Philosophical Paradoxes - Part 1 - Transcript


This episode delves into thought-provoking paradoxes that challenge perspectives, exploring creativity, responsibility, and the complexities of the human experience. Join us for intriguing discussions that push the boundaries of conventional thinking.

0:00:13 Introduction and Appreciation for Support
0:02:54 Balancing Exciting Storylines and Deep Character Knowledge
0:05:43 Applying the Approach to Software Coding
0:08:20 Compassion as a Paradox in the Modern World
0:11:14 Compassion for the old, pregnant women, and the injured
0:13:31 Changes in compassion: avoidable illnesses and personal choices
0:16:32 Diminished compassion for those with avoidable illnesses
0:20:10 Compassion: Party Sister vs Hardworking Sister
0:23:32 Insurance: Eliminating Helplessness in the Face of Disaster
0:29:58 Importance of wearing a helmet and having insurance
0:32:11 The paradox of claiming helplessness while demanding rights
0:38:00 The Paradox of Vision: Seeing from Afar vs. Up Close
0:42:22 The Paradox of Identifying Good and Bad: Politicians vs. Personal Relationships
0:46:31 The Paradox of Agency and Victimhood

Long Summary

In this episode, we delve into a thought-provoking topic - 10 paradoxical truths from 10 brilliant men. These paradoxes challenge our conventional thinking and spark intriguing discussions.

We begin by exploring C.S. Lewis' idea that originality is best achieved through copying. As someone involved in creative work, I have mixed feelings about this paradox. On one hand, I resist the notion because I desire to take credit for my own ideas. However, I also recognize the value of learning from skilled individuals and using their work as a foundation to unleash my own creativity.

Moving on, we turn to Ayn Rand's fusion of philosophy and economics. As a novelist and poet, my focus has been on merging philosophy and psychology in my work. I discuss how I delve deep into my characters' motivations, drawing inspiration from introspective elements in modern art and novels, as well as exciting storylines from older novels. It's essential not to lose sight of the external world while exploring the internal aspects of our characters.

Returning to the paradox of originality through copying, we reflect on how various fields, including mathematics, involve imitating and practicing to improve skills. I share a personal experience from my coding days, where innovative code was born out of a desire for functionality that didn't yet exist. Understanding what already exists is crucial before creating something new.

In the latter part of the conversation, we tackle the paradox of compassion. Nietzsche argued that compassion is a manipulation tactic used by the weak, while I disagree. Compassion is a human trait developed to take care of those weaker than ourselves. It manifests in different ways in the modern world and should be extended to those in unfortunate situations through no fault of their own.

We delve into the factors that have influenced compassion in the modern world. Illness is one such factor that has changed significantly over time. While in the past, it often occurred due to uncontrollable factors, such as plagues, in the modern world, it is often a result of lifestyle choices. Poverty is another aspect where our compassion is influenced by the choices individuals make.

We discuss how insurance plays a significant role in helping to alleviate the feeling of helplessness in the face of disasters. It provides financial support in times of need, such as when someone falls sick or experiences the loss of a loved one. We emphasize the importance of having insurance and being responsible for our choices to avoid unnecessary risks.

Lastly, we explore the paradox of compassion getting weaponized. We discuss how society should exercise compassion carefully and avoid exploitation. True victims of circumstances deserve compassion and assistance, but we must also be mindful of not enabling individuals to claim victimhood without taking responsibility for their actions.

Overall, this conversation delves deep into thought-provoking paradoxes, challenging our perspectives and prompting us to reflect on various aspects of life, including creativity, compassion, and personal responsibility.

Brief Summary

In this episode, we explore thought-provoking paradoxes that challenge our perspectives. From originality through copying to the role of compassion, we reflect on creativity, responsibility, and the complexities of the human experience. Join us as we delve into intriguing discussions that push the boundaries of conventional thinking.


thought-provoking, paradoxes, perspectives, originality, copying, compassion, creativity, responsibility, complexities, human experience, intriguing discussions, conventional thinking


[0:00] Yes, good afternoon. What have we got? The 12th of February 2024.
I hope you're having a great afternoon. Just wanted to dip in and say hi.
Thank you, of course, for all of your wonderfully kind support for the show.

Introduction and Appreciation for Support

[0:13] All right, so I saw an interesting post on social media, 10 paradoxical truths from 10 brilliant men.
10 paradoxical truths from 10 brilliant men. Now, in particular, I'm not a huge fan.
I'm not a huge fan of these sort of paradoxes, but some of these I thought were interesting and worth discussing.

[0:34] So the first one is from C.S. Lewis. It says, originality is best attained via copying.
Copying now as a guy who's you know done a smidgen or two of original creative work i i both resist and accept this if that makes any sense i both resist and accept this i resist it because i'd like to claim more credit but i also accept it because to copy somebody who's really good at something to in a sense be their slave is a good way of getting you grounded in the basics basics you know the wax on wax off so learning how to make other people's rational arguments trains you in making rational arguments reading books that you love can open up your creativity and i mean a book that i read some years ago and i remember posting about this back of the day in twitter my daughter and i were reading portrait of the artist artist as a young man by james joyce and i mean it's quite a mad piece of literature and i guess this is back when attacks on christianity had to be clouded in complexity and analogy and metaphor, but it was really quite a mad book.

[1:44] But what I did love about that book was the very beginning where it's like an infant's view of the world.
And I pillaged a little bit of that idea for the opening of my novel, The Future.
That always sort of struck with me, or stuck with me, that you could somehow through language get the experience of starting life, which of course is a pre-language situation and trying to use language which to evoke the start of life.

[2:08] Well, that's Louis Staton coming back from his cryogenic freeze in the beginning of my novel, The Future.
So yeah, weaving together, so philosophy and economics are kind of wired together in Ayn Rand's work.

[2:27] What I wanted to do was to bring philosophy and psychology together.
That really has been the focus of what I've done as a novelist, and even as a poet to some degree.
But it has been to try to get philosophy and self-knowledge together, which is why I tend to go pretty deep into my characters and their motivations and thoughts.
So some of the introspective stuff that comes out of modern art, modern novels is great.

Balancing Exciting Storylines and Deep Character Knowledge

[2:54] Some of the sort of classical exciting storylines that come out of older fashioned novels victorian and pre-victorian novels certainly in just poor i tried to wire those two together and also in almost where you have a sword fight so you have you have i mean in in just poor there's sword fights and and gun battles and all kinds of exciting like all of that to robert louis Stevenson, or exciting stuff, or Alexandre Dumas, son of three musketeers, exciting stuff, while at the same time, there's also deep knowledge of the characters.
And I don't like it when people go internal and lose the world.
That's kind of bad for me.
When people go external and lose the internal, which is kind of the Ayn Rand thing, that to me is also negative.
So trying to cross these two worlds together, but...

[3:43] I mean, in a sense, for me, the person who did that best in a particular novel is Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, where he's got an exciting story and also deep psychology and certainly some philosophy in there as well.
So originality is best attained via copying.
I really do think that there's some truth in that. All mathematicians start with copying the 12 times table, and we all have spelling tests and spelling bees, and we practice writing. We practice tracing.

[4:11] I don't So, originality is best attained via copying.
Yeah, so for me, why do I write and why do I do philosophy?
Not that this is a truly thrilling question for you, but the reason why I do it is what I want in the world isn't there.
Isn't that why anybody creates anything, is that what you want in the world isn't there.

[4:36] And because it's not there and it should be there or it needs to be there or you want it to be there, it ends up that you have to create it it is almost with regrets that oh you know shakespeare of course in terms of self-knowledge and exciting stories was really the past master of of this kind of stuff so for me you have to in order to figure out what's missing you have to know, what is i mean to take a silly example you don't walk through a wall you walk through a doorway way so you have to walk through where the wall isn't so where you go has to be where things aren't and so for me creatively creatively and artistically i have to map what is there in order to find out for myself what's missing and that was a pretty important part of that now again i'm not trying to make this all about me but maybe this approach if you have creative things to do i never it's not just in the realm of creative writing or anything like that i mean when i was As a software coder, when I was chief technical officer and head of research and development, I wrote some pretty innovative, creative, and powerful code because...

Applying the Approach to Software Coding

[5:43] What I wanted, which was I wanted to be able to create and modify database systems with full interfaces on the fly, tables to queries, to forms, to reports, and also dynamically create a web interface for all of that, which was, you know, really advanced at the time.
And I wanted to be able to have people edit a interface and then have all of the database changes propagate through the entire database, the queries, the forms, the reports, and also the web interface.
And that was a really exciting challenge that did not exist at the time.
I really wanted it, really needed it for the business to succeed.
And so I made it, right? But you have to know what is there before you know what's worth creating.
And so I think that originality coming from copying has real value to it.
And I think a lot of people who just create without without learning what's there and how to do what exists, end up, it's a little bit too much creativity.
In other words, it's unanchored, ungrounded, and tends to end up being taken over by ideologues, like sort of the modern art movement.

[6:53] So this is another, so ten paradoxical truths from ten brilliant men.
Two, Nietzsche wrote, this is a paraphrase, compassion is a PSYOP designed by the weak to redirect resources from the most deserving to the least deserving.
This is the guy's interpretation of Nietzsche.
Compassion is a PSYOP designed by the weak to redirect resources from the most deserving to the least. Well, I wouldn't put it that way myself.
I wouldn't put it that way. I think that that's not correct.
And the reason I think that's not correct is compassion is something that we have developed to take care of those weaker than ourselves. themselves.
So babies obviously can't fend for themselves, and they need us to take care of them, to feed them, to clothe them, to change them, and so on.
If you're an older sibling, you're an older brother, and you have a younger sibling, I mean, I think ideally it would be nice if you expended some resources to take care of the younger sibling if your younger sibling's been, you know, pushed around or something.
So compassion is not a psyop that is only for the weak to manipulate the strong, but it is a paradox within itself in the way that it's.

Compassion as a Paradox in the Modern World

[8:20] In the way that it manifests in the modern world, which is to say also within Nietzsche's time, there are those who are genuinely deserving, of course, of our compassion.
And our compassion, in my view, should be extended to those who are in a bad situation through no fault of their own.

[8:39] They're in a bad situation through no fault of their own. We should have compassion.

[8:46] I think that's what compassion is for. Now, of course, babies are in a situation of dependence through no fault of their own. They're just born.
In fact, you could say it's the causality of the parents that has caused the baby's need to arrive.
If you are a man and your wife stays home raising your kids and running your household and so on, then you have to work a lot more than if you were just a single guy taking care of himself, right?
You have to work, I mean, about 10 times harder to provide for a family than you would just to provide for yourself. self.
And your wife is in a dependent position based upon your either explicit or implicit contract of what you're going to do, right?
To take an obvious example, if you hire a maid to clean your house, then you pay the maid for cleaning your house.
And if you say to your wife, you stay home, I'll take care of the bills, you run the household and raise the kids, and she does does that, then you owe her that money.
So she's in a dependent position, but based upon a contract which gives her leverage and equality, in the same way that if you hire someone to do a job, they do the job.
They're dependent upon you to pay them, but you justly have to pay them.
You don't just slip out the back when the maids finish the house and not pay her, right?
So there are people who, through no fault of their own, end up in bad situations.
Now, that's changed quite a bit over the course of history. That's changed quite a bit. A couple of things when compassion evolved, I mean, a couple of important factors that no longer apply.

[10:15] So let's say someone is a hunter and they trip and fall and break their leg.
Well, they can't hunt, right? Now, of course, they would bind the wounds.
And this is sort of one of the origins of civilization is where you see wounds being bound rather than people just being left behind.
So they do what they can to allow the leg to heal or something like that, and you would provide resources to that person, because tripping and twisting your leg, breaking your leg, that's just a risk of hunting. That's just a risk of hunting, right?
So it's through no fault of their own, they twisted their leg, broke their leg, and therefore they need resources.
Those who are old, assuming you're not in some Inuit community that destroys old people or pushes them off to some glacier, old people have diminished capacity through no fault of their own.

Compassion for the old, pregnant women, and the injured

[11:14] Right, through no fault of their own. You're just aging, right?
And so they don't have the eyes they once had, they don't have a limberness and the strength they once had, they don't have the hearing they once had.
Women, of course, when they're pregnant, they can't exactly, late-stage pregnancy, they can't go and gather a bunch of nuts and berries and so on, and so they can't participate in helping to raise the barn or whatever is going on. So, yeah, through no fault of their own.
Now, you could say, of course, well, they chose to get pregnant, this, that, and the other, But that's kind of understood.
A woman would not choose to get pregnant if, like in our evolution, a woman would not choose to get pregnant if no one would take care of her while she was pregnant, right?
So that's kind of the deal, right? I'll give you new life, but you've got to give me food when I can't get around because I'm the size of the Hindenburg.

[12:02] So, in the past, the people who justly deserved compassion were the people who either through contract, like implicit contract, either through contract or through no fault of their own, required resources.
Sources and since all acquisition of resources requires risk then all who you know roll snake eyes on the dice of risk and you know break their leg or you know fall fall and and cut themselves badly or something like that or so since all resource acquisition requires risk all those who have bad luck in the acquisition of resources need to be taken care of so there's a couple of The factors that have changed in the modern world that I think Nietzsche was sort of struggling with as they began to emerge, and of course, remember, it was Germany in the mid-19th century.
Germany was the first country to, certainly in the modern world, in the modern West, to create what we would recognize now as a welfare state.
Germany was the first country to do that.
And so Nietzsche was wrestling with this new beast around. round.
I think it was under Bismarck, if you want to look it up.
Now, I don't know, obviously, how much Nietzsche knew about the welfare state, but it certainly was around.

[13:24] So a couple of things that have changed with regards to compassion, which is very, very interesting.

Changes in compassion: avoidable illnesses and personal choices

[13:31] So compassion for illness. Of course, when we were evolving, the chance to avoid illness was pretty low. low. It was pretty low.

[13:42] They didn't understand the germ theory. They understood that being around sick people could make you sick, but they really didn't have much choice to be around sick people when you're in a small hunter-gatherer tribe or a farming community and so on. With a farming community, it's a little more easy.
You can put someone in the back room or something, but getting sick was pretty hard to avoid in our evolution.
And so people who got sick were deserving of compassion because there was no real opportunity to not get sick.
Now, in the modern world, you have a lot of opportunities to not get sick.
You know, 70 plus percent of illnesses are the result of lifestyle choices.
Overeating, lack of exercise, smoking, drinking, staying up late, not getting any sleep, drug use, promiscuity, STDs, all that kind of stuff.
So I think personally, I think it's higher, but I think the official figures is slightly north of 70 percent, at least in America, of illnesses.

[14:41] Are the result of personal choice, not the result of a bad accident or vapors from the bog or something like that, or a little cut that got infected and then you get really sick because now we have antibiotics and all that kind of stuff, right?
So now illness is, I mean, overwhelmingly the result of choices.
Now, of course, there are people who have bad luck and get sick and they don't have bad lifestyles. It's just, you know, bad luck. I mean, I get all of of that.
But that's one factor that reduces our sympathy, our compassion for the unwell.
One factor, of course, is, well, you chose it.
You chose to eat too much. You chose not to exercise.

[15:24] You chose to do drugs. You chose to smoke. You chose to drink.
You chose to stay up all night. You chose to engage in risky behavior.
You chose to ride your motorcycle in the rain, as the Billy Joel song goes.
So you chose all these things, and therefore, I don't have compassion.
Nearly as much as somebody who is is just having bad luck right so so somebody who gets drunk and drives their car into a mall blues brothers style we have no compassion for in fact we would have anger towards that person for engaging in such risky behavior on the other hand somebody who's in a mall just going about their business and some giant car comes crashing through the glass and injures them well that's i mean what can you do you can't i mean unless you just don't don't leave your house right in which case you have the problem of a lack of exercise so i mean that's just bad luck it's bad luck and we should have compassion for that not for the guy who's drunk and drives into the mall but for the person who's in the mall gets hit by the car it's not it's not the choice to go to to the mall is not well you know remember if you go to the mall there is of course always the risk of being hit by a car right that's not really really a thing so.

Diminished compassion for those with avoidable illnesses

[16:32] Two major factors that would have diminished our compassion for people the first is that illness is significantly avoidable and also where it's where there's risk for illness there's lots of preventive measures that you can take so somebody who avoids say a colonoscopy and then ends up with the cancer of the bowels or the intestines or the stomach or i don't know i don't think it goes as as high as the stomach, but, you know, somebody who never gets checkups.
Even if they appear healthy, but they just never get a checkup, they never get blood work done, they don't, as they age, get their colonoscopies, they don't go to the dentist or so, and then they end up with problems.
Well, that's the result of a lifestyle choice. To avoid preventive healthcare is to choose, in a way, the ailments that result.
Turn that result and you know that wasn't really a thing over the course of our evolution right there were no colonoscopies dentistry was very primitive and mostly reactive and there really wasn't much that you could do there's no blood work ever they didn't even know what to look for right they're looking for humorous in the middle ages right so so health care as a whole has has improved to the point where most illnesses are the result of bad choices.

[17:53] And we simply can't justly have the same compassion for people who've made bad choices as for people who've made good choices.
I say Andy Kaufman died of lung cancer, but he wasn't a smoker. Just very bad luck.
So medicine and preventive care and a deeper knowledge of illness and transmission.
So all of that means that ill health has changed a lot from our evolution.
In our evolution, those with ill health were almost always deserving of compassion, unless they just stabbed themselves or something, which would be pretty rare.
But those with ill health were almost always...

[18:28] Just recipients of compassion during our evolution. Now, not so much.
Of course, poverty was endemic to the human condition as we were evolving.
And when I was a kid, 12 or 13 years old, I lived in Don Mills, of course, and I became friends with a couple of Indian kids who lived one floor down.
And I would play Monopoly and we would just have a blast.
Now, I chatted with the The mother, because even back in the day, I was always interested in chatting with people, and I chatted with the mother, and she kept getting these stressful phone calls because her sister was a party girl.
A party girl. And her sister drank and slept around and just did all kinds of dangerous things and was constantly in trouble, constantly broke, constantly needing resources, and constantly getting her heart broken by bad guys and needing compassion and money and resources and so on.
And I remember the mother saying, you know, I have, I have, I'm working on my second degree. I work very hard.
I can't remember if the father was absent, like back in India, or the father was just not around or something like that. I don't remember, but she was going it alone, but working very hard.

[19:51] And she said, you know, she said, I feel like my sister is dragging me down.
So this woman was being responsible and raising her children and getting educated and working hard.
And her sister was living this hedonistic, self-destructive, wastrel lifestyle.
Wastrel is a word that really should be resurrected, but it's too much of a shame-based word. I'm sure people would do it.

Compassion: Party Sister vs Hardworking Sister

[20:10] So do we have compassion more for the party sister or the hardworking sister, For the irresponsible sister or the responsible sister, I think we would have more compassion for the hard-working sister.
Now, there's even a limit to that, though, because if the hard-working sister keeps on bailing out the party sister and then gets stressed and overwhelmed and gets sick from all of that stress, we'd say, well, even that is the result of choice in that you've chosen to continually bail out your party sister and she's stressing you and all of that, so you get ill maybe from the stress.
And nobody forced you to do that, right? I mean, that was still a lifestyle choice.
Still a lifestyle choice to help out, so to speak, chaotic and random people. That's still negative.
So that's one.
The medical care, health care, better knowledge of illness and stress and transmission and all of that.
So it's pretty hard to get really accidentally sick.
Of course, in your old age, there's arthritis and things like that, but for a lot of people's lives, it's pretty hard, if you compare it to all of the random stuff that happened during the course of our evolution, it's pretty hard to just get sick.

[21:31] And I've always been fascinated by this. I'll do a whole show on this at one point, and I don't know if you share the same fascination.
But when somebody is sick, my first question is, why?
I assume that the body functions well, and illness has some kind of cause.
Now, again, it could be bad genes, bad luck, whatever it is.

[21:49] But why? Why? Why? There has to be a cause. And most times when I talk to people, there's a pretty obvious cause.
And they know it, and all of that. that. So that's sort of number one thing that's changed.
The number two thing that has changed is insurance.
I know, such an exciting topic, but it really is. Insurance is one of the biggest things that ever happened to humanity.
I know, this sounds like a completely bizarre statement, but insurance is one of the biggest things that ever happened to humanity.
Humanity it's absolutely mind-blowing what insurance has done because compassion, is a combination is a response to a combination of disaster and helplessness now disasters were endemic to our evolution whether it's plague famine war random illness whatever right so disaster plus helplessness is the general generally our cause of compassion passion.
The modern world has mostly, mostly, obviously there's lots of exceptions, it has, let's say largely, the modern world has largely eliminated disaster.

[23:02] World has largely eliminated. I mean, just think of how many women died in childbirth in the past versus how many children die of childbirth now.
Just think of the number of people who died of plagues and pestilences and so on in the past versus now.
I mean, let's talk about the West for the moment, although this is pretty common throughout the world.
Think of infant mortality close to 50% before the age of five for most of human history now is extraordinarily low.
So the modern world has largely eliminated disaster compared to the past.

Insurance: Eliminating Helplessness in the Face of Disaster

[23:32] So remember, it's disaster plus helplessness.

[23:36] Now, what does insurance do to the concept of helplessness, right?
Well, I got really sick. It wasn't my fault.
That's a shame. And we're talking sort of like in a free market context.
I got really sick. It wasn't my fault. It's just bad luck. I don't smoke.
I don't drink. I exercise. I eat well. I'm not overweight. I just got sick.
It's not my fault. Okay, I accept that.
I think every reasonable person would accept that there's times where that's going to happen. It's rare, but it happens.
Ah, but it's one thing to say, I'm sick, and it's not my fault.
It's another thing to say, I'm sick, it's not my fault, and I'm broke. Hmm.
Can you feel the difference? Can you feel the difference? And I'm broke.
I mean, that's what insurance did, is it eliminated the helplessness in the face of disaster.
Right? Right. It eliminated helplessness in the face of disaster.
My husband died. Wasn't his fault.
He got hit by somebody, a drunk car driver. My husband died. I have five kids.
Well, that's disaster and that can't be eliminated completely.
It's been significantly eliminated.
I mean, just look at climate related deaths over the last couple of hundred years. The last hundred years, really, they've gone down enormously.

[24:56] Of course, there is drunk driving, but in the past, there was being thrown by a horse that got spooked, right?
Lots of bad things, and also drunk riders, although I assume drunk horseback riders weren't as dangerous as drunk drivers because the horse is not drunk, and the horse has mobility, and it's not 6,000 pounds of metal flying along at high speeds.
To say, well, my husband died, got hit by a drunk car driver, and we would sort of post insurance.
We'd say, well, I'm sure he has life insurance, right?

[25:31] I'm sure he has life insurance. Of course you have life insurance.
I mean, I remember this as a kid.
I remember reading, I'm sorry, I remember listening. I used to listen to radio dramas when I was a kid, when I was in bed.
I'd be in bed, and I would listen to comedy shows. I had a little portable radio, and I could plug it in, and I would listen to these sort of...
And I remember, one, I must have been maybe eight or nine years old.
I was listening to a radio drama, and in that radio drama, somebody's house had burnt down.
The husband went, oh, the house burnt down, goes to the wife, and the wife says, no, that's okay.
It's terrible that our house burnt down, but at least we have insurance. insurance.
And then the husband suddenly remembered something, patted the chest, the breast of his pocket, and realized that he'd never mailed the insurance policy.
And even as a kid, I was like, oh, that's terrible. Oh, no.

[26:26] Can't mail the insurance company after your house is burnt down and just because he'd forgotten, to mail the insurance policy it turned from a significant inconvenience to an absolute life disaster absolute life disaster now they couldn't rebuild the house they lost all the money in the house probably still had to pay parts of it off and because he had not mailed the insurance and And I remember even as a kid, like, oh, no, oh, that's terrible.
So insurance has taken away helplessness in the face of disaster.
And I would love to see, as I write about in my novel, The Future, I would love to see insurance placed everywhere in life.
Placed everywhere in life. There's life insurance, dental insurance, health insurance, disability insurance, unemployment insurance, though, of course, that's run by the government as a whole.
But people should be surrounded by these nets of insurance.

[27:22] Because society needs to be really strict in its compassion.
I think this is what Nietzsche was talking about.
Society does need to be really strict in its compassion, because if society is loosey-goosey in its compassion, then people will exploit that compassion.
Compassion needs to be very tightly restrained and tightly reined in, because otherwise people will exploit it.
And it's tough, you know? I mean, it's tough.
If somebody's husband dies, the woman's husband dies, She's got a bunch of kids.
There's not a lot of savings and they don't have life insurance.
Oof. Oof. What do you do?

[27:59] Well, we would have compassion for the kids, obviously, and this is one of the big problems is we all have compassion for the kids.
But sometimes, oftentimes, that is used as leverage by under-functioning people to gain resources. It's for my kids. How are my kids going to eat?
You know, that kind of stuff.
How are my kids going to get their braces? How are my kids going to do X, Y, and Z, right?

[28:17] Compassion for the kids but if and you know i've always been nagging people over the course of this show get insurance get insurance especially when you're young i mean i got my first life insurance policy when i was in my early 20s now it's i mean it's it's been self-funding for decades now because you want to get it when you're young unlikely to die you want to start trying to get life insurance when you're 70 right i guess you can get catastrophic insurance but life insurance it's going to be pretty pricey, right? Based on actuarial science.
So somebody's husband died, they don't have a lot of savings, they've got six kids, and they don't have insurance.

[28:58] Well, I guess they saved a hundred bucks a month or whatever they would pay.
I guess they saved that money.
We have compassion for the children, but would we have compassion for people who have have exposed themselves to unnecessary risk when it's relatively cheap to eliminate that risk?
Do we have compassion for people who have access to insurance, which eliminates helplessness in the face of risk and financial helplessness?
What do we think of people who don't go to the dentist, who don't take out insurance, who do risky things, who, against reasonable and good advice, ride without a helmet?
I mean, I used to do that. I used to do that for many years.
I rode a bike without a helmet.
And then a friend of mine's girlfriend who worked as a volunteer on a hotline, like an emergency hotline, she said, you have to wear a helmet.

Importance of wearing a helmet and having insurance

[29:58] It feels like half the calls are people who've spilled on a bike without a helmet and things look very bad.
So I tend to be a fairly coachable fellow. So what did I do?
Well, I went out and I got me a helmet. I've been wearing one ever since.
Compassion, yeah, for accidents. Accidents have largely been reduced or eliminated.
And helplessness, no, we're not helpless in the face of disaster.
We're not. We're not helpless in the face of disaster. And that's obviously something to do with better knowledge, prevention, and so on, but a lot of it has to do with insurance.

[30:34] Insurance is the closest thing to a godsend that can be imagined for agnostic or atheist people. It is a godsend.
And you can't have as much compassion for the sufferings of people if they've inflicted it on themselves.
So if people say, if the husband or the wife say, say, yeah, we have six kids and I ride my motorcycle in the rain, says the husband, but we don't need life insurance.

[31:01] Well, if the husband dies in a fiery, I guess, fiery, quickly put out by the rain motorcycle crash, I mean, do we have much compassion for the husband and wife?
I'd actually be angry at the husband and wife if this was people that I knew, right? Of course, I would have told them you have to have insurance because you have kids.
Nah, I don't need insurance, whatever, right? And then the disaster happens and it's like, Like, I'm angry at the parents because it's incredibly irresponsible to have kids without having insurance.
Health insurance, disability insurance, life insurance, all of this kind of stuff.
Do we have compassion for people who put their children's future at risk for the sake of saving $100 a month?
Could be less if they're younger, $50 a month, whatever, right? Well, it's stupid.
It's stupid, it's irresponsible, and it's kind of contemptible, in my view, to put your children's futures at risk to that degree.
So I mentioned earlier a paradox, and I've got 10 of these, but I'll just do this one.
And if you have any comments, I'm certainly happy to hear them, but I guess maybe I'll make this a series because it's a good fuel for thought.
So here's what happens. This is how compassion gets weaponized.

The paradox of claiming helplessness while demanding rights

[32:11] So the way that compassion gets weaponized is people say.

[32:18] I'm a victim of circumstances, I'm a helpless victim of circumstances, but also I want all the rights of adulthood.
I am both helpless and all empowered at the same time.
And the welfare state can't exist without this combination in a democracy or in a, you know, obviously with a republic or anywhere that people vote, right? So people say, I'm a helpless victim of circumstances, but I demand all the full rights of adulthood.
That's the paradox. Now, people who are helpless victims of circumstances absolutely deserve our compassion and should be helped.

[32:58] The average person isn't going to have kidnapping insurance.
I mean, I guess if you're operating in some dangerous part of the world, you would, but the average person's not going to have any of that, right?
So if somebody is vacationing in some safe, nice place and they get kidnapped in some, we'd have real sympathy for that, right?
They didn't do anything foolish, unwise, and I wouldn't sit there and say, well, why didn't you have kidnapping insurance when you were vacationing in Ireland or something, right?
I mean, or wherever you, you know, the crime is low and things are relatively safe, at least for now.
I mean, be like, oh, that's so terrible. My gosh, what can we do to help? Right?
That's appalling. That's awful. That's terrible. What can we do to help?
I think as a society, I mean, all decent people would have that, would have that approach because you are a helpless victim of circumstances.

[33:48] Now, I don't mean to pick on the single moms, but it's the most obvious example.
Example so a woman who has her children a child or children with an irresponsible man she says i'm a victim but if you say well hang on are you a helpless victim of circumstances who can't figure out what's right or wrong for herself well then voting doesn't make any sense like if you say i'm a helpless victim i'm essentially an infant and played upon by manipulative people larger forces of society, my neighborhood, history, poverty, like, I'm just a helpless victim, I'm a shadow cast by circumstances.
Well, then you're saying you have no free will in the determining of right and wrong, good and bad, proper, improper, appropriate, inappropriate, like you have no capacity to determine good from bad, right?
Because a single mother says often, I had no capacity to know that the father of my children was irresponsible and was going to take off. I had no way of knowing these things.

[34:52] Okay, so in your own personal life where the stakes couldn't be higher, you can't figure out a good guy from a bad guy.
But somehow you can determine an honest politician from a corrupt politician where the stakes are infinitely lower.
Everything's much more removed the consequences virtually don't exist for you so you're saying that when the stakes are higher and your own life and future is at stake you can't figure out good from bad but when it comes to voting for strangers in far distant states with wild macroeconomic ideas suddenly then.

[35:32] No, right from wrong, good from bad, and so on, right? Like, that doesn't make sense.
People say, like the single mothers say, and we'll talk about men in a sec here, but the single mothers say, well, I couldn't figure out what was right or wrong, good or bad.
I was so easily swayed and manipulated, I'm helpless.
But I absolutely demand the right to have a full and adult say in the running of society.
Well, that's not logically sustainable. I mean, not even close. Not even close.
If you can't figure out right from wrong in your own life, how can you figure out right from wrong in the life of society?
If you can't figure out a manipulative, irresponsible guy when he's impregnating you, how could you figure out a manipulative and irresponsible politician on the other side of the country?
Right? But that's the paradox.

[36:29] I'm helpless. I'm a victim. I'm a shadow cast by circumstances.
I have no agency or responsibility or discernment in the matters of my own life, but I absolutely demand full empowerment and equality in the determining of life in society.
I can't figure out an irresponsible guy I have unprotected sex with, but I totally can figure out a responsible politician to vote for.
So the reason that it's a paradox is that if you can determine that which is distant and far removed, then you can determine that which is close, intimate, and high stakes.
Like if you imagine a young man with perfect eyesight he's standing in the bushlands the savannas of africa and he sees an animal right far on the horizon through the haze through the heat shimmers the blinding light of the day he sees an animal right on the horizon you look and and you can barely see anything. It's so bright.
It's so hot. It's so hot.

[37:45] It's a little Christopher Walken for you. And he says, the guy looking into the hazy heat ripple distance of the African veldt, he says, oh, that's a zebra.

The Paradox of Vision: Seeing from Afar vs. Up Close

[38:00] Then you spend, I don't know, half a day walking to where the zebras are.
And again, he's not farsighted, like nearsighted. His eyesight is fine.
Nearsighted, farsighted, that's why he's a young man, right? He's got good eyesight.
He sees the zebra, says, oh, that's a zebra, far off in the milky haze of the African sunlight.

[38:19] Miles and miles and miles and miles away. Oh, that's a zebra.
And then you walk, you spend half a day walking to the zebra, and there's a whole herd of zebra, zebra not 50 feet in front of you not 25 feet in front of you and he says i have no idea what they are i've no i've no i i've no idea what they are would that make any sense somebody might be unable, to hear well we know for a fact based on the principle of hearing aids people can hear some people can hear loud noises but not soft noises right this is a hearing aid is designed to amplify the audio the volume right so people like pete townsend and roger daltrey and sting and what will i am and other people other celebrities with hearing problems or tinnitus or whatever right well they need hearing aids or or whatever it is right i mean i think it was the who the band the who had the world's record for the loudest concert in the history of the planet and people kept trying to beat that but then the guinness book of world records ended up dropping in that category because too many people were getting their hearing blasted and of course pete townsend is quite regretful at all of the loud concerts because his hearing is wrecked or if you look at huey lewis huey lewis blew out one ear in the 80s and then he just i think it was a year or two ago he kind of lost the other one and i think became suicidal and it's just just because you know as a musician lives by this by sound right.

[39:46] Might be able to hear a loud sound but not a soft sound.
But is there anyone who can hear a soft sound but not a loud sound?
Is there anyone who can hear a soft sound but not a loud sound?
Again, assuming the same frequencies and this and that, right?
We don't make it sort of dog-hearing or whatever, right? Well, that wouldn't make any sense.
Is there anyone with average, like, decent 20-20 vision who can see something and identify it clearly that's tiny 20 miles away but can't identify that thing 25 feet from their nose.
Or, to go even further, can somebody say, oh, that's a horse, when the horse is 20 miles away in the haze and heat, summer light, and then you put them on the horse, they're riding the horse, and they look down and say, what the hell is this?
I have no idea what this is. Well, this would make no sense.
Now, if somebody doesn't know, so the single mothers, the way that it works, and again, this is men with crazy women too, so I'm not trying to pick on the ladies here, but this is sort of the clearest example for most people.

[40:49] The single mothers are saying, I can accurately identify a zebra 20 miles away, in the heat and haze and heat ripples.
I can accurately, 100% of the time, accurately identify a zebra 100 miles away, 50 miles away, 20 miles away, whatever the distance of vision would be, even potentially, right?
Some of Africa is pretty flat, like prairie flat.
So she says, I can accurately identify a zebra 20 miles away, but you put a zebra 10 feet from me, I have no idea what it is.
I genuinely think that that zebra is a tractor.
I genuinely think that that zebra is something completely opposite.
It right so this the the the victim phenomenon is something like this the victim phenomenon is, i demand the right to vote because i can accurately identify corruption and virtue integrity and evil and good and bad and right and wrong and productive and unproductive and valid and invalid and honest and dishonest and right noble and and nasty i can determine all of that in a politician i'm never going to meet who lives on the other side of the country and who has policies I could not even explain to an expert.
So I can accurately identify good and bad, right and wrong.

[42:09] Miles away from where I am. But a guy in my bedroom, I have no idea what's good and bad, right and wrong.
Virtuous, evil, responsible, irresponsible, a liar, a truth teller, I've no idea. I've no idea.

The Paradox of Identifying Good and Bad: Politicians vs. Personal Relationships

[42:22] I'm completely fooled while straddling a man in a sexual position.
I'm completely fooled. But you give me a politician, I'll never meet on the other side of the country country whose message is massaged by a hostile or sympathetic media, and I can totally 100% of the time identify the right and wrong and good and bad.
That's the paradox. That's the paradox.

[42:45] People who can't, and again, I know you can go with nearsighted and farsighted, so again, people who can't identify what's right in front of them should never be trusted to identify that which is further away.
And people who claim to be able to identify things 20 miles away, way but can't identify them right in front of them are not to be believed again we are talking about not sight and again nearsighted and farsighted there's a limit to these things but it's not possible so the victim claims to be a helpless independent victim but also to have the full Full rights, moral choices, and agency of an adult.
But if you have full adulthood, you can't be a victim.
If you are a victim, you can't simultaneously claim full adulthood.

[43:37] I'm ridiculously easily fooled, but I absolutely demand full adulthood and full rights.
Okay, so full adulthood and full rights means that you have to suffer the consequences of your own foolishness.
Like, babies don't have to do that, and babies aren't really foolish, of course, right?
But you make your baby proof your house, and you keep your kids safe, and you make sure they don't roll off the change table with your babies.
Right? So, babies are not supposed to be suffering the negative effects of their own, quote, bad choices, because babies don't make bad choices.
They just do what babies do.
So, I want to be, I want to have all of the freedom of adulthood, but none of the consequences of bad decisions. But that's not possible.
I want to have all the responsibilities, none of the outcomes.
I want to have all the freedom, none of the consequences.
But the way that compassion is milked is people say, I'm a victim.

[44:38] And we would have this even in the insurance realm. I'll give you sort of an example here so we can further delineate the issue, which is, a woman with six kids, her husband dies, they have life insurance, but the life insurance company has been pillaged from the inside, was fraudulent, and there's no money to pay her.
Now, of course, you could say, yes, but the life insurance policy should itself, like the life insurance company should itself have insurance.
But we can imagine some scenario where through no fault of her own, she got life insurance, she paid for it, but the company's gone out of business suddenly, and she had no time to switch her policy because it happened right after her husband died.
We can imagine some scenario where the woman did everything right.
It's really, really bad luck.

[45:21] Now, of course, in a free society, you would go to all of the executives of that, insurance company and you would strip them of everything they owned in order to pay off the policies that were coming due right for the people whose policies weren't due whatever right like they'd switch to some new place but for the people whose policies like something triggered the policy payout and they don't have the money then the the court system the legal system would go after all the executives and would take away their houses their cars their savings their crypto that whatever like everything would just be stripped from them in order to pay so that would be most likely solved but we can think of those situations where if that didn't work for some reason somebody would even though they did the right things they ended up in the wrong situation but we have compassion for that but all the people who trick us by claiming to be victims well you can claim to be a victim if you claim you have no agency in the matter right like the person who's walking and through the mall and some car comes and runs into them, they have no agency in their disaster.
It's just bad luck. The agency is on the part of the drunken guy who drove into the mall. They have no agency.

The Paradox of Agency and Victimhood

[46:32] If you claim to be a victim and thus deserving of compassion, you also have to claim to have no agency in the problems you need resources to fix.
No agency, no responsibility, no agency, no choice, no responsibility.
So then you're claiming the status of an infant or a toddler.
I mean, we even hold toddlers responsible for their own behavior at times, or some people do even more aggressively, right?
The toddler draws on the wall and the parent gets mad as a toddler drew on the wall, really angry.
So compassion, in the sort of modern welfare state sense, is the simultaneous full agency and moral acuity, right? I demand the vote.
I demand to have a say in social matters because I can determine good guys from bad guys.
And just say guys for politicians or whatever, right? So people say, I demand the vote, I demand a say in public affairs or how society runs, because I can determine right from wrong, responsible from irresponsible, good from evil, and I can see through lies.
So that's why they say, well, I have to have the right to determine these things.
Ah, but if you say you have this ability, then you have this ability, and then you can't claim to be a victim in your dating life.
There's a politician, I know if he's good or bad, But the guy I had unprotected sex with, I have no idea whether he's good or bad.
Well, that's too much of a paradox for any sane brain to hang on to, right?

[48:01] Be possible without the power of the state, this kind of stuff, right?
So I don't think that compassion as a whole is some psyop that's set up as Nietzsche would claim by the undeserving to take resources from the more deserving, because compassion originated out of the chaos and confusion and risk and danger which was largely unmanageable in our evolution.
Now danger is largely, civilization is when you can manage danger.
You can predict things, you can have buffers, you can write your you get hit by a bus and you got six kids, then insurance pays off.
And while your wife is certain to grieve and your children are certain to grieve, they will grieve, not starve, right? They will grieve, not starve.
And of course, the insurance policy in the past used to be the tribe and society and like your community, your church or whatever, right?
And the falling away at these things, increased mobility leads to the welfare state in many ways, because people lose their social ties and risks seem too great.

[48:57] Now, of course, and I'll just touch on this briefly, but the same thing happens with with men right so men you know they uh they the top tier like the attractive guys you know they'll sleep around and and then they'll be upset that they get a stalker or something like that right some some woman really really wants to be their girlfriend you know the overattached staring eyed girlfriend meme so some girl really wants to be the girlfriend friends. Some girl stalks them. Some girl chases them around.
Some girl gets really angry because the guy ghosts her, and then she posts rumors about him, posts lies about him on social media.
And of course, you know, the posting of lies about people is bad, definitely wrong, but that is part of the risk that you take.
Knowing that there are crazy people out there, you have to adapt your behavior accordingly.
This is kind of similar to the conversation we had a week or two ago about the biker bar and free speech and men versus women.
So if you engage in risky behavior sooner or later, you're going to roll snake eyes and bad things are going to happen.

[50:01] Yeah, I think that that quote that compassion is designed by the, you know, we have compassion for infants and infants are not plotting to take our resources through the welfare state, right? They just absolutely need our compassion.
And again, we evolved with a lot of risk that's largely mitigated now.
And that paradox, I both can and cannot determine good from evil.
When it comes to my personal life, it is impossible for me to figure out who's good and evil, even to the point where I'll have babies, right, with a guy who bails, right?
I can't determine good from evil in my own life with my own body when the consequences are dire, but I can totally determine good from evil in a remote situation of political abstraction.
That doesn't make any particular sense at all.
Anyway, those are two out of the ten. Again, all righty. Well, thanks, everyone, for dropping by.
Of course, you know, boy, I feel incredibly honored to have these conversations.
I feel incredibly honored to have the liberty and the reach to be able to, I think, hopefully provide some of this useful wisdom to the world.
And thank you, everyone, so much for your support and donations over the years.
It is why I can do what I do.
And I hope that you will check out, as donors, the next chapter in the Peaceful Parenting book.
Thanks a lot, everyone. Have yourself a wonderful afternoon. Take care. Bye.

Blog Categories

May 2024

Recent Comments

    Join Stefan Molyneux's Freedomain Community

    Become a part of the movement. Get exclusive content. Interact with Stefan Molyneux.
    Become A Member
    Already have an account? Log in
    Let me view this content first