Friday, December 23, 2016

On the rationality of preventative, insurance-based suicide


"Every existing thing is born without reason, prolongs itself out of weakness and dies by chance."  Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre

Typically addiction is used to describe things like drug abuse or media consumption. But should addiction be applied to life continuation as a whole? In order to do so, there has to be some reason why life continuation would be an overall bad for a person's well-being.

Take this example:

  1. Steven needs milk from the store.
  2. Steven drives to the store.
  3. On the way, a drunk driver collides with Steven's car, and a piece of metal impales Steven.
  4. Steven dies in agony.

Biological persistence can be an overall detriment to a person's well-being. Take the example above. Is getting milk from the store worth potentially getting impaled? Had Steven not gotten the milk, he wouldn't have been impaled. But what would have made Steven not need the milk? Perhaps Steven could be a vegan. Or perhaps Steven has a change in appetite. Or perhaps Steven could have killed himself and thus not had any more desires that expose him to the dangers of the world.

But Steven's story is hypothetical, right? A quick Google search leads me to believe that automobile-related impalements are not the work of an imaginative brain.

Another Google search brings up the random statistic that 0.0164% of scuba divers die. The primary cause of death is suffocation, usually by insufficient gas or getting entangled. It seems to be a combination of inexperience, as well as pure bad luck. What is important to note is that every single one of those part of the 0.0164% statistic didn't expect to drown that day. huh.

I have a personal story as well. Since 2013, there have been 207 public school shootings in the United States. I went through a school shooting at my high school during this time frame that resulted in the death of an innocent student and the death of the perpetrator by a self-inflicted gun shot wound to the head. I remember thinking during the shooting how surreal it all was. I never would have expected it to happen to my high school - it's always the other schools that get shot up. As of today I have recovered from the experience, but I would never, ever voluntarily go through that traumatic experience ever again. Ever. 

People like to think that these sorts of things make you stronger, and indeed they do, for those who survive and aren't crippled. Yes, it was the will of the almighty cosmos that I went through something like this, because, in the end, it made me stronger. What a crock of bullshit. 

Nietzsche was incorrect. What doesn't kill you has a possibility of severely damaging you and making you wish it had finished you off.

Life: an accident waiting to happen
My conclusion from all this is that life continuation is one hell of a risk. Not only do we have statistics for horrible tragedies, but what is arguably worse is that we don't have statistics for many other things. Every time you walk out of your door, you are exposing yourself to danger. Cognitive inadequacy limits our appreciation of this fact. Why is it that danger has to be practically right in front of us in order for us to register it? Because long-term risk management is not conducive to reproduction.

How ironic it is that the greatest pleasures in life come at such a steep risk.

If we were truly rational creatures, we would realize that our unconscious will-to-live is analogous to being dragged across a cheese grater. It is manipulative in that it exposes us to dangers and harms that we otherwise would not choose to expose ourselves to. Epicureans are kidding themselves; we don't continue life for its pleasures, we continue life because we have no other realistic alternative. We are not in control. 

Tolstoy hit the nail on the head when he articulated four categories of human existence:
  1. Those who are blind to the human predicament (the ignorant fools)
  2. Those who understand the human predicament but see pleasure as a reason to continue (the Epicureans)
  3. Those who understand that human predicament but also understand that pleasure cannot be a true reason to live but continue to live anyway (the weak)
  4. Those who understand everything the weak do, but have the guts to kill themselves (the strong)
Why is it that people will voluntarily insure themselves against catastrophes that may not ever happen, but don't insure themselves against the catastrophes that cannot be covered by money? The cognitive bias of "that will never happen to me" effectively keeps people from questioning their own behavior. If it can't be fixed or prevented, just don't think about it. It is short-sighted and biased reasoning, meant not to service our welfare but to make sure we don't question our own fate.

This is tough to swallow. It's easy to get wrapped up in the moment and forget about the contingent nature of well-being. All of these possibilities are legitimate threats - but why worry about them? There's nothing you can do - except there actually is, it's just that practically nobody wants to consider it. Suicide as a preventative measure is a perfectly rational and reasonable response to the threats exposure to the world brings. In fact it seems like it's the only option with a 100% guarantee of effectiveness.

But nobody, including myself, can actually consider suicide as a rational decision if we're not currently suffering tremendously. In existentialist terms, humans are capable of transcendence - we are able to look beyond the immanent and see things how they could be. But we are nevertheless still immanent, and so the dynamic between transcendence and immanence emerges, with transcendence pushing forward and immanence pulling back. In the case of the rationality of suicide, we can transcend beyond our immediate experience and see how many risks and threats there are in the future, but are pulled back to immanence by the instinctual, irrational urge to persist.

Bet this guy wished he'd died earlier...
There's more. I will not deny that pleasure is intrinsically good for people. But neither will I deny that pain is intrinsically bad for people. So when the cost of pleasure gets too high, or when the stakes accompanying existence are unreasonable, pleasure becomes a good-turned-bad. Just as we may feel pain while climbing a mountain (a bad-turned-good), the pleasure we feel as we systematically expose ourselves to a greater amount of harm cannot actually be truly good for us. That is when pleasure becomes manipulative and addictive. The fact that it is difficult to see the sorts of things we typically enjoy doing as goods-turned-bad is a consequence of them being addictions. Recall the analogy of the cheese grater. Pleasure are goods-turned-bad because the strength of the desire for pleasure is not matched by the actual content. On the other hand, we have a disturbingly small fear of pains are are unimaginably bad.

The environment we live in that seduces us into continued existence can only be see as a web of toxicity. We live in a society that essentially indoctrinates us into continued existence. We do not act in our best interests by continuing existing. (EDIT: nor do we usually act in our best interests when we attempt suicide without a sufficient and present harm either, as we will force ourselves to experience much trauma with no success. In other words, we are incapable of acting in our best interests by killing ourselves because our own instincts won't let us kill ourselves. It is no use attempting to fight instincts as powerful as these. Thus life-continuation is irrational and yet attempting to quit life cold-turkey is also irrational.).

Some people might find my words dangerous. Am I actually recommending people kill themselves? Perhaps. What I am not advocating is the blind and instinctual journey through a strange world filled with risks, threats, and uncompensated pain.

What should we do, then? If we live in a world of threats of significant harm that cannot be compensated by any pleasure (terminal pain), is it possible to have a reason to live?

I would argue that there can be only one genuine reason to live: ethics. Ethics is not about self-interest. It's not about maximizing your own welfare. It's about treating others well, caring for their well-being. The life of a person dedicated to an ethical cause is one of altruism and selflessness. Some people might accuse those people of tooting their own horn, but given what I have already articulated, there is no rational reason to live that doesn't ignore certain aspects of life. Those who follow the ethical path of life are those who are not living for themselves (as this is irrational given what we know of the human predicament), but are living for the sake of others. The concept of a Buddhist bodhisattva comes to mind. The bodhisattva has achieved nirvana but sticks around anyway to help everyone else achieve nirvana. Similarly, the enlightened ethicist knows that continued existence is a net harm (or at least an irrational risk), but sticks around anyway to maximize their utility to others. Suicide may be the rational option, but ethics isn't about what's best for you personally. It's about something greater than yourself. 

And perhaps the "heroism" involved in selfless ethical life can be enough to keep the self-esteem of those committed to it high enough so they can continue to actually be productive.

What the enlightened ethicist also realizes are their own needs. So long as they are alive, they must tend to their own needs. Thus, nothing really changes all that much in terms of self-interested behavior, except that the self-interested behavior is not the purpose of life but rather a necessary requirement in order to maintain a maximally ethical life.


I will not pretend that I came up with all this by myself. I am heavily indebted to Buddhist ethics, the Argentine philosopher Julio Cabrera and his excellent book on "negative hyper-ethics", as well as Leo Tolstoy's A Confession, The Conspiracy Against the Human Race by Thomas Ligotti, and Jean-Paul Sartre's Nausea. I highly recommend checking these resources out. However, the synthesis of these works are of my own efforts.

29 comments:

  1. You don't say anything about the metaphysics, the ultimate assumptions regarding the nature of reality, which underpin your reasoning.

    Such matters should not be discussed without making clear our fundamental assumptions - except when these can be taken for granted, or themselves assumed.

    I get a feeling that your implicit metaphysics may hinge on the current (or perhaps) emotional state of a human beings, or perhaps just yourself - since it is not possible reliably to infer the emotional state of other humans under such a metaphysics (nor any compelling reason why it should concern us), as being the bottom-line reality?

    Is this Utilitarianism of some kind?

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    1. Although I agree metaphysics is important in many respects, I disagree that elaborate metaphysical theories are necessary for ethics to take off. People like Spinoza, Levinas, or Putnam would probably argue that ethics takes priority over things like metaphysics, or at least ontology. I'm not sure what the objection is supposed to be, here, though.

      And yes, this is a flavor of utilitarianism.

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    2. There's so much to untangle in what you say. There are plenty who agree there is no rational reason to live and that life is objectively worse than death. David Benatar's Better Never to Have Been: The Harm Of Coming Into Existence, is a good recent example.

      I'm not convinced. It seems to me "reasons to live" are never purely rational and never could be. If you look at life objectively that doesn't tell you how to respond to it emotionally. Life's absurdity can make you laugh, weep or both. Also, people just feel differently: some struggle with emotional pain and others are just temperamentally cheerful. Neither is necessarily seeing the world more accurately: there are the facts and how one responds to the facts. It can't be a fact that continued existence is a net harm, it can only be a judgement of someone not happy with life.

      So what we're looking for when looking for "reason to live" are not some facts about purpose of meaning that will dissolve our concerns. We're looking for whatever it is that leaves us believing that it is good to be alive, even though much about being alive isn't good. When we can't see such things our problem is usually emotional rather than philosophical: we're tired, depressed. We need therapy not philosophy. But the wrong world view can get in our way" if we think the "meaning of life" has to be some kind of intellectual justification of our value or purpose, we're going to be frustrated.

      All the best in your own search for meaning and I hope you end up deciding life is worth it after all. If you are depressed, you might find existential psychotherapy helpful: it's very much about exploring values, not treating you as a "patient" who needs "therapy".

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    3. I hate to sound heartless, but is suicide such a big concern for evolution? With so many people in the world, could this actually be part of nature (in some strange way) to attempt to limit population or “select out” those of “non fitness”? Blasphemy against conventional doctrine this idea may be, but has anyone seriously looked at it from the cold hard logic of evolution?

      To live in a “la la land” where death is not taken as a normal and inevitable part of life seems to me to be out of touch with reality, even if that death is slightly (and artificially) brought forward.

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    4. Lynda --

      That’s not how evolution works.

      Evolution or nature doesn’t “think” or make decisions or have a plan. There are random variations in people (for example a higher propensity for or less fear of suicide) and then some of these have more opportunity to pass on their genes and thus this propensity spreads.

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  2. Yes, I understand all of this.

    Sometimes it is such an effort to keep going, one wonders if it is worth it! Life is so flipping exhausting.

    Today, Darth, do something you really enjoy, be self indulgent, even if only staying in bed reading. It's nice and warm and cosy indoors, the duvet is so comfortable.

    Tomorrow won't be so bad if you store up a bit of comfort today.

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  3. I smashed the head of darthbarracuda.

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    1. Did you see this piece today about antinatalism?

      "Psychotherapist Hilda Burke tells me that if she heard a client express antinatalist views, she'd be interested in exploring whether they were indicative of some kind of life trauma. "In one way it's quite like Buddhism—the idea that life is suffering," she says. "Yet it's also quite an immature way of seeing the world; it's very black and white. Any form of extremism is worrying."

      Article here:

      https://broadly.vice.com/en_us/article/antinatalist-philosophy-human-race-extinct

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    2. In some cases, things just are black and white. I find the use of the term "immature" in this context to be harmful in two senses:

      1.) It gives people, including myself (an antinatalist), the empty suggestion that perhaps we actually are wrong with our evaluations of life, without proper justification. I don't particularly "like" being an antinatalist or a pessimist and would question those who do. Calling pessimism "immature", implying that it's somehow wrong, gives someone like myself the immediate feeling of doubt, which usually goes away quite quickly but is nevertheless annoying to deal with.

      2.) It's insulting to those who are victims of the world itself, marginalizing their suffering, their plight, in favor of the affirmation of the status quo. Apparently their suffering isn't important enough to be considered "mature". smh

      I suspect if this psychotherapist person was introduced to more conservative approaches to antinatalism, such as my own, that don't claim that "everyone" is harmed by birth, they might not see it as an extreme position. At any rate "extreme" is a relative term, and just because something is extreme doesn't mean it's wrong. It just means you don't have the guts to actually consider it as a legitimate option. Which is ironic considering the psychotherapist ought to know that the human mind is not usually adapted to hold extreme beliefs.

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  4. Do we need a rigorous definition of what constitutes high risk in this case? Because in a post on antinatalism, you write that the risk of, for example, going on a highway is not high as to make it irrational to do so; only when there is sufficient risk can we talk of irrationality. So I wonder how high the risk ought to be. Perhaps an actuary could tell us!

    Anyway, happy holidays.

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    1. I would say that going on the highway is "worth it" because we presumably have some sort of need to go on the highway. But that's basically just us taking a risk to avoid pains that are guaranteed to happen if we don't take the risk. But what I meant by "risk" in that context was basically that the maximal pain that could occur would be below some thresh-hold.

      Really, if we all were satisfied all the time, there wouldn't be any need to step outside our homes. The only reasons we expose ourselves to the risks of everyday life is because we have to, or find something that we really want and take part in prophetic thinking to reassure ourselves nothing disastrous will happen.

      The funny thing about affirmative-based morality is that it oftentimes attempts to justify itself by appealing to apparent absurdities. If y is not okay, then x is also not okay, and we "obviously" see x as being okay, therefore y is okay. But is it true that x is okay, or is this just a habitual behavior on our part?

      Like I said before, then, the intensity of the pain experienced has to be below a certain thresh-hold, so that it can be compensated for by pleasurable experiences. The fact that we don't have a one-hundred percent guarantee that what will happen in the future will be below this thresh-hold means birth is basically automatically invalidated, and continued life is suspect as well. Anyone can choose to continue their life, sure, but the claim I am defending is that nobody with an objective and impartial mind would favor continuing existence based on the risk involved in doing so. It's wrong to start a life. To continue life is just stupid.

      Cheers.

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    2. If I've interpreted you correctly, you are saying that it's not necessarily likelihood you're concerned with, but the intensity of the pain of something that is not 100% impossible to happen. Is this what you mean?

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    3. Yes, basically. Likelihood is a secondary factor. Any chance of pain beyond a certain thresh-hold (welfare compromising, "terminal") invalidates the rationality of persistence. The conscious choice to continue for one's own sake in light of these risks is the result of prophetic and biased thinking.

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    4. Ah okay. I asked only because I experiencred a similar feeling that aluded me to such a view. At the time I was glowing with happiness (to the point of tears almost), but I started thinking about if even that was worth the possibility of extreme pain in the future. Interesting to see this sentiment articulated by someone other than myself.

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    5. Yep, nice. I've written before how I think pleasure is "intoxicating" in that it makes us forget about things we probably shouldn't forget about.

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  5. Also, what are your thoughts on the incompleteness of our knowledge? It's interesting (though a bit disturbing) to think about because (1) it could mean that all or most of what we take to be true is not and (2) that our knowledge may never be complete (either because there is an infinite number of things to know before we understand reality or that reality can be interpreted in so many different ways, or that we simply may die off before we can know enough to be said to have understood reality).

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    1. I take a pragmatic and dare I say Heideggerian approach to knowledge: truth exists, but our interpretations of it are never final. The most valuable theories are those that help accomplish our goals (utility) or those that unify other theories (similar to structural realism). We are constantly refining and adding to our collective knowledge. Attempting to find a universal theory of everything is, in my opinion, misguided and perhaps even impossible.

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    2. Interesting. With regards to utility, how are we to set about the best "goals"? Meaning, how do we know our goals are valid ones to begin with?

      Sorry if this is seems like an unrelated discussion to your post, but thinking about rational reasons to live lead me to to agree with you that the ethical life is a good reason, but I also thought that given the fact that in the realm of knowledge, things are changing quickly, (for example, not too long ago, moral antirealism and metaphysical noncognitivism were very popular among philosophers, and now some psychological ideas that were seen as rock solid have come under fire, etc.) it seems rational to presume that in the next 50 years we'll see a lot of changes in what we consider to be true and these changes may be incredibly significant to those of us who take life and questions of its worth seriously. But then again, I worry that this reason may be impractical since knowledge seems to be never ending... when do we know to stop? It may just unneccesarily enlogate suffering.

      Just to announce some biases of my own, so you know who you're talking to: I am not really an antinatalist or a pessimist, though I am definitely sympathetic to these views. Nowadays I'm "agnostic" across the board. It used to be that I would swing from view to view as my knowledge improved, but there would always be a negative period of acceptance or a negative period of rejection. In my life I have accepted, only to later end up rejecting, many painful views. Views which at the time seemed inescapably rational that I would just force myself to accept them in the name of objectivity, truth, and rationality.
      (For example, I was at one time convinced that all selfless behavior was immoral, because it harmed the self and the self was the only real object of moral action. The idea that it is immoral to run into a burning house to save some innocent children felt so painful in its selfishness that I could hardly stand it, but I took this "primitive" aversion as evidence for the truth of the idea...)

      When I started to really study philosophy I continued this behavior (like the time I completely and utterly *freaked out* about global skepticism only to later find and come up with some ameliorating counter arguments), but I eventually came to realize just how fruitless this habit of mine really was. Why adopt painful view after painful view only to later realize I was wrong about everything? Or even if accepting the view isn't painful, passionately promoting some view only to realize that it was wrong the whole time never fails to make me feel a let down or embarrassed.

      As such, I have become committed to a kind of global agnosticism, though I still allow myself to have "leanings". Nevertheless, this new approach has some issues. For example, I am a committed vegan, but I don't know how that sqaueres off with my new approach. Furthermore, how am I supposed to make any political action if I allow myself no political views?

      Point is, life is enigmatic and I have no idea what I'm doing...

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    3. "Interesting. With regards to utility, how are we to set about the best "goals"? Meaning, how do we know our goals are valid ones to begin with? "

      Some philosophers think metaphysics is first philosophy (a la Aristotle), epistemology is first philosophy (a la Cartesian skepticism), others phenomenology (a la Husserl/Heidegger/etc). I would personally argue that axiology, the study of value, is first philosophy. Before we even get off the ground, we have to first decide we want to get off the ground in the first place. We have to institute values and goals that realize these values. And refining these values and figuring out what is truly worth pursuing is incredibly important, I'd say, because if you won't do it, SOMEONE ELSE WILL, FOR YOU.

      "Or even if accepting the view isn't painful, passionately promoting some view only to realize that it was wrong the whole time never fails to make me feel a let down or embarrassed."

      I suppose one could feel disappointed at the prospects of holding a legitimately true, non-trivial philosophical position. Heidegger offers some consolation when he argues that no interpretation is final and that even a dead-end is valuable overall. I would say, always keep the door open, but don't be tempted to step out just because there's the possibility you might be wrong (unless of course being wrong has consequences, then agnosticism might be the better route).

      It can be a bit annoying to discuss things with people who are agnostic about everything, truth be told. There's a time and place for agnosticism but when it comes to (practical) ethics and politics, agnosticism isn't usually a good stance to have, let alone advocate. Being agnostic in these fields essentially means you are irrelevant to the discussion. Yet sometimes people think their indeterminacy of belief is an argument itself.

      I would personally argue that some ethical questions are a lot more obvious than some people admit; reason conflicts with unbridled emotion and this makes people uncomfortable.

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    4. Thanks for reading through all that! It was only after posting that I realized I may have written too much.

      I myself really badly want for there to be a "first philosophy" (it would make inquiry really neat, as understanding that one part of philosophy almost constitutes knowledge everything in a way), but the more I learn about the subject and its history the less convinced I am of the existence of such a thing. Why? Because it seems like in philosophy you start out with a set of views on epistemology, metaphysics and value theory. Then you find that a view you hold in, say, epistemology no longer seems right so you change it. But then many views in value theory could change, too, as a result. Then you go off from there and find that an ethical view that seems incredibly reasonable doesn't fit in with your metaphysics and so on and so forth. Philosophy seems to function like a "web" not a hierarchy.

      But even if we accept that there is a first philosophy, I doubt that axiology would be it. Because, for example, the logical moves that you consider legal in order to set out a rational axiology is based off of some even more "primary" epistemological views that are certainly not self evident. For example, the validity of circular reasoning is still debated, and if circular reasoning is considered illegal, then philosophical intuitions and every axiological or ethical view that intuitions are responsible for are out with them. And not only that, but such a finding would devastate and impair all of our philosophical pursuits, resulting in a kind of global skepticism. (see: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/intuition/#DefIntSelSupEpiCir)

      After all, it makes sense to question assumptions when you are making axiological claims, and many epistemological assumptions (like the one I used above as an example) are right there, waiting to be evaluated.

      And on the agnosticism, I can definitely agree that it may be annoying to discuss philosophy with people who are very open about being agnostic about everything if they use it as some kind of defense when they are found to be taking an indefensible position.

      I have personally formed a kind of debate "code of conduct" for myself-- one of those things is to always assume a position, at least for the discussion. This rule came after realizing that I actually learn a lot debating with people, more so than I would if I were just doing things on my own, because holding a position and defending it against another makes me think very hard about both (my ego is on the line, dammit!). For a very recent example, I took a position on first philosophies in this post. Am I really positive about my position? Not really, even when I was writing it I was having a bunch of doubts; but I lean towards it more so than I lean towards any other one position, so I assumed it. So you’re right, being agnostic about everything makes discussion almost pointless if that's the only thing you have to contribute. But I would say that as a personal attitude or approach, it's the most honest one I can think of.

      Also, I think you're probably right about agnosticism not really being good in practical situations such as politics, that's one of my own worries as well, as I noted above.

      And that's an interesting position to hold on ethics. I would, in response, point out that many professional ethicists even today differ greatly on what is ethical and thus it isn’t not so obvious. For example, Benatar's antinatalism is different from Cabrera's, and while both may base their views off of him, both would differ from Schopenhauer (as far as I can remember, Benatar has his unique asymmetry and Cabrera has his "ontology" based view while Schopenhauer has a "will" based view).

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    5. "Philosophy seems to function like a "web" not a hierarchy."

      Indeed, yes, this is a "foundational" view to anti-foundationalist epistemologies, like coherentism and pragmatism, of which I myself align with.

      "After all, it makes sense to question assumptions when you are making axiological claims, and many epistemological assumptions (like the one I used above as an example) are right there, waiting to be evaluated."

      But this is still technically an axiological claim. Without goals, there's no reason to value truth over falsehood. Why OUGHT we value objectivity? Why OUGHT we value reason? Because we VALUE truth and other things like that.

      "And on the agnosticism, I can definitely agree that it may be annoying to discuss philosophy with people who are very open about being agnostic about everything if they use it as some kind of defense when they are found to be taking an indefensible position."

      Exactly. Now, there's something to be said about advocating agnosticism as an epistemic position - that's what I do when I talk about philosophy of religion or theology, hell, even metaphysics or the fringes of theoretical science. But to simply state that one is agnostic provides nothing of value to the discussion.

      "I have personally formed a kind of debate "code of conduct" for myself-- one of those things is to always assume a position, at least for the discussion."

      This seems reasonable. Again you can advocate agnosticism as a position, that's fine. But to simply be agnostic and not advocate it is not helpful.

      So long as you're not constantly flip-flopping around from one position to the next, which can get irritating since it's basically moving the goalposts.

      " (as far as I can remember, Benatar has his unique asymmetry and Cabrera has his "ontology" based view while Schopenhauer has a "will" based view).

      Yes, Benatar has a two-pronged approach (axiological thesis and empirical thesis), Cabrera has an interesting synthesis of Heideggerian natural ontology and ethics, and Schopenhauer had his Kantian Will.

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    6. Sorry for not replying all this time, I was quite busy.

      Anyways, as I said before, I think that either there is no first philosophy (that we could just keep going back and forth epistemology, ethics, metaphysics, without there being any "foundation") or that the first philosophy is epistemology.

      "But this is still technically an axiological claim. Without goals, there's no reason to value truth over falsehood. Why OUGHT we value objectivity? Why OUGHT we value reason? Because we VALUE truth and other things like that."

      I don't think that I need philosophical axiological claims to get started with inquiry. For example, let's say that a person living before the dawn of philosophy was living and trying to survive (based off of some kind of biological or whatever) and he notices that certain patterns appear in the natural world. Knowing about these patterns serves an obvious role in aiding his survival, so he takes note of these patterns and learns to make predictions off of them. Here we have our example of the beginnings of an inductive argument. What is strictly philosophical about this man's thoughts is not how he values his survival, but the epistemic claims he is implicitly making about the world around him. The values that guided him were not philosophical per se. If my example holds up, then there is no need to have a philosophical axiology set out before doing other inquiry.

      Also, there is nothing about epistemology or truth that requires us to value it to get to it. If it's true, then it is true. The "ought" is normative, but as far as I know, epistemic normativity is, for the most part, primarily intuitive, and while the validity of its use may be aided by philosophical inquiry, I don't think that it's necessary to produce it philosophically before we get started with everything else (because even then you'd probably be using a lot of epistemic norms to justify whether or not we "ought" to do something-- this is one reason why I kind of stick to the idea that there is no first philosophy, it seems like it's turtles all the way down). I think that people are endowed with certain pre-philosophical assumptions and intuitions that we then use to get started doing philosophy.

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  6. It seems that your arguments are not based on logical validity. The following argumentative forms are logically valid:

    A & B
    ∴ A

    A → B
    A
    ∴ B

    Such arguments can be proved as valid by natural deduction. Now, I offer an argument against you:

    It is not the case that darthbarracuda's ethics is right.
    Therefore, it is not the case that darthbarracuda's ethics is right.

    I am going to prove my argument as valid by natural deduction as follows:

    1. ~Fa
    ∴ ~Fa
    2. asm: Fa
    3. ~Fa 1, R
    ∴ 4. ~Fa 2-3, RAA (reductio ad absurdum)
    Q.E.D.

    My argument is valid based on logical structure.

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    1. You are categorically insane, and your premises are shit as well.

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  7. I saw this commentary on the book "Straw Dogs" by John Gray.


    Mankind should recognize that we are not separate from animals in any way, we are animals, destructive animals, driven by instinct, reproductive urges and the need to survive. Our consciousness is not a unique, ordered, thoughtful, Descartian phenomena: it is a mess of conflicting actions and impulses, many of them submerged, subliminal, or so dominant as to ellipse any attempt at analysis. We can never have total control over our minds and bodies, a basic component of some liberal and marxist thought, we can never be remade, remoulded or reborn, because our conscious self is the tip of a very mysterious iceberg.

    Individuals are not the most important factor of humanity, or at least, our individualism is as much an illusion as our conscious control, because both rest on a false pretense that we are conscious, intelligent, different from animals and separate from one another... Western philosophy, ethics, morals and religion seek to erase this point completely, and to emphasize our individuality and our ‘rationality’ and ‘will’ versus instinctual, mechanical animals, despite the fact that we are not different from them. Additionally, morality is a construct that excuses our fears and helps our vanity; morality does not exist because, at heart, we are animals, clever yes, organised yes, but our morality does not just come in from the cold, it is a veil we put over ourselves willingly to hide the truth.

    Also, our technology has always been beyond our control, it has always provided benefits behind our vision and disasters from our nightmares; technology, also, is independent of morality, that is, technological progress is not synonymous with moral progress... Human beings are homo rapiens, we plunder destroy and desecrate with little impunity, and this has always been and will be: we cannot be redeemed, because there is nothing to redeem, we are just well organized locusts. Christianity created the idea of purpose or meaning in life, deeper than just survival, and of ‘saving’ humanity, both ideas being wrong and foolish, because we are animals after all: we seek to escape from death through this creation of purpose and meaning, because the West is the civilization most afraid of death and the end, because of our conception of linear time and failure to include ourselves as part of nature.... We are fixated on what ought to be, rather than what is, and so try and redeem, save or adjust the world: this is the ideological project of science, this is the project of Marxism, this is the project of liberal capitalism, and it is stupid, because, again, there is nothing to save... There is no such thing as progress, that is, of things getting better: science and technology may improve, but the human animal will not; purpose does not exist independent of human construction, history and civilizations have no grand plan, no superior march towards glorious progress, nor can that purpose be a moral redemption of mankind.

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  8. darthbarracuda is the beheaded corpse found in South Africa yesterday.

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  9. Excellent post, NY bookfile. Very informative, if not wholly productive, message, even if the writing is not your own. And that book is not in some narrow niche, it is comparable to the True Detective show in its reach; it merits at least a "light" skepticism, but nothing continues to change. And it seems very unlikely that TD will have even a halfway significant impact on average people's modus operandi on their modus vivendi. In fact I'd say nothing will change (at least from such "methods").

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  10. DarthB,

    What do you make of the fact that not a single pessimist philosopher has ever recommended suicide? They say that suicide solves nothing because it is another "futile attempt to seize happiness by positive action"

    Any thoughts on this?

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