Joris Voet, introducing himself, asks:
>This problem has been stated in different ways already during the
>discussions on "values and behaviour" in this group. What strikes me is
>that the following question is never being asked : "How does it come?"
>that behavior differs from what one wants (=values)? ( Or it may be that I
>have overlooked that part of the discussion).
>I have no answers, and I think that here we have a very important field to
>learn about : why do we human beings do the other thing than the one we
>want to do?
Welcome, Joris, and thank you for opening a critical line of inquiry. I
certainly do not know the answer to this question, which as you have
pointed out has been asked in many guises throughout the history of
My own bias arises from having been educated in the religion of Science
which has dominated Western intellectual life for the last two/three
centuries. My sense is that people do what they "want" to do. That is,
that actual behavior expresses the theory-in-use. If the self-conscious
part of my intellect perceives a conflict or dissonance between what I am
doing and what I "really want to do" this is a signal that I have not
examined why I do things. It is quite possible to hold opposing points of
view in the mind, but at any one moment it is not possible to act on both
of them. The laws of physics permit one but deny the other.
For me, personally, the conflict that matters most to me is the
persistence of evil. St. Augustine describes the paradox of stealing
apples from the neighbor's orchard; but stealing - reprehensible as it is
- does not begin to approach the level of gratuitous cruelty which
experience has caused me to expect from my fellow humans as an everyday
For a long time I held a belief that was based on a theory of mind, in
which habitual behavior was the consequence of a well-worn neurological
path of transmission. This would help to explain addiction behavior, and
the kind of problem you posed with the dieter who can't stop eating too
much. But every theory I have adopted over the course of my lifetime has
run up against the stone wall of evil.
There are many practices which can help a person shed the propensity for
evil; yet evil persists. I have been silent during the conversation on
values, because its drift is language-based. I can just hear many of the
participants asking "and just what do you mean by 'evil'?" and declaring
that different people understand 'evil' differently. To me, this is just
another example of the paradox we started out with. That part of me that
understands that the universe doesn't care about me or you understands
that evil is a human concept. It is a concept which describes a common
human experience... who would deny it? How does analysis help, when, in
my opinion, evil defies deconstruction?
Jack Hirschfeld How many years must some people exist firstname.lastname@example.org before they're allowed to be free?
Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <email@example.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>