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    Haunted Echoes Red Memories's Avatar
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    Lightbulb "The Freedom to Make Poor Choices"

    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.


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    Typically where most people seem to draw the line is between "freedom to destroy yourself" and "freedom to destroy others."

    The line can be difficult to draw and/or ambiguous because people are interconnected, so the division is not so cleanly made. For example, if a parent has a drinking problem, then typically a line will be drawn where the parent is responsible for their own life/choice of whether or not to drink, but might lose access to their kids (because their choices have an adverse effect on the kids). Or I guess substance abuse might be too arguable, so let's say pursuing something that has a detrimental impact on their wellbeing of their kids.

    Or hey, maybe it's okay to "accumulate wealth" but if you do so through illegitimate means (i.e., instead of marketing and selling product or allowing others to choose to invest in you, you steal their money and/or lie about the product to gain funds through illicit actions), then most legal systems will slap you down for it.

    I am not fully aware of the story, just the gist of it....although the Underground Man sounds like his own faults and inadequacies have led him towards bitterness and reprisal at an older age against those who are able to function in proximity to others and successfully be part of human society. Maybe we're all born into certain environments and thus frameworks of understanding of life, but we're also responsible for what learning we pursue and what ideals we chase and embrace. If we're not happy or we perceive we are destructive, then even when we don't know the way forward we're still left being responsible for our attitudes. If a self-conscious person is destructive, then they are choosing destruction on some level.
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    Unless it's a child, my perspective is that self-destruction is a component of free-will. This includes euthanasia and suicide. Relative to others, Totenkindly has already defined the line between self-destruction and destruction of others.

    That said, rational self-interest is a joke if you consider the Great Recession and what's currently happening in the U.S.. There's no such thing as rational when it comes to humans.
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    Quote Originally Posted by bechimo View Post
    Unless it's a child, my perspective is that self-destruction is a component of free-will. This includes euthanasia and suicide. Relative to others, Totenkindly has already defined the line between self-destruction and destruction of others. That said, rational self-interest is a joke if you consider the Great Recession and what's currently happening in the U.S.. There's no such thing as rational when it comes to humans.
    There is no such thing as rational when we forget the Enlightenment of the 18th Century in the West based on evidence and reason.

    When we sacrifice the Enlightenment for the New Age religion, we abandon rationality for the consolations of a secular religion.

    And the sleep of reason brings forth monsters.

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    Senior Member deathwarmedup's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mole View Post
    There is no such thing as rational when we forget the Enlightenment of the 18th Century in the West based on evidence and reason.
    Ironically enough, I was going to say that Underground Man's refusal to "see a doctor" or that "two squared is four" was a lot to do with Dostoevsky's lonely spiritual railing against the mid-19th century obsession with rationalism and science, and the freedom not to be constrained by it, but I see I can leave the topic digressions to yourself in this case.
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  6. #6
    cute lil war dog Bush's Avatar
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    It's difficult defecting why there's a line between 'hurting others' and 'hurting yourself'. It seems like, of course, there should be one.. it seems obvious to us. Almost a tautology. I think I have an answer to that issue.

    Some day that if someone is falling into some pattern (drugs etc) and you don't try to talk them out of it or force them to, then you're complicit in their situation. I disagree.

    I suppose the line, then, is "Look, I'll do what I want to do, you do what you want to do, and let's not constrain each other by harming or another. Deal?" aka personal responsibility.

    There's some tradeoff there because freedom isn't the only part of existence. There's, say, people starving and stuff, being granted opportunities, accidentally encroaching on one another, and so on. You do you, but recognize cause and effect, and consequences.

    I've got my own ideas on the clout that freedom ought to have compared to other factors, and everyone else does too. On a political level, center-right can roughly be dating that personal freedom has a good amount of weight, but that other factors do exist. That fact that tradeoffs exist means that the center-right will solve all of the problems in the world, either. It's just, you know, where the tradeoff is for me.)

    And it's all intertwined in our makeup, thoughts, ideals, and behaviors. Part of your ideology naturally flows from that. On a personal psychological level, in general, I don't want to be entangled too tightly into others' affairs (eg drama), I don't want to be responsible for others' well-being (excepting family and stuff) mostly because I have only a very indirect influence on them, and I also don't want to owe anyone anything because I hate being shackled down.
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    in dreamland Tellenbach's Avatar
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    There is a very similar story by Herman Melville titled Bartleby the Scrivener. Here as well, the subject chooses to opt out of society and pays dire consequences, but his decisions do serve to remind us that we do have choices even if those choices require great courage or insanity.
    Uncle Roger needs to stop picking on Jamie Oliver. I'm sure chili jam is delightful in egg fried rice.
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    not to be trusted miss fortune's Avatar
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    I'm naturally inclined to say that as long as you aren't harming others, go for it.

    the question is though, what is the definition of harming others? I mean, if you cause them emotional pain is that harming them? how about greed... that surely harms others? there are a lot of ways to hurt others by hurting yourself... almost everyone has people who love them and care about them. should we separate the emotional from the physical and say that one's ok and the other isn't?

    I'm not sure how to answer those questions really
    “The phrase 'Someone ought to do something' was not, by itself, a helpful one. People who used it never added the rider 'and that someone is me'.” - Terry Pratchett
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  9. #9
    Poking the poodle Frosty's Avatar
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    I am not for the freedom to do whatever you want as long as its not harming others. I think in many cases, fine. If you want to spend all your money on like- bobble heads sure, whatever, that is your choice. But if you want to commit suicide- no. You dont get to just do that because ‘you arent hurting anyone but yourself.

    I think a lot of the times when people have unsuccessful suicides- years and years later, after treatment, they are really happy they DIDNT kill themselves. I think I also read somewhere that the majority of people who jump off some particular bridge- regret it the second after they start falling And the numbers werent even close between those who regret it and those who do not.

    People who commit suicide, or WANT to commit suicide- usually really dont. They just dont see any other option. They are SICK, and suffering, and it is NOT their fault in any way. They should be helped- and not told that ‘hey its ok because free will’.

    I cant agree with that- with allowing someone who is emotionally compromised to just end their life without intervention. Its a huge huge decision- and it shouldnt be treated lightly- because that is someones LIFE. The only one they have- and that needs to be protected.

    That said. I actually AM for euthanasia when it comes to terminal and painful illness, so maybe I sound like a hypocrite. But I just know- if- when I have been suicidal- someone told me ‘as long as you arent hurting anyone but yourself, its your right’... well thats super dangerous. Telling someone who is on the edge that it is ok to step forwards, instead of trying to pull them back... I just really dont like that message

  10. #10
    Haunted Echoes Red Memories's Avatar
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    I will be playing devil's advocate a little here. But I will discuss with a little more detail why this subject interests me at all.

    A few friends here know, but from 12 to 16 I ended up involved with a predator online. This predator emotionally abused me to hell and back. Manipulation, grooming, I just didn't know the signs. Years later I am still struggling with the emotional scars from this experience.
    And this story actually, triggered me. So my first response, is why did it upset me? Surface level it appears to be some insane man who cannot decide who he is or what he wants. Contrary, he knows his exact intentions. He knew what he wanted with Liza, but he stoked the fires of compassion and pity in her. He used her, spoke down to her, then destroyed her dignity. He gained her compassion and trust for that period, and he abused it. He did it, because he could. He was embarrassed and hurt therefore he had a strong desire to ruin someone else's life so he did it. It felt like I was reading a predator internal monologue. I am in pain therefore I am justified causing someone else pain. I have the right to live my life as a miserable wretch creating other miserable wretches.

    Quote Originally Posted by Totenkindly View Post
    Typically where most people seem to draw the line is between "freedom to destroy yourself" and "freedom to destroy others."

    The line can be difficult to draw and/or ambiguous because people are interconnected, so the division is not so cleanly made. For example, if a parent has a drinking problem, then typically a line will be drawn where the parent is responsible for their own life/choice of whether or not to drink, but might lose access to their kids (because their choices have an adverse effect on the kids). Or I guess substance abuse might be too arguable, so let's say pursuing something that has a detrimental impact on their wellbeing of their kids.

    Or hey, maybe it's okay to "accumulate wealth" but if you do so through illegitimate means (i.e., instead of marketing and selling product or allowing others to choose to invest in you, you steal their money and/or lie about the product to gain funds through illicit actions), then most legal systems will slap you down for it.

    I am not fully aware of the story, just the gist of it....although the Underground Man sounds like his own faults and inadequacies have led him towards bitterness and reprisal at an older age against those who are able to function in proximity to others and successfully be part of human society. Maybe we're all born into certain environments and thus frameworks of understanding of life, but we're also responsible for what learning we pursue and what ideals we chase and embrace. If we're not happy or we perceive we are destructive, then even when we don't know the way forward we're still left being responsible for our attitudes. If a self-conscious person is destructive, then they are choosing destruction on some level.
    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.

    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?

    Quote Originally Posted by bechimo View Post
    Unless it's a child, my perspective is that self-destruction is a component of free-will. This includes euthanasia and suicide. Relative to others, Totenkindly has already defined the line between self-destruction and destruction of others.

    That said, rational self-interest is a joke if you consider the Great Recession and what's currently happening in the U.S.. There's no such thing as rational when it comes to humans.
    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.

    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mole View Post
    There is no such thing as rational when we forget the Enlightenment of the 18th Century in the West based on evidence and reason.

    When we sacrifice the Enlightenment for the New Age religion, we abandon rationality for the consolations of a secular religion.

    And the sleep of reason brings forth monsters.
    Ah you are one of those. I feel it is natural for humanity to look for an authority. For whatever reason, people turn to many things, not just religion. As someone who is very religious, I find your commentary a smidge crazy, but I know you find my belief a smidge crazy as well. In a sense, people find spirituality in a new way. They worship knowledge, science, authority figures. People like Mussolini encouraged a spiritual connection to the country itself even. It would be a joke to suggest humans are not attracted to the worship of something. Maybe not God, but something. I would ask you to define secular religion. From what I see of society, religion is not a "secular" ideal. Atheism is more accepted in the secular society media and some people online attempt to portray. Atheism for the secular is associated with being logical. I disagree with that notion, but it is what it is.

    Quote Originally Posted by deathwarmedup View Post
    Ironically enough, I was going to say that Underground Man's refusal to "see a doctor" or that "two squared is four" was a lot to do with Dostoevsky's lonely spiritual railing against the mid-19th century obsession with rationalism and science, and the freedom not to be constrained by it, but I see I can leave the topic digressions to yourself in this case.
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bush Did 9/11 View Post
    It's difficult defecting why there's a line between 'hurting others' and 'hurting yourself'. It seems like, of course, there should be one.. it seems obvious to us. Almost a tautology. I think I have an answer to that issue.

    Some day that if someone is falling into some pattern (drugs etc) and you don't try to talk them out of it or force them to, then you're complicit in their situation. I disagree.

    I suppose the line, then, is "Look, I'll do what I want to do, you do what you want to do, and let's not constrain each other by harming or another. Deal?" aka personal responsibility.

    There's some tradeoff there because freedom isn't the only part of existence. There's, say, people starving and stuff, being granted opportunities, accidentally encroaching on one another, and so on. You do you, but recognize cause and effect, and consequences.

    I've got my own ideas on the clout that freedom ought to have compared to other factors, and everyone else does too. On a political level, center-right can roughly be dating that personal freedom has a good amount of weight, but that other factors do exist. That fact that tradeoffs exist means that the center-right will solve all of the problems in the world, either. It's just, you know, where the tradeoff is for me.)

    And it's all intertwined in our makeup, thoughts, ideals, and behaviors. Part of your ideology naturally flows from that. On a personal psychological level, in general, I don't want to be entangled too tightly into others' affairs (eg drama), I don't want to be responsible for others' well-being (excepting family and stuff) mostly because I have only a very indirect influence on them, and I also don't want to owe anyone anything because I hate being shackled down.
    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.

    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?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tellenbach View Post
    There is a very similar story by Herman Melville titled Bartleby the Scrivener. Here as well, the subject chooses to opt out of society and pays dire consequences, but his decisions do serve to remind us that we do have choices even if those choices require great courage or insanity.
    The struggle with the underground man is I do not feel he is insane. The way he speaks, I think he desires you to think he is insane and cannot think. It is how he gets a certain amount of power over people: empathy. There will always be people who want to help those who struggle or feel poorly of themselves. In turn, he will always manage to have power somewhere. I also do not think he is courageous. He is a coward. He does not quite fit the idea of good. Why would it be important to know we can make that choice?

    Quote Originally Posted by miss fortune View Post
    I'm naturally inclined to say that as long as you aren't harming others, go for it.

    the question is though, what is the definition of harming others? I mean, if you cause them emotional pain is that harming them? how about greed... that surely harms others? there are a lot of ways to hurt others by hurting yourself... almost everyone has people who love them and care about them. should we separate the emotional from the physical and say that one's ok and the other isn't?

    I'm not sure how to answer those questions really
    I agree with you on the difficulty of answering this kind of question.

    Quote Originally Posted by Frosty View Post
    I am not for the freedom to do whatever you want as long as its not harming others. I think in many cases, fine. If you want to spend all your money on like- bobble heads sure, whatever, that is your choice. But if you want to commit suicide- no. You dont get to just do that because ‘you arent hurting anyone but yourself.

    I think a lot of the times when people have unsuccessful suicides- years and years later, after treatment, they are really happy they DIDNT kill themselves. I think I also read somewhere that the majority of people who jump off some particular bridge- regret it the second after they start falling And the numbers werent even close between those who regret it and those who do not.

    People who commit suicide, or WANT to commit suicide- usually really dont. They just dont see any other option. They are SICK, and suffering, and it is NOT their fault in any way. They should be helped- and not told that ‘hey its ok because free will’.

    I cant agree with that- with allowing someone who is emotionally compromised to just end their life without intervention. Its a huge huge decision- and it shouldnt be treated lightly- because that is someones LIFE. The only one they have- and that needs to be protected.

    That said. I actually AM for euthanasia when it comes to terminal and painful illness, so maybe I sound like a hypocrite. But I just know- if- when I have been suicidal- someone told me ‘as long as you arent hurting anyone but yourself, its your right’... well thats super dangerous. Telling someone who is on the edge that it is ok to step forwards, instead of trying to pull them back... I just really dont like that message
    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?


    After all,
    How can you run from what is inside of you?

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