"Joy and pleasure are as real as pain and sorrow and one must learn what they have to teach. . . ." -- Sean Russell, from Gatherer of Clouds

"If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right." -- Helyn D. Goldenberg

"I love you and I'm not afraid." -- Evanescence, "My Last Breath"

“If I hear ‘not allowed’ much oftener,” said Sam, “I’m going to get angry.” -- J.R.R. Tolkien, from Lord of the Rings

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Today's Must Read

Very interesting post at Mahablog, focused ostensibly on race and identity, but touching as well -- well, actually, based on human beings as social animals and how that context shapes who we are and who we think we are.

We are not only physically dependent on each other but psychologically dependent as well. There is all kinds of data and real-world experience showing that actual isolation is devastating to a human. Prolonged isolation from other humans literally drives us mad. Indeed, our personalities — the traits we think make us uniquely “me” — are (to the psychologist and sociologists who study these things) entirely about how we relate to other humans. If there are no other humans to relate to, personalities cannot be expressed and arguably don’t even exist.

One of my favorite exercises — describe who you are as an individual without reference to a position within some kind of social or economic network. In other words, describe who you are as an individual without reference to family, nation, profession, interests (sports? stamp collecting? messing around on the Web?) or anything that doesn’t require other people. I say it can’t be done.

This ties in to my thinking on the social contract and the bases of morality, which I've explicated ad nauseam, but to summarize: the social contract is our morality, which in turn is all about how we relate to other people, which is something those who rail on about the evils of birth control and homosexuality and the like are never going to understand, since they think of morality as a set of rules derived from the tribal taboos of a group of ancient Middle Eastern nomads that can't be broken for fear of eternal damnation, to which I can only respond, Well, you get what you pay for.

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