To me it seem obvious that other animals would also possess various degrees of cognitive ability, I mean, we do.
In the present case, the research question is whether animals have a conception of self. This is necessarily a fuzzy concept.
The test that has been used many times and with many variations basically involves providing a mirror and a condition that is only noticeable as applying to oneself by relating the image in the mirror as representing one's own body.
However, the test probe is merely an instrument used to measure an underlying construct. That is, there is an assumption that to solve the test particular cognitive processes are invoked.
But a test probe may be solved using processes or strategies other than those for which the probe was designed to measure.
Cleaner Wrasse fish have many instincts that reflect school behaviors, especially in young fish. School like behavior: One fish turns, then it turns, suggest strong control over behavior by the sight of other fish..including those seen in a mirror.
I suspect this mirroring system is having an influence on the fish's behavior here. It sees another fish with a skin condition (a mark), which may have activated cleaning behavior in itself.
I supposed you could come up with one. Your OP basically gave you a really knowledgeable counterexample, rooted in a rich field of study in anthropology (treatment of animals), in societies that long predated capitalism.
This is actually a pretty common pattern in HN.
When the HNers hear something like: "According to this book that the recipient of the information (the HNers) didn't read, here's an illustrative example of how rich the study is."
They respond: "But capitalism."
You've adopted a world-explaining model (capitalism) that works most of the time (that "single examples don't necessarily refute") not because it's powerful, but because it requires extremely little knowledge. That's really why derivatives of this line of thinking (think LessWrong/singularity/Paul Graham worship) are so widely adopted. Not because the ideas are right. It's that the ideas work for people who don't read, or are just really god damned rich, or who don't really know anything, or think they 'know enough,' like true hacks would say.
The downside is that when someone tells you this fascinating tidbit of Talmudic law, instead of typing in "anthropology of the treatment of animals in historic societies," the reaction is, "Well fuck this guy's knowledge."
One name for this phenomenon is "first principles." A great, positive spin on knowing nothing! This forum's discourse has declined exactly because of first principles, and others have observed the same (characterizing their criticism as a criticism of "first principles thinking.")
The usual criticism of acolytes of capitalism is that they do (unjustifiably) think humans are "perfect economic machines". You seem to be inverting the normal attack and I can't make sense of it.
You removed the context from the thread. The context was that humans have an capitalist-economic focus (as in, distinguished from other economic systems like gift economies, marxist economies, etc.) on animals-as-use, and thus this influences your ability to reason about them as animals. The viewpoint is inherently capitalistic because it assumes that animals have become a good to be sold, and that it was more advantageous for humans to see it as such. Your (or whomevers') assertion "humans aren't perfect economic machines" was inherently an argument for the arguments for the capitalist viewpoint, which the person you were responding to was calling unfounded.
> You seem to be inverting the normal attack and I can't make sense of it
Capitalism doesn't assume that humans are perfect economic machines, indeed, it relies on them not being that. Otherwise, accumulation of capital would probably either be impossible for any single person to do, or it would be much more evenly distributed than it currently is. Indeed, the entire industry of stock-trading assumes that you can 'beat the average', which under the axioms laid out, is not what a logical, perfectly rational machine would do.
I’m guessing it was The Last Of The Mohicans?
The Viking culture was replaced with a Christian culture.
Therefore, believing they don't feel pain is a matter of expediency allowing doctors to save lives.
Also, if there is a 2015 study saying it's safe, that would seem to imply general anesthesia is not so routine.
People have been imagining animals have complex inner lives for thousands of years. It's a natural thing for us to do in our want to relate to things.
People disagree with each other, sure, but I think that's fair that people disagree on a contentious topic. There is hardly an answer to whether fish have complex inner worlds yet.
Are you talking about scientific thought about it?
>possess various degrees of cognitive ability
I can't say I agree with this. I agree with you that perhaps people failed to recognise and test for variances within the species. (Im not in this field either so I can't say for sure...) but again, the majority of people would know that different animals of the same type don't have different quirks and differing intelligence. Anyone who has had some pet fish has recognised some as being more shy or more aggressive than the other. Cow farmers know some of their cows are dumber and smarter than the other.
To take that thought and say "well therefore some fish have rich inner lives and others dont" is a bit of a stretch to me. I would suppose that there is a limit to their capacity and variance.
Sure, Chimps, Dolphins, Elephants - very easy to convince people they do and I'd believe it easily.
Convince me that a trout does? I'm not so sure, and would need to be convinced in some way. I can imagine it, but I won't believe something just because of my want to anthropomorphise.
While I can understand that many people are too dismissive of animals as being basic or unfeeling, that doesn't invalidate the idea that animals have a more limited mental capacity for what we perceive to be conciousness, and that includes sense of self at least somewhere along the line of complexity.
From what I can tell in the animal research game, it's like AI; every so often someone posits some qualitative property that only humans do as the difference twixt animals and humans, and then an observer sees that qualitative behaviour in an animal (or sometime has seen it years or decades before).
Frans de Waal's books on this are very readable. The big ones of previous years - empathy, planning, tool-using and so on - all fall pretty easily.
I've had the experience of talking with a friend and having a conversation along the lines of "Do you remember the guy that was in that movie?". If there's enough shared context, I might "know" exactly who they are talking about, but not the name of the movie or the name of the actor. I'm internally apprehending some kind of abstract "node" to which properties are attached, but not immediately available for recall.
I'm not thinking about the phrase 'that guy in that movie'. I'm not thinking about the name, because I don't (yet) recall it. I apprehend a connection between a person-node and perhaps as well a recent-experience node, the latter being an unsymbolized apprehension of the recollection of having shared an experience.
If I focus on the apprehension, I can begin to recall its properties.
To abuse a computer science analogy, it's as though there's some kind of abstract associative cache between nodes, linking them to other nodes but referring only to their object-ids. To further abuse the analogy, raw object-ids are a private type that have very few public methods. Mostly:
- more_or_less_the_same_thing_as(oid1, oid2)
- randomly_select_a_few_related_oids(oid) returns set<oid>
- recall_concrete_properties(oid, timeout) returns maybe<propertyset>
These apprehensions don't have an appearance or a sound, but they have a... brain feel? They have connections between them, and they have rough quasi-shapes, and can "fit" or "not fit" into certain other apprehended "structures".
Depending on what mode my brain is running in, I can generally render these apprehensions into words. Sometimes I can't seem to get them to cross the idea->word barrier.
Is recalling memories thinking? If not, if I then act on those memories, is that thinking?
I'm not a vegan, I eat a lot of meat--I just feel uncomfortable when I think about it this way.
Lawyers write laws that ensnare us in self-righteousness and complacency.
It is totally fine for me to determine that there are things which are legal which are unethical.
I will not wait for the law to catch up to the idea that people are not property. I will not wait for the law to classify for me which life forms are means to an end and which are ends in themselves. The American legal code has been used to justify countless injustices against indigenous peoples and does not deserve to own our language. It does not deserve the privilege to declare what is murder and not murder.
> "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth."
So righteous people felt entitled to exploit animals with no regard to their inner lives, and exploit nature with no concern about the ecological disasters they might cause.
Only now, after we 'multiplied and filled the earth', have come to a point where we can't just ignore ecology, there are limits and constraints we now understand. So we developed new ethics that would help humanity survive.
1.) we are making that evaluation within the context of modern society where the ownership of slaves is generally seen as inhumane and atrocious, and that people are not property. the context in antebellum society was extremely different and as such one could make the claim that during such times, that wouldn't have been considered murder by a majority of (slave owning) individuals.
2.) another element of the definition of murder is generally the existence of malicious intent. i would say that it's fair to see the taking of life of slaves as something that generally was done with malicious intent, that is to say as an authoritarian method of controlling the rest of the slaves by using the killed slaves to show them who is in control. of course, again, this is being framed within the context of modern society, but I think this argument could be much more easily applied in a manner that is independent of the general values of the time, because im pretty sure that malice as a concept has remained a lot more consistent that what is lawful, over time.
Sure. But this isn't about "warping semantics". The word predates our current legal definition. It's used frequently outside of legal discussions. The parent was trying to make an argument contingent on the legal definition so nitpicking about proper usage under that definition is pointless as best.
It's an attention-management-strategy that's popular and efficient for cultures like ours.
Of course it's evil as hell too. So we compensate with an appropriately self-serving "well they're just dumb animals" narrative.
If you're actually interested in this topic, I highly recommend the book "On Intelligence" by Jeff Hawkins.
I haven't read Hawkins' book yet, but he and the vicarious crew tend to conflate "neocortex" with "general intelligence" in their public talks. Birds and, it seems, the vast majority of animal species rely on predictive models of the world to navigate it - even if their "model-builder" doesn't look exactly like the mammalian one. It makes complete sense to me - if a lizard loses a leg, it quickly learns how to walk with just 3 legs. If a finch is born with slightly larger wings than normal, and it also loses some of its tail feathers at some point, it quickly learns to adjust its motor patterns to suit the new conditions. You solve problems like these with sensory-motor models, not with hard-coded algorithms.
So I don't think it is really so hard for most of us to imagine ...
I'm not particularly well read, I'm sure others could come up with better/earlier examples. If you go back in history, Eve was supposedly tempted by a talking snake.
It starts off with a rough guess about something hard to define and because it's so hard to define no one ever changes it but it's not as though the rough guess was ever correct. That's the part we forget. I think it's similar to the Turing test which to some people has become like a blindly dogmatic rule for machine intelligence. I don't think the Turing test was ever meant to be used how it's used today. I think it was just a rough guess. More like a "yeah, something like that" kind of thing than a definition.
The above video had a tremendous effect on how I view intelligence and creativity. Seeing pigeons "talking" and solving problems really puts in perspective the power of the context/environment.
That is why I think we already have the algorithms for AGI.(i.e. reinforcement learning is probably all you need)
We just don't have the processing and/or the right context for it to develop. But I also think the result will have all the downsides of animals/humans. That is, it will be as hard to get the desired behavior from an AI as it is to get it out of an animal/human because the predicting the behavior out of the cost function+environment will remain extremely hard. In fact you can see this mentioned in the video. Getting the right repertoire even for seemingly "simple" behaviors is hard.
And key here is that things like "the mirror test" are about testing animals for what humans naively believe are their unique traits. And this seems like it could be easily faulty if these naively human beliefs are false, which seems quite likely actually.
And also I'd view the focus on consciousness as a naive belief even if psychologists and philosophers have attempted to systematize it. At the same time, Skinner in particular as "behaviorist" seems to go from a lab where he's seeing most behavior mediated by stimulus to a position that seems to imply behavior coming mechanically from stimulus.
I have a cat (who do not pass the mirror test) who loves mirrors. She just likes looking at herself in them. It is weird. She also frequently walks in on me in the bathroom and frequently looks at me through the mirror. And I know she looks at that one because it is the one I look at her with. So it always has made me feel like this test may be doing something else, because she clearly recognizes that I'm not in the mirror, but that she can see me with it. So it seems like she understands what a reflection is, but not her self in the reflection.
So it seems that animals can understand reflections, but does that really mean they recognize a self if they recognize themselves in it? IDK, I'm not a biologist and may be missing a lot from this test.
Imagine if cat psychologists created a test for humans. They would probably put your scent on one shirt and 9 other scents of other people on 9 different shirts and have you "recognize" yourself by picking out the shirt with your scent. Since we are visual creatures, we would fail such a test and the cat psychologists would claim that humans obviously have no self-aware. After all, how could a self-aware creature not recognize it's own scent.
That's how absurd the mirror test is. A mirror test for most animals would be like a smell test for humans. A cat might not recognize it's own reflection, but it will recognize its own scent. A human might not recognize our own scent, but we'll recognize our own reflection.
Also, I think don't you understood my point. My point is that different species recognize themselves differently. Cats recognize themselves and others through smell. So a mirror test is not applicable. It would be like giving a blind man the mirror test and expecting an actionable result.
That being said, cats don't have excellent eyesight. But it is hard to do the mirror test with a creature that is so sensitive to feels and smells. I wonder how they test it for cats. Because surely a little dot isn't good enough. Maybe a laser dot?
I disagree with the qualification "in large part", which implies there is behavior that is not genetically determined.
Suppose you do an experiment to test. Disrupt the genetic code in a fertilized mammalian egg completely. You will find there is no subsequent behavior of the organism. Hence, it is clear that all behavior is dependent on genetics.
On the other hand, if you place that egg in a box for several years, you will likewise find that there is no ensuing behavior. Therefore, it is clear that all behavior is dependent on the environment.
This level of pedantry ruins any discussion of cause and effect, because there's always some kind of circumstance that could interrupt. Of course anything could be interrupted, people know that. It doesn't stop eye color from being genetic.
People aren't going to be an elaborate multi-paragraph disclaimer about how any physical act is uncertain, even something as simple as a rock falling when dropped, and link it as a footnote at the end of every sentence.
If you think such a disclaimer is important, maybe you should just pretend that everyone already is linking such a disclaimer. It's a secret extra meaning of periods.
Nor should we kid ourselves that this is new information. The adage "monkey see, monkey do" has been around for, what, centuries? Is it really that surprising that apes imitate things they see? Does it really reveal a paltry understanding of monkey cognition?
Imagine trying to believe "God created humans in his image"in this future.
And so far so I am aware animals are not able to recognize right from wrong. They can be trained not to do certain things, but it doesn't come from inside them.
The first means nothing, the second would be interesting. i.e. if they see another bonobo being treated unfairly and don't like it.
But if it's just about them, then that's not the same thing.
The cleaner wrasse even engages in complex economic behavior: http://freakonomics.com/podcast/animal-economics/
I'm pretty sure I'm not going back.
I'm not arguing anything about ethics or availability or cost of vegan diet. There is simply no evidence suggesting full vegan diet is healthy. The most alarming thing about vegan diet is that you'll have absolutely no source of Omega 3 except expensive açai berry and walnut (all other plant sources have trace amount of Omega 3). So in a vegan diet you get excess amount of carbs (especially sugars) and Omega 6 which causes inflammatory diseases. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/11/171113095430.h...
If I were vegan I would eat Trader Joes low carb tofu, avacado, açai berries and walnut every day, all day and supplement it with high fiber veggies like broccoli, and brussel sprouts. This is simply not feasible and practical from a cost and social aspect. Eat too much fruits to get cheap, and widely available calories and you'll get bizarre amounts of fructose. Good luck with that.
Further, from my reading on the topic the evidence supports the healthfulness of a WFPB diet. Eating this way isn't hard nor expensive. It can be socially inconvenient. It can take time to learn the ropes if you're transitioning to cooking and eating healthier. But it's worth it!
So flipping that around, my point is that it's difficult to have a healthy vegan diet that gives you enough nutrients, without an extremely high activity level.
It looks like you've been living in the low-carb bubble, like many others here on HN. I find it weird when people who identify with being rational drink the kool-aid promoted by anti-vaxxers like Dr. Mercola and ignore the positions of the ADA and the BDA.
You should really look into where your information is coming from.
Literally millions of people are proving you wrong every day.
> There is simply no way to get enough protein from plant sources unless you wanna eat highly processed tofu every day.
Tofu isn't even highly processed. It's essentially a cheese made from water that's had soybeans soaked in it.
Kelp is high in Omega 3s, as are Brussels sprouts. They're not as high as meat sources but they're still sufficient.
The vegan diet is extremely low in Omega 6s...not sure why you would think it's high, since grain-fed meat is the primary source of Omega 6 in the Western diet and dwarfs any source you'd find in the vegan world by many order of magnitude.
Virtually nobody who eats enough calories per day is protein deficient. Even eating just one relatively low-protein source of food, like brown rice, for all your daily calories will get you over a sedentary protein requirement.
> Plant sources are very carb rich and more and more evidence suggests high carb, low fat diets aren't good for humans
This is also just not true. 
> There is simply no way to get enough protein from plant sources unless you wanna eat highly processed tofu every day. A full vegan, high protein diet would require eating low carb tofu at least 2 meals a day.
Addressed above. False. Beans, peanuts, peas, hemp, spinach, soy (of all kinds: tempeh, edamame, and tofu) are all packed with protein
> Seeing that how popular weightlifting in young Americans (especially males) today, suggesting "vegan diet is easy" is intellectual dishonesty.
Veganism in the general population is pretty uncommon. So it's not surprising that it's also uncommon in the world of weightlifting. But just to provide a counter-example: Patrik Baboumian. Patrik, a vegan, holds several heavyweight lifting records .
> There is simply no evidence suggesting full vegan diet is healthy
> The most alarming thing about vegan diet is that you'll have absolutely no source of Omega 3 except expensive açai berry and walnut (all other plant sources have trace amount of Omega 3) So in a vegan diet you get excess amount of carbs (especially sugars) and Omega 6 which causes inflammatory diseases.
Flax, which is extremely cheap, is an excellent source of Omega 3s.
even if we take inactive, S.A.D. eaters out of the mix, there are healthy and unhealthy examples of most eating modalities. ultimately, i'm of the belief that paining over any "healthy" modality will increase harm, and not-paining over any "healthy" modality won't.
in the end, we meet our end. until then...
I have no problem with veganism (ethics, sustainability) except the diet is too restricted to be healthy.
Also, unless for some reason you are allergic to legumes, beans can be had for very cheap anywhere in the US, and if you can't afford $3 for a week's supply of spinach or bell peppers you probably can't afford housing either.
Calories per dollar list: https://efficiencyiseverything.com/calorie-per-dollar-list/
Going cold turkey from the kind of person who eats out for most of their meals, or generally doesn't cook much from scratch, to the kind of person who cooks their own meals using plant-based ingredients is going to be difficult, no matter what. Not only do you have to learn about what kinds of ingredients and recipes are at your disposal, you also have to get good at cooking (which is not just some skill you are either blessed with or aren't).
My wife & I live in a medium COL city, and eat a vegan diet for 2 with plenty of splurging (both w.r.t. $ and health) and very good nutrition, without breaking the bank. I'd say including our spending on treats or non-homemade convenience ingredients like Beyond Burgers and the like, we spend around $100 a week for 2 people and eat like royalty.
With a little bit of effort, I could probably reduce that spending by about half, and still have a variety of meals (ranging from asian stir fries and thai curries to BBQ and healthy pasta).
To anyone trying to get started, I'd say the main things to look into are:
* Legumes. Beans and Lentils are versatile and dirt cheap if you buy dried. We have an instant pot that makes cooking them even easier, but you can get by with just soaking and a pot on a stove.
* Vital Wheat Gluten & Seitan. I don't mean store-bought Seitan (though it's good, it's very expensive). Buy some vital wheat gluten at a health store or on the internet, and make some seitan meatballs, sausages, anything. It's an excellent source of protein, and you can do so much with it.
* Tofu. There are a few different kinds of Tofu, as well as other soy products like Tempeh (fermented soy). Tofu comes in such varieties as silken (very soft, used to make stuff like vegan cottage cheese, or in baking), firm/extra-firm (used for stuff like stir fries or baking), and if you hit up your nearest asian market, you'll find a bunch of others like already fried tofu, tofu skins (yuba), etc.
* Nutritional Yeast. I use it in a lot of ways, but it's basically a cheesy/nutty seasoning. It's definitely a staple. Try it on avocado toast.
* Veggies. Figure out which veggies you like and how you like them cooked. Roasting is a good go-to for most. Get a variety of color, and check out your local farmer's markets, CSA/Crop-Shares, or local farms for cheaper produce.
* Cheese made from nuts. You can make homemade cheeses using cashews. This is more on the "I miss cheese" side of things than health, but I mean, it's cashews, it's not artificial or anything.
As far as health, nutritional science changes it's mind about certain things every so often. You can see the general consensus flip from "Eggs are bad" to "Eggs are amazing", and this happens with all sorts of things. People used to avoid fats, now they try to eat fats. I personally try to limit my carb intake, but I'm not gonna feel bad if I eat a certain amount of carbs through legumes or non-starchy vegetables. I have a protein target I try to hit (which is pretty easy to do especially using seitan, peanut butter, nutritional yeast, and other such protein-packed goodies), and I don't go over a calorie limit, and that's all I track when I track. The mix of carbs to fats varies day to day and it's been working for me. You might feel better with extremely low carbs, or you might not ever get many fats.
It's also not a requirement that no one eat any meat or animal products ever. Before going vegetarian I was "flexitarian" and would occasionally eat meat when I was out and about. Now I eat mostly vegan at home, but when I'm out I sometimes get something with eggs or cheese. The current rate of meat consumption is not sustainable on an environmental level, even if you don't care about the ethics.
But it looks like I've rambled on for long enough. I just wanted to point out some of the ways a vegan diet is accessible both from a cost and a nutrition stand-point.
In fact I even doubt every human is consciously self-aware, a huge number of people probably live their lives the way we see dreams. So many people have no doubts their bare feelings and judgments are the reality e.g. believing the fact they're upset means a counterpart has done something really wrong and/or hates them while in fact they might just have not slept well or followed a bad diet...
You're like a half-step away from the "NPC" meme.
> It is unbelievable how blank and devoid of meaning, seen from the outside, and how muffled and unconscious, felt from the inside, the lives of most people flow along. It's a dull desiring and suffering, a dream-like tumbling through the four season towards death, accompanied by a series of trivial thoughts.
-- Arthur Schopenhauer
> [..] the individual citizen has very little possibility of having any influence - of making his opinion felt in the decision-making. And I think that, in itself, leads to a good deal of political lethargy and stupidity. It is true that one has to think first and then to act -but it's also true that if one has no possibility of acting, one's thinking kind of becomes empty and stupid.
-- Erich Fromm, who also said
> The fact that millions of people share the same vices does not make these vices virtues, the fact that they share so many errors does not make the errors to be truths, and the fact that millions of people share the same form of mental pathology does not make these people sane.
I see a fine line between empathy and delusion.
> "You are not a fish," replied the friend, "So you can't truly know that they are enjoying themselves."
> "You are not me," said Chuang Tzu. "So how do you know that I do not know that the fish are enjoying themselves?"
For me, a rich inner life, for a human, today, depends a lot on whether a person belongs to themselves, or is a collection of external opinions they just repeat. People who play tetris with exclusively pre-configured pieces instead of thinking. We all do that do a degree of course, but there's a big fat line between using shorthands and being able to reflect on them, and just using them and changing the subject whenever asked to reflect on any of it, and it's drawn with crayon.
Just on HN, how often do people say "I don't necesarily think this, but it's possible to hold the view that...", or "I think you're right, but sadly the average person...", "I'm not entirely sure I'm convinced that I feel like I agree with.." and all sorts of ways to avoid having and owning a personal position?
And then there's spookyness, e.g.
Look at those replies and how partycoder got greyed out a little for having some humanity and attention span left. Maybe these people generally have rich inner lives, but that wasn't one of their rich moments. And this goes for all who passed it by, too, not their best day.
A person who is alive, and has a rich inner life, does not look the other way in this fashion when others get murdered. They don't have picnics on mass graves. They do not say things that are technically true but give off a really cruel smell, and then act offended when called out on that. And hardly anyone ever debates me on that; if I say it crudely in the wrong context, I get downvoted, if I say it cleverly in response to someone who said something dumb, I get upvoted, but either way I can't get no interaction.
So then I'll take that as the answer: not only do many people not have rich inner lives, they know that, at least subconciously, and they carefully curate their communication to hide it, with multiple people acting as if orchestrated by their own defects, their own lack, and their commeon hostility towards those who have what they lack.
> You may be 38 years old, as I happen to be. And one day, some great opportunity stands before you and calls you to stand up for some great principle, some great issue, some great cause. And you refuse to do it because you are afraid... You refuse to do it because you want to live longer... You're afraid that you will lose your job, or you are afraid that you will be criticized or that you will lose your popularity, or you're afraid someone will stab you, or shoot at you or bomb your house; so you refuse to take the stand.
> Well, you may go on and live until you are 90, but you're just as dead at 38 as you would be at 90. And the cessation of breathing in your life is but the belated announcement of an earlier death of the spirit.
-- Martin Luther King, Jr.
Any discussion about anything serious and dangerous is filled with comments saying "I can't do anything", disagreed with by people who have not given up responsibility and agency, who at best get ignored, at worst punished. And I don't mean my own comments, they're crap, but I see other people say the same thing in 3 beautiful sentences, and they too get fuck all for their efforts -- and the people they corrected just ignore them and keep repeating their bullshit in other threads.
The proof is in the pudding. This shit wouldn't happen in a community where most people have rich inner lives, and such a community wouldn't happen in a world where most people have rich inner lives. I see people so dead, they outlawed the concept of deadness being discussed in earnest. We can talk about how "the average user doesn't care about privacy" (if that happens to lead to totalitarian horror, so be it, they don't know and don't care, so we're off the hook)... but pointing out how sick it is to talk about the nice landscape or even Star Wars in context of genocide being swept under the rug -- that's not cool. Being so sick is okay, calling it sick is not.
> Hobbes [..] even, through sheer force of imagination, was able to outline the main psychological traits of the new type of man who would fit into such a society and its tyrannical body politic. He foresaw the necessary idolatry of power itself by this new human type, that he would be flattered at being called a power-thirsty animal, although actually society would force him to surrender all his natural forces, his virtues and his vices, and would make him the poor meek little fellow who has not even the right to rise against tyranny, and who, far from striving for power, submits to any existing government and does not stir even when his best friend falls an innocent victim to an incomprehensible raison d'etat.
-- Hannah Arendt
Being broken in that way, which is completely accepted in polite society, is mutually exclusive with having an inner life I would consider rich. And I don't need to prove that others have a rich inner live, they need to express it. If they don't, as far as I'm concerned, there is no difference between them having a rich inner life or not. That doesn't mean I dehuamnize them, that just means when they say something, I can't take it at face value, unless I kicked their tires and they showed signs of rich aliveness.
I don't auot-import and auto-update any random crap from untrusted sources just because someone might call me "deluded" for noticing the inability or unwillingness of someone to reason themselves out of a wet paperbag. If that's all, people who I don't consider to have rich inner lives being offended at that (and then being hypocrites by being so sure I'm deluded, that I can't possibly be seeing anything they don't, but otherwise offering no argument) -- that's like saying if I use an ad-blocker, you'll show me super mean ads. It's utterly moot, and kinda like pretending to burn a bridge after I burned it. I don't care about the revisionism going on behind that burned bridge, that's why I burned it. It's like a psycho SO you can't break up with because they have to twist it around so they broke up with you. Fine, whatever, as long as it's over ^^
Anywhere on the net, and "even on HN", there's so many comments that don't really parse. There's so much people talking past each other, hiding their argument in "..", and when you ask them "how so?" or "can you elaborate", there's just nothing. Most recent example for me: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18673428
I can't say "that's a brainfart" or "that's nonsense". No, I need to say "can you walk me through the logic here", heh. And I'll never know if the other person simply hasn't seen my question.. but I know 19 times out of 20, I get no answer. It's like certain things are just facade, and when you try to access them, the program freezes. So basically, even when a program crashes half of the time, produces broken output the rest of the time, I can't make any deductions about the quality of the code? No. I can, I did, I will again.
P.S.: I'll take me, and possibly Schopenhauer, being arrogant. But you would do yourself a disfavour to hold my attitude against Erich Fromm, that dude was from a wholly different and greater caliber. He knows a lot about how unhappy and alienated people are because he actually listened to them, and it doesn't take much of his writing, or interviews, to see that he was a very kind and optimistic and loving person. He also said many things that would kinda deflate and supersede my self-righteous rants, so I never quote those parts. Read him and you shall find :D
That is not the case. I was not making a call from a short quote. By saying there is a "fine line" I wasn't literally endorsing a dichotomy, but rather expressing the futility of trying to make one. Irrespective of any quote, empathy is always a delusion, in the sense that there is no such thing as direct mind-to-mind contact, but at the same time one can be right or wrong about what someone else is feeling. In that sense, one may "have empathy" or not, but not final authority over someone else's humanity.
> And then there's spookyness, e.g. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18102401 Look at those replies and how partycoder got greyed out a little for having some humanity and attention span left. Maybe these people generally have rich inner lives, but that wasn't one of their rich moments.
I would say partycoder has been downvoted because people failed to recognize the value of his comment. A comment can be considered useful if it educates you, provokes further useful discussion, provokes a thought, gratifies or inspires you or is at least a bit fun. Consider a news post about somebody having raped and killed some other: a comment saying "that's so horrible, he is such a monster" could get a lot of upvotes somewhere else but not on HN because it says nothing but what is obvious to absolutely everybody and hackers usually dislike this kind of noise. The majority of people probably fail to realize both this example comment and the partycoder's comment could in fact provoke useful thought e.g. about why some people and even societies ever behave so violently (what makes them to even want to, I can't imagine myself wanting to commit violence and it's curious what's the actual underlying difference between us) and what can we do to prevent such incidents in future.
> A person who is alive, and has a rich inner life, does not look the other way in this fashion when others get murdered. They don't have picnics on mass graves.
If I happen to get murdered, I invite you to literally dance and have fun on my grave, re-watch StarWars and tell yourself: this guy was a jedi (whether or not I actually was doesn't really matter), I will be a jedi too; both judging and grief lead to the dark side. Then bulldoze my grave and build a cozy home where a family will live happily. Also go and save an actual living creature from violent death or unhappy life, gift your compassion to somebody who actually needs it, not my dead body nor the shadow of my history. If you let a death of somebody (or mere awareness of how much evil, struggle and ignorance does exist in the world) limit your capability to do anything positive (like having happy time with your family, friends, with random people or in solitude, climbing on an ancient temple for joy and inspiration or inspire others to do so, even just working productively to build a good thing and not giving a fuck) and put you in gloomy mood - that's the worst "spit on the grave" possible.
> You may be 38 years old, as I happen to be. And one day, some great opportunity stands before you and calls you to stand up for some great principle, some great issue, some great cause. And you refuse to do it because you are afraid...
The only thing I'm afraid of is my sacrifice is going to be a waste. Provided I knew for sure it would actually result in a persistent and significant (outweighing my potential and worth inevitable sorrow of the people loving me) change I would not hesitate to sacrifice my life. I'm not suicidal but if you manage to convince me there will be no tyranny in the world any more once I die and I'm killing myself this evening. But I can't actually imagine how my death can actually be a serious contribution so the best way to fight the darkness I could find so far is spreading my vision (which can be flawed or plain wrong but at least it provokes thought) via conversations on HN (a place where many thinking, capable to argue constructively and potentially influential people are going to read it) and everywhere (and I'll be honest enough to admit this sense of potentially meaningful contribution to waking people up feeds my brain dopamine).
> Being broken in that way, which is completely accepted in polite society
There are so many things in the society and in many people that are "broken" and being enslaved by the idea you should just do just anything to address these issues, strategies doomed to fail to actually improve anything (feeling sad included) qualifying perfectly is itself an example of being broken.
> I can't say "that's a brainfart" or "that's nonsense". No, I need to say "can you walk me through the logic here"
That obviously was a joke and your question obviously was rhetorical even if you didn't intend that. You should better have said "That's brilliant" sarcastically and at least that would be some sort of fun.
What I mean under conscious self-awareness is the difference between the non-lucid dream/daydreaming/flow state and the awake mindfullness state when you consciously observe everything and yourself, don't associate yourself nor the surrounding reality with your emotions and judgement (remember these are just a particularly quirky map rather than the territory) and are capable of conscious non-conditioned reasoning and acting.
There seemingly is a middle option of not-really-conscious basic self-awareness that is when a person neither sleeps nor observes their subjective perception as a distinct object (which neither is their actual self nor does it represent the actual reality around them reliably).