a list of idea-tools that I may/may not use depending on if they turn out to be useful or true
I THINK THEREFORE I AM. If the only certainty we have is that we have doubts and thoughts, then we have an obligation to think and doubt. In the 1998 film “The Truman Show” Truman’s world is entirely fake, but the one certainty that he does have is that he can think, doubt and make choices. He would rather live in the real messy world rather than neat devised one. He wants to see the evidence for himself. To experience reality and to make his own choices.
ALMOST EVERYTHING IS POSSIBLE, BUT ALMOST NOTHING IS ABSOLUTELY PROVABLE. We exist in the myriad layers of probability in between. Therefore we will make mistakes. (See Making Mistakes Is Part Of Being Alive).
HE CAN’T HEAR THE BELLS ON HIS HAT. One can either be ones own best friend, or one’s own worst enemy. Often we are both. Learning discernment, the blend of intuition and reasoning, is the mark of the sage. He who quietly listens to himself can hear when his hat sprouts bells. He who looks out for his foolishness avoids being the fool. The real fool is the one who can’t hear the bells on his hat.
OBEDIENCE IS A SIN. ‘I WAS ONLY FOLLOWING ORDERS.’ This is the excuse for not taking responsibility. For denying the fact that we do have a choice. Our doubt is our must surest certainty, so we have a moral responsibility to think. But obeying authority and not thinking that you have a choice leads to suffering incredibly quickly. Experiments have shown repeatedly that we will inflict pain on others when told to by an authority figure, and will even carry on doing it when the victim screams and another authority figure questions it. (LINK to be added to research) So often, and so sadly, doubt is suppressed for the sake of defending a group or a higher purpose, and what seems to you as such a small price has a heavy cost for others. And if “God/gods told you to do it” then it happens all the faster.
CO-OPERATION IS A VIRTUE. If obedience is a sin, then it is not disobedience that is a virtue for that is just a mirror image. It is co-operation that is a virtue. Co-operation is dialogue, inclusive of difference, involves the exchange of ideas and questioning, it is reflexive and responsive, it grows organically. (LINK to coop research.)
OBEDIENCE IS IRRESPONSIBLE It is giving up responsibility and placing it in the hands of another, or instincts, or passions, or ideas, or rules. It is failing to respond, failing to think, failing to decide. It is also off loading guilt on to someone else, and so there is less restraint to their acts. They say “I am just doing what is right.”, but there is no right or justice in it. This obedience can be used as a flag of convenience to conceal selfish acts either consciously or unconsciously. Blind obedience to authority and self wilfulness are in fact the same. The opposite is co-operation and consideration.
“THOSE WHO DO NOT QUESTION THEIR ACTS WILL ACT QUESTIONABLY.” (Source ?)
OBEDIENCE IS ABSOLUTE. CO-OPERATION IS PROVISIONAL. As the map is not the territory, so ideas are uncertain as they are not the things themselves, and so the truth is provisional, and questioning/doubting is a certainty/obligation then one cannot obey without question. Except in the rare case of an emergency situation where there is no time for discussion.
STRUCTURES THAT ENABLE VERSUS ‘LET’S NOT HAVE ANY RULES’. Some have said ‘Let’s not have any rules’ as if that would remove tyranny and power structures. But when power is implicit its abuse is more difficult to see. The explicit can be seen and debated, the implicit cannot. Attempted criticism of implicit rules gets seen as personal criticism and so it descends into personal argument. But rules or structures can enable as well as disable people, for without the rules of language, you could not be reading this.
INSTINCT, THINKING & DISCERNMENT. One way of dividing up the myriad activities of the mind is perhaps in to Instinct, Thinking and Discernment. Instinct is what first occurs to us, stimulating us to act (perhaps too quickly). Thinking is what comes a little later, causing us to pause (perhaps too long). Discernment or judgement implies action after both Instinct and Thinking have passed, and that a choice will be made now (even though it may need to be changed in the future). One could say then that Instinct is Reaction (unconscious thoughts), Thinking is Inaction (conscious/second thoughts) and that Discernment is Action (or perhaps super conscious/third thoughts?).
FIRST SIGHT & THIRD THOUGHTS. (An idea from Terry Pratchett’s “Wee Free Men” 2003) Second Sight shows people what they think ought to be there, ‘First Sight’ is the ability to see ‘What is really there’. Seeing and perceiving are different matters. ‘Second Thoughts’ are the ‘thoughts you think about the way you think’. ‘Third Thoughts’ are ‘the thoughts you think about the way you think about the way you think’.
ARE YOU EVER WRONG? We admit we are sometimes. We should remember this all of the time, and not just sometimes, as it could happen at anytime. To anyone. We are encouraged to find flaws in argument or position of others, and therefore extrapolate to everything they say as being considered false. But we do not apply the same criteria to ourselves. We know we make mistakes and have flaws (though we may not admit it) but still we continue to follow our own advice. Everyone says that the media is biased but still hold forth on subjects for which their only source is the media. No one likes to admit they make mistakes, or change their position, for this is seen as weakness, but it is actually a strength. Peer pressure, the need to belong and be accepted leads to apathy on change. We can want group approval more than personal growth.