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So, she said, have i got a little story for you…

People are generally bad at self-control. They do what they want instead of what they should do (and supposedly they know they should) because they can’t hold themselves. Their whims or desires or whatever it is gets hold of ’em and off they go.

That’s the standard blurb, but to me it just doesn’t make any sense.

Precisely, i can’t accept that people have this kind of daemon inside themselves, a piece of themselves that somehow wants something different than they. If someone does something they don’t want to, to me it just means they want and also have a reason to pretend they don’t.

Obviously, there are all sorts of circumstances, specially in our hipocrisy-fueled society, where it is perfectly sane to do both. I also assume there are lots of cases where the person comes to sincerely believe that she does not want what she wants, though the wanting itself remains in charge always and that in turn leads to all sorts of troubles.

No problem. That there are many options and the person gets undecided does not mean that there is a “want” and a “reason” inside her.

Say someone is enraged, and thus does something violent that will later backlash on her. That’s not to say that she did not want to strike. It means that striking was a risky proposition. But risk is not a problem of self-control. It is a decision problem in the face of uncertainty. Thus wanting and knowing are not important there.

Even more curious, in the light of game theory, striking is an action with positive consequences on prisioner type circumstances. That is, striking does lead to better results because it stablishes that being uncoperative is not acceptable. More importantly, it is rational to always strike, and even more, to strike or not irrespective of whether it has advantages to you. If you only strike when you can get something out of it you do not stablish any standards of behaviour.

Thus, it seems getting enraged sometimes and doing some brash things, is not a lack of control, but instead perfect control, and control in the long run.

The problem, it seems, is that “reason” is not taken to be “acting sensibly” but act according to rules. Rules are useful sometimes, but following them blindly cannot be rational. Reason must include adapting to circumstances. How could it not?

It seems we are face to face with a classic dualism. But it is taken for granted, that people are bad at self-control, and this assumption runs way too deep in our thinking. How deep, precisely, does not fit the margin.

Posted by Wordmobi

One Comment

  1. Doubt that.

    The reason for forcing oneself to do something he really do not want even in a long term is threat from human.


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