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Self Deception Philosophy
Start your review of Self-Deception Unmasked. Sep 02, Tim rated it really liked it Shelves: , nonfiction , philosophy , psychology. Short but interesting philosophical investigation into the possibility as to whether people can willingly pull the wool down over their eyes as opposed to merely being mistaken in their beliefs. The author breaks self-deception down into two types which he refers to as the straight version and the twisted version. The straight form occurs when we believe something because we want it to be true and the twisted version occurs when we believe something even though we want it to be false.
The first part of the book examines the way that a desired conclusion has the potential to alter the way we evaluate information. The role of emotions in introducing bias into our thinking is also considered. One of the factors the author examines is something he calls the confidence threshold. One might assume that when evaluating the pros and cons of any particular position, we start with the assumption that there is a fifty percent chance that it is true and a fifty percent chance that it is false.
We inhabit a neutral middle ground where we can dispassionately look at all the information available to us. If we were machines this might be the case. The author argues for the position that people do not knowingly deceive themselves, what he refers to a nonagency as opposed to an agency view.
Though he spends an entire chapter dismantling arguments that people do willingly and consciously deceive themselves, at the end of the book I still found myself less than convinced. It seems to me if you are heavily invested in something — a relationship, for example — you might intentionally overlook things that an impartial observer would not.
All of the examples the author uses in this book deal with interpersonal relationships but one could apply the concepts and explanations outlined here in any situation where opposing points of view have to be assessed. It's a good idea to hold our assumptions, inclinations, and beliefs up to the light every now and then to turn them this way and that and see how they hold up. After all, none of us were born with a perfect understanding of life and none of us have a perfect understanding of it now. As Muhammad Ali once said: 'The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.
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