Pride as Obsolete

This post will be about my interpretations of a deterministic world, all which is meant to be read in the philosophical context. As a determinist, I reject the notion of free will and consequently; pride. First, I will attack the more common notions of pride, and then I would like to address a more literal form of the word.

You should not be proud to be an American or non-American, male or female, or even gay or straight, because these things simply are not accomplishments. This is not to be confused with me saying you shouldn’t be happy with who you are. I can be at peace with the fact I am a male, without being “proud” of it in the sense mentioned above. This is the result of acknowledging equality.

Many of us can agree on the above mentioned form of pride being obsolete, but the next argument I am going to make presupposes much about determinism, and many do not agree with me. I want to argue that pride itself—pride of any form—is obsolete.

If there is no free will, then in the philosophical and deterministic sense, one cannot be held accountable for his actions. Many acknowledge one side of this theory, but often neglect the other side. With no free will, not only can you not be blamed for your actions that we interpret as bad, but you also cannot be praised for your actions we interpret as good. This is not to say bad actions become morally permissible, but that there is no agent separate from the rest of the natural world who can be held accountable (natural law itself is to be held accountable for all actions, bad or good).

Common rebuttals include, “But if I work hard for something and I achieve it, I have the right to be proud of my hard work. This sets me apart from someone who is not willing to work hard.” In a casual conversation I would not have an issue with this statement, but in a philosophical one, I must be pedantic and dissent.

The individual does not choose to be willing to work hard, and it is this willingness that will guide the course of the next action. If someone had your drive for achievement combined with your talents (something else beyond what is concerned with volition), the same results would occur. To be proud of your accomplishments is to imply you are somehow better because of your arrangement of atoms. It would be better to be satisfied with your atoms, not proud.

A lack of free will results in total equality. Interpret this however you will, but I interpret it as a call to universal love. No matter how angry I am at another person, I acknowledge they are a product of their environment and conditioning, and had I been put in the same exact situations as them with their exact mental and physical configurations, the outcome would remain the same. This gives me no rational reason to hate anyone, or praise anyone.

We are all equal, in the sense that we are all insignificant.



  4 comments for “Pride as Obsolete

  1. bethmoulder
    March 26, 2015 at 12:55 am

    Yes. Any thoughts on whether people should be punished for harming others? If their propensity towards violence is not their fault, and their actions aren’t ‘morally permissible,’ what is do be done with them? Utilitarian approach?

    I don’t think anyone’s figured this out yet, but it’s a good conversation to have.

    • March 26, 2015 at 1:09 am

      If someone harms another person action absolutely must be taken. Sins of omissions are not morally permissible either.

      As for what should be done to them, I think we should only inhibit the said offender from being able to repeat their crime. A violent criminal must lose the freedoms that allowed him to commit his offense, but nothing else. We should take no pleasure in inflicting punishment on our fellow human beings.

      Things like prison and most of the criminal justice system need to be preserved, but with much reformation. I would like to see more rehabilitation and less punishment (IE. get rid of the death penalty and treat drug addiction as a health problem instead of a crime). And on a social level, a humanist philosophy would be nice to see.

  2. March 26, 2015 at 4:48 am

    I can agree with not having cause to be proud. However, something being determined, to me, does not seem to necessitate complete equality. I mean this in the sense of defects, and quality.

    Can I be proud of my actions? Well, no, there are a product of my design and conditioning. I can’t chose them anymore than I can chose to murder – I just cannot, it’s not in my programming and is not me. However, I can be thankful that I am not programmed to be a murderer. Sure, this “thankfulness” is also a determined action of how my brain’s chemistry is composed… etc etc, but it’s understandable.

    So… although I really like the thought process… I think that even though we do not have true “free will” in any sense, this doesn’t mean there isn’t a hierarchy of quality on the product line.

    Does that make sense?

    • March 26, 2015 at 3:31 pm

      It does, but you are looking at it from a different perspective.

      If every one of us is nothing more than molecules following the laws of physics, then we are all equal in that sense. Of course, we have values and we arbitrarily see a good person as better than a bad person (I have no problem admitting this if it is, “What is conducive to happiness?” that we are discussing), but these values and so on are from thoughts that are molecules playing out. Ultimately, a person is responsible for his/her actions in the same way an apple is responsible for its actions as it breaks from a tree and falls to the ground (which is to say in neither case is anything responsible at all). Both are doing the only thing they can do, which is to obey nature.

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