Author Topic: Philosophy on life - do things really happen for a reason?  (Read 1607 times)

Maximus

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Re: Philosophy on life - do things really happen for a reason?
« Reply #45 on: January 11, 2013, 01:53:10 pm »
First of all, those things happen for real reasons. Illnesses are not random, they have causes. If you are facing an issue you cannot prevent or mitigate then you have control over how you deal with the loss. There is still no meaning or reason here other than the strictly material causes and the meaning you put on those causes and effects. If it is too late to stop the car or get out of it's way appealing to god isn't going to do any good either.
Who are you arguing against?

merithyn

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Re: Philosophy on life - do things really happen for a reason?
« Reply #46 on: January 11, 2013, 02:15:17 pm »
First of all, those things happen for real reasons. Illnesses are not random, they have causes. If you are facing an issue you cannot prevent or mitigate then you have control over how you deal with the loss. There is still no meaning or reason here other than the strictly material causes and the meaning you put on those causes and effects. If it is too late to stop the car or get out of it's way appealing to god isn't going to do any good either.

You said:

Telling yourself that something isn't meant to be is a cop out and an excuse for not trying (or a way of avoiding dealing with your own inability to make that something happen).

This implies that you believe that those who say that something is meant to be is looking for an excuse for their own failings. An illness or sudden death isn't a person's failing. So your explanation doesn't work.
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Razgovory

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Re: Philosophy on life - do things really happen for a reason?
« Reply #47 on: January 11, 2013, 04:50:23 pm »
You never hear "congrats on the raise, it was meant to be" because for the good stuff people believe they had a hand in it.

Classic anthropology about magic.  It is a way of controlling the uncontrollable.

It goes deeper then that.  People who don't believe in magic or gods still think they control the outcome of events at an unconscious level.

Many anthropologists say that everyone acts out magical ritual like that, even those who don't believe in magic per se.

Exactly.  Which is why I find it interesting.  There was a study with dice done.  People who wanted a higher number threw the dice a little bit harder.  People who wanted a lower number threw the dice tended throw softer.  However, neither action could reliably cause the dice to fall a certain way, but people do it and they don't realize it.  They are trying to control things.  The truth is Viking and Marty and other atheists (and pretty much everyone else), are irrationally trying to control reality.  There is no difference between throwing the dice and saying a Hail Mary every time you throw them or blowing on the dice for good luck.  Except that  the rational atheist is in denial about it.

The sad truth is we have little control over our lives.  That doesn't mean that events are all random, it's just we don't have much control over it.  However, the illusion of control is vitally important to sanity.  If you come to believe you don't have much control you are very likely to suffer from anxiety and depression.  It is one of the curious ironies that to be sane you must be slightly delusional.
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Viking

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Re: Philosophy on life - do things really happen for a reason?
« Reply #48 on: January 11, 2013, 05:16:03 pm »
An illness or sudden death isn't a person's failing. So your explanation doesn't work.

Not getting treatment makes it work. You are bringing up a specific rare case of sudden death. But, even if the example is a meteor hitting earth we are doing something about it now. Finding out that it is going to hit tomorrow and we can't do anything about it doesn't mean that it was meant to be it just means that rather than do something about it when we could we choose not to. Everything has a cause even if we don't know what it is or even if we cannot know what it is.

My explanation works fine, your "meaning" and "for a reason" bs are merely means of justifying failure or inaction or incompetence or of coping with the guilt related to failure or lack of action or incompetence. It is part of how humans stay sane when dealing with fuckups or proof of inadequacy.

In virtually every single conceivable situation there was something you could have done to prevent it. In virtually all of these cases it was something you could reasonably have been expected to do (e.g. send kid immediately to doctor when it has pain).

Looking for an external reason or meaning behind the event is a means of avoiding possibly self destructive introspection. Unfortunately this also prevents necessary self examination as well in many cases.
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A terrorist which starts a slaughter quoting Locke, Burke and Mill has completely missed the point.
The fact remains that the only person or group to applaud the Norway massacre are random Islamists.

merithyn

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Re: Philosophy on life - do things really happen for a reason?
« Reply #49 on: January 11, 2013, 06:37:22 pm »
My explanation works fine, your "meaning" and "for a reason" bs are merely means of justifying failure or inaction or incompetence or of coping with the guilt related to failure or lack of action or incompetence. It is part of how humans stay sane when dealing with fuckups or proof of inadequacy.

In virtually every single conceivable situation there was something you could have done to prevent it. In virtually all of these cases it was something you could reasonably have been expected to do (e.g. send kid immediately to doctor when it has pain).

Looking for an external reason or meaning behind the event is a means of avoiding possibly self destructive introspection. Unfortunately this also prevents necessary self examination as well in many cases.

You're being ridiculous.

First, let me repeat that I don't believe in the whole "there's a reason for it" mentality. If you actually read my first post, you'd know that.

Second, the bolded part is insane. There are lots and lots and lots of things that happen that we have zero control over. In my own life, I can think of three off the top of my head: 1) My son dying due to an incompetent cervix, 2) My other son getting diabetes, and 3) my daughter being born with a muscle disorder that made her very delayed, physically, for the first three years of her life. Absolutely nothing could have been done to prevent, delay, or otherwise stop those things from happening. The only thing that would have prevented it happening would have been to not get pregnant. That's like saying, "You could have prevented getting the flu by living in an oxygen bubble." Well sure, but at what point do you live?

And these are not "rare" circumstances. They happen every day. Lots of people deal with things that they could not have prevented. Hurricanes destroy houses in places that have never had a hurricane before. Drought destroys farms. Illnesses kill. Businesses close, taking with them jobs and livelihoods. It's a fact of life.

As for your meteor example, exactly what could be done if a large meteor is found to be coming toward the earth? Even if you had a month, what could be done?

In all of these circumstances, no one is at fault. There is no inadequacy. There's just an intense sense of loss. Saying, "It was meant to be" doesn't cover any kind of guilt. It may, as Valmy suggested, offer some solace for people, I guess. It infuriates me, but it might make someone else feel better.

Your premise is faulty.
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OttoVonBismarck

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Re: Philosophy on life - do things really happen for a reason?
« Reply #50 on: January 11, 2013, 07:09:29 pm »
Well the universe and everything in it has physical laws. As a Catholic I interpret the origins of such things differently than most, but I believe in those laws with a high degree of confidence. If a child dies to a disease or a city is destroyed by a meteor, yes there is a "technical reason." Perhaps in the child's case, genetics or random infection that even diligence was unable to prevent. In the case of a meteor, while our scientists may have not been tracking it previously and thus not really able to discern its origins or what set it on its path, some real action sent it hurtling toward that town.

But as a Catholic I also do not believe in "spiritual reasons" or "deep reasons" for things. Free will and the physical universe we inhabit have tons of moving pieces. Sometimes those pieces slam into people and destroy them, through random accidents, random violence, etc. One of the world's most accomplished marathon runners fell dead one day in his early 50s, he had severe blockages in his heart. Despite being under the regular care of a physician, the patient did not present ordinary symptoms (perhaps his extreme exercise in some way helped compensate for the blockages as they built up in parts of the heart, making it harder to detect), and he died. My brother died in his 40s of an aortic dissection, which is considered wholly fatal if it happens anywhere other than on an operating table or in extremely close proximity to one. They can develop in hours sometimes with no prior symptoms and are thus almost virtually unpreventable. In rare cases signs of an imminent dissection might be found, but that's very, very rare.

In the human body there are many faults that can develop overtime that progress to very rapid death and whose causes are not known to be related to any active lifestyle choices or linked to any known genetic disorders. Basically, sometimes parts of your body maybe just didn't form quite right, and one day they fail and you die earlier than most would consider normal. Pete Maravich was born without a left coronary artery, and he was a professional basketball player. His right coronary artery was much enlarged and apparently had grown very strong and big through compensating over the years. Enough that the guy could excel in a very demanding athletic endeavor, but Maravich's clock eventually ran out and he collapsed in a pickup basketball game and died at age 40. Prior to his death he had no symptoms whatsoever, and as a professional athlete he received closer scrutiny from doctors than many would at a similar age. But unless we basically do full body MRIs in addition to angiographies and a host of other tests there is very little anyone can do about most of these non-symptom producing problems. Even with those tests sometimes the problem is undetectable. My grandfather had a cerebral angiography which is exactly one of those tests that can help diagnose and prevent things that are going to turn into larger problems, but in his case, and this is a very rare but known side effect, his angiography caused an embolus to form which lead to stroke. Luckily it did not kill him, but it had negative effects on his cognition and quality of life, it easily could have killed him. So even doing all this aggressive testing can sometimes kill you while you had no underlying condition at all.

But I digress, yes everything has a technical cause, but "spiritual reasons the universe has certain events" are hogwash mostly. I do not believe aside from extraordinary instances that God communicates by randomly say, killing one child so another might live or something like that. I'm aware of the histories of the saints and miracles in the bible, but that's not a typical relationship between God and mankind. But I think for many people they have to believe things are meant to be or that there are reasons for things, because they simply can't handle the alternative. For them it is a coping mechanism for something they simply cannot handle otherwise, their assumption is everyone needs those same coping mechanisms which is why they say such things to other people.

Jaron

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Re: Philosophy on life - do things really happen for a reason?
« Reply #51 on: January 11, 2013, 07:11:23 pm »
This thread reminded me of what a bitter and cynical place Languish is. :P

Valmy

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Re: Philosophy on life - do things really happen for a reason?
« Reply #52 on: January 11, 2013, 07:11:55 pm »
In virtually every single conceivable situation there was something you could have done to prevent it.

LOL.

Ok you are descending to looney land now. 
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katmai

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Re: Philosophy on life - do things really happen for a reason?
« Reply #53 on: January 11, 2013, 07:16:28 pm »
Now?
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merithyn

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Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn’t there
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I wish, I wish he’d go away...

Razgovory

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Re: Philosophy on life - do things really happen for a reason?
« Reply #55 on: January 11, 2013, 08:36:32 pm »
Raz:  Successful. :smoke:
I've given it serious thought. I must scorn the ways of my family, and seek a Japanese woman to yield me my progeny. He shall live in the lands of the east, and be well tutored in his sacred trust to weave the best traditions of Japan and the Sacred South together, until such time as he (or, indeed his house, which will periodically require infusion of both Southern and Japanese bloodlines of note) can deliver to the South it's independence, either in this world or in space.  -Lettow April of 2011

The accusation in fact, is simply made as an attempt to distract from what I good job I've done of proving your own irrationality.   -Berkut May of 2012

Viking

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Re: Philosophy on life - do things really happen for a reason?
« Reply #56 on: January 11, 2013, 09:37:20 pm »
In virtually every single conceivable situation there was something you could have done to prevent it.

LOL.

Ok you are descending to looney land now.

If I were assuming that we have perfect knowledge and know what we need to do to prevent as yet unconcieved situations in the future then I would be loony, but I don't.
First Maxim - "There are only two amounts, too few and enough."
First Corollary - "You cannot have too many soldiers, only too few supplies."
Second Maxim - "Be willing to exchange a bad idea for a good one."
Second Corollary - "You can only be wrong or agree with me."

A terrorist which starts a slaughter quoting Locke, Burke and Mill has completely missed the point.
The fact remains that the only person or group to applaud the Norway massacre are random Islamists.

HVC

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Re: Philosophy on life - do things really happen for a reason?
« Reply #57 on: January 11, 2013, 10:04:26 pm »
You know you're going to die. Prevent it :P
Being lazy is bad; unless you still get what you want, then it's called "patience".
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Jaron

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Re: Philosophy on life - do things really happen for a reason?
« Reply #58 on: January 11, 2013, 10:22:20 pm »
Well, he did say virtually. That gives his argument an out for about 1% of life situations, such as death and paying taxes. ;)

dps

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Re: Philosophy on life - do things really happen for a reason?
« Reply #59 on: January 11, 2013, 10:57:43 pm »
I don't think that things happen for a reason - at least not some global, over-reaching reason that I just can't fathom right then that will late make my life better.

Have you considered the possiblility that things happen for a reason, but that reason has nothing to do with making your personal life better?