Tag Archives: existence

Conversations with Yang, Part I: How we accept/reject our unchosen existence

It’s funny how any extended conversation with my friend Yang gets me thinking about everything a little harder.

We got to talking about free will and birth.  Our birth is not our choice.  Or so it seems.  This is an issue of great importance to me, because it problematizes human existence itself.  It threatens to annul all notion of free will:  If even our birth wasn’t our choice, do we have any choice at all? As you can see, it makes for a rather bleak human condition.

Her:  What’s the point of thinking about it if that’s just the way it is and nothing can be done to change it?

Me:  Well, for one, i enjoy thinking about it, and trying to understand this unsolvable problem can help to fuel other philosophical projects which could contribute something real and practical to society.

Even more importantly, the way in which we decide to accept or reject this truth could have great implications on our actions.  In other words, this is a question of moral responsibility.

In my post on Peter Singer’s contribution to The Stone, i couldn’t decide whether having children is ethical, since i couldn’t reconcile birth with free will, while at the same time, my tendency to innately believe that nature is usually “right” restrained me from jumping to the conclusion that it is flat-out wrong to procreate.

But here’s another question to consider:  Our birth aside, on what grounds do we accept or reject our unchosen existence, and if we accept it, how do we cope with it?

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Filed under conversations with yang, ethics, philosophy

questions on the loo, issue #1: Epistemology, anthropocentrism, conscience, and life

This will be a regular feature of questions that pop up in my head.  They will most likely be philosophical in nature.  They’re more for me to keep track of, but discussion is always, under whatever circumstances, welcome and desperately wanted!  

 

How do we know what we know?  That’s a loaded question, but one that’s simple in concept.  How do we even know that we know?  

How do we know we’re “human beings”?  What if there are beings out there with more knowledge than us?  Beings that we have no knowledge of?  What is the definition of a “human being”?  The “greatest” creature?  The only species that has a conscience?  Are we really the only creatures with a conscience?  How would we even know that if we cannot think the way a different creature thinks?  Maybe our concept of conscience…doesn’t even matter.  Maybe what we think or what we think we think does not matter.  

What exactly is “life”?  Is it simply existence?  Is it existence with a timeline?  Existence with a beginning and an end?  Existence with a mortality?  Do immortal beings (whether they exist or not is not important here) even live?

 

p.s. i find it very difficult to get philosophical in words, because language is already an ideology–a convention, a system, a code.  words in a language are completely arbitrary, yet at the same time, so…biased. each word has so much baggage.

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Filed under language, philosophy, questions on the loo