The Joys and Dangers of Philosophy! Transcript

"How to use philosophy not just to 1) avert disaster but 2) to live a great life?

"A few episodes ago (the one where Stef mentioned don't just be a tinkerer) he also mentioned that many people have successfully implemented philosophy into their lives and were able to realise the situation they're in and get out, to avert disaster (Which is great!).

"How to progress from there (from that 'middle-ground') and continue implementing philosophy to build a truly great life?

"It seems 1) averting disaster is more about removing your blinds so you're able to see the mess you're in and get out, whereas 2) building a great life, is more subtle and nuanced and requires more deliberate 'work'"

Transcript

Averting disaster and living a great life

[0:00] Good morning, everybody. Hope you're doing well. Last question in the last tranche of questions. Feel free to submit more questions at freedomain.locals.com.
How to use philosophy not just to, one, avert disaster, but, two, to live a great life.
A few episodes ago, the one where Steph mentioned, don't just be a tinkerer, he also mentioned that many people have successfully implemented philosophy into their lives and were able to realize the situation they're in and get out to avert disaster, which is great. Right.
How to progress from there, from that middle ground, and continue implementing philosophy to build a truly great life?
It seems, one, averting disaster is more about removing your blind so you're able to see the mess you're in and get out, whereas two, building a great life is more subtle and nuanced and requires more deliberate, quote, work.
Well, obviously, averting disaster is easier easier than living a great life.
I mean, fairly obvious to say, right? Not getting in a car crash is easier than winning a gold medal.
Not getting fat is easier than getting ripped.
So, I mean, obviously, the first thing you need to do is avert disaster.
See, disaster is determinism. Determinism.
Disastrous are determinism.

[1:17] Disastrous are the opposite of free will in many ways.
And so if you want to have free will in your life and you want to be able to make choices, then the first thing you need to do is to avoid disaster.
To take a simple analogy, if you get drunk foolishly, evilly and illegally, get behind the wheel of a car and you crash your car and you end up in a wheelchair.

[1:40] And then maybe you can take rehab to get out of the wheelchair after you deal with all your legal issues.
Well, you don't have the choice to stand up because you crashed your car.
You don't have the choice to go for a walk. You don't have the choice to climb a mountain. You don't have a choice to go dancing.
Because, I mean, with your legs anyway, right? Because you crashed your car.

[2:00] If you end up getting into a relationship with someone who turns out to be some kind of crazy stalker, then you have to take security measures.
You have to deal with the legal system. them. You have to maybe move, like all kinds of crazy stuff can happen. And it's all just reacting to disaster.
Of course, the baby jail, if you impregnate a bad woman or the wrong woman for you or a hostile woman or a dangerous woman, then what happens?
Well, you end up having to pay child support for 18 years and your free will is diminished thereby.
And you're in a reactive state.
I mean, I remember working once with a guy who was going through a really tough divorce and And he was just on the phone half the day, red-faced, tense.
It was all just waiting, because it's not just the bad news, right?
Like, if you're intelligent, you anticipate bad things coming, which means if bad things are randomly coming, it's kind of hard to relax for a lot of people.
So he was just, and I remember he was just like, guys, never get married, right?
Because we all, it was a bunch of us who all worked in the same room.
And, I mean, he was a nice guy. I liked him. But it was really taken as all.
If you've been around people who are reacting to that kind of stuff. It really does.
It really does take it all on a lot of people.
So you try to avoid those kinds of disasters. And then you have choice.
So it's necessary but not sufficient to have a great life to avoid disaster. Of course, if you.

[3:28] Fat, if you let yourself get fat, then you have all of these issues to deal with, and your choices are diminished, and someone says, hey, let's go rock climbing.
You know, you're probably not going to feel overly comfortable doing that.
So yeah, you do have to avert disaster, because disaster diminishes philosophy, right?
Because philosophy is about making wise choices, and disaster has you in a reactive mode.
You know, if you're, I mean, if you're at a fork in the road on a hike, right and on on the left is is one direction on the right is another direction but on the right a bear is coming down the road or the path the bear is coming down the the walking path well.

[4:09] Do you really have a choice to go right where the bear is you don't you probably even won't go left you'll probably go back at great speed right or something like that right so where there's a disaster like the bear your choices virtually evaporate and you're in reactive mode and when When you're in reactive mode, you don't really have much option with regards to philosophy.
Philosophy is for helping you make choices, and the more choices you make, or the more choices you can make, the more valuable philosophy is, which is why I talk a lot with people about dating and parenting and so on, because we have an embarrassment of choices with regards to parenting and with regards to dating that are ancestral.
I mean, our free will with regards to economics and politics has diminished over time, but our free will with regarding dating and career choices in many ways and other aspects of the modern world, the parenting, right?
You can homeschool in many places.
You can move to places that are more in line with your values.
With regards to parenting, there's not a society around that's going to take care of your parents that's going to hit them. I mean, hitting is usually banned in schools these days.
A lot of choices. A lot of choices.

[5:28] So yeah, averting disaster, that's pretty important. It's pretty important so that you can have choices.
And the fact that people are generally in reactive modes these days is one of the reasons why philosophy has become less valuable to them, right?
Because they're in reactive mode, so philosophy doesn't have much to say, right?
Right, like philosophy is like a hiking map, a map of if you've ever been, like I remember as a teenager going on sort of a multi-day hike of Algonquin Park with two friends of mine, and it turned into a real disaster.
I'm sorry I didn't laugh, but it really did turn into a mess because we had one guy with Crohn's disease who said he didn't need to take his water purification tablets And he got incredibly sick, and we were two days hike from the road.
No cell phones, of course, back then. No way of getting in touch with anyone.
So we split up. We got lost. It was a mess.

[6:28] But we had a map, right? We had a map. Now, you need a map when you have a choice about where to walk.
Again, if a bear comes running at you, you don't pull out your map, right?
You don't pull out your map when you're reacting to a predator.
You just get a weapon out or you climb a high tree or you run away.
But you're not sitting there going, huh, okay, let me check my map. Let me check my compass.
So you understand that for society, keeping you in a constant state of panic, keeping you in this constant state of anxiety keeps philosophy at bay.

[7:04] Right? The challenge to hierarchy is philosophy, because everyone can think, right?
The challenge to hierarchy is philosophy in the same way that the challenge to superstition is science.
So how do they keep you from exploring philosophy? Well, they keep you in a constant state of anxiety and reaction and helplessness and frustration and a sense of predators everywhere and keeping you, And this happens, of course, on the left and the right, right? We're aware of that.
So keeping you as scared is keeping you in a constant state of fight or flight, which means that in a sense they're denying you or they are working against your higher rational faculties of analysis and thought and reason and planning and so on, right? Right.

[7:53] And now some of these things that diminish your free will can come from outside of you. And some of them can come from inside of you. And some of those are fine.
Right. I mean, if you're really, really hungry, then do you have the free will to not eat?
Sure. I guess if you're on a hunger strike or something like that, but in general, if you're really, really hungry, your choice is diminished to, I got to get some food. Right.
Or if you're really, really tired, which I hear is theoretically possible for human beings to do, go lie down.
I know what actually say occasionally i will take a nap during the day so if yeah if if you are really thirsty right so and those good that keep you alive right and for lust sexual desire greed and so on and all of that and for a lot of people of course humiliation right that they they don't think of themselves as they don't want to think of themselves as good they want to think of themselves as better than right they don't measure their value relative to abstract standards which which is called integrity and moral courage, they measure their status relative to other people.

The Struggle of Status and Wisdom

[8:52] And I remember, yeah, I just remember many years ago, in circumstances too complicated to unpack here, I was chatting with a very tall, good-looking guy.
Now, I knew he was a status guy. And you kind of know, right? You kind of know.
Because the first thing they'll tell you is, he told me about his real estate holdings.
You know, I own this, I own that.
I've got complications with this and, you know, and that. And so the first thing he did was show, I mean, he was tall, he was good looking, and he then needed to establish his status by telling me all about his real estate holding.
It sort of reminded me of when there was a guy, typical, sort of an Italian stereotype, but the really, really tight jeans and all of that.
But there was this guy I worked with when I was younger in a restaurant who was constantly talking about his real estate holdings and he was a waiter and even even back then i didn't say anything but of course the mind the mind goes there right which is so if you have all these real estate holdings why are you working for tips you know it's just one of these sort of these kind of crazy things steve martin does a good parody of this right when he talks about yeah i'm into i'm into stocks.

[10:14] I own six tons of cardboard and it started at three cents a ton now it's at six cents a ton so that's you do the math and and I made this special deal where I only have to keep three tons of it at my house he was it is prime he was just brilliant he was just brilliant then he got tinnitus so it was inflicted on him I think three amigos which I I've never seen looked way too cringe and I really can't do much of Chevy Chase but somebody fired off a gun next to his ear and he got tinnitus which as a musician and all that because he's also a musician of course a banjo player and does some fairly decent scraps of Steppenwolf it was I think it really messed with his his comedy I assume it's fairly bad so I was talking to this guy the status guy and And he was struggling because he was both high status and wanted to display to me his status.
But at the same time, he could sense that I had some wisdom that he needed to get a hold of.
So he wanted to impress me and to be a higher status than me.
But at the same time, he was also struggling. I could see the struggle.
He also wanted to ask me, basically, it was a question about his children and society and the future.

[11:34] And he was really struggling because high status is isolating, right?
To want to be high status, to want to be better than, greater than, to want to show off is isolating.
You can't connect with people because you can't approach them as equals.
Once you establish yourself as superior, you can't approach people as equals, right?
And of course, you can hear me a million times on call-in shows, right?

[11:58] What do I say? What do I say to people? I mean, if I'm talking to some guy in his 20s, I say, listen, you're further ahead than I was at your age.
And I'm right down in here with you, brother, brother, man to man.
I'm constantly establishing equality. quality.
And of course, you know, if people are calling me up and I'm 30 years older than they are or whatever, and I'm some half big shot philosopher guy, then the concern is that there's going to be an authority issue there or a status issue there that's going to have them not think for themselves, but, you know, take notes silently.
And I want to engage in people's thoughts as equal.
So I'm constantly diminishing whatever status, just, and it may or may not exist in the person's mind, but I always want to make sure that I am constantly diminishing.
Like I'm right down there with you. We all struggle with this and, and all of that.
And I've made terrible mistakes in this area, right? So you've always heard me say, like, I'm, I'm no guru.
I'm not coming from any state of, and I'm also, when I'm, when I give feedback, this kind of critical or maybe negative, I'm constantly saying, I'm not saying like, you're a liar. I'm not saying you're a bad person.
I'm not trying to put you down. I'm just telling you what I think.
And again, with all the humility of having been there myself and sometimes still am there.
So I'm constantly undoing status because I never, I never want anybody to come out of a conversation with me feeling lessened.

[13:24] Like feeling lesser, feeling less. I want them to come out of a conversation with me feeling bigger, stronger, and more powerful.
And I can't do that if I'm working the status bellows to fire up their insecurities or something, right?
The conversations are not about me feeling high status, which is, I mean, it would be really pathetic, right?
People are calling me with troubles and then using their troubles to make me feel better. It would be sad.
You know, the analogy would be like some ER doctor.
Some guy comes in with a terrible wound and the ER doctor says, well, geez, I've never had that wound. Look at me. I don't have that wound at all. I'm totally fine.
I guess I didn't do whatever stupid stuff you did to get this wound.
I mean, wouldn't that be just like beyond appalling?
Wouldn't that be beyond appalling? I mean, that would be right.
So anyway, I could see this guy struggling because he wanted to ask me questions about his kids in the future and so on, right?
And society and the direction of society. And he didn't know what I did, right?
But he sensed that I had some, a couple of comments I guess I've made, he sensed that I had some wisdom. And it was a real struggle for him.

Approaching Others with Humility and Wisdom

[14:30] Because once you go high status, once you go high status, really tough to ask for help, right?
Really tough to ask for help. and so anyway i was i'm obviously could see this unrolling and i just uh said you know hey, you know we're all parents we all struggle with this kind of stuff future of society future of our kids uh here's here's the tentative conclusions that i've come to i mean i don't have the answer but right because in order to get the wisdom across i had to approach him from probably slightly lower status like the important thing is to get the information across so that his kids get get helped but i had to approach him from a lower status position because if i had said well the answer is obvious you have to do x y and z what's the matter with you i mean obviously that'd be kind of being a bit of a jerk but if i and even if i had approached him as an equal he would be less likely to learn but to approach him as less than was the only way really to get the information across that was good for his kids, which is, you know, I, I, I mean, I think everyone can understand that I'm not in this for the status, not in this for the status at all, even, I mean, quite the opposite.
I mean, you have to, you have to accept the loss of status to pursue wisdom.
You have to, because, because the opposite of philosophy is vanity.

[15:59] Philosophy is humility.

[16:02] And I really became a philosopher.
I mean, as far as I would understand the term, I really became a philosopher when I finally embraced true humility and say, okay, let me start.
Let me start. So there's excess humility.

[16:22] The excess humility, pathological humility, is René Descartes and Socrates and so on saying, all I know is that I know nothing. You know, that kind of stuff, right?
I could be in the Matrix. I could be in a demon's fever fantasy.
I could be a brain in an attack when I peel it, right? So that's excess humility.

[16:42] That's using, that's pathological, right? You want the balance of humility.
Excess humility is self-effacement, self-erasure, really. And a deficiency of humility is arrogance and vanity, which always leads to dominance, which leads to separation of soul, at least to a predator-prey relationship. It leads to win-lose.
You feel like if you're a status person, you feel better when the other person feels worse.
You feel more secure when the other person feels less secure.
So the opposite of wisdom is humility but humility is composed of two things rational humility is composed of two things one i don't know and two i can know right one i don't know and two i can know right we have ambition when we say i have not achieved my goals goals, but I can achieve my goals, right?
I mean, if I wanted to be a tenor opera singer, I could not achieve that goal. I can't sing that high.
I mean, not presently and certainly not in a way that wouldn't damage my voice over time.
So I don't pursue that. To pursue that would be harmful and would put people in the awkward position of saying, you don't sound good, man.
That could be an opera singer anyway. And I don't particularly love opera music.
Some parts of it but I like, but I don't particularly love opera music.
So, and I don't have the voice for it by far. So why, you know, just, just be harmful.

Humility and Escaping the Vanity of Objectivism

[18:06] So humility is, I don't know, but I can know.
And of course I remember sitting down, I remember very vividly sitting down at the table, with a piece of paper, actually a whole stack of papers and a pencil and saying, which is, which was escaping the vanity of the objectivist movement.
The vanity of the objectivist movement is we have all the answers and spoiler you don't, which is why objectivism is more about explaining things rather than exploring things, which is why Leonard Peikoff wrote a book explaining objectivism rather than using rational principles of empiricism and curiosity to explore things further.
It's more of a canon than something you can really participate in.
And don't get me wrong, I love objectivism. Great, great, great stuff.
And the art is fantastic.

Objectivism's limited view on ethics and rewriting the Constitution

[19:00] But the objectivists believe with great certainty that they have solved the problems of ethics, and they haven't.
I mean, the end of Atlas Shrugged, sorry, spoiler, the end of Atlas Shrugged is them saying, well, we just, we have to rewrite the Constitution.
We just have to have a better Constitution. And if we have a better Constitution, everything will be fine. Everything will be fine.
And that's not, that's not fair. I mean, it's not even close to true.
It's not even close to true.
And the fact that there's a non-aggression principle along with the support for coercive institutions, I mean, it's just a contradiction.

[19:39] And because it's a bunch of answers that you have to either explain better or learn more of, right, then it's kind of a closed system.
And I don't know, maybe there's a bunch of new stuff that's come out of objectivism.
I haven't been in the movement for decades, so I couldn't tell you.
Maybe they are doing a bunch of exploring and stuff like that.

[19:58] But I don't see it or I didn't experience it back then as an open system that you could use the tools and use to explore whatever you want to explore.
I mean, I've taken sort of the reason and evidence stuff and I've explored just about everything.
I mean, I don't know if objectivism has worked really hard on parenting or child abuse.
I don't know if it's worked on the analysis of dreams, which is a very important aspect of life.
And again, if you have dreams, I do love to poke around among them so you can send them in if they're dreams that you, especially repetitive dreams, because they're usually quite insistent for a reason.
And again, none of this is to criticize objectivism, great stuff, great stuff in it.
But to me, it's a country, a small country with defined borders.
It's not a spaceship you can explore anywhere, anything, anytime. time.
And that could be my deficiency. I'm fully, fully aware of that.
But to me, objectivists truly accept that they have.

[21:00] Got solutions to problems such as what is free will, what is morality, and so on.
I think that they've got pretty good stuff about what is truth and what is real and so on, and the role of reason, but it's circumscribed.
And, you know, if I had to go out on a limb, which is a real limb, Ayn Rand was a pretty brittle authoritarian and could be quite aggressive, if not downright verbally abusive.
And so, I think for her, unable to confront that, it comes out of a lot of sorrow sorrow and pain in her childhood, of course, and frustration with society, not listening to her, which, trust me, I get a little bit of this here and there.
But because she had a brittle, aggressive and authoritative, authoritarian personality at times with some people.

[21:44] Well, I mean, you're screaming at the top of her smoky lungs at Nathaniel Brander that he was a traitor to philosophy because he didn't want to have sex with her. That's not great. I mean, that's not great.
That's not great. Can you imagine? I mean, I can't, I can't even put it it out there as a theory right but imagine some guy who's screaming at some groupie that she was betraying philosophy if she didn't have sex with him i mean that would just be that would be appalling i mean beyond appalling right so yeah she she couldn't let go of the aggression within herself she couldn't let go of the aggression within society right so for a long time i.

[22:21] Absorbed objectivism and absorbed the answers objectivism had the answers and again i explored I had methodologies.
I wrote my novels like I wrote, oh gosh, I wrote, I mean, I guess my novel, which I never finished, called By the Light of an Alien Sun.
And then I wrote another novel about boarding school, which I never finished.
But I wrote Revolutions as an objectivist. I wrote The God of Atheists as an objectivist. I wrote Almost and Just Poor as an atheist, sorry, as an objectivist, I guess an atheist too.
So I was still exploring in the art world. And of course, The Ghost of Ayn Rand was a real challenge, right?
Because she's such, she was such a master at putting together plot character and philosophy that the urge to do what she did was was a real challenge right the real challenge to when when there are tracks that lead to a wondrous city it's kind of tough to go into the bushes with a machete and hack your own way to some destination you're not even sure where it is but you know it's kind of important to individuate right to think for yourself right.

The limitations and vanity of objectivism and atheism

[23:21] And Ayn Rand talked a lot more about conclusions than methodology.
And so people go for those conclusions, and then those conclusions harden, and they limit you, right?
Curiosity is philosophy.
So I think there's a certain amount of vanity in objectivism, as there is in atheism, right?
Atheists, they cling in general to a methodology called science and reason, and then assume that they have all the answers.
But the answers tend to be arguments from authority.
I mean, not all, obviously, not all. I mean, this is a very, very wide brush, tons of exceptions, of course.
But there are arguments, so there's no humility. So if somebody in a white lab coat says this is science, they obey just as if somebody in a tall hat says this is God's will.
It is still the avoidance of thought and reason and curiosity and methodology, right?
And methodology. I mean, it's funny because an atheist would never accept that God exists because other people accept it, right?
Other people say that God exists, therefore God exists, right?
If you're in a congregation and you go around, do you believe God exists?
Do you believe in God? Everybody says, yes, the atheist would never say, well, that means that God exists, right?

[24:35] But peer review is no different. Peer review is other people saying, yeah, this is valid, right? Right.
Yeah, yeah. Oh, yeah. No, I've reviewed this and it's good.

[24:47] A peer review is what happens when science exits the marketplace, right?
You need some other way to validate it other than it's a value to people as a whole.
I mean, peer review is being a social metaphysics to the nth degree.
Peer review is not, it's true because I understand it and I explored it and I examined it.
Peer review is, it's true because somebody else says it's true.
As if people can't be liars, as if people can't be compromised, as if people don't respond to incentives, as if people can't be bribed, as if people don't want to support their friends, as if people don't have ambitions, as if people don't want grant money.
I mean, the amount of compromise in what is fairly laughably called modern academic science is beyond, it beggars belief. It beggars belief.
My view, my view of most modern academia is if you are an ad company and, you know, say 70% of your revenue comes from one client, say Coca-Cola.
70% of your revenue comes from one client, Coca-Cola.
Will you ever create an ad critical of Coca-Cola? Will you ever put resources or publish things that are critical of Coca-Cola?
No, of course not. People respond to incentives.
That's not a theory, right? It is the basis of evolution of economics of every study you ever know in this area, right?

[26:09] So, and if you have a bunch of ad agencies that are all dependent upon Coca-Cola, none of them will ever write or publish or speak publicly anything critical of Coca-Cola.
I mean, they may privately have their reservations, just clean pennies overnight or whatever, right? But they won't. They just won't.
And that's almost by definition. Because, I mean, if anyone in the ad companies were to say something critical about Coca-Cola, which is 70% of their revenue, then that person would just get fired.
So everybody who remains is the people who fall entirely in line like salmon in a swift current to Coca-Cola.
And so, if you look at the source of revenue for most scientists, it's maybe the state or government grants or some state-protected institution like a university, it's a cartel.
And so, are they going to go against the narrative?
Come on, I mean, the idea that, I mean, you understand that the ultimate utopian fantasy is the belief that there exist incorruptible people.

[27:12] There exist incorruptible people. while these people in the white lab coats they would never betray scientific principles for the sake of expediency well that just means you don't know anything about the history of science, or the history of objective discipline i mean literally the guy who i mentioned this before the guy who said we should wash our hands before putting our phalanges into people's bellies you should wash your hands before you do surgery he was mocked attacked laughed at ridiculed ended up beaten to death, I think, by an orderly in an insane asylum.

[27:45] I mean, this is, if we look at Galileo, I mean, the guy who figured out that it's bacteria that causes ulcers, not stress, right?
I mean, tact marked. I mean, look at us, right? I mean, look at this sort of community.
So, that is the reality of the world that we live in.
And listen, I mean, as far as thought, reason, and evidence goes, it's pretty glorious right now. I mean, it's fantastic.
We can have these conversations. conversations, I can carve my thoughts into the fabric of the universe.
And that's what I'm doing. I'm carving my thoughts into the fabric of the universe.

The Power of Thoughts and Arguments

[28:21] Because atoms are rearranged based upon my thoughts.
The atoms on your hard drive, or the atoms in your mind get rearranged by the arguments that I make.
Whether you agree with them or not, you still have to react to them, right?
And sound waves, and if you print things out, my physical books, my thoughts are permanently carved into the atomic structure of the universe.
Magnificent. I mean, thank you again. I mean, we all do humility.
Thank you so much for this opportunity because I wrote my novel, Just Poor, out of a fear that my intellect was going to vanish as hers would have in the country, right?
Brilliant girl born in the middle of nowhere as an orphan.
Just Poor is my terror that the choices that face intelligent, curious, creative people is obscurity or social death, right?
She's terrified of obscurity.
What's her other alternative? Well, she's tempted by vengeance to attack her society.

[29:24] She's contemptuous of people who lie to themselves, so she attacks them.
She brings, to fear, she brings rage, and the rage returns, as you can see at the ending of the book.
So the opposite of philosophy is vanity and vanity is having a stake in an answer not a methodology answer is basing your personality and your value and your truth on your wisdom on a conclusion not a methodology i mean you can see this all over the place particularly in science these days right people say well this is true that is true the other is true this is unspeakable this This is wrong, this is even bad to think of, right? They're based there.
Right, and, you know, what causes wealth and poverty?
Well, exploitation and bigotry, right? That's the typical answer on the left, and they have that answer, and they'll attack anyone who even has a question about that.

[30:22] Because they don't actually have an answer. I mean, on leftism, the answers have nothing to do with the question.
The answers are, this gives me the right to exploit others, right?
If I believe I'm being exploited, then I can go and exploit others, right?
So if I believe that there's baked-in social prejudice against me or my group, I can go to the state and get reparations or welfare or payments or something like that. So it's a methodology for getting resources.
It's nothing to do with any sort of social analysis.
Can I inflict guilt? in you and make you feel bad and then you'll give me stuff right that's it's really the oldest trick in the book as far as that goes and and generally tends to come out of more matriarchal cultures for obvious reasons so to live a good life you must combat your vanity and your vanity is i have the answers and i'm going to sit with the answers rather than use the methodology to explore new questions.

[31:21] The continuance of exploration is the best way to oppose the vanity of sitting with conclusions and feeling superior thereby.
I mean, if a guy goes around a bunch of toddlers and says, you guys don't even know the word for tree?
Oh my God, okay, I guess I'll tell you the word for tree. I can't believe you guys don't know this already, right?
Well, that would be pretty sad, right? Because he has the answers, But rather than going and exploring and surfing on the edge of new challenges with his intellect, he simply has the answers, and he hangs around less knowledgeable souls in order to feel superior.
Well, that's no good. I mean, I'm continually trying to explore new ideas, new concepts. I mean, I just did the philosophy of suicide.
I did a theory of weight gain.
I mean, I'm just constantly trying to explore. I mean, hopefully you're getting this way.
You keep listening, I think, is because I'm providing new answers, new perspectives, new ideas.
And I really, really do try to provide new things, new arguments, new perspectives, new ideas.
Every time I talk, every time I talk, I just, because I want to live vividly in the moment, which means thinking in real time.
What I don't want to do is, you know, and I don't, I'm not trying to put anyone down, but I think we've all seen these sort of public, quote, intellectuals, you kind of know what they're going to say, and they have their talking points, and they say their stuff, and it's kind of autopilot, right?

[32:51] Output it's a little bit npc stuff that can happen even with some of the highest intellects you kind of know what they're going to say and all of that and they're kind of on autopilot and you know with public intellectuals and again this is this is with all humility and with all like there could be tons of stuff obviously that i have but there is without a doubt tons of stuff i haven't seen.

[33:14] But when was the last time some public intellectual said something and you were just jaw dropped and gobsmacked gobsmacked like just wow that's wild that's really really cool now of course when you meet a public intellectual for the first time you start getting interested in public intellectual then there will be things that they say that are really quite quite startling and and right but the question is do they keep doing that that's for me right i just i really really want to live deeply and vividly and in the moment and not waste a scrap of my potential potential.
Because I don't know what the end of my potential is. I don't know.
I'm still exploring what my potential can be.
Other than I have no potential to be an opera singer. But you know, I don't know where the end of my potential is.
Because that to me would be vanity. I know what I'm capable of.
It's like, no, you don't.
The unconscious is a great mystery. Works 6,000 times faster than the conscious mind. Generates wild, vivid VR dreams every night.
More vivid vivid than VR, infinitely more vivid than VR because they're tactile and sensory and all that, right?
I mean, the idea that we know what our potential is is incomprehensible to me.

[34:22] Incomprehensible to me. I mean, I never tried to write science, well, I guess my very first novel I wrote when I was 11 or 12, By the Light of an Alien Sun, that was science fiction, but, you know, I was like, hey, let's see if I can pull off science fiction.
And I haven't written a contemporary novel in well over 20 years, and so I'm like, well, let me write a contemporary novel, not a historical novel, and so I just try these things, think I did a good job.

[34:46] So, you know, I mean, I remember at Porkfest many years ago, there was a stand-up comedy thing.

[34:54] And I was given a topic right before I went up, and I had to try and improv stand-up comedy with a topic with a thousand people watching.
You know, I'll go up and give it a shot.
It might work, it might not work. I'll go up and give it a shot.
I don't know. I don't know.
Maybe I'm capable of this. I don't know. I don't know. No, humility, right?
So I constantly want to be surfing at the edge of what I know.

[35:17] That's living in the moment. That's not just input output, right?
I don't want to be a computer. I don't want to be an NPC.
I don't want to be a machine of input output. I don't want to be AI, right?
AI is about the past, not about the future. It's about word guessing based upon past word patterns.
And I don't, I really, really want to think and communicate vividly in the moment, right?
So literally 80% of what I'm talking about, I have not planned ahead of time.
For better or for worse 80% of the time I have not planned this ahead of time, so as far as living a great life well avoid disaster of course and embrace the value of, humility but not humility to the point where you can't know anything that's just abandoning your brain and also abandoning the field to the certain right so humility is, I don't know I can And no, and humility is also having the confidence to say to somebody else, you only think you know.

[36:23] Now, the fundamental question becomes, like if you say to somebody who claims to be an expert and then it turns out that they don't know, well, I mean, this is when I had a poli sci teacher in university And I said, but the state is an institution of coercion.
And he just kind of blinked and stared at me, because he's known all this complicated analysis of state functions.
And I said, but it is, you know, wouldn't you start with the basics of the state as an agency of coercion?
It initiates force, right? I mean, that's what it does.
And you know he got into the social contract and I said yes but the social contract is only with you in the state so it's not universal right social contract is not I can't impose a social contract on, you or other people in this classroom so even if you say social contract it's still not, a monopolist, right? The monopoly on the initiation of the use of force, monopoly on money printing, monopoly on taking out debt in other people's names, and monopoly on whatever the social contract thing is.
It's still a monopoly. If it's a social contract, it should be available to everyone, but it's not, right?
If you try and impose a social contract on other people, take their money without their necessary agreement, then you're a criminal, right?
And of course, and this guy, I mean, a famous political scientist, it. A thousand yards there.
Didn't know. Really?

Frustration with Incomprehensible Social Contract Arguments

[37:50] I'm sorry, like, that's just kind of incomprehensible to me.
To be told something that's, okay, like, he could have debated or whatever, right?
But just to, you know, like, you know, the moment you talk about this, you get social contract and democracy and you vote for blah, blah, blah, right?
Which, you know, okay, so let's say some guy decides to set up a social contract and he takes a thousand dollars for each of his neighbors and then he says, well, you know, you can vote on what you want me to spend it on and maybe I'll do it.
Well, that doesn't make it okay. Oh my gosh.

Voting and the Power Dynamics of Decision-Making

[38:23] Voting legitimizes things. Okay, so two men and a woman go on a hike and the two men vote to attack the woman and they're outvoting her.
Does that make sense? These are just, obviously, just basic things, right?
But, you know, can't have those questions, can't have those comments.
It's just not a thing that we can do.

[38:41] The fundamental question, and thank you for your patience here as I sort of wrestle with this stuff, but the fundamental question is, can you tell the truth?
Can you be curious? Can you be humble?
And being humble exposes the arrogance of other people. And arrogant people don't like to be humiliated if you point out that they don't know.
Now, I mean, this is back to Socrates, right?
The sophist, right? All the people who say they know, Socrates asked them three questions. Turns out they don't know what they know.
They're only pretending. They're lying. They're cheating. They're taking. They're appalling.
To me, to me, this is appalling, like to pretend that you know.
Now, there are things I thought I knew that I didn't know, but I had no particular objection to saying, maybe I don't know these things.
I've been an objectivist for 20 years, and I'm like, you know, maybe I, maybe I don't, maybe I don't really have a source of morality.
Maybe I don't actually have, you know, I accepted the, you know, that which is best for man's survival and functioning, reason is best, therefore reason is the highest value.
So I get all of that, but then I was like, when you get exposed to a certain amount of corruption in the world, then you see that there's lots of people who benefit enormously from lying, misleading, and cheating.

[39:55] You see this. That which is best for man's survival.
I mean, in the business world, I, I met people who didn't tell the truth and made a lot of money.
That which is best for man's survival. Well, they could afford a whole bunch of kids.
They had vacations, they had cottages, they had nice cars, nice clothes.
They could afford great health care.
So genetically, they were doing great.
Genetically, they were doing great. That which is best for man's survival.
Well, it wasn't as simple, right? It wasn't as simple.
Can you have a happy life? Can you have a great life and tell the truth?
Can you have a great life and be good? Well, it's tough.
It's tough. I mean, the history and, of course, theology is full of people, who tell the truth, turn out to be right.

[40:46] Pretty horrible lives. I don't have an answer to that.
Telling the truth is very often to be muttered in one way or another, right?
You tell the truth or you ask questions and you will be attacked.
So it's like philosophy, yes, it can help you avoid disasters.
Yeah, it's good. It's good at that. It can help you avoid disasters.

Balancing Philosophy and Virtue in Personal and Public Life

[41:11] The problem is too little philosophy and your your life is a disaster.
Too much philosophy, and your life is kind of a disaster, right?
Because you go the route of Galileo or Socrates or Jesus or whatever, right? It's not good.

[41:26] So, if you want a great life, then you have to build a personal life full of integrity, full of people who respect you and you respect them.
They love your curiosity. They're willing to go on the journey with you and contribute to that journey as you contribute to their journey.
So, you have a social, familial, and business circle full of people who have integrity.
And I've achieved that to a large degree.
I mean, I don't know what to achieve that perfectly would mean, but I've achieved it to the degree that I'm satisfied with it.

[41:59] So that's having people that you can choose in your life having people in your personal life who have integrity and and help you with your integrity you help them with their integrity you have fun and you enjoy life and they are open to questions and comments and criticisms and and you know that's that's that's good right so in your personal life you can have philosophy If you have a general social, general business, or public life, having philosophy in private is wonderful.
Having philosophy in public, not so wonderful.
Not so wonderful as a whole.
Especially philosophy that actually interferes with the thirst and hunger of those addicted to power, right? I mean, that's a real challenge.
So i mean like a lot of these things is it can philosophy lead you to a great life yes and no yes and no in your personal life absolutely absolute in your social public business.

[43:02] Collegial educational blah blah blah blah well you got to be careful you got to be careful because the world is full of aggressive people and I don't know if you've ever seen this.
I mean I've seen this on occasion where aggressive people, they just thump the table, they raise their voice and everyone just lines up.
Done. Okay, whatever you need. Okay, go ahead.
What do you need? And we can get mad at that, we can be plus or minus about that but that's just a reality. I mean that is just a reality.
People kind of run things and most people won't confront aggressive people and again this is how we survived as as a species so i'm sort of less in i'm less tempted to rail at people because we've all survived and we do have these great brains and we do have the society where we can have these conversations so i hate to say it is what it is it's a it's a tautological cop-out but that is It's just the reality of the world that if you confront an unstable, aggressive person, a bully or something like that, then people will either do that Homer Simpson fade into the bushes or they'll temporarily align with the bully or they'll appease, right? And they'll, right? That's just the way things are.

The Reality of Confronting Aggressive People and Betrayal

[44:23] Virtue in general, in society as a whole, I'm not in your personal life, right?
Virtue generally brings betrayal. trail. And what happens is by being a public virtue promoter in this sort of very big way, what happens is you can actually inhibit the spread of virtue in society by being publicly virtuous.
Because what happens is if you're publicly virtuous and you are attacked, and then your colleagues, your acquaintances, your quote friends, people in public, if they then betray you, which is almost inevitable then they actually then feel bad like they feel guilty they feel ashamed and then their odds of becoming good people have gone down because you've made them aversive to integrity because they have betrayed a good person so it's kind of a funny thing like it's a real it's a real complicated parkour style balancing act to bring virtue to the world, it's really tough be virtuous and honest and have integrity in a very public fashion you get attacked and people interested in virtue will often betray you or avoid or back away or whatever it is right and I'm not just observing there's not some big criticism it's just sort of a fact of life it's the physics of virtue, and then those people are compromised and then they can't be honest with themselves, or certainly not in public they can't be honest.

[45:52] Look at the mirror and say, oh, you know, I just did something that was pretty questionable.
And so then they become more posturing of virtue.
Oh, the things I know. They become more posturing of virtue and the posture of virtue leads them away from virtue.
And if they choose money over integrity, right, which is, I mean, that's the basic Jesus in the desert question.
I give you the whole world, just worship me, right? If they choose money over integrity, if they choose fame or status over integrity.
And Tim made a brilliant comment about status and money being the only fan's temptation for people with good communication skills.
So you actually diminish a virtue. So if you promote virtue, people betray you, then they feel bad and that drives them away from virtue.
And the promotion of virtue isn't all just about thundering from the mountaintops of the world about how important virtue and integrity is because the blowback sometimes can cost.

The Blowback and Challenges of Promoting Virtue in Society

[46:51] The progress of virtue quite a lot so again big answers sorry it's complicated it's complicated, right i mean take take a silly example right if if you live in a land of fat people and you lose weight and you become lean and you promote this and you show how great it is, well the people who are making money selling excess food to fat people will kill you or drive you away, right?

[47:21] Happens is you you got thin you promoted thinness and then what happens is the fat people see you get attacked and driven away and they say well i can't get thin you'll just get attacked killed or driven away i fully realize this could be a criticism of me and i'm totally happy to accept and listen to that so yeah philosophy can help you avoid disaster which gives you choices This is, philosophy is humility. The opposite of philosophy is vanity.
But when you become truly philosophical, you prick people's vanity, they attack you because you're lowering their status.
And all they have is their status, right? All they have is their status.

[48:02] And because their status is now their identity, if you attack their status, they feel it as a, they experience it as a physical or existential attack upon themselves.
In the same way that, I mean, somebody who, you're about to expose someone for fraud, they might attack you.
They might even kill you because, right?
But they don't know, most people don't know that they're a fraud.
All they'll do is they'll simply take their own immorality projected onto you and then say, it's just self-defense and I'm just attacking a bad person.
And that's the real physics, real mechanics of the world. So I hope this helps.
I really, really appreciate, of course, the chance to explore these topics with you. Have yourselves an absolutely wonderful day.
And I would say certainly focus on what you can do to bring virtuous people, in your life be a virtuous person for them but, I hope this helps and I hope that you get some of the complexity at least maybe there's a simple answer I'm not seeing but there's some of the complexity that I'm wrestling with so thank you everyone so much for listening, freedomain.com slash donate to help out the show I really really would appreciate that freedomain.com slash donate you can join a great community at freedomain.locals.com lots of love from up here thank you so much for this opportunity.
Take care. I'll talk to you soon. Bye.

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