My Philosophy of Life

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Critique My Philosophy of Life?

#1  Postby Philosofer123 » Mar 05, 2014 12:25 am

Over the past few years, I have formulated my philosophy of life, a 13-page document that may be found at either of the following links:

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0Byh6JnTg3RMecHhxV0pYeklqV0U/edit?usp=sharing

http://www.scribd.com/doc/183418623/My-Philosophy-of-Life

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.

I am posting my philosophy to solicit constructive feedback so that it may be improved. I welcome any constructive criticism that you may have.

Enjoy!
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Re: Critique My Philosophy of Life?

#2  Postby Philosofer123 » Mar 14, 2014 8:54 pm

No takers? Really?
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Re: Critique My Philosophy of Life?

#3  Postby hackenslash » Mar 14, 2014 9:47 pm

Better if you give us a summary here. People don't like downloading documents from people they don't know and, given that this is your first post here, it's hardly surprising that nobody wants to download and critique something from an unknown source, especially given the number of people who rock up with their really-wonderful-philosophy-honest.

Give us the greatest hits, and we can discuss them.
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Re: Critique My Philosophy of Life?

#4  Postby Deremensis » Mar 14, 2014 10:06 pm

What hackenslash said. Better yet, make individual topics about the things you're interested in discussing at some point, perhaps.

I've never bothered to do something like this. I think about philosophy occasionally, but since I put down Objectivism at a younger age, I've stopped trying to construct any complete system of philosophy for myself. I suppose it'd be interesting to know where you ended up.

I don't particularly find the argument against free will compelling myself. But I've also never thought the question was very relevant to begin with. In what way does our way of living change if we reject free will? Pragmatically, we'd still need to punish people for certain negative actions, so what would it matter if they had a choice in the matter? Pragmatically, if you want something, you still need to take action for it, whether you think that's actually a choice you're making at all. I've always simply treated free will as axiomatic: to question free will, it seems like you'd have to suppose the existence of free will in the first place. Otherwise, to what end do you question free will? What natural force is compelling you to do so, besides some arbitrary whim of your own?

I'm not sure how I feel about the moral skepticism stuff. I of course feel that there are not objective facts of reality that define morality. But it seems like you could have an objective means of deriving moral facts: i.e. IF such and such is the goal for your life, society, political system, or whatnot, THEN it can be derived that such and such are the absolutely necessary things and such and such are the things that absolutely must not happen, therefore these are right and wrong. Sure, it's not an objective fact of reality, but the method of finding these rules IS objective and, at the least, non-arbitrary/non-whimsical.

I didn't bother going any further than that in your document, or being any more comprehensive in my response. Sorry.
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Re: Critique My Philosophy of Life?

#5  Postby pl0bs » Mar 14, 2014 10:26 pm

Philosofer123 wrote:No takers? Really?
Dont expect too much, this is basically the anal prolapse of the internet where the ppl with the most extreme paranormal fantasies end up.
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Re: Critique My Philosophy of Life?

#6  Postby hackenslash » Mar 14, 2014 10:28 pm

Butthurt because nobody's buying your mindless drivel, pl0bs?
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Re: Critique My Philosophy of Life?

#7  Postby Boyle » Mar 14, 2014 10:43 pm

pl0bs wrote:
Philosofer123 wrote:No takers? Really?
Dont expect too much, this is basically the anal prolapse of the internet where the ppl with the most extreme paranormal fantasies end up.

I met an anal prolapse once. It was not a good conversationalist. :( A very disappointing encounter, all in all.
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Re: Critique My Philosophy of Life?

#8  Postby Philosofer123 » Mar 14, 2014 10:47 pm

Deremensis, thank you for your comments.

Deremensis wrote:I don't particularly find the argument against free will compelling myself. But I've also never thought the question was very relevant to begin with. In what way does our way of living change if we reject free will?


Realizing that no one can be ultimately responsible for their actions renders irrational a number of negative emotions, as discussed in the middle of page 6. This is the primary relevance of free will impossibilism to my philosophy.

Deremensis wrote:Pragmatically, we'd still need to punish people for certain negative actions, so what would it matter if they had a choice in the matter?


With free will impossibilism, punishment for retributive purposes makes no sense. And much of our legal and judicial system is based on retribution. That said, punishment for pragmatic reasons--such as deterrence, quarantine and rehabilitation--still applies.

Deremensis wrote:I've always simply treated free will as axiomatic: to question free will, it seems like you'd have to suppose the existence of free will in the first place.


Not if you define free will in terms of ultimate responsibility, the way I have.

Deremensis wrote:I'm not sure how I feel about the moral skepticism stuff. I of course feel that there are not objective facts of reality that define morality. But it seems like you could have an objective means of deriving moral facts: i.e. IF such and such is the goal for your life, society, political system, or whatnot, THEN it can be derived that such and such are the absolutely necessary things and such and such are the things that absolutely must not happen, therefore these are right and wrong. Sure, it's not an objective fact of reality, but the method of finding these rules IS objective and, at the least, non-arbitrary/non-whimsical.


Fair points, but nothing that contradicts anything in my document. In my philosophy, moral skepticism--the way I define it--is relevant because it supports negative hedonism, both directly and indirectly (via support for existential skepticism).
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Re: Critique My Philosophy of Life?

#9  Postby jamest » Mar 14, 2014 10:55 pm

Philosofer123 wrote:
Deremensis wrote:I don't particularly find the argument against free will compelling myself. But I've also never thought the question was very relevant to begin with. In what way does our way of living change if we reject free will?


Realizing that no one can be ultimately responsible for their actions renders irrational a number of negative emotions, as discussed in the middle of page 6. This is the primary relevance of free will impossibilism to my philosophy.

Saying something of interest in 2 sentences, to strangers, is much more enticing than willy-nilly asking them to critique a long document. Like everyone else, I can't be bothered reading your link. But now you've said this, above, I'm curious as whether you could explain yourself in live interactive debate. Since this appears to be the crux of your philosophy, please give us a brief account of why you think what you've said.
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Re: Critique My Philosophy of Life?

#10  Postby Deremensis » Mar 14, 2014 11:46 pm

I too am curious how a lack of free will renders irrational a number of negative emotions. If they weren't irrational with free will, what makes them irrational without it? It seems almost like a lack of free will makes a number of emotions far more viable - after all, if something is ultimately not in your control, then how you feel about it is also, ultimately, not in your control.
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Re: Critique My Philosophy of Life?

#11  Postby Philosofer123 » Mar 15, 2014 12:14 am

Deremensis wrote:I too am curious how a lack of free will renders irrational a number of negative emotions. If they weren't irrational with free will, what makes them irrational without it? It seems almost like a lack of free will makes a number of emotions far more viable - after all, if something is ultimately not in your control, then how you feel about it is also, ultimately, not in your control.


Most (if not all) emotions have a cognitive basis. This is the underlying premise of CBT/REBT, which has been shown to be effective in treating a wide range of psychological ailments. When the cognitive basis for an emotion is eliminated, the emotion is rendered irrational. And realizing that a particular emotion is irrational helps one to reduce or eliminate that emotion.

Take resentment. In order to rationally resent someone for a particular action, you must believe that that person is truly responsible for that action. But the regress argument for free will impossibilism (see page 3) demonstrates that no one can be truly responsible for any action. As a result, the cognitive basis for resentment is eliminated.

In the same way, free will impossibilism renders irrational such emotions as regret, guilt, remorse, shame, anger, hatred, contempt, disgust, indignation and outrage.

A number of techniques in my document for eliminating negative emotions work in this manner (see pages 7-11).
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Re: Critique My Philosophy of Life?

#12  Postby hackenslash » Mar 15, 2014 12:25 am

You seem to take the view that the negation of free will entails determinism, if I'm reading you correctly. Not sure you can actually defend that.
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Re: Critique My Philosophy of Life?

#13  Postby Deremensis » Mar 15, 2014 12:52 am

Philosofer123 wrote:
Deremensis wrote:I too am curious how a lack of free will renders irrational a number of negative emotions. If they weren't irrational with free will, what makes them irrational without it? It seems almost like a lack of free will makes a number of emotions far more viable - after all, if something is ultimately not in your control, then how you feel about it is also, ultimately, not in your control.


Most (if not all) emotions have a cognitive basis. This is the underlying premise of CBT/REBT, which has been shown to be effective in treating a wide range of psychological ailments. When the cognitive basis for an emotion is eliminated, the emotion is rendered irrational. And realizing that a particular emotion is irrational helps one to reduce or eliminate that emotion.

Take resentment. In order to rationally resent someone for a particular action, you must believe that that person is truly responsible for that action. But the regress argument for free will impossibilism (see page 3) demonstrates that no one can be truly responsible for any action. As a result, the cognitive basis for resentment is eliminated.

In the same way, free will impossibilism renders irrational such emotions as regret, guilt, remorse, shame, anger, hatred, contempt, disgust, indignation and outrage.

A number of techniques in my document for eliminating negative emotions work in this manner (see pages 7-11).


I dunno. I'm not gonna try to take a philosophical stand against this, just because it's not a discussion I'm particularly interested in having at this particular moment (though, perhaps another day). But how does one deal, in this situation, with those negative emotions? Because there's some situations which seriously warrant regret, guilt, remorse, shame, et cetera - and, arguably, the presence of those emotions is a good way to handle some situations and teach good vs bad behaviours.
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Re: Critique My Philosophy of Life?

#14  Postby Philosofer123 » Mar 15, 2014 12:55 am

Deremensis wrote:
Because there's some situations which seriously warrant regret, guilt, remorse, shame, et cetera


Not if free will impossibilism is true.
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Re: Critique My Philosophy of Life?

#15  Postby surreptitious57 » Mar 15, 2014 2:58 am

Philosofer 123 : The only one of your philosophical positions that I fundamentally disagree with is the notion that death is harmful. Your argument that it denies a longer life automatically assumes that that in and of itself is always a preferable option. But quality of life is superior to quantity of life and in cases where the former is significantly reduced death is far more preferable. Death is also inevitable so denying it is just wishful thinking of the highest order. And also you were dead before you were born and had no negative memories of that so why be reluctant to experience it again ? And what exactly is there to be afraid of in spending the rest of eternity in a state of blissful non consciousness anyway ? I am looking very much forward to it myself. An existence free of all pain and suffering for all of time is most definitely not one to be fearful of now
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Re: Critique My Philosophy of Life?

#16  Postby Philosofer123 » Mar 15, 2014 3:39 am

surreptitious57 wrote:But quality of life is superior to quantity of life and in cases where the former is significantly reduced death is far more preferable. Death is also inevitable so denying it is just wishful thinking of the highest order. And also you were dead before you were born and had no negative memories of that so why be reluctant to experience it again ?


You might want to re-read the "Death" section of the document. I make all of these points in that section.

surreptitious57 wrote:And what exactly is there to be afraid of in spending the rest of eternity in a state of blissful non consciousness anyway ? I am looking very much forward to it myself. An existence free of all pain and suffering for all of time is most definitely not one to be fearful of now


In the "Death" section of the document, I also argue that fearing death is irrational. However, at least according to afterlife skepticism (see page 2), the state of being dead is not "existence"; it is non-existence. Therefore, it cannot be "blissful".
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Re: Critique My Philosophy of Life?

#17  Postby Keep It Real » Mar 15, 2014 6:26 am

Philosofer123 wrote:
In the same way, free will impossibilism renders irrational such emotions as regret, guilt, remorse, shame, anger, hatred, contempt, disgust, indignation and outrage.

This train of thinking should also lead to the elimination of all positive emotions too though. No more love, no more generosity, no more hard-work - nothing to give self-esteem basically. That's a pretty cold existence IMO - a psychopathic robotic existence. This frightened me recently when I was ruminating on the fact people only deeply love their kids/parents because they carry their genetic code. Bleak. I can't completely argue with the logic though, regardless of wishful thinking.

My current attempt to think my way out of the "no personal responsibility" situation is that people aren't responsible for who they are to a large extent, but that they are responsible for their actions. One good decision (eg. deciding to read Daniel Kahneman's "Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow") can result in one being a better person - and that decision was based on one's very own brain, in which one should take pride. Train your brain. Yes, you have to accept some negative emotions, but at least you get to keep your self-esteem, fickle as that might be. And you get to love people because you respect and value their personalities - holding the totality of their decisions as being a major formative agent. You can still call on the old external locus of control fallback position when you're heavily influenced into making a bad decision through forces outside your own control but you get to keep internal locus of control a lot of the time. Just take pride in your brain. Not completely satisfying but it's the best I've got at the moment I'm afraid. :roll:
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Re: Critique My Philosophy of Life?

#18  Postby zoon » Mar 15, 2014 12:17 pm

We are biological robots, and like all living things we’ve evolved as if to maximise our inclusive fitness, that is, the number of our own genes in future generations.

Humans are also highly unusual in that we have evolved to cooperate tightly in effective groups while at the same time competing vigorously as individuals within the groups. Other organisms that have evolved to cooperate as very effective groups, such as eusocial insects or multicellular animals, have far less competition inside the groups (most of the individual co-operators like worker ants or somatic cells don’t breed).

Cooperation between human groups tends to be markedly different from competition within the groups. One separate group, such as a tribe or a nation state, can happily wipe out another group and take over their resources; competition between groups is often lethal. Within a functioning group, competition is still intense but doesn’t usually take the form of trying to remove competitors, because that would weaken or break up the group. Instead, we compete for status, to divert as high a proportion as possible of group resources towards self and family while being careful to keep the group effective. As everybody is doing the same, this often means settling for roughly equal status. It’s in this context of intense but limited intragroup competition that evolved emotions like pride, shame and remorse are relevant.

Humans’ unique form of cooperation is linked to Theory of Mind, our unique evolved ability to guess each other’s thoughts by automatically running offline simulations which assume (usually correctly) that the other person’s brain processes are much the same as one’s own. We are machinery, and these simulation processes are entirely physical and biological, but the result of using them is that we see each other as essentially non-mechanical, as centres of experience (when we simulate what they are sensing or feeling) and as having free will (because the simulations are in the end only guesses, they are very useful but often wrong).

Although science has shown that we are machinery, science is so far nowhere near being able to predict or control that machinery in detail. We are, in the end, machinery without free will, and in the end neuroscience may well enable us to predict and control each other in that way, with far more accuracy than is possible with Theory of Mind guesswork. But for the time being our fantastically complicated brains are for all practical purposes black boxes, and our only effective way of predicting each other is still the prescientific evolved trick of Theory of Mind, which is a series of only moderately accurate guesses. Scientifically, we haven’t got free will; for practical social purposes, we have.

If, or when, neuroscience succeeds in understanding, predicting and controlling the machinery in our brains, social life is likely to change radically, free will could be lost for practical as well as theoretical purposes, and our social emotions may become redundant or be engineered out. For the time being, however, free will is still a useful practical assumption, and emotions such as pride, shame and remorse are still our most effective guide to managing the uniquely human combination of cooperation and competition within the group.

?
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Re: Critique My Philosophy of Life?

#19  Postby Philosofer123 » Mar 15, 2014 5:22 pm

Thank you for your comments, Keep It Real.

Keep It Real wrote:
Philosofer123 wrote:
In the same way, free will impossibilism renders irrational such emotions as regret, guilt, remorse, shame, anger, hatred, contempt, disgust, indignation and outrage.

This train of thinking should also lead to the elimination of all positive emotions too though.


It renders irrational some positive emotions--such as pride and gratitude toward others--but certainly not all. And there are other techniques in the document that eliminate certain positive emotions along with negative emotions. That said, a number of positive emotions remain, including wonder, amusement, camaraderie, serenity, enjoyment, cheerfulness and gratitude (not toward others, but simply feeling fortunate). See page 13. Whether love is eliminated is highly debatable. All in all, I feel that the potential elimination of virtually all negative emotions is well worth the potential loss of a few positive emotions. Regarding self-esteem, I simply feel fortunate for being the person that I am--ultimate responsibility for my actions is not required.

Keep It Real wrote:My current attempt to think my way out of the "no personal responsibility" situation is that people aren't responsible for who they are to a large extent, but that they are responsible for their actions.


I'm afraid that won't work. The regress argument (see page 3) shows that to be responsible for one's actions, one must be responsible for the way one is, at least in certain mental respects.

Keep It Real wrote:One good decision (eg. deciding to read Daniel Kahneman's "Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow") can result in one being a better person - and that decision was based on one's very own brain, in which one should take pride.


I'm afraid that won't work either. One may feel fortunate for being the type of person who makes such a decision, but the regress argument shows that one cannot be truly responsible for any of one's decisions. As a result, pride is rendered irrational.
Last edited by Philosofer123 on Mar 15, 2014 5:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Critique My Philosophy of Life?

#20  Postby hackenslash » Mar 15, 2014 5:26 pm

Was there any particular reason you didn't respond to my post? Free will seems to be the root of a good deal of what you're relying on here, so it's an important point.
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