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Old 09-12-2010   #41
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Re: The temptation to NOT exist

Quote Originally Posted by Russell Nash View Post
Hope. Example: Who knows if one of theses days an alien civilization appears on Earth and grants us the gift of immortality.
I've just skimmed through this thread which I hadn't seen before and the above quoted bit caught my eye. Immortality seems to me to be one of the most nightmarish ideas I can imagine. But it seems that most people imagine it as being something desirable, and no wonder; it removes the fear of death. I think at an earlier period of my life it may have seemed desirable to me as well, but I think only because I hadn't thought about it all that much. I account for the seeming desirability of immortality by the inability of the human mind to conceive of long stretches of time in any way other than as an abstraction. For example: the difference between 4 and 40 years seems like a long time but 400,000 years and 401,000 years seem like similar lengths of time because we can only conceive of these lengths of time in a very abstract way. They are just numbers. I think that if these lengths of time were conceivable to us in a more real seeming way immortality would not seem at all desirable.
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Old 09-12-2010   #42
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Re: The temptation to NOT exist

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Quote Originally Posted by Russell Nash View Post
Hope. Example: Who knows if one of theses days an alien civilization appears on Earth and grants us the gift of immortality.
I've just skimmed through this thread which I hadn't seen before and the above quoted bit caught my eye. Immortality seems to me to be one of the most nightmarish ideas I can imagine. But it seems that most people imagine it as being something desirable, and no wonder; it removes the fear of death. I think at an earlier period of my life it may have seemed desirable to me as well, but I think only because I hadn't thought about it all that much. I account for the seeming desirability of immortality by the inability of the human mind to conceive of long stretches of time in any way other than as an abstraction. For example: the difference between 4 and 40 years seems like a long time but 400,000 years and 401,000 years seem like similar lengths of time because we can only conceive of these lengths of time in a very abstract way. They are just numbers. I think that if these lengths of time were conceivable to us in a more real seeming way immortality would not seem at all desirable.
I need to clarify that I didn't say that hope is one of my reasons to keep breathing, but, on the contrary, I said: "When I get up every morning I wonder why I don’t jump off my balcony. Why not? Non-existence is easier!"

Believe it or not immortality is the only reason why we still have religions. Why do you think a terrorist is going to blow himself up? Answer: the promise of immortality. Christianity: Christ have risen! Etc. Therefore, most of the people would say that they do want immortality. However, before accepting or refusing immortality, we should be offered to have it. Other than in religions, immortality doesn't exist, and can't exist. Just simply consider yourself, if after a few decades I can't remember much what I did, imagine after living 100,000 years, or two billion. We don't have enough storage capacity. Also, we are supposing that we keep our brains intact, but who doesn't want to be a little smarter? Would you accept immortality as you are now? Then, I have other questions, who wants to live forever in jail? Or mutilated? Or being a deformed Ligottian creature? So, do we want to live forever, just that? Or live forever under certain circumstances...? Most Christians, to mention the most important Western religion, want to go to Heaven and be in paradise, enjoying life, under this slogan: suffer here, enjoy later. What if they die and go directly to Hell, suffering for eternity, would they accept that? That's also immortality.

I'm scared of nothingness, of dying, as everyone else. However, living forever, is not the antidote. I cannot even conceive immortality, what is to live forever, as a proton that is probably here since the beginning of time? The idea of being that proton terrifies me. I just mentioned immortality because most Christians, and there are still 2 billion around, wish to live forever. Religions proclaim: "forget this life, you have another one". It sounds like cowardice.

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Old 09-12-2010   #43
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Re: The temptation to NOT exist

You know what, on the other hand I've been saying I want people to know I existed .
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Old 09-12-2010   #44
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Re: The temptation to NOT exist

Quote Originally Posted by Russell Nash View Post
immortality doesn't exist, and can't exist. Just simply consider yourself, if after a few decades I can't remember much what I did, imagine after living 100,000 years, or two billion. We don't have enough storage capacity. Also, we are supposing that we keep our brains intact, but who doesn't want to be a little smarter? Would you accept immortality as you are now? Then, I have other questions, who wants to live forever in jail? Or mutilated? Or being a deformed Ligottian creature? So, do we want to live forever, just that? Or live forever under certain circumstances...?
Thank you for this thought provoking response. I my opinion, no life has ever been good enough not to eventually get "old" and become something one no longer wants, given enough time. In an effort, as a mental exercise, to come up with a scenario, however impossible, in which immortality is tolerable, I have come up with this: Someone who is predisposed to love life and always has extreme long term memory loss is somehow eternally allowed to live life in the way they always had, which hadn't in their early years interfered with their natural love of life. If, for example, their memory always only went back 20 years this might be like living eternally as a person in their early 20s except that their earliest memories would not be the memories of childhood. Their earliest memories would be from the perspective of a person 20 years ago who's earliest memories, though they could no longer be remembered, were from the perspective of a person 20 years ago... and so on and so on. I can't say whether this would be a tolerable eternal life or not, but in any case it's clearly impossible.
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Old 09-12-2010   #45
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Re: The temptation to NOT exist

Quote Originally Posted by Gray House View Post
... their memory always only went back 20 years this might be like living eternally as a person in their early 20s except that their earliest memories would not be the memories of childhood.
There is a somehow similar short story by Fredric Brown, "Hall of Mirrors", published Dec, 1953, here

Hall of Mirrors

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Old 09-25-2010   #46
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Re: The temptation to NOT exist

I want people to know I existed because of the Holy Bible, and it might also be because some bands like the Red Hot Chili Peppers sing in the song Storm in a Tea Cup about me and Jesus, and he tells me I have to lay low . I think these people would make about anyone want to die, and I have thought about jumping off a bridge, but Jesus says I go home like an arrow of light something to look forward to, I would not want on miss that, and like the Bible says much was given to me and much will be expected of me .
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Old 12-16-2010   #47
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Re: The temptation to NOT exist

“Let us beware of saying that death is the opposite of life. The living being is only a species of the dead, and a very rare species.” - Fredrich Nietzsche

Without being flippant I see death and life as two sides of the one coin. As Ray Brassier said: "The optimist fixes the exchange rate between joy and woe, thereby determining the value of life. The pessimist, who refuses the principle of exchange and the injunction to keep investing in the future no matter how worthless life's currency in the present, is stigmatized as an unreliable investor."

The dark humor in that statement helps even if we are unreliable investors. I just joined the site so am enjoying the many threads so far...

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Old 12-17-2010   #48
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Re: The temptation to NOT exist

Quote Originally Posted by Russell Nash View Post
When I get up every morning I wonder why I don’t jump off my balcony. Why not? Non-existence is easier! Just why are we still living our lives if NOBODY and NOTHING seems to care about us? Nothing cares whether we live or we die. Our sun is going to be there tomorrow, with or without us, “earth abides”.

Have you ever experience this fear… of living here, right now, without knowing why…?
Nope. I accept the fact that any reason or meaning can only be applied retroactively and is entirely subjective, so after I'm dead it will be up to someone else to decide what purpose I served and how well I served it, if they want to do so. Whatever they do won't make a difference to me in the slightest at that point, but it may amuse some people who are not dead at that point.

Earth abides, yes, and to a lesser extent, so do various species on it, including a particularly invasive species of tool-using primate that has spread like ambulatory kudzu with opposable thumbs.

like many other organisms, I resort to a basic hedonism. Seek pleasure. avoid pain. repeat. Use brain to distinguish pleasures with painful after-effects from pleasures that can be repeated with little to no discernible negative consequence.
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Old 12-17-2010   #49
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Re: The temptation to NOT exist

Quote Originally Posted by Russell Nash View Post
In AD 802701, HG Wells year, NOBODY is going to remember anything from us...
And if they did, would it matter? I'm aware it's a common ambition but not one I've felt an attachment too since childhood.

Quote Originally Posted by Russell Nash View Post
My comments are not an apology of suicide, I just want to state that I exist because I breathe, and while I breathe I exist and I live. That's it. It's not much for a "reason" but doesn't look like someone has a better reason to exist.
It seems to me that we are motivated to exist for the pleasure of the moment. If you experienced a near absence of this pleasure you'll see that doing most anything above autonomic functions requires it. It's even required to motivate oneself to expend the energy to commit suicide.

"The failed magician waves his wand, and in an instant the laughter is gone." - Martin Gore
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Old 12-17-2010   #50
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Re: The temptation to NOT exist

As Lou Ford would comment:

”If the Good Lord made a mistake in us people it was in making us want to live when we’ve got the least excuse for it.” (Jim Thompson, The Killer Inside Me)
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