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I keep coming across versions of the kalaam cosmological argument lately, and while there are a lot of good refutations around, most of them focus on the "cosmological" nature of the argument. I haven't seen any that address the causal basis directly.

For those who might not remember, the most common formulation (as used by both Christian and Muslim apologists) is like this:

1) Everything that has a beginning must have a cause
2) The universe has a beginning
3) Therefore; the universe has a cause
4) Therefore; Jehovah/Jesus/Allah/Flying Spaghetti monster

Most refutations focus on the following points:
- the current space/time continuum began at the big bang, but we don't know if "everything that is" had a beginning.
- quantum stuff can appear out of "nothing"
- 4 totally doesn't follow from 3

I would instead like to look at point 1 in more detail, which has nothing to do with cosmology per se.

Unlike what many philosophers seem to think, causality is not a law of nature or even a scientific theory. Real science doesn't say things like "gravity is the cause of falling apples", but rather things like a=Gm/r².

Cause-and-effect is rather a framework we use to conceptualize the world, much like "things" and "events" which are more or less arbitrary constructs our minds use to make sense of the world. Like any conceptual frameworks, it has its limitations - infinite regress being the most obvious one. What the kalaam argument tries to do is to base claims about reality on playing with the limitations of the causal conceptual model. It's a bit like insisting that, because "it rains" there really exists some entity engaged in the activity of raining, rather than allowing the "it" to be just a spook created by rules of English grammar.

We may also note that "Every thing that has a beginning must have a cause" is not the most straightforward formulation of causality. The weaselly wording is deliberate, because in step 4 the arguer wants to claim that Jesus/Allah/FSM has no beginning and therefore the argument doesn't apply to them.

But that this is not at all how normal people reason causally can be seen by simple examples like:
- Everything that has a beginning must have a cause
- Your cancer had a beginning
- Therefore; your cancer had a cause
- Therefore; smoking exists

Even a rephrasing as minor as "every event must have a cause" can be seen to throw a major wrench into the argument - because then they need to explain what caused the FSM to decide to create the universe at that specific point without being able to hide behind "but the FSM always existed". That's before we even bring in the other Aristotelian causes. If the universe is an Aristotelian "thing" then it must have:
- a material cause: it must be made of something, like a chair is made of wood.
- a formal cause: there must exist an ideal universe in the world of Platonic Ideas.
- an efficient cause: something fashioned the universe, like the carpenter fashioned the chair.
- a final cause: the universe is made for some purpose.
But "everything there is" can't be a thing in that sense, because then its causes wouldn't be. Now what?

So in short, I think the kalaam can be refuted without bringing cosmology into it, by observing that:
1. Causality is a model to organize our observations of reality (I'm wet because it rains). There is no basis to assume that the model constrains reality in the way the argument presupposes.
2. Even granting that presupposition, the argument depends crucially on obscurity through weasel words.
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In a conventional socialist arrangement, the one everyone thinks of when they think "socialism," a worker works but does not keep the profits from his work. The profits--the results of his labor--are distributed across the population.

In the inverted socialism that comes along with lax regulation of environmental and social practices, a business keeps the profits from its work, but the costs associated with doing business are distributed across the population. This artificially increases the business' profit; the socialization of risk means that some of what would otherwise be the business' expense are paid by the community--even those who do not work for that business--and by other businesses impacted by the first business' practice. Profit is not distributed, but cost and risk are.

This socialization of risk amounts to a subsidy paid by the people surrounding the business which inflates the business' worth and increases its profits without increasing production or efficiency. Because the risks are subsidized and the costs associated with those risks are socialized, businesses which operate in a manner that socializes risk end up at a competitive advantage over businesses which shoulder the full costs of doing business.


Apr. 14th, 2013 02:20 pm
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One common experimental technique is the "ball tossing" paradigm, which involves a group of three people tossing a ball back and forth. Unbeknownst to the actual participant, two members of the group are working for the experimenter and following a pre-arranged script. In a typical experiment, half of the subjects will be excluded from the activity after a few tosses and never get the ball again. Only a few minutes of this treatment are sufficient to produce negative emotions in the target, including anger and sadness. This effect occurs regardless of self-esteem and other personality differences. A computer version of the task known as "cyberball" has also been developed and leads to similar results. Surprisingly, people feel rejected even when they know they are only playing against the computer.

Individual differences in rejection sensitivity are believed to be the result of previous rejection experiences, particularly childhood experiences with parents and peers. Attachment theory suggests that rejection from parents could lead to rejection sensitivity. One study found that rejection sensitivity in adulthood was related to teasing experiences during childhood, but not the amount of support received from childhood friends.


Oct. 14th, 2012 09:12 am
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Readers from the US might want to support this petition asking phone companies to stop endangering victims of domestic abuse or stalking:
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It's hard to say "it's a feature not a bug" over stuff that gets you fired from jobs or drives away your friends and doesn't seem to have any benefits.

But now, from
Read more... )
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Early this week a small article in the news caught my attention. Apparently when a 49 year old driver noticed he was caught speeding by a manned camera, he turned around and rammed the policecar, mostly destroying it. He then assaulted the injured police officer that tried to arrest him and had to be subdued by a resident from the neighborhood. No traces of alcohol or drugs were found. He was driving more than 80kmh in a 50kmh zone.

When I read stories like this, I wonder what goes on in the mind of the person who seemingly lost all contact with reality. Being caught speeding 30kmh over the limit can create a big hassle, but I don't think that even in that guy's own little universe attacking a police officer was going to make it less of a hassle. Of course, there's the fact that the guy was a Walloon, and in Belgium some animals are more equal than others (and in fact he's been released already), but that only goes so far as an explanation.

Anyway. What I think happens in such cases is that the subject is experiencing negative emotions triggered by the situation that are too intense to cope with. Not having been raised to take responsibility for one's triggers (like most of us weren't), the subject is retaliating against the situation in an attempt to make the negative emotions go away. The pain is too much to bear and he just wants it to stop at any cost. It was just his luck that his actions didn't trigger the police officer into triggering something else, though.

For me, the moral of the story is that it's important to try to learn to cope with my triggers rather than try to run away from them like I usually do...
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This morning I was dreaming about elementary school. (This was slightly surprizing, as there didn't seem any reason to dream of THAT)

It fascinates me how a dream can give the impression that you still accurately remember something from 25 years ago. I think though, that such memories are "impressionistic", that they are putting in focus a few things I do remember, and keep everything else a little blurry. What you don't really remember, you also won't notice to be wrong, right?

So this morning, in the state between dream and awakeness, I pondered exactly how much I do remember about elementary school. Not surprisingly for a place I spent the bulk of my life for six years, I remember quite a bit accurately - the general layout of the castle (yes, my elementary school was a castle), that the moat had ducks, that I surreptiously explored the dungeons attics during recess, how we played in the portcullis, etc. While this was going on, I became aware of how this actually works: the memory throws impressions at you, but when you try to focus on it in detail, it quickly distracts you with another impression.

It went something like this:
Me: "let's try something specific, like who were my classmates in the 4th year"
Memory: "of course you remember your classmates, there was this big guy, Peter, for instance - see, you remember him. By the way you also remember that the stone stairs were made of speckled granite. And when you looked up on a sunny day, the sky was blue..."
Me (much later): "waaait a minute! The big guy in 4th year you showed me wasn't Peter! Peter was another big guy I was in class with in a different year!"
Memory: "fooled you, didn't I?"
Me: "so who was I sitting next to in 4th year? Or the 5th? Or the 3rd?"
Memory: "hmmmm mumble mumble Hey! do you remember that time when they all ganged up on you and pushed you into the garbage barrel?"

It's really quite devious, my memory. ^_^
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I think a lot has been said about the reality of fiction, but not so much about the fiction of reality. I may have mentioned before that I believe "reality is fictional", but I should probably qualify what I mean by that. When I say "fiction" I do not mean it in the sense of "the opposite of real" but rather, an imaginatively created, made-up story. What I mean with reality is what is true and has meaning.

I do not propose to deny the existence of a physical reality. But a lot of what we tend to think of as hard physical facts are for the most part based on abstractions that do not *actually* correspond to anything that has concrete existence. For example, when I say "according to the wall thermometer, the temperature in my kitchen now is 19°C", this may seem like an objective, factual, "real", and true statement. It is, in the sense that I do not lie about it. I just went into my kitchen and looked at the thermometer. But it is also largely fictional, in that almost everything in the phrase corresponds to made-up concepts that have no concrete existence, and I don’t just mean the obvious observation that temperature refers to a statistical average of molecular motion. Even the simple concept of "my kitchen" is based on at least three fictions: the space partially enclosed by walls (which themselves are mostly empty space with some agitated atoms in it), and largely cluttered by appliances is not "a kitchen" in any concrete, intrinsic sense; neither is the cluster of transient processes that I refer to as "me" a concrete existence (All phenomena, including persons, are empty of any unchanging, isolated essence because of their dependence upon a network of causes and conditions from which they cannot be separated); and the "kitchen" belongs to "me" only in the context of an elaborate set of made-up social conventions.

It has behavioural implications also: if someone says something that they don't mean to be nasty, but I read it as nasty, is it nasty or not? It has no inherent value of nastiness. But I have perceived it as being nasty, so it is. Also, they have perceived it as being not nasty, so it isn't. There's only nasty-to-me and nasty-to-them, no inherent property that one can verify with one's senses. I think getting along with someone is in a large part a question of willingness to synchronise your story with the other person's story. If they say they didn't mean to be nasty, you can integrate that in your story, even though you were hurt by what they did. Or if something is a big deal to them, you can try to see what makes it so important even though it might not be a big deal to you...

What I’m saying is that "physical reality" is devoid of truth and meaning. If I remove all the made-up fictionalization of my statement, I remove all meaning from it at the same time. Point x in space at time t has a temperature of T – this doesn’t *mean* anything. So how can it be true, how can it be real? Only by "fictionalizing" can facts acquire truth and meaning. "It’s freezing outside but I’m cozy" is not fact. It’s a story. It therefore has meaning. Insofar as I am able to tell it well, its truth and meaning would be all the stronger and more poignant.

A winter morning,
A lone rimed rose,
I long for hot tea.

Another way to look at it is through the relation of "reality" to time – not ask "what is real" but "when is real". The past exists only as history – story. We can only relate to the past through story, accounts fictionalized of necessity, if only by limited scope and viewpoint. The future exists only as a dream, a promise… a fiction. The only "reality" we can experience is the infinitely fine edge between past and future. And by the time you’ve seen it, it’s gone already. People sometimes refer to "consensus reality", but the reality about which a consensus exists already belongs to the past.

Almost everything of meaning is fictional; faith, hope, love… Chemical states in our brains do not have intrinsic meaning, but the stories we make up about them do. And much of our interpersonal success seems based on finding people willing to hear our story, suspend their disbelief, and take part in it... whereas much conflict and sorrow results from not acknowledging others as having stories that are very compelling and meaningful to them.

Even if I died today, nothing "factual" of importance would change. I certainly wouldn’t be there to notice. Some made-up ownership claims would be shuffled. Anybody else would only notice my absence by referring to past memories – history, story, fiction. And it would only mean anything insofar as anyone cares about a made-up story in which my existence features in some meaningful way. If everyone forgot about that part of their stories, that would be the end of my existence; the fictional one, the one that has meaning, therefore the only one that is real.

Perhaps it is possible to look at the world without making up stories about it. One of the main tenets of Buddhism, as I understand it, is that suffering is caused by attachment to made-up stories. If we could just stop getting attached to our made-up stories about reality, or even just stop making up stories at all, we’d be forever at peace, free of joy and sorrow, pleasure and suffering… In that case I'll probably never be a good Buddhist, because I believe making stories is what humans do. Or maybe that's putting it a bit too simplisticly; the tenet is rather something along the lines that frustration arises from clinging to delusional notions about reality and thereby expecting impossible things. So our stories themselves shouldn't be a problem as long as we known them for what they are.


Apr. 4th, 2012 09:40 pm
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The more anomalies you've seen, the more easily you'll notice new ones. Which means, oddly enough, that as you grow older, life should become more and more surprising. When I was a kid, I used to think adults had it all figured out. I had it backwards. Kids are the ones who have it all figured out. They're just mistaken.
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The punny title "faith in mind" may refer to the observation that we are constrained to trust in the essential soundness of our own mind, because if we can't trust our mind, we can't trust our distrust either. Reductio at absurdum.

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You know on Star Trek, they had this transporter technology? You could de-materialize on one and, and re-materialize on the other. It was easier on the budget than using shuttles all the time.

I never quite trusted the transporter. They made it appear like you were somehow "beamed" across the distance, but for as long as I remember theorizing about it (way back when the original Enterprise was boldly facing the foil-wrapped potato of the week), I thought that was a lie. I reasoned that what the technology really did is scan you, and then create a sub-atomically exact replica at the other end, while destroying the original. The replica, having exactly the same brain down to the electron level, would of course have the memory of being at that other place just before, so the replica would think it was still you. Nobody else would notice a difference. But what about the consciousness of the "original"? In my view, that consciousness was "killed" when dematerializing.

When I first watched the shows, I vaguely believed in "souls" and I worried that the soul wouldn't transport along, and you'd end up with a p-zombie on the other end.

Assuming for the sake of the discussion that consciousness arises from the brain activity, without interference by something like an "immortal soul" - would destruction and replacement with an identical copy constitute "Death" or not? As long as what defines our identity (our memories, beliefs, feelings, etc) continues to exist and to have agency, should we say we continue living, even if as a series of exact copies without continuous consciousness? The question is not whether the copy has the same "Self", but whether a discontinuity in consciousness would constitute "death".

If memories and such are only electrochemical patterns in the brain, then the copy *will* be the same as me at the time of creation, share all my beliefs and perspectives etc. After that, we would be different because we start having different experiences (in the case where the original were to survive somehow). If the original is destroyed, there's only one "me" left... If your consciousness somehow got transported along, you'll be "I was there, now I'm here, I have all my memories, all is well... I need to shave." If the original consciousness "died", the copy wouldn't feel any different from the previous situation, because it would also "remember" having the consciousness of the original, so it would not be able to say whether it was the same or not. The original consciousness would of course not be able to go "hey, it seems I'm dead" because it would be too dead for that... It's an unanswerable question, I suppose - even by going through the experience you wouldn't know the difference. Like when you wake up after going under anesthesia; how can you be sure you're the same "you"? I think we can't consciously experience death; where we are, death is not. Where death is, we are no more. So the surviving copy doesn't remember being dead, because being dead isn't an experience, and the destroyed original isn't around to argue.

And perhaps continuous consciousness is all an illusion anyway, and we already *are* existing as a series of copies without ever noticing? I think we could be a sequence of serial copies now without noticing. How do you know your consciousness is the same as that of the person you were a minute ago? You remember being that person, and you didn't notice an interruption in consciousness but you have no solid *proof* that such a break did not take place - perhaps what we think of as continued consciousness is a series of flashes that only appears continuous because of how our memory works... It's something like how we can't prove that we aren't really a brain in a jar.

I'm assuming that you can't in any way "know" or "experience" your own non-existence - because you don't exist to experience it. So in my view, if the original consciousness ends, it won't "know" this. That's what I mean with neither the original or the copy being able to "know" whether consciousness was successfully transferred or not.

By virtue of still being here, "we" must of course be the latest, most current copy. The next copy will not be "us", but it will think it is "us", because it will have all the memories of the current copy up to the point of it becoming the next copy. For all I know I may have seamlessly become a next copy since after I started writing this reply. The previous copy has died, but I can't know that. And if death is nothingness, equal to the total absence of experience, then it doesn't "know" either.

I think the only way the use of the transporter can be justified is by believing that "continued consciousness" is an illusion and that "you" are equal to "your memories". So that somehow it makes no difference whether it's a copy or the original.

In the show they have on several occasions created duplicates of people with the transporter, but they always cheated (in my opinion) by making it obvious who the copy was (the evil twin, or two Kirks with half a personality each) and not having two identical copies. Usually in such fictional situations they end up merging/killing one of the two. But if your friends love you, wouldn't they think two of you was better than one? In my opinion, both copies would have equal rights to the name and personal assets. And if your goal in life is other than purely selfish, wouldn't you welcome the help of a like-minded comrade?
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The most unskillful response to fear is when, perceiving dangers to our own life or property, we believe that we can gain strength and security by destroying the lives and property of others. The delusion pervading our fear makes us lose perspective. If other people were to act in this way, we would know they were wrong. But somehow, when we feel threatened, our standards change, our perspective warps, so that wrong seems right as long as we're the ones doing it.

This is probably the most disconcerting human weakness of all: our inability to trust ourselves to do the right thing when the chips are down. If standards of right and wrong are meaningful only when we find them convenient, they have no real meaning at all.

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To ask if something is true or not is not a meaningful question unless it relates to our internal world and to our capacity as observers. When we say "true" we mean "exists", or "existed", or "most definitely will exist" (the sun will rise tomorrow). But existence can only be ascertained in our minds. Truth, therefore, is nothing but a state of mind. Existence is determined by observing and comparing the two (the outside and the inside, the real and the mental). This yields a picture of the world which may be closely correlated to reality – and, yet again, may not.

quotes from a Gelug-pa adherent )
In March 2006, another theory was offered by Bert de Wildt of the Medical University of Hanover in Germany. Dr. De Wildt said that he had an example of a female patient who had played internet roleplaying games for several hours a day for more than three years. 'During that time the invented characters gradually took control over the personality which had been neglected. The patient lost control of her own identity and social life,' he said. During psychoanalysis, therapists discovered that she had developed multiple personalities." "Internet roleplaying games can cause multiple personality disorder," (2006, March 13). Deutsch Presse-Agentur, 2006-MAR-13.

quotes on MPD )

Love, in all its phases and manifestations, is an addiction to the various forms of internally secreted norepinephrine. The withdrawal of romantic love has serious mental health repercussions.


Platonism is the position that, if there is a discrepancy between the world and my mental picture of it, then the world is doing it Wrong.

Leap day

Feb. 29th, 2012 08:11 pm
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Today we celebrate the fact that the Earth's axial and orbital movement frequencies are completely unrelated!
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There is the dumbed-down version of karma, "do bad things and bad things will happen to you someday" but I don't care much about that, actually I hate how it's used to justify suffering with "you did evil in a past life". It also implies that some acts are inherently evil, which is nonsense without absolute morality. What interests me about the theory is how it might be used to minimise "accumulating karmic residue" - supposedly by not being attached to the outcome of our actions (which is completely separate from any "moral" considerations).

But in practice, it is very hard not to be attached to emotions. For me at least - when I go on a diet, I desire to improve my body, when I take a job interview, I desire to be hired, when I enter a relationship, I desire the things that tend to come with a relationship. I invest effort (eg to learn a certain user interface) based on certain expectations (eg that the user interface will not change). Because expectations are usually not based on reality, they almost invite disappointment. But trying to force a specific outcome seems to be almost ingrained - it's why I do things. I go to work because I expect to be paid. If I lend you money, I expect to be paid back. If, despite all my devotion, the girl dumps me for another guy, I feel betrayed, even though objectively this is unreasonable.

The betrayal is in the disappointment of my expectations. But right now I don't see how I can avoid forming expectations; they are what motivates me to actions. And neither do I see how I could avoid feeling bad about disappointment; without emotional involvement, the expectations would not be very motivating. In the absence of an absolute moral code to dictate every action, what other motivation can there be than that you desire something? Do we just passively accept whatever the world throws our way?

I think it is sometimes possible to do something simply out of love, or because it is "right", without specific expectations, but I fear one must be a Buddha to be able to do this consistently... In practice, when relationship troubles arise, I try to work on them because it *does* make a difference to me whether the relationship lives or dies. But strictly speaking, that means I am attached to an expected outcome that may turn out to be at odds with reality, and I am "accumulating karmic residue" that will cause me grief later on. I can try not to be devastated by failure, but some upset seems inevitable by the mere fact of preferring one outcome over another?

And I fear sometimes that the alternative to attachments will be dispassionate passiveness or suicidal nihilism (after all, if nothing matters, why bother?).

Thinking more about this, I guess one way to look at "expectation" is a deliberate, explicit linking of a future emotional state to an (as yet unrealised) external circumstance.
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I've been pondering something I wrote years ago, the topic was the question of whether or not we have control over our feelings.

Arguments against control are that we obviously don't choose our feelings, as seems obvious from the effects of medications, drugs, and hormone intoxications.

Arguments in favor are that people can learn to control some emotions ranging from severe phobias to mild likes and dislikes - "acquired tastes" etc - and trigger specific emotions somewhat deliberately by visualising/imagination.

There are reasons to think the lines are blurry, and that emotions can be, if not generated at will, then at least "cultivated" or allowed to wither - "nursing a grudge" and falling into love or hate seem to involve some amount of active participation.

There is the argument that the question is moot, since to prefer one emotion over another is also an emotion, so we would be controlled by an emotion to control an emotion anyway.

There is the argument that we are responsible for our emotions in the sense that we can't blame anyone else for them - "own your triggers". (I once got into a heated discussion about a story whose protagonist felt justified to constantly malign and eventually lash out at someone who unknowingly pushed their triggers yet felt no responsibility to communicate about those triggers, so apparently it's a point that needs making.)

There is also the not cleanly separate discussion of *acting* on emotions, and whether there really is such a thing as an "irresistible urge" and how this affects responsibility. If there are substances that can cause one to act out of character, it would stand to reason that the same can be true for brain chemicals (but it's probably not as common as its use as an excuse).

There seems to be some validity to all these arguments, yet they seem a bit contradictory. Perhaps "emotions" is too vague a term and different factors that have not been sufficiently distinguished are at play here...
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Earlier this evening, while I was taking a shower after cutting my hair, I experienced a revelation. It was probably not a divine revelation. It may be related to sleep deprivation. Anyway.

(begin revelation)

The Laws of Angst Dynamics describe some fundamental Truths that can be observed in the Universe. They take the following form:

Foliumnondefluet's First Law of Angst Dynamics (also known as The Law of Conservation of Angst):

The total amount of Angst in a given situation is constant.

Glosa: This Law suggests that in a given situation, Angst that is not expressed in one form will manifest in another.

Foliumnondefluet's Second Law of Angst Dynamics:

The Angst level of an isolated System always increases with Time.

Glosa: A corrolaria of the Second Law is that processes involving Angst Transfer are irreversible.

Foliumnondefluet's Third Law of Angst Dynamics:

If all Angst could be removed from a System, a state called Absolute Zero will occur.

Glosa: The state of Absolute Zero is also known as braindeath.

(end revelation)


Feb. 5th, 2012 02:48 pm
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The general consensus seems to be "it's ok to be interested in something (fandom, anime, martial arts, whatever fringe activity) as long as you don't take it too seriously", but I think we have not really delved sufficiently in the reasons behind that statement. That is, is it at all possible to take something TOO seriously? If it is, then where should we draw the line?

I was reading something about cults and the following passage caught my attention:

[...] an underlying theme is simplicity. As a junkie once told him "Addiction simplifies life." That is to say one's entire existence revolves around this issue. Nothing else matters. You get up in the morning and you know what you have to do.

With this idea in mind you can begin to see how a person can try to turn anything into a behavioral anchor. All of that person's spare time, energy, effort and money is poured into that fixation. Whatever the fixation, the individual organizes his/her life around it. As chaotic and obsessive as it may seem to the outsider, this creates a form of order in that person's life. Think about it, how many hard-core fans (short for fanatics) organize their spare time around their hobby/passion? They literally schedule their lives and thoughts around it.

In exchange for obsessive devotion to a subject, many of life's difficulties are taken care of for that person. For example, if someone obsessively collects something, quite often that act of collecting can be used as a means not to engage in creating a healthy relationship with members of the opposite sex. That is to say the obsession becomes both an impediment to, and a shield against, having to deal with the complexities of a relationship. It is simpler for the person to collect than to deal with the requirements of a healthy relationship.

Put like this, having such "fixations" sounds rather negative, but the passage raises some questions:

  • The example assumes that "to engage in creating a healthy relationship with members of the opposite sex" is some sort of marker of and requirement for full personhood. So many kinds of normative premises are implied in this example that I can't just pass them over. A "healthy" relationship is obvious codespeak for "normative". Gays and asexuals obviously have more interesting things to do with their time than "a relationship with members of the opposite sex", but even that aside the singlism is obvious.

  • How often is "quite often"?

  • This passage manages to present "relationships" as such a thoroughly unpleasant and complex chore that one puzzles why anyone would even want to "deal with" them. And collecting seems to offer an effective coping strategy for escaping this drudgery.

  • What about all those people who obsessively engages in relationships as a means to avoid dealing with the requirements of healthy stamp collecting?

  • Is this really any different from people who totally fixate on their career, their stock options, their relationships, or any other supposedly "acceptable" obsessions? We could say attach ourselves to nothing (All attachments lead to suffering. Scan for viruses.) but we all need something to attach ourselves to.

This being said, I think we should definitely monitor our beliefs and activities on a regular basis to see whether they are causing actual harm to us. But then again, isn't "escaping from reality" just "escaping from consensual reality", i.e. society's idea of what should matter more? It's not such a straightforward question, because even "actual harm" is subjective. If the collector from the original quote never gets into a relationship because of sa hobby, there is never going to be proof that this does sa actual harm. Sa may even be worse off in an actual relationship...
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