Some sort of summary

Binary thinking is necessary. Assumptions are useful. Generalization is a powerful tool. Judgements on good and bad behavior are indispensable. Some apparently opposed thoughts are not mutually exclusive.

Many of our instincts are healthy. Some need a little work. Culture can improve or pervert nature, but it can’t eliminate it. It’s normal to prefer what is close and similar. It’s also normal to be curious about the distant and alien.

Fear is natural. Love is natural. Hate is natural. Rage, lust, and stupidity are natural. How we understand and express our nature is a product of nature and culture.

Good people can be made better or worse by education and influence. Bad people can be made better or worse by education and influence. Good and bad people will always, in some ways, be who they are regardless of education and influence.

Fighting power is like lopping the head off a hydra. One tyrant is gone and ten more spring up to take its place. People need to revere and they need to revile. We don’t agree on the good, but we can’t coherently maintain that there is no such thing. We don’t agree on the truth, but we can’t coherently maintain that there is no such thing.

Politically, preventing the worst is more prudent than striving after the best. Privately, the opposite holds. The distinction between the political and the private is fundamental. The state can protect you from hostile forces; it cannot guarantee your happiness and prosperity.

You are never owed anything. At best, you will be valued for what you contribute to others. Great producers and creators appear on the surface to be selfish, even megalomaniacal, but the fruits of their labors benefit everyone. They work and create for the common good.

The creativity and productivity of one person is not a limit on your own. One person’s happiness does not detract from yours.

Seek to understand before you slavishly desire change.

All things are suffused with irony. Everyone contradicts themselves. It’s fun to notice this and to point it out. Don’t think it’s not happening to you. Laugh at yourself, improve everyday but don’t obsess over flaws and failings.

Easier said than done.

Author: The Empty Subject

Born curmudgeon

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