On Famous People Telling You To Become Who You Really Are

, on December 5, 2011

Authenticity, if it is to be a valuable way of life, must be its own reward.  It must go hand in hand with the realistic acceptance that one’s life may turn out to suck, and suck hard, no matter how nonconformist you are.  And, to play on an old Socratic refrain, it’s better to be a nobody in touch with reality than a profoundly deluded someone.

Article by Nick on Yeah, OK, But Still.

Who we are is determined by our genetics, our environment, and possibly a touch of free will. There is some wiggle room. One of the beauties of the game of life is that (in theory) you can set your own winning condition.

I think that what these famous people are trying to tell you is perfectly valid — in fact, I’ll give ‘advice’ the benefit of the doubt and propose that any of it is — but one problem is that advice is inseperable from a single person’s isolated perspective. That is what differentiates advice from philosophy: ideally the latter is less self centered and more intellectually and sociologically diverse. If you want another opinion when choosing a paint color for your dining room, no problem, but I would be warry of anyone telling you how to live your life (especially if you just wanted a yes or no on that lovely puce).

It is worth remembering that validity is independent of feasibility and utility.


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