The Consolidation of Philosophy - how should we live?

#1
Following on from the AYR? thread I thought it might be interesting to discuss the best way to live life without invoking the question of whether God exists or not.

Should man live by philosophical ideals or live according to the instinct of nature? Should we live for pleasure or to support others? Do we need to examine life to have a different perspective? Does knowledge change our perception? Do we need to read Plato and Socrates or can we appreciate the complexities of life just by our own experience? Can we learn anything worthwhile from history, culture or art, and if so, what? What are we meant to read?

Do we even need to ask these questions or is it best to crack on like most animals (and presumably people) do and just get on with it? Does asking these questions provide solace? Can religion offer moral guidance or are we better off with our own intuition? Is it even possible to get an answer?

At first I thought the answer might be quite simple, but on reflection it appears to be more complex.

In your own time... Go!

-DC
 
#2
The answer lies, in part, in physics. The latest research is apparently showing that we have no choice in our actions. That is not to say that everything is pre ordained, but that our actions are governed by external influences that we are only just dimly beginning to perceive, but not so far to understand.

Hamlet. 3/1 refers.
 
#3
Are you referring to free will and determinism? I don't think there's an answer to that one unless we could track every single atomic molecule in the universe, observe the final outcome then repeat it again to see if the same thing happens or if we're at the mercy of randomness.

The problem with that is that it lets kiddy fiddlers and people like Hitler off the hook because they couldn't help themselves.

RE Hamlet, I certainly think so too, tho it's only lately that I'm beginning to really appreciate Shakespeare.

HAMLET
To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.--Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remember'd.

It's interesting that people could have the same fears for life 400 years ago and now we look back at them with the same fears even though they're long gone.
 
#4
But to go back to your original q. There is a reasonable amount of evidence, which is growing slowly, that may put paid to mainstream religions of the "If you don't believe you'll go to hell" variety. To begin with, many scientists are questioning whether or not death is the end of the line for the individual human being.

Most mainstream religions have a central theme involving blind, unthinking belief in a powerful deity, for which there is no empirical proof of existence other than the words of prophets and soothsayers, who often "interpret" words that other prophets etc., allege are the words of the deity. This is then wrapped up in social rules and regulations designed to keep the stewards of the religion in food and drink. E.g., you must go to church every Sunday and pay a proportion of your wages to the church (Catholics did that in the 60's, I don't know if they still do).

In time the whole thing becomes a population control mechanism giving the chicken bone shakers a degree of political power related to the size of their congregation. Notably this occurs mainly in peasant populations and in under developed countries.

In such places (Peru is one), religion has a firm grasp a large slice of the population and provides some social cohesion as well as being parasitical.

Do we need religion in developed countries? Probably. Since many people seem to have a need for some kind of belief support system and a belief in a God is likely more appropriate than a belief in such as Tony Blair. So people need some kind of belief to give them comfort, in the absence of any comfort available from science and mainstream politics.

But that is beginning to change as science delves deeper into the mysteries of the real nature of existence.
 
T

Taffd

Guest
#5
Can someone enlighten me on the situation regarding free will, or lack of? I'm sure I could do my own research, but it's much better getting the opinions of those in the debate.
 
#6
But to go back to your original q. There is a reasonable amount of evidence, which is growing slowly, that may put paid to mainstream religions of the "If you don't believe you'll go to hell" variety. To begin with, many scientists are questioning whether or not death is the end of the line for the individual human being.

Most mainstream religions have a central theme involving blind, unthinking belief in a powerful deity, for which there is no empirical proof of existence other than the words of prophets and soothsayers, who often "interpret" words that other prophets etc., allege are the words of the deity. This is then wrapped up in social rules and regulations designed to keep the stewards of the religion in food and drink. E.g., you must go to church every Sunday and pay a proportion of your wages to the church (Catholics did that in the 60's, I don't know if they still do).

In time the whole thing becomes a population control mechanism giving the chicken bone shakers a degree of political power related to the size of their congregation. Notably this occurs mainly in peasant populations and in under developed countries.

In such places (Peru is one), religion has a firm grasp a large slice of the population and provides some social cohesion as well as being parasitical.

Do we need religion in developed countries? Probably. Since many people seem to have a need for some kind of belief support system and a belief in a God is likely more appropriate than a belief in such as Tony Blair. So people need some kind of belief to give them comfort, in the absence of any comfort available from science and mainstream politics.

But that is beginning to change as science delves deeper into the mysteries of the real nature of existence.

Can science tell us how to live though? It might tell us about the world, but does knowledge change our perception of things? The complexities of human interaction may be better explained by observing other sources.
 
#7
Can someone enlighten me on the situation regarding free will, or lack of? I'm sure I could do my own research, but it's much better getting the opinions of those in the debate.
AFAIK those who believe in Free Will hold the opinion that wo/man is in charge of her/his destiny and can choose their fate. Determinism would imply that we're all slaves to a predetermined cause. As we're made of fundamental matter at the basic level these particles are presumably set to follow their own path and we with all our emotions and conscousness et al are just along for the ride.

Personally I prefer the idea of Free Will, I think on the quantum scale everything is random and there's no way of telling what might happen next. Whether consciousness is directly related to it all is also uncertain.

Naturally there'll be others who may hold a more accurate opinion.
 
#8
Can someone enlighten me on the situation regarding free will, or lack of? I'm sure I could do my own research, but it's much better getting the opinions of those in the debate.
Simple version - we live in a lawful universe (gravity, magnetism, newton etc et fuckin cetera) therefore our behaviour and actions must also be lawfully determined by certain rules. This is NOT the same as being 'controlled' by some other force - it is a complex set of interactions. And not being able to track every molecule in the universe doesn't make it random - it just means we do not have the tools predict it reliably. Like it or not, we are part of a deterministic universe - you may think you used your free will to shag that granny last friday night, but it was the inevitable consequence of everything that happened to you up to that point.
PS this is not the same as FATE or PRE-ORDINATION
 
#10
My final piece of bullshit - it's very similar to the weather and the economy. We understand the rules and forces governing both of these systems, however their sheer complexity precludes us from very accurate prediction. Not the same as being either random or preset.
 
#11
AFAIK those who believe in Free Will hold the opinion that wo/man is in charge of her/his destiny and can choose their fate. Determinism would imply that we're all slaves to a predetermined cause. As we're made of fundamental matter at the basic level these particles are presumably set to follow their own path and we with all our emotions and conscousness et al are just along for the ride.

Personally I prefer the idea of Free Will, I think on the quantum scale everything is random and there's no way of telling what might happen next. Whether consciousness is directly related to it all is also uncertain.

Naturally there'll be others who may hold a more accurate opinion.
One argument is that time is a spacial dimension, it's static - the perception of time as dynamic, flowing in one particular direction, is a trick of human cognition. Some people believe that this indicates a purely deterministic universe, others believe that our choices allow us to navigate four-dimensional hyperspace, selecting a path across the temporal plane through the choices we make, others believe that time bifurcates at the point of every decision so that all outcomes exist simultaneously but separately, and others believe that all outcomes already exist as quantum states in a probability cloud that are collapsed into existence through observation. I don't even pretend to understand that last one.
 
#12
Quantum shit isn't random - it just follows a different set of rules to classical physics.
A different set of rules whereby it's impossible to tell a particle's direction if you know its position and if you know its position you can't tell its direction/where it's going.

Whether or not it's a random process or whether or not it's determined at a higher level is impossible to tell simply because we can't observe what the particle is going to do. The very act of observation makes it behave differently/wave particle duality etc.

This also has a knock on effect for Newtonian objects, classical physics is a myth, it's quantum all the way.
 
#13
One argument is that time is a spacial dimension, it's static - the perception of time as dynamic, flowing in one particular direction, is a trick of human cognition. Some people believe that this indicates a purely deterministic universe, others believe that our choices allow us to navigate four-dimensional hyperspace, selecting a path across the temporal plane through the choices we make, others believe that time bifurcates at the point of every decision so that all outcomes exist simultaneously but separately, and others believe that all outcomes already exist as quantum states in a probability cloud that are collapsed into existence through observation. I don't even pretend to understand that last one.

Quantum Universe by Prof Brian Cox attempts to explain the last one, I don't understand it either. Somewhere along the line things stop behaving strangely and start behaving like classical objects. No-one knows why this is the case though.
 

Caecilius

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#16
Quantum shit isn't random - it just follows a different set of rules to classical physics.
It may well be random. That doesn't mean that we have free will though, it just means that new causal chains will be generated for each quantum event resulting in certain behaviour.

A useful way of thinking about determinism is 'Laplace's Deamon'. Laplace posited the idea of a daemon who knew the locations and velocities of all the particles in the universe (he's a daemon, so didn't pay any attention to Heisenberg). Because he knew this, he knew the entire history of the universe and could accurately predict the entire future of the universe.

This predates quantum theory and isn't possible with true randomness on a quantum level, but it's still a neat way of exlaining determinism.
 
#17
I think you're all wrong.

Not sure why, something just made me say it.

What do you think the answer is then? Is there even a question to be asked?

The purpose of life may be no different from a sand dune, it looks majestic and pretty but it doesn't actually have any deeper meaning. If that's the case, how should we live?
 
#18
What do you think the answer is then? Is there even a question to be asked?

The purpose of life may be no different from a sand dune, it looks majestic and pretty but it doesn't actually have any deeper meaning. If that's the case, how should we live?
Philosophically, we need to look deeper than the question, the question (or eleven of them) being:

Should man live by philosophical ideals or live according to the instinct of nature? Should we live for pleasure or to support others? Do we need to examine life to have a different perspective? Does knowledge change our perception? Do we need to read Plato and Socrates or can we appreciate the complexities of life just by our own experience? Can we learn anything worthwhile from history, culture or art, and if so, what? What are we meant to read?

Do we even need to ask these questions or is it best to crack on like most animals (and presumably people) do and just get on with it? Does asking these questions provide solace? Can religion offer moral guidance or are we better off with our own intuition? Is it even possible to get an answer?
Given the constraint in the opening post that the presence or absence of God (hence religion) should not form part of the consideration, we realise that the 9th/10th question is contradictory.

Not that it matters really. The question is philosphical. Any answer that may be determined will be the result of heavily biased subjectiveness, not mathematical analysis.

Therefore, m'Lud, I put it to you that this thread would be better located in the Philosophy Forum, rather than the Science Forum. And I'd ask this question of DC - just because you can't find the Philosophy Forum, how do you know that it doesn't exist?
 
#19
Philosophically, we need to look deeper than the question, the question (or eleven of them) being:



Given the constraint in the opening post that the presence or absence of God (hence religion) should not form part of the consideration, we realise that the 9th/10th question is contradictory.
I added the religion as moral guidance part as Buddhism and Shinto etc don't necessarily require the presence of a supreme being. The belief in a deity naturally provides more questions over the plausibility of following a faith, but following simply because the faith offers selfless work might be psychologically rewarding too.


Not that it matters really. The question is philosphical. Any answer that may be determined will be the result of heavily biased subjectiveness, not mathematical analysis.
A bias that may be swayed by moral principles or rational debate though?


Therefore, m'Lud, I put it to you that this thread would be better located in the Philosophy Forum, rather than the Science Forum. And I'd ask this question of DC - just because you can't find the Philosophy Forum, how do you know that it doesn't exist?
Touche sir! You know I actually felt rather foolish for a moment and then started wondering where the Philosophy Forum was before reading the end of your post.
 
T

Taffd

Guest
#20
What do you think the answer is then? Is there even a question to be asked?

The purpose of life may be no different from a sand dune, it looks majestic and pretty but it doesn't actually have any deeper meaning. If that's the case, how should we live?
My post was a joke, referencing free will. Stony ground, eh?

I don't see a 'purpose' of life and don't see the need to search for one. As far as I'm concerned, life is.

And I don't like the arrogance of 'how should we live?'. Live how the **** you want, think what you fuckin' want, so long as it doesn't impinge negatively on me or mine. There's far too many people gobbing off about how others should live.

And I still don't get this free will thing. Are we saying that if I've got a choice between two chocolate bars, any choice I make will be pre-determined in some way?
 

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