The Push And Pull Of Emotional Gnomes

gnomesA life without emotions would not be much of a life. Just ask any computer.

You: “So, what’s it like being you?
Computer: “Your question is meaningless. Don’t you have some numbers for me to crunch?

Computers seem to live lives devoid of joy or sorrow or anger or affection. They just compute.

Humans, on the other hand, don’t compute well. In most domains of human activity, humans do not well calculate risks accurately. This is especially true for gambling, drinking, romancing, and eating, all which have an army of emotional gnomes pulling us towards the warmth of excess. This is also true for believing.

Most often, the force behind choosing an ideology is not what it should be; the truth value of the ideology. It is usually instead a team of selfish pestering emotions that are all, like pestering gnomes, attempting to maximize personal contentment by pushing and pulling you towards the fluffiest and warmest fiction

There are pushing gnomes and pulling gnomes. The gnomes that push are as follows.

  • The gnome of fear
    This is probably the strongest gnome. Many successful but untrue ideologies unleash this gnome with his messages of fear. This can be fear of the unknown or the fear of a particular fictional contrivance such as “Hell”.
  • The gnome of justice
    This gnome percolates up from the notion of fairness that is deeply rooted in the human psyche. We cannot bear to see the innocent hurt and the wicked rewarded. This gnome pushes us from the unbearable truth of an unjust world towards fictional fixes such as a torturous afterlife for the wicked, and a paradise for the righteous.
  • The gnome of guilt
    This gnome is the most malicious. It is relentless in attempting to convince us that we are worthless and evil, and in need of some sort of redemption. Its message is most salient, yet most illusory. Should this gnome succeed in driving a soul to an ideology with some promise of a redemptive fix, that ideology will most likely be configured to continuously re-evoke that sense of guilt to confine that soul within its deceitful cage.

There are also pulling gnomes. These include the following.

  • The gnome of belonging
    Nearly everyone has the need to be an essential component in the functioning of a vibrant social group. This gnome pulls us towards the group that best satisfies this emotional need, but attempts to hide the truth value of the group’s belief system.
  • The gnome of affection
    This most seductive gnome gently draws us into the warmth of a social group where we can both love and feel loved. The most successful ideologies are able to construct hearths of affection that are nearly impossible to leave as adherents realize that an intellectually honest reassessment of their ideology would require them to step back into the assumtionless cold.
  • The gnome of objective purpose
    Admitting the possibility that humans have no objective purpose is abhorrent to many. The gnome of objective purpose pulls us in the direction of the one-stop shopping market where we can, in exchange for our critical thinking, acquire one of any number of fabricated solutions to this perceived deficiency. This gnome distracts us with the rustling pages of dogma from the possibility of a satisfying subjective purpose.
  • The gnome of differentiation
    From the time we are children, this gnome pulls us towards definitions of self that place us superior to others around us. We naturally want to disassociate ourselves from most, and associate ourselves with a choice few in our local societies. As we grow older, we look for an ideology that will place us in close proximity to a god or group that claims some sort of moral or epistemological superiority.

For some, the emotional gnomes are not worth fighting. They even suggest that the gnomes have been given to push and pull us to the truth.

However, emotions have no correlation to what is true, much less a causal relationship, as demonstrated by the many disparate ideologies that are passionately held for the same emotional reasons.

Truth is best accessed when the biases of the gnomes of comfort are eliminated. And this can be done. Through training and practice, most humans can assess concepts and ideologies rationally, without the influences of the emotions. This is essentially the personal implementation of the scientific method. The entire project of science is to objectively quantify reality with tools and heuristics that eliminate subjective distortions.

Are we then left with lives as dry and as meaningless as computers? No. Once we have objectively assessed reality, we can then call the gnomes back in to work the wonderful emotional havoc we call life. The subjective illusions painted by our gnomes are much more enjoyably experience when we understand the objective canvas of our existence.


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