Philosophy > Tell me who are you?

Tell me who are you?

By GREG MAFFETT
Published: October 3, 2010

The genesis of this is the question "Are you the same person you were X years ago?"

There is the cheap scientific answer to this that says your cells are rebuilt every 6 or 8 weeks, so chemically the answer is no. Then there is the dielectical materialism slant that that nothing is what it was a second ago, but that is marxist prattle that went the way of a failed political regime.

So when you trash the trivial answers, you have to look at what the question is really asking. Defining the question gives you a shot at coming up with a non-trivial answer.

Stimulus-response is not a bad approach to this. If I were to ask "Do I respond to stimuli the same as I did X years ago?" the answer would be no. On the up side, I'm better at a number of things.

I used to go into protracted funks that could last a week, a month or a quarter of a year. I was near comatose for these periods of time. I could dress and feed myself and do my job, but that was a reflection of how trivial those tasks were. In those time periods I was a dropout from the human race. I just said "i'm done" and would drop out until something brought me back.

Three days ago I went into a similar spin, but I was back out within 12 hours. I'd learned a new skill in the last five years and now I can pop out of these funks in hours vice months. So where does that leave me? Am not the old me because I can pop out faster, or am I still the old me because I go down the slope in the first place?

What sent me spinning on Thursday were the events of the day. I was up most of the night revising my lesson plan for the day. I started off the day and realized the revisions didn't work. This happens with me often enough that it is not a spin out source in itself. In fact I was fine with this going south. I know I'm out there and I take risks and sometimes they work and sometimes they don't.

But as the day wore on, nearly everything went south. By the end of the day it seemed that a knife to the carotid was not a bad idea. Of course I didn't go there, just saying that is where the mental processes had landed.

Then thanks to new skills I learned, I was able to rise from the ashes. I bounced back the way I do now that I'm the "new me". I signed up for a class. I ordered two books online. I listened to a series of lectures over the weekend. I edited this year's book. In the end I "did things" knowing that "doing things, anything" was the key to getting me back on track.

I was still stuck at the source of the problem. Ther was a time that I subscribed to the idea that when I was pissed at someone else, what I was really pissed at was something in me that I saw in them. I'd have to say that argument had merit up until maybe 2-3 years ago. At that point there was enough in me that I didn't like that I could do the introspection and say "True, I'm really mad at something in me that I see in that person."

BUt my life is not like that any more. I'm fine with 99% of my students and 90% of my coteachers. In years past I really did dislike the majority of humanity. Now I'm a lot more pro-people.

If you go with the argument that "what you dislike in others is what you dislike in yourself" then you can equally argue that what you like in others is what you like in yourself. But the reality is that I do like people who are different than me, people who complement me. I like the teachers who are smooth and relaxed, even though I'm Rough and Edgy. I like the students who struggle at math, even though I devour the topic. No, I'm not seeing that this philosophy holds up under scrutiny.

What I dislike are sociopaths. People who are intent to screw over everyone around them to get what they want.

I have been around enough of them to know how to play the game, how to toss teammates under a bus or knife them in the back. I know how to, but I just won't.

Now when you consider that I could pretty well nigh destroy these people if I did to them what they do to everyone around them on a daily basis, you can see that the premise fails. It's ot that I see something that that is I don't like in me...its that I see something in them, sociopathy, that I don't see in me.

I mean, it could be there and I just don't see it. But that is all the philosophy I can find in me for tonight. So with that, I'm off to bed with myself. Or not.

Any Comments?


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