i like your answer, af. though i question this:
" I feel it would betray any gratitude toward my own living if I were to desire another life not my own."
this is a thought experiment, an exercise in imagination. do you really find that to be a betrayal to your actual life? is imagining living in a different time/place really akin to desiring a life not your own?
"Were people more of characters before tv?"
could you elaborate on that, selftormentor? it sounds interesting to me, but not sure if i understand it.
i know what you mean about people of all ages with two or three screens in front of them all day....of course, i sit in front of one now, but i feel far from attached to it as many people i know seem to.
i personally find it repulsive, but that may just be me showing my age.
funky, yeah, people accuse me of showing my age (mid 50's) too when they find out i don't know how to operate a cell phone....
but i don't think age has anything to do with it. i worked as a computer programmer ("software engineer" in today's vernacular) for over 20 years, so like you, i worked with computers long before everyone had three or more in their home. in fact, my job in "technology" led me (in many direct ways) toward giving up much of it in my own life.
funky@, of course, question away!!!
as you may have noticed in my comments elsewhere, i'm not a big fan of most thought-experiments and while they may be fantasy, i don't see them as being synonymous with imagination. i perceive imagination differently than what's usually served up by the term these days.
most thought experiments i encounter simply perpetuate rationalism. which formulation of such doesn't matter here. for instance, ancaps and AP's exist in about the same boat. in AP's case, the loudest proponents actively seek to 'ground' their analysis in rationalism and see their 'solution' as a logical conclusion, which inherently contradictory to this supposedly anti-civ project, particularly one that upholds rationalism as its basis where contradiction remains anathema! rationalism is a product of civilized living; of distance from a living, pulsating, non-linear world.
in ancapism's case, such a distance is already un-problematic for its technocrats, and the removal of oneself from everyday living, much less socializing, might simply be an absurd case of solipsistic masturbation, if techno-modernity didn't itself indicate those directions already.
what i sense common in both is the presumption that our joie de vivre is conditional, causal and perennially deferred. and i don't for a moment feel the world needs more rationalism, but more joy and imagination.
in sum, the presuppositions of nearly all thought experiments i encounter shout far more loudly against joy/gratitude and imagination than do the stated formulations such experiments.
there are other, perhaps, deeper problems i sense, but i'll keep this from completely wall-o-texting.
edit typos and clarity
'i don't see rational thought per se as a result of civilization; i do see its idealization, idolization and elevation above all else as such.'
funky@, i didn't mean to imply that our capacity for reasoning was a result of civilization. whether or not rational thought is or is not, i cannot tell, since it's a bit blurry (at best) to me as to what's meant when used. but, its idealization, ie rationalism, does seem to be a product of civilized living.
it's more that i sense certain distinctions between 'reason,' 'rational thought/rationality,' and rationalism that are beyond what many may consider 'mere semantics' or 'splitting hairs,' and which reach into context, and issues of authority, beliefs, values and morality...all of which play into the notion of thought-experiments (ex: a subtle employment of ceteris parabus).