First thing I gotta say is - wow, I appreciate all the people coming and visiting, commenting, sending an email. I've gotten 718 visits since I installed Google Analytics a few days ago, average time on site 2:36. That's over 31 hours of people's lives they're coming to share ideas with me, read what I write. Wow, that's so humbling. It might even be higher than that with people reading on RSS or instapaper. So, very big thanks to the people that are reading, commenting, and letting their friends know about the site. It's quite an honor to take off so fast.
A very pleasant surprise for me has been (1) I'm getting some pretty insightful comments already, and (2) no stupid/rude/idiotic comments. Is the internet evolving or do I just have an awesome crowd here? Both, maybe?
We talked back and forth about cause and effect a little bit, and then he made this comment most recently:
I see your point. You look at generations/human race and consider a new born as a ring in a long chain. So when people say bad luck, you say “There’s no bad luck, just previous actions that lead to present situation”. And that’s fine. Like a political analysis of the People of the World.
But, looking at every new child as a not connected new point in the flux of life, he is not responsible for his good or bad starting point. He has luck or bad luck, because he, as a human being, is just one in a multitude. No past or future connections just made by him.
So, two different visions. But considering your very individualistic and free way of seeing things of life, is it not a bit strange you look at this matter with the glasses of “we all belongs to a long chain?”. Won’t it, in some ways, make the people question less the current order?
I like it because it asks an important question - if luck doesn't exist, should we be fatalistic and just accept things? Question the current order less? Here's my thoughts:
First I want to say – this has been a fantastic, high level discussion, so I really appreciate that we get to have this. Thank you for commenting, this is quite cool. My take:
> he is not responsible for his good or bad starting point
I’ve got a belief, a value, a way of living. Everything is my responsibility. I got mugged by a psycho criminal? I should’ve been trained in martial arts. Some idiot crashes their car into me? I should’ve been paying more attention and had faster reflexes. My bank suspends my only credit card in a foreign country? I should’ve had a backup card, enough cash, and notified them beforehand that I was traveling. It’s hailing outside? I should’ve moved somewhere warm if I didn’t want to deal with that.
This isn’t for abstract thinking reasons. This is because it makes me always take responsibility for what’s happening in my life, even if it’s not my fault per se. Everything is my responsibility. I was born without the opportunities that would’ve been nice? Well, suck it up and build those opportunities for myself and my children. Someone did. We evolved from being apes – we crawled out of jungles, forests, and caves with nothing. All civilization is the result of building the world. I can do that. You could do that. Anyone could do that. It just takes trying, really. I don’t think it’s even all that complicated.
> is just one in a multitude
I reject that stance. I’m not one in a multitude. I am. I will. No one can say I’m part of a multitude without me joining voluntarily – you can threaten me, and I might submit out of a mix of cowardice or pragmatism. But no moral authority can be asserted over me – not by a vote, not by the head of a religion, not by a dictator, not by the mandate of heaven. You’re not one in a multitude unless you want to be. You can become one in a multitude if you want – that’s your choice – but you can never ascribe someone else as part of a multitude without their choice. Threaten them for trying to break free? Yes, certainly, that’s common. It might work, even. But now we’re into questions of war and combat and violence – this is straying for the base philosophy. I am. I will. Individually. Not “We are”. I am. Not “We will”. I will.
> But considering your very individualistic and free way of seeing things of life, is it not a bit strange you look at this matter with the glasses of “we all belongs to a long chain?”
For all that that I just said, I am a believer in individualism, but I am also a believer in voluntary interdependence. I’ll absolutely join with others for a common purpose. If a man takes a post in law enforcement or a military by choice, he swears oaths and becomes part of the group – interdependent on his fellowmen. But the key is – it’s voluntary. I say that I see a bond with my ancestors and my future descendants, but this is by choice. If a man were to say, “I will have no descendants” – this may be a sad thing to me, but who am I to tell him this is a mistake? It is his choice. We choose who we become interdependent with. Voluntary interdependence is good. (Though, don’t mistake a 51% vote as voluntary – this is a common misconception)
> Won’t it, in some ways, make the people question less the current order?
Good question, this is a good question. I don’t like fatalism either. Actually, now that I realize it, I only answered half of your previous question: “is it not a bit strange you look at this matter with the glasses of “we all belongs to a long chain?”
The fact is, the chain exists, like it or not. That’s how you came to exist – a chain of cause and effect. Gravity exists. The weather exists. Like it or not, y’know? So saying, “I’m where I am as a direct result of cause and effect” isn’t giving myself over to fate or fatalism or anything, it’s just acknowledging reality as it unfolded behind us in the past.
Is that luck? Again, I think not. You make your own luck, more or less. To the extent it’s not true that you create your own life, it’s insignificant, trivial. Honestly, I believe that – if you’re taken to the grave early because the dice landed in a fluke way for you, there’s no tragedy there. You do what you can, some of us go before we want to.
Does this make sense? If you a flip a coin and it lands against you – were you unlucky? I don’t think so. I think that’s normal. I think that’s life.
This isn’t just a high level, theoretical, academic thing – I see this general sentiment in successful people. I am responsible for all of my life, there are no accidents, everything is cause and effect, I can improve my outcomes by taking the best actions possible, it’s no tragedy if I do all the best actions I can and things don’t work out as I hoped. And then – start with individualism. No one can take that from you. They can threaten you, beat you, whip you, chain you, insult you, mock you – but they can’t break you inside unless you let them. Once freed from other people’s would-be control, you are able to volunteer yourself to the causes you believe in and become interdependent with those – though I’d recommend respecting people who don’t want to join in. No luck! I really think this way. Most successful people I run this by do too. And most people who feel this way before they’re successful become successful too.
Thanks for the good discussion Alessandro, and thanks to everyone who chooses to spend some time with me. I feel a tremendous responsibility to deliver to you - I started this site just for myself and people who wanted to keep track of what I'm up to, but people are legitimately spending some of their lives here - I'm grateful and humbled by that. I'll aim to deliver.
Edit: Alessandro made another interesting reply in the comments here, worth checking out.