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February 17, 2012 / theslowblitz

In Defense of Change

There exists no particular god or idol worthy of dedication, no reason to favour one course of action over another. Work and play both exist as entertainment to pass time before death. I act as I am wont to do; there is no better action.

To this philosophical position, upon which I have placed my whole self, I have no rebuke. Yet, in my insistent rejection of metaphysical values, I have paradoxically removed my human nature from my philosophy, even as such rejection relies upon the power of the physical. I have forgotten that as a physical being, I am not bound by metaphysical reality, but by physical reality.

Being as I am a physical, any philosophical position is inherently meaningless, and only meaningful in so far as it affects my physical being. Thus, in practice, my defense of non-preference as a philosophical position has been a defense of non-preference in action, condemning me to be the child I always have been: eager to be free of work, responsibility and concern.

The physical reaction – the cocktail of chemicals that accompany disappointment, the existential crisis, the guilt and the longing – arising from such a lifestyle has convinced me to view this previous position in a negative light. I am however, bound to nihilism; it is the lens through which I view that world, and I am as yet unwilling to let it go. For change to occur, it must be amenable to this fundamental worldview.

In pondering this, I have realised need not to give up nihilism, even to change my lifestyle in a very fundamental way. I am, purely, my physical being, and having been physically compelled to change, I have no reason not to. Indeed, if I believe that nothing matters, then it does not matter if I did not act according to this belief. I care about changing on a level higher than the chemicals sloshing in my system, and I shall straddle the line between pretending to care and caring, but on a very fundamental level, it does not matter.

Having ingrained the habit of seeking mindless entertainment, it is inevitable I will feel the temptation to return. While I feel this sense of determination now, to change myself for the better, I doubt such determination can be ever present. Even as I have made a step in ‘right’ direction by deconstructing my old defense of non-preference, I still have to provide a positive reason, an aim, which I may repeat to beat back temptation.

Here, I may point to the structure of society: I will state my preference for study over games, not because one is inherently better than the other, but because the former earns me accolades the latter will never be able to provide. It is the very intention of society, loosely defined, that its talents are not spent on unproductive activities such as twenty-four hour gaming marathons. Thus, the insecurity will always persist, and it is better to ameliorate it in advance rather than to play catch up later.

This does not require me to spend myself in a meaningless pursuit of fame, money and power. While many traditional narratives emphasise these elements, many other narratives downplay their role in a ‘meaningful’ life. Moreover, time spent in philosophical reflection may ameliorate these concerns as much as physical achievement by immunising me from desire. It is certainly more effective than sedating myself by staring at a screen, which is only effective in so far as I am still staring at the screen.

My ideological structure for reform complete, I wish to end with a side note: this entire essay was written for the sole purpose of convincing myself not to play Disgaea 3, or other distracting entertainment. I realise most authors prefer to begin with a search for truth, and end with an empirically deduced conclusion.

Yet, even within such a process, I argue that this search ends with the ‘right’ conclusion, justified upon their predications. When these positions are too hard to defend, they must be given up, out of loss of faith rather than essential truth. My process is similar; I have tried to rid myself of any possible concern, as these inconsistencies would have weakened worldview I was trying to construct. Having in my view successful constructed my position, I do not find my method sufficient reason to abandon it.

 

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