Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Conversation With HamsterFueledRocket

I've been having a nice dialogue with HFR on my YouTube page, but the format is far too limiting for an interesting talk. Hopefully he'll accept my invitation to move the conversation over this way. Here's what we have so far...

HFR: Wow, you must be a sad, depressed character. Imagine the only creatures lucky enough to have developed consciousness using it to decide that consciousness is immoral and must be eradicated! My friend, you may not be greatful for having a chance at life but many people, all around the world are. If you really don't see a point to it you can always kill yourself , but don't go telling other people that creating life or having families is immoral.

Jim: Firstly, creating life is first and foremost a selfish act, especially considering there is no 'pre-life' from which anyone is waiting to be delivered. Secondly, some people ARE more or less happy to be alive, although self assessment in such an area is often understandably skewed. Even so, many others are thoroughly UNhappy, and when we procreate, we take the risk that our offspring might be one of those. Thirdly, everybody dies. Birth carries with it an automatic death sentence.

HFR: First,being concerned with your self interest, or selfishness, is not immoral. I direct you to a book entitled "The Virtue of Selfishness" by the late and great Ayn Rand. Second, yes there is a risk at unhappiness in life, but thats what makes success and pleasure have a meaning, you wouldn't play a game where everyone won every time. Third, yes we will all die, but without mortality life is meaningless.

Jim: Self interest at the expense of others IS immoral in most peoples' books. As far as your game analogy, what gives anyone the right to play a game of life and death with people who never agreed to the rules beforehand? In procreation's case, we're playing a game of Russian roulette with each new life, only the chamber's fully loaded. Finally, your statement that life without mortality is meaningless is, in my eyes, an unsupported euphemism, and might surprise those waiting for an eternal heaven.

HFR: Your philosophy is anti-life, anti-consciousness, anti-humanity. I suggest you leave your computer for a while and pursue your own personal happiness. Get back to me after you have fallen in love, seen a smile on a child's face and found a purpose in life. Then see if you still want humanity to end.

Jim: My philosophy is anti-suffering, and anti-death. I have loved, and do love, and have witnessed the birth of my two children. I don't want to see humanity end, but the fact is that it does, precious life at a time. Look at what you've said. Fall in love. Do things that will make me happy. In short, pursue MY personal happiness. Can you see how all these are selfish pursuits used as a justification for continuing a process that includes suffering and ends in death?

HFR: Don't you see the beauty in duality? If we all lived forever in a permanent state of happiness, how could we know what happiness was? Why would we appreciate life, if we knew it couldn't end? Why would we enjoy pleasure if we never felt pain? Conscious life is the most beautiful thing in the universe, and the only thing that can even appreciate beauty. How can you wish for it to end permanently?

Jim: I don't see the beauty in genocide, or pancreatic cancer, or starvation, or torture, or depression, or emphysema, or rape, or any number of aspects of this experiential 'duality' you speak of. In fact, many people live their whole lives experiencing mostly the negative pole of your 'duality'. Seeking to cast suffering in a positive light is understandable given the circumstances, but simplistic, and ultimately dreadful. Can you not see that? It's simply a way to rationalize the way things are.

Continued (hopefully) in the comments section...

UPDATE: I'd just like to add that it's great to be back discussing this very important subject. I sort of got derailed for a while, trying to sort out my thoughts on religion on another blog, getting involved with trolls and flamewars et al (although I DID also meet some frightfully nice people along the way). Hopefully I'm done with all that for a while. Lately, I've been getting some really heartfelt responses via YouTube and my Wordpress blog (, and I'm feeling the urgency again. You are, by and large, a very encouraging bunch of people, and I appreciate your various thoughtful approaches. Thanks much!