I get it. This is really important to you. Honestly, I get it.
Your face tells the whole story. Tight. Scrunched up. Your eyes are so intense they demand my full attention. Then there’s your words. Hot. Demanding.
You believe them with such intensity, that I can’t help but be pulled in. Your emotions are on high alert. Passion. Somewhere between rage and disgust. This is all that matters. Black and white. Right and wrong.
But honestly? Really? I think we need to take a moment.
Let things settle. Just breathe. (Take your time. I’ll be right here. 30 minutes is reasonable, but more is cool too.)
Now that we are both being a little less emotional, a little less reactive, and a little more rational, let’s discuss.
How do you know you are being honest with yourself when you are overcome with emotion?
You don’t. Emotions don’t communicate honesty. (I think they communicate subjective value, and therefore, some subjective truth)
So, if everyone’s emotions are on full blast all the time, how do we know anything with certainty?
We don’t. Welcome to the Post Truth World.
Don’t get played.
Don’t get provoked.
Be honest with your self first.
We’ve got to define honesty.
For me, I know I’m being intellectually honest with my self when I can state the exact circumstances I would give up that “cherished belief”.
In detail. That takes quiet, and solitude for me to define. 1
Death is also a good starting point but, your mileage may vary. This is known as the Stoic principle of Amore Fati.
It goes like this: I’m willing to “give my life right now” for “for your vote” on my “world peace initiative”.
It must include four things:
- Who you are.
- What you believe.
- What you will give for your beliefs.
- When you will give it.
“Intellectual honesty consists in stating the precise conditions under which one will give up one’s belief.” Imre Lakatos
This is real intellectual honesty.
Anything less is really nice, warm, fluffy air.
(Just think how sick we all are of “thoughts and prayers.”)
In summary, I’d like to propose this:
- Yes, I do judge you.
- But, be honest, you judge me too.
- “It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson ↩