X-Message-Number: 10954
Date: Mon, 21 Dec 1998 21:36:21 -0600 (CST)
Subject: Getting beyond self-esteem

I will only make a brief reply to some criticisms made of some thoughts I have 
posted recently.  

I still feel they are relevant to cryonics as we prepare for the future, but not
if all that 
results is argument as opposed to debate:

Thomas Donaldson seems to suggest (message #10945) that I advocate becoming 

This does seem to imply a black-or-white choice: Eloi or Not-Eloi, that is the 
question! (a la 

Hamlet).  I suspect that there are probably going to be other options which will

themselves.  After all, the future isn't here yet and the Eloi are merely a 
fiction.  (Actually 

while I do not advocate BECOMING something - Eloi or Non-Eloi - , I wouldn't 
mind trying out 

ACTING like them for at least a few days in what I have been told is called a 
"vacation" - 
except for the part about being eaten by the Morlocks, of course).

Again, it seems reasonable to me to project current trends into a future where 
machines will do 

better ANYTHING a human can do.  If this bothers you but it happens anyway, what
I am discussing 

here could become very important for you in overcoming that discomfort which I 
contend is self-

(As a related aside, author H. G. Wells also wrote IN THE DAYS OF THE COMET.  In
that novel he 

posited that the social madness of humanity (as seen in wars, for example) is 
due to a chemical 

imbalance in the body affecting the emotions and mental judgement.  When a stray
comet enters 

the earth's atmosphere, the missing physical element is introduced into human 
(through breathing) and all wars stop immediately.  An interesting thought).

Timor Rozenfeld (message 10946) also criticized my views on self-esteem.  
However though he 

correctly disagrees with my admittedly simplistic definition (for this arena), 
it is still in 

the context of whether one is "worthy of living".  "Worthy" is again an 
evaluation, "esteeming" 

or measurement.  This definition seems circular to me.  (And I a card-carrying 
member of the 
First Church of Tautology!).

I usually work from California psychotherapist Nathaniel Brandon's definition of
self-esteem (as 

he seemed to have almost single-handedly launched this successful social meme 
about thirty 

years ago) in that self-esteem involves 2 factors: feeling "in principle" 
(Brandon's emphasis) 

competent to handle the affairs of one's life and feeling worthy of happiness.  
Competency is a 

measure of what you DO.  Feeling WORTHY of happiness is also a self-evaluation 
(another action) 

given as to whether its "okay" to feel good or not.  Both require a standard to 
measure up to.  

Timor Rozenfeld continues with suggesting that if one were not capable of 
succeeding in this 

world and not "deserving of happiness" then this would result in misery and 
stagnation.  First, 

"succeeding" is itself an evaluation based on some arbitrary standard which the 

chooses to define and accept.  Second, the individual must then BOTH decide to 
judge whether 

happiness is an issue of "deserving" (again, measuring up to some standard) or 
not "deserving", 
and then choosing what level of "worth" is required to "earn" that happiness.

If the individual skips the identification of self with actions (what I 
personally consider to 

be only the FIRST step to psychological balance), then "success" is determined 
by selected goals 

without regard to a self-created personal "value" and, additionally, if the 
individual does not 

make happiness an issue of "worth", then his happiness will not be dependent 
upon earning that 
right.  (Ghosts!  Ghosts!  I am haunted by Ghosts masquerading as nouns!).

Anyway, despite the fact I believe the current popularity of self-esteem as an 

axiomatic virtue to be already an atavistic hangover from primate "pack" 
consciousness (see THE 

Bloom; 1995: 

ISBN 0-87113-532-9), and that I also expect that as we move toward a much more 
pleasant and 

positive transhuman future beyond the common social psychoses which surround us 
(reification on 

almost every level to name just one human blindspot - more Ghosts!), I will 
simply suggest that 

reading IS OBJECTIVISM A RELIGION? by New York psychotherapist Albert Ellis 
(1968; Library of 

Congress Card Number 68-21132) better deals with more of these ideas regarding 
the "darkside" of 

self-esteem, in lieu of authentic self-acceptance.  Ellis is a prolific writer 
so if you cannot 

find a copy of the above book (which is out of print but in many libraries), you
can easily find 

most of the more important issues in this regard dealt with in some of his 
better books on 
psychotherapy (those aimed for other professional therapists).

As most late twentieth century humans, I can and do make many mistakes (and 
don't use a spell 

checker nearly often enough - another mistake!) but in re-reading my last post 
could not see 

where I was doing anything more than expressing my opinion.  I hope the above 
two suggested 

sources will be considered for a deeper understanding of what I have been 
talking about here.  

As for speaking "in a paternalistic and condescending tone", if you drop 
self-esteem you will 

not project these visions on my words.  But since you seem to feel that way, I 
will quickly add 
the following:

I am certain I am completely wrong and you are (both) completely right.

(Feel better yet?)

But the IDEAS I am suggesting here still make sense to me and I believe them to 
reflect the 
probable trend of events in our world.

These IDEAS may prove to be correct, somewhat correct, somewhat off, or dead 

Self-esteem to me is placing a price tag on your soul which is then self-sold 
into slavery.

Sooner or later the slaves always seem to get beaten.  Given enough TIME, there 
will always come 

someone (or some THING!  like a MACHINE!) faster on the draw to outshoot the 
current gunslinger of the month.  

Maybe I'll write a book on the subject.  Until then, I can recommend the books 
mentioned above.

The way I see it, the trick is not to prove me wrong.  The trick is not even to 
disprove my 

ideas.  The trick is to be OPEN to what happens as the future unfolds.  The 
trick is to NOT be 

so involved in defending an opinion that you don't notice the alligator that 
just ate it and is 
now looking directly at you as a dessert.

If you can pull off that trick, then these words will have accomplished their 
intended goal.

If not, big deal.  I tried.

-George Smith

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