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Ralsina.Me — Roberto Alsina's website

The Joy of Materialism

Re­cent­ly I was de­light­ed to read in Bo­ing Bo­ing posts by a mod­ern Sto­ic. The de­light was be­cause it put in­to words some­thing I had been grap­pling with for years and nev­er re­al­ly grasped: peo­ple have re­placed phi­los­o­phy with re­li­gion.

It used to be that some­one would call him­self a sto­ic, or a cyn­ic, or a he­do­nist, or what­ev­er, and oth­ers would un­der­stand that he was telling them the prin­ci­ples that rule his life.

A life phi­los­o­phy! You could choose, from the buf­fet of the last 3000 years of thought, what you thought made most sense, and try to use it as a bea­con to guide you through a (hope­ful­ly) hap­py life.

Nowa­days, so­ci­ety seems to have re­ject­ed that idea, and the clos­est thing most peo­ple have is re­li­gion, fol­low­ing what his sect says, or athe­is­m, de­fined by re­jec­tion of re­li­gion.

The main dif­fer­ence (as I see it) be­tween a life phi­los­o­phy and a re­li­gion is that a re­li­gion usu­al­ly im­plies the oth­ers are wrong. If you are not of my sec­t, you will not be in heav­en with me.

If you don't share my phi­los­o­phy... well, I ex­pect you will take a dif­fer­ent path through your life than I would have tak­en. But if it works for you and does­n't hurt oth­er­s, why should I give a damn?

So here's my life phi­los­o­phy as I see it to­day. It's not how I saw it yes­ter­day, and sure­ly is not the same it will be to­mor­row.

From now on, when I say I "be­lieve" some­thing, it's short­hand for "my per­son­al life phi­los­o­phy im­plies that". It should be ob­vi­ous why such a short­hand is need­ed.

I am a ma­te­ri­al­ist. No, that does­n't mean what you think it does, at least not in this con­tex­t. What I mean is that I am not a du­al­ist, or a spir­i­tu­al­list, I am not an ide­al­ist or a vi­tal­ist, and not a phe­nom­e­nal­ist.

What it means is that I be­lieve that re­al­i­ty is ma­te­ri­al. I don't ac­cept that im­ma­te­ri­al things have any sort of "re­al­i­ty". Or at least that their re­al­i­ty is of a to­tal­ly un­in­ter­est­ing kind.

This means that I don't be­lieve in soul­s. I be­lieve the Tur­ing test is a rea­son­able test for con­scious­ness. I be­lieve if there was an en­ti­ty that act­ed like a hu­man, we ought to treat it like a hu­man. I be­lieve I am not in­trin­si­cal­ly dif­fer­ent from a ro­bot that could do what I do.

I be­lieve the pur­pose of life is to have a good time. I be­lieve ev­ery­one is as en­ti­tled to a good time as I am. I be­lieve part of hav­ing a good time is be­ing sur­round­ed by hap­py peo­ple. I be­lieve peo­ple that hurt oth­ers are a buz­zkill and should­n't be al­lowed to do it.

I be­lieve in pur­pose, and I be­lieve I cre­ate my own pur­pos­es and that makes them bet­ter than if they were giv­en to me. I be­lieve in be­ing kind to oth­ers be­cause they are all I have.

I be­lieve in learn­ing, be­cause we are sur­round­ed by won­der­s. I be­lieve the Egyp­tians piled up lots of very heavy rock­s. I be­lieve Sat­urn is pret­ty. I be­lieve giv­ing the mer­it of those things to aliens or gods is an in­sult to the Egyp­tians and adds noth­ing to Sat­urn.

I be­lieve in mak­ing things and fight­ing against lo­cal en­tropy. I be­lieve that a cer­tain end makes things bet­ter and more pre­cious. I be­lieve in love, be­cause I know I feel it and it's pre­cious.

So there.

Mariano / 2010-11-11 03:54:

encontré un nombre para mis creencias!

LectorAnónimo / 2010-11-11 20:24:

Alsinismo? ;-P

Roberto Alsina / 2010-11-11 23:14:

Yo no inventé nada :-)

Bueno, excepto esta máquina del tiempo, pero siempre está descompuesta (me dicen en el depósito que el que la rompe soy yo, pero yo nunca voy!)

Carlos Cabrera / 2010-11-17 15:23:

Lo mismo digo yo, hasta ahora no sabía que lo mio tuviera un nombre. Pensé que era Cabrerismo a secas.

Łukasz Ka / 2010-11-11 16:28:

One word more ;)

"The main difference (as I see it) between a life philosophy and a religion is that a religion usually implies the others are wrong. If you are not of my sect, you will not be in heaven with me." - atheists say the same ;) It is not a domain of religion - it is a domain of people. Religion is an idea - not being. (//EDIT: the class, not instance nor object using it ;) ). The problem is closing your free (logical) minds for other ideas without knowing them. It is the same mistake which is made by all people.

"I believe the Turing test is a reasonable test for consciousness." - it is a test for intelligent, human-like behaviour. If you use mad-man in such a test, you can get strange results, but he will be "conscious". You are very wrong at this point.

...

So there... you believe in what all really religious people believe ;)

Roberto Alsina / 2010-11-11 23:16:

You may notice with some careful reading that in this post I am grouping atheism with religion so I don't think you are barking at the right tree here.

"I believe the Turing test is a reasonable test for consciousness." - it is a test for intelligent, human-like behaviour. If you use mad-man in such a test, you can get strange results, but he will be "conscious". You are very wrong at this point.

People who fail the Turing test are often sent to mental institutions and treated differently. We do use variants of the Turing test to decide how we treat people.

So there... you believe in what all really religious people believe ;)

You say that as if you had shown me something I believe in that religious people believe in too. Can you be a bit more specific?

Łukasz Ka / 2010-11-14 14:48:

"... I don't think you are barking at the right tree here."

I am not a dog.

"People who fail the Turing test are often sent to mental institutions and treated differently. We do use variants of the Turing test to decide how we treat people."

So they do not have self-consciousness if they fail Turing-test? N/C

"You say that as if you had shown me something I believe in that religious people believe in too. Can you be a bit more specific?"

Ex. "I believe in making things and fighting against local entropy." - if you didn't know it, you just don't know anything about religion.

Ok, really EOD. I am going to write some self-conscious application. I will call it "Alan"...

Roberto Alsina / 2010-11-14 15:05:

I am not a dog.

"To bark at the wrong tree" is just an expression, I am not calling you a dog. See here: http://idioms.thefreedictio...

So they do not have self-consciousness if they fail Turing-test? N/C

Nope. It's not a perfect test, it's not sufficient condition. But surely you are aware that there are mental competence tests that, which you fail, mean you are not, for example, deemed responsible for your own actions, or fit to take care of yourself.

"I believe in making things and fighting against local entropy." - if you didn't know it, you just don't know anything about religion.

You seem to believe all religions believe that. In fact many don't. It's strange, but you seem angry. I say it's strange because I have kept a polite and rational tone all along this "discussion". What's your problem with it?

Ok, really EOD.

And again, you act like I was forcing you to reluctantly comment.

I am going to write some self-conscious application. I will call it "Alan"...

Good luck with that, good coders have been trying for what, 60 years?