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Old 03-19-2009, 12:54 AM   #46
HibachiDG
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Because he likes fishing, watching TV, whatever else he does in his life?
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Old 03-19-2009, 01:09 AM   #47
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I was alluding to this in my first post actually To me, everything boils down to self-interest. I don't mean that's my personal philosophy, I mean that every choice a person makes is based on self-interest, no matter how selfless it may seem. Because of that, it's my opinion that happiness is the the goal everyone has when you break things down to the basest idea. So, Beethoven did what he did because it made him happy (or at least, less unhappy than not doing it). Your linguistics professor is the same way. Perhaps happy isn't the best word; pleasure, contentment, enjoyment, it's all about feeling good. The difference is in what each person gains that good feeling from. So, when you ask why someone should bother waking up, why live if you don't offer something to the world, I would agree with Hibachi. If he enjoys his life, that is answer enough.

Which isn't to say I'm promoting fishing in any way! Fishing, otherwise known as sitting on a boat drinking beer and doing nothing :lol:
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Old 03-19-2009, 01:15 AM   #48
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I was alluding to this in my first post actually To me, everything boils down to self-interest. I don't mean that's my personal philosophy, I mean that every choice a person makes is based on self-interest, no matter how selfless it may seem. Because of that, it's my opinion that happiness is the the goal everyone has when you break things down to the basest idea. So, Beethoven did what he did because it made him happy (or at least, less unhappy than not doing it). Your linguistics professor is the same way. Perhaps happy isn't the best word; pleasure, contentment, enjoyment, it's all about feeling good. The difference is in what each person gains that good feeling from. So, when you ask why someone should bother waking up, why live if you don't offer something to the world, I would agree with Hibachi. If he enjoys his life, that is answer enough.

Which isn't to say I'm promoting fishing in any way! Fishing, otherwise known as sitting on a boat drinking beer and doing nothing :lol:
No... here's where you're wrong. You do it because there's no justification for not doing it-- because there's no reason to live if you don't; you don't do it for happiness. Wittgenstein was not a happy person-- he constantly considered suicide. Beethoven, as far as I know, was similar to that also.

Again, I don't see how anyone can live with themselves if they don't dedicate everything they have to a particular field or interest. I you don't try, you're just like 99.999% of the rest of the world... there's no reason to even wake up.
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Old 03-19-2009, 10:40 AM   #49
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And as for me, I feel like I live by this. I spend all of my freetime (and I have a lot ) working on Mensa puzzles; reading Wittgenstein, analytical philosophy, and linguistics; and listening to Satie and Beethoven. The interests change a bit over time-- but I feel that I'm always 100% absorbed in them. And when I see people who aren't like this, it bothers me. I don't see any reason for them to wake up in the morning. I'm not saying I'm special, but at least I try-- at least I see things differently than the banal 99.99% of the rest of the world who spend their time worried trivial problems in their personal lives and material things.
But what do you have to offer the world, besides absorbing yourself into the work of others? How has reading the books you have and listening to the music you do made you more valuable to the world? What have you contributed to society that has made a difference?

I still don't see what separates you from the blue-collared man who passes his freetime doing the crossword puzzle out of the local newspaper, watching reruns of All in the Family, listening to the Allman Brothers on his car radio and who makes an honest effort to attend all of his kids' little league games, other than you don't care where you bought your denim jeans from and who the Bachelor chose to propose to on national television (and I am willing to bet that the man at the local meat packing plant could care even less about those things than you do).
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Old 03-19-2009, 11:00 AM   #50
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You're relationship is the only concern in your life? To me, they mean nothing
I also must say that this part angered me. I know you have mentioned the movie Good Will Hunting in the past, so I will leave it at this:

"If I ask you about women, you'll probably give me a syllabus of your personal favorites. You may have even been laid a few times. But you can't tell me what it feels like to wake up next to a woman and feel truly happy...If I asked you about love, you'd probably quote me a sonnet, but you've never looked at a woman and been totally vulnerable. Known someone that could level you with her eyes. Feeling like God put an angel on Earth just for you, who could rescue you from the depths of hell. And you wouldn't know what it's like to be her angel, to have that love for her be there forever. Through anything. Through cancer. And you wouldn't know about sleeping sitting up in a hospital room for two months, holding her hand, because the doctors could see in your eyes that the terms "visiting hours" don't apply to you. You don't know about real loss, because that only occurs when you love something more than you love yourself. I doubt you've ever dared to love anybody that much..."
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Old 03-19-2009, 03:02 PM   #51
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This, I think, is going to explain it all-- and I hope doesn't come off as too harsh
I'm just trying to see these things Rob. No worries.

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go to Sheetz. I see the guy behind the counter. He works 40 hours a week, goes home, watches TV, fishes, and that's about his entire being.

If you are him, what's the point of even getting up in the morning? Yeah, I know that he keeps the economy and world moving, he's necessary, etc. But what does he have to offer the world? Nothing. He's just a thoughtless guy who might as well never existed; he lives like 99.99% of the rest of the world.

But take Beethoven... here is a guy who saw the world in a way that no one else did. And he contributed to making the world see things in a different way.)
How do we know the guy at Sheetz isn't working on something in his spare time that he is immersed in? Many people who excelled in their chosen fields didn't approach their disciplines the same way due to external forces. What about people who didn't give the full extent of their discoveries/insights for fear of external forces (church, state)? Did they fail? Should we respect them?

And specifically,

How did Beethoven see the world in a different way? Why does anyone have to contribute to the world?

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I'd say that they can have little meaning, if any. I would approach the situation by just moving on... I wouldn't try and convince them the other way... they're not going to see it, plus they could get offended. (I made an exception for you, though )
Why worry about offending people if they're meaningless? Seems like a hypocritical statement. I'm not offended here, but since I'm not seeing these issues as you do why bother talking to me about it?

You mentioned Beethoven and Wittgenstein both being suicidal from the process of extraction (I presume) from society to take on their disciplines in this no holds barred manner. Is being suicidal a prereq for this endeavor? Should we all be suicidal? If we've determined that someone who can't appreciate someone like Beethoven is meaningless, should they kill themselves? Should I kill myself since I don't follow this logic? Are you suicidal? And do you look forward to killing yourself if you can't achieve this process?
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Old 03-19-2009, 05:16 PM   #52
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How do we know the guy at Sheetz isn't working on something in his spare time that he is immersed in? Many people who excelled in their chosen fields didn't approach their disciplines the same way due to external forces. What about people who didn't give the full extent of their discoveries/insights for fear of external forces (church, state)? Did they fail? Should we respect them?
Then I wouldn't look at him that way, but I tried to make the point that he doesn't.

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How did Beethoven see the world in a different way? Why does anyone have to contribute to the world?
Just listen to his music-- who else was the world that way before him?


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Why worry about offending people if they're meaningless? Seems like a hypocritical statement. I'm not offended here, but since I'm not seeing these issues as you do why bother talking to me about it?
Hypocritical statement? More paradoxical

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You mentioned Beethoven and Wittgenstein both being suicidal from the process of extraction (I presume) from society to take on their disciplines in this no holds barred manner. Is being suicidal a prereq for this endeavor? Should we all be suicidal? If we've determined that someone who can't appreciate someone like Beethoven is meaningless, should they kill themselves? Should I kill myself since I don't follow this logic? Are you suicidal? And do you look forward to killing yourself if you can't achieve this process?
No. I was simply making the point that it's not done for "happiness."

Toby, Buck's the one who always uses that quotes-- usually for CK Sure, the quote is what it is-- and I've been trying to make a point against it.

But all of this over-analyzing is getting old. People can think what they want to think...
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Old 03-19-2009, 05:59 PM   #53
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Like I said, happiness may not be a good word But even someone who is suicidal will make choices based on what they think is going to be best for them. Suicide itself is a choice based on self interest, a choice made because a person doesn't feel they can get enough happiness from life to make it worth living. And until someone DOES kill themselves, then they feel they are getting enough from life to make it worth living. It's a matter of degree. Maybe Beethoven was miserable, but he made his choices based on what he thought would bring him the least misery.

I'm someone who's seriously considered suicide, and I still believe that every choice a person makes is based on self-interest at it's core. Being unhappy doesn't negate that, it simply shows either that sometimes you don't have good choices, or that you often will make the wrong ones.
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Old 03-19-2009, 06:11 PM   #54
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Like I said, happiness may not be a good word But even someone who is suicidal will make choices based on what they think is going to be best for them. Suicide itself is a choice based on self interest, a choice made because a person doesn't feel they can get enough happiness from life to make it worth living. And until someone DOES kill themselves, then they feel they are getting enough from life to make it worth living. It's a matter of degree. Maybe Beethoven was miserable, but he made his choices based on what he thought would bring him the least misery.

I'm someone who's seriously considered suicide, and I still believe that every choice a person makes is based on self-interest at it's core. Being unhappy doesn't negate that, it simply shows either that sometimes you don't have good choices, or that you often will make the wrong ones.

What's the alternative, then? Under this, being selfless would constitute trying to be happy, cutting youself would constitute you being happy, etc.

What could you do that wouldn't be in your self-interest? Burn your house down for no reason? I you have a reason to do anything, then, as you are suggesting, doesn't it have to be in self-interest?
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Old 03-19-2009, 07:21 PM   #55
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This is an interesting conversation. I'd like to jump in to make a few points as well...

First of all, I don't like this idea of boiling down everything to people attempting to "attain happiness" in the highest degree, or whatever you want to call it. When you look at the lives of the true geniuses our world has produced, it seems almost perverse to say a search for happiness (or contentment, or pleasure...) is what drove them. Unquestionably it was something deeper and more mysterious than that.

Not only is there a dangerous connection between genius and mental instability (often, what non-geniuses like to call genius, but that's a digression), but there is even more clearly a connection between genius and profound, deep melancholly and despair. That's pretty much the opposite of happiness or pleasure. You take someone like Fitzgerald, who I wouldn't consider a genius, but he produced a classic novel, who said something to the effect of "When you're writing you're not living" and then you look at the complete dissolution of his later life, and you can't say he was driven in his work by happiness...take Hemmingway, Woolf, almost all of the great artists in any field share this melancholly. It's hard to say whether the pain is the cause of the art, or their singular pursuit of their art caused the pain, but in any event they don't exactly seem to go hand in hand.

Here's Stefan Zweig's description of Nietzsche and his surroundings I found in Walter Kauffman's Foreward to Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra: "And up again into the small, narrow, modest, coldly furnished chambre garnie, where innumerable notes, pages, writings, and proofs are piled up on the table, but no flower, no decoration, scarcely a book and rarely a letter. Back in a corner, a heavy and graceless wooden trunk, his only possession, with the two shirts and the other worn suit. Otherwise only books and manuscripts, and on a tray innumerable bottles and jars and potions: against the migraines, which often render him all but senseless for hours, against the stomach cramps, against spasmodic vomiting, against the slothful intestines, and above all the dreadful sedatives against his insomnia, chloral hydrate and Veronal. A frightful arsenal of poisons and drugs, yet the only helpers in the empty silence of this strange room in which he never rests except in brief and artificially conquered sleep. Wrapped in his overcoat and woolen scarf (for the wretched stove smokes only and does not give warmth), his figners freezing, his double glasses pressed close to the paper, his hurried hand writes for hours--words the dim eyes can hardly decipher. For hours he sits like this and writes until his eyes burn." Does he sound happy to you?

Whatever drives the genius, it is not simple happiness or anything like it. Of course, there is a reason for their action, and they couldn't live without doing it, but there are easier paths to contentment and personal satisfaction. Some few men are driven down a different path. To compare their pursuit to that of the man who drinks some beers and goes fishing is like compairing writing a symphony to masturbating. As J.S. Mill said, it is better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; and you cannot doubt that the truly dedicated pursuit of truth or beauty brings, at the very least, as much pain as it does happiness, and it's cheap to compare it to the pursuit of the baser pleasures.

If you want to deny the existence of a higher power outside of human existence (which I get the impression most of you would want to do), it seems the only way of determining which life is more valuable than another is through your own subjective opinion. There is no agent outside both lives and no standard to compare them, so you're only left with the question: which life would you rather have? Personally, between the choice of the man who dedicates himself to one academic field and throws himself into it, shutting out all other life, and the man who goes fishing, drinks a beer, and doesn't think too hard, I'd take the former, but I would rather live in a different way than either of those men.
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Old 03-19-2009, 09:38 PM   #56
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As far as I'm concerned Ellis, yes, EVERY choice a person makes is based on self-interest. I consider it impossible to make a choice not rooted in self-interest, however it may seem otherwise. The important thing is that this is about choices; if you do something without having control, it doesn't count

Ricky, I'm not trying to compare worthiness of lives. That, I believe, IS a completely subjective thing. My point was that because it is subjective, saying a life isn't worth living can only be for you. There are many people in situations I would not consider worth living; social situations, injury or disease, who live basically happy lives.

It's not simple, as few things are, but be it happiness, satisfaction, some inner drive, whatever, it is a form of self-interest that drives our choices.
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Old 03-19-2009, 09:47 PM   #57
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But what exactly does that prove/disprove? To me, it only suggests that there is a rational function behind human choice and action. So what if at bottom some personal interest can be found in every human decision? Would it be better if humans behaved completely randomly and without logic or apparrant motive? And these motives can be judged, if only subjectively, but if that's the best we can do, so be it. I don't have to equate the man who goes fishing with the man who composes a symphony just because both men were driven by some form of self-interest. In my estimation, the man who wrote the symphony was driven by a higher form of self-interest (using your terminology. I would call it something else) than the other man. Then it is perfectly reasonable to hold the one man in higher esteem than the other.
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Old 03-19-2009, 10:36 PM   #58
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Here's where the problem lies:
Happiness and self-interest are two completely different things.

Sure, everything you do promotes your self-interest, but not everything you do promotes your happiness.

So, like Ricky, I don't see how spending 12 hours strait composing a symphony is the same as working a 12-hour shift at a gas station-- that is, if the person composing the symphony is not doing it to make money, but rather to express himself (his way of seeing the world) and to create something unique.
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Old 03-20-2009, 01:20 AM   #59
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It doesn't have to be the same. The point is that just because you aren't composing a symphony doesn't mean your life isn't worth living, and vice versa. It might not be a life YOU would want to live, but assuming you aren't living it, so what?
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Old 03-20-2009, 01:25 AM   #60
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It doesn't have to be the same. The point is that just because you aren't composing a symphony doesn't mean your life isn't worth living, and vice versa. It might not be a life YOU would want to live, but assuming you aren't living it, so what?
As I said, people can live how they want to live.

It just makes my upset that people don't live that way and that they put their lives and thought towards nothing of meaning, i.e. banal job, tv, drinking, being a socialite, spouse, trifling problems, etc.

Here's the difference:
typical man:
self-interest----> happiness

people i am talking about:
self-interest----> valuable work/way of seeing the world.

And, again, I don't see any justification for living just to be happy and to spend your life worrying about the things I mentioned above. If you're going to be just an ordinary robot of society who doesn't try to offer/be anything unique, I don't understand why you should even bother waking up in the morning.

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