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Re: Confessions about love, relationships guilt and the world from a young sociopath.

Hi, Daniel--

Your letter is a good one which goes a
long way towards delineating not just your thoughts, but your
feelings about things as well.

I liked Before Sunrise at lot,
but Bridges of Madison County did not ring true for me. It seemed schmaltzy. Nevertheless, I see your point in referring to
those films: one can appreciate the intimacy of romantic love and see
the beauty in that intimacy without necessarily wanting to participate in it,
or even being able to participate in it. I had not heard that
idea from you in any of your previous posts, and so had been engaged
in using words to call forth in you exactly that appreciation, even though
romantic love was not really the focus of my interest, but rather the
kind of agape love which causes humans to care about
others, and so to embrace their human
weaknesses, instead of capitalizing on them. Now I see that my
efforts in that direction were probably unnecessary. You do grok it,
so it seems, but for you it ain't magic, and you probably wouldn't want to go there even if you could. I get that.

You are largely correct, I think, in
your analysis of the logical errors in my last letter. And I guess I
asked for such an analysis when I raised the subject of logical
mistakes by pointing to a category error in your views on love, but
my intention was not to move our conversation into a debate about
logical consistency. I have never tried, in this series of posts, to
mount a strictly logical argument aimed at convincing, but rather I have meant to evoke a
certain appreciation in you which I now see you already seem to have, at least in part.

For example, my mentioning the great
scientists' embrace of the mysterious nature of life was not,
as I see it, an an illogical appeal to authority, but
an attempt to show that some of the very best workers in the field do
not share your conviction that everything can be explained logically
or scientifically. I am sure you do not actually think that referencing
Eddington or Plank on the limitations of science is the same as
claiming Pat Robertson as an expert on contracts with Satan.
Eddington and Plank really are authorities on scientific
epistemology, so their views demand, at the very least, respectful

Now your present post contains a
paragraph with which you, having familiarized yourself with the
writing on my website, already know I agree. It is this one:

"To oversimplify things for the
sake of brevity (since I have already gone on way too long! :)), it
is my opinion that romantic love is a combination of emotions/drives
like lust, affection and care. The emotions are triggered by a
combination of stimuli, both inside and outside of the brain. The
magic neurochemical soup, which includes oxytocin and dopamine, gets
to churning and badda bing, badda bang, badda boom, you are in love,
madly, deeply, passionately. This magic soup and its aftermath
compels people to have sex, conceive babies and often even gets them
take care of the chaps until they enter that really ridiculous period
known as adolescence. And wouldn't you know it, all of this just
happens to coincide quite nicely with the propagation of the species!
Evolution at its finest! See doc, no magic, mystery or meaningfulness
is required to explain or talk about love. The glory and majesty of
love is no more or less real than any other emotional experience the
brain generates."

Yes. No problem there, Daniel. I am with you until
possibly the final sentence. There certainly must be an evolutionary
explanation for any human tendency, and a brain-chemical scenario for
any feeling or emotion. But for me--and apparently not you--that
explanation is not the end of the matter, but simply the
physical basis for a great mystery. I understand that you believe
there is no mystery--that all can be reduced to the "magic
soup"--and I admit there is not a logical refutation for that.
So you and I see things differently in this regard. But again, it was never romantic love that was the focus of my interest anyway, but the agape kind which is different, I think.

I was pleased that you moved beyond
logic when you said, "I see a mess wherever I look when I see
humans relating. Yes, I see laughter, joy, and even beauty. But I
also see ugliness, hypocrisy, self delusion and rampant stupidity as
well." I too see the hypocrisy and stupidity of human beings--(now is the time to reference Pat Robertson!)--and it ain't pretty.
But aren't hypocrisy and stupidity rather shallow kinds of ugliness
compared to the deep ugliness of the human predator who required
love and care to survive as a child, but now will not return the
favor? I don't mean you, Daniel, who, I understand, brings an
essential honesty to the project of living with yourself in some
reasonable way, but the kind of criminal psychopath who often writes
to "Doctor Robert," why I don't know.

As for attempting to outwit you,
Daniel, I would never even try. For one thing, you seem too well
armed--and too well fortified--for me to want to engage in such a battle. But even if I
thought I could somehow "win" (whatever that would mean) such a contest (likely to be
a Pyrrhic victory at best), I have no interest in that kind of
affair--neither with you nor with anyone else. I have my own
awareness--for what it is worth--and you have yours. One doesn't
trump the other, and cannot. In fact, exploring one another's awareness in
this way barely scratches the surface of our respective humanity, so how could a "victor"
ever be declared? Besides, compared to the immensity of the universe, what I know or you know is so tiny, so
limited, so paltry really. How could having a slightly larger share of that tiny
portion, the little we can know, ever become a source of

This, by the way, is not to depreciate the importance of this conversation which to me seems worthwhile and meaningful. In fact, a good friend of mine, a psychiatrist, psychotherapist, and Buddhist teacher whose views I respect, wrote to me that he thought the Forum, and particularly this thread, "has tapped into 'inner worlds' in a way that . . . face to face conversations cannot achieve without long periods of contact." If one is interested in inner worlds--and I know you are--that seems like a win-win.

Be well.


Re: Confessions about love, relationships guilt and the world from a young sociopath.

Good doctor:

Dr. Robert
Your letter is a good one which goes a long way towards delineating not just your thoughts, but your feelings about things as well.

Thank you. I started thinking the logic thing had reached a natural end point anyway.

Just to reiterate, I do get that people do feel a great deal. As you implied, it would be absurd to suppose all of you are faking everything you say you feel and believe. History would stop making sense if all of these strong emotions, including and especially those associated with love, did not really exist.

Let me give you a personal anecdote. Once upon a time, I was in the military. During one afternoon lunch period in boot camp, I remember having a small epiphany as I was standing in line waiting to reach the counter. I looked around and saw groups of my fellow inmates… I mean, recruits… sitting at their tables, following the rules handed down to us by our “superiors”. No talking, no horse play, eat quickly. I saw the recruits sneakily having whispered conversations, quietly disobeying those rules. I saw the officers in charge sitting at their table, talking loudly and raucously, enjoying themselves and seeming to revel in their “elevated” position in the hierarchy. I saw the differences in uniform. One group’s uniforms signifying their roles are superiors, the other group’s signifying their roles as inferiors, people who could and would be yelled at, disrespected and ordered about by the superiors. I saw that we all, officer and recruit alike, volunteered to put on these costumes and play these roles. And it hit me that it was all a joke. We were all playing a very elaborate game of make believe for adults. What’s more, I saw that this is how it is everywhere. It wasn’t just boot camp. It was Congress. It was corporate America. It was church. It was family. We are all playing these roles, and what’s more, I saw that we did not have to. It is our fear, among other, less potent motivations, that keeps us locked into the mass absurdity. We believe in rules that have no basis in any other space outside of the human brain. It’s like the rules of Monopoly, the board game. We agree to play by them, but once the game is done, we fold up the board, put the pieces and the cash away, and forget all about the rules that make the game possible. (Obviously I’m not original. This was long before I’d even heard of game theory.) But human society is one game that never, EVER ends. How would you feel if one morning you awoke, walked out of your home to face the day only to discover that everyone appears to be living and dying and killing by the rules of what you were raised to believe was only a board game? For me, the rules, the roles and the beliefs are all part of a game, one that is not real and is not important. But it appears that for most other people, the game is real. It’s all real to them and it all matters, including and especially who they believe themselves to be. Everything appears to hinge of their sense of identity (their roles). It’s so important in fact that they are willing to kill in the name of their rules and roles and make believe society. None of it has to cohere. It does not have to make sense even. It just has to be what they believe is true and right. It is the function of beliefs, not their veracity, that matters most.

That is my subjective experience of society around me. Again, I believe that most people are not being consciously disingenuous. To reiterate, I understand all too well that many people mean it from the depths of their being when they think, feel and believe certain things. All of the above is the very meaning of most people’s lives. But for me, these people I am referring to are like straw dogs, empty suits who confuse emotional depth with reality. They believe that what they think and what they feel is the be all to end all. They do not see the blind biology that makes their beliefs about themselves and their society possible. They most certainly refrain from any kind of sustained introspection. So naturally, they mistake their beliefs and feelings with fact and they surround themselves with others who will agree with them as a means of shoring up those beliefs, their yay-sayers. Why else would the average human ego be so fragile and so in need of constant validation if it were not comprised of mostly opinion, wish fulfillment and patterns of behavior acquired in childhood and repeated in what passes for adulthood? (In other words, hot air.) The smarter ones may see some of this in others but they can never see it in themselves because they believe that they and theirs, among all other groups, have somehow won the belief lottery: their beliefs are of course right and true and honorable! Their families, their religion, their country is what’s right and true and honorable. Their version of love is the real version, the right and true and honorable version. And what threatens a belief, a feeling, a sense of self in constant need of propping up? Other people, with their conflicting beliefs and feelings and senses of self of course, which explains the ubiquitous conflict of all types, found at all levels of society, from the nuclear family all the way up to the captains of industry and heads of state. In the name of love (of “soul mate”, family, country, god, capitalism, communism, etc) they have waged all kinds of war and invented the means with which to destroy every human being on this lovely but insignificant little planet of ours.

Then they have the nerve, the gall to label people who, for one reason or the other find themselves emotionally disconnected from all the above, as pathological. They say they are “chilled” when someone can kill without remorse, even as they support killing in the name of ~fill in the blank with a preposterous reason~. It is truly laughable. Why should I play by their rules when those rules are so often mind numbingly stupid and pointless? Why should I beat myself up or lose sleep at night because I fail to take what I see as one great big walloping delusion seriously?

The above may sound as if I am angry with society. That would be misleading. Right now, at this moment, the most I feel is slightly annoyed at the ludicrousness of it all and at the fact that I am forced to navigate through this miasma of BS just to survive. Otherwise, it is what it is. There is nothing to do but accept it, deal with it, and even from time to time, take advantage of it for my own gain. I shared the above with you as means of getting “personal”, so to speak. All of what I have said before stems from these personal beliefs about humanity. You can now see why, aside from the more rational arguments I used, I am not impressed with grand declarations of love and tears and heartfelt displays of emotions and so on. I am sure it’s all quite lovely, but it in the end, it is just so much BS when compared to rest of the human story.

But aren't hypocrisy and stupidity rather shallow kinds of ugliness compared to the deep ugliness of the human predator who required love and care to survive as a child, but now will not return the favor?

What love? And yes, for every instance of beauty between humans, there are ten more instances of ugly. Deep, shallow, what difference does it make? Ugly is ugly. I am speaking in generalities, since you didn’t address the above quote to me personally.

I left many comments at as a means of exploration and understanding. The conversations I have had here have been useful for precisely the same reason, only from a different angle. Instead of comparing my thoughts with those who for one reason or the other would agree with me, I get to contrast them with those whose experience is vastly different from my own. It has been very instructive and even enlightening.

Re: Confessions about love, relationships guilt and the world from a young sociopath.

i have read all of your posts and i found them very, very, great. i have learned a lot, and i loved your writings. i will print them and will read them from now. i "love" the way you see life dan, and i "love" too how the doctor finds a justification for everything in life. i dont want to interrupt on your conversation, but i didnt want to create a new thread.

now i got to my 3 final hypothesis, conclusions, thoughts, i dont know what they are.

humanity is overrated. it sounds kind of dark/emo t-shirt slogan, but its the truth. what we do or don't, it really doesn't change anything on the universe. when we are gone, the plants are going to grow again, and the damages that we did to the world will be cured. the planet will take care of its own without us. so f*ck up do whatever makes you happy!

i find it great that there are laws and the bible, and that stuff. i dont want to live in a world where everyone takes what they want. if it was like that, we would never be organized, and the world would be a chaos. i like to be the only sociopath in my social circle, its easier.

God is just a metaphor of life. i find it great, interesting. if you learn how god works, then you learn how society works. god is everything, the heaven and hell are what you get here in the planet based on your actions. we dont have conscience (conscience=soul i read somewhere), so we dont go neither to heaven or to hell (we dont have peace and we dont get punished for our acts). some call it karma, well, karma isnt for us too.

i will be reading more of your writings, theres a lot to learn.


Re: Confessions about love, relationships guilt and the world from a young sociopath.

Good doctor -

Here’s a little anecdote that I just read which I think says what I wanted to say about why science and naturalism is the preeminent epistemological method in my worldview far better than I did:

“Imagine you have two friends, one named Theo who tends to tell you what you want to hear -- old and flattering stories that makes things simple and certain -- and one called Phil who tends to tell new stories without quite the same regard for what you want to hear. Now for the longest time, it seems to make no practical difference just who you listen to, so you tend to favour Theo, perhaps because your parents swear by him, or perhaps because you happen to like his wondrous worldview.

Then one day Phil introduces you to his younger and equally innovative sibling, Nat. Now at first, you find Nat rather irritating. Not only does he avoid answering the interesting questions, he seems to make things pointless and unnecessarily complicated. But to your astonishment, you discover that his explanations make a real practical difference. In one breath he says, 'humans are but one animal among many,' and in the next breath he tells you how to track and avoid cholera epidemics. And as time passes, he starts talking more and more, and the things he makes possible become more and more remarkable: supercomputers, MRI's, thermonuclear devices -- things that entirely transform your life.

As this happens, you can't help but look somewhat askance at Theo and Phil -- after all, Nat has inadvertently provided you with a pretty imposing yardstick. You still like what the duo have to say -- even more, you realize they're saying things you need to hear to make sense of your life, especially in the indifferent world of blind processes revealed by Nat (the 'disenchanted world'). And yet, they just don't seem to measure up. Their claims still don't make any practical difference, and they remain utterly incapable of resolving any of their debates -- certainly not the way Nat the wunderkind can.

Because of the extraordinary successes of scientific naturalism (Nat), both religion (Theo) and philosophy (Phil) have become fallen forms of cognition, or knowing, in contemporary society. Our culture is filled with curious phenomena that attest to this 'fall.' Religious belief, for instance, has become a matter of 'personal preference.' Traditional prohibitions, like working on the Sabbath or viewing pornography, and traditional biases, like those against women or homosexuality, have either fallen or are presently falling by the wayside…

Scientific method is a hodgepodge of techniques and procedures that enable (albeit in a messy and retail manner) the world rather than our fears and biases to determine our conclusions. It's a kind of discipline, a 'cognitive kung-fu,' and it's utterly transformed our lives as a result. Before science, however, we were able to interpret the world pretty much anyway we pleased. We had no procedural discipline, no way to avoid our hardwired tendency to anthropomorphize or to guard against our hardwired weakness for flattery, oversimplification, and blind certainty. So we tried to understand the world the way we understood each other, as a something possessing purpose and motive. We saw the world as something personal rather than an aggregate of blind and indifferent processes. Existence, we thought, was a kind of extended family, where pleas (prayers) or demands (incantations) were often heard and answered. Before science, in other words, we still saw ourselves as fundamental participants in the world -- as helpless as we were! We knew nothing, and yet things made sense…”

Naturally you can see why I am more inclined to look for understanding of experiences like love in the nautural sciences than am I in, say, philosophy.