Adding to an inspiring conversation (thanks, Judith 😉 ) at a party yesterday, here are some thoughts on the adequate role of emotions.

Human emotionality is the image of God’s. In this sense, we cannot determine if there is any innate “meaning” in emotionality: the eternal God could’ve found himself to have emotionality, and could have created human emotionality for that reason alone. However, we can also assume that God is what he wants to be, and as he is good, he uses his emotionality in a good way. So, instead of asking for the meaning, we can at least ask: How can we use our human emotionality in a good way?

I’m now making a basic assumption here that would need another article to detail it out: good use of human emotionality is to:

  1. Use it as the way to experience the outer world. In the broadest sense of emotionality as “inner experience”, without it we would experience no “qualia” and thus lead a boring, mechanical life, even consciously unaware of our own existence. Emotionality, therefore, makes life interesting, intensive and (hopefully) beautiful.
  2. Use it as the driving force in life. Without being enthusiastic about something, human beings don’t strife hard to reach something. Other motivating emotions are anger (hopefully justified), hope, faith etc..
  3. Use it to connect to other people. Emotions are a means of communication and social bonds.

So emotions have at least these three aspects: experiential, motivational and social. In all aspects, our emotionality, and with it, our human existence, is “unlogical”. In the sense that there’s no way of logically deriving an emotion from the circumstances in the outer world alone. For example, there’s no compelling reason why I am enthusiastic about the things I am, as they could be exchanged at least by similar items. (Now some naturalists will argue that they can be derived from the combined circumstances of the outer and inner world (i.e. outer world and brain content), while free will proponents, like me currently, would argue that this is not possible either. I won’t go into that here.)

Now, in spite of being illogical, emotions can still be justified, in the sense of being an adequate experience of the outer world, an adequate motivation how to affect the outer world, or an adequate act of communication. To abbreviate, I will call those emotions to be “true”.

For an emotion to be true, it is however not needed that it arises without conscious contributions. If there is a reason to have joy, our joy is still true if we ignite or amplify it by activities like celebrating, music, or having a meal, maybe with alcohol. Remember e.g. the commands for religious feasting in old testament times. But note also that “true” emotion also relates to the degree, not just the quality.

Now, here comes another assumption that needs detailing in its own article: emotions should be true. Because our inner experience is a secondary world, using information to represent the outer world, and to maintain false information willfully is lying, i.e. a moral problem.

And here is where the practical questions start. For example, I’d say that substance-induced emotions (the inner experience mediated by drugs) are untrue if they don’t conform to the condition of the outer world. People might use drugs to feel relaxed, or uninhibited, or to forget their problems. But these feelings don’t change the external world: their stressful condition, inhibitions and problems are still there, they even grow bigger because they are not being dealt with.

So I’m opposing here any kind of drug addiction (even addiction in general) as “untrue use of emotions”. I also oppose use of external, stimulating measures to cause emotions that can not be caused without them in healthy people: these are “unnatural” emotions and thus not true to reality. Among these are psychedelic drug trips, the inner experience of being in a drunken stupor, and the like. I do not oppose the use of drugs that affect the central nervous system in medicine: they cause untrue emotions, but just as a bye-effect that must e accepted to reach a higher goal like palliative treatment.

Also, the frequent use of stimulating means to cause (true) emotions can indicate a kind of emotional inability, which will need treatment and training. For example, I myself need to learn relaxing based on facts like enjoyable, good social relationships, that is, independent of sensual stimulants in the current situation.

This is inspired by an excerpt of Francis A. Schaeffer: The God Who is There. Basically, Schaeffer unveiled the transition from the “old” understanding of truth as concordance with facts in the objective world, to the “post-modern”, Hegelian understanding, where truth is an ever-changing synthesis, created in the clash of synthesis and antithesis in discourse.

I would confirm the old understanding that truth is an absolute, unchanging antithesis. Hegelian synthesis can only be, if anything, the incremental approximation of two theses, forming a synthesis as a new thesis, to an unknown true antithesis.

But, and this might be the reason why dualism / Hegelian synthesis emerged: people, esp. Christian people, by far over-applied rational, logical arguments. Namely, to areas where they did not know the starting conditions exactly enough to do any logical conclusion.

These areas are large, including all theology except the most basic stuff (the creation, the Christ, the work of Christ). A hint that one is in this area of misapplied antithetic truth is: if different people come to vastly different conclusions, and if it is apparent that logic was just instrumentalized to support ones pre-existing opinions.

And because this was the case so often, other people came to the conclusion that logic cannot lead to truth, resp. that there is no absolute truth. So they came up with dualism.

The solution to revive the “old” understanding of truth is to keep your silence and don’t argue if you don’t know the starting conditions exact enough. Arguing (more precisely here: speculation) is, in many cases, just done because it is so much easier and so much more interesting than doing the work. The work is, scientific experiments, measurements, data collection. Because people did not do the work, we’re lacking large amounts of even the most basic knowledge in areas such as theology. Instead, we have tons of speculation and clashing theories and struggling … .

I’ve wondered once and again why I have such a little level of motivation in my life, when comparing to others. It seems that I’m slowly getting to recognize the causes now. As, one cause seems to be: I did not allow me to be passionate about anything.

Why that? As a rational thinker, my worldview is very analytical and decompositional (it comes through e.g. in my post “Logicians also should accept themselves”). That is, the right way to live seems to me to do in every single moment what is “adequate”, where I mean with adequate: being the fitting answer or activity when taking into account the whole context. And the whole context includes: the world, a fallen one; God, a graceful one; ones own abilities; ones social contacts, … .

Now, this way of thinking is successful as far as this: it answers what is the best thing to do currently. For example, the whole Second Acts project thing developed that way … it deems me to be the most pressing question to answer. But: this mode of finding decisions does not necessarily lead me to do things that I’m passionate about. While I find the Second Acts project to be deeply necessary, I’m not passionate about it. I would not do it for its own sake if there would be no necessity to do anything at all.

Even more strange, my attempt to do what is “adequate” made me even unlearn what is “being passionate about something”. I’m not passionate about computers. While I can program and could be good at it, it’s only a tool for me to do something else. I’m not passionate about money. It means nothing to me, and therefore I’m also unwilling to do a job that does not fit me. I’m not passionate about community. I once was (see my posts on Xpedition Community). But due to non-collaborative people and not finding any fellow members here in Germany, this passion “sleeps” now. I’m not passionate about women. (Well, ok, I readily admit there are exceptions 😉 ) But generally … how could it be adequate in a dying world to have a partnership as ones life content? And I’m not really passionate about God. That’s sad, yes. I mean, God is very important to me and I’d really really like to get closer to God and get to know him better. But I don’t have the passion to deal with spiritual things for their own sake all day long, like praying, talking with people about God etc.. Simply, it currently does not seem to me to be “paying off”, i.e. to be rewarding or of any effect that would indeed make me know God better. It can even leads to more frustration … like seeing and experiencing the non-ideal, all-too-human state of the church first-hand.

Now, how comes that I’m talking about passion when I say here that I dunno what being passionate is all about? Because, I made an interesting experience in, say, the last two weeks: at times, when building my expedition vehicle, there was a strange feeling inside me. Yesterday, I realized it is passion … to build an expedition vehicle and live in it life-long. This passion keeps me going to build this thing, providing all the patience and force to do it! It even kept me up until 4:30am this morning, reading in internet forums about 4×4 trucks. I’m stunned …

Umh … and now? Until now, I did not allow me to be passionat about material / non-spiritual things, as I would not think it to be adequate to work so intensively for stuff that will pass away along with this world. But, seeing that being unpassionate leads to a lack of motivation, and, that way, to not working at all, I’m not sure about this whole thing now … . Also, I don’t know anymore what God would recommend … . So, comments welcome, as every time.

So, sigh. It seems that I’ve that hard tried to override my human behavior with logic behavior that I lost passion on the way, and motivation with it, for anything whatsoever. I seem to be in an impasse: I neglected that humans need motivation to do anything, and that real motivation comes from passion only, not logic.

By the way, what exactly is being passionate? People say, you can only be really good in the things you’re passionate about. Basically, being passionate is having a hobby: you care for something that is not yourself, and feel well if it is well. So, caring for something else “falls back” on you and helps in your emotional well-being. Part of this effect, of course, comes from the fact that the things you care for can indeed help you do better in the physical world (in my case: an expedition vehicle provides accomodation, transportation and shelter).

To conclude, something for you to chew on. Let’s take the above definition of being passionate and transfer it to the pair relationship topic. You can only be good in a pair relationship, only have a good pair relationship, if you care for your partner for her / his own sake, that is, because you’re passionate about her / his well-being. If your partner is well off, you feel well; not only, but also because your partner then has the strength to do you well. This might be what they call love.

Searching for my last blog post by Google made me find highly entertaining stuff. The fact that I find it entertaining probably makes me a libertarian. What is it?

First, the Seasteading Project. They’re going to populate the ocean in international waters, i.e. founding new states as laboratories for new kinds of societies. It’s not just utopia … they’re building it!

Second, the Free State Project. It’s the call for 20,000 libertarian people to register for moving to New Hampshire (U.S. east coast state), in order to sort of “democratically revolutionize” that state. Today, they have 8973 people who committed to move over to NH within five years of reaching the 20,000th registration.

Libertarians criticize the current political systems, including democracies. I found this ingenious quote on the Seasteading website:

Specifically, it [pointing out utopias] will not make a system act differently than its nature and the incentives it provides to the people who participate in it. And just as this dictates that centrally managed economies will be slow and lack innovation, it dictates that modern democracies will have highly parasitic governments, because we are too rich for it to be worth fighting and too tied to our homes to run away.

Being honest to myself, my expedition vehicle project is just that: running away from here. I love liberty, and think that I’m gonna find more of that if I’m not tied closely to any state, society or economy like I’m now tied to. Instead of seasteading, isle-planting or a free state project, I’m simply gonna move between states to where the most liberty is (or the most pressing task, that depends).

Happy to have found out one more reason for my strange thinkstyle / lifestyle! Hey, I understand myself somewhat better! Think it’s worth going to bed now …

Decomposition as hindering being “intuitively human”

Or: “Why logic is no valid maxim”. “Maxim”, for the context of this post, shall mean “the single, highest principle that guides all activity of a human being”.

When conducting research in any aspect of analytic anthropology, an anthropological model arises according to which man is composed of components. And the components, the finer we analyse, turn out to be nothing but dumb matter. Elements (in different degrees of granularity) are: neurophysiological correlates of thoughts and emotions, hormons, cells, atoms.

Now this does not mean that natural scientists see themselves as something mechanical, but some of them see themselves as something that should be mechanical. More concretely: in their jobs, they arrive at meaningful results by applying mechanical means and mechanical logic unemotionally and consequently, while in their private lifes, they see rampant emotionality (their own or others) damaging everything. This can make one think that “logic” is better, or higher, than emotion. And then, they might train to act logically instead of emotionally. Until now, not much of a problem. But for these people who think analytically, it can become difficult to accept their “typical human” attributes, those like emotion that are the combined achivevement of the “system human being”. Because: as for themselves, these attributes don’t have something to do with objective reality or truth.

There are, for example, emotions: why should one allow oneself to exert emotionality, if it is neither true nor objective? However, there’s an answer to this. One has to distinguish between the implementation levels and the (abstract) level of what is “meant” by the implementation. It’s like with computer programs: the program is a collection of bits, but it means something different than just to be a collection of bits. So the justification to accept oneself as a human being (with all the “typical human” attributes) and to live as a human being comes from the fact that we’re meant, by God, to be human beings. He wants us to have and exert all these human attributes. And regarding the emotion example: emotion has nothing to do with truth, and it does not have to: it’s meant as a tool for sharing and experiencing love.

Probably, intuitive / “typically human” behavior and logic behavior should be treated as aspects, not levels. Because logic behavior is in itself typically human: animals are not capable of grasping abstract meaning and building logical steps on it. It’s a human noetic attribute. The essence is then: don’t use just logic but also the other typically human attributes.

But then, if logic and intuition are both justified, it’s also correct to say: While it’s ok to use ones intuition to determine interesting hyptheses and good assumptions what might be true, logic (and good observation) must be employed to see if something is true. For religion this means: It’s ok to “feel God at work” in some religion or in people of a specific faith, but this should be nothing more than the motivation to check this hypothesis. It’s not ok to determine truth by way of religious feelings, as done in most religions.

Women as being intuitively humans

The problem that I tried to explain seems to be a male one only. Women generally accept themselves as humans “a priori” (i.e. just based on their intuitive impression and experiences, so even without the desire to justify this acceptance by objective observations). In their eyes, they are humans, so they live as humans, and don’t think about their own decomposition. This is why, for women, emotions and relationship stuff and all that is “more of a direct, objective reality” than for men. Because, men think of matter as being the ultimate, direct, objective reality, and emotions and stuff being just “added” to reality (as something that’s unnecessary in most cases). But: if we’re meant to be humans by the wll of God, the way men think about reality is false! And, by the way, I must admit that this blog post was inspired by women, resp. by observing how women are and behave.

Implications

Implications for the basis of believing resp. my “Second Acts” project: it might be that the Gospel wants to be understood as something that’s dealt with by the humanities (i.e. as something that has to be accepted by exerting “typically human attributes” like faith / believing). This would mean that the Gospel is something that deals with humans on the human level, not on the level that deals with things, atoms, laws, and objective truth. Now while this might be the case, the foundation of a true Gospel is nonetheless the existence of the lower levels … just as there cannot be a human being without atoms, there cannot be a Gospel without the historic events it relates about. And Second Acts is about looking at these basic levels, as giving the justification for accepting the Gospel, then, on the highest (i.e. human) level.

Putting all this another way round: it’s not correct to see logic behavior as the highest goal of human behavior (as I do currently). Because logic means dealing with everything according to objective truth, adequately when just taking into account the material / lower level attributes of things. For example, logic behavior would lead to believe in Christ because of historic facts. This is logically correct.

However, what is missing by behavior that’s guided by the maxime of logic, is human behavior. Because, logic is cold, dealing with everything just according to its material / objective attributes. Logic won’t lead you to love your neighbour, and not at all to love your neighbour emotionally and in a way that’s beautiful to experience.

Therefore, it should be seens as something positive that humans are generally not lead by the maxime of logic. Example: different world religions couldn’t have evolved if people would’ve been logic. However, logic should be the basis of human behavior (so that it becomes true) and upon that, love should be added (so that it is graceful). See what’s said about Jesus: he came ingrace and truth.

During my service in the German army (Deutsche Bundeswehr), I made
an interesting experience. During the basic military education, there
were many situations and circumstances that really sucked. This got on
our nerves, and all of us were really frustrated and pissed off. Now,
when the situations sucked beyond a certain threshold, the interesting
experience was a paradox reaction on my part: at that point, I suddenly
felt well and relaxed and acted bold and audacious.

One instance was when we had a training unit with rifles. It was
raining like all the water had reached its “best before” date. There
was a shelter section spreaded on the ground as a mat for each of us,
to dissassemble and reassemble our weapons on. One of them seemed like
it was not properly waterproofed and was dripping wet. We complained
about that, and nobody layed down on that. The corporal commanded that
one of us should, in order to start the weapon disassembling. Nobody
moved. All of a sudden, I thought this would be fun, stood up and
throwed myself down on that wet mat. Another instance was, in the same
education, one of us had to stay with the weapons during lunch. I
thought it was fun to eat in 10mins after all the other, and
volunteered for that task.

There were other instances like that: there’s a threshold when other
people start to go mad, and I get relaxed and into best mood. On the
other hand, I am often depressed while other people are in their best mood, namely, in
everyday life’s routine. As most of my life currently is made of such
routine, the latter is the normal case and I did not experience the
former for a long time. Until today, which reminded me of that part of
my character.

I stood at the car station and waited for the train to go to my home
town. There was a public announcement that the train is to arrive at an
undetermined time, due to a contact wire damage. That sucked. Than a
woman who stood nearby called her partner and yelled at him to come by
car and pick her up. I myself was in depressed mood all day, but that
cheered me up. People start to go mad? Then I’m going to relax. I sat
down on my Zarged aluminium box, got my notebook, PDA and headphones
and started some transcription work of voice notes. While the world
outside was like hey-go-mad: trains arriving without public
announcement and with wrong destination signage, train personnell
yelling at travellers, travellers yelling at train personnell, people
demaning public announcements (“Damn, can anybody tell us all where
that train goes.”). All that cheered me up for the rest of the day …
🙂

Perhaps I should take a close look at life, to recognize that it’s a
war of its own sort. That would make me relaxed and cheerful for the
rest of my life.

Relax, folks, this is war!


Start date: 2008-04-24
Post date: 2008-04-24
Version date: 2008-04-24 (for last meaningful change)

Just a quick thought: some months ago I heard of the book “On Bullshit
from philosopher Harry G. Frankfurt (Princeton University Press). It
even arouse some public attention when it came out in 2005 and got the
2005 Bestseller Awards, Philosophy Category. The thing that got me was
simply this extremely stylish title of the book … philosopy on
bullshit and bullshitters, what an idea. You may read a good intro to
the book and a short excerpt at the link above, and then get
it from Amazon
.

Now I took a quick look at the concept and I think I could
appreciate the idea (read it not yet, though). Bullshit is not lying,
because the liar knows what truth is and cares about it wile the
bullshitter does not. He’s just busy with invoking some intended
impression, utilizing words and deeds and whatever in a primitive
pragmatic way for his goals, not caring about hurting the relationship
between reality and information about reality. That’s my rendering
though, I dunno yet how well it fits to what Frankfurt means.

It could be worth the effort to apply Frankfurts concepts to
religion and also to the Christian faith. For example in Bible
exegesis, where are the cases where we bullshit just to get our goals
through? Bullshitting implies to not even be aware of deviating from
truth, and exactly this is a heavy problem in our Christian culture.


Start date: 2008-03-17
Post date: 2008-03-17
Version date: 2008-03-17 (for last meaningful change)