Tag Archives: psychological

Self Deception as a Good Thing?

30 Nov

Sorry for my lack of activity on this website. I have just had a Thanksgiving break, and now have 3 weeks of the semester left and school is getting more and more stressful, so the writing may be sparse from here on out.

In an ethics class the other day, the issue of self deception came up and made we want to talk more about it. Self deception is something that is looked at psychologically and epistemologically. This is an issue that defies logic and reason. When one comes upon a situation and that person deceives him/herself, the deception involved may defy logic and reason. This utter temporary rejection of reason and logic makes me want to think about it more. When I talk about it here I am thinking mostly about the dire situations people have in life only.

If you want to look into it beyond my ramblings about it you can go to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article about it here:  http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/self-deception/

Also, there is a 20 question questionnaire to find out if you deceive yourself. I could not find the entire questionnaire, but a blog contains a few of them and discusses them. I found this blog helpful in understanding self deception:                     http://melissafiction.blogspot.com/2010/06/28-self-deception-questionnaire.html

Self deception is something that a mind does when one wants to believe something that they know is not true. Thinking of it in an example, have you ever had any hatred for either of your parents? If you say no, you are deceiving yourself. I would think there is an issue deeper below your answer of no. There are many other questions like this where if you answer no you are/have been deceiving yourself (another one, to any attractive girl do you think of them as hot/sexy/very attractive?). My thoughts on this entire matter is that people deceive themselves because they want to believe something as truth (I’m sure most see it as this in one way or another).

Go to this link to see a key example of self deception:  http://www.southparkstudios.com/full-episodes/s13e05-fishsticks This is a South Park episode where Jimmy comes up with the joke “Do you like fishsticks? Yes. Do you like to put fishsticks in your mouth? Yes. What are you a gay fish?”. Cartman just happened to be present when Jimmy comes up with the joke. Cartman ends up rationalizing with self deception (as he does with everything else) that he himself came up with the joke and Jimmy had little part in it, when really Jimmy came up with the whole thing. Just watch the episode, not only will you see some examples of self deception but you will get a great laugh. Many South Park episodes involve Cartman who do these ‘mental gymnastics’ as Kyle puts it.

Self deception can go one of two ways. It can go the way where one goes about believing something untrue that they just want to believe (Cartman believing he came up with the fishsticks joke to get all the fame and to be awesome), or it can go the way that one believes something they would never really want to be true ( a man believing his wife cheats on him because of mere suppositions with little evidence of her doing this). I think also that self deception can be done subconsciously or intentionally.

First I think we should look at the truth when viewing one’s own life. Life itself is a hard thing to take, and truths of it are hard to maintain. Because of this it is my thought that self deception can be a good thing rather than bad. It can be a bad thing most of the time (especially the other way self deception goes, or twisted self deception), because logic and reason are set aside in self deception. It can be immediately understood, and it as well should be, that self deception is a bad thing because the truth should be always what is sought after. For the most part truth is what we all try to find. When looking at other things besides aspects of science, history, philosophy and other disciplines, such as one’s life and the problems it has, truth might not be the best thing for a person.

Truth of one’s life is a hard thing to keep depending on the situation. Keeping one’s sanity may be at stake when looking at the truth. The truth is painful and can often do more harm than good in certain specific situations. It is because of this that I think that regular and regulated (rather I have no idea how) self deception is not a bad thing.

Self deception pushing the truth away I think should only be temporary. One’s truth needs to be confronted and accepted at some point because in the end I think truth is the most important thing one keeps, even if it is held off for short or long periods of time.

I keep talking about one pushing the truth away, and that one should confront and accept the truth at a certain point. This is more difficult than immediately said.  I have heard this in more places than in just my thoughts. To even be thinking about self deception of oneself, that person must ask him/herself “Have I been deceiving myself? and if so where?” If this is answered by the person honestly, one’s self deceptions can be unpacked and evaluated for the real truth about one’s life to come out.

I have done this once all of problems and issues in life have receded, and it is really a good thing to view the truths one has denied.

This was just a simple bunch of thoughts I had on the subject of self deception, and my apologies if it was too random and mis concentrated.

I like to think of self deception (not the twisted self deception) as white lies we tell ourselves for the good of ours and others’ lives.

If you feel differently please say so on Twitter, email, or comment below.

Thanks for the support.


Bertrand Russell’s Role in Progressing Epistemology

16 Sep

I previously did not think it was necessary to talk about the blue spectacles and the hard/soft data here, but now I am aware it is needed. I now before this one have 2 writings about Bertrand Russell, and with search engines asking for Russell’s role in epistemology, my 2 writings came up but I am sure that those are not what the person asking that question is looking for. This writing is. The notice of that search bringing my site up is the reason for this writing, when really I should have talked about these things in the first place given that the blue spectacles are totally awesome.

I also have 2 writings on G.E. Moore where he talks about sense data and patches of it. I discussed how, because of this sense data, I like to view everything I see as a big portrait. I said this not only because of what Moore said but because of Russell’s blue spectacles he discussed in Our Knowledge of the External World.  Not only does he discuss the blue spectacles, but he discusses shutting an eye, walking around a table and other things, just to discuss sense data.  Why all of these things? Because  along with Moore, Russell wants to state that sense data is the only way of making understanding of our perceptions.  If I see a red tulip, normally I would think, ‘oh its just a tulip’, but it is necessary to break common sense ordinary observation statements down to sense data statements. If I see a red tulip, I say, a few red patches there, adjacent to each other, and an elongated green patch below.

I used an object to state my argument. Moore used an envelope. Russell used the blue spectacles. I like Russell’s object the best because it supports the way we should all view and understand our perceptions. If you stand still and view the table, you see a few brown and black patches. If you walk around the table, you see a different set of sense data to be interpreted. You do not think about what you saw before you moved, you only analyze what you see now. Russell’s blue spectacles are put on, and you see everything with a blue hue, so if you are looking at a sea shell, you do not think oh, a white and pink sea shell sits beyond these blue spectacles, you think ‘ oh, a blue sea shell.’ Or at least, that is how an epistemologist would think. If you put the blue spectacles over a large white marker board, you would not think about what lies behind the blue spectacles, you would only think,’oh a huge white patch with 2 blue patches within it.’

Put these on, and then observe!!!  I think we should view the world as a portrait because if I am observing my yellow envelope somewhat through a green Mountain Dew bottle and some not, I see 2 yellow patches and a greenish dull yellow patch. I do not inquire what lies behind the green bottle.

The other part of Russell’s epistemology that led to his great role in it, was his hard and soft data.  I need to explain some things before going right into hard and soft data. Russell said that thoughts are either logical, or psychological, and they are primitive or derivative. So if something is logically derivative it is something that takes logical process and inference to understand it. If an idea is logically primitive it is something logical that one knows without having to go through an actual process of understanding and inference.  If an idea is psychologically primitive it is an idea caused by a fact from the sense that is asserted by a belief and that we need no process to understand and that we immediately understand. If, finally, an idea is psychologically derivative it is caused by 1 or more beliefs or an idea  not asserted by the fact of sense and often takes a process to understand because of how it is not asserted by the fact. These 4 definitions can be intersected with each other to have meanings of certain things

First, logically primitive, and psychologically primitive data cannot possibly be put together.

Second,  logically derivative, and psychologically derivative data can be put together. This is called nondata. For example, nondata is like electrons like to be next to protons. Nondata is not important and is arrived at by a lot of psychological and logical inference.

Third,  logically primitive, and psychologically derivative ideas can be put together to get soft  data Soft data is immediately inferred by logic, but takes more than just immediate observation to infer its existence. Soft data would be like when Russell walked around the table, and when more than one observation occurred (making psychologically derivative intuitions), yet he knew the table was still there with the many observations.

Fourth and finally,  logically and psychologically primitive data can be put together to get hard data. This is what is discussed most in epistemology. It takes one immediate logical inference, and one immediate psychological belief to get it. When Russell used the blue spectacles, he saw 2 blue patches. It is hard data because it takes no more than 1 logical and 1 psychological intuitions to understand that there are 2 blue patches.

To discuss some of this, soft and hard data are the only important ones to epistemology. This is so because it is often discussed if certain hard data can be proven wrong. Hard data can be said to be so hard because it involves immediate logic and immediate sense data. Russell discusses in ‘Our Knowledge of the External World’ that the hardest data is made up of 2 things: logic, and sense data. If the two can be inferred, you have hard data. Hard data for the most part cannot be disproved to be there. If there is a blue patch here, and we are immediately observing it, there is little one can do to disprove it, even if he declares your hallucination. Soft data can often be disproved because when Russell walked around the table, it can be postulated that the table no longer exists after that first sense data after he moves, and that new sense data of another item is present.

The above is Russell’s big role in epistemology. If you need more clarification of his philosophy read ‘Our Knowledge of the External World’ by Bertrand Russell.