Re: Synchronicity

From: Robin Hanson (
Date: Sun Jul 15 2001 - 11:14:15 MDT

On 7/11/2001 Amara Graps wrote:
> >Amara Graps wrote:
> >>Consciously or unconsciously you *know* the things that you like ...
> >>event that might be considered a coincidence to someone else,
> >>takes on a special meaning to you: ...
> >to me the key question is: is it *true*?
>For me, that is not as important as the answer to the question:
>"Is it *good* for *me*?" For a number of things in my life I don't
>yet understand the working details, however, I use those things, ...
>If you view synchronicity as a meaningful coincidence between an
>external event and an internal readiness for being aware of that
>event, then synchronicity acts as a bridge to our unconscious mind
>or, at least, to the very edge of our conscious mind. ... I think
>that, in order for synchronicity to work, it requires a deep
>trust that the messages from your unconscious mind are strong,
>authentic and move us in the direction of greater wisdom and
>compassion and wholeness.
>... Wouldn't it be really cool too, if your particular path
>path was also beneficial for the world? An alignment of personal
>universal purposes, in my opinion is the next level of integration
>for someone. That is what being filled with the divine is about...

It seems of course more reasonable to phrase factual claims in terms of
learning things from your unconscious, rather than from nature. But it
worries me when you talk about truth being less important, about requiring
deep trust, and concluding that your personal path is beneficial to the
world. I fear that your unconscious may be telling you comforting lies.

You see, it seems that humans are not built to be truth-seekers, and so are
often happier, etc. when they allow other considerations to influence their
beliefs. People like to think they are more able than they are, for example.
Humans are built to be truth-seekers more in some areas than in others,
but in all areas must rely enormously on unconscious mental processing.
In the areas where people seek truth more, they are conscious of critical
processes that check claims for various sorts of reasonableness. In the
other areas, we tend to distract or disable these critical processes in
order to allow non-truth considerations to better influence beliefs.
This is the essence of self-deception.

Believing that what is good for me is good for the world is exactly one
of those areas where we should expect people to be self-deceived. If
the part of you that seems to claim this also seems to tell you that you
must trust it without doubt or criticism, and that truth isn't really
so important a goal, this seems a good candidate for self-deception.
I grant that you will probably be happier if you let yourself be
self-deceived in such a way. But perhaps you would rather be less happy
and believe truer things.

Robin Hanson
Asst. Prof. Economics, George Mason University
MSN 1D3, Carow Hall, Fairfax VA 22030-4444
703-993-2326 FAX: 703-993-2323

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