Friday, June 26, 2015

Atheological philosophy

I went to use Google docs in the first time in forever, finding some old philosophy papers.

Ever wonder what a philosopher does? No? That's completely expected.

Regardless, here's an eight page paper of me disproving -- for some value of disprove -- prayer.

Despite that inflammatory idea, you'll quickly be bored. Paul may be an exception, and I will always love him for it.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0ByQe5J7B0o1DTURFSDktVlM1N2s/view

Though, the text aside, he's the basic formulation of the argument. In truth, looking back it needs to be reworked, but I expect nothing less from 6-year-ago-me. The wording is really specific for a bunch of reasons.


1. If God exists, he is omnipotent, omniscient and omni-benevolent

2. Any omnipotent, omniscient and omni-benevolent being could not (or would
not) allow unnecessary suffering to exist.

3. If no unnecessary suffering exists, then it is the best of all possible worlds.

4. If God exists, then this is the best of all possible worlds  (1,2,3)

5. If a person believes God exists, then they must also accept that this is the best
of all possible worlds (4)

6. Unless God ceases to exist, or somehow loses his properties, then he will be
only be able to allow any world that exists to be the best of all possible
worlds. (4,5)

7. To a person who believes in a God, this must be the best of all possible worlds (5)

8. If God exists, then this is the best of all possible worlds, and it cannot
logically be any other way, as long as God continues to exist (6)

9. Petitionary prayer is intended to change the world

10. Petitionary prayer cannot impart any change upon the world if God exists (8, 9)

11. If an act cannot inflict a change upon the world, then it is cannot be said
accomplish anything

12. Petitionary prayer cannot accomplish anything. (10, 11)

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Women as equals. (Cue gasps of shock)

A few days ago I had a conversation with my buddy Mike. He (drunkenly, as with all things) made a point about a large swathe of not particularly intelligent or educated of the left side of the political spectrum (that is to say, the correct side) bringing up examples of famously intelligent or admirable women to point out gender equality. That, along with a number of other arguments and points on the topic, I'll address in a vain attempt to channel my argumentation outlets into fiction writing. Writing in which chapters tend to devolve less into stories and more into misanthropic, verbose and somewhat villainous monologues about how imbecilic and despicable effectively all people are.

First of all, the example of women like Madam Curie, to point out that women can and do achieve in scientific (among other) fields is not an argument in defense of women in general. Rather, it is a counter-argument to the idea that women can't succeed in these fields. However, more importantly, the example shows that the actual “ceiling” for women (intellectually or otherwise, depending) is just as high as the ceiling on males. The reason that this is grievously important is it tied into opportunity. If it is hypothetically possible that we're losing great minds in order to exclude or deny women access to these academic areas for absurd social reasons, we're doing humanity a great disservice. The idea that there can be great women scientists is not an argument or point that argues for women scientists. Rather, it is an argument that intends to show that women, as the examples are intended to point out, they can have a spark of academic genius in them, and to somehow bar their way into having a successful career in which their work benefits not only themselves but the rest of society is utter lunacy.

Sexual dimorphism: For those unaware, sexual dimorphism is the biological term to refer to the physiological differences between the two sexes of any particular species. In humanity, it's pretty undeniable there is some sexual dimorphism. Now, this starts treads on dangerous ground for a few reason. Firstly, there are plenty of misogynistic anti-intellecuals who would gladly post-hoc rationalize sexual dimorphism into justification for their bigotry, when there is no evidence or reason to do so. Secondly, because of the misogynistic trends, actually having a serious, academic or intellectual discussion about the evolutionary psychology and the sexual dimorphism in humanity becomes all but impossible. However, I'm going to make an argument I hope cuts down this entire, hellish, Vietnam like forest of intellectual agony.

The fact that males or females may be inherently better at a particular task due to biology misses the point for about a dozen reasons, but I'll go into detail about the one that's used as a default: Size and muscle, then undercut them all.

Here's the thing, the fact males are more physically imposing on average is completely moot. I'll use sports as a default example (and because that terrible fucking commercial exploiting a 15 minute famous little league pitcher and sentiment irritates the hell out of me) there's really a simple way to undermine the idea that sports shouldn't be co-ed, and it's this: If there a single male player on any male only professional sports, in which any single female is better than, than if you enjoy the spot you'd absolutely require that person to be in the league in place of the less able male. Why? It's simple, because having players based on competence means that competence wins, and as a result only the best possible players will be in that sport. As such, a better female replacing a better male – even if we're talking basically benchers – makes the spot more competitive at no cost to integrity. None.

Furthermore, lets just go off sports where being large is, in essence, 90% of the battle. Football, obviously, is the primary offender here. The thing is, even taking into account sexual dimorphism, there's no real point to exclude anyone based on gender. Sure, maybe only 5% of the male population has the physical dimensions to play in the NFL, and perhaps only .5% of women. The problem is, that doesn't mean shit. Of the 5% of men who have the physical dimensions, few have the skill and less the drive to be NFL players, yet there nonetheless is plenty of men in the NFL and trying to get into the NFL. Now, even if women had a much smaller chance of having physical dimensions of making them apt to play the game, the fact is that the statistics have no meaning on particulars. If I flip a coin ten times, and I get ten heads, the odds of that happening are pretty low. The odds of flipping eleven heads in a row is even less. However, the odds of getting a heads on the 11th flip is 50/50. Why? Because statics are forward projecting, and things that have happened have a 100% chance of having happened.
My point? It only takes one female with the physical traits to be successful in the NFL to be in the NFL, and even in this most male-and-testosterone driven sport, it makes no sense to exclude someone based on gender when that person can fit all the qualifications and be better than the worst person on your team. We're never talking about the “average women” joining the NFL... but we're also not talking about the “average man” joining the NFL, either. In either case, we're talking about exceptional people. Trying to point out women on average are smaller than men is like pointing out (Sports hopping here for my example) Jeremy Lin shouldn't in the NBA because, on average, those of Chinese decent are shorter than Americans. Generalizations are always general and thus moot anytime you're talking specifics.

Now, among the misogynists, there is also the evolutionary psychology angle they try to use to post-hoc rationalize their bigotry, and this is a topic that should probably have more discussion but, as noted, it becomes a minefield ranging from sensitivity to idiocy. The idea behind this, simply put, is because women and males typically had different roles in society from the beginning of the emergence of Homosapiens that their minds, like anything else, evolved in a way to suit those roles.

The thing is, there may be a grain of truth here, in that due to psychological and some physiological (e.g. testosterone) differences that it may very well be the case that men are, to use a typical misogynistic angle oft cited, “better at science” then women. Mostly, this is to impy science = intelligence by a bunch of scientifically (if not just normal) illiterate dullards who would drown in academia if they ever set foot in it, but I digress...

Despite that, we can even accept their unfounded assumptions about the human brain and it means nothing. Why? Well, just can say for sure that, on average, men are physically larger than women. However, as pointed out, that means nothing, because the greats of any society aren't based on averages, they're based on the outliers. It takes a single Madam Curie to be a Madam Curie, regardless of how many men or women are competent in the field, the fact is we're not trying to cultivate the most average, we're cultivating greats (you know, people like me) To deny any person with potential greatness the ability to express their greatness based on the averages of their gender is beyond absurd. It's unfathomable to me, as is most things most idiots somehow have enough ignorance and cognitive dissonance to believe. However, I think there is area of importance that is a greater concern than that of evolutionary psychology.

I think you'll be hard pressed to find someone who loathes the popular female culture more than I. Of course, you'll also be hard pressed to find someone who loathes the popular male culture more than I. The only thing that disgusts me as much as someone reading Cosmo is someone reading Maxim.
Here's the thing though, culture is society based and society fucks everyone up without exception. I think we have a significantly more important role to play in equalizing society than we do trying to pick apart the possible evolutionary differences in our brain, mostly because society is almost without exception the most defining factors of our development.

Here is an example I utterly loathe: “Booth babes” and very similarly, most cosplayers, but I'll stick to Boothers for now.

Booth Babes are “attractive” (nothing less attractive to me personally, but...) women who are hired by companies for conventions in order to appeal to socially inept man-children who will flock to them because... they're attractive women. Now, I don't know what appauls me the most, the women who are strippers with, given they're working for Con-goers, less dignity, the sad male population that somehow finds it appealing rather than abhorrent and flock to the tables because of it, or perhaps worst of all the companies that make the decisions to hire these women, in order to appeal to the despicable shits that make up their target market. Sure, they're just doing what works, but having some dignity and self-respect is pretty handy at times too, as well as not purposefully feeding into the pathetic culture.

The thing is, this works on both sides. The women find a job of talking to and being attractive near, for lack of a better word, losers, acceptable because it's fairly acceptable within culture and garners a ton of positive male attention. The men are more than happy to have a photo of themselves next to a women that would cross the street to avoid them if they weren't being paid. This is a culture that really demeans from both sides, and it's ingrained very deeply into culture. Sex sells, but so does meth and high fructose corn syrup. Is-Ought fallacy, you sons of bitches.

The thing is, this one little example is just that. An eight year old boy getting legos is going to be far more likely to help development of an intelligent person than an eight year old girl getting a Barbie doll. I don't know at which age a woman may have first started putting on makeup. I also don't know if she was pressured into it by her mother, or her peers. I don't know, because frankly, I've never had to deal with the idiocy of covering up your face in order to try to attract a mate, as though that is your goal every time you walk out of your house, if not your only goal in life. I never worried about it when I was ten. I never put on makeup at eleven. Or twelve. Or ever. As a child, putting up makeup was never a desire, nor a goal, nor a playtime activity for me. To call this a psychological difference is absurd, because without even the slightest doubt it is cultural, taught, behavior that has tons of implications in self-respect, importance, self-worth and the daily goals and thoughts of a woman.

and I think I need an entire book to go over the amount of cultural flaws I could detail, so I should probably wrap up this rambling, disjointed, less-than-sober and far-less-than-academic post and call it a day.

Maybe I'll proof-read and edit it, but as with all things, I'll lose motivation long before I do. I'm pretty proud I even spent time writing something that will be lost to the void... for some value of proud.




Friday, August 3, 2012

Misanthropic Rant Compilation


Since most of my posts are half philosophy/politics and half angry rants at idiots, I'm hoping posting a bunch of relatively short rants will get a bit out of my system so I can actually focus on some real quality philosophic posts (or re-visit and expand on the cognitive dissonance as stupidity idea) or maybe, even if I get the motivation, to work on a novel.

Idiots and morality: It's wrong? Under which system, Kantian? Utilitarian? Virtue Ethics? I'd wager a good 90% (and probably more) of the population make moral choices the same as a dog, if they have an emotional or instinctual reaction that is negative towards it, it's wrong. Your moral system is on par with a dog. Once (or in most cases, if) you grow a bit, you realize that two rational moral theories can disagree on something being wrong/right, both be fairly reasonable. If two people hold different weights and thus, hold these two moral theories, then you can respect each other, still think each other is wrong, but understand why they believe what they do and be rational about it. This is not the case with dog-morality.  Your emotions are not morality, in fact that is the most disgustingly arrogant thing I could even imagine. In addition, the fact that you believe some natural-selected blob of biological waste happened to evolve to survive and reproduce somehow came with a working, magical, instinctual perfect moral detector, (or rather, only you and people who agree with you have it, everyone else is wrong) is just plain fucking insane.

My music is awesome, Justin Beiber is the best artist ever: I'm focusing on emotionally confused little girls who have just started with frontal lobe development in the title, so let me clarify that this covers the vast majority of stuff you'll hear on the radio. If you believe your song is good, but can't read musical notation, odds are you shouldn't speak. Since the most popular of music today is the repetition of three notes from a machine, odds it's obvious you can't listen. However, I'll give you a second chance, since you can't comment on the instrumentals, we can look at the lyrics. Lets break it down into two sections, message (or story-telling) and prose/vocabulary.  Let us break it down a run of the mill B.R. song: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/badreligion/strangedenial.html  Look, they actually use words that a ten year old wouldn't know and the most important thing, it suits the prose while making perfect sense -- with an important political and moral message. Look at this laughably travesty, I picked it due to being #1 on Billboard charts. http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/carlyraejepsen/callmemaybe.html  Pick the most complex word, and decide at which age a child would need to be for them to not know the meaning of the word. Now, look at the overall message of the song, which is a cross between laughable and deplorable. Some desperate skank of a woman randomly see a  hot guy and thus instantly falls for him. I can only say that I can only hope she'll get the relationship she deserves. The even more laughable part: The song doesn't even make sense in most places, even as a god damn metaphor. Just look at the first few verses, verse is as vapid, as stupid, and/or as nonsensical as a Sarah Palin speech. The sad part is I don't blame people who may enjoy the song. But if you believe the song is actually good, well, then I do. This is literally a song that, based on music complexity and vocabulary, should be marketed towards ten year olds. Based on message, should be marketed towards 14 year old girls that 16 year old boys want them to listen to so they can sexually exploit them. Number one song in America.

Free Speech:  Oh God, this is such a wonderful, ripe, field, but I'll try to keep it short. Unbelievably ignorant halfwits love this one. A right-wing asshole says something terrible hateful, offensive and evil on all moral theories. Well, this is called every day, but sometimes they get caught up in the media and explode in a backlash and proclaim that their free speech is being violated because people are mad at them for being vile little cesspools. Fucking... I can't even... fuck. Free speech means you get to voice your political opinions without a government agent putting a bag over your head and a bullet in your brain. It means that, yes, you get to say your sad little opinions without being blatantly censored. It does not mean that people fucking like it for you. It doesn't mean you get to speak at a KKK rally and then turn around and be the fucking diplomat to Uganda, you stupid little fuck. It means that the government can't stop you from broadcasting to the world you're the most pathetic type of person on Earth, not that you're immune to consequences of being a disgusting, evil, bigot, when everyone around you realizes you don't deserve their support, money, advertising, company, or anything else that could be given or taken from you. I don't know if these people don't know what free speech is (given their average IQ, it's very possible) or simply like to use the word because the people who would actually like them are too stupid to know what free speech happens to be. Either way, pathetic.

The Second Amendment:  Do you know a gun-nut, gun lover, or defender of gun rights? Ask them what the second amendment says, and they will say the quick and stupid answer, "The right to bear arms." This is wrong, of course, ask them what it says. The vast majority can't get you any other answer. You see, the second amendment has some very important words in it, here is the second amendment (You can see that it's so grievously long you can understand why the average Republican can't read and remember it) "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." Well, lookie there, there's a very important thing there. It's about militias being required in a country where there is no standing army, and that people can have access to weapons because of that purpose. The second amendment is a historical fragment that was intended in defending NOT personhood or personal property, but "a free state", that is, the entire purpose of the second amendment was to be able to act as a quick and dirty military in the absence of a standing army. Now, I'm not even saying that this is an argument for or against the current implementation of the second amendment, or that it should be re-written based on the historical intent, I don't have a degree in constitutional law (amusingly enough, I know of a popular black man who, both has a degree in law and taught constitutional law for years, yet G.E.D. rednecks will proclaim he is destroying it, without ever having read it, much less comprehended it, in their life) but if you don't even know what the amendment says, especially a sentence long one. If you  don't have an understanding of it, and you have an opinion, particularly a favorable one, since morally and socially lack of guns are empirically better  than a surplus of guns, the default rational position outside of constitutional law should more often than naught at least be caution towards gun access. So, if you don't understand the second amendment, and are proclaim you have the right to own guns, you're a god damn idiot who makes democracy a joke. Seriously, if you "love freedom" and don't know the basic idea behind the fundamentals of part of the constitution you proclaim to love, (It's a fucking sentence, mind you, a fucking sentence they need to read and think about) you, literally, are destroying the potential good of democracy. If you had the self-awareness and understanding of anyone without brain lesion, you would disgust yourself.

Big Bang Theory: This show is pretty much the complete explanation of why America's culture, education, wit and grace has fallen so far. To give this part it's full duty, I would need a good ten pages. Let me sum up by saying a few short breakdowns of the show. Any sort of non-mainstream/nerdish reference, with absolutely no joke -> laughtrack, repeat a minimum of 5 times an episode. A bunch of supposedly intelligent PhDs who use the vocabulary of eighth graders, even on the topics of their PhDs. A super-genius who constantly behaves, speaks, thinks like the human version of Peter Griffin. This is completely excluding the obvious portrayal of aspergers and other social and mental disabilities he embodies, since apparently mental  and social disabilities are now the ultimate cue for a laughtrack. Sadly, nerd culture has shifted to where it no longer has the connotation of intelligence, so it may in fact be an accurate portrayal of people who happen to like the things the characters like, as long as we all have the proper understanding they're really stupid people who like these things. Since,  now, the old nerdy hobbies now have a connotation of average or lower intelligence, since the demographic of the types of people who enjoy them have shifted; some have seemed to have kept, like Chess and to a lesser extent, D&D ( and let's be honest, comic books have always been pretty stupid) Playing Bard's Tale 2 (let me be clear, the fairly recent remakes of the same name have absolutely nothing in common with this game) or Zork on the Commodore 64, correlated with intelligence and with good reason. Playing Call of Duty most often correlates with having a sub-par IQ and possible reading disabilities(bonus points for playing on a console... a multiplayer FPS on a controller, wow.) Now, Bard's Tale/Zork and CoD may both be called video games, but Bach and Lil' Wayne are also both called music.  In reality, the writing of BBT  is basically what really stupid people think really smart people might be like. An IQ of 90, leaders of their academic field  yet somehow portraying  the understanding of complex topics they which happen to less impressive of that of a 14 year old who scanned a Wikipedia article.

Anti-vegetarians: Let me be perfectly clear, I am one hell of a meat eater. Every day, without exception, as far as I can remember. I'm sure I've missed days due to the flu, or being severely sick many years ago, but that's about it. However, I accept that the death and particularly the treatment ranging from mediocre to cruel treatment of animals that are used is bad. Now, perhaps in a utilitarian ethical system it's for the best overall, but that doesn't change the fact you're inflicting suffering on creatures which can feel it. Even if it happens to be for the greater good, it is not something to be proud of. If you kill a child to save ten, you shouldn't be proud of killing a child, to do so is utterly insane. Proud that you saved ten, perhaps. Maybe even proud you did something that was very hard on an emotional level in order to bring about more good. But you're not proud of killing a child. If you had a choice between a non-meat meal, or a meat meal, nutritional and secondary ethical concerns being the same (such as taking far more land or energy to produce which had other negative effects, however most of those actually benefit the vegetarian not the meat eater, to my knowledge) the moral choice is the non-meat meal. However, I'll even go so far as to say (or at least be generous and say it, even if it's dubious) that there is justifiable reason to eat meat as is right now. However,  mocking those who wish to reduce the suffering of innocent creatures, and being proud to of being part of a system which causes severe harm to innocent creatures is so evil that I think these people are either true sociopaths, are have severe learning or social disabilities to the point they may not even have self-awareness.  So, basically, throw a rock in America to find one.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Argument from analogy



First, let me tell you a story of someone, a conservative, (unsurprising, I know) on an internet forum. After my grievous mistake of actually trying to educate them, pointing out each logical fallacy, explaining how logical mistakes in an argument are akin to arithmetic mistakes in solving an equation, the end result is you must accept the fact what you did was wrong, period, because any problem you attempt to solve with 7+2 = 72 is not going to work out too well in your favor. Their retort was, "I don't want to be logical about everything, people aren't supposed to be  computers." Of course, this is like saying, "I don't want to correctly do arithmetic,  people aren't supposed to be  calculators."  What you notice, other than the depressing fact that someone living in the modern age could possibly say something so ignorant, is that I made an analogy, and since math and logic are fundamentally analogous, it works as an argument from analogy. 

Arguments from analogy are always particularly interesting, because in truth they're extremely difficult to actually make properly. The fact is, arguments from analogy need to be, (and I eagerly await the gasps of shock) analogous. Unfortunately, given the average person doesn't know the difference between Modus pollens and  Modus tollens, (Which, as far as logic is concerned, in effect is not knowing the difference between addition and subtraction) the possibility they can make a proper logical analogy, even on extremely simple topics, is unlikely. Given that dolts look at complicated topics, don't understand the most fundamental concepts of the topic, and attempt to make analogies, well... we can say that it's more than a little obvious that there will be shortcomings. 


Arguments from analogy can be extremely useful, however, even if they're not complete analogies. In my analogy in the first paragraph I use math as an analogue for logic to point out to someone with no understanding of logic, that, like with math, there is doing it right, or doing it wrong, period. There is no wiggle room on what "7+2" equals. Like with math advanced logic doesn't preclude debate, however. Theoretical physicists can properly do math and argue for different hypothesis, much like philosophers can use proper logic and argue for different hypothesis. Another analogy, this one may in fact be flawed under scrutiny, but still reasonably accurate, I feel. 

While the analogy may not be, strictly speaking, perfect, the differences in them don't seem to factor in to change the argument. The reason is simple: despite the fact P.T. and philosophers are both vastly different professions, both are using analogues, math and logic, to argue plausible hypothesis that are not flawed by virtue of the math or logic behind them, at least not at face value. Most people, however, when attempting to make an analogy will not go into that level of depth to understand where the analogy does and does not work. I pride myself on often being able to tell the level of ability for someone to 'think' by reading a few paragraphs of personal opinion they happen to write. Any opinion or argument uses logic, just like solving any equation uses mathematics. Someone who is an expert in mathematics can easily look at a few attempts to solve problems and can then estimate the level of competence the person has. The same goes with logic, each sentence someone uses with logical content I get to peer at and then can estimate their competence. Arguments from analogy are actually often even more telling than other attempts at an argument because they vary in accuracy so much.  Not only do I get to see their lack of ability to see the logical analogues between the two concepts, I get to see how little they understand about each concept in their attempt to equate them. In short: The greatest way for the a person to make a mockery of themselves to anyone who knows what they're doing is to simply attempt an argument from analogy.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Cognitive Dissonance as stupidity.


Intelligence and stupidity, while words oft thrown around -- and I'm no exception to doing so -- are very hard to pin down properties.  The current idea I've been toying with is that stupidity, and as a corollary, intelligence, is either a result of, or simply an abundance of, cognitive dissonance and intelligence being the lack thereof.

Cognitive dissonance, for this blissfully unaware enough to know, is when a person holds two mutually exclusive beliefs at the same time. If you speak to someone long enough, you'll often find these. Now, before I start on examples, let us speak of logic for a moment. In logic, if you have a contradiction ,you can prove anything; math is the same way. Since people are more familiar with basic arithmetic than symbolic logic, I'll use a quick math example. If you have 1=0, you can use the rules of math to prove anything. Since 1=0, you can add 1` to one side, and and subtract 0 from the other, since they're equal. 1=0 means any number equals any other number, which means of course, you can mathematically "prove" anything.

Now, I don't believe "beliefs" are logic are analogous. (I'd explain, but that'd take half abook) while not analogous they have similarities.  Now, I'm not sure which causes which, is stupidity is the cause of cognitive dissonance, or if cognitive dissonance, once implanted tends to lead to stupidity, but either way there seems to be an undeniable correlation.  A person with a large amount of cognitive dissonance is undeniable stupid, because the way they form beliefs results in multiple ones which cannot be sustained together. Any process of belief formulation which results in mutually exclusive beliefs is so flawed that the formulation of accurate beliefs is unlikely, if not impossible and thus the person and their beliefs must be considered stupid.

Let it be noted that, in a logical system, a single contradiction can lead to a proof of anything. In a human mind, the system is far less... proper. It's a tangled mess of evolutionary and social bullshit that leads to a semi-functioning mind. A single case of cognitive dissonance does not imply stupidity as a property, but frequent cases of it cannot be seen as anything else. As an example: I've known, sadly, multiple atheist/agnostic people who have the belief in ghosts. Of course, to have the belief there is no supernatural deity, but to believe there is a sort of personal spirit or soul are two beliefs that are, while not directly mutually exclusive, is extremely close to being so. This is an example of the sort of inane belief structure that makes it difficult for people to render proper beliefs. If you have a structure that conflicts, the structure cannot stand. Now, the most obvious cliche' is religious beliefs. There are a laughable number of cognitive dissonances once you start prying there. But that's not the point, the point is any system which has them results in an unstable system, and any unstable system is without a doubt one that can be called stupidity. (Drunken Rough Draft)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Identity through time

A rather...odd happenstance happened to me a bit ago. Odd, perhaps, is not the best word, but a lining up of two once-occurring events in a way where they meet, due to timing. It's the internet version of walking down a path you've never taken since it's longer, just to kill 10 extra minutes, then getting hit by lightning due to your travel route. Still, uncommon events still occur, that's what makes them uncommon rather than impossible. Regardless, I digress, the point is that, ignoring the details of the boring but exceedingly unlikely event, it brought to the forefront of my mind something I think about on a semi-regular basis, but have yet to write about -- Identity through time.

Identity through time is one particularly interesting problem to me, particularly since, as a philosopher, my views are far removed from the general populous (Thankfully). However, my views even in the philosophy clique are rather uncommon, making me twice removed. However, before I delve into the vehemently anti-intuition mindset that is my own, I need to explain some things.
This is a complex topic in which you can write a PhD thesis on, so many things will be assumed, ignored, or otherwise not discussed in here. There is the psychology and physiological arguments for identity through time, a ton of variations of those, and many things that otherwise could be explained but won't, however, I'll lay out some of personal beliefs of the best accounts and go on to explain my more general view.

Personal Identity, for me, is in effect a purely psychological occurrence, that is to say physical effects can change personal identity (head wound, for example) but aren't part of it. That is to say, the biological identity of something can be non-changing, while personal identity does. For example: A person who has an accident which damages their mind such that they lose all memories and act differently completely, is still the same biological object, but the personhood has changed such that pre-accident and post-accident people are, in fact, as different as any two random people picked out the globe. Now, there can be a vigorous debate about this, but just assume it's unquestionable, so I can get to my real point.

There is a problem with small changes in a large system, a gradient problem.  In essence, it is the ship of Theseus problem. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ship_of_theseus.
Now, gradient problems like this exist in many areas of inquiry, and I can go on a whole tangent about them, but in short, I say this: I reject it as a problem. We either try to define objects into intuitive categories, (which I find inane given the human mind is a sad kludge-together of evolution  and the thought intuition and categories that we assign things somehow are a reflection of reality is absurd) or we give in and accept that each change creates something new, so that it doesn't matter how large the leap in the gradient, it is different, and no matter how small, it is different.

What this means, regarding personal identity through time as far as I'm concerned, is that each change no matter how small in effect, creates a new, different, person. Oh, of course, since the changes are in fact so minor that between two seconds we cannot detect any real change, but I'd gladly argue it is there. The changes in, twenty of thirty years, however, might be so vast that if we exclude chronological data, the same biological person is, as far as the mind is concerned, a different person. While the future me rises out of the current me, and as such is likely to be vastly similar, as time goes on each incremental change has the possibility of veering my personally in such a different direction that most similarities could even  dissipate through time, albeit the most fundamental traits will probably endure, but still, that's not nearly enough to consider them the same person, otherwise we'd have two strangers being the same person on a regular basis.

So, that is where I get removed from the norm, I consider each chronological movement to, in effect, create a new person. Unintuitive, yes, but I don't see why that's a problem logically. Of course,  people can point of problems with this, most if not all I dash with ease, or so I feel... but nonetheless, it is an odd position, I'll admit, though by no means I'll admit it is wrong. The fact is, since the two people that exist at the two closest chronological intervals are going to be so vastly similar, there is no reason to treat them any differently. That is, while in reality they are different people, there's no reason to treat them as something else, until we jump larger periods of time where the similarity to the pervious person may not be quite so similar after all. So then, a person I knew in high school may be in some if not many respects similar, he is a new person.  The idea of 'catching up' is in essence meeting the new person. Now, under normal circumstances the changes may not be so vast (though in this range, is probably most likely to be larger than normal), but other circumstances can aggravate changes as well. A kid in high school and a war vet may be six years apart, but... as far as personality goes, can be so vastly different. The person you knew exists in the past, a remnant of time, dead infinite times over, only to be reborn based on the world around them, and their deeds. Reincarnation, writ large.

Now, everything prior to this I'll gladly defend (excluding my little bit of mediocre poetic prose) and admit, the next part however is more silly, but I still find it a fun idea to toy around with, in the vein of Berkeley type bullshit philosophy. I won't go on long about it.

Let us take Plank Time: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plank_time and apply it to my personal identity through time. Using a film analogy we can draw a similar conclusion. Plank time in essence cuts the universe, or at least, the stages of observing it, into absurdly small pieces, but the speed of them in rapid succession creates the illusion of a singular, constant, event. Much like with a movie, separate pictures seen in rapid succession creates the same illusion. So, then, personhood through time is an illusion as much as movement of pictures rapidly creates a scene that has movement. Perhaps time itself, at least how we see it, is the same.


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Projection

Projection is an interesting concept, probably because it's the inherent way the mind tries to understand others. Being stuck in your own mind limits your ability to comprehend other mindsets, subjective experiences are just that, subjective. The key to diminishing the problems with projection is to first accept it and try to edit perceptions of people not through your own feelings in similar situations, but rather their actions. By this, I mean, you can see actions and understand the possible motivations of those actions without coloring them with your own bias. This is why, I so commonly exclaim how I cannot fathom the thought process of the average person. The logical fallacies, psychological cliches, cognitive dissonance all displayed so freely makes it impossible for me to form an image of their mind that is similar to my own.

Imagine the typical brag/taunt. There is an assumption in there. If a child taunts another child with the fact he has a bunch of candy, the presumption must be that the child with candy believes the second child also desires the candy. If the child did not want the candy, the taunt would be moot. The same sort of psychological projection happens to stick with people throughout their lives, typically, if not exclusively.

What this means, of course, is that when someone attempts to taunt someone or brag, the underlying assumption is that the person being taunted has a desire for the object held, metaphorically, over him. However, all this should go without saying, but the important part is this: Most often, what a person attempts to taunt another with is projection, and not a rational outlook of the person and finding out what he desires. In short, if someone tries to taunt you with something, it's because they put value on it, not because you do. The average person doesn't have a level of rational introspection well developed enough to realize non-idiots have different weights.

So then, imagine someone yells, “Haha, I have more jars of shit than you do!” There are two conclusions we can draw from this: The very, very, rare idea the person understands you, and knows that you, specifically, value jars of shit... or more than likely, he values jars of shit, and is projecting his value of them onto you(lets ignore the obvious satirical points for the example.) For idiots, projecting is all they can do, and since the majority of people are idiots, it works well enough, since they tend to put weight on similar objects.

From all this, we can then learn some very significant things from people by virtue of how they attempt to taunt and/or mock you. Not like they would understand, but often times the value they place on things actually mock themselves, and it's painfully obvious. The jar of shit example, of course, is hyperbole, but just barely, it would seem. Lets take another example, I've found someone, in an argument constantly reference his wife as an obvious attempt to make someone jealous. Let us be serious: getting married is in fact less impressive, statistically, than graduating a community college with a degree in interior design. Even worse, in fact. It's just as bad as trying to brag about being a community college dropout. It's no joke, significantly more people are, or have been, married then have either gotten any degree, or even enrolled and dropped out. However, this person was in fact trying to use this fact, that is so absurdly trite and unimpressive, in order to brag is a terrible reflection on him. You're more of an elite by enrolling in community college for a semester and dropping out and bragging about it. However, this person is projecting the fact they got married onto someone else as something they should be envious of... it shows such a profound lack of insight towards that the person has that you can tell they have little going on in either their mind or life.

Now, let me clarify, there's nothing wrong with being happy about being married. Nor is there anything wrong with being happy about getting a degree from a community college, or even your G.E.D. Improving your education is always good. The problem is, when you believe others, particularly people who are not in a similar situation to you, should be envious of these traits it makes a mockery of you. Someone who is unintelligent putting forth lots of effort to get a G.E.D. because they value education, despite being bad at it, deserves respect. Being more educated, or smarter than the average doesn't inherently make you a better person anymore than being taller or stronger or having better eyesight. The problem is that, by trying to mock someone the average person not only mocks themselves, but also reveals significant things about themselves, very unintentionally. Think about someone short trying to mock others by referencing that others are too tall. In this society, it is utterly inane, as being short is not a property that gives advantages, generally. Well, this behavior is commonplace when it deals with many other topics.

So, let us continue but now give some more applicable examples of people projecting their mind on to you.

Take words that you'd find on any standardized test given to 9th graders; that is high school freshmen (about 14-15years old.) If you use these words in a conversation, more so to someone who is aggravated towards you (and guaranteed on the internet) they will say things that reflect so painfully poorly on themselves it absolutely boggles me that they don't understand they're mocking themselves. Now, I know they don't understand but at the same time... I simply cannot comprehend the mindset that would not realize it. It's something that is factual, yet at the same time difficult to fathom. It is the quantum physics of the mind. So, anyhow, use words such as these in a conversation, just a couple that I've found as a first-week freshman vocab list: admonish, efface, relinquish, spurious, perennial, as a few examples. If you use these words it's all but a certainty that this person will call attention to them, proclaiming you're “looking at a thesaurus,” or “what are you, in college and think you're smart” “tryhard” “Trying to impress with big words.” Now, let me be clear. These are high school freshman words, a fourteen year old is expected to know at least 7/10 of them. Yet, these words are so out of the ordinary and impressive to these people they feel the need to call attention towards them when used.

Now, the person who says things like, “you're looking at a thesaurus” or “learned some new words today in college lolz” is really attempting to insult you, but the sad fact is they're insulting themselves and are too stupid to realize it. By speaking using words at the level of a fourteen year old child, you've impressed these people so much, they begin to project, putting themselves into a position where they would use those words. Since a 9th grade writing level is beyond them, it must be beyond others and thus, you must be putting forth significant effort by using normal, unimpressive words that simply are both the most accurate and fit the prose well. The projection is simple, “For me to write at this level, I must use a thesaurus, thus, he is using a thesaurus to write at this level.” This is one of many, many, areas where a person unwittingly reveals their lack of education and intelligence, mocks themselves while doing so and is still too stupid to realize all of that goes on.

Honestly, projection is, if anything, as much a logical fallacy as a psychological fact. It's simple, “argument from self”. I do X in position Y, therefore he does X in position Y. This is no different than any dullard committing any other fallacy, and one can spot it just as easily.