Chad Perrin: SOB

6 June 2009

Chad Turns Over a New Leaf

Filed under: Cognition — apotheon @ 10:07

I’m inspired to be a better person.

This happens every now and then — I suddenly find myself inspired to improve myself in some manner that is not physical or even strictly educational in nature. The frequency and sincerity of such urges is, in fact, a big chunk of the reason I started using the term “apotheon” as an online monicker for myself years ago.

Part of the inspiration, this time around, was the fact that I have been reading the Sam Harris book, The End of Faith. The last couple chapters of that densely intellectual book served as the trigger event for a building inspiration to embark on another odyssey of self-improvement.

Maybe odyssey is too strong a term. Maybe it’s more like “turn over a new leaf” than “odyssey of self-improvement”. I guess it’s time to change the title of this thing.

The explicit and masterful linking of mystical introspection with rationality really caught at my imagination, and prompts me to engage the recently neglected spiritual faculties of my brain in the task of self-improvement.

Another influence in this decision is my recently growing interest in marksmanship practice. The longer I was in the Army, the more the practice of marksmanship became a sort of spiritual practice itself. It got to the point that basically every time I fired a shot on the range I was snapping into, and back out of, a sort of “zen” state, as though I was no longer merely an individual person going through the mechanical motions of aiming and pulling a trigger, but rather as one with the rifle, the bullet, and the target, simultaneously. It was an “in the zone” moment, a state of “hack mode”, a moment of satori. Working on getting back into practice with shooting, and planning to do a lot more of that in the near future, reminds me of that experience.

Oddly enough, a third factor in helping me feel thusly inspired is ESR’s recent demirant, We are not sheep.

Anyway, there are two distinct outward components of my inspiration to improve myself:

  1. I will try to remain ever-cognizant of “brotherhood” with other humans. This will be an interesting task, considering that I don’t intend to abandon my tendency to employ sound judgment in evaluating the words, actions, and motives of other people. There is a definite sense of connectedness between us all that is too easy to ignore, though, and I wish to cut down on that tendency to dismiss my kinship with other humans.

  2. I will try to apply a better directed sense of rational evaluation to my dealings with others. For instance, when engaged in discussion with someone who appears to disagree with me, I will not only look for the point at which our respective perspectives diverge, but also the underlying reasons for those disconnects in our understandings of circumstances. Those underlying reasons are not the ego identification with one’s position, fallacious thinking, and confirmation biases that all too often dominate my recognition of the nature of disagreements; they go deeper than that, being the motivations that produce these roadblocks to reasoned discourse in others.

Wish me luck.

5 Comments

  1. “I will try to remain ever-cognizant of “brotherhood” with other humans.”

    Why? Why do you consider that this will make you a better person? In what way has not being ever-cognizant of brotherhood with other humans made you a worse person?

    Why do you use a fancy phrase like, “Cognizant,” in this context – this sounds like intellectual snobbery, as though you don’t really think that being, “Cognizant,” of this subject matter will really make you a better person – am I mistaken?

    Why do you put, “Brotherhood,” in comments? This again sounds like intellectual aloofness. Those quotes look like you’re looking down your nose at whatever term you intend, “Brotherhood,” to stand for. Why not write something more simple like, “I will try to be more compassionate/considerate to others.” That might have sounded more sincere. (Also, why, “Remain?” Do you usually start off an interaction with other humans being, “Ever-cognisant,” but end up not being so?)

    “This will be an interesting task, considering that I don’t intend to abandon my tendency to employ sound judgment in evaluating the words, actions, and motives of other people.”

    Do you presume that being cognizant of brotherhood implies abandonning your tendency to employ sound judgment? If so, why? If not, why will this be an interesting task to continue employing sound judgment just as you had before?

    “There is a definite sense of connectedness between us all that is too easy to ignore, though, and I wish to cut down on that tendency to dismiss my kinship with other humans.”

    Chad, you’re a fantastic student of language – so this weirdly about-facing sentence is something of a surprise. “There is a definite sense of connectedness between us all.” That’s a fine start. ” … that is too easy to ignore.” Hmm, something definite that’s easy to ignore; well, ok. ” … though.” I presume this is expressing some form of regret that something definite can be easy to ignore; well, ok, then, but fairly awkward, coming from you. ” … and I wish to cut down on that tendency to dismiss my kinship with other humans.” I presume this means, ” … and I wish to cut down on that tendency to ignore my sense of connectedness between us all.” Why not say that? What did you intend with the re-wording?

    “I will try to apply a better directed sense of rational evaluation to my dealings with others.”

    Is this just a re-wording of your earlier tendency to employ sound judgment in evaluating the words, actions, and motives of other people? If not, how does it differ? What is a directed sense of rational evaluation, as opposed to a sense of rational evaluation (without the explicit, “Directed”)?

    “For instance, when engaged in discussion with someone who appears to disagree with me, I will not only look for the point at which our respective perspectives diverge, but also the underlying reasons for those disconnects in our understandings of circumstances. Those underlying reasons are not the ego identification with one’s position, fallacious thinking, and confirmation biases that all too often dominate my recognition of the nature of disagreements; they go deeper than that, being the motivations that produce these roadblocks to reasoned discourse in others.”

    Apart from that ugly, “Disconnets,” noun, a good paragraph. You could have removed everything else and just admitted this, in my opinion.

    Now the question: has this response been a test of your new programme of self-betterment? Let me know what you think my, ” underlying reasons for those disconnects in our understandings of circumstances,” are and I’ll let you know how your programme is progressing.

    Comment by Ed — 6 June 2009 @ 04:55

  2. I am not interested in justifying myself on this subject to an Internet stranger whose interest is, clearly, not to engage me in meaningful discussion. You are welcome to think what you like.

    Comment by apotheon — 6 June 2009 @ 05:31

  3. Good luck.

    I have, in somewhat similar way, reconstructed how I see life and what my goals really are. Being genuine and honest, even if it hurts, are among my most important goals. For me the change came from reading philosophy of play and gaining some self-confidence.

    In that spirit of brutal honesty: Are you aware that your communications online, at least here on your blog, often read as very hostile? Certainly not in the thread, but in some others. And, if you are aware of this, does it interact with your new goals in some way?

    Comment by Tommi — 7 June 2009 @ 02:07

  4. Yeah, I’m aware of it — and I’m not always sure what to do about it, since most of the time they aren’t intended as being “hostile”.

    Sometimes they have been intentionally hostile, but generally only in response to repeated hostility (often passive-aggressive) directed at me first. Otherwise, though, something about the way I phrase things just makes people think I’m saying things I’m not a lot of the time. My best guess so far is that the fact I am very direct about stating my beliefs, and that they’re not always mainstream beliefs, seems to put people in a combative state of mind so that they read what I say in the worst possible light, but it’s entirely possible there’s more to it than that.

    I’d like to solve that little mismatch in perceptions about what I say, of course, but I’m more interested in eliminating what actual hostility exists than merely the appearance of hostility as perceived by others when none is intended.

    Comment by apotheon — 7 June 2009 @ 07:36

  5. Good luck! Ed and others will try to make it hard for you.

    Comment by Chip Camden — 8 June 2009 @ 11:17

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