"New York Philosophy" Message Board › Immortality

Immortality

A former member
Post #: 1
It seems that people are concluding that "living" and "existing" are the same things. Life is a biological process which by its nature ends in death. (I'm not sure if organisms like viruses should qualify as being "alive"), but life and death are symmetrical terms. Hence we cannot "live" forever because the concept of life mandates the existence of death. It is conceivable that we could "exist" forever, but then we would not be living and since life is part of being human we just wouldn't be human. We'd be more like viruses which exist practically forever.

Also I don't see why we are concluding that evil is irrational. Seems to me that we are probably looking at it with a human bias rather than from a mechanical perspective. The difference between good and evil actions is not whether they are rational or not, but whether they allow individuals to gain knowledge or prevent individuals from gaining knowledge. Probably the closest you are going to get to good and evil using the concept of rationality is a philosophical concept of stress; which would state that stress is the product of an irrational environment (from the individual's unique perspective of course). But stress definitely has some negative effects so its close.
A former member
Post #: 173
It seems that people are concluding that "living" and "existing" are the same things. Life is a biological process which by its nature ends in death. (I'm not sure if organisms like viruses should qualify as being "alive"), but life and death are symmetrical terms. Hence we cannot "live" forever because the concept of life mandates the existence of death. It is conceivable that we could "exist" forever, but then we would not be living and since life is part of being human we just wouldn't be human. We'd be more like viruses which exist practically forever.

Also I don't see why we are concluding that evil is irrational. Seems to me that we are probably looking at it with a human bias rather than from a mechanical perspective. The difference between good and evil actions is not whether they are rational or not, but whether they allow individuals to gain knowledge or prevent individuals from gaining knowledge. Probably the closest you are going to get to good and evil using the concept of rationality is a philosophical concept of stress; which would state that stress is the product of an irrational environment (from the individual's unique perspective of course). But stress definitely has some negative effects so its close.

There is nothing unclear about the original question. It refers to human beings.

Man is required to live rationally otherwise there are consequences that cause suffering.

Now if you can illustrate where irrational behavior results on a good result, then you are welcome to do so.

Stress is not a causation, it is an effect - it is neither rational nor irrational. It is the reason for the stress or the condition that the stress affects that causes any problem.
A former member
Post #: 2
Perhaps my wording was unclear.

I agree that the original question was clear, and spoke about living forever. I was pointing out that I thought the original question had been altered (during the discussion) to "can we exist forever" without that transition being qualified. (and actually thinking on it we could probably say that we already do exist forever because the particles we are using in our bodies right now are going to be part of something else later in time. maybe someone more steeped in physics can offer a counterpoint to this though using the creation and annihilation of particles, I haven't really read on how that works)

I also agree that stress is an effect. I was trying to say that an irrational environment (from the individual's perspective) leads to stress.

The question about living rationally is more complicated. I would suggest that "irrationality" is a purely human concept which arises from ignorance of the true workings of a thing or a clash with how we think or wish that things should operate. The latter is not necessarily ignorance of how the concept in question works but instead probably ignorance of the true nature of some other related concept.
In other words the universe is rational because it operates as it has to, it's just that until we know everything some parts are going to seem irrational.

As for irrational behavior that results in a good result, one could always say something to the effect of an authority letting a criminal live in a culture which prescribes death for the offense, because the authority is in love with the criminal. If you add enough qualifiers, type of crime, whether the criminal does something of great benefit to a multitude of people later in life, etc. you could create a situation to appease whomever you are talking to.

But again something like that raises endless debate because rationality is relative and a human term. The end result is going to be the end result and hence rational to the universe no matter what it is. (actually for this I'm reminded of a painting metaphor I heard once. Basically if you zoom in on any part of a portrait, you might not be able to make sense of it; if you zoom out though that "irrational" piece will form part of the whole picture and make sense in the larger context)
Kevin D. K.
kdkeck
Newport Beach, CA
Post #: 21
Stacy wrote:
Not very philosophical.
Our very existence of what we can or can't do isn't philosophical?

I meant that (some of) the answers being given were not very philosophical, appealing instead to theoretical physics and cosmology.

Philosophically, people have been inventing theological or aesthetic rationales for death since time immemorial, but all of them necessarily depend on belief in some cosmic intelligence that would have arranged things so.

A naturalistic explanation for death is put forth by Howard Bloom in The Lucifer Principle: death exists because it facilitates evolution, and only the most adaptive survive. Note that this explanation doesn't imply that death is unavoidable, it only explains why it should be natural. As we become capable of evolving ourselves consciously and rationally--biologically, but more importantly psychologically and technologically--there is no obvious reason we should not at some point be able to make human death obsolete, as it were, and get along just fine without it.

At some point we're almost sure to modify ourselves to the point where it will be highly debatable whether the "individuals" surviving will have the same identity as the people they once were. But I would suggest that it is often debatable even today, when a person evolves substantially in a psychological sense, whether they really remain "the same person" over long spans of time. smile
A former member
Post #: 3
The more I have progressed in my understanding of philosophy the more I have come to think that appeals to theoretical physics and cosmology on the one hand and appeals to art on the other are both valid in philosophical debate. My own personal belief is that philosophy is a tool for translation. Whether or not there is or was a god, the universe was written with mathematics. For me, Philosophy is the bridge which connects the important human concepts such as good and evil, destiny and love to the austere beauty of the universe and therefore helps us find our place in it.

And yes I agree that it is highly debatable whether we are even the same person moment to moment, let alone over long spans of time
A former member
Post #: 1
I find it a bit silly when people invoke logic and rationality as a tool that will presently produce a single, infallible outcome, as something objective that they own. I hope that no one will claim instantaneous access to complete and perfect knowledge or perfect logical reasoning abilities. You have to accept that you may be wrong. A cliche example: Isaac Newton, one of the greatest scientific minds of all time, was wrong.

The Earth was logically and rationally (not just religiously!) understood to be flat for a long time, and those who contradicted that "truth" were considered irrational (again, not just "heretical"). The official position against them was religious, but the logical/rational "man on the street" would simply consider them out of their minds--the Earth being round made no sense, because it was clear to all the senses that it was flat.

The same simpletons that are arguing against anything the eye can't see today would've been arguing that the Earth was flat when the idea was en vogue.

I would recall that a large number of individuals highly skilled in logic and rational thought (e.g., scientists, mathematicians, engineers, etc., some of which dramatically advanced the world with their very logic and rational thought) were entirely open-minded (sometimes, wholly religious) about irrational* possibilities. It was often this open-mindedness (not logical derivations) that led them to the greatest paradigm shifts. It's funny to me that people of evidently much lesser intelligence (as measured by scientific achievement or recognition, for example) purport to have a simple answer to all.

I am not arguing for any particular point of view here. I simply propose that it is logical and rational to question your own opinion, your senses, and your facts, as possibly conditioned, genetically programmed, incompletely informed, or simply wrong. (I am sure there is a philosophical term for this, but I barely know how to spell "philosophy.") Invoking Occam's razor is useful, but not more that that. At best, it produces an interim, for-most-intents-and-purposes useful, economical "truth." At worst, it closes the mind to the less obvious possibilities.

In my opinion, unequivocal reliance on the application of logic and rationality to arrive at the truth** is as much a leap of faith as any religious belief. Does that mean that we should accept every proposition as equally plausible or equally invalid? Certainly, not. First of all, we can draw the line at usefulness (e.g., creationism is useless), but explicitly acknowledge doing so. Second, it is typically helpful to examine and recognize the assumptions: often, one layer below the proposed "truth," we will find something (I will go into examples if anyone wants, but I think this post is long enough), which will allow to dismiss the proposition without invoking any other "truths," or with invoking only those "truths," on which there is mutual agreement. There's probably a "Third" and a "Fourth," etc., but for the reasons stated in the previous sentence, I'll stop here. :)

* A few colleagues and I proposed the term "un-rational" some years back because "irrational" had emotional connotations.

** Правда­ [Pravda] - just wanted to see it spelled in Cyrillic!
A former member
Post #: 179
You synthesize logic, reason, emotion and knowledge. This is Hegelian and is incorrect. Ironically - Soviet communism did this.

Separate them and understand them and you will not make statements as you have above.
A former member
Post #: 2
Well, obviously Hegel didn't think so. You just made my point. So, someone else took Hegel apart, and you agreed. Don't you think that someone else will take your ideas apart? Maybe they'll bring Hegel back?

I'm not sure about using categorical statements instead of substantive explanations. Like, "Soviet communism"--is that a single philosophical school?! according to whom? what time period? really, I have no idea. Along the same lines, I wonder whether some Hegelians disagreed with other Hegelians. Makes the whole thing sound great, though...

Anyway, I'm pretty proud of myself for making sense from at least some philosophical school's point of view!

To you second paragraph--do I have the choice to disagree even after I understand what you want me to understand (please do recommend sources), or are we talking about some absolute, self-evident truth that shall be revealed to me? (will any flaming vegetation be involved? ;)
A former member
Post #: 180
[Well, obviously Hegel didn't think so. You just made my point. So, someone else took Hegel apart, and you agreed. Don't you think that someone else will take your ideas apart? Maybe they'll bring Hegel back?]

Hegel was a mystic and merged opposites through his dialectical processdefying logic and therefore reason. Something can only claimed if it is proven through evidence or is logically inferred.

There is no absolute other than reason. Anything else is arbitrary, requiring belief or faith. You are welcome to demonstrate otherwise because you would be the first in history.

[I'm not sure about using categorical statements instead of substantive explanations. Like, "Soviet communism"--is that a single philosophical school?! according to whom? what time period? really, I have no idea. Along the same lines, I wonder whether some Hegelians disagreed with other Hegelians. Makes the whole thing sound great, though...]

I cannot help your agnosticism - that can only be reolved by you.

[Anyway, I'm pretty proud of myself for making sense from at least some philosophical school's point of view!]

You do not make sense. Sense can only be derived from that which can be proven.

[To you second paragraph--do I have the choice to disagree even after I understand what you want me to understand (please do recommend sources)]

I have no qualms about anyone disagreeing with views I hold - most of the world today still believe in some sort of religion or mysticsm despite the catastrophes that have resulted.

[...or are we talking about some absolute, self-evident truth that shall be revealed to me? (will any flaming vegetation be involved? ;)]

Absolute, truth and revelation cannot be mixed. Revelation belongs to the irrational.

For flaming vegetation I refer you to California at this time of the year.
A former member
Post #: 3
Oh, I get it now.
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