Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The "As-If Method"

So, I believe that the supernatural is either nonexistent or incomprehensible, and I try to only believe propositions that are logically consistent and for which there is evidence.

Of course, this leads to a problem.

We know that the human mind is quite a bit irrational. We know that self-fulfilling prophecies are a real phenomenon. It is pretty much a given that there are quite a few irrational beliefs flowing around in that big fishbowl that I call my head.

Let's call this the "problem of meta-rationality". The essential question is, how to deal rationally with irrationality? Is it more rational, for example, to assess my own potentials in life realistically? If I remember it right, several studies suggest that healthy humans overestimate their own influence on their situation. If you don't do that, you're depressive.

So, is it better to believe that I am a bit better than I probably am, knowing that this might indeed make me a better human being in the long run? How to deal with a belief that is obviously counterfactual, or just unfalsifiable, but it simply makes me feel better? After all, I'm convinced that feeling good is a good thing, not only for the person who feels that way, because a mind flooded with good feelings will probably not have any intentions of starting a war or something.

I think there is a way out. I call it the "as-if method".

I think it is perfectly valid to choose to interpret the world in a certain way, even if there is no proof that things actually are that way.

I find this to be much more honest, much more realistic, much more consistent than just assuming that all my irrational, unfalsifiable beliefs are true.

"I choose to interpret the world as if god existed." -- Yes sure, why not? "I choose to interpret the world as if it consisted of nothing but love." -- Yeah, cool, go ahead! "I choose to interpret the world as if everyone was my enemy." -- Well, if you absolutely think that this is what you want, yay, more power to you!

Personally, I choose to interpret the world as if my breath was a strong flow of colorful, hot energy flowing from my lower abdomen all through my body, up into my head, and back again.

The question whether it is true becomes irrelevant at this point (most probably it's not). I find this to be deliciously pleasurable, empowering and beneficial.

Truth matters to me. A lot. The other value that I think is equally important is happiness and peace for as many people as possible. What if both values can not be achieved at the same time? By choosing my interpretation, I can have both. It's the never-shrinking, everlasting cake. Finally.

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