Self-Deception

In my second semester of my Freshman year, this past Spring, I wrote a paper on self-deception for my Introductory Logic class. I received a 98% for the grade, and the paper itself was our one large research paper for the semester. I would like to know what others think of the paper from a non-biased point of view. Please offer me as much critique, commentation, or praise as possible. Thank you and to clarify my footnotes used to source the quotes were lost in copying the document over. EDIT: I’ve tried about five different times and ways to get the proper punctuation to appear instead of the ?s, but I am unable to do so.

Is there a congruent vision of truth for humanity in the world?  Thousands of different groups and peoples may answer yes, however the responses are likely to be extremely varied on ?what is the truth??  Self-deception is a plausible cause for why many answers linger.  The Greek philosopher Socrates (469-399 BCE) once said ? ?I know that I don?t know? ? an idiom clearly lost through the twining history of Western civilization.  In the 19the Century a philosopher by the name of Friedrich Nietzsche possessed the bravado and intellect which backed his intense deposition against the philosophers of objectivity and logic.  Implementing Nietzsche?s views it is evident the self-deception of philosophers, whom argued for objectivity and logic, has been particularly destructive to Western culture.

One may ask a question of consideration, what is logic and objectivity?  Logic is considered the science or study in which evaluates arguments, and furthermore, it is the construction of mathematical or scientific calculations transcribed into a literary form.  In A Concise Introduction to Logic, Patrick Hurley explains the aim of logic ? ?To develop a system of methods and principles that we may use as criteria for evaluating the arguments of others and as guides in constructing arguments of our own.?   Objectivity, in continuation, is the deduction of propositions in the world presumed to be entirely independent of personal experiences and interpretations.   Objectivity seeks to find the claimed absolute truth of reality.  Following this, Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) purposefully detailed the hypothesis of logic and objectivity.

Immanuel Kant through one of his written works purported the validity of objectivity.  Kant in his titled book Logic wrote ? ?Now this science of the necessary laws of the understanding and reason in general, or?which is the same?of the more form of thinking we call logic?  [Logic] is not occupied with the common and as such merely empirical use of the understanding and of reason, but solely with the universal and necessary laws of thinking in general.?   Kant saw human understanding not as a contingent experience but an experience that ought to be purely objective for humanity.  Following this, Kant wrote ? ?Logic is a science of reason ? not subjectively, i.e. not according to empirical (psychological) principles of how the understanding thinks, but objectively, i.e. according to a priori [taken to be independent of sensory experience ] principles of how it ought to think.?    Kant claimed that part of human reason did not come from an empirical or subjective standpoint but [ought to come] solely from an objective understanding.  Immanuel Kant?s philosophy was generally based upon logic and objectivity and from that, came his theory of a moral law.

Immanuel Kant considered his argument of a moral law just as practical and basic as a physical law (i.e. theory of gravity).  Kant felt there is an objective understanding for humans with a definitive right or wrong in morality.  Jostein Gaarder, in the book Sophie?s World, wrote of Kant?s philosophy ? ?Kant had always felt that the difference between right and wrong was a matter of reason, not sentiment.  In this he agreed with the rationalists, who said the ability to distinguish between right and wrong is inherent in human reason.  Everybody knows what is right or wrong, not because we have learned it but because it is born in the mind.  According to Kant, everybody has ?practical reason?, that is, the intelligence that gives us the capacity to discern what is right or wrong in every case. ?  This moral law has the same absolute validity as the physical laws.  It is just as basic to our morality as the statements that everything has a cause, or that seven plus five is twelve, are basic to our intelligence.?   This moral law does not depict what one ought to do in a particular situation but what one ought to do in all situations.  Kant?s moral law constructs subjective experiences into objective accordance?s, like the science of logic does with arguments.  The aforementioned element of Immanuel Kant?s philosophy is reflective of logic and objectivity, and Friedrich Nietzsche would likely categorize it exactly as self-deception.    

Self-deception could essentially be defined by a misconception of reality, either intentionally or unintentionally.  However, a more precise definition of self-deception is ? ?Avoidance or outright denial of unpleasant aspects of reality, especially those which might otherwise warrant an unfavorable opinion about ourselves.   [Kierkegaard, Heidegger, and Sartre condemned self-deception as bad faith, or an inauthentic response to the anxiety produced by contemplation of human freedom]?   Although, to generalize, Nietzsche has a far more riveting perception of what self-deception is ? ?There as here it is the rash hypotheses, the fictions, the good dumb will to ?believe??   Self-deception is falling victim to widespread, fictitious beliefs and unjust conclusions; logic is directly that with its attempt to categorize arguments and words.

The science of logic specifically categorizes words under the assumption experiences are irrelevant to an interpretation; words, therefore, are held to have entirely objective, not subjective, meanings.  For instance, is it really safe to assume a Hindu, whom believes in reincarnation [rebirth after death], and a Christian, whom believes he or she?s soul will ascend to heaven once he/she dies, would interpret the word death in the same light?  According to ?logic,? the Hindu and Christian would have the same understanding of the term death.  All of which is mere self-deception and Friedrich Nietzsche elucidates this point ? ?Words are acoustical signs for concepts; concepts, however, are more or less definite image signs for often recurring and associated sensations, for groups of sensations.  To understand one another, it is not enough that one use the same words; one also has to use the same words for the same species of inner experiences; in the end one has to have one?s experience in common.?   In all likelihood the Hindu and Christian would clearly not share the same experiences and thus, the two people would interpret the word death differently.  The prior assertion of logic is simply another irrational pattern of objectivity.  

To claim what is objective entirely results in the mode of self-deception.  In Beyond Good and Evil, Friedrich Nietzsche wrote ? ?This way of judging [?How could anything originate out of its opposite?  For example truth out of error??] constitutes the typical prejudgment and prejudice which give away the metaphysicians of all ages; this kind of valuation looms in the background of all their logical procedures; it is on account of this ?faith? that they trouble themselves about ?knowledge,? about something that is finally baptized solemnly as ?the truth??    This criticism of Nietzsche?s relates primarily to the dialectics of Hegelianism, but it showcases how certain philosophers attempt to create truth.  As Nietzsche wrote, this is exactly where some philosophers venture obliviously ? ?As soon as any philosophy begins to believe in itself.  It always creates the world in its own image; it cannot do otherwise.?   Objective philosophy transforms the world into a demonstrative affect of its very own beliefs, exemplified by Stoicism.

The Stoic school of thought existed, for many centuries before and around the turn of the first millennium Common Era., during the Roman Empire.  The Stoics saw the world through predestination and accordingly, developed their view of fatalism.  Friedrich Nietzsche wrote of the Stoics ? ?You would like all existence to exist only after your own image ? as an immense glorification and generalization of Stoicism.  For all your love of truth, you have forced yourselves so long, so persistently, so rigidly-hypnotically to see nature the wrong way, namely Stoically, that you are no longer able to see her differently.?   Stoicism saw the world in a fatalistic nature ? or rather Stoically as Nietzsche points out ? and could not interpret reality any other way.  It was this method of viewing the world objectively that caused self-deception for the Stoics, but one may come to ask how Stoicism actually was self-deception?

To obediently accept only one view, just as the Stoics once did, would negate opportunity for discovering new innovations and in that, it is instep with society to not strike opposition to common belief.  However, is eternally abiding by sociological customs truly a prudent path towards the idea of truth?  Nietzsche would adamantly answer ?no? to the former question and to evidence this position is Nietzsche?s comment from a letter he once wrote to his sister ? ?However, it is difficult to believe that 2 times 2 does not equal 4; does that make it true?  On the other hand, is it really so difficult simply to accept everything that one has been brought up on and that has gradually struck deep roots ? what is considered truth in the circle of moreover, really comforts and elevates man?  Is that more difficult than to strike new paths, fighting the habitual, experiencing the insecurity of independence and the frequent wavering of one?s feelings and even one?s conscience, proceeding often without any consolation, but ever with the eternal goal of the true, the beautiful, and the good??   However relieving it may be, truth is not sought for when laying homage to the commonality of fact.  Proceeding likewise is merely self-deception and pertains to a critical factor in Western culture.

The desire and appeal towards collective truth is nearly an institutionalized part of Western culture.  The thought is to repress what one feels in life, for the means of satisfying expectations.  Erich Fromm eloquently explains this thought in his titled book Escape From Freedom ? ?This substitution of pseudo acts for original acts of thinking, feeling, and willing, leads eventually to the replacement of the original self by a pseudo self.  The original self is the self which is the originator of mental activities.  The pseudo self is only an agent who actually represents the role a person is supposed to play but who does so under the name of the self.  It is true that a person can play many roles and subjectively be convinced that he is ?he? in each role.  Actually he is in all these roles what he believes he is expected to be, and for many people if not most, the original self is completely suffocated by the pseudo self.?   Living by a modeled, in other words objective, formation of morality (i.e. the Bible or even Kant?s moral law) has transformed current day man into a fixture of representing society ? a pseudo-self created for and from the vista of society.  Man is a personality shaped from the culture of what one ought to be and how one ought to be.  The makeup of Western society from a general utility method is in part to blame for the destruction of the self.  

In Western culture the modern initiative of general utility is, theoretically speaking, a fallacy.  General utility has several synonyms, and the one provided is a definition to the similar term general will ? ?Collective desire for the welfare of a society as a whole.?   The phrase explicitly claims there is an ideal existence for the whole of society taken from an individual aspect.  In Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche commented in regard to the initiative of general utility ? ?Ultimately they all want English morality to be proved right ? because this serves humanity best, or the ?general utility?, or ?the happiness of the greatest number? ? no, the happiness of England?  That ?the general welfare? is no ideal, no goal, no remotely intelligible concept, but only an emetic ? that what is fair for one cannot by any means for that reason alone also be fair for others.?   General utility tries to follow one premise ? what may be good for one person ? and from that, conclude the premise is also necessarily good for an entire society.  To actually apply the use of logic in this case, it is a hasty generalization to assume what may be good for one is good for all.   The implementation of general utility in society did indeed derive from an objective outlook.  

The presumption there is an objective way of life is an inhabiting force in Western culture.  Society has constructed an extreme force of how one ought to live, with little exception.  Erich Fromm, on the temperament of external forces affecting man, wrote of Nietzsche ? ?? Nietzsche has again in an uncompromising way expressed the idea that the individual should not be subject to any purposes external to his growth or happiness.?   The propositions of how one ought to understand; how one accordingly should behave; and how one?s life should be structured, are unquestionably the certain outside forces Nietzsche spoke of.  In more than just one way logic and objectivity has been destructive to man?s development in Western culture but there is one glaring example of such.

It is painstakingly undeniable the negative impact objectivism has had on women throughout the history of Western culture.  Up until very recent times, in Western culture at the very least, women were regarded as inferior to men, in large part from the notable causes of the Bible ? ?woman was created out of Adam?s rib? ? and Aristotle (384-322 BCE) ? ?woman is more or less an incomplete man.?   While, Friedrich Nietzsche may have considered women inferior as well, it is irrelevant to the topic that the augmentation of women has been hampered throughout Western history.  To illustrate, in many Democratic nations, such as the United States and Norway, it was not until the 20th Century when women gained the right to vote ? women?s suffrage.  Many other instances continue in the light of objectivity and logic being destructive to Western culture but the overall theme has already been sufficiently explained.

The notion that the self-deception of philosophers, whom argued for objectivity and logic, has been particularly destructive to Western culture is clearly evident implementing Friedrich Nietzsche?s views.  Logic is a science for evaluating arguments, and objectivity states all propositions of the world are independent of personal experiences.  In kindness with logic and objectivity, Immanuel Kant theorized his idea of a moral law.  The moral law provided an exact way of how one ought to understand.  On the other hand, as Friedrich Nietzsche saw it, objectivity and logic manifested from nothing more than the self-deception of philosophers.  Self-deception could be defined as misconstruing reality, possibly in favor of one?s self, or more appropriately, according to Nietzsche, the good dumb will to ?believe.?   A world full of dogmatism, created from the philosophers of logic and objectivity, led to the degradation of Western culture.  Friedrich Nietzsche significantly brought impact to this realization and to point this out Erich Fromm spoke admirably of Friedrich Nietzsche ? ?Nietzsche disturbed the complacent optimism of the nineteenth century.?   Friedrich Nietzsche?s book Beyond Good and Evil is subtitled Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future; it is a call for a philosophy of the future ? one in which actually recognizes subjectivity.

Works Cited

  1. Beyond Good and Evil ? Friedrich Nietzsche translated by Walter Kaufman; Vintage Books; Vintage Books Edition (November 1989) (original edition 1966)

  2. The Portable Nietzsche ?Walter Kaufman; Penguin Books; Penguin Books Edition (1976) (original edition 1954)

  3. Sophie?s World: a Novel About the History of Philosophy ? Jostein Gaarder; Berkley Books; Original Edition (1991); Translated Edition Paulette Moler (1994)

  4. Escape From Freedom ? Erich Fromm; Owl Book; First Owl Books Edition (1994) (original edition 1941)

  5. Logic ? Immanuel Kant translated by Robert S. Hartman & Wolfgang Schwarz; Dover Publications, INC.; (1974)

  6. A Concise Introduction to Logic ? Patrick J. Hurley; Wadsworth/ Thomson Learning; 8th Edition (2003)

  7. philosophypages.com - Garth Kemerling; Philosophy Source

nice paper, thanks for posting it…

just a couple of quick questions :"The notion that the self-deception of philosophers, whom argued for objectivity and logic, has been particularly destructive to Western culture is clearly evident implementing Friedrich Nietzsche’s views. "

how is objectivity (something I don’t think is possible) and logic destructive to western culture?

and how do you feel Nietzsche’s view on democracy helps western culture?

-Imp

Thank you for reading it; you may have noticed I went through several different edits. It may have been difficult to read with the punctuation lost, so I have the document available for download now…

To answer the former: Exactly, objectivity is not possible, yet philosophers over the course of Western history have proclaimed objective philosophies, thus rendering the effects upon the culture. My fault was in not adding more to the depth of how the effects have been destructive; the only true and direct example I used was on the inequalities between man and woman.
To answer the latter: I find it improper to categorize a word with one specific meaning, considering the word has several different interpreations based on many factors (context, bias, experiences, et al). I would say consider the idea of Wittgenstein’s language games (I believe I am correct in that understanding) here.

I am not familiar with Nietzsche’s view on democracy; I would love to be enlightened on the topic, though. :slight_smile:

nietzsche loathed democracy

read Zarathustra, Twilight of the Idols and the Antichrist… (all of which are in the “portable” by kaufmann)

-Imp

Nice paper Techwins. :slight_smile: One question to begin with since everything by definition must build on this:

How do you define “self”? What is being deceived? If the life of the “self” is nourished and sustained by reality, is this the same as the self which functions and thrives through imagination or “self-deception?”

Could “outright denial” be the natural result of the inhability of the “self” to objectively affirm its existence?

I figured as much but did not want to sound foolish making presumptions.

Thank you very much.

At the time of writing the paper I did not even consider such a definition. I appreciate you pointing that out to me; a small dedication to the topic of “what the self is” or at least in this particular essay what the self is defined as should have been made to clear up any ambiguities. I suppose the closest definition to the self I was using was - “One’s consciousness of one’s own being or identity; the ego.” The recognition of one’s own self through its conscious being. I do not think any further explanation on “what the self is” would have been prudent for the essay.

I could not properly decide yes or no at this moment on the last question, but to answer, nevertheless, I would have to say no, it is not the natural result. It may be the inevitable result; however, I am not confident that makes it a natural result. My primary implication of the essay was to show that readily believing in common truth, without recognizing subjective factors, is due to self-deception (“the good dumb will to believe”).