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Do as thou wilt

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Jan. 25th, 2013 | 09:12 pm
location: a cheap hotel in Los Angeles
mood: didactic

I have a suggestion.  It's hardly original, but I hope to present it in a different light.  It also isn't for everyone.

The suggestion is: concern yourself less about what is good or bad, right or wrong.  Think about it less; talk about it less.  Maybe even experiment with a point of view in which these concepts don't exist.

If this suggestion seems obvious and natural, that may be an indication that it isn't for you.  Most of the people for whom it is intended are folks who will feel some doubt about it.  The doubt would take a form something like this: "Why are you promoting selfishness?  Surely what today's world needs is more concern for others, not less."

It is not my intention to promote selfishness.  I, too, would prefer a world in which people showed more concern for others ... in particular, for the effects on others of their own actions.

But is there only one way of showing such concern, namely, by thinking in terms of right and wrong?  We tend to believe so, but I suggest that this belief is based on a presupposition, and that the presupposition deserves to be questioned.

So what is this presupposition?  That our own desires and preferences are thoroughly selfish.  That we do not want to consider the effects of our actions on others.  And thus, that we will not consider them (or, at least, not be swayed by them) unless we force ourselves to do so.

And how can one "force" oneself to show concern for others?  According to this presupposition, the way to accomplish that is to think something like this: "Of course I'd like to eat all the cookies, not leaving any for the others ... but it would be wrong."

But is that the only way of thinking that might lead you to leave some of the cookies for the other folks?  Or are there other ways?  And if there are, might there be reasons to prefer some of the other ways?

To be continued ....

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