waytogoal t1_jbswkeb wrote

I think you underestimate the task. The possibility space of nonsense is so unimaginably huge, and the thing is, they don't matter one way or the other to your survival.

And what kind of data would you be looking at? Just to make sure you are not using an outcome to predict an outcome i.e., a tautological model.


waytogoal t1_jbl78oa wrote

In situations of weak selection (survival and reproductive chance are not at stake), normal humans can generate any nonsense sequence of behavior at will, I can shout "cat", "-957", pause for 3 minutes and 49 seconds, "0.03", "I don't want a watermelon", "ξ"...so on. Such nonsense is arguably non-decodable. In other words, we have the "ability" of free will, but most people don't necessarily use it due to societal and environmental constraints. Unconscious behaviors or decisions that are made fast without thinking are very much predictable I agree.


waytogoal OP t1_jb01fcu wrote

Now, I know where our communication problem arises. I think there are a lot of confusions, some people talk about selfish vs. selfless, some other people talk about having a strong sense of individual self vs. having no individual self (even in your comment first vs. second paragraph). An "individual self" is an entity having a coherent goal and desire. My discussion is more of the latter (although the two are somewhat related). Also, you have a similar logic as another commenter, basically saying that any "groupist" ideology that suppresses "individual rights" means eliminating the "selfs" in its partsand hence is "selfless" (I think it has to do with the language used by historical sociology texts).

To your other point. If you already recognize that the true essence of self is relational and an interconnected whole, why need to glorify it (which is the point)? it is what it is already. And do you really think this is how the majority of people think about "self"?


waytogoal OP t1_jazyj03 wrote

I think I start to see where the problem might have arisen. Let's focus back into the "individuals" inside Nazis and forget about whether "Fascism" as an ideology is respecting selfs.

Hitler is a self-conscious individual who did a lot of thinkings himself and thus cannot be described as "selfless", agree? The next guy, let's name him Joe, confidently believes in Nazi ideology or the bollock from Hitler and had thought about it thoroughly. Is he selfless?...

I think the problem is that you implicitly assumed an ideology (e.g., fascism, communism) not respecting "individual rights" would eliminate the "self" in its part. (I know sociology texts made a lot subtle statements that groupist equate no self and might have subtly influenced in how we communicate)

Now, read your own statement again "It's brutally selfish towards outsiders, and brutally selfless within." and apply it to you. Your cells are brutally selfless within (the requirement of developing you, the yourself), but it might or might not be selfless towards the outside, agree?


waytogoal OP t1_jazxxqg wrote

You are right, it is expected and implicit in the article that the ego will push back after reading such an article (I know I could have done better sounding less condescending though). Nevertheless, it is not about a magic bullet, you just need to plant a seed, this is a long-term process of realization.


waytogoal OP t1_jazxnx5 wrote

Since you mentioned the advantage of social mimicry. People are not just mimicking to get some (I don't know what) advantages, without their idea of self being influenced in the midst.

If you claim there is some large-scale evolutionary advantage/reason of social mimicry, then most people are surely being influenced by societal norms and values, no? And now you start to ask, are the current societal norms and values "good", or are close to anything of our evolutionary past?


waytogoal OP t1_jazx717 wrote

Sorry, lost track a bit since there are too many comments, but you made some interesting points.
It seems you live quite close to what the article suggests: just go do what you like and find meaningful, and be conscious about that. And there is no need to try to fulfill a particular idea of self, it should always be changing, ideally changed by empirical data (that way you connect with the whole), not by some internal data of who you think you are.

But I see a problem when I read: "despite living entirely for myself ive done more to help others and the environment than most have, likely including yourself (planted well-over 10,000 trees, i intentionally own less than 5k in total possessions"

Why you would say you live for "myself", if you are trying to do a lot for others? It reads a bit like stamp collection here to try to fulfill a particular image, you have to be conscious about the consequence of your actions (e.g., many studies have concluded that tree planting, if not done rightly, have a very bad effect on the ecosystem, and is a green-washing technique to fulfill "carbon offset"), it is not about reaching on a particular fix number, it is not a race, it is about the long-term effect.


waytogoal OP t1_jatsyko wrote

Fair point, might have been a vocabulary issue, also it is not easy to reply to so many people so I probably have some hasty typing mistakes.

But now I am curious, do you think the individuals inside Nazi Germany are "selfless" then? (According to some other comments, they are). I think this is where the vocab issue arises, where some commenters described group/collectives as equating "selfless". (And what is not a group?)

Also, you might have designed too many categorical buckets about what things have self-awareness/ are conscious and what things aren't. I think it is way more contentious than you think it is (heck, you don't even know whether I am actually conscious the same way as you), plus I don't think any serious biologist would claim cells have no "goal". Now a bit of rephrasing, would you agree an entity having a coherent goal/desire is the requirement to form a "self"?

Moreover, it is not about an all-or-nothing full denial or acceptance, this article is never about arguing the "self" doesn't exist at all. It is full of statements like "you ARE probably more versatile and adaptive than you think."; "The minimal useful concept of “self” is simply recognizing that one is an amazing, versatile being capable of doing great things"

To address your last part, many things are "natural", do we have the mental resources to give equal importance to all things natural? Is the current level of glorification of self "natural" (a matter of degree and extent rather than all-or-nothing)? At what level is considered not natural? e.g., Human procreation can be either natural or unnatural, it is the level of it that defines it. These are some questions worth thinking about.


waytogoal OP t1_jatckhs wrote

So, you agree this image of "self" is often just a reflection of societal norms and peer pressure? Thus agreeing with the assessment?

The problem is with the glorification, the dose is the poison, at what point in evolutionary history do we have the extent brought out by modern-day Instagram and Tiktok? Are the current societal norms ever seen in the history of human evolution? How do you know it will be advantageous?


waytogoal OP t1_jatadhj wrote

I really like your river analogy, it got me thinking a lot. And if it works for you, then please don't stop learning the "holistic self".

To go back to the river, perhaps the distinction is a high-risk-high-reward vs. low-risk-low-reward culture. But there is more nuance to that, I think the world is asymmetric, symmetry-breaking is what creates this world, otherwise it is a nothingness vaccuum state (this is hard-coded in the laws of nature in my opinion).

So what on earth am I talking about? In evolution, we seem to also have an asymmetry, everything that is done hastily without consideration of the surrounding (the whole) is almost guaranteed to destroy others and produce a net suffering (maybe you won't see it, but your grandkid will see the failure). So, there is this asymmetry here - High risk won't necessarily give you a high reward in the long-term sense (there is only a small stochastic chance others might be able to pick up from your mess); the greatest reward is found when you do things slowly (low-intervention) and considering the whole i.e. low-risk, high-reward.


waytogoal OP t1_jat6xca wrote

More clarification to help you understand: some of you seem to have conflated that only by giving importance to a "self" can one become a thinking, responsible person (that's why you think no emphasis of self = mindless). Whereas if we focus on our actions, we "stop thinking" anymore. Caring about your actions exactly makes you think about the right thing - the consequence of your actions. As humans we always think, but we need to prioritise thinking certain things over others, we have a limited amount of mental resources.


waytogoal OP t1_jat4dkf wrote

"They each strike me as a collectives of units each behaving selflessly"They don't behave "selflessly", selfless means "concerned more with the needs and wishes of others". If they are selfless they would not go on to hurt and engulf others, I think you want to say "mindlessly" and may have been muddled because this discussion is being dragged into a strawman of "whether self exists" and "whether everyone is a Hitler just by recognizing the self", when all this article suggest is there is no need to glorify and give importance to it.

"Self" is broadly a coherent unit of things that have a common thought and goal. e.g., how your immune system recognizes self and non-self is by the different goals of pathogens and your body cells. That's why the 20-years-ago you seem like a stranger - because you have different thoughts and goals.

I think you have also confused the image of self (that is now owning your goals/thoughts/monologue) as your consciousness and that's why you think intelligence or responsible behavior must be born from that certain idea of self (e.g., believing that I am a moral person), when you can go the pragmatic way and be conscious with the consequence of your actions directly. That you are conscious about actions is more powerful than you are conscious about a certain idea of who you are.


waytogoal OP t1_jaskmhx wrote

You made some good points and you have understood my article very well. Sorry for sounding a bit condescending in the article (I understand this tone alone would inevitably generate some controversies).

But I would argue that if the nature of self is always changing quickly no matter what, then why would we need to emphasize on it, develop it in a particular way, or stroke it. Ultimately, it is a highly cultural thing, from my experience, even contemporary "Easterners" (since you use Westerners) don't care about the concept of "self" that much, it doesn't mean they starve themselves or they don't make themselves happy, it is just that the idea of caring about that mental construct of self never cross their minds i.e., we rarely talk about it.

I also respond to another commenter below embodying similar logic: "The main obstacle to finding your true nature, true "self" if you'd like to call it, is obsessing over it." I think nouns that deserve a "shoutout" or "emphasis" are things that are quite stable in the human sense of lifetime.


waytogoal OP t1_jasgzw5 wrote

The main obstacle to finding your true nature, true "self" if you'd like to call it, is obsessing over it. Same with finding happiness.

The article has this line that embodies a similar logic: "Don’t follow the cliché of “love yourself”, instead, love what you do. If you are doing something truly great and proud of, how else would you not feel loved?"


waytogoal OP t1_jasde4g wrote

Reading the passage about Nazi made me think you have completely missed the point. Nazis are exactly about not caring others, our interdependence and expanding a unitary self (thinking it is the right and important thing). That's why I also mention solidifying "self", "us", "One true God" are similarly dangerous.


Also, you seem to have developed a strawman subconsciously for the sake of winning the argument. I never once mentioned that everyone is Hitler, I just wrote it is clear that one of the factors that contributed to Hitler's insanity is self-importance and glorifying his own way of thinking. The latter is dangerous, not just in Hitler's way, but also manifested in narcissistic, anti-enviromentalist behaviors... the list goes on.

You also seem to have conflated that giving importance to "self" means one is a thinking, responsible person, whereas if we focus on our actions, we "stop thinking" anymore. Caring about your actions exactly makes you think about the right thing - the consequence of your actions, As humans we always think, but we need to prioritise thinking certain things over others.


waytogoal OP t1_jas8rzd wrote

Well, I don't think so, that collection of organic matter is called a person or individual. I have never heard people use "self" to refer to that.

Self usually means that sense of self, that awareness/agency owning your thoughts.


waytogoal OP t1_jas6y36 wrote

What did I just read?

About Alice's case, the individual exists, exactly what "self" image this person has or claims to have is irrelevant and unimportant (and arguably doesn't exist except in Alice's head).

The article exactly calls for focusing on the consequence of your action (verb) and worry less about your "self" (noun), are you serious with this response?


waytogoal OP t1_jas54sw wrote

Since you edited, let me respond to your other point: cancer cells, invasive plants, and deadly plagues are exactly about a unitary "self" expanding and is behaving as if it is the most important thing (think about their genetic information). Ego is a metaphor. I think you are missing the whole point if you can't catch that.

That's why the article says "self" is unimportant (you can argue all day whether it exists, everyone has their definition). Emphasizing on the idea of "self" exactly limits your worldview.


waytogoal OP t1_jas1qcr wrote

Then you might have misunderstood. One could develop confidence by doing meaningful things and focusing on the real-world effects of your actions, not by thinking about what successful people they are and should grow into.

Did I say there are a billion Hitlers? I exactly wrote most aren't even close, but adding the small egos of billions still wreak havoc. The biosphere collapse is the best evidence.

I don't know what you mean by "Hitler didn't go killing off tens of millions because he had some idea of who he was, he did that so he could control hundreds of millions of people." "Self" means that "master" inside his head controlling his world view, that's that.


waytogoal OP t1_jas09lj wrote

Let me elaborate. You can say that you - an individual physical organism exist by all means of course (even Buddhists acknowledge this and use person to refer to it, they also know the mind and body exist). This article is about that "mental construct" guiding your desire, what you think is normal, what kind of personality you are, who you should mingle with (I would say most people's idea of "self" stick closely to this). This article says this construct is not important.


waytogoal OP t1_jaryz51 wrote

How about just that "mental image" you think is the "owner" of you? That internal monologue? Is that really you? Or a heap of past habits and social norms? Should you give importance to this mental construct?

Even with your definition: "the union of elements (such as body, emotions, thoughts, and sensations) that constitute the individuality and identity of a person", I am arguing exactly these are changing all the time, this "collection of evolving soup" doesn't form a "coherent thing" i.e., self.


waytogoal OP t1_jarw9o6 wrote

Wrong. First, even Dawkins hated the word "selfish". He regretted and suggested to replace with "immortal" (since it is basically redundant and only misleads laymen, its use is equivalent to "persistence" in his book, it doesn't mean "selfishness" in common sense usage).

Second, almost every single thing you see in the biological world is gradually built from the result of cooperation being a stronger force than selfishness - single gene > genome > complex cells > Eukaryotes > multicellular individual > community and ecosystems etc. (Yes, things like cancer, predation, and parasitism exist but they are and must be kept to a low percentage biomass-wise, else ecosystem collapse would follow).


waytogoal OP t1_jarrxsy wrote

And there are very good evolutionary reasons we are social species, and this social nature of our being in turn constantly feeds information to change the "self". If one holds strongly onto a particular idea of "what is me", they are going to feel threatened continuously and cause chaos by retaliating unnecessarily.


waytogoal OP t1_jarqn7w wrote

Submission statement:

The modern world romanticizes finding yourself, your style, your type, etc. This “quest” is even glorified to the point that you would feel compelled to lie about what is “you” all the time, just so you could gain a foothold in society. Ironically, dwelling on this image of “self” neither helps you find your true nature, nor to find your role in the larger world. Feeding this ego of “what is me” limits your consciousness and freedom, it distracts you from the more important issues in life, from experiencing, endeavoring, and experimenting in the grand, holistic world in an unbiased way.

All in all, this article argues the futility of glorifying the “self” (giving it too much importance) from the point of view of Buddhism e.g., attachment to something impermanent and untrue must cause suffering, as the true essence of existence is a dynamic interconnected whole; from findings in biology and evolution: niche partitioning is an invariant evolutionary outcome of all life, everything continuously evolves and adapts, even within a single lifetime of the same individual, whatever you think is your "self" will be "forced" to change in no time; from the point of view of neuroscience and information: internally recycled beliefs are bad data for building a mental model, one has to obtain “experimental data” by learning from the real-world effect of your actions.