Posted: Fri Apr 08, 2016 8:52 am
by JasonPratt
Fictional characters, as such, have a pretend existence, and so have pretended conditions of existence. At best they're like memories of persons that once existed, being remembered by persons with actual existence -- although they aren't even that, because fictional persons never existed at all to begin with.

So there is no comparison possible except by category error, or by hypothetically comparing conditions of existence if the characters actually existed -- which still wouldn't be comparing conditions of existence with non-existent conditions of a non-existent existence to see which existent persons (the existent persons or the non-existent existent persons) would be "better off" compared to each other.

"I" can be better off or worse off compared to past or future conditions of my existence, so long as "I" still exist to have comparative conditions of existence. If I ever cease to exist, so does the only method of comparison except by the psychological confusion of other people who are imagining I still exist because they can't conceive that non-existent persons do not really exist anymore to compare states of existence between.

"I" can be better or worse off in my conditions of existence compared to the conditions of the existence of other persons. My existence has value, and so in that sense has 'more' value (by having value at all) compared to the non-value of non-existence, but even then I'm having to cheat a bit for the comparison by imagining a zero level of value when non-existence is not even zero numerically compared to positive or negative real numbers. Non-existence is not a neutrally zero state of existence which can be considered better off comparatively than negative states of existence. (This is the error of people who regard annihilation as mercy, or suicide as still being an improvement of their condition if they ceased to exist afterward. They're thinking of non-existence as though it's a neutral state of existence and so relatively better than existing in negative inconvenience.)

"I" can be better or worse off in my conditions of existence compared to hypothetical conditions of myself or other persons, and so compared to proposed fictional characters whose pretended existence has pretended characteristics. But existent persons have value, regardless of their conditions of existence, that non-existent persons don't have; which is why there is an ethical duty to improve the conditions of existent persons and not the pretended conditions of pretended existence of pretended persons. And even that comparison only works by positing pretended characteristics of fictional persons for sake of hypothetical comparison.


Are you really saying that if you (the real Jason Pratt, who actually exists in a real world created by God) could have the love of your life, and you both could live happily ever after (and enjoy all the bliss of heaven hereafter), you'd be no better off than one of the lifeless characters in one of your books?


Our existence would have value even if we were in eternal conscious torment and the pretended characters were living happily ever after in a pretended heaven. Which is why our conditions, of the really existent persons, ought to be improved, as an ethical duty, whereas at best improving the conditions of fictional characters only counts as practice or perhaps as an illustration of principles. And that comparison is only possible by the non-existent fictional characters borrowing a sort of secondary existence from the existence of real persons. To ask if we're better or worse off than something that doesn't even have enough secondary existence to talk about, and so to ask a comparative question about, is a category error. It would be like snipping off the end of the sentence before getting to the It wouldn't even be like asking whether we'd be better or worse off than Thursday or the hypotenuse of a triangle, because those at least conceptually exist whereas the totally non-existent does not even conceptually exist anymore (if it ever once did).

And our existence would have value, by the way, and more value as real persons, compared to the mere conceptual existence of Thursday or a hypotenuse (either of which borrow whatever secondary value they have from the value of existent persons), even if we were living in eternal conscious torment, which is why there would be an ethical duty to improve our conditions but no ethical duty to improve the condition of the hypotenuse of a triangle -- if that was even possible, but I don't think the conditional existence of a hypotenuse can be improved or degraded. So is the value of our existence somehow threatened because a hypotenuse only has value thanks to the existence of real persons? Or would our existence in perfectly convenience conditions be comparatively unimportant somehow because a hypotenuse cannot have its conditions of existence (so far as it exists) improved or degraded? Of course not either way!

I can go even farther than that, and argue that a real person annihilated out of existence ought to be brought back into existence, because the real person has real value. But it would be nonsense for me to try to argue that an annihilated persons ought to be brought back into existence because their condition of existence currently as non-existent ought to be improved; although I could coherently argue that they ought to be brought back because their condition of existence before they ceased to exist ought to be improved.


If an actualized Jason Pratt is no better off existing in a world created by God (even enjoying the bliss of the highest heaven) than a Jason Pratt who never lived, I fail to see how God creating Jason Pratt could be viewed as an act of love.


Because you're still imagining that the non-existent Jason had conditions of existence that could be improved by loving Jason. God acted to give me existence at all, thanks to which reality I now can have conditions of existence to be improved or degraded. When I didn't exist, I didn't have conditions of existence to be improved or degraded; consequently my condition of existence didn't improve by my starting to exist and so to have conditions of existence.

And if an actualized Jason Pratt could suffer conscious eternal torment in hell without really being any worse off than one who never lived, what's wrong with the idea of double predestination?


It's a nonsense question confabulated out of English grammar and confusion of thought. There is no answer except to correct the confusion of thought. The value of a person's real existence does not depend on an impossible improvement in the conditions of existence of something that doesn't exist yet to have conditions of existence (and so which isn't even "something that doesn't exist yet"). The value of an existent person comes into existence with that person, and is why that person's conditions ought to be improved -- and not falsely improved by annihilating the person out of existence either. Which is one (although not the only) answer to why double predestination would be ethically wrong. Its wrongness isn't due to God taking a person with completely neutral conditions of existence (which is what is being imagined for comparison as non-existence) and then hopelessly degrading that person's conditions of existence -- although that would be wrong, too, if a non-existent person actually existed to have conditions of existence to be degraded. But that's a nonsense proposition, perhaps confused with a sequence of events describing a person actually coming to have existence.

By your logic, isn't any moral repulsion anyone here might feel at the thought of double predestination based on a category error?


Only if they're only basing it on a category error. The moral repulsion doesn't need to depend on the non-existent non-characteristics of non-existent persons being somehow degraded.

Because wouldn't the damned be no worse off suffering eternal conscious torment then they would be if they were never created?


An uncreated person doesn't exist to have conditions of existence to degrade or improve. The perma-damned would be worse off than if they were not perma-damned, and they would be worse off than existent persons who are not perma-damned, and if hypothetical non-permadamned persons existed instead of non-existed the perma-damned would be worse off than them, too.

The perma-damned would not be worse off than Thursday, or better off either, although they would have positive value which Thursday does not have (from which value Thursday derives whatever secondary value it does have); nor would they be worse off than fictional persons who only have a non-personal secondary existence; nor would they be worse off than utterly non-existent persons who do not even have fictional existence to even make a hypothetical comparison with if they existed, any more than the perma-damned would be worse off than the non-existent end of a It's a category error to draw any of those comparisons.


In fact (given your logic) God couldn't really be accused of hate if He created all of us knowing we'd suffer eternal conscious torment, because, in the final analysis, none of us would really be any the worse of than we would be if He never created us at all.


No, He would be accused of hate for creating people He intended to suffer hopelessly. Their moral value does not depend on the nonsense of them having previously existed in non-existence to have existent conditions to degrade or improve, instead of non-existent non-conditions which cannot be improved or degraded because they don't exist. Non-existent persons do not improve or degrade their conditions of existence by coming into existence: non-existent persons do not have conditions of existence at all. Existent persons are not better off or worse off than their previous existence as non-existent persons, and their value (including their moral value) does not depend on that nonsense being true.

But as long as you just feel in your heart that non-existent persons still somehow exist for their condition to improve or degrade by coming into existence, and that that nonsensical impossibility is the only way existence can have any value (so that if the nonsense is denied and rejected as nonsense then the value of a person's existence must also be being denied), then you're going to keep panicking about this non-problem. (And blaming me for your panic about it.)


Given your logic, that's the only thing you've said that might make sense [i.e. that creation is the gift of God by God to God] -- but only if you assume God was stuck with His own existence, and needed creatures to improve His condition.

Is that what you believe?


No, I'm inferring (not merely assuming) that God actively self-exists as the ground of all existence, and so generating existence is what God fundamentally does. God doesn't need creatures to improve His condition, in that case; but God is going to create not-God existences because generating existence is what God fundamentally does. The self-generating existence generator isn't "stuck" with His own existence; the self-generating existence generator generates existence: His own self-existence, and the existence of that which is not Himself.

The value of God's creation does not depend on God's creation already existing before He creates it so that God is, by creating it, only improving its conditions of pre-existence. Nor, by the way, does the value of God's existence depend on God's non-existent existence improving by improving the non-existent conditions of that non-existence.


I don't see how this makes any sense, from your stated point of view. How can God actively love someone He's brougt into conscious existence if nothing He does will ever improve their original condition of being lifeless, senseless, possibilities.


Because you keep ignoring or misunderstanding my stated point of view. You keep thinking my stated point of view involves non-existence having an "original condition of being lifeless, senseless, possibilities" but that's your belief, not mine. My stated point of view is that non-existence has no conditions at all. Not even the condition of being lifeless, not even the condition of being senseless. Even the possibility of existence is not an existent condition of something that is non-existent. Once God creates them, then they exist to have conditions which can be improved or degraded. Their conditions can then be judged for comparison as to whether this condition is better or worse off than that condition; so that a degradation is actually being worse off than before. THERE WAS NO BEFORE FOR THE CREATURE BEFORE THE CREATURE EXISTS!

There can be a before for God before Creature X exists (although that would be an ontological priority not a temporal one, except insofar as God has His own internal relations to which our created temporality is a derivative and substantially different variation). There can be a before for other creatures before Creature X exists. There can be no before for Creature X before Creature X exists.


That's a thought I find very depressing, and I believe the enemy of my soul has used it (and words you've repeated here) when I've been tempted to give up on everything.


The enemy of your soul is trying to drive you to suicide by various means, one of which is to keep trying to make you feel that non-existence has existent conditions (or states of existence), which is a contradiction I have never once told you or anyone else, ever. The enemy of your soul keeps blanking out various things I'm saying, so that it looks like I'm saying something else instead.

Whereas I have repeatedly said that existence has value, and non-existence has no value, not even zero value. Don't commit suicide, BECAUSE you aren't going to improve your existence by going out of existence (if death is annihilation). Don't commit suicide, even if you continue to exist afterward, and even if that might help improve your condition of existence, BECAUSE your existence here already has value and deserves to be improved HERE, and even more importantly because you have a duty to help improve the conditions of other people's existences HERE. You don't have a duty to improve the non-existent conditions of non-existent persons: they don't exist, they don't have conditions to improve. But the value of your existence does not depend on you always having existed to have conditions to be improved. Nor does the value of your existence depend on the nonsense of non-existence nevertheless existing to have conditions to be improved.

I'm not saying that's simple to understand; but that has been what I've constantly and consistently been saying. Which is against suicide from all directions. That you once didn't exist (compared to the existence of other existences), is not a reason for suicide. That existence does not coherently compare to non-existence in a sense of improvement of conditions of existence between non-existence and existence, is not a reason for suicide. That you will still exist after death is not a good enough reason for suicide, even if you somehow improve your own condition of existence thereby; and if you cease to exist after death, you will not be improving your condition of existence, so cessation of existence is not a reason for suicide either.

But whether a created being could improve his condition by choosing to cease his own existence was never my question.


Your whole existential panic is based on non-existent conditions not being better or worse off comparatively than existent conditions, as though the non-existent conditions were existent conditions anyway and therefore (by virtue of nonsense) conditions of existence must be no better or worse off than existent conditions of non-existence.

But non-existent conditions do not exist. There is no improvement or degradation of existent conditions when going between non-existence (which has no existent conditions) and existence (which has existent conditions).

Thus your previous complaint: "How can God actively love someone He's brougt into conscious existence if nothing He does will ever improve their original condition of being lifeless, senseless, possibilities." But nothing God ever does will ever improve the originally existent conditions of originally non-existent non-existences. Not because existence therefore has no value more than non-existence, but because it's nonsense for non-existence to have originally existent conditions to improve or degrade.

Non-existence has no existent conditions to improve or degrade or even stay the same; it also has no value to even compare with the value of existence. Non-existence does not have a value to compare with the value of existence.

Existence has value; and also conditions to improve or degrade or stay the same. Existence has comparative value with existence. Not with non-existence.

Michael wrote:
Jason wrote:God knows perfectly well that Person X's condition of existence does not improve or degrade by coming into existence from non-existence or by ceasing to exist from existence. You do, too, occasionally, when I spell it out once again!


I again deny knowing any such thing


Yep, you've gone back once again to denying that you know that Person X's condition of existence does not improve or degrade by coming into existence from non-existence or by ceasing to exist from existence.

You've gone back once again to insisting that Person X's condition of existence my improve or degrade by coming into existence from non-existence or by ceasing to exist from existence.

And that's your problem.

Even though a living, feeling Jason, enjoying all the blessings of heaven, is no better off than a Jason who never lived?


Yep, a living, feeling Jason, enjoying all the blessings of heaven, has not improved my condition of existence from back when non-existent Jason did not have conditions of existence to improve or degrade or stay the same. BECAUSE IMPROVING SOMETHING THAT DOES NOT EXIST TO IMPROVE IS NONSENSE. And the value of my existence does NOT depend on my non-existence having had existent conditions to improve or degrade or stay the same. So the fact that that's impossible has no bearing at all on whether existence has value or not.

So I have not contradicted myself to say that existence has value, and life has value, and also that non-existence does not have existent conditions to improve or degrade or stay the same. They aren't even the same topic! I wouldn't be contradicting myself either to say that existence has value, and life has value, and also that Thursday is not colored blue. Nor would I be contradicting myself to say that existence has existent conditions that can be improved or degraded or stay the same, but non-existence does not have conditions that can be improved or degraded or stay the same -- which actually is two statements on the same topic.

Existence has value. Non-existence does not have value, not even a non-value to compare with the value of existence (except by linguistic convention since we have to talk about non-existence by analogy with comparative existence.) Existence has existent conditions that can be improved, degraded, or stay the same, compared to other states of existence. Non-existence does not have existent conditions or states of existence that can be improved, degraded, or stay the same, compared with conditions or states of existence which can be improved etc.

How is possible for you not to see the contradiction?


The contradiction between (as you quoted me) "God knowing perfectly well that Person X's condition of existence does not improve or degrade by coming into existence from non-existence or by ceasing to exist", and (as you quoted me) "Existence has value, and life has value"?

Because the value of existence doesn't depend on a non-existent condition of existence existing.

The reason you see a contradiction between those two propositions, is because you're mentally ill with a disease that's pressing you into suicide. Anything anyone says against suicide will be ignored or quickly forgotten or twisted around into being a reason for suicide anyway -- especially the latter if blame for the suicide can be fixed on someone else.

Michael wrote:
Jason wrote:Existence has value, and life has value, even in the worst conditions. Ceasing to exist doesn't improve any condition of one's own existence.


Really?

Even for an animal who has nothing to learn from this life, no life beyond this, and is suffering in constant pain?

(Assuming for the moment, just for the sake of argument, that there's no afterlife for animals.)

Putting Ruffian out of her misery was no act of mercy? [etc.]


The intention was no doubt merciful, but you didn't achieve mercy if Ruffian ceased to exist (assuming for the moment that there's no afterlife for animals). Because ceasing to exist doesn't improve any condition of existence. You didn't improve her condition by killing her if she ceased to exist, so you didn't help her after all, even though you meant to help her.

And letting her go on in pain wouldn't be an act of cruelty?


Compared to letting her go on in not-pain, if you could accomplish that? Sure.

But killing her doesn't let her go on in not-pain if she ceases to exist.

And creating immortal souls destined for conscious eternal torment wouldn't be an act of cruelty either?


Yep, it's an act of cruelty (if the destiny is intended by the creator), but annihilating them out of existence wouldn't be an act of mercy for them (or not an achieved act of mercy despite the intention): because that isn't helping them. It doesn't improve the conditions of their existence. It might improve the conditions of the existence of people who actually still exist, and so be an act of mercy for them, but the object of mercy is different there.

Creating such persons intended for eternal conscious torment would also be cruelty, but NOT because God is thereby degrading their "original conditions" of anything -- because they didn't have original conditions before they were created.

And you're saying here that existence, even in such a condition, would be better than not existing.


I'm saying even such an existence has value. Non-existence would have no value, and would not be improving their conditions of existence either. Nor would their non-existent conditions of existence be degraded by creating them for this purpose.

But I can say that consistently, because I don't regard value of existence as depending on comparison with non-existent conditions of non-existence. Consequently the cruelty of such a creation would not depend on the creatures having actually existed before creation in a state of existence that was thereby degraded by coming into existence for that purpose. The cruelty is completely independent of such impossible non-problems.

But you just said [non-existence] has a negative value when compared to existence.


Whereupon, being unable to find where I said that, you quoted me saying that existence has value instead. Obviously my saying that non-existence has no value meant something different than what you wanted it to mean, or you wouldn't have been casting around to make my subsequent comparison, "Non-existence has no value, so it is better for you and your family to exist than to not exist" mean that I'm contradicting myself somehow. Nope, I meant "better" in the sense that existence has value and non-existence doesn't. I didn't mean it in the sense that you are better off existing, which I didn't say: I wasn't comparing your conditions of existence to your "original condition" (your phrase, not mine) of non-existence.


And how is it existence itself has value if not compared to non-existence?


Note that you're asking this in challenge (again) to my statement that "What He gives us creatures in actual value, is not however an improvement of our condition of existence compared to our prior non-condition of non-existence." You keep functionally insisting not only that non-existent persons must have existent conditions, but that the value of existence depends on comparing existent conditions of existence to existent non-existent conditions of existence in non-existence.

That's where the "many contradictions" are coming from that you keep complaining about. But they aren't coming from my position, they're coming from you trying to hold to (what amounts to) that position.

Value is always a personal judgment, and requires a person to be doing the valuation. Existence has value only if eternal self-existence itself, the ground of all existence, personally values existence. And that isn't selfishness only if eternal personal self-existence itself is multiple persons valuing each other in interpersonal communion. There can only be ultimately objective valuation if that's true, too; otherwise there can only be subjective valuation (although objective valuation necessarily involves subjective valuation, too, since the subject is valuing the object.)

That's why God doesn't need a non-existent void to exist to have value by comparison to non-existence. God, and so all existence, has value because the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit personally value each other in love. And not-God existence has value, not because some kind of non-existence nevertheless exists to compare value to non-value (although the concept can be considered, although the valuation of existence doesn't depend on considering the concept either); but first and foremost because God loves not-God reality into existence. Not-God existence (and God for that matter) also has value so far as rational creatures value both God and creation, but the value of God and creation doesn't depend on us creatures valuing them: even if we didn't value them, God would.

(A non-trinitarian or non-binitarian theist could go pretty far with that, too.)


So I can make a conceptual comparison if pressed on it, which I did: non-existence has no value, but existence does have value, so (in that sense) it is better for you and your family to exist than to not exist. That doesn't mean you were improving your conditions of existence by coming into existence, much less that your value depends on you having done that impossible nonsense. Your value doesn't depend on non-existence having no value, either, although I can make the conceptual comparison.


I think what you're saying is that different states of existence can have positive or negative value when compared to each other, but have no value at all when compared to non-existence.


That's your depression twisting around what I said. I say "Once we exist, then our conditions of existence can improve or degrade in various ways. If we ever cease to exist, our condition of existence cannot improve, or degrade, or even stay the same -- because we wouldn't exist anymore at all." But your depression swamps that around so that what you hear, is me saying that existence and states of existence have no value at all compared to non-existence. Which isn't at all what I said, and cannot be logically derived from it. But which IS directly a reply challenging that non-existent conditions do not exist to be improved, and do not exist to be a degradation of prior existent conditions, which you claim not to be interested in and not asking about.

So when I say yet again that the value of existence doesn't depend on improving non-existent non-conditions as though they are existent conditions, your depression treats me like I'm saying that non-existence has its own value compared to existence, and/or that both existence and non-existence have no value at all (and equally no value at all). ("Does [God's] existence have no real value when compared to non-existence?" as you go on immediately to ask if I believe.)

But that's your mental illness talking, not me. And your mental illness is where the "contradicting left and right" is coming from, not from me. When you read one thing and flip it over so completely to force it to come out so differently, there can be no possibility of even rational discussion, much less of your depression being solaced by reason: because your depression is undermining the discussion fatally. Very literally fatally, because it's taking anti-suicide positions and forcing them around into seeming like suicide positions instead -- for which you're blaming me, which is again common for suicidal behavior.

Which is why the other admins and mods agreed that I shouldn't be trying to help you by doing metaphysics with you. Your condition doesn't just make that impossible, it's going to end up with you using me as either a justification or a blame for some kind of murder / suicide spree. That there is no sane justification or blame involved, is beside the point.

If anyone else wants to chime in, thinking you can help Michael, be aware: this is how the conversation has gone in the past, and how it's still going to go. I don't doubt that part of him wants to avoid suicide, but an insane part of him very much wants it, and is pushing him to do so: blaming other people, punishing himself, existential angst of life being meaningless so he might as well, etc.