Human Narcissism

BobSpence
High Level DonorRational VIP!ScientistWebsite Admin
BobSpence's picture
Posts: 5810
Joined: 2006-02-14
User is offlineOffline
Human Narcissism

This topic came out of a private Skype discussion with Brian37.

So much of human thought has been dominated by the unthinking assumption of the special place of humanity in the Universe.

There has been progressive wind-back of the conclusions following from this, such as the idea of Earth being at the center of the Universe, or that the Solar System was in some central place amongst the stars, or that we were specially created, or that the Universe was created for us, and we can live forever if we suck up to imagined creator of the universe, etc.

There are two passages from Shakespeare which came to mind that paint a very different picture of the importance and significance of human life and our achievements, which we felt present far more realistic assessments of our situation, as well as being very deeply moving passages in themselves.

From Macbeth, the more pessimistic view:

Quote:

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,

Creeps in this petty pace from day to day

To the last syllable of recorded time,

And all our yesterdays have lighted fools

The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!

Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage

And then is heard no more: it is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.

From The Tempest:

Quote:

 

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,

As I foretold you, were all spirits and

Are melted into air, into thin air:

And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,

The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,

The solemn temples, the great globe itself,

Ye all which it inherit, shall dissolve

And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,

Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff

As dreams are made on, and our little life

Is rounded with a sleep.

 

Comments from the 'groundlings'?

 

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


treat2 (not verified)
Posts: 4294964979
Joined: 1969-12-31
User is offlineOffline
So what. I love to blog and

So what. I love to blog and put vids of myself ranting at nobody on utube every day. I also love mirrors.


jcgadfly
SuperfanBronze Member
Posts: 6789
Joined: 2006-07-18
User is offlineOffline
Well, I can't say to much

Well, I can't say too much about the Scottish Play except I love the passage and want to do the show (I'm posting from a theatre and I'm unsure about the superstition and the internet.)

Just finished The Tempest and heard tha passage pronounced skillfully by our Prospero.

"I do this real moron thing, and it's called thinking. And apparently I'm not a very good American because I like to form my own opinions."
— George Carlin


Brian37
atheistSuperfan
Brian37's picture
Posts: 13547
Joined: 2006-02-14
User is offlineOffline
It makes one wonder what

It makes one wonder what people, if the societies of the time, were open enough to allow those in power or fame, to be honest about their beliefs.

It makes me wonder if he had our current knowledge of science, if he would have been an atheist himself, you can conclude that he certainly was open to questioning, even the meaning of life.

I am still to this day amazed that he got away with writing that and having it performed during an age of blasphemy laws.

How forward thinking that was for it's time.

One of my other favorite plays, was Plato's Apology which in Socrates was arrested and convicted and sentenced to death for "corrupting the youth of Athens" because he was teaching them to question authority.

I find Shakespeare extremely hard to read compared to the ancient greeks. BUT I do love both these lines and they do display the rightful healthy skepticism that has lead the world out of the caves.

It is a shame that public schools today are more concerned about baby sitting and social equality than actually requiring this kind of reading, and even if they do, not enough students, teachers or society care about students understanding the importance of his works.

 

 

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
Check out my poetry here on Rational Responders Like my poetry thread on Facebook under BrianJames Rational Poet also on twitter under Brianrrs37


treat2 (not verified)
Posts: 4294964979
Joined: 1969-12-31
User is offlineOffline
If you find Shakespeare

If you find Shakespeare extremely hard to read, wait till you try reading Chaucer in Middle English in College English 101.


triften
Silver Member
triften's picture
Posts: 591
Joined: 2007-01-01
User is offlineOffline
Narcissism seems,

Narcissism seems, unfortunately, to be selected for by our environment. Those who aren't self-centered enough end up with fewer resources for breeding and surviving and what-not.

-Triften


Cpt_pineapple
atheist
Cpt_pineapple's picture
Posts: 5486
Joined: 2007-04-12
User is onlineOnline
jcgadfly wrote:Well, I can't

jcgadfly wrote:

Well, I can't say too much about the Scottish Play except I love the passage and want to do the show (I'm posting from a theatre and I'm unsure about the superstition and the internet.)

 

Hehe, when I was reading the Scottish play in grade 11, one time in gym I slipped on ice and busted my head open. I required a couple stitches.

 

 

 

 


HisWillness
atheistRational VIP!
HisWillness's picture
Posts: 4100
Joined: 2008-02-21
User is offlineOffline
Oh, the both of you stop

Oh, the both of you stop it.

MacBeth MacBeth MacBeeeeeeeeeth!!


HisWillness
atheistRational VIP!
HisWillness's picture
Posts: 4100
Joined: 2008-02-21
User is offlineOffline
treat2 wrote:So what. I love

treat2 wrote:
So what. I love to blog and put vids of myself ranting at nobody on utube every day. I also love mirrors.


Not quite Shakespeare, though, is it?

Saint Will: no gyration without funkstification.
fabulae! nil satis firmi video quam ob rem accipere hunc mi expediat metum. - Terence


Cpt_pineapple
atheist
Cpt_pineapple's picture
Posts: 5486
Joined: 2007-04-12
User is onlineOnline
Now Will is gonna get an ice

Now Will is gonna get an ice cream headache.

 

As for the topic, I think that fact we get a life on some microscopic insignificant part of the universe on a rock zooming across space for an miniscule amount of cosmic time is pretty amazing.

 

 

 

 


HisWillness
atheistRational VIP!
HisWillness's picture
Posts: 4100
Joined: 2008-02-21
User is offlineOffline
Cpt_pineapple wrote:As for

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

As for the topic, I think that fact we get a life on some microscopic insignificant part of the universe on a rock zooming across space for an miniscule amount of cosmic time is pretty amazing.

That's more of what Bob's saying, though. We have a tendency to make ourselves important, and to see Jesus in a piece of toast. Our survival has rested upon us finding significance in things, but now we have an opportunity to move beyond that, to a place where we know that we're on a rock and that this whole thing is a limited time offer for us.

I've been thinking about the same thing, after having to read all that Platonic thought. It's a meme that's over 2,000 years old, this exactly-backwards notion of the universe. I mean, it's intuitive, but it's exactly wrong. Exactly wrong! That's the measure of intuition when set next to scientific inquiry. Not all that reliable, it seems. But intuition flatters our vanity, and that vanity is a deep weakness.

It's amazing that we've been thinking in precisely the wrong direction for that long simply because of vanity. But it's not surprising.

Saint Will: no gyration without funkstification.
fabulae! nil satis firmi video quam ob rem accipere hunc mi expediat metum. - Terence


treat2 (not verified)
Posts: 4294964979
Joined: 1969-12-31
User is offlineOffline
BobSpence1 wrote:....much of

BobSpence1 wrote:
....much of human thought has been dominated by the unthinking assumption of the special place of humanity in the Universe...

From a socio-political perspective what it boils down to is the creation of a means of power / control over
others.

Granted, control / power have been manifested in many ways.

I leave the rest for comment.


HisWillness
atheistRational VIP!
HisWillness's picture
Posts: 4100
Joined: 2008-02-21
User is offlineOffline
treat2 wrote:From a

treat2 wrote:
From a socio-political perspective what it boils down to is the creation of a means of power / control over others.

Oh, look who's contributing actual content! I'd have to agree, much of superstitious ritualistic narcissism is based on control issues.

treat2 wrote:
I leave the rest for comment.

You're on a message board, so of course the rest is for comment.

Saint Will: no gyration without funkstification.
fabulae! nil satis firmi video quam ob rem accipere hunc mi expediat metum. - Terence


BobSpence
High Level DonorRational VIP!ScientistWebsite Admin
BobSpence's picture
Posts: 5810
Joined: 2006-02-14
User is offlineOffline
What caught me almost by

What caught me almost by surprise when I started to read those passages out loud for Brian, is how profoundly they affected me, the whole bit, catch in the throat, tears to the eyes. 

 

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


treat2 (not verified)
Posts: 4294964979
Joined: 1969-12-31
User is offlineOffline
OH!!!! YOUR SO BIG!!!! Pull

OH!!!! YOUR SO BIG!!!!
Pull it out now!

Your REALLY hurting me!


butterbattle
ModeratorSuperfan
butterbattle's picture
Posts: 3705
Joined: 2008-09-12
User is offlineOffline
Brian37 wrote:One of my

Brian37 wrote:

One of my other favorite plays, was Plato's Apology which in Socrates was arrested and convicted and sentenced to death for "corrupting the youth of Athens" because he was teaching them to question authority.

I enjoyed that too. Unfortunately, by the point in the story where Socrates was in jail, the Phaedo, Plato had begun to incorporate his "forms" and other weird crap.

 

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


jcgadfly
SuperfanBronze Member
Posts: 6789
Joined: 2006-07-18
User is offlineOffline
HisWillness wrote:Oh, the

HisWillness wrote:

Oh, the both of you stop it.

MacBeth MacBeth MacBeeeeeeeeeth!!

I have no problem saying Macbeth when I'm not in the theatre - I just respect the superstition when I'm around theatre folk in their house (I am one, after all).

It does make for fun moments though - One year Macbeth was part of our season and one of our actors had to mention it from the stage before She Stoops to Conquer.

He played hesitation and then used "Shakespeare's Scottish play". Most of the house got the idea.

"I do this real moron thing, and it's called thinking. And apparently I'm not a very good American because I like to form my own opinions."
— George Carlin


EXC
atheist
EXC's picture
Posts: 3135
Joined: 2008-01-17
User is offlineOffline
I think the ultimate in

I think the ultimate in Narcissism is Christians that 'believe' God has created a special place for them in heaven. The 'true believers' don't just all get the same treatment when you arrive. They get a special room prepared especially for each one. They just have to put on an act of false modesty while here on earth in order to get it. And God has prepared a lot of special things for you here on earth as well.

And the people that don't believe as you do, well they get a special place in hell prepared especially for them.

“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.” Seneca


triften
Silver Member
triften's picture
Posts: 591
Joined: 2007-01-01
User is offlineOffline
EXC wrote:I think the

EXC wrote:

I think the ultimate in Narcissism is Christians that 'believe' God has created a special place for them in heaven. The 'true believers' don't just all get the same treatment when you arrive. They get a special room prepared especially for each one. They just have to put on an act of false modesty while here on earth in order to get it. And God has prepared a lot of special things for you here on earth as well.

And the people that don't believe as you do, well they get a special place in hell prepared especially for them.

Strawman (based heavily on empirical data): "You atheists are so arrogant, you think you know everything! Don't you realize that the creator of the universe made all of this just for us and intervenes in our lives on a regular basis!"

-Triften


EXC
atheist
EXC's picture
Posts: 3135
Joined: 2008-01-17
User is offlineOffline
triften wrote:Strawman

triften wrote:

Strawman (based heavily on empirical data): "You atheists are so arrogant, you think you know everything! Don't you realize that the creator of the universe made all of this just for us and intervenes in our lives on a regular basis!"

-Triften

A strawman is usually a made up entity to attack. But in the Theist case, God could be a made up entity to be the object of one's narcissism? An 'strawman' object of love and worship so as to not appear arrogant?

The hard-core religious people I've know seem to either be highly narcissistic(I'm so special to God and so enlightened) or self-haters(full of guilt, fear, anxiety). Protestantism seems to attract/produce the former while Catholicism the later.

“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.” Seneca


Luminon
SuperfanTheist
Luminon's picture
Posts: 2455
Joined: 2008-02-17
User is offlineOffline
I do not have a problem with

I do not have a problem with considering the humanity as the fucking best known thing in the universe. Why not? The real problem is, that it is a lie, until we start to behave like that and really become perfected, godlike men and women, each or the most of us. So let's get to work, it won't happen by itself or immediately. We're already halfway, from the monkeys, that's not so bad.

Beings who deserve worship don't demand it. Beings who demand worship don't deserve it.


EXC
atheist
EXC's picture
Posts: 3135
Joined: 2008-01-17
User is offlineOffline
Luminon wrote: We're

Luminon wrote:

 We're already halfway, from the monkeys, that's not so bad.

More like only 1% difference if you're looking at DNA. That's not good.

“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.” Seneca


BobSpence
High Level DonorRational VIP!ScientistWebsite Admin
BobSpence's picture
Posts: 5810
Joined: 2006-02-14
User is offlineOffline
Luminon wrote:I do not have

Luminon wrote:

I do not have a problem with considering the humanity as the fucking best known thing in the universe. Why not? The real problem is, that it is a lie, until we start to behave like that and really become perfected, godlike men and women, each or the most of us. So let's get to work, it won't happen by itself or immediately. We're already halfway, from the monkeys, that's not so bad.

Halfway from the monkeys to what? That doesn't make sense unless you have some assumed 'target' in mind.

The idea of us being 'perfected' is all but meaningless, without context. Against what standard? I guess you have this same target in mind. One can plausibly match some set of criteria 'perfectly', but that would not make us 'perfect' in any absolute sense.

What would define a state of 'perfection', in our case?

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


Luminon
SuperfanTheist
Luminon's picture
Posts: 2455
Joined: 2008-02-17
User is offlineOffline
BobSpence1 wrote:Halfway

BobSpence1 wrote:

Halfway from the monkeys to what? That doesn't make sense unless you have some assumed 'target' in mind.

The idea of us being 'perfected' is all but meaningless, without context. Against what standard? I guess you have this same target in mind. One can plausibly match some set of criteria 'perfectly', but that would not make us 'perfect' in any absolute sense.

What would define a state of 'perfection', in our case?

The 'halfway' term is metaphorical, true only for the humanity in average, but it's better in developed countries. But what? The consciousness, of course. All the fuss why are we here, is about the evolution of consciousness. We have very little of records about the consciousness of earlier people millenia ago, we've got mainly writings of intellectuals, so it's a bit misleading. But Old Testament is a good example of what people once were like almost everywhere, or worse.

Today there are signs, that humanity as a whole is maturing. There are global peace, charity and ecology movements, which is something extraordinary. And the Internet. Why is this consciousness thing so important? Because we're like 10-15 years from irreversible climate change, which can trigger another global war, etc. We're also very close to the worldwide economic collapse. (which I will celebrate) The year 2009 promises a massacre among old institutions and corporations. We're globally in a deep shit, but we also can get a basis of a new, better civilization if we overcome the crises. The level of consciousness is, what makes the difference.

As for the measurement of consciousness, that's too esoteric for me to explain succesfully. But let's say that there are millions of people worldwide, who are rather near to such a point, that their consciousness, compared to a common modern man, is like a modern man compared to a caveman. There is a relative point in which a human can be seen as 'perfect', but that's too esoteric again. What I mean are people conscious enough to actively participate on charity, public life, etc.
Such a people (and even more developed) are the creators of culture and the hope that can guide us through the crises of humanity's maturing.

Beings who deserve worship don't demand it. Beings who demand worship don't deserve it.