Sometimes I like to imagine that the way I choose to live my life, the counter-culture, interested in things like art and philosophy and nature and trying to to sincere in what and why I do things. Trying to do things for the 'right' reasons, rather than because of societal expectations. All of these things and others that go along with them. Sometimes I imagine that this sort of living is somehow better than others. That in some real, objective way it matters if people live this way, or if people live their more ordinary lives of suburbs, television, celebrity culture, chain stores, cliched speaking and catch phrases. That their way of living is somehow a lesser than mine.
But in reality, I imagine it is probably just a matter of taste. And that these tastes are based on our disposition. Because our tastes and dispositions lean a certain way, we then develop reasons to justify and explain why these ways are better or more 'meaningful'.
But when it comes down to it, it seems more of an aesthetic choice. Something entirely subjective. Even seemingly noble traits like sincerity or fortitude are just aesthetic preferences. And if they are just aesthetic preferences it would mean that for me to feel as if me and my friends or people who are like me are superior for being holding these particular interests is no different than feeling that same way because someone doesn't like a certain song I like. Or a certain food I like.
Ultimately, isn't that what rules so much of our lives? Taste? Suppose we could be happy, completely totally fulfilled happy if we took a drug and sat alone in an empty room for the rest of our lives. Most people don't like the idea of that and I suppose I don't either. But what if the end results could be the same, what would be the difference between that and achieving complete totally fulfilled happiness through having lived a fulfilling life with hard work and family? The difference is merely aesthetic. Of course, on a practical level, at this point in time, we do need certain behaviors to achieve certain mental states. But what if we didn't? If something seems like it took hard work to achieve, we admire the results, but if those same results were achieved through fortune or laziness, then we don't. I imagine that we admire hard work because we evolved in an environment where hard work was necessary for survival. People who were lazy would have made our lives more difficult, brought the tribe down and us in the process. Because of this, we would have evolved a negative feeling towards that type of behavior so as not to reward it. And this feeling manifests itself as an aesthetic preference, which becomes a value.
I guess what I am trying to say is that more and more I am coming to realize that much of what I value, while it may have some practical value, is largely based on an emotional pull in the same way aesthetic or food preferences are. And it is the rational explanations which comes later. In many ways, the overall idea of the life I would like to live and the person I would like to be is mostly just based on an aesthetic preference rather than something objective. It can sometimes be a disheartening thought to feel like the primary driving force of my and our lives is nothing more than aesthetic taste. For some reason, I like the idea of their being some way to live that is objectively better than others. Probably because of my Mormon upbringing I am conditioned with a desire for their to be an ideal way to live that is based on some objective measure. Which isn't to say their are not things which will not improve the quality of our lives and things that will not. But as I talked about above, an optimum state of well-being is not something people value above all else. If that were the case, people would feel no discomfort with the idea of us all taking a pill which would make us happy for the rest of our lives while sitting in a blank room alone, even if it were guaranteed to work.
I have several more thoughts on this. and more specific examples to explain the idea more clearly. Maybe I will end up writing those additional thoughts and examples. Maybe not. Hopefully I will.
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