Reason

Reason can be viewed as a golden crown atop humanity. “Look at us. We’re so smart. We can reeeasooon.” But reasoning has its flaws.

Deductive Reasoning

Deductive reasoning is starting with a set of premises to form a conclusion.

  • Premise 1: All chocolate bars are tasty.
  • Premise 2: A Snicker’s is a chocolate bar.
  • Conclusion: Therefore a Snicker’s is tasty.

The potential flaw is in the case of the premises: The conclusion holds if and only if the premises are true.

  • Premise 1: I am a purple person.
  • Premise 2: Purple people are geniuses.
  • Conclusion: Therefore I am a genius.

I am not a purple person, so Premise 1 is not true. It doesn’t matter if Premise 2 is correct, because all the premises need to be true to reach a sound conclusion.

People can often start with a set of preconceived premises that (a) are not true or (b) others don’t agree with (when premises are opinions (e.g. Premise 1 of the chocolate bar example)). This can lead to false conclusions.

Inductive Reasoning

To reason inductively, one starts with a specific observation and forms a general conclusion.

  • Observation: Every strawberry I’ve seen has been red.
  • Conclusion: All strawberries are red.

This can certainly lead to incorrect conclusions and even prejudice. It can feed into cognitive bias and further reinforce it.

  • Observation: All cats that I’ve come across have attempted to murder me.
  • Cats are murderers who want to murder me.

It seems that the conclusions from inductive reasoning could be used to form the premises of deductive reasoning. Take the inductive conclusion that all strawberries are red and use it as a deductive premise:

  • Premise 1 (inductive conclusion): All strawberries are red.
  • Premise 2: That thing over there is a strawberry.
  • Conclusion: Therefore that thing over there is red.

Because the conclusions of inductive reasoning can be false, this further supports the idea that deductive premises can be false, and that a false or unfounded conclusion can be drawn.

Abductive Reasoning

Abductive reasoning is choosing a possible cause for an effect.

  • Effect: My car broke down.
  • Possible cause 1: I ran out of gas.
  • Possible cause 2: My battery died.
  • Possible cause 3: There’s an invisible fairy that goes around screwing up people’s cars.

Inductive reasoning can be related to abductive reasoning as there could be a number of possible explanations (abductive reasoning) for a specific observation (inductive reasoning).

In the case of abductive reasoning, Occam’s razor comes into play here. Occam’s razor states that the simplest answer is usually the correct one. But how do you really know if you’ve come up with the simplest explanation? And, outside of Occam’s razor, there could be a plethora of explanations. It can be difficult, if not impossible, to know if you’ve thought of the correct one.

Conclusion

All of this was just to say that reason isn’t everything, especially when emotions and cognitive biases can influence it, along with limited experience. It seems much in life is impossible to know for certain. There is often lack of feedback of whether something is truth or not.

Some see religion and spirituality as a crutch and hold reason above all else, but reason can be seen as the same when it is used as a tool to devise answers and explanations for what otherwise may seem nonsensical or not understandable. Religion/spirituality and reason may be different, but they can also be the same when viewed as attempts to make sense of the world, to explain to oneself occurrences and the way things are.

Feariosity

I don’t like the idea of being part of a group. I quit one a year ago. At the same time, I feel like I need a safety net. Maybe I don’t need groups for that purpose. Maybe other individuals would do. It’s a matter of getting myself to find and keep them.

I’m afraid to want to cling to life, while simultaneously, I fear my potential future actions. I’m not sure what to think about life. I feel caught in an in-between, dual states that vibrate at such a frequency that they nearly blend together.

I don’t want to feel tethered and bound here, but I suppose I fear not feeling that way. I don’t like the idea of agreeing with the advocacy for life, yet it seems my feelings for the antithesis are currently wavering. I don’t want to get caught in beliefs that I take to be facts, stubbornly refusing to let them go or to consider that they’re a perspective and not necessarily a truth.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what if my main anchor falls away, with plans from survival to voluntary death and back again. I’m not sure what the future holds. Quite recently, I’ve felt less bitterness and disappointment and more acceptance for life as it is, for existence. I look to the future with fear and curiosity.

I don’t want to have hope for the same reason that I don’t want to cling to life–it can so easily slip away. I suppose instead, I’ll be more of an observer or a passive participant simply along for the ride.

Dormant

Waiting for the pointless cycle to end. It exists for no sufficient reason, continues merely because of inertia. I don’t want to participate. Perhaps the cycle will never end, but eventually, my participation will.

I find myself here again, resigned to the belief that this cyclical perpetuation is meaningless; it’s driven only by the inertia of instinct. I continue to take part because someone else does, but if that person were no longer here, I don’t think I’d see much reason to stay.

Lack of motivation. Lack of desire to take certain actions because why should I? Our individual cycles (within the cycle) eventually end so what does it matter? It’s all so effortful and all for what?

Apathy—sweet relief. Numbness to get through. Caring is too much. No pain when you lie dormant.

Apply

Apply apply apply apply apply apply apply apply apply apply apply apply apply apply apply apply.

I might start dreaming about job applications.

I feel like this is a challenge for me. Definitely out of my comfort zone. Anxiety and feeling stressed and frequently getting to the point where I’m tired of staring at job listings on a screen, whether that’s my phone or a computer. Assessments and interviews that leave me feeling inadequate.

So maybe it’s kind of tough right now. Maybe I often question why I chose to pursue a field for which I feel I don’t have an aptitude. But it’s fine. The more I use my skills, the better I get. I don’t have to be the best; I just need to be good enough. And maybe I am good enough, despite how I often feel.

Uninsured

I might not have health coverage for the first half of next year since it seems I’m not eligible for anything. It’s like I’m too broke for marketplace coverage but not broke enough for government assistance. Like… what? All the more reason to get a job. Oh boy. You can tell you’re an adult when job benefits like health insurance are like candy. And some jobs even offer dental and vision insurance to boot!

Goodbye

I believe my dad would have just wanted me to be happy. He’s gone now and things will be different, but I believe we can make it.

Connection–it’s an important thing among hoomans. And I happen to be a hooman so… But yeah, it’s really important, and I think it’s possibly key to a happy life. And I want to live a happy life, for Dad. So I guess I’ll continue to work on the walls that I put up, on my opening up issues, and all those such things. I met some relatives today, and maybe we’ll get closer–something that I feel ambivalent about, but, well, we’ll see.

Farewell, Dad. I hope you rest in peace.

I’m Fine. I’m ok.

I never wanted to get too close, afraid that I could feel in case you left. And I do feel, but I don’t want to cry in front of her. She says she’s glad I’m being strong. “I’m fine,” I tell myself. Because I am. I’m fine. And tomorrow, a possible decision, majority rule; will I be the minority?

It’s fine. We’ll get through this. Just try to make it through this week. It’ll be fine. I’m fine. We will be fine.

This Year has been…

(What follows is by no means meant to downplay the effects that the year’s events have had on people. This is merely my experience.)

…a benefit to those with social anxiety. I have had an excuse not to leave the house. There’s no more, “Get out there and connect with people,” but an encouragement to stay away from people, and I do not have to be told twice to do that.

I feel like over the past several months, I’ve been able to challenge myself and improve from my own home. It’s like getting out of my comfort zone while being in my comfort zone. Though I might often feel uncertain of myself, my confidence in my abilities has increased. Even in the uncertainty, there’s at least the growth mindset: If I don’t know or think I’m not good at something, I’m convinced that I can learn or get better at it.

If others don’t want to stay inside, then I don’t want them to have to stay inside. If being inside and isolated negatively impacts their health, then I want them to be able to go out and mingle. Me, on the other hand—I’m fine staying inside. And maybe the methods of operation as of yet will help to establish the legitimacy and practicality of remote work. If I don’t start a PhD program, maybe by next year I’ll have a decent job. That would be pretty significant for me.

Reflection

Eight years ago around this time (September), I tried to end myself. What’s changed since then?

I don’t feel as terribly depressed. Though the existential crises can still be difficult, I’m more or less acquainted with them.

I’ve learned that I have social anxiety. I’d get this weird feeling either during or after being around people and it really sucked and I didn’t know why. I just knew that I didn’t quite so much like interacting with people. The not-very-good feeling can still happen, but now I know that it’s anxiety. It’s helpful to have a name for it.

Relating to the anxiety, I had a college internship at the time and I felt like I hated it. I didn’t like the people—or at least one person in particular. She got to me, honestly. And I didn’t like the work environment. Interestingly, I’m currently in college again with an internship. Before the pandemic, I would go in person once a week and I did have a lot of anxiety about it, a lot of it to do with impostor syndrome and generally like I had no idea what I was doing. The environment was nice and the people were way nicer and more mature though. Since then, my confidence has grown and I feel a lot more capable. It’s also been awesome that I’ve gotten to improve my self-confidence from the comfort of my own home. Sure, even the video meetings might give me anxiety, but it’s tolerable. And again, I have a name for it. Getting drunk/high on herbal tea has helped too. Valerian: “nature’s Valium.”

I suppose another change is that over the years, I’ve come to consider my parents more in the decision of whether to commit suicide. I still have thoughts, but I think about my parents, even if I have felt annoyed that it holds me back. I no longer try to rationalize my way out of caring about their feelings and I just accept the fact that I do care… even if I am rolling my eyes in the process.

Sure, I can still have existential depression. Sure, there’s still anxiety. Sure, I still think about suicide. But I feel like things are better now. I’ve kicked detrimental habits, I’ve gained self-confidence, I’m at least a little bit less perfectionistic and less hard on myself. Eight years ago, I attempted suicide because I felt like I wanted to escape. I can still feel that way, but now I can get sloppy drunk on herbal tea and watch dumb YouTube videos and pass out.

Perfectionism

Perhaps there are two kinds of perfection: objective and subjective.

Objective perfection is theoretically achievable. The standards are measureable and unchanging. A perfect score on a test, for example. If there is a maximal achievable score of 100, then a perfect score is possible, and perfection in this sense is obtainable.

Subjective perfection, on the other hand, involves arbitrary standards, and those standards can constantly change. In this kind of perfection, one’s standards are limited only by one’s imagination. Something bigger and better can always be imagined. Though 1 can always be added to a number to get a bigger number, infinity can never be counted to, and subjective perfection can be like trying to count to or equate oneself to infinity; therefore, it can be unachievable.

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