HumanReasonA bucket list is the purest form of human irrationality.


Because it is a list of desired experiences drawn up in the name of the very thing that will eradicate the relevance of those experiences to the person who desires them. All experiences, good or bad, too few or too many, are leveled to nothing in death.

Moreover, once death comes, the length of one’s life is also leveled to nothing. Whether death happens now or forty years from now, once dead, it will make no difference to the dead.

And, yet, I can’t reason myself to choose or accept death. Reason tells me that death’s leveling wake reduces life to irrelevancy, but some part of me chooses life over and over again. Irrationally, I want to live as long as possible and accumulate as many meaningful experiences as possible.

That means, I suppose, I’m not as inhuman as I sometimes think I am.

12 thoughts on “The Bucket List: Human, All Too Human

    1. Strictly speaking, it is, I think, irrational. The species, nevertheless, did fine without rationality for quite a long time. Without irrationality, arguably, we would have not lived long enough to develop rationality.

        1. I think I’m using “rationality” in the conventional sense of the term.

          The crux of my claim turns on the nature of death.

          Once dead, there will be no being to experience what I have experienced. If I die now or a hundred years from now, the non-experience of death is the same. All experience, from the “perspective” of death, is irrelevant.

          I’m going to write about this again from a different direction. Maybe I will make more sense in that version. 🙂

          1. I don’t know what you consider the “conventional” sense to be; can you try defining it without resorting to using the word itself, or any synonyms?

            I use “rationality” to mean “trying to gain more accurate knowledge of how the world works, and trying to apply my knowledge towards the things I care about”.

            “Wanting to live” falls under the umbrella of “things I care about”, and in general I think of “rationality” as an ideal that I strive for when seeking my goals. Your use of the word “irrational” when talking about something you “want” makes no sense under that definition, and hopefully this lets you see why it was confusing me.

            1. Any dictionary definition you find should work for the point I’m making. Perhaps, based on your last comment, the uncertainty is really around the word “irrationality.”

              Let’s me try to explain my point based on your goal of increased knowledge.

              Once you die, all the knowledge you will have accumulated — your experience of it — will cease to be. From the perspective of death, it makes no difference if you die with a little knowledge or a lot of knowledge, in the same way having a big stash of cash at the end of life won’t make any difference.

              Death is certain. The irrelevance of your knowledge accumulation is certain. Your experience of the enjoyment of the pursuit of knowledge is irrelevant because that too will no longer exist. Any knowledge you manage to pass on to others is irrelevant because those people who receive it will also die. The species itself is certain to perish.

              In the face of death, possessing more or less knowledge is exactly equivalent. There really is no reason to choose one or the other, so either choice is fundamentally irrational because neither choice is guided by reason. It is, ultimately, arbitrary.

              If this all seems a bit gloomy, at this point, you will have to take my word that I think this conclusion is ultimately positive. Importantly, it is also a way to undermine the modern hegemony of reason because, sometimes, it clearly makes good sense to be irrational.

              1. Okay, so cheerful nihilism then. I was already a cheerful nihilist, so I don’t think we’re disagreeing on anything. Well, except that I have more hope about humankind being able to defeat Death.

                Of course, after that, we have Entropy to deal with. That one will be harder.

                1. I had imagined we were pretty much on the same page. I wouldn’t use the term “nihilism,” but to-meh-to, to-mah-to.

                  I hope the species figures out some way to conquer mortality, but I don’t expect it. The story of the human species is, I think, a tragic farce: that which make us uniquely human will likely be our undoing.

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