Getting It Right

Ever notice that the same people who need to get their theology right, need to get their politics right, need to get their lifestyle right, need to get their philosophy right …..

Ever sometimes wonder if living without the need of getting it right, might be better than being right?


Filed under Philosophy & Religion

18 responses to “Getting It Right

  1. Temaskian

    No I’ve never wondered about that. But thanks to you, I now am. 🙂

    What a beautiful thought. I think you got it right this time, lol. 😀

  2. Getting things right is one of life’s greatest joys. The trick is to scope your efforts to things that you actually stand a good chance of being right about.

    Lots of people get happiness out of solving Sudoku. Others need hard math problems to keep them happy. Very, very few people are qualified to be doing philosophy (and I’m not one of them). I don’t think anyone ought to be trying to be “right” about politics — although some politics is clearly wrong.

  3. Have you ever seen the film Doubt? If so, I have a deeper response.

    But for now I’ll just say that while I agree with you entirely, it seems a very stubborn part of human nature has us need to believe in the certainty of what we are working toward at any given moment in order for it to have meaning, or serve as a motivating force. Example: language is a nominal enterprise. And yet I will constantly catch myself treating a conversation as though I am in direct connection with the essence of my counterpart’s message. The moment I reflect on it, I can see that I am not, but when I am in the conversation, I am experiencing an essence of them.

  4. crl

    As to lifestyle, you are absolutely correct; there is no “right” lifestyle, so we really shouldn’t worry about finding it. To each his or her own; perhaps we have no right to judge unless people become a threat to themselves or society.

    While they may not directly affect our lives or the functioning of the planet, so perhaps do not matter in the grand scheme of things, but if we deny importance of truth and rightness in philosophy, debate dies. If philosophical ideas are judged on practicality, rather than truth, than arguments like, “atheism leads to immorality, therefore, God exists,” or, “naturalism freaks me out, therefore I have a soul,” become valid. If we accept beliefs which we know to be false or deny things which we know to be true, we are deceiving ourselves, and will only be worse off in the end than if we had accepted the sometimes inconvenient truth.

    I would say that the search for the right political views is considerably more important than the search for the right philosophical views, as politics, unlike philosophy, had a direct effect on our everyday lives. If enough of us hold the wrong political beliefs, the consequences may be dire. This is not to say that everyone should have to adhere to one certain set of political principles; just because true political beliefs are important doesn’t mean any one person knows what exactly they would be. But, to deny the importance of correct political beliefs, to hold and act on opinions without at least thinking about whether or not they are true, is to be an irresponsible citizen.

  5. Right on! My thoughts exactly.

    I think I’ve found my new quote of the day!

  6. @ Temaskian :
    Smiling back at ya!

    @ JS Allen :
    Aphorisms of the sort I wrote above are naturally problematic when approached in a propositional way. I was pointing at an attitude, a moment, a habit, a way of being. Like you, I love puzzles. But there are many ways to hold puzzles while working on them.

    @ Brandon :
    Nope. Not sure I follow you. Why not do a post on that and link here – I will take a look.

    @ crl :
    Do you think there is a difference between “needing to be right” vs. “enjoying being right” vs. “excited to be right” vs. ….
    Are their healthier ways to explore reality than others.

    @ Tristan :
    Glad you enjoyed! Thanx for popping in.

  7. Other than our survival depends on it, getting it right doesn’t really matter.

    As for the need of getting it right (in the vernacular), I think we learn very early very quickly that getting it wrong often has unpleasant consequences. We can avoid these by getting it right. Not only that, but working towards getting it right also comes with not only increased abilities and confidence and respect but a reduction in anxiety-producing uncertainties and status. Our preference, therefore, is to work towards getting it right (and sometimes actually getting there) where the consequences tend to be far more positive in comparison.

    If by ‘right’ you mean simply correct in fact, then thank goodness for google – a technological tide that has raised all factual boats.

  8. zDNA

    I just got done reading “On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You’re Not”, by Robert Burton. An excellent read that seems on topic for this conversation. Burton does a good job of combining discoveries in neuroscience & psychology to show that the feeling of knowing (or certainty) is not always a trustworthy guide, especially when coupled with the all-to-typical reactions in the face of cognitive dissonance. Well worth reading!

  9. haha. a directed post? or am i just taking it as such? either way, i’m not so concerned with ‘right’ as i am with ‘just,’ ‘informed,’ and ‘aware.’ right is a city we will never reach but maybe the journey towards it is what counts and we can live in the suburbs.

  10. @ tildeb,
    Maybe this is too subtle of a post, or perhaps my addlepation deludes me again. This is meant as a corrective adage pointing to the importance often of attitude over content.

    @ zDNA,
    On Being Certain sounds interesting. Even Luke at “Common Sense Atheism” seems to like it. Thanks.

    @ Zero,
    No, this post wasn’t directed to you at all, actually. I just read a lot of posts by Christians, Buddhist and Atheists who were also declaring their political positions right along with their religious/philosophical positions and something felt very odd. Thus the intuition.
    I like your Suburb Analogy, btw.

  11. crl

    Well, perhaps that was a misuse of the word need, especially as applied to philosophy. In politics, I believe the word need still applies, since if we don’t follow the “right” policies, society gets screwed up. Again, that is not to say that there is one “right” political philosophy, and if we deviate by a metaphorical millimeter from it, Hitler will rise from the dead and start killing children and puppies, but that, for all of us to have the happiest lives possible, our politics should be at least a logical attempt at making the world a better place. So, yes, for our survival as a species, perhaps we do “need” the right political views.

    In philosophy, while we certainly don’t need to be right, we need to want to be right or else our beliefs can become self deceptive.

  12. @ crl
    Can you think of any friends you have who are extremely happy, pleasant and kind but are not concerned at all about correctly understanding evolution, politics or religion?

  13. Mike aka MonolithTMA

    I will answer with a cartoon, that you may or may not have seen before.

    xkcd: Duty Calls

  14. Hey Mike,
    Yes, I have seen that several times before. Excellent! It matches much of what my quote is saying — I added it as the pic for the post. Thank you!

  15. Mike aka MonolithTMA

    I’m often reminded of that cartoon, and too often because of my actions. It still makes me laugh though.

  16. crl

    Yes. God, I’m not being clear, am I? I certainly did not mean to say that a person with incorrect beliefs cannot be happy, nor that a person who does not desire to know the truth cannot be happy. There are quite a few people who simply don’t care about politics, and this certainly doesn’t kill their quality of life in any way.

    I suppose what I had meant to say is that, when people are choosing what to believe, they should focus on what is true, not on what makes them happy or what their family believes. Perhaps this is because I am not capable of believing anything on pure faith, believing anything different from what logic tells me to be true, and so I assume others do not have this ability. This doesn’t mean that everyone has to care about philosophy; all that I was trying to say was that, in philosophical discussion, emphasis should be on the truth.

    Also, nice comic 😀

  17. Skeptnik

    There is no “right”. But isn’t there better.
    Is better worth fighting for? Sometimes and sometimes not. That is all judgment. And all of our judgments are personal and relative.
    Perfectionism though is a curse. A motorcycle sticker says “If all else fails, lower your standards”. I think there is tao working in that somehow.

  18. @ Skeptnik
    Indeed, the Tao has got to help making sense of the apparent contradictions.

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