Ethics & Arbitrary Objects
There are many abstract, mental systems that we build throughout our lives. We build systems firstly in order to interpret our memories and sensory input into an internal simulation of "reality", our experience up to that moment. Secondly, we then run simulations of the future and predict their probability. These systems are abstract objects that exist within your mind that define your experience within the world.
However, at some point, your systems will come to the final part of this process of existence: selecting which predicted future you should pursue. Eventually you have to answer questions like "Why should we reduce human suffering?" This will involve using some form of heuristic to determine future value, and then balancing that value against probability.
Marketplaces of Bad Ideas
You might have heard of "The Marketplace of Ideas" (hereafter referred to as a MoI). This phrase is means a certain freedom to discuss, promote and pursue any ideology within a "free" or otherwise unregulated landscape. If we take it at face value, the MoI promises that if you just let ideas fight it out on some level-playing-field, the good ones will rise at the top.
Plato's cave is a famous allegory about perception and reality. The allegory consists, loosely, of the following:
Imagine a cave with a single entrance. Within this cave sit a group of people who have been born and raised entirely inside and have never left. The sun shines through the entrance of the cave in such a way that passing objects cast a shadow onto the wall - a bird, an animal, a gust of leaves. The group sit on the floor of the cave, and watch the shadows on the wall. Not only do they watch these shadows, but they believe the shadows to be reality and do not believe that any other reality exists outside of it. One day, a member of the group stands up and leaves the cave to see the world beyond. They are unable to interpret reality at first, but slowly come to understand that the reality they perceived before was one of merely shadow.
Flow is a psychological state defined by an intense presence in the moment and a merging of action and awareness. A gymnast performing a well-practiced routine, or a musician reciting a piece may experience a sense of flow.
Reading about these states, I was struck by how little was written about it why this is desireable. Why do people pursue flow? Some do it for some purpose, such as performance or artistic creation, but I think most who do would agree that there is something intrinsically pleasurable about the experience regardless of its function.
So, emotions right? What a heckin' experience! Certainly one of the more attention-grabbing features of the human condition. But what even are they?
Something that I think is dangerous when building a philosophical system is a fetishization of a lack of emotion. Emotionless detachment certainly has its uses, but there are rich and deep colours of the tapestry of human experience that one deprives oneself of. Does the unwise stoic cut a piece from themselves in order to pursue their system? Is it worth it? Not to me.