by Michael Cordover
inspired by Tully Hansen in the hopefully one day famous Comment 78
Who am I, really? What do I mean, what do I want, what is my proposed purpose. A manifesto is a document which answers these questions. The Me Manifesto answers these questions about me. Apart from clarifying myself to others, hopefully it will clarify myself to myself. It will also, I hope, allow me to start acting on what I think, for I will always know. I trust my thoughts over my actions, so once my thoughts are clear my actions should follow.
This was inspired by Comment 78, posted by Tully Hansen and repeated below.
Something does not want my advice to get through to you. Through interruption, inattention and inadvertent Type 1 errors, this is the fifth time I have tried to post here. Okay, Computer Gods, reading you(r blog) loud and clear, I'll keep it short. Here's my advice.
1. Internal and external loci of control. The first is what you should have, the second what one shouldn't. Even such a statement countermands the internal locus of control, for in that instance there is no should, only choice and action. Not to decide is to decide... but in a very poor fashion. Basically the loci of control are who you hold accountable - the self, or others? Internal locus allows (nay, insists) on responsibility for one's own actions - you do as you do and act as you act through deliberate choice. Recognise choices and make them - empower the self - hypocritical but meaningful.
2. Confused? Down? Lacking direction? Why not write a Manifesto? Even the sheer intellectual diversion of planning such a document in one's head means hours of fun! It worked for Hundertwasser and the Surrealists, it can work for you! Seriously, this is what I desire to do (and, if I ascribed to (1) above, would have done by now) - write a Me Manifesto. What I am, what I stand for, what I want. What could be simpler? Okay, it doesn't really help you to decide on a way of life, but it allows the definition of your own choices on the matter. Write it down, commit it to paper, and if you decide you don't like the direction your life is going - write another one!
Just my two itemized cents worth.
Hence, I do as Tully suggests and write my Manifesto.
There are two parts to every self, yet I will rename them to avoid association with Dualism. What exists in this section is very brief, you can perhaps know me better by reading my blog, cover to cover.
I am Michael Joseph Eli Cordover, aged 513994835 seconds (or thereabouts), I'm yay tall, weigh yay much and I'm about so fat. I wear glasses. My mop of brownish hair is thick and parted off centre, croockedly, poorly, without care - it's messy. My face is fatish, ugly, round, with a protruding nose that appears as though it could have been broken in the past. At least two pimples at any given time, generally either obscured by my hair or my 1cm long black beard - more a lack of shaving than a beard. I wear only plain clothing, without branding more often than not, mostly shorts and sandals, although sometimes long trousers and sandals. Sometimes I wear a nondescript navy blue fleece. For school I wear the uniform immaculately, and for formal occasions my black suit again as smart-looking as I can manage. I study seven subjects through IB at Friends', four at higher level. I enjoy messing with computers, maths and other such obscure things. This is the me that can be prejudged.
Who am I really? This is the me of the mind, who I think I am. I'm a pacifist, an ethecist, a philosopher. I love complexity and difficulty, challenges which I can overcome without too much real effort... perhaps it is in that I can do it but others can't. Yes, I think that is why I enjoy psudeo-difficult things: because I can do them with sort-of relative ease, and others either can't do it at all, can't do it without (my?) help or they take three times as long as me. Besides that, I see no reason to conform except to make others happy. Conformence for it's own sake is an idea I ridicule: why bother to be like others, and care what they think? If conformence is easy or reasonable for me then, to make life easier for others, conform I will. But should there be an ettiquete that is difficult and non-sensical or a law that makes no sense, I will do what is reasonable. I enjoy the company of others, but I have a fundamental irrational insecurity about that: I always assume that other people don't like my company. Which doesn't really make sense, but I still lean that way.
Well, I like others. Moreso I like Others. Even better are persons.
First let me make a few distinctions, definitions etc clear. Persons and Others - note the capitalisation of Others, but persons are Persons are PERSONS - ethics talk. A person is one who can empathise (or sympathise) with an Other (another) and hence acts ethically towards them. An Other is one who may not be able to (em)(sym)pathise with Others (or even others) but who deserves and elicits (sym)(em)pathy. So a dog is an Other but not a person - they deserve ethical treatement but do not necessarily treat others ethically. Equally a psychopath may not recognise Others as Others and hence may not treat them ethically - hence said psychopath may not be a person. Yet said psychopath still deserves treatment as an other for they feel pain etc.
Now, within each person (perhaps each Other?... certainly within each sentient being - part of having a mind) are two major parts. Cartesian Dualism called them Mind and Body... those are their standard philosophical terms. Yet I iuse Prejudgable and Reality. The Prejudgable is that which is public, the simple, that available to any observer. There is a difference between knowing about someone and knowing someone. You can know everything Prejudgable and you do not know the person, you simply know about them. Equally you can know everything Real - the Reality of the person - without knowing any of their Prejudgable characteristics and you will know that person without knowing about them. That is where I draw those distinctions. A school, police, or otherwise 'authority' file on a person contains enough to know about them. My blog, if not others, exists in order that readers can know me.
I suppose here is where I speak of the Others in my life, but I don't think I will. Names are irrelevant - what is important is who they are. So I will describe instead... well... I was going to say "those who I would be my perfect surroundings" but that's a bit ridiculous. So I'll perhaps let you get to know the Others around me without knowing anything about them - their Realities but not their Prejudgabilities. For many of the people who I befriend are the same in many of their Realities, although unique and wonderful in who they are precisely, they share some basic Real concepts. Although even the most obvious of Prejudgable differnces exist - the one that immidiatly springs to mind is gender, for before this year I barely knew the names of any girls, but this year most of the people I hang around are female (or as a state Liberal MP put it yesterday - "of the feminine gender").
How's this for arrogance - I'll for now compare myself to the main character in Catcher in the Rye... but more interestingly to think along the lines of my father, who considered the main theme in the book to be what I now discuss: phoneys. Those unlucky enough to have never read the book (it's a classic, I strongly reccommend that you do... not just as it is a classic but it's also an exceptionally good read... a similar (well, not really) movie is scent of a woman - another thing you should... observe?) may well enquire as to what I'm going on about. I'm talking about simple people. More than that, the people who conform because it is conforming. The people who conform because they want to conform, not because they want to do what conforming involves. I will on occasion do what others do but for the sake of the action over conformence... and occasionally I break into phoneyness myself and conform for conformence sake, but I wish I did not. These people live the normal life with an office job, happy spousal relationship, 2.5 kids, dog... the whole kit and caboodle. They live a nice enough life, one I'm sure they enjoy. But I prefer a broader life.
But I digress. My point is that I don't like phoneys. I prefer people who actually want to do something interesting. People who, like me, and The Mentor (ref: Hacker's Manifesto), are bored with the normal life and want something more. We want a life beyond the nothing... as do most people. But most people are contented enough with normal life. Now, I don't exclude those who are phoneyish. I simply try to convert them. But the requirement is that the people are interesting, complex... they are... I don't know. They just think and talk about more than one thing, they listen to me, they understand what I say.
I'm not even sure that is the case. I like nice people, people who don't litter, people who are intelligent enough to... act intelligently. It also helps if they think like me and share common interests. And that's not difficult to do, given that I have an interest in practically everything acedemic. I don't mind football either (watching, not playing).
I especially love it when people click with me - when I can say "ACK" and, without prompting, they say "SYN." Or PING/PONG... just funny little jokes. I think some of the greatest judges are a shared sense of humour and of music. But it's not like I can't befriend anyone completly different - we just have to think in approximatly the same way at least some of the time.
There is no free will, so this section is irrelevant.
That above line is one of the most common and important fallicies in the argument about free will. It doesn't matter if there is free will or not - that's just a silly question. None could deny the appearance of free will, so with that we need to make decisions. Be they through diceliving or careful conetmplation, we still need to decide. (On the topic of diceliving, Pat suggested that being free involves being given a choice, or making up a choice, and the will part is in making a decision - so with diceliving you are still free, but you have no will... which is basically what I have to say on the matter).
So, decisions, decisions (pardoning the pun). Well, all decisions should be, in my opinion, made through contemplation first. This contemplation should always take into account the consequences of action.
Basically I think that decisions should be made in accordance with this manifesto. I often can be heard to say "I don't make decisions; they make me fall down" (a strange reference to the movie Birdcage (a decent movie actually) which seems to have stuck in my head). This wouldn't seem to make sense. Well, my belief (and I think I'll deal with this more in 10: Dealing) is that I don't care. I can handle not getting precisely what I want, so as long as there is a choice to make I will take the one which is easiest for the truly active agent. It may well be asked at this point "huh?" with good reason. I'll use an example to clarify: I'm a guest at someone's house and the question is posed "Michael, what would you like for dinner - I've made stirfry but I can make you something else if you want. Would you like something different?" Now, the answer I'm sure most people give is something to the effect that they are fine with whatever's cooking. Well, that's basically what I'm on about, but I extend it. "Whatever's easiest for you" is my standard answer. If someone asks me to do something I'll do it, provided it does not inconveniance me too much. I let people in front of me in lines, I wait patiently as cars cross in front of me when I try to cross the road because, more often than not, I do not have any place to hurry to. This is perhaps the most important aspect of how I make decisions: how will it effect others?
Recalling that this manifesto lists what I want to be, and what I strive to be, not neccesarily what I am, the things I take into account when making a decision, ordered are listed below. The order can be meddled, utilitarianly generally, for it is my belief (as you will see in 03: Ethics) that the fundamental ethical principle is to minimise suffering. Anyway, I digress: my decision making criteria follow.
I believe in a single fundamental ethical principle. I have forshadowed this, but the on most important thing I believe is that
suffering should not be caused
Now, this seems quite simple but in reality requires a bit of unpacking.
Firstly it should be acknowledged that executing this principle completly is impossible. Just not going to happen. But if one aims for it I think that the best result will occur. Interestingly this is one of the few principles where half-measures are encouraged.
Caused is an interesting word to examine in detail. Due to the nature of this principle (i.e. ethical) I cannot refer to that which I cannot control - hence here I refer instead to caused by a person (noting the definitions in 02: Others). Why did I not just say this? Because I mean more than just direct causation - like the laws of robotics I mean through action or inaction. And more if possible. At all costs suffering should be minimised - of course, that is a most interesting sentence - for any cost causes suffering in itself.
The context to which I refer is not universal (unusually). It is (bugger this, I'm sounding like Aristotle, but I have to say it anyway) the context which is most fitting for the circumstance. Aristotle is right about this - each circumstance must be considered, yet I give you the principle and the consideration by circumstance is mostly concerned with its interpretation.
Suffering can only be experienced by an Other. That is in fact the definition of an Other. Now recognition of an Other as an Other is part of personhood, and I am uncertain of what conditions must be fufiled inorder to be classifed as an Other. Perhaps even the simplest lifeforms are Others... yet perhaps they are not. I don't know - I have no idea. At all. So I'm leaving this definition as an exercise to the reader - I know, poor, but I don't know what better can be done.
Rights and Responsibilities. But more. It is all well and good saying that you "should" do something, but when are you not responsible for what you do? On this point I agree with Aristotle: responsibility based on choice. If you are coerced into something, or lack control or decision making ability through no fault of your own then you are excused. However, if you are given oppertunity to not be coerced then you are guilty of your action even if you did not have complete control (e.g. drunkardness, unless you were coerced into it by force, is not an excuse). So there is responsibility. Punishment should also be in accorance with the FEP... but this poses a problem. Punishment without suffering is not punishment. Hence there can be no punishment. However, any person who fails somehow in their personhood should be fixed. I don't mean castration, torture or anything like that. I mean they should be rehabilitativly educated. If that fails, then restraint (i.e. incaseration) may be required. Just always minimise suffering. This whole thing should also be noted to be 'within reason' - for one could say that a simple, single wrong decision casued (through chaos) a huge amount of suffering - this is not reasonable. Everything should be taken in context, as I described above. Ridiculous I know, dissolving into individual relativism, but always keep in mind the FEP. Soft individual relativism.
So what I'm basically saying is be nice, mmkay? I believe in some type of relativism - soft personal relativsm let's call it. There is a basic ethical principle, the FEP (Fundamental Ethical Principle), but it is open to interpretation based upon context. In some ways I'm being Aristotilian and saying "work it out yourself" but I think that the basic principle is the distinction. The meta-ethics of this principle - why it does exist, why it should be followed - exist but are beyond the scope of this manifesto. Probably. If you want to know then email me but I will put up a link if an when I write it down properly.
To this point 2976 words, measured properly, including <h2> and <h3>, excluding everything above <div id="preface"> and below <div id="ethics">, section numbers stripped. Below are the headings of the remaining sections, yet to be created.