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What Is Self-inflicted Philosophy? (Transcript)

“The business of philosophy is to teach man to live in uncertainty. Not to reassure him, but to upset him.” ~Lev Shestov

A settled mindset is a trap. A trapped mind is a mind that believes rather than thinks. Inside the trap, the believing mind reinforces its beliefs through extreme bias, circular reasoning, lack of imagination, and cognitive dissonance. And then it creates ideologies divorced from reality to reinforce it all.

The only way out of the trap is to upset the settled mind. To plant seeds of doubt in the rigid soil of certitude. To sow a little uncertainty so that we may reap a more openminded perspective.

That’s where self-inflicted philosophy comes in.

Philosophy should serve as a chisel for the hardened beliefs within us. The best philosophy hurts in a pleasing way. It’s existentially masochistic. It’s painfully transcendent. It cuts. But a resilience is born. A scar forms that creates a robustness tantamount to antifragility.

From this antifragility, we are able to stay ahead of the curve. Bias is tampered. Circular reasoning is straightened. Cognitive dissonance is curtailed. Ideologies are flattened. Imagination is reignited. The trap opens, and the mind is free to fly into the Mecca of going Meta.

Questioning what we think we know diminishes the broadcast of the codependent ego so that we can tune into the broadcast of the interconnected whole.

Self-inflicted philosophy is a discipline of constant self-interrogation. We “inflict” philosophy on ourselves to break through our barriers, biases, cognitive dissonance, cultural conditioning, political brainwashing, religious indoctrination, and, most of all, to stretch our comfort zone.

Through self-inflicted philosophy we free ourselves to be ruthless in our intellection, fierce in our reasoning, cutting in our logic, and cunning in our creativity.

Nothing is off the hook for our deep and penetrating inquiry. Everything is put on blast, especially the Self. The only sacred cow is a barbecued one—skinned, skewered, and roasted on the fire of our philosophy.

If, as Aristotle said, “it is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it,” then it stands to reason that we should never settle on a belief or a thought. We should question the lot. We should take it all into deep consideration and then surrender it to nonattachment. Because a belief, even an accepted thought, can inadvertently become a sacred cow.

When you are practicing self-inflicted philosophy, you are turning tables, flipping scripts, pushing envelopes, kicking open third eyes, flattening boxes, and stretching comfort zones. Nothing is off limits. Everything is put on blast. There are no answers. Everything is a stopgap. Everything is a building block.

Self-inflicted philosophy is a wrecking ball. It pulls no punches. It takes no prisoners. It is determined to be the only thing left in a field of rubble and corpses. So whatever belief you might have, whatever hypothesis you hope to turn into a theory, no matter what field of knowledge you may be in, self-inflicted philosophy is waiting in the shadows to tear it to shreds.

As Rebecca Goldstein said in Plato at the Googleplex, “Philosophical thinking that doesn’t do violence to one’s settled mind is no philosophical thinking at all.”


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