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Friday, 1 February 2019

Know thyself a.k.a. Who am I? (2)

Recently, my girlfriend claimed she knows me well. I disagreed. I told her that she only sees the part of me that I want her to see. Everyone has small "rooms" in his/her mind, of which the "door" is closed - and often "locked" (part 1). Hence, I'm neither sure that I (fully) know myself, nor eager finding out more about those closed "rooms". She understood.

The title of a 2017 Aeon article claims: ‘Know thyself’ is not just silly advice: it’s actively dangerous. Unfortunately, this Aeon article only explains the "silly" part and not the "dangerous". Essentially, it claims that people change over their lifetime, and thus it's a waste of time finding out who you are - at a certain moment.

The "dangerous" part of knowing thyself lies in our Dark Side (my blogs). Everyone has a Dark Side. It is either powered or restrained by the trio Willpower, Beliefs and (good/bad) Faith (my blogs). This Dark Side is triggered by Lust; not Love. Lust has a sexual connotation but it covers more areas, like killing for fun.

Knowing thyself is worthwhile because it allows you to prevent yourself from ending up in certain bad situations. Sometimes, these situations cannot be prevented, like in wartimes. PT-2013: "The core claim was that if you put good people in a bad situation, bad things will happen. Soon, evidence emerged to support this chilling idea." Note LO: italic markings are mine.

That evidence relates to two famous psychology studies:
- 1960: the obedience to authority (pain) experiment by Yale psychologist Stanley Milgram;
- 1971: the Stanford prison experiment by Stanford psychologist Philip Zimbardo.

The problem, including the original conclusions, with both studies is that these studies attract willing participants, who already know about their "dark core". Psychologists have identified four character traits that support the Dark Side: (1) narcissism, (2) Machiavellianism, (3) psychopathy, and (4) sadism (PT-2013). 

Hence, the dangerous part of knowing thyself is knowing your Dark Side. It's tempting to argue that narcissists, psychopaths and sadists will like what they see in their Dark Side. It's also tempting to argue that these people are even more likely to find out who they (really) are. The reason for this is even intriguing: their high levels of - albeit one-sided - intelligence (eg, DailyMail-2018, ForbesResearchGate, ScienceDaily, UoC).

Following the above, it's tempting to paraphrase a 1933 Bertrand Russell quote
“The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the innocent are stupid while the doubtful are intelligent."

Who Are You (1978) by The Who

Well, who are you? (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)
I really want to know (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)
Tell me who are you? (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)
Because I really want to know (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)


Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless stated otherwise

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