Newsletter: Ever thought of becoming a vampire?

Good morning, everyone!

The newsletter is back this week with materials from Brain Pickings. A fun proposition: “If you were offered the chance to become a vampire — painlessly and without inflicting pain on others, gaining incredible superpowers in exchange for relinquishing your human existence, with all your friends having made the leap and loving it — would you do it?”  – –  This is presented in the book Transformative Experience, by philosopher L. A. Paul, and how it tackles the question is definitely food for thought:

<< The trouble is, in this situation, how could you possibly make an informed choice? For, after all, you cannot know what it is like to be a vampire until you are one. And if you can’t know what it’s like to be a vampire without becoming one, you can’t compare the character of the lived experience of what it is like to be you, right now, a mere human, to the character of the lived experience of what it would be like to be a vampire. This means that, if you want to make this choice by considering what you want your lived experience to be like in the future, you can’t do it rationally. At least, you can’t do it by weighing the competing options concerning what it would be like and choosing on this basis. And it seems awfully suspect to rely solely on the testimony of your vampire friends to make your choice, because, after all, they aren’t human anymore, so their preferences are the ones vampires have, not the ones humans have.

 (…) When you find yourself facing a decision involving a new experience that is unlike any other experience you’ve had before, you can find yourself in a special sort of epistemic situation. In this sort of situation, you know very little about your possible future, in the same way that you are limited when you face a possible future as a vampire. And so, if you want to make the decision by thinking about what your lived experience would be like if you decided to undergo the experience, you have a problem… You find yourself facing a decision where you lack the information you need to make the decision the way you naturally want to make it — by assessing what the different possibilities would be like and choosing between them. The problem is pressing, because many of life’s big personal decisions are like this: they involve the choice to undergo a dramatically new experience that will change your life in important ways, and an essential part of your deliberation concerns what your future life will be like if you decide to undergo the change. But as it turns out, like the choice to become a vampire, many of these big decisions involve choices to have experiences that teach us things we cannot know about from any other source but the experience itself.

 (…) You know that undergoing the experience will change what it is like for you to live your life, and perhaps even change what it is like to be you, deeply and fundamentally.

 (…) In many ways, large and small, as we live our lives, we find ourselves confronted with a brute fact about how little we can know about our futures, just when it is most important to us that we do know. For many big life choices, we only learn what we need to know after we’ve done it, and we change ourselves in the process of doing it. I’ll argue that, in the end, the best response to this situation is to choose based on whether we want to discover who we’ll become.

 (…) Unless you’ve had the relevant experiences, what it is like to be a person or an animal very different from yourself is, in a certain fundamental way, inaccessible to you. It isn’t that you can’t imagine something in place of the experience you haven’t had. It’s that this act of imagining isn’t enough to let you know what it is really like to be an octopus, or to be a slave, or to be blind. You need to have the experience itself to know what it is really like.

This brings out another, somewhat less familiar fact about the relationship between knowledge and experience: just as knowledge about the experience of one individual can be inaccessible to another individual, what you can know about yourself at one time can be inaccessible to you at another time. >>

“The best response to this situation is to choose based on whether we want to discover who we’ll become” – what a marvelous way to think about life, isn’t it? Do you want to meet the person who you’ll become once you’ve started that project you’ve been postponing for a long time? Would you like to see what it’s like to be you after you date with this new person?  What about the version of you who exercises regularly? 😉

Think about it, and then take the leap! A new you is waiting on the other side…

 

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