Ponderings

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Ponderings

Post by Chainlinc3 on Thu Aug 04, 2011 8:44 am

From time to time, I start thinking about things (it's a bad habit of mine). Often times, I start thinking about things that have no real way to answer them-- like the nature of self-awareness, what existed before the Big Bang, etc. I was rather hoping I wasn't alone in this whole "thinking" thing, so I figured I'd make a thread for people who think.

Now, this isn't supposed to be a big scientific discussion with people bringing down evidence and generally over-structuring things. Instead, I'd like this to just be a place to post any interesting ideas you've pondered recently for other people to read, ponder, and maybe even give their thoughts on. The ideas don't really have to be anything huge or important. Just something that, you think, is interesting to take a moment and really think about.

I'll start the ball rolling with something that's bounced around my brain for almost as long as I can remember:
Most people think in terms of their first language (most people who I've asked about it, anyway). So, a native English speaker would think "Oh, I'm hungry," whereas a native French speaker would think... whatever the French for that is. People don't seem to think in terms of abstract concepts-- in our mind, ideas are strongly linked to vocabulary.

But what about those animals which have demonstrated capacity for thought? Do dogs have this ability for abstract thought that we humans just lost at some point? Or perhaps it implies that dogs have a language all their own? Maybe they just learn a few human words and think in terms of those?

Of all those options, I feel the most suspicious about the last option... It would imply that dogs are able to file a vast amount of ideas under a single word. Like, for example, "walk" could include thoughts for:
Walks! I love walks!
I should go get my leash!
We normally leave from the front door, I should wait at the front door!
Where IS she/he? She/he should be here by now!
etc.

Maybe dogs just have learned a whole lot more human vocabulary than we give them credit for, but they aren't the only animal to exhibit this kind of behavior (I think-- I'm no animal expert). As for the other two possibilities... I tend to wobble between them, personally. I'm biased towards the idea that animals have a sort of language (or, more likely, each animal develops it's own "vocabulary") because the idea of thinking solely in terms of abstract concepts is impossible to comprehend unless you're doing it. I think. Thinking about thinking in a completely different manner is enough to give me a headache, so my train of thought usually dies down around here.

Anyway. That's all I have to say. Cheers!
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Re: Ponderings

Post by Dreamless Days on Thu Aug 04, 2011 8:55 am

Well, something that's been on my mind for a VERY long time is this:

When you consider the fact that people in the past have sometimes been able to display (whether only to themselves, or to others as well) the ability to change what is supposed to be possible and impossible (such as making something wobble by concentrating hard enough, or reading/transmitting thoughts.). Then, if an indefinite amount of people in the world were all able to concentrate on one single object at the exact same time, in a sense of trying to bring something that isn't there INTO reality (for example, making a cup appear out of thin air), would it be possible to break the laws of reality due to an incredible source of willpower alone? And should it happen, would that in turn destroy everything because of reality becoming shattered?

I might be talking gibberish, but at least I know what I mean, haha.
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Re: Ponderings

Post by Artorius on Fri Aug 05, 2011 3:55 am

Ponderings... interesting thread chainlinc3.

One thing I always wondered about was, if anti-matter is supposed to exist for every piece of matter... would there be a separate mirror universe made of the stuff? Like some type of negative like you have with pictures and film. If so, what, if anything would differ as far as physical properties and laws.

@Chainlinc3,
I often think of the same exact thought to be honest. I think animals have their own distinct "language". Humans only imagine them to think in English, or other languages to make sense of their thoughts. Of course, this is purely my take on things, we cannot at this point in time decipher the thought of dogs, let alone any other animal.
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Re: Ponderings

Post by The Ghost Writer on Fri Aug 12, 2011 12:26 pm

Gah! I can't believe I just found this thread! Great topic, Chainlinc3.

I was browsing around a website called Lamebook a few minutes ago (where people post up screen shots of the most hilarious Facebook posts ever), and one of the status updates I saw said "You know sumthin' I find funny? Paintings of Adam and Eve with belly buttons. Think about it." That was probably the one post that didn't even bring a smirk to my lips. Instead, I leaned back in my chair and actually went into a deep moment of ponder about that person's astute observation. Did the painter(s) attempt to reconcile with the generally accepted concept of society at the time (that is to say - did they simply paint Adam and Eve that way so as to not upset the delicacy of what was thought to be normal)? Or did they make an honest mistake over and over for so many years? Somehow, I think the latter is the least likely possibility. Surely someone would have realized that if Adam and Eve were created from dust that they would not have a need for a navel.

Another, unrelated, dilemma to ponder: A Greek philosopher named Epicurus once asked these words:

“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?” -Epicurus

I answered these questions (at Omni Labs) to the best of my ability, using my faith and knowledge of Christianity to do so. Yet, the questions still rest on my mind and, from time to time, I find myself looking back at them - seeing if there was a better way I could have responded, or if I have discovered something new since I first attempted his challenges.

There are so many questions out there I often think about, alas they escape me for the moment (funny how that happens). Instead, I will leave you all with a bit of humor to end my post.

If quizzes are quizzical, what are tests?
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Re: Ponderings

Post by Guest on Tue Aug 30, 2011 10:05 pm

I've always pondered the nature of space... how big is it, really? Does it extend forever? Can it extend forever? If not, then what is beyond space? It is a central theme in one of my stories, but I doubt we can ever know the answer.

If you try to fail, and succeed, which have you really done?

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Re: Ponderings

Post by The Ghost Writer on Sat Sep 17, 2011 10:29 pm

The following snippets were from a conversation elsewhere. I thought I'd share them here:


The Discussion: Does Equality Exist?

...

Then I shall disagree, karkooshy. I love this debate for many reasons; it's one of those philosophical questions that can bring about more answers than just two (being yes or no). I shall argue that equality exists, because it does not appear likely on any social level.

The human species is unique out of the many others on earth because we value our individualism. A conversation in Mass Effect 2 (a game where the underlying message is solely centered around discrimination and equality) put things very simply: if there are three humans in a room, there will be six opinions.

The morally correct answer would be yes...

I respectfully disagree with that, only because you assert that this moral applies to all cultures. In fact, the truth is quite complex and surprising once viewed as an overall picture. We can understand (but much of us don't) that each culture harbors different sets of moral code; or social contracts if you will. These unwritten rules are practiced, rather than uplifted and reflected upon through doctrine and record. What I mean by this is that all Americans know that the U.S. has a "moral obligation" to spread democratic ideals to other nations; and that all Greeks know that their government is "morally corrupt" due to the failing economy; and so on and so forth.

But here's where I argue that equality does exist. C.S. Lewis put things very elegantly:

"Everyone has heard people quarrelling. Sometimes it sounds funny and sometimes it sounds merely unpleasant; but however it sounds, I believe we can learn something very important from listening to the kind of things they say. They say things like this: 'How'd you like it if anyone did the same to you?' - 'That's my seat, I was there first' - 'Leave him alone, he isn't doing you any harm'...

...Now what interests me about all these remarks is that the man who makes them is not merely saying that the other man's behaviour does not happen to please him. He is appealing to some kind of standard of behavior which he expects the other man to know about. And the other man very seldom replies: 'To hell with your standard.' Nearly always he tries to make out that what he has been doing does not really go against the standard, or that if it does there is some special excuse."

--C.S. Lewis; Mere Christianity

What Lewis was talking about was a world-wide, all-encompassing law of human nature. "Good" and "bad" deeds should go without saying. Even the insane know this, as insanity simply implies that you feel no guilt for the wrong deeds you perform. This does not say that the insane do not know what they doing is frowned upon by this unwritten law that everyone has accepted to be the "standard".

This is the equality that the question searches for. If you want to argue about whether or not a man and a woman are equal, then picked up an anatomy book and be prepared to learn that they aren't. If you want to argue about social classes, then turn on the news to the Bloomberg channel and prepare to realize that no class is economically, nor politically the same. The only equality to the human race - the only equality that can be argued for - is the law of human nature; the unwritten social contract that separates what is good from what is evil.

karkooshy wrote:I don't think a clear line marks the boundaries between good and evil.

Never said there is one. Wink Humankind's equality comes into play when they recognize that there is such a thing as good and evil, the law of human nature. What they define as "good" and "evil" is up to their society's own social contract. Nonetheless, they accept that this contract is there. That is, ironically, where your equality lies: the very fact that we all recognize this law.

I understand that this concept is difficult to comprehend on many levels; even if you try looking at "the big picture". But take a few philosophy courses at a local community college and you'd be surprised how much you can learn about cultures in all hemispheres. Societies are not as different as you think. Only the individual makes the human species unique, as it should. But when you take into account entire cultures, societies, nations and tribes; you begin to see similarities such as mono-myths, for example. To further explain, every civilization has a record of a great flood, where one time the earth was covered in water. Many cultures also have striking similarities to Arthurian legend - a great leader being blessed with years of peace in the kingdom they justly ruled, wielding a powerful weapon, and then one day all hell breaks loose and this magnificent king dies valiantly in battle, even though he defeats his opponent.

We are all the same in such likeness. But as I said, we only differ on the level of the individual. Going back to the first quote I referenced: if there are three individuals in a room, there will be six opinions. But add to that the one fact, the law of human nature, and those opinions become meaningless dribble of philosophy.


The Discussion: Optimism vs Pessimism

While many of the definitions and metaphorical examples of pessimism and optimism are quite intriguing, I don't think they fully take into consideration why we feel the way what we are. So this is a concept I once glanced over (I can't remember the original author) and agree with today:

An optimist sees the world for what it should be. A realist sees the world for what it is. A pessimist sees the world for what it should be and for what it is.

To clarify, optimists always seem to have their heads in the clouds because they're the big dreamers that strive to achieve their goals. They have aspirations that they would die for. It doesn't mean that you always have to see the good in things; you can also see the bad. But remaining optimistic actually means you would prefer change. You want something better than the status quo; and the better is to your personal definition and satisfaction.

A realist does not care either way. The world may tilt into chaos and they will say, "It's what I must deal with." Realists prefer to not make change; and they don't particularly like it, either. To these people, the world cannot become any better, because they do not foresee what can change to achieve such a state.

The pessimist is similar on both counts. While they can point out things that may help to achieve a utilitarian state of mind, they are overwhelmed by what they see as "negative" in the world as it is. They are afraid that any change may meet harsh opposition and would prefer to avoid such conflict as it would take too much energy - too many big dreams. They would prefer to simply sit back in a chair and watch the world carry on, only hoping that someone else will come along to do the work for them.

Sadly, many of us are pessimists...


I laughed when the admin awarded me with the "You are a careful person!" badge for my mini-profile:
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Re: Ponderings

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