Monday, December 10, 2007

Self Trust and Axiom One

This essay is about basic self-trust.

In modern society, things such as the post-modern 'everything is illusion' theory have gained currency. Similarly, ideas that this may all be a simulation in a computer or that we're really brains in vats a la Matrix are respectable.

They are all the most vile nonsense.

Not trusting yourself means not trusting the idea or the source of the idea not to trust yourself. Since your default is trusting yourself, you immediately revert. Then, you encounter the idea that you can't trust yourself, and then...

The idea is self-contradictory. If you believe it, it disproves itself. It explodes on contact with logic.

Notice how deep this idea is. What if you don't trust your judgement? Then you judge your judgement as worthless.

What if you think your opinions are baseless? Then your opinion is that your opinions are worthless.

What if you don't trust your emotions? What if you buy all the negative connotations usually associated with the word subjective?

This one is especially tragic. If emotions were like sight or hearing it would be bad enough. Your eyes are ears are, very obviously, responding directly to objective stimuli. Certainly, the experience of colour or music is subjective, but the direct objective correlation is undeniable.

It's no problem to say you can't see X-rays without a machine. That statement; I can negatively trust my eyes to see X-rays; doesn't mean you basically distrust your eyes, because you can clearly delineate their purpose.

Conversely, if you are actually seeing artifacts, actual hallucinations, it sucks. But at least you can check with someone to see if they see it too. You can make predictions, like "That car will crash into that little girl," and see if they're borne out.

But emotions don't obviously, directly, correlate with anything. And, as I hope I don't have to explain, we don't even suspect a purpose for our emotions, especially not one that doesn't invalidate the emotions. When you don't trust your emotions, you don't know if it's because you're colourblind or because you have schizophrenia.

And, for some arcane reason, if we don't trust some emotion, we all assume we have schizophrenia. We assume our emotions, the basis of our personality, are noise.

Once you've assumed your emotions are noise, you really are insane.

Uncertainty sounds very sterile. It isn't. Emotional uncertainty, self-doubt at the most basic level, is lethal poison.

Your emotions don't go away because you don't trust them. They don't become any less valid. However, you are now barred from acting upon them. When there's a problem, and there is, you won't be able to do anything about it. Even if you provisionally allow a particular emotion through your anti-trust filter, you won't be able to deal with it adequately because you'll always be looking for some objective proof that this one isn't a neurosis, or selfishness, or whatever.

There's none. Emotions are not objective.

"So," I can hear you asking, "what do I do when it seems like I'm angry for no apparently reason?"

"Well," I will answer, "What's happened is that you came up with a reason, but rejected it as clearly wrong. There are two possibilities. First, you aren't wrong. Second, you are.

"In the first possibility, you rejected the explanation for your anger, probably for social reasons. These socials reasons are crap and probably came from post-modernism. Realize that you're angry for a real reason, that your anger isn't the result of anger-pixies, that your anger is because someone has hurt you.

"Second, you were wrong. Now, emotions are not objective. But, they are causative reactions to objective phenomena. Therefore, there is some reason you are angry. You don't normally just get angry for no reason in an empty room, do you?

"The problem is that you don't know why you're angry. It's probably some reason much more complicated than you realized. Your job, now, is just to find that reason."

But, as I say, all this is an axiom of mine. While yes, I can tell nice stories about it, there's no way for me to tell which came first, the proof or the assumption.

And of course emotions aren't your only sense. There are plenty of others. You can trust them too; you have to. If you can't trust your senses, what exactly are you going to use to find what you can trust?

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