepts. Life Arf said earlier, we are limited in our ways of thinking by things like language - there are concepts I will never be able to comprehend because I grew up only speaking English. I can at best approximate the meaning but only by running the thought through what is basically linguistic metaphor.

That sound, I again invoke the idea that we are inherently dialogic creatures - that our identity cannot exist in conversation only with ourselves. Just as we engage in dialogue with our cultural/societal background (the refutations or bolstering of our norms) we need to test our thoughts and beliefs against other individuals to simultaneously reaffirm and question our "own" beliefs. This is why I think just yelling at someone "Hey, you're a gently caress-o with bad ideas" is still useful so long as when you're shouting it you're using that as a chance to compare your own beliefs to theirs. It's not the most productive means of communication.

A4R8
Feb 28, 2020



The inherent meaning of life is Marxism-Leninism, OP.

Tetramin
Apr 1, 2006

I'ma buck you up.


everyones scared to die, OP. help us forget about it.

Good Soldier Svejk
Jul 5, 2010

Great times call for great men


Nap Ghost

Tetramin posted:

everyones scared to die, OP. help us forget about it.

So this is one of the first things I remember having a panic attack about. I was probably like 11 or 12 or something and I just had this thought: "I'm going to die someday" going through my head over and over until my body decided to make it feel like someday was now.

I've never been able to really dig into the religious solutions to this problem, as much as I would like to be able to, but at the same time they're kinda unsatisfactory to me anyway. They're either "you do it again" or "you get to keep living but now everything is pretty rad (if you've been good) or worse (if you've been bad)"

I get that there's gotta be part of our brains that is hardwired to just... not be able to understand no longer existing, but the most comforting thought I've come across when this splinter starts digging is "Remember what it was like before you were born? It's like that."

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Arrhythmia
Jul 22, 2011

Keep on jammin'


Good Soldier Svejk posted:

"Remember what it was like before you were born? It's like that."

There's a passage from the Qur'an that I've found helpful in times like this:

quote:

Or [consider such an example] as the one who passed by a township which had fallen into ruin. He said, "How will Allah bring this to life after its death?" So Allah caused him to die for a hundred years; then He revived him. He said, "How long have you remained?" The man said, "I have remained a day or part of a day.

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • Post
  • Reply