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Are you free?

A1tre
Posts: 223
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7/31/2016 2:59:46 PM
Posted: 4 months ago
Outside your house stands a guard with a gun. He tells you taht any order he gives, you must obey, or he will shoot you. For all your life the guard stands there, untill the day you die. He never gives you any order, letting you do as you please.

Are you free?
A1tre
Posts: 223
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7/31/2016 3:02:23 PM
Posted: 4 months ago
At 7/31/2016 2:59:46 PM, A1tre wrote:
Outside your house stands a guard with a gun. He tells you taht any order he gives, you must obey, or he will shoot you. For all your life the guard stands there, untill the day you die. He never gives you any order, letting you do as you please.

Are you free?

I found this questing on the internet and thought I would try asking you guys what your opinion is.
Personally I would say you are not free since the guard has agenticity and could have potentially given you an order. He is in a way a benevolent slave master.
wuliheron
Posts: 105
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7/31/2016 3:25:18 PM
Posted: 4 months ago
Words only have demonstrable meaning in specific contexts. Somebody telling me I'm not free could be the religious nut standing on the corner legally wearing a gun on their hip and declaring that only if I recognize Jesus as my lord and saver can I be free.
keithprosser
Posts: 2,042
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7/31/2016 4:39:17 PM
Posted: 4 months ago
I'm not sure how our brains do it, but we recognise something as a chair even if we have never seen that shape of chair before. Not all chairs have four legs, nor a back nor even a conventional flat surface to put your nether regions on, but we instinctively recognise a chair when we see one.

In the same way we don't know exactly what criteria we use to identify someting as 'freedom' or its opposite. Philosophers and dictionary compilers do their best to identify what makes a something a chair and something as 'freedom' , but they lag far behind our intuition's ability to identify chairs and 'freedom'.

But the scenario presented does not lend iteself to intutitive classification - it is not immediately clear if it is freedom or not. (A few people might think it is 'obviously freedom' and a few others that it is 'obviously not freedom' - let's suppose they cancel out!)

But it doesn't really matter. Whether you call it freedom or unfreedom, the situation is exactly the same - only the label changes.
janesix
Posts: 3,467
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7/31/2016 8:29:37 PM
Posted: 4 months ago
At 7/31/2016 2:59:46 PM, A1tre wrote:
Outside your house stands a guard with a gun. He tells you taht any order he gives, you must obey, or he will shoot you. For all your life the guard stands there, untill the day you die. He never gives you any order, letting you do as you please.

Are you free?

You always have freedom as long as you have at least 2 choices to choose from. In this case, you are free to obey orders or disobey orders.
keithprosser
Posts: 2,042
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7/31/2016 9:00:30 PM
Posted: 4 months ago
At 7/31/2016 8:29:37 PM, janesix wrote:
At 7/31/2016 2:59:46 PM, A1tre wrote:
Outside your house stands a guard with a gun. He tells you taht any order he gives, you must obey, or he will shoot you. For all your life the guard stands there, untill the day you die. He never gives you any order, letting you do as you please.

Are you free?

You always have freedom as long as you have at least 2 choices to choose from. In this case, you are free to obey orders or disobey orders.

Ok, j6, suppose instead of a gun he has mind control and can make you do his bidding at any time with no choice - but he never does.
janesix
Posts: 3,467
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7/31/2016 9:11:52 PM
Posted: 4 months ago
At 7/31/2016 9:00:30 PM, keithprosser wrote:
At 7/31/2016 8:29:37 PM, janesix wrote:
At 7/31/2016 2:59:46 PM, A1tre wrote:
Outside your house stands a guard with a gun. He tells you taht any order he gives, you must obey, or he will shoot you. For all your life the guard stands there, untill the day you die. He never gives you any order, letting you do as you please.

Are you free?

You always have freedom as long as you have at least 2 choices to choose from. In this case, you are free to obey orders or disobey orders.

Ok, j6, suppose instead of a gun he has mind control and can make you do his bidding at any time with no choice - but he never does.

That is not a realistic situation. If you ate not in control of your mind then you are not you.
A1tre
Posts: 223
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7/31/2016 9:13:32 PM
Posted: 4 months ago
At 7/31/2016 8:29:37 PM, janesix wrote:
At 7/31/2016 2:59:46 PM, A1tre wrote:
Outside your house stands a guard with a gun. He tells you taht any order he gives, you must obey, or he will shoot you. For all your life the guard stands there, untill the day you die. He never gives you any order, letting you do as you please.

Are you free?

You always have freedom as long as you have at least 2 choices to choose from. In this case, you are free to obey orders or disobey orders.

By that definition would you say the people of North Korea are free?
janesix
Posts: 3,467
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7/31/2016 9:17:16 PM
Posted: 4 months ago
At 7/31/2016 9:13:32 PM, A1tre wrote:
At 7/31/2016 8:29:37 PM, janesix wrote:
At 7/31/2016 2:59:46 PM, A1tre wrote:
Outside your house stands a guard with a gun. He tells you taht any order he gives, you must obey, or he will shoot you. For all your life the guard stands there, untill the day you die. He never gives you any order, letting you do as you please.

Are you free?

You always have freedom as long as you have at least 2 choices to choose from. In this case, you are free to obey orders or disobey orders.

By that definition would you say the people of North Korea are free?

To some extent, yes. Its a matter of degree.
A1tre
Posts: 223
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7/31/2016 9:19:33 PM
Posted: 4 months ago
At 7/31/2016 4:39:17 PM, keithprosser wrote:
I'm not sure how our brains do it, but we recognise something as a chair even if we have never seen that shape of chair before. Not all chairs have four legs, nor a back nor even a conventional flat surface to put your nether regions on, but we instinctively recognise a chair when we see one.

In the same way we don't know exactly what criteria we use to identify someting as 'freedom' or its opposite. Philosophers and dictionary compilers do their best to identify what makes a something a chair and something as 'freedom' , but they lag far behind our intuition's ability to identify chairs and 'freedom'.

But the scenario presented does not lend iteself to intutitive classification - it is not immediately clear if it is freedom or not. (A few people might think it is 'obviously freedom' and a few others that it is 'obviously not freedom' - let's suppose they cancel out!)

But it doesn't really matter. Whether you call it freedom or unfreedom, the situation is exactly the same - only the label changes.

Technically you are right, but consider the following:

If we were to set freedom as one of the core concepts of our political ideology, it would require us to have the ability to recognize what freedom is. Or in other words, to define it in a way that helps us make some distinctions in real life.

While the situation itself may not change depending on whether or not we assign it freedom, our actions certainly do change.
A1tre
Posts: 223
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7/31/2016 9:23:13 PM
Posted: 4 months ago
At 7/31/2016 9:17:16 PM, janesix wrote:
At 7/31/2016 9:13:32 PM, A1tre wrote:
At 7/31/2016 8:29:37 PM, janesix wrote:
At 7/31/2016 2:59:46 PM, A1tre wrote:
Outside your house stands a guard with a gun. He tells you taht any order he gives, you must obey, or he will shoot you. For all your life the guard stands there, untill the day you die. He never gives you any order, letting you do as you please.

Are you free?

You always have freedom as long as you have at least 2 choices to choose from. In this case, you are free to obey orders or disobey orders.

By that definition would you say the people of North Korea are free?

To some extent, yes. Its a matter of degree.

Calling North Korea a free country and indicates a bad definition of freedom to me, but maybe there is something to your idea.

Are you talking of a scale of less free to more free? What are the extreme points on that scale, as in when does one have the least amount of freedom and when the most?
janesix
Posts: 3,467
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7/31/2016 9:27:39 PM
Posted: 4 months ago
At 7/31/2016 9:23:13 PM, A1tre wrote:
At 7/31/2016 9:17:16 PM, janesix wrote:
At 7/31/2016 9:13:32 PM, A1tre wrote:
At 7/31/2016 8:29:37 PM, janesix wrote:
At 7/31/2016 2:59:46 PM, A1tre wrote:
Outside your house stands a guard with a gun. He tells you taht any order he gives, you must obey, or he will shoot you. For all your life the guard stands there, untill the day you die. He never gives you any order, letting you do as you please.

Are you free?

You always have freedom as long as you have at least 2 choices to choose from. In this case, you are free to obey orders or disobey orders.

By that definition would you say the people of North Korea are free?

To some extent, yes. Its a matter of degree.

Calling North Korea a free country and indicates a bad definition of freedom to me, but maybe there is something to your idea.

Are you talking of a scale of less free to more free? What are the extreme points on that scale, as in when does one have the least amount of freedom and when the most?

I dont know what the most amount of freedom but i could think of a scenario with the least. Having no control of your body and been given mind altering drugs so you didnt haave control of even your thoughts.
A1tre
Posts: 223
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7/31/2016 9:40:01 PM
Posted: 4 months ago
At 7/31/2016 9:27:39 PM, janesix wrote:
At 7/31/2016 9:23:13 PM, A1tre wrote:
At 7/31/2016 9:17:16 PM, janesix wrote:
At 7/31/2016 9:13:32 PM, A1tre wrote:
At 7/31/2016 8:29:37 PM, janesix wrote:
At 7/31/2016 2:59:46 PM, A1tre wrote:
Outside your house stands a guard with a gun. He tells you taht any order he gives, you must obey, or he will shoot you. For all your life the guard stands there, untill the day you die. He never gives you any order, letting you do as you please.

Are you free?

You always have freedom as long as you have at least 2 choices to choose from. In this case, you are free to obey orders or disobey orders.

By that definition would you say the people of North Korea are free?

To some extent, yes. Its a matter of degree.

Calling North Korea a free country and indicates a bad definition of freedom to me, but maybe there is something to your idea.

Are you talking of a scale of less free to more free? What are the extreme points on that scale, as in when does one have the least amount of freedom and when the most?

I dont know what the most amount of freedom but i could think of a scenario with the least. Having no control of your body and been given mind altering drugs so you didnt haave control of even your thoughts.

Would you still have a personality in that case? If that were to happen to you, could I still say that janesix is alive?

It seems to me we are getting to a point where we have to discuss free will. I think there is a distinction to freedom though. Freedom postulates an uncoerced mind.

If I were locked in a room and I had the will to leave that room, would I be considered to have freedom? I still am in control of my mind, I still have wants and wishes but there is no action I can take to achieve what I want.
keithprosser
Posts: 2,042
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7/31/2016 10:39:05 PM
Posted: 4 months ago
To some extent, yes. Its a matter of degree.

I agree, but 'Degree' suggest that freedom is an amorphous blob. Amercans have a big blob of freedom, N Koreans only have a little blob. But it isn't like that. If you look closely at freedom you see it isn't a formless blob; it is made up of lots and lots of discrete micro-freedoms that are either on or off (or had or not had). Americans don't have a bigger freedom to get a passport that a N Korean. In the US the 'can get passport' micro-freedom is on/had, in NK it is off/not had.

So freedom is actually a bundle of micro-freedoms and the question 'Are you free?' is actually 'Does your bundle of micro-freedoms match or exceed the threshold for being called 'free'?'

That threshold is not well defined - certainly not well defined enough to cover the situation in the OP!

In passing:
In a free country - what is not prohibited is permitted.
In an unfree countrt - what is not permitted is prohibited.
BJH
Posts: 44
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8/2/2016 12:13:20 PM
Posted: 4 months ago
At 7/31/2016 2:59:46 PM, A1tre wrote:
Outside your house stands a guard with a gun. He tells you taht any order he gives, you must obey, or he will shoot you. For all your life the guard stands there, untill the day you die. He never gives you any order, letting you do as you please.

Are you free? : :

Yes. I'm totally free until he gives me an order. Sine he never gave me an order, I was doing everything I please.
David_Debates
Posts: 252
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8/3/2016 11:13:01 AM
Posted: 4 months ago
At 7/31/2016 3:02:23 PM, A1tre wrote:
At 7/31/2016 2:59:46 PM, A1tre wrote:
Outside your house stands a guard with a gun. He tells you taht any order he gives, you must obey, or he will shoot you. For all your life the guard stands there, untill the day you die. He never gives you any order, letting you do as you please.

Are you free?

I found this questing on the internet and thought I would try asking you guys what your opinion is.
Personally I would say you are not free since the guard has agenticity and could have potentially given you an order. He is in a way a benevolent slave master.

Depends upon the definition of freedom.
If you define it as the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants, you are obviously free, as he did not force you do anything.
If you define it as the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved, you are obviously not free, as he has enslaved you to do whatever he wants you to do. The fact he never gave an order is irrelevant, because he had the power to do so at anytime.
Discipulus_Didicit
Posts: 3,089
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8/3/2016 1:38:36 PM
Posted: 4 months ago
If you trap an animal in a small cage, it is not free.

Limit that animal to a small area with a fence, it is not free.

What about a large fenced in area that takes two full days of continuous walking to get from one side to the other?

If you limit that animal with a fence that is constructed all along the coastline (I am assuming it is a squirrel or something that cannot survive in the ocean) I think few would argue that it is not free. Those who would say it is still not free, remove the fence. It has not a single square meter more of freedom. Does that mean nature is inhibiting its freedom?

This last scenario seems to be the one most closely resembling the scenario in the OP.
Cobalt - You could be scum too.
Matt - I suppose. But I also might not be.

Kiri - Yeah, I don't know what DD is doing.
Vaarka - He's doin'a thingy do

DD - The best advice most often goes unheeded.
Wise Man - KYS, DD.
DD - Case in point ^
A1tre
Posts: 223
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8/3/2016 2:39:01 PM
Posted: 4 months ago
At 8/3/2016 1:38:36 PM, Discipulus_Didicit wrote:
If you trap an animal in a small cage, it is not free.

Limit that animal to a small area with a fence, it is not free.

What about a large fenced in area that takes two full days of continuous walking to get from one side to the other?

If you limit that animal with a fence that is constructed all along the coastline (I am assuming it is a squirrel or something that cannot survive in the ocean) I think few would argue that it is not free. Those who would say it is still not free, remove the fence. It has not a single square meter more of freedom. Does that mean nature is inhibiting its freedom?

This last scenario seems to be the one most closely resembling the scenario in the OP.

The analogy would have to be altered a bit to fit more correctly:

Imagine the fence all aroung the coastline. The squirrel can do what it wants. But additionally there is a helicopter flying around following the squirrel wherever it goes. It is carrying a cage that could drop and trap the squirrel at any momment.

Who knows if the squirrel really is free to go everywhere and do everything it wants. there could be a point at witch the helicopter says stop.
keithprosser
Posts: 2,042
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8/3/2016 6:14:10 PM
Posted: 4 months ago
In any scenario there will be things you can do and things you can't. Hence there is a continuum from 'having a very little of freedom' to 'having a lot a freedom'. I think the OP is shows that there is no clearly define point on that spectrum which divides 'free' from 'unfree'.

What we lack is a convenient word for pairs of things like free/unfree, tall/short, young/old that are are easy enough to identify at the extreme ends of the scale but have a large gray-area. 'Gradial' maybe. In that case I could answer that the question 'Are you free?' in the given scenario has no definite answer because freedom is a gradial concept.
Deb-8-A-Bull
Posts: 2,181
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8/5/2016 11:28:58 AM
Posted: 4 months ago
At 7/31/2016 2:59:46 PM, A1tre wrote:
Outside your house stands a guard with a gun. He tells you taht any order he gives, you must obey, or he will shoot you. For all your life the guard stands there, untill the day you die. He never gives you any order, letting you do as you please.

Are you free?

No your not free ,
Because outside your house is a ( Guard ) with a gun. That gave you a order.
You need to call the police.
I don't get it.
keithprosser
Posts: 2,042
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8/5/2016 12:58:16 PM
Posted: 4 months ago
Suppose the situation was the same except the gun man never informs you that he will kill you if you don't obey an order from him. There is no difference becuase you carry on your life either way. If he gives an order either you obey it and live or dosobey it and live.
Would knowng make any difference to whther you are free or not?
Furyan5
Posts: 1,228
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8/9/2016 9:56:00 PM
Posted: 4 months ago
At 7/31/2016 2:59:46 PM, A1tre wrote:
Outside your house stands a guard with a gun. He tells you taht any order he gives, you must obey, or he will shoot you. For all your life the guard stands there, untill the day you die. He never gives you any order, letting you do as you please.

Are you free?

Why does death frighten people?
keithprosser
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8/9/2016 11:15:23 PM
Posted: 4 months ago
At 8/9/2016 9:56:00 PM, Furyan5 wrote:

Why does death frighten people?

It is how the instinct for self-preservation is implemented in humans. In humans the concept of death is associated with a negative experience ('feeling scared') which is then an input into decisions regarding behaviour.

Human behaviour is flexible and complicated becuase decisions regarding behaviour can use many inputs with dynamically changing weightings. Hard-wiring an unconditional flee resonse to life-threatening situations is a possibility, but it wouldn't be as flexible as the scheme which has the fear or death as one of many factors.
Furyan5
Posts: 1,228
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8/10/2016 9:10:25 AM
Posted: 4 months ago
At 8/9/2016 11:15:23 PM, keithprosser wrote:
At 8/9/2016 9:56:00 PM, Furyan5 wrote:

Why does death frighten people?

It is how the instinct for self-preservation is implemented in humans. In humans the concept of death is associated with a negative experience ('feeling scared') which is then an input into decisions regarding behaviour.

Human behaviour is flexible and complicated becuase decisions regarding behaviour can use many inputs with dynamically changing weightings. Hard-wiring an unconditional flee resonse to life-threatening situations is a possibility, but it wouldn't be as flexible as the scheme which has the fear or death as one of many factors.

It's actually much simpler than you think. As children we take our queues from adults. We watch how they do things or react and emulate them. As children we don't fear death because we don't understand the concept. At a funeral we see adults crying and that is when we associate death with a bad thing. Well that's my opinion anyway.

Are we free? No. We are slaves to our preconceptions and those of our parents. There are cultures who do not fear death. Where do they learn this way of life? From their ancestors.
sixicks
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8/10/2016 10:04:22 AM
Posted: 4 months ago
At 7/31/2016 2:59:46 PM, A1tre wrote:
Outside your house stands a guard with a gun. He tells you that any order he gives, you must obey, or he will shoot you. For all your life the guard stands there, until the day you die. He never gives you any order, letting you do as you please.

Are you free?

No, anyone who thinks that is freedom is mentally incapacitated.
keithprosser
Posts: 2,042
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8/10/2016 10:18:17 AM
Posted: 4 months ago
According to Wikipedia the fear of death is present in children as young as 5. Unforunately the source for that information seem to be accessible only to students of the university of Toronto! But I do recall an incident from when I was about that age that suggests it is probably true. I think children develop a fear of death around that age without having to be explicitly taught about it by attending funerals and the like.

It seems obvious - to me - that evolution would do something to make critters behave in ways that avoid dying prematurely. Surely you'd agree we have an 'instinct for self-preservation'. But saying its an instinct is not saying everything about it, because there is the question of the mechanism by which that instinct operates.

Let's think about a related concept. Evolution would produce a way to make critters avoid injury. Imagine taking a hammer and deliberately bashing you thumb with it (something that normally happens accidentally!). What prevents you from doing it? There are two ways to answer that: one is that it will result in damage to your thumb, two is that it will hurt (ie cause pain)! The difference is the difference between 'objective' and 'subjective' or 'reality' and 'sensation'. I would say it is latter explanation (the 'hurt' one) that is better because it explains why people smoke, drink and avoid exercise etc.

The brain work by transcribing the objectve into the subjective - ligt wavelengts into colors, sound frequency into squeeks and growls. The fear of death is the subjective form of the objective instinct for self-preservation.

The inevitabilty of death does mean that we have to develop 'coping mechanisms'. It seems to me that the fear of death diminishes somewhat as we get older - but that is ok from evolution's point of view as we would have done our reproduction duty by then.

It would be interesting to know more about societies in which individuals do not fear death to the extent a typical westerner does. I would suspect such societies must have developed specific strategies to counteract the above, but F5 asked why we fear death - why sometimes people don't is a slightly different question!
Furyan5
Posts: 1,228
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8/10/2016 11:56:00 AM
Posted: 4 months ago
At 8/10/2016 10:18:17 AM, keithprosser wrote:
According to Wikipedia the fear of death is present in children as young as 5. Unforunately the source for that information seem to be accessible only to students of the university of Toronto! But I do recall an incident from when I was about that age that suggests it is probably true. I think children develop a fear of death around that age without having to be explicitly taught about it by attending funerals and the like.

That's just it. We do not recall the reason or how it came about. It's a subconscious process. A rabbit runs from a fox on instinct. It has no concept of death. Humans climb mountains and do many other things which could potentially lead to dying. If we truly feared dying we would never do these things. Yet death is inevitable. How do we overcome a objective instinct for self preservation, knowing it's impossible?

It seems obvious - to me - that evolution would do something to make critters behave in ways that avoid dying prematurely. Surely you'd agree we have an 'instinct for self-preservation'. But saying its an instinct is not saying everything about it, because there is the question of the mechanism by which that instinct operates.

Let's think about a related concept. Evolution would produce a way to make critters avoid injury. Imagine taking a hammer and deliberately bashing you thumb with it (something that normally happens accidentally!). What prevents you from doing it? There are two ways to answer that: one is that it will result in damage to your thumb, two is that it will hurt (ie cause pain)! The difference is the difference between 'objective' and 'subjective' or 'reality' and 'sensation'. I would say it is latter explanation (the 'hurt' one) that is better because it explains why people smoke, drink and avoid exercise etc.

The brain work by transcribing the objectve into the subjective - ligt wavelengts into colors, sound frequency into squeeks and growls. The fear of death is the subjective form of the objective instinct for self-preservation.

The inevitabilty of death does mean that we have to develop 'coping mechanisms'. It seems to me that the fear of death diminishes somewhat as we get older - but that is ok from evolution's point of view as we would have done our reproduction duty by then.

It would be interesting to know more about societies in which individuals do not fear death to the extent a typical westerner does. I would suspect such societies must have developed specific strategies to counteract the above, but F5 asked why we fear death - why sometimes people don't is a slightly different question!
Deb-8-A-Bull
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8/10/2016 12:23:32 PM
Posted: 4 months ago
At 8/10/2016 11:56:00 AM, Furyan5 wrote:
At 8/10/2016 10:18:17 AM, keithprosser wrote:
According to Wikipedia the fear of death is present in children as young as 5. Unforunately the source for that information seem to be accessible only to students of the university of Toronto! But I do recall an incident from when I was about that age that suggests it is probably true. I think children develop a fear of death around that age without having to be explicitly taught about it by attending funerals and the like.

That's just it. We do not recall the reason or how it came about. It's a subconscious process. A rabbit runs from a fox on instinct. It has no concept of death. Humans climb mountains and do many other things which could potentially lead to dying. If we truly feared dying we would never do these things. Yet death is inevitable. How do we overcome a objective instinct for self preservation, knowing it's impossible?


It seems obvious - to me - that evolution would do something to make critters behave in ways that avoid dying prematurely. Surely you'd agree we have an 'instinct for self-preservation'. But saying its an instinct is not saying everything about it, because there is the question of the mechanism by which that instinct operates.

Let's think about a related concept. Evolution would produce a way to make critters avoid injury. Imagine taking a hammer and deliberately bashing you thumb with it (something that normally happens accidentally!). What prevents you from doing it? There are two ways to answer that: one is that it will result in damage to your thumb, two is that it will hurt (ie cause pain)! The difference is the difference between 'objective' and 'subjective' or 'reality' and 'sensation'. I would say it is latter explanation (the 'hurt' one) that is better because it explains why people smoke, drink and avoid exercise etc.

The brain work by transcribing the objectve into the subjective - ligt wavelengts into colors, sound frequency into squeeks and growls. The fear of death is the subjective form of the objective instinct for self-preservation.

The inevitabilty of death does mean that we have to develop 'coping mechanisms'. It seems to me that the fear of death diminishes somewhat as we get older - but that is ok from evolution's point of view as we would have done our reproduction duty by then.

It would be interesting to know more about societies in which individuals do not fear death to the extent a typical westerner does. I would suspect such societies must have developed specific strategies to counteract the above, but F5 asked why we fear death - why sometimes people don't is a slightly different question!

We could start by punishing the people that commit major crimes with , " life sentences".
Murderers get 40 years extra living.

And we need to find a cure for the poor people who don't get cancer or aids.
It needs to be easier for them.
keithprosser
Posts: 2,042
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8/10/2016 1:23:51 PM
Posted: 4 months ago
We could start by punishing the people that commit major crimes with , " life sentences".
Murderers get 40 years extra living.
And we need to find a cure for the poor people who don't get cancer or aids.
It needs to be easier for them.


I'm sure that is intended as a satirical put down... but I don't get what DaB is getting at.
keithprosser
Posts: 2,042
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8/10/2016 2:03:19 PM
Posted: 4 months ago
That's just it. We do not recall the reason or how it came about. It's a subconscious process. A rabbit runs from a fox on instinct. It has no concept of death. Humans climb mountains and do many other things which could potentially lead to dying. If we truly feared dying we would never do these things. Yet death is inevitable. How do we overcome a objective instinct for self preservation, knowing it's impossible?


Humans have big brains for a reason. My guess is that you don't need big brains to implement instincts and our brains (and with it our highly developed consciousness) evolved to allow much more flexibililty in determining our actions. It is not that we have lost our instincts which are still there and intact, but we have evolved means of over-riding them to get that unprecident flexibility in our behaviour.

I don't think moutaineers or parachute free-fallers have no fear of death. They are meticulous in their preparations to avoid dying. Rather they get pleasure from the exercise of our common ability to override instinct in that particular way.

We are intelligent and so know death is inevitable and this does cause a tension. I mentioned 'coping mechanisms' in my previous post. One is a natural reduction in the level of death anxiety with old age. That may not be universal, but it seems to happen quite often, but whether that happens as the result of conscious or unconscious processes is a good question!

I'm getting on a bit and I don't think fear dying as much as i did when I was a young man. The role of superstitious belief in an afterlife in reducing the fear or death is - I would say - contentious and debatable.

Atheists seem to manage without a belief in afterlife, but its importance to religious types may be overstated. But maybe atheists who say they don't fear death are not being totally honest. The fear still there (atheists do not cease taking steps to avoid dying) but they have found a different way to cope with it than theists.

f5 will agree that a lot of what goes on in a human brain is not conscious. I do not really know how I cope with the certanty of my death. Can theorise about it, but I don't know how I do it, so it being arrogant to say how it works in anybody, leave aside how in works in all humans!