Wednesday, June 17, 2009
People recommend that one another 'be themselves' rather than being influenced by outside expectations and norms. Nobody suggests others should try harder to follow the crowd. They needn't anyway; we seem fairly motivated by impressing others and fitting in. Few seem interested in 'being themselves' in the sense of behaving as they would if nobody was ever watching. The 'individuality' we celebrate usually seems designed for observers. What do people do when there's only themselves to care? Fart louder and leave their dirty cups around. This striving for unadulterated selfhood is not praised. Yes, it seems in most cases you can get more approval if you tailor your actions to getting approval. So why do we so commonly offer this same advice, that we don't follow, and don't approve of any real manifestation of?
Sunday, June 14, 2009
A popular explanation of why it's worse to seem stupid than lazy is that lazy seems like more of a choice, so not permanent. Similarly it seems more admired and desired to have innate artistic talent than to try hard despite being less naturally good. Being unable to stand by and let a tragedy occur ('I had no choice!') is more virtuous than making a calm, reasoned decision to avoid a tragedy.