13 July 2019

Not all the ideas in your head are on your side

So there's this thread where Blair Braverman talks about how having multiple dogs to care for made "everybody's different" emotionally real.

Somewhere down in that thread, someone talks about how they are getting that their body is part of a diversity but it's still hard to think of it[0] as good.

Thing is, good is always and in all things and in all times and all places contextual.  (Got the job? you might think that's good, if you wanted that job; all the other applicants who need and don't have jobs likely don't think it's good.  Maybe you really wanted the job, but it's in the antipodes; your parents don't think this is good, they won't see you from one year to the next.  And so on.)

Someone trying to impose a context on you so they can say good or bad is not your friend.  An internalized axiom about what constitutes good or bad is not your friend.  The social system that insists there must be a good and there must be a bad absolutely is not your friend; it's a tool of control exercised by whomever gets to make up the definitions for good and bad.  (Because of the way people learn axioms, it's quite possible whoever that was is dead this long while and the world has changed.)

(You can try Zhuangzi if you want a philosophical pedigree for this.)

"Does this serve my present purposes?", "Is this annoying enough to alter?", "What purpose does this serve?", "Is this consistent with the Settled Peace?", "Is this consistent with (my understanding of) my duty?" (that is, will future-me find it easier or harder to like themselves if I do/don't do this?); those can be useful questions.

"Good" and "bad" are not useful questions.  They're a control mechanism, and when trained into it at a young age, you wind up controlling yourself on the basis of objectives maybe no one living still has.  And which are never yours of your own will.  It's a really effective and horridly persistent way to produce social power (directly) and material power (indirectly), but it isn't a system in which you are obliged to participate.  (It will try to hurt you until you agree that you do.  Highly likely it already has.)

There has to be a system; living together in groups creates necessity about having a social system.  It need not be one built on "good" and "bad" and the imposition of context.

[0] you are the meat; the notion of mind-body duality is not obviously helpful, either.


Zeborah said...

I've long felt that "good(/better/best)" and "bad(/worse/worst") are only useful as *transitive* adjectives, if I may coin a part of speech, requiring an indirect object introduced by the preposition "at" (or perhaps "for", though "at" phrases tend to be more specific in the mechanism so less prone to overgeneralisations like "vegetables are good for you"). Any Evil Villain may be good at chess, for example, while being bad at ensuring the long-term peace and prosperity of their kingdom.

Graydon said...

+Zeborah I really like the concept of "transitive adjective"!

"best at", "better at", etc is a habit I shall try to get into.

heron61 said...

my duty?" (that is, will future-me find it easier or harder to like themselves if I do/don't do this?) *nods* As someone who is known to my friends as having a significantly eccentric and flexible personal morality, I've occasionally had people I know wonder why my personal prohibition against all notable levels of violence is so strong. My answer is (solely for myself) that I seriously wouldn't like who I'd be if I was someone who committed violence against others. I assume the "in defense of myself or my loved ones" exception exists, but I've been lucky enough to never have that tested, and hope it never will be.