Missing Things

26 August 2010

I am a hypocrite.

Okay, okay, the title makes it seem almost as if I forgot everything that I wrote in my last lengthy tirade during the month that I mysteriously vanished. I am hypocritical. Happy now?

Maybe not. Allow me to elaborate. This isn't about how I vowed not to be one of the people who get a blog, update it a few times, and then leave it to rot - even though it feels like that's what I've been doing, technically that just makes me an oathbreaker. (Aaaaaand that makes me kind of depressed. But I'm back now, and as long as I keep coming up with unusual information that ought to affect the philosophies we live by, I'll keep coming back. Right. Moving on...)

Hypocrisy can be briefly summarized as the "do as I say, not as I do" principle. There is a weak use of the term that can be applied any time someone says one thing and ends up doing another - for someone to promote wearing seat-belts, but to be so absent-minded that he forgets to don one whenever he actually gets in a car, for instance, is certainly saying one thing but doing another, and by this general definition he is certainly a hypocrite.

This use, however, broadens the term to the extent that it encompasses any failure whatsoever - an athlete who says he will become an Olympian but does not perform to standards, an advocate of celibacy who nevertheless succumbs to lust, a pathological kleptomaniac who nonetheless acknowledges that theft is wrong. I would be hard-pressed to place such people in the same category as, say, Anthony Comstock*, who happily drove fifteen people to suicide in the name of the morals of the young and innocent. Human failures are ubiquitous (I think I shall make a proof of this in my next post); by so broadening the definition of the term until it is all-encompassing, we make it impossible to discuss.

* For the sake of fair hearing, the link refers to an article with a mixture of praise and criticism, and excellent depth.

So - rather than discrepancy between a person's claims and actions, let us talk of hypocrisy as the discrepancy between a person's claims and beliefs - not only saying one thing and doing another, but believing one thing and saying another. This must be considerably trickier to discern - how else are we to know what's going on in a person's head unless he says?

"Out of the abundance of the heart..."

Oh, even better: "By their fruits you shall know them." I think the usual way this verse is expressed (it's Matthew 7:16-17, by the way) can lead us to miss something key. "A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit." Think about it. I don't know how it reads in the original Greek, but simply with regards to the agricultural analogy it seems it would be more accurate to say "A good tree is one that produces good fruit, and a bad tree is one that produces bad fruit." It agrees more with verse 16, too. Anyway, main point - regardless of what someone says, their actions will demonstrate where their true thoughts are.

And this - this is central.

I say I believe in free will. Very strongly (both the saying and the believing). Because it is inconceivable to me on the one hand that the thinking, perceiving, core that is me inside my head is just so much exhaust from the overcomplicated engine of my body that I can't in any way rely on what it tells me about the universe (as I conclude from various atheists), and simultaneously on the other hand that, awesome as it would be, a cosmos-sized Robinson/Goldberg machine is better suited than irreplicable free wills to glorify God (as I understand certain predeterminists).*

* I can build a Robinson/Goldberg machine - actually, I have built one. Building a cosmos-sized one would just require a cosmos-sized me, maybe not even that. Omnipotent God is infinitely more creative than a cosmos-sized me.

On the action end of thing... I have issues. I'd prefer not to elaborate, thanks very much, but suffice to say they are mainly psychological and neurological in nature, and I've made myself serious impediments to quite a lot of basic life, since graduation. I take medication, and it helps, to a noticeable extent, but quite a lot of it is simply bad habits. (Where did the good habits I used to have go? Excellent question. No idea.) And what I've done as regards this matter is... well, let's say that if we were to categorize my failures in terms of the cardinal sins, Sloth would be at the top of the list. And, this is the key part, basically all of my attempts to deal with these problems have involved modifications to my environment - working in a more conducive location, taking instructions from different people, spending less time on the computer, increasing my medication beyond its effectiveness, et cetera.

Since when is psychological behaviorism compatible with free will

(Notice my clever use of an interrobang there? I can't believe I finally remembered to do that!)

I feel like I'm going out of my way to validate the idea that the cognitive mind has little to no effect on the physical engine, which is not what I had in mind when I sought out this post.

I'm going to go disturb the universe now, 'kay? Back in a minute.


  1. When I was a freewiller, I attributed a trait to people's souls only existed to solve that problem. It kinda bothered me at the time, since it didn't make sense. I've heard others who believe in the same thing, though.

  2. Hrrrm... I'm having a hard time parsing your first sentence there. Would you mind clarifying?


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