sein zum tode & lethal births

January 8th, 2017
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“there is no cure… you have 1 week to live.” 

Now if the doctor tells you this at your next check-up, would it make you feel better if you had 2 weeks? A month, a year?  What about 2 years?

3? 4? 5? I can already hear annoying people bringing up Sorites paradox but that is not the point. To me, there is no existential difference between having  another 2 weeks or 80 years. I know that I am not guaranteed a future in any sense. Yet I, or I believe ‘we’, are too used to thinking about the “future”. 

A sense of inconsistency is apparent in the contradictions we make between how we behave and what we know. The really important fact is that most people hide from their own death – they literally turn around when they see it and say “I’m not thinking about it.” And that is the delusion. A delusion I also find myself living in. Sometimes. What a lot of them don’t realise is that EVEN IF they are lucky enough to go 100 years without dying, they will eventually have to face their own death. Once they do, they will be shattered. Everyone is shattered  when they are told they are going to die soon. The point then, is that once you truly know you are going to die, it tears away the illusion of life.

By illusion of life I mean what a person immersed in day-to-day activities thinks about money, jobs, the future, pleasure, pain. If you ask someone oblivious to death what life is, they will tell you about those distractions. They will think about  “the future” and think “if I do this now, how will this lead me to where I want to go?” That feels normal, but once you are presented with a set of affairs that forces you to realise that that is nothing but a delusion, you don’t even have the option to think that life. If you are diagnosed with cancer, you don’t get to think like that any more. And then you realise that was always the case. All you ever had is the present. There is no past, nor future. The past is nothing but a memory experienced in the present; the future is nothing but a feeble, and often cynical, imagined set of affairs… also in the present. 

Perhaps to even begin, you have to essentially experience a level of suffering that is so intense that it shatters the illusions of the way you used to live. Once you suffer enough, and are presented with a state of affairs you can’t control – e.g. You are going to die, soon, there is nothing you can do about it, you might start to appreciate the present in its truest form. It’s not a cliché, today is really a GIFT ❤

Well it is now almost 4 am and I am getting sleepy – this was part of my reflection on how one can bypass unnecessary suffering (things that are the result of the original delusion of hiding from death) I honestly don’t know why I wrote this because I do not agree with half the things I said but I love the freedom of being able to contradict myself – contradiction defines life as I see it, and tonight I am in the mood to feel alive. Heidegger is dead. I am alive. Woop! 

Good night ^__^

vaguely sad post

July 21st, 2016
Posted in Random rambling
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Amidst recent waves of political uncertainty I came across numerous individuals expressing general discontent , of which some were enlightening with extensive political insight (i know nothing about politics so am easily impressed by my friends) while others were less informative and in the worst cases basic, ad hominem attacks against Boris Johnson or Donald Trump.

 

image

As a nihilist-existentialist type I have never taken too much interest in left/right politics nor economics nor the environment nor Brexit nor the next president of America. I was never able to slot myself in with “liberals” or “conservatives” or any political party for that matter , as I have never found any unified group compelling enough to identify with.

Perhaps I could call myself an anarchist in the technical sense, in that I totally reject any form of authority except the individual over themselves. But then I face the total rape of words of their meaning, where “anarchist” means “violent person”, so I obviously have to tackle that issue …
I believe I have never behaved violently but I’ll admit that’s just me suppressing the desire to do so for over 2 decades. Okay. By violent I only mean mildly sociopathic / barbaric things that people would not expect me to do, so before you start to imagine me dream about climbing in your window slashing you with an axe, NO, I do not wish to do that. Except if you are very rude / abuse vulnerable animals as a hobby of course.

Going back to anarchism…  What sometimes makes me want to change things is the fact that I “have to” talk to people, go to school, get a job and earn money in order to be considered a “functioning” member of society. I don’t want to do that. I wasn’t put on this earth to do that. And if that’s selfish on my part, then I simply say: I don’t want my children to do that. You know…Politics is just economics and all rules are arbitrary word games.

So then it becomes an economic issue, but politics—including anti-politics—is about re-calibrating society, or remaking it entirely.

So it comes down to

if you could design the whole world to your tastes, what would it look like? What would people do, what would they be allowed to do, what would they be barred from (if anything), would there be nations, would there be money?

Would you basically look like Tronald Dump in the eyes of a few thousand million other people?

I am interested in hearing what kind of world people believe they could and would orchestrate.

I have a sad feeling about all of the above.

If you made it to this sentence, thanks for reading this incoherent post and have a good night.

On Nihilism

May 7th, 2016
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Let me begin by first declaring that I am in fact completely apathetic about this very topic which I am going to discuss, for I am indeed a Nihilist about Nihilism as well as a Nihilist about everything else.


1.What is Nihilism? (I am just ranting on so please excuse the lack of structure here. I numbered my paragraphs only to create a false sense of orderliness )

In the purist sense, Nihilism is the belief that the subject in question is meaningless. Existence, morality, politics, truth itself—all of these subjects can be touched by nihilism. A person who holds a nihilist belief is called a ‘nihilist’. Even in these three brief definitions—which will not hold up to proper scrutiny, but are a strong starting point—we are already thrown into contact with controversy, the limits of language, the limits of thought, the limits of logic and paradox. 

Nihilism is an extremely complex subject that is distinctly human: It flirts with paradox on all sides, contains great weight, and yet at times seems so difficult to understand that humour seems to be the only way to discuss it. It is deeply related with the absurd, for good reason: the topic itself, like life, is extremely important—but the conclusion that it demands is hard to live with.
​Nihilism is not always existential nihilism; that is merely its most important application. The term ‘nihilism,’ which is loaded with political, historical and social baggage, can most intuitively be replaced with ‘nothing.’ A question that yields a nihilistic answer is a denial. To ask ‘What is the meaning of life?’ and receive the reply ‘Nothing’ is the ultimate denial. For this reason, the nihilist in history has been construed as the ultimate pessimist. In fact, in the hands of clumsy, muddy thinkers, the two have become totally conflated. 

Why is it that the concept of philosophical nihilism cannot seem to part from the obfuscatory stereotypes it has become sewn to? Pessimism, violent anarchism, teenagers, adolescence—even, inexplicably, evil itself. This is a gross turn of events which has made one of the most important subjects in human life nothing but an absurd concept that signifies nothing but a morose young individual, dressed in black.


With the sharpest scalpel I can find I wish to separate Nihilism from its unfortunate association with evil and pessimism. Nihilism is most certainly not something that only depressed people conjure up. In fact nihilism almost always precedes depression. The reason for this is because whilst nihilism is commonly defined as a ‘belief,’ the impact of beliefs on those who hold the belief is rarely taken into account. 

​It is true that there is a relationship between the philosophical position of nihilism and a certain sensibility. What most thinkers who have broached the topic have failed to understand is that the relationship between nihilism, which is a belief, and the actions of the person who holds that belief, are not causal. That is, there is no necessary connection between nihilism and the stereotypes with which it is associated. It is quite possible to be a nihilist who enjoys life.  This remarkable state of affairs is possible only when you realise that a belief does not automatically define one’s mood or action; there is an entirely separate question, which I could explore at length (despite not being bothered)  about how to live with a belief. 

​The relationship between a philosophical belief and the effect of the person who holds it is one of the key concepts that the bastardisation of nihilism has made impossible—and I would like to address this. Part of the problem is that those people who have examined the concept of nihilism have balked at the prospect of its paradoxicality. The argument, which is usually over before it has even begun, is this: ‘If (existential) nihilism is the claim that nothing is true, and you claim that nihilism is true, then nihilism is self-defeating.’ With that, people usually cease their discussion of nihilism and move on to other shades of existentialism. What these people have missed is that their crude summary of nihilism misses several points. They have overlooked the fact that the issue of what truth could even be, and the relationship between truth and the contingent nature of our species’ reason and application of logic, is precisely what the nihilism doesn’t take for granted. To say that ‘nihilism is a paradox; therefore it is false’ does not make nihilism impossible: it makes nihilism more convincing. Nihilism is not merely a dissociated belief, but an ultimate condition.

2. Nihilism as Condition

The relationship between philosophy and its effect on the philosopher finds its ultimate significance in the case of nihilism. Of the many reasons why this is so, three stand out.
First, there is no other philosophical belief which has historically been seen as so powerful in defining the character of the person who holds it. The total dissolution of any difference between someone who holds a nihilistic belief of any kind and a laughable stereotype has led the moral nihilist (sometimes simply referred to as amoral) as ‘evil’; the political nihilist as a violent anarchist; the existential nihilist as a danger to society and to himself; and the more general, and most absurd caricature of all: the nihilist as suicidally depressed. The issue is not whether there is a relationship between nihilism and a desire to destroy. Nor will any reasonable thinker claim that nihilism does not lead to depression. It surely does. Understanding why this is so, rather than assuming that the answer is obvious, is the key to changing the way philosophy works—and through this achievement, changing life for those who hold such extreme beliefs. It should already be clear, however, that there is something in-between the belief and the actions of the person who believes it.

Second, nihilism is the most extreme position: as in all logical matters, the best way to prove something is to tackle the superlative form so that one’s conclusions can trickle down to lesser matters. If you wish to prove something about the effect of belief on human wellbeing, the best possible approach is to tackle the most extreme believes of all. Nihilism certainly is that: the ultimate example of all-or-nothing thinking.

Third, of all the beliefs that affect human life, nihilism has the most dramatic results. Whether you believe that your red is my blue may lead you to stare at various coloured objects for a long time; whether you believe that all life is objectively meaningless is liable to lead to more dramatic actions. Among them, suicide. There is no question that even the most esoteric and unusual philosophical belief does have an affect on human behaviour and well-being—which in turn affects everything humans have an impact on, from their children to the environment to world war. By examining the impact nihilism has on the person who believes it, we will throw considerable light on the impact all beliefs of all kinds have.
The reasons for tackling the subject of nihilism, then, are clear: because it is the most extreme philosophical position one can hold, the lessons we learn here can be applied, to different degrees, to all other beliefs. Yet there is more to it than that. Nihilism is a particularly important issue because it has been so poorly treated in history. The only truly remarkable individuals to have tackled the subject have often come to an untimely demise, which has only increased the enigmatic nature of the subject. Nihilism surely is enigmatic, and a nihilist is an enigmatic individual—but the presence of enigma does not mean illogic, any more than it signifies evil. In fact, nihilism is one of the most universal beliefs there are. I believe it is written directly into the human condition—and there, in that phrase, we see a critical concept which has been completely overlooked in the history of nihilism.

Nihilism is not merely a belief: it is the set of emotions, physiological states and tendencies that follow from the belief that the subject at hand is meaningless.

The inability to recognise this fact is the crucial error that all thinkers who have dismissed nihilism have built upon, never to recover. It explains why dismissing nihilism as paradoxical, illogical, or some kind of adolescent growth are all utterly reductive. Naïve, even. The reason why should be intuitive: whilst it is possible to believe that there is a noumenal realm which we can never perceive and continue on with life, it is not possible to encounter nihilism and simply continue. Whilst all beliefs have the potential to change one’s life, certain beliefs—because of their wide scope and ability to undermine what has been tacitly accepted throughout one’s life—are much more likely to totally dissociate a thinker from their existence. Nihilism is the ultimate example of this.

3. Alternative definition of a Nihilist

I wish to put forward a definition of nihilism that makes it explicitly clear that nihilism is not merely a belief. Indeed, I believe it is imperative that the definition of nihilism goes so far as to make it clear that someone who is affected by nihilism need not even believe it is definitely true. To be a nihilist, you need only be affected by the idea that it might be ‘true.’ More precisely, you are a nihilist if you feel that the assumptions about what truth is are questionable, and that they do not support the definitions we currently use. If you are compelled, in any sense, to the idea that the subject at hand—including, most importantly, objective moral truth and any kind of objective meaning to life—is impossible using the tools and methods of the society in which you live, you are engaged with the nihilistic problem. If you are ‘a nihilist,’ you are simply someone who accepts that these questions are of the utmost importance. It is one of the most tragic ironies of our culture that some people dismiss nihilism as the position of ‘claiming that the statement “there is no truth” is true.’ The point is that the nihilist feels that truth is not what you think it is. Because truth itself is under suspicion, it makes no sense to dismiss nihilism as a logical error; nihilism runs deeper than that kind of word game. The problem is that the effects of nihilism are directly related to its subject-matter: the foundations on which we build our lives. The issue of truth, belief, and the way in which all human action is built on these key elements, makes clear the relationship between nihilism and the real spirit of philosophy as questioning everything:

​Nihilism is the epitome of philosophical inquiry, because it questions everything—including itself.

I will stop for now because I want to sleep and work hard (for my day job) tomorrow
 

 

 

 

 

That Consciousness Is Bothersome

February 26th, 2013
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Ever since the protagonist became aware of his own consciousness, the question of whether other minds existed became an obsession. The protagonist, let us call him “O”, was a toddler. O found that self consciousness came hand in hand with moderate dread, an unpleasant feeling that fluctuated in terms of severity depending on what distractions were available.

In primary school, the subject of O’s anxieties extended from worrying that he was one isolated mind looking into to a world of unreality, to notions of death, morality and infinity.

O recalls losing sleep over contemplating where the edge of the universe was, and feeling helpless when he found himself unable to conceptualize a line that was infinitely long. O also remembers agonizing over the idea that we were all going to die, though he is not sure precisely when he began understanding the notion of death. O had a grandmother whom he loved very much;  he assumed by intinct that she was naturally going to die first. Whilst aware of the presence of doctors and advances in medical technology, it was never unclear to O that eventual death is inevitable for everyone and that there is nothing he can do to change the fact. This frustrated O to no end and often put O on the verge of going berserk. At times he felt like jumping out of the building to just “get it over with”, as though death was another one of those unavoidable, menial tasks much like homework. O saw it as an irrirating, impending threat that he can never get away from; it was the ultimate dreadful task.

O was generally good at hiding these thoughts. Perhaps he did not want to touch upon this sensitive subject with loved ones who, in his eyes at the time, were likely to be closer to death than he was.

One day, in the midst of another (regular) spontaneous bout of existential angst, O nudged a 6th grade classmate  in the queue of some activity in P.E. class, and asked

“Did you know that you are going to die one day?”

“Um, yeah” , his classmate just shrugged and turned around.

Somewhat dissatisfied with this disinterested response (in retrospect, O does not know what he was expecting), O turned to another kid and repeated the question.

“Yeah, but so what?”

O gave up very quickly upon realizing that asking questions like this any further will only result in being given undesirable names of all sorts in school. Although he desperately wanted to share his thoughts to somebody, it was difficult to find a suitable target. O was confused.

Am I particularly stupid?” he thought. “Why am I bothered by things that other people don’t give a second thought to?” 

O did not understand how people, particularly old people, were able to move around, enjoying their tea and other ephemeral activities whilst knowing that they are going to die.

O is not afraid of death per se. Like Epicurus said, “If  I am, death is not. If death is, I am not”. O was mindful to the refutability of this claim, given that he, as a living person, does not have access to  the afterlife nor any means to observe it. However for O, not being afraid of death does not exempt him from the anxiety driven by the implications that death has on everyday life. The fact that he will have to vanish no matter what he does or how successful he becomes disturbs him. The fact that regardless of how many people he gets to love or gets to love him, or how much he contributes to society he will still cease to exist, makes him feel that he is no more than an insignificant speck of dust in the infinite horizon of time. And again, there is nothing O can do to change that.

One might think that O could actually use these thoughts to his advantage. He could interpret the insignificance of being as a reason to become ecstatically relaxed about everything. Indeed, O tried to drive himself in this direction, only to realize that he is no candidate for Buddhahood. Brought up in modern society, with parents who put in great effort to put him through school, provide him with the opportunity to participate in multiple extracurricular activities, there was no way O could just let go of all his daily concerns. O had to be good. O had to ace all his exams. O had to get good grades and more importantly O could never disappoint his family.

Why? Because O loved them very much.

And this point created another problem for O. As a mind constantly traumatized by the possibility of solipsism and often falling into actual brain-in-vat moments, to love people existing outside his own mind appeared to be a contradiction, a contradiction that O was unable to resist clinging on to. But as a logical human being, O found contradictory beliefs intolerable and fundamentally uncomfortable.

O fails to convince himself that other people definitely exist, yet he cannot help himself from genuinely caring about them. One might ask, why does it matter if they exist or not, if you can never discern the real situation anyway? O’s first response to this question would be that if it didn’t matter, he might as well become a full-blown solipsistic sociopath. If whether other minds exist is truly irrelevant to how O should behave, it would imply that

1. O can act as though other people exist even when they really don’t, which would not affect the “normal” arrangements of life but ALSO vice versa, that

2. O can act as though other people do not exist even when they really do, which means he can insult or hurt anybody spontaneously because at the end of the day whether they exist or not doesn’t even matter.

O imagines falling deeply in love with somebody only to find out that they were a zombie. It may be easy for some to say that it does not matter as long as one never finds out, but for O the idea that it is possible at all suffices to show how little meaning there would be in a hypothetical relationship where one side is in fact a spiritless robot.

All thoughts above manifest not only in O’s mind, but also in his way of life. O began losing interest in doing many things, particularly things that he had to work for, such as studying. O found difficulty in pursuing anything requiring the slightest bit of energy as he was constantly struggling to choose between putting effort in my work in order to keep up with social expectations, and letting go of earthly desires for things such as academic success. O alternated between the options and often felt guilty for not trying his best, because deep down O knew that he wanted and could do well.

At one point O tried to find another aspect of life to withdraw from so that he can concentrate on studying and feel that he was not grasping too much onto the superficiality of daily life. The most ridiculous thing O experimented with was probably air. O understood that he should not have included air as one of the things he should attempt to give up as it is a necessity for survival; even Buddha would not have identified it as an element of “superficiality” or human grasping. But O was becoming insane. As expected, it took O only a few seconds to give up his attempt to eliminate air as a necessity in  life. It was idiotic. The only reason O tried it was that, underlying all the stupidity O had always been dissatisfied with himself for being a human being who needed mundane things like air. O felt needy and wondered why God had to make him this way. He felt victimized by being created and again, started losing more and more interest in life.

For O it was tough to keep himself in good spirits infront of other people. He did try to communicate his ideas with a few close friends.  Most conversations did not last long, nor did they go deep, but what O realized was that, despite his solipsistic tendencies he found a bit of comfort in finding other people who acknowledged his concerns. Perhaps this was O being insecure about being “particularly stupid”. Or it was just O’s innate desire to belong somewhere.

After decades O died, aged 81. He was unhappy for 87.9% of his life.

OK this is my new blog

May 31st, 2012
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my name is Roni and I like to eat,  play music and take photos. I hate thinking but 100% of the time I just can’t help it.