Grinding and belching the choking gritty smoke

Roissy claims there is no afterlife and then writes his life philosophy:

My answer to the philosophical question I posed above is hedonism. It
is the only rational conclusion one can draw faced with the premises I
presented. When there is no second life or higher power to appease;
when our lives are machines – complex misunderstood machines cunningly
designed to conceal the gears and pulleys behind a facade of
self-delusional sublimation, but machines nonetheless – grinding and
belching the choking gritty smoke of status-whoring displays in service
to our microscopic puppetmasters… well, there can be only one
reasonable response to it all. It makes no sense to behave any other
way unless you never questioned the lies.

In my view the reasonable response to uncertainty about your long-term prospects is to be a good person and to try to create some value for other people.  With some probability you are protesting against your enslavement to the games.  With some probability the entire nature of the universe is deeply veiled and you will be fulfilling some higher purpose.  With some probability all possible choices by you are occurring anyway.  With some probability being nice is broadly consistent with hedonism, if not at every margin or every choice.  People will do things for you if you are nice to them.  Being nice is one of the best ways of participating in the mysteries.

Roissy gets too committed to his initial premises and does not sufficiently explore probabilistic reasoning; this is a common mistake in ethical reasoning.  Alex once wrote an excellent paper on this; when making a choice focus on the cases when your choice is likely to matter.

Nonetheless I agree with this paragraph from Roissy’s post:

Spend time with little children and old people. One is innocent, the
other is reacquainted with innocence. Their company is a world away
from the drone and ruckus of all the furious humanity in between. At
the extremes you will find perspective.

In reality Roissy (for the better) pursues a certain quality and vision of life, and for fear of failure he calls this hedonism.


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