Is self-delusion possible?

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Greta
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Re: Is self-delusion possible?

Post by Greta » July 16th, 2018, 6:06 pm

chewybrian wrote:
July 16th, 2018, 6:10 am
A few important differences between the flying claim and the God claim spring to mind. First, it is pretty easy to disprove the flying claim. There are plenty of tall buildings around. Second, 60% of the world is not telling me they can fly. Third, I am very confident that I can not fly, which leads me to think nobody can. I am not 100% sure there is no God, so I am apt to believe others' claims of belief or disbelief as genuine.

There is more to agnosticism than the inability to disprove God. You can make all sorts of claims that can not be disproved which I might immediately dismiss as so unlikely that I would label them untrue. But, there is a sort of need for God. There is the idea of perfection which can not be achieved by man. And, there is the question of why anything came to be in the first place. I don't mean how did events follow on from the big bang, but rather why have a big bang in the first place; why have space, matter, energy at all? And, most of all, why did consciousness develop? Chemicals don't have hopes and dreams.

Something more is going on within us that speaks to the possibility of God. I don't see any need (or any way) to understand the nature of God to be agnostic. It is, for me, at least, the honest admission that I don't know everything and never will, and that God is a possible, even if unlikely, explanation for what I don't know.
[my emphasis]
Thanks Brian. You said it more clearly than I managed. I'd just qualify "God" as "something that some people have interpreted to be God".

The "idea of perfection" has been an ideal held by enough people in history to make it a phenomenon worth thinking about IMO. In today's pragmatic age the idealism manifests differently - in grumbling about societal problems, always seeing room for improvement but without believing perfection to be realistic. All of these things appear to be subsets of a general impulse towards growth.

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Re: Is self-delusion possible?

Post by Eduk » July 16th, 2018, 6:09 pm

Karpel I think I wasn't clear. I meant that just because other people believe something doesn't mean I do. It's a well known logical fallacy called argument from popularity. So all I was saying is that I need more than a logical fallacy in order to believe something.
I don't understand what belief in other minds has to do with whether perfection is defined in the way you say it is. I'm saying perfection has a normal everyday definition which works just fine and it doesn't have a definition which leads me to believe in God. We both agree on the normal definition and no doubt say things like that cake was perfect. Where we differ is on your special definition of perfection or the implications.
Have you noticed all your special definitions have a common theme?

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Re: Is self-delusion possible?

Post by Greta » July 16th, 2018, 6:22 pm

Eduk, as a matter of interest, are you an agnostic? How do you justify the views you hold? Do views really need justification? After all, chances are that we both formed our views without justifying to ourselves, but rather formed them unconsciously and then threaded backwards, making post hoc assumptions as to our reasoning.

Fact is, I'm not sure about a lot of things and that includes the idea that some of those millions of people talking about spiritual experiences might not be fooled by their brains but probed reality more deeply than I've done. By the same token we here probably probe reality more deeply than a kid twerking for the cameras on reality TV. There's much that can be experienced that's pretty well impossible to articulate.

So my agnosticism was not consciously conceived, only reported in hindsight. Simply, huge amounts of what I once believed to be true at some stage in my life have been proved false and this does not inspire tremendous certainty about the nature of things in me :)

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Re: Is self-delusion possible?

Post by Karpel Tunnel » July 17th, 2018, 1:27 am

Eduk wrote:
July 16th, 2018, 6:09 pm
Karpel I think I wasn't clear. I meant that just because other people believe something doesn't mean I do.

Me, neither.
It's a well known logical fallacy called argument from popularity. So all I was saying is that I need more than a logical fallacy in order to believe something.
I doubt that's true actually. Unless you are extremely skeptical about all media and all experts. You probably make intuitive decisions to do along with popular beliefs. But I agree it is a fallacy and I don't think I argued that one should have the beliefs others. In fact agnostics tend to argue against Argumentum ad populum.
I don't understand what belief in other minds has to do with whether perfection is defined in the way you say it is. I'm saying perfection has a normal everyday definition which works just fine and it doesn't have a definition which leads me to believe in God. We both agree on the normal definition and no doubt say things like that cake was perfect. Where we differ is on your special definition of perfection or the implications.
My point was not directly aimed at perfection, but at the idea that one cannot be agnostic unless one has a single fully defined idea of what God is. It was combining some of what you were saying now and jumping back to the other thread. Sometimes I am too intuitive for my own good, as far as communicating.
Have you noticed all your special definitions have a common theme?
OH, Eduk, you get to say yourself.

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Re: Is self-delusion possible?

Post by chewybrian » July 17th, 2018, 6:31 am

Eduk wrote:
July 16th, 2018, 9:40 am
In normal speech you might put up a shelf and say it's perfectly flat. Perhaps you would put a ball on top of it to prove it. But if I was pedantic I might say well in one corner if I drop the ball just right or rolls off. Maybe you whip your plane and sanding paper out. Then maybe I get an electron microscope. And you would probably think well wood can't be perfectly flat and you would be right. If you gave me a perfectly level shelf how would I test it?
To test the flat shelf would be an eternal task. It would be the opposite of the coastline paradox. Instead of discovering new twists and turns at each closer level of inspection, you would continue to see a straight line. Your attempt to prove it 'perfect' would go on forever, as there is always a finer level to inspect. But, we can still have the idea of a straight line. Of course, in terms of God, we would never mean the everyday 'perfect enough', but instead total, exact, eternal perfection.

I brought up the idea of perfection alluding to Descartes' proof of God and other similar proofs. It says your ideas come from experience of real things. You've never seen perfection to form any idea of it, so the idea must have come from somewhere, presumably from God. Further, the very idea of God being perfect must include existence, since not existing would not be reaching perfection, so God must exist if someone holds the idea of God. I'm not saying I'm fully convinced, but that's a very short summation of the line of thought.
Eduk wrote:
July 16th, 2018, 9:40 am
Imagining things is something I see humans do every day. It's not proof of anything.
You might say it does mean something. Most of what we imagine turns out to be possible, and we are now doing many things once only imagined. It doesn't prove anything, but it often points to something possible, meaningful or true, or useful with modification.
Burning ghost wrote:
July 16th, 2018, 11:01 am
Chewy -

I was referring to the idea of “delusions” beinf chosen. That is contrary in and of itself. Purposeful delusion is like saying willfully unable to do anything, or happily sad.

Rational meaning what? It doesn’t seem like you’re using these terms in a way that fits into philosophical discussion. Some people believe things and some people don’t. What we don’t tend to find is people turning their world upside down if it goes against their previous world view - for what I would assume were obvious enough reasons? What may seem like a trivial change for one person can literally destroy another.
A rational person should be able to see and accept an obvious truth for what it is. So, it does seem like it should be impossible to fool yourself. That's what prompted me to ask the question in the first place. I'm not disputing that it seems like a paradox, but rather asking if it is or isn't. One potential answer to the question is that it's impossible to fool yourself, and maybe that is your answer.

If people do hold onto their world view in the face of evidence which obviously disproves it, are they still rational? Deep down, do they believe the real truth or the preferred lie, or both?

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Re: Is self-delusion possible?

Post by Eduk » July 17th, 2018, 6:57 am

Greta I was born with the urge to know what was true and not to have what I know be true. This means i can change my beliefs with new evidence without changing my core belief. I'm not sure what could challenge that core belief, and like you, im not sure I ever decided it was a good belief to have.
Regarding agnosticism I'm with Karpel in that I'd need to define God first, something which I can't do.
Karpel sorry I was getting one of your posts mixed up with one of chewy's. Perfection being impossible to reach, infinity and other similar concepts are defined by what they aren't. I don't find any of those concepts to be well defined when taken to their logical conclusion.
Chewy exactly I'm with Descartes I can't define this special case of perfection.

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Re: Is self-delusion possible?

Post by Burning ghost » July 17th, 2018, 11:09 am

Chewy -

First of all, a disclaimer! I am picking over the presentation and beig seemingly pedantic here because although I understand the gist - which I’ll attempt to answer in good time - I cannot help think there is a problem with the terms you’ve used and what you really meant to say and often find myself doing the same. For me the term “delusion” doesn’t fit:
A rational person should be able to see and accept an obvious truth for what it is. So, it does seem like it should be impossible to fool yourself. That's what prompted me to ask the question in the first place. I'm not disputing that it seems like a paradox, but rather asking if it is or isn't. One potential answer to the question is that it's impossible to fool yourself, and maybe that is your answer.

If people do hold onto their world view in the face of evidence which obviously disproves it, are they still rational? Deep down, do they believe the real truth or the preferred lie, or both?
Here you’ve rephrased thankfully. The next hurdle is the use of the term “rational” which seems to indicate, by your meaning, what other think that opposes your idea of what to deem “rational” rather than as the application reason and logic in general - of which doesn’t require any absolute all encompasing “real truth.”

Anyway ...

I can be dishonest with myself and do things that suit me in the moment fully aware of the possible negative outcomes. Such dishonesty is a constant struggle for everyone and often we fail ourselves and then go one step further and place the blame on others or “bad luck.” If my world view, the grounding of my self, is baseed firmly on false evidence to remove it would be either painful or painful AND fatal. Much like irrational fears it doesn’t help to have knowledge of facts if your very physical being is conditioned to act on primative (very, very old) impulses. Someone can be petrified of flying even though statistically it is easily the safest form of transport - no facts will undo the physiological response regardless of how the non-flying rational person understands the “reality.” Biology overrides fact (weird as that sounds.)

The same principle happens for psychological conditioning and new information. Don’t forget that theologians have relied, and still rely, heavily on reason and logic. A true statement needn’t be factual statement.

To go to the bological level we are neurologically put together to be biased toward optimism. People will always adjust to what they deem to be favourable to their position much more than they will to what they deem unfavourable. I know this, yet there is little I can do about it other than perhaps guard against anything that seems to correspond to my worldly view of existence - without a doubt any huge shift will be met with vigorous resistance because that is part and parcel of human beings.

Psychological fixatedness is more of a help than a hinderance in evolutionary terms. Meaning if some method or thought provides good results we should keep doing it and apply it elsewhere too. This is essentially a greater boon than a burden to date (hence the existence of the human race.)

Is it possible to “delude” yourself? If you look up the meaning of “delusion” it obviosuly makes no sense to say that anymore than it makes sense to say can I pretend I am someone else and completely believe that I am someone else at the same time? Obviously not. Having stated a logical paradox doesn’t mean the paradox is a physical reality.

The terms “illusion” and “delusion” are often used in philosophical discussions. To do so without working under the same definitions causes unending problems; as do the terms “truth” and “real.”

In simpler terms there is no universal measure of truth of meaning. To believe there is is likely a “necessary delusion” to some degree :/
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Re: Is self-delusion possible?

Post by Eduk » July 18th, 2018, 5:33 am

Greta your example of probing reality is interesting. Unlike you though I find it undermines what you are saying. Let us firstly agree on the basic concept that experience can be richer, or that it's better to be an unhappy man than a happy pig.
So now do we notice the difference between the unhappy man and the happy pig from the outside?

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Re: Is self-delusion possible?

Post by Greta » July 18th, 2018, 6:37 pm

Eduk wrote:
July 17th, 2018, 6:57 am
Regarding agnosticism I'm with Karpel in that I'd need to define God first, something which I can't do.
In other words, you and Karpel are unsure about the situation and are therefore agnostics.

If you don't know, you don't know - be it the concept or the thing. Agnostic is then the only remaining category for you.

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Re: Is self-delusion possible?

Post by Greta » July 18th, 2018, 7:00 pm

Eduk wrote:
July 18th, 2018, 5:33 am
Greta your example of probing reality is interesting. Unlike you though I find it undermines what you are saying. Let us firstly agree on the basic concept that experience can be richer, or that it's better to be an unhappy man than a happy pig.
So now do we notice the difference between the unhappy man and the happy pig from the outside?
Sorry Duk, which post was that one? I don't know the example of probing reality that undermines what I'm saying. Was it how I expected that there would logically be other people who experience life more deeply than I do? The more I learn about the extraordinary things other humans achieve - especially the stoic way some manage to perform at an exceptionally high level under incredible pressure and danger - I am simply in awe of their capacities.

Is it better to be an unhappy human than a happy pig? A rich experience of human agony strikes me as very much worse than the somewhat simpler experience of a content pet pig. Or at least, the latter's life seems gentler and kinder. Maybe a pet pig too would be in awe of human capacities, maybe seeing them as magic, but you'd still think it was dealt a better hand in life than many humans (especially those who didn't make it past childhood).

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Re: Is self-delusion possible?

Post by Eduk » July 19th, 2018, 9:55 am

Greta I'm unsure how to define God. So I am agnostic towards something undefined, that is not that useful though. I'm not agnostic about anyone who claims to know God though. I know they don't.
What extraordinary thing did you hear about that was exclusively able to be performed by someone claiming faith? As far as I can tell equally extraordinary things can are performed by theist and non theists alike.
I was comparing an unhappy man with a happy pig not a maximally tortured man with a happy pig. Besides people do go through dark days and recover, to a point, whereas there is no turning back from being made into bacon.

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Re: Is self-delusion possible?

Post by Burning ghost » July 19th, 2018, 10:39 am

Eduk -

If you claim to be agnostic and cannot define god then your claim to being agnostic is rather pointless no?
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Re: Is self-delusion possible?

Post by Felix » July 19th, 2018, 2:14 pm

Burning Ghost: If you claim to be agnostic and cannot define god then your claim to being agnostic is rather pointless no?
Yes, it's rather like saying I cannot believe in what I don't know.
Eduk: I'm not agnostic about anyone who claims to know God though. I know they don't.
You know they don't know what you are incapable of knowing or at least of defining? That just means you're being narrow minded.
"We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are." - Anaïs Nin

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Re: Is self-delusion possible?

Post by Greta » July 19th, 2018, 6:44 pm

Eduk wrote:
July 19th, 2018, 9:55 am
Greta I'm unsure how to define God. So I am agnostic towards something undefined, that is not that useful though.
I think being agnostic to something undefined is very useful - and is exactly my point. Agnosticism is, in Rumsfeldian terminology, admitting that there are "unknown unknowns".
Eduk wrote:
July 19th, 2018, 9:55 am
I'm not agnostic about anyone who claims to know God though. I know they don't.
Maybe. I've not been in their heads. Certainly the types coming on to forums to argue are kidding themselves.
Eduk wrote:What extraordinary thing did you hear about that was exclusively able to be performed by someone claiming faith? As far as I can tell equally extraordinary things can are performed by theist and non theists alike.
I hear of refugees and other unfortunates surviving the most horrific of conditions, sustained by their belief.

Also, belief brings power. Thus over a billion people in the world live under the shadow of a possible torturous and drawn-out cancerous end of life with no hope of respite - largely due to inflexible superstitions of a MUCH smaller number of theists. How do they manage that? I don't know, it's pretty extraordinary.
Eduk wrote:I was comparing an unhappy man with a happy pig not a maximally tortured man with a happy pig. Besides people do go through dark days and recover, to a point, whereas there is no turning back from being made into bacon.
Yes, people usually have a longevity advantage because they are the dominant species. However, as per Nagle, we cannot know what it's like being a free pig as compared with being a free human. Is their reality less or more vivid? What is a pig mind like? We don't know.

Basically, there's an awful lot we don't know, certainly plenty that I don't. There are advantages to self delusion, pretending that we know what we don't. It reminds me of the old adage - treat that which you find easy as if it's difficult and treat that which you find difficult as easy. Controlled delusion can thus act as a mind hack to alleviate complacency and timidity.

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Re: Is self-delusion possible?

Post by Newme » August 3rd, 2018, 12:34 am

Greta wrote:
July 13th, 2018, 10:34 pm
Newme wrote:
July 13th, 2018, 9:40 pm
Greta,
Logically speaking Agnosticism makes sense - we really don’t know much. Yet, with intuitive application - it doesn’t work. If God/spirituality is a verb like Love, highest truth, greatest GOoD - then being iffy is paralyzing. If you lived your life agnostically, you’d be questioning everything - not committing to anything. I suppose it could be a bit like Nihilism - if taken to extreme. Most probably don’t go to that extreme and a dash of agnostic humility is good.

I find the Spaghetti monster reference annoying, especially when “the kingdom of God is within you.” It’s ignorantly making fun of one’s own brain/psyche.
http://www.spiritofthescripture.com/wp- ... Brain-.jpg
I learned out about the brain reference from Anthony Hopkins on Westworld :D

I don't find agnosticism paralysing, rather it is freeing. People generally like limitations, which provide structure and allows for clear goal setting. Now that I am retired, I don't need goals and the like. During my working life I was largely atheist with what I now think of as some hangover unconscious emotional Catholicism courtesy of Mum. I suppose my direction stemmed from humanism and the desire to make a contribution that might make people's lives better. I was probably pretty terrible at it in hindsight with a lot of clumsy unintended harm, but I gave it a go :lol:

Now that I don't need to drive myself, I am free to simply ponder what is rather than choosing paradigms based on efficacy. This is a critical point here. Time and again theists explain to me that their belief is efficacious, providing meaning and direction. To my mind that makes the belief a tool. I don't need such tools and am just interested in what is really "out there", "in here", the interchange between those (subjectively divided) domains the fritz that occurs at the boundary.

The idea of God as a sense of being (the "verb") appears to be an extra layer. Why can't a sense of being simply be, without attributing it to the nature of a deity? Or did I answer my own question above? That is, belief acts as an effective tool that you feel improves your life.
Yes, “belief acts as an effective tool that you feel improves your life.” And who doesn’t have beliefs? As mentioned, all have faith, but not all are conscious of having faith.

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