You must log in or register to comment.

ApocalypseSpokesman t1_j0zsn5k wrote

Thoughtlessly conforming to social norms is of course not ideal, and sloughing off outdated and ossified traditions is healthy and key to adaptation.

But knee-jerk rebellion just for its own sake is execrable and should be treated with hostility. Our ancestors were not all a bunch of deluded, doctrinaire fools, and a great deal of wisdom has been laid down by people that learned what does and doesn't work.

When lacking a depth of insight on a matter, it is probably better to go with the house rules rather than upending the table.


Zanderax t1_j119v3g wrote

What is a conformer but someone that acts solely based on how others act? If you're always counter-culture then you're just conforming in a different magnitude. The real non-conformity is not caring about if you're conforming or not but actually doing what you think is best.


Bigfrostynugs t1_j12bd0w wrote

I've heard it described like this:

A contrarian does the opposite of whatever is mainstream, but a true rebel does whatever they think is good or right, without regard for what is mainstream or not.


WriggleNightbug t1_j12q86s wrote

I hate that I love to be caught in semantics, but here I am. Caught in semantics. And loving it.

I rebel, non-conformer, and contrarian are all the same term here because they carry similar broad societal meanings(read baggage) even if your usage or the dictionary definitions are distinct. I don't have a good term yet but I think you've identified what the correct word needs.

  1. Connotation that someone will make a choice in line with their ethics/morality despite the cultural zeitgeist.
  2. A personal ethics/morality that is considered and informed based on both primary societal standards and secondary or tertiary knowledges as well.

Bigfrostynugs t1_j12vn1f wrote

I would say freethinker, though that doesn't speak to the validity of a person's beliefs, just their ideological independence.


GORGasaurusRex t1_j12xq38 wrote

To use a crude analogy: the Neutral Good alignment.


WriggleNightbug t1_j13ctvk wrote

I hate DND alignment so much. It's bad for dnd, it's bad for philosophy, it's bad for everything. The worst thing I keep engaging with it to hope I can make it better, but it never will happen. I'm finally just admitting I hate it and it can never be good.


[deleted] t1_j134c94 wrote

"good or right" as in morally or self interested or something else?


Bigfrostynugs t1_j15dfh8 wrote

Most cases in which one is a freethinker has nothing to do with morality or self-interest.

Say that I've decided I really want to have long hair even though I'm a guy. But then, suddenly long hair on guys becomes incredibly popular as a fashion trend. A contrarian might cut their hair short even though they liked it long, just to be opposite of the pack.

But a true rebel just wears their hair long, because that's what they wanted in the first place and they don't give a shit what anyone else thinks. The popularity of long hair for men is totally irrelevant to their decision. They just do what they think is best regardless of others' actions.

You could extrapolate that out to apply to moral decisions too if you want but the logic of it all doesn't have anything to do with what is ethical or not.

In my opinion, in order for a decision to be truly moral a person must come to it themselves. An ethical decision reached on anything other than real ethical conviction is on shaky ground.


Falcomaster20 t1_j126n8x wrote

You’re still abiding by someone’s or somethings rules


FormalWrangler294 t1_j12a78d wrote

> In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.

> This paradox rests on the most elementary common sense. The gate or fence did not grow there. It was not set up by somnambulists who built it in their sleep. It is highly improbable that it was put there by escaped lunatics who were for some reason loose in the street. Some person had some reason for thinking it would be a good thing for somebody. And until we know what the reason was, we really cannot judge whether the reason was reasonable. It is extremely probable that we have overlooked some whole aspect of the question, if something set up by human beings like ourselves seems to be entirely meaningless and mysterious. There are reformers who get over this difficulty by assuming that all their fathers were fools; but if that be so, we can only say that folly appears to be a hereditary disease. But the truth is that nobody has any business to destroy a social institution until he has really seen it as an historical institution. If he knows how it arose, and what purposes it was supposed to serve, he may really be able to say that they were bad purposes, that they have since become bad purposes, or that they are purposes which are no longer served. But if he simply stares at the thing as a senseless monstrosity that has somehow sprung up in his path, it is he and not the traditionalist who is suffering from an illusion.


Falcomaster20 t1_j12indt wrote

Not my point


FormalWrangler294 t1_j12m6jx wrote

I know. Your point is lowly first-order thinking. I’m telling you to use second-order thinking and third-order thinking.


Falcomaster20 t1_j141wr9 wrote

No it’s not. Keep missing though


ndhl83 t1_j146y7t wrote

Perhaps you could try articulating your point more, then, rather than assuming it was so well stated it should not have been missed?


NicNicNicHS t1_j10rktb wrote

>Our ancestors were not all a bunch of deluded, doctrinaire fools

Yeah, no they very often were, and their tendencies to be deluded, doctrinaire fools gets passed down to their children.


28eord t1_j10x5f8 wrote

It depends on what counts as evidence and knowledge and things. I think a lot of colonialists, for example, thought they HAD TO conquer peoples because that's what e.g. Rome did and Rome kicked ass. There was much hemming and hawing when it started becoming apparent that the new science of I think the 1600s was answering questions about the natural world better than simply consulting the ancient texts, and even then their answer was "we're just continuing what the ancients started," not, "they were confused, we should ignore what they had to say." That was more, what, the Modernism of the late 19th/early 20th centuries, when so much of so many people's experience had been so outside anything the ancients talked about that they could convince people it was irrelevant.


NicNicNicHS t1_j10yykn wrote

They weren't stupid.

Tradition and dogma is historically more of a propagandistic self-justification of any act they wanted to commit, than any actually consistently defined system.

This "consulting the ancient texts" stuff sounds a lot like "They were just silly little guys, they didn't know better!"


28eord t1_j159kqr wrote

I think you're engaging in what I've heard called "the historian's fallacy"--kind of "Monday morning quarterbacking" and assuming people in the past had access to equivalent information and I guess perspectives and analogies and experiences as you.

I get heavily down downvoted and my posts removed on rAskPhilosophy because quite honestly I don't think I'm really doing philosophy--I'm much more interested in things like psychology, history, maybe a little political science and economics, BUT there exists something called "the curse of knowledge" where once you know something it can be very difficult to understand what it's like for someone who doesn't. We live in a very diverse, generally scientific, information-rich environment where it's very easy to see what good it does to be nimble and flexible and say, "I'd prefer to do it THIS way, but I can see where you're coming from if you want to do it THAT way, THAT way, THAT way, THAT way or THAT way." e.g. The Crusaders didn't know a God-damned thing about Islam because they didn't have relationships with them such that they could have a lot of translators and even if they could, they'd have to write down what they were saying and it was very difficult to make many books, so they'd kind of have to decide between learning about Islam or learning about Christianity. And they didn't live in a highly scientific environment where they felt like they had a good handle on how things were going to go--they literally saw God working on the world in their day to day lives when so much happened that they couldn't explain--all they could do to give themselves any sense that they could make any productive effort in the world and they shouldn't give up and just kill themselves to end their suffering was say "don't piss God off." This was before Modernism and existentialism and things--they didn't think "I should create my own meaning or at least select the one that best represents me from multiple available, viable possibilities," they thought "I must submit myself to the one, true God and the essence of wisdom, all else is folly and ruin."

And as I'm saying as time went on and other possibilities became apparent, it depends on what you think counts as evidence. People who it's sometimes productive to call my enemies, conservatives and traditionalists, basically, explicitly say things like "the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few has always caused society to survive and progress before," and I don't think they're explicitly, intentionally lying, I think they honestly believe it.

I'm on my phone and this is getting long, but I think that's the gist of it.

EDIT: PS I just thought of the example of I think it was Semmelweis and germ theory: he had scientifically come up with the idea of "corpse particles" that were being transferred between autopsies and childbirth, making the mothers sick and killing them. He tried to communicate this to other doctors, but supposedly one of the reasons this didn't take was they didn't believe that they, engaged in a learned, gentlemanly pursuit, could get dirty and need to cleanse themselves. They didn't say, "Oh, I see where you're coming from and these corpse particles I'm sullied with are killing people, but I think it just makes me look bad and is bad for the profession, so I just completely of my own free will with my entirely informed consent just elect to put my fingers in my ears and act like it's not true"--it went against everything they ever "knew" about what was morally and factually right, so they honestly didn't believe it.

EDIT 2: PPS They had had some success predicting and explaining things with miasma theory, e.g. designing hospitals for airflow. "The truth," such that germ theory is the truth, isn't simple and natural and obvious from all perspectives in all experiences.


GrymanOne t1_j111rjr wrote

There used to be this idea of Unilineal Cultural Evolution which we've dispelled. I'm not sure it was so much that Rome had influence, in that people viewed cultures as a linear progression from one era to the next, with more "advanced" cultures being the evolutionary pinnacle of humanity, and that anyone not as "advanced" was simply unevolved. We obviously know this is not true nor correct, but as a whole, at least in academia, it wasn't until recently that this shifted, and continues to shift.


[deleted] t1_j10xpa2 wrote



BernardJOrtcutt t1_j119pxs wrote

Your comment was removed for violating the following rule:

>Be Respectful

>Comments which consist of personal attacks will be removed. Users with a history of such comments may be banned. Slurs, racism, and bigotry are absolutely not permitted.

Repeated or serious violations of the subreddit rules will result in a ban.

This is a shared account that is only used for notifications. Please do not reply, as your message will go unread.


Zanderax t1_j11abk8 wrote

I think that indoctrination is more multifaceted than that. For example, how can there be Christian physicists and cosmologists when basically all scientific findings counteract the bible? It's because people can have cognitive dissonance to be a indoctrinated fool in one aspect while being a free thinker in another.

Yes almost everyone in the past were indoctrinated into stupid, illogical traditions but that didn't prevent them from being wise and accurate in other areas of knowledge. We shouldn't take past wisdom as gospel but we should learn from it.


NicNicNicHS t1_j11b6if wrote

I'm not saying that people in past generations were wrong on everything.

The problems arise when there's these extremely common justifications of "well they knew what they were doing" or simply, "it's tradition/how it's always been done", which are huge issues.

A lot of tradition is either originally arbitrary, arising from social contexts that no longer exist, or basically tools of control, and I think that we keep giving tradition too much credit.


Zanderax t1_j11c4b8 wrote

Definitely agree with all of that. Tradition is almost always a bad reason to continue to do something unless it's harmless fun like Christmas or New Years. Even then things like New Years fireworks are actually really bad for the environment and public health.


ndhl83 t1_j1495ke wrote

> For example, how can there be Christian physicists and cosmologists when basically all scientific findings counteract the bible?

This isn't a well thought out position to maintain, as there is technically no disconnect between observable and measurable science and the notion of a (possible) creator deity/deities since the presupposition there would simply be that our science is the practice of understanding the world/universe/multiverse that was made by that deity. Science, in this regard, effectively becomes a branch of theology (for those who subscribe both to religion and the sciences). The science (as understood today) also doesn't change just because I may not believe in a creator god origin...I could believe in spontaneous existence or a non-deity "alien" creator and the measurement of forces and chemical compositions of substances remain the same, regardless.

To that end, a devout physicist or chemist or biologist is just plying their trade to understand the world they believe was made by their supposed creator. The hypothesis, measurements, and conclusions don't really care what the genesis of the subject was, we're just trying to understand what is in front of us.

I'm saying this as an agnostic secularist and not a practicing far as I know we have not disproven any possibility of a "creator god" with science, we've just gotten really really good at dissecting and explaining how (some) things in the natural world work...even if we can't always conclusively say where they came from, or why.


stoppedcaring0 t1_j11ed1t wrote

I'm not sure whether this comment is intended to be a critique of Emerson or simply a note about a thought process that you might expect would arise when trying to embody Emerson's philosophy, but either way, I think it's worth noting that blind rebellion would not be something that Emerson advised.

The point of Emerson's philosophy is that one ought neither slavishly prostrate oneself in service of an institution, nor become obsessed with attempting to eradicate institutions.

>And so Emerson tells us to shun the words in the books, to shun the words of authorities and to attune ourselves to this inner voice to what our heart tells us to do. Following the course of this inner star you may appear inconsistent to those around you — today you are doing this and the next day you are onto something else. But, in an image that has been lodged in my mind since I first read Self-Reliance Emerson writes:

>“The voyage of the best ship is a zigzag line of a hundred tacks. See the line from a sufficient distance, and it straightens itself to the average tendency. Your genuine action will explain itself and will explain your other genuine actions.”

There's no mention of tearing down existing authorities. The prescription is merely shunning them; that is, ensuring they remain external to you. One needn't tear down institutions if the goal is merely to ignore them (unless it becomes clear endeavoring against a particular institution is something that resonates with your sense of self).

In other words: above all, follow your intuition, your Aboriginal Self. Rejecting institutions need only go so far as what would be necessary to extricate yourself from them, so you might have the freedom to follow that Aboriginal Self, but getting caught up in remaking society in your own image would be just as false as remaining trapped within society. After all, you'd still be turning to something external to yourself as your guiding principle, rather than your own natural connection to your internal wisdom.


libertyshrub t1_j12xe5h wrote

I think, like most things, Aristotle was right with the Golden Mean

Strike a healthy balance between questioning norms and acknowledging that norms tend to become popular for a reason (although there are many exceptions obviously)


Ordinary-Flamingo416 t1_j101cql wrote

Reminds me of pure stoicism. The only thing necessary and compulsory for a good life is to live true to your virtues and character. Impossible in practice (mostly) but some great wisdom to hold.


breadandbuttercreek t1_j10gp7y wrote

These days, with prosperity, technology and the internet, it is more possible than ever to be independent and self reliant. We can research, find out how things work, and make choices better informed than ever.


ads7w6 t1_j10l150 wrote

That's going to really depend on what you mean by independent and self-reliant.

Prosperity and technology are derived from vast connected systems and simply being able to use the internet means relying on large numbers of people.


VeryNearlyAnArmful t1_j119yur wrote

Large numbers of very rich, very biased people feeding you shit to suit their own ends at your expense.


breadandbuttercreek t1_j124etw wrote

There is a lot of real, useful information available on the internet, regardless of the way it is provided. If you want to be independent and self reliant you need to use all the resources at your disposal, people aren't born self reliant, it is something you learn. If you need to fix something or make something, you can probably find out how to on the internet.


ads7w6 t1_j12fuuv wrote

You're really just doubling down on the myth of self-reliance. I am all for using resources at your disposal and doing what you can on your own but pretending that you aren't reliant on society, the productivity of others, or the knowledge that others have previously gained is just not reality.

If you have a problem and use the internet to find out how to solve it, then you are relying on others to provide your electricity (or the things that you are using to make it), relying on others to run an internet connection to you or put a satellite in space, someone to design and make your computer, someone else to have the knowledge to fix your problem and put the answer on the internet. That's really not even a complete list.


breadandbuttercreek t1_j12r43b wrote

That's all true but it isn't what Emerson was talking about. No-one can be fully self-reliant, but you can take charge of your own life, make meaningful decisions for yourself and not just be carried along by the flow of society. It is about living a rational life, rather than the life society expects of you.


ohubetchya t1_j12r61b wrote

Many someones made your phone, computer, home, electric power, Wikipedia, YouTube, wikiHow, Google, your glasses, etc. Self reliance is a myth. Self reliance is wearing a grass skirt and dying from a simple infection obtained while trying not to die from dehydration. Insecure people believe the myth to avoid the reality that we all rely on thousands of other people everyday


vladkornea t1_j13tw5q wrote

He gave examples of independent and self-reliant (learn and make better informed choices). It means you do not rely on anyone's favor or permission. A child or a slave are not independent and self-reliant. Having to pay for Internet access is not the same as being a slave or a child.


EndofGods t1_j0zspjk wrote

It feels true to my logic. We don't need validation from others when we've done the work ourselves and are more fulfilled.


Big-Literature4233 t1_j10ro6t wrote

Emerson is an author of words that he writes according to his perceptions of studying character behaviors in people. Which is good, and I agree with what he saw because we are creatures who believe in self preservation, no matter what situation we may find ourselves. Sometimes because of this, some of us find other individuals dispensible, sadly.


[deleted] t1_j106lhz wrote



BernardJOrtcutt t1_j10b6ls wrote

Your comment was removed for violating the following rule:

>Argue your Position

>Opinions are not valuable here, arguments are! Comments that solely express musings, opinions, beliefs, or assertions without argument may be removed.

Repeated or serious violations of the subreddit rules will result in a ban.

This is a shared account that is only used for notifications. Please do not reply, as your message will go unread.


[deleted] t1_j112eps wrote



johnnyblueye t1_j116g32 wrote

I think you mean Henry David Thoreau, student of Emerson who wrote Walden Pond. Thats the bit where he lived on his mothers land while she brought him sandwiches but wrote like he was roughin it.


Bigfrostynugs t1_j15gy4i wrote

People who make this criticism have totally missed the whole point of Walden. It wasn't about isolation, it was about solitude.

He makes it perfectly clear in the book that he goes to town to see his friends and family every day. He makes it perfectly clear that it's Emerson's land.

He doesn't pretend to be a hermit. It's about the philosophical implications of spending time alone and thinking for yourself, not about being a recluse who depends on no one else.


athendofthedock t1_j12boil wrote

Best advice my father gave me: at the of the each day, look in the mirror, and if you can love that person you have made it.


BernardJOrtcutt t1_j10ba73 wrote

Please keep in mind our first commenting rule:

> Read the Post Before You Reply

> Read/listen/watch the posted content, understand and identify the philosophical arguments given, and respond to these substantively. If you have unrelated thoughts or don't wish to read the content, please post your own thread or simply refrain from commenting. Comments which are clearly not in direct response to the posted content may be removed.

This subreddit is not in the business of one-liners, tangential anecdotes, or dank memes. Expect comment threads that break our rules to be removed. Repeated or serious violations of the subreddit rules will result in a ban.

This is a shared account that is only used for notifications. Please do not reply, as your message will go unread.


PinealFever t1_j119bjf wrote

Not a great time to turn against institutions.

People tend to forget that our institutions are built by society. They should operate as our collective mind. Incremental improvement beats giant leaps of epistemology.


Zanderax t1_j11aof9 wrote

The classic revolution vs revision debate. I'm also on your side, people forget all the good things institutions provide us and focus solely on the bad. I do think however that we need a little more revolutionary changes right now specifically to tackle climate change as that is an externality that we have to fix quickly.


PinealFever t1_j11fuha wrote

Thanks for that more erudite response than I was able to muster.


Schawinx t1_j129m4m wrote

Reading the essay helped me a bit when I was feeling down, and it certainly is a great encouragement when you've lost faith in yourself. However, I feel that it could certainly radicalize some audiences, and amplify existing biases.


[deleted] t1_j0zl36p wrote



BernardJOrtcutt t1_j10b6tz wrote

Your comment was removed for violating the following rule:

>Read the Post Before You Reply

>Read/watch/listen the posted content, understand and identify the philosophical arguments given, and respond to these substantively. If you have unrelated thoughts or don't wish to read the content, please post your own thread or simply refrain from commenting. Comments which are clearly not in direct response to the posted content may be removed.

Repeated or serious violations of the subreddit rules will result in a ban.

This is a shared account that is only used for notifications. Please do not reply, as your message will go unread.


VeryNearlyAnArmful t1_j11euz8 wrote

I conform to this non-conformity.

Therein lies the dilemma. Ooh, NEW traditions!

Define the integrity of your own mind, Are you different when you wake up every morning? No. You're the same you. When you change your mind about something - say, I no longer think Ralph Waldo Emerson has a valid point about the integrity of the mind and self-reliance- am I being less me or more me by denying his definition of me?

His confabulation of mental states and the physical, real-world reality of many people seem to be at odds.

What does greatness mean? World's biggest serial killer? Celebrity? Wealth? Loving my girlfriend more than you love yours? Most greatly questioning Emerson's aphorism?

What does self-reliance mean? The government produces (nearly) all the money in circulation. Even if you refuse to use money the value of the things you are exchanging comes down to dollars or pounds or euros, whether you use them or no except in a few teeny tiny circumstances.


Bigfrostynugs t1_j15hgh3 wrote

>Define the integrity of your own mind, Are you different when you wake up every morning?



VeryNearlyAnArmful t1_j1a7lbc wrote

Well done you. The rest of humanity wakes up and reassembles themselves and the world as we know it almost the same way every morning.


Bigfrostynugs t1_j1a9rgw wrote

>Well done you. The rest of humanity wakes up and reassembles themselves and the world as we know it almost the same way every morning.

If it's "almost the same" then by definition you are different every morning too.