This is an Interesting article, which will surely not be everyone’s cup of tea.
For anyone not bothered to spend time enlightening his- or herself, I’ll provide a few highlights from the piece.
…according to neuroscientists, there is no single place in the brain that generates a self. According to psychologists, there is no little commander-in-chief in our heads directing our behaviour…
Self is…an ever-shifting bundle of thoughts, feelings and memories.
…each of us has a “remembering self,” which makes decisions, and an “experiencing self,” which actually does the living…
The basic question about the self is: what, in essence, am I? Is my identity rooted in something physical (my body/brain) or something psychological (my memories/personality)? Normally, physical and mental go together, so we are not compelled to think of ourselves as primarily one or the other.
…genes and environment conspire to make each of us idiosyncratically singular…
None of this seems to be rocket science, physics, or advance mathematics, rather common sense and reasonable reasoning. As someone said, I am, therefore I think…or was I think, therefore I am. Either way, he (or she) is correct.
Someone famous is supposed to have uttered “I think, therefore I am”. A corollary might be “I think, therefore I am right”, which would explain why so many stupid people feel that having an opinion makes them smart.
The human brain is able to rationalise any action. This gives proof to the fact that there is no right or wrong (despite many folks’ misconception). Each “right” or “wrong” is defined by a human and given weight by law or custom or force of will. Perhaps, this explains lying, which is a form of rationalisation. Or a defence mechanism. How can someone be wrong, if he or she believe something different?
Politicians and religious fanatics are so convinced if the rightness of what they spout, because that is so human. They is, so they is right…
Just like I am right about what I just wrote! Anyone can disagree, but that does not make me any less correct in my thinking. Isn't that satisfying?
Today, upon scanning newspapers, I thought about differences of opinion. There sure is a whole bunch of this. Every day. Everywhere. Never ending. Wondering why, my mind recalled the one bit of philosophy that sticks in my mind: there is no right or wrong.
Because there are so many possible opinions about any one subject, people like to hang onto what they believe. From many, that’s easier than thinking and discovering. For them, this is “right”, because few have learned any philosophy.
Political leaders are able to exploit stupidity and varying opinions. They know that people will cling to beliefs, even in the face of facts. Belief is easier to harness than reality. This explains the lack of interest in climate change, no prosecution in war crimes, Fox News viewership, etc.
I know that there’s no right or wrong, but I still know what I want to believe...
I read the following bit in an article about the publishing industry:
Like the teenager I was and in some ways still am, I grouse about and make fun of what I have to do and the people who tell me I have to do it, even when those people are me. For all kinds of reasons, I simply have not grown all the way up. And never will. But then again, I know very few people who have. The best most of us can do is manage intermittent maturity; this was especially important in the raising of my children and in my work as editor-in-chief.
Pausing to consider the words, I realized that this is the best description of how I often feel/felt. During my working years, I did not feel that I was “grown up” enough to be in the position I occupied. I could not take things seriously enough or at least as seriously as many around me. Too many aspects of work life seemed like a game, not worth taking seriously. But, many around me took them seriously...often too seriously.
There is a saying, about being young once, but immature all your life. I have decided that, like many aspects of life, maturity is a loose concept defined by humans. Like right or wrong, this exists only in the mind’s eye of the beholder. People judge the maturity of others, as they define being right, based upon their own interpretations. Of course, we know that it’s easier to criticize, especially for religious hypocrites...
My conclusion is that, whenever possible, one must make choices in life that please oneself. Of course, one must do this in the context of society in which one must endure...or live with the consequences of doing the socially unacceptable.
I’m happy to be living at this point in human history. There was a time when a person like me was considered witless (some might think that now!) and another period would have seen me suffering from a disease.
I learned this in an article reviewing books books dealing with curiosity. Earlier, idle thought was frowned upon: one was supposed to read the bible. Also, wisdom was defined as common knowledge, not questioning or new having ideas.
I will continue to question, wonder, comment, and criticize. That's much more fun that reading some dumb old book of myths.
Some dodgy present-day philosopher might write:
I blog, therefore I am.
My take on the situation is as follows:
I blog, because I can.
There is no deeper meaning to what I do and no hidden philosophy. I have a healthy self-awareness. I stated the above on the IAQ (which could just as well be titled NAQ, for Never Asked Questions.) page of my fantastic website.
Then again, on second thought, perhaps I should write:
I can, therefore I am.
I am, therefore I can.
See, philosophy is easy. Any old fool can do it...
I read two articles, which covered the theme of human perception from different angles.
David Hume, in his brilliantly trenchant essay Of The Standard of Taste, who told us: “Beauty is no quality in things themselves: it exists merely in the mind which contemplates them; and each mind perceives a different beauty.” Hume wrote that in 1757.
He may have paraphrased John Locke, who claimed something similar in 1690, in An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, which is quoted in the following article( http://www.the-american-interest.com/article-bd.cfm?piece=1378)
"Sound is vibration, transmitted to our senses through the mechanism of the ear, and recognized as sound only at our nerve centers. The falling of the tree or any other disturbance will produce vibration of the air. If there be no ears to hear, there will be no sound."
Absent an observer, sound, per se, does not exist.
I alluded to this in my novel, Flying’s Easy, in which the main characters concluded that they could do whatever they wanted, as long as no one else knew. Morality, like sound, does not exist without an observer.
I have not read Nietzsche’s books, but have stumbled across many quotes attributed to the German philosopher. I agree with many of his thoughts (god is dead; morality is the herd instinct of the individual; religion is a world of pure fiction). For some strange reason, I recall the headmaster of my prep school blabbering in a Sunday sermon about the need to repudiate Nietzsche’s nihilism and having no idea about what or whom he preached.
In my latest foray into Europe: A History, I discovered the following sentence.
“In The Will to Power, Nietzsche called for ‘a declaration of war by higher men on the masses...The great majority of men have no right to existence.’”
This brought to mind on-going efforts in the United States to cut back on services to citizens of lesser means, lower taxes for the well-to-do, and make life miserable for “lesser” sorts. Have Republican strategists read Nietzsche? Do they hope that reduced medical care will result in weakening of and higher death rate for the masses?
All must have heard (more than once) the phrase: Life is not fair.
Well, I have figured out why this is true (the phrase, dummy, not hearing it). Even if many wiser folks have reached the same conclusion already, I have not heard it. So, I am proud of myself for discovering my own solution.
Some philosophers (Nietzsche, for one) are wont to claim that there is no such thing as right or wrong. Anything and everything is what any given mind makes of it at any given moment. The concept of right and wrong was surely developed in the distant human past, probably to control groups of people.
Following that line of thinking, fairness must also be a human conceit. (Although I recently read an article about animals treating other species fairly at water holes in Africa, something thirsty humans would not do!) It can be used in a group to control others and to explain some unwanted outcome, which can be explained in no understandable manner. Life is fair only for those able to make the rules…or change them for their own benefit.
Life is not fair: life is life. Take the bad with the good, because there is no reason for either. If you do not like something about your life, then you should attempt to change it. Nothing is perfect, so be satisfied with what you have.
Okay, that’s enough philosophical garbage (another human invention) for one day…
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.