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NeantHumain
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08 Sep 2005, 1:17 pm

Well, today my ethics class was horrible. We were discussing the pros and cons of utilitarianism, but there are a few sorority girls in my class for some ungodly reason. Just looking at them, I was thinking, "Like, oh my God! What is she doing here? She couldn't think her way through a paper bag! :lol: (Much sense of self-righteousness.)" I groaned just thinking about what they might say; and I looked at them with a smirk of righteous contempt, knowing they'd inevitably make fools of themselves.

The professor wanted us to break into groups to discuss someone's critiques of utilitarianism. Unfortunately, the sorority girls were sitting right behind me, so I had to work with them. :( I decided to assume intelligence all around (mea culpa) and ask them if they thought John Stuart Mill's idea of higher and lower pleasures was really sound. I asked them if they thought being put on a hierarchy that made sitting around, reading a book, the best pursuit of pleasure while making playing a sport a pleasure much closer to that of an unthinking pig was not a little biased towards Mill's own preferences. One of the women responded with the cliché, "Ignorance is bliss" (embracing the swinish nature of her lifestyle). I looked beyond to a group across the classroom to hear a bright young man expounding the virtues of intellect over foolish hedonism (the pursuit of sensual pleasure).

I believe intellectual stimulation is the only way to True Happiness, and those who would deny the fact are that much closer to our piggy friends than our fellow intellectuals. One example the professor used was comparing listening to one of Mozart's pieces and listening to an advertising jingle. Of course, my first thought was, if it was a cruddy ad, it would be easy to parody and turn into hours of amusement for one and all. I was only too soon proven wrong: Mozart is more complex, more nuanced, more intellectual. Bask in the intellectuality! Apparently, the pleasure of feeling intellectually snobby wins over raw amusement.

Now if only I could experience severe mental breakdown like John Stuart Mill just because I realized my philosophy was too rigid and limiting! Of course, this means I'd actually have to take an ethical philosophy and try to live to its standards every moment of the day only to discover its inherent weaknesses once my blind trust has fadeD. Eventually, to recover from the Million depression, I'd have to realize feelings exist for a reason—they guide our judgment and have evolved to handle that task successfully for millennia! After realizing this, I would revise the philosophy to incorporate these "feelings" in some subserviant way because we all know a few too many "hunches" and "impressions" can send a carefully formulated ethical system crashing to Jean-Paul Sartre's Nothingness (le néant)!



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08 Sep 2005, 2:39 pm

NeantHumain wrote:
I believe intellectual stimulation is the only way to True Happiness, and those who would deny the fact are that much closer to our piggy friends than our fellow intellectuals.
This is one of the biggest crock of BS I've ever heard. I encourage tireless intellectualism, of course, but it is not the route to happiness and never has been. My happiness is in spite of, not because of it. Humans are not intelligent beings; they are instinctive beings with intelligence. There's a big, big difference. To this end, I give you a quote from Ernest Hemingway:

"Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know."


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monastic
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08 Sep 2005, 2:50 pm

Another Quote for the day:

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Kindness is more important than wisdom, and the recognition of this is the beginning of wisdom. – Theodore Rubin


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08 Sep 2005, 2:57 pm

I always thought having a massive brain worked against me as far as hapiness goes. Some of the happiest people i know are somewhat dim and dont have a grip on reality, allowing them to have an inflated opinion of themselves. A lot of of the most intelligent people seem in the past seem to have had breakdowns and the like along with mental health disorders. My intelligence is a burden i tell ya.



DrizzleMan
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08 Sep 2005, 3:31 pm

NeantHumain wrote:
Apparently, the pleasure of feeling intellectually snobby wins over raw amusement.


There's a big difference between intellectual snobbery and actual enjoyment. Isn't snobbery mainly for show?



NeantHumain
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08 Sep 2005, 3:51 pm

DrizzleMan wrote:
NeantHumain wrote:
Apparently, the pleasure of feeling intellectually snobby wins over raw amusement.


There's a big difference between intellectual snobbery and actual enjoyment. Isn't snobbery mainly for show?

I think most of the preference for classical music over popular music is snobbery, plain and simple. They just can't associate with something the disgusting plebs like. Their taste must be more refined. I do not find listening to, say, Mozart or Beethoven any better than listening to Red Hot Chili Peppers, Radiohead, or any of the more popular musical groups. Actually, I find a symphony to be much less enjoyable than, say, Red Hot Chili Peppers' "I Could Die for You." I ascertain that the reason some people will have nothing to do with lyrical music is that they are culture snobs and derive most of their pleasure in experiencing high culture from reflecting a sense of cultural supremacy onto themselves. It's the same thing with sensual deprivation: Enjoying a good meal, enjoying sex, enjoying spontaneity are off-limits for those with more "cultured" taste because one's preference must become law.

Thus, I end up in an ethics class where, because I enjoy sensual pleasure at least as much as intellectual pleasure, I am considered (by this 19th-century philosopher John Stuart Mill) to be closer to a less evolved animal like a pig than a cultured human being. I am so far quite disgusted with the ethical systems presented in this class (not much yet) because they're too rigid. Nietzsche objected to such stricture; he recognized that there is not a one-size-fits-all morality. Morality, to an extent, is determined by personality. He also recognized thay many philosophers take mere preference (he used stoicism as his main example) and assert that it is the universal truth. Nietzsche (likely acknowledging the fact in himself) claimed that the motivation to moralize is the drive of the will to universalize its preferences and its opinions. Thus, a certain amount of personal bias is inescapable in philosophy. Whither the ethical egoists (like Ayn Rand), the Stoics, the Utilitarians (Consequentialists; John Stuart Mill and David Bentham), virtuists (Aristotle, most Christianity), Nihilists, Existentialists, Hedonists, Pessimists, Idealists, et al.

For example, I find any moral philosophy that compels self-deprivation as a means to "holiness" or "heightened spirituality" to be anthema to me. I reject Stoicism outright. I reject the moral pessimism of Schopenhauer too; I reject all egoist and "realist" philosophies. I acknowledge, though, that different people (for example, Sophist) might find some of these philosophies more agreeable personally than I do.



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08 Sep 2005, 3:55 pm

meanthumain wrote:
Enjoying a good meal, enjoying sex, enjoying spontaneity are off-limits for those with more "cultured" taste because one's preference must become law.


pmsl!

what piffle, neant! i'm a classcal musician, who listens to an amazingly eclectic range of music, and who enjoys food, sex and spontaneity.

good grief - there's an epidemic of generalising on this board at the mo :roll:



RobertN
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08 Sep 2005, 4:02 pm

I have to agree with Eamonn here. I do think I am an intelligent being as opposed to an instinctive being - hey, why else would I be a Socialist :wink: :lol: However, it has worked against me on many occasions. I have suffered at least one nervous breakdown, maybe two, and I am only 19! Along with that comes paranoia and depression.

I do wonder whether it is worth being intelligent sometimes, but on the whole I think it is.



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08 Sep 2005, 4:04 pm

I enjoy classical music; I also enjoy some popular music but an awful lot of modern musicians just don't have any talent. Any musical talent, at least. They're talented at showmanship, and they're talented at making lots of money, and that's what the industry wants. If you want to call me a snob for that, go ahead, but I don't listen to Mozart and think Yay! I'm cultured...



Last edited by DrizzleMan on 09 Sep 2005, 1:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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08 Sep 2005, 4:25 pm

Lol, get used to it. That's our society for you. Yeah, enlightenment and understanding of the world without illusions is the way to happiness but its also a great way to get exiled by society because all they go for in other people is relatability and popularity (the first is needed to qualify for the latter). If your way of thinking is too complex - your eccentric. People won't understand you, they really don't care and don't want to, and it's not even an NT thing - I've met more than enough aspies who are just like that themselves. Truth is very few people enjoy thinking and the only way you'll ever get praise or have people saying "Wow....that's really cool!" is if what your saying is completely on the societal bandwagon and verifying the 'cool things' to think or believe.

Lol, that's another thing. Personal beliefs and political beliefs are just supposed to be worn like cloathing and thrown out when they go out of style - thats one thing that's horrified and disgusted me for years.


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Ante
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08 Sep 2005, 6:15 pm

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08 Sep 2005, 6:40 pm

I think intelligence as a path to hapiness speaks to the capacity for transcending our subjective experiences. This I believe is the only path to true happiness.
The plight of the intellectual who concludes that "ignorance is bliss" is that he has only gone halfway. It is similar to an atom that is inbetween energy levels I think. It is not a sustainable state.


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09 Sep 2005, 3:01 am

Ante wrote:
Culture should be a way for us to enhance our existence. We should get from it what we don't get from our own lives. When culture is said to be above life, though, and indulging in it is said to be the path to true happiness that's ridiculous. No artist creates a piece of work without having being inspired by some experience. The experience is what matters most. We can live happily without art, we can't live happily without experiences. That is why sports no matter how unoriginal or common are always going to be more valuable than books and films, and friends and lovers will always be more valuable than intellectual contemporaries.


That's fine and all, I hear what your saying about building and enjoying experience being something that can't be ignored, but what really bugs me or seems wrong is when people don't show their experiences the honor or respect of growing from them or learning from them. I do and have for a long time drawn a lot of my own sense of personal value and identy from what I've been through and how much I'm willing to fight to enhance my personal story to whatever ends I can. However, it's not about thrillseeking or just seeking out whatever feels good, it's about learning, growing, constant self improvement, becomming a better person, and all I think people are saying in this thread is that you really have to have a good understanding of the bottom line to be steering your life well enough to be truely happy (unless you're one that unrealistically lucky 1/2% or less where it all just falls in their laps most of the time). You have to have a good atitude and perspective about your own emotions, life in general, and have a very good and steady way of taking in the world - self knowledge and getting the big picture is an almost indispensible ingredient in having a strong foundation and really having good self esteem, self assurance, etc.


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09 Sep 2005, 3:22 am

Ante wrote:
Culture should be a way for us to enhance our existence. We should get from it what we don't get from our own lives.

It has often been claimed by those who purport to be 'in the know' that culture should reflect our lives, say something about the world we actually live in.
Ante wrote:
When culture is said to be above life, though, and indulging in it is said to be the path to true happiness that's ridiculous. No artist creates a piece of work without having being inspired by some experience. The experience is what matters most.

I am not sure anyone is saying it is 'above life', perhaps what is meant is that it can afford a new perspective on life; that is, it can provide a way of seeing things that we hadn't thought of before.
Ante wrote:
We can live happily without art, we can't live happily without experiences. That is why sports no matter how unoriginal or common are always going to be more valuable than books and films, and friends and lovers will always be more valuable than intellectual contemporaries.

I have to disagree with most of that. I think creation of Art is as essential to our lived experiences as the other basics we depend on for survival. Some people see sport as an expression of culture, so a dichotomy between the two seems spurious and irrelevant. There is so much transmitted through culture (books, films, paintings, photographs, music, etc), that we would have a very different sense of who and what we are without those things. Who is to say that friends and lovers are going to be more valuable than intellectual contemporaries? Who even says that the two have to be divided into separate camps?

It seems to me that there is some confusion about precisely what culture actually is. It is not about establishing or reinforcing a social hierarchy, even though early academic attempts to position 'culture' did precisely that.

Google 'Reith', or 'Matthew Arnold', for early views into what constitutes culture. Also, check out Roland Barthes, Michel Foucault, 'Post Structuralism', 'Post Modernism', etc.] Or just type the words 'Popular Culture' into Google and see what comes up!


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09 Sep 2005, 9:24 am

Not to be bringing up old issues just for the sake of randomness, but, Neant, didn't you criticize me for making similar remarks JUST a couple weeks ago about "popular" women???

So you are righteous only when it suits you, eh?

And about classical music, the only reason you think people who like it are snobs is because YOU don't like it. If you hated Red Hot Chili Peppers and loved Mozart, you would think people who listen to RHCP or other music like it are the "swine" you have this thread focused on.

The word "hypocrite" comes to mind...


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Last edited by Sophist on 09 Sep 2005, 10:43 am, edited 1 time in total.