Thursday, July 24, 2014

Love (Kamran K; Post 2 of 3): Choice...Self/Deception or Self-Knowledge on the Path to Self-Love.

"No one is willing to tell falsehoods to the most important part of himself about the most important things, but of all places he is afraid to have falsehood be false to one's soul about the things that are, to be ignorant and to have and hold falsehoold there, is what everyone would least of all accept...." Plato, Republic

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Practical Wisdom (Literature, Part 6; Kerouac, On the Road): Reality UNDT Fantasy.


1. "You saw that in the way he stood bobbing his head, always looking down, nodding, like a young boxer to instructions, to make you think he was listening to every word, throwing in a thousand 'yeses' and 'that's rights." Kerouac, On The Road

2. "But, outside of being a sweet little girl, she was awfully dumb and capable of doing horrible things." Kerouac, On The Road

3. "So, now in this exact minute, I must dress, put on my pants, go back to life, that is to outside life, streets and what not..." Kerouac, On The Road

4. "but Dean just raced in society, eager for bread and love; he didn't care one way or the other, 'so long's I can get that lil ole gal with that lil sumpin down there tween her legs, boy' and 'so long's we can eat, son, y'ear me? I'm hungry, I'm starving, let's eat right now!" and off we'd rush to eat..." Kerouac, On The Road

5. "and I'll tell you why...No, listen, I'll tell you why.' And he told her why, and of course it made no sense." Kerouac, On the Road

6. "and the general weary recapitulation of who had a baby, who got a new house, and so on..." Kerouac, On the Road


1. "I ate apple pie and ice cream- it was getting better as I got deeper into Iowa, the pie bigger, the ice cream richer. There were the most beautiful bevies of girls everywhere I looked in Des Moines that afternoon-...I looked forward to all of them with joy and anticipation. So I rushed past the pretty girls, and the prettiest girls in the world live in Des Moines." Kerouac, On The Road

2. "Carlo and I went through rickety streets in the Denver night. The air was soft, the stars so fine, the promise of every cobbled alley so great, that I thought I was in a dream." Kerouac, On The Road

3. "We zoomed through Richmond, Washington, Baltimore and up to Philadelphia on a winding country road and talked. 'I want to marry a girl' I told them 'so I can rest my soul with her till we both get old." Kerouac, On the Road

4. "He ran and found Marylou in a hotel. They had ten hours of wild lovemaking." Kerouac, On the Road

5. "Guitars tinkled. Terry and I gazed at the stars together and kissed. 'Manana' she said. 'Everything'll be all right tomorrow, don't you think, Sal-honey, man?' 'Sure, baby, manana.' It was always manana. For the next week that was all I heard- manana, a lovely word and one that probably means heaven." Kerouac, On the Road

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Happiness (Kamran K; Post 3 of 3): On the ROAD to Unhappiness.

"Then don't you think that, if he's laboring in vain, he'd inevitably come to hate both himself and that activity in the end? Of course." Plato, Republic

"Such individuals are characterized by a grandiose sense of self-importance, fantasies of unlimited success, a constant need for attention and admiration, overreaction or complete indifference to criticism or defeat, feelings of entitlement, exploitativeness, and a lack of empathy." David M. Berger, Clinical Empathy 

(1) Human perfection and GOOD are our ultimate ends: "We can take this trip and this path from the hell of misconduct, misgivings and doubts to the paradise of good deeds, good thoughts, good behaviors and good conduct." (Supreme Leader of the Revolution, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, 2014). Still, one still would prefer to be happy rather than miserable while engaged in these twin pursuits.

(2) Most people do not stably reside within happiness. At best, most people convince themselves they are happy because "to be unhappy" is automatically regarded as a cardinal sin and/or mental health issue today. People convince themselves they are happy by resorting to various "at least I'm not" thought trains. At least I'm not broke, unemployed, disabled, ugly, old, entrapped within a nation experiencing civil war, etc. so I guess I should be happy. Happiness is much much more difficult to stably attain than most ever imagine. Still, we can profit by examining the character of a person that is not well suited for happiness.

(3) Such miserably unhappy persons can at least make us aware of strategies very unlikely to stably produce happiness. In relative order of importance, the character traits of a persons not well suited for happiness include:
  • Tendency to ferociously pursue an activity or fixate on a goal without first understanding why that activity or goal is so valuable for oneself in the first place. We rank this as the number one character trait cause of human unhappiness everywhere at all times in all places. If you decide to fixate or ferociously pursue wealth or physical beauty or political power or reputation or marriage or an Ivy League Degree or even a career as a doctor, lawyer, or professor and so on WITHOUT thoroughly understanding the GOODness of such things for someone in your particular position, then you are almost certainly ensuring you will be miserably unhappy for decades. If you fixate on these things you are bound to exaggerate the VERY limited benefits these things provide and totally ignore the huge sacrifices required to get these limited benefits in the first place. 
  • Tendency to repeat behaviors that you KNOW have NEVER brought you any non-trivial happiness in the past: "The worst enemy is our inner enemy and our self-indulgent, lazy, and hedonistic self." (Supreme Leader of the Revolution, Ayatollah Ali Khamanei, 2014) This is so basic of a proposition further commentary is not required.Its obvious logical truth does not mean this is not a spectacularly common phenomenon in human behavior. 
  • Tendency to play various games of self-deception where you convince yourself that you are far better at some activity than you actually are: "And save me from drowsiness, laziness, exhaustion, carelessness, inflexibility, ignorance and deception." (Iqbal al-A'mal) Most people are non-competent at most activities but somehow convince themselves that they are good to great at most everything they do. If you are prone to this tendency (and it is VERY likely you are), you are better off returning to square one and assuming you don't know how to do anything very well at all. For the first time in your life, you will then experience a moment of genuine self-honesty and self-knowledge from which you can then determine what, if anything, you are actually good or great at.
  • Tendency to view nearly everything that happens as part of some conspiracy or plot to ensure you will not succeed at whatever you are doing.   
  • Closely related is the tendency to believe the world or other persons "owe you" something because you are somehow "special." Unless you are Eminem or Babe Ruth or Aristotle or Messi or Chekhov or someone on that level you aren't that special or special at all. What is feeding the illusion that you are special is usually some grossly perverted self-deceptive illusion containing not one iota of reality.

Love (Kamran K; Post 1 of 3): Well Suited for Individual and Well Suited for Couples Happiness...

"true virtue is nothing else but living in accordance with reason; while infirmity is nothing else but man's allowing himself to be led by things which are external to himself, and to be by them determined to act in a manner demanded by the general disposition of things rather than by his own nature considered solely in itself." Spinoza, Ethica

"But they want to be rid of life; what care they if they bind others still faster with their chains and gifts!-" Nietzsche, Zarathustra

(1) Love is a totally miserable reality for most persons: (a) "We call a thing bad when it is the cause of pain, that is when it diminishes or checks our power of action." (Spinoza, Ethica) & (b) "Here there is no human connection...There are debased rituals of connectedness and illusions of love explicitly constructed for the sake of getting sexual satisfaction....No relationships, but only a hermetically sealed isolation..." (Allan Bloom, 1993). Thusly, we must harness MIND to understand why all this misery is being produced so regularly: "whatsoever we endeavour in obedience to reason is nothing else but to understand." (Spinoza, Ethica) We attempt exegesis on this issue below...

(2) Human persons are either well suited for individual happiness, well suited for couples happiness, OR not well suited for happiness of any form whatsoever. That's it; there are no other categories "here."

(3) Persons that are well suited for individual happiness possess characters containing a mix of positive and negative traits. This is a very important point. Characters traits that we unquestionably view positively can make a person well suited for individual happiness and not well suited for couples happiness.

(4) Ordinarily, a person well suited for individual happiness will regularly display the following behaviors:
  • Impulsive.
  • Prone to narcissistic self-congratulation. 
  • Unable to compromise, wishing to always be in command, in charge.
  • Lacks sense of equality.
  • Difficulty maintaining commitments and promises. Always is ready with some new excuse for such failures.
  • Interrupts people constantly (this is a huge tell the person is not interested in understanding the views of others). Closely related, person exhibits only a superficial paper-thin understanding of the characters of other persons, even persons he/she has known for decades.
  • Changes ideas and values very often, from the most trivial of things to things far more substantial.
  • Financial moocher.
  • Prone to sustained bouts of anger without an appreciation of the damage such tantrums inflict on human relationships. Anger tantrums cause the destruction of trust, admiration, and empathy, often irreversibly.
  • Doesn't experience loneliness often and, when experienced, quickly finds a cure for it.
  • Difficulty maintaining quality friendships.
  • Values his or her freedom very highly. Objects to even minor limitations on his/her freedom. Only wishes to part with freedom in exchange for something he/she certainly knows will improve his/her life within reality on a continuous basis. 
(5) Ordinarily, a person well suited for couples happiness will regularly display the following behaviors:
  • Bothered by inequality of responsibility, duties in relationship and eager to correct such inequalities.
  • Experiences loneliness often.
  • Admits fault readily when presented with facts clearly showing person is in the wrong.
  • Views major decision primarily from perspective of the couples well being, not just individual well being. No sustained propensity to sacrifice couples well being for individual well being.
  • Ambitions are fairly moderate and again always pursued only to extent it doesn't compromise relationship.
  • Values cleanliness and organization.
  • Admires- and retains attraction toward- partner primarily for qualities of soul, and NOT qualities of physical appearance and sexual desire. ("To purify himself is still necessary for the freedman of the spirit. Much of the prison and the mould still remaineth in him..." Nietzsche, Zarathustra)
(6) Framed in this way, we IMMEDIATELY sense a problem. Long-standing dominant social trends and ideals assume all or nearly all persons are well suited for couples happiness and, on this basis, encourage ALL to pursue relationships, marriages, etc. Millions even billions of persons "follow in line" and thereby thoughtlessly pursue relationships lacking love, passion, beauty, excitement: (a) "Man, in so far as he is determined to a particular action because he has inadequate ideas, cannot be absolutely said to act in obedience to virtue..." (Spinoza, Ethica) & (b) "the comedy of the burgeoisie had been exhausted and become boring..." (Allan Bloom 1993) & (c) "The great enemy of the beautiful is the indifferent, the common, the nondescript, what we are not even able to notice....bad taste, is literally the lack of taste, haphazardness, the absence of style." (Nehamas, 2001).

But upon what basis is this assumption of well-suitedness for couples happiness made? WHO KNOWS. Upon what basis can we assume most people are well suited to live with someone else for 40 or 50 years? WHO KNOWS.

(7) Most people are not well suited for couples happiness. Most people are well suited for individual happiness or no happiness at all. It is very rare to find a person genuinely/stably possessing the traits listed above as distinguishing someone well-suited for couples happiness. It is plentiful to find persons possessing the traits listed above as distinguishing someone well-suited for individual happiness.

(8) So what is driving this huge and spectacular error, with most people believing they are well suited for couples happiness and thereby giving up and foresaking a very REAL happiness they could otherwise possess and are well-suited for? ("in proportion as a thing is in harmony with our nature, so it is more useful or better for us..." Spinoza, Ethica)

(9) Decades or centuries ago, it may have been necessary to be married or in a "serious relationship" before one could engage in many activities necessary for living a decent life. From getting a hotel room to getting hired at certain jobs and so on. BUT THOSE DAYS ARE HISTORY. Today, one can do literally anything anywhere ALONE, without regard to one's relationship status.

(10) The fear of being alone may drive this error: "Ye cannot endure it with yourselves, and do not love yourselves sufficiently...." (Nietzsche, Zarathustra) Some experience (privately, of course) a real panic that one is missing out on what friends/family are experiencing in their couples relationships: "We may add these these emotions show defective knowledge and an absence of power in the mind..." (Spinoza, Ethica) This panic is intensified the more one abhors or just doesn't know how to spend time by oneself, totally alone, with no distractions (sitting at home watching TV doesn't count as being alone. The TV distracts you from the difficult task of actually being alone). This last fear- the thought of being totally alone without any distractions- explains a lot of human behaviors. If there ever is any activity that at first blush seems pointless and dumb but lots of people are doing it (most of what goes on in a bar), it might be explained by the fear of being alone.

(11) Which is better, couples happiness or individual happiness? If dealing with a true case of couples happiness and a true case of individual happiness then it's a close call and by no means a "laugher" of a contest. We give a slight edge to couples happiness because of the extra credit added benefit of sharing experiences with another human being, reflecting commenting and laughing about them with another, having a sustained life narrative with another person: "Love is the attempt to form a friendship inspired by beauty." (Cicero) These are all supremely GOOD things.

The GOOD (Philosophy, Part 1; Allen W. Wood, Kant's Ethical Thought): Potential Candidates and Non-Candidates for the GOOD.

Work Cited: Allen W. Wood, Kant's Ethical Thought

"A good word, a good action and a pure deed prevails. It will grow roots, it will become strong and it will yield fruits." Supreme Leader of the Revolution, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (2014)

"all men suppose what is called Wisdom to deal with the first causes and the principle of things..." Aristotle, Metaphysics

"Or do you think that it is any advantage to have every kind of possession without the good of it? Or to know everything except the good, thereby knowing nothing fine or good? No, by god, I don't." Plato, Republic

"Kant's Enlightenment view is that the principle of morality is an idea each of us possesses in our reason. This idea starkly opposes much of the human conduct around us including...the habits, feelings, and perceptions that have been trained into us." Allen W. Wood, 1999

"Our good is the fullest development and active use, in a normal mature life, of what is most essential to our natures as human beings...our good, too, is not a matter of having our desires satisfied, but of functioning in some way that expresses our developed natural life-capacities...the first and essential part of our good consists in how the rational aspects of our souls are structured and disposed, and what in consequence of that we desire and feel about ourselves, about other persons, and about all manner of things, and what we undertake to do as a default of desiring and feeling that way." John M. Cooper, Reason, Virtue, and Moral Value

"Rational creatures, however, are different from other living things, whose predispositions determine them through instinct to a single determinate mode of life. Reason is the capacity to set one's own ends and to choose or even invent means to them, making possible a self-devised mode of life, which can be taken over and further modified by other beings of the same species. The natural predispositions of other animals- to find food, escape predators, construct dwellings, and so forth- are fully exhibited within the lifetime of a single normal specimen..." Allen W. Wood, 1999

(1) We remain fixated, obssessed, mesmerized, and totally riveted with an articulation of the GOOD: (a) "Everything it will give YOU, if YE worship it, the new idol..." (Nietzsche, Zarathustra) & (b) "Once they've seen the good itself, they must each in turn put the city, its citizens, and themselves in order, using it as their model." (Plato, Republic) & (c) "all of the ancient philosophers pursued the study of moral philosophy as part of a first-order practical, moral quest...They and their audiences wanted to make themselves better, and to improve their lives, through coming to as full an understanding as possible of what really matters in a human life, and why it matters." (John M. Cooper) & (d) "the cause of all goods is the good itself." (Aristotle, Metaphysics)

Our study of the GOOD has examined both potential meritorious GOOD candidates and some very obvious non-candidates. We've LEARNED how non-candidates are those objects of competition among human beings and other repetitive behaviors/fixations that overwhelmingly characterize the behavior of most persons most of the time. How can we characterize the sexual fetishization of another human being as GOOD? (a) ("The inclination a man has for a female is not directed to her as to a human being; rather, for the man the humanity of the female is indifferent and only her sex is the object of his inclination." (Immanuel Kant)) & (b) ("Sexual inclination is not directed at the whole person, but only at the pleasure the person's sexual organs afford" (Allen Wood)) How can we characterize a market-driven conspicuous-consumption based society as GOOD? ("Civilization gave rise to new and subtler forms of competition, rivalry, and domination, involving vanity, envy, malice, and deceit") (Allen Wood) How can we characterize as GOOD the behavior of so many persons that plod through life like POLITE auto-pilot morons, doing and saying the same POLITE (i.e. trite) things over and over, year after year after year: "no one would attribute an intention to lifeless matter." (Immanuel Kant) How can we characterize the tendency of nearly all persons to MISrepresent their life as far better than it actually is (through an endless parade of lies, self-deception, carefully staged photographs, and selective disclosure of merely positive developments in one's life) as GOOD? (a) ("human beings have a strong tendency to conceal and disguise the truth about themselves") (Allen Wood) & (b) "the more educated the human being is, the more he dissembles and the less he wants to be found out" (Immanuel Kant) & (c) "and when ye have misled him to think well of you, ye also think well of yourselves." (Nietzsche, Zarathustra) How can we characterize as GOOD the dominant trite and empty ideology today that endlessly reminds us to be "open" to "difference" and "new experiences" and "live life to the fullest" because "you only live once"? (a) ("this conception of perfection is too indeterminate and empty to provide a determinate account of moral obligation") (Allen Wood) & (b) "part of what passes for such knowledge at any given time is really pernicious prejudice, which it is the task of enlightenment to remove" (Allen Wood)

Because we don't "gotta be false or sugar coat it at all" (Eminem, The Real Slim Shady) we absolutely will NOT characterize the above behaviors as GOOD. These behaviors reflect a worldview that is contemptible: "Man is only a belly, concerned with self-preservation, and there are no grounds for caring for others..." (Allan Bloom 1993) While most of these behaviors are neither totally bad nor criminal, they are not within a country mile of the GOOD. With respect to human reality, therefore, one can rest confident in the assumption that most human behavior most of the time is NOWHERE near the zone of the GOOD: "Nothing is more reprehensible than to derive the laws about what I ought to do from what is done, or to limit it to that." (Immanuel Kant) This is particularly true in those pathetic "sorry-ass" societies where the ends of life are money, material comfort, and financial security:

the maxim of trying to become wealthier than others is in violation of the moral law. I tentatively conclude that FRE is violated by the kinds of competitive behavior to which most wealthy, honored, and successful people devote most of their lives.
(Allen Wood 1999) 

It is a propensity of human nature to show disrespect for the human dignity of humanity not because we altogether fail to value it but because we tend to place things of lesser value ahead of it, treating rational nature (which is an end in itself) as a mere means to these merely conditioned goods.
(Allen Wood 1999)

disposing of oneself as a mere means to some discretionary end is debasing humanity in one's person
(Allen Wood 1999)

(2) The GOOD lies somewhere else than in the behavior of most people most of the time, even the behavior of most highly-educated "professional" people most of the time: "And knowing the things that they know, are they ignorant or wise? Wise, surely, in just these things: in deception." (Plato, Lesser Hippias) Plato believed the GOOD was a form of non-sensory knowledge and was the most supreme thing for a human being to achieve: "whenever someone tries through argument and apart from all sense perceptions to find the being itself of each thing and doesn't give up until he grasps the good itself with understanding itself, he reaches the end of the intelligible." (Plato, Republic)

But while this may be true, it's not informative as to what the GOOD is and how we can obtain it. SO WHERE IS THE GOOD? WHAT IS IT? IS IT A REALITY? HOW GOOD IS IT? HOW CAN WE GET AND HOLD ONTO IT? These questions begin our 47 part series on the GOOD: "My rap style's warped." (Eminem, Role Model)

(3) Any account of the GOOD must emphasize human freedom and the MIND's ability to harness that freedom to get us out of some very terrible situations: (a) "Reason knows no bounds to its means of experiments, practice, and instruction it progresses from one stage of insight to the next." (Immanuel Kant) & (b) "Autonomy is therefore the ground of the dignity of human nature and of every rational nature" (Immanuel Kant) No matter how horrific the reality one finds oneself trapped within, MIND can usually figure a way out if one focuses on the issue long enough. Sometimes, the only solution is to have nothing whatsoever to do with this reality going forward because, however the individual circumstances may shake out, one knows nothing GOOD will result from it.

(4) The GOOD could be a form of soul-turning knowledge of how one can live FAR better than one ever has: "And we say that anything has that tendency if it compels the soul to turn itself around towards the region in which lies the happiest of the things that are, the one the soul must see at any cost." (Plato, Republic) Such knowledge would allow us to use, incorporate, and transform those things that are already in our possession to facilitate a FAR better life. Thus, without obtaining possession of any other thing, the GOOD could immediately allow us to live FAR better than we ever had. It is difficult to imagine any thing that could be better than this.

(5) The GOOD can be imagined to be the successful acing of a FINAL test for each person. Though the test would be different for each person (as the test would involve the overcoming of specific challenges one faces as a specific life unfolds) the passing of such a FINAL test would deliver similarly high feelings of self-respect, achievement, and self-worth grounded in the overcoming of the most supreme FINAL test there is. Unlike most of the tests we impose on youngsters today- tests in which youngsters are forced to spit out gibberish regarding matters that will have nothing to do with their lives, things like protons, electrons, and the mean density of helium atoms- this test would be a daily one and "grade" how well one regularly handles the variety of situations and circumstances that result in the course of a life lived within human reality.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Practical Wisdom (Kamran K; Post 1 of 3): Mapping HIDDEN benefits and consequences with Dispreferred and Preferred Activities, Behaviors, and Decisions.

"in a world where all is fleeting, change alone endures. He is a prudent man who is not only undeceived by apparent stability, but is able to forecast the lines upon which movement will take place." Schopenhauer, Counsels

"In their search for gold, the alchemists discovered other things- gunpowder, china, medicines, the laws of nature. There is a sense in which we are all alchemists." Schopenahuer, Counsels

(1) We hear everyone everywhere voicing the vague platitude that LIFE- and particularly the decisions propelling its continued "movement"- are "hard," "ambiguous," "complex," filled with "grey areas." Is any of this true? YES. Why? The short answer: hidden benefits and negative consequences.

(2) With respect to almost any DISpreferred human activity, behavior, or decision, there are one or more HIDDEN benefits that we don't immediately "see." (the murder or rape of another human being generates zero benefits and are rare exceptions to this rule) Though "hidden," these are real benefits that would flow our way if we acted accordingly but we don't act this way/get the benefits because we either (a) don't see these benefits at all or (b) don't appreciate them as benefits when they rightly SHOULD be viewed as benefits. Having said this, the HIDDEN benefits may be trivial and ignored without consequence to one's pursuit of the GOOD.

(3) Similarly, when we consider any PREferred human activity, behavior, or decision, there are usually one or more HIDDEN negative consequences we don't immediately recognize or suffer but ultimately must "deal" with. Having said this, the HIDDEN negative consequences may be trivial and ignored without consequence to one's pursuit of the GOOD: "A man should [ignore] the small troubles of every day- those little differences we have with our fellow-men, insignificant disputes, unbecoming conduct in other people, petty gossip, and many other similar annoyances of life; he should not feel them at all, much less take them to heart and brood over them, but hold them at arm's length and push them out of his way..." (Schopenhauer, Counsels)

(4) Thusly, although almost all human activities, behaviors, and decisions involve a mix of benefits and negative consequences, we almost always act as though this were not so. We act as though (a) our preferred activities behaviors, or decisions are either ONLY filled with benefits and (b) our dispreferred or non-chosen activities, behaviors, or decisions are only filled with "risks" and likely negative consequences: "men are subjective towards themselves and objective towards all others, terribly objective sometimes- but the real task is in fact to be objective toward oneself and subjective toward all others." (Kierkegaard, Journals) These errors are predictable, childish in their refusal to recognize LIFE's complexity, and can be reduced if one recognizes the recurring situations in which they occur.

(5) When we are strongly, eagerly, joyously drawn to any activity, behavior, or decision, the likelihood that we are missing one or more HIDDEN negative consequences is CLEAR BLUE SKY-HIGH. The CLEAR BLUE SKY-HIGH enthusiasm and attraction we experience for the activity usually totally overwhelms MIND's capacity to gather and assess the required information that would permit BOTH the identification of negative consequences involved in the activity, behavior, or decision and an evaluation of their significance/triviality.

Examples may be quickly collected to prove this reality:
  • The aspiring cyclist doesn't factor into his calculations the risk of catastrophic injury from a crash nor does he bother to consider whether he may develop skin cancer from being outside for 3-5 hours/day for many years. He cycles away to his merry heart's desire!
  • The aspiring doctor or lawyer doesn't factor into his/her calculations the SEVERE limitations placed on his/her future freedom from the debt incurred throughout a very lengthy education. No thought whatsoever is given to the scenario that one would finish the education loaded with debt and then discover that one is either not very good at the chosen profession or may-just may- NOT care to do it all the time year after year after year after year after year after year after year after year...(8 years if you are counting).
  • Newlyweds give no thought whatsoever to the likelihood of their being able to tolerate imperfections in the other person's character- demonstrated on a daily basis- over 20, 30, or 40 years of life. 
  • The aspiring social media butterfly ignores the risk that some of his/her public statements may be used against him/her later in life in employment decisions, political races, social clubs, etc.
  • The extrovert ignores the development of substantial inner personality, fortitude, and conviction he/she could gain by spending a few days or weeks alone, freed from the pressure of constant social performance and connection which, in turn, is usually an ill-conceived attempt to defeat boredom or inner demons one has yet to grapple with: "it is not alone the charm of being in others' company that people seek, it is the dreary oppression of being alone- the monotony of their own consciousness that they would avoid. They will do anything to escape it- even tolerate bad companions..." (Schopenhauer, Counsels) So, too, the extrovert gains time and space to reflect on the QUALITY of his/her social "connections" and determine whether these connections are worth a damn thing: (a) "It is really a very risk, nay, a fatal thing, to be sociable; because it means contact with natures, the great majority of which are bad morally, and dull or perverse intellectually." & (b) "What pleasure could they find in the company of people with whom their only common ground is just what is lowest and least noble in their own nature- the part of them that is commonplace, trivial and vulgar?" & (c) "He prefers solitude more and more and, in course of times, comes to see that...the world offers no choice beyond solitude on one side and vulgarity on the other." & (d) "From long experience of men, we cease to expect much of them; we find that, on the whole, people do not gain by a nearer acquaintance; and that-apart from a few rare and fortunate exceptions- we have come across none but defective species of human nature which it is advisable to leave in peace." (Schopenhauer, Counsels)
  • The aspiring entrepreneur who believes he will make millions/billions does not consider the regular, steady, and dependable income he foregoes from run-of-the mill corporate jobs. 
(6) When we are turned "off" to any particular human activity, behavior, or decision, we normally STRICTLY focus on the negative consequences and totally ignore any potential benefits.

Examples may be quickly collected to prove this reality:
  • We justify our decision to avoid eating fruits and vegetables by fixating on the perceived bland taste of these things. We totally ignore the health benefits of these foods and the possibility that some of them may not have such a bland taste after all.
  • We justify our decision NOT to exercise and get physically fit by fixating on the pain, boredom, and discomfort associated with the activities required to "get fit." We totally ignore the possibility that some physical activities may not involve much pain or discomfort or boredom at all and may be inherently pleasurable if structured correctly.
  • We justify our decision to remain single and alone by fixating on the many complications, burdens, duties, and horrors involved in romantic coupling relationships. We ignore the benefits these relationships may offer IF they are healthy, robust, reliable, and mature (a one-in-a-million longshot but hey, hey, hey!).
  • We justify our decision to avoid psychotherapy by invoking the cost of treatment, the emotional trauma it could resurrect, the potential incompetence of the therapist, the potential for non-cure, our apparent "sanity" and "normalness," and the "unmanliness" of not being able to "deal with our own personal problems." We ignore the possibility of a life-transformative relationship with a supremely gifted therapist that will unlock and unleash the very best within us and bury the very worst.
(7) A mature person pursuing the GOOD will not act in the above ways: "And who are the true philosophers? Those who love the sight of truth." (Plato, Republic). He will, of course, recognize that his pursuit of the GOOD must occur within reality and that this requires him to have preferred activities, behaviors, decisions, and approaches to handling things. He will, of course, pursue the GOOD earnestly and with total commitment because he actually wants to attain the GOOD (and not merely think or imagine attaining it). But he will also spend some time considering whether he has totally missed (and must now factor into his decision-making calculus) potential negative consequences associated with his preferences and potential positive benefits associated with his DISpreferences. He will conduct this "review" frequently and with total sincerity and honesty so that this tremendously important mental exercise remains helpful and not just a mere formality: "if, before this misfortune comes, we have quietly thought over it as something which may or may not happen, the whole of its extent and range is known to us, and we can, at least, determine how far it will affect us; so that, if it really arrives, it does not depress us unduly- its weight is not felt to be greater than it actually is." (Schopenhauer, Counsels)

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Self-Creation (Kamran K; Post 2 of 3): DECADES of Self-Creation.

"The majority of men...begin by hoping, or as they say, believing that things will go better, that God will make things all right etc. and then at length, when no change occurs, they come little by little to rely upon the help of eternity..."
Kierkegaard, Journals

"Life itself has no value, but the life of an individual...has as great a value as that individual can give it...Some lives are mean or horrible, others magnificent. Life's value depends on what one makes of it, and this is a further sense in which Nietzsche believes that value is created and not discovered." Nehamas, Life as Literature

"To draw from experience all the instruction it contains, it is requisite to be constantly thinking back- to make a kind of recapitulation of what we have done, of our impressions and sensations, to compare our former with our present judgments- what we set before us and struggle to achieve, with the actual result and satisfaction we have obtained." Schopenhauer, Counsels

"The main thing is that one's mind become aware of a need and a gap and then one makes an effort to fill this gap and meet this need." Supreme Leader of the Revolution, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (2014)