Wednesday, June 22, 2016

With everything going on in the world you need to know this!

About to start my essay on Hotel Rwanda for my Poli Sci course.  I'm really happy I got to write something this morning.  Will get to the other stuff I have planned eventually.

Tutoring is going well and I spent $0.75 on a can of Aquafina sparkling water even though I was almost certain I wouldn't like it because of all the chemicals in it - as opposed to the flavored water that's just carbonated water and whatever they use for taste.

Okay.  Back to your lives everyone.  We have decaying to do.

On The Ontology of Other and the Interrelatedness of Psychological with Social

The existence of other minds, or rather our state of mind in-regards to said minds, is perhaps the largest source of psychological suffering on this planet.  Anxiety, depression, shame, desire, pangs of rejection, all stemming from the perceived ontology of mind that is incorrect.  That is an ontology where the attitudes and projections of other minds towards us is what constitutes our being.
Human beings psychologically, regardless of whether this is true metaphysically, are dualists.  That is everything for them is either “stuff” (things to be used for utility) or other minds capable of passing judgement and is both a subject and an object.  Whether or not it is ethical to view animals as mere “objects” in the ethical sense (that is that which is not an agent of moral concern, the view that is taken if you view reason or high-levels of sentience as a prerequisite to moral worth) human beings certainly do this in-regards to perception and emotion.  People aren’t concerned about what their dog thinks of them and do not feel personally violated when attacked by a bear the same way they often feel when assaulted by their fellow man.  Whether they would feel the same indignation and psychological disturbances if injured or even simply accosted or rejected by an artificial intelligence (a robot, or thinking machine) is pure speculation.  But there does seem to be something to the nature of mind (or at-least the human mind) in relation to other minds.  The idea of judgment or disapproval of other beings is terrifying to others, and concern for our reputation of others takes up more people’s time than fear of bodily pain or death.  There seems to be something to Sartre’s claim “Hell is other people.”
This however, could potentially not be a dissoluble or permanent aspect of the human character or mind.  There are some who seem to be completely carefree in how others perceive or act towards them, and everyone (or most) are carefree in their relations to some and their thoughts and attitudes towards him or her.  Some have mild social anxiety when speaking towards people they do not know, while others have the same state of mind in relation to others they know intimately or know casually.  It does seem to be though that there is more potential for fear or dread in others we know though since there judgments of us seem (regardless of whether they are) more meaningful in-regards to who we are as individuals.  This defining ourselves through other minds is the main source of anxiety and perturbed psychological states ignoring materialist or biochemical explanations of suffering of the mind through states of the brain.
This is why it is of paramount importance that to the extent this can be inculcated in youth to bring them up to implicitly define themselves by their actions and internal traits rather than how they are esteemed and treated by others.  Unfortunately, there are some mechanisms of evolutionary psychology that seem innate in us, and it seems likely that for most these mechanisms of the psyche’ can only be mitigated against rather than cured or removed.  People will largely always yearn for some form of reaction from others, whether it be approbation, admiration or affection.  Though this yearning is a fundamentally bad state of affairs, it can be and is acted upon in psychologically healthy ways that can even bear fruit.  Much like Freud thought artistic creativity was “libidinal energy” redirected for productivity, so Man’s desire for approval though psychologically destructive or harmful can be a motivating factor for good works.  Though the purest of motives is regard for the “thing-in-itself” for its own sake – the sufferer for the sake that they are suffering without regard to one’s own relation to them or others – human beings are fundamentally egotistical (or most are most of the time) and can only occasionally be seen to act on genuine compassion and sympathy rather than to play the role of a moral actor because of the presence of watching eyes and judging minds. 
It seems then, assuming that this cannot change, that just as Freud thought that some repression of our libidinal impulses were necessary for civilization to continue and prosper (in fact for him civilization was little more than were our libidinal impulses are restricted and redirected in formation of our individual Egos and Super Egos) it seems that some attachment to other’s judgment of others is necessary for good works.  However, the existence of fear of judgment of others will produce no fruit if the judgments of the populous are not virtuous.  That is to say, many people much of the time make judgments, but they are either superficial or vicious (counter-intuitive to virtue).  They judge others based on their appearance, something that following the yearning of acceptance of will certainly produce no virtue or good works, or even worse, as someone like Nietzsche may point out, there are those who are envious or contemptuous of virtue whether it be the calm or cheerful demeanor, intelligence, generosity, wit or good fortunes and will act in negative judgment towards the person for that which should be encouraged.  This is one of the main reasons why children must be taught proper morals and values.  Not only in the hopes that they embody virtue and live good and decent lives, but so that they highly esteem and praise others for the virtue seen in them, rather than tacitly encourage shallowness and mediocrity in associating with those who pursue vices over virtue.
This favoring vice and mediocrity over virtue and excellence is potentially largely societal and the outgrowth of social conditions stemming from that which is only indirectly related, but it could also be in some to some degree innate.  The Greek Philosophers all worshipped virtue and thought that it alone (asides from Epicurus) as sufficient and necessary (though Aristotle thought that other things were necessary) for a good life.  But did their Greek contemporaries hold the same view?  Were they as enamored with virtue and goodness of character and mind as those we remember?  If the writings of said philosopher is to be what sways us it appears not.  Most philosophers, particularly the Ancient Greeks (e.g. Plato, Cynics, Stoics, Epicurus, etc.) talk of the common Man’s obsession with sensual desires and satisfaction of the appetites rather than the stimulation and growth of virtue.  Aristotle in his writings on friendship writes that there are three kinds, but the best and truest form of friendship (love of friend for their own sake and the shared virtue seen in each other) is rare largely because there are few good people in this world. 
This pessimism about human nature may or may not be founded.  Considering we will never escape the social influence of society it seems impossible to see “human nature” pure and without the influence of the life history of the child playing out and molding their mental and physical constitution to the extent that it can.  It does seem somewhat possible to glimpse at likely common traits or distinct personality types that go through the ages via the study of history and persisting themes despite the changing of scenery.  This is what Schopenhauer speaks of when he talks of the allegorical truth behind Hinduism:  the actors change through the ages, but the play on this stage of a world remains largely the same – the same lives living throughout the centuries, simply in different forms and with different names.  In one age the hero is Heracles, the next it is Superman, but they are largely the same soul or essence inhabiting different bodies.  The wise seeing through the particulars and witnessing the general traits and themes of this existence and taking pleasure in the spectacle of it all; the common Man seeing little more than his or her life and what he or she believes to be the sources of pain and pleasure in it.
Despite its impossibility the desired life both for self and others would be complete psychological disregard for others minds (having others opinions and attitudes towards one’s self be only a physical fact like a leaf on a tree or the presence of a bear, with no lingering or additional psychological aspects) but complete and total regard for them ethically – that is to say, concern for the state and well-being of other minds for their sake, rather than the affect they have on our own insecure psyche’.  If this could be done, it would be both the utter annihilation of Egoism and insecurity, as well as the propagation of compassion and moral consideration of other beings – seemingly ending nearly all forms of psychological and physical suffering. 
Perhaps this is why in all conceptions of paradise, whether earthly or supernatural, all members in this utopian world are both good and content and there are no psychological or societal worries or cares.  The two being intrinsically connected, the state of our minds having direct effect on the external state of our societies and vice versa.  For Schopenhauer was right in saying that Man brings most of his suffering upon himself; humanity through our nature and upbringing do much to add to our worries and little to alleviate them.  We concern ourselves with the estimation of ourselves through others and have little concern for others which is a far-better state of mind to be in personally – through our selfishness and pettiness we suffer and fail to achieve what we desire (for the only things humans truly personally desire is contentment and fulfillment – all individual things are merely window dressing or believed means to the end of happiness) and could have attained through virtue.  We will achieve a good world only to the extent that virtue is acted upon, and virtue will be acted upon only to the extent that people desire the good life over the one of sensuality and reputation or fame. 
Many if not most philosophers have spoken of this wisdom in one form of another – in Plato it is focusing on the Forms rather than this world of appearance, in Augustine it is the City of God over the City of Man, in Kant it is the Kingdom of Ends where all are respected for an End in Themselves rather than merely how they relate to or can service us, in Marx and the Anarchists it is the stateless utopia where all are free to own their own labor, pursue their passions and freely associate with others without having the material restrictions and societal conditionings of class and hierarchy to pull them from virtue and towards passive obedience and moral resignation.  The wise have always told us these timeless truths of virtue and self, and the common have always lived much like the Cynics describe.  We live however in the Catch-22 of all time.  To see if things could change we would need the change to already happen.  To see if paradise of body and soul is achievable we would first need said paradise to raise the children to live in this world of universal virtue, good will, and consistent cooperation to solve material or societal concerns as they arise or persist. 

Degrees of improvement are possible, but it seems as if this stage will remain forever the same – the same souls of virtue and viciousness, of yearning, passion, charity and immorality will consist more or less the same but in different forms until the sensuality and apathy of Man destroys itself.  Forever eliminating the possibility of the normative merging with the descriptive (the ideal becoming reality) except in the sense it is preferable that this play be finally cancelled and darkness and silence to be on the stage once again.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

God Damn I Love that Man

Just spent the afternoon with my father and had a pretty good time.  Glad to have him home.  Not doing any gardening tomorrow so I might do some writing if  I don't get too preoccupied by my friend whose coming back from Paraguay.  Know you're all shaking violently in your closet with anticipation for my next essay like a Heroin junky joanzing for his next fix.  Or her.  Sorry female drug addicts.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

How Things Are

Started weeding and planting flowers for a ninety-three year old woman and am tutoring someone with writing whose attending college in the Fall.  Also classes started though I can't do anything in them yet because my books haven't arrived.

I'm reading Mill and might write something on him and Schopenhauer (maybe though in Augustine) before I write my Adventure Time essay.

Things are good.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Where I am Now

I had a really good time in my hometown.  Was there for just short of a week and I'm a little surprised how much I managed to do.  Now I have interviews to follow up on and classes beginning Monday.  You'll probably see some writing from me but ultimately I'm focusing on getting the things I need to done.

I like where I am now.  Things can be good if we just learn to see them that way.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

On Our Relation to Ourselves

The people I've truly cared for and who have cared for me I rarely if ever feel anxious around.  Anxiety has to do with having false-values, and wanting something for your own self-image that you either are worried about losing or not having and feeling that you need.  Insecurity comes from not realizing that the only person that can define and give shape to your life is yourself.  Only your actions of how you treat others are in your control and those alone define who you are as a person.  Most people yearn for validation from others and though they may receive it it's only a temporary fix while understanding that we are who we choose to be reminds us that we are our treatment of others rather than how others treat us.

Anxiety is fear of the unreal.  Both of what may or may not be true but also the unreal in terms of grounding yourself in that which is outside of your control and the Ego which is vicious and always seeking its own temporary satisfaction rather than engaging in meaningful and virtuous conduct.  Virtue is that which is self-sufficient, and therefore what we have anxieties over is not virtuous.  We may believe it's for a virtuous cause or pursuit, and though there may externally be ethical conduct there (feeling anxious about your job organizing a political campaign to fund special needs programs for example) internally our frame of mind is focused not on the goal but what achieving the goal (or failure to do so) says about us.  We are then driven for the image of success rather than actually succeeding in that which is the good and this focus on self-image is derived from insecurity which is the source of anxiety.

We must always remember the good in us and keep true to it rather than seek for external validation which is never centered on virtue but instead of things like fame, reputation and money.  Virtue is that which psychologically is focused on "the-thing-in-itself" then and not the illusions which pervade much of our world.  This is why only through virtue can we be reliably happy and act in a way that has us concerned with good action, rather than the social perception of good action.

Friday, June 3, 2016

A brief detailing of ten years

I remember having an old computer when I moved into my father's house (after my parents separated) in '06 that ran on Windows 98 - in high school a friend of mine and I tried putting a mod copy of Windows XP on it and though we succeeded because the computer was so old it essentially didn't have any extra space for anything else.  Throughout my childhood I had to share that computer or a shitty one that ran on Windows XP (that my mother monitored remotely because of her paranoia and lack of boundaries) with my sister and it drove me crazy.

Now I'm on my third laptop.  The first two I had were adequate, the first one the flashdrive became corroded (or whatever they call it) and the screen was partially broken and the second one is still usable though it has almost no battery life.  My most recent one has 6GB of Memory (or RAM or whatever) and has more flashdrive space then I know what to do with.

I was close to being a high school drop out.  I hated the school I was in and wanted to spend all my time watching movies and looking up random stuff on the internet but never explored it very deeply.  The only reason I got my high school diploma was because of inspiration I received from the philosopher Epicurus.  I flunked out my first semester at my community college and was homeless for a brief period of time.

Now I have my associates degree and am on track to getting a Bachelors in Philosophy and Psychology with a minor in Political Science.  I'm now living in my third apartment (not including the dorm I lived in during the school year).and its a fairly nice place.  The first apartment I lived in on Main St in my hometown was a shit hole and I lived there for two years.  My second place was very nice and I made the acquaintance of several special needs people who treated me well.  When I come home I'll probably try to see some of them.  I also lived there for very close to two years.

I'm cataloging these facts, which are meaningless to most, to diagram for myself the improvements in my life.  I now attend one of the better public universities in Wisconsin and my GPA is not exactly all A's but close to it.  As narcissistic as this sounds, I can tell when I have conversations with my professors that I'm the kind of person they wanted to be teachers for.  And that makes me very proud and happy that I can make them glad that they chose the careers that they did to educate and explore the life of the mind with people who partake of the nobler pleasures of life.

I might get a job soon but if I don't I'd honestly prefer it that way but I know I have to do some part-time work to make my family happy.

I also have made some pretty big developments (I would say improvements but that's debatable) in my philosophy also over the years.  But that would be a bit more of a task to describe properly.  Maybe for another time.

Right now I'm just appreciating the fact of my current existence that I'm numb to most of the time.

Secure the Galactic Parameter

The Galactic Siren sounds!
Everything that exists either is created by our minds or not – regardless of the composition of our mind.  Though we can never know with certainty what is and what isn’t, what we can know is whether a phenomenon perpetuates from within or from without.  The nature of consciousness is there is a thing being perceived and a thing perceiving.  Even if the perception is created by our mind, we perceive it as something external to us nonetheless.  However, we at-times have problems even at this, seen in most philosophers saying that beauty exists in the ‘thing-in-itself’ or is a property of the object the subject perceives when in my mind beauty is created by our mind and therefore is a property of the mind just as anger is a property of the mind and not the man who cuts us off on the freeway – reactions to perception are properties of the mind not the perceived object or transgression.  The Cynic-Stoics are very good in realizing this.
However, in the causal chain, it is perfectly possible that these things are part of the cause of our feelings, thoughts, or general mental state.  It could be that there is a “real world” out there, of which there is no confirming, but regardless of whether or not we can verify or discover “reality” we can look at our perceptions and learn – from the data of both the inner and outer.
With the outer it is science.  Sense-perceptions of atoms swerving and chemical reactions when X combines Y to make Z.  However, with the normative values, since we perceive no “ought” in the externality of our perception – we only infer it – it is with our internal perception that we must evaluate.  This is in-essence the wisdom of Hume and Schopenhauer who say that the sentiments ground and motivate our actions.  Reason can tell us that the proper moral sentiments can, when actualized, alleviate suffering but reason cannot tell us why lack-of-suffering is good.  Only our own experiences and state-of-being can tell us this.  Those whose fundamental perceptions are different and therefore have a different ‘reality’ in some sense will argue against our normative claims, and all we can do to sway them is to change their mind to have them agree with our value-judgments – rather than change their value-judgments in order to change the state of their minds.  This wisdom stories and art understand implicitly.  And they provide what philosophy what (at-least in the same way) cannot.
Art and ethics are both exploration of the internal.  They may or may not be external subjects we use, but what we are really exploring is our own state-of-being.  With ethics, it should ideally be a radical suspension of egoist intention but can never be a suspension of individual motivation and compulsion.  Just as Christ supposedly died on the cross for our sins, so we ideally will view others as ‘ends-in-themselves’ (and presume they have minds though this can never be verified) but this action and view comes from our own nature and not the nature of the thing we sacrifice ourselves for – the nature of which we can never know.  Christ dying then can be seen (if he is Man and not God) as the ultimate act of faith – dying out of good will for beings he will never exist or not or will benefit from his sacrifice.  Of course potential benefit ignoring the complex dilemma of mind can be known through observance of our empirical perception of a world.
In other words, ignoring whether these creatures have minds, assuming the possibility that they do, we can know whether a sacrifice or action aids them in the outcome they do have minds.  I do not know if Lenny the simpleton has a mind, but if he does, then it was comforted through George’s tales of the farm they never had.  I do not if rocks really exist, but if they do as I see them, then I know they fall just as I know the realities of my own state of being internally regardless of what causes them.  I know the realities of different states of being a subject, the “metaphysics” of which as myriad and numbered in elements as the periodic table.  Mixtures of expressions existing in my mind mixing to make who I am at this moment, just like sulfur mixing with gold to make some new compound.
Just as we view substance as both one monistic thing (that thing which exists) but categorize the different elements and compounds, so we are to do the same with consciousness – the understanding of which is of infinite more importance than the understanding of physics, which tell us nothing of value without the normative values from our inner being to act on said knowledge.  Science is of value, but not without an effect on our lives which is achieved only through humans desiring particular ends – regardless of the validity or value of said ends.  Philosophy and art however deal with the intimacies and normative standing of the inner – who we are and who we should be to do what we should – which is of intimate and therefore implicit value to humanity.  Science however is merely descriptive and though it can arouse sentiment from humans it in no way is designed to, is purposed to, or intends to as the nature of art or philosophy does – the added bonus of philosophy being able to influence the mind and ground said sentiment in argumentation, doing then what art and science cannot.
Known existence begins and ends not only descriptively but normatively with ‘being.’  Once the existence of other beings is assumed we can learn the likely contents of said minds from observance of the external and seeing the commonalities and distinctions between beings – both you and I and human and non-human.  However, though there are factual distinctions between you and I, the distinction which is of true importance is our momentary state-of-beings which I assume from my witnessing of the external that others have felt and have felt in the transitory way I have.  Then, what is of importance is not distinct or unique to us, but that which is common to all sentient life (making limitations on some states of being less likely to be perceived by lower animals and simple-minded humans) and repeats itself time and time again.  This is what Schopenhauer refers to when he takes reincarnation allegorically and says though the matter changes the form stays the same – the characters change the same play is played time ad-infinitum.  This is also what I meant in an earlier essay when I described reincarnation as the allegory of the constant death and re-forging of our states-of-being individually into something else – Karma being that moral and phenomalogical force that causes one state-of-being to be destroyed and another to take its place based on our thoughts and actions.

This talk of state of being, and solipsism of descriptive and the normative – but in some sense is suspended through ethical observance of the possibility of other minds (this ethical suspension being done though the state-of-being of my own mind) – is what I speak of when I make my phenomenal/Noumenal distinction and side with the phenomenal or pragmatic.  All we can know is our own minds and assume the existence of a shared world with others – though not assume it is reality.  We do this pragmatically but not “noumenally,” that is, we never are fully convinced rationally of the existence of said things.  Just as Hume was never convinced of the validity of the inductive, but lived as if it were so, so we do the same.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

There's No Exit From Philadelphia

Just saw the finale to Its Always Sunny and I have to say its great.  Maybe I'll do an analysis of it but really I think almost everything I'd say would be self-evident.  Also I really want to do something about Adventure Time, which I might get to in the next week or so.

The episode is in homage to Sartre's No Exit where several immoral people torture each other in a room simply through the presence of the others.  I wrote an analysis of the play that you guys can check out.

In fact, I'll just post what I found on my computer here because I took twenty seconds to look and I couldn't find it.  Not my best piece of writing and not sure if I would say all the points hold-water but I wrote it more-than two years ago so it's not necessarily a bad thing that I can spot out flaws in it - enjoy it nonetheless I guess:

No Exit is an excellent depiction of the psychology of pure vanity, sadism and moral “relativism” in caring what others think of them and their ethics rather than them actually being moral.  Most of the observations I could make I think the person of slightly above-average intelligence (the bare minimum level of intelligence for someone who would be compelled to read Jean-Paul Sartre) would be able to make quite easily; and considering the short length of the play I shan’t bother you with my long explanations of the obvious.  But what I do think is worth mentioning is the importance of intellectualism and moral objectivity and true reflection and how all of these characters lack it.
Estelle is the most obvious of the three; she is an empty vessel who is totally incapable of any serious reflection or valuing anything outside of superficiality.  She gives the appearance of being happy because she’s obsessed with appearances; but in actuality she’s always concerned about appeasing others or having desperate boys in her clutches to appease her.  She exists only in her relations to others. 
But for Inez others exist only for her relations to them.  A cold hearted woman who is incapable of legitimate feelings of warmth or friendship, she masquerades like Estelle to manipulate others but instead of attaining her own superficial gratification, her needs are intimately and deeply psychological.  That is she requires others to suffer for her to feel joy and marvels at the extent she can mold others and dance at her whim.  But of course ultimately this results in her murder by a woman who she drove to suicide.  She too requires others to be happy but because of this can never truly be content in herself for her psychology deals with a deep sense of inadequacy and rejection partly based perhaps on her too being Hedonistic but being unable to find joy herself and being not particularly beautiful but in some sense being vain.
Garcin is clearly the most decent of the three.  Asides from his treatment of his wife he is an overall moral human being.  I in no way find his cowardice to be a major moral fault; certainly not something worth going to Existentialist Hell for.  But perhaps that’s the thing. Existentialist Hell isn’t a place one goes to for moral sins, but for lack of genuineness and strength in one’s self.  Seen in the case of Garcin in his neurotic concern of others perception of him, but as a complete moral human being; not the superficial and simplistic way of Estelle or the manipulative and self-servingly sadistic way of Inez.  But they all lack true moral objectivity, reflection and action regardless of others’ perception of said actions – even though Garcin claims to have thought all the things through rigorously; what he clearly has done is spent hours and hours rationalizing to himself though he has a few moments of honesty.  Garcin was only capable of treating his wife terribly because she didn’t explicitly judge him morally because of it; in-fact, she showed nothing but signs of submission and tacit approval by serving coffee for him and his lover in their home.
That is why intellectualism is necessary in the majority of moral conduct.  Basing ethics off of feelings and compulsions will leave most with the psychology and mentality that morality only exists only so-far as other people judge one’s true motives that all three characters attempted to hide.  For this urge to conform to moral rule at-risk of being ostracized and to be esteemed highly by others is the main motive for moral action in-regards to the majority’s moral psychology.  Inez is merely the inverse of this. 
No Exit is an interesting depiction of how we create our own suffering and how we suffer variously and often vicariously through the expectations, conflicts of nature and interest and conditioning that make us who we are; the main flaw of No Exit being its complete lack of the latter two being a product of Sartre’s view of “radical human freedom.”  It’s strange that he wishes to escape materialism and determinism on Earth but uses the latter as a prerequisite of maximal predetermined suffering in Hell.  Almost as strange as a supposed Marxist believing in “radical freedom” when Marx gave the most comprehensive and absolute rebuttal of free-will of perhaps any philosopher.