Posts Tagged philosophy

Reassuring myself

I have some weird beliefs, part of a system of needy thought and behavior. I tend to need a fair amount of reassurance from those around me, and I gather it comes across as whiny. Let’s see if I can learn to reassure myself.

“I am good enough.”

“Being a little bit selfish is okay.”

“Believing I’m awesome doesn’t mean you’re not, and vice versa. We can both be awesome.”

“It’s okay to take pride in my skills and successes.”

“It doesn’t matter what people say; I already know I’m good enough.”

“I don’t have to be perfect.”

“I don’t have to be or do what people want. Being me will do.”

“One person’s disapproval need not shake my soul. Even if it’s a woman.”

But I have to say, those all ring a little hollow, where my weird beliefs feel right. We’ll see if I can fix myself, here.

Thanks to Gwen, Sam, Ruth, and Todd.

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My crazy beliefs

I recognize that these are crazy ideas, but somehow I believe them all, at least with a part of my mind.

“Good people are never proud.”

“Good people never show off (demonstrate their good qualities) or boast (talk about their good qualities).”

“Good people set aside all self-interest.”

“Good people are self-critical.”

“Good people are unfailingly diligent and hardworking.”

“Good people always do their best. Not just close to their best (that’s cheating), but their real best–they could not possibly have done better.”

“Good people are not controlled by their emotions.”

“Good people transcend their biological impulses.”

“Good people are good in all ways. Any failure is all failures.”

“Good people make no excuses. Being ‘merely human’ is an excuse.”

“Good people do not believe they deserve things.”

“Good people tolerate the failings of others, but not their own.”

“When in doubt, good people err on the side of caution with regards to these principles.”

Edit: I’d be happy to discuss these crazy ideas, but let’s not argue too much about whether I should hold them. I recognize that they’re subtly (and not so subtly) crazy.

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No worship-worthy god

I’m not religious because I can’t believe in a god worth worshiping. There are gods I could perhaps believe in, but either they don’t demand worship, or I wouldn’t give it.

For instance, there could be a creator god, who set the universe in motion and then stood aside. But that god doesn’t need my belief, and it wouldn’t answer my prayers.

I can’t believe in an omnipotent, omniscient, benevolent god. There’s too much god-preventable suffering in the world for that. I can understand a god letting people make their own choices, but dying of cystic fibrosis isn’t a choice anyone would make. A god that’s not benevolent doesn’t deserve my worship.

A god that’s not omnipotent or omniscient doesn’t really sound that god-like, either. It could still be superhuman, but is that really divine? Would you pray to a god that can’t hear everyone’s prayers, or can’t act on them? What’s the minimum line for worship? Being able to move a mountain? How about a small hill?

And for that matter, a god that demands worship is a dick. What sort of supreme being gets worked up about how people feel about it? I won’t worship anything with a self-esteem issue.

Similarly, a god that doesn’t inform us all of its existence is a dick. It’s rude, at the least, to make us guess which millennia-old religion is correct. A polite god would let us know, rather than asking us to trust written records that have been mangled over thousands of years.

A god that puts arbitrary restrictions on behavior is also a dick. “You have to do no work on this day, because I said so.” “You can’t marry that person.” “You have to worship me by saying these words while lighting these candles and eating these snacky-cakes.” “You can’t use birth control.” “Only pray facing east.” “Don’t eat shellfish.” “Religious authorities must remain chaste.”

So, am I missing something? Do you know of a god that’s kind and wise, one that has concealed its existence from me for some good reason?

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Confessions of a Body Fascist

I’m pretty sure that according to the feminists, I’m a body fascist. I want to find a woman who is not only intelligent and fun, but also attractive and fit. We’re taught that to do this is shallow. You wouldn’t judge a book by its cover, so don’t judge a woman by her appearance. Form is not function, and a person is not defined by the color of his skin, but by the contents of his heart.

But that’s not exactly true. If you believe that sex is important in a relationship, then it follows that sexual attraction matters, too. It’s not just, but that’s life. While it’s undeniable that inner beauty counts, outer beauty counts, too.

Then again, you don’t really have to grant all that. You could say that people are different from other things; you can love your dog for being fuzzy, your blanket for being soft, your house for its curb appeal, but you can’t look at people in the same way. People should be judged only by their inner qualities.

Or, you might go all the way and dismiss the whole physical world. Just as you wouldn’t determine what you think of someone by their appearance, you shouldn’t judge anything by its outside. Pain should be ignored, as should pleasure. We eat food for sustenance, not enjoyment. The fact that physical things manipulate our emotions is a problem that can be overcome with sufficient mental strength.

Frankly, I’ve tended to follow that latter case and deny the importance of physical events. Somehow it rings true. I am what I do, not what I seem. I feel disappointed that I care about appearances, and I’m sad to think of the people going unloved because they don’t look lovable enough. Still, down this path lies a philosophical trap. If the material world doesn’t matter, why should I care about art or music? After all, there’s no function there, only form–there’s no inner beauty to find, only outer beauty. In that view, dancing becomes foolish, for it is purely enjoyment of the physical. Somehow that seems wrong.

There’s a deeper trap, too, since ultimately we’re physical objects ourselves. Our natural reactions to certain stimuli may be arbitrary, but they’re nonetheless real. My emotions come from my experiences of my body–without sweaty palms and butterflies in my stomach, how would I know I was nervous? Without a pounding heart, how would I know I was excited? In the end, there is no pure spirit to fall in love with; the book is all cover. Trying to deny the importance of the physical element of our lives requires denying nearly all our emotions.

Similar problems afflict any attempt to ignore the beauty of possible mates. The appearance of your lover does change how you feel about them. If their skin is soft, if their eyes sparkle, if their sweat smells sweet, then that really does affect your interactions, and sad as it is to admit it, it matters. We’re only human, and these things affect us in a visceral way that we cannot out-think. Moreover, there is no way to rise above being merely human, because there is nothing else there. It might be noble to imagine ignoring all appearance, but it turns out that in our world, form is function, and you cannot just forget it.

So, yes, I want a woman who is not only a good person, but also makes me feel the little excitements of being human. It’s horribly unjust to all those people who, through no fault of their own, cannot do that, but nonetheless it remains true.

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