Friday, 3 February 2012

Why should our future selves get to have all the fun?

I was wondering there what all this boredom and tiredness is really going to get me later on in life. Maybe it'll be good to speak Japanese. Maybe it'll be nice to look back on my achievements and say, hey, that guy whose sense of self was radically different to my own and whose body and age were different sure did achieve a bunch of stuff. The fact of the matter is though, because there isn't really such a thing as a 'self' (especially in my case, having experienced a not-too-Zen-like ego death), when you work towards a goal, if you are not receiving compensation for your work (pleasure, for example), then you are essentially enslaved to your future selves. They don't have to do anything to prosper from your work, while your present selves never get to taste the fruits of their labour. Why have I said such an absurd thing? Simply because (a there is no soul (b our personalities probably can change as we grow older (most people will attest to this) and (c we are a chain reaction of electrical impulses. But then, I guess I haven't taken into account here that, like those animals that cannot reproduce but help out their kin*, we may wish to serve our future consciousnesses, simply because they are like us, and we are selfish people. I don't really have a problem with that, as long as you do know that you aren't entirely serving your best interests if you act like that in every situation. I think utilitarian logic works best here - balance the suffering and pleasure of present and future selves, and then figure out what's best for everyone, even if a couple of selves are being tortured for the greater good. Though if you are against any harm being done at all - you don't agree with the self-sacrifice of some selves (and I suppose if you don't agree, then your selves won't sacrifice themselves willingly either), then your future selves are really quite screwed, unless you live in a really good Welfare State (since, working=suffering in all cases but a few).

What was my point with this? Well it sort of reminds me of a guy I know who works his ass off, thinking when he has grandchildren to look after him when he retires he'll be able to relax. Or something like that. I just think he should stop self-flagellating if he doesn't even enjoy it. I enjoy school more than he does, and I practically resent everything it's ever done to me. But in all other respects it is a bit of a silly post I gather. Better than no post though, ha!

*I read about this in a few Richard Dawkins books. I THINK one of the examples may have been about aphids, and another about bees.


  1. Welfare is one of the greatest achievements of modern civilizations. Allows me to live a modest lifestyle while being spared the horror and pointlessness of work (now, we need something similar for sparing children the horror of compulsory schooling). Doesn't make my suicidal feelings go away, but at least keeps them at bay.

  2. Agree completely anonymous. There is much hatred in my country towards those on welfare, as they are viewed as being parasites to 'good working people'. The problem with saying that is that people are genuinely different from one another. There are some who can tolerate work and the social bullshit involved, and there are others who simply can't. It isn't "work sucks for everyone, dude". It hurts a lot more for some people, especially those who are on the autism spectrum, have a mental illness, or are disillusioned with the lack of purpose inherent in the world. People also tend to assume that being unemployed is far superior to working - but the amount of social shame (along with reproductive shame I'm sure), and general rejection those on welfare experience at least make up for not working, I'd think.

    I for one look forward to the advent of robots in everything - eventually besides a few maintenance people, it may be possible that a lot of work can be abolished in favour of mechanical slaves (hopefully we won't be stupid enough to torture them with consciousness or emotions, as evolution did to us). Then hopefully anyone who wants to remain alive can do whatever they want, instead of standing in the way of an almost constant stream of piss.

  3. There are hardly any welfare programs in the US for people who do not have children, so living on welfare is not a realistic option for childless people in the US.