Risto Juola
Ab absurdo, ad libertatem.
Previous   |   Next       

Self-Fulfilling Hypotheses


Dec 16, 2009


The danger of the self-fulfilling hypothesis consists in the human condition of processing experiential data through the lens of shallow and undeveloped personal social theories, and avoiding the struggle associated with working upwards from observational data toward the construction of critically supported hypotheses. As such, an observer's ability to perceive and synthesize information is directly proportional to the freedom of activity that their self-esteem permits. If unconcerned with sources, and bent on the endless platitudes of haughty verbiage, spiteful professionalization, and the multiform recasting and rebroadcasting of stolen "accomplishments," then there is little freedom of mental opportunity for the introduction of new modes of accomplishment that might require the development of hitherto unfamiliar analytic approaches and critical processes of reasoning. In this way self-fulfilling hypotheses generate self-limiting systems that progressively narrow the capacity of the thinker. What should be crucial aspects of being and unification become instead reflexive expressions of self-congratulation and self-segregation, and thus the polytropic is reduced to the monomanic.

As a consequence of poor self-esteem, any highly capable person may willfully relegate themselves to a realm of subjective intellection that is not simply tainted by a handful of inaccurate representations, but is only very loosely connected to the underlying realities of the world. Such a person may have a well developed functional understanding of their environment, but will place arbitrary limitations on their own understanding and honesty by permitting the fear of socially unacceptable "mistakes" to govern their activities. Self-esteem loves maintenance. Stability adores ignorance.

As regards the human species as a whole, self-fulfilling hypotheses are inescapable and are therefore a matter of degree; it is quite simply an impossible task to understand the complex interactions giving rise to the set of all beliefs one accepts as axiomatic. However, as regards the middling classes of the first world nations of the human species, what it is possible to understand are the simple but nonetheless powerful role of Hollywood archetypes in the definition and self-certification of self-fulfilling hypotheses. Does Hollywood imitate life, or does life imitate Hollywood? (Here again is Euthyphro's dilemma, and the question of normative/descriptive primacy.) Just as individual cable news programs generate a completely inaccurate representation of political opportunity, so does Hollywood at large generate a completely inaccurate representation of all opportunity. For a person to believe they are well informed because they invest widely in a broad array of Hollywood sources is to ignore the fact that no matter how "wide" the hourly expenditure of passive inaction is, their entire investment is isolated to a single medium. Regardless of the medium, is this an intelligent investment strategy? Strategically speaking, does the pinnacle of personal achievement consist in adjusting oneself to the unreal reality of that medium; to arbitrary salaries and obligations, domineering social and political structures, and the false dichotomy of "work-life balance"? Does the fact that these adjustments and limitations are in some significant sense self-imposed mitigate the fact that they are disrespectful of oneself and thus disrespectful of everyone the self-imposer interacts with? The idea is nonsensical. How can a person interact honestly with others unless they are first honest with themselves? They can't.

Respect for one's own beliefs requires respect for the beliefs of others, and "[r]espect for others' beliefs ... can mean only one of two things: ... either we treat the other in a patronising way and avoid hurting him in order not to ruin his illusions, or we ... treat them as serious adults responsible for their beliefs." Here one finds the answer to how they must treat themselves, and how they must treat the outcomes of any adjustments they permit themselves to undertake. This, dear reader, applies especially to every human that will ever exist, and hence to you and I.

Now ask yourself: What do I want and why do I want it? What is my relationship to the past, and to the future of the world?

Now answer.


Part of the series: Zwingli