improperlyhuman: icon says: Radical Feminism: Females First. Always. (females first)
My copy of Language, Truth and Logic arrived today. I read the first two chapters today and it's a great book so far.

The gist so far is that metaphysics is a bunch of nonsense and not properly categorized as philosophy. The author's standard for meaningful statements is that they must either be tautological (like the definitions that make up logic and formal mathematics) or subject to some kind of empirical verification.

Metaphysics includes religion, or the supernatural aspects of it at least. I can't even say how tired I am of bullshit religious discourse masquerading as philosophy. In particular, if people can't define "god" and can't describe god in any way that lends itself to observation, it's pointless to discuss god's existence, and the discussion certainly isn't philosophical.

The fact that I've never come across any meaningful description of god is why I like to stress my ignosticism (rather than merely calling myself an atheist)—I can't actually determine whether something exists if I don't even know what that something is supposed to be like. In other words, the question of god's existence is as meaningless as the question of aaoisenuwfpr's existence.

Sweet, I just got another editing contract.

When I first got these sleeping pills—actually the package says "dietary supplement—I was downing them with water, like actual pills. I didn't notice that they were chewable!

Hmm I suddenly just flashed back to my first night in Paris. I wonder what made me think of that.

I gave Quentin Tarantino another chance, half knowing that I shouldn't have. Fortunately I turned The Hateful Eight off within the first ten minutes, so I didn't see much. Tarantino is a dick who has a thing with casual racism and sensationalized sexual violence. I'm sure the setting of this movie (post-Civil War Wyoming) and his previous movie (a slave plantation) were not coincidences. There aren't a whole lot of scenarios in which contemporary characters would continually say "nigger." I hope Tarantino falls stomach first onto a samurai sword. I just don't give a shit.

There weren't many good movies I hadn't already seen at the library. Way more comedy and drama than action for some reason.
improperlyhuman: icon says: Radical Feminism: Females First. Always. (females first)
The fundamental difficulty of convincing people to become vegans (or to do anything that is not subject to an objective standard of wrong and right) is a difference in interests. A person can fully understand and find sound every pro ethical vegan argument that exists, but, lacking an interest in preventing casual exploitation, abuse, and killing, will not become a vegan or endorse veganism.

Giving people this interest or divesting them of their competing interests (such as their enjoyment of the products of said exploitation, abuse, and killing) seems something that no ethical argument can ever achieve.

In recent months, I have been a bit troubled by this ideological weakness and thinking of a way to formulate veganism without philosophy (or with less). I prefer to strip away as many abstractions as possible; to formulate all of my political commitments in the raw terms of suffering and harm rather than the fuzzy, cerebral, and subjective terms of morals, ethics, and, perhaps worst of all, the statist concept of rights.

This is what my pared-down veganism is: Animals (humans included, of course) have lives and they want to live their lives the way they see fit. I have no compelling reason to prevent them from doing so, nor do I have any interest in preventing them from doing so.

The first part seems impervious to argument: not only are humans predisposed to assuming that an animal would prefer to live, and live freely, simply by virtue of the experience of being animals themselves, but animal behavior, the fight for life, makes the fact clear. Although domesticated animals may serenely or at least timidly go to their deaths, their exception is explained by their having been bred to docility for generations.

The second portion is far more subjective: though I consider myself to have neither reason nor interest, others obviously do not feel that way about themselves. And there's really nothing I can say to make them feel that way. As trifling as the taste of beef or the look of fur may seem, I can offer no reason for that being absolutely wrong. I can argue that the creation of those products cause harm, but there is no argument that can force anyone to take an interest in that or any other kind of harm.

I guess I've come around to saying that objective rightness or wrongness do not exist—which is trite and obvious. I could've sworn I had a point beyond that...oh well.

Anyways, this city is crap. There's no water machine, so I've had to drink tap water (which does, however, taste better than the tap water in my old town). I keep giving myself thirst headaches.

I got the idea for this blog post from this evening's post from Gary Francione's ethical veganism blog. The post was an interview in which he used the phrase (as he often does) "morally matter" in reference to nonhuman animals. On the face of it, at least, it is a rather meaningless phrase. That's the kind of rhetoric I prefer to steer clear of. It's too easy for people to counter with their own abstract-to-the-point-of-meaningless phrases.

Anyone with half a brain can come up with a philosophy that supports animal exploitation and abuse, then promote it with abstract concepts they've cooked up. In fact, people already have: the concepts of human superiority and intelligence-based hierarchy (which is actually just species-based hierarchy).

Of course the concept of comparing the intelligence of different species is nonsense. Maybe I'll go into that next time.
improperlyhuman: (Default)
I had a good feeling about myself as I lifted the weight off the bar this evening. I had been down and not-very-productive all day, but I got off my ass and did that workout. And it suddenly occurred to me: this is pride, isn't it?

I think it occurred to me like that because I hardly ever feel pride. I could, however, be feeling pride more often than I recognize without being conscious of the feeling. Pride is a vague concept, as emotions go; I can't totally grok it, and what I've heard and read about it seems unfamiliar, so I concluded that I hardly ever experience it, and I'm never totally sure about the times when I think that I do experience it.

It also occurred to me that admiration is analogous to pride for me. I can only think of one person I've ever admired. My relationship to admiration, however, is clearer to me than my relationship to pride: admiration doesn't make a lot of sense to me because of the distinction I draw between people and individual acts that others may find admirable.

People may do awesome things, but, generally speaking, their acts are not them. I can admire their achievements, but that doesn't lead to me admiring them, the achievers. First of all, they aren't the only people who can do whatever it is they do.

Second of all, they have entire personalities that are more or less separate from whatever they've done. They may be tennis champs, wonderful singers, brilliant inventors, etc., but they may also be racists, murderers, or drug addicts. I can admire skillful tennis playing, beautiful singing, and innovation, but it makes no sense to admire a potential racist, murderer, or drug addict just because she's done that stuff.

I guess I'm saying that admiration of a person should take into account the whole of that person's personality, and shouldn't be based on one or a few relatively small things (small in comparison to the whole of the personality) she has done.

I suppose that I could admire more people if I knew more people well (although I doubt many would pass muster). But that's just a probability because even traits that are more representative of the whole self than the sorts of achievements I've mentioned are not exclusive to any one person. More than a few people are kind, courageous, and intelligent. It just seems strange to admire the ones I come across for traits that aren't particular to them. If other people have those traits, then the traits aren't specific to any one person, and therefore there's no reason to admire any one person. That one person with the desirable traits just happened to hit the same personality lottery that some other people hit; it's not like she actually did anything besides passively being the self she can't help but be. Or is it?

Maybe if she started off as a jerk and actually worked for desirable personality traits, rather than simply always having been her kind self that she was born as, that would be admirable. But other people have done that, too!

Look, I made this into a philosophical thing! Is there a distinction between people and their traits? It's a nature vs. nurture thing; there's no answer. There can't even ever be a useful definition of a "trait" because all behavior is largely contextual, except maybe in the case of young infants. How could we determine that any potential trait was inherent behavior that would manifest no matter what, rather than habitual reaction to one's circumstances, both immediate and life-long? We couldn't.

I've gotten myself off-topic. The parallel I see between pride and admiration is that both are people-oriented despite the fact that they needn't be. Whatever awesome things have been done, whether by oneself or by others, can be appreciated without reference to the person who has done them. I know that I focus on the "what" much much more than the "who," and that's probably why I'm disinclined to experience pride and admiration.
improperlyhuman: screenshot of Apocalypse from X-Men: The Animated Series (apocalypse)
Is regaining "faith" in humanity because of a single good person any more acceptable than judging everyone negatively because of a single bad person?

I just forced down some potatoes for my "substantial" late night meal. I know that I'll still have night sweats, I just know it.

improperlyhuman: this icon is a picture of crowd of people with text "please stop breeding" (breeding)
I wish I knew of a more appropriate word than "anti-intellectualism" because "intellectualism" has a a connotation of useless, ivory tower crap (in my mind, at least) and that's not what I mean.

Rejecting and opposing ideas because they are "extreme" (a judgment which is at least partially subjective, and based on relative cultural constructions), rather than on an analysis of their pros and cons, is anti-intellectual.  Extreme solutions can be useful, appropriate, and successful; moderate one can be useless, harmful, and disastrous.

What was I going on about last night? I think that's what they call catastrophizing.

Today, I noticed that my breasts look nicer than they used to :)
I think that I almost kinda had a little bit of pectoral muscle that I was able to flex as well. Maybe it was just light and shadow in the mirror.
improperlyhuman: (Default)
Today I read roughly the first chapter of Principia Ethica by G.E. Moore, which explains the subject matter of Ethics. I was a bit surprised and slightly disappointed to find that, after identifying the central concern of Ethics as defining "good" and determining that to what the term applies, the author contends that "good" is indefinable. Upon further reflection, particularly in light of my conclusion that all matters of morality (and thus, Ethics) only arise under artificial, materially (I must now avoid using the concept of morality) unacceptable conditions (the philosophizing over which is therefore useless), I found the indefinability of "good" to be more palatable. 

I must place "good" firmly within the realm of rhetoric, along with "inherent worth" and "inherent value." The primary purpose of all of these terms is to direct behavior without a concrete justification for the direction. They are employed as parents employ the boogeyman: they are walls others build up in our minds so that, henceforth, we keep ourselves in line (or behind the wall, to efficiently utilize my own metaphor), but far more abstract than the boogeyman, than religion, and without referent. Indeed, religion and other sociolinguistic methods of control are ultimately based upon such notions, adding to them colorful, user-friendly mythologies.

"Inherent worth/value" bother me particularly because I have observed their use as characteristics of animals in explanation of the moral component of ethical veganism. These concepts cannot serve as justification for the avoidance of animal exploitation (or for anything else), for they are oxymorons. Worth and value are inherently subjective in all circumstances; they are in the eye of the beholder, and therefore cannot be inherent to anything or anyone. To illustrate, in a universe devoid of living things, though gold and diamonds and verdant lands may abound, nothing is valuable because there is no one to value any of it.

Morality

Jul. 17th, 2014 04:44 pm
improperlyhuman: screenshot of Apocalypse from X-Men: The Animated Series (apocalypse)
Because of reading about ethical veganism and the book I mentioned in the previous post, In A Different Voice, I have been doing some thinking about morality. Even when I read moral positions with which I agree, there is something underneath it all (sub-discursive? I like this word) that bothers me. I feel it especially in discussions about rights; one person can say that some group should have some right, and another party can simply say, "no, they shouldn't." Just like that. It bothers me that morality so often comes down to a mere difference of opinion, given that questions of morality are often a matter of life and death.

I've asked myself, what is morality, that it has such momentous implications, yet can be decided on a whim? As I considered civilization, and that which I consider to be its foundation, artificiality, the answer came to me: morality is yet another avenue artificially opened to us through the evils of civilization. It is civilization which gives some power which they would not otherwise have, and morality is nothing more than the consideration of how to exercise that ill-begotten power.

An example: animal husbandry gives humans power over non-human animals that the hunter-gatherer does not have. Particularly, the non-human slave owner has a choice in how these slaves are treated and disposed of. This choice is the substance of morality. The hunter-gatherer has no such choice and is on a more even footing with the local non-human animals. She brings in meat when she can, but it is not a sure thing; she is in the same competition for survival in which all other animals participate, and her use of animal products is thus as amoral as that of the lion or bear. Moral concerns about environmental impact do not apply to her, for she is not breeding the creatures or creating a waste hazard by warehousing them. The issue of unnecessary suffering need not apply, for she takes only as much as she needs (and can do no more, without the means of storage) rather than taking life after life to glut herself on flesh, or to manufacture trinkets from animal parts as civilized individuals do.

Similarly, there is no "abortion question" without the technological means of effecting abortions. There are no bioethical issues if no one is able to fiddle with DNA and clone. There is no poverty problem to solve if no one has the power necessary for the large-scale monopolization resources. All such questions of morality have been created. And the answer to them all is to remove the material conditions, the power structures that make them relevant.

No more endless, fruitless philosophizing. No more ethics as a branch of philosophy (a state of affairs that I have found vaguely discomfiting for years now). No power, no choice, no morality.
improperlyhuman: (Default)
There's no such thing as "cissexual" privilege. There's no societal privilege based on whether or not one "identifies with" one's sex. Males get male privilege because they are male, regardless of "identification"; females get no sex-based privilege whatsoever, regardless of how they "identify." Not enough people even care enough about how people feel about their sex for this to be a societal issue, and how would people in general know how any given person feels about their sex anyhow? If, however, people insist that they are of the opposite sex, they may be mocked or considered delusional. That response is not inappropriate, since what such people are insisting on is blatantly false. It's not an unearned privilege for those of us who don't lie/aren't delusional/don't wallow in fantasies about our sex to be taken seriously and considered sane because people have power over whether or not they can access the same treatment by simply not lying about their sex. If they're not lying, and genuinely hold the false belief that they are of the opposite sex, then it's appropriate for them to be treated as delusional, and, again, no privilege comes into play. This "privilege" is earnable by everyone who is cognitively willing and able to access it, it is only withheld from those who do not merit it, so it is not a privilege.

There is no such thing as "cisgender" privilege. Privilege with respect to gender is earned by conforming to gender roles(and is multidimensional, because females receive both social approval for conforming and all the brutality that comes with comforming to a position of subordination); nobody cares how anyone feels about it, and there is no such thing as "internal gender," because the meaning of gender is either

A. a synonym for sex, or
B. a reference to gender roles, which are created and enforced by society, and do not reflect individuals.

Anything that could even remotely be thought of as "personal," "internal," or "inherent" gender falls under the category of personality. Even if such a category could be meaningfully interpreted as being gender in some sense, its subjectivity would make it a totally impractical basis upon which to privilege or not privilege people. We would have to go around asking people how they "identified," then treating them accordingly after the fact. All of the supposed means of "gender expression" can only reliably be read as conformity or non-conformity to gender roles. There's no way to read "personal" gender from them because people don't know what other people think or feel or why they dress and groom the way they do.

The crux of the matter is that being "cis" or not is a feeling, and there's no way for society to access feelings, which is a prerequisite to the privileging of people according to them.
improperlyhuman: (dark Mulder)
Sometimes I wonder about the psychological effects of the “modern” societies that the industrial revolution has given birth to. I wonder if people in “non-industrialized” societies have problems like boredom, ennui, depression. We look at their lives and see deprivation, but perhaps they never want for a purpose. There are huts to be built, food to hunt or grow, pottery or baskets to make, fires to keep burning, etc. etc. Perhaps one is less likely to feel lost and purposeless when the necessities of life keep one busy.

Of course, we work towards keeping ourselves and our loved ones alive as well, but I think it becomes somewhat difficult at some point to see the connection between life’s necessities and a crappy job at McDonald’s or something. The connection is there, but it is obscured by a game centered around some pieces of paper called money. The customer is standing there in front of you, yelling about their order. You know they are wrong, but you have something in mind...one of the easier-to-remember rules, the one about possibly loosing your position as counter-slave/customer punching bag if you dare to assert your right to respect. So there’s a feeling of anger, being held back by fear (to which you then respond with frustration, more anger, etc.) but you can let it out later...once your daily sentence as counter-slave/customer punching bag is over, the customer is somehow magically no longer a customer, you no longer have to pretend that you don’t feel how you feel. You can be angry all you want, then, but the customer-who-is-no-longer-a-customer is long gone by then.

But money is just the first layer of abstraction. After each slavery cycle, the overseer sends you a slip of paper bearing your name and a number; you take this to the bank, and, after a few days processing time, there is money “in” something called an account. Seeing as how the bank has thousands of customers, it’s not likely that everyone’s money is neatly arranged in different boxes, so, what is this account? What constitutes this accounting system? Names and numbers “in” a computer?

If we have little sense of purpose or drive in life, surely we make up for it with the semantic richness of our prepositional terms. There are a million ways for one thing to be “on,” “in,” and maybe even “with” another when the things are abstractions. On the other hand, one can look at it from the perspective of the words being stripped of all meaning. If one can be on the internet, on time, and on the couch, what does “on” even mean? How many different meanings can one word have? No on is physically on top of some physical object called “internet,” so “on” is not really even important in the metaphor. It would convey the same meaning if we said that people were “in” the internet. It’s probably a different preposition in another language. Nothing special about “on.”

Psychological/sociological poverty and technological opulence; semantic poverty and semantic richness.

I was reading an online discussion about sociological tendencies towards certain psychological afflictions. Someone said that it was predominantly upper-class people who were developing these problems. Someone else said that other factors were being ignored, and stated that Sweden or Finland had the highest incidence of depression due to the lack of sunlight there. I wonder...if some really poor people from a nice, sunny third world country were suddenly set up in Sweden, with a nice warm home and plenty of food and so on, would they miss the sunlight to the point of depression?
improperlyhuman: (dark Mulder)
I wonder which is worse: To crave something one has never had, with the wound of lack salted by the emptiness of experience and the confusion of uncertainty, or to crave and lack something one has had in the past, with its attendant sense of loss and tormenting memories.
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