[extropy-chat] FW: The Undying

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Wed Dec 6 13:56:35 UTC 2006

Rafal wrote---thanks to Jef for forwarding an accidentally offlist message---

> Forwarded to the list per Rafal's request:
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Rafal Smigrodzki 
> Sent: Friday, December 01, 2006 1:10 PM
> To: Jef Allbright
> Subject: Re: [extropy-chat] The Undying
>> But it's interesting to me that this problem of understanding runs so 
>> deeply on a common thread tied to the meaning of self.
> ### Indeed, there is a very strong connection between the rationality
> and understanding of identity. After all, rationality (to use the
> dictionary meaning) is optimizing behavior to achieve goals, and goals
> are at the very core of our self, define morality, and are closely
> related to free will.

I'm not so sure that there is a "connection between rationality"
and "understanding of identity".   I do accept your dictionary 
definition of rationality, but to what extent are there "goals at
the very core of our self"?   (It may simply be that you are not
talking about *personal* identity at all.)  At the core of Rafal's
self, for example, as opposed to, say, Jef's self?

Without doubt, goal seeking behavior is a phenomenon closely
related to free will, but to morality?  I can understand this in only
the most general sense---and that is because our goal seeking
behavior is part of any aspect of our behavior, whether it's
morality, aesthetic appreciation, love, whatever.  It doesn't seem
to have any specifically closer relationship to morality than to a
lot of other things.

> It appears that upon self-consideration, our self tends to become
> quite unstable, possibly chaotic, i.e. small changes in the initial
> emotional settings... (etc) 

Yes, for sure.

> I presume that self-consideration is a relatively new phenomenon,
> evolutionarily speaking - our cave-dwelling and small-village ancestors
> didn't have the intellectual armamentarium accessible today to anybody
> who can read.

Sorry, I don't really see how this could be true.  Are you are claiming
that illiterate people---of whom there still are many in the world, many
of whom are highly intelligent, socially perceptive and well-connected---
have less "self-consideration"?  A socratic type claim that "the unexamined
life is not worth living?"  Or do you simply mean that literacy and living in
a rich sea of memes does provide far stronger capability to engage in
> Is then the process of self-consideration a rational one? After all,
> turning your intellect on your goals may result in the erasure of many
> of the goals, possibly even all of them.

If I'm following you, then yes, I can imagine that a good rational case
for "Do not engage in self-consideration, for it is dangerous" could be
made. But surely the *process* of self-consideration will still be
undertaken as a rational activity, except, of course, in those cases
where the self-analysis is totally dominated by emotional reactions.
(E.g., overwrought people who can scarcely form a single thought
without it triggering an avalanche of emotions that wash out linear,
step by step analysis.)


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