Wednesday 7 October 2015

Where to begin - Part I here
An introduction to dishonesty - here

Here are some excerpts from a thread on Truth Strike which illustrates the kind of  dishonesty that can occur during an investigation. The guy in question was completely deluded and had been seeking in the spiritual community for over twenty years. 
Whilst this is one of the more extreme cases of entrenched beliefs, it perfectly highlights the kind of dishonesty that some of those who came to the likes of Ruthless Truth and Truth Strike engaged in. 

Everyone engages in dishonesty to a degree and as I have mentioned many times earlier, it is all about recognising this process rather than pointing fingers about being dishonest. 

As you will see through the excerpts of his thread, there was some honest enquiry to start with but this was drowned by his unwillingness to actually engage in the looking process.
These abridged extracts are in chronological order from a 7 page thread.
The key here is to look at the way in which the patterns I have been outlining in the last few chapters have manifested themselves. This seeker was literally blind to his own contradictions and he was unable to see them even when they were put in front of his face. 

Fortunately with the benefit of hindsight we can illustrate the errors he has made and learn from them. We will revisit this area and look at the trajectories we can use for investigating later and we shall look at some techniques straight after we have seen the kind of ways in which dishonesty plays out.

Initially I had told him to start looking around the room at objects and notice the phenomena that arises in direct experience as the first experiment. This was to get his mind focussed on looking.

'When I did the experiment this morning, what I noticed very soon was that each time I looked at an object, there was a semi-automatic response which was to find a way to associate the object with something in my past. I say semi-automatic, because once I noticed it, I began to desire it and therefore will it to happen - though apparently it was happening without the need for will since otherwise I'd never have come up with the idea'.

Here, the guy  was looking and he reported the phenomena that appeared in his experience. The kernel of honesty within this paragraph was simply that memories appeared when he looked at objects in the room. 
He even recognised that these memories were a 'semi-automatic' response. He wants to say 'semi-automatic' in order to leave the possibility for a self to be able to think up these memories sometimes. Notice that by bringing a self in to the equation he runs in to difficulty. 

How does he explain how memories are sometimes automatic and sometimes not for example? 

At least he recognised that he wasn't willing the memories to happen in this instance which is indicative of the first steps towards investigating our assumptions about free will. He started out well here with a recognition of phenomena appearing in his direct experience but he started to bring in his framework of thinking. 
It is this interpretative mode that allows us to delude ourselves but at least he recognised that memories were appearing in the context of the situation rather than being 'willed' in to existence by a self. However, his framework entails that there is a self and hence this 'semi-automatic' description.

He continues:

'With each object, my awareness did a rapid file search until it hit on some sort of association from my past, often a specific memory but not always, by which to give the object personal meaning'.

This was OK as he was looking and we see that he noticed memories appearing about him and said object. This is indicative of the act of looking for all essential purposes but notice the 'file search' analogy of looking through memories. This is very wishy washy in the sense that 'rapid file search' is not a phenomenon appearing in reality. This is a conceptual metaphor that is analagous to the action of memory. If he was to apply honesty, he would simply say a memory appeared and describe the phenomena he experienced. 

Quite often people would use terms like 'deeper thinking' but how does the appearance of thought have any depth in comparison to another? In this sense you need to look out for these kind of 'non-descriptions' which gloss over what is really happening with vague stories and metaphors. 
This means we are interpreting what we see, when using metaphorical language, rather than looking at the phenomena itself. It is this interpretative tendency that is indicative of thinking instead of looking. Always remember the quote from the beginning:

'Accuracy is the twin brother of honesty, inaccuracy; dishonesty' - Nathaniel Hawthorne 

So, in the two paragraphs we have a little looking and lot of interpretation. This was normal for most people while they found their feet in an investigation. The looking aspect is good but the interpretative tendency means we are bringing in our established beliefs and assumptions to make meaning out of the phenomena we encounter. This is where delusion starts to creep in to our investigation. 

'In my room, on the other hand, there are very few objects, so it gets repetitive quite quickly. How long do you recommend a looking session ought to last, or is that up to me? [T]he strange thing is that the question of a self or a no-self begins to seem like a non-question, as pointless as wondering about unicorns'.

Here he was trying to pave the way to get out of looking, by saying it is not worth worrying about. By making out that it is pointless he can tell himself that looking is unnecessary and he can make a graceful exit without putting his vanity on the line. We used to term this 'slithering', as it is one of the ways that the brain tries to protect itself from witnessing its own dishonesty first hand. This is because he was starting to question the story and we used to see this kind of slithering as a manifestation of cowardice - AKA the avoidance of the truth. 

I put it to him that he was slithering and asked him to try and make explicit why he thought there was a causal agent.

'So what makes me think there is a self? The assumption that something must be directing my thoughts and actions. [That] my thoughts and actions constantly refer back to the idea of a self. It is the overriding context: me.[It] comes down to one basic idea: continuity. I see my life as a series of interconnected events that make up a story. That then requires a protagonist, or a self, directing the events'.

This is a natural assumption we have when we start out, and here he has recognised this. So, the self is 'that which directs thought and action'. He also recognises that the context of thought is always about a self. 
There is another common theme, that of continuity over time, but these are combined in to a formal argument which runs as follows.

P1. There has to be an entity which directs thoughts and actions

P2.The resulting life events caused by these thoughts and actions weave a continuous story about an entity persisting over time.

C. Therefore there is an entity; the self.

We could start to challenge the first premise by looking at the conscious mechanisms behind thinking and action. Secondly, we could press for a further description of premise 2, namely what is this 'entity' being referred to? However, jump back and read his assertion in the paragraph above again to see if you can notice the critical flaw in his argument before you read on.

'Now I look at it, it seems like circular logic: because there's a story, there's a self, and because there's a self, there's a story'. 

Here, he is recognising the dishonesty in his thinking and realised that premise 2 is actually grounded in circular logic. The argument falls apart further though and the reason is this. Firstly, the idea that something has to direct thought and action is a structural argument. Namely that it is a structural requirement of thought and action that there is a self. 

'The "self" is the idea of an organizing principle then'

This he recognises when he states this, however, this structural argument needs validation before we can assert it in an argument with any certainty. Here he is reasoning from an untested assumption which we covered as a mechanism of dishonesty earlier. 

Secondly the fact that our experience is a story about a self is also a conceptual story about something common running through our experiences. Namely this entity that directs the actions and shapes the events that are remembered.  
Crucially though, we can look back at what was stated in this stage of the exchange: 

'The assumption that something must be directing my thoughts'
[T]houghts and actions constantly refer back to the idea of a self'.' 
'[A] series of interconnected events that make up a story'
'The self is the idea of an organizing principle then'

Here we see the foundations of the actual argument are not based on anything that actually appear in real life. All we have here is an assumption, an idea, a story, and another idea. What he hasn't done is actually looked to see if there is anything behind these concepts, or tested the assumption that a self is requisite for causation and action. These are things that we can do if we are engaged in honest enquiry and actually look. 

The key thing to note here is that he is being dishonest as he has not even looked at the phenomena of this self. There is not one shred of honesty in what he stated above since he is talking about assumptions, stories, and ideas about a self, whose existence he hasn't verified yet. 
This is absolutely nothing more than conceptualising about the self, within the confines of his beliefs, and he has made no effort to even investigate. He is simply 'looping' through his default beliefs. Rather than looking, he is trying to logically formulate an argument in favour of the existence of the self. Thinking and looking are two distinctly different activities.   

What you will find is that when you start to get down to the foundations of what you believe the self to be, you will keep coming up against the fact that the self is just an idea. If it is to be a real idea then we must find exactly what phenomenon this idea corresponds to. 
At this stage this guy needed to address his beliefs here and try and find some kind of traction. Since these 'interconnected events that make up a story' are grounded in circular reasoning, I asked him to look and see if there was anything that could provide the thread of continuity through his experience.

'Memory. It didn't require a doer, because the associations were automatic'.

It is important to note that so far he has engaged in a very minimal amount of honest enquiry. He certainly hasn't been thorough enough and all we are seeing is the product of his dishonesty. Here though, he recognised that memories do not require a doer as such because they happen of their own accord, which he recognised in the first paragraph. 

This refutes the idea, in part, that a self is required for all thinking to occur. He has changed his mind about memories being 'semi automatic'. This inconsistency in his description is a manifestation of dishonesty as he has made a subtle change to his account. What we found very often on TS was that the seeker would not even know they had made this change in the story. However, the real smoking gun appears in the direct contradiction of his earlier assertion that thinking requires a self. Remember, premise 1 of his argument was this.

There has to be an entity directing thoughts and actions

Now he has changed his ontological position because he has in part refuted the story that says one controls their thoughts. We can split thinking in to three basic modes; that of memory, thinking presently, and imagination. He hasn't looked at whether he can control present thinking or imagining - remember, we do not want to generalise when looking. 
Here he has conceded that memories appear automatically, he would have to investigate the other two modes and look at the phenomena. However, of the three pillars supporting this edifice, regarding being in control of our thoughts, the one of memory has just started to shake. 

Crucially though, this concession in his ontology brings in to question his assertion about the self being required to direct the thoughts and action. As we have already outlined this mechanism, we can see how his contradiction is usurped in to his framework of thinking unnoticed.
As a so called 'liberator' I should have jumped all over this at this point and leveraged this angle to get him to investigate his imagination and cognition capabilities. This rapid breaking down of his beliefs could have started a cascade of realisation but, unfortunately, I let this one slip by unnoticed at the time. A howling error on my part in hindsight. 

The next tactic I engaged in was to start and turn the screw, in order to try and pin him down to a fixed position. I asked him what the story in memory was referring to.

'The link suggests continuity, but in fact it's largely random. Again it is circular reasoning: because there is a link, there must be continuity; since there is continuity, that must be the reason for the link'.

Again, he recognises that it is circular logic but he was suggesting here that it is memories which are 'the link' necessary for the self to have continued identity over time. 

(Footnote: If you thought the self is the mind in the earlier exercise a few chapters back, memory might be an obvious candidate you may have thought of to provide this continuity over time. This is a common and seemingly valid argument, although it is broken backed and runs in Reid's fallacy). 

'What is being referenced is the reference: the past. It is present awareness linking up to past awareness'.

Here I tore in to him as how can the present and past possibly link up? This sounds completely illogical so if we do a little logical analysis we can see that the following is true. 
If we accept that the present exists then by logical necessity the past no longer exists and the future does not exist yet. If the past no longer exists, how can a non-existent and existent awareness link together? Memories appear in the present moment and are of the past, but that does not mean that there is time travel or awareness linking up. 

This is an inconsistent story that needs investigating and sometimes it would be useful to goad people about it at Truth Strike because sometimes, when pressed hard on things like this, we would often see a tirade of dishonesty that would reveal yet more inconsistencies in the story. 

Essentially by clinging on to this BS, he had to start reasoning about time travel. Unbelievably, because our self is grounded in fiction and the brains response is to muster up any old BS to try and cover up the fractures in the fairytale, we often used to see bizarre and incoherent ramblings such as this, presented as genuine bona fide arguments to prop up the existence of the self! Bizarre is probably not strong enough a word to describe what we witnessed on Truth Strike on a daily basis. 

'And what have you got against time travel? Tachyons do it - why not we?'

Instead of looking at his contradiction, he snapped back about the possibility of time travel. Of course using time travel as a valid form of reasoning should ring alarm bells. 

Essentially, he is saying time travel is possible and this is a supposition required for his 'time travelling self' argument to work. By harpooning him about past awareness linking up, I ridiculed his answer and goaded him to get angry. This triggered his psychological defence mechanism and he spat out a string of nonsense argumentation. In the context of investigating dishonesty, this was pure gold. Here he had the opportunity to realise that the abject poop he was talking was mere fantasy that has no grounding in reality.
His defensive stance about the possibility of time travel was a necessary supposition of his awareness linking up argument, and the continuity of our identity being memories of the past. This alerted us to the fact that we had hit an entrenched belief and we could then use this as leverage to highlight the absurdity of this belief.

'The only continuity I can say for certain is that of the body, because the memories are "of" the body'.

Here, he tried to deflect the attention away from the foaming at the mouth nonsense he just parroted. Now we also see a change of argumentation occurring crucially. 
As he realised the absurdity of the time travel argument he had to look at another possibility. He recognises that the phenomenon of the body exists and a common thread running through the memories, in his experience, is the memory of the body. 

'Memories, if they are located anywhere, are located in the body'. 

This is vague though, as where are intangible thoughts located in the body? Note the word intangible here. How can something intangible be spacially located? This is simply dishonesty as he hasn't bothered to look, and here he was fighting tooth and nail to keep his fairy tale intact.

What we often witnessed on Truth strike was that as we rattled the cage of someone's framework of thinking, they would try to jump on the next chain of thought. It didn't matter whether this chain of thought was true, it was just the brains psychological mechanism trying to cover up the inconsistencies it was faced with.
This is how delusion proliferates itself in an investigation and this chap was running through the motions like clock work.  

'[Memories] are of the thing that is continuous; Matter'.

In order to point to the continuity of identity he has built up an argument that memories provide the continuity of identity over time. Memories are of the body and of physical matter, which are continuous over time, therefore, this is the link which provides continuity of the self. 
This explanation was first postulated by John Locke in the 17th Century, however, this falls foul of 'Reid's fallacy' 
which is a contradiction in terms (see 'The brave officer' thought experiment). Hence, nobody in contemporary philosophy stands by this argument, which is known as the 'Memory theory of personal identity'.

The only thing that's preventing the truth is "me." 

After this assertion of memory was highlighted to him as false he reiterated his core belief that underpins his experience; That there is a self in control of his life and here he was starting to raise his hackles in response to the inconsistencies that were being pointed out to him.

'I haven't been arguing for the existence of the self'.

Obviously he has started to contradict himself again at this point. We need only quote what he wrote earlier.

'So what makes me think there is a self? The assumption that something must be directing my thoughts and actions'
'The "self" is the idea of an organizing principle then' 
'That then requires a protagonist, or a self, directing the events'
'The self is the continuity of experience tied together with memories'. 
'The only thing that's preventing the truth is "me" 

Clearly he is being dishonest here as his prior actions refute any claim he makes here. Not only does this contradict his assertion that the self is the continuity of experience tied together with memories, but it also contradicts everything he has stated so far. 
We used to find people would argue for a self then deny that they disagreed with the premise 'there is no self'. Being a psychologist this pointed to a phenomenon that occurred quite frequently. 

I used to play 'bad cop' on truth strike and I found that quite often people would frame me as an authority figure. Sometimes they would defer their investigation to me and try to get me to hold their hand and show them the truth. This is where I would be blunt and attack them for being cowardly. 
For others though, as their framework of thinking started to crack under the scrutiny they would try to re-establish rapport with me by trying to find some common ground. By trying to claim there is no disagreement regarding our view of the self, I often found this was a way for people to shield their beliefs from the truth. 

Basically, they were trying to diffuse the tension that arose as they desperately tried to shield their fantasy from this kind of scrutiny, to pave the way for a graceful exit from the conversation. This is the sort of thing that we used to rub enquirers nose in, in order to get them to recognise their dishonesty. 
This would rile the enquirer and force them to trip up over themselves to highlight more of their dishonesty. At the time this used to be done by tearing their beating heart out of their chest and serving it to them on a platter. 

In this way we would shatter the attempt at trying to re-establish rapport, and savagely tear in to their ego. This was why I was perceived to be somewhat of a bully, but I was merely playing the character of 'ghostvirus' and utilising psychological manipulation to break peoples defences and get them to recognise their dishonesty.

'The false or illusory self is made up of reactive “tics” or preprogrammed responses, so I don’t see any contradiction. As long as the illusory self is in the driving seat, then our actions are automatic and predetermined'.

Here he is claiming that the self 'he hasn't been arguing for' is actually illusory. Now rather than being the continuity of experience tied together with memories, or the continuity of the physical matter of the body, the self is now a series of preprogrammed responses. AKA the self is Y. So far, the self is x and now it is y. Interestingly it is also illusory yet it is in the driving seat of our lives? Before it was necessary 'that something must be directing my thoughts and actions' but now this is no longer necessary? 
Here, he has questions to answer as we have highlighted how riddled with inaccuracies and contradictions he is.

I have had experiences that caused me to question the assumption that physical reality is everything it seems to be, and that suggested a mode of consciousness and perception well beyond the ordinary senses of the body or the thinking or imaginative capacities of the mind.

When the contradiction was highlighted he then proceeded to expose his real agenda. Here he is talking about some of his own experiences that underpin his framework of thinking. Notice that he is talking about consciousness and perception beyond the bounds of the body and what we can imagine. 
We can have the most strange experiences but how can we perceive beyond the senses of the body? 
We can only perceive that which presents itself in our perceptual modes. If we are talking about perceiving in another modality, we are talking about something beyond the sphere of possible human experience and we are engaged in pure fantasy. 

It is important to notice that what he is doing really is this. First he is stating that because physical reality is not all it seems to be, this suggests there is another mode of consciousness and perception. 
Notice that he gives the game away by using the term 'suggests'. Because we fall to the ground this suggests the earth is flat but we have since discovered this is because of gravity. Here he was making empty metaphysical speculations informed by an inexplicable experience.  

'Since the perceptions were experienced by me as every bit as real to consciousness as waking life—and even overlapped in some cases with “physical reality”—the assumption that it was “all a hallucination” was not viable'. 

Now this is curious. I asked how he could verify this and he claimed this appeared to him in a dream.

'Suppose I meet people in that dream space and then encounter them in “real life” and discover that the information exchanged in the dream space was accurate? Isn’t that a form of verification?'

Here he has postulated that as he dreamed about a mode of perception, presumably beyond what we can imagine, then it must be true. Essentially, he is using the common idea that because our dreams, somewhat rarely, conform to what happens  in real life then it points to some special class of metaphysical perception. 
Whilst I have had strange experiences with 'de ja vue' for example, which is the closest I have come to any kind of so called metaphysical perception, we could easily explain this away with intuition or coincidence. Whilst it is strange when you come across people whom have dreamed of the same thing, we do not have an adequate theory to account for this and the closest we get is Jung's 'collective consciousness' - which is very contentious to say the least. 

Whislt de ja vue is a strange phenomenon, it is not so much that I should start using this as a basis for proceeding to reason about the metaphysical basis of the world. True, phenomenon such as de ja vue do appear as a curiosity, but this certainly does not mean I can use this as meaningful leverage.
I used to get the most vivid de ja vue when I was younger, but as I have got older I often realise that when it does occur, it is actually coincidental with something familiar, rather than actually reliving something already experienced. Whilst I might claim I did really experience de ja vue when I was younger, I can see that my critical thinking skills were not developed and perhaps I simply did not notice this familiarity. I am now acutely aware of this familiarity when it does occur.   

There seems to be a clear difference between de ja vue, and the feeling of de ja vue simply appearing as something very familiar. De ja vue to me is the experience of some event that seems like you have already lived through it. Many of these experiences were on drugs like LSD and Ecstasy in  my teens and these were vivid experiences. However, I cannot rule out that this was not a side effect of the stuff I was taking. I can only remember one clear instance, when I was very young, where it seemed as though I had already lived through the experience. 
I'm afraid this was a banal affair though, since it was the milkman knocking at the door and something being on the TV. Funnily enough now I think about it, the milkman used to come round early evening on thursday – could it have simply been the title song of my cartoon had came on as the milkman knocked the door at precisely the same time  on another occasion? 

I am now incredulous although I am sure there were a few more times when I had more bona fide occurrences of de ja vue. I have not had a genuine instance for years and this means I cannot be certain of this phenomena even if it may have seemed real enough when I was younger. 
Certainly, we should not use it as a basis if it can be confused with familiarity and we are able to bring this degree of scepticism to the table.

I lampooned him about the metaphysical perception and eventually he claimed this was only possible because of the existence of souls.

'The soul is energy, and the physical world is energy. Therefore, there is a continuum of consciousness, matter, perception, body and soul.'

Here we see where he was going all along, since he believed in the existence of a soul. AKA the self is now = Z. That is now three different things the self could be and he has presented us with a trifecta of theories.
This is a textbook example of changing ones ontology to avoid the howling inconsistencies they are faced with. Tragically he couldn't even recognise he was doing this “The self is X” then Y, then Z. You may notice at this point that he holds three contradictory theories simultaneously, and hence we have a clear example of the kind of dishonesty we need to engage in, to hold a belief in a self. We also see that he is actually riddled with spiritual mumbo jumbo, and he couldn't grasp the fact he was being dishonest. 

Curiously, if the soul was energy then it would need to be physical which is obviously contradictory. Energy is a physical phenomenon and in order for this theory to work, one has to claim the existence of a non-physical energy, since the soul is incoporeal. Yes, he was actually trying to claim that the soul is physical. 

Naturally, this kind of phenomena does not show up and such worthless metaphysical speculations are entering the realms of foaming at the mouth crack pottery. Eventually I banned him as he refused to even acknowledge this or engage in looking but before I did he argued about people having multiple souls, or as he put it:

'A multiple soul trader doesn't seem to pose a problem to me'

Well, it turns out that the shoe stall on the market is a multiple sole trader too (oh dear!) and eventually I discovered he was from a spirituality forum and had only come to Truth Strike in order to argue. He already had an entrenched belief but the silver lining was that his thread was a textbook example of how dishonesty manifests itself. More importantly, it highlights the kind of contradictions that would appear when people investigated no self and, crucially, illustrates the blindness to the nonsense beliefs one has to hold to maintain the facade of self.

I've harped on quite a bit about dishonesty here but the fact of the matter is this is the single biggest stumbling block to seeing the truth. What we do is loop through these erroneous beliefs endlessly and it is only our dishonesty that prevents us from seeing them for the contradictions they are. 
It is hard to call it wilful ignorance because it's not our intention to be dishonest. A more suitable term would be unwillful ignorance because we are literally blind to the fact when our brain is glossing over the inconsistencies. I think the simple umberella term 'delusion' covers both of these aspects well.

 The only way we can see our dishonesty is to actually catch ourselves in the act as such. If someone else catches us out we are more likely to get defensive, especially when our vanity is on the line. Hence, there were many aggressive threads on TS and RT, and I have had to edit out my vicious replies to his delusion for the sake of having something presentable.
We have slithering out of answering questions and most importantly, this change in ontology where the self is X, then Y, then Z. Now you have seen how this mechanism can play out you can spot it in your own enquiry and make sure you are not following these kinds of reasoning.  

The way to avoid this is as follows.

Before you start a session, write down what the word “I” refers to. Then by the end of the enquiry session, see if you still agree with what you wrote. If you find a contradiction then you can recognise your dishonesty. It is quite simple in this respect but this written record forces you to commit to x, y, z or whatever ad-hoc derivative theory you come up with. 
You should also keep a log of your discoveries and read through them before you start. This is to focus your mind on avoiding resting on assertions that you have already disproved by looking. It is this dishonesty which actually stops you recognising that you are doing this, and makes it possible to rest on contradictions that have already been disproven.

When the contradictions are right in front of your face, and you are actively trying to work your level of honesty then you should be able to recognise your dishonesty. If you don't write stuff down then you will find it more difficult to recognise when you are changing the story to fit the facts. 

Essentially dishonesty at its core is simply changing the story to try and incorporate the inconsistencies you are faced with. Therefore, dishonesty is nothing more than the avoidance of facing up to the truth. 

'The opposite of truth is cowardice' – Stepvhen 

Now having being acquainted with someones pitiful attempt at investigation, we can learn how to do this properly and focus on honesty.

To Be Continued...

Sunday 6 September 2015

Where to begin - Part I here
An introduction to dishonesty - here

What is the self?

3. Changing the story to fit the contradictory facts you are faced with.

We can think about a simple line of enquiry and see where it ends up taking us.  What does the self actually consist of, or what does the word 'I' refer to in real life?

You may think the self is the body since it is your leg, your hand and so forth. Or, you may even think the self is the mind, or perhaps a combination of both. There are a wide array of theories but you obviously have your own intuitions. For this exercise though, I want you to grab a pen or open a .txt document. 

All I want you to do is write down what the self is briefly in several words. It definitely doesn't need to be a paragraph of iambic pentameter or anything like that, in fact for this exercise, less is more. I don't want you to over think this, so just go with your gut or what common sense tells you.

Once you have done that I want you to close your notepad and I am going to send you to my website for some reading, since there is little value in repeating what has already been said in the past. I outlined this aspect clearly and I think it is worthwhile to acquaint yourself with an introduction to the philosophical problem of identity, and this may be the perfect time to get a cup of tea!

Please read the two parts of this article before we crack on.

Identical Intuition - Part I

Identical Intuition - Part II

Now, having just read these I want you to think carefully about whether you want to change the original answer you gave to the question “What is the self?” Open up the notepad again and see if you want to revise your answer in light of being acquainted with the problem of identity.

If we say “The self is the mind” then how do we account for the idea that new experiences are constantly changing us and then claim we are the same thing that persists over time? We are completely different people now from when we were children, and we think differently - hopefully.

That being so, then how is it possible that minds provide continuity? If we were the mind then how can something dynamic and constantly changing be the same thing? This contradicts the very principle of identity. 

If we say “The self is the body”, we run in to the Theseus paradox. 

If we say “The self is a combination of the body and the mind” then how can you say two wrongs are able to make a right? Both are paradoxical so how can combining the two solve the paradox? 

Of course, there are other theories available than just these and you are free to change your mind. If you have not changed your mind, you obviously have a more nuanced view of the self and have already done some investigating. 

If you have changed your answer though, you have adjusted your view in light of this new knowledge, and you are now incoherent with your original belief. In this instance you have made a substantial change in your belief which is at odds with your former world-view. 


This is exactly the kind of thing you need to be aware of. If you have fallen in to the trap of changing your position then congratulations - you have just come across your dishonesty. This is actually a good thing though! 

Allow me to explain. A major part of doing this process is to realise where you are being dishonest and subtly trying to shift your framework of thinking to warp anomalies in to your world-view. 

If we analyse this a little, what we have is a contradiction in terms. One story is saying the self is the mind X and then there is the changing of the story to; the self is Y, or saying the self = X+Y I.e a combination of body and mind. Without one actually saying to themselves “I am already right”, they are actually rationalising their assumption in this manner. 
They assumed they were correct all along and this contradiction in terms is just a small detail they had previously overlooked. Crucially though, this direct contradiction goes by unnoticed and does not make one realise that their entire framework of thinking rests on this view.

To outline this, if I were to say “A crab is a fish” you might look at me like a madman. After you laugh at me and explain that crabs are amphibious, I might concede a crab is a crustacean but I might ask “Maybe it is part fish?” 
At this stage, you would shake your head and conclude that I haven't a clue of what I'm talking about, and that I would benefit from a lesson in marine biology. 

The fact that I had never looked in to marine biology meant I had an impoverished world view but yet, I was still bold enough to assert my reasoning about crabs. Your laughing at me was sufficient to make sure I noticed that I had to revise my classification of marine species, but this was the first time I had been challenged. 

If I answered honestly here, I would have to say I didn't know a thing about marine biology and would do well to look in to it and investigate it. This would mean that my view of ocean species was unfounded and my lacklustre education was to blame. If I was to proclaim that I was right regardless of the contradiction I faced then you would rightly regard this as foaming at the mouth delusion. 

So how is it that one can maintain their convictions so resolutely in the face of absurdity?

It is only by completely deluding myself that I could continue to believe that crabs were part fish and refuse to look at any evidence that suggests otherwise. It is also the case that I could delude myself about the rest of my knowledge about marine species, which I would resolutely claim “Must still be true”. 

This does illustrate an example of the mechanism of dishonesty that you WILL uncover during this process, however, this is only a surface veneer. The crab example is a rather fishy example of how absurd it is to usurp contradictions in to our framework of thinking. However, this is EXACTLY the mechanism we are using when we reason about the self. 

Now consider that you are a social being that has a loosely defined identity within society, and has a place within a group of friends, family, and other peers. Now you might tell a story about 'you' in relation to these people. This story is obviously predicated on this 'you'. 
However, when you change this definition of what 'you' is, we are not talking about a trivial example of changing a story - we are talking about changing the ontological conditions necessary for your world view to work. Your framework of thinking entails that the world is made up of certain entities and this is requisite for the possibility of 'you' to exist as an agent in charge of 'your life'. 

There is a big difference here between simply changing the trivial stories we tell ourselves, and making fundamental changes to our ontology.

It is a common state of affairs where we have no need to question the nature of the self, and had you not come across this website or any of the others out there, then you would still be ignorant about it. However, we are in the business of challenging 'the story' and we need to be aware of how we make subtle changes in our beliefs about the self.
So, dishonesty, entails that you will find yourself making shifts in your ontological viewpoint to maintain this facade of self. Even if you didn't change your view in the exercise, you still need to be vigilant for when this is happening and recognise your dishonesty when it arises. 

When you find yourself jumping from the self is Z, to the self is W, or the self = X+Y, or formulate some other ad-hoc derivative theory, it is here where you will find dishonesty arising. This comes about from changing your original standpoint to fit the facts you are now presented with, in order to preserve your world view.  

Circular Reasoning

Interestingly, this is one of the most startling phenomenon I have ever witnessed as regards to human delusion. One of the main patterns we saw occurring again and again on Truth Strike and Ruthless Truth was that everyone used to follow a pattern of circular logic to maintain the story. 

4. Enaging in circular logic

They would often reason the self is X. When challenged and this view became untenable they would then reason that the self is Y instead. When this view crumbled they would then jump to the self is a combination of X +Y. 
When this was torn down they would then jump to a completely new theory of self and claim the self was Z all along. When this was demonstrated to be false they would then, unbelievably, go back to claim the self is X with an even stronger degree of conviction. 

Remarkably, when their circular reasoning and ontological changes were clearly highlighted they would resort to attacking us instead of admit that they had contradicted themselves! We would see people literally slither like a snake from one position to the other without actually questioning their fairy tale. 
They would desperately try to buttress their deluded world-view by going out on an all out attack, and it was here that we tore their ego to shreds in the hope that they would see their mistakes. 

This was where we were able to make breakthroughs and get them to witness their dishonesty, or realise that they were beyond the stages of us being able to snap them out of their deluded fantasy. 

Those who made it through the looking process actually had the courage to realise that this contradiction meant they were being dishonest with themselves. For the most part, there were many who could not cope with being wrong and we had to bear witness to some very laughable and desperately embarrassing threads, as people tried to cling to nonsense in an attempt to keep their vanity intact. 

Ironically, even when their contradictions were stuffed in front of their faces they would refuse to recognise them, since they were so concerned with trying to prop up their ego. These forums I used to partake in taught me that delusion can be such a powerful force that it could literally blind people to reality. 

That is why recognising your own dishonesty is one of the keys to getting traction in this investigation, and why I am harping on endlessly about it. 

I cannot stress this enough. 

The ability for people to engage in doublethink  as regards to their ontological reasoning, and not recognise it, is one of the more sinister aspects of dishonesty. You have to be on the look out for when you are making subtle shifts in your belief system to try and fit what you find in to your framework of thinking. 
This occurs most often when you take a fixed position on what the self is. This pattern played itself out on many threads I encountered on Ruthless Truth and Truth Strike and we will focus on an example shortly of this process. 

This pattern of dishonesty is the core mechanism of human delusion.

Now you are aware of it you can look out for this pattern arising, and it will become a handy tool during your investigation. It used to be the case we would point this out to people and tear their ego apart. 
Instead, you can recognise this pattern playing out armed with the knowledge that you will expect it to be occurring. You have to train yourself in the art of recognising dishonesty but it soon develops with a little effort.


Before we dispense with dishonesty entirely, there is another form in which it occurred. I tried to call this 'looping' to distinguish it from this shift in belief I have labelled as a pattern of dishonesty. This looping entails that you are not changing your belief subtly, but are engaged in perpetuating the same belief, even in the face of contradictory evidence. 

I call this looping simply because it is analogous to a tape loop droning on and on. If we are only reasoning within the confines our assumptions, we will yield the same results over and over. The delusion can blind you to reality and cause you to ignore contradictory evidence right in front of your face. 

Obviously, circular logic is the engine of dishonesty and the recognition of it renders it inert. It is only through dishonestly engaging in looping through a circle that we can maintain the facade of self. This usually affects theists as standard but I have even seen this affecting philosophically minded people too. 
This is counter intuitive as you would expect philosophers to be more open minded, however, direct experience taught me this was not always the case. The tactic of some was to argue about definitions instead of actually looking.  

This actually makes it harder  to unravel the layers of false thinking, and makes people more prone to this phenomena of looping. This is easy to overcome though, since you need only ask what does this line of reasoning presuppose? Then you investigate those presuppositions by looking for evidence in reality instead of worrying about terminological definitions and dialectical arguments. 
If you actually care about the truth then you need to question your cherished assumptions and opinions. If you really think that something exists then you should have no problem demonstrating it.

However, what used to happen most often was that some folk would use the ad nauseum argumentation strategy instead of look. This is simply because they wanted me to justify why they should look and frame me as a person that failed to convince them, when what they should have done is questioned their own assumptions.  This was simply a slithering form of cowardice.

This pattern also used to play out in everyone's enquiry to a degree. When people got stuck it was because they were not challenging the constraints within which they think, and were investigating within their framework of presuppositions. It is hard to explain how to think outside the box but essentially you need to start banging against the walls to see if they really have solidity.

I will not tell you this is going to be easy since you will get frustrated and stuck during your enquiry. The trick is though, to keep going and keep challenging. As long as you are looking for the truth and challenging the constraints of your theory about the self, then you are bound to stumble on it eventually.

Next we will see how powerful a force delusion can be with a real life example from the annuls of Truth Strike. 


Thursday 20 August 2015

Where to begin - Part I here
An introduction to dishonesty - here

Having outlined this mechanism of dishonesty and shown how easy it is to slip in to it, we need to take a broad look at where we are situated. If we can be dishonest about something that simple then we do have to ask questions about whether our entire world-view is founded on honesty. What we often find is that it is based on our second mechanism of dishonesty which is this. 

2. Reasoning about an unvalidated assumption using another unvalidated assumption as the basis for the inference.

To illustrate this by analogy it is like arguing about the contents of a box, which you have never looked inside, and then using this assumption as the basis for your argument. 

I accept that a fair enquirer such as yourself may think I am being unnecessarily patronising in saying this, but I have to mention it since it was one of the most common aspects of dishonesty we used to come across in the TS days. 

An example of such an argument is: 'There is a self because I can think when I want to'. 

This kind of argument is derived from not looking in to and investigating the aspects of free will regarding our thinking. Then, it is a simple matter of using this reasoning to assert a self which has, hitherto, never been observed. 
In both sides of this proposition a fallacy has been committed but it is not so much that I can or should convince someone the self doesn't exist. However, if they were to look inside the box, so to speak, and examine their free will regarding thinking then maybe they would see this was questionable. Then they might look in to the self after seeing this assumption was untrue.

This kind of investigation is all I can ever hope to achieve in writing any piece here. I cannot convince you about the self, but hopefully I can convince you to look inside the box (and see if the cat is dead or alive Schrödinger! :).

To most people the fact I have mentioned this might seem absurd but the simple fact of the matter is that is scarily common. The depths of your brains deceit will shock you when you start investigating - I can promise you that much. I should also jog your memory that our first pattern was 'resting on prior assumptions without testing their validity' - We are simply dealing with an extension of the first pattern. 

This pattern is so common because we have had a lifetime of learning about the world, social conventions, learning coping skills, observing others, making our own mistakes, and of course being exposed to our education system. I think in one sense that it could be labelled as an 'indoctrination system'. 
The reason for this is that we are spoon fed an ideology from a young age and this shapes the way we grow up and the thoughts we form about the world. 

For instance, if we compared a Nazi ideology to our own, we would find it somewhat abhorrent that school kids were taught they were superior to all other beings and that these others were 'untermensch'. 
In our own education system we were relentlessly hammered with a more tolerant ideology of others, which I think makes for a better society, but the fact remains that it is still ideological. 

Naturally, if we could cram the best knowledge of the best historical tried and tested ideas and principles in to a training program, it makes sense we have an education system. 
This is not without its own set of problems and the way in which the education system was implemented was rightly criticised by Schopenhauer back in the 1800s and has never actually been addressed even to this day. 

He made the simple observation that our knowledge  in education arises from books and lectures, and rarely from experience. If you think back to the evidence based learning you did at school, maybe you will remember your science classes with fond memories. However, when you think about it you would concede that the majority of your studies were simply taken on faith that the teacher was a legitimate authority in possession of the facts. 

What leads us to think that these facts we learn are legitimate is that disciplines such as mathematics and the English language are consistent and internally coherent. In these fields there is certainly little in the way of contradiction until we start learning more English words, especially those with two meanings, or getting in to 'Godels incompleteness theorem' with mathematics for example.

Disciplines such as history (my favourite subject at school) paved the way for our critical thinking faculties and taught us to question versions of events. However, I later learned that we are taught a certain version of history in English schools and it was only when I went travelling and met others from Europe and wider, I realised the horrors that we had inflicted upon the world in our imperial days. 

To say we are taught a skewed version of history was an understatement. In Irish schools they teach a more in depth account of the potato famine and the vile horrors that the English inflicted upon starving masses. At our school though it was merely acknowledged that this happened and the atrocities were simply ignored. 
This certainly did not interfere with general consensus that we won many wars, were victorious in colonising the largest empire the world had seen, single handedly kick started the industrial revolution, and paved the way for the modern world. 

The fact of the matter is that in many ways our knowledge is given to us in the form of concepts and these are learned from books and lectures. I am sure you will also agree that since you left school a fair proportion of the information we derive from TV documentaries, other people, and the like, is 'reported knowledge' rather than derived from your experience. 

A clear example of this is regarding outer space. Whilst you may have observed a blurred distant dot that was allegedly the moon through a telescope that shook all over the place as a  youngster, much of our knowledge here is purely conceptual. Yet we know a fair amount about the solar system without ever actually going in to outer space. 
Cheeeeese Gromit?!

We take it on faith that the moon is not made from cheese but we have never bothered going there to look!

Whilst there is nothing wrong with reported knowledge and you can apply this to your own life usefully and critically reflect on it, it points to the fact that Schopenhauer's observation rings true. Whilst we may have had some practical lessons and even questioned some of the concepts we learn, I'm sure you will not be inclined to disagree with me when I say that much of our knowledge is second hand. 

Much more of our knowledge than we previously recognised is not actually derived from discovering it for ourselves experientially, it is conceptually taken on faith from a trusted authority.

We take a lot of things on faith  from authority and it would be plainly be absurd for me to try and suggest that this is a bad idea. Conversely, there are many things we have learned from our experience too, namely social skills, coping skills and using tools, driving cars etc. 
It makes sense that we are indoctrinated with a code of how to behave towards each other and are packed full of the most up to date concepts ready to take out in to the adult world. There is nothing wrong with this but we simply have to recognise that not all of the 'facts' we have learned are necessarily true. 

Whilst much of our knowledge is consistent, we merely have to open ourselves up to the possibility that some of it may not be true.

If we take the self as an example, I think you will find that you were never taught anything about it. Your  earlier existence entailed that 'you' were responsible for your actions and that you felt shame and humiliation when you were scolded by teachers and parents. Later you learned that all thinking is in a relational capacity to ones self, in relation to others, material needs, goals etc.

The fact of the matter is you were never explicitly taught any of this stuff, and if you ever did question it it was when you first encountered a philosophy class or came across someone else's viewpoint. It is simply a prosaic observation that this account is the way we view the world as 'selves' without ever having ever made it explicit. We simply assume our existence without ever working it out logically and our experience reinforces this notion of our being subjects in the world.

All we have to do really is start to investigate this area thoroughly  and check out whether our assumptions were true. 

When it comes to the bigger questions like why are we here? Or what is the meaning of life? We are told not to worry about such things and our philosophical inclinations are curtailed from a young age. I was lucky enough to rediscover them with a sense of vigour back when I investigated this no self malarkey.  
Your curiosity cannot be buried forever. That nagging doubt you feel about your place in the world, and what it all means, arises from starting out with a distorted view of the world. This view is based purely on the groundless assumptions our brain made about us being some kind of entity having the experience of the world, that we took as a given without ever questioning this notion. 

A Given Framework Of Thinking

With limited information our brain fills in the blanks and makes assumptions necessary to fit the framework of facts we are presented with. We are hammered relentlessly by advertisers who play on our primordial fears of being ostracised by our peer group, or try to associate the most mundane and banal items with positive images of fun. Take any advert and look at the images it portrays. Then  take the item itself independently from the advert and see if it excites you quite so much. It's just a fucking ice cream right?! 

You get people in offices sat there all day trying to associate unconnected things like 'healthy lifestyle' with chemically laden food. This pattern is actually played out to us on the receiving end relentlessly. It is not so much that we take these things as truth, it merely reinforces the view that we are deficient in some way, or of some need, and that these products can fill this void in your life.
Some of the adverts try to elicit us in to feeling an emotional connection to the protagonist. The fact of the matter remains is that it actually works. If it didn't, then why would it be a multi million business? 

I would like to say it doesn't work on me as such but when I find myself having to shop around for insurance, what are the first places that spring to my mind?, Go Compare etc (In the UK). If I am honest, I am a sucker like the rest of the masses despite not wanting to be. 
I am already familiar with these companies and the way they arise in my mind when I want insurance is because when I listen to the radio they are there, when I watch TV they are there. You could literally spend a whole day and have one of their adverts appear every 15 – 20 minutes drumming in to your brain. 

I tend to stay away from TV and read books instead, and I also try to avoid listening to local radio, so I am not subjected to the relentless advertising which I have come to despise. I also have ad blockers on my web browser and I delete marketing messages without reading them. 
The thing to note is that even though we may try and insulate ourselves from this relentless stream of BS, it still has an effect on us because we absorb the things around us that either grab our attention, or pass us by unaware. 

It is impossible for your mind not be polluted with these cultural artefacts.

The fact that and go compare spring to mind is not because  you have the remotest interest in insurance products, it is their aggressive advertising practices which means you can't help that they spring to mind when you have the ball ache of hunting for a cheaper insurance renewal.

More alarming is the active influence in society which emanates from the news and print media. When we engage with any form of media we are being deliberately led to think in a certain manner and their goal is to convince us that their account is correct. If we think about communication in its most basic form we use it to influence people. 

Even if we are telling the time or talking about the weather, we are in some way attempting to influence another person to believe the facts we may be in possession of.

Politically speaking, matters are far far worse than we may think. What we have is not a debate in this country, but parameters to contain any real debate. Mention Karl Marx and be ready for some opinion editorial piece , by someone who never read a single page of Marx's work, to tell you what a wretched political system he advocated. 
Whilst Mr Marx's positive thesis has been laid to waste and has been a proven failure in practice, his criticisms of the capitalist system are poignant and as valid as ever. However, these howling contradictions he highlighted within this system are generally ignored. 

We might ask how is it that we can ignore such howling contradictions that render the capitalist system as broken? The way in which in this done is by the media repeatedly portraying Marxism as a failed system and by extension we  simply assume that he never had any good insights about the current system that organises society at large, since these are never mentioned anywhere. 

By framing Marx as a villain they propagate the ad hominem fallacy by trying to slur his character and make it sound as though he had nothing valuable to say.

It should be no surprise that it is the wealth accumulating to the top 1% and various other things that the power elite want to maintain. Their vested interest is in maintaining the status quo is in order to propagate the favourable arrangements that they and their cronies enjoy at the expense of the common man. 
It should not be too difficult for you to see that the majority of Britain's media is owned by the wealthy and they try to keep control of the parameters of the debate. 

As Noam Chomsky said: 
'The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum' (Chomsky, 1998).

The media in this country have pulled off a coup de tat. By silencing genuine and poignant criticisms of the capitalist systems they have effectively silenced this aspect of the debate. Where do we ever get to hear any meaningful debate these days? 
Rather than being presented with the arguments for each side, we have opinion pieces which aim to influence us by appealing to our emotions rather than present any kind of rational debate.

The reason for this is that we are apathetic to what is going on and most people don't want to hear about the debate. If we were to present the debate it would take up multiple pages and lets face it, most people are more inclined to read a few paragraphs that sum it up simply, and arouse their emotions, than engage in any real critical thinking.

This is because critical thinking and philosophy are boring to most people. 


It is asking a lot for the layman to engage in any kind of debate that goes way over their heads. However, some of us are condemned to the compulsion of a life of picking away at orthodoxy and exploring the implications of our discoveries.

To say that capitalism is flawed is missing the bigger picture since there are definitely virtues of such a system. Communism is hardly going to solve the problem and has its own major flaws and contradictions. However, the way in which neo-liberal economic orthodoxy is failing us is in that the state is deregulating restraints on business and curtailing the liberties of its citizens. 

You need only read about the way our governments have been busted for spying on its citizens (viz. Snowden) yet allow companies like Amazon to avoid paying its fair share of tax. The fact of the matter is that corporate power has infiltrated our democracy. Economic priorities trump the very people whom the economic practice of capitalism is meant to serve. 

Keynes (1936) described it as 'The worm that had been gnawing at the insides of modern civilisation... the over-valuation of the economic criterion'. Nearly one hundred years later we are still faced with the same problem and there has been little impetus for society to move on from this dead end of thinking (we are in a post modern crisis of capitalism).

Our priorities have been skewed by our indolence to the real debate we should be having and the fact of the matter is that economics are prioritised above human well being and that of the fragile planet upon which we live. To my mind the right / left split in politics is a false dichotomy that pits one aspect of human nature against the other. I am not the first to call for a new politics but what we have currently is broken in many ways. 

Whilst we have got sidetracked here, what we have shown is that what we see and hear is controlled in the sense that an orthodoxy is entrenched, and alternative views silenced. The internet is the greatest threat to this control of information so have the government responded to it?
They are starting to ban certain sites, curtail freedom of speech and our military have even created an army of pro government propaganda trolls

If we were not influenced so much by society then why would there be a need to go to such lengths to control the narrative, and why would the Chinese government, for example, attempt to throttle free speech on the internet? Clearly certain narratives are dominant and are reproduced across society. Big narratives are ideologically determined by the media and often go unchallenged. These form the basis of political discourse and try to make it more palatable to the everyday layman by simplifying things. 

'Ideas are dangerous, but the man to whom they are most dangerous is the man of no ideas. The man of no ideas will find the first idea fly to his head like wine to the head of a teetotaller' (G. K. Chesterton, 1905).

Here we can give an example of how narratives proliferate the mindset of a nation.

Bertie lives in a reclusive village and is a reader of a propaganda rag that masquerades as a newspaper. In the pages of the 'Daily Fail' it speaks of the horrors of foreign immigrants coming over here to maliciously steal our jobs and pillage our benefits system. 
Bertie has never seen an immigrant before but he doesn't need to. He has all the facts he needs to know already. He can go down the pub in the evening and recite these horror stories. As he slams down his drink proclaiming that immigrants have ruined this country, his compatriots nod along in unanimous agreement.

Perhaps if Bertie left his insular village and went out to meet some of these 'horrendous' immigrants who have only 'come here to commit crime and cheat us', he might discover that most of them are the same as us. They want enough money to have a decent standard of living, and be happy. 
Many are prepared to work hard for this opportunity and have left their families behind to try and escape the poverty trap they found themselves in. Others have fled war zones and risked their lives by placing themselves in the clutches of people smugglers who profit from desperation.

Immigrants are a convenient scapegoat for the abject failings of successive governments. Whilst immigration inevitably causes some problems, it is more convenient for the government to say it is immigrants who have put public services, such as the NHS, under strain than to admit that their philosophical outlook is completely broken and is failing its citizens.
Check out the scandalous PFI contracts as a clear example of how Neo Liberal economic orthodxy is bleeding us dry.  Then compare how many stories about PFI contracts and immigrants there are. Do you see a pattern occurring? What did you make of the expose at 25:30? Is this legalised institutional corruption bleeding the taxpayer dry, or is the problem really eastern Europeans working a shitty minimum wage job and paying taxes?

In any case, Bertie may come across a bad example that reinforces his stereotype, or he may meet someone who challenges his view. The point here is that whatever experience he has, at least he can reason from the solid grounds of direct experience instead of a reported knowledge that was designed to fit an ideological viewpoint. That's a start at least.
Whilst Bertie might end up committing another fallacy by tarring everyone with the same brush, at least he has made an effort to see if his assumptions were true, even if he doesn't change his convictions. 

The moral of this story is simply that it is so easy and common place to reason from untested assumptions, that it is natural for us to absorb narrative accounts and use these as a basis to draw conclusions. Most often,  we simply absorb the conclusions we are spoon fed by society that may or may not have a factual basis. 
The important thing to realise here is that we are now in the business of checking our assumptions and conclusions with a fine toothed comb, and we are aware that this pattern of dishonesty is so common place that we often don't realise we are doing it. Unlike Bertie, we cannot rest on mere generalisations derived from our limited experience either. 

We are going to have to dig much deeper.  

It is not honest enquiry to say “I must exist” without actually checking all the assumptions. Naturally, the difficulty in looking at no self arises from the standpoint of being in the world as a supposed participant. We cannot simply reason that we don't exist as this is contradictory information to our experience so far in life. Nor can we do detached objective enquiry, since we are always already within the bounds of our cultural preconceptions that shape how we process that knowledge.  

It should now be not so shocking to you to conceive that if it is possible for adults with a brain to absorb narrative accounts from propaganda gutter journalism, then the possibilities for polluting a young inquisitive mind, that lacks critical thinking faculties are unlimited. We need only consider folly such as the tooth fairy, god, and father christmas for examples of perpetrating deception.
Your teachers, parents, and society at large, had a head start in telling you things were a certain way and, unlike the father christmas story, you never once stopped to question what you were told. 

It might seem obvious and intuitive that we are an agent pulling the strings behind our experience. Once we start to peel back our assumptions and unearth our dishonesty though, we discover that there is not much logical basis for our assertions and that our received 'default wisdom' is quite empty. 
We may assert that there is some being in the tree telling its leaves how to grow but this is just as empty an assertion as claiming there is a self that directs the thoughts and actions. Our enquiry therefore, is not focussed on logically denying our existence or assessing dialectical arguments endlessly. 

We have to look at the phenomena unfolding in reality at the present moment. 

Crucially though, we also have to be aware this enquiry can be distorted by our taken for granted beliefs and assumptions and this is where dishonesty comes in to play for the fair enquirer. By utilising looking, and logic as a tool, we can actually discover the doublethink in which we are engaged, which supports the notion of being an independent entity living in an internal world that directs the bodies actions in an external world.

By now you should have a very solid grasp that we cannot take anything for granted – we have to do the work and test it out. 

In this manner, we need to be vigilant of when we are using untested assumptions and investigate them instead. We also need to drop any reasoning that are extended from any untested assumptions. We will look at a comprehensive example later on, but for now you need to be aware that this pattern is so very very easy to fall in to, and infects a surprising facet of what we think of as 'truth'.  

It is now pertinent to turn our attention to begin to look at how we conceptualise this self on an intuitive level...

The Fairytale of Dishonesty >

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