I'm going to share some revised material of writing with you that I wrote just before starting on my bachelor's degree in philosophy, about two years ago. My understanding is constantly changing to some extent as I acquire new knowledge or experience and through studying ethics it has become more clear to me that I don't know whether there is no objective right or wrong and our moral perceptions are mere opinions that vary from culture to culture, or from person to person- or if we are moving towards some objective moral truths. This conclusion doesn't need to paralyse me. Even if the difference between right and wrong is only a difference of preference, humanity could still come to move closer toward a more global agreement of what is perceived as right over time. What I mean is that we could potentially build a world that we would all be happy to live alongside in, regardless of the universe's indifference to our opinion. I discovered Effective altruism after I got in to the University and started going to meetings, they shared some of my ideas, though I wouldn't say that EA's approach is necessarily the perfect solution either as I am still learning. I also discovered that I wasn't the only one interested in arteficial intelligence, cyborgs, transhumanism, the future or even the idea of Utopia. I discoverd that there are more problems within the world today that complicate matters further than my past self realized and there's still so much that I don't know, but it doesn't mean that I should give up on humans bettering the world. In fact, this is a good thing. Learning is a good thing.
I still feel passionately about the unfairness within the world, but I no longer feel as though I have made up my mind regarding ethics. I used to believe to some extent that I could tell the difference between an objective sense of right and wrong, but now I feel as though I can only tell of my own personal opinion of what I consider to be right or wrong and this complicates matters. Reading about some of the barbaric things that have happened and that still happen to people, especially women, especially in other less developed countries, make me feel repulsed by the being that I am. By being related in any sort of way to these horrible, one could almost call them monsterous, beings. The ones who have comitted crimes that make me cry. Others might not like this kind of reasoning, but I am after the truth within myself if it can be found. Maybe the best way to deal with murderers for example would be to help them by treating their mental health and to educate them rather than to focus solely on punishment, but this is a personal opinion and it's also beside the point. I feel quite helpless in the face of the suffering within this world, but maybe focusing on difficult matters sometimes is better than ignoring them completely, no matter who we are? There's no obvious answer though progress is being made all the time. I find it emotionally difficult to accept the way that things are and it's probably related to personal past trauma which was influencing me around about the time when I wrote the revised material that I'm getting to, but even if things changed for the better, even if we made it to some better version of a Utopia where at least the most grotesque suffering, poverty, incidents of crime and so on were incidents of the past- even then, how could we go on living with ourselves? How can I?
Focusing on positive aspects within the world, frankly just by ignoring painful stuff helps in a way, but for the sake of this argument that has been bothering me from more of a philosophical point of view, or maybe out of a matter of principle, I will go on to explain about this issue. Others might point out that it's neither their fault nor mine that some humans commit crimes such as torture for example, so why should I feel bad about actions that only some humans are responsible for? I suppose that the reason why I find it emotionally difficult to relate to humanity as a whole, including my own humanity, is because we are all a part of the same universe- the same world. We descended from the same stars. You can read about that if you want to, but what I mean by that is roughly that some of the matter that we are composed of was once stardust and that all the other matter that we and the world is composed of is also matter that came from the universe. Everything is a part of the same universe and maybe it's just knowing that anything as horrible as forced circumcision on young girls with the health complications, pain, terror and even death that this tradition brings, could even happen. Or gang rapes, violence, trafficing, murder or other crimes. Knowing what we are or even just what we once were capable of. Being a part of that by being so closely related through my humanity, or even just through being a part of the same universe.
Because a part of me feels that in the face of the suffering within our world, that the best thing would be if nothing had ever been. This being that I am is abhorrent to me when I look at the worst aspects of humanity and in reality, during those moments I want no part in it, in this universe. Since I'm already here, thrown into the world as it were, without my own consent, I go on knowing it's a possibility that nothing can ever make things right for me. Because even in a Utopia of peace I would still know what we were once capable of. I would be consumed by empathy or sympathy and something else, something intolerable. I know how incredibly lucky I am, but ever since I was able to really take the reality of other people's suffering in, from time to time, it breaks me. I want whatever is best for humanity, but while I'm sure that will remain true, I will also carry with me a sense of resentment for my own species and for the universe that made it possible for us to exist in the way that we are and it breaks my heart. It truly is a heavy weight on my body, the way that I sometimes feel about my own kind, a weight that I find it difficult to carry around with me and I wish that there was some way that I could be rid of it. Recently I've been thinking that maybe there is a way, through friendship, because friends can help us carry the load sometimes. Then again, I've learned that even those closest to us that we trust can betray us. I have learned, that sometimes, we can't even trust in ourselves. Either way, I will carry it with me on the inside, including the repulsion that I sometimes feel towards myself simply for being a human. In the past I might say jokingly that I am Hamlet, but not now that I'm capable of feeling happy again, capable of love, capable of loosing myself in life as well as in death so to speak. Because trust is partly a choice. I have spent many years of my life already, contemplating death, so I try not to think about it anymore. Because as I am alive now and not dead, thinking about death probably won't make the matter any more transparent to me.
Sexuality, second only after such things as torture, is what I hate the most of being. I agree that making love is beautiful and I feel guilty for the way that I feel about this particular matter, but lovemaking is not the issue here. Sexuality is something that was imposed on me without my consent when I hit puberty. I did not want to grow from a child and into anything else because my self as a child was a part of my identity and ever since my childhood ended I have felt robbed of a part of my own identity. I didn't want it to happen, it happened anyway, as I knew it would and with it came all the filth within this world. In a way I wish that I had no sex at all. Sex seems primitive to me and I long for a better alternative to express my love and to share pleasure. One that wouldn't tie me down to nature. In truth, everything is a part of nature, even computers because everything comes from the same universe, the same stars etc, but I still long for something different. I wish that I could become a being capable of dealing with the darkness within this world and maybe all of this is why transhumanism has had such a strong appeal to me. It still appeals to me, but while it's fun to fantasize, the upcoming need for a newfound ethical council regarding AI is no joke. I would listen to real scientists before I listened to people like Elon Musk. It's cool that he's one of few people who choose to invest in something of importance to the rest of the world rather than to live his life as a pure hedonist, but there's a lot of false information out there and I'm sceptical of his approach in terms of how he's been transmitting information. As an alternative he could have hired people to speak for him who have devoted their life to their field in a different way, but what do I know, right? So while all that might be, let's just leave it at the fact that technology, AI and so on are hot topics of these times and I think it's relevant to the issues that I'm presenting throughout. Because what would it be like if a corrupted company was the first one to invent an advanced AI with the world in the state that it's in now?
I am a part of the very thing that I have difficulty in relating to. Life itself and the prerequisites for it's being and for all that is. I have a problem with one of our dimensions for one thing, with time... Existentialism with it's talk of freedom. True freedom to me is only real if it's absolute, so actual freedom might not be possible and beyond this- with what does come of freedom, indeed, responsibility follows, not only frivolities. Yes, I am free to some extent. So, what kind of a person do I want to be? What kind of a world do I want to live in? Whether or not there exist objective truths about morality, we are free to make up our own rules if they don't exist. This is not the kind of world that I want to live in and I probably can't change it, but I feel that both my own intentions and each and every one of our individual intentions, that they matter. It's definitely not enough just to have good intentions, but it might be a good start.
It's probably not even enough if a good bunch of people started doing much more good than previously, not if some billionaires, corrupted companies or dictators for example are within the power to set things their way, however- who can predict the future? Maybe if many people tried harder to better the world, that it could still influence the world in ways unpredicted? Something else that was never included in the revised piece of writing, that is of importance in my opinion is what I meant by how our collective focus should be directed in a different way. I don't mean as in, as one entity, but just in general, if we focused more on goals of progress, on topics related to the scientific method, on logic, on reason or on other aspects of our development in general- motivated for example by the dream of Utopia and a prolonged life, or just by the hope of bettering the world even a little bit right now, or for other good reasons. Why couldn't that become the new trend? Just think of the possibilities that in truth are already here.
In society today all kinds of impressions, information, knowledge and nonsense lies available to us at the press of a button. This should be a good thing. If most of our current accumulated knowledge is constantly available to us then we should be very intelligent by now, but there are problems. Just looking at pretty pictures or reading clickbait doesn't demand any effort from us. It's easy and fun, but reading about something scientific for example might demand a little bit more concentration and so humans are often shifting their focus over to entertainment, forgetting to be critical. Fake news, propaganda, lies and commercial, these are concerning topics within academia for a reason. Many humans don't understand what they're a part of when they click like or dislike on a link without being critical of the source. Of course we're free. We're free to our own opinions, but once we have an opinion about something we should make sure that we understand it fully. Because following something or someone for the wrong reason, for example because of propaganda or commercial, is stealing the focus away from knowledge and from truths that could create, for example: save lives. I have felt and still sometimes feel ambivalent because of the pull from social media for example which can be strong, but I believe that the philosopher Baudrillard was right when he described how the idea of an object could come to be more important to us than the thing itself. Think of the idea of the worth of Chanel or (and this is not my example) an expensive bottle of champagne that came to cost much more than it's worth because of a famous person who drank it at some previous point in time. I could talk more about materialism, our economic system or even about politics, but I think this goes further than that and it's both interesting and troubling.
Despite our problems, globalization might continue until our world is a better place, then again it might not. I might have to accept that some cultures could wind up moving further apart in stead of coming to closer agreements regarding morality. In the future, some different cultures might even have turned into different species for all I know. Species that could indeed seem monsterous to me, but who am I to judge? I don't really go around judging sharks or dinosaurs. Some acts of violence for example make us feel obliged to intervene, but in reality I don't have the answers. All I can know for sure is how I feel about these things personally, I can have knowledge about the general opinions within my society and so on. I'm not saying that the possibility of humanity being divided into different species in the future is what I believe to be our future, I'm only considering the possibility now that I realize that I don't hold the answers.
My dream was of humanity moving closer together and that might not be realistic, but it could be. My dream of Utopia, transhumanism and a prolonged life was mostly a comfort to me during some difficult times, but there is still a part of me... Real hope that if the collective focus of the human race improved during my time that our progress could speed up eventhough many countries are still developing countries. How much we could potentially achieve during my limited time, obviously I don't know, but if there's even a small chance of achieving something resembling my dream, then I have to try. Also because I'm afraid of what will happen to us if we continue down some dangerous path. I think there might be something to Psychological Egoism which is not a theory of ethics, but a theory of human psychology and my favourite argument for joining movements such as EA is that actions that benefit the world is ultimately going to benefit us as individuals. At least, that's what I believe.
The following is the revised piece that I wrote just before starting my bachelor's degree:
What is cool?
Only you can decide that.
Or can you? How much are you influenced by others?
A label can't tell you whether or not an object is in good quality.
We accept the world as it is and we might wish that it were different, but most of us accept that it's too difficult for us to contribute to a real change and leave that task to people in positions of power. The world is large and there's the fact that there are so many of us, but just because something is in one specific way, does not mean that it cannot alter and become different.
The scientific method should not be doubted because it is the best tool we have for achieving progress based on empirical evidence, but regarding different matters it can sometimes be fun to disagree. You don't even have to mean it, you can just play around with it for fun, try it out as if it's a hat.
Many people say that a world of peace, where we all share, where everyone is allowed an education, medical health and safety is an unachievable goal within our lifetime.
I can imagine what the world would be like if we all lived in peace and there was more room to dig deeper into all the stuff that's actually cool.
Removing everything that's bad might neither be possible nor right, but there could be a better balance and a lot of our collective focus could be directed in a different way. These things do happen gradually and they have done, however I believe that we've reached a point where this progress could speed up even more if those who are able to would engage more. Just think of how fast things sped up during the Industrial revolution for example?
What is cool? What is really, really, really cool?
Maybe we need to dig deeper. Figure out what's interesting or inspiring. Because to a lot of people I think that whatever they perceive as cool could be more than what it is. I'm not looking for one answer in particular, I'm just asking a question because I want others to ask themselves that question. You see, to invent something, the wheel or whatever, it must always first be invented within our imagination, within our minds eye. Only then can we take that idea and put it into reality and who knows, maybe your idea of what's "cool" could be turned into reality?
Most of us feel a need to belong to the "herd", like sheep, but it's also OK to remain strong within ourselves. It's OK to voice outloud our belifs, our likes and our dislikes. You can still read Vogue if you want to, you can still have a nice and comfortable home, but there should be a limit to it. There should be a limit to how much comfort and riches we actually need before it's enough and we start to focus on progress in stead, progress that would benefit the world at large.
The need for those who are suffering is acute. How big does a home really need to be? Maybe it could still be big, but not quite as big? Maybe that would still feel OK, but not everyone would go there, you know, not everyone would consider it as an option, and it is an option.
Even it out, but I think that the most important thing is that we change our focus.
Still though, you can literally get almost anything secondhand now because there is just such a mass of stuff out there and most of this stuff, you know, it's still in good condition, but they don't want it so then, is it trash?
Because what defines trash? Is my pencil trash if I use it first and then put it down? Is it trash if it's not in fashion anymore? Is it trash if it's useless?
The things that I buy secondhand are beautiful. Unique. I clean them and I admire them. I cherish them. If there's a hole in a jacket I mend it and I still love Chanel, but I don't love every single item that's ever been designed for Chanel. I like vintage, pastels and the lolita kawaii style, but that is not the most important thing about me or my life. It can still be a part of my life, but other things are more important and they deserve attention.
I think I'm pretty sure of who I am, but I still ask myself questions every day because everything is constantly changing and because I know that I make mistakes. We should all ask ourselves questions and if all our answers are true and genuine, then that's it, but if not...
Digging out the real truth can take time, but it's well worth the journey. Figuring out the purpose or goal behind every opinion or action can lead to a more rewarding life. It might encourage us to take ownership of our actions in a different way and help us to understand that our ideas can come true both within our imagination and in reality.
The original photo that I used for the text that I had turned into a soundfile/ video made me cringe when I opened the video again from an old folder. In my head back then I was trying to look like a model, but when I looked at it the other day my expression appeared mean to me. I remember using it because "Angel" was written on my top, which is even more pretentious. Back then I had this idea that it wasn't wrong to fantasize about being a hero or something and that might be, but it's still narcissistic. I used to be a bit narcissistic and I would blame the fact that I was in pain, but my worry is that the world in general has turned more narcissistic since the birth of social media. Or maybe a better statement would be that while we observe narcisissitc traits, that others in their turn find themselves passive, for more than one reason? It's only an impression. Maybe it’s a false assumption, maybe some humans have always been passive, but if that's the case then I hope that it won't always be so. I still love heroes and when I read about real heroes I often cry. Heroes should be our real rolemodels, not influencers or musicians that can't sing. Incidentally I suspect that the reason why popular music used to have more of an artistic debth is because the industry has changed.
Independent decision making is important not only on a personal level, but as an individual member of society. The scientific method should not be doubted because it is our best way of achieving progress, based on empirical evidence. If you can't believe in what you can see before you with your own two eyes, then what can you believe? There is a reason why our airplanes stay airborne or why we have inventions such as a fridge, but regarding different matters, if we disagree with an opinion that is generally a collected opinion within society, then we should stay true to our own opinion within ourselves and disagree with society. This is difficult, because if something is integrated into our culture, then disagreeing can make one feel afraid of the dissaproval of others, which is a very natural fear, but if we all continue to let that guide us in our decision making, then our society will not move forward or it will move forward more slowly. I'm still learning and there's a lot that I don't know, but I'm trying my best to be a better person than I used to be so it matters to me how I may influence others and I believe that this should matter to all of us, so that's why I'm making a point of it. If I'm going to be on social media or on the Internet in general, then I should do my best to behave well. I don't always succeed of course, but if you judge me now then at least I'll know that I tried my best.
However I knew, as I have always known, that my attempt at influencing others in order to better the world was partly another escape from the knowledge of my own mortality. For a while I even wondered whether that was all there was to it. It's a fair assumption that humans of these times normally attempt to push the knowledge of their own mortality out of their minds. Through focusing on personal success, on material possessions, on their own contributions to the world or on pettier matters for example, but my desire to do good was also genuine. I have escaped the knowledge of my own mortality through petty starvation, through art, depression or through my desire to better the world for example, but ideally... Eventhough a desire to better the world can partly be an escape within itself, believing in the possibility of a prolonged life among other things (not to escape death indefinitely) could also come from a place of genuinity. It could be both possible and right. Life wants to live, it is in our nature and maybe it is right to pursue this instinct? Certainly, no one can prove to me that it's wrong- and what's the difference anyway, between our lives being prolonged today because of modern medicine and for other reasons such as an improved diet for example, by some years- and between a prolonged life of 1000 years, 2000 years or maybe something like 8000 years or possibly much more?
I'm not worried about overpopulation because we could potentially colonize other solar systems in the future and I think it's safe to say that I will never get to see that, but regardless, there's even talk about how to effectively gather most of the energy from other stars. Societies that don't belong to developing countries, societies like mine, we see less childbirths here. There are always challenges, but I have encountered no arguments yet that deem certain possibilities of the future as impossibilities. The universe is extremely big to say the least. When we consider the future it's never with certainty, but we should aim for the best possible future by using our best tools to guide us. Such as the scientific method, creativity, courage, logic and our own critical sense, rationality and openness... In short, by being guided by truth- whatever it might be. If I make a mistake, please let me know in a respectful way and I will honestly look into it. I do my best to express myself in the most correct way guided by trustworthy sources that would be good enough for the environment surruounding my University, but sometimes errors can slip through the most admirable of hands. Transhumanism attracts me, but that's only one example of a way that humans might come to better their faculties and to me, exactly how we do it is not the point. I wanted to inspire others to think bigger. To remind others of how much potential is really within us and within our world already if we could work on ourselves and work together in time. I am also a human, so I get to define what it means to be a human to me. I don't have to accept the worst aspects of humanity as something irrevocable because there is no blueprint as of today. If I recognize something good within myself then I am at liberty to nurture those aspects of my own little piece of humanity. I do not believe that it's wrong to dream of Utopia, to dream of a world in peace where scientific, academic, medical and other progress is flourishing without restraints. It might be a fools dream, but I would rather have that than to follow others in their rationalizations of the darkness within this world. Because finding ways to rationalize something bad is a coping mechanism.
From time to time, I am still Hamlet and the only thing that I can ask from life during those moments- is death. Because actual freedom is an impossibility and I want no part in the aspects of humanity that repulse me both from it, from the universe and from myself. I am not my body, I am my consciousness and since my consciousness will disappear forever when my body dies- that is probably the best thing to hope for. Either way, I do not believe that I should ever wish for immortality, but for a prolonged life. Because to be separated from the aspects of the universe that horrify me, that will be a blessing so to speak. Sometimes I even look forward to death. I don't owe the universe or you anything. I answer to no one and sometimes I long for the day when my human faculties will neither be connected to or answer to a nature that is outside of my control.