EricR Level 03
  • Member since Feb 1st 2016

Posts by EricR

    Eoghan, your story is similar to mine with regard to Stoicism. I too dipped my toes into the Stoic pond for a while although I came to it through my curiosity about Virtue (that's another story). I too stared at the question of "why is virtue itself a good?" and its obvious answer "because it feels good".

    Further, I kept coming across nasty comments about Epicurus so started wondering more about him. His goal of pleasure fit with my other passion, Buddhism, with its goal of reduced suffering. (also no gods, eternal universe etc.).

    So welcome and may you have conversations here that build a pleasant life.:)

    Kevin, in your Epicurean outline you said: "The fact that that the question of free will has been discussed for millennia, does make me feel like my perhaps over-simplified view may have a huge blind spot. To the extent that the question of free will is interesting to you I welcome any further thoughts."

    That is one of the most honest and open statements I've seen on any philosophical topic. Very impressive and trust me, rare. I too try to be open about others' ideas and the likelihood of being blinded by my own notions. :)

    I don't think your view is over-simplified. I think you have thought this through. That you have done this yet still "welcome further thoughts" is commendable. If I may offer a possibility for you to consider - I think your blind spot is that you are using free will to deny free will. Everything you said is based on the ability to assess evidence and decide on conclusions. As I said in my post here there seems to be something about the psyche must be able to choose what is true or false.

    I do not deny the deterministic aspect of nature. It's there to be seen by any thinking person. I also don't understand free will and don't even like the phrase given its religious overtones. I prefer volition. Further, the idea that we are "completely free" is silly. Obviously we react to stimuli, are affected by our environment, influences etc. But somewhere, somehow, we have the ability to make some choices.

    You now have the choice about responding to me or not. If you do, you can choose to agree, argue, discuss, condemn, laugh, or insult me. Take a moment to think about how you want to come across in your response. That too is an act of volition.

    I'll be interested in what kind of response your post gets. It's no secret that I left FB last fall, although I opened a pseudonym account there to help out some friends with their marketing. I am questioning even that at the moment. Friendship vs. online privacy. Such a crappy choice!

    KDF Have you read my blog post on Free Will? If so, I would love to read your response to the central question I pose there. Namely, if we cannot make any free choices, how can we assess evidence and come to a conclusion about something being true or false?

    Why bother giving any topic the thought and examination in order to come to a conclusion? We have no choices so it's all a waste of time. Further, why present any arguments or evidence in order to persuade someone of an alternate position to the one they hold? They cannot make any choices about what is true or false, and even if they do seem to, how can we know if they are correct? We have no free will with which to assess anything. Without free will, how can we have knowledge?

    Please forgive me if I am being a pain about this. :) Also, understand that I am not talking about some kind of ghost in the machine that is free of all influences. I am talking a level of evolutionary complexity that over the vastness of time has given rise to our unique ability to "know that we know" and make choices about what is true or false.

    Perhaps I'm way off base on this and someone can show me how to have knowledge without free will. I am open to ideas.

    As I work from home, weekends and weekdays are the same for me. So I will try to be available as I am able for any given meeting but the same busy-ness that can plague me on weekdays is the same. Also, I occasionally have family stuff on weekends. So the short answer is yes, Sat/Sun are fine with those caveats.

    This is among my favourite topics. The philosophical and psychological debate has raged forever and for me it seems to come down the "momentary ability to assess information and choose what is correct".

    Here is my blog about it. which explains this is more (but not tons of) detail.

    I make no claims as to how or why or to what extent our will is free. Bigger brains than mine have grappled with that down the ages. :)

    Ah...there he is! :thumbsup:

    The other pic was fine. But there's something about this one......I think it's the sense of not talking oneself too seriously.

    I find great pleasure in that simple idea of taking a lighter view of oneself. I see so many who are desperate to be right, to be authoritative, to be seen a certain way. When we make a mistake we cringe as if that should never happen or somehow our reputation will take a hit and we won't be taken seriously. Once one wakes up to being fallible, the inner life becomes much lighter.

    Thanks so much for posting this personal story, Brett. While I deeply appreciate the huge pitcher knowledge that is available here and I drink from it regularly, it is the lived experience of a philosophy that interests me the most. It is the affect of internalizing a set of ideas on one's outlook and, as in your case, choices.

    Kudos to you for having the presence of mind in the midst of imbibing to see into the immediate future and make the choice to place future pleasure over the present. Alcohol is notorious for obscuring the ability to do that. You also did it in a party atmosphere. Well done!

    I will add that repeatedly doing this will create what I am calling "the habit of long-term pleasure". By this I mean each time one makes the choice to forego the momentary pleasure for the longer lasting, one gets better at doing this. For example, I enjoy a glass of wine before dinner. But I know from experience that having more than that will make me too lethargic and apathetic to enjoy dinner. So I don't have more than the 1 glass and have no desire for more.

    By the way, I like your new profile picture of you being thoughtful. But I miss the one of the guy looking joyful, bordering on insane! ^^

    I'm not sure quite where to go with this topic because it is so varied. Many people, myself included, were raised within a religious tradition. Further, there are others who may not have been in a specific religion but were still raised to believe in abstract virtues as real existing things to be obeyed. Many of them have internalized the world views of their traditions and even if they might have turned away from their upbringing, the seeds that were planted are constantly at work in the psyche. This is why taking an attitude of "your just plain wrong so listen to me" is useless. I'm not saying anyone here does that, but I've seen it elsewhere. It fails utterly!

    Further, there is a growing constituency of people who list "none" on a census question as to their religion, yet who identify as "spiritual but not religious". I understand where they are coming from. They've rejected their traditional upbringing but are still feeling the of "something more" that they call the spiritual feeling. This may be that seed in the psyche and the plethora of forms this has taken is huge.

    So I am wondering how folks here would approach someone in that position in a way that addresses their feeling via EP.

    This is a topic worth exploring. How to talk with those who've been raised in a tradition, either religious or virtuous, in a way that draws them in rather than shuts them out. Not sure which forum to start a thread on this. Advice?

    Even looking back at Japan vs USA, same analysis. Japan's leaders saw their interest one way, the USA's leaders saw it differently. One side one, and the other lost, but neither can legitimately claim that God or ideal virtue justified their side, because those things simply don't exist.

    I imagine that is among the hardest things for anyone having been raised in a tradition that teaches "God or abstract virtue" to deal with when encountering a philosophy without those ideas. Those concepts feel so solid that to remove them is to feel adrift.

    This is great information and lots of thought food. When I post these "thinking out loud" ideas, I am aware that they are not fully developed. So I post them with the hope that those with far deeper experience than I in EP can help me (and others) gain more clarity.

    With regard to Japan, it did not quite reform itself after WW2. It was occupied and rebuilt by the U.S. with Britain, China, and the Soviet Union advising. Here's the story:…1952/japan-reconstruction My purpose in highlighting this is to be sure the history is correct, but it also illustrates the idea of making an enemy into a friend which I believe is an EP value.

    I was pondering this the other day. If pain is an evil, then inflicting it on others is immoral. Of course, there is also the acceptance of personal momentary pain in order to avoid later and presumably worse pain. But inflicting pain on others is questionable if it denies their option of accepting it for that later avoidance.

    The validation via the senses is actually demonstrated in the video. It is suggested to close the eyes and notice that what is actually being heard. Those who take this video as evidence that "the senses can't be trusted" will possibly miss that part.

    I would add that the video reminded me of a conversation I mentioned in the audio chat last week. I got into a debate with a friend, a medical doctor no less, who stated bluntly "I don't trust my senses". I got a tad annoyed at the obvious fact that he was telling me this so was assuming I could hear him. But I chose to ask him more about what he meant. Turns out he defines the "senses" as the entire mechanism of sense data + mental construction. So when the mind creates an illusion as it does in the video, he would say "see, the senses create illusions".

    This way of defining the senses is a common error and we need to be on top of it with clear distinctions between "sense data" and "mental constructions".

    I came across this video and thought it worth sharing here. It illustrates how the mind interprets sense data and can create illusory experiences. Of note is that this will be seen by many people as evidence that the senses are not trustworthy. I'm interested to know what folks here think.

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    Yes, that makes sense thanks. I am thinking of the word in the very limited way of a detached god and speculating that Epicurus' influence on Jefferson, combined with the term being prominent in his time might be connected. From what I've read, he kept his deepest beliefs to himself.