Tag Archives: conceptual possibility

Some half-serious, half-formed thoughts on existing and so on

So I’ve been banging my head against a wall (metaphorically, almost not) for about a week and a half (or years on and off) about the apparent meaninglessness of anything and the difficulty of finding anything to do that is mildly satisfying next to the absurdity of existing. This is what I’ve come to:

On lack of inherant meaning in anything:

– Whether there is value inherent in the universe or not (by the way there’s not) doesn’t matter (nothing does! lol. But that’s not my point). Value that you choose to place on something is as legitimate as that which ‘God’ or anything else does. It would be impossible for a God or anything else to allocate value to things in any more legitimate a way. If they did, and you disagreed with them, why would their values have precedence? To give them precedence would be a value judgement. There is no better possibility than what we’ve got (similar to how there is no better version of free will than determinism).

– Really it’s not that bad. You have the freedom (yay) to value what you think should be valued. If there were some fundamental ones one had to stick by, I’d probably whinge heaps more about that (and anyway, if not comfy with it you can probably find some place to live where some government will be willing to choose values for you – such as Australia it seems)

– It is objectively better to value things, and to value things that other people’s values aren’t mutually exclusive with. ‘Better’ is defined in terms of the value placed on stuff (yours and others’) – if you value things more, there will be more value. So it will be better. If you value killing people etc. you will impinge on their (probably less messed up) experience of value quite considerably, so it will very likely not be better. In the end the goodness of anything is a practical question of whether the values of the individuals involved are fulfilled. Potential for this depends on them having values, and them not being contradictory.

Note: there is a difference between indifference and not valuing things. You can just indifferently value whatever comes along, without caring what it is (though there are still other people’s fixed values to watch out for). This can kind of work.

– You probably get on alright having your own values – knowingly chosen/based on biological and environmental effects – for things like wallpaper and lunch. Just do it for everything else (I don’t like AIDS because it doesn’t go with my sofa).

On how to behave when the absurdity of existing at all is just so crazy that anything else seems incredibly unsatisfying in comparison:

– Violence? Tried it this arvo for a bit. Distracting, yes. Fun, hell yes. Incredibly satisfying? Not really. A viable source of income? Possibly, but would have to find richer people to mug :)

– If you really feel like hurting yourself just to feel something, physical violence is probably not the best bet. Before it hurts enough you will damage yourself, which isn’t useful. Try psychological torment ;D Some good bits of emotion can be had from just thinking about this kind of thing…satisfaction from the horror of dissatisfaction…mmm it’s even pleasingly recursive (I like recursion and I don’t care if God does). I had some other ideas, but I edited them out, as I feel bad about depressing people, ironically enough.

-Seek satisfaction from the absurdity of existing, without doing anything about it? Just think about it and see how amazed you can be. I suspect not enough to seem appropriate, but what’s appropriate?

– Try to be nice and save the world and stuff? As mentioned earlier, I think this is the inevitable conclusion I must come to, regardless of the source of it’s preferability. However I’m slightly inclined not to. On further introspection, I think this is merely because I just don’t want to follow all the people who are lefties or righties or whatever because they haven’t thought about any of this and are just engaging in smugness about their smugness about what they blindly assume is right. It’s just kind of lonely – I feel like a hipocrite and an outsider to their sentiments, which makes me angry, which makes me more right wing. This is a bad reason, and anything is going to be lonely, with or without other people to misunderstand me. So this one isn’t written off – in fact I think it is still going to be the inevitable conclusion.

– Something that hasn’t been done before? Hard to find and once you’ve done it, it’s been done. Also, it is unlikely to be terribly satisfying. Things that are particularly satisfying have probably been done. The best candidate for ‘something that hasn’t been done and might be satisfying’ is something horrendously idealistic and difficult, like saving the world (from whatever, it’s irrelevant here). Which solves the problem in the last point, because when smug people with the same end goal as me talk to me I can at least say I want to save the world because it would be ‘kind of post-modern’. This will at least make it clear to them if we probably can’t relate to each other, and they will go away.

– Hang around and think more about it? I am probably stupid enough to be wrong about how I’m even looking at these problems. Almost cerainly in fact – to my knowledge, nobody exists who isn’t impressively stupid. This is one of the more interesting things to read/think about anyway.

– Wait until one day I give up caring about whether things matter inherently or not, and be back to square one…until I stop caring about that…fuck…

– Be relieved that as a the kind of complicated biological and social thing you are, you have a good few pre-programmed preferences for things. You could chuck them all out the window, on the basis that they are arbitrary upshots of evolution. However so are you, and they are the arbitrary upshots you like, and you probably won’t find much satisfaction in not having them particularly. Also it’s hard to do properly and you probably can’t keep it up for that long (‘…it is inevitable to be drawn back into human drama…’).

So there. I think I’ll go for a combination while I look for other things to think.

Free will isn’t a concept (unless you mean determinism)

Imagine something happens. For instance you make a decision. There are three possibilities for this occurence:

  1. It could be related purely to other factors (determinism)
  2. It could be not related to other factors (randomness)
  3. It could be a combination of these (a mixture of determinism and randomness)

None of these are free will (as commonly understood). So where does the concept of free will fit in? How could an occurence escape from being in one of these categories? Clearly it can’t. So there is no possibility of a concept of free will that is in opposition to determinism, let alone a chance of it existing in reality.

But you feel like you have free will (whatever that is – just don’t think about it), don’t you? Or to put it another way, you feel like your actions are neither determined nor random. You choose them.

And that is precisely why they are determined. They are determined by you. And you already exist to the finest detail at the time you are making the decision. If you made choices (or some element of them) not controlled by your personality, experience, thoughts and anything else that comes under the heading of ‘the state of your brain as a result of genetics and your prior environments’, they would be random, which still isn’t free will (not to mention being a less personal and less appealing model, if that’s how you choose your beliefs).

You might argue that you can choose what to think and how to feel , and how heavily to let those things influence you, when making a decision. That doesn’t alter the situation however. Those are then choices too, and your decisions for them would presumably have to be made based on other thoughts and feelings , which you would presumably choose, and so on. The point at which free will should have occurred would just be shifted back indefinitely. Again you just have a long chain of cause and effect.

The closest thing you can have to free will is for your actions to be determined purely by the state of your brain. Free will is determinism.