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The downside of philosophical detection and dealing with i

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There have been huge improvements and changes in my life after having taken an interest in philosophy (primarily from Objectivist sources). Many of which i'm unaware but also many I am aware of. In some cases I know philosophy has affected me in a particular aspect of my life but I can't work out the exact connections.

 

Take this, for example:

 

Behold, I teach you the Overman! The Overman is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: The Overman shall be the meaning of the earth! I beg of you my brothers, remain true to the earth, and believe not those who speak to you of otherworldly hopes! Poisoners are they, whether they know it or not. Despisers of life are they, decaying ones and poisoned ones themselves, of whom the earth is weary: so away with them! 

 

 

Note: I don't know or necessarily agree with any of Nietzsche's ideas. I just like particular quotes and parts of his prose... like this one.

 

I'm convinced that the reason I love this quote so much is the same reason why I'm described by my closest friends (all of whom are new) as being extremely courageous. I don't mean this in the physical danger sense - I am just able to do things which petrify them - and actually, it's the simplest and least dangerous things! For example, start a conversation at a cafe with someone who I find attractive, and other things that I would just consider cultivating integrity. To me it's become a no-brainer, to them it seems admirably crazy - BUT it has everything to do with the reason for liking this quote and it has a lot to do with enormous improvements I've made in my life all-over.

 

However, there are some downsides. They result in me being upset and cynical over a lot of conversations and things I hear every day. Of course I don't seek arguments or expression of this frustration where it's not warranted (where I am not 100% certain I understand can articulate well why it's wrong). 

 

For example --

Watching the news and hearing people demand education pisses me off, watching the news and hearing that an assault occurred and that it was cowardly because the women was old. My frustration is not at the anger directed at the attacker, but the emphasis on it being cowardly because she was old. In m mind that is as if to say it's okay if you hit someone else just not an old lady. The act is disgusting full stop. Why are we qualifying it?

hearing people say "everyone creates your own reality", we "borrow from the earth".. (here I cannot say I understand property rights but I know something isn't right because borrow is a concept depending on property rights, man and a whole bunch of other concepts so to say your "borrowing from the earth" just can't be right BUT I cannot fully explain and understand why yet...)

I went to a leadership course and the guy running the course kept repeating things like "don't try and understand - just GET", "I'm going to tell you things which will come out hard like a rock"  (he takes a rock and smashes the floor) and "you shall receive them as foam" he takes out foam and plays with it between his hand. Even in the context of the activity this made no sense.

 

 

I'm trying to introspect but it's often quite difficult for me to work out why I feel a certain way.

 

if I had to guess what is the reason these things frustrate me so much is that I feel impotent to act against it, to protect myself from it, to protect others from it. When I first read philosophy: why you need it? it was the most incredible thing for me. I started reading everything by Rand like a nut. It just made sense, it was filling some kind of void I wanted to fill. In some cases things in her writing really frustrated me (EDIT: I was agnostic but I really wanted a god to exist - I found it comforting) and I tried to refuse to believe it or just make it work with the rest of the ideas I liked - but I kept at it and eventually the things that pissed me off no longer pissed me off. Anyway, the point is, when I show someone else her writing I expect the same reaction but people don't seem to care at all - so I feel like nothing can be done.

 

I'm trying really hard to understand develop a complete and solid understanding (I keep re-reading the introductory section of OPAR and now begun reading ITOE before moving onto ethics) but it seems like a very difficult task and I don't know something about hearing this stuff above all the time drives me crazy in a bad way.

 

Do you know what I mean? Is my anger justified? Did anyone go through something like this?

Edited by LoBagola

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A lot of people feel alienated or disgusted about the culture once they begin to read Ayn Rand.  You are not alone and a negative reaction is appropriate.

 

There are a lot of Objectivist 'trade secrets' and connect-the-dot information in the lectures sold by ARI that will help with things like introspection and refining the way you use your mind.   Harry Binswanger's psycho-epistemology lectures and Ayn Rand's book on writing non-fiction would help with introspection (and Ed Locke has a course on the subject).

Edited by Fawkes

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 Did anyone go through something like this?

I'm pretty sure just about everybody around here has. :P

 

I think the frustration tends to be less about just a sense of an inability to stop the madness in general and more about that specifically there's this inability to stop the madness which is impinging upon you and your values. It wouldn't be a big deal if it didn't seem like they had so much capacity to inflict their wrongs on others. Working out how to minimize how much of an impact these things have on you and your values is something that needs to be worked out over time to make things more manageable and keep you from being driven up a wall.

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Less than 2 percent of the US population is atheist. What proportion of those have even heard of the primacy of existence? Is it any wonder that we are confronted with a blizzard of nonsense each day? Most people have reasons for religious adherance. They have been taught that God's will is the only justification for morality and hence do not see any rational justification of morality without God. They want to raise their kids to be moral and so they attend religious services for their kid's sake. Religious services also give them a ready social group of "moral" people. How do you socialize without it? There are many roadblocks to rationality.

 

Many people want to socialize with moral people. Do you have a compelling alternative to religion? Unless you can answer that you know of large groups of well-adjusted, reality focused, objective minded, rationally moral people who meet on a regular basis in communities throught the world, the sad answer is, "NO".

 

(By the way, Neitzsche's uber mensche is an offense to me. This concept justifies the likes of Hitler who was the ultimate uber mensche.)

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Is my anger justified?

Well, the people you are angry with deserve it, I suppose. So it's justified in that sense.

But you should be justifying yourself not to them, but to yourself, to your own sense of value and purpose. So, do your goals justify you wasting energy being angry at people who are irrational?

Sometimes they do, I suppose, but for the most part I don't think so. So, while recognizing other people's shortcomings, you should aim to be emotionally invested in their strengths and merits. Avoid having to deal with their shortcomings, and avoid people who have shortcomings that are unavoidable, entirely.

Edited by Nicky

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There are two kinds of people in the world: those who care about truth and those who don't.

The people who do care about the truth will react to Ayn Rand the way the rest of us have, once they properly understand what she was saying.

 

Those who don't care about truth and have no interest in reality are immune to logic.

I know exactly how you feel and sometimes I still struggle with that, myself.  It helps enormously to be able to tell the intellectually-innocent from the evaders; once you know who is beyond all reason, you can choose not to waste your time and energy on them.

 

Your anger is completely justified.

Human beings are the only things capable of reason; those who were born with that ability, but would rather not use it, are profoundly evil (just like a bird that struggles to mutilate its own wings or a fish that would rather not swim).

But, while your anger is justified, it's important to note how it affects your own pursuit of happiness.

 

Your life is your own to live; nobody else's.  Don't waste your limited time being angry about things that cannot be changed, for your OWN selfish sake- and this is where being able to identify evaders comes in handy.

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One surefire way of telling someone who can be reasoned with, from someone who can't, is to point out one of their own contradictions to them.

 

If someone who actually wants to know the truth realizes that they hold a contradiction, they'll make some attempt to resolve it.  They may not change much but they will realize that something is wrong, on some level, and needs to be fixed.

 

Anyone who acknowledges a blatant contradiction in their own thinking, and sees nothing wrong with that, is beyond all hope.

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Even though I am no longer religious, I think the saying "don't cast your pearls before swine" comes to mind. In other words, don't waste your time giving out valuable wisdom and knowledge to those who don't even have the capacity of understanding its value and would just stomp all over it. 

 

About the frustration of those who refuse to use their minds, I think it might be good to learn how to turn your frustration into laughing at their inability to engage their brains. When you figure out how to do that, let me know. I know the frustration. I often feel like I am trapped in a giant zoo cage run by apes, who keep themselves trapped in the cage as well, and who believe that all the other captives are just as ape-like as them, and that they collectively own the lives all all the captives. Other than wanting to say, "keep away from me, you damn, dirty apes," I don't know how else to manage with it other than laughing and staying away from the worst of them as best as I can.

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point out one of their own contradictions to them.

 

In order to point out contradiction you need to define the words being used. Peoples words are so often detached from anything except random concretes they have put together in their mind. But when you do this they think its pointless and are not interested. It's like the problem is concepts but no one wants to explore it because they do not get that is the problem or how it could have any practical benefit to their life.

 

I realized in *most* of my interactions with people the concepts used in conversation are so close to the perceptual level of awareness (food, drink, sex, exercise, talk) so no problems arise but as soon as people start whipping out terms they read in some new age book or start talking about anything somewhat abstract is when everything breaks down and they are not even communicating with me anymore. They think I'm being annoying by asking them to define what something means - because "people just know - your the only one who says you don't understand".

 

Another issue is that I myself am full of contradiction and words that I just copied like a parrot - I'm working on that now but it leaves me in a really crappy place knowing (at least now i'm *aware* of this) that I'm confused, full of badly formed concepts but that means I can hear everyone else too and can't do much about it.

Edited by LoBagola

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In order to point out contradiction you need to define the words being used.

Yes, you do.  It's an absolute necessity.

And most people will find the level of clarity and specificity required to be uncomfortable, at first.  It's very rare nowadays that anyone is ever asked to define their terms and, accordingly, people are accustomed to throwing concepts around without the slightest scrutiny.

 

But even there, there are ways to discover whether or not you're wasting your time.  An honest and rational person, no matter how profoundly misguided, will not be opposed to definitions.

They may find such a process to be unpleasantly tedious, they may have difficulty expressing themselves and the concepts they use may not even be definable (there is no possible way to define 'God' by any reference to reality)- but on some level, they will understand that it is necessary to do so.

 

Anyone who openly defies definitions and declares that their thoughts transcend words. . .

"people just know - your the only one who says you don't understand".

. . . Has no interest in discussing reality.

 

If someone gives you such a response consistently, it means that they want to use philosophy as a means of evasion.  Ignore them.  Whatever grandly fantastical constructs they invent, no refutation is necessary; it's all based on a specifically intentional ignorance.

 

Another issue is that I myself am full of contradiction and words that I just copied like a parrot - I'm working on that now but it leaves me in a really crappy place knowing (at least now i'm *aware* of this) that I'm confused, full of badly formed concepts but that means I can hear everyone else too and can't do much about it.

Don't beat yourself up about it.

 

We all have little fallacies and inconsistencies that we've picked up over the years; it's unavoidable when you grow up in an openly irrational culture.  Notice them, examine them and ultimately correct them- but don't blame yourself too much for them.

You can't be expected to correct the problems you aren't even aware of.  All you can do is fix the ones you ARE aware of- which is the difference between a rational or an irrational person.  :thumbsup:

 

And that's the upshot of this whole issue you've mentioned; all you can do for other people is make them aware of their own problems.  It's up to them to fix them- or not.

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There are two important things to remember. 

 

First, you do not control what others think and do but you do have control over what you think and do.  Yes, it can be frustrating and sometimes outrageous, and that is healthy since Objectivism acknowledges no dichotomy between mind (ideas) and body (emotions).  But you also can’t hold yourself accountable for the bad ideas or actions of others.  That is their cross to carry.  It’s hard to remember what we are deluged with it daily but it is true.  I’ve always suspected that is how religion or cults flourish because they offer “answers” to people who are intuitively aware of the nonsense but have not identified it.  The cult gives the verisimilitude of an answer. 

 

Second, most people who make “philosophic gaffs” are actually not dishonest on it.  Context, as always, is king.  We have an education system that is a joke, something I learned personally when I took some night classes and discovered what passed as critical thinking, so people are disarmed.  Worse, in a complex society we have to remember that no one is omniscient, it is impossible for anyone to know everything so specialization is a necessary if natural evolution.  The problem is that those who specialize in ideas are usually way off in the weeds playing with voodoo dolls metaphorically speaking so you’re “average” Joe is given crap from the specialists.  This was my point on the Krugman thread – The specialist is defending bad ideas and disarming those who trust him.  He knows better so he is the one morally bankrupt and worthy of the vitriol.    To realize this just translate it to another field – Say a car mechanic that tells you cars are evil and should be controlled by the National Safety Commission or that  break downs are healthy since they allow you to walk. 

 

When judging others it is important to remember all of that, it will make it easier for you and others as well. 

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There have been huge improvements and changes in my life after having taken an interest in philosophy (primarily from Objectivist sources). Many of which i'm unaware but also many I am aware of. In some cases I know philosophy has affected me in a particular aspect of my life but I can't work out the exact connections.

 

Take this, for example:

 

Note: I don't know or necessarily agree with any of Nietzsche's ideas. I just like particular quotes and parts of his prose... like this one.

 

I'm convinced that the reason I love this quote so much is the same reason why I'm described by my closest friends (all of whom are new) as being extremely courageous. I don't mean this in the physical danger sense - I am just able to do things which petrify them - and actually, it's the simplest and least dangerous things! For example, start a conversation at a cafe with someone who I find attractive, and other things that I would just consider cultivating integrity. To me it's become a no-brainer, to them it seems admirably crazy - BUT it has everything to do with the reason for liking this quote and it has a lot to do with enormous improvements I've made in my life all-over.

 

However, there are some downsides. They result in me being upset and cynical over a lot of conversations and things I hear every day. Of course I don't seek arguments or expression of this frustration where it's not warranted (where I am not 100% certain I understand can articulate well why it's wrong). 

 

For example --

Watching the news and hearing people demand education pisses me off, watching the news and hearing that an assault occurred and that it was cowardly because the women was old. My frustration is not at the anger directed at the attacker, but the emphasis on it being cowardly because she was old. In m mind that is as if to say it's okay if you hit someone else just not an old lady. The act is disgusting full stop. Why are we qualifying it?

hearing people say "everyone creates your own reality", we "borrow from the earth".. (here I cannot say I understand property rights but I know something isn't right because borrow is a concept depending on property rights, man and a whole bunch of other concepts so to say your "borrowing from the earth" just can't be right BUT I cannot fully explain and understand why yet...)

I went to a leadership course and the guy running the course kept repeating things like "don't try and understand - just GET", "I'm going to tell you things which will come out hard like a rock"  (he takes a rock and smashes the floor) and "you shall receive them as foam" he takes out foam and plays with it between his hand. Even in the context of the activity this made no sense.

 

 

I'm trying to introspect but it's often quite difficult for me to work out why I feel a certain way.

 

if I had to guess what is the reason these things frustrate me so much is that I feel impotent to act against it, to protect myself from it, to protect others from it. When I first read philosophy: why you need it? it was the most incredible thing for me. I started reading everything by Rand like a nut. It just made sense, it was filling some kind of void I wanted to fill. In some cases things in her writing really frustrated me (EDIT: I was agnostic but I really wanted a god to exist - I found it comforting) and I tried to refuse to believe it or just make it work with the rest of the ideas I liked - but I kept at it and eventually the things that pissed me off no longer pissed me off. Anyway, the point is, when I show someone else her writing I expect the same reaction but people don't seem to care at all - so I feel like nothing can be done.

 

I'm trying really hard to understand develop a complete and solid understanding (I keep re-reading the introductory section of OPAR and now begun reading ITOE before moving onto ethics) but it seems like a very difficult task and I don't know something about hearing this stuff above all the time drives me crazy in a bad way.

 

Do you know what I mean? Is my anger justified? Did anyone go through something like this?

Your situation is what I call Steven Mallory vs. Howard Roark.  Too much of Mallory's world view was concern with what others thought.  Hence, he tried to kill Toohey.  Roark, on the other hand, while aware that other people were different than himself, was not primarily focused on what they were concerned with.  Roark focused on his own happiness, his own goals, his own character.  That was what he controlled.  That's why his pain only went down to a certain point.  He knew that there was a part of his soul that other had no entrance to, that other's values had no effect on. 

 

Of course, in real life, the evil around us affects us greatly.  Sadness and anger is a natural result.  But we must remember that we are still responsible for our own achievements, our own goals, our own character.  We still live in a society where much is possible.   We cannot let the pain go too deep.  Our life is our own, and the good is to live it.  It is very important to understand the errors of other thinkers because society is a product of their thinking.  But an egoist does not live in or for others.  This would be true no matter how rational society was.  

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bluecherry
I think the frustration tends to be less about just a sense of an inability to stop the madness in general and more about that specifically there's this inability to stop the madness which is impinging upon you and your values. It wouldn't be a big deal if it didn't seem like they had so much capacity to inflict their wrongs on others. Working out how to minimize how much of an impact these things have on you and your values is something that needs to be worked out over time to make things more manageable and keep you from being driven up a wall.

 

 

 
My solution, thus far, has been to study philosophy (mainly epistemology) even harder and more intensely; as my thought processes improve I introspect and attempt to correct invalid subconsciously held premises.
 
nicky
But you should be justifying yourself not to them, but to yourself, to your own sense of value and purpose. So, do your goals justify you wasting energy being angry at people who are irrational?

 

Frequently no, they don't. The frustration mainly stems from a sense of hopelessness which I'm attempting to address through further philosophical study. I have found conviction in ideas potentially has profound and unexpectedly positive impacts on one's life. E.g. for me, no longer being unsure  / agnostic about "God" had enormously positive impacts in the most random areas in my life (they all turned out to be connected). So as I mentioned above, studying epistemology may actually help here too.

 

 
 
 

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