I'm pretty good at achieving things I should want. If only I could be as good at achieving things I do want.

(Insert tongue into cheek: And whose fault is it that I lack such abilities? I could blame my mother for faulty genes; my family for an imperfect nurturing environment; my community for not providing the needed "village"; my state for not providing more leadership programs; my government for not pumping more money into the nanny-state education system; my world for not uniting to save every child; evolution for "doing it wrong"; reality for not bending to my every whim; or God for creating imperfection in the first place. I could blame any/all of these people/things/deities. Right? Nothing could possibly be my own fault? No, surely not, no.)

"Know the truth and the truth shall set you free."

"Thinking is man’s only basic virtue, from which all the others proceed. And his basic vice, the source of all his evils, is that nameless act which all of you practice, but struggle never to admit: the act of blanking out, the willful suspension of one’s consciousness, the refusal to think—not blindness, but the refusal to see; not ignorance, but the refusal to know. It is the act of unfocusing your mind and inducing an inner fog to escape the responsibility of judgment—on the unstated premise that a thing will not exist if only you refuse to identify it, that A will not be A so long as you do not pronounce the verdict 'It is.' Non-thinking is an act of annihilation, a wish to negate existence, an attempt to wipe out reality."

"Hypocrisy is the lens through which I view my life."


Kyle said...

I'm not saying we should eliminate the idea of personal responsibility, but I'll say this much: Your genes do determine your abilities to a degree, as do your education, parenting, etc. I think it is silly to simply dismiss any kind of fault by passing it off; if we take the determinist approach things were always meant to be this way and we shouldn't get too worked up about it. Worked up meaning we shouldn't obsess over fault and all that. Doesn't mean that even if the Holocaust was unavoidable it was justified or it is good. Also doesn't mean we sit idly by. After all, it might be determined for us to intervene in some way. We'd still have to try criminals and use freedom and personal responsibility as an explanation, because as a society we don't seem able to function otherwise. Necessary myths, perhaps?

Quoting the Bible and Ayn Rand in the same post? Cute.

I was in a little second-hand bookstore this evening looking for some good philosophy books. I found none that I wanted, which was highly disappointing. But I looked for some Ayn Rand.

Sometimes I wonder what things would be liked if I went to a different school, like U of I. Would I know the friends of friends I know now? For example, would I be friends with Adam instead of Jim, and would Jim just be that friend of a friend that I kind of know but not well? Would I have a similar entourage of friends? Would I have the doppelganger of DTR at U of I?

Then I realize such thoughts are stupid, because I don't believe in other possibilities. And I think about Kripke, and I wonder if a large, green, striped, predatory cat with only one paw and two legs and no tail is still a tiger.

Speaking of Kripke, I do believe I will be studying him in a seminar next fall. A seminar about metaphysics, possibility, and philosophy of language. Watch yourself.

Daniel T. Richards said...

The only reason I pass it off is because I recognize my own limitations. Wishing reality was something other than it is accomplishes nothing--and it's exactly what too many people try to do.

I am unable to play jazz piano. Is that because society/education/parenting/genes keep me from it? No. It's because I don't want to put in the effort to learn jazz piano.

On the other hand--horrible pun-to-be completely intended--if I were born without arms I would have to acknowledge the limitations of my reality and act accordingly. To wish I could play jazz piano with no arms is to wish an impossible reality.

In my case, I recognize that the barriers to achieving things that I want are internal, mental, emotional. There is no limitation except my own weakness, and to blame someone else for my own recognized faults would evade reality just as much as the no-armed me wishing I could play jazz piano--worse, though, because I could actually do something my emotional weakness if I motivated myself to do so.

::ramble ramble::

Enjoy Kripke (again). I kind of like him. A little.


Michael said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael said...

Your triumphs are yours, just as your failures are yours, I'm sure we can agree on this much.

Still, I think you might be too hasty in dismissing the causes of your limitations. With accurate diagnoses often comes the possibility of repair. We are not responsible for all of our weaknesses. We have advantages and disadvantages that we did not choose. Knowing where they came from and being grateful or angry for them has nothing to do with avoiding/evading/ignoring/reconstructing reality. Its another exercise in embracing it.