Friday, May 25, 2018

Is Infamous YouTube Pessimist “Inmendham” Hero or Villain?

Dateline: NEW JERSEY—The YouTuber known as Gary “Inmendham” has tormented viewers since 2007, by uploading thousands of hostile, deranged videos to that platform, making a bizarre philosophical case against the continuation of life on the basis of what he calls the preciousness of life. 

YouTube is known mostly as a playground for cute, young people to prance and preen, but the website is also part of the so-called Intellectual Dark Web on which cynics and misanthropes proffer their subversive philosophies.

There’s an urban legend that Matthew McConaughey’s character Rust Cohle, from Season One of True Detective was based on the surly, scornful, long-haired Inmendham.

At any rate, Gary argues in over four thousand videos—many of which are well over an hour long—that the evolution of life is a system for torturing animals, including us, and that our excessive suffering is wasted since no good comes from life. Having children only adds victims to this natural system of abuse and exploitation, and thus is wrong.

He calls his philosophy “Efilism” (“Life” spelled backwards), which indicates that his views are more extreme than antinatalism. Antinatalists say that having children is wrong, because the world is harsh and no one consents to being born, but the point of Efilism is that life generally ought to be reversed (like the word) or ended, which is to say destroyed.

Paradoxically, this is supposed to be because the ability to feel pleasure and pain is the most precious thing in the world; in Gary’s words, living things are “precious commodities controlled by crude forces.” Yet in practice, pain always outweighs pleasure, according to Gary, and so the ideal would be for life to be painlessly eradicated, leaving the universe with no more victims to torture.

Instead of pitying all living things or feeling sad about their plight, however, Gary is infamous for his sadistic style of viciously insulting and berating everyone who disagrees with him. Unlike the sorrowful and philosophical Cohle character or a detached and tranquil Buddhist monk, Gary spews invective at everyone from meat-eaters to those who defend the continuation of our species through procreation.

Many YouTubers have attempted to explain the Inmendham phenomenon.

Rust Cohle
One whose nickname is Lazyboy Filosopher and who has suffered Inmendham’s wrath said, “He’s like a bitter, unhinged hippie. His hostility, though, is part of a tough-guy act. When he deigns to argue, as opposed to shouting insults like a psychotic hobo, he always does so with maximum smugness and condescension, accusing those who approve of life of being ‘too insanely stupid’ to understand the brilliant and self-evident revelations from the saintly and wise Inmendham.

“But really Gary’s possibly the world’s biggest pussy. I mean, here’s a guy who honestly believes that because no one should have to suck it up even for two minutes, all life ought to go extinct. Did the little girl drop her lollipop? That alone proves that the world’s unfair and rigged against us in the end, which means for Gary that it’s wrong to accept life under such conditions. Thus, Gary’s living proof that radical left-wingers can be just as insane and belligerent as the far-right fringe.”

Yet whereas environmentalists advocate the preservation of natural environments to provide for a sustainable way of life, Gary argues that animals are no better than people, that all living things are “robots” caught up in a cruel, wasteful, and irrational system, and that ultimately we’re obliged not to protect creatures but to destroy them for their own good.

“Inmendham says he only wants to end the badness of suffering,” said Master Intellectual, another critic of this pessimistic philosophy, “and so we ought to kill ourselves and everyone else—if only we could do so painlessly, but we can’t and so actually we ought to just stew in our misery, composing thousands of resentful complaints like Inmendham.

“But if you follow Gary’s utilitarian logic, anything short of supervillainous annihilation of all life should nevertheless be a cop-out for him. Suppose a cartoon supervillain like Thanos or Dr. Doom comes along and tortures and kills all creatures on Earth, fulfilling some ‘evil’ scheme. Add up all of that suffering the villain causes and compare it to the suffering that would have occurred if all of those creatures would have gone on perpetuating some variety of tortured species for perhaps hundreds of millions of years of future evolution, until perhaps the sun dies and engulfs our planet. Obviously the latter quantity of pain must be orders of magnitude greater than the former one, so Gary’s grotesque philosophy enjoins him to attempt to become a supervillain and to regard any pain he’d inflict as being for the greater good of terminating the very capacity to suffer.”

On the one hand, Gary affirms that life is precious: consciousness is self-evidently good in that the feeling of being alive is what matters most to all creatures; we typically defend ourselves because we prefer to live, and that’s because we cherish our conscious states. On the other hand, Gary belittles life, reducing evolution to a squalid game and accusing everyone of being mere bloodthirsty robots or vessels for their genes and of being stupid, insane, or evil precisely for preferring life to death.

“Gary’s Efilist philosophy is incoherent,” said Penniless Sage, yet another of Inmendham’s critics. “If consciousness or the capacity to feel is the only thing of value in the universe, which is allegedly why the world is abominable for mindlessly subjecting conscious beings to hardships, how can the solution be to do the world’s work for it by ending all life? If the ability to feel is so precious, how can one type of feeling, namely pain, be so bad as to outweigh the value of the continuation of conscious life? And if pain is so bad that all life ought to end to prevent more of this dreaded mental state, how could pain be a form of that which is most good, of the awareness of being alive? How can the capacity to feel in general be good, but one type of feeling be overwhelmingly bad?”

Master Intellectual compares this to the theological problem of freewill. In the Christian tradition, God is supposed to allow suffering to occur because ultimately suffering is a consequence of freewill, and the creation of freedom is more important than the evil that ensues from some of our choices.  

“The theologian’s problem is that maybe freewill isn’t so great, after all, if it produces things like the Holocaust," said Master Intellectual. "But if human freewill isn’t sacred, we’re in danger of losing our right to life, in which case there would be nothing essentially wrong even with mass murder.

“Likewise, Inmendham’s in the precarious position of declaring—absurdly—that life is so precious, that life ought to end. It’s like he’s a villain pretending to adopt the superhero’s values. He’s insisting, ‘I agree with you, Superman: life is the greatest thing in the universe. Alas, your logic fails you since far from protecting precious creatures, you ought to be helping me, your archenemy, exterminate life! How else to prevent—once and for all—the mistreatment of these very conscious creatures?’

“Of course, exterminating life would be far worse than nature’s mixed stance towards life, since while the world is often unfair or harsh, organic processes are also created and sustained by nature's indifference.

“In any case, what Gary doesn’t understand is that except in extreme cases in which hell is effectively enacted on earth, suffering can be beneficial. For one thing, suffering can approximate a just punishment for wrongdoing. But even if the suffering isn’t deserved, we learn the value of life from suffering. From suffering, we learn what not to do and why we shouldn’t do it. We develop sophisticated virtues such as honour, because of our capacity to overcome obstacles, and we can form complex mental states that mix pleasure and pain, as in bitter-sweetness, nostalgia, or other kinds of pleasure tinged with sorrow. It’s because life is indeed precious that even the worst pain can have some redeeming moral or aesthetic value.”

Most secular philosophers regard the value of conscious states as being subjective and open to interpretation. For example, the Jews who suffered catastrophically during WWII were free to interpret their ordeal as having some higher value. Perhaps God was attempting to teach them a lesson about evil or freewill. Some interpretations of moral value may be more far-fetched than others.

But Gary maintains that all such moralistic interpretations are cowardly fictions. Pain and pleasure, he says, have objective, inherent values: pain is always, forever bad and pleasure is obviously only good. The circumstances are irrelevant, he implies.

Professor of moral philosophy, Julia Whitestone, debated Inmendham on this subject in a livestream format. On that occasion, Miss Whitestone said that our subjective interpretations of events matter because, like any good fiction, they can objectively impact our character and our future mental states. Mind can overcome matter in that respect—which is known in the medical industry as the placebo effect.

Said Miss Whitestone, “If a victim of a Nazi concentration camp manages to interpret his suffering in a way that makes him feel better about the experience, without resorting to self-deception or to psychotic delusions, his suffering becomes a step in a process of personal growth. As Aristotle said, ethical value lies in an interpretation of the story of a whole life, taking the full context into account, not just in some pseudo-calculation of isolated events. Generally speaking, natural life is a beautiful tragedy, not merely a pointless farce.

“For that matter, even if we agree with the environmentalist’s criticism of the so-called good life in Western culture, which is that this way of life depends on unimaginable suffering we inflict on the animals we exterminate or enslave, or on slave labour in poorer countries, the anti-life pessimist has no crystal ball showing that this suffering isn’t likewise a stage in the process of our collective development as a species. 

"We’ve been behaviourally modern only for around 50,000 years. Some species last for millions. And we had to figure out for ourselves how to make sense of our intelligence and our self-awareness, our comparative freedom and creativity, since our emergence on the scene as clever mammals was partly an accident. So if we stumble around and bang into things for some tens of thousands of years in our collective childhood, this barbarism might be compared to that of a child in its terrible twos. Who knows what kind of technological and moral progress we’re capable of hundreds of thousands of years hence? But Inmendham would cut the adventure short, because he’s squeamish or something.

Inmendham responded by shrieking, “You stupid, evil cunt with your ugly-ass nose and your retarded glasses! You’re a fat, ugly skank, your book-learning is fucking crap, and you’ll get what’s coming to you, asshole fuckwad,” before signing off and fleeing the debate.

Gary defends such obnoxious abuse by treating it as shock therapy, as though he means only to rudely awaken his viewers since his philosophical message is horrific.

This defense doesn’t impress Penniless Sage. “If life is horrific,” she said, “then scream in terror. If life is nauseating, vomit in disgust. Fear and disgust aren’t the same as hatred. Inmendham is an angry misanthrope if ever there was one. So what causes his hatred? It can be nothing less than the conviction that someone—or in this case almost everyone—is guilty of malevolence, of evil choices. You don’t hate someone who’s genuinely stupid or mentally ill, since such a person can’t help herself. An evil person like Adolph Hitler—that’s who’s worthy of being hated.

“But if we’re just robots, as Inmendham says, meaning machines that can’t progress beyond our evolutionary programming, none of us chooses to harm others. So there’s no such thing as evil, as any voluntary harming of someone due to ill-will. Freewill would be an illusion and so the rational basis of hatred would be lost.”

“If Inmendham acts like a world-class bully because his medium is his message and he’s trying to teach his viewers, he’s evidently teaching them the wrong lesson. His egregious verbal assaults in his many videos entail that most people are worthy of his hatred, but if that’s so, freewill must be real, in which case we’re free to be good as well as bad; we’d have the potential to progress, contrary to Inmendham’s fatalism.” 

25 comments:

  1. Inmendham's fine. This article was written by a Pollyanna.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you say so. I see you're as skilled at defending Inmendham as his supporters are in the comments on his YouTube pages. For systematically demolishing his and his supporters' views, I was banned from writing on his comment section. It's the cowardice and the hypocrisy that are most annoying, since he dishes it out way beyond what should be tolerated, but he can't take it back. He's a lot like Donald Trump, the bully and wannabe cult leader with thin skin, who's secretly a pussy.

      Delete
    2. Ben you have not a single rational argumet against inmendham. Think on this: you're going to die anyway and FORGET your memories. What is the point of life then if you're going to forget about it? There's no point in perpetuating something thats going to become void down the line.

      Delete
    3. Here are three arguments from the above article:

      Argument #1: reductio ad absurdum: Inmendham's utilitarian logic implies not just antinatalism but supervillainy, the obligation to exterminate all life to end suffering. He has no way to make his case for antinatalism without thereby arguing for the murder of our species (and of all other animal species).

      Argument #2: Inmendham's efilism is incoherent, since he says consciousness is precious, but one type of consciousness, namely pain, is so bad that it outweighs the value of continuing life by sexual reproduction. As I write above, "If the ability to feel is so precious, how can one type of feeling, namely pain, be so bad as to outweigh the value of the continuation of conscious life? And if pain is so bad that all life ought to end to prevent more of this dreaded mental state, how could pain be a form of that which is most good, of the awareness of being alive? How can the capacity to feel in general be good, but one type of feeling be overwhelmingly bad?"

      Argument #3: Some kinds of pain are good, such as those that are deserved or that are salutary (learning by trial and error, etc). Only a giant pussy would say otherwise.

      As for your comment, you ask what's the point of living if we're not immortal with the ability to remember what we've done. The obvious answer is that we live on, in a sense, through the effects of our interactions with the world, through our works, our brainchildren, or our biological children.

      But the pessimist can then point out that one day our planet will be destroyed by the sun and our species as well as all other life on Earth will likely be long gone. So doesn't that make life absurd? If you've read my blog, you'll know that my answer to that is Yes, which is where Inmendham and I agree. I respond to that fundamental absurdity by advocating for tragic heroism. Inmendham responds by shouting insults at everyone who doesn't join his cult or agree that life should be terminated because it's too painful for pussies.

      Delete
    4. Response to argument 1: There is a chasm of difference between freely choosing not to impose life on the next generation without their consent and murdering an entire species. The former is the antinatalist position, not the latter.

      Response to argument 2: Pain is not a type of consciousness. It's a state of being. It was a straw man from the beginning to suggest that there's some magical quality about pain that makes it inherently more bad than pleasure is good. Nobody is arguing that and you are misinformed on both pessimism and antinatalism. The arguments are as follows: 1) There is an asymmetry between the bad and the good in life. The bad and the good cannot be reduced simply to pain and pleasure. There will always be a deficit of badness in life for a variety of reasons. Other arguments stem from here, but the case for Benatar's asymmetry is very well developed. I'm not going to write a dissertation on the asymmetry argument in this comments section, so I suggest you here it from Benatar himself. He has given several long-form talks about it that are available on YouTube. 2) Even if you thought it probably that there would be more good than bad in your child's life, that still doesn't justify procreating. You cannot absolutely 100% guarantee the wellbeing of your child, so you are gambling with fate (or whatever you choose to call the determining parameters of life outcomes) by conceiving that child. There are tons of risks that you simply cannot protect your child from. Gambling with the welfare stakes of another (whether it's for selfish or unselfish reasons) is unethical regardless what the odds are.
      To illustrate that which should already be self evident, I ask that you participate in a thought experiment. There is a red button in front of you. If you press it, there is a 99% probability that an unnamed individual you have never met will win the Powerball jackpot and live a happy life of fulfillment pursuing their dreams, but there is a 1% chance that they will die an agonizing death instead. Is it ethical to press the button? The answer is, obviously, no. Here's another way to illustrate the proposition of imposing life on the unborn without consent: You know that there is both good and bad in every life, right? That means that by imposing life on the child without its consent you are definitely imposing bad things on that child. So, lets just change some of the arbitrary parameters. Imagine two people who are perfectly content with their current condition. They are not happy or sad just totally content. They are both hooked up to a machine that will, simultaneously, torture one of them in the worst possible way and give the other one the greatest pleasure possible. You cannot obtain consent from either one of them to subject them to this. Is it ethical to pull a lever a turn the machine on? Now, if there was a third content person attached to the machine and they would feel the greatest pleasure too. So now two people would feel pleasure and one person would feel torture would that change your earlier answer? What if the ratio of people feeling the pleasure to the people being tortured was 10 to 1? What about 1000 to 1? Any rational analysis of this ethical proposition must lead you to answer 'no'.

      Response to argument #3: As I stated above, there is no need to reduce this to simply pleasure and pain. If someone gets pleasure from pain, then that pain is a good thing. Discomfort may be seen as a bad thing, but if that discomfort is in service to a greater good, then it's still a good thing. That's why I prefer to frame this in terms of good and bad instead.
      End note: you shouldn't make ad-hominem attacks towards your opponents by calling them 'pussies' and such if you're going to make such a big stink about Inmendham doing it in your article above.

      Delete
    5. The chasm between wanting all life to commit suicide by stopping sexual reproduction, and wanting all life to be murdered is bridged by Inmendham’s utilitarianism (his emphasis on consequences and pleasure and pain “calculations”). You just add up which action increases the most pleasure or stops the most pain to arrive at its moral value.

      Benatar’s asymmetry argument is as I state it in my article on his antinatalism (link below): “while there would be neither unnecessary pain nor pleasure in the world we’d leave behind were we to take the antinatalist’s advice, stop having children, and thus extinguish our species, the absence of the pain would be good while the absence of pleasure would not be so bad. In other words, he argues, eliminating harm is more important than promoting pleasure.”

      But here I was talking about Inmendham’s antinatalism, which does focus on pain and pleasure. But if you want to talk more broadly about the good and bad in life, that’s fine since it contradicts Inmendham’s severe, dismissive, cynical, overly-hasty reductionism. He dismisses much of the intangible value in life when it doesn’t boil down to “measurable” pleasures and pains.

      Anyway, you’re asking for a 100% guarantee that a child wouldn’t grow up to experience more bad than good in life. Good and bad are often mixed (as portrayed at the end of the movie Inside Out, for example), so I deny that in most cases these values can be tallied in the simplistic, Benthamite manner.

      Even if they could be, you’re saying that having a child would be justified only if we could create heaven for that child. Such a perfect life would be totalitarian and dystopian, whereas the adventure, the risk, the gamble, the experience of freedom in life is at the heart of feeling alive. Clearly, freedom can go wrong and we can fail with bad consequences. But the freedom itself isn’t simply bad since it’s also the source of success and of goods in life.

      You say the parents are “gambling with the welfare stakes of another,” but that’s simplistic since for the first eighteen years of so of the offspring’s life, the child isn’t fully independent. Moreover, before the child is born, there’s obviously no one to ask to consent to the child’s birth, other than the parents, so there’s no necessary ethical lapse at the point of conception.

      The problem with your first thought experiment is that you’re talking about gambling with a stranger’s fate, which isn’t relevant to the prospect of having children since the children are extensions of the parents. They share genetic connections and the parents generally raise them.

      Saying as you do, that “That means that by imposing life on the child without its consent you are definitely imposing bad things on that child,” is like saying a square should be a circle. There’s nothing to ask whether it wants to be born, before the child is born, so again that’s a nonsensical way of attempting to establish an unethical action.

      Delete
    6. The problem with your other thought experiment, about hooking people up to a pleasure and pain machine is that the whole machine would be dystopian, as shown in The Matrix movies. Even the people experiencing the greatest pleasure from the machine wouldn’t really be alive because they’d lack freedom, such as the freedom to fail, to suffer as a consequence and to learn and grow from that suffering. So the prior problem with the machine, regardless of the ratios and the calculations, is that even the pleasures would be wrong because the victims hooked up to the machine wouldn’t be fully alive.

      Also, the notion of “the greatest possible pleasure” is nonsensical since pleasures and pains are subjective. You’d have to be speaking of the greatest possible pleasure for the individual in question, and that pleasure would depend on the individual’s experience. The machine wouldn’t allow for authentic experience, since the happy individual hooked up to it would lack freedom. Thus, the measurements of that victim’s pleasure and pain states would be arbitrary or dictatorial, depending more on the machine’s programmer than on the person hooked up to it.

      In any case, your response doesn’t really address my incoherence argument. Remember that the argument is directed against Inmendham’s formulations, not against antinatalism in general.

      The problem raised by my third argument is that Inmendham often talks as if all pains or harms add up to reasons to discontinue life or to a proof that life is unfair. That generalization can’t be right, though, since some pains or harms are earned. Justice may require the infliction of harm for a greater good. So again it’s oversimplified to demand that life be heavenly. Such a life would be unfair because it would be dystopian. Freedom (some measure of autonomy) gives life meaning, and those who abuse their freedom deserve to suffer, which is why it’s odious to see someone like Donald Trump not getting his comeuppance.

      There’s actually a deeper point to my claim that Inmendham talks sometimes like a giant pussy. His arguments sound like they’re coming from the standpoint of a wounded, bitter hippie. The hippies were spoiled in their drug-induced fantasy-land and they became resentful when their dreams of heavenly socialism didn’t materialize, so many of them sold out their ideals, especially in the 1980s when the Soviet Union showed the problems with egalitarian ideals.

      Moreover, it’s quite the understatement to say that Inmendham engages in ad hominem. It’s far worse than that, which is largely why he has so few followers even though he’s so prolific and has been at it on YouTube for years.


      http://rantswithintheundeadgod.blogspot.com/2012/11/the-question-of-antinatalism.html

      Delete
  2. Benjamin Cain, i sent you a message on Facebook three years ago, mostly complimenting your intellectual honesty and such, giving my own opinion on life and other things, you didn't seem to respond to me then, but that's ok, you read my message at least, i have no ill Will. I am going to put forward only three possible outcomes for the life/death mysterium in this, with maybe some added things, as it's what i have personally come up with and concluded from reading so many books and comments even on the Internet, and it's quite simple actually. Here we go. Number One: Atheism - Atheism postulates an extreme position to say the least, that scientific facts are the only thing that can be validated and that at end, a living organism ceases to exist, and turns to nothing. First, this final supposed outcome of a biological existence being death and nothingness, is dreaded and viewed in the most negative way from almost all humans in any kind of philosophical position. Human beings are programmed for life, and the claim that atheists make about being cool about not existing one day is completely non-rational and not logical, being cool about potentially being annihilated for all time is insane. No matter how scientific or rational or logical they present themselves initially. The only positive thing about death would be that all conscious suffering would end. Number 2: Nietzsche's Eternal Recurrence - This is the most controversial philosophical idea ever put forward. The idea that the same life from birth to death repeats in exactly the same way for all time is maybe an outdated model today, but still represents a potential truth that was viewed by Nietzsche to be the most life-affirming concept there is. I personally find it the most mythological and the biggest enigma in Western philosophical thought. Number Three: Solipsism - None of anything that ever happened actually matters, including any event in the Universe, everything is a stage play of the individual self, me as a person. Everything is created from my mind, and any object ever observed is only a glimpse of eternity. The subject, the self is indestructible and goes on forever, even after death, as everything is just a simulated dream. That's about it, personally i love life and have loved it all the time, except i can agree on one thing with inmendham, suffering is indeed bad. It should be eradicated. Maybe one day with Transhumanism all suffering, limitation and apparent meaninglessness Will vanish forever, as we reach the end goal that is Singularity. Thanks. Night7.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I think I missed your message along with several others, because I hardly ever use Facebook. I've now responded to yours, I think, and to the others. Sorry about that.

    You're reducing atheism to physicalism or to scientism. Atheism means only that there's no intelligent designer of nature, not that science is the only source of knowledge. But yes, atheism implies there's no supernatural afterlife. However, atheism is compatible with sci-fi scenarios in which we make ourselves naturally immortal (as in transhumanism, for example, as you suggest). Still, for the foreseeable future, death is indeed a major bummer, given atheism.

    I think Nietzsche meant the eternal recurrence idea to be just a test of our willpower, not a metaphysical revelation.

    There's a solipsistic interpretation of Hinduism which is interesting and mind-blowing, as in The Book, by Alan Watts, for example.

    Yeah, we can be hopeful about transhumanism or some other science-driven bright future, but it's hard to have faith in some positive scenario, because modernity saps the life out of us, makes us bored by emphasizing objectivity, quantification, consumerism, and so forth. Roughly speaking, modern culture is scientistic and duplicitous. Technoscience is eminently powerful, so we trust in that empowerment and little else. But science operates through objectification, through analyzing wholes into the underlying and thus physical parts. This means that enjoying life requires an implicitly anti-scientific or nonrational attitude. We feel guilty about adopting such an attitude, because we're betraying scientific standards. Those who accept the modern world while being somehow relatively happy seem hypocrites, as in the herd of sheeple who don't think too much about their dehumanizing social media or their consumerist habits.

    But the thing to remember is that science is conducted by clever animals. Science doesn't fall from the sky. As the postmodernists say, scientists have their underlying agendas. Although scientific knowledge is objective, objectivity isn't what Richard Rorty called a mirror of nature. Objectivity is a stance towards the unknown that we take, as Daniel Dennett said. When we're objective, we reduce the unknown to a problem, to a passive object that has a weakness and that can be dominated in the end through our understanding and our technological applications. So science is a human enterprise, and our nature isn't neutral or in agreement with the universe. All knowledge is spin, to some extent.

    So we have to come to grips with what we mean by "objective truth" or "reality." Is it about agreeing with reality or empowering our species? If it's the latter, we're dealing with a type of social construct. Again, science does get at reality, as far as we can tell, but not at the whole of reality. I don't think we'll ever have a mental representation that agrees with reality itself. As Kant said, the noumenon is forever unknowable, because that's just how our understanding works. We break down the whole into parts, and in doing so we humanize the "objects." We put our spin on them.

    In particular, we assume the world is perfectly rather than only partially subject to our cognitive methods, even though we're mere creatures trying mainly to survive as clever animals. There's a disconnect between us and the rest of the world that will always make our life tragic and comical.

    Thanks, as always, for reading!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I have been following Inmendham and managed to appreciate what he does and what the message that he tirelessly tries to expose in his talks, true, he appears to blow the fuse often, but the actual contents of his philosophy are sound in explaining much of the too many downsides of being consciously alive. He never promotes "mass extermination" or a destructive approach towards Nature, he simply states by arguing in what I find an extremely coherent manner that life is an imposition and that we should recognise such truth, anyone pain and suffering is on too many. i learned a lot from following his video channels and I also managed to get myself more sophisticated and in greater numbers cognitive tools in order to make sense and to put into perspective some bad stuff that happened in my life. I enjoyed reading your article but I feel the Inmendham was presented as a deranged person WHICH HE IS NOT, meaning: not more than the gangs of narcissists that run the world at this time and moment or whom did it in the past.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you were able to learn from Inmendham. His views are similar to mine (and to R. Scott Bakker's) in that we both see radical, unpopular implications of naturalism. I agree that Inmendham doesn't promote mass extermination. My main criticism of his views, which I raised in our YouTube video exchange, is that he can't justify his opposition to mass extermination, from within his stated worldview.

      His worldview is incoherent, so he has to lean on some of his ideas to defend against certain objections, while leaning on conflicting ideas when presented with different objections. He says conscious states are precious, but then he'll say we're only barbarians and animals following evolutionary scripts. The central question that should be posed to Inmendham is whether his naturalism is at all dualistic. Does he see a crucial, value-laden difference between living and nonliving things? If so, he should respect the potential for cultural progress as a way of dealing with suffering, rather than indirectly encouraging the end of life through antinatalism. If not, living things have no inherent value and there need be no prohibition against mass killing.

      By the way, you might be interested in my latest article on the madness of the "gangs of narcissists that run the world."

      http://rantswithintheundeadgod.blogspot.com/2019/01/mental-health-rant-by-rashad-cackler.html

      Delete
  5. Hi, I read all of your articles against Inmendham and I thought they did a great job highlighting the incoherencies of his worldview. But as someone relatively new to philosophy, there are certain ideas he has that I find difficult to dissect. For example, one of his supporters debated with me, and gave me this whole wall of text:

    "Every sentient being can be harmed and is heavily motivated to avoid what severely harms them. The only instances in which they are not doing this is to save themselves from a perceived greater harm down the road, or save other sentients from harm. The negative value that we experience which is known as "suffering" or "harm" is very real; and people have no appetite for their own suffering being squandered without good reason, and they have no real argument to explain why if their suffering matters too much to be recklessly squandered, why they should be allowed to gamble with anyone else's, when the alternative to doing so would be a zero harm condition. Yes, it is true that we cannot divine moral codes from the physics of the universe; but we do recognise real value when we feel it, and that value is universal. And someone yet to exist is not deprived of any good value in the universe, because they do not exist. To elaborate on my claim that deprivation is the baseline state; consider the welfare state of a person who exerts absolutely no effort at trying to satisfy their basic needs and desires. They just sit there and do nothing. It will not be long before severe suffering obtains. Given that suffering is the state that will obtain when we do nothing, it is reasonable to consider that to be the baseline state. We don't choose to dislike torture. We don't make the value judgement and then decide to interpret the sensation as bad. If that were true, then non-reasoning animals would be impervious to pain, because they aren't capable of making a value judgement. In fact, nobody would be here to be debating the subject if the value judgement had to precede the actual viscerally experienced value of a stimulus. Because sophisticated brains evolved from simple ones, and the simple ones would not be capable of the conscious value equation that would result in existential harms being associated with negative feelings

    Pleasure on the other hand is much less stable, because it is something that needs to be constantly sought after and strived towards. And even striving towards it with all our effort often isn't enough, because we require sufficient luck to ensure that we do not suffer so terribly in the meantime that pleasure becomes impossible. Creating consciousness always leads to some suffering, but many are happy with being alive. But the problem with that is that you cannot filter out the ones who will experience tremendous suffering, or the ones who will resent the imposition. It's a lottery, and isn't governed by fairness. There's more to life than suffering; there is also avoiding suffering, which is down do luck. I don't see how you can justify bringing someone else into existence unless you can explain how someone who doesn't exist is missing out on whatever is more than suffering. This stance just doesn't make sense without positing the existence of souls who are inhabiting some kind of spectral prison, waiting for parents to rescue them by incarnating their soul into a human body. Unless you're religious, I don't know what necessary function that consciousness is having for the universe either."


    If you don't even want to engage this or look it over because of how much of a slog it is, that's okay and I get it. But there are people I know who come across these online misanthropes and get enthralled by them. As you said, this position is a slippery slope and I think these folks should start questioning their worldview

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. With respect to those two long and rambling paragraphs, the medium is the message. Most of the sentences aren’t logically connected, so there’s no overall argument in them. The purpose of the great length of those paragraphs seems to be to disguise the fact that they’re rambling rather than logical, and to intimidate the reader into avoiding reading them in the first place.

      What’s the conclusion supposed to be, that we should stop having children and terminate what is for all we know the only self-aware, intelligent species in the universe? Are those two rambling, not so well-written paragraphs supposed to be profound enough to warrant such a catastrophic conclusion for all humanity?

      The paragraphs begin by saying that harm is real and it’s bad. Okay.

      Then the author tries and fails to get around the naturalistic fallacy. We all recognize real value when we see it, he says. Yes, but the question is what justifies evaluative statements. We may recognize badness automatically because evolution equips us with instinctive reactions. Does the fact that we have instincts means we’re morally justified in exercising them? Not obviously, and that’s the problem of the naturalistic fallacy or of the open question argument.

      Then the author says that those yet to be born wouldn’t be deprived of pleasure, given antinatalism, that is, given the choice not to bring them into being. But by the same reasoning, and contrary to Benatar’s asymmetry argument, neither should their potential pains count as a reason for antinatalism. There are many future generations that “exist” now only in potential form. They would likely suffer and experience some positive emotions as well if they were brought into actuality. If the potential positive emotions are dismissed from the issue of antinatalism in the present, why not dismiss the potential negative ones too?

      Delete
    2. The author wants to say suffering is the baseline state. That strikes me as a red herring. I’m even willing to grant for the sake of argument that the amounts of pleasure and pain in humanity can be measured and tallied up and that suffering outweighs pleasure. That still wouldn’t justify antinatalism, because not all suffering is traumatic and suicide-inducing. There are mixed emotions, such as bittersweet ones that lead to higher forms of pleasure or satisfaction. Life is meaningful because of the suffering, which is why Hell is more compelling than Heaven in literary terms.

      The real issue here is whether there are viable, honourable coping mechanisms for most of the pains we experience. To be sure, if life for most people were hellish, as in full not just of suffering but of overwhelming agony and misery, and unavoidably so, antinatalists would be in a much stronger position. We’d likely have a duty to kill ourselves and to stop creating future generations of victims. But life isn’t pure hell for most people. And that’s pretty much the end of antinatalism.

      Even in the distant past when life was nasty, brutish, and short, when murder, rape, and oppression were commonplace, if you polled the commoners, most wouldn’t say they wish they’d never been born. The reason is evolutionary: we adjust our expectations for happiness to our circumstances. This is why wealthy people aren’t overwhelmingly happier than the poor. The latter may have simpler lives and may be happy with just the little things, but their subjective states are just as real as those of the “masters of the universe” who are playing with much bigger stakes.

      So that’s the main coping mechanism and it’s built into most of us. Again, the fact that we have it doesn’t mean we’re morally justified in resorting to it. Still, the reason we all don’t kill ourselves at the first sign of trouble is because our expectations for happiness are relative to our environment and circumstances. This is why most of us don’t suffer greatly because we’re not famous celebrities, although the internet and social media are changing those expectations. Being a rich celebrity isn’t a reasonable expectation for most of us, so we put that possibility out of our mind and don’t let it ruin our every waking moment. That’s one way we remain sane and not miserable even though our life isn’t as great as it could be in absolute terms.

      Delete
    3. I think I know who wrote those paragraphs.
      His (I think it's a he) arguments ultimately fail due to the following reasons:

      1. The argument about suffering being the "baseline state" is incorrect. We have needs that can lead to happiness and suffering. If you don't fulfill your needs long enough, it would lead to pain. However, if you do continue to satisfy them to an adequate degree, you would also experience pleasure. Not doing anything until you're suffering horribly seems a lot like setting one's house on fire in order to complain about the heat. The fundamental state of anything isn't decided by how long it lasts. You wouldn't say that cold is more fundamental than heat just because the heater didn't last long. The point is: what leads to suffering? It's the frustration of needs. Therefore, we can reasonably suggest that having needs is the more fundamental state from which both happiness and suffering originate.

      2. Pleasure (that's more than just superficial ones) is no less at stable than pain. There are people out there who are able to find joy in their lives despite of suffering horribly. The soldier who leaves the comfort of his home in order to serve his country is a good example of this. And no, everything isn't down to sheer "luck". One can still make some reasonable judgements about the life a person would have based upon the social conditions the person would be born in. Unless this promortalist/efilist can show that nonexistent beings are begging to not exist in order to cherish some blissful heavenly abode, his views are incoherent. His inability to find value in life doesn't justify ending all good.

      Delete
    4. There's also the fact that we adjust our expectations to suit our circumstances (unless the situation becomes too much and we succumb to despair, which is also possible). But this is why poor populations aren't systematically unhappier than rich ones.

      On the contrary, there are First World problems that plague rich folks, because decadence can make us intolerant even of the least disappointment. So rich people's expectations can be easily spoiled, whereas poor people get used to hardship so they can be made happier by simpler pleasures. Happiness or contentment with life (the kind that disavows the thought of suicide for most people) becomes the norm because we adjust our expectations.

      Delete
  6. I always thought this guy was a nutter (even for antinatalists) but I think he does raise the occasional decent point on how we're sometimes biased with optimism; especially with nature as its often portrayed as balanced, harmonious, and the whole shebang of kumbaya. But then he went on video going on about how he would LOVE to murder a women if he got them pregnant and they refused an abortion. I can't believe these pseudo misanthropes have followings

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Even a broken clock is right twice a day. Sure, in general anyone who's even slightly pessimistic or critical will supply a worthwhile corrective against mainstream delusional optimism. My writings do that, too, I think.

      Inmendham is more about the emotional ad hominem and his pride, which prevents him from engaging with alternative ideas in an authentic, philosophical way. That was certainly my experience with him on YouTube. I used the word "transcend" at one point which triggered him and drove him off on a tangent so that he didn't listen to my whole argument. He's got mental issues, but what I used to like about his diatribes, besides their overall subversive content, was their use of striking examples to illustrate his points.

      Delete
  7. He's a narcissist which means he plays the part of both victim and hero.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Life sucks for a number of reasons.

    It is an imposition, which cannot be accepted by anyone who considers himself a libertarian or anarchist (the only positive philosophical positions that have existed, and that reject fascism, sacrifice, authoritarianism or obligation and duty) and give a value absolute to the individual.

    Even if that being experiences a good life, it will eventually end, it's like giving someone drugs and then retiring it after a while.

    All human beings will experience the terrible dread of A) Seeing their parents grow old, deteriorate and disappear or B) See their children die prematurely (with mayor or minor sufering).

    Procreation cannot be argued by resorting to reason or morality. Anti-natalist philosopher Julio Cabrera says that procreating is on the same ethical level as murder.

    Very few human beings act as rational or moral agents because they are dominated by instincts, tradition, customs or culture.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Harris writes in Free Will that neuroscience "reveals that you are a biochemist puppet." Period

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wouldn't trust Sam Harris on any philosophical matter. He'd say freewill is an illusion, and he wouldn't be able to distinguish "illusion" from "emergent construct." Are planets and galaxies illusory puppets of all the underlying chemistry? Or do some types and regularities emerge so that they call for irreducible levels of explanation?

      Delete
  10. "For that matter, even if we agree with the environmentalist’s criticism of the so-called good life in Western culture, which is that this way of life depends on unimaginable suffering we inflict on the animals we exterminate or enslave, or on slave labour in poorer countries, the anti-life pessimist has no crystal ball showing that this suffering isn’t likewise a stage in the process of our collective development as a species."


    That is a shitty argument to defend anti-natalism and nihilism. Even if the world were a paradise full of unicorns free of problems, pain and suffering, without challenges or achievements to pursue because everything is already perfect, the life of man would have no meaning or use. Shopenhauer explained it well, if there is no suffering or desire, boredom appears.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That was an argument against Indmendham's worldview, from a character I made up called Julia Whitestone.

      Delete