Share good ideas and conversation.   Login, Join Us, or Take a Tour!
comment by OftenBen
OftenBen  ·  1149 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Dear hubski, why are you proud of yourself?

Well, when I joined hubski I was only going to school half-time with terrible grades, pretty overwhelmingly depressed with all the fun that brings, and I was certain that even if I graduated I'd never get a job that would allow me to live independent from my parents.

Since then I've graduated, found meaningful full time employment that continues to pleasantly surprise me with perks. I got a pretty kick ass new apartment (For the area/my price range) and I'm slowly furnishing it myself. (Still need a dining table and a bed that doesn't need an air pump.) This is all pretty normal stuff, but for somebody who struggled for a long time to find a good argument against suicide, it's a big deal.




swedishbadgergirl  ·  1149 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I feel you!

I've started working at a daycare and I'm AWESOME at it. The kids and - for me more telling/important - the adults adore me. Also, it is very stressfull, but your co-workers are super nice and supportive and it is a very adorable job. The adults make the children fruit and sandwiches and then they realize they've made one more without thinking and give it to their adult co-worker. At the same time. It is very adorable to see very caring people interact because they hold tiny little onsies (I call the one-year olds that sometimes. Don't judge) on hips and laps and talk about their life in a deep meaningful way without interupting or judging and can teel eachothers moods almost better than there own.

Real conversation by the way.

"Ohh, she's strees-cleaning the coatroom - wonder if her husbands been mean to her. If I ask her now she will probabl actually talk about it"

Runs off to be supportive and nice to her boss

And my boss is lovely. She does the dishes since she knows that the person hired for that should be home and resting but can't.

empty  ·  1149 days ago  ·  link  ·  

What's your good argument against suicide? I don't have a convincing one other than "well at least I get to watch the world if I stay alive"

MadEmperorYuri  ·  1149 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I also have two. First, there are people who care about me, and my death would cause them a very great deal of very real harm. Some of them are suicidal themselves, and the loss of me could cause a chain reaction. The ones who aren't, well, they don't deserve a good reason to go into a deep depression. I have a choice in this matter, and I choose to endure my pain rather than create a far larger amount in other people. I can hold myself to this choice because it is a direct result of one of the things which makes up the core of who I am: my refusal to knowingly cause direct harm to other people. Not that I'm perfect in adhering to who I am, but when it comes to suicide, I am.

Second, failure does not preclude future success. Whatever it is I failed or succeeded at. Violin, programming, school, love. "You may not try again" is not built into the universe, which is always changing. And so am I, for that matter. Each year, I come upon big ideas in my head that I didn't have in the previous year, and they make a difference. I can see my attitudes and behaviors change over time. Generally subtly, but they do. I'm interested in and hopeful about who I might become.

And the pills help too, but that's much the same as saying I'm lucky.

OftenBen  ·  1149 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Technically I have 2, but one of them is a conditional whose conditions are not currently met.

The primary one is this.

Premise 1: Life will have an unknown amount of good and bad events Premise 2: I have already endured what I consider some of the worst possible bad, and survived. Premise 3: I cannot enjoy good events if I am dead.

Conclusion: I shouldn't kill myself because while things may get bad, there will be things before/after the bad events that are deeply enjoyable, and I want to be there for them. I always have the option of taking my own life at some unknown point in the future if that argument loses validity for some reason. I can't exactly change my mind after the fact. In a way, knowing that I have that as an 'out' takes a lot of the pressure off.

empty  ·  1149 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I used to be convinced by this argument. I am not convinced by it anymore. I've spoilered my argument in case you don't feel like having to deal with an existential crisis.

When you consider how your enjoyment of good events may be causing bad events for other people, such that the "net enjoyment" you put into the world is negative, can it really be said that you are living an ethical life? I used to be unable to experience empathy, and I still have a very difficult time with empathy as a concept and as a subjective experience. But when empathy is a factor, other people's happiness becomes a part of my own happiness. Their distress also becomes my distress. If my actions send ripples throughout the world, then am I not responsible for those ripples? For those second-order and third-order effects of my actions?

I'll give an extreme example: rape jokes. Rape jokes can get a laugh from a certain crowd. If you're part of that crowd, then telling a joke about rape and having it be well-received by your peers will be a good event. But then the rapists in that crowd will take it as a signal that rape is normal, that it's accepted by you and your peers. And so the chance that they will hurt someone is increased. The cost of your rape joke is to increase the chance that a woman will be raped.

"Social responsibility" means being socially aware enough to understand things like the rape joke example, to understand how our actions affect other people and have higher-order consequences which shape our culture, and then using that understanding to inform your morality. Rape jokes are disgusting. You should be disgusted when you hear them. You should judge people who don't think they're a bad thing.

Rape is an extreme example but this applies to anything that could make someone else's life worse just so you can have some small benefit.

veen  ·  1149 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    If my actions send ripples throughout the world, then am I not responsible for those ripples? For those second-order and third-order effects of my actions?

You do realize that it is literally impossible to live without negatively impacting someone somewhere down the road, right? That is why you need to strike a balance, the balance between your benefit and other's losses.

Empathy doesn't imply that you have to put the feelings of others always in front of yours. To be empathetic means that you take the effects of your actions into account while deciding what to do. I don't see how that constitutes an existential crisis. Just don't do something if it will significantly hurt others.

OftenBen  ·  1149 days ago  ·  link  ·  

To quote one of my favorite characters in all of fiction, 'Let's take that piece at a time.'

When you consider how your enjoyment of good events may be causing bad events for other people, such that the "net enjoyment" you put into the world is negative, can it really be said that you are living an ethical life?

First assumption, we have a way to measure the net 'goodness' or 'badness' of a person's total experience on planet earth so far. I'm not sure that we can. Partially because lives are generally very intricate, but also because 'goodness' and 'badness' are generally relative to something, and a lot of actions can be good and bad, with no clear net balance.

Second assumption, after assuming you have a way to measure that 'net good/bad' up to the present, is that your projection into the future will be reasonably accurate, or at least accurate enough to predict if a significant number of cases will change status from 'net postive' to 'net negative' and vice versa.

Third assumption, after assuming you are able to confidently project if someone will have a net 'goodness' or 'badness' to them, is that you have a clear, consistent and universal definition of 'ethical life.' I've been told pretty often, in life and Hubski that such questions usually are answered in terms of ones roles within a social/cultural context. Am I a good brother? Sister? Spouse? Teacher? Student? Manager?

I'm not sure your example is a good one, and that's coming from a guy who likes extremes and extreme examples as justification for things. But, I don't believe that making rape jokes encourages people to rape.

To paraphrase

    "Social responsibility" means... ...to understand how our actions affect other people and have higher-order consequences which shape our culture, and then using that understanding to inform your morality.

I agree with you on this bit, which is really the core of this particular matter. The issue though is predicting those higher order consequences and being sure enough of your grasp of the situation and it's context to know that any harm you cause is less net harm than if you left everything as it was.

I'm starting with an assumption. The assumption being that you want to help your fellow man to some degree. If you didn't want to do that you wouldn't want to potentially off yourself to decrease the burden you feel that you are placing on them. I may also be projecting a bit because I can identify with that impulse a lot. A lot of people have sunk a significant amount of time, effort, and money to keep me alive and well. If I offed myself now a lot of peoples effort will be wasted.

If you'd like to continue this in private feel free to PM me. Like I said I could be completely off base and be projecting pretty much everything.

muskox  ·  1149 days ago  ·  link  ·  

But surely there's not a 1:1 ratio of the good things that you feel and the bad things that other people feel, right? Put another way, there must be some actions which are both good for you and not bad for others, or even just more good for you than they are bad for others.

Programming and contributing to open-source projects is a hobby enjoyed by many people, but it only serves to help other people by providing them with code. You could argue that they consume electricity or consumer goods like computers in the process, but even those things don't have to cause human suffering (the computer could be made entirely by robots, and could be solar powered).

You only have to stay away from actions which cause a net bad in order to remain an ethical person. You can do that and also enjoy life.

empty  ·  1149 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Can you, though? How much slave labor went into producing the electronics you use? The clothes you wear? The food you eat? How much suffering is endured by the people in the lower economic classes who work 12 hours a day to cook and clean and drive for you? How many hopes and dreams are given up by those in the service industries who have to work so hard just to make ends meet that they can't pursue education or other forms of self-improvement?

We in tech are extremely privileged. The vast scale of humanity is hard to comprehend. But the reality is that for every techie like you or me who lives a comfortable (or even luxurious) lifestyle, there's literally at least a thousand other people who are barely staying alive, let alone prospering. They're the ones who need religion and family to stay happy, because they sure don't get fulfillment out of their work.

muskox  ·  1149 days ago  ·  link  ·  

My point wasn't that I personally lived an ethical life - far from it, I think that I could do much more than I currently do to make the lives of others better. Rather, my point was that it's theoretically possible to live a life that doesn't depend on the suffering of others. There's nothing intrinsic about pleasure that necessitates suffering.

elizabeth  ·  1149 days ago  ·  link  ·  

An interesting view on Morality:

swedishbadgergirl  ·  1149 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Mine is "It's not that bad".

Also, you make people happy. Try making people feel happy. They usually repay the favor.