Wednesday, March 27, 2013


"Truth"?  Contradictions? The brain doesn't care.   It  only cares about what works --and it generates heuristics to deal with survival -- with conscious cognition and the illusory "self" as a kind of feedback loop so you can modify settings strategically. You can modify the settings for Windows, too, if you take the time to learn and poke around.

Even the modules to do with “morality” and "empathy" have strategic value, as things that render better group cooperation, and therefore increase the likelihood of  individual survival.  We get by with a little help from our friends.

What about faith?  There's a module for that too.  It s covers up all kinds of things.

Faith is a module that allows us to believe in order.  It is essentially optimistic.

Faith is eternally hopeful.  "I will die someday but live on in Heaven "   Delusions about an AfterLife, either in Heaven or Hawaii are helpful,  Faith = belief + abstraction and self deception.

Since we have a sense of the future, things could be really, really depressing without stuff like faith and hope, religious or otherwise.. Look ahead quickly -- what do you see?  Oh, overpopulation, global warming, world war, pandemics, and long lineups for Ipods.  Quick: believe in God!  Existential Angst is not a recipe for action. Unlike simple fear, it is too ambivalent -- it just interferes with sleep.And you will give up on buying a new smartphone, like...forever!  Because how can you choose.

As I said, the brain doesn't give a shit about epistemology -- it's pragmatic. Accordingly, the best leaders have faith.  They believe, however, primarily in themselves.    Remember Don Draper?  He's gets things done. He gets other people to get things done --all thanks to his ability to handle contradictions and conflict, internally and externally.  Believing your own bullshit -- that's charisma.

The-faculty-of-self .    

It's also  method acting.

Don tells his clients what they want to hear, and what they want to hear depends on the culture they represent -- he plays roles.  But Don has to become the role, just as Dick Whitman became the Don Draper who died in Korea. 

Don has been lying so long he has more or less forgotten Dick Whitman . The Actor has become the Act.

This is similar to our old friend,  Ugluk, who routinely exaggerates (as we have seen)  his skills as warrior and hunter.  Now, on one level, everybody knows he’s not that good – and it’s a show – but his audience want to believe.  Just like you may want to believe there is a bearded guy in the sky looking after you, despite all evidence to the contrary.  It's called   “Willing suspension of disbelief”  and it is not just for poetry  -- it is for everything social -- but especially for all forms of propaganda, personal and public.

Don and Ugluk will not feel “cognitive dissonance’.  Cognitive dissonance is usually understood as the discomfort of recognizing contradictions in one's own beliefs.  Nope. Because the modular mind normally keeps those contradictions asynchronous.  Cognitive dissonance is  the social discomfort felt from getting caught out -- by other people -- with the ...umm... excessively wide stance intellectually --or otherwise – that comes from holding  two contradictory ideas at the same time.  In other words, you don't feel bad about your contradictions unless you get  caught  in the act with your loin cloth  down -- or at least think you might (as in " what if my wife finds out").

No one likes to be exposed –   certainly not exposed as a hypocrite.   But hypocrisy is  our natural state.  Covering it up with fig leaves, clothing, or lies?  When did that start?  Right, with the Apple. And what was the Apple  about.  a.) Getting caught b.) Self awareness.

Why do you think Steve Jobs chose the Apple as a symbol?   Not any apple but an apple with a stolen bite.

Dishonesty is  necessary to the cohesion of any society or culture .  We just have to do it right – which is why we have churches, MBA schools, and … of course… high school!   

Recap:   our brains are hardwired for contradiction on the one hand  – and self deception and hypocrisy . Big lies are a lot of small lies.

If you can’t lie – you’re in trouble.  As Freud’s contemporary, Otto Rank postulated in his theory of neurosis – neurotics are those who are aware of some of their internal contradictions -- which undermines the credibility  of the greatest deceit – or conceit --  of all – the Self.   Yes, self-awareness can make you mentally ill.

Since most “thinking’ is actually unconscious – sticking your mental fingers in all those gears and levers whizzing about inside can be painful.  Of course, you could argue that without such awareness of conflicts that somehow must be resolved there would be no creativity – we would just be automatons.

This is the secret to Barack Obama's success and failure.  Obama is a class act.  But really just an act.  He has a certain charisma -- but, as you have probably noticed, no apparent awareness of contradictions of his position.

A liberal who is more conservative than Ronald Reagan?  Obama is not phased by the incongruity of his position.  Yes, we can?  No, we couldn't!.   His solutions for the challenges that the nation faces?  None, really. In fact, he is making it worse, not better.  There is no creativity here because he is simply not aware.  


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