Monday, January 17, 2011

who are we really?

It takes unflinching insight to examine your own personality rationally.  Our perception of ourselves is often a fictional story that we write based on our own experiences and our resulting feelings about them.  We rarely diverge from this story our whole lives.  The key to finding out your true nature is to recognise what motivates you, and how you implement that in life.  Sociopathic or empathetic tendencies would heavily influence these motivations.

I think we are all guilty of secretly wondering what others think of us, and how this view may differ from our own self image.  How often have you wished you could be a fly on the wall while others discussed you.  Logic dictates that we should know ourselves better than anyone else - but then again it is our interaction with others and the outside world that defines us, also we can hardly be impartial.  So how accurate are our presumptions about ourselves?  Do we question ourselves enough? Do we regularly take stock of our actions?  Or are we conditioned not to delve to deeply into our own psyche for our own safety.

When I put myself under that microscope with brutal honesty I see a lot of things that I like and others I don't.  While I do have a moral code - and I am strict with myself about this - the side effect of this is that I tend to believe I am better than those around me who I consider to have no code and no integrity, which is most people (in my opinion).  I totally accept that this is arrogant and grandiose, but that doesn't change how I feel about it.  Maybe I'm wrong - or at least by other peoples standards.  About that I don't seem to care.  On the other hand, because of this "moral code," I judge myself harshly when I don't live up to it myself.  Does that change the arrogance or grandiosity? I don't think so, my attitude of superiority lacks any humility at all.  And aren't we all supposed to be imitating the humility of Jesus Christ?  Well that is just martyrdom in my opinion - which is really just a great big guilt trip "hey look at me, I'm going to get nailed to a cross and die because you have all been very very naughty".  So no, I don't feel humility serves us any purpose at all, unless it is in a biblical sense.

Philippians 2:3-8
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility, consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!

So, should we try and emulate the late JC?  Not if it literally means getting nailed to a cross.  But what about the metaphorical cross, how many times have you stood up for your convictions even if it went against the status quo, is this selfless martyrdom? Or another form of arrogance and self righteousness? While Jesus travelled the countryside doing selfless acts for others, he also made himself a leader, with followers.  Does one not contradict the other?  This is my point, what we think about ourselves on the one hand can be entirely contradicted from another point of view.

Here is another example, I hate dishonesty in any form.  So I pride myself on total honesty, and while I feel this is a good thing (one of my better traits), some of my friends would disagree.  "Do I look fat in this dress?"......."Yes, I'm afraid to say you do."  What would be the point in saying any different?  Letting your friend go out looking like an over-stuffed sausage would be far worse, wouldn't it?  I have been called cruel, callous, tactless, mean, selfish - but in my opinion I am doing the world a favour.  So is my self analysis accurate? Or am I just kidding myself.  This is how easily we can create a fictional character in our heads that we think we are, but is nothing like the person we really are.

So, who are we really?  Should we stop worrying about what we are like and just be?  Or are we obligated to keep self assessing and improving.  Is it necessary to know if we are sociopaths, empaths, passive aggressive, oppositional defiant, etc etc.  Do those labels totally define us?  Does being aware of those labels change us?  Or can we be masters of our fate, to decide for ourselves what we are really like.

Gollum: We wants it, we needs it. Must have the precious. They stole it from us. Sneaky little hobbitses. Wicked, tricksy, false!
Smeagol: No. Not master!
Gollum: Yes, precious, false! They will cheat you, hurt you, LIE.
Smeagol: Master is our friend!
Gollum: You don't have any friends; nobody likes you!
Smeagol: I'm not listening... I'm not listening...
Gollum: You're a liar and a thief.
Smeagol: No!
Gollum: *Murderer*.
Smeagol: Go away!
Gollum: "Go away?"
Smeagol: I hate you, I hate you.
Gollum: Where would you be without me, gollum, gollum? I saved us! It was me! We survived because of me!
Smeagol: Not anymore.
Gollum: What did you say?
Smeagol: Master looks after us now. We don't need you anymore.
Gollum: What?
Smeagol: Leave now, and never come back!
Gollum: No!
Smeagol: Leave now, and never come back!
Gollum: *SHRIEK*
Gollum: ........... 
Smeagol: We told him to go away... and away he goes, Precious! Gone, gone, gone! Smeagol is free!


  1. phew, finally finished all the posts i started over xmas =)

  2. Moral Code?

    For what reasons do you have one? or do you not have a reason, and just have one to begin with?

    I don't rape people, try not to murder them, nor cheat on my partners. It's practical and I don't want that happening to me. There's no conviction, just pragmatism.

    I find the phrase 'moral code' to be hilarious in unto itself. You're not morally obligated if you don't feel it naturally. Learning guilt and anguish over something is called conditioning, not morals.

  3. I really dont know why, its some weirdo freak thing about honour and saving face. I have no idea where it came from? Its a little bit more than not raping people or not cheating on them, that is pretty obvious morality - we dont even think about that.

    To me moral is of relating to my character, how I conduct myself. For instance I have a real issue about paying my way, its caused a lot of friction with relationships because I always insist on paying my half. But a majority of people have no qualms about taking a free ride when they can get it, i notice this in people and detest it.

    A lot of my moral code is just silly stuff like that - its not like i get around wearing the ten commandments strapped to my back, that would be a little too obvious.

  4. Rape is actually common-form in the animal kingdom, and we are animals. It's not obvious morality, in fact, it's counter to our nature not to. That's why it is so very common in the less civilized parts of the world. Even the bible you quote is full of rape stories and less than consensual relations with little moral conviction about as much, other than impurity outside of marriage.

    I understand not liking to see people who are being immoral and enjoying it. I guess my whole thing is, how audacious, and why can't I get away with that and be accepted? :P

  5. rape may be common in some species, and rape may have been more common in our past. it does not mean that it should be acceptable, and so i still beleive that as a species this would and should fall outside of what is morally acceptable.

    you could try to get away with it, my advice to you would simply be dont get caught and no then one will judge you ;-)

  6. Ok then, so when did we decide rape was suddenly immoral? At what point did we as a species deem it no longer ok? It may sound absurd to think of it as acceptable, but then again, what other odd customs have you embraced that deviates from our origins that we now look back in disgust? A great many things, actually.

    Morality is a fashion. It comes in and out in phases, and shifts from culture to culture, even seemingly obvious ones like killing and rape.

    Having your own moral code would mean to rely on one's instinctual reaction to something, which is near impossible, since we are conditioned to look at some things in disgust and others in reverence.

    Morality is a farce. It is philosophy as law. Even psychopaths, with virtually no empathy and shallow affect are not above (or below) helping someone in need. It's not Good, it's instinctual in preserving one's fellow species member.

  7. morality, human conduct, "goodness", all semantics really. i totally disagree with rape, is that better? maybe its because i'm a woman. wether or not rape is a part of our history has nothing to do with it. we used to think bathing was evil, the earth was flat, and medicine was witchcraft. we have evolved, i hope. rape is carried out for different reasons by different people - its an entirely selfish dehumanising act, that affects the recipient for much longer than the act itself. some rape victims even would prefer death.

    i see you have a problem with the word morality =) i live by a set of rules that help me feel secure about myself - is that better? they are sourced from my own philisophical gleanings though, which are possibly a little abstract at times.

    to me rape, murder, genocide etc are obvious no no's for an enlightened society.

    i think a true criminal psychopath is capable of helping people for sure, but not for biological urges or instinctual reasons, but for his own simple pleasure, a curiousity, out of boredom, or as part of another agenda.

  8. Well, you're wrong about the psychopath bit. It's common, professional knowledge that they do. I suggest you look into Dr. Joseph P Newman's works.

    As for rape, and murder, no, they aren't obvious no-nos. That's the point I'm making. If you don't detach yourself from your own culture and go snooping around, you're living in a bubble of ignorance.

  9. i think the more criminally psychopathic they are, the less likely they are to help people for altruistic reasons, so you cannot make an "absolute" statement either way. this article is quite interesting.

    particularly "psychopathic individuals appear to be deficient in their ability to connect emotion experiences to contextual cues. This could prove to be a crucial variable for understanding their failure to anticipate, and thus be guided by, emotional events. The most profound impact that this context processing deficit has on psychopathic individuals may be to limit their ability to benefit from one of the most potent and important roles of emotion, redirecting attention. Emotion serves to highlight things that are outside of our focus because they are frequently important for survival and should be attended to. If emotion fails to redirect the focus of psychopathic individuals in the same way as it does in control samples, then they will be less likely to learn the contextual variables that predict motivationally significant events. They will be less capable of appreciating the impact of their own actions on others or even on themselves. In this way, psychopathic individuals may fail to acquire the same breadth of emotional experience as non-psychopathic individuals, not because they are incapable of processing emotion, but because they have difficulty appreciating its broader context."

    lets put aside the body of our discussion about rape for now, can i ask you this - do you think rape is ok?

  10. scratch that question...this is what i think

    we are conditioned to accept some forms of violence in this world, for instance we accept that the lion must kill the antelope, we accept that animals are killed for our own consumption, and in this day and age we hope that it is done with as little cruelty as possible.

    there is necessary and unnecessary violence. rape in other species is unfortunately biologically hardwired - i see it happen everyday in my yard with my chickens. i dont like it, but thats the way it is and it doesnt seem to do the chickens any lasting emotional harm. female spiders eat male spiders after mating, one bull will service 20 cows, thats just the way it is.

    human sexual behaviour is very different. the human sexual organs are designed so that reproduction is pleasant for both sexes - biologically speaking we were not even designed for rape. in terms of our ability to procreate there is no need for rape, we seem to be quite good at multiplying without it. rape within the human species is unnecessary violence, like torture.

  11. I don't believe rape is a good thing. That's just silly.

    But it is natural.

    We're also not the only species that enjoys sex, nor are we the only ones who seem to have rapists too.

    As far as criminal psychopaths go, you would know if you actually looked into what I told you that Newman almost exclusively works with criminal psychopaths. Here is a small sample.

  12. the article i gave you was by newman, and you didnt add the sample?

  13. I embedded the link at "Here".

    The article you linked was fine, but you're trying to twist my point for your own. My point was that psychopaths help people on a regular basis, in fact more so than the average joe, because it is for benefiting a fellow human on a species/instinctual level, not for any emotional reason.

    There's this horrid line that we like to draw between helping someone because we realize they need help, and a "Good" deed. Since when is a lack of apathy considered "good"?

    I doubt animals have to deal with moral choices between good and evil for their conscience :P

    You don't need one (a conscience) to realize someone needs your help and to do it.

    We (psychopaths) are very focus oriented, as Newman states.

    Altruism is an ideal, not a reality. People who go out of their way with the intentions of doing a good deed are doing it for some level of self-satisfaction. It's their "thing", what they get off on and what fills them up in whatever void they are trying to fill. It is entirely selfish to try and act selfless ;)

    One animal helping another is not a moral choice, thus, one does not need morals to do so.

  14. whoops, i missed the link somehow. thanks, it was very interesting.

    i think we might be having an issue with terminology here. i agree that pyschopaths are able to help people for reasons other than their own. my first comment was "i think a true criminal psychopath is capable of helping people for sure, but not for biological urges or instinctual reasons, but for his own simple pleasure, a curiousity, out of boredom, or as part of another agenda." when i think of a true criminal psychopath, i think of ed gein, or carl panzram. i really do have my doubts that those people could or would change focus to help another, in fact many criminal psychopaths exploit those in need as part of their criminal activity. this is why i also said "i think the more criminally psychopathic they are, the less likely they are to help people for altruistic reasons, so you cannot make an "absolute" statement either way."

    you said: "Even psychopaths, with virtually no empathy and shallow affect are not above (or below) helping someone in need. It's not Good, it's instinctual in preserving one's fellow species member."

    altruism: Unselfish concern for the welfare of others; selflessness. Zoology. Instinctive behavior that is detrimental to the individual but favors the survival or spread of that individual's genes, as by benefiting its relatives.

    i didnt add the article to twist your point =) i was just trying to understand where you were coming from. that article was much the same as the youtube clip i just watched. i totally accept that it is an attentional thing.

    i totally agree that most good deeds are done for some level of self reward - you wont get many people to admit that though lol. i try to be "good" because i want to be percieved as being "good" - my selfish moral code ;-)

  15. oh btw, what do you think of the test with the animal shapes vs the words. i identified the animals and didnt even think about the relevance of the words until they started talking about it, had to go back and have another look

  16. The same thing happened to me the first time I watched the video, and I also spotted the victim out of a set of several people in a related video.

    Just more dots to connect.

  17. "Altruism is an ideal, not a reality. People who go out of their way with the intentions of doing a good deed are doing it for some level of self-satisfaction. It's their "thing", what they get off on and what fills them up in whatever void they are trying to fill. It is entirely selfish to try and act selfless ;)"

    Notable, I am dissapointed (to use your words).
    It is not merely about filling a void, and it is not merely an ideal but also a reality. I do agree that you do not need a conscious moral code to be altruistic, as it is an innate quality in many who may in fact, be moral nihilists in theory.

    However, you are making a reductive analysis of something that not even neuroscientists have fully understood yet.

    I expect you will always degrade and undermine the vast majority, (if not everything) of what you witness in humanity. Fine.

  18. *rubs hand together*

    moral: Of or concerned with the judgment of the goodness or badness of human action and character

    nihilism: Rejection of all distinctions in moral or religious value and a willingness to repudiate all previous theories of morality or religious belief.

    my prefered choice....

    hedonism: Pursuit of or devotion to pleasure, especially to the pleasures of the senses

  19. I don't degrade humanity, notme, I knock it off its self important pedestal, down with the other animals where it belongs. Perhaps I am being too aggressive?


  20. No thoughts. At least none that I can be bothered to express in the face of the logical juggernaut that is Notable. Just feelings for now.
    Maybe I'll resume with something you can get your teeth into when I'm feeling chirpier. :P

  21. there's nothing wrong with knocking things down. I do that all the time. But what I won't do is allow someone else to knock me down. There's no reason in defacing all the basics of reality, when you have no proof for your argument, only your own innate-given point of view.


  22. Fine. It is proven that people feel good when they think they are doing good deeds, and bad when they think they are doing bad deeds. So, here I stand, with my own point of view, where I do things impulsively, both good and bad. I don't see them as good and bad, just things to do. That doesn't make me evil, and that doesn't make me good. It makes me effective.

    For someone to altruistic, it would mean that they would do things for no benefit of all for others, and the only way that could truly be pulled off is if there pleasure sensory was chemically cut off. So, yes, I'm sure people do good things expecting nothing in return, but they almost always get something out of it.

    And that's a fact.

  23. the fact your emotional responses are stunted compared with others is the reason why it doesn't make you feel anything when you help someone or even hurt someone. The fact that altruism may make people feel something who do have sharp emotions, doesn't negate or devalue the act.

    You simply can't prove that the 'good' feelings are the impetus for acting altruistic, it may be a by-product but not the impetus. That's all I am saying.

    And you know i don't believe much in value-judgments and don't see myself as 'good' because of the way i was i born and i don't see you as evil. I think that's a given.

    I think i'm punching above my weight cos I simply don't understand how we can agree on this. All i'm saying is that it's very disheartening (I'd even say de-humanising) for someone like me, to be faced with so much cynicism in the world. That's all i'm saying. That does not translate as me being delusional. I try to be as undeluded as possible. But it's kind of like me saying to you, you're not really this and that, you're not really this tough guy, you're not what you think you are, it's all delusion and self-deceit on your part. It's a pointless arguement cos our behaviour is a direct corollary with what we actually are. I guess i like to bolster people up, not pull the rug from under them every step of the way.

    I totally understand and appreciate the importance of stripping things down in order to understand them when it comes to human nature and when it comes to myself. Not enough people do that and I'm sure you agree with me. But there comes a time when what we expose is itself the very thing we tried to tear down. It's the same, only now we understand it.

  24. when i said stunted, i meant, well, you know, not there in certain areas. I dunno. As you can tell, i'm not particularly sharp today at all.

  25. I can whole-heartedly agree with feeling good isn't the reason they do it, but, they do know they will feel good from doing it, and although it might not be a prime motivation, it is at least subconscious motivation. People love approval, and being the good guy gets you more approval from more people than anything else.

    I know there are real life knights in shining armor. But the concept of selflessness, real selflessness, is literally impossible to achieve thanks to our own bodies.

    It's not cynicism if you have nothing to refute it with. It's not how I want to see the world, just what I have actually observed and learned. It's knowledge, not misanthropy.

  26. you expanded on my query notme, being a sociopath is one thing, being a sociopath with an agenda is another. for someone who supposedly has no "feelings", doing negative things should have little or no value.

    I have a very good example of this. When i was young (10-12), I saved a cat. It had been abandoned, I took it home looked after it. One day, I became curious about my power over the cat, just because I was so big and it was so little. I held it - tight, I strangled it, I let it go in a closed room and then I terrorised it.... My reason for doing so, was to see the boundaries of the cat. The lesson I learned was so valuable. The cat never trusted me, or another human being its whole life. It was terrified till the day it disappeared for good, dead I assume. I wont do that again.

    I'm starting to realise that many people who claim to be sociopaths, are just trying to justify their desire to be cruel, that is not a sociopathic thing, that is a fucked up human being thing. Sociopaths have to work a little bit harder to understand what upsets people, it doesnt mean they have to ignore it.

  27. I'm not gonna argue with the science of it. I just don't like the sentiment you offer at all. It makes people suspicious of kind-hearted people. I've had people look at me quizically cos I waited around by an unconscious man till i saw that he was alright. The suspicion that the sentiment you pose breeds is what I have a problem with. You're seen as a fake and a phony. That's what I have a problem with. The assumptions and the projections.

  28. sorry, my comment was to Note btw. I haven't read yours yet. :)

  29. by the way, it was one person who had a problem with it and it was a girl. She said,'why did you hover around him', i said, 'cos i was worried about him.' I know why she had that attitude.

  30. I'm not saying be suspicious of kind-hearted people. I'm just arguing that there is no true, squeaky clean, 100% shiny altruism. I'm a sociopath and most of the time I don't even have ulterior motives or hidden agendas. I just am. I have the capability to do a great many evils and sleep like a baby, and a great deal of good and not give a toss, and I've done both to little meaningful effect.

    Yes, author, sociopathy doesn't equate to sadistic a-hole. It does however mean that there's nothing stopping us from being sadistic a-holes. Sometimes not even the law.

    All humans enjoy at certain parts of their life cruelty, and thankfully, it's followed up by some matter of punishment and or guilt. That's simply not the case with us. Punishment means, don't get caught again, and guilt, if it ever happens, does not transform into remorse.

    I hope that helps explain it.

  31. it's an interesting point you raise nuts.

  32. like that....

    I can thankfuly say that I have never been intentionally cruel. As it was with the story of my cat, it was only ever experimental - and much to my detriment actually. Even if the results aren't emotional downfall, they are downfall of one measure or another.

    The fact is, I dont set out to disturb and unhinge people (stalking note? - for the purpose of what?). I just want to exist with as little hassle as possible.

  33. For the purpose of fun/alleviating boredom, if you're referring to The Stalk (as opposed to creepy guy stalking)

    Well, I can call you Nuts, or author, or whatever you like, but I'm not going to be spelling out your whole handle each time :P