FutureBeacon.org       Part One
Knowledge of Goodness
Leaving the Epoch of Barbarism
by
James Adrian
Chapter 6 - Courage and Confidence
Without Ego
      The accurate appreciation of facts, events, and the meaning of words is essential to the kind of reasoning that leads to correct conclusions.

      Being courageous, in service of a worthy goal, is part of goodness. Your willingness to risk your life, or risk losing something that you value in order to achieve a desired goal, is the meaning of courage; but whether that courage is part of goodness is determined by whether the goal it serves is good.

      When I was nine years old, my life was saved by a boy who was about 15 years old at that time. He did this at great risk to his own life. He had nothing to gain for himself. This act of courage is very different from the willingness to take such risks in order to gain power or wealth.

      Confidence does not mean arrogance. Confidence is a sense of oneself as capable and worthy. Arrogance is an air of superiority often used to assert dominance over others.

      The term ego, as popularly understood, is a fiction.

      Before Sigmund Freud, ego was a Latin synonym for the word self. Immanuel Kant used it as a philosophical term, and then Freud described his meaning for this word. Since Sigmund Freud lived from 1856 to 1939, Freud's meaning of the word, and the subsequent unfortunate public understanding of it are not ancient.

      Freud said that people are not born with an ego, and nonetheless, he defined the word as being such that a person can never get rid of it. Together with its other characteristics, it has hurt people and cultures a lot.

      The misunderstanding of the meaning of words and the accidental or intentional invention of misleading words can do great damage. Much of this can be avoided or corrected if more of us were consciously aware of what the definition of a new word should look like.

      When anybody wishes to introduce a new term, there are four features that its definition must have:

1. A definition must provide a description of that term.

2. The term being defined must not appear in the description of that term. Using the term being defined in the description of that term is circular.

3. Other than the term being defined, the meaning of each term used in a definition must be known to the audience before that definition is stated.

4. The term being defined and the description of that term must be interchangeable. It must be clear that the term and its description have exactly the same meaning.

      When one is accused of having an ego, it could mean that any of various failings are in the character of the accused. These characteristics include being vain, being selfish, being self-possessed, seeking glory, feeling that life is all about oneself, seeking the limelight, taking all the credit, or being in some way better than others.

      Rather than say that a person has an ego, it would be kinder, more accurate, and less offensive to tell that person that he or she is too self aggrandizing, or tries to take all the credit, or whatever the particular failing may actually be. Why? It is because the word carries with it implications that impede self love and diminishes hope of a cure. Most people who use the term believe incorrectly that their ego cannot be dismissed but only restrained. Their worth and esteem tend to be diminished in their own eyes for no defensible reason.

      In the nineteen fifties and sixties, heads of American college departments of psychology were typically proponents of Freud's theories, but there are no such people heading up those departments today. This is because his theories are not testable, and departments of psychology must obtain their wisdom from scientific evidence. Much of the public, who by and large have not studied Freud, are impressed by the profitable practice of psychoanalysis brought about by Freud; and of course, the practitioners have no motive to reexamine Freud's reasoning.

      Fortunately, psychotherapy is being gradually replaced. According to a ptsd guideline website linked below, "Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a form of psychological treatment that has been demonstrated to be effective for a range of problems including depression, anxiety disorders, alcohol and drug use problems, marital problems, eating disorders, and severe mental illness. Numerous research studies suggest that CBT leads to significant improvement in functioning and quality of life. In many studies, CBT has been demonstrated to be as effective as, or more effective than, other forms of psychological therapy or psychiatric medications."

      See this report at https://www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/patients-and-families/cognitive-behavioral.

      If you are vain, selfish, or self-possessed (these are examples), each one can be separately eliminated from your behavior and feelings without believing that the ego is the permanent source of these characteristics. According to many interpreters of Freud's theories, the ego can only be restrained and never cured. Do you really want to view yourself as inherently and irreversibly flawed?

      The question of greatest importance is not whether Freud's theories are verifiable, or whether progress under psychotherapy is more due to the analyst's compassion and wisdom than to Freud's ideas. The critical question is this: When will people stop viewing their heart as a permanent source of destructive feelings that can only be somewhat restrained?

      This widespread belief is damaging and wrong.

      I don't have an ego, and you don't have an ego.


Bibliography

      Out of My System: Psychoanalysis, Ideology, and Critical Method by Frederick Crews

      Seductive Mirage: An Exploration of the Work of Sigmund Freud by Allen Esterson

      Maelzel's Chess Player: Sigmund Freud and the Rhetoric of Deceit by Robert Wilcocks

      The Memory Wars: Freud's Legacy in Dispute by Frederick Crews

      Freud's Wishful Dream Book by Alexander Welsh

      Freud: The Making of an Illusion by Frederick Crews

      The Foundations of Psychoanalysis: A Philosophical Critique by Adolf Grünbaum


      Introduction

      Chapter 1 - Violence and Feelings

      Chapter 2 - Cancelling Limitations

      Chapter 3 - Involuntary Memories

      Chapter 4 - Forgiving

      Chapter 5 - Achieving Tranquility

      Chapter 6 - Courage and Confidence Without Ego

      Chapter 7 - Your Higher Self

      Chapter 8 - Fear

      Chapter 9 - Bias

      Chapter 10 - Love, Compassion, and Goodness

      Epilogue


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