Author Topic: Jannah, virtual reality, eternity, and boredom  (Read 6492 times)

Offline Pon de Replay

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Jannah, virtual reality, eternity, and boredom
« on: January 04, 2018, 09:32:42 PM »
This is split from a thread that went off-topic.

Because I want to blow up real planets with a real Death Star.  I'm a corporal being.  I like getting down and dirty.  I like the shock wave on my chest when stuff blows up.  I like it when you are swimming in the ocean and a massive wave picks you up and nearly kills you by churning you around, but you struggle against it and live to tell the tail.  At those moments you feel most alive.

I don't want to be Captain Christopher Pike in a cage, like some zoo animal.  I want to be Jim Kirk, risking it all on one turn of pitch and toss.  Jim Kirk is a much more interesting character.

If you retained your humanity then you'd always know it was a make-believe world.  If you lost your humanity then you've lost everything.  It doesn't matter how much "fun" it is if it is not me experiencing it.  That's why I would never take drugs.

Why did Jesus get His transfigured body back?  The other two members of the Trinity don't need a body, why does Jesus?  Presumably He wanted it back again because in some important way it defined Him.

But you would still be you.  You wouldn't lose your humanity.  Just imagine for a moment that you lost your hand, and the technology existed for the doctors to fashion you a prosthetic one that would restore the same sensation of touch as your former hand had.  No hook or claw for you, Greg: you get a fully functional artificial hand, equipped with bio-technology that sends the same sensory data to your brain.  It has nerves that can be fused with your nervous system.  When you peel an orange or stroke a cat or run your fingers over sandpaper, you get the same sensations you always had.  You would still be you in this situation, though, wouldn't you?  You would have the same range of two-handed experiences you always had.  You would still be Greg.  Because what you are, essentially, is your mind; that is to say, your brain.  You're a brain connected to a network of nerves, housed in a bag of bones and flesh.

True virtual reality would be based on the same principle as a nervous system: it would send information to your brain.  Being churned up by a wave in virtual reality would feel no different than being churned up by an actual wave.  All of the sensations you experience in life are dependent on sensory input.  Virtual reality simply gives you the sensory input for whatever you desire.  Our minds and our nervous systems can be deceived all the time.  Sometimes you can be dreaming of something, and for a time in the dream, you think it's real.  Or you can feel like there's a spider on your arm, and then you turn and it's actually just the tickling of lint or a loose thread.  We don't have the phrase "my mind playing tricks on me" for nothing.  Virtual reality would be the most highly finessed version.  It would be as real as this life, because it would operate on the very same principle.  No one can really refute solipsism, and no one can refute Poe: "is all that we see or seem, but a dream within a dream?"

Your nervous system would be bypassed.  Whether you would wear goggles and gloves and a body suit, or whether you would merely have a microchip implanted in your skull to keep the process clean and simple, it makes no difference: it would all be no less real to your conscious mind, and it could simulate anything you wanted.  So you would still be you.  You are your brain.  It would be no less you experiencing the virtual reality than the you that experiences your dreams.  And as QMR might tell you, there is no way to know whether you already are in a virtual reality, and the real you is floating in a sensory deprivation tank somewhere.  If so, you could only conclude that this particular VR was forced on you as opposed to freely chosen—or at the very least it contains glitches, seeing that it contains Indian call centers, liberals, Jayne, "massive tossers," and rainbow sash bishops.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2018, 08:44:28 AM by Pon de Replay »
 

Offline Pon de Replay

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Re: Jannah, virtual reality, eternity, and boredom
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2018, 09:37:06 PM »
I don't think the Islamic version of heaven is actually all that dull.  I think the seventy-two virgins bit is mockable, of course.  (Why do they have to be virgins?  And why only seventy-two?)  But essentially it's just "all the sensual delights of earth, uninterrupted by suffering, forever."  That seems like a universally human longing.

Well I would say it is an acknowledgement of one of the concupiscences we have from the fall and original sin.  One of my favorite St. Bernard sayings is "Soft living makes one dainty hard work makes men hungry ".  Stomachs can only hold so much food comfortably and beyond that is misery, bodies can only engage in coupling so much and then suffer the consequences of too much friction and exertion and so on. 

I think that a matrix like experience where we can have whatever sensual thing (food, drink, smell) we want whenever we want it will lead to an increase of depression after people find out how empty sensual euphoria becomes.

Truly, "the eye is not filled with seeing, neither is the ear filled with hearing."  There is always the problem of restlessness that eventually (usually sooner than later) follows the feeling of being satisfied.  Once we've had something, we want more.  And once we've had it continually, we grow bored with it and resentful of it, and search out something novel.  I think the question of the Islamic heaven makes for a good thought exercise: it offers only sensual pleasures, and it seems that we would eventually get bored with all of them.

Prior to virtual reality, the philosopher Kierkegaard considered the problem of restless and boredom, and he averred that restlessness could potentially be countered by following the principle of crop rotation.  We can think of having a meal that we really enjoy, or a song that we really love.  But if you ate the favorite meal day in and day out, or listened to the favorite song over and over, you would quickly get bored.  So instead you would space out the eating of the favorite meal or the listening to the favorite song.  The fact that variety in pleasure exists means that if you rotated the kinds of pleasures you experience, you would prolong your enjoyments.  And among the different pleasures (culinary, aural, sexual, intellectual, &c.) there is a vast variety within each one.  Therefore Kierkegaard at least gets us theoretically to a very, very long time before anything gets truly played out.  Admittedly, though, after billions of years you would reach exhaustion with every possible pleasure, even in rotation, and get depressed, and take your cue from the Buddhists and believe that liberation consists of being removed from the wheel of experience altogether.

But virtual reality, I think, would get us all the way to eternity, because presumably there would be the option of voluntary amnesia.  If we're assuming that the requisite neuroscience & technology could exist, then the obvious cure for boredom would be to wipe the slate clean and have the experiences all over again.  You wouldn't get bored of them because you wouldn't remember them.  They would be as new to you in the virtual reality as any novelty is new to you now.  So I think that's where jannah, the Islamic heaven, could succeed: if any of the denizens got bored of their houris and fine dining after two million years, Allah would presumably just push the "reset" button at the first sign of a yawn, and they would wake up with no memory of those two million years, and it would be like their first day in the heavenly garden of delights. 

I don't think this would be too different from some of the Catholic concepts of heaven, where it is said that everyone will appreciate God's justice, even if it seems completely unfair to them in this life.  If Greg got to heaven and saw John Paul II and Paul VI there, he might wonder what was going on.  He might demand to know, "how the hell was Vatican II the actual Catholic Church?"  And God might say, "it was a test of faith, like Abraham with Isaac.  QMR was right all along.  I wanted to make sure people would follow my shepherds no matter what."  And before Greg could say, "that's totally cultish and nutty nutbar," his understanding of what's nutty or not would instantly accord with God's.  Would he still be Greg?

« Last Edit: January 04, 2018, 09:48:04 PM by Pon de Replay »
 

Offline Pon de Replay

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Re: Jannah, virtual reality, eternity, and boredom
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2018, 09:59:08 PM »
Inception, the scene where Leo's character is shown the 'opium den' where people sleep all day in the dream state where they can do anything they want.

I should watch that movie again; I haven't seen it since it first came out.  I would definitely be in the VR opium den.  Why would anyone not?  Our lives here in the First World are exceptionally good by historical standards, but even so, we all still feel like Tantalus to some extent.  It seems inescapable that no matter how good we have it, we always wish it were better.  Damn this human condition.  For that reason alone I think one could get near infinity out of virtual reality.  Tom Wolfe once said something like, "a plumber living in twentieth century America experiences a greater level of luxury than any Roman Emperor did."  There's some truth to that in terms of things like plumbing and food and entertainment, although if the plumber is a singleton, the pleasures are limited to such comforts, and he is not exceeding Caligula.
 

Offline Maximilian

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Re: Jannah, virtual reality, eternity, and boredom
« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2018, 10:19:50 PM »

 You would still be you in this situation, though, wouldn't you?  You would have the same range of two-handed experiences you always had.  You would still be Greg.  Because what you are, essentially, is your mind; that is to say, your brain.  You're a brain connected to a network of nerves, housed in a bag of bones and flesh.

No, I disagree with this entire concept that we are a brain in a bag of bones. That's not our reality. And the whole prosthetic thing and organ donations are part of it.

"That Hideous Strength" by C.S. Lewis has some good things to say about this trend.
 
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Offline Jacob

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Re: Jannah, virtual reality, eternity, and boredom
« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2018, 10:20:27 PM »
The conversation brought this to mind:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ship_of_Theseus
“Arguing with anonymous strangers on the Internet is a sucker's game because they almost always turn out to be—or to be indistinguishable from—self-righteous sixteen-year-olds possessing infinite amounts of free time.”
--Neal Stephenson
 
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Offline Greg

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Re: Jannah, virtual reality, eternity, and boredom
« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2018, 03:10:31 AM »
If God says that about Vatican 2 I'm going to punch Him and call him some very rude names.
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Offline Pon de Replay

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Re: Jannah, virtual reality, eternity, and boredom
« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2018, 10:24:46 AM »
No, I disagree with this entire concept that we are a brain in a bag of bones. That's not our reality. And the whole prosthetic thing and organ donations are part of it.

"That Hideous Strength" by C.S. Lewis has some good things to say about this trend.

That our sensual experiences rely on our brain receiving sensory input is factually and biologically true.  For the purposes of virtual reality, all one needs to be is a brain and a network of nerves.  A true virtual reality would bypass the organic nerves and feed the data directly to the brain; one could just as well be "a brain in a vat," or reduced corporeally to a vegetative state.  As it stands now, virtual reality requires goggles and gloves (future generations living in a Singularity would likely view this as primitive video gaming.  What we currently consider cutting-edge might well be Pac-Man forty years from now).

I would agree, however, that our sensual experiences are not all of reality, as I don't deny the existence of the soul and am by no means purely materialist.  There is of course a spiritual dimension to our existence, or "mystical experience."  It would probably be best not to go into all that, but I apologize for putting things in terms that might suggest I denied the soul.

The VR I'm considering would simply replicate the sensual dimension.  It would be basically a portal into one's own personal jannah—although in the sense that you wouldn't necessarily have to be reclining in a hammock under palm fronds in a lush desert oasis being fed grapes by adoring houris.  The Islamic paradise is (unsurprisingly) of a peculiarly masculine bent, a product of the Arabian mind, and I don't know if too many women would see an appeal there.  So you could reset the parameters.  I have a female friend who would probably calibrate the settings to something like living in a Jane Austen novel, and I once worked with a butch lesbian who would maybe want to work on a construction site, where she could curse and chew tobacco and spit and operate a jackhammer until she got bored with it.  Then she would reset the parameters to live in a zombie apocalypse and mow down the undead with a machine gun while hollering profanities.  (She was a big fan of The Walking Dead).

But I guess my question would be, what is wrong with prosthetics?  Are you opposed to something like the prosthetic feet worn by Oscar Pistorius?  Because those were the difference between him being an professional runner or confined to a wheelchair.  I guess I could see the logic if the idea is that we're supposed to accept our infirmities and consider them as redemptive suffering, but by that measure even those of us who wear eyeglasses are engaged in a form of prosthetic cheating.  If prosthetics are wrong, then I should be squinting just to see things in a blur, stumbling around all day, tripping over the cat and bumping into furniture.

« Last Edit: January 05, 2018, 10:28:18 AM by Pon de Replay »
 

Offline Maximilian

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Re: Jannah, virtual reality, eternity, and boredom
« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2018, 10:26:42 AM »

If God says that about Vatican 2 I'm going to punch Him and call him some very rude names.

Without assaulting God, one does have to consider that the paradox of "Theseus' Ship" applies fundamentally to the questions we deal with concerning the modern Catholic Church.

"If one gradually replaces each dogma one-by-one with new dogmas, then is that still the same Church?"

An article that received some attention in Latin Mass magazine a few years back regarding Humanae Vitae and whether it represented the Catholic teaching on marriage said about the new "personalism" on which it was based:  "You can compare it to a house which has been moved down the road and placed on a new foundation. Is it still the same house if it has a new foundation in a new location?"
 
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Offline Maximilian

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Re: Jannah, virtual reality, eternity, and boredom
« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2018, 10:39:26 AM »

For the purposes of virtual reality, all one needs to be is a brain and a network of nerves. 

For virtual reality, yes. For actual reality, no.


I would agree, however, that our sensual experiences are not all of reality, as I don't deny the existence of the soul and am by no means purely materialist. 

Well, yes, the soul is an issue here, but it wasn't the soul but the body that I was considering.

I think that in general we underestimate our bodies and the significance of the role they play.

Wanting to die, but not being allowed to die. Being kept alive as a virtual reality. What a horrific nightmare that perhaps lies in the not-too-distant future. The only solution for it is to accept our bodies they way they are and to accept our death when the body is finished.


But I guess my question would be, what is wrong with prosthetics? 

They are unnatural.


Are you opposed to something like the prosthetic feet worn by Oscar Pistorius?  Because those were the difference between him being an professional runner or confined to a wheelchair. 

That didn't work out so well for him in the long run.


I guess I could see the logic if the idea is that we're supposed to accept our infirmities and consider them as redemptive suffering, but by that measure even those of us who wear eyeglasses are engaged in a form of prosthetic cheating. 

A similar example which I think definitely is cheating are braces on one's teeth. They are a fraud on the marriage market. They misrepresent a fundamental indicator of health and breeding.

This dilemma is represented by the situation that happened recently in Korea where two very beautiful people married each other, but then produced a very ugly child who resembled neither of them. It was at that point that they realized that they had each been fooled by the large amounts of plastic surgery that have become common in Korea. Each one thought that they were fooling the other, but in the end they each were equally fooled.
 
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Offline Pon de Replay

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Re: Jannah, virtual reality, eternity, and boredom
« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2018, 10:49:55 AM »
If God says that about Vatican 2 I'm going to punch Him and call him some very rude names.

Ah, but I don't think you could, because in heaven your will is perfectly conformed to the will of God.  That's why I ask whether such a "you" is in any meaningful sense you anymore.  If I got to heaven and saw my mom writhing in hell (neither of which will ever happen), I would be forced to understand the situation as God's perfect justice, and I would have to think, "you must burn forever, you reprobate."  And that would not be me.  I don't care if my mom was a Hitler before she had me; in my estimation she would have to suffer for a long time to pay for whatever atrocities she committed, but I would also know first-hand that as a mother she was patient and loving and kind, a person capable of great decency and good-heartedness, so in the end I (me) insist that she eventually be forgiven.  She is "only human after all," as the old 80s song goes.  I would not be "me" in any meaningful sense if I was satisfied with her suffering for eternity.  I might be conformed to God's will, but it would be against my own will.  I would be brainwashed or lobotomized.

In a virtual reality, on the other hand, you fully possess your own will.  It's not like drugs where it's decreased or heightened awareness.  It's the same principle of sensory awareness you currently have.  I don't know much Star Trek, so I had to look up your Christopher Pike / Jim Kirk reference.  But think of it this way: you're not Christopher Pike.  You are Captain Kirk, until one day Captain Kirk is beset with Buddhist ennui and thinks to himself, "life has become tedious.  All of this intergalactic adventuring is played out"—and William Shatner wakes up wearing aquatic undies in a pool of liquid, and a lab technician pulls the microchip out of his brain and says, "you must've had a very rewarding five thousand years there, Jim."  It's Captain Kirk is a Christopher Pike.
 

Offline Pon de Replay

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Re: Jannah, virtual reality, eternity, and boredom
« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2018, 11:10:15 AM »
Wanting to die, but not being allowed to die. Being kept alive as a virtual reality. What a horrific nightmare that perhaps lies in the not-too-distant future. The only solution for it is to accept our bodies they way they are and to accept our death when the body is finished.

I'm not understanding, Max.  Why do you say "wanting to die, but not being allowed to die. Being kept alive as a virtual reality"?  I am not stipulating a VR which would be compulsory.  If you don't like it you could stop it at any time.  It would be voluntary, which makes it a good philosophical question; I'm wondering why anyone would want to opt out.  If I was enjoying a virtual paradise, I would not want to die.  Accepting our bodies and accepting death is not the only solution in this hypothetical, as virtual reality would present another.  You're choosing death over bliss?

There is no correlation between Oscar Pistorius' prosthetics and the fact that he killed his girlfriend.  O.J. Simpson killed his ex-wife standing on his own two feet.  If there seems to be any shared cause in both instances, it's that these were famous athletes who probably thought they were so special that they could get away with it.  There are plenty of people who wear prosthetics like Pistorius' who don't turn into killers because of them.

This dilemma is represented by the situation that happened recently in Korea where two very beautiful people married each other, but then produced a very ugly child who resembled neither of them. It was at that point that they realized that they had each been fooled by the large amounts of plastic surgery that have become common in Korea. Each one thought that they were fooling the other, but in the end they each were equally fooled.

Problem solved.  Virtual reality would be the invisible prosthesis; it would be the bloodless plastic surgery.  An amputee would experience physical legs; a Cyrano could live the life of a Lothario.
 

Offline Carleendiane

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Re: Jannah, virtual reality, eternity, and boredom
« Reply #11 on: January 05, 2018, 11:27:53 AM »
Interesting posts going on here. Says me, with two fake knees. 6 kids, 14 grand kids to enjoy, and not on crutches. Is that wrong? I haven't been spared the pain (still constant) and still have serious limitations. But I can walk on my own whereas, by now.....I would need either crutches, or worse, a wheel chair. Though what might have happened without this surgery is not the point in Max's posts. I get that.
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Offline Pon de Replay

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Re: Jannah, virtual reality, eternity, and boredom
« Reply #12 on: January 05, 2018, 11:40:49 AM »
Interesting posts going on here. Says me, with two fake knees. 6 kids, 14 grand kids to enjoy, and not on crutches. Is that wrong? I haven't been spared the pain (still constant) and still have serious limitations. But I can walk on my own whereas, by now.....I would need either crutches, or worse, a wheel chair. Though what might have happened without this surgery is not the point in Max's posts. I get that.

I confess, I am unclear as to whether Max's view on prosthetics would apply equally to your surgery.  He seems to be saying that we should content ourselves with our infirmities.  He did not correct me on my assumption that eyeglasses would be "unnatural" in his view, although I don't suppose glasses would be "a fraud on the marriage market," as there used to be a saying I never understood: "men don't make passes at women with glasses."  But certainly contact lenses would be "a fraud on the marriage market" if braces for teeth are.
 
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Offline Chestertonian

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Re: Jannah, virtual reality, eternity, and boredom
« Reply #13 on: January 05, 2018, 12:19:28 PM »
ifmallooclusionss aee an indicator of poor breding what does that say about the house of habsburg

Do you think your avatar might benefit some orthodontia
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Offline Greg

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Re: Jannah, virtual reality, eternity, and boredom
« Reply #14 on: January 05, 2018, 12:21:24 PM »
If there seems to be any shared cause in both instances, it's that these were famous athletes who probably thought they were so special that they could get away with it. 

I doubt they gave it that much thought.  I think what happens with elite athletes is that they fail to acknowledge what is obvious to the rest of us about their talents.  They are genetic freaks, or outliers.  God, nature, random chance has gifted them with the ability to throw a ball, run, punch hardest faster and stronger than other men.

And on the field or in the ring their self-belief is justified.  But it rarely makes them special in any other sphere.  They can't solve quadratic equations, or sing, or string together an argument, or entertain a pack of kids at a party.  Nobody has every skill, very few people are freakishly multi-skilled.  It just happens that the freakish skills sportspeople have attract eyeballs and sponsors pay them money and the world praises them for that particular thing.

When they murder their wives/girlfriends it's usually in a fit of rage.  The red mist takes over, for a moment, and there is not much thought going on about what happens afterward.  I'd bet that once Pistorious had emptied the chamber into Reeva Steenkamp he immediately regretted what he had done.  OJ possibly less so because his ex-wife was a really shameless coke whore and psycho and he might have figured she deserved it and had resentment and anger building for a long time.  He'd beaten her up before, however, so I still think that when he murdered her it was the red mist.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2018, 02:17:41 PM by Greg »
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