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I've been wanting to talk about philosophy for quite sometime. I've posted these ideas in The Discuss Your Opinion thread but it didn't seem appropriate for the questions I was asking. Because of this I've decided to start a philosophy thread. Please feel free to ask about and/or discuss whatever philosophical topics interest you.

 

Philosophical Topic #1: Pain

One of the many discussed ideas within philosophy is the notion of pleasure and pain. But I'd like to talk about pain specifically.

 

Pain exists in a physical sense when you say get a cut, bruise or a migraine. But it also exists in a mental sense in the sense of you choosing to acknowledge the pain your body is experiencing or not. So If you choose to utterly dismiss the mental half you'll never experience pain and thus never be touched by pain. You'll be utterly impervious to pain because you chose to not let it touch you. You've chosen to dawn the most impervious of armor or built the most of invulnerable of castles. A mental armor or castle.

 

This also applies to the external pain of say the heartbreak of a bad breakup, the loss of a loved one or friend. But you'll never be mentally pained or obstructed by these things if you choose to dismiss the inherent physical pain that is derived from them.

 

This also doesn't mean you must give up pleasure in return. Just block out all the pain and let in all the pleasure. It's as simple as that. The notion that one must experience pain in order to truly appreciate pleasure is quite frankly an absurd one. You wouldn't stab yourself each time you eat a piece of cake or ice cream. The fact that you stabbed yourself after eating the piece of cake or ice cream doesn't add to the experience it ruins it.

 

So what is the point of experiencing pain if all it does is serve to obstruct us, torment us and causes us to succumb to such terrible illnesses such as depression? We'd be better off without it.

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Pain is a warning and a deterrent. Warning that something went wrong and deterrent from repeating the thing that caused it in the first place. A human without pain is like an airliner where no alarms go off if something is wrong with the engines or avionics. The thing will crash.

 

Also - no emotional pain = no conscience.

 

There is a disorder - I think a genetic one - when people don't feel pain. They have to be kept closely monitored and trained to watch themselves as they can accidentally suffer a major trauma without realising it. It's called "congenital analgesia" or CIP and is considered very dangerous to the person affected.

 

So - no. Removing pain completely is not a good idea.

 

Reagrds

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Pain is a warning and a deterrent. Warning that something went wrong and deterrent from repeating the thing that caused it in the first place. A human without pain is like an airliner where no alarms go off if something is wrong with the engines or avionics. The thing will crash.

 

Also - no emotional pain = no conscience.

Good point, if you didn't feel pain you wouldn't fear literally anything. Fear is what holds you back and keeps you safe as it's an important survival mechanism.

 

There is a disorder - I think a genetic one - when people don't feel pain. They have to be kept closely monitored and trained to watch themselves as they can accidentally suffer a major trauma without realising it. It's called "congenital analgesia" or CIP and is considered very dangerous to the person affected.

My question assumed that you were an average person which was fully capable of experiencing physical pain. not a person with a genetic disorder incapable of feeling pain. This is about philosophy, not genetic disorders.

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I just gave an example of a real life situation which models the imaginary scenario you proposed...

 

Also - i can give you another IRL example, about the emotional pain this time. Psychopaths - they lack empathy, which makes them cruel and mean bastards.

 

These are just the illustrations for how a deficiency in such feelings as pain would manifest itself in the real world.

 

Regards

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Pain is just one small part of suffering. Pain and suffering are not just physical, but emotional, mental, and spiritual as well. Suffering is a major part of what makes you grow as a person, even if you don't realize it. If you don't suffer, there's no reason to grow, you become stagnant. Just like pruning a bush to make it grow.

 

Pain is a huge part of life, to deny it is to deny your own existence.

 

I feel pain, but I refuse to allow it to cloud my judgement like I did as a small child. I learned this lesson very early, and it has helped me immeasurably throughout my life. It has also harmed me in many ways, because I react much as an old person would, and that tends to scare people when you're 1/3 the age of those expected to react that way to pain.

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Great idea for a topic Helio! :3

 

Physical pain is a fascinating phenomena. Under most circumstances the sudden sensation of pain is emotionally and cognitively overriding, it absolutely refuses to be ignored as a tactile feeling. Yet despite this we can often take physical pain entirely for granted, not often subjecting it to the kind of intellectual rigour or literary criticism that psychological and spiritual pain is encumbered with. Partly the reason for this, I venture, is because when discussing pain it's somewhat more natural to fixate upon emotional pain out of human empathy and/or analytical curiosity. These are things that are harder to define and objectify than physical pain, but because it is intrinsically related to human self-awareness and language we seem to be able to talk about it more naturally and subjectively.

 

As an example think of how rich and multifaceted our terminology describing the nuances of sadness are - generally people grasp the difference between wistful nostalgia, romantic melancholy, heartfelt sympathy, and outright accidie and nihilistic depression. Destructive anhedonia is a world apart from a fleeting feeling of tragedy, but their relationship is abstractedly understood by cultural consensus. More importantly it's nigh on impossible to engage higher faculties of self-criticism when we are in literal bodily pain, your attention and mindset is temporarily altered by the sensation, a very animal and prepersonal need to stop the source or cause of the pain.

 

There is the peculiar duality to consider between what I dare reason is good and bad pain. The aforementioned unthinking pain I previously alluded to typically falls into the bad category. Examples of the good pain I'm referring to could include cracking your knuckles and joints to alleviate stiffness, putting antiseptic cream on cracked lips that stings satisfyingly, stretching painfully compressed muscles in your legs whilst in bed, etc. It probably has something to do with the intentionality of the action, even if the methods are less than medically desirable, some irascible bias in one's mind trusts these individualistic means of self-medication over someone else's assertions almost to the point of delusion.

 

Different from but not entirely related to the notion of good pain is the pain endured for some transcendent higher ideal, most often in the name of art and expression. Some examples that spring most readily to my knowledge is the health-and-safety worrying work by certain early performance artists like Chris Burden and Marina Abramović. One of the formers more infamous performances meant to demonstrate taking art to its extreme logical conclusion was Shoot (1971) in which he had a collaborator quite literally shoot him in the arm with a rifle. The latter artists more esoteric body of work often relate to her troubled relationship with her parents and nstionality, conveniently tying the two planes of physical and mental anguish into highly disturbing and memorable actions; notable of which is her Thomas Lips (1975) performance whose details I'll leave for the discerning reader to discover for themselves. It involves nudity, broken glass and whipping, and yet somehow isn't even remotely kinky - more bloodily ritualistic.

 

Not that simulated mutilation and evoking of pain can't be just as effective as the real thing, often it can be worse because it can expose an audience to an unbearably exaggerated ordeal. One of the most shocking I've ever stumbled upon is Mike Parr's Cathartic Action: Social Gestus No. 5 (1977) in which the artist seemingly hacked off one of his own arms with an axe. The contemporary audience of this piece largely wasn't aware that Parr possessed a deformed left arm, and that he was actually hacking off a prosthetic filled with meat. Parr often conceived of performances that would allow him to alleviate his frustrations with his own physical disabilities and what he felt to be social isolation and discrimination because of it. It certainly isn't a world apart from the face-cutting gestures utilized in a later decade by the frontman Kevin Ogilvie (alias Nivek Ogre) of the industrial band Skinny Puppy.

 

GTtzB17SKwQ

^ Viewers sensitive to the sight of blood and self-harm might want to stop watching this at the 6:50 mark. You might still the enjoy this slab of gnarly old school industrial music though!

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@SelfSurprise I have some serious contentions with acts such as violence and self-mutliation from an artistic standpoint. They only provide the illusion of experiencing pain by exploiting a defense mechanism within the audience . IMO it's only a hamfisted trick with nothing of substance. That immediate visceral feeling fades almost instantaneously because of it.

 

I have no problem with the acts in of themselves but IMO as far as conveying pain to the audience and having them empathize with said pain those acts are inauthentic and thus completely ineffective. I have the same issue with magicians as well that portray their magic as art but alas I digress.

 

IMO existential dread is far more effective in conveying pain and have the audience empathize with it authentically. One of the many reasons I like games such as Dark Souls, Quake I, Planescape Torment, Baldur's Gate Dark Alliance, Morrowind and Grimdawn is because of their ever dower and somewhat alien atmosphere. Atmosphere is at it's heart subtle and abstract. But if you take notice of it you'll empathize with great atmosphere and most important of all it will stick with you. That to me is what separates an authentic cerebral experience from an inauthentic primal one.

 

I do apologize if that came across as somewhat harsh. Well now you know where I stand from an artistic standpoint. :D

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^ No apology necessary Helio! There's nothing wrong with a boldly philosophical argument between friends. Violent performance art is a medium that a viewer flatly cannot disassociate from personal experience. You can assuage yourself from the intention or message of an artist's self-inflicted violence but out of human empathy it's hard not to connect with the utter physicality of the action - part of the reason performance art fascinates me is it's unimpeachable bodiliness, the "presence" of the artist isn't alluded to or abstracted as in other mediums. Reading my initial post I see I didn't exactly conclude my point very effectively.

 

Fantasy violence in the vein of the games you mentioned is a very different beast. Performance art might present and simulate unreal situations but the fleshy human presence creates a friction with the equally fleshy human subject, it's a fictionalized and engineered reality. There isn't that degree of separation between artist and audience in a fictional and engineered setting. I don't especially favour one form of violent content over the other, and despite what I fear it says about me I garner a lot of intellectual and sensate enjoyment from fantasy violence through illustration and literature, or the arguably performative violence of art and criticism. I guess I'm endlessly drawn towards the theme and imaginative understanding of violence.

 

~

 

Philosophical Topic #2: Alien Horror

I've been reading a lot of literature relating to Speculative Realism and lit-crit books regarding horror and science-fiction. I wanted to present an argument formulated by the writer Dylan Trigg that roughly surmised the content of his book The Thing: A Phenomenology of Horror. Why do we find the notion of the alien so frightening? Are we frightened of being confronted with something outside our range of experience? Is it not more accurate to state that we are repulsed by something that recalls to us our own animal bodiliness? Our ancient prepersonal biology older than our thoughts, though ruptured into permutations we rarely conceive of. Does this tension between familiarity and strangeness also extend to our native environment in opposition to a potentially alien one? The writer Sara Ahmed put it a better way, though she was actually talking about institutionalized whiteness; "To be comfortable is to be so at ease with one’s environment that it is hard to distinguish where one’s body ends and the world begins..."

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Interesting topic SelfSurprise, I think that we as in humans are compelled to know everything. Pardon me for my religious allegorical readings but Adam's consumption of the apple from the Tree of Knowledge in the Bible seems like a rather fitting description of our maddening pursuit of Knowledge. Adam would rather damn himself and his life than not know everything he possibly could. Anyway that's enough of me reading into things. when we find something that is beyond our comprehension we tend to draw madness from it. We've found a limit in our subconscious mind with which knowledge cannot help us surpass.

 

Not only is knowledge our only means of comprehension it also grants the person who knows small measures of power over the person who doesn't. Whatever that knowledge may be the fact that we know it gives an advantage, an intoxicating one at that.

 

Think back to the fantastical figure that is the Wizard. A Wizard's essence is knowledge and knowledge is power. They may start out as a student who was merely curious about the wonders of magic. But as their knowledge of the art grew so did their hunger for power and this notion will always be implicit. One would not seek out knowledge if they were not hungry for it. In many cases the Wizard is consumed whole by that hunger and deemed incurably mad.

 

That is why I've been exploring the concept I've decided to call Anti-Knowledge. The main principle behind this is that even though we aren't aware of it our minds are just as limited as our bodies. Like I said we simply aren't aware of our own limits and thus seek out every knowable thing within reach. Most people would try to understand everything and thus drive themselves mad in the process. One of Sherlock Holmes's famous quotes is how ones mind is like an attic. A skillful workman will choose very carefully as to what to store up there. Whereas only mad fool would try to store anything and everything within his attic. Obviously I'm paraphrasing but I think you get the point.

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I believe we find the concept of aliens frightening because it is something which we do not know, and therefore fear because we do not know it.

 

H.P Lovecraft, perhaps the greatest early master of alien-horror in modern literature once said: "The oldest and strongest human emotion is fear, and the oldest and strongest fear is fear of the unknown." and I think he knew exactly what he was talking about.

 

Humans in general fear uncertainty, and unknown factors in knowledge and understanding play into that fear of uncertainty. Factor in the idea that aliens exist beyond our control and independent of us, and they become that much more scarier. We do not know what lies up in the stars or how any of it may or may not act, and our minds scramble to think of any of the myriad of possibilities that could exist out there long before science discovers them, much like religion, philosophy, and superstition arose to guess at what, why, and how before science came along.

 

Its the same reason why superstitions persist among fishermen or sailors in cultures all over the world. There is so much beyond one's control when they're out at sea that they develop rituals and beliefs no matter how ridiculous to the rational mind so as not to incur the wrath of a force that is totally beyond their control. It is a source of mental security even if it offers no tangible physical security, its a means of dispelling this fear of the unknown at least in some capacity.

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Philosophical Topic #3: Existentialism - Why are we here, and whose works, if any give you inspiration on this subject?

 

This was one of my favourite topics in Philosophy to study, and it is also one which I've pondered quite a bit personally on, only to come to agreement on the two core principles of Existentialist Philosophy which both the Theist and Atheist Schools agree on, and to those who are unfamiliar with the two parts they are both the most depressing and most inspiring things one can hear on the subject.

 

To me, as to them, there is no inherent meaning to life, there is no answer out there waiting for us to find and explain why each and every one of us exists here and now. But because there is none, we must strive to give it meaning ourselves through meaningful action.

 

The Theists like Kierkegaard would say the second part comes from divine inspiration, the Atheists like Nietzsche credit the second part to human agency.

 

Personally, even though I know he is considered a Nihilist, I found the works of Fredrich Nietzsche to incredibly inspiring in terms of what he asks of us in order to make us seek out new answers to explain the world in ways which allow us to live harmonious and happy lives without being chained to lies and dogma or without rendering the whole world dull and meaningless. To this day, he's also one of my favourite critics of religion and science as sources of knowledge on all things and what their purpose is in existence. I still have to read some of his texts in full rather than just essays and abstracts.

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"Why are we here"

Well a previous idea I had when I was more religious than I am now was that life was just a big test. If you did good, did what the Bible and scriptures told you to do, you would 'pass' the test, and be granted with whatever you want/aka heaven. You're here because you have to prove yourself, basically, which sounds like some Ancient Egyptian way of thinking. XD But that still leaves it kinda unanswered. Why is there even a test? Etc.

But now I'm not too sure. I tend to not ponder too much on philosophy. It all feels like out-there concepts to me and I'm usually more thinking about what I'm going to have for dinner. lol

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I don't consider myself a nihilist but we're not here for any reason in particular. In the grand scheme of things we're not exactly doing anything meaningful.

Believing you're here for a purpose is a very limiting viewpoint on life. I don't see how anyone could live happily thinking you have a strict purpose in life.

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I don't consider myself a nihilist but we're not here for any reason in particular. In the grand scheme of things we're not exactly doing anything meaningful.

Believing you're here for a purpose is a very limiting viewpoint on life. I don't see how anyone could live happily thinking you have a strict purpose in life.

 

IMO people like to have a purpose because it is infinitely more horrifying to most people to basically realize that everything they're doing, and everything they are is totally meaningless. That life is essentially nothing other than a big tread wheel that we eventually exhaust ourselves on until we collapse, turn to dust, and eventually leave no discernible trace of our existence.

 

Its a prospect that can drive people insane if they think too long and too deeply on it, so we willfully ignore it, or invent reasons to live regardless of whether or not we can base them upon anything we experience or know. That is, if people care about their own existence that much, there's a lot of people don't think that deeply on it at all.

 

I'm a Polytheist, and personally believe I've seen enough evidence to prove that there are deities out there, just whether or not they specifically care about any individual human's or group of peoples' existence outside of moments they personally care for, for whatever reason, is debatable. I personally don't think any deity constantly watches over EVERYONE all the time, they're like the absentee gardeners or Olympians, they don't care about mortal affairs unless it piques their interest.

 

But Faith is entirely an individual experience. I cannot convince anyone that many Gods exist other than to show other people what I have seen and see if they reach the same conclusion.

 

But even though I believe that, I don't dictate my life around it. Its just something I find interesting to thing about, and its something which makes sense in some regards based on things I've seen.

 

More to the point and what I originally put, my belief doesn't contend with the idea that there is no inherent meaning to life and that we have to strive to give it meaning ourselves. There are many interpretations across many cultures where Gods made humanity for literally no reason at all other than just cause they wanted to.

 

On a humorous note, I also find the late George Carlin's thoughts on the matter. He proposed that we were made to create plastic. The Earth couldn't make it itself, so it needed us to make it so that it could have plastic for itself and then proceed to phase us out and become "The Earth + Plastic".

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My opinion: We're here to figure out why we're here... If we can figure that out, then we'll be happy, and it won't matter anymore. Most people don't bother searching for why they're here themselves, instead turning to other people's opinions of why they're here, (secularism: to have more things than other people, buddhism: to be as passive as possible and meditate until you die, islam: to make everyone else share your belief or die, etc.) and this is the main reason why so many people are miserable in their lives. (they do what others want them to do, instead of what they were meant to do)

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My opinion: We were all put on this earth to serve our people, and to ensure that we, as a species, do not go extinct. We are beings of intellect. We all should understand that every man, woman and child has a place on earth, and a duty to do what must be done for the good of our people.

 

To do otherwise is a selfish, immoral practice and should never even be considered.

 

Maybe I'm being a little bit preachy here. But basically, the idea is, that we are nature's creation, and nature is God's doing.

 

By denying our biological roots and kindling ourselves in narcissistic, hedonist trash, we're basically saying, "We respect our ancestors, and their ways, and their traditions, but we don't care about the blood they spilled for our survival."

 

TL;DR: Quit acting like we're some high and mighty creation. We are not God.

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"Why are we here"

Jeb's not one to shy away from the hard questions! ;p

 

I'm reminded of the essay Happiness is for the Pigs by the late Norwegian existential philosopher Herman Tønnessen, in which he surmised his (and consequently my own) criticism of the all too human habit of looking for meaning where it is neither present or even arguably requisite. His position is best represented by one of my all-time favourite quotations and the one idiom I genuinely feel I can live and die by; "Life is not even meaningless."

 

So much ink has been spilled in the attempt to find answers to a question we've never universally consented to. It's ironic that in the mission to ascertain the truth, or some version thereof, most of humanities greatest literary, artistic, cultural and philosophical achievements have fundamentally contributed to the confusion and complexity of sapient experience. I'd even go as far as saying that we've learned more from our own uncertainty and ignorance than the transient human certainties of a particular time and place could ever reveal. When the anti-state activists and nihilists of the 20th century were arguing against the unassailable authority of god and culture in western thought, the biggest ace up their sleeves was their own rejection of meaning - at it's extremes demeaning and dismissing the fundamental value of existence and phenomena in of themselves.

 

Nihilists felt that they had trumped the positive/negative allegory of "a glass half-full/a glass half-empty" by rejecting either set of values, rendering ideal sentiments null and ultimately refusing the existence of the glass at all. The glass and it's contents end up being speculative and abstract - "the glass doesn't exist and neither do I", as the joke goes. My admiration of Tønnessen stems from his essays iteration on the argument between the fundamental meaning or lack-of-meaning played out between traditional philosophers and thinkers in the advent of modernity. His aforementioned quote reveals so much meaning-making and truth-seeking to be a human failing, to think of ourselves as somehow specially ordained or qualified to assign meaning (and meaninglessness) to a higher reality. As if somehow everything outside of ourselves depends on our approval or dismissal. Tønnessen undermines this anthropocentric bias and somehow convinces me of a more ambivalent equivalent truth, that phenomenal existence won't cease, whether or not we are there to interpret arbitrary meaning or meaninglessness within it.

 

He closes his essay with an extremely thoughtful plea to his readers, whilst not as succinct as the former quote it's definitely worth posting here: "Man, let's go on - not because we have a mission in the world, not because it makes us happy or proud, but merely because we are different. We are accidentally thrown into this world as it's sole principle of uncertainty. That's all."

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I still firmly believe that the cause of nihilism is the basic lack of insight into natural sciences that so often afflicts philosophers and scholars of "humanities", making them miss the wood for the trees and tie themselves in knots of introspection... :-)

 

Regards

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I still firmly believe that the cause of nihilism is the basic lack of insight into natural sciences that so often afflicts philosophers and scholars of "humanities", making them miss the wood for the trees and tie themselves in knots of introspection... :-)

 

Regards

+1

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I don't consider myself a nihilist but we're not here for any reason in particular. In the grand scheme of things we're not exactly doing anything meaningful.

Believing you're here for a purpose is a very limiting viewpoint on life. I don't see how anyone could live happily thinking you have a strict purpose in life.

I'm not entirely sure if I agree on this. I think it's important to feel that your life is meaningful in some way. But if by strict purpose you mean a purpose given to us by others rather than a purpose we find ourselves, then I agree. It's always important that each person finds what gives their life purpose rather than following a given one, as that is pretty much equal to indoctrination for me.

 

Personally I find there is no meaning to life beyond what we give it. Life should exist just for the sake of existing in my opinion so thinking that humanity itself has a purpose is kind of weird to me, since everyone find different meanings in their lives.

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