Testing Intentions

“You’re testing me, aren’t you?” he said, to my surprise. I was. I was under the assumption that my attempts to provoke him were rather sophisticated. Indeed, I even know how to make men believe that it was their decision to leave me rather than mine (it minimises the risk of revenge). There we were, alone at a restaurant. I had spent the last few weeks with him, but there was always a lingering doubt, a distrust of his intentions and I wanted to find a way to offend him and expose the true depths of his personality, now, rather than later. I just called him a liar.

“No,” I said with my eyes, but I never actually said no. I just stared back at him in pity as rage began to overwhelm him. He was lying. He was being superficial to me, presenting himself inauthentically as an archetypal ‘nice guy’ masked under his real personality. I wanted to know his thoughts, his intentions, who he actually was and to see whether he was willing to converse, to talk things through, to use his mind. I see it all the time, in both men and women, women who have cheated on their oblivious boyfriends and yet delight in complimenting them knowing it will fool them from ever learning about their intentions, or conversely men who intentionally keep people in their lives who only compliment and nourish their egos, avoiding anyone who criticises them to mask their inherent narcissism. People are so good at lying that they actually believe their own lies, so why would I trust them?

After a past encountered with the worst sort of men, I made the decision to create barriers to those permitted into my private life, a gauntlet to test whether they could survive my moral onslaught and prove the integrity of their intentions, to see if they would turn and walk the other way, to see how angry they would get, if they would lie about me, if they would get others involved, whether their ego is more important than reason.

They all fail miserably.

So what is the morality behind testing the intentions of others? Is it an honest practice, or a psychological one that mirrors my own intentions and sets people to fail by default through impossible standards? Is it a form of lying? Would observational analysis suffice, where I simply wait over a period of time before obtaining enough experiences to catalogue justifications that would hold others accountable? Or does the swift testing mechanism early in the relationship enable one to protect themselves from forming emotional attachments to bad friends?

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Powerful Change In Me

Something is happening to me and I cannot fully grasp what I am feeling, a combination of exhilaration and depression, of intellectual maturity and madness all at the same time. I am at the very beginning stage of what I feel must be a transformation. A seed has been planted. I have decided that I will remove myself for the entire month of December, to patiently assess this change in solitude and silence, to fast and abstain and deeply re-think the course of my own trajectory and the meaning of my own existence.

After being caught for so long in my own subjective landscape, trapped by powerful emotions, self-pity and indulgence, I feel as though I am ready to courageously seek my ‘purpose’ and it was through my travels to Syria/Turkey that this was awakened. I was so overwhelmed by what I saw, the profound violence and hardship, people with cancer from chemical bombings, men without limbs, women and children burned, so much death, horror and misery. It was abysmal and I underestimated the impact seeing what I saw of the Syrian war would have on me.

In my anxiety, I gave away all my money, could not sleep, felt emotionally hopeless and despairing and that shows to me a short, sharp failure at doing what I should have been doing. It mirrored, for the first time, the meaning of my life because I realised I was not doing what I should have been for a very long time. The question is, what was it that I should be doing? I need time and self-reflection to answer that.

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The Paradox of Empathy: Is Good Behaviour Selfish?

Most everyone agrees that a just society promotes equality among its citizens, but blood is spilled over what sort of equality is morally preferable ~ Paul Bloom

Honour is a rather fickle word. As one raised in a country that promotes the individual character, I find the tribalism and public shaming aroused by the misconceptions surrounding honour to be incredibly confronting, particularly since it allows biased men to believe they are permitted or authorised to behave badly, especially towards women. Honour killings, acid throwing, FGM to name a few. Gangs that deal drugs and commit heinous crimes still have a code of “honour” between them and so it raises the question on whether the idea of honour is just moral romanticism. Honour is one of many words – including empathy and love – that we need to question. If we think about extreme political violence and the dehumanisation of groups of people, such as when millions were murdered during the holocaust, it was the false propaganda used against them that targeted empathy – Jews were “bad” because they hurt children and stole money – and so it was empathy that allowed the entire population to believe that they were doing the right thing by killing the “bad” people.

Psychopaths are incredibly successful in manipulating and targeting the empathy in others in order to obtain a desired and often violent outcome, but far greater in our society is the narcissist that – while mostly nonviolent – often target those who are highly empathetic knowing that performing on social cues, they will receive what they desire in return. If a narcissist only cares about admiration, money, sex, and freedom or entertainment, their true character is easily exposed by taking away the very thing they seek and so they become enraged, vengeful and malicious. Narcissists are the individual equivalent to political entities who dehumanise groups, because they do not actually care about others unless they obtain something from them and in the process dehumanise the worth of the other person.

There is a word in Turkish that hasn’t the English equivalent called vicdansız and it translates to someone who is unconscionable, yet, unlike this lack of conscience used to explain psychopaths in criminal law, vicdansız is a type of remorseless behaviour where someone is unable to see their own wrongdoing in all situations, not just criminal and therefore more aligned with narcissism. I realised, however, that an empathetic person who intends to do and seek goodness can actually do more damage without realising, perhaps while assuming they are doing good in much the same way as a narcissist is often unaware. As such, there is a distinction between ethical behaviour and selfish behaviour that needs to be addressed. A good action with selfish intentions does not necessarily undermine the good act, but it resists the authenticity of the act making it ethical, yes, but selfish at the same time. What does that exactly mean?

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Brentano: On New Beginnings

The phenomena revealed by inner perception are also subject to laws. The laws of coexistence and succession of mental phenomena remain the object of investigation even for those who deny psychology any knowledge of the soul.

As a law student, I was called The Lioness because it was obvious that within me burnt the fierce fire of justice. My commitment to righteousness can be so intense that I would not hesitate to fight to the death for it, to remain alone, lose the people that I love, all my material objects, even my own life. From large scale offenses to very minute actions, goodness and good behaviour matters to me.

In some cases, however, my interpretation of some of these offenses have been incorrect. My own psychological perceptions become exhausted and embedded into the interpretation that confuse what I may call an offense with something that I personally find offensive, two very different realities. How can we understand the difference between this subjectivity and objective reality, to separate ourselves and our personal interpretations with universal concepts of justice and righteousness?

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Feminism and the False Prophetess

There is an assault on the rights of women, a very selective and hidden form of sexism where men who now call themselves feminists are tolerating and approving that women have the right to perform plastic surgery, wear expensive clothing, and have an appetite for social vanity. The rights of a specific type of woman. While freedom is indeed a human right that permits the individual the right to expression without discrimination, can there be permissible limitations when both men and women are undermining the authenticity of the purpose behind the movement?

Contemporary western culture is completely immersed in capitalism, where the acquisition and exchange of commodities has shaped our identity and even our perceptions of reality. When a person acquires commodities that are desirable as regulated by the market, they appear to be a certain type of person and by attaining this image they are happy. This image that we are motivated to reach towards is engineered to appear as desirable by capitalism and thus it regulates social relations and how we understand and define the qualities and characteristics of people. Read More

Ibn Hazm: On The Sensation Of Love

 Love exercises an effective authority, a decisive sovereignty over the soul! 

Its commands cannot be opposed, its ordinances may not be flouted, its rule is not to be transgressed. It demands unwavering obedience, and against its dominion there is no appeal.

Love untwists the firmest plaits, and looses the tightest strands. It dissolves that which is most solid, undoes that which is most firm. It penetrates the deepest recesses of the heart and makes lawful things most strictly forbidden. 

For Rene Descartes, existence can be explained by the Cogito or ‘I think therefore I am’ and that despite no real guarantee that our perceptions of reality are authentic, the mere fact that we have a thought is enough to prove that we exist. However, the authenticity of this ‘thought’ or the reality of our perceptions and beliefs are indeed more relevant than a mere mental transaction, otherwise what is existence if we simply absorb and repeat information like mindless drones?

For me, existence is only real through love or moral consciousness, that the mind and body – extension and thought – as two distinct entities merge when we experience empathy. Unity is impossible without first separating yourself and like a switch, we are awakened to begin individually experiencing the external world and thus uniting with it. However, our socially constructed understanding of love enable people to posture archetypes of love and undermine the authenticity of the experience.

These sensations of experience are merely reflections of our own subjective reality and until we become conscious of why we experience those sensations, not only are we not essentially ‘alive’ but we are not experiencing love. Would Ibn Hazm agree? Read More