Wednesday, 20 February 2013

SFW Guys Philosophy Chat: 10.02.13

SFW mods and A.J. Snook partake in the first Google Docs discourse of a proposed series, to explore the future and philosophy.

Jason: Is Justin kicking off as it was his idea . . ?

Jason: And take it easy on me guys. I am a self-taught philosopher :)

Justin: I am a self-taught everything, so no worries, lol.

Justin: you guys pick the topic, I've got too much floating through my head, lol.

Jason: Well you know my favourite topic, but it’s too early to go there already (Infinity by the way)


Justin: as in what? That's always been unclear to me...

Jason: Some would say that humanism is in reference to being humane? As in, having a conscience, and the ability to empathise? A state that we as humans, as a collective have as yet to reach. Is it like a shining light of the way we wish humanity to really be?

Justin: hmm, that is a philosophy I think a lot on. But, for me, personally, its easy to feel part of the collective humanity, and empathise with others. It's not even a philosophy, for me, but a way I naturally am... Tho, I have done a lot of thinking on it.

Jason: Maybe if we look at it more broadly, it is the condition of being human. If we can even qualify for that . . .

Justin: I think there is many ways of defining being human, but I think it comes down to how well we do empathize, and connect with our fellow humans.

Jason: I have to say that I feel more of an Animalist at times (remember our conversation Zack?) :) (Zack: Yes. :) ) (Jason: I thought this topic might interest you)

AJ: Do you think it comes down to biology? You know the whole lizard brain under the mammalian brain (and then what comes next?). When will the next phase of evolution usher in true empathy? Could it be technology that assists us in empathizing with each other?

Jason: I think we can empathise. i just see so many fools out in the world. Fools . . . through their lack of what???


Justin: I think technology can improve on evolution, or hinder it. But, I think, if you look at all organisms than you can see that connection, that empathy, even among the lowest life forms. Connection between ones of the same species, or groups. In any ecology you see the web of life, where everything is connected, even in ways we can't fully understand.

Jason: Empathy is a conscious mode. How aware are animals of what they do?.

Justin: good question. Maybe its more of an unconscious process, coming from our evolution?

AJ: I think of sympathy as being psychological and empathy as being emotional. With sympathy you can imagine someone’s pain, but with empathy you have felt their pain.

Justin: that's very true Aj. I can say, from experience, that's true. So, how do we make such a strong connection with someone else that we can feel what they feel? I personally think it has to do with Jung's collective unconscious. Or something similar.

Jason: Sympathise is to also express one’s acknowledgement of the pain? Empathise is to feel it but not necessarily express it? (not sure as these words have multiple definitions).

Jason: I find it hard to sympathise or empathise with a human who has the ability to make a change. I do have all the heart in the world for someone who has had their choices removed though. The social disconnect from caring about oppression of our fellow human would seem a symptom of our “busy lives”

Justin: I agree. It is part of our now fast paced lifestyles. I think we need to reclaim some of the old ways of ancient cultures. I think, like Hinduism, and Buddhism have a lot to teach us.

AJ: I totally agree. Not to get too hippy, but McKenna calls that “the archaic revival”. Going into the past and sampling all of the good parts, then using our imaginations to find ways to integrate them with modern society.

Justin: yes, exactly. I think there is at least that much to be said for the "community" that forms with religions. I think we, like all organisms need to be part of a community.

AJ: Currently I don’t believe I can truly feel what a Foxconn employee working 70 hour weeks or a sex-slave in Eastern Europe feels. I think society has been stratified in that way for a long time and our biology allows for there to be a gap between people. I wonder if we can evolve past that? If so, what will it take to make that evolutionary leap?

Justin: I think we certainly can. Look at how we've evolved already. Technology is part of that evolution, and will continue to be. I mean, humans are a form of biological technology (AJ: good point), right?

AJ: I agree. It seems like technology will play a part in it somewhere. It’s such a huge part of our culture now.

Jason: But what makes you think people will choose to become more caring? Does the more-caring nature we find (sometimes) in maturity mean more people will choose to bio-engineer their babies to be empathetic . .  instead of overbearingly powerful? Most parents wish their children to get out into the world and succeed/dominate either monetarily or culturally? (an innate flaw in social values again?) (Justin; very good point!).

Zack: I think when we advance as a culture, we will realize and recognize culturally that the goal is not to dominate, but to make this world a good place to live. I don’t think the answer will come from technology, because I see technology as largely being just as good or evil as the people using it. I think we must learn to advance socially again, which current Western society seems oblivious to.

Jason: I agree, there is a lot of egocentricism that needs to be purged. But I also am an optimist, though my optimism about human nature changing is limited. I don’t see this as necessarily a flaw; just a perpetuation of the human struggle/race. I think we have a bright future, but not one that avoids the marring of human contrivances.

Justin: I think technology, as you said Zack, is what we make of it. But, I don't think its as simple as the fact that western society generally misuses it. I think it is just another part of our evolution, so that natural selection will weed out the useless, or we will impose our own artificial evolution. I think, at our core, we will always follow the path evolution had already laid for us, that is now etched into even our genes.

Jason: A genetic singularity will be wholly uncontrollable I feel. Who is going to stop parents from upgrading their kids in anyway they see fit? The answer is no one. Such tech is going to become cheap and easy. And you have two choices: allow the freedom to roll, or clamp-down Big Brother-style.

Zack: I think each of us has the power to “transcend” our individual genetic “programming.” It is difficult for sure, but philosophizing on morals and ethics at all indicates that we each have the potential to be “better” to be “more” than our lizard brain impulses. I think that healthier society would do deep thinking on what comprises healthy social rigors, and imposing them would enrich each member of society, not oppress them. Individuals would embrace such values, even though they are imposed “big brother style” because they actually, honestly good for you as an individual. Oppressive societies only need to oppress because they have norms, laws, whatever that are only beneficial for a very small segment of society.

Jason: I agree Zack. I think your model is something to aspire to in part. I think the evolution of our minds is something we need to look at closely. I think if humans were more intelligent then it could work. maybe in a future where the human mind is in every instance capable of deep thinking then there would be pockets of high-society as you suggest. but there will always be a flip-side. But I don’t see diversity as an innate problem, just a subjective one. As it will perpetuate struggle. We could hope that one day the people of the Earth could at least be harmonious, but if we spread to the stars there will no longer be the “we need to get on in a finite space” factor/pressure?

Jason: As to individual transcendence. I think we humans have this capability inside. But I don’t think everyone has the capability to reach this state of heightened collectiveism as rote. Though I sorely wish we all could. It is too complex. Nature and nurture and intake of substance/disease sculpts our minds.

Zack: For sure.

Jason: there is nothing surer than human diversity. There are nations in the world who will take different approaches. There is nothing we can do about the fact the nations who choose development will leave the conservatives behind. It’s a simple matter of social/technological/genetic evolution.

Justin: I think that's true. Different cultures and societies will develop their own ways to survive and flourish. Jusf like the diversity of organisms in nature, which have learned to do similiar things, or achieve similiar goals, even through drastically different ways.

Zack: An interesting question, and I still don’t know the answer myself. There are two competing views of how human societies change over time. One is evolution -- we are constantly changing, improving, making ourselves better, socially as well as genetically. Another view is that humans are dominated by our animal impulses and we are doomed to destroy any social progress we make through cycles of improvement and backpedalling. Sadly, I look at history I see both paradigms. I’m not sure that we’re necessarily on the perpetual improvement track, but I hope that we are.

Jason: I think both of those views are stereotypes. As in the shades of grey are too numerous to quantify. I would say that my personal ideology is a blend; an I hope realistic blend :)

Zack: Any ideas on how to get closer to the truth?

Jason: The truth about where it will go?

Zack: Yeah, how can we be “between” progress and perpetual cycles of progress and regression? I’m not sure how you can have something inbetween. Unless you mean something like a general trend toward betterment with occasional bouts of conservative idiocy pulling this back?

Jason: Maybe once something like life extension bolsters the weak thoughts and scared ideologies of the aged we will become less conservative as a genetic movement (species)? There will always be waxing and waning though the goalposts are bound to shift.

Zack: Are they shifting in a positive direction or just at random? 

Jason: you should read my blog mini-series on positivity. 

Zack: Will do.

Justin: I constantly see a progression towards "positive" in all things, because that's the way of nature. Even in the storm of chaos and possibility, a natural order forms. Call it emergence, or statistical probability, but it is most definitely there.

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