The Account of a Lifetime

February 10, 2011

Demons can be fought

Filed under: demons — xisor @ 11:41 pm
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They say we all have our demons. It’s difficult for someone, like myself, who has for a good few years now studiously poured scorn on such notions to really turn around and pick up some of the beneficial bits of the ‘ritual’ of religion that I left behind. Prayers, for example, seem to me very much a way of getting your head straight. Of focussing. I’ve spent many a conversation since affecting the guise of a curmudgeon and firing off lazy quips like “praying is indistinguishable from talking to yourself” to poison the well of opinion.

I’ll confess, I also do it in the name of comedy. It’s lazy, still, but it appeals to my sense of mischief. On a walk this evening, I had a few thoughts. In some of the fictional universes I read a lot (notably the Star Wars, Warhammer and 40k settings, I’m a geek y’see) there’s a prevalence of mental, psychic and faith powers, the manifest will of the mind.

I don’t much care for deities and strict metaphysical orders, mainly because I’m a bit of a materialist in that manner. If ain’t falsifiable or a reasonable extension, it’s up in the air and fair game for messing about with. This is a frustrating position to be confronted with, I imagine, but it’s also a wearying one to hold too. It requires a lot of thinking on my feet, a lot of risking arguments by anticipating points and  dodging contentious issues by thinking it out. Sometimes, many times, it is not successful and an argument will be had. As Dr Steve Novella has mentioned a couple of times on the SGU podcast, it’s an advancement in my style of arguing.

Many years back, I was characterised as argumentative. Or a know-it-all. Or always-has-to-be-right. I always took this to be a good thing, I was either pushing myself or testing myself, in hindsight I see the flaw. I apologise to those who’ve suffered my nonsense because of it. In light of that, though, I see arguments nowadays not about being right, but as a means to foremost understand the difference  between my opinion and someone else’s, but secondarily as a means to see how either, both or neither of the opinions and arguments need be modified to reach an agreeable position. Novella takes the view that it’s about honing one’s ability to craft a sensible argument and, practically, as a means to find out what you and the other person actually agree on. Different styles, but not exclusive, certainly.

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