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How do you deal with your existence?

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    KING LITERATEKING LITERATE Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Being a (fat) black male I already know time isn't exactly on my side, but you know what gets my proverbial spirits up?


    The fact that when I pass, life will still go on...

    People will cherish their memories of me, as I would do for them (and am currently doing now, thinking of my old man, aunt and recently passed grandmother).

    Admittedly every once and a while I think of death when I'm in the bed at night. I simply reflect on what I just said, and get some sleep.

    KING LITERATE on
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    ShanadeusShanadeus Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Mblackwell wrote: »
    Existence is suffering. The people I know who spend the most energy on avoiding discomfort seem to be the least happy.

    I'd counter that in fact most of life is positive or neutral and you just don't notice it because it's normality. On the other hand it's fairly easy to notice bad/negative things because they are a change from the norm.

    On the other hand those bad things make you notice again when life is good, and appreciate more what you have/had. Without pain we'd never know when we were truly happy.

    I don't know about that, happiness can be compared to a state of lesser happiness (that is still not outright pain).

    Anyway, this thread has been quite interesting. I recognize a lot of the posts in my own past musings on existence and non-existence and a lot of these ideas and rationalizations are very familiar.

    I've personally kinda tried to simplify it as much as possible to remove potentially confusing extra layers of abstractions.

    Existing is good under X circumstances - it should be prolonged for as long as it is good.
    If X cease to be and cannot be re-achieved then existing is bad.

    Shanadeus on
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    OctoparrotOctoparrot Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Existence is suffering.

    Remember it is pain that is an unavoidable part of existence, not suffering.

    I am not suffering, although I'm not sure I'm existing so I don't think I can give you 'Not B therefore Not A'.

    Octoparrot on
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    Xenogear_0001Xenogear_0001 Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    I'd like to think that we're all ultimately going to the same place when we die, whether it's non-existence (so then what's the point of worrying if you can't experience it?), or some higher plane of decentralized existence (groovy). So how bad could it really be? But I have as much evidence for this as anyone else does--that is to say, none.

    Death used to frighten me. But as others have pointed out, without an end, we wouldn't appreciate the journey or really have any impetus to accomplish anything. You could, for example, put things off forever. There's an elegance to the current system that I find myself appreciating more and more.

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    StericaSterica Yes Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited April 2011
    There's also the logistics of immortality. I assume we'd just beat the aging process and still be vulnerable to death in other ways, at least for some time. Unless we just upload ourselves into awesome robot bodies or something. Either way, crowding would be an issue if nobody dies. It'd also make our wars very...interesting.

    Sterica on
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    FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited April 2011
    MrMister wrote: »
    Perhaps by tomorrow it will no longer matter that earlier today I enjoyed a particular moment lying in the sun. But that does not mean that it does not matter today. If all and only those things that matter tomorrow could be such as to matter today, then when do we get to start counting? After all, something that matters tomorrow might not matter in tomorrow's tomorrow, but certainly we do not need to wait until the end of time before we can ever look back and say that I had a good moment in the sun.

    <3 I love this.

    Is this the point made by Thomas Nagel? For some reason, the essay that Apo linked wouldn't completely load for me.
    Nothing is forever; you will someday die, the building you occupy will someday be rubble, and the country you live in will someday cease to exist. The only moment we ever have is right now, so get your head out of the past and future and start living mindfully.

    Existence is suffering. The people I know who spend the most energy on avoiding discomfort seem to be the least happy.

    Buddhism makes so much more sense to me if you translate the first noble truth as "Life is discontentment" rather than "life is suffering." (Thanks, Mark Epstein!)

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.

    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
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    FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Speaker wrote: »
    I never understand the love that things like creature comforts, free time or some vague opioid bliss get in these threads. Looking back over [insert any arbitrary time period here] the only things I've done that seem at all significant or worth having existed for integrally involved difficulty and pain.

    I'll jump on this.

    Do you feel that pain and difficulty are inexorably linked to significance? Why is it necessary for an event to be difficult to be significant?

    I suspect that this is an artifact; a cognitive limitation of the human organism. There is a lot of study on certain cognitive biases that lead to irrational loss aversive behavior: the sunk cost fallacy and commitment bias both lead us to overvalue endeavors in which we've already invested a lot of money, time, or energy. This is irrational because the resources lost are already lost - whether you've already spent $10 or $10,000 on a project do not directly affect how likely the project is going to profit in the end.

    But why do we do it? There's one hypothesis that we don't want to believe that our previous efforts were in vain. If we spend $10,000 and get back something, then that $10k wasn't entirely wasted. But if we get back nothing then we have to confront the true reality of the loss.

    We see similar thought processes in abuse cycles. If a person was abused as a child, then inflicting similar abuse on their children is actually a coping mechanism. Stopping that cycle of abuse would require confronting the memories of abuse and admitting that they were nonproductive; it requires accepting the full tragedy of the victimization.

    I suspect that the common belief that difficulty is intrinsically meaningful is somewhat tied to thought processes like these. A person may put years of his life and toil into a job, and look back at that job and project more significance on the struggle than it deserves. If you end up the President of a company making $100k a year after 10 years of working your way up the corporate ladder, your success is not objectively or rationally more meaningful than somebody in an equivalent position who got there after 3 years.

    It does make a better story, though, and humans love stories. We frame the major events of our lives in narrative terms; narrative-building is a well-known method by therapists to help their clients integrate traumatic (or happy) events. There's a certain contradiction here - humans need our narratives, but those narratives are fundamentally fables. The trick, and I think it's a trick that a very enlightened mind can achieve, is to recognize that our narratives are basically myths we tell ourselves without undermining the emotional power of those myths.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.

    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
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    FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited April 2011
    In any case, I have had meaningful difficult experiences - the death of my father, the loss of my teenage home and nearly all of my belongings to a flood, the illness I had to deal with in my early 20s - but I would say that the experiences that have helped me grow the most as a person have been the pleasurable ones.

    The spiritual challenge of my life (speaking personally here, I don't want to generalize this to others) has been about engaging with the world. I'm an introvert, I was a shy kid, bullied, awkward with girls as a teenager. I grew up in a household fenced in by barbed wire where we stored ammunition and dried food in a reinforced storage room (a bunker, really) in preparation for some vague apocalypse. This lead to a pervasive feeling that the world is threatening and continually reinforced my innate desire to retire to my room with my blankets and books.

    But I can remember some of my early very pleasurable experiences. Making friends in my senior year of high school and into college - people aren't scary! They can be supportive! Some of my early drug experiences - it's possible to be happy! You don't have to be depressed and angry all the time! And holy shit the world can be really beautiful if you look at it the right way! My first real relationship and losing my virginity - yes! I am an attractive person! I can be sexy! I can emotionally and romantically connect with other people!

    These experiences have lead me to feel like there really is room in the world for me. I don't have to retreat or retire. There's a place for me among other people. Isn't one of the fundamental purposes of spirituality to help you feel like you are a part of something larger?

    Pain that leads to spiritual significance... well, it still led to that epiphany. But the pain was a means to an end. It was a tool. Pleasure may lead to epiphany as well... but in addition to that, it felt good. That is, to me, the most irreducible of experiences. It is a tool, but it is not merely a tool. No matter how much you know about the genesis of that pleasure - you may realize that it is just neurotransmitters, brought on by music or drugs or human contact - you still experienced it. Skepticism does not negate it.

    An epiphanic experience that survives in the face of doubt... isn't that a form of faith?

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.

    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
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    Alistair HuttonAlistair Hutton Dr EdinburghRegistered User regular
    edited April 2011
    I'm thinking about non-existence right now, take that Deconstructionists. Hah.

    Alistair Hutton on
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    MblackwellMblackwell Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Feral:

    Your post reminded me of the first time I was ever given morphine. I'd been in a lot of physical and emotional pain at the time. Angry, depressed, etc... and I had crazy abdominal pains and was throwing up blood and all kinds of other weird shit (that eventually was put down as an ulcer). Anyway, point is:

    They gave me this drug and for the first time I could ever remember I felt no physical pain, and my depression (always a constant struggle) completely disappeared. All I could think was, "So this is what I'm supposed to feel like. So this is normal."

    I know of course that everyone has problems so that's not really "normal" in the real sense. But at least I knew 100% what it felt like to be completely... I guess free is the word. Something I hold on to.

    Mblackwell on
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    FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Mblackwell wrote: »
    Feral:

    Your post reminded me of the first time I was ever given morphine. I'd been in a lot of physical and emotional pain at the time. Angry, depressed, etc... and I had crazy abdominal pains and was throwing up blood and all kinds of other weird shit (that eventually was put down as an ulcer). Anyway, point is:

    They gave me this drug and for the first time I could ever remember I felt no physical pain, and my depression (always a constant struggle) completely disappeared. All I could think was, "So this is what I'm supposed to feel like. So this is normal."

    I know of course that everyone has problems so that's not really "normal" in the real sense. But at least I knew 100% what it felt like to be completely... I guess free is the word. Something I hold on to.

    Yes, exactly. That's just like my experience.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.

    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
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    SmasherSmasher Starting to get dizzy Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Hexmage-PA wrote: »
    This may be a bit off-topic, but I've wondered in the past what a "pure" human mind would be like. By that, I mean a human mind that is completely free from biological factors that can affect behavior. For example, what would my mind be like if it were free from the influence of behavioral hormones?

    I imagine such a person would end up doing a whole lot of nothing. Biological factors affect our cognition in obvious ways such as seeking out happiness and avoiding negative emotions, but I suspect it also probably affects us on a more basic level by encouraging curiosity of any sort or even a preference for meaningful thoughts over mental static.

    Smasher on
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    Handsome CostanzaHandsome Costanza Ask me about 8bitdo RIP Iwata-sanRegistered User regular
    edited April 2011
    listen as a backup to if there really isnt a heaven.. just take a fuckload of opiods while you're alive that way you can have at least some (limited) heaven time! And if there really is a heaven? Bonus! Plus you will have gotten to heaven faster due to your weakened immune system and failed kidneys and liver! Bonus!

    Handsome Costanza on
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    DaedalusDaedalus Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Apothe0sis wrote: »
    This thread REALLY needs to read "The Absurd" by Thomas Nagel.

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/10375640/The-Absurd-Thomas-Nagel

    It's only short. It is an effective answer to both nihilism and charges of the necessity of nihilism without religion.

    This thread really needs to read the Rubaiyat.
    Then to the Lip of this poor earthen Urn
    I lean'd, the Secret of my Life to learn:
    And Lip to Lip it murmur'd—"While you live,
    "Drink!—for, once dead, you never shall return."

    Whenever I'm feeling depressed about the finiteness of existence I go and reread the Rubaiyat; it's very soothing.

    Daedalus on
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    JeedanJeedan Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Mblackwell wrote: »
    Feral:

    Your post reminded me of the first time I was ever given morphine. I'd been in a lot of physical and emotional pain at the time. Angry, depressed, etc... and I had crazy abdominal pains and was throwing up blood and all kinds of other weird shit (that eventually was put down as an ulcer). Anyway, point is:

    They gave me this drug and for the first time I could ever remember I felt no physical pain, and my depression (always a constant struggle) completely disappeared. All I could think was, "So this is what I'm supposed to feel like. So this is normal."

    I know of course that everyone has problems so that's not really "normal" in the real sense. But at least I knew 100% what it felt like to be completely... I guess free is the word. Something I hold on to.

    I wouldn't define existing without pain to be a "normal" state of being at all.

    Jeedan on
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    FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited April 2011
    listen as a backup to if there really isnt a heaven.. just take a fuckload of opiods while you're alive that way you can have at least some (limited) heaven time! And if there really is a heaven? Bonus! Plus you will have gotten to heaven faster due to your weakened immune system and failed kidneys and liver! Bonus!

    Was that really constructive? Nobody here is promoting opioid addiction.
    Jeedan wrote: »
    I wouldn't define existing without pain to be a "normal" state of being at all.

    I don't think that's what he's saying at all.

    In my case, I had become so accustomed to being unhappy all the time that it skewed my idea of what happiness was. I had been an emotional underachiever... until I realized that I had potential for a far deeper joy than I'd ever experienced before.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.

    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
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    Green DreamGreen Dream Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    6.43 If good or bad willing changes the world, it can only change the limits of the world, not the facts; not the things that can be expressed in language.
    In brief, the world must thereby become quite another, it must so to speak wax or wane as a whole.
    The world of the happy is quite another than that of the unhappy.

    6.431 As in death, too, the world does not change, but ceases.

    6.4311 Death is not an event of life. Death is not lived through.
    If by eternity is understood not endless temporal duration but timelessness, then he lives eternally who lives in the present.
    Our life is endless in the way that our visual field is without limit.

    6.4312 The temporal immortality of the human soul, that is to say, its eternal survival after death, is not only in no way guaranteed, but this assumption in the first place will not do for us what we always tried to make it do. Is a riddle solved by the fact that I survive for ever? Is this eternal life not as enigmatic as our present one? The solution of the riddle of life in space and time lies outside space and time.
    (It is not problems of natural science which have to be solved.)

    ...

    6.5 For an answer which cannot be expressed the question too cannot be expressed.
    The riddle does not exist.
    If a question can be put at all, then it can also be answered.

    6.51 Scepticism is not irrefutable, but palpably senseless, if it would doubt where a question cannot be asked.
    For doubt can only exist where there is a question; a question only where there is an answer, and this only where something can be said.

    6.52 We feel that even if all possible scientific questions be answered, the problems of life have still not been touched at all. Of course there is then no question left, and just this is the answer.

    6.521 The solution of the problem of life is seen in the vanishing of this problem.
    (Is not this the reason why men to whom after long doubting the sense of life became clear, could not then say wherein this sense consisted?)

    That's how I deal with my existence. I recognize that the facts of the world do not determine how I feel about the world - that I could be depressed or be happy, come what may, and these feelings have no logical relation to the state of my world. And I certainly don't need to worry about the end of my existence, because something outside of my possible experience can't be meaningful to me - if I fear it, then it is a senseless fear, like a child's fear of the dark. The only correct response is to shrug it off and to live, learning how to be happy - for life's not a paragraph, and death, I think, is no parenthesis.

    Green Dream on
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