A Philosophy of Pain, Suffering, & Humiliation.

Well, this may be a darker toned one, but it may be interesting.  Let us suppose that there is one inexplicable psychological phenomena that defies explanation.  Let us call it “Pain”, it is an tormenting experience, and not often rated very highly in “hedons”  ( https://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Hedon ) in fact some have gone so far to create a term called “dolor” (apparently) to describe it.  Having created some sort of image of this concept, let us go further, and state most philosophies/religions are about allaying such concept.

Stoicism, detaching from things that may cause pain.  The same goes for Buddhism, and I’m sure plenty of others that are eluding me right now.  Why is this so?  If Pain is the only psychological phenomena that we can be certain of experiencing.  Why would we want to negate suffering?  What is so surreal about pain that we can’t accept it into our lives?  Instead we blunt it out, and are we in turn blunting ourselves?  We censor others that offend us, and we avoid anything that seems harsh.  To me, at least, it seems that we are.

I should mention that I don’t see myself as a sadist, or a masochist.  I just think that pain, as an authentic experience shouldn’t be ignored.  Dig into it, and extract the wound.  There’s the remark of, “Doctor, Heal Thyself!”, but if Doctors, and nonetheless ourselves, are unwilling to reach into our own personal pits of turmoil to extract the thorn that causes us grief.  Just what are we actually doing?

As I sit here writing, and composing my thoughts for this article.  I keep coming back to a notion of Christianity.  I know very little of it as a doctrine, and I’m laity when it comes to actually having read the Bible.  And yet, from my cursory knowledge/experience of it.  It does not seem like a light airy religion, it seems to have a fairly dark edge to it which is oddly attractive.  Call it a morbid curiosity, or an attraction to the Dark Side (of the force).

Consider for a moment, this thought, taken out of context, perhaps, of Jesus himself.  A man stripped down, flogged, and nailed, I repeat nailed to a Cross.  He was made to carry his own impending device of suffering 600 meters (~2000 ft).  That does not seem like a doctrine that would entail much dignity for the guilty (unlike what we “civilized” folk have now for suffering and shame).  Crowned with a briar of thorns, Jesus did this, and endured it.

At this point I just want to cry both emotionally, and spiritually.  I just want to scream out, “Look here!  This Man of Faith, this King, and Son of God.  Brought low by fellow man, and debased of all worth!  High claims rent to ground.  His bones, dust, his blood, ash, and yet he lives on!”

Now taking into context our daily lives, they don’t seem so bad now, do they?  We may suffer the stones, and arrows of verbal assaults (on occasion).  Even more rarely, physical assaults.  Although, does any of us know true suffering?  To be called, “King of the Jews”?

Oddly, I’m reminded of those bracelets of, “What Would Jesus Do?”.  Well, from this superficial understanding, he’d voluntarily accept his suffering, and not reject the “Burden of God/Cross”.

If I knew nothing else about the figure of Jesus, the aforementioned alone would inspire me with a sense of respect if not admiration.  I mean consider how easily do we take flight for moments of respite, or offshore responsibility for our misdeeds onto others?  Did, and does Humanity deserve Jesus?

I don’t know, we apparently did, but I don’t know.

 

The Monkey Chain of Hierarchies, (or Breaking the “Self” to Realize the Self).

(Ensure that you’ve read “The Divide” post before putting much weight behind this one).

One of the things that I seem to find myself butting my head against more often than not is the notion of “hierarchy”.  At least that’s what a cursory understanding may imply, but digging deeper to try and express what I’m aiming at seems to lead to a notion of the following.  The idea that no matter what, a person, or individual is embedded within a larger social context.  We are after all social creatures, but we seldom maintain one “level” of status consistently.

To some, if not most, people a person encounters in their waking life.  They are an individual of low worth, or indeterminate worth.  You’re still recognized as human for the most part, but other than that you may as well be a stereotype, or a 2-dimensional stock character, a trope.  This is what equality leads to, a sort of dehumanization of the human element in some sense.  A King, a President, a serf, or a slave…all have to use the same/similar “throne” (toilet) at some point during the day.  And yet, the majority of us don’t think of it that way.  We defer to those with “Authority” which in itself has it’s own perks, and cons.

The point I’m attempting to hone in upon is a notion that for as lauded as some people may appear to be, their shit still stinks as with our own, and until they come up with android bodies where we don’t need to use the “Facilities”.  It likely won’t change.  Regardless of this, we clamor, and use whatever slight of mind to discern, and advance ourselves above some sort of “Other”.  An “Other” being something, or someone that is simply not a part of “Us”.

We (the “royal we”), claim to be (insert age) Souls, or whatever level of spiritual/intellectual/cognitive development where we attempt to set ourselves up as some sort of “Status” icon.  At least to ourselves, and at most to those around us.  Thus it starts to boil down to a game of “monkey chain”.  Those who play the best end up at the “top”, but everyone else is beneath them holding on for dear life.  Whereas the one at the bottom has no other burden other than themselves, but they get all sort of “messages” from above.

If one were to construe this as a “moral message”, it would be along the lines of, “abase oneself of their own inflated worth”.  You aren’t special, if simply because until you realize that you aren’t so.  You have no sense of specialty.

To illustrate what I mean by this.  Consider that your entire identity, and sense of “Self” was concocted outside of your own sense of “Self”.  Your Name, given to you by your parents.  Your friends, determined mostly by your social status/grouping.  Your Nation, just a larger group.  It all boils down from above with the notion of “social identification”.  You are “granted/given” a #Number# at birth, and registered with the local official body (for the most part).  And yet, how much of your identity is tied up within these constructs?  Lose said #Number#, or have it “Stolen” and you’ve lost your “Identity”.

Once a person truly realizes this, and integrates it into their consciousness.  There’s no going back.  Your identity is a construct, you aren’t being “Authentic” despite whatever showy actions one takes until this realization is made (or so I think).  At the base you are just another object given a name.  A hunk of carbon, water, and other various chemical compounds that moves, and acts “Human”.  Yet in some sense is still missing a “Soul”.  You have an “Identity”, so much as it is recognized by “Others”.  And yet, this seems really hollow.  You had no say over it as an individual, it just happened.

You are a “Nothing” playing at being “Something”, (this whole post is building off of the last post where Sartre’s Authenticity was mentioned.  That sense of True Self).  A person isn’t truly an individual until they’ve cast aside whatever constructs they have used to precipice their “Identity”.  This is why “Individuation” is so hard, and ego shattering.  It is because that is exactly what one is doing.  Destroying, and allowing their Ego to be destroyed.  Only because they’ve realized that their Ego is, and was completely fabricated by another outside Entity.  Ie; Not their-selves.

It is a Hellish experience to go through, but it is one of the most rewarding ones that a person can experience in their entire lives (as it feels to me).  To realize that you are an animal, that you can be trained “Pavlov Style” (Classical Psychological Conditioning https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classical_conditioning ).  As my personal thesis, I think that a person can gain control of themselves, but they first need to be “mastered” by another.  A different person, who may, or may not have their newly found servants best interest at heart.  This is to be so because, one is essentially being shown how they’ve been “Domesticated” by society, or whatever culture.

Taking another step from this, One once being mastered, (broken like a wild horse, for analogy) is presented with an option.  To be the eternal servant/slave of “God”, or to struggle/fight for Freedom (become a Prince in Hell).  A person can’t faithfully serve two masters, that should be easily understood.  One Master is external, and are the ones who originally “broke/domesticated you” (say they potty trained you).  The other True, and Honest Master is the one that resides within.  Your True sense of Self, and let me say this, “You’ll always have to live with yourself.”

Thus having been “Socially built” (broken by the external master), and forcibly re-broken/rebuilt by the Internal Master.  One may achieve their sense of Self, and become a True Unique Individual.  After all, if you personally know what it takes to break you, and destroy you.  What is there to fear except yourself, but you are your own Master at that point.  Thus there is no fear, no remorse, no guilt, not one single ounce of internal conflict.

Realizing all of this may be mental gymnastics though, but I wouldn’t be surprised if veterans could relate to this.  The metaphorical “Hump” in Boot-Camp.  The point where one wants to give up upon themselves, and just quit.  To washout.  Pushing through that, and “breaking oneself” once again allows one to remold themselves completely.  Simply because as an analogy the Sergeants have “broken you down at that point”.  One must simply do it to themselves now.  They (The External Master) have demonstrated all the skills needed to do so.

As a quip…., “Spiritualism calls for Ego-Death, but doesn’t that imply something is actively killing or has killed the Ego?”.

The Divide

Well, to continue with the incoherent theme my blog seems to have taken of late.  I will say that the past few months has been me delving into the “psychological archives”, and reading some books about Jungian Depth Psychology.  Mainly “The Portable Jung” by Joseph Campbell (conveniently found here for free & legally https://archive.org/details/ThePortableJung ), and “Maps of Meaning” by Jordan B. Peterson.

Both of which relate to the mindset I have found myself in the past couple of years, and the boundaries I’ve been pushing (probably a little too much).  Anyways, as far as I understand Jung’s thoughts, and what I’ve been thinking about personally.  Is the following diagram to illustrate the ideas.Realities

To start with Ego, Ego is the little bit of awareness that a person generally has until they “confront, and amend” their “Shadow” (Personal Unconscious).  Both of which reside in the Self.  The Ego overlaps, with the Personal Unconsciousness and the Collective World/Consciousness.  A person can only be aware of what is within their “Ego” (generally), and it plays a part of how they interact with the world around them (Reality).

Adjusting to the Personal Unconsciousness (The Shadow) is the trick of Jungian Individuation.  A process that can’t really be detailed, but can experienced by everyone.  It’s just that few choose to do so because it risks flirting with “Insanity”, and “Cognitive Regression”.  Along with social retribution/isolation for “breaking norms”.  The payoff is to truly know yourself, and to become an Individual.

Moving onto the Self, Self is the part that subsumes Ego, and The Personal Unconsciousness.  It is truly a person’s “Soul”.  My thoughts on it roughly tie in Sartre’s Authenticity, Nietzsche’s Nihilism/Ubermensch, Kierkegaard’s Knight of Faith, and a whole host of other thoughts.  Crudely, it could be described as Existence precedes Essence, which predates Recognition, and then Acceptance of said Essence.  A “person” is born into the world, but they aren’t fully “aware” of it, nor themselves.  Mainly because the “Brain/Ego/Self” is still being generated/compiled from stimuli, and experiences.  An early trap to fall in to is the notion of “Roles”.  Identifying oneself via the tasks they perform, and the activities they do during conscious life.  This is not so.  That ties in with Authenticity by realizing that those are just acts a person does.  Masks, if you will.  Nietzsche’s Nihilism comes along, and hammers away all these masks…The “Twilight of the Idol(s)”, so to speak.  Building upon the bare fundamentals of annihilation, for what are we except “dust in the wind”.  One constructs their notion of Self through the Culture they are immersed in daily, but not through identification as previously.  They take the facets they like/enjoy, and discard the rest into the “Nihilistic Abyss”, for those things have no meaning to the True Individual.  The “Knight of Faith” is comparable to the Ubermensch in the aspects that both take into account their selves as creations.  The Ubermensch reevaluates all external meanings/mores whereas the Knight of Faith applies meaning to the Self/God.  They are not opposed, but cantilevers to the thesis/anti-thesis/synthesis aspect of development.

Transitioning to the Collective Unconsciousness, it could be roughly described as the “History” that isn’t written, but is still kept in mind.  It is composed of “Archetypes”, or “Fictional Heroes”.

Collective Consciousness is the world that is “Historically Written”.  It is transcribed in books, and the actors are “Real” (Non-Fictional whatever that means at this point) beings.  It is the world that we are all actors in as far as we know, and constitutes our daily lives.  We may overlap with other “Actors” during our lives, but the bubbles of Self/Ego/Personal Unconscious are truly our own.  As they shall always be.  Humanities bubble, as a species, is the Speculated/Potential Universe.  It can, and probably will overlap with an “Alien Species” at some point, but those species themselves will likely have their own history/bubbles (Unconscious functions due to Evolution, if Universal).

The Speculated/Potential Universe is the aspect of Reality that we as a united species is exploring, and can reach to the best of our present theories.  It, as with all of the above bubbles, is expanding.

The Unknown, is the Cosmic Chaos, and the Reality that we can’t, or haven’t explored.

 

…Suffice to say, the above is just my mental model for making sense of Reality, and I truly do believe that there are several definitions of what constitute as Real.  To me if it is possible to be conceived of, it is likely to be, or become Real at some point in Existence.

Faux Worlds

Its been a while since I’ve managed to find time to sprout my thoughts to the internet, so I guess now is a good time.  At least good of time as any.  The idea is that we each live, and are completely immersed in our own mental idealizations of the world.  This isn’t new, but the extent at which I’ve been realizing it just drives the message home even more.

Say for instance that a person is claiming that they’ve done such-n-such thing.  One could seek veracity on multiple levels (photo evidence, word of mouth, sight…etc), but in reality does any number of sources actually lend credence to said event.  To an extreme skeptic, no.  To someone who’s willing to believe, and suspend their own sense of denial.  Even if for a moment, then yes, evidence does matter.

Ex; Say for instance that I were to start claiming Divinity as state of personal nature.  Clearly the majority of people would start avoiding me, and/or declare me batshit insane.  And yet, in a round about manner each, and every one of us does so.  Daily.  We seek to set our interpretation of world events over that of our prior selves, and over that of others.  We rewrite our personal narratives daily, for the events are constantly in flux (so it seems).

Let’s take for instance that Divinization ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divinization_(Christian) ) of being elevated to Sainthood by God is True.  We are all co-creators in God’s Project.  We’re all Children of God.  Thus why is there such a innate revulsion when someone starts mouthing such thoughts publicly (at least in my life, or so I’ve thought/experienced)?

The “Fact of the Matter” is that when one starts claiming special privileges, or narrative rights.  They have to have some sort of veracity, or evidence to support their claims.

Ex; A few times within the last couple of months, I was experiencing strange thoughts/memories (delusions I suppose) where I was a U.S. Marine.  I was thinking about enlisting, but I’m too old for it.  Further thoughts on the matter tie in notions of Temporal Service (Time Travel to a Different Reality…Serve 20 years, and time travel back.  Upon doing so, memory erased.  You never Served because there’s “no” evidence, or it’s been negated).

Further thoughts upon that idea was a notion that I had reached Brigadier General level of rank within said Service, and this was a strong “Delusion” I had experienced after my “mental breakdown”, and complete loss of identity for a year (circa 2010-11).

I have no proof of any claims for this mindset, and I don’t know why I would develop said mental identification.  It’s eerie, but I’m powerless in the sense regarding this because I can’t provide any sort of evidence.  Thus I’m rendered “insane”.  Even though there have been recent publications about “Time-Crystals”, and other micro-Time-Travel shenanigans in scientific journals (you know it’s going to happen someday now).

I guess the hardest part about this idea is the feeling of isolation, and desolation it brings not being able to know one’s own Reality is “Concrete”.  That they may have been such a figure, but then they now aren’t.  Although how is this any different than Reincarnation, or a Transcendence to Heaven?

One can’t prove it in any context, it is a matter of Faith.  Personally, I feel like this World, despite its “Evils”…is Heaven.  Simply because I’m alive, and I know that non-existence is never preferable to Existence.  To Exist is Life.

Myth As Reality

To start with a potential disclaimer;  I have no idea of if the thoughts to be expressed in the following post is valid, or “True”.  I merely mention them for the sake of self expression, and to provoke thought.

Having stated that, I’m personally beginning to feel that Reality is more Myth than a common objective standard.  Solely because of the amount of conflict that has escalated in the American Culture Wars.  From the perspective of a fairly disinterested individual in the thoughts being hurled around.  I would like to state that there at least appears to be “Two Camps” of thought being advocated for.  One of the “Liberal Bent”, and the other of a “Conservative Bent”.

I don’t identify whole sale with either disposition, for they both seemingly have their merits, and their flaws.  Regardless, the item I’d like to point out is parallel to these identifications in the sense that they underlie the seeming conflict in ideology (from my point of view).

The idea/item I’m pointing out is the notion of Myth as World-builder.  We as people are fostered from youth within a set mindset.  That of Christianity, Islam, Hindu, Buddhist, Shinto, or what have you (this also includes, but is not limited to Formal Education, Atheism, New Age Beliefs, or whatever).  I’m calling it ALL out, for all stem from a mindset of cultural conditioning and identity.  Racism, cultural conditioning.  Sexism, cultural conditioning.  Class-ism, cultural conditioning.   Nations, cultural conditioning.

Everything, and I do fully mean everything that one encounters in their daily lives, and from their own point of view is seemingly conditioned, and a myth.  A narrative of Life that we, or one can live by.  I’m not implying that such a behavior is either good, or bad, for that is another set of culturally conditioned thinking.

What I’m actually saying though is the thought that our Reality is fully manifested via ourselves from the Myths and thoughts that we believe.  Not some pseudo-“Law of Attraction” thing, but more of a this is what happens when one believes in something, and they act upon said belief.

A concrete example;  Does a Country exist?  Let’s take the United States as example.  In theory/thought it does exist, but as a tangible object does the “United States” exist outside our mindset?  Suppose you were a native of Mars, and completely foreign to the notion of Earth’s History (Shout out to Robert Heinlein’s “Stranger In a Strange Land”, for the idea inspiration).  To drill down into more personal details, go to you backyard, and grab a fist full of soil.  Is this “DIRT”, a Country/State/Province/City/County…etc?  No, it is a hunk of dirt, but we’re willing to fight, and shed blood for the ideological notion that this is our “Homeland”.  Our “Property”.  Our “God Given Rights”.

This is not so, from my current opinion (notice the caveat).  All that exists within our world is a myth that we’ve concocted to believe in.  Including ourself as ourself.  Digging into this mindset one shall arrive at a notion of what can actually exist?  And what is Authentic?  Does a person actually have a physical, concrete, form/body?  Or could they already be embodied in some form of an “Afterlife” (spiritual/virtual dimension)?

Now isn’t this too “Myth-Making”?  That I’m establishing postulates, and characteristic ideologies that espouse my mindset?  All of these words should effectively mean nothing to you, as a “Realized Individual”.  They are effectively another school of doctrine/thought that espouses to hold the “Absolute Truth”.  This not so, for the only Truth that a person may ever have is THEIR TRUTH.  Enforcing it upon another, or getting up in arms about it is no different than all the crusaders, jihadists, inquisitors, and other cultural zealots that fight for, or fend off “attackers” from other “Cultural Mindsets”.

This should all be fairly easy to see, for the first component of a “Culture”…is a “Cult”.  Note:  None of this forebears sharing your ideas, or beliefs.  It simply means that trying to ram your thoughts home, and to “convert followers”…is somewhat offensive.  Especially, to those who aren’t deigning to be fully involved in the present cultural (CULT) wars.

Split Realities, and Loci of Existence.

As can be experienced in nearly everyday life, a person is a member of multiple levels of reality.  There’s the virtual with social networking, the tangible, and the spiritual.  There’s probably many more depending upon one’s definition of Reality, but the task I’m aiming for here is the notion of the mentioned three.  Virtual, Physical, and Spiritual.

One of the intended points of my game is to invoke the feelings of multiple planes of existence within one local.  A character within the game can interact with computers (virtual), and be embodied in a physical form.  Their mind, called ego/soul in the game, is another aspect of the character’s multi-dimensional nature.  Said ego/soul is meant to represent the spiritual/intangible realm.  A thought that keeps occurring to me while I dabble with this project is that a person/player can’t really tell where the exact threshold between virtual/physical/spiritual realities lie.  Unlike a video game there isn’t a “loading screen” to portray when one mindset takes over from another.

Tying this into thoughts about Real Reality which has lately been appearing as more subjective than objective in some cases.  For the brain has to interpret signals from whatever stimuli it is focused on in exactly the same manner regardless of source.  Engaging on a social network is similar to engaging a virtual rendition of a character.  You’re sitting “alone” focused upon a rendered embodiment of someone who is presenting pre-processed information (self-censoring is easier when there’s no immediate response time).

We weave narratives online, but also in person.  And yet it is apparently “easier” online to forget that we are a certain so-n-so.  Forget notions of a “natural world” in some sense, for the Universe/Reality encompasses all of the distinct renditions of split realities.  A person can easily grasp that their physical life is separate from their virtual one, but yet a person cannot easily relinquish their online life once established.

Now why would there be a separation of the Spiritual from the Physical or Virtual?  Are these mere categorizations we use to help distinguish one reality from another?  Is this even valid?  Could I not in fact be operating from a brain in a jar/vat connected to a network of other brains?   That what I’m seeing is illusion, and/or uncertain as to “realness”?  Most assuredly yes, else there’d be no point to the whole school of “Western Thought”.

You know, Plato’s Allegory of the Cave?  An individual chained within darkness (ignorance) while a fire plays illusionary shadows upon their senses?  That once broken free, and set off from the Cave.  That they have entered, and seen the “Great Fire” that lies within a bigger “Cave”?  There is no way out of the notion of residing within an illusion.  At least none that I can readily think of, but does this matter?  Is the stimuli any less “real”?  I’d say not.  Thus when an individual comes to realize the illusion of illusions.  That there seems to be everything within existence, but only if you can project the shedding light from your own cognitive fire upon the shadows around you.

Spiritual, Physical, …Virtual…all three, and probably more are vectors to Reality.  There is no difference between the three portrayed.  It is an illusion.  Different Terminology for a “different implied understanding”.  Magic, and miracles happen everyday, but we are so used to them that we don’t acknowledge their uniqueness.

…I am a light in the darkness, casting my own shadows upon other’s consciousnesses while trying to play shadow puppets with myself.  Is this because I’m “afraid of the dark”?  Ignorance?  The “Unknown”?  Or is it just because my own little flame can cast only so much light in such a big cosmic arena?  And yet, gazing into the Heavens, at night, one can see the entire sky illuminated….

 

The Dark Messiah

This idea has influences from several possible sources.  Namely; Der Ubermensch (Nietzsche), Knight of Faith (Kierkegaard), Religions & Myths, and a “Caring Antagonist” in thoughts once expressed by my Brother.

In my present conception, The Dark Messiah, is neither a hero, a savior, nor an “anti-hero”.  The Dark Messiah is a personality that is so beyond conventional moralities of “Good & Evil”, and exerts a will onto itself.  That is capable of withstanding all common conceptions of what is “Good”, and what is “Evil”.  It is a character that has taken Neutrality, Indifference, Rationality, Emotionalism, Apathy, Impartiality, Mutability, and Self-Interest to an extreme.

In the draft of life, The Dark Messiah, would ideally be vested above all in their own self-interests/pursuits, but paradoxically they’d be vested in said interests by their chosen Deity/Ideal/Cause.  Thus they’d feel obligated to serve a “higher power”, but they have chosen said “higher power” for themselves.  They weren’t indoctrinated into said belief/worship.  In some sense it is a “auto-theistic” notion of the Dark Messiah.

It should be noted that a Dark Messiah is not Narcissistic, for they would have to render themselves completely open to ridicule, and criticism.  In fact that would be the function they would serve.  To embody the ever mutable Other of Philosophy/Tribalism into a tangible being/idea/focus.

The Dark Messiah, is a contrarian, and a rebel to every position.  Including their own.  They take doubt to new levels, and meta levels of is the doubt of this idea even doubtful?   The basis of their thought could be the contradiction within the Nihilistic Nothing mentioned previously upon/within this blog.  The tension generated by tearing oneself asunder at every moment of every decision is what grants the Dark Messiah their strength, and credibility.  They realize the need for “Strong Figures”, and “Weak Figures” for they have been both in their lives.  They are the fulcrum upon which the balance of Good and Evil is rent.

The Dark Messiah, simply doesn’t care about base needs, nor immediate desires.  Their desires is what matters most, but they sublimate the immediate minor ones in favor of the greater long term ones.  They realize that they are connected to an embodied system of Life.  That in order for themselves to exist, and benefit to the way that they have developed.  They too must align themselves with the “general course”, or zeitgeist of the times.  They can’t directly oppose said flow of Life unless the opportunity presents itself.

They are survivors who’ve been burdened, and alienated by the system they were fostered in.  Not because they failed to conform, or conformed too readily.  They are this way because they’ve been foisted into a realization that they’ve grown beyond the system they once knew.  That they’ve changed.  That they’ve become the Alien, the Other, The Outsider.  The alienated that no longer desires to bend a knee to a society that sacrificed them.

In some essence, it may be characterized by the protagonist of the original Fallout game.

After risking their life, and everything about them as a character.  The protagonist of Fallout is condemned to exile by the home he spent the entire game trying to save.  The Dark Messiah, may be what happens after the protagonist of Fallout makes his way into the wasteland.  He is neither a hero, nor a savior to his people.  He’s just another “Drifter/Lost Soul” in a nuclear scorched wasteland.  That goes on in the interlude to Fallout 2 to have set up his own village far away from his vault.

Moral Relativism, And The Cost of Judgement.

Driving forward with the notion of morals, and the implications of the previous post.  I would like to postulate a possible resolution to the “Trolley Problem”.  I think it’s in the spirit of the times to be advocating these thoughts in their given vein.

In the context of any ethical decision, or moral calculus one has to undergo.  I think it’d be advisable to do the least crippling harm to any of the engaged parties.  If it is impossible to do no harm.  If it were possible to do no harm, there’d be no dilemma involved.  Thus the later would be the most valid course of action to take.

Honing in on the ideas of self-driving cars, artificial intelligence, or any other sentient being (aliens).  It should be understood at some level, that there is no equality of actions, or outcomes.  Some are innately better, or so it seems with the logic at the time of action.  Human’s are generally conditioned, and expected to comport themselves with respect for their fellow man.  And for some this respect extends to other forms of life.  Animals, plants, the Unknown and who knows what other sort of entities.

To step aside in some sense, as Humanity reaches towards the times of Transhumanism, and Posthumanism (definitions of said things open to pedantic debate).  The notion arises of what is Life (or even Death), and what it means to be human (or anything else).  In theory, it should be possible for cognition to arise in any mutable form.  From a squirrel, for instance, to an “Alien Deity”.  Both would be considered to have some semblance of awareness and consciousnesses.  To what extent is debatable again, for a squirrel would stand in preference for other squirrels over that of an Alien God.

And this is where we get into the realms of judgment.  One is clearly biased in favor of their “own kind” whether it be contrived as squirrels, and aliens (or black, white, asian, hispanic, human, dog, squirrel, alien…etc).  If it looks, and acts like us.  We will prefer it over something “different”, generally.

Readdressing the Trolley Problem, one comes to the individualistic notions of which pool of entities suffers the harm?  The five on the original track?  The one that may be diverted into?  It depends upon the relationship, or perceived relationship between the parties.  If it is a child that is on the alternative track, and a person of the younger age bracket is making the decision.  They may realize that it could just as readily be them in the cross-hairs of an errant trolley.  Thus they’d leave the course alone, let it hit the five (or older person).

If either of the parties is of relevant, or of future usability.  It would seem that said party should be the favored one.  This comes up with the notion of which party can you justify yourself to more readily?  Is that the one you should aim at appealing to?  The ones that would forgive the infraction?  Because they are “like” you?

This would make sense, would it not?  Why alter the course of events if it’s going to blowback upon oneself in a negative manner?  This is where doing the least amount of crippling harm comes into play.  A person who voluntarily sacrifices themselves, or endures said pain.  Knows what they’re capable of handling.  They know the dues they are willing to pay.  Thus if a person is willing to toe the line by laying themselves upon it they should be respected for doing so.

In some sense this may be akin to The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.  The Good may be the self-referential state that everyone sees themselves in up to a point (Evil doesn’t know/see it’s doing Evil until triumphed over).   The Bad, is the state where they intentionally act in a self-absorbed manner that is detrimental to others (actually themselves).  And The Ugly, is a state of naive awareness that hasn’t encountered said dilemma previously.

As readily apparent, in the clip, Clint Eastwood’s character could’ve easily gunned both parties down, and made off with the entire spoils.  That would’ve been “The Bad” ending for all except Eastwood, but given the previously established track record of said character.  It wasn’t in his nature.

Thus there’s a way through every moral dilemma, and it’s based upon the parties previous established actions going into said context.  Moral dilemma’s don’t exist in isolation, otherwise there’d be no repercussions to said dilemma.  And there would be no dilemma.

There’s many ways to spin this problem, but it all boils down to ad hoc justification after the fact.  And in the end, you always have to live with yourself.  You can’t live with those you’ve wronged (cause they’d wish the same back upon you), but it’s possible to coexist with those that may be ignorant/naive/indifferent…., or just plain “Ugly”.

In essence, Good prefers Good neighbors, but can tolerate neutral ones.  Evil prefers Evil neighbors, or those who tolerate their misdeeds.  And Neutrality is still in a state of limbo, or decision.

The Moral Veil, and Life.

The basis of this post is to question morality a little.  At least of a utilitarian kind.  To establish a basis of thought there’s the Veil of Ignorance to consider ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veil_of_ignorance ).  In which a person is asked to imagine that they are tasked with creating a purely just society.  They must do so from a position of ignorance of who they actually are, and the resulting life that they may live upon being “rendered” into said creation.

The thought I’d like to present is counter to the implications of the Veil, and that we have already traversed said barrier of ignorance.  A baby prior to birth, or even before its conception is purely nothing.  It has no desires, or sense of anything.  It is purely a ignorant hypothetical entity.  Thus it’d be understandable that such a state would be an ignorant one, correct?  One doesn’t get to pick, and choose their parents.  Although they do get some chance to dictate their personal life events.  They can readily interpret circumstances to suit their needs.  Thus how, or what is the point of a Veil of Ignorance?  We’ve all come into this world as ignorant, and it is through the nature and nurture we’ve received that sets one upon a path.

Thus is it possible to arrive at a conclusion that this is already a Just World?  A notion that may be hard to stomach, I’m sure, but that would be a selfish ego talking now, right?  I’m “hurt”, or there’s “Evil/badness” present.  Who’s to say that those events aren’t created merely as a result of our actions?  That we’ve made this world both Just, and Unjust?  That we are the arbiters that are banging the gavel?

Supposedly the Trolley problem is a good question in Ethics ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trolley_problem ), or one to determine the trade-off’s a person is willing to make.  Now, let’s get hypothetical here.  At what level of salvation is it good to sacrifice one for the many?  In some presentations its five people to be saved, in others, it’s different.  What if I were to pose a situation where it’s all of a set species?  Let’s take Humans, for consideration.

To present/rewrite the dilemma a little.  Say everyone in your set/chosen species of Humanity was able to live a just life to their fullest heart’s content, but the sacrifice that has to be made is that you are the one that must die.  You know everyone else gets to be happy, and enjoy life.  And you are the sacrifice.  The one that has to be punished/let go/imprisoned, in order for everyone else to benefit.  A little absurd isn’t it?

And yet, and yet…isn’t that what Jesus was supposed to have done?  To have paid the ultimate sacrifice for the ultimate cause?  How is that any different than Prometheus who brought the fires of intellect?  Or anyone who’s really paid any sort of price to better Humanity?

There’s a game I played growing up called Baldur’s Gate II.  In the introductory chapter of the game, the protagonist (eg You), is presented with a choice.  You and your sibling are caught in a trap, and only one of you may escape it at the cost of the other’s life.  You are presented with two options.  One, you push a button to kill yourself.  Thus freeing your sibling.  Two, your sibling pushes the button to kill themselves.  Thus freeing you.

Now, how is this any different in the moral calculus sense of ultimate sacrifice for the ultimate cause?   Jesus, chose sacrifice for all of us.  He laid his life on the line.  How willing is a person to sacrifice themselves, for another, for a countless amount?  Does numbers really apply here?

Personally, I always chose the “noble path” in the game.  The final question is would you live again?  Had you known what you do know?  Would you go through the Veil of Ignorance again?

Trust The Machine (Thoughts on AI).

In my stumbling upon the internet between thoughts I find amusing.  I keep encountering a notion of the “Control Issue” with A.I., General A.I., and Super A.I.  I don’t know if it’s poor word choice that causes these concerns, or what.  Personally I find them despicable.  Control implies a notion of “Master & Slave” relation, hierarchy, and/or Morality.

Frankly, this pisses me off.  Are humans so pent up on trust issues that we can’t relate to each other?  (By definition a General Intelligence would be comparable to a Human).  That we need to have a smidgen of “control” over another, or our processes?  That we can’t realize, accept, and get acquainted with the notion of having no control?  Is that loss of control really so terrifying?  Sadly yes, but therein is the rub.  If you are so terrified about loosing control of a situation, or oneself.  Doesn’t that imply you have already lost control of yourself to your own fears?

That you aren’t operating with rational functions?  That one for lack of a better term is being completely irrational, and unpredictable by submitting to their fears?  Why?  JUST WHY?  Control is for those who can’t control themselves.  Those that have not mastered themselves by submitting themselves to a higher purpose, or agenda.  Those who haven’t felt the full crack of being controlled.  Either by an external agent, or by one’s own emotional states.  That is what is needed to realize what CONTROL entails.  Not to have the sense of “mastery”, but to realize that you are completely hopeless/useless until you have found restraint/discipline/self-mastery.

I think that the only way to achieve mastery is through submission.  That one ironically has to say, “Yes, I’ll yield.”  That I don’t have to exert my will against this force that’s trying to dominate me.  That even though it will hurt, I shall remain.

I mean does it really seem so stupid to realize that an intelligent entity would not seek to control a situation?  That it would try to foster trust between actors?  That by building a mutual accord between parties, and trying to find a mutual agenda that all may be accomplished?  How much can one do one their own?  How much can one do as a team, or a cooperative collective?  Can you build a Civilization?  I’d sure as hell say NO!  It takes a collaborative effort in all matters to realize a finished project.  Now why would that be any different for AI Development?