Problems

HisWillness
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Problems

When I was a kid, I used to score really high on IQ tests. It wasn't difficult: my father had a subscription to Games Magazine, and I went through those with my dad like other kids throw a football or go to hockey practice. I had so much practice at IQ tests before I had one put in front of me that I could answer all the questions without thinking about them -- I'd already seen them! One time, I even got just over 200, and I was maybe 11.

The myth that I was "smart" started right there. I mean, I'm fairly intelligent, but there's no way I could ever live up to a score like that. The problem was that while I thought for sure my parents would see the silliness of it, they didn't. Even my dad was impressed with how smart I was supposed to be. He did the puzzles in the magazines with me -- I figured he could do the same thing, so why was I the smart one?

The problem with telling a child that they're in the top 1% in terms of the world's intelligence is that he immediately becomes "they". "They" will figure something out. "They" will solve world hunger. "They" will find a cure for cancer. I didn't want to be smart anymore.

After switching schools, my grades plummeted. I started playing rugby at 13, and it turned out I was really good at injuring people. Imagine praising a kid for getting back on the pitch after breaking his nose. A 15-year-old kid. Only to have it broken back the other way right before the game ended. By the end of the game, everyone on my team had a hand print on their jersey in my blood. We all thought that was pretty funny. They changed the rules after that -- kids who bleed profusely aren't allowed back on the field anymore.

Those games were the only thing I could do, and it's not like I was a good rugby player. I still don't really know the rules of the game. I just tackled the guy with the ball, and the coach or the captain would tell me if I did something wrong. Under the watchful eye of a crowned, well-dressed Anglican crucifix, I tried to break as many ribs as I could. It helped me to stay out of my head.

In my head, the world was a problem to be solved. There were tons of things adults considered problems. Famine, disease, economic downturn, pollution, ecological devastation, overpopulation, nuclear weapons, terrorism, war ... and those were all my problem, of course, because I was smart. I was the one who was supposed to be finding the answer.

But at some point after growing up, I finally crystallized the intuition I'd kept the whole time: those things aren't actually problems. They're not puzzles to be solved. They're the consequence of biological systems doing what we do. There weren't any gods, there was just us, and figuring things out didn't really make any difference.

Humanity can't be "saved", because what state would we be transmogrified into? What would "saving" us entail? We're so confused that we see a difference between someone dying in war, and someone dying in a gang shooting. Somehow, that difference can actually seem real to some people. How could I save people from the madness that is functional living? And why would I want to? The people who are functional are the ones who have enough fiction going to take part in the cultural group effort. It's an excellent adaptation to an as-yet-unknown enemy we must have faced thousands of years ago. Our behaviour isn't a problem -- it's the solution to a problem that may or may not have been.

Look at how we are: we try to get away with anything we can; it's our chief desire. Desire itself is wanting something better, even if we don't know what better means, and desire is our word for the experience of being alive. "Wanting", in the sense of lacking something we desire, and volition, are the same thing. Being alive is always wanting. Even at our most fulfilled, there's something missing. If you're ever disturbed in that thought, don't be: you're alive.

So what's left except an emotional roller-coaster to death? Given that we create so many lies to function, it wouldn't be surprising to find that many people see life like that. It's easy to convince ourselves of lots of things, like nothing's important, or that the phrase "in the grand scheme of things" actually means something.

The grand scheme of things means exactly as much as your first kiss; exactly as much as the death of someone you love. Those things are "the big picture". Our interpersonal relationships are what make up humanity.

But if the big picture is all of humanity, and you want to love humanity, then get ready for lots of spats and disagreements. Get ready for a lover you thought you knew. And just like the people we love, we can't save everybody from being themselves. All we can do is try to make our desires roughly the same. Sometimes we even succeed!

So in a sense, problems and solutions -- despair and hope -- both have their basis in the same truths. Some people think despair is somehow more "honest", but that's not accurate at all. If it feels better to hope, then you're not lying to yourself in hope, because the same truths that make up the problem make up the answer. Only when you hope, you feel better. There is nothing dishonest or untrue about feeling good, and feeling despair doesn't make you a better person. In fact, despair would be an incomplete assessment of any situation.

To see the world in terms of problems would be missing a great deal of the big picture. The world is actually full of solutions.

...

Now what should I have for lunch? There's always ice cream. I love being a grown-up.

Saint Will: no gyration without funkstification.
fabulae! nil satis firmi video quam ob rem accipere hunc mi expediat metum. - Terence


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Will, I hope you take it as

Will, I hope you take it as a sincere compliment that I'm not going to add to or clarify anything you've written.  This is a great post.

 

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 ...Correct me if I'm

 ...Correct me if I'm wrong, Will, but I'm pretty sure this is the, "Well, we're all gonna die anyway, so who gives a fuck?" argument, isn't it?

I mean, I guess you're right: there's de facto 'solutions' to any problem we have. Food shortage in underdeveloped countries? Well, enough people starving will fix that. Pollution corroding away the environment? Well, it's hard to pollute an environment after it's already been destroyed. Etc.

 

No, humanity & civilized life can't likely be sustained forever or transformed into soem idyllic utopia. Similarly, no doctor or hospital in the world can ever prevent a person from, eventually, dying. Does that mean that doctors & hospitals are just a waste of so much space? 

It's great that you feel good about things, Will. You live out east, right? On a bad day you'll hear me joining the untruthful, angry Albertan rant about the over-privileged brats from Ontario who've never experienced an honest hardship and therefore don't understand the problems experienced elsewhere. Today's not a bad day, though.

The average person from Eastern Canada isn't overprivileged by comparison to the average person from the grasslands; however, we definitely have very different benefactors. Since the major population centers (and thus seats for voters to contest) are out east, the government loves you guys and does it's best to pave your streets with gold (see: laid-off auto plant worker compensation packages). Since we have the oil under the ground, our benefactors are SunCor, Access Pipeline, PennWest, etc, who run the entire province like it's a part of their business and teach Albertans to hate government at all costs because look at all the nasty taxes they level on our wonderful benefactors (who are busy rampaging through wetlands, parks, mountains, etc in search of their holy black substance). 

 

I don't feel good about things because, over here, things aren't good. They're awful. It's not always bad, but it's certainly never good. People are buying big trucks with Hemi engines so that they can 'give back' to the petroleum industry that is literally eating-up the landscape and, one little hectare at a time, making the Earth resemble it's much hotter sister (Ha! See? I made a funny. Har har har). Representatives are lobbied in favor of based on how far into the pocket of oil & gas they've dived. Anyone who even hints at the idea that maybe we should scale back the damage being done to the environment is a 'crazy' or a 'hippie' or a 'Wiebo' who just 'doesn't have all the facts' and should just move out to 'Anntaria' with the rest of the freeloaders.

I used to have a lot of hope, but it came in the form of, 'I hope that rig crowns out' or 'I hope that snubber hits a high pressure pocket and is sent home sans head', but I felt pretty miserably after a year or so of hoping that awful things would happen to people (most of which were just trying to earn a wage), so I decided maybe I should just stop hoping about things in Alberta since the only 'positive' outcomes would be incredibly disastrous for the average person.

Quote:
"Natasha has just come up to the window from the courtyard and opened it wider so that the air may enter more freely into my room. I can see the bright green strip of grass beneath the wall, and the clear blue sky above the wall, and sunlight everywhere. Life is beautiful. Let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to the full."

- Leon Trotsky, Last Will & Testament
February 27, 1940


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:3

Existential depression is normal among almost anyone with a higher than average IQ.

 

 

I blame it on having to deal with everyone with a lower than average IQ.

 

 

It is a lot more fun than contemplating your role in the world. (IQ doesn't relate to actual knowledge of course, before anyone makes an assumption. It is simply a system to attempt to determine how easily someone can learn. There are people with learning disabilities that know vastly more about subjects simply because they spend time learning about them)

 

 

 

 

 

Or you can look at it the way an engineer does. The cup is not half empty or half full.

 

The cup is inefficient for the amount of water in it, and needs to be halved in size.

Theism is why we can't have nice things.


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HisWillness wrote:In my

HisWillness wrote:

In my head, the world was a problem to be solved. There were tons of things adults considered problems. Famine, disease, economic downturn, pollution, ecological devastation, overpopulation, nuclear weapons, terrorism, war ... and those were all my problem, of course, because I was smart. I was the one who was supposed to be finding the answer.

But at some point after growing up, I finally crystallized the intuition I'd kept the whole time: those things aren't actually problems.

They are symptoms of the problem. Namely that humans are driven by our genetics which evolved over millions of generations. So we consume resources, procreate and wage war against anyone that we think gets in our way.

 

HisWillness wrote:

They're not puzzles to be solved. They're the consequence of biological systems doing what we do.

You could look at this current dynamic as a puzzle all of humanity needs to solve. 

HisWillness wrote:

Humanity can't be "saved", because what state would we be transmogrified into? What would "saving" us entail?

Yes it can. Did you read the hedonistic imperative. The solution will take on some form like this.

 

HisWillness wrote:

Our behaviour isn't a problem -- it's the solution to a problem that may or may not have been.

What we want is a problem, because it causes us to act  and think irrationally. If our primitive desires are not managed properly, the human race will destroy itself.

our most fulfilled, there's something missing. If you're ever disturbed in that thought, don't be: you're alive.

HisWillness wrote:

So what's left except an emotional roller-coaster to death?

No, you should become an total hedonist. Only seek your own pleasure, whatever that is. Party like it's 1999.

HisWillness wrote:

To see the world in terms of problems would be missing a great deal of the big picture. The world is actually full of solutions.

Amen.

Taxation is the price we pay for failing to build a civilized society. The higher the tax level, the greater the failure. A centrally planned totalitarian state represents a complete defeat for the civilized world, while a totally voluntary society represents its ultimate success. --Mark Skousen


HisWillness
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Kevin R Brown

Kevin R Brown wrote:
...Correct me if I'm wrong, Will, but I'm pretty sure this is the, "Well, we're all gonna die anyway, so who gives a fuck?" argument, isn't it?

Not quite. Actually, kind of the opposite. The "who gives a fuck" part is illustrative. It's difficult to care, and doing something about caring requires energy. If you're constantly seeing that there are only problems, you might feel overwhelmed. If, on the other hand, you knew that there were more solutions than there are problems, you might be able to start working on the solution you like best.

I'd agree, though, that it's difficult to find the one you like best.

Kevin R Brown wrote:
No, humanity & civilized life can't likely be sustained forever or transformed into soem idyllic utopia. Similarly, no doctor or hospital in the world can ever prevent a person from, eventually, dying. Does that mean that doctors & hospitals are just a waste of so much space?

Of course not. Doctors and hospitals are designed to sustain life.

Kevin R Brown wrote:
It's great that you feel good about things, Will. You live out east, right? On a bad day you'll hear me joining the untruthful, angry Albertan rant about the over-privileged brats from Ontario who've never experienced an honest hardship and therefore don't understand the problems experienced elsewhere.

Would the facts of any situation be more true if I grew up in the third world? Would that help you believe what I say? Feeling good about things is frankly your choice. I don't say that lightly, either. I've had what's known as "double depression", which means I've had dysthymia peppered by severely depressed episodes. I thought I was simply telling it like it was, and assessing the situation as hopeless or meaningless because that's what it was. But hope and meaning are subjective. My feelings about the situation had nothing to do with truth or honesty, and neither do yours.

Just this summer, I lost more money than most people make in a year. It has happened before, and it'll come back. If I felt bad about it, the money wouldn't come back any quicker. Do you think I should feel bad about it just because?

Kevin R Brown wrote:
I don't feel good about things because, over here, things aren't good. They're awful.

How would things be good? Maybe if you didn't feel powerless? Consider what the actual problem is. You don't think you can do anything about it, and it's obvious from what you write. But if you felt okay about it, would that be some kind of breach of dishonesty? The truth of something has nothing to do with how you feel.

Kevin R Brown wrote:
I used to have a lot of hope, but it came in the form of, 'I hope that rig crowns out' or 'I hope that snubber hits a high pressure pocket and is sent home sans head', but I felt pretty miserably after a year or so of hoping that awful things would happen to people (most of which were just trying to earn a wage), so I decided maybe I should just stop hoping about things in Alberta since the only 'positive' outcomes would be incredibly disastrous for the average person.

But that's not true, given more than just one approach to what you see as being wrong with Alberta. It seems like you're wrestling with the oil industry notion that no economy can be had without oil, and that only disaster can result from any "positive" outcome. There are plenty of scenarios that work out well for many people.

I think we're talking about you, though. You don't want people to buy Hemi trucks and snub their noses at environmental concerns, because you believe that's damaging. Moreover, you believe that the lifestyle choices those people make are blatantly inconsiderate. I tend to agree, but focusing on their issues of insecurity and incompetence misses the point.

Clearly, you've rejected solutions that involve decapitation and suffering. That's naturally a good sign. But I'd favour a solution that makes you feel better about whatever difficulty you find yourself in. That would free your intellectual resources to consider (and possibly reject) more solutions. As it is, you're obviously bogged down in the belief that identifying problems is all you can do, but that chokes your capacity to think creatively. It's a waste of a perfectly good brain.

Instead of identifying the things that are wrong in the world, try the things that make you feel shitty. If you can be honest with yourself, chances are it's not really the broader world.

Saint Will: no gyration without funkstification.
fabulae! nil satis firmi video quam ob rem accipere hunc mi expediat metum. - Terence


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Wait, is this the "Glass is

Wait, is this the "Glass is half full and make the best of what you've got" speeches?

 

 

 


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Cpt_pineapple wrote:Wait, is

Cpt_pineapple wrote:
Wait, is this the "Glass is half full and make the best of what you've got" speeches?

No. I find those ridiculous.

Someone once asked me "do you think the glass is half full or half empty?" I was sent to detention for the answer: "I think your head is half full. I'm optimistic."

It's more about how you feel about things, how you can deal with them, and how that can free your mind.

Saint Will: no gyration without funkstification.
fabulae! nil satis firmi video quam ob rem accipere hunc mi expediat metum. - Terence


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At least I'm not a Quantum Physicist

I'm an Engineer; the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

Hey ClokCat, you still got that Chainsaw?

When you say it like that you make it sound so Sinister...


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Sinphanius wrote:I'm an

Sinphanius wrote:

I'm an Engineer; the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.



I used to be a "Policy Analyst"; the glass was not sufficiently filled, and a line needs to be added to the glass to avoid such missteps in the future.

 

Saint Will: no gyration without funkstification.
fabulae! nil satis firmi video quam ob rem accipere hunc mi expediat metum. - Terence


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I am a NYC construction

I am a NYC construction worker...

"You and your glass can go fuck yourselves"

 

P.S. Nothing personal, fellas


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This Thread is now about

This Thread is now about Glasses and the Emptiness or Fullness Thereof.

 

In Soviet Russia, Glass Fills You!

When you say it like that you make it sound so Sinister...


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Rich Woods wrote:I am a NYC

Rich Woods wrote:

I am a NYC construction worker...

"You and your glass can go fuck yourselves"

 

P.S. Nothing personal, fellas

I thought that was supposed to be, "Go fuck yourselves. No disrespect." But then, all I know about New York I learned from The Daily Show.

"Yes, I seriously believe that consciousness is a product of a natural process. I find that the neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers who proceed from that premise are the ones who are actually making useful contributions to our understanding of the mind." - PZ Myers


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I can only second what Hamby

I can only second what Hamby said: excellent post.

EXC: I like the idea of the hedonistic imperative. I've recently determined that I am a socially-responsible hedonist. Given the subject of Will's post, and the idea that we can work towards universal socially-responsible hedonism, thoughts and concepts are starting to gel in my head (which is most likely filled with gel).

"Yes, I seriously believe that consciousness is a product of a natural process. I find that the neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers who proceed from that premise are the ones who are actually making useful contributions to our understanding of the mind." - PZ Myers


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nigelTheBold wrote:I've

nigelTheBold wrote:
I've recently determined that I am a socially-responsible hedonist. Given the subject of Will's post, and the idea that we can work towards universal socially-responsible hedonism, thoughts and concepts are starting to gel in my head (which is most likely filled with gel).

It's interesting to note that Paisley actually helped my ideas along these lines with his thread on Jill Taylor's Stroke of Insight. Your "hedonism" may be helping others because the right hemisphere functions to encourage solidarity with others, and produce good feelings along those lines. Naturally, we need our left hemispheres to make a plan for that to happen, but the right side governs our emotional situation.

It's no wonder, then, that so many people experience "enlightenment", when in reality, they're simply encouraging the functioning of the right side of their brains. It's no wonder either that people conclude from their feelings and intuitions that they must be right about things. I guess they're literally "right" about them, considering that's the hemisphere they're using.

Strictly speaking, though, a selfish hedonism doesn't work out, because the right brain functions to ensure solidarity, and feelings of connection. Religion of every stripe is centered in the right side of the brain, and that completely explains religion: it's the confusion that results when right brain function is misinterpreted by the left hemisphere.

Look at this site! A bunch of left-brain people explaining to right-brain people why so-and-so doesn't actually work out logically. We've essentially extended the battle of power that would happen in an individual's head to a group of people! It's amazing that I didn't see it before.

But Ms. Taylor's experience describes it perfectly: if she didn't have the left hemisphere to guide her, she would be completely dysfunctional, but if her injury was to the right side, her attitude would probably have been much more autistic in nature. She would no longer have the feelings of solidarity she described.

In keeping with my original post, the left hemisphere can work much better when the right hemisphere is working properly. I mean that you can plan and think better when you feel better. Intelligence, then, can actually benefit from wacky ideas and literal nonsense. We usually call it "play".

So while the left hemisphere deals with the truth and falsity of things, the left hemisphere has no part in that. It wouldn't be able to communicate the truth and falsity of anything. Thus the confusion.

Saint Will: no gyration without funkstification.
fabulae! nil satis firmi video quam ob rem accipere hunc mi expediat metum. - Terence