Musings

Sometimes, the right thing to do feels wrong or painful.  Knowing one’s self allows someone to understand when to leap into “suffering” or bask in “ecstasy…”

And how to transcend both and simply exist in balance.

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8 thoughts on “Musings

    • I’ve got a couple. I’ll offer the mundane, and then the extreme.

      -junk food companies purposefully engineer the molecular structures of their salts, sugars, and starches to release greater amounts of dopamine when their products are consumed. Someone who has been consuming junk food on a regular basis will initially feel it is “wrong” to transition to a healthier diet. For a few weeks, their mind and body will rebel against the switch.

      -when I am in a heated argument, I have often wished I could kill or attack the person I’m arguing with. In the past, I have often resorted to verbal abuse. The right thing to do—maintain my compassion, logically state my case, and remember that my cravings and desires are not necessarily the end-all be-all—feels wrong in the moment, yet I know it is the right thing to do.

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      • “right” and “wrong”, Kent, are moral words, restricted to moral considerations, not physical ones, therefore your body, whether dieting or “in a heated argument”, cannot feel wrong, it can feel uncomfortable, but not wrong, only your mind, or conscience, can do that, and even an itch there is a sign that you’re on the wrong track, right is when you are at peace with yourself – cheers, richibi

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      • Take this example, then: a soldier feels at peace with himself when he enlists, because he believes in his country and what he’s about to do. Then he has to run over children in order to move his convoy through an ambush, which feels wrong, but is ultimately right, because stopping for the children will get his platoon killed. Once you start adding complexity, ambiguity, and adversity to the scenario, it is less about what “the itch” is, or “when you are at peace with yourself,” and more about knowing yourself deeply enough to act in a way that brings you peace, and understanding events deeply enough to act correctly and learn from them, which apparently, according to psychologists more versed than I, brings someone peace. The practical mechanism is described as such: if you endure trauma, then figure out why it happened, what you should have done, and how to avoid it in the future, it translates into an evolutionary advantage, because now you can act in a more functional way in regards to a problem, and thus increase your survivability. Understanding causality is correlated with improved performance, as well as reconciliation with mental trauma, from what I understand. It is not simply about feeling an itch of wrongness or basking in peace, in my opinion.

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      • you present a harrowing predicament, Alcibiades, but for the sake of argument, let me play Socrates, and note that I sharpen my own philosophical pencil thus as much as you might – the situation is that which it is, however dire, but the children who are “run over” would not think what is done to them is right, right is in the eye of the beholder, again, which is to say, there is no eventual Right in agreement with anyone’s political bias, Right, I point out, is an inadmissible concept – but your idea of strategy, a moral and practical preparation against adverse events, the cultivation, ergo, of a conscience, is surely a wise investment towards any future action – the problem, however, of confronting two personally moral imperatives is not an easy one, even often tragic, therefore PTSD, for instance, let us pray that we are not often so confronted – cheers, richibi – psst: a television program, “In Treatment”, investigates the very dilemma you describe, Alex, a navy pilot, is beset with anguish after a wrenching turn in Iraq, you might want to check it out

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      • Gotcha. I agree with your assertion that “right and wrong” are in the eye of the beholder. But unless I’m perceiving things incorrectly, I believe you also implied that one can be guided by feelings of peace or an “itch” in the conscience. THAT is what I disagree with, and this disagreement formed the basis for my original assertion. Sometimes, what garners “peace” in the long-term is what feels horrendously discordant in the moment, which was the crux of my original assertion and my follow-on arguments. I feel that those who claim to be guided purely by feelings (not to say that feelings aren’t valuable, I am partially guided by them myself, but “purely” is an entirely different thing) are reductionist and arrogant, in that they want a simple, unquestioned compass that is not only personally biased toward them (as the compass is their personal feelings which no one else can access as well as they can) but wipes out the need to verify their stance through external quality checks. The best leaders, once again, I believe operate from a stance of “I don’t know, let’s find out.” While feelings of peace or “conscience itches” may be valuable guides or indicators, I do not believe they are inarguable signs of correct perception. Much of conflict and strategy is based on deception—tricking your opponent into feeling at peace with themselves or uneasy with a course of action, so that you may take advantage of their skewed perspective and deny them advantages. So while we can argue the semantics of right and wrong, I still believe the core of my original assertion still stands: what is best for an individual in the long-term may feel morally injurious or contrary to the very fiber of their being in the short-term.

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