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Existential angst - Page 3

post #31 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dedalus View Post
...Which shade is the true orange, and more importantly, how did you determine that?

To raise another problematic issue with ideals, can you say one hair is moreso a hair than another? On what grounds do some ideas warrant a true ideal and others not? (Parminides, Plato)

To the first: All shades of orange are truly orange.
And the second: As I said, I am no Platonic idealist. And so, no, I would not say one hair is more of a hair than another.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Dedalus View Post
Here are the ways that my mother has been useful:
-Gave birth to me
-Reared me
-Provides a fulfilling relationship in the role of 'mom'
-etc.

That may not be as heartwarming as 'how do I love thee, mum, let me count the ways,' but what could good mean beyond that?

True, your mother has been and remains useful. My question was whether or not you think her value or goodness is limited to her usefulness.

Those who believe usefullness to be the only criterion for value advocated killing certain groups of people because they are no longer "useful." Would you? If, someday, your mother is no longer useful to you, would you be willing to kill her?


Do you concede my other points/questions above?
post #32 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by emptym View Post
True, your mother has been and remains useful. My question was whether or not you think her value or goodness is limited to her usefulness.

Those who believe usefullness to be the only criterion for value advocated killing certain groups of people because they are no longer "useful." Would you? If, someday, your mother is no longer useful to you, would you be willing to kill her?

Now you're just arguing from an Aristotelian point of view concern his writings of "complete" and "incomplete" relationships from...I think...the Nicomedian Ethics. Sorry, undergrad courses were 15 or more years ago.
post #33 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by emptym View Post
To the first: All shades of orange are truly orange.
And the second: As I said, I am no Platonic idealist. And so, no, I would not say one hair is more of a hair than another.

I guess I can't argue with such a circular statement. I'm not sure why you keep bringing up Platonism, though. You don't have to be a Platonic idealist with forms and everything that goes along with it to hold ideals that pose similar problems.

Quote:
True, your mother has been and remains useful. My question was whether or not you think her value or goodness is limited to her usefulness.

Those who believe usefullness to be the only criterion for value advocated killing certain groups of people because they are no longer "useful." Would you? If, someday, your mother is no longer useful to you, would you be willing to kill her?

You're making some crazy and baseless propositions here and letting the connotations of "useful" get in the way. I don't consider myself to be the authority in utility. All that I can justifiably claim is what is useful to me, and the fate of others is none of my concern. My mother will always be useful to me, unless of course she ends up in a vegetative state. And yes, I would pull the plug, for her benefit and mine.

Quote:
Do you concede my other points/questions above?

No, it was just clear that you barely skimmed my posts, as you had taken quotes out of context and completely misinterpreted the intent, so I didn't think it was worth responding to.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Piobaire
Second, this thread makes me so glad those thoughts of a Ph.D. in Philosophy were quashed long ago. I mean, for instance, that whole lengthy thing about "orange". One sentence says it all, "Words do not denote". Not that it was not a good explanation. I think I remember liking Wittegstein when I was besotted with philosophy because he was a) pithy and b) didn't hand over the answers.

Haha, well conversely:

"If you measure the length of a book, not by how many pages it has, but by how difficult it is to read, by how much time it takes to read, then many a book wouldn't have been so long if it hadn't been so short."
-Critique of Pure Reason, Kant

But then, Kant's works are long no matter which way you cut it.
post #34 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dedalus View Post
"If you measure the length of a book, not by how many pages it has, but by how difficult it is to read, by how much time it takes to read, then many a book wouldn't have been so long if it hadn't been so short."
-Critique of Pure Reason, Kant

But then, Kant's works are long no matter which way you cut it.

LOL, good quote! Does the way you cut it vary if the shape of the Universe is non-Euclidean though? (Very esoteric allusion to Kant's critical flaw in his analytic/synthetic if memory serves me right.)
post #35 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Piobaire View Post
LOL, good quote! Does the way you cut it vary if the shape of the Universe is non-Euclidean though? (Very esoteric allusion to Kant's critical flaw in his analytic/synthetic if memory serves me right.)

post #36 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Piobaire View Post
Now you're just arguing from an Aristotelian point of view concern his writings of "complete" and "incomplete" relationships from...I think...the Nicomedian Ethics. Sorry, undergrad courses were 15 or more years ago.
I was using some elements from Aristotle's NE, but not the distinction between complete and incomplete. Thats something I never heard, but I'm no great Aristotelian. The parts I had in mind were about friendships: use, pleasure, and virtue/excellence.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dedalus View Post
I guess I can't argue with such a circular statement. I'm not sure why you keep bringing up Platonism, though. You don't have to be a Platonic idealist with forms and everything that goes along with it to hold ideals that pose similar problems.
How was it circular? I ask this sincerely. I believe you first mentioned Platonic forms. It was in a context people finding out there was no Santa. What I got from that was that you felt that a belief in an objective good was somthing limited to some type of Platonic idealism. If this is not what you believe, then I apologize for misunderstanding you. How does having ideals pose problems? If you give me a specific example, that would be helpful.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dedalus View Post
You're making some crazy and baseless propositions here and letting the connotations of "useful" get in the way. I don't consider myself to be the authority in utility. All that I can justifiably claim is what is useful to me, and the fate of others is none of my concern. My mother will always be useful to me, unless of course she ends up in a vegetative state. And yes, I would pull the plug, for her benefit and mine.
Hmm. My point is just that usefulness has been used to deny the value of such things as art, beauty, pleasure, the elderly, people with various handicaps, and probably more. I'm not necessarily against pulling the plug in when someone is in a vegetative state either, but I think it is important that we not make usefulness the final criterion for value/goodness.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dedalus View Post
No, it was just clear that you barely skimmed my posts, as you had taken quotes out of context and completely misinterpreted the intent, so I didn't think it was worth responding to.
This saddens me. I'm truly sorry if I did that. But I thought I had read your posts with great interest and care. If you would be willing to take the time to tell me when in particular I took your quotes out of context and misinterpreted them, I would really appreciate it since that would give me the opportunity to rectify the situation, or to try at least.
post #37 of 53
Your last quote has my name but that's not something I posted, emptym.
post #38 of 53
Also, I realize that this statement I said may have seemed combatative. I regreted it right after posting it and should have edited it:
Quote:
Originally Posted by emptym View Post
Do you concede my other points/questions above?

So sorry about that. What I was trying to express was that I was very interested in your respose to other arguments and questions I had posted. But my statement came off not as an expression of interest but as triumphal. Again, I'm very sorry.

The thing is that I live for these kind of philosophical discussions. And again, I'm sorry if I misrepresented your position. I may have been reading things into your position. For clarification, I have been operating on the belief that your position is in favor of
1) a postmodern belief that life has no meaning/truth/goodness except for what a person/subject chooses to give it, as well as 2) a modern belief that usefulness is the highest or the only criterion of value.

Btw, I make no value judgments about the terms modern and postmodern, if anything I'd say they are positive as a whole.

Is this correct? If not please correct me.
post #39 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Piobaire View Post
Your last quote has my name but that's not something I posted, emptym.

Oops! Let me edit that. Thanks! That's a result of my poor cutting and pasting to get this to take a kind of conversational form.
m
post #40 of 53
Fuck! I wrote a long, extravagant reply, and then I accidentally clicked on How many people in the wedding party? Sorry, m, but time for pithy:

Re: Circular statement.
The subject of the proposition "All shades of orange are truly orange" strips 'truly' of its role as a signifier, rendering the statement to say barely more than "orange is orange."

Re: Ideals and Platonism
People who hold tight to ideals, Platonic or not, only do so for the cute ones (ie, beauty, justice, freedom). Why not mud or insects?

Re: Utility
I use 'useful' in a technical sense, without the extraneous connotations you ascribe. Crossing my legs fulfills the desire to cross my legs, and so crossing my legs is useful, insofar as it fulfills that desire. No greater justification is required, no grand final cause necessary.

Re: Misinterpretation
I presented existential propositions not to expound upon them, but to explain why existentialism might be associated with angst/nausea and how people's use of language might make the philosophy appear cold and dark.

Re: My views
I'm not really an existentialist in any way. The question of "Why are we here?" is a confused one doomed to muddled and unproductive discussion. I will say that I haven't sufficiently tackled German idealism yet, so I'd be wary of ascribing postmodernism to any of my views. As for the modern view, I will say no more than that the word 'good' can most often be replaced with 'useful for [blank]' without any change in meaning to the statement.

Am I right to assume that you have a preference for the classics?
post #41 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dedalus View Post
Fuck! I wrote a long, extravagant reply, and then I accidentally clicked on How many people in the wedding party? Sorry, m, but time for pithy:

I hate it when that happens. I once wrote a long reply to a girfriend, spent 2 hrs on it, and then the computer crashed!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dedalus View Post
Re: Circular statement.
The subject of the proposition "All shades of orange are truly orange" strips 'truly' of its role as a signifier, rendering the statement to say barely more than "orange is orange."

Re: Ideals and Platonism
People who hold tight to ideals, Platonic or not, only do so for the cute ones (ie, beauty, justice, freedom). Why not mud or insects?

I think we use the words truly and ideal in different senses.
I've been taught that when it comes to epistemology the main categories are idealism, materialism (or naive realism), and critical realism. (Of course there are those who do not believe we can know anything or that everything is relative. But these positions seem to be inherently contradictory.)

--Idealists believe that what we see, taste, touch, etc. is only appearance. The real is ideal and known by reason or some other mental faculty. Some people have an imaginative view of the ideal -- imagining one and only one perfect orange, tree, or whatever.
--Materialists think that the only things that are real are physical things, and they can be known by seeing, touching, etc.
--Critical realists think that knowing is a product of both sensing and thinking. We sense something, come up w/ ideas about what a thing is and judge whether or not the idea corresponds to the sense data, and thus, is true. Modern science is a model of this (observation, hypothesis, conclusion). A critical realist knows that something physical, like a car, is real, but so is something non-physical, such as love and friendship.

So when I say that something is truly orange, and that many things are truly orange, I'm not imagining some ideal orange out there. I sense orange-ness in a thing, compare it w/ my idea or ideal of orange-ness, and judge the thing to be truly orange.

When I use the term ideal, I mean simply an idea of something preferable. For example, some SF member think pleated pants are ideal and some find flat fronts ideal. So, definitely, a person can have an ideal of mud or insect.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dedalus View Post
Re: Utility
I use 'useful' in a technical sense, without the extraneous connotations you ascribe. Crossing my legs fulfills the desire to cross my legs, and so crossing my legs is useful, insofar as it fulfills that desire. No greater justification is required, no grand final cause necessary.

No argument here. I'm just saying that a thing's goodness is broader than its utility. That's all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dedalus View Post
Re: Misinterpretation
I presented existential propositions not to expound upon them, but to explain why existentialism might be associated with angst/nausea and how people's use of language might make the philosophy appear cold and dark.

Sounds good.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dedalus View Post
Re: My views
I'm not really an existentialist in any way. The question of "Why are we here?" is a confused one doomed to muddled and unproductive discussion. I will say that I haven't sufficiently tackled German idealism yet, so I'd be wary of ascribing postmodernism to any of my views. As for the modern view, I will say no more than that the word 'good' can most often be replaced with 'useful for [blank]' without any change in meaning to the statement.

I would probably locate German idealism (Kant and Hegel at least) in modernity.
Postmodernity, for me, begins with Nietzsche's view that there is no real truth or goodness. History, culture, all texts, etc. are "cover stories" for people's attempts to impose their arbitrary wills on other people. His view influenced Sartre, Derrida, Foucault, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dedalus View Post
Am I right to assume that you have a preference for the classics?

Hmm. Maybe. I love them all. I think that Nietzsche, for example, despite saying there is no such thing as wisdom, was very wise: Much of culture is a cover story for power grabs (but I don't everything is).
The ancients and medievals, in my opinion, got lots of things right, but they did not take seriously the legitimacy of multiple perspectives, of change, and of subjectivity. Their weaknesses invited the discoveries of the moderns and the postmoderns, but some of them, went too far in their emphasis on multiple perspectives, change, and subjectivity (IMNSHO).

I think the real challenge for our times is to incorporate the good of the past with good of the present, without slipping into the errors of either. That's my ideal at least!
post #42 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by emptym View Post
I think we use the words truly and ideal in different senses.

I agree we are stumbling over terminology. It's hard to maintain consistency with vocabulary at each sentence. Anyways:

Quote:
something non-physical, such as love and friendship.

I have a problem with the term non-physical. Physical processes are necessarily at work in the brain when the synapses are firing and a person experiences these various brain states. That is not to say that other descriptions of that process, such as chemical or psychological, are invalid. But labeling anything non-physical, except perhaps Conne's relationships with women, can open the door for some to argue that the thing that is non-physical is not real or to some loopy metaphysics.

Quote:
No argument here. I'm just saying that a thing's goodness is broader than its utility. That's all.

What is not covered by utility?

Quote:
I would probably locate German idealism (Kant and Hegel at least) in modernity.
Postmodernity, for me, begins with Nietzsche's view that there is no real truth or goodness. History, culture, all texts, etc. are "cover stories" for people's attempts to impose their arbitrary wills on other people. His view influenced Sartre, Derrida, Foucault, etc.

Yes, but the postmodernists can't be understood properly without an understanding of Husserl, Schopenhauer, etc. I meant more that I don't know enough about the prerequisites of postmodernism to confidently say anything about the postmodernist views compared with my own.
post #43 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dedalus View Post
I have a problem with the term non-physical. Physical processes are necessarily at work in the brain when the synapses are firing and a person experiences these various brain states. That is not to say that other descriptions of that process, such as chemical or psychological, are invalid. But labeling anything non-physical, except perhaps Conne's relationships with women, can open the door for some to argue that the thing that is non-physical is not real or to some loopy metaphysics.

I agree completely. Then there's the problem that quantum mechanics poses when it says that molecules are not the solid things we think them to be but strings or whatever of energy. It's all just intelligible relationships.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dedalus View Post
What is not covered by utility?

Well, there's a fair amount of debate about this historically. Aristotle, as I mentioned, distinguishes between friendships of use (like business associates), pleasure (friends who make us laugh) and virtue/excellence. Aristotle also distinguished between things that are useful (in the sense of as a means to some end) and things that are good in themselves. Things can be both of course. Knowledge for him was an example of something can be useful but also enjoyed for its own sake.
Aristotle is one person, but much of western philo is influenced by him, directly or in reaction against.
For example, Machiavelli -- a person sometimes credited with the origins of modernity -- inverted a lot of Aristotle's heirarchies. Usefulness became the standard for all good. So in the modern era, businessmen are valued more than philosophers, and lying, cheating, killing, are preferred to generousity, courage, and justice--so long as they are useful. Mere utility has also been used historically to justify human technological domination of nature.

I say this because the alternatives to mere utility then stand out.
In addition to distinguishing pleasure and virtue from utility,
Some people distinguish beauty (form and function),
and inherent dignity (as the US founding fathers thought about humanity, to say nothing of the major world religions).

Of course one can have a very broad definition of utility. Thus, one could argue that beauty, pleasure, and virtue are useful--as Aristotle did say. (He would say that the good is always useful, but the useful is not always good.)

So the biggest sticking point for me is the dignity of the person, hence my question about one's mother. Is a person good only insofar as he or she is useful? Pulling the plug on someone who is in a vegetative state adds further complications, because such a person is arguably no longer a person (usually defined by advanced self-consciousness). A more focused example might be elderly people who are retired, or people w/ down's syndrome. Are they good only to the extent of useful? Again, it comes down to one's definition of use.

I would assume you have such a broad definition of use, which I would have nothing against. Although, I think I still would say that there's a problem with the term use. It implies that a thing is good only insofar as it gets you something else. And that's why I like the thought of things having an inherent dignity.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dedalus View Post
Yes, but the postmodernists can't be understood properly without an understanding of Husserl, Schopenhauer, etc. I meant more that I don't know enough about the prerequisites of postmodernism to confidently say anything about the postmodernist views compared with my own.

Agreed. I had a line about Schopenhauer influencing Nietzsche, but deleted it as part of a (failed) attempt at brevity.

Good stuff.
post #44 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by emptym View Post
Although, I think I still would say that there's a problem with the term use. It implies that a thing is good only insofar as it gets you something else. And that's why I like the thought of things having an inherent dignity.

Eh, I'm OK with being self-serving in a Hobbesian sort of way. Good stuff, indeed.
post #45 of 53
It's been a pleasure to use you. Seriously, a pleasure.
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