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To be, or not to be

...on serious topics that don't fit anywhere else at present.
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Compassionist
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Joined: July 14th, 2007, 8:38 am

To be, or not to be

#1 Post by Compassionist » September 8th, 2009, 8:39 pm

:)

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Alan C.
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Re: To be, or not to be

#2 Post by Alan C. » September 8th, 2009, 9:53 pm

To question one,
Yes of course, better to have a less than perfect life and be able to make a small contribution towards the betterment of the world, than to have no life at all.

To question two,
No of course not, there have been bad things in my life (like in everybody elses) that I could live without, given the (second) chance.
Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers.

Marian
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Joined: August 23rd, 2009, 2:25 pm

Re: To be, or not to be

#3 Post by Marian » September 9th, 2009, 2:43 am

Compassionist wrote:
Question 1: Would YOU choose to be alive if you knew before you were conceived what your life would be like?

Question 2: If your life could be rewinded and you could go back to a point before your conception (impossible, unless one is omnipotent) would you choose to experience your life exactly as it has been up until THIS MOMENT?

What about you? And what is the basis of your answer?
#1. Probably not even though I have made a difference to some people along the way. There would have to be some extremely compelling reason to choose to do it all again and I can't think of one just now. I know; very dark.

#2. Interesting question. I think my experiences, particularly the negative ones, have been defining moments in my life. I wouldn't be who I am if I chose to re-experience my life in a different way. Plus, if I didn't choose the same path (if it were possible, in the first place), then my son wouldn't be here and as painful as it is watching him slowly lose his muscles, I would miss out on some really fun adventures as well as being loved and appreciated by him in the moments when his mental health issues don't get in the way.
Transformative fire...

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Emma Woolgatherer
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Re: To be, or not to be

#4 Post by Emma Woolgatherer » September 9th, 2009, 7:46 am

Compassionist wrote:Question 1: Would YOU choose to be alive if you knew before you were conceived what your life would be like?
It depends. I would not want to live my life, any life, knowing "what it would be like", having it all mapped out ahead of me, not having any surprises, not having any hope, even dashed hope, not experiencing any relief at narrow escapes, not feeling able to change my life in any way. That would be hell. If I could make the choice knowing what my life was going to be like but then have that knowledge wiped out again before birth, then perhaps I would choose to live any life that wasn't a life of unmitigated suffering or wickedness. But I'm not sure. I'm afraid I struggle with thought experiments like this. Who would "I" be, this pre-conceived self? I might be able to imagine the choices of a "me" that was really me, as I am now, with my existing personality and temperament and values and beliefs and tastes. But I can't imagine the choices of a "me" that has the personality, etc., of the person whose life would be mapped out for me. Let alone some kind of neutral, unformed everyme.
Compassionist wrote:Question 2: If your life could be rewinded and you could go back to a point before your conception (impossible, unless one is omnipotent) would you choose to experience your life exactly as it has been up until THIS MOMENT.
No. What a horrible thought. I've been lucky. My life has been pretty good so far, despite some disappointments and regrets. But no, I would not want to live it again, knowing what was going to happen, not being able to change it. I enjoy the illusion of free will too much. :D

Can I suggest a slightly different question? If you could start from scratch, with the same circumstances of birth, the same parents, the same genes, the same initial environment, but with a different, unknown configuration of luck, would you want another go at it? Not to live it all over again exactly as you lived it before, and not even to live it with the benefit of hindsight, but just to have another throw of the dice?

I would.

Emma

Marian
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Re: To be, or not to be

#5 Post by Marian » September 9th, 2009, 12:28 pm

Emma Woolgatherer wrote: Can I suggest a slightly different question? If you could start from scratch, with the same circumstances of birth, the same parents, the same genes, the same initial environment, but with a different, unknown configuration of luck, would you want another go at it? Not to live it all over again exactly as you lived it before, and not even to live it with the benefit of hindsight, but just to have another throw of the dice?

I would.

Emma
Not under any circumstances. Thank you.
Transformative fire...

Fia
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Re: To be, or not to be

#6 Post by Fia » September 9th, 2009, 9:13 pm

Compassionist's questions:
Of course I would choose life, with all its complications, mistakes and baggage, than to not exist at all. As Alan said
be able to make a small contribution towards the betterment of the world
But whether I would willingly put myself through the same pain and pleasure again, I don't know. Perhaps ask me that again on my deathbed, and if I say anything remotely profound please feel free to repeat it at my funeral :)

Like Emma, I think much of the joy in life comes from the surprises, the hope, the relief, the ability to change your life.
Another throw of the dice, Emma? I doubt it. I worked very hard in my 20s and 30s to get my head to a place it could comfortably be. That work is now so ingrained it is ongoing, which now I count as a huge positive, but with the same parents, genes and environment I would still have to walk that walk...

What I might like to do is to relive parts of my life knowing what I know now. Perhaps I wouldn't then be abused, walked over, demeaned and diminished. I've had nearly 53 years in this skin and I'm mostly comfortable in it now, with all the flaws, scars, baggage and insecurities. They are what makes me strong. I couldn't have said that 20 years ago.

But then without them I wouldn't be me...
This is the conundrum: without all the baggage in our lives we wouldn't be the same people.

Hundovir
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Re: To be, or not to be

#7 Post by Hundovir » September 9th, 2009, 9:17 pm

Emma Woolgatherer wrote:Can I suggest a slightly different question? If you could start from scratch, with the same circumstances of birth, the same parents, the same genes, the same initial environment, but with a different, unknown configuration of luck, would you want another go at it?
So you're not a determinist then Emma? :)

Edit: so if you could start over with everything exactly the same, but different...

:wink:

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Emma Woolgatherer
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Re: To be, or not to be

#8 Post by Emma Woolgatherer » September 10th, 2009, 12:33 am

Hundovir wrote:So you're not a determinist then Emma? :)
Yes, I am, as it happens.
Hundovir wrote:Edit: so if you could start over with everything exactly the same, but different...
Nooo. That's not fair! :cross: What I said was, or at least what I meant was: you could start with the same circumstances, but then things could play themselves out differently, because of slightly different choices, slightly different throws of the dice. A minute's delay here, a few centimetres to the right there, a heads instead of a tails, a short straw instead of a long one, and life could have a completely different complexion. It's not as though everything that happens to us in our lives is determined only by our own starting circumstances, is it?

Emma

Marian
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Re: To be, or not to be

#9 Post by Marian » September 10th, 2009, 2:42 am

Emma Woolgatherer wrote:
Hundovir wrote:So you're not a determinist then Emma? :)
Yes, I am, as it happens.
If everything is the inevitable consequence of antecedent states of affairs, how do you explain spontaneous genetic mutations that occur randomly in people?
Transformative fire...

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anaconda
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Re: To be, or not to be

#10 Post by anaconda » September 10th, 2009, 4:54 am

mmitchc633 wrote:
Emma Woolgatherer wrote:
Hundovir wrote:So you're not a determinist then Emma? :)
Yes, I am, as it happens.
If everything is the inevitable consequence of antecedent states of affairs, how do you explain spontaneous genetic mutations that occur randomly in people?

Surely that is a question of normal biological functioning and in no way presents an argument against determinism?
John

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anaconda
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Re: To be, or not to be

#11 Post by anaconda » September 10th, 2009, 5:06 am

Hundovir wrote:
Emma Woolgatherer wrote:Can I suggest a slightly different question? If you could start from scratch, with the same circumstances of birth, the same parents, the same genes, the same initial environment, but with a different, unknown configuration of luck, would you want another go at it?
I would be very curious as to how things might pan out given another shake of the dice, but ultimately given the choice I would have to say no. I can pinpoint two random events (hoovering the lounge and visiting a nightclub as a teenager!) which lead to particular personal and professional paths influencing what has to date been a pretty good life.

Without wishing to sound too cheese like, having someone to love for 25 years who loves me back would be too much to risk in the interests of curiosity.
John

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jaywhat
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Re: To be, or not to be

#12 Post by jaywhat » September 10th, 2009, 6:50 am

Compassionist wrote: Question 1: Would YOU choose to be alive if you knew before you were conceived what your life would be like?

Question 2: If your life could be rewinded and you could go back to a point before your conception (impossible, unless one is omnipotent) would you choose to experience your life exactly as it has been up until THIS MOMENT?
1: Cannot answer that.
2: Sometimes feel I would like another go at some of it - but a bit like Emma's alternative - "with the same circumstances of birth, the same parents, the same genes, the same initial environment, but with a different, unknown configuration of luck...... just to have another throw of the dice" Yes.

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getreal
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Re: To be, or not to be

#13 Post by getreal » September 10th, 2009, 11:00 am

Compassionist wrote:
Question 1: Would YOU choose to be alive if you knew before you were conceived what your life would be like?

Question 2: If your life could be rewinded and you could go back to a point before your conception (impossible, unless one is omnipotent) would you choose to experience your life exactly as it has been up until THIS MOMENT?
Very interesting question, Compassionist and I'm surprised by the variety of responses.
Q1. Yes. I can't even get my head around "not being here".

Q2. Yes, I would mostly because I feel I have led a chrmed exsistance. Born, in a wealthy country, to 2 loving parents; born with all the bits in the right place and fully functional; never known any kind of real poverty; married an amazing man, who is still here after 30 years; beautiful, funny and caring daughter; wonderful, healthy grandaughter.

What's to change?
And yes, if any of the crappy things which have happened to me had not happened, I wouldn't be me.
and I quite like me.
"It's hard to put a leash on a dog once you've put a crown on his head"-Tyrion Lannister.

Nirvanam
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Re: To be, or not to be

#14 Post by Nirvanam » September 12th, 2009, 11:17 am

Compassionist wrote:Question 1: Would YOU choose to be alive if you knew before you were conceived what your life would be like?

Question 2: If your life could be rewinded and you could go back to a point before your conception (impossible, unless one is omnipotent) would you choose to experience your life exactly as it has been up until THIS MOMENT?
1: The answer is not exactly "I don't know...I can't make up my mind yet" but on probability of what I would choose, it would be No: 80% and Yes: 20%. I would not choose to be alive if I already knew what my life would be because then there be no fun left in the adventure. So I pretty much agree with Emma's viewpoint on this. The "Yes" is because knowledge and experience are two different things. I believe experience is more often necessary for knowledge to be complete. You have knowledge about what boiling water is but you don't really know it until it is poured on you...if you get my drift.

2. I'd change a few things in my life...few outcomes and I am not sure I'd want to experience it the same way. I'd be lying to myself if I said I'll choose everything to be the same. Again it will be based on the probability for each of my choices (keeping in mind that this probability is being influenced by my experiences this life). To explain this let me give an example. Would I choose the same parents (or rather same mentality for my parents)? Yes: 90% and No: 10%. The "No" is because throughout my childhood I knew what I wanted to become: a cricketer who captained my country, and I knew and the people who were involved in my cricket knew I had the goods. But, my parents were rather conservative in their view of sport as a profession (like 99% of all contemporary South Indian parents) and they didn't back my dream rather because I did well in Math and Science in my Tenth grade and wanted me to pursue the regular Engineering graduate dream that most contemporary parents had. In a way I am happy for the kids these days because even if they don't make it to the top (an international player) they can still earn a decent to very good living being a domestic (intranational) player which wasn't the case even 10-12 years ago.

Compassionist
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Re: To be, or not to be

#15 Post by Compassionist » September 12th, 2009, 7:43 pm

:)

Compassionist
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Re: To be, or not to be

#16 Post by Compassionist » September 12th, 2009, 7:52 pm

Emma Woolgatherer wrote:
Compassionist wrote:Question 1: Would YOU choose to be alive if you knew before you were conceived what your life would be like?
It depends. I would not want to live my life, any life, knowing "what it would be like", having it all mapped out ahead of me, not having any surprises, not having any hope, even dashed hope, not experiencing any relief at narrow escapes, not feeling able to change my life in any way. That would be hell. If I could make the choice knowing what my life was going to be like but then have that knowledge wiped out again before birth, then perhaps I would choose to live any life that wasn't a life of unmitigated suffering or wickedness. But I'm not sure. I'm afraid I struggle with thought experiments like this. Who would "I" be, this pre-conceived self? I might be able to imagine the choices of a "me" that was really me, as I am now, with my existing personality and temperament and values and beliefs and tastes. But I can't imagine the choices of a "me" that has the personality, etc., of the person whose life would be mapped out for me. Let alone some kind of neutral, unformed everyme.
Compassionist wrote:Question 2: If your life could be rewinded and you could go back to a point before your conception (impossible, unless one is omnipotent) would you choose to experience your life exactly as it has been up until THIS MOMENT.
No. What a horrible thought. I've been lucky. My life has been pretty good so far, despite some disappointments and regrets. But no, I would not want to live it again, knowing what was going to happen, not being able to change it. I enjoy the illusion of free will too much. :D

Can I suggest a slightly different question? If you could start from scratch, with the same circumstances of birth, the same parents, the same genes, the same initial environment, but with a different, unknown configuration of luck, would you want another go at it? Not to live it all over again exactly as you lived it before, and not even to live it with the benefit of hindsight, but just to have another throw of the dice?

I would.

Emma
Thank you Emma for your thoughtful response. As for your modified question of having another throw of the dice, my answer is still "I don't know." I don't want to be pessimistic, yet the horrors of the life I have had so far make it hard for me to be optimistic. Hence I am agnostic! Have you read Rita Carter's "Mapping the Mind"? In that book, she lucidly argued that the illusion of Free Will has evolved because the consciousness that gets generated by the activities of the brain experiences cognitive dissonance when the Self realises that all its choices are inevitable choices. Any comments on that?

Compassionist
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Re: To be, or not to be

#17 Post by Compassionist » September 12th, 2009, 7:56 pm

Fia wrote:What I might like to do is to relive parts of my life knowing what I know now. Perhaps I wouldn't then be abused, walked over, demeaned and diminished. I've had nearly 53 years in this skin and I'm mostly comfortable in it now, with all the flaws, scars, baggage and insecurities. They are what makes me strong. I couldn't have said that 20 years ago.

But then without them I wouldn't be me...
This is the conundrum: without all the baggage in our lives we wouldn't be the same people.
I agree that without all the baggage we wouldn't be the same people. We ARE prisoners of causality. I think I would like to re-live some parts of my life knowing what I know now. Although I realise that is a contradiction in the chain of causality and is therefore impossible.

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Re: To be, or not to be

#18 Post by Compassionist » September 12th, 2009, 8:14 pm

:)

Compassionist
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Re: To be, or not to be

#19 Post by Compassionist » September 12th, 2009, 8:17 pm

:)

Compassionist
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Re: To be, or not to be

#20 Post by Compassionist » September 12th, 2009, 8:21 pm

:)

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