The delusions we need

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I’m gonna die, yes, one day… How much should I be aware of the fact? If I think of it too much aka living like there is no tomorrow. It’s depressing but I would feel liberated from the consequences of my actions which will cost me dearly long-term. If I were completely oblivious about my death I would be happier but such divorce from reality is not healthy. For example, I would have an eternity to deal with things I need to do. Where is the healthy middle ground? We want to be functional without too much pressure. We would like to keep our level of misery to an acceptable level. Everyone answers that question with their own lifestyle.

Is there free will? (see of Freedom and Free Will). Yes, but not in a traditional sense. The conventional wisdom is that we are free agents of our actions (with some exceptions) hence we are responsible for them. No, and Yes: no – we are not free agents, and yes – we are responsible. The reasoning behind not being a free agent goes like that: any decision of ours has two parts, deterministic and random. The deterministic part is all the events and conditions prior to that decision. Some of these are external to us (not our responsibility), and some are authored by us. Although the latter seems to be our responsibility, they are products of our history which goes down to baby age which is just genetics and conditions provided by our parents, again – not our personal responsibility. So as a whole, we are not responsible for the deterministic part. The random part is part of the randomness of nature down to the quantum level – out of our control and responsibility. As a result, we are not free agents of our decisions.
Now back to “yes – we are responsible”, how can it be? Society conditions us to have the delusion of free will so we think about ourselves as free agents and include the responsibility factor in our decision-making process. It does not matter if God gave us free will so He can judge us at the end OR society declares us to be sane which legally means responsible (broadly speaking). Society needs us to accept something which is not true for the sake of peaceful coexistence (aka having morals). One way to put it: “free will” is a social contract between an individual and society. The deal is: society will protect us through law enforcement and courts but in order to do that we need to accept that we have free will which makes us responsible for our actions. One may view this on a personal level: free will is just a feeling (in order to bias our decisions toward a better world), so what if our feeling is not entirely truth-based if it makes us better human beings?

We think in stereotypes or at least our quick (System I) does. Sometimes we need to make snap decisions about people and stereotypes simplify things. Part of the stereotypes are based on our experiences or some statistics, another part is indoctrinated. We tend to hide or deny using stereotypes because society is telling us – stereotyping is wrong, we are a tolerant society and we won’t have it. So we convince ourselves that we are tolerant people, but when it comes to an urgent decision stereotyping sneaks to the front because there is no time. Still, we maintain the delusion that we are moral (and tolerant) people because having that delusion helps us to be more tolerant.



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