Principia Discordia > Think for Yourself, Schmuck!

A random’s trepanation

<< < (2/2)

altered said it better, but since I was typing this out at the same time I'll post it anyway.  It'd be a shame to waste the most words I've written on this site in more than a year.


To quote the OP: "If I see someone else doing something that I know won’t cause suffering, then I can’t possibly have a reason to try and stop them."

At what point do you draw the line?  If they're using any sort of modern technology, there's a 99.99% chance that it was in part created by the exploitation of child labor.

Basically, anything that uses cobalt or lithium.

Same with mass-produced clothing - lotsa child labor there.

In fact, you can take just about any behavior, and if you look closely enough, suffering is included.  Let's think for a second that American success (and European success, if I'm guessing you're not in North America) was built upon colonization and slavery.  It's a safe bet to assume most of our lives have benefited from the suffering of others.

Not to mention, depending on your definition of "suffering", almost all agricultural products cause suffering to animals -- and not just meat production.  Farming at a scale that can feed enough people destroys ecosystems and kills all sorts of animals as "pests".  And if you don't draw the line at the suffering of animals, the process of agriculture damages the environment, depletes water supplies, engenders climate change, and causes all sorts of human suffering as a result.

So, yeah.  There is no ethical consumption, and existence is suffering.  Might as well become a Buddhist.

Thanks for the replies, I see what you mean.
I know what I’ll be obsessing over next.

This’s something that doesn’t come up on its own that often, but some of my other ideas are based on it. This’s my first time writing it out, and it was tough. I’m sure there’s vocabulary out there that could talk about this stuff clearly, but I don’t know it. Still, being able to just point back to this could make describing some things easier in the future, so I wanted to try getting it off my chest.

What I’m talking about is how I think people build up their knowledge of the world, and the way different types of knowledge usually take different amounts of effort to be useably solid. So there’s the world, massive and complicated, there’s me, and then there’s the image I have of it. As far as I can tell, that image is made up of a catalogue of facts about the things -any kinds of thing— I know about: the way they effect people, the ways they’d react in certain situations, what I can expect from them in the future, those kinds of info. I’ve been building it up across my life based on direct experience (touching a hot ban burned me, so the next time I see a pan it reminds me of that and I check the burner), hearing secondhand (someone I trust told me that hot pans can burn), or thinking over what I already know (I know hot metal can burn, so when I see a metal pan I figure I shouldn’t touch it). I don’t have a deep understanding of everything I’m aware of, I feel like there’s a small collection of things I’m actually familiar with and then a drop in comprehension down to most of what I know about.

Also, it seems like there are three stages or tiers of information that a person’s knowledge of something can belong to. First of all, you can just be aware that something’s real, because of its effects. Someone doesn’t need to know what a hot pan is, or what it’s used for, or anything else about it to know that touching it hurts. I think this’s something people do passively, and is out of their control. I can’t decide to learn about something that I don’t know exists. Once that first step is passed, and that thing has a place in their mind, someone can look for opportunities to learn more about it and figure out what it is. This’s something people have to actively do. I’ve talked about hot pans enough to want another example, so I’ll imagine you showed a car to a bunch of people who’d never seen one before, then asked them to figure out whatever they could about it. In the system I’m trying to describe, them seeing it for the first time would be them becoming aware of it. The second step would be when they start to try and see how the car behaves. This could take experimenting on their own: pulling on its handles makes its doors pop open, or relying on things they already know:  some people could look at a car and figure that it had to be artificial. Sooner or later —probably after a lot of mistakes— they could work out enough to drive it around, though in a dangerous way outside of example-land. At that point, I’d say that they’d built their picture of it to the second level. But then, no matter how hard it was to work out how it behaves, their jobs would jump up in difficulty if you told them to pop open the hood and figure out how it works.

Without all the examples: I think that figuring out how something behaves takes more effort than just seeing it in action, and working out why it does what it does is even harder. One problem I have this idea is that it applies to objects and events evenly, and I’m not sure that the ways things work and the reasons behind events are really equivalent.

So I just explained part of how I think the world works, but on its own that doesn’t show how I act because of it. So now that I’ve said what I think, I want to try and explain that thought’s consequences.
To start with, because I just made a decision based on this, I think that the effects anything has on people are what’s important. So, even if an idea I have isn’t terrible, the way I apply it might be.
I feel like taking something you know is true about one thing and then trying to apply to another that’s similar, but that you aren’t familiar with, is the way a lot of mistakes are made. So, I think I should be careful about assuming I know how anything works because it reminds me of something else I do understand, if I don’t know they’re comparable.
I’ll talk more about this in a minute, but I’m worried about being too confident in what I know about other people. I also can’t expect others to just magically understand or trust me.
And the last thing is that if I’ve only just built an idea of how something behaves that I feel confident about, I shouldn’t expect to have a decent understanding of why it does what it does.


After that, I want to talk about something based on it that does come up pretty often: everything I just said applies to my understanding of others. If I try to map this system onto people a person’s effects are their actions, what they are is their personality and identity, and the reasons behind them are the experiences that ended with any part of that identity forming.

So, when I learn about someone new, from meeting them in person or otherwise, I start building an idea of what kind of person they are. The problem is, I think it takes a lot more time and effort than most people think to get a decent read on how someone ticks. Also, I think it should be impossible to know what made specific person have any character trait just based on my observation of them.

It seems like when some people see others they don’t know very well they assume that their whole personality fits together in an obvious, intuitive way and don’t consider how they’ve developed through their life. To have a chance to know someone well I think I’d need to see how they act in a whole range of situations, because if I only talked to (or saw, or just learned about) someone in one context, I couldn’t know how much the way the acted around me shows how they’d act in any other.

As far as I can tell our personalities grow organically from the moment we’re born onwards, and that makes it so that I can’t intuitively understand someone after only learning a few things about them. Let’s say a friend introduces me to a stranger and tells me they work in construction, were really into sports in highschool, and which city they’re from. Great, with that information I should know next to nothing for sure about them. But I feel like some people let the first things they know about someone colour the way they process everything they learn after, so that their image of them ends up like a caricature of their first impressions. As someone on the ground I can’t look at another person’s trait and intuit what caused it. There’re too many possible reasons behind any one character trait for me to just snap my fingers and know which is right. But the biggest problem I have is that I think the same trait can have different causes for different people. So if me and a friend both love walks down the beach, and I know why I do, I can’t be sure they do for the same reasons.

Everything I’ve seen makes me think that if the clouds ever clear and I feel like I’ve grokked people enough to extrapolate their whole identities from only a couple facts, that’ll just mean that I’ve bought into some shitty group of stereotypes. So I think I should keep my weight on my back foot and avoid trying to fill in the gaps as much as possible when learning about other people, unless I absolutely need to make a leap of faith based on what I feel confident about.

So, I think it’s tough to get to know someone, and probably impossible to completely understand them, but maybe still possible to get by. I don’t need to be totally familiar with someone to decide how to act towards them, and even if I can’t be 100% sure they think a certain way, I can still have seen enough to think they probably do. I couldn’t tell anyone else how much exactly how much observation that should take, because I don’t know, but from what I remember I’ve been more confident that I know other people in the past than I’d want to now.

This’s kind of a swerve, but in the past I’ve seen people try to argue against retribution using language like what I’ve been using, focusing on how we can’t be certain of who other people are. I don’t agree with that, so I want to say outright that some people do deserve shit. Nazis and terfs are the first that come to mind. Wish I could give this the intensity it deserves, but Fuck Them like they fuck others.

I’ve used “effort” a couple times here, but I haven’t actually said what it’s supposed to mean. So when I used it in this I was talking about noticing the way other people act or react to things, remembering how they do, and then making a picture of their personality based on that.

This’ll be shorter. So, I’m a big believer in Murphy’s Law, and I think it applies to people too. If I can imagine a belief I can assume that some people, somewhere and sometime, hold it, and that if an experience is physically possible there are people who’ve gone or will go through it. What looks unlikely when I imagine it happening to me or any one person I know will probably be a lot more believable if I think of it never happening to literally anyone who’ll ever exist. I figure something needs to have conditions stacked on super-specific conditions to have a chance to never happen.


[0] Message Index

[*] Previous page

Go to full version