You take diazepam and you calm down. You drink double scotch and … We can alter our phycological state at will. Are these altered states our experiences? It’s hard to say – No. We know a bit about bio-chemistry regulations and accept that all induced experiences are ours. It does not matter how far the alternation goes and there are many other ways to shape our state of mind. Nothing new or surprising so far, isn’t it?
The point is that advancing our knowledge about what gives us our experiences is slowly but certainly being deconstructed. At some point, probably with the help of AI, we will get to the bottom of this. There is no conceivable reason not to. A model which can predict our experiences in any thinkable situation is not as far as you’d like to think. Is the model of my consciousness conscious itself? Functionally speaking, what’s the difference? Well, mine is made out of meat, and I need to protect its importance, aka ego. Being a good model, so the model “feels” the same. There is no way out of this except we declare some mystical qualia, some inexplicable essence of my experiences. As long as I can keep the concept of mythical consciousness in public discourse I can claim my privileged status and there is nothing to convince me otherwise.
Let me offer you a thought experiment one may say is an advanced version of the Turing test. Imagine that after significant advancements in neurology and computer science we are able to replace parts of the brain with functional equivalents made of “not-brain tissue”. These brain artificial parts (BAP) could be widely different in size and functionality. The question now is: where is the threshold above which we will consider the person to be legally different. What about replacing most of, or the whole brain? Will we need to enforce a declaration of BAP in order to legally decide if this is the same person or not? Our mind and our consciousness physically and functionally will be deconstructed, understood and modeled, that is the way of our evolution and adaptation.
How does one protect oneself against society with so many rules, written and unwritten? Social anxiety is real and more widespread than you might think. The traditional answer is: follow the crowd, be a sheep, be agreeable or fancy yourself as being conformist.
The self-preservation instinct is not a good adviser but it’s needed. The trick is how to control it. Do we want to control it? Maybe there is some deep meaning (there is always one if you look long enough) in our fear of change. Maybe the wisdom of so many generations before me will kick in and the world will be cosy again as I remember it from my childhood. Maybe even the individuals I know from the crowd are not the brightest I’ve met, the collective mind will give us a new kind of superior intellect.
…so many maybes, maybe I will just follow my instinct and my instinct says: respect your parents and be one with your peers. No need to analyze your motivations just follow your heart.
Although you may consider some details along the way:
How to pick my crowd is a mere technicality. In our open and well-connected society, so many ideas are floating around and most of them come in ideology or religious packaging. Look around you (literally) and pick the crowd you’ve grown up with, the crowd you communicate with on daily basis, the crowd you feel at home with. Even in the end, if they happened to be on the wrong side of history, meanwhile, you will feel comfortable. Remember Germany during the 1930s and now Russia?
How much of my freedom (of being myself) am I supposed to sacrifice? Should I erase myself and surrender my individuality to the Borg (Star Trek: Voyager) collective. Feeling part of something much bigger than yourself is a glorious feeling. Continuously learning to submit yourself is a part of that feeling. Although if I dissolve completely how do I know that it is I who experiences all the glorious feelings? Ask some meditation guru, not me.
How do I proceed with the following? Should I be more catholic than the pope? How proactive am I supposed to be? On one hand, it would speak highly of my convictions/faith and it will raise the chances of assuming more responsibilities. On another hand, it presumes some form of creative thinking even within the frame of the existing conformity. For example, my interpretations of the “holy” books must be balanced not to step over “the line” and to be original at the same time. For that, I need some critical thinking but critical thinking is the most dangerous thing for my conformist mind. So I’m in trouble already for trying to be agreeable and conformative.
Populism and conformism are on the rise and the trend is stable. The reason being – social and technological acceleration, which will continue until something really big breaks, after that – back in the caves (if we are lucky).
If you are reading this there is still hope that the Russian psychopathic maniac with complete disregard for human life hasn’t blown up the planet yet.
There is no doubt in my mind that a person who is ready to sacrifice his own people will sacrifice humanity itself if anything stays on his mission way. That is to have his Russian empire back. The world does not agree because ex-socialistic countries including the ones from USSR are sovereign countries now. “Giving” them to Russia means ending the sovereignty as international law.
“If Russia cannot be restituted as a great country, a world power (the bully of the world) what is the point of anything, including our planet’s existence.” Am I panicking, probably but how does one react to war in the nuclear age.
Everybody is trying to understand Putin’s thinking. That could be helpful on a tactical level but when it comes to the strategy he does not think he feels that his mission is to make Russia glorious again… or else. Now is his last chance, most of his intelligentsia has left, a demographic crisis is imminent and the money is largely gone or frozen.
Shame on you Russians to empower the ultimate evil which will bury us all.
(05.03.2022) War, destruction and human tragedy on a scale Europe hasn’t seen since WWII. Everybody is talking and the opinions are all over the place. The most puzzling part for me is the discussion about what the West could have done and should have done to prevent or mitigate this. Should we feel responsible for not doing enough diplomacy and pressure or having the wrong approach?
Here is my piece of mind: these are all the wrong questions. They start with the false premise that Putin’s actions can be influenced by our words or behaviour (whatever that might be). Everything so far in his actions shows one thing, as long as he is in power nothing won’t. For example, any diplomacy is just theatrics for him, just to show his people how important he is. He hates Western democracy and civilization partly because he does not understand them but mostly because if accepted in Russia, he wouldn’t last long.
He is an ageing paranoid tyrant with a strong sense of mission to reinstitute the USSR or anything that resembles an empire (his dream).
The Marxism/Leninism ideology of the not-so-distant past provided some humanistic-like excuse for claiming power, in the name of social justice and a brighter future. As the future has stayed more and more distant, a new narrative came into play: the past. Russia is great power (Second World War as proof) and deserves its role in deciding what happens in the world. One thing stays the same: all that is just a power play to stay in power as long as possible.
Is there a way out for the world and Europe? The only way to change the tyrant with someone more progressive (civilized) is from within and having in mind the sheepish ethos of an average Russian (since forever), I don’t think that is in the cards in the foreseeable future. The oligarchs of his kleptocratic regime can take almost any damage when considering the alternatives.
I envy those of you who do believe that the nuclear option is completely off the table. Sorry Ukraina, sorry Europe but some KGB guy with total disregard for human life and access to a nuclear arsenal has some demands…
A friend of mine argued for consequentialism “Whether an act is right or wrong depends only on the results of that act.”
First I thought: It makes sense. We cannot judge what were the thoughts (intentions) before the action. That (if possible) would be a route to “thought police”. Plus, the long tradition poetically put by Matthew 7:16 “By their fruit you will recognize them.”
On second thought, there are three possible traps in this line of thinking:
At the moment of making the decision, the only thing we know is what’s the planned outcome of our actions. So consequentialism may judge only (mostly) post factum – not very useful when you decide what to do next.
About the result, how long ahead should we consider? Immediate, a day, a year, a generation, or an undefined future? Some actions have no long-lasting consequences some do. So if I would like to justify any action of mine I would claim that even the means are bad and probably the immediate result also, the long term consequences could be only described as a paradise for everybody. Stalin killed more than 20 million of his people in the name of some bright future (communism).
Considering too deep all the possible consequences of your actions could block you psychologically and prevent the action which is an involuntary action as well. That classifies consequentialism as not a very practical stance.
Bottom line: dangerous and impractical, NO thank you!