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The philosophy of life.

daniel.thiberge
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10/27/2013 2:49:33 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Our personalities are a result of our interactions with the world around us, even our thoughts can be explained as chain reactions within our brains. Everyone around us is alive and as long as we've known them, they have been alive. The question is, what reason do we have to live other than everyone else doing it. If you are nice to others, it's because you have learned that being nice usually leads to you feeling good by some means. Why though, do we live? Being dead would mean that you have no responsibilities and what comes after has nothing to do with you. Being alive means that you have to accept what comes your way, good or bad. Sure, sometime you feel good when you are alive, but bad feelings leave much more of an impact. You care more about being pinched than quickly scratching away an itch. From what I've seen, we all live while not knowing the reason(s) why. I could ask, "why do you live?" And you could say, "because people depend on me". The thing is, I could then ask, "why do they depend on you?". After receiving my answer, I would ask, "why?" Another answer later, I would ask why again. Eventually, the answer would either be "I don't know", or the answer would be unsatisfactory. This process could be repeated to question any act or thought, with any person. By now, you would realize that we don't actually know the original reasons for anything we think or do. As I started out saying, everything we do is just a result of our brains processing the information around us and responding based on past experiences. After realizing this, I can compare humans to computers, albeit very complicated ones. Actions, thoughts, free will, bias', opinions, morals, likes/dislikes, and tastes are all just more complicated outputs from the ever-changing physical algorithm that is our brains (specifically the neurons and their changing connections).
Debaterpillar
Posts: 113
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10/27/2013 3:05:04 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
In my opinion, the reason why we want to live is simply our desire for self-preservation. Humans are generally afraid of dying, and this fundamental fear is causing a discomfort great enough to outweigh even physical or psychological pain. And yes, after dying all responsibilities would equally cease to exist, but our fear to stop existing is strong enough to keep most of us from aspiring death.

Then: Why does the desire for self-preservation exist? Evolution. Consider two groups of humans, one being born with the desire, one without it. The group indifferent of self-preservation will go extinct in the course of a couple of days, while the other group will survive and procreate. Therefore all animals will pursue self-preservation to the maximum extent that is possible without decreasing the success of passing on their genes.

Also, humans commonly think a complete life will consist of more happiness than suffering, preventing us from aspiring death. Even without the desire for self-preservation, the fact that we tend to delude ourselves to make us feel better (and a happy future is a nice thought) will equivalently result in choosing to continue to live.

By the way: I also think humans are just very sophisticated computers :- ) .
"Me fail English? That's unpossible." Ralph Wiggum.
daniel.thiberge
Posts: 3
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10/27/2013 5:10:24 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
I completely agree that our desire for self-preservation drive us to live. The issue is that many people have come to their own conclusions similar to "life is not worth the effort." Some do commit suicide but from what I know, many people with depression, or people finding that life doesn't actually have a point continue to live. Let's assume that deep down, they still want to live even if their logic tells them there's no point. Why do they still want to live? In the case of evolution, it is usually summed up to genetics, but saying "the desire for self-preservation is in the DNA of humans" doesn't explain anything. It's like saying "bread rises because of the yeast inside". Due to this, I currently choose to ignore genetics as a reason for humans to pursue life. It's just a dead end.

To quote you, Debaterpillar,
"Even without the desire for self-preservation, the fact that we tend to delude ourselves to make us feel better (and a happy future is a nice thought) will equivalently result in choosing to continue to live."
I agree with you and I believe it to be much more productive to talk about how and why we feel than about what constitutes us.

I'd like to make a few connections here:
- Humans can end their own lives without an intention to benefit humanity as a whole
- Human personalities, influencing thoughts and decisions, are results of experiences
- A person choosing to end his/her life is making a decision, meaning that a series of events led the person's mind to decide that suicide was the best option

Putting these together, I am led to assume that any human will end their own life given the proper conditions. I don't see how it would benefit a species for an animal to kill itself, and even if it did, how that situation would occur often enough to be ingrained into the species' DNA.

I know humans aren't perfect, but isn't it a bit much for us to be able to do this?
I apologize for digressing, but I would like to put as much as possible out there as to aid in finding the reason(s) or conditions that must be met for a human to intentionally die.
It may sound dark, but I don't think it makes sense to ask why a human would intentionally live.
Debaterpillar
Posts: 113
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10/28/2013 2:06:28 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
This answer got longer than I thought. Sorry :-D .

At 10/27/2013 5:10:24 PM, daniel.thiberge wrote:
Let's assume that deep down, they still want to live even if their logic tells them there's no point. Why do they still want to live? In the case of evolution, it is usually summed up to genetics, but saying "the desire for self-preservation is in the DNA of humans" doesn't explain anything. It's like saying "bread rises because of the yeast inside". Due to this, I currently choose to ignore genetics as a reason for humans to pursue life. It's just a dead end.
I'm not sure I understand your point here. Why shouldn't it explain anything? If you have bread, and the reason for it rising is yeast, and if you were to filter out the yeast it would not rise, then the yeast is the reason, isn't it? If there is a strong evolutionary drive to continue life, and this drive can even showed to arise genetically, then why should this approach be a dead end?
Simple logic => math => statistics of genetic transfer => natural selection => evolution => desire for self-preservation => people continue to live
I find that a very clear chain of implications, and I'm not sure which other answer one might be looking for...

To quote you, Debaterpillar,
"Even without the desire for self-preservation, the fact that we tend to delude ourselves to make us feel better (and a happy future is a nice thought) will equivalently result in choosing to continue to live."
I agree with you and I believe it to be much more productive to talk about how and why we feel than about what constitutes us.
Fair enough, but what if the only reason why we feel is because of being constituted the way we are? To pursue your approach, wouldn't we have to separate the subjective world from the objective one? I'm not really convinced one could extract productive answers from that.

- Human personalities, influencing thoughts and decisions, are results of experiences
I completely agree - if we include '... and genetics'. Knowing I don't have wings does well influence my decision on jumping out of the window ;- ) . Most of all experiences have genetic backgrounds.

- A person choosing to end his/her life is making a decision, meaning that a series of events led the person's mind to decide that suicide was the best option
Putting these together, I am led to assume that any human will end their own life given the proper conditions.
I agree again.

- Humans can end their own lives without an intention to benefit humanity as a whole [...] I don't see how it would benefit a species for an animal to kill itself, and even if it did, how that situation would occur often enough to be ingrained into the species' DNA.

No, I meant 'not killing oneself' is ingrained into the species' DNA. But humans are special in that they have reached a level of intelligence which enables them to defy the 'tricks' of evolution. They can choose to use contraceptives and to enjoy the evolutionary bait of orgasms, without having offspring afterwards. This is the 'evolutionary downside' of being intelligent. However, humans are the dominant species. Thus, intelligence seems to be an evolutionary advantage (for now).
The rates of suicide due to the capability of pondering topics like the sense of life are way below the point, where it would matter for selection among the human species.

I know humans aren't perfect, but isn't it a bit much for us to be able to do this?
I don't quite understand what you mean. Maybe you could explain that a bit more into detail?

I apologize for digressing, but I would like to put as much as possible out there as to aid in finding the reason(s) or conditions that must be met for a human to intentionally die.
Hm, interesting question, but I think it can easily be answered: If a stimulus is provided which is so unpleasant, that is outweighs both the (positive) drive of self-preservation and the (maybe confabulated) future happiness, then the condition is met. Pragmatically speaking.

It may sound dark, but I don't think it makes sense to ask why a human would intentionally live.
Since I think the intention to life stems from our desire for self-preservation (and a bit of wishful thinking), it's not that humans would have a choice, as they are already born into the genetically caused mindset they have.
So no, I guess it really makes no sense. It's like asking why a fish would intentionally be in the water.
"Me fail English? That's unpossible." Ralph Wiggum.
daniel.thiberge
Posts: 3
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10/28/2013 3:42:12 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
What I meant by the analogy of bread and yeast was that the answers we can currently get are limited and not very specific.
We can say that without certain parts of our DNA, we would not have certain traits, but I feel that that answer doesn't explain much. It gives a general reason, but I feel unsatisfied with that. DNA is just a bunch of bonded molecules that react in a certain way with other molecules. What is unsatisfying is that we don't know why these molecules bonding with specific other ones lead to a trait. I guess it's a part of what makes humans (and all living things) so complicated. It seems like no matter what path I take in trying to dig deeper into why humans are the way they are, it always leads down to evolution, and then chemistry.
You've helped me think some things over, thanks :)
I'm no chemist, so I guess I'll just have to accept the simple answers for now.