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  1. #11
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crystal Winter Dream View Post
    But is it not so when you hurt yourself, you are always hurting the greater whole? We all have a place inside of a community, whether we choose to acknowledge said community or not. A calm neighborhood has an alcoholic in the midst. Does this person not hurt the quality of the neighborhood community? Therefore I do think although many say "you are only hurting yourself" it is a complete lie. Everything you do have a ripple effect on society, good or bad. That is why I feel it is important to live life as you feel the world should be, because the things you do will ultimately be a model somewhere to someone. You never know. No one is truly invisible.
    Here's where I am coming from:

    We are balancing opposing goods here -- the freedom to self-determine, frankly, against the possibility that everyone can contribute to the whole and have positive impact. If you take away someone's freedom to self-determine, are you actually doing them justice? And how do you make someone NOT do things that are negative?

    Basically, I would posit that removing the ability for people to self-determine is actually a detriment to the community.

    It doesn't mean you cannot engage a person and try to invite them back into the community -- offer them something that you think is better for them than what they are choosing. Silence is not what I am suggesting. But I am also stating that closing off choices is a negative as well on all the individuals in a community and thus also on the community itself. You want people in the community because they choose to be there, not because they are forced to be there... because it will poison the community in the long run if you have people there who are not willing to embrace the spirit of the community.

    This is why I support the position of balancing self-determination against communal benefits. You can't mandate communal thinking, you can only invite people to partake. Hence, the boundaries.

    My backstory is also that I have an alcoholic father. (Well, he's dead now. He died over the long haul basically from drinking himself to death.) So I do know that experience first-hand of inviting someone repeatedly back into community and having my offers rebuffed and needing to accept over time that it wasn't me, it was his choices that led him where he went. It's not that he had a problem, it's that he refused to allow others to walk with him in his problem. He couldn't handle the idea of being a fallible person who allowed others to see him as he was. But it was his life. His decisions hurt me, but I also had no control over his choices.

    Now in a deeper sense, I dare to ask why it should matter whether or not we destroy ourselves even to the greater whole? Everyone partakes in a self-destructive behavior. Alcohol has negative affects yet we still drink. We use social media at work although it is against the rules, and we know getting caught would mean getting reprimanded. It may be big or small, but in a sense we do things which could ruin us. What is the attraction to behavior which ultimately hurts us and possibly those around us?
    It depends on the issue, frankly. Each has its own components, and each person has their own particular reasons to partake.


    Rational depends who you ask. There are very rational people in the world, but they usually don't get a headline. That is because rationality is consider a normal thing. But what for the irrational people? Most people have been emotionally or otherwise irrational once in their lives. Why is it when someone is irrational, they are put on a pedestal notoriously? Perhaps irrationality wouldn't be so in style if the world chose to acknowledge a few rational people. Irrationality in a sense is admired in literature and poetry. The Romantics are full of irrational emotional responses in their work.
    it's a continuum, not a binary opposite. Heart and head are not as distinct as we try to make them.

    But what is free-will? We say we have free will to choose, yet all our choices come off influenced. Even a simple "I would never want to be that person." influences our process. We desire an example. Is this perhaps why we allow destructive people to exist in this world still? There must be an example of what is "wrong"? We say we are free yet freedom comes with chains. True freedom cannot be acknowledged on earth. It would require a demise of rules and truly following our honest whims.
    The "rules" issue is irrelevant. The problem is that our "honest whims" come from a black box that we don't understand, where both experience and biology contribute. But it's the best we've got; people have to feel like they are making conscious decisions, because of our capacity for self-awareness. It's called "buy in" regardless of its source.

    I actually view freedom as not "total freedom to whatever" but as the freedom to choose what we bind ourselves to -- our connections and priorities. "Total freedom" is chaos, but what we are really choosing is the methodology and the things for which we live.

    Dostoevsky touched on religion in another work, which I felt was more compelling on a religious argument than the Underground Man. A Catholic cardinal tells Jesus He made the wrong choices. It was absurd, and at first upset me a bit considering I was baptized a Catholic. But as I read it again - it sadly made a little sense. Many churches have forgone the original mission to their own, as humans are corrupted and desire power. It does suggest why many churches are broken and misled.
    I tend to see it as based on fear which leads to the need for control (to ensure pleasure and safety). I think we see this nowadays in the USA with the evangelical movement feeling itself on the edge of cultural extinction, to the degree they are now willing to fully support candidates who are living anathema of the very values they claim to believe in. It's out of the need for survival and thus control, they can't just "live in the situation" and allow who they are the space it needs to light the world around them. Real faith is sacrificial living.



    There is certainly other factors which affect our "freedom". But let us assume a position here. Robert is a teller at a bank, and he hears someone is struggling to make their monthly payment. They need $5 to cover it. Robert has a choice. But his choice is affected by other factors. Now realizing she is poor and struggling, not giving her the $5 would mean she cannot pay her bill and will struggle more. It may cause repercussions as someone wonders why he didn't just give her the extra money. On the other hand one may consider him enabling her. She may be fibbing to get $5. Now, what is done here, I feel would be entirely based upon the moral makeup of the person. Someone like the underground man would deny her any aid, as it is her own problem in this stupid world. Someone may offer her a way to get some extra money before the payday, allowing a little midway. Probably because they are too indecisive to take a side. Then a giving person, maybe too giving, would give her $5.
    That's all plausible. Basically Robert is trying to evaluate whether he can take another person's problem at face value and what his role in its solution would justifiably be, for the ultimate good.

    So let us look at the underground man. He had a decent paying job, a decent servant, he was a bit poorly but he had enough to get by, and he was alone. On the forefront you might think his problem was a sort of social anxiety, the way he spoke of people. Nonetheless, it appeared his main problem was "control". He felt he had no control of anything therefore desired to get the upperhand. He got this by humiliating decent people who attempted to help him, to be nice to him. He slighted decent people so he himself could feel powerful. He then hated it when people acted so negatively to his power struggle. People do not desire to be dominated. Perhaps he was raised to feel that was proper. What makes him wrong in a world of free choice?
    Like I said above with the current state of the religious, we are human beings and thus animals on some level and thus concerned about survival... which leads us to protect and feed our feelings of security and pleasure and control the world around us. (I guess I should also note here that religions that include the concept of resurrection attempt to short-circuit our natural animalistic impulse for survival -- they say that life can continue after death, or that death is not the end-all be-all.)

    The problem I have with it is that I premise that all human beings are on an equivalent level. If the Underground Man is no more special than anyone else, then he has no claim to intruding into another human's self-determinism whether or not he's trying to save his own skin or feel good about himself. All humans should be given the space to determine as much as possible for themselves while not infringing on another's equivalent space. (Of course, if someone believes some people are more important than only people, all bets are off -- some people would then have the RIGHT to suck another person's autonomy and space dry.)

    The thing about community is that it can flip the tables. People use their freedom to help rather than wall off. The problem is that not everyone is ready for community or willing to sacrifice / put themselves at risk, so essentially the people who can't handle community can be like wolves among the sheep and destroy community. Then again, if communal people are not sheep but simply smart and vulnerable, perhaps they can find a way to responsibly engage potential wolves that both invites them while protecting others in the community. it's a complex issue.

    Well to a degree with Euthanasia (which I personally do not morally agree with, as I believe the only person who should be giving and taking life is God), it may come off as selfish of an individual to hold it against someone for doing it when they are in great suffering. I do not think it is entirely hypocritical. I do agree with your points as to it being dangerous to suggest free will should allow destruction. But where do we draw the line? If a man wants to kill himself slowly by using heroin or drinking themselves to death, things we do not normally see as suicide, what is the line?
    Now you're raising a question of priority. It sounds like you are assuming life at all costs is the priority. Is it? Or are there worse things than living?
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"
    "You can't take a picture of this, it's already gone." ~ "Six Feet Under"

  2. #12
    Poking the poodle Frosty's Avatar
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    Well to a degree with Euthanasia (which I personally do not morally agree with, as I believe the only person who should be giving and taking life is God), it may come off as selfish of an individual to hold it against someone for doing it when they are in great suffering. I do not think it is entirely hypocritical. I do agree with your points as to it being dangerous to suggest free will should allow destruction. But where do we draw the line? If a man wants to kill himself slowly by using heroin or drinking themselves to death, things we do not normally see as suicide, what is the line?
    I think the line, when it comes to things that MIGHT kill you comes down to intent. Should a person be allowed to drink themselves to death? Should they be allowed to become hooked on heroin...

    Its hard to say.

    I think very much that we are low on programs that would help people who are vulnerable to becoming addicted to something like this- those who are in some sort of pain oftentimes and looking for a coping mechanism- find some other, healthier, way to deal with their problems. I think we are low on just, compassion and support in general as a country. It is easy to be disgusted with people who ‘choose to drink their life away’ especially when those people DO have access to resources/treatment/alternative options... but... its harder I think sometimes to think of them as a fallinle human who is making poor choices for a reason that is unique to them- a human being, and someone worth helping.

    So... do I think those people should be allowed to slowly kill themselves with a substance... allowed... isnt the word I would use. I dont think they should necessarily be- villified or locked up or anything like that- but I also dont think people should turn a blind eye to the fact that- these people doing this to themselves- is a problem, its undesirable to all of us, and we need to find a way to help.

    The fact that these peoples intention is NOT to immediately kill themselves means that- to me, the best thing that can be done is a support where- somehow- both those trying to help and those in need of help- find a way to meet each other half way. This wont work in all cases of course, there will always be those who refuse help- who will get worse no matter what- but I think it would be even worse if we just... turned a blind eye and left those who have those problems and those who are making those decisions to “their fate”.

    When it comes to those whose intention though is IMMEDIATE harm to themselves or others... well. The whole- meeting in the middle thing might not be possible. These people, might just need to be hospiralized. As much as I hate the idea of someone else being in control of ME- sometimes I think it is the best case scenario for someone who is just- facing a time when they are less able to control themselves.

    When it comes to suicide and euthanasia... its tricky. I feel like the best way that I can draw a line between what I think is ok, and what I do not- is to say that- If a person id very unlikely to recover, very unlikely to ever have the chance of living again without pain... then I would say- that was when I was not against euthanasia. If a persons situation, even if they personally believe that situation to be hopeless, is NOT hopeless- if there is some treatment that has a high chance of improving their life- then... that is when I would draw the line where I would say- I am totally not ok with suicide/euthanasia. It all to me, depends on- and I hate this saying- whether suicide would likely be a permanent solution to a temporary problem- or a permanent solution to a permanent problem.

    And even then, I would want whoever is going through the euthanasia process... well. I wouldnt want that to be a thing that is jusr supported as a ‘do it yourself whenever you want’ and Id be more comfortable if that person had to face certain checks and balances when it comes to it.

    I cannot mess with death. Like, it is just too big a deal to not take extremely seriously- meaning, yes- I dont think it should be something that- someone is just allowed to do and others look the other way because “its their life, their choice” because when it comes to that- well... that should never be something that is easy for someone to do, and we just accept, in my opinion.
    Likes Red Memories liked this post

  3. #13
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    The two values of the West are freedom and equality, and freedom limits equality, and equality limits freedom.

    This is because we have discovered that power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, so we limit power.

    So we limit power first in our values, where one value limits. the other value, and vica versa. And we give political expression to this in liberal democracy, which is based on the limitation of power.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mole View Post
    The two values of the West are freedom and equality, and freedom limits equality, and equality limits freedom.

    This is because we have discovered that power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, so we limit power.

    So we limit power first in our values, where one value limits. the other value, and vica versa. And we give political expression to this in liberal democracy, which is based on the limitation of power.
    Properly understood I do not consider that there is a dichotomy between liberty and equality, neither acts as a break or limit upon the other.

    Complex equality usually involves some conception of positive freedom/liberty, that is "freedom to", as opposed to negative freedom/liberty, that is "freedom from".

    Traditionally freedom/liberty has been seen exclusively in the negative sense, this is a mistake, in one sense it is true that the rich man and the poor man are equally free to sleep beneath the bridge, ie neither is prevented from doing so by law most of the time, but for one, the rich man with means, it may be a choice, where for the poor man it is necessitated by their lack of means.

    There have been theorists who have tried to achieve the end of positive liberty through legalisation of a negative character, I think called "counter extractive liberty" but its a convoluted idea which I'll not bother going into right now. In short the prohibiting of decisions likely to be made with incomplete information or competence, recognising that not everyone has the same decision making power or bargaining power therefore freedom to each does not mean or constitute the same prowess.

    Anyway, I dont believe that as liberty expands equality necessarily contracts or that as equality expands liberty necessarily contracts.

    Though like I say I believe in complex theories of liberty (its not just being left alone) and equality (its not the same or the uniform, its not the enemy of diversity, disparity or difference).
    Likes deathwarmedup liked this post

  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crystal Winter Dream View Post
    This has been on my mind since in world literature we began studying "The Underground Man" by Dostoevsky. The underground man was a miserable sort of man yet seemed to take pride in it. Why, he merely wanted the "freedom" to live his life poorly. Which creates a striking idea here.

    What does it mean to be free? Should we have the freedom to do things against our own good will and the good will of others? Why should we consider tolerating a man whose sole desire is to destroy someone else's happiness because of his own unhappiness? How do we properly handle these people who know they are "sick men" yet refuse to see a "doctor?"

    Maybe you've read the story and know what I am speaking of. I am curious how you all see this sort of thing.
    Was Dostoevsky not jealous of the untroubled existence of the plebs and peasants though? This was my understanding of this story and others like it, he was under some sort of self-improvement compulsion, tortured by the idea of whether it was a better thing to Socrates dissatisfied or a pig satisfied.

    Contrast this with George Orwell, he admired rather than envied the untroubled existence of the plebs and peasants, he hated the improvement driven individuals, or "reforming zeal", especially when it was wedded to some sort of ideological conceit. Instead he contrasts that the "proles", in 1984 they are the individuals who while they are easily duped with "prole feed" and "two minutes hate" are ultimately unlikely to be attracted by ideology, their indoctrination will be as incomplete as their understanding.

    Orwell preferred "common decency" to "intelligence" or "class", its what makes him a socialist rather than an aristocratic thinker like Dostoevsky, when Orwell is most critical of socialists (I think fairly too its got to be said and applies to many shades of opinion besides socialists) in his brilliant essay "Why Socialists Do Not Believe In Fun" (about the Cratchetts having a fun time at Christmas despite being poor and persecuted by Scrooge) its for precisely what he thought was their under valuing or appreciation for "common decency", ie the Dostoevsky mindset.

    Orwell's experiences recorded in Down and Out in Paris and London and again in the first book of The Road To Wigan Pier are sort of his "going native" in his own country (granted Orwell was not a native english man but it was his adoptive home), he had a pathological aversion to dirt, filth or disorder but he decided to become a tramp, experiencing all the things he had an aversion to, in order to gain an insight into tramps and tramping! None of it led him to adopt Dostoevsky's idea of questioning the point of providing the despised poor with freedom when you saw what little they could make of it.

    The other questions are much greater ones, if I tried to answer them it would take to long and would probably bore you, so I hope just responding to the literary aspect is fine. When it comes to freedom I personally think the poorest choices are to forfeit it, to pursue an escape from freedom as a result of a fear of freedom. Most people do, its as great an internal conflict as anyone has identified in the individual or history.

  6. #16
    Senior Member deathwarmedup's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    an aristocratic thinker like Dostoevsky
    What makes you say D. was an aristocratic thinker? I don't remember him being that focused on class, "breeding", honour etc. Maybe I just wasn't tuned into that angle at the time? He seemed a very humane character (on paper at least) who ranged through the psychological and spiritual and wound up as a sort of .. theocrat.

    (Btw, the comparison with Orwell and "decency" is very interesting from an Enneagram point of view, but that's even more off-topic.)

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    Freedom of choice is what you got
    Freedom from choice is what you want

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    "There now, that wasn't so good, was it?" - Leonard Pinth-Garnell

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    Terpsichore Abcdenfp's Avatar
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    there is a fantastic black mirror episode about our choices and the consequences of them and the price of the freedom to make them.. a must watch

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    Quote Originally Posted by deathwarmedup View Post
    What makes you say D. was an aristocratic thinker? I don't remember him being that focused on class, "breeding", honour etc. Maybe I just wasn't tuned into that angle at the time? He seemed a very humane character (on paper at least) who ranged through the psychological and spiritual and wound up as a sort of .. theocrat.

    (Btw, the comparison with Orwell and "decency" is very interesting from an Enneagram point of view, but that's even more off-topic.)
    I think Dost is a great writer, I also do think that you are right that he does write humane characters and considers psychological or spiritual questions to be of paramountcy.

    There's similarity to Tolstoy there and a certain similarity running through most, if not all, great Russian writers as a consequence. I would include Kropotkin and Bakunin in that too, Bertrand Russell wrote some interesting stuff about finding Anarchism to be artistocratic, ironically I guess.

    Plus when I say aristrocratic I'm not engaging in some sort of condemnation, its merely an observation, if that makes sense and there is not meant to any sort of automatic negative connotation to it. Its not a vulgar or conceited version of aristo thinking, I'm trying to think of some writing which does exhibit that but right now I cant, however, how else would you really frame or describe the idea of "why give them freedom when you see what they do with it?", the essential othering is present and it appears to be on the basis of class.

    Compare the book in question with Oblamov if you like, it takes the central character as a declining aristo rather than a mere pleb or peasant, there's probably some contrast there.

  10. #20
    Nips away your dignity Fluffywolf's Avatar
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    Just as people have the freedom to make poor choices, I have the freedom to voice my discontent about those choices made.

    If you want to live truely free of the judgements of others, then make an effort to make good choices instead.
    ~Self-depricating Megalomaniacal Superwolf

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