05.02.08

Free Your Will

Posted in Personal Development at 9:58 am by Haider

(To read a summary of this post click here)

There is a lot of talk about willpower and determination in personal development literature, but what we need in order to change our lives is usually much simpler than what willpower seems to demand. Before we aim to strengthen our willpower, there is an important issue that we need to address.

If we take a look at our lives, we will notice that we have developed a routine that we live by. We sleep, wake up, go to work, have lunch, go out, etc. at roughly the same time every day, or week. We are not happy with everything in our routine, and often complain that we do not have enough “willpower” to make any meaningful changes in our lives. We want to start exercising, but we “just don’t have the time,” and “don’t feel motivated enough” to exercise in the first place.

The problem isn’t how strong our willpower is. The problem is that we do not acknowledge that we have free-will. This may seem to be a bizarre observation to make, but if you take another look at your life, you will realise that you are usually functioning in autopilot. You are following your routine because it’s your routine. You work based on your defaults. In other words, you are not really acknowledging that you have a choice in what you do and don’t do.

Let’s take another example: when we come to eat, we usually eat until we finish the food on our plate, or when our stomachs complain that we’ve had too much to eat. How did we “decide” to stop eating? When there’s no more food and when we can’t physically eat anymore, and feel pain for exceeding our limits. But we didn’t make a meaningful decision on how much to eat based on our needs and our desire to improve our health. Most people struggle to lose weight not because they don’t have enough willpower, but because they don’t use their willpower, or acknowledge that they have a will to begin with!

Our decisions are usually made for us by outside circumstances, or physiological impulses, and we simply go with the flow, without deciding what we actually want to do, based on our goals. When you accept that you have free-will in one situation, your ability to change your life in other situations usually improves, because you would have accepted that you have a choice, and can decide to go for the option that best suits your goals.

If you wish to get to experience what havingĀ  free-will feels like, follow this simple exercise:

Before you begin eating your next meal, decide how much you want to eat, and make it less than what you normally eat. If you usually eat a burger and fries, just have the burger. If you usually eat two plates of rice, just have one plate. But decide before you begin eating what your target is, and make sure that your target won’t leave you feeling stuffed afterwards.

If your diet is not a problem area for you, but the amount of time you spend surfing the net is, then decide to spend only half the time you usually spend surfing the Internet, and schedule another activity afterwards. The very fact that you have chosen to change your schedule will be a positive affirmation that you have free-will, and can use it to reach your goals.

This simple exercise will make you realise that you can change many things in your life, and it will feel way easier doing so. You don’t need loads of willpower, you just need to free your will.

Try the exercise out, and let me know how it impacts other areas of your life.

Summary of "Free Your Will"

We are usually told that we need to have a great deal of willpower to change our lives. However, it’s not the amount of willpower that we have that determines how we can change our lives, but the acknowledgment that we have free-will in the first place.

We usually lead our lives following a particular routine, and functioning on autopilot, while acting on our defaults. When we come to eat, we usually continue eating until there’s no more food on the plate, or when our stomachs can’t take in more food. We do not make a meaningful decision when to stop eating, but eat until we cannot eat anymore.

Follow this simple exercise to experience what having free-will feels like: when you come to eat your next meal, decide before you begin eating how much you will eat, and make it less than what you normally eat. If you normally eat a burger and fries, just have the burger, if you eat two plates of rice, just have a single plate.

This simple exercise in using your free-will can enable you to change other areas of your life, not because you have strong willpower, but because you accept that you have free-will in the first place.

35 Comments »

  1. Bashar said,

    May 4, 2008 at 12:49 pm

    First of all salute on the summary box, I like it. Problem is I can see the summary it self is growing in size :)

    Anyways, nice topic. I prefer the job example over food. Job takes about 30% of our lives. Most people are not happy with their jobs. I see them 5 years later doing the same job. Some have been forced or finally made a move out, and they just can’t imagine how good it feels to change and take control.

    The other thing is our daily life routine. This, I believe, married people like me suffer from more. Day job and then family life throw them selves at you. For some time I just feel my life’s already been written. But then I know it’s not, and it’s me who should be driving it.

  2. Haider said,

    May 4, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    I’m glad you liked the summary box. But bear in mind, the summary is only a summary in relation to the length of the post it belongs to :P

    Yes, I definitely agree with you about work. We sometimes forget that we can actually make a decision to go somewhere else or follow a different career path because we become slaves to our routine.

  3. Salah said,

    May 6, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    Can people free their will in the next election and choose on a more logical basis?

    I hope they really do.

  4. Haider said,

    May 7, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    Dear Salah,

    I share your hope, but I don’t know if a sizable portion of the population is willing to do so.

    I hope that our hope will be more than hope when it comes to the elections :)

  5. Nawal said,

    May 8, 2008 at 2:24 am

    Follow a different career?! We are living in Kuwait, Hellooooo!
    But i agree, we need to realize that we have free will in EVERYTHING we do and as you said set goals prior to help direct our paths. It helps to talk it out loud, sometimes you dont hear yourself.. the food smells soooo gooood:))

  6. Ralf Wilmes said,

    May 9, 2008 at 7:30 pm

    This is a theme I love. You say that you need to acknowledge free-will, but you really do not want to invite the huge amount of people to your party that do not acknowledge free will.. because they do not think it exists!

    Now, I am a ‘hard-core’ free-willist, (or rather: became so) but I highly suspect that most people do not want to acknowledge free will because it’s highly tied to the issue of self-responsibility and autonomy. To be fully autonomous takes…loads and loads of courage.

    Cheers to the burger without fries.

  7. Haider said,

    May 10, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    Nawal: I think if you give the exercise a try, and can leave a meal without following your defaults, the food will *still* smell good, but you will have the strength to exercise your free-will.

    Ralf: That’s nice, you *chose* to be a free-willist :D

  8. mubarak said,

    May 11, 2008 at 10:26 am

    well said haidar, from my point of you what you have discusses is the source of our behaviors and the way we choose our center of attraction. i always give this example to show wheather people know about their is: there are only three things if we didnt do we will die: 1.breathing 2.eating(or drinking water only) 3.sleeping .. these are the only thing where our will stops the rest, such as religion or other practices are narrowed by our will, true God created us on FITRA but if you think about it even chrestians are alive :D

    it really remind me back in the days when i used to teach health courses

    keep up the good work

  9. Haider said,

    May 11, 2008 at 11:41 am

    Mubarak, I agree with you that we cannot choose to not breathe, eat, or sleep and expect to live. But we still can, more or less, deprive ourselves of all these elements. The same applies with many other things. Although we may not die if we close our eyes, but our chances of survival are seriously hampered if we choose to close our eyes while driving.

    We do have a choice to make in a great number of things, but the consequences of each option will be different.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts :)

  10. ralf said,

    May 11, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    I can’t make up how you intend your joke dude, still: apart from the game of words..yeah..choosing for free-will must be the first choice to make. Or rather acceptance, or evasion for that matter, are choices to be precise.
    So: choose to choose! Take care.

  11. G.E&B said,

    May 12, 2008 at 12:36 am

    Your free-will realization argument takes me back to 8th grade, where we read Lois Lowry’s “The Giver”. Like Jonas, it’s not until we have the ability to see color that we realize that the world isn’t black and white.

    Decisions are difficult to make, they’re scary. It’s easier to play the victim to society, tradition, and propriety. You have them to blame if you choose wrong and you can bask in the glory of being an example of a good life if you succeed with their plans.

    (Thanks for the link Salah!)
    Great blog, even though I do find navel lint fascinating! :)

  12. Haider said,

    May 12, 2008 at 9:15 am

    Dear Balalee6,

    Thanks for your feedback.

    In all honesty, I haven’t heard of “The Giver,” but the colour analogy is very applicable to the concept of free will.

    And when you depend on society and tradition, you have less options to choose from and, therefore, less thinking to do.

    Also, thanks to Salah for directing you to my blog! :D

    p.s. I will reconsider my position on navel lint, but can’t promise that I’ll find it interesting any time soon..

  13. Haji Razali said,

    May 12, 2008 at 5:00 pm

    It is an interesting topic to ponder from a far away muslim Brother from Kuwait regarding Will Power and Free Will. In certain circumstances there is a need for us to divert ourself or challenge our determination toward positively motivated. Example if a drug addicts wish to stop himself from taking drugs his will power may be not that strong and most of the time he fails. So your theory of using a Free Will approach could be employed sucessfully [I pressumed].

    On another scenerio that if a person is dying for AIDS what will be his Free Will be like? ?? The least I could say is Take IT as Qada and Smile to ALLAH that this is HIS wish.

    Salam Mualaikum.
    From, Brother Razali [Brunei Darussalam].
    Nice to be in your blog.

  14. Haider said,

    May 12, 2008 at 6:58 pm

    Salaam Haji Razali,

    Thank you for passing by and sharing your thoughts.

    Your short comment is rich with ideas that deserves several posts to address.

    There are two issues drug addicts face: the physical addiction to the drug, and the mental dependency on the drug. Both weaken their ability to choose beyond our defaults. A drug addict has a physiological need that he wants to meet, which others do not share. Therefore, he struggle more than the average person at choosing to do normal things. The exercise I suggested is helpful at exercising one’s mental “muscles”, but an addict would still have to clear his system to have a stronger grip on his thinking and his decisions.

    As for the AIDS victim, his free will would be limited to the choices he can make. Maybe he can’t fight off the illness, but he *can* choose how he perceives it.

  15. Haji Razali said,

    May 12, 2008 at 10:29 pm

    Salam and Special Thank-U, Brother Haider,

    Your earnest respond to my comment does reflect your sincerity and a deep intellectual outlook. I am inspired and looking forward to your lattest articles. Alhamdullah, May Allah leads you on the Right Paths [Sirattul-Mustakim] throughout your deliberations.

  16. Haider said,

    May 12, 2008 at 11:45 pm

    Salaam Haji Razali,

    Thank you for your comment, and I hope I can live up to your expectations :)

  17. Ralf Wilmes said,

    May 14, 2008 at 10:06 pm

    About the drug problem: of course when a person is in a state of non awareness he cannot make a choice. Still I think the argument stands that it remains his ultimate responsibility given the fact that he made choice to start drugs in the past.
    Aids or any illnesses or natural disasters for that matter: first it still needs to be seen if getting Aids involved a choice in the sense of prevention, In cases where that is not the case: don’t confuse free will with omnipotence I’d say. Free will is limited to your own volitional actions and choices only. An earthquake is not a volitional action or choice too. Still you can choose to make earthquake-resistant building up to e certain degree.

  18. Haider said,

    May 15, 2008 at 10:54 am

    Ralf, I totally agree.

    But when dealing with a drug addict or an AIDS patient, you can highlight the importance of making good decisions for the future, but what was done was done, and so you need to get them to use their free-will in order to make the right choices for the future.

    Responsibility is extremely important because many people have the “it’s not fair”/”why is this happening to me” mentality, even when they are the ones who brought their calamities on themselves. By taking responsibility, they will at least respect the fact that what they are suffering from is the consequence of their own choices. And this, as you said, is tied to the matters where they *can* exercise a choice.

  19. Ralf Wilmes said,

    May 16, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    I could not say that better.
    It occurs to me that in order to use our will-power at best, a deep acceptance of self-responsibility is a a condition.

  20. DrShredd said,

    May 20, 2008 at 1:40 am

    Counterpoint.

    Ok, consider this angle.True we are free to a great degree. We choose to conform to social norms and traditions when they suite us. We do our own thing when they do not, and hence we are autonomous. We are the leaders of our own lives and the creators of our destiny. We make the choices that shape our lives and ultimately build the sculpures of our aspirations. we got the balls to hold on to the steering wheel and make our own joy ride out of life. Whatever happens in the world is a reflection of some part of ourselves. Good thinking right?

    But then shit happens. One day your good, healthy as a horse. Next day your dying from Systemic Lupus Erythmatosus (SLE), bassically your body makes white blood cells to attack your own DNA in all your body cells. So ur atacking urself with all u got and ur screwed.
    hair falls off, eyesight error, muscle weeknes, motor controll and sensory problems, respiratory distress, cardiac anomalies, digestive problems, rashes, failing kidneys, bleeding abnormalities and infections (and much much more) oh and BTW it can happen to anyone randomly at any time without any cause or warning. It cant be prevented, cause unknown, cant be treated.
    Where is your free will there?

    I would say life is kinda like a video game, if ur hardcore u can beat it and enjoy living on the edge everymoment even if you come across a horribly hard boss (or obstacle in life). If you act like a pussy about it, you will always find yourself playing the first few stages in easy-mode, im not saying thats bad. Its just not hardcore.

  21. Haider said,

    May 20, 2008 at 11:56 am

    Dear DrShredd,

    Thank you for your feedback. The points you raise aren’t actually a counterpoint to what I have mentioned, but deal with issues that I haven’t (yet) addressed, and which deserve posts on their own.

    For now, I would say that free will doesn’t apply to everything in our lives, only in the things we can decide on, and choose from a number of options open to us. Where there is no choice, there is no free will.

    Another aspect of this is that the world has its own natural laws and its own phenomena. We cannot *choose* whether these things should or shouldn’t exist. Our will doesn’t determine existence. We cannot wish for illness to go away.

    As Francis Bacon has famously said: “Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed.”

    We must respect that there are some fixed aspects of reality that we cannot directly change. Doctors don’t gather and wish for diseases to disappear. They try to understand how our bodies function, why disease develops, how it can be cured and what’s needed to heal our bodies. If they lack the knowledge now, it does not mean that we lack free will in all aspects of our lives.

    But free will is freedom to make a choice, not freedom from the nature of the world in which we live. If one is struck with illness, what he can choose is *how* to respond to his illness. Will he feel depressed and commit the rest of his life to misery? Will he choose to look on the bright side? There are a number of ways in which he can look at his condition and choose a way that best serves the quality of his life.

    I don’t claim that this is always easy. But we cannot escape the facts of reality. We can try our best to make these facts serve us in the best way possible.

    I hope this explains my opinion about free will, but I will hopefully write more posts on this topic.

  22. Ralf Wilmes said,

    May 20, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    I wonder why ilnesses and natural disasters are the classic examples to put into discussion the issue of free-will.

    I think it is inherent to the issue of free will that you can ‘will’ something else, that it is aplicabble to your own choices and actions.
    As Haider points out there needs to be a choice in the first place.
    You cannot choose for a hurricane to happen. There is no choice there. You dpo not choose for an illness usually.

    These disaster scenario’s do not contradict free-will: they are not a matter of free will in the first place. they are a completely different issue all together.

    It occurs to me that another way to look at it is to say that free will is everything that I can be honestly responsible for (be it in the past or in the present).

  23. Haider said,

    May 20, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    DrShredd: I enabled comments on the About Me section, and moved your comment there.

    Ralf: I agree with you. But as you probably know, subjectivism has blurred the line between what your will is responsible for and what is beyond the control of your will. Essentially, subjectivism states that the world exists within our consciousness, and not the other way around.

    As an example, consider the famous documentary (or film, I’m not exactly sure what it is!): The Secret. One of the things mentioned in it is the idea that you’re *always* responsible for any car accident that you’re involved in, because everything that happens in your life is a result of a thought that either attracted or repelled an experience. This is why some people question the degree to which they are responsible for the catastrophes that occur in their lives, when they had no control over them whatsoever.

  24. Ralf Wilmes said,

    May 20, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    well Haider, that is still the same point, as I am sure you wanted to illustrate with that example of The Secret (didn’t see it, and do not intend to at this point) only showing the other side of the same coin.
    Interesting because it still (and I suspect not completely in innocence) still erodes the whole concept of free will. Of course one is not *always* responsible for every car accident. One can easily immagine scenario’s to prove this.

    Can it be that this ”confusion” about free will has another purpose then the alleged one? I mean: can it be that people basically want to tear thing s out of the context of reality -as we know it to the best of our abilities- to avoid personal responsibility?

    I belief there is a hidden agenda. I might be wrong though.

  25. Haider said,

    May 20, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    From what I understood from the message of The Secret, it doesn’t erode the concept of free-will, but expands it, so that you will feel guilty for things that are beyond your control (but they claim that it is within our control).

    Not sure about a hidden agenda. Some people use it to make people feel more liberated by making them believe that they can change *everything* in their lives, and these “teachers” end up making tons of money by selling hopes.

  26. Ralf said,

    May 20, 2008 at 10:21 pm

    Ah,ok. Well that doesn’t make it any better!! Do you think I can learn from that movie? I’m ready to change :-)

  27. DrShredd said,

    May 21, 2008 at 2:12 am

    I do not believe EVERYTHING about the secret. I watched it myself and took what i found usefull.
    What you say about the Secret may or may not be true. It may be just a stupid fad, but untill you have watched it/read the book and tried it out for yourself (giving it a fair chance) you cannot really say if it is true or not.

    I have tried it myself, i stuck to it for a while even though i thought it stupid. and it actually worked! It didnt happen in the way I expected but the visions I had came to reality in a shocking way all 3 visions one after the other. I dont know if it was some very strange twist of fate or the concept of the secret really at work.

    I not saying its all good, but atleast it teaches you ways in which to think positively and controll your negative thoughts hence making you a happier more successfull person. Also it makes you not think about bad things in your life and hence forget about them or discard them quickly. so is SEEMS as though your life just became great now that it is full of happy thoughts and nothing is bothering you.. I think the way it works is that it makes you focus on what you want and think about it ALOT in a positive way. Hence making you attract the right kind of people from your enthusiasm/determination etc and ultimately realise your vision. I dont think its actually some mystical stuff, just a practical way to improve your psychosocial outlook. Remeber the hadeeth that goes “tafa2aloo bil khayri tajidooh”? its bassically that statement made into a movie.

  28. Haider said,

    May 21, 2008 at 8:40 am

    Ralf + DrShredd: I wrote an article that dealt with The Secret, which you can find by following the link below:

    Evaluating Ideas

    As DrShredd said, and which I say in the article, the message of The Secret is a positive one. It can be very inspirational, and its attitude can have a very positive effect. However, we should also be aware of the negative consequences of the *explanation* offered in the documentary.

  29. Seth said,

    May 21, 2008 at 9:11 pm

    DrShredd, will all due respect, you are lying about at least one aspect of your experiences with The Secret. The Secret is a religious doctrine that, above all, requires the individual’s FAITH in it’s effectiveness to be useful. The Secret is a cognitive experiment. In other words, its results are directly related to the person’s belief in the results. By The Secret’s own reasoning, it could not have ‘actually worked’ if you were practicing it ‘even though i [you] thought it was stupid.’ So either you bought into it and are misrepresenting your attitude towards The Secret for the purposes of making it seem omnipotent (powerful regardless of your attitude towards it), or you are overstating it’s results. Or, the most likely scenario, you are simply typing up what in your opinion seems to be a logical arguement, but in reality is a post riddled with contradictions and approvals of opposite points of view (’the visions I had came to reality in a shocking way all 3 visions one after the other’…..’I dont think its actually some mystical stuff’).

    Haider, after a long period of hard work, I am delighted to come back to your blog and see that you are continuing your desire (and succeeding) at improving your writing. However, I wish that you would expand your horizon a bit (perhaps I am speaking pre-maturely, for it is possible these current posts are simply laying the ground work for more in depth pieces you are preparing–I am still looking forward to your Understanding Islam project.) Yes, man has a consciousness. Yes, it has the ability to make rational or irrational decisions, however it cannot cease to make decisions altogether. Yes, it is beneficial for man to use this tool and to make rational decisions in his life. Now, what of it? These conclusions are all a bit elementary, and at a level that I feel you are above intellectually. You seem to have the mind of a university professor but insist on teaching the second grade (Dr. Branden is guilty of this also, and knowing his professional influence over your, I blame him in part). Honestly, Haider, you are debating with people who apparently do not realize the semantic, as well as definitional, differences between ‘free-will’ and ‘omnipotence.’ Does this not frustrate you?

    On a lighter note, I have completed my own website and forum. Although it pertains mostly to American politics and our upcoming election, I believe your presence in the forum would be beneficial to everyone involved, and invite you to check it out (ANTI-VOTE.com). I hope it introduces you to opinions on America and its operations in the same way that your blog has opened my mind to have a better understanding of Islam.

  30. Seth said,

    May 21, 2008 at 9:18 pm

    Ralf, I think you may be onto something with the secret agenda. However, it really isn’t that big of a secret. With the world’s population quickly returning to mysticism, it is only proper that the economy will produce goods to match the public’s wants. Right now the public does not want to hear about rational self interest or objective reality. They want to hear that life a fairy tale that they can alter with only a little effort from their imaginations. It is the same as any other religion on the planet- it’s main objective is to re-inforce the public’s ignorance while at the same time returning a profit.

  31. Haider said,

    May 22, 2008 at 9:34 am

    Dear Seth, nice to see you back here. I was just thinking about you yesterday, and now you leave me comments? It must be the Secret :P

    First of all, congratulations on launching your site. I just registered in the forum, and hope to visit it more often.

    As for the level of my writings, there are two issues involved: 1) the purpose of the writing, 2) the audience to which it is addressed.

    In this post, my purpose isn’t to argue in defense of free-will, but to encourage the readers to *experience* making decisions in the direction they wish to lead their lives in. It’s not intended to be analytical. The greatest changes in our lives can come about, not by learning something new, or understanding what we already know, but by *applying* what we know. Yes, we know we have free-will, but why do we make it so hard to exercise our free will to make the right choices? How can we make the most use of our ability to choose?

    An article can be a simple reminder of what we know, and this can have a positive affect on those who are reminded, and those who remind (who remind themselves of what they know and what they value).

    As for the audience, I wouldn’t say I’m frustrated by someone’s level of intelligence. Not when writing, anyway. I accept that there are many people who are currently thinking on a second grade level, but have the capacity to deal with university-level issues. For me to bring them to the university-level, I can’t begin with university-level work, or condemn them for how they currently think. If I wish to be an influence in their lives, I should take their present way of thinking into consideration, and work our way up.

    I wouldn’t say I’m appealing to people’s ignorance, but I accept that not everyone thinks on the same level. My job isn’t to highlight how ignorant people are, but to present them with what they can benefit from, given their existing knowledge and capacity.

  32. Seth said,

    May 22, 2008 at 9:42 pm

    Sounds like you have a dichotomy of purpose. On one side you are writing to better yourself and your ideas. On the other side you want to ‘bring them to the university level.’ A contradiction of sorts?

    To ‘bring them to the university level,’ you do not have to condemn them for how they currently think, but you must indeed condemn the way they currently think. The acceptance of objective reality leaves no room for a ‘big tent’ of ideas. Either you cut through people’s subjective-based arguments, or you will not see them cease. The same forms of irrationality will simply re-appear in further discussions. Why not heed this problem off at the start? Sometimes teaching is not holding one’s hand, but slapping him in the face. Those who understand will not shrink from it, or resent you for it. Even an oak tree was once a sapling, who had to face the elements of Nature naked and alone. This is the progression of all thing that are to be great and mighty, whether it be a tree or a mind.

    ‘My job isn’t to highlight how ignorant people are, but to present them with what they can benefit from..’ I wonder what could benefit one more, other than having his ignorance highlighted?

  33. Haider said,

    May 23, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    Seth, I don’t actually see a dichotomy. I don’t think it’s possible, or desirable, to write simply for the sake of improving one’s writing, and certainly not in a blog open to the public. You should *at least* have a message or an idea you wish to convey. What I publish isn’t me discovering new ideas as I go along. I present my conclusions and my reasonings, but in a refined way.

    How I write a draft and an outline is the thinking process that goes on behind the scenes. The whole writing experience helps me to better myself and my ideas. Bringing my knowledge to my attention helps serve as an important reminder.

    The fact that I wish to involve others in my personal development isn’t a dichotomy.

    There is a way in which you can tackle subjectivism and ignorance. You can’t just say: “Look, you’re being subjective,” or “you’re being ignorant.” In my opinion, you have to prove why subjectivism is irrational and why irrationality is a bad thing. You need to let others know what they are being ignorant about, and offer them the knowledge they need to acquire. If it is something that they were not aware of, they will conclude for themselves that they were ignorant of it.

    Subjectivism and ignorance should *never* serve as a basis for an argument, unless you wish to demonstrate how the argument would collapse.

  34. Seth said,

    May 26, 2008 at 12:07 am

    You need to be a life coach. You could make good money treating adults like children. Or maybe Kuwait hasn’t sunken low enough to make life coaching a formidable profession like America.

    If you are talking to someone over fourteen years of age, you should not have to explain why ’subjectivism is irrational and why irrationality is a bad thing.’ If the person’s life hasn’t already made that abundantly clear, what new evidence are you hoping to present, Haider? And if the person couldn’t come to these elementary decisions on their own, what gives you confidence that they are going to even take your argument into consideration? Indeed, what gives you confidence that they will even UNDERSTAND reason, if irrationality is their mode of operation?

    If you aren’t getting paid, you have to learn to cut the losses. It’s like your that sect of Buddhists who think bringing others to enlightenment is now their responsibility since they have reached it.

  35. Haider said,

    May 26, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    Seth, I think you’re mixing two issues: what people are like, and what people should be.

    You expect me to address people how they should be addressed, if they were what they should be.

    I believe I should address people based on what they are like, and bring them towards what they should be.

    There are many, many people who do not know the significance of reason, or who have come to accept that following their emotions is the natural approach to life. This doesn’t mean that they cannot reason, but it certainly doesn’t mean that they will take the value of reason for granted. You would have to make a case for reason, and point out the flaws of following one’s emotions, for them to realise that their beliefs are wrong. Whether they wish to acknowledge this or not is up to them.

    I don’t think you quite appreciate that the mess we’re living in is real, and that people are suffering its consequences. But this doesn’t mean that all misguided souls are doomed for eternity. They can still be guided towards reason and truth, but we have to acknowledge where they are, how much damage was done to their thinking, and what needs to be presented to them in order for them to understand the flaws in their thinking.

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