Friday, May 5, 2006

Response to Aaron Kinney's Response to Me

My response to this post.

Is it really an unjustified stretch to say that the word "good" refers to that which brings an individual closer to value fulfillment, while "bad" is that which takes an individual farther away from value fulfillment, even if said values are opinions, like a favorite movie?

I think Frances betrayed his own objection in his "That was a good movie," example. Even if "good" and "bad" are only opinion statements, isn't it still true that fulfilling one's values is factually good for them? I mean, if I liked V for Vendetta, and said "That was a good movie," isn't it still true that I'm using the word "good" to represent value fulfillment, in this case a movie that entertained me? If Frances hated the movie V for Vendetta, would he use the word "good" or "bad" to describe it? In this way, the words "good" and "bad" are fact based, because they relate to value fulfillment, and values are fact based (a point that Frances seems to agree on).


Use of the words “good” and “bad” is tricky. Let’s use V for Vendetta as an example, since you brought that terrific movie up. I thought V for Vendetta was a good movie. In what context would I use the word “good”? I would use good as an adjective for the film because it aligned well with my preferences. This is exactly the same way I use “good” with respect to weather. Good weather aligns well with my preferences. However, I would not use “good” to describe my behavior of seeing the film because I do not recognize inherent value in fulfilling my preferences. Simply stated, fulfilling preferences isn’t “right” or “wrong”; it’s not something one is SUPPOSED to do. People can fulfill their preferences or be apathetic to them. Nobody is supposed to do anything.

While Frances personally accepts my self-ownership position, he argues that it is an unprovable one. I, of course, totally disagree. Why? Because self-ownership is based on the law of identity. A = A. You are you. Frances is Frances; he is not Aaron. Because Frances is Frances, only Frances owns himself. Self-ownership is somewhat of a tautology because it is virtually identical to the law of identity. Aaron is Aaron, and Aaron owns Aaron.

Frances claims that I cannot prove that he does not own me, and in doing so, Frances confuses the burden of proof. It is Frances' burden to prove that he does own me, not the other way around. It is, of course, also my burden to prove the principle of self-ownership. Thanks to the law of identity, I can say that an individual inherently owns what it inherently is: itself. Is there really much of a difference between saying, "Aaron is himself" and "Aaron owns himself"?

Unfortunately, Frances does not have these logical tools at his disposal to support his claim that he owns me.


I would say there is quite a big difference between "Aaron is Aaron" and "Aaron owns Aaron." I'm not going to argue against A=A, because I think it’s logically sound. But, I do strongly object to A=A, therefore A owns A. That "principle" is nothing more than an assertion. And, I think you are prejudicially applying it. If "A=A, and therefore A owns A," anything can be put in the place of "A." That means my encyclopedia owns my encyclopedia; the daffodil owns the daffodil; and the horse owns the horse. Applying it only to humans would be ad hoc, and thus logically impermissible.

You can add "ownership" to my list of "gooey" words. It's kind of amorphous and meaningless, at least without hard evidence. There is plenty of hard evidence that I own this computer: I have the receipt; I can look up the credit card charge in my records; I am registered with Dell. There is no hard evidence that an individual owns him/herself. As I said initially, such a claim is just that...a claim. And, I am not making a positive assertion that, for example, I own you. Rather, I am saying there is just as much hard evidence that I own you as there is hard evidence that you own you - that is to say, none.

Can Frances, by sheer force of will, make me comply with all of his demands and agree with all of his values? No, he must use physical force to comply with his demands (he can't do it with mere thought), and he cannot get me to agree with all of his values no matter what physical force he applies to me. That is because, like Frances, I am my own separate individual entity with my own individual values and I have my own direct control over my own body.


I think it is erroneous to tie ownership and total control together. Just because one must use physical force on an entity to make it do what the individual wants, and just because the individual might not be able to get the entity to do everything he/she wants, doesn't mean the entity isn't owned by the individual. Let's again use my computer as an example. We can both agree I own my computer. If I want my computer to make an Excel chart, I must use physical force on it to make it do it. And, as any computer user knows, the computer does indeed disallow me from making it do certain things I want it to do. The fact that I must use physical force on the computer, and the fact that the computer doesn't do everything I want, doesn't somehow change the fact that I own the computer. Similarly, if I alleged to own another person, I might have to use physical force to get the person to do what I want, and the person might not do every single thing I demand, but that still wouldn't cancel out my ownership of the person, anymore than it does the computer. I think the computer analogy adequately demonstrates that ownership need not be accompanied by total control.

Individuals exist as singular conscious entities. Societies don't. A society is just a collection of individuals with no singular consciousness. Morality is about individual value fulfillment because morality applies to the actions of a conscious entity, and only individuals are conscious entities. Defining morality as individual value fulfillment is no more of a presupposition than it is to "presuppose" that individual humans have individual and separate consciousnesses. It is honestly not that difficult to observe that, factually, individuals are singular, conscious entities and a collective society is not.


I completely agree with you that individuals, not societies, are conscious entities. I will even agree that morality relates to the behaviors of a conscious entity, since only conscious entities have behaviors. But I don’t think this proves that morality is wrapped up in individual value fulfillment. Morality applies to the behaviors of individuals…in the context of what? Themselves? Society? The environment? The fact that morality involves the behaviors of individuals does not necessarily imply that morality relates to the way in which they fulfill or don’t fulfill their preferences. Morality could just as easily be wrapped up in how each individual’s behaviors affect the collective. Or, morality could just as easily deal with how each individual’s behaviors affect the environment. Just like with bodily ownership, there is no hard evidence at all to confirm ANY of those possibilities.

Frances then asks me to prove factually that morality and value fulfillment have a relationship. This is a definitional problem regarding the very word "morality"? It seems that Frances wants me to define "morality" and prove that the definition is valid. May I just say that a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet? Can't we just agree on a dictionary definition or something? Whatever concept you want to assign the word "morality" to is irrelevant. That is because the concepts of right and wrong behavior, and value fulfillment, will always exist, regardless of what we call them. We can use the word "blark" for all I care.


Here’s the problem: I’m willing to define morality as “The study of the effects of an individual’s behavior.” However, that definition doesn’t incorporate the context. The study of the effects of an individual’s behavior…in the context of what? In the context of the individual? In the context of society? In the context of the environment? An individual’s behavior has an effect on all three; so, on what basis does morality restrict itself to only an individual’s behaviors’ effects on his/her preferences? I’m willing to accept that morality has to do with the effects of behaviors; I’m not willing to grant that morality has to do with the effects of behaviors on preferences (which, by necessity, must be held by individuals). I’d just as soon say morality has to do with the effects of behaviors on societies or on the environment.

But is there a relationship between value fulfillment and right and wrong behavior? Of course! That is because values are fact-based, as Frances conceded earlier. "Right" or "good" relates to fulfilling a value, and "wrong" or "bad" relates to not fulfilling that value, or fulfilling an anti-value. Certain factual things must be performed to fulfill a value. And to fulfill a value is "good" for the value holder, while not fulfilling the value is "bad". Right and wrong are definite things because values are definite things that require definite actions. I cannot fulfill my food value by eating rusty nails, or by refusing to eat altogether! Eating rusty nails or refusing to eat is "bad" if obtaining sustenance is a value that I hold.


I think the key disconnect here is that you build “should be strived for” into your definition of “values,” and I do not. To me, “values” are simply things an individual can do or not do that have tangible results in either case [this definitional disconnect is why I continually use the word “preferences” instead]. With that definition, the same list of values applies to everybody, since it is divorced from individual preferences. A good example is nutrition; an individual can fulfill nutrition or not fulfill it. Another example is sleep; once again, that’s a value that can be fulfilled or not fulfilled. Someone who fulfills the nutrition value and fulfills the sleep value will get certain results. Someone who doesn’t fulfill the nutrition or sleep values will get different results. And sure, individuals have preferences with regard to these things. For example, I prefer to fulfill my nutrition value and sleep value. But, that doesn’t mean I am somehow SUPPOSED TO. Nobody is supposed to do anything. If people want to strive for their preferences they can, and if they want to be apathetic to them they can. I look at humanity as just another part of animalia; I don’t think humans are supposed to do anything anymore than goldfish are.

The acceptance of individualist philosophy does not make said philosophy relative anymore than the acceptance of the law of gravity makes gravity relative. Anyone can define morality any way they want, but the concepts of right and wrong behavior, and the factual nature of values, will remain constant, regardless of what word is used to describe them, and regardless of the refusal of one to accept their truths.


What you describe (Individual preference fulfillment, with successful preference fulfillment being “right” and lack of preference fulfillment being “wrong”) is indeed one way to approach the issue of morality; however, the key words in that are “one way.” If one doesn’t accept that morality has any relationship with individual preference fulfillment, and instead defines the word slightly differently, how can morality (a word with multiple definitions) be universally objective? Individual preference fulfillment, as you describe it, is objective. To you, “good" relates to fulfilling a preference, and "bad" relates to not fulfilling that preference, or fulfilling an anti-preference. We can both agree that certain factual things must be performed to fulfill a preference. But somebody could just as easily say, “Morality deals with how individuals’ actions affect society” or “Morality deals with how individuals’ actions affect the environment.” Morality can have numerous definitions, since the definition I recognize, “The study of the effects of an individual’s behavior,” provides no context (on the individual?; on society?; on the environment?).

Just because I reject that individuals exist doesn't make them cease to exist, does it? Just because I refuse to recognize that a high-speed metal projectile will destroy my brain if my skull intercepts it's path, doesn't mean that my head won't be blown off when someone shoots me, does it?


I am not saying anybody has the right to deny the existence of individuals; the existence of individuals is undeniable. I reject the factual accuracy of individualism, a philosophy centered around the primary importance of the individual as compared to society, environment, etc. Primary importance is assigned arbitrarily; it could just as easily be assigned to society or the environment, with individuals viewed as secondary. That’s why neither Libertarianism nor Communism is objectively “correct.” It’s just a matter of the way in which one views things.

We can scientifically and factually prove that an individual human has a singular consciousness and direct control over itself. We cannot do the same for a collective group of people. In fact, we can even use science to factually prove that a collective group of humans in fact does not have a singular consciousness and direct control over itself. Analysis of observable facts will most definitely support the claim that an individual exists as a singular self-directing entity, while a collective society does not.


Again, I will gladly grant you that an individual exists as a singular, self-directing entity. And, I will grant you that a society is neither singular nor self-directing. What I will not rubber-stamp is the notion that, because individuals are singular and self-directing, they are somehow of primary importance. I would need to see a chart of some type, based upon scientific data, demonstrating a direct relationship between singularity/self-direction and “importance,” whatever the latter means. One could just as easily pluck out the defining characteristics of societies or the environment and then declare either of them to be of primary importance. It’s kind of like my arguments about human speciocentricity: Humans pick out a few of our defining characteristics (sentience, full range of emotions, etc.), arbitrarily declare them to be “value adding,” and then assert humans are the most valuable of all animal life. I don’t accept that, either.

Gross! I hate nihilism. But you know what they say, "hate the nihilism, not the nihilist."


What’s to hate about nihilism? I take two main points from it: 1. Nothing is self-evident. Absolutely everything requires hard evidence. 2. Nothing, intrinsically speaking, is preferable to anything else. The latter, especially, is the ultimate in individualism; it basically says that “good” and “bad” and “right” and “wrong” are all just a matter of opinion--an individual's opinion.

Thanks for engaging me, Aaron!

13 Comments:

Blogger Aaron Kinney said...

Cool reply. I am going to dip in to it deeper in a few days. Right now its time to party for Cinco de Mayo!

Thanx for the reply Frances :)

11:42 PM EDT  
Anonymous bernarda said...

Frances, I replied to some of Aaron's arguments at his site. You might be interested.

4:44 AM EDT  
Anonymous bernarda said...

I often or maybe even usually agree with your formulations. But don't you see a contradiction in your two following statements?

"I completely agree with you that individuals, not societies, are conscious entities. I will even agree that morality relates to the behaviors of a conscious entity, since only conscious entities have behaviors."

"I reject the factual accuracy of individualism, a philosophy centered around the primary importance of the individual as compared to society, environment, etc. Primary importance is assigned arbitrarily; it could just as easily be assigned to society or the environment, with individuals viewed as secondary. That’s why neither Libertarianism nor Communism is objectively “correct.” It’s just a matter of the way in which one views things."

Furthermore, the end of the first quote seems simply wrong, "since only conscious entities have behaviors".

What do you mean by a "conscious entity"? In my post to Aaron, I gave the example of ants that farm aphids. They protect aphid eggs and even adopt aphid nymphs that fly to a new locale. The ants have a specific complex behavior in acting in a non-obvious way for their benefit, or value fullfillment, if you like.

4:59 AM EDT  
Blogger TheJollyNihilist said...

bernarda,

Thanks for commenting. I'll be heading to Kill the Afterlife in a moment, to join the continuing discussion over there.

But for now, here's my take...

"I completely agree with you that individuals, not societies, are conscious entities. I will even agree that morality relates to the behaviors of a conscious entity, since only conscious entities have behaviors."

"I reject the factual accuracy of individualism, a philosophy centered around the primary importance of the individual as compared to society, environment, etc. Primary importance is assigned arbitrarily; it could just as easily be assigned to society or the environment, with individuals viewed as secondary. That’s why neither Libertarianism nor Communism is objectively “correct.” It’s just a matter of the way in which one views things."

Furthermore, the end of the first quote seems simply wrong, "since only conscious entities have behaviors".


I don't see a contradiction. It's true that only conscious entities have behaviors [The word "behave" implies intent of some kind, and only conscious entities can have intent]. Societies are composed of individuals - each individual engages in a behavior of some type. In some cases, all the individuals in a society collaborate to achieve a greater good. For example, 15 people all work together to lift a statue into place. But, I wouldn't say that "society" is engaging in a behavior. Rather, I would say 15 individuals are engaging in separate, cooperative behaviors. Societies don't act; the individuals of which societies are composed act.

What do you mean by a "conscious entity"? In my post to Aaron, I gave the example of ants that farm aphids. They protect aphid eggs and even adopt aphid nymphs that fly to a new locale. The ants have a specific complex behavior in acting in a non-obvious way for their benefit, or value fullfillment, if you like.

When I speak of a conscious entity (one that engages in "behaviors"), I am referring to a singular, living being. Societies are neither singular nor living; societies are composed of beings that are singular and living.

8:08 PM EDT  
Anonymous bernarda said...

Frances, here are some more comments I posted there:

I would say there is some confusion about what is meant by nihilism. If it means that there are no objective moral values and that systems of authority and social customs are not moral, which seems to be Frances's view, I agree with him. But if you take it in another sense, the nietzschean sense, I think Frances is wrong to describe himself as a nihilist.

For Nietzsche, nihilism was the rejection of the real world by those who postulated an ideal world, usually in another life. For him, christianity was the epitomy of nihilism. What is more nihilistic than the supposed sacrifice of Jesus or the apocalypse in Revelations? Frances certainly doesn't identify with christianity.

Nietzsche saw nihilism as the will to nothingness and opposed that with the idea that each one had to create their own purpose, and that that purpose could only be in enjoying this world. He called this the revaluation of morals. Some examples of the damage done by christianity are the transformations of basic concepts: powerlessness became "goodness", baseness "humility", submission to people one hates 'obedience', "not-being-able-to-take-revenge" becomes "forgiveness".

Nietzche also saw nihilism in his time as inherent in European culture to the extent that it was based on the judeo-christian morality, and that since this culture was then bankrupt, general destruction or maybe de-structurization was inevitable.

There is far too much to say about this topic and books have been written about it.

Another aspect of recent posts has been the discussion of "value fulfillment". That is basically the utilitarian argument, notably by John Stuart Mill, who wrote, "Actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. By happiness is intended pleasure, and the abscence of pain; by unhappiness, pain, and the privation of pleasure."

Nietzsche considered that to be a very limited view. Creating your own purpose required more than that.

For a very readable overview of some main philosophical concepts, try "The Consolations of Philosophy" by Alain de Botton.

Usually, I agree with you, but not on this question of singular living being as the only conscious entity. But I suppose that could lead to a discussion of what is "conscious". Here is another of my posts.

An article in Wikipedia differentiates it from "free will". "Human agency entails the uncontroversial, lower claim that humans do in fact make decisions and enact them on the world. How humans come to make decisions, by free choice or other processes, is not at issue."
...

"In certain philosophical traditions (particularly those established by Hegel and Marx), human agency is a collective, historical dynamic, more than a function arising out of individual behavior."

A rather more serious analysis of "agency" than blacksun's vague assertions can be found at the following site In Defense of Human Agency. The writer accepts agency, but presents the arguments against it too.

Please don't say I am making claims about something. I am investigating something I don't entirely understand and presenting possibilities. I am not a true believer like blacksun. For the moment, I am an agnostic on the subject.

http://www.kenanmalik.com/papers/engelsberg_nature.html

"Animals are objects of natural forces, not potential subjects of their own destiny. They act out a drama, not create it.

Humans, however, are not disenchanted creatures. We possess - or believe we possess - purpose and agency, self-consciousness and will, qualities that science has expunged from the rest of nature. Uniquely among organisms, human beings are both objects of nature and subjects that can, to some extent at least, shape our own fate."

...

"Some scientists and philosophers argue that conscious and teleology are illusions, phenomena that natural selection has designed us to believe in, not because it is true, but because it is useful. As the neuroscientist Colin Blakemore has put it, when 'we feel ourselves to be in control of an action, that feeling itself is the product of our brain, whose machinery has been designed, on the basis of its functional utility, by means of natural selection'."

...

"A variation on this argument is provided by the psychologist Susan Blackmore who adopts Richard Dawkins' notion of a meme, a unit of culture that inhabits, or rather parasitises, our brains. Blackmore suggests that 'Instead of thinking of our ideas as our own creations, and working for us, we have to think of them as autonomous selfish memes, working only to get themselves copied.' Since 'we cannot find either beliefs or the self that believes' by looking into somebody's head, she argues, so we must conclude that there are no such things as beliefs or selves, 'only a person arguing, a brain processing the information, memes being copied or not'."

As the title indicates, the writer goes on to oppose these arguments. But as you can see, there are respectable people honestly holding different points of view on the subject.

4:13 AM EDT  
Blogger TheJollyNihilist said...

I would say there is some confusion about what is meant by nihilism. If it means that there are no objective moral values and that systems of authority and social customs are not moral, which seems to be Frances's view, I agree with him. But if you take it in another sense, the nietzschean sense, I think Frances is wrong to describe himself as a nihilist.

I will clarify, and perhaps I am indeed taking some liberties with the term. For me, nihilism means two main things: 1. Nothing, intrinsically speaking, is preferable to anything else. 2. Nothing is self-evident; every single thing requires hard evidence, or else is doubtful. Finally, nihilism is also connected to my view that humans aren't "special" among the rest of animalia. I establish equivalency arguments between, say, humans and goldfish. If goldfish aren't "supposed to" do things, then neither are humans. If self-ownership doesn't apply to hedgehogs, then it doesn't apply to humans. If we cannot discuss morality with respect to Fido the dog, we can't discuss morality with respect to Joe the human. That's nihilism to me. And yes, it's very different from the Nietzschean sense.

For Nietzsche, nihilism was the rejection of the real world by those who postulated an ideal world, usually in another life. For him, christianity was the epitomy of nihilism. What is more nihilistic than the supposed sacrifice of Jesus or the apocalypse in Revelations? Frances certainly doesn't identify with christianity.

Nietzsche saw nihilism as the will to nothingness and opposed that with the idea that each one had to create their own purpose, and that that purpose could only be in enjoying this world. He called this the revaluation of morals. Some examples of the damage done by christianity are the transformations of basic concepts: powerlessness became "goodness", baseness "humility", submission to people one hates 'obedience', "not-being-able-to-take-revenge" becomes "forgiveness".


Well, my definition of nihilism certainly doesn't match up with that. As I said, I take nihilism to mean that nothing, intrinsically speaking, is preferable to anything else. What's better, power or powerlessness? Purely a matter of opinion. What's better, freedom or enslavement? Purely a matter of opinion. What's better, eating to fullness or starving to death? Purely a matter of opinion. Nihilists will gladly admit that individuals have myriad preferences, but the nihilist would also say that one isn't "supposed to" fulfill one's preferences. One can fulfill them, or be apathetic to them. Again, nobody is "supposed to" do anything, anymore than the goldfish is "supposed to" swim one way or the other.

Another aspect of recent posts has been the discussion of "value fulfillment". That is basically the utilitarian argument, notably by John Stuart Mill, who wrote, "Actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. By happiness is intended pleasure, and the abscence of pain; by unhappiness, pain, and the privation of pleasure."

That's one way of looking at morality, though it's far from the only way. Who's to say "right" is connected with happiness while "wrong" is connected with unhappiness? The nihilist might ask how this applies to somebody who prefers to be unhappy. In that case, would "right" be associated with unhappiness and "wrong" associated with happiness? And happiness and unhappiness in the context of whom? The individual who is acting? The individual's peers in society? Certainly one could interpret it to mean the latter, since utilitarian philosophy is connected to the notion of "The greatest good for the greatest number," which is the antithesis of individualism. Once again, morality proves itself to be an incoherent word except when defined on a person-by-person basis.

Nietzsche considered that to be a very limited view. Creating your own purpose required more than that.

Purpose is also problematic. One can create a purpose for oneself, or not. Neither is preferable to the other. Then, if one makes a purpose for oneself, the person can either pursue it or ignore it. Neither is preferable to the other. One more time: Nobody is supposed to do anything. As an example of this, say I want an ice cream cone. I can either go and get it, or not go. There is no "supposed to" to be found. The key word of nihilism is, "Whatever."

5:42 PM EDT  
Blogger TheJollyNihilist said...

"Animals are objects of natural forces, not potential subjects of their own destiny. They act out a drama, not create it.

Humans, however, are not disenchanted creatures. We possess - or believe we possess - purpose and agency, self-consciousness and will, qualities that science has expunged from the rest of nature. Uniquely among organisms, human beings are both objects of nature and subjects that can, to some extent at least, shape our own fate."


I am immediately suspicious of this for one main reason: The author is making a false distinction between humans and animals. Humans are animals. Our species is Homo sapiens sapiens. Therefore, saying, "For animals this is true but for humans this is true" is analogous to saying "For animals this is true but for dogs this is true." We are, quite simply, a complex animal that has a brain big enough to create the illusion of an "I" inside.

"Some scientists and philosophers argue that conscious and teleology are illusions, phenomena that natural selection has designed us to believe in, not because it is true, but because it is useful. As the neuroscientist Colin Blakemore has put it, when 'we feel ourselves to be in control of an action, that feeling itself is the product of our brain, whose machinery has been designed, on the basis of its functional utility, by means of natural selection'."

My point, exactly. There is no "I." It is purely an illusion created by my large brain.

"A variation on this argument is provided by the psychologist Susan Blackmore who adopts Richard Dawkins' notion of a meme, a unit of culture that inhabits, or rather parasitises, our brains. Blackmore suggests that 'Instead of thinking of our ideas as our own creations, and working for us, we have to think of them as autonomous selfish memes, working only to get themselves copied.' Since 'we cannot find either beliefs or the self that believes' by looking into somebody's head, she argues, so we must conclude that there are no such things as beliefs or selves, 'only a person arguing, a brain processing the information, memes being copied or not'."

I sympathize with this view, being a physicalist. All the features that we use to declare ourselves more important than other animals, particularly the notion of an "I" inside, are purely illusory. Why can't you find a "self" inside my body? Because there is no "self." One of the things a big brain is best at is fabricating justifications for speciocentricity.

6:03 PM EDT  
Blogger DoctorBoogaloo said...

I have no idea what you guys are talking about. But didn't the contemplation of such things drive Nietzsche over the edge?

I rather like Sartre's 'hell is other people' idea. It makes me think that things would be infinitely better if I alone existed. Yeah, I'm a solipsist. (Of course, I can't prove the validity of my position... which has always been tough on my ego.)
But just knowing that I'm a bridge between the ape and the overman has at least rooted me in my own history. I think.
See what you've done? Now I don't know what the hell I believe.

10:12 PM EDT  
Anonymous bernarda said...

doctor,

I love your candid remarks. Maybe we don't know what we are talking about either.

But I also think that you are mistaken in thinking that the self is real. Just how do you think it can be verified? Everyone will claim to believe in their own self and no one's other. To verify anything, you need an independant observer, which in the case you mention is impossible.

4:01 PM EDT  
Blogger TheJollyNihilist said...

I have no idea what you guys are talking about. But didn't the contemplation of such things drive Nietzsche over the edge?

It's very possible. I find myself thinking about these issues whenever my mind isn't otherwise occupied. When I'm taking walks during my work lunch hour, I'm often deep in thought about the nature of self and morality. It's interesting stuff, but very possibly a road to nowhere (i.e., a riddle without a solution).

But I also think that you are mistaken in thinking that the self is real. Just how do you think it can be verified?

If by "self" you mean the illusory "I" inside, then I totally agree. The "I" illusion is an elaborate trick played by our large, complex brains. That's why there's no such thing as an afterlife; when our brains die, the illusory "I" ceases to be.

7:46 PM EDT  
Blogger Jason H. Bowden said...

Too many have lot the ability to distinguish between civilization and its discontents.

Nietzsche was no nihilist. Ranting over and over again about the Jewification of Europe, he preached a gospel of rape, murder, torture, pillage, domination, and political oppression by the strong. Trendies like to interpret going "beyond good and evil" as merely legitimizing homosexuality, drugs, abortion, prostitution, pornography, but they miss the point entirely.

8:43 PM EDT  
Blogger TheJollyNihilist said...

One certainly cannot be selectively morally relativist. If one is relativist about abortion and pornography, one must also be relativist about murder and theft. Either morality is objective, or it's relative.

As a relativist, I do indeed deny the existence of objective good and evil (that is, good and evil divorced from an individual's opinion). And I apply that notion uniformly.

I have very strong opinions with respect to moral/immoral, but I do not recognize any objective truth with respect to those matters.

1:36 PM EDT  
Anonymous bernarda said...

Jason is a moron who has never read Nietzche.

"Nietzsche was no nihilist. Ranting over and over again about the Jewification of Europe, he preached a gospel of rape, murder, torture, pillage, domination, and political oppression by the strong."

The only thing he got right was to say that Nietzsche was no nihilist. For Nietzche, the nilihists were the christians, today known as jesus freaks.

Nietzsche didn't "preach" any such "gospel". Jason makes up things or belieives what dumbass preacher or rabbi told him .

Jason, before you post again, try to have the slightest idea what you are talking about.

3:43 PM EDT  

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