Monday, April 23, 2007

Is-Ought and Fact-Value

Triessentialism answers two of Hume's most interesting dilemmas, the fact-value distinction and the is-ought problem. Both of these highlight how emotions are a differeny type of thing from either the physical reality or from logic.

Is and ought are different on a fundamental level. Is describes physical reality, the (logical) words to describe it, and possibly the (emotional) reaction to it. Ought describes only an emotion, either an Identity (at a certain time in the future, this is what will be) or an Imperative. Imperatives are the emotions behind words like "should" and "ought", as well as "want", "need", and "must". "You ought to behave!" might be restated as "I want you to behave" or "you need to behave". "I'd like to" is a cautious or polite form of "I want".

Facts and values are also fundamentally different. Facts are logical descriptions of other things, while values are the emotional equivalent. Computers, which have no emotions, cannot say whether a thing is good or bad, only whether it is true or false, accurate or flawed. Animals cannot say whether a thing is true or false, only whether it considers it a good or a bad thing.

The tricky part is that you can state a fact about an emotion, just as you can state a fact about a thing or another fact. I can state in English that those Wikipedia articles are both true and good, but I've just stated in one sentence both a theoretically verifiable fact and a subjective valuation.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Ouchy Fear and Worry Fear

As those of you who know me IRL already know, before I called it "Triessentialism," I called it "the three-thing." I don't tend toward fancy labels in general, because I'd rather use simple, easy-to-understand terminology, unless the wordier verbiage has a more accurate meaning.

That being said, I've recently discovered (when God pointed it out to me to resolve several personal emotional crises) a difference between two types of fear.

I call them Ouchy Fear and Worry Fear.

Both were used to abusively control me, both were causes of my procrastination, and both kept me from loving God.

Ouchy Fear is anticipation of pain, discomfort, bodily harm, or forseeable death. In its milder forms, it makes us wipe public toilets with tissue paper before sitting on them, it makes us put on a hat and coat before going out in the cold, it makes us flinch at loud noises or unexpected physical events.

In its more severe forms, it triggers a fight-or-flight response when someone threatens us. On September 11, 2001, the passengers of United Flight 93 had to overcome the fear of scary men with utility knives (razor blades) in order to prevent the plane's use as a flying bomb. It is this fear we feel when se see a gun in someone's hand.

In its more insidious forms, Ouchy Fear can manifest as a desire not to do something mildly uncomfortable, such as paperwork (taxes, anyone?). More often, Ouchy Fear is the reason we avoid boring tasks; we instinctively feel that boredom is painful. Daily chores, daily commute, daily bathing, daily mail retrieval from a mailbox twenty steps away, all get procrastinated, just because we fear the pain of boredom.

In its controlling, abusive forms, Ouchy Fear is the anticipation of being punished. By your man, for not giving him respect, woman! By your father, for being bad! By your mother, for being a failure! By your God, for being a shameful, shameful sinner.

Shame, by the way, is the feeling that you deserve to be hit; when you are shamed, you are put into bondage to Ouchy Fear.

I consider Ouchy Fear an animal reaction; animals also fear pain. Police horses and Army dogs must be trained to remain calm or controlled at loud noises. It is present in the pack dynamics (herd, hive) of human social groups.

Ouchy Fear is the face of danger.

Worry Fear is the more abstract fear. Some of you know it as "what if?"

What if my house burns down? What if my car stops working? What if I get sick and lose my job? What if he's sleeping with another woman? What if she's pregnant? What if I lose the baby? What if? What if? What if?

The brain is really good at simulating; that's how Major League batters can hit 90-MPH fastballs; that's how people can design a Lunar Landing with slide rules and paper, then fix it mid-flight with minimal resources (Apollo 13, folks).

Masquerading as a realistic scenario, the Worry Fear latches on to What Can Go Wrong to tell a story, a drama, a tale of loss and woe. Perhaps it's to relive (and attempt to resolve) the sudden loss of a loved one, perhaps a parent or a child.

Perhaps it's legitimately a warning of not having thought through a plan enough. Perhaps it's telling you that you aren't ready for this challenge, you aren't ready to climb that mountain.

Perhaps it's fear of success; I've made it to the top, but What If someone tries to knock me off?

What if, after all the Church has told me about God's total forgiveness through Jesus Christ's perfect sacrifice on Good Friday, What If it's all about how much my works please Him after all?

What if God allows my computer to crash before I can post thi$^@#^%=========^null;error

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