Wishful Thinking

With the reductio ad arcanum, one proves that certain kinds of things can’t exist by showing that their existence would present us with one or more non-trivial questions. Some have employed this method to argue away consciousness, for its existence would present us with the notoriously impenetrable mind-body problem…

But reality doesn’t accommodate itself to the size and shape of the human mind.
— Rebecca Goldstein (The Mind-Body Problem, a novel)

Wishful thinking is ever-so-seductive, and it cuts in both directions.  We want to believe that we have spirits that outlive our bodies.  We want to believe that our lives have purpose.  But that doesn’t necessarily imply that spirits and purposes don’t exist.  Insistence that the world is random, absurd and amoral can also be a kind of wishful thinking for the depressed, projecting their inner state on the world at large. The most dangerous brand of wishful thinking causes us to insist that what we said yesterday must be true today. — JJM


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