Categories, Generalisations & Self-Hatred

Saturday, March 12th 2011

Many people divide things up into categories and then juxtapose the categories against each other.

"This is true"

"That is false"

"I believe this"

"I don't believe that"

"I like this"

"I don't like that"

Etc. Of course, it's often more subtle than that - but that will do to illustrate my point.

The basis for this categorisation is experience.

A good example is music. Some music resonates with a person's emotions and aesthetic sense. Some doesn't. The former is "good" music, the latter is "bad" music.

Again, more subtle categorisation also takes place. "Punk", "romantic", etc.

But what the person is really talking about are emotional responses. Both of which occur in the person's mind.

Invariably the the person identifies with one set of ideas that he feels good about (say, for instance, "atheism"), or at least finds intellectually satisfying. And juxtaposes those ideas against other opposing ideas ("religious belief") that he feels bad about or finds plain dumb. The opposing ideas will usually be identified with other people.

But the thoughts that are juxtaposed are both occurring in the person's mind.

As such, the emotions associated with both sets of ideas are taking place in the person's mind.

One set of ideas are "good", one set of ideas are "bad". The person wishes to identify with the "good" ideas. Yet he is having the "bad" ideas too. And this often sets off internal conflict. Self-hatred. But it masquerades as hatred (or fear) of the people or things associated with the ideas that are "bad", love of (or affinity with) the people or things who are "good".

Nationalism is an consequence of this sort of thinking, for instance. Battles between music fans.

"All Scotsmen are cheap"

"Australians are ..."

"Americans are fat"

"Conservatives are mean"

"Greenies are self-righteous"

"I hate Lady Gaga fans!"

"All Slayer fans are evil!"

Generalisations of this kind are dangerous. But generalisations are really just another form of category. People operate on the basis of generalisations, because people need categories to think about things, or at least communicate what they're thinking.

But categories are very clumsy. They are nearly always crude grids imposed on emotions without regard for more subtle variations.

As such, intellectual clarity comes from not identifying with aspects of your ideation but seeing it as a whole; as a load of clumsy categories interacting! Categories formed from emotional experience, such as listening to a song, or hearing a political diatribe, feelings of "good" or "bad" are there to be observed.

The intellectual sees this. The knowledgable person does not.

Now, you may have noticed that we have two categories there. To some: the intellectual - "good"; the knowledgeable person - "bad".

But, paradoxically, my point is that this sort of thinking problematic. Note that there is even an attempt ("my point") to identify with a thought!

And so we have a third category, "my actual point" which I am now identifying with.

And so you can can end up traversing your own thoughts in a ever decreasing recursive categorical loops. And now the question emerges: if you don't identify with any thoughts, do you really exist? As an observer, probably, as the loop itself?

For more go here:

Zombie loops!