• Baden
    14.1k
    No... but I thought your OP was targeting liberal democracies and the modern US. No society has ever lacked the need for people to take on unwanted identities, where people could say or do whatever they wanted. Living without freedom should create a greater need for repressing and acting in contradiction to one's thoughts and feelings, surely?Judaka

    Our notions of freedom aren't entirely unproblematic. But identifying problems in how liberal democracies function doesn't in any way imply that tyrannies are a solution.

    Well, you've done your best to manufacture a scenario complete with the specific interpretations, characterisations, focus and narrowness necessary to lead you to that conclusion.Judaka

    More or less. It's a starting point, for arguments' sake, rather than a destination.

    This is a rather idealized (if not entirely unrealistic) example, but the idea can be leveraged into less obvious contexts, I thinkBaden
  • Baden
    14.1k
    The focus on authenticity is just another turn of the screw in this context: it is like enlightenment or 'cool' - to be concerned with one's authenticity is inauthentic + authenticity is the only important thing to be. Get out of that without moving!unenlightened

    I almost made exactly the same point to @Metaphysician Undercover when he brought up Heidegger. Authenticity narratives are corrupted with the kind of individuality narratives that I've criticized previously.

    One might say, looking at the physical relations of these illnesses, that the virtual world is exploiting the body in the same way that modern society has been exploiting the environment. And the losers are suffering from lethal mental waste being dumped on them.unenlightened

    :up:
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    10.8k
    There are compatibilities with Heideggerian notions of authenticity but I don't need to invoke Heidegger to make the point that people have a range of potentialities, the pursuance or not of which may open or close spaces for different types of being, some of which utilize more or less personal potentialities, some of which inhere more or less quality.Baden

    The problem is that "potential" is a very difficult concept, and it's meaning will vary greatly depending on its ontological context. So, the way that one understands "that people have a range of potentialities" is greatly dependent on one's metaphysical perspective.

    However, if we assign priority to inauthenticity, we deny true identity, and in doing this we deny the applicability of "types of being". So we approach the problem without this assumption (types of being), assuming only what appears to be infinite possibility (potential) for action. There is no authentic representation of "what I am", producible through reference to types of being.

    Sure, but we can have an overarching self-narrative...Baden

    This is highly doubtful, due to the result of what I explained to Josh earlier. There is much that affects us without us apprehending that it affects us,. So any self-narrative that one produces will be extremely defective, missing many key elements. I believe this is why Plato argued strongly against the use of "narrative" in general. If one believes the narrative, it will inevitably mislead due to the deficiencies of narrative in general.

    So analysing the power dynamics (i.e. what’s relevant to the argument concerning domination) how do we differentiate between the boss / model employee relationship where model employee A conceptualises themselves as model vs. where model employee B conceptualises themselves as a "liar"?Baden

    This is why assigning priority to inauthenticity is beneficial. The person's real, or "true" identity is neither identity A nor identity B. And if we move to propose a distinct identity which encompasses the two, an overarching narrative, we will not be able to encompass everything about the person, and this will end up being opposed to some other identity which the person displays, and we will need to account for this other identity as well.

    I believe this principle is a manifestation of Hegelian dialectics, he gives priority to the active "becoming", which sublates the passive logical states of being and not being, and these lend themselves to "identity". In an Aristotelian interpretation we might say that neither/nor is the true identity, violating the law of excluded middle, but Hegel would want us to say that both are the true identity, violating the law of non-contradiction. Whichever you choose has metaphysical implications.

    The principal point being that when we make "being" active (instead of the passive what is), and especially in the case of assigning agency to a being, then the principle of identity and therefore the three fundamental rules of good logical practise are no longer applicable. Then we need to seek principles other than identity to ground the activities of being (more appropriately stated as "becoming"). This other base, or grounding was proposed by Plato as "the good", and you apprehend it from a perspective of pragmaticism.

    Authenticity narratives are corrupted with the kind of individuality narratives that I've criticized previously.Baden

    This, I think is a bit of a misunderstanding, because Heidegger gives priority to inauthenticity. So from this perspective there is no authentic narrative, only inauthentic narratives. Therefore authenticity narratives are fundamentally misguided. Authenticity however, is something we can strive for, but this requires an understanding of one's temporal existence, including an apprehension of potentialities, referred to above. The deficiency of a "narrative" is that it does not capture the reality of potential.

    So when Heidegger describes one's being at the present, as falling, we must look at this as a position created by having been thrown. And the being thrown is purposefully directed, a projection. One's past therefore consists of purposeful directing, and the intention involved in this is not adequately represented in the narrative.
  • Joshs
    4.2k
    I don't think these differences result in "a relativism" though, since care, fairness, loyalty, authority and sanctity are arguably generally admired, while harm, cheating, betrayal, subversion and degradation are generally deprecated, in most if not all human societies, for very pragmatic, but I think also aesthetic, and even compassionate, reasons.

    Authority and sanctity are the principles which I think allow of the greatest range of interpretations and thus of some relativism.

    I don't see human morality as inherently different to the kinds of normative behaviors that can be observed in social animal communities.
    Janus



    Hilary Putnam makes the argument that if the basis of our valuative, ethical judgements is an evolutionary adaptation shared by other animals then it is as though we are computers programmed by a fool ( selection pressure) operating subject to the constraints imposed by a moron ( nature). Those theorists, like Jonathan Haidt and Jesse Prinz, who believe that the basis of our ethical values is biological and therefore relative, find a way out of this problem by distinguishing between biological and rational faculties.

    According to Prinz, even though moral values are dependent on subjectively relative emotional dispositions, it is possible to determine one moral position as being objectively better than another on the basis of non-moral meta-empirical values such as consistency, universalizability and effects on well-being. Prinz's dualist split between empirical objectivism and moral-emotive relativism thereby upholds ethical correctness as the identification of breakdowns of rational objectivity that take the form of cognitive biases , distortions and errors of judgement. For instance, Prinz(2011) suggests that “Hitler's actions were partially based on false beliefs, rather than values”.

    This is what I meant by a metaphysical a priori basis of ethical judgement, as opposed to a subjective, biologically-based grounding. Putnam says “One cannot discover laws of nature unless one brings to nature a set of a priori prejudices which is not hopelessly wrong.” And those prejudices cannot themselves be a product of blind evolution.

    He concludes “Without the cognitive values of coherence, simplicity, and instrumental efficacy we have no world and no facts, not even facts about what relative to what. And these cognitive values, I claim, are simply a part of our holistic conception of human flourishing. Bereft of the old realist idea of truth as "correspondence" and of the positivist idea of justification as fixed by public "criteria," we are left with the necessity of seeing our search for better conceptions of rationality as an intentional activity which, like every activity that rises above the mere following of inclination or obsession, is guided by our idea of the good.
    If coherence and simplicity are values, and if we cannot deny with out falling into total self-refuting subjectivism that they are objective (notwithstanding their "softness," the lack of well-defined "criteria," and so forth), then the classic argument against the objectivity of ethical values is totally undercut.”
  • Baden
    14.1k
    This is highly doubtful, due to the result of what I explained to Josh earlier. There is much that affects us without us apprehending that it affects us,. So any self-narrative that one produces will be extremely defective, missing many key elements. I believe this is why Plato argued strongly against the use of "narrative" in general. If one believes the narrative, it will inevitably mislead due to the deficiencies of narrative in general.Metaphysician Undercover

    It should be clear from what I’ve written that I agree with much of this, but, again, let’s not fall foul of binary thinking: “Narratives are defective by nature; therefore, avoid narratives” First of all, we can’t. Not under my definitions of identity and self at least. Second of all, the production of a self-narrative can be opposed to experimenting with identities as it tends to be a more organic process of organizing our identities over time. It answers the more holistic question: "What kind of person am I?" rather than "What’s my job?", "What political party do I follow?", "What nationality am I?" etc. When we e.g. have major decisions to make about the course of our lives, being able to answer that first question may be very important. And to the extent our answer is more coherent, it makes such decision-making easier. It also relates to our general self-esteem and how we contextualize our interactions with other. What do we expect from them? What do we think they expect from us? etc. These forces make self-narratives socially necessary. And the danger from my perspective is not in their inherent defectiveness but in their degree of defectiveness.

    This is why assigning priority to inauthenticity is beneficial. The person's real, or "true" identity is neither identity A nor identity B.Metaphysician Undercover

    I stipulated in the scenario an additional hypothesized employee for reasons of contrast. They are two separate persons not separate identities in one person.

    This, I think is a bit of a misunderstanding, because Heidegger gives priority to inauthenticity. So from this perspective there is no authentic narrative, only inauthentic narratives. Therefore authenticity narratives are fundamentally misguided. Authenticity however, is something we can strive for, but this requires an understanding of one's temporal existence, including an apprehension of potentialities, referred to above. The deficiency of a "narrative" is that it does not capture the reality of potential.Metaphysician Undercover

    I wasn’t referring directly to Heidegger there but to the (mis)appropriation of the concept of authenticity in popular culture. See un’s comment here for context.

    I have nothing against introducing a Heideggerian (or any other) angle here (as long as relevance can be established, I'll respond). But continuing my pragmatist bent my main focus is a more grounded filling out of my argument. If I can achieve the modest task of convincing readers there might be something to look at and there might be productive ways to look at it they haven't thought of before, I'll be more than satisfied. Recalling my brief convo with @Hanover, I'm less in the pessimism/angst producing business than the art of encouraging critical thought and engagement.
  • Joshs
    4.2k
    Once you accept the reality, that stimulus can affect a person, and have a real affect on one's thinking or feeling, without that person even noticing oneself to be affected, then you'll understand what I am talking about.Metaphysician Undercover

    Subliminal advertising is a technique that has been explored by marketers from time to time. Some image or text ( or audio stimulus) is displayed on a screen too
    quickly for the viewer to be consciously aware of. The idea is that they wil nevertheless be influenced by this information that bypasses consciousness. Almost all the research shows that it doesn’t work. Why not? Because how likely we are to remember and be affected by a stimulus is a function of its relevance and meaningfulness to us. This is the principle behind memory enhancement techniques like the pegword method. We normally have a hard time remembering a random list of words ( like grocery items). But when we associate each word with an image which is already of significance to us we will recall it more easily. The more emotionally salient that image is(bizarre, humorous , erotic, etc). the better. Better yet is linking the list of arbitrary items together in a relevant and meaningful way , such as by associating each item with an object that one sees along a familiar route to work or around the house. We are bombarded with sensations all the time knocking at the door of consciousness, and yet we don’t notice the vast majority of this stimulation. It has to make itself relevant to our current concerns in order for us to pay attention to it. If it is not salient enough for us to care about it , then it will not be able to significantly affect our behavior, beliefs, attitudes.

    Salience and expectations drive what we pay attention to and what we make of what we pay attention to, and the more conscious these are, the more they will have an effect on our thinking.

    You mentioned Heidegger earlier. As you know , he argues that we always have a pre-understanding of the world that we project forward into new experience. We dont see simply stimuli but meaningful perceptions.

    “”Initially" we never hear noises and complexes of sound, but the creaking wagon, the motorcycle. We hear the column on the march, the north wind, the woodpecker tapping, the crackling fire. It requires a very artificial and complicated attitude in order to "hear" a "pure noise." The fact that we initially hear motorcycles and wagons is, however, the phenomenal proof that Da-sein, as being-in-the world, always already maintains itself together with innerworldly things at hand and initially not at all with "sensations" whose chaos would first have to be formed to provide the springboard from which the subject jumps off finally to land in a "world." Essentially understanding, Dasein is initially together with what is understood.”( Being and Time)

    Here’s a neuroscientific way of thinking about this:

    Evan Thompson explains:
    “…traditional neuroscience has tried to map brain organization onto a hierarchical, input-output processing model in which the sensory end is taken as the starting point. Perception is described as proceeding through a series of feedforward or bottom-up processing stages, and top-down influences are equated with back-projections or feedback from higher to lower areas. Freeman aptly describes this view as the "passivist-cognitivist view" of the brain. From an enactive viewpoint, things look rather different. Brain processes are recursive, reentrant, and self-activating, and do not start or stop anywhere. Instead of treating perception as a later stage of sensation and taking the sensory receptors as the starting point for analysis, the enactive approach treats perception and emotion as dependent aspects of intentional action, and takes the brain's self-generated, endogenous activity as the starting point for neurobiological analysis. This activity arises far from the sensors—in the frontal lobes, limbic system, or temporal and associative cortices—and reflects the organism's overall protentional set—its states of expectancy, preparation, affective tone, attention, and so on. These states are necessarily active at the same time as the sensory inflow.

    “Whereas a passivist-cognitivist view would describe such states as acting in a top-down manner on sensory processing, from an enactive perspective top down and bottom up are heuristic terms for what in reality is a large-scale network that integrates incoming and endogenous activities on the basis of its own internally established reference points. Hence, from an enactive viewpoint, we need to look to this large-scale dynamic network in order to understand how emotion and intentional action emerge through self-organizing neural activity.”
  • Janus
    13.2k
    Hilary Putnam makes the argument that if the basis of our valuative, ethical judgements is an evolutionary adaptation shared by other animals then it is as though we are computers programmed by a fool ( selection pressure) operating subject to the constraints imposed by a moron ( nature).Joshs

    The characterizations of evolution as a fool and nature as a moron are foolish and moronic in my view.

    And those prejudices cannot themselves be a product of blind evolution.Joshs

    The idea of a "blind evolution" is tendentious and a presumptive artefact of mechanistic thinking.

    “Without the cognitive values of coherence, simplicity, and instrumental efficacy we have no world and no facts, not even facts about what relative to what. And these cognitive values, I claim, are simply a part of our holistic conception of human flourishing. Bereft of the old realist idea of truth as "correspondence" and of the positivist idea of justification as fixed by public "criteria," we are left with the necessity of seeing our search for better conceptions of rationality as an intentional activity which, like every activity that rises above the mere following of inclination or obsession, is guided by our idea of the good.
    If coherence and simplicity are values, and if we cannot deny with out falling into total self-refuting subjectivism that they are objective (notwithstanding their "softness," the lack of well-defined "criteria," and so forth), then the classic argument against the objectivity of ethical values is totally undercut.”
    Joshs

    Since the world is a collective representation, I don't see why we should be "bereft of the old realist idea of truth as "correspondence" and of the positivist idea of justification as fixed by public "criteria,". Of course these ideas are relative to our collectively represented world, not some "absolute" world that stands "behind" that.

    What seems to be most difficult to understand is that the real (not the collective representation we know as world) is not represented by our conceptions; our conceptions only find their sense in relation to the inter-subjectively constructed world we think about, refer to and understand in dualistic terms.

    I call the noumenal, that of which we cannot speak, the real whereas Kant refers to it as the transcendental ideal. For me this is kind of arse-about because it is the empirical which consists in ideas, while the transcendental real transcends all our ideas. Experientially, it is that which is closest to us even though we cannot subject that experience in its "livingness" it to our conceptions.

    Rationality simply consists in self-consistently thinking in dualistic or binary terms; black and white, yes and no, true and false, is and is not, exists and does not exist and so on. It is part and parcel, built into the very foundations, of the empirical world of objects and entities and their properties and relations.


    .
  • Baden
    14.1k
    [Hegel] gives priority to the active "becoming", which sublates the passive logical states of being and not being, and these lend themselves to "identity". In an Aristotelian interpretation we might say that neither/nor is the true identity, violating the law of excluded middle, but Hegel would want us to say that both are the true identity, violating the law of non-contradiction. Whichever you choose has metaphysical implications.Metaphysician Undercover

    Yes, but...

    The principal point being that when we make "being" active (instead of the passive what is), and especially in the case of assigning agency to a being, then the principle of identity and therefore the three fundamental rules of good logical practise are no longer applicable. Then we need to seek principles other than identity to ground the activities of being (more appropriately stated as "becoming"). This other base, or grounding was proposed by Plato as "the good", and you apprehend it from a perspective of pragmaticism.Metaphysician Undercover

    ...I think this involves a misunderstanding of how I'm using the term "identity" or an equivocation that muddles the issue. Or at least you haven't clearly established relevance imo. Again, I've no problem with working Hegel into this but I'll need a bit more convincing here.

    (Have you read my OP btw? Some of what you've written suggests to me you haven't, particularly as I define how I'm using the concept of "identity" there quite directly.)
  • Baden
    14.1k
    I believe this principle is a manifestation of Hegelian dialectics, he gives priority to the active "becoming", which sublates the passive logical states of being and not being, and these lend themselves to "identityMetaphysician Undercover

    I was just flicking through the Logic. This bit then, right?

    S187

    "The more precise meaning and expression which being and nothing receive, now that they are moments, is to be ascertained from the consideration of determinate being as the unity in which they are preserved. Being is being, and nothing is nothing, only in their contradistinction from each other; but in their truth, in their unity, they have vanished as these determinations and are now something else. Being and nothing are the same; but just because they are the same they are no longer being and nothing, but now have a different significance. In becoming they were coming-to-be and ceasing-to-be; in determinate being, a differently determined unity, they are again differently determined moments. This unity now remains their base from which they do not again emerge in the abstract significance of being and nothing."
  • Hanover
    9.5k
    If I can achieve the modest task of convincing readers there might be something to look at and there might be productive ways to look at it they haven't thought of before, I'll be more than satisfied. Recalling my brief convo with Hanover, I'm less in the pessimism/angst producing business than the art of encouraging critical thought and engagement.Baden

    This makes you an unrealistic optimist, which hopefully causes you angst, in which case I'll be satisfied.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    10.8k
    Hilary Putnam makes the argument that if the basis of our valuative, ethical judgements is an evolutionary adaptation shared by other animals then it is as though we are computers programmed by a fool ( selection pressure) operating subject to the constraints imposed by a moron ( nature). Those theorists, like Jonathan Haidt and Jesse Prinz, who believe that the basis of our ethical values is biological and therefore relative, find a way out of this problem by distinguishing between biological and rational faculties.

    According to Prinz, even though moral values are dependent on subjectively relative emotional dispositions, it is possible to determine one moral position as being objectively better than another on the basis of non-moral meta-empirical values such as consistency, universalizability and effects on well-being. Prinz's dualist split between empirical objectivism and moral-emotive relativism thereby upholds ethical correctness as the identification of breakdowns of rational objectivity that take the form of cognitive biases , distortions and errors of judgement. For instance, Prinz(2011) suggests that “Hitler's actions were partially based on false beliefs, rather than values”.
    Joshs

    This is difficult, and I am trying to understand exactly what is meant here. The last line suggests a clear division between belief and values, as if a value is somehow other than a type of belief. But I can\t see how you get to this position.

    It appears as if you are driving a wedge between objectivity, being associated with empirically verified beliefs which are considered to be true, and emotional features, "values" , which are subjective. But after making this division you want to say that it is possible that values may be objective, if grounded in something like "well-being". However, my well-being does not necessitate your well-being, and the reality of competition often results in the opposite situation.

    So it really doesn't look to me like Prinz offers a very good understanding of the relation between beliefs and values. The whole separation between objective beliefs and subjective values seems completely artificial and imaginary to me, contrived for the sake of proposing that something like "well-being" could be used to introduce objectivity into the realm of subjective values.

    (Have you read my OP btw? Some of what you've written suggests to me you haven't, particularly as I define how I'm using the concept of "identity" there quite directly.)Baden

    Yes, I've read the OP a couple times, I'll go back and make it three now. The problem I have is that your description of a person's identities, and the relationship that the identities have to the self, is not really consistent with my personal experience. I can follow your description of that, but then when you get to the point of relating the self, along with its identities to the social environment which gives context to the self, I cannot follow, because the way that you've described self and identities is unreal to me.

    So to begin with, I don't see that people create identities for oneself. We create identities for others, and narratives concerning others, and sometimes I might include myself in such a narrative, but the narrative is essentially about the other, not about myself. As "myself", I have an identity which is completely different from the narrative I have of others,, being based in my wants, desires, needs, and intentions. The narratives which I assign to others, giving them their identities, is based on their past actions, yet the identity I give to myself is based in what I want for the future. If I look back, and get overly concerned about how others have viewed me in the past, and I try to produce some sort of narrative from this, I will lose my bearing on the future, and lose track of myself.

    Therefore I see what you call a person's identities, the identities which a person makes for oneself, as nothing other than the manifestation of the variety of goals which a person has for oneself. And, these goals often involve relations with others. So if I present myself to you in one way, to get what I want from you, and I present myself to another person in another way, to get what I want from that person, I see this not as giving myself a multiplicity of identities, but as having various distinct goals. However, an outside observer might look at my various different forms of behaviour, and conclude that I have different identities.

    This is the principal difference then. I look at myself as one coherent self, with one identity, being myself. The differences within me which make it appear to others like I have a multitude of identities, is simply the result of me having many widely varying goals. And the behavioural features which you describe as different identities are simply the result of differing goals. Furthermore, it is very often that a person does not well define and prioritize one's own goals, such that it is common for one to have conflicting goals within creating the appearance of conflicting identities.

    I see the issue then as a matter of understanding and prioritizing goals. I will behave differently around one group of people from how I behave around another, and this makes me not want them all in the same room together. And if I ask why I behave differently, it's because I have different expectations of them. To use Joshs' terms above, these are conflicting subjective values which I myself hold. To straighten out this conflict within myself, I must confer with something independent, a separate scale which would somehow give me objective principles for how I ought to behave consistently.

    To get to the part of the OP where you talk about the "advanced" society, what I see is a society which offers, and even induces through advertising and all sorts of social media, a wide range of goals for a person. You call this "freedom", but it's not really freedom, just a wide range of offers, more like a multitude of suggestions. As producing conflicted selves with unsettled goals, we might say that this is a bad society. But being in this unsettled condition is also what inclines one toward understanding and prioritizing goals, and understanding the need for the objective scale, so in this sense it would be good. .
  • Judaka
    1.4k

    More or less. It's a starting point, for arguments' sake, rather than a destination.Baden

    Alright... Let's address your starting point then.

    I have so many things to address and I'm really not sure that it's helpful to address them all at once. I don't expect you to address all these points, and I'll be satisfied if your response is to simply restate your position in a way that indirectly or directly deals with my concerns. Your call.

    1) Agency
    I find how you've robbed PC worker of his agency with your characterisations problematic. The absurdities I can argue for if I'm allowed to do this are unlimited. You've set yourself up with no way to fail or know you're wrong. You know PC worker is being intentionally deceptive, you know why he thinks he's doing it, you know he thinks he's not trying to deceive himself, you don't care what PC worker does outside of this situation, you don't care if PC worker lies in other cases. You've emphasised the power dynamic and robbed PC worker of any ability to define his own actions.

    What limitations for narrative are there under these conditions? What would you do if I took your agency away like this? "You wrote this thread because you're bitter and angry at society, and I don't care what you say, what you think, what you do, or anything else. You wrote this thread, therefore you're just angry at society, and that's final". What could you do but laugh? That's how I feel right now.

    2) The Outside "Truth"
    Narratives exist for the outside truth just as they do for any narratives we tell ourselves. You will emphasise your points, interpret them how you will, characterise them, sequence them, and create a narrative and I'll do the same. I'll choose my version and you'll choose yours. It doesn't need to be the case that either of us said anything untrue, unreasonable or invalid. You've set up a false dichotomy between what's inside and outside. I won't assume your intent, but you've clearly used this dichotomy to impose your subjectivity over someone else. You're discounting the subjective experience of PC worker and ignoring whatever thoughts he has, and you don't know how to be wrong here.

    The ability for me to weave any narrative I want for you using this technique is nearly limitless.

    3) Identity, Self & Narrative

    If you'd resign yourself to allowing PC worker to define his own circumstances, then this problem of contradiction is easily resolved. Especially in this case, because of the intentional deception, to simply understand himself and his actions through the lens of his intent. It's actually impossible not to do this as simply justifying his intent would accomplish it. There is no contradiction between deceiving others and putting on a mask, and his own personal beliefs or views.

    Robbing PC worker of his agency seems necessary for your argument as from his perspective, his actions are in total harmony. He has his political opinions, but he doesn't feel compelled to start an argument with everyone he meets who thinks differently, and he's fine with lying to get what he wants. His self-image here is entirely coherent, and we need to resort to some bullshit tactics to undermine that.

    4) I don't understand the specifics of your thesis
    In your OP you said that one impact of the phenomenon you were describing was political inactivity. I mentioned that we're in an age of unprecedented political mobility and political tribalism. Why was this not a bigger problem for you? You simply say it was a good point. Then you say that this phenomenon will cause "long-term suffering", what is that? Who would be most susceptible to this suffering and how do we know it's there? I could ask the same about self-conflict. Which countries are less susceptible to this problem than others? How do you tell apart the success or failure of your idea?

    I explained that social media entrenches our identities, which are not disposable and are just as real or important, if not often more so, than what exists in real life. And hiding your true feelings to avoid punishment is as old as humans, and the kind of freedom PC worker lacks is trivial compared to what has what freedoms he has relative to what has existed for most of human history. Is the phenomenon you describe new? Is it a unique characteristic of the West? What are these disposable, interchangeable identities in the first place?

    I've made points that I thought would be addressed due to how they'd be problematic for your assertions, but you didn't treat them that way. You've made so many claims, which is fine by itself, but I'm unsure which claims are crucial for you and which you don't care about, and like I said earlier, how those claims are verified or disproven is also a mystery to me.

    5) The Nuances of Masks
    People wear masks, and people employ deception to get what they want. The kinds of masks and deception employed are dependent upon the context, and there are differences between what builds social capital on say, social media or in the workplace. Hopefully, you also agree that masks are not just tools to build social capital, but are important psychologically for a variety of reasons, and can be used socially for many reasons, even if they won't build social capital. They may also exist for a variety of negative reasons, such as social anxiety, fear of repercussions, repression, etc.

    I agree that masks & deception can have intrapersonal significance, in fact, I think masks & deception can exist purely for one's psychological needs, even if it hurts their ability to attain social capital. Such as putting on a tough guy persona as a self-defence mechanism, or hiding your true feelings to avoid criticism.

    There are so many different reasons to use masks, one could easily write books on the subject, it's such a complicated and nuanced area. In some cases, people aren't aware, in some they are, and it's complicated.

    6) Which option is Pragmatic
    Your scenario is one very highly specific case, which I still disagree with but I think it's possible to construct a scenario where I could agree with you. That PC worker did create a mask to hide what's really going on, and that's a very human thing that we definitely employ. The stereotypical example of a loner who convinces themselves that they never wanted companionship or perhaps of someone painting themselves as a victim despite being responsible for their outcome.

    Just as these kinds of masks are varied, whether their use is good or bad is varied too. I think it's desirable in many cases. I'm a pragmatist who only really cares about results, if PC worker can't do anything about his situation, and was forced to lie and had no choice but to lie, this lie you've chosen for him seems perfectly fine to me. Why is it better to be a jaded cynic who laments their position as an expendable and powerless cog in the machine? There's no solution to the problem you've set up that's within PC worker's ability to enact, is there?

    How do you hold up PC worker's realisation of his powerlessness and sad subjugated state as a goal to attain, while arguing that his positive self-description as a sneaky but pragmatic liar is something which will cause him long-term suffering?

    Okay, I wrote a lot and I still could write like three times as much as this but it's already so long, time to stop.
  • Baden
    14.1k


    I’ll deal with your objections to the PC worker scenario first. Tbh, it’s hard not to conclude that you’re confused about how thought experiments / hypothesized scenarios are supposed to work or be engaged with. PC worker is stipulated as an idealized (but not unrealistic) subject of a hypothesized scenario and as such is not a real person. You talk as if not only they are a real person but that they are someone that you know personally and even intimately such that you are upset at my treatment of them. You’ve described an inner world for them that I’m using “bullshit tactics” to undermine.

    But in doing this, you’ve done exactly what you accused me of doing by making presumptions about their feelings and motives, their inner subjective experiences, something that was not at all my focus in that post. As I’ve told you, I’ve created a scenario for the sake of argument that focuses on the effects of masks on the power dynamics of a not untypical work context. I’ve focused on PC worker’s actions and their effect. Here, I've not robbed them of their agency. They choose to act as they do. But I have problematised the effects of their actions in the larger context. And I’ve also specifically held out to you the opportunity to discuss what the inner experiences of such a person might reasonably be. (That would be the next stage of the argument as I've already pointed out).

    Now you may retort that the subjective experience of the employee differs in some important quality depending on the orientation they take towards their boss, and we can discuss that tooBaden

    So, I haven’t set up a scenario that’s impossible to crtique or falsify. It’s just that you haven’t been able to do so because your focus is wrong. There are lots of ways to invalidate such hypothesised scenarios. You can question: logical connections (is there a necessary contradiction between aspects of the scenario?); theoretical underpinnings (does it rely on a misunderstanding of theories of e.g. power dynamics?); or elements of realism (is such a scenario even physically or socially possible?).

    But you cannot invalidate the scenario by adding arbitrary presumptions of your own. You cannot say I’m wrong because you know that PC worker is actually doing things for this or that reason and feels totally fine about it. First of all, because being at only the first stage of the argument, PC worker’s inner feelings about what they’re doing are irrelevant and, second of all, because my hypothesized PC worker is not a real individual whose inner world only you have special access to.

    The proper way to address the next stage of the argument would be for us to respectively put forward hypotheses on plausible short-term and long-term subjective effects on such a person, using theoretical or empirical evidence (qualitative or quantitative). You seem to have jumped ahead due to some emotional investment in the imaginary PC worker.

    You've set up a false dichotomy between what's inside and outside. I won't assume your intent, but you've clearly used this dichotomy to impose your subjectivity over someone else. You're discounting the subjective experience of PC worker and ignoring whatever thoughts he hasJudaka

    But if you can agree with the idea that lying to make a situation more comfortable to ourselves could potentially function to keep us in a situation that is not good for us in the long term, most of your objections will simply disappear. So the contention of the scenario so far focuses on the idea that the stories we tell about ourselves to ourselves don’t always work to our benefit. Sometimes they serve others in ways that are not immediately obvious. It's hard to see why this is so emotive for you when we have hardly broached any controversial ground yet.
  • Baden
    14.1k
    So to begin with, I don't see that people create identities for oneself. We create identities for others, and narratives concerning others, and sometimes I might include myself in such a narrative, but the narrative is essentially about the other, not about myself. As "myself", I have an identity which is completely different from the narrative I have of others,, being based in my wants, desires, needs, and intentions. The narratives which I assign to others, giving them their identities, is based on their past actions, yet the identity I give to myself is based in what I want for the future. If I look back, and get overly concerned about how others have viewed me in the past, and I try to produce some sort of narrative from this, I will lose my bearing on the future, and lose track of myself.

    Therefore I see what you call a person's identities, the identities which a person makes for oneself, as nothing other than the manifestation of the variety of goals which a person has for oneself. And, these goals often involve relations with others. So if I present myself to you in one way, to get what I want from you, and I present myself to another person in another way, to get what I want from that person, I see this not as giving myself a multiplicity of identities, but as having various distinct goals. However, an outside observer might look at my various different forms of behaviour, and conclude that I have different identities.
    Metaphysician Undercover

    There’s no necessary contradiction between an identity being a narrative and being the manifestation of the variety of goals we have for ourselves. The identity is a means whereby those goals are organized / conceptualised / made coherent. Part of the identity of “mother” is bound up with goals that are largely defined in terms of responsibilities and duties which have sociobiological roots. These can be organised under the general idea of what it means to be a mother. Of course, individual mothers will not all agree on what this is but their narratives will have a common core which organizes their dispositions as mothers and which is their “mother” identity. This is not (generally) a consciously calculative process but the outcome of the human need to meaningfully interact. It is that need, that overarching goal that organizes our other disparate goals into manageable narratives that we can set against each other in order to more efficiently and less resource-intensively make decisions. E.g. If we prioritize certain narratives about ourselves, it makes it easier to choose between conflicting desires / goals. Our goals are given an extra layer of meaningful contextualization. And this is just what makes human social life possible. General social identities (your narratives of the other) become internalized in specific but not unrelated ways (my narratives of the self) so that we may relate coherently to others.
  • Baden
    14.1k
    This makes you an unrealistic optimist, which hopefully causes you angst, in which case I'll be satisfied.Hanover

    :nerd:
  • unenlightened
    7.2k
    However, my well-being does not necessitate your well-being,Metaphysician Undercover

    If it is part of your well-being to speak meaningfully, then this clause is a performative contradiction. 'The chap's died', implies you are talking to thin air. Therefore: -

    No man is an island,
    Entire of itself.
    Each is a piece of the continent,
    A part of the main.
    If a clod be washed away by the sea,
    Europe is the less.
    As well as if a promontory were.
    As well as if a manor of thine own
    Or of thine friend's were.
    Each man's death diminishes me,
    For I am involved in mankind.
    Therefore, send not to know
    For whom the bell tolls,
    It tolls for thee.
    — John Donne
  • Judaka
    1.4k

    Yeah, I have no idea why I misread your scenario so badly but I re-read it and I can't remember why I read it so differently the first time but you didn't do anything like what I just accused you of, my bad...
  • Baden
    14.1k


    No worries. You made some other good points I'm going to get on to anyway.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    10.8k
    There’s no necessary contradiction between an identity being a narrative and being the manifestation of the variety of goals we have for ourselves.Baden

    I think there is a very clear difficulty here. A "narrative" is a description of events occurring in a chronological order. We can produce a narrative describing observed past events, or potential future events, and even fictional events. The difficulty is that a proper narrative does not include the goals or intentions of the agents, these are only seen to be implied. And since there is not a necessary relation between a goal and an action,(free will), the implication is not valid. This means that if a goal is included into the narrative, it is not a valid part of the narrative.

    For example, "he reached for his car keys because he wanted to drive his car". The first part is a valid descriptive narrative. The second is not. That phrase, "he wanted to drive his car", is not part of chronological occurrence of events, so it is fiction added by the author. It is not an observed part of the event, the observer does not truly know this, and it is implied only by invalid logic, as he might have grabbed his car keys for some other reason.

    From the perspective of the first person though, I can say "I reached for my car keys because I wanted to drive my car", and this appears like a valid narrative. However, it is still not a valid narrative, for basically the same reason. It is not a part of the order of events itself, and the important thing is that the author does not necessarily have a handle on one's own intentions. And this is very evident in habitual actions. So you ask me, why did you reach for your car keys, and without thinking I reply "because I wanted to drive my car". However, in reality I was leaving to go to work, and my habit is to grab the car keys as I go out the door. My goal or intention was to get to work, driving is the means to that end, and so I was grabbing the car keys. As Aristotle displayed, ends when questioned become means to further ends, and true intention is hard to isolate.

    Therefore, I think that for reasons such as those described above, the narrative must be kept separate from the goals in the basic description of a self, and one's identity. I could produce a personal identity based solely on a description of my past activities (narrative), or based solely on my goals for the future (intentions), but when I try to relate these two, to represent my presence, I have extreme difficulty. I believe this is what Heidegger points to as inauthenticity. My understanding of my self, being present at the current moment in time, is fundamentally inauthentic because I cannot establish any necessity in the relationship between my describable activities of the past, and my goals for the future.

    The identity is a means whereby those goals are organized / conceptualised / made coherent.Baden

    Relating my identity strictly to my goals for the future would be extremely problematic. The reality of freedom allows that I may alter my goals at any moment in time. This is extremely important in a person's capacity to adapt to risk factors. If an individual is involved in a dangerous activity and the occurrence of events strays form the plan, the person must be capable of altering goals at any moment.

    So I do not think that "identity" provides a good principle for establishing a hierarchy of goals. This principle is more directed toward the narrative of past events, and any proposed "identity" gains its strength from an extended temporality. That is to say that an identity is something derived from a long period of time. The structuring of goals on the other hand must be extremely adaptable, such that even goals which we have held on to for a very long duration must be capable of being dropped at a moments notice, due to the occurrence of unforeseen circumstances.

    Part of the identity of “mother” is bound up with goals that are largely defined in terms of responsibilities and duties which have sociobiological roots. These can be organised under the general idea of what it means to be a mother. Of course, individual mothers will not all agree on what this is but their narratives will have a common core which organizes their dispositions as mothers and which is their “mother” identity.Baden

    This is an example of the use of "types" which I said previously is deficient for describing a person as an active agent. The point being that one's goals must be strongly individualized, due to the role of 'the present circumstances' and the need to adapt,, as outlined above. An individual might refer to a "type" as guidance in producing goals, but ultimately the urgency of the current situation will necessitate that the rules of the type must be broken. Then if the person is trained only in the ways of choosing according to type, that person would be lost in some situations.

    This is not (generally) a consciously calculative process but the outcome of the human need to meaningfully interact. It is that need, that overarching goal that organizes our other disparate goals into manageable narratives that we can set against each other in order to more efficiently and less resource-intensively make decisions. E.g. If we prioritize certain narratives about ourselves, it makes it easier to choose between conflicting desires / goals. Our goals are given an extra layer of meaningful contextualization. And this is just what makes human social life possible. General social identities (your narratives of the other) become internalized in specific but not unrelated ways (my narratives of the self) so that we may relate coherently to others.Baden

    What you appear to be doing here is placing the need for social interaction as the highest priority in ones goals. Then the other goals will be shaped and prioritized around this. I see the opposite situation. Social interaction is inevitable, absolutely unavoidable, as portrayed in unenlighten's post. Goals are prioritized according to what is wanted or needed, and this constitutes privation. Therefore social interaction is at the opposite end of the scale from where goals are. Goals relate to freedom of choice, possibilities, while social relations related to necessities, what is impossible to be otherwise.

    So it appears to me, like the difference between starting from a narrative, and starting from goals or intentions, produces a huge gap between the way that you and I understand these things. It's not a huge difference, because the understanding is quite similar, but it's a huge gap, like flip sides of the same coin. We both understand both sides, but disagree as to which side is up.

    If it is part of your well-being to speak meaningfully, then this clause is a performative contradiction.unenlightened

    But "speak meaningfully" does not exclude deception. So I can speak meaningfully in a way designed to support my own well-being, which will also undermine your well-being.
  • unenlightened
    7.2k
    Well if you are trying to deceive us, you don't deserve an answer at all.
  • Baden
    14.1k
    Let me just take this bit first as I already have some serious objections.

    I think there is a very clear difficulty here. A "narrative" is a description of events occurring in a chronological order. We can produce a narrative describing observed past events, or potential future events, and even fictional events. The difficulty is that a proper narrative does not include the goals or intentions of the agents, these are only seen to be implied. And since there is not a necessary relation between a goal and an action,(free will), the implication is not valid. This means that if a goal is included into the narrative, it is not a valid part of the narrative.Metaphysician Undercover

    Maybe you are taking the concept of narrative too literally. But even from a literal point of view a narrative is not just "a description of events occuring in a chronological order". A text of the form "At 9am I got up. Then at 9.05 I washed my teeth. Then at 9.15 I ate my breakfast. Then ... etc.," is not a narrative text. It's more like a recount (see e.g. here, p8-9). A narrative, like a story, establishes some significant connection between its elements that gives it the power to subsist as an organizing emotive force for those elements. Narratives have emotional power.

    In the case of identity narratives, which are obviously not literally texts we store in our head, but stories about who we are that may be expressed in different ways, the personal significance of e.g. a "mother" narrative lies in the responsibilities, duties, activities, goals etc. it implies as appropriate, and those can only be properly constituted in the context of the general social narrative of "mother".

    Also, the idea that a proper narrative "does not include the goals or intentions of the agents" and that "if a goal is included into a narrative, it is not a valid part of the narrative" is utterly baffling to me. I have no idea where you got that from but I would challenge you to support it as it would preclude probably most of the great stories of humankind as being narratives.

    Edit: You have supported this in the rest of your post. I'll try to find a way to respond to that. Our thinking is very far apart here.
  • Baden
    14.1k
    I don't understand the specifics of your thesis. In your OP you said that one impact of the phenomenon you were describing was political inactivity.Judaka

    I didn’t say that actually. In the line we were discussing, I used the word “inaction”. However, I understand how that might be misinterpreted, so I put some context on it in our previous conversation. And now, I’ve also edited the sentence to make it clearer that I don’t mean social media stops people doing things in a very general sense or stops people being politically active. Just the opposite is often the case, which is why elsewhere I talked of political polarisation as a problem, likely due to mechanisms such as this:

    First, social media introduces more negative affect into social networks. Social media use tends to diversify communication within social networks by making people aware of what others think and feel about political and social issues (Kwon et al., 2014). They also provide ample opportunities for the self-disclosure of social cues (Walther, 1992, 2011), and people use these cues to form impressions about others in their social networks. Thus, social media enhance the perception of difference, and interpersonal contacts in these environments are typically rated less positively than interpersonal contacts in face-to-face communicationsource

    I mentioned that we're in an age of unprecedented political mobility and political tribalism. Why was this not a bigger problem for you? You simply say it was a good point. Then you say that this phenomenon will cause "long-term suffering", what is that?Judaka

    I made the analogy with drug use. And I’m not the only one to do that.

    users … experience symptoms and consequences traditionally associated with substance-related addictions (i.e., salience, mood modification, tolerance, withdrawal, relapse, and conflict) may be addicted to using SNSssource

    Although not formally recognized as a diagnosis, SNS addiction shares many similarities with those of other addictions, including tolerance, withdrawal, conflict, salience, relapse, and mood modification… Theoretical and empirical models suggest that SNS addiction is molded by several factors; including dispositional, sociocultural, and behavioral reinforcement. Also, empirical findings generally unveil that SNS addiction is related to impaired health and well-beingsource

    Some of the consequences, which are consistent with my description of social media as

    subjectively experienced in the long term as unhappy, meaningless and anxious selvesBaden

    Adolescents who used social media more – both overall and at night – and those who were more emotionally invested in social media experienced poorer sleep quality, lower self-esteem and higher levels of anxiety and depressionsource

    After a week of baseline monitoring, 143 undergraduates at the University of Pennsylvania were randomly assigned to either limit Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat use to 10 minutes, per platform, per day, or to use social media as usual for three weeks.
    …The limited use group showed significant reductions in loneliness and depression over three weeks compared to the control group. Both groups showed significant decreases in anxiety and fear of missing out over baseline, suggesting a benefit of increased self-monitoring

    Our findings strongly suggest that limiting social media use … lead to significant improvement in well-being.”
    source

    In two nationally representative surveys of U.S. adolescents in grades 8 through 12 (N = 506,820) and national statistics on suicide deaths for those ages 13 to 18, adolescents’ depressive symptoms, suicide-related outcomes, and suicide rates increased between 2010 and 2015, especially among females. Adolescents who spent more time on new media (including social media and electronic devices such as smartphones) were more likely to report mental health issues, and adolescents who spent more time on nonscreen activities (in-person social interaction, sports/exercise, homework, print media, and attending religious services) were less likely.source

    Who would be most susceptible to this suffering and how do we know it's there? I could ask the same about self-conflict. Which countries are less susceptible to this problem than others? … Is it a unique characteristic of the West?Judaka

    Good questions. I don’t think we’re at the point empirically where that can be determined. E.g. re social media addiction:

    there are sociodemographic differences in SNS addiction. The lack of consistent findings regarding a relationship with gender may be due to different sampling techniques and various assessment instruments used, as well as the presence of extraneous variables that may contribute to the relationships found. All of these factors highlight possible methodological problems of current SNS addiction research (e.g., lack of cross-comparisons due to differences in sampling and classification, lack of control of confounding variables), which need to be addressed in future empirical research.source

    There is evidence that those with low self-esteem are at particular risk. Which makes sense as their search for offline social capital is likely to be more problematic and the focus on online social capital may become more critical for them.

    Regression analysis with Process macro for SPSS evidence the impact of likes on problematic use and the moderating role of self-esteem, serving as a protective factor, so that the impact of likes increase on problematic use is lower in participants with higher self-esteem compared to those with lower self-esteem.source

    I explained that social media entrenches our identities, which are not disposable and are just as real or important, if not often more so, than what exists in real life… What are these disposable, interchangeable identities in the first place?Judaka

    Social media identities are relatively disposable and interchangeable due to their form and mode of creation, i.e. their high plasticity. Your original examples in the thread show that social media identities can often become detached from other identities and that this can be very problematic. So, what is most salient in terms of intrapersonal conflict is how well these identities work with other identities that form our selves. Regardless of how entrenched they become, they may not be sustainable / their maintenance may lead to stress and anxiety as you’ve noted yourself.

    In a separate case, there was a documentary on how multi-level marketing schemes would attract mothers who perhaps had had their children leave home. To sell accessories, cosmetics or clothes, and to present this image of themselves on social media as living a great life. As things would start to go poorly, they couldn't face the shame of admitting their failures online and so felt forced to maintain the lie. They preferred to continue their losing strategy than embarrass themselves to friends and family.Judaka

    Social media has created an environment where so many are either addicted or forced to constantly present the image of themselves they want others to see online.Judaka

    I know I haven't covered all of your concerns here, but I wanted to provide some evidence for my positioning anyway and I'll flesh out some more of my reasoning later.
  • Baden
    14.1k
    People wear masks, and people employ deception to get what they want. The kinds of masks and deception employed are dependent upon the context, and there are differences between what builds social capital on say, social media or in the workplace. Hopefully, you also agree that masks are not just tools to build social capital, but are important psychologically for a variety of reasons, and can be used socially for many reasons, even if they won't build social capital. They may also exist for a variety of negative reasons, such as social anxiety, fear of repercussions, repression, etc.

    I agree that masks & deception can have intrapersonal significance, in fact, I think masks & deception can exist purely for one's psychological needs, even if it hurts their ability to attain social capital. Such as putting on a tough guy persona as a self-defence mechanism, or hiding your true feelings to avoid criticism.

    There are so many different reasons to use masks, one could easily write books on the subject, it's such a complicated and nuanced area. In some cases, people aren't aware, in some they are, and it's complicated.
    Judaka

    I do pretty much agree with this. There's a lot to untangle and it is complicated. To reiterate, the specific dynamic I'm criticising is where masks become in themselves a focus of our appetites, commodified such that their variety of expression tends to lead to exercises of purely formal freedom. This is why I emphasised earlier that it is not social-technologies in themselves that are problematic but their intersection with consumer culture whereby the manipulation of our instinctive desires for social validation is the logical outcome of the profit motive embedded therein, serving formal freedom (more opportunities to satisfy appetites) at the expense of freedom proper (in what I've described as effortful cognitive engagement).
  • Baden
    14.1k
    I do not think that "identity" provides a good principle for establishing a hierarchy of goals.Metaphysician Undercover

    A hierarchy is just one mode of organization and not how I imagine goals being organizaed in an identity, at least not in the strict sense,

    This principle is more directed toward the narrative of past events, and any proposed "identity" gains its strength from an extended temporality. That is to say that an identity is something derived from a long period of time. The structuring of goals on the other hand must be extremely adaptable, such that even goals which we have held on to for a very long duration must be capable of being dropped at a moments notice, due to the occurrence of unforeseen circumstances.Metaphysician Undercover

    Identities gain strength over time precisely insofar as they provide coherent frameworks for the activity of our desires as defined both through our conceptualised goals and immediate needs for gratification. Identities may be directed by goals and direct goals. There’s no contradiction here.

    Part of the identity of “mother” is bound up with goals that are largely defined in terms of responsibilities and duties which have sociobiological roots. These can be organised under the general idea of what it means to be a mother. Of course, individual mothers will not all agree on what this is but their narratives will have a common core which organizes their dispositions as mothers and which is their “mother” identity.
    — Baden
    Metaphysician Undercover
    This is an example of the use of "types" which I said previously is deficient for describing a person as an active agent. The point being that one's goals must be strongly individualized, due to the role of 'the present circumstances' and the need to adapt,, as outlined above. An individual might refer to a "type" as guidance in producing goals, but ultimately the urgency of the current situation will necessitate that the rules of the type must be broken. Then if the person is trained only in the ways of choosing according to type, that person would be lost in some situations.Metaphysician Undercover

    There is no deficiency excepting the imposition of a level of determinism applied to the idea of how identity functions which not only have I never implied but that runs counter to the core of my argument. The logic of my posing the problem of self-conflicting selves contains within it the notion that breaking the “rules” of an identity is both something that happens and that is problematic. So, yes people get “lost in some situations” because a goal or desire conflicts with one or more of their identities. That’s part of the point I’ve been making.

    This is not (generally) a consciously calculative process but the outcome of the human need to meaningfully interact. It is that need, that overarching goal that organizes our other disparate goals into manageable narratives that we can set against each other in order to more efficiently and less resource-intensively make decisions. E.g. If we prioritize certain narratives about ourselves, it makes it easier to choose between conflicting desires / goals. Our goals are given an extra layer of meaningful contextualization. And this is just what makes human social life possible. General social identities (your narratives of the other) become internalized in specific but not unrelated ways (my narratives of the self) so that we may relate coherently to others.
    — Baden

    What you appear to be doing here is placing the need for social interaction as the highest priority in ones goals.
    Metaphysician Undercover

    Yes, humans are inherently social. It's our ultimate contextualization; a recognizably human consciousness absent of all social interaction is incoherent. But we're social in a specifically human way that doesn’t preclude the prioritization of goals other than the immediately social. E.g. Our relationship to ourselves is mediated through the social phenomenon of language, which not only doesn’t restrict the variety of goals available to us but largely enables it. So, to speak of an overarching social goal that organizes our other sets of goals is just to admit that insofar as we are human we can't separate ourselves and our goals fully from our particular social context and the ideological hold it has over us.

    Then the other goals will be shaped and prioritized around this. I see the opposite situation. Social interaction is inevitable, absolutely unavoidable, as portrayed in unenlighten's post. Goals are prioritized according to what is wanted or needed, and this constitutes privation. Therefore social interaction is at the opposite end of the scale from where goals are. Goals relate to freedom of choice, possibilities, while social relations related to necessities, what is impossible to be otherwise.Metaphysician Undercover

    Social relations define the field in which notions of freedom of choice become coherent. We don’t operate in a social vacuum and sociality is not a factor we can fully externalise either re our conceptualisation of goals or our decision-making processes as to how they may be achieved.

    So it appears to me, like the difference between starting from a narrative, and starting from goals or intentions, produces a huge gap between the way that you and I understand these things. It's not a huge difference, because the understanding is quite similar, but it's a huge gap, like flip sides of the same coin. We both understand both sides, but disagree as to which side is up.Metaphysician Undercover

    To me, it’s as if you are trying to understand art by starting from one category of elements in different paintings as if they had such significance outside their individual framings they made such framings irrelevant. It’s a narrow perspective in two senses. Firstly, it elides the importance of dispositions, histories, capacities (analagous to other elements in the paintings), which are necessary for the realisation of goals. Secondly, it conceptualises the frame overly simplistically as a pure limitation. But just as It's the frame that allows for art to function as art, it's identities and the ideologies that underly their formation that allow the social to function as social. To imagine a world where the individual pursuance of goals absent of ideological framings occurs under simple social limitations is hardly coherent. The social finds its form not in a bunch of obstacles we as individuals need to navigate but as the very field of possibilities which allows us to define ourselves as the kinds of beings who navigate.
  • Joshs
    4.2k


    I emphasised earlier that it is not social-technologies in themselves that are problematic but their intersection with consumer culture whereby the manipulation of our instinctive desires for social validation is the logical outcome of the profit motive embedded therein, serving formal freedom (more opportunities to satisfy appetites) at the expense of freedom proper (in what I've described as effortful cognitive engagement).Baden

    As you have pointed out, there is much research pointing to a positive association between depression , loneliness and other emotional difficulties, and the amount of time spent on social media. The explanations I have seen , including yours, rely on one form or another of the idea that human beings are vulnerable to being conditioned to behave against our long-term interests due to the way our motivational system is structured. The typical mechanism offered is a drive-reinforcement process whereby genuine reality-testing is short-circuited by the salience and intensity of the immediate reward. This dovetails with addiction models which show that additive behaviors are self-perpetuating because the rewards are immediately felt whereas the disincentives are delayed.
    I am wondering what we gain by adding to this picture an internal conflict between identities. Do we really need a Freudian-style psychodynamics to understand why social media makes many people feel isolated, depressed and anxious when more direct models would seem to do the job?
  • Baden
    14.1k


    Turning my own commitment to pragmatism against me. I like it. :up: I don't know is the short answer. But it's a potentially useful avenue of approach and has the advantage of emphasising that what's under threat is our relationship to ourselves, which idea appeals to a potentially more salient existential discourse vs a medical one and that may feed into a more generalised critical orientation. "Social media is making me depressed >>no biggie, I'll take a pill". "Social media functions to process my social capital needs into profits at the expense of my personal development >> ?"
  • Baden
    14.1k
    (Culture is essentially political and so must any challenge to it be. And politics is the art of creating and manipulating narratives as tools to naturalise and denaturalise, elevate and denigrate, forms of life in their manifestation in behaviours, individuals, technologies, and institutions. Don't bring a knife to a gun fight.)
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    10.8k
    Well if you are trying to deceive us, you don't deserve an answer at all.unenlightened

    The problem though, is that it is only a possibility, that I am trying to deceive you. And you state a conditional, "if you are trying to deceive us..." So you need to make that judgement whether or not I am trying to deceive you, which you cannot accurately do without engaging me in some way.

    A narrative, like a story, establishes some significant connection between its elements that gives it the power to subsist as an organizing emotive force for those elements. Narratives have emotional power.Baden

    This is exactly why I have been arguing that narrative is improper as a formula for a true identity. The connections between events, which you refer to, that give the narrative emotive force, often consist of invalid implications as I described. A "true" story would consist only of a description of observed events, what your referenced page calls a "recount". Notice that this is described as the method of science. But a "narrative" as you use the word, adds something to the true story, it adds "significant connection" between the events. And as I explained in the last post, these added aspects often consist of invalid implications, and false representations of goals and intentions.

    And it is these unsound aspects of the narrative, the proposed relations which are often invalid, or simply incorrect, which give it its emotive force. Therefore to have a proper and true understanding, we must remove these aspects from the narrative (or if that's essential to "narrative", remove narrative altogether), to give us a simple "recount". This is for the purpose of separating the true from the fictitious. Then relative to a person's identity as a temporal being, the person's past is represented truly, by removing that emotional force.

    To get a proper understanding of the causal relations between events, intention, we can now turn to the future aspect, which consists of how we view goals and possibilities. Separating these two aspects, the past and the future is necessary for a proper analysis. Imagine if the person who gave the recount of a science experiment added statements about why such and such events occurred, without properly validating these claimed causal connections. Of course this would give the recount emotive force, but this is undesirable when describing events scientifically. So this would not be acceptable science. Likewise, the element which give "emotive force" to the narrative is undesirable.

    This I believe is the Heideggerian principle. The tendency to look at oneself in terms of narrative (how we look at others) gives an inauthentic identity. We cannot see the goals and intentions of others, so we add those elements as we see fit, and these are unsound features of the narrative which give it emotive force. Then, when I turn inward, and look at myself in this way I employ the same technique, as is the habit of narrative. The problem though, is that since it is myself that I am making a narrative of, rather than another, I tend to simply assume, and believe, that I have real access to these causal elements, as my goals and intentions, therefore I think that I am making a true narrative here. But all I've done is deceived myself. If I look more deeply in introspection, I realize that I really do not properly understand my intentions and goals, and how they influence my behaviour

    The reality is, as Heidegger indicates, that there is a real separation between the past (observable events) and the future (possibilities), and this separation constitutes being at the present. We cannot understand being at the present until we move to represent this separation. Unifying these two in a narrative is a false representation. Only after the separation is properly understood can I produce a true representation of my identity at the present. And, because each of those past events, when it occurred, was an instance of existence of this separation, i.e. being at the present, it needs to be represented separately. So we separate the recount of events which may obtain scientific truth, from the proposed goals and intentions which are supposed to be causal, but with far less certainty than the recount. Then we no longer have a narrative but two separate stories.

    So the point is that the narrative gives a combination of described events, and a view of goals. I argue that this is a false or unsound combination because it combines the verifiable with the unverifiable. in reality the agent living and acting at the present, behaves as a separation between past events and future possibilities. What would constitutes a true or authentic representation of my identity would be to completely separate my past from my future. This would allow me to make true, unbiased decisions.

    Also, the idea that a proper narrative "does not include the goals or intentions of the agents" and that "if a goal is included into a narrative, it is not a valid part of the narrative" is utterly baffling to me. I have no idea where you got that from but I would challenge you to support it as it would preclude probably most of the great stories of humankind as being narratives.Baden

    What I mean is that a "narrative" as such is not a true or sound recounting of events.

    Identities gain strength over time precisely insofar as they provide coherent frameworks for the activity of our desires as defined both through our conceptualised goals and immediate needs for gratification. Identities may be directed by goals and direct goals. There’s no contradiction here.Baden

    There's no necessary contradiction, that's for sure, but when a person's goal is to better oneself, then there is a problem. Identity does not suffice, because exactly what is desired is to cease being what you have been to be something better. It brings to mind a line from the Elton John movie, "Rocket Man": "You gotta kill the person you were born to be to become the person you want to be." So Elton takes this to the extreme, killing the old person, and becoming a new person (a new identity), with each new album.

    To truly represent how we deal with our goals and desires, we need to understand this aspect of temporal discontinuity, this way that we separate ourselves form our past, to be a person in the future completely different, 'new and improved', from the past person. We recognize our sins as sins, and move to become the new person who is free from them The real separation between multiple identities is temporal like this, we cease having one identity to take up another. Yet there is overlap.

    There is no deficiency excepting the imposition of a level of determinism applied to the idea of how identity functions which not only have I never implied but that runs counter to the core of my argument. The logic of my posing the problem of self-conflicting selves contains within it the notion that breaking the “rules” of an identity is both something that happens and that is problematic. So, yes people get “lost in some situations” because a goal or desire conflicts with one or more of their identities. That’s part of the point I’ve been making.Baden

    Based on what I just said, I would argue that we do not only break the rules of this or that identity, but we break the rule of what it means to have an identity. The temporal extension of having this identity or that identity over a temporal duration, is what we continually strive to resist. That is what freedom is, to become a new person at each passing moment through striving to better oneself, and not being constrained by any such identity which has been the "me" of the past.

    Yes, humans are inherently social. It's our ultimate contextualization; a recognizably human consciousness absent of all social interaction is incoherent. But we're social in a specifically human way that doesn’t preclude the prioritization of goals other than the immediately social. E.g. Our relationship to ourselves is mediated through the social phenomenon of language, which not only doesn’t restrict the variety of goals available to us but largely enables it. So, to speak of an overarching social goal that organizes our other sets of goals is just to admit that insofar as we are human we can't separate ourselves and our goals fully from our particular social context and the ideological hold it has over us.Baden

    This is where things get quite difficult, the social context. But I think that you and I have some agreement here. How we each get here though, is quite different. The reason I say that freedom of choice, goals, intention, and desires, are tied to "social context", is because most of our natural inclinations involve others. If our goals and desires did not involve others we could produce a separation, but they do, so that would be unrealistic.

    To me, it’s as if you are trying to understand art by starting from one category of elements in different paintings as if they had such significance outside their individual framings they made such framings irrelevant.Baden

    I don't understand what you mean by "framings" here.

    Firstly, it elides the importance of dispositions, histories, capacities (analagous to other elements in the paintings), which are necessary for the realisation of goals.Baden

    As I said, most goals involve others, therefore the social aspect is necessary to the realisation of goals.

    Secondly, it conceptualises the frame overly simplistically as a pure limitation. But just as It's the frame that allows for art to function as art, it's identities and the ideologies that underly their formation that allow the social to function as social. To imagine a world where the individual pursuance of goals absent of ideological framings occurs under simple social limitations is hardly coherent. The social finds its form not in a bunch of obstacles we as individuals need to navigate but as the very field of possibilities which allows us to define ourselves as the kinds of beings who navigate.Baden

    Again, you'd need to elucidate on what you mean by "framing" here. I don't consider framing to be a necessary aspect of art. To me art consists of content and form, and framing may enter into the form. Depending on how you look at it, the entire form might simply be a framing of the content. So yes, social ideologies are a necessary aspect of personal desires and goals, just like art is not pure content, it must have a form, that's just a statement about the nature of personal goals and intentions. However, the social does not provide the "field of possibilities", I think that's a false representation. The individual's imagination provides the true field of possibilities, while the social aspect limits that, just like the artist's mind provides the field of possibilities, and the medium used by the artist restricts the possibilities.
  • Baden
    14.1k


    In lieu of diving into this for now, while we both espouse a form of freedom as a goal, my impression is that your route primarily involves normative claims about potential modes of self-conceptualization whereas mine primarily involves descriptive claims thereof to further a normative claim re the action of social institutions. Would you agree?
  • Baden
    14.1k
    (As in, I say identities are narratives and are open to manipulation as such--which manipulation (in the form presented) is bad. Whereas you seem to say, viewing identities as narratives is what's bad.)
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