Forum Comments

How do you protect yourself from technology?
In Health and Medicine
Griffin Kiegiel
Jun 14, 2021
Thank you for your post, C.L.! I definitely agree with your tips regarding keeping one's Circadian Rhythm regulated. We are constantly enticed into staying awake and productive because it helps drive the megamachine towards greater levels of efficiency, but it is up to us to figure out when it is time to rest. I myself have been making an effort to limit my screen-time after the sun goes down, and if I do have to use a screen, I use a red-light filter similar to the ones you described. Reading before bed is also much more conducive to a good night's rest than watching TV, which was my original ritual. I also have been opening my shades at night to allow the sun to be my alarm, rather than a chirping cellphone. During the summer months I am lucky enough to not need to wake up at any particular time, but the sun tends to get me up around 8-9am anyway and I feel much better for it. Starting the day off with anxiety (due to a blaring alarm) is awful. I'd like to take a moment to discuss my experiences with video games, as they are the thing that I struggled with the most in the beginning. I was a very shy person growing up, and I had trouble feeling comfortable in social situations, even among friends. But when I discovered video games, it seemed like the perfect solution. I was able to communicate with my friends online without feeling the pressures associated with in-person communication. If I got too anxious, I could mute my microphone (or just log off). I wouldn't be overthinking all the time due to an over-analysis of peoples' facial and body reactions. It was like a "safe zone". I became so enthralled with this space that I would opt to go home alone in order to connect with friends online rather than hanging out with those same friends in person (even though we would plan to just play video games together in person). Over time though, the problems I was experiencing in real-world interactions transferred themselves into the digital realm. I would start feeling anxiety when friends sent me requests to play games with them or join them in a chat room. I was constantly worried that I would be judged or ridiculed in some way or another, even though it was just a voice or a silent pause in my headphones. I recognize that a lot of this stemmed from personal feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem, but tech was making those problems worse rather than making them easier to deal with. I would start disconnecting my gaming console from the internet so that I could just play games in lonely silence. I wanted to enjoy the dopamine rush of getting a new Xbox Achievement on my own without having to worry about anyone else. Technology was pulling me away from people and isolating me more than I ever realized. Eventually, when I got to college, I started to realize how bad I was at communicating with other people in the real world. Instead of honing those social skills in high school, I was always looking for ways to circumvent the challenges I experienced. It left me socially stunted, and I could feel the awkwardness I brought to every conversation I entered. For years all that mattered to me was high scores, but those numbers mean nothing in the real world. I could connect with a few others that felt the same way I did, but I came to see that avoiding the problem with others that were also avoiding the problem was not going to get us anywhere. I knew that happiness came from the connections we made with people, but digital connections were not going to cut it. Fear had been in the driver seat for too long. On top of the issues with socialization, I also noticed how frustrated I got when I played video games, especially competitive ones like Call of Duty and Battlefield. I would rage and scream and break controllers on occasion. I thought that video games were a relaxing activity after exiting the stressful academic environment, but they were amping me up more than ever. It took me a few years of serious reflection, but I finally concluded that I needed to stop playing video games all the time if I was going to live a happy and fulfilling life. I had dropped out of engineering school because I saw how a life filled with technology was not a life of happiness, and it was time to start taking steps to limit it in my personal life, not just my academic life. The issue was that I was so addicted to playing them all the time, and I had created so many relationships based on a shared interest in video games, that I found it nearly impossible to stop on my own accord. The solution was quite simple: get rid of the temptation. I sold my Xbox, got rid of any competitive games I owned, and it felt SO GOOD. I was surprised by how freeing it was to get rid of the box that just begged for my attention at all times of the day. I started reading a lot more books, drawing more, and enjoying talking with friends rather than dreading it. I still played more casual games like Pokemon and puzzle games on occasion, but it was much more limited than previously. I was in control, not the games. Today, I still play video games, but it is very limited. I join my friends in a Super Smash Bros. match or a Mario Kart race once in a while, but it's always in a supplementary way; we hang out and happen to play a game before going to play volleyball or hit up a park, rather than meeting up specifically to play a game. I don't take it as seriously as I once did, because I realized that the real world is MUCH more valuable than the digital one. Now when I get bored, I read a book or meditate, because I recognize how much better I feel afterwards. Dopamine is an addictive drug, and video games provide a hefty supply of it. The key for me was to stop and take note of how I felt after playing video games, and compare that to how I felt after reading a book or meditating. Journaling was a big help in this respect, because it is sometimes really hard to guage your own emotional state in the moment. I highly recommend journaling to people that are struggling with an addiction of any kind, because it gives you a chance to reflect and not let your emotions/addiction determine your actions. I now see boredom as an opportunity to grow, and I don't feel so tempted to sedate myself in order to get rid of the feeling of boredom. Sometimes it's good to embrace the boredom! Just sit and meditate, be in the moment, take in the things around you. To quote Ram Dass, just BE HERE NOW. You will be astounded by how full "boredom" can make you feel. Allow the space to grow, and beauty will follow in its wake, if that makes sense haha.
0
0
Is morality subjective or objective?
In Philosophy
Griffin Kiegiel
Mar 22, 2021
These are all great questions. Allow me to attempt to clarify my thoughts a bit more. Based on my understanding, morality can either be subjective or objective. (If it can be both, I'm not sure what that would look like.) If morality is subjective, then that means there are no universal moral principles. In other words, there are no moral rules which apply to everyone regardless of their culture, beliefs, etc. What is right and what is wrong is determined by the individual/culture/society. This view initially seems attractive when one considers the fact that different cultures disagree about what the right thing to do is. For example, some cultures believe that women ought not show their face in public, while other cultures view that as morally impermissible. I think many people are afraid to say that one culture is wrong while another is correct, because we value equality so much (maybe too much?). So they try to modify their perspective on morality in order to make it such that every culture is correct about what is right and what is wrong. This is moral relativism. I think that moral relativism is false for a couple reasons. (1) It doesn't allow us to criticize the moral practices of other cultures. If there is a culture that claims killing Jews is morally permissible, then moral relativism says they are correct about that. If you are a moral relativist, then you aren't allowed to say that anyone else is wrong, because "right" and "wrong" are themselves defined by the culture itself. (2) Moral relativism doesn't allow us to criticize our own culture or engage in moral progress. The United States used to hold the position that slavery is morally permissible. Today, most everyone would say that the US was wrong about that; slavery is actually morally impermissible. When we came to that realization, we modified our moral code. But if moral relativism is true, then cultures are never wrong about what is right or wrong. A moral relativist would not be able to criticize the US for permitting slavery because they believe that the rightness or wrongness of an action is determined by the culture, and the culture said that slavery was permissible. These conclusions appear to be wrong to me, and that's why I believe moral relativism (a.k.a. the view that morality is subjective) is false. I think you are correct in asserting that we cannot know whether our moral instincts are pointing us in the right direction. Indeed it seems very difficult, if not impossible, to figure out what our moral code would look like without environmental input. Many people assert that morality is simply a tool that we have created in order to organize society and maximize pleasure for all, making it meaningless in an uncivilized natural state. If morality is objective, it seems that we have to establish what the foundation is exactly. Does morality come naturally, or is it all "nurture"? At this stage, I can't say for sure. As you point out, a lot of people use religion as a foundation. They follow a book of rules that tells them what the right thing to do is and what the wrong thing to do is. I take it to be obvious that this is not sufficient evidence that morality actually is objective. This is highlighted by the Euthyphro Dilemma. Does God say X is good because he knows X is good? Or is X good because God says X is good? If the former is true, then morality is objective, but God is not the basis. God simply reports what is already determined as objectively good. If the latter is true, then we are committing a fallacy: an appeal to authority. So if there does have to be a foundation for objective morality, religion does not seem to do the job. I do think about that Nietzsche quote a lot. I'd say I agree with your interpretation, although I don't know if he was right. I think that it is possible for someone to behave morally without religion, the question is what the appropriate foundation should be. Perhaps there is a way to logically deduce moral maxims from obvious truths. Kant made an attempt at this in the Critique of Practical Reason. I'm not an expert, but to my understanding he asserts that there is a categorical imperative we must follow in making moral decisions, which takes the form "You ought to do x." This is distinct from a hypothetical imperative which says "If you want y, you ought to do x." The categorical imperative applies to ALL contexts. One of the forms the categorical imperative takes is "You ought to treat people as an end in themselves, rather than as a means to another end." To me, this seems like a really good objective moral principle that is not based in religion. Aristotle, Hume, and a bunch of other philosophers have also proposed objective views of morality that are not based in religion. Are you familiar with any of these? They each have their own problems, but at the very least I think it shows that we can do ethics independently of religion. In regard to your example involving abstinence in L.A. and Alexandria, I think the important part is the reasoning behind each view. Is the Alexandrian view based in religion or reason? If religion, then I would present the Euthyphro Dilemma and see how they try to solve it. If reason, then we have to analyze their argument to see whether it is valid and sound. The assumption is that if we use reason to analyze the two arguments, only one will come out valid. (Although it would also be healthy to challenge this assumption.) Most moral questions seem to exist in a gray area, but that doesn't mean that morality itself is in the gray area, it just means that the question is difficult. We shouldn't assume that both cultures are right just because it is hard to figure out which one might be wrong. I'm not sure whether "right" should be described as "maximizing pleasure and minimizing suffering". It's arguably the biggest question in ethics: What is the good? Kant claims that the good is that which follows the categorical imperative. This results in lying being morally impermissible in all contexts because (to give one reason) it involves using someone as a means to some other end. But this seems extreme to many of us. What if a cop knocked on my door looking to wrongfully arrest my best friend. When the cop asks me where my friend is, should I lie? Many of us would say yes, but Kant says that lying is wrong in all contexts. So maybe we switch over to a utilitarian understanding of the good such that we want to maximize pleasure and minimize pain. But there are weird cases with that too. Imagine I'm trapped on a train which is on course to kill 3 people tied to the tracks, but I can pull a lever which changes the train's direction to instead only kill 1 person. Should I pull the lever? A utilitarian would say yes, because 3 deaths involves more suffering than 1 death (all else being equal). That one might not be hard to swallow. But now imagine that you are a triage doctor. You have 3 patients in desperate need of organ transplants; they will die soon without them. Then a perfectly healthy patient comes in with symptoms of a cold. She has all of the organs needed to save the other three patients. Should you kill this person and harvest their organs to save the 3 dying patients? Again, it seems that a utilitarian would have to say yes because 3 deaths involves less suffering than 1 death (all else being equal). Most people have a much harder time saying yes to the Triage case than to the Train (a.k.a. Trolley) case. It seems like killing that patient is wrong in itself, regardless of the pleasure or pain that results. Which theory do we choose? If we want to be consistent, it seems that there are obstacles on both paths. What do you think?
0
Is morality subjective or objective?
In Philosophy
Griffin Kiegiel
Mar 22, 2021
(Nayla) Thank you so much for your quick response, I’m loving the conversation, and again, I go through all my endeavours with the mindset of “All I know, is that I know nothing at all”. With that being said I have a couple of questions for you since I think you are on to something. First off, in the first couple of sentences of the first paragraph you reverberate how, and correct me if I’m wrong, going about life with the morality relativism mindset is less preferred due to the somewhat fallible metrics and belief templates we maneuver our daily actions upon. Whereas having a paradigm that adopts morality being objective and is somewhat “one” across the board, calls for overall adjacently righteous decisions as opposed to unrighteous ones. Also, are you arguing that the existence and adoption of subjective morality is in fact non-existent and a mere mirage used to make people justify their wrongdoings, and that objective morality prevails in that there is a set of rules or standards that govern right or wrong? Correct? Or do you believe that subjective morality does exist and that there are good cases reflecting it, or on the other hand, bad cases reflecting it like soldiers in nationalist socailist party that would justify their actions using the grounds of subjective morality to dispel the gruesome acts that partook in WWII. Does that make sense? Haha I’m all over the place with questions but I’m very intrigued and want to meticulously pick your brain. And unfortunately due to the dissonance and lack of thoroughly understanding each other, while having to use means of technology and virtual communication that consequently puts a damper in my fully understanding all aspects. Hence, I have to ask a lot of questions to make sure I’m understanding your point accurately. Furthermore, you mention in the beginning of the first paragraph that “Purely subjective morality leads to apparent contradiction to our moral instincts'' But what are our moral instincts if you take away nurture and conditioning/reinforcement from our parents? We don't have sufficient evidence that our morals would be spick and span and “by the book”, if you will. Since it is unethical to conduct experiments that raise children far away from any stimuli that may mauvere his or her moral beliefs. So how are you sure that subjective morality contradicts what we ought to believe intrinsically? I think this question is kind of off topic but interesting to know your opinion on, nonetheless. I think it's more of a question pertaining to the nature versus nurture debate. Anyways converging back to the point, it’s potent here in Egypt that morality is indeed viewed by the masses as objective across the board due to one thing tying all peoples belief of what's right and wrong. God. Religion. When you debate with someone here about whether morality is either objective or subjective no matter how long you partake in a back and forth argument, tying your morality to a religion will always prevail, due to Egypt being rigorously Islamic, coupled with the fact that religious books are basically a moral manuscript. Dictating what you should or should not do. The population here takes the Holy Book as sufficient evidence that morality is objective, due to a higher power clearly and utterly telling you the difference between right and wrong. “If god does not exist, objective morality does not exist. Objective morality does exist, therefore, god does exist” This sentence was reverbated by an Oxford student studying Theology. He goes on to say that objective morality needs to be grounded in something, somewhat an authority behind it, supernatural if you will. What do you think of that? Again, I’m all over the place here basically word projectile vomiting, and may very well be contradicting myself here, but then again Nietzsche did it all the time so I guess that gives me a free pass haha. Speaking of Nietzsche, in his book Thus Spoke Zarathustra, he reverberates his infamous line that goes like “God is dead, and he remains dead, and we have killed him” The interpretation of this line encompasses how objective morality has been lost due to people's lack of faith, thereby, having gravitated towards nihilism with the potent question being: What's the meaning of all this? Which puts people in a cyclical downwards spiral, versus if they were grounded in believing in a higher power, which would in turn, give people moral assurance and a safety net to lean on with choices that eclipse dilemmas. I guess what I think he's trying to say is when people divert from religion their morality somewhat becomes opaque and murky, not grounded to their previous and now obsolete belief system. I guess Nietzsche believes that with the dwindling of Chrisitanty, and the rise of the enlightenment where many people previously rooted their morality with religion, are now merely lost. Moreover, in paragraph two, you state that “There are disagreements between cultures of what is right and wrong, but I don’t take this to be sufficient evidence that morality is subjective, some cultures may just be wrong” And you go on to give the example of FGM which I see your point about, and is on one side of the specturm for sure, it is no way acceptable to perform such an act. However, there are other examples of discrepancies between cultures that are somewhat in the grey area and are in the middle of the spectrum, which vary between people you ask and would be dubbed, in my opinion, as subjective or relative. Let's take the Alexandrian culture in Egypt and the culture in L.A for example. The formers’ view on abstinence would be that this is the only route to go upon if you want to be a pure and righteous person, if you are not tenacious in regards to practicing abstinence, then you will bear the consequences. Whereas, you'll find that in the latters’ culture, their viewpoint would be more tilted towards the other side of this rigid argument that Alexandrians put about and would have a different approach to the issue. Does that make sense? Lastly, would your definition of right and wrong be in your context? I want to shed light on that aspect, so we are on the same wavelength. Would it be somewhat along the lines of, for example: “Right” being maximizing wellbeing and minimizing suffering?
0
Is morality subjective or objective?
In Philosophy
Griffin Kiegiel
Mar 22, 2021
As for the subjectivity of morality, I understand your argument, but I have a couple concerns. One major concern is that a malleable view of morality may lead one to believe in a species moral relativism, wherein the rightness or wrongness of any particular action is dependent on the individual's perspective. Under this view of morality, what the Nazi's did in WWII was morally right, because they viewed it as morally right. As a simpler example, if I believe that it is morally permissible to commit murder, then according to moral relativism it is morally permissible to commit murder. I think most people would disagree with this conclusion; they would say that the Nazi's didn't realize that what they were doing was in fact morally wrong, and that I was mistaken when I said that murder was morally permissible. Examples like these lead me to believe that there is some sense in which morality is objective, because a purely subjective morality leads to apparent contradiction to our moral instincts. There is an objective moral fact that the Nazi's got wrong. I agree with you that mass agreement is not sufficient evidence of objective truth. In fact, history shows us many clear examples of the masses being dead wrong about moral issues (e.g. slavery). And there certainly is disagreement between cultures about what is right and what is wrong, but I don't take this to be sufficient evidence that morality is subjective; some cultures might just be wrong. For example, many cultures believe in female genital mutilation (FGM) as a necessary social practice; they think it is morally right. In advanced countries we have a more detailed understanding of the human body and see FGM as incredibly harmful and immoral (women are pressured into it by society, it leads to many health problems, it's incredibly painful, etc.). If morality is subjective (i.e. if moral relativism is true) then a culture performing FGM is not doing anything morally wrong. I also think that it is important to distinguish between moral and nonmoral (or amoral) decisions. If I say that I like the color blue for the room, it would be weird for you to tell me I'm wrong, because it's just my preference. But my claim is that if I say that murder is morally permissible, and you tell me I'm wrong, there is something interesting happening which involves more than just a preference. There is an objective matter that we are disagreeing about, it's not simply that you don't like murder and I do.
0
WELCOME
In General
Griffin Kiegiel
Jan 22, 2021
Hey there! My name is Griffin Kiegiel. I'm currently in the PhD program for Philosophy at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI, USA, where I live. I earned my MA in Philosophy from the same institution last year. Before philosophy I studied computer science at NYU Polytechnic. I realized that was only going to lead me to a miserable existence, so I came back home and switched to psychology at University of Michigan-Dearborn. I took Dr. David Skrbina's Intro to Philosophy course my first semester, and my passion had revealed itself. I added philosophy as my second major and never went back. My first foray into anti-tech ideology was in the Fall of 2015 in Dr. Skrbina's Philosophy of Technology class. He introduced us to Jacques Ellul, Theodore Roszak, Martin Heidegger, and perhaps most importantly, Theodore Kaczynski. "Industrial Society and its Future" revealed to me what I had been feeling for years but could never quite explain. Technology was enslaving us, and it seemed like a problem that was way too big to ignore any longer. Inspired by his teachings, I proceeded to take even more classes with Dr. Skrbina over the course of my undergraduate career. These included Social and Political Philosophy, Environmental Ethics, and two study abroad programs: Ancient Philosophy in Athens, Greece (U of M-Dearborn's first ever study abroad) and a more focused Environmental Ethics course in the Virgin Islands. It was on these trips that I became friends with Ryan Glavin and Heidi Gabr, and we started to form our own small group of anti-tech philosophers. After years of discussing the issues, Dr. Skrbina motivated us to finally take action and create the Anti-Tech Collective as a way to localize anti-tech thinkers across the globe. Within the realm of anti-tech, I am very much interested in the ways that technology affects people's individual psychology. I was a "gamer" for most of my childhood, and I was never able to properly trace my feelings of depression and anxiety to the fact that I was living in a false dopamine-fueled reality most hours of the day. It wasn't until I forced myself away from those digital temptations that I realized how much psychological harm I had been causing myself. I want to help facilitate that realization for other people, and the best way that I see of doing that is through education (not necessarily formal/academic education). We are taught to see the external world as an enemy, as other. The metaphysical view of the world that is imposed by the technological system is destroying us from the inside, and most people aren't even aware that this is happening. I want to show people that they are united with the environment, that they need it because they are the same thing as the environment, that the destruction of the environment means the destruction of themselves. Many people seem to have some awareness of this fact, but they fail to truly incorporate it into their character and their actions. I think that it's because they have a faulty metaphysical view; they think they are but a brain in a body when they should actually identify themselves with the entire ecosphere. Anyway, that's a little info about me and my path. Feel free to reach out to me anytime. See you in the forums!
1
0
Griffin Kiegiel
Admin
More actions