Emptiness, Acting, and Falsehood

Jamesvansteel By Jamesvansteel, 19th Sep 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Philosophy>Personal Philosophy

A short quip on the phenomenon of "playing roles" throughout life and the necessity of illusion for life in general.

Emptiness, Acting, and Falsehood

Emptiness is not an inherently negative character trait. The concept I consider here is tied to Buddhist and Christian conceptions of “emptying oneself” or striving for “poverty of spirit”. It is a philosophy of letting go of the superfluous and mistaken, the prideful and the self-assured aspects of ourselves in order to be refilled with a greater love and understanding of ourselves and the world, be that through non-attachment, compassion, the holy spirit, or simply contemplation.

More than this, it may be impossible or unwise to be "full" of truth all the time. In what capacity can we be sure that our facts and opinions are the correct ones to hold, or that they are even good for us to hold? Could it be that allowing these beliefs of truth and falsehood to intermingle and create new realities for us might be a better path forward than insisting on rigorous logic as the only way through life? Sometimes fiction, narrative, "falsehood" is the RIGHT thing to hold in mind.

Friedrich Nietzsche often discusses how our entire lives are constituted by illusions, that there is no truth to the external or internal worlds that is not subject to deception or misunderstanding. This however is not necessarily a bad thing, as understanding the mechanisms of these “necessary illusions” allows us to see past the surface of people’s actions and words as well as our own understanding of ourselves and take greater control of those illusions.

"The falseness of an opinion is not for us any objection to it: it is here, perhaps, that our new language sounds most strangely. The question is, how far an opinion is life-furthering, life-preserving, species-preserving, perhaps species-rearing, and we are fundamentally inclined to maintain that the falsest opinions (to which the synthetic judgments a priori belong), are the most indispensable to us, that without a recognition of logical fictions, without a comparison of reality with the purely IMAGINED world of the absolute and immutable, without a constant counterfeiting of the world by means of numbers, man could not live—that the renunciation of false opinions would be a renunciation of life, a negation of life. TO RECOGNISE UNTRUTH AS A CONDITION OF LIFE; that is certainly to impugn the traditional ideas of value in a dangerous manner, and a philosophy which ventures to do so, has thereby alone placed itself beyond good and evil." - Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil

Another way of looking at the the world through this pespective is the famous line by Shakespeare in As You Like It,

“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,”

Despite our best efforts, we must perform under many masks in social and personal life in order to interact and coexist with others. If we acted and spoke exactly as our internal selves felt on a regular basis, civilization itself would fall apart. But with such constant deception, are we not deceiving ourselves? Is it possible that by putting on a face for the outside world, we are also creating a new internal reality for ourselves?

So many people are so concerned with being “real” or finding “truth”, well maybe the truth is that untruth is inherent in everything we perceive. Maybe reality is merely a story we tell ourselves? Can we be the authors of this story? Or are we content to sit and let it be told to us.

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author avatar AjaySinghChauhan
26th Oct 2014 (#)

good post very useful and informative. Thanks for sharing your ideas with us.

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