Literature is any story in any medium that is able to use fake lives to teach you about real life.
Literature, unlike what many uninformed people think is not about immersion. Immersion is a part of it, but it is not the point. If immersion and taking you out of reality into another world were the point, it would be merely escapism. That would be extremely shallow, and not worth the vast amount of research, studying, and writing that goes into it.
We read, or study literature because of the exact opposite reason; the story may be captivating and interesting, but its always infinitely better if it has something awe inspiring to teach us. We don’t learn physics or listen to lectures in literature, we delve into a piece of art that is structured to flow in a very deliberate way. It is both like a painting and a film at the same time, and from it we learn what children’s stories simplify into a one word moral. True literature does not necessarily tell us how to think, but rather it shows us something inherently human and prompts us think. It reveals ideas that we interpret and reinterpret. It is like a thousand motivational facebook pictures and every good piece of advice you have ever heard in one small book.
Books make you a better person. Even if you read a biased book that promotes bad things, if you are open minded and reasonable, you will learn about why they are bad and why other people might think these things. Even if they are bad things, they might even have good or understandable parts to them. Books (hopefully) intricately and elegantly weave meaning into the story through tools like metaphors, symbolism, irony, foreshadowing and other things. Through these we do learn what is taught in a philosophy lecture without even realising that we are learning.
The most obvious examples are satire. The book “Animal Farm” can be read as a story about animals taking over a farm, or an analysis and social commentary on dictatorships and the Soviet Union. Some books do this by accident, most on purpose, but that you can learn more about yourself and others by reading is the important part.
When you read a book, you should be looking for the deeper meaning. Making connections not only makes the story more interesting and likable, but you learn valuable life lessons from it. Teenagers are known for having advanced intelligence but not as advanced decision making skills, which often results in them being rebellious. While this may be seen as just a phase, it actually represents something much deeper. It shows a stage of philosophical development where they realise that no one should be oppressed and forced to do things unjustly, even though they mostly apply this when it is convenient for them. They also show moral and reasoning maturity, since they stop blindly believing what others, especially those who have authority, tell them to believe dogmatically. A good book about teenagers could explain why these are both good and bad things, and allow teenagers to grow up having taken the good parts of what they’ve learned and fix the short-sightedness that they didn’t know they had.
Based on this definition, books, plays, operas, film, and videogames can all be literature.
The reason people are encouraged to read is because it makes them better people by informing them about human values and philosophy. This is important because as any philosophy, it forms your character, personality, morality, virtues and views.
Literature is learning new ways of living and thinking, through a story that makes it interesting.
At multiple points in school I was taught about the several different ways to argue (meant literally, not in the sense of anger) with someone. These include logic, persuasion, convincing, and appealing to one’s emotions.
When you try to convince or persuade someone or appeal to their emotions, the arguments that we were taught to use, more so for the purposes of analysis and educational reasons than to actually promote any of the types of argument, were more socially engineered than factual. This is because trying to convince someone is not generally a good thing.
Instead you should give a person all the facts you can and suggest possible conclusions, and if you want to, promote the one you believe is true. If you do not allow someone yo come to a conclusion on their own having all the information necessary to do so accurately, then you are not respecting their freedom or their intelligence.
There are of course times when it is not practical to give someone all the information necessary, such as if there is not enough time. In such cases then obviously exceptions must be made, but this does not make factual arguments any less necessary or good.
Discipline is the ability to follow a set of rules without failing. As far as I know, there are two types of discipline. The first is external discipline, which is when you follow what another person says without question. This type of discipline is useless and immoral, as it denies people their basic freedom of choice, and discourages critical thinking, caution, and reason. The second type of discipline is internal discipline, or self discipline. This is the ability to do what you want to do despite your subconscious or physical barriers not allowing you to do them. Self discipline is extremely useful, and as opposed to external discipline promotes freedom of choice and critical thought.
Self discipline is what is needed to do what you really want to do as opposed to what you think you want to do. Your subconscious will tell you to do things that it is programmed to do such as eating, bodily functions and reproduction. While some of these urges justified to keep you healthy and safe, others such as lust, greed, and laziness are not beneficial and are often contrary to what you actually want to do. This does not necessarily mean that the actions that these impulses want you to do are bad, it simply means that impulsive behavior is not necessarily good. It can be helpful to force someone to do something beneficial, but since these actions are pre-determined and somewhat arbitrary, they do not use reason. To determine which of these actions you should do, they should be analysed to determine if they are reasonable.
Self discipline then allows you to do the things you have determined you want to do, and to resist the urges that you disagree with. This is particularly difficult when impulses make you think you want the action. The easiest way to get someone to do something is to get them to like it. If someone likes something, they are less likely to question if they are being compelled to do it or if they actually want to. The fact remains though that this desire is induced and can be differentiated from naturally formed likes.
This is why the phrase “I want” is simplistic. It does not take into account that there are different types of “wants” and in a way different “I”s. Your subconscious may want to do something and will compel you to do it by making you desire it. That desire is chemically induced, and does not come from the rational part of your brain. In a way it is you who wants it but it is only a part of you. The other part of you, the one that isn’t programmed and can make it’s own decisions, may want something else. Self discipline is the ability for the conscious part of the brain to not be controlled by the unconscious part. The ability to withstand pain, desire, and even physiological constraints allows you to decide whether or not something that had been programmed to help you will actually help you. The brain might shut itself down to protect itself, but this may often lead to harm that you can’t avoid since you are not conscious. The subconscious does not question itself, it does not think ahead, and it does not necessarily know what is best for you. This is why you need to question it and decide for it, otherwise you are essentially letting someone else not only decide what is best for you, but also make you to want to do it.
It is relatively common to suggest that someone be more confident. Confidence is viewed as a way to get most things you want in life because people supposedly respect confidence.
This is one of the worst pieces of advice to give to someone.
While confidence can get you certain things, there are good ways to be confident and bad ways to be confident. These depend on ability level and certainty. For any specific activity which you think will benefit from you being more confident, you have a skill level associated with the activity. If you’re scared to drive a car, you could convince yourself you’re able to do it, and that confidence boost will help you driving. However, this is false confidence, as you had to convince yourself that you’re able to do it. The fact is that no matter how confident you are, if your skill level doesn’t match that required to do something, confidence won’t allow you to do it to the level needed.
If you convince yourself that you’re able to jump across a hole, yet your ability level does not match that, then you will fall. This is being overconfident, but more relevantly to this discussion, it’s false confidence.
Your confidence level should match your skill level, otherwise you will either be too unconfident to do things that you’re actually able to do, or too confident and will attempt and fail at things that you’re not able to do.
However, confidence just prevents you from doubting yourself. This is not a good thing in life. Instead of convincing yourself, prove to yourself that you are either capable of doing the activity to the degree required or not. The key differences here between confidence and certainty are that confidence is an unfounded belief, which may be useful at times but is not a permanent solution or way to live life. Confidence should only be used when needed. Certainty on the other hand should be acquired through scientific method, to determine as sure as possible whether or not you’re able to talk to someone, drive a car, pass a test, take a class, take a job, or anything else that people substitute with confidence in their everyday lives.
People may respect people who look confident, but confidence attempts to be that which science rarely is: certain. While you will rarely ever be 100% certain of something, you will always be more certain than a confident person will be. What matters isn’t what you believe, but what you know. People in western society have been convinced that taking risks will lead to a better life, and that you need to be confident to take risks. Risks by their nature can either turn out well, or badly. Some risks are not worth taking, and some are. Confidence will not determine which risks you should take, it will not distinguish between what you can and cannot do. You are the one who needs to inform theirself on what they can do, and to learn how to do the things they cannot yet do.
Confidence is a lie; learn what you can do, and teach yourself what you cannot yet do. Make informed decisions, take calculated risks, and always make sure.
Many people have what I will call a “threshold of impossibility”. This is a limit above which something is considered as either taking too long or being too difficult to do. This could either be because they aren’t putting enough effort into it, do not realise they can put more effort into it, do not yet have enough practice at it, or are too impatient for it. An example of this is meditation. Meditation requires large amounts of focus and, discipline and training to do usually. The same goes for martial arts, difficult academic subjects, exercise, cognitive skills and mental abilities. This is especially true when one has exhausted all of their known options for trying to do something, as repeated failure is more likely to convince someone that something is not possible. This also happens when someone does not know how to do something, as often trying to think about how to do something without sufficient information or enough practice in the logic needed to figure it out can make it extremely difficult to do.
However, in all of the examples listed above it is usually harder to actually determine whether or not something is impossible. Without thorough testing and certainty, it’s hard to determine that there are no possible ways to do something as this requires you to either prove that the end result is not possible, or that every method to do it will fail. Proving the first would require that you show that no matter what the method used, the end result would be illogical, and the latter would require that you determine every method to do it, and prove that they don’t work.
People’s threshold of impossibility decreases the harder something is, the more they fail, the longer it takes, or the less confidence they have. In the opposite situation, when someone achieves something they didn’t think possible, their threshold of impossibility increases, and now they think more is possible.
Do not confuse that which is hard with that with is not possible.
People have different ideas, so when people interact with each other there will naturally be times when their ideas are not the same as the people they are interacting with.
If these ideas do not affect other people then generally this should not cause issues. When irrelevant ideas are the cause of issues, these issues are likely unjustified.
If the ideas instead are relevant to other people, then there is an issue that the parties need to resolve. There are various ways to resolve issues, which can be categorized into levels of escalation.
The first level is the most logical, reasonable, and effective method for resolution. This method is discussion, in which the parties explain why they have the ideas and beliefs they have and attempt to justify them. This method can often be long, tedious, and difficult, but is most always worth it. Most people are able to understand each other if explained to in the way they think. A reasonable person will doubt their beliefs if they are presented with counter evidence. This is the purpose of discussions, not to prove that you are correct, but to determine what is correct. Discussions therefore are not competitions and cannot be won, they do not use strategies to win, trick, confuse, or mislead others. Discussions should never use fallacies, as this leads people away from the truth instead of towards it. The purpose of a discussion is for all parties to explain their own reasoning to see if they were misinformed or made a mistake, and if so to then correct it to determine what is true.
Often people think that because it is difficult to explain something to someone else that it is impossible. The only way that I can see for it to be possible for someone to understand something is if they refuse any new ideas, or are cognitively or mentally incapable of understanding. If someone has the faculties and reasoning required to know something, then the person explaining must try their best to explain it in a way the person listening can understand, and the listener must try their best to understand the person explaining it.
Another issue is when a person A believes themselves to be correct while another person B disagrees, they might think that the other person is close minded for disagreeing, even if they disagree despite being shown evidence. In this situation there are two possibilities:
1. Person A is close minded for not doubting their idea as being possibly incorrect, and judges person B as being close minded for not accepting a supposedly correct idea.
Person B might in fact be close minded in this case, but person A has not correctly determined this and instead assumed it.
2. Person A is impatient or rushes to judgement by assuming that person B refuses to or is incapable of understanding their reasoning.
Alternatively, person A might correctly determine through rigourous testing that person B is incapable or processing or understanding the information.
At the same time, two parties in a discussion can be both person A and person B at the same time if they both think these things about the other.
Both parties in a discussion should be able to explain their points of view and question the other’s points of view and provide counter arguments without being labelled as close minded. However this also requires that both parties doubt their own arguments are open to the other’s explanations and ideas, and to themselves being wrong.
A second method of discussion could use external experiences, information, or activities to indirectly explain an idea to someone. When the party agrees to do this, it is a justified way of indirectly discussion and resolving issues.
When people are not open minded or do not discuss for whatever reason, the alternatives are to avoid resolution or force their opinion on the other party.
Forcing one’s opinion on someone else generally is done by forcing the other person to see, experience, or do something which will prove their point. This is a viable method if the person will not understand otherwise, however this must only be done if the party is certain that no other alternative is preferable and that leaving the issue unresolved is worse. The reason this alternative should be avoided is because without certainty that the person needs to be forced to learn something, this method could arrogantly assume that their idea is correct, and certainly infringes on the rights of the party being forced by limiting their freedom for something they do not want.
When you force others to learn something that you believe they should know, or worse, to believe what you believe, you are denying them and disrespecting their freedom, and forcefully making them comply with what you believe. If you’re not certain that what you believe is correct, and that the person will for sure be better off by being forced to learn or believe this, then you are being arrogant and disrespectful.
This same logic applies to an even worse form of resolution, when someone physically forces someone else to comply, learn, or believe something. While physical force may sometimes be necessary, as before it should only be done either when you are sure the person will benefit from it, or when it will have a better outcome for a group of people. This relates to a person being dangerous, perhaps out of a lack of information or having a different moral code than yours, or not having one at all. If such a person cannot be reasoned with, then for the safety of others and for their own sake, it might be necessary to force them to reconsider what they are doing, especially if there is a risk for others or themselves by not doing so. As before, certainty is needed before doing this, or risk assessment if certainty is not possible or viable.
Fighting and Unresolved Problems
When two people who disagree do not attempt to resolve the disagreement, they might instead try to suppress the other, allowing their own view or idea to be the only option and remain unchallenged. Fighting does not resolve issues, at least not entirely. While fighting may resolve a practical issue such as stopping someone from hurting people, it does not resolve the root cause of the problem. That person would still believe that he should hurt people even if you prevent him from doing so until he can be reasoned with or realises he is wrong. The cause of the problem, the disagreement between the two parties is not resolved by fighting.
Fighting merely suppresses the problem from being seen, and creates a new problem: the two parties are now a threat to each other. Instead of resolving the root problem, fighting creates a new problem for the parties to focus on: there is now a fight that has to be won. When one party starts to fight to suppress the other party’s ideas, it forces the other party to fight back or be suppressed. Suppression or force cause a new problem, fighting, which by it’s nature solves itself and diverts attention away from the original problem. In this way, fighting is something of a straw man self fulfilling argument. This is why fighting is irrational, it’s simply a way to forget about the original problem by creating a new problem which will solve itself.
There are however certain discussions that cannot, at least with our current knowledge, be resolved. In these cases, the parties may fight not to avoid the problem or force their ideas on the other party, but because they see no other viable option. An example is when an animal tries to kill another animal to eat. While both parties want to survive, one party’s survival depends on the other to not survive, and there is no known resolution to this problem as one side will always lose. These are perhaps the worst kinds of problems, but simply because a resolution is not known does not mean that it does not exist, everyone should strive to solve all the problems we have, for their own and for other’s sakes, in order to build a self sustaining future with as few problems as possible