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Related Words, Beliefs, Background

Worldview Theme #29A: 

            The Self Restrained Person

  Worldview Theme#29B: 

          The Threatening Person 

Contrast Worldview Themes #29A and #29B --   these themes involve orientations, beliefs or behavior that are (more or less) diametrically opposed!            

Contrast Worldview Themes #29A and #28A --   these themes involve orientations, beliefs or behavior that are (more or less) diametrically opposed!           

asceticism -- a lifestyle emphasizing self-discipline and simplicity involving voluntarily abstaining from physical and sensual pleasures usually for religious, spiritual or moral reasons.

Confucianism -- an ethical system / agnostic practical philosophy based on the teachings of the 6th century BC Chinese sage, Confucious. Its key teachings include: 1) Ultimately the happiness of society rests on sincere investigation that produces relevant knowledge; 2) Happy societies are built on a foundation of disciplined individuals in disciplined families; 3) Respect for and fidelity to natural obligations, most notably to parents and family, is essential. 4) The right relationship between individuals is important, one based on sympathetic “fellow feeling”, treating those subordinate to you as you would like to be treated if you were the subordinate -- ideas which provide the basis for a Confucian Golden Rule; 5) Avoiding extremes and embracing moderation --finding a Golden Mean -- is important.

conscience--a sense of 1) what is morally / ethically right or wrong, and 2) which actions a) will produce more pleasure and happiness vs. more pain and suffering, b) will be praised vs. blamed, c)  potentially promise benefits vs. involve risks and potential liabilities.  When conscientious behavior and actual behavior diverge, guilt and feelings of remorse can result.  H.L. Mencken referred to it as "the inner voice that tells us that somebody might be watching." Some connect conscience with religion: it has been termed "God's voice."  Others make no such connection.

conscience, global environmental--while a few environmentally concerned individuals may build this into their conscience, futurists have imagined a human collective consciousness / global brain that automatically makes individuals aware of planetary well being and encourages them to factor it into their behavior. The book Coming of Age in the Global Village provided one example of this (called GAIA).

delaying gratification--the ability to postpone receiving some reward and control impulses pushing for instant gratification.  Those possessing this are believed to be more emotionally mature than those lacking it.

discounting the future -- doing or having (consuming) something now, rather than waiting , or rather than investing the money you would have spent and getting a high return on the investment.

dharma--a concept central to the religions of India, symbolized by the wheel, it refers to the underlying principles / inherent order in nature and belief that it is one's duty to live in accordance with them.

ecological conscience--a term popularized by Aldo Leopold who connected it with treating the land right--in accordance with his land ethic.  More generally it involves feeling obligated to treat the natural habitat where one lives right: 1) not making a mess of it, and  2) not incurring ecological debt.  

guilt -- an emotional state produced by knowing that one has committed a breach of conduct or violated moral standards. If one accepts society’s version of acceptable behavior, the punishment guilt produces is self-administered.

harm avoidance -- cautious anticipation of difficulty in certain situations results in people characterized by this to plan carefully, pessimistically worry, be shy, socially inhibited and sometimes avoid strangers. At times, such people lack energy to cope with situations that produce anxiety, so they passively retreat or hide from them altogether.

Hobbesian view of human nature -- According to 17th century English philosopher Thomas Hobbes, human beings were selfish, aggressive, fiercely competitive, highly acquisitive creatures who were incapable of self restraint. With this dim view of human nature, he felt that the authoritarian state offered the only way to keep human beings from killing each other in constant warfare and destroying civilization.

instant gratification -- the thrill that comes when you immediately get a desired something. Driving this is a childish “I want that now!” force. For some, this force is powerful enough to overcome the opposing force: a rational, restraining adult attitude that questions whether the desired something is really needed and whether there is money to pay for it.

meditation--employing techniques to regulate one's attention and produce an inner state of clarity, serenity, and even bliss. Some meditate to calm one's inner self, using it as a sort of mind / body medicine; others to experience higher states of consciousness (even cosmic consciousness) in a mystical / religious quest.  Some techniques--called concentrative--involve narrowing one's mental focus to a pre-selected object or process such as one's breathing; others--called mindfulness --expand one's inner vision in non-critical way to include a whole background or field without thinking or dwelling on any of it.

military conduct and discipline--fundamentally involves obeying orders and consequences for not doing so.  While it includes military courtesy (formal address, salutes, standing at attention, etc), ultimately military training seeks to instill unquestioned obedience, reinforce discipline and respect for the chain of command.

monasticism--the religious practice, typically accompanied by 1) belief that the world is evil and 2) vows (of celibacy, obedience, poverty, etc.), where one renounces worldly pursuits and withdraws to seek higher / spiritual truth. 

Noble Eightfold Path, The--a practical prescription for behaving ethically, gaining meditative discipline and wisdom. The Buddha taught that following it was the way to end suffering.    

personal responsibility, accepting -- Before an individual can overcome some personal difficulty or solve a personal problem, he or she needs to acknowledge that the difficulty or problem exists, by saying something like, “This problem is mine and I must solve it”. In this context, taking personal responsibility means that you don’t ignore difficulties or problems, expect others to solve them for you, or shift the blame to others. In a family or social context, taking personal responsibility can mean voluntarily limiting your choices or restraining yourself for the good of the family, tribe, village, community or whatever. Richard Critchfield refers to this as “the freedom to choose self responsibility”.

Protestant work ethic -- an ethic based on self reliance, hard work and frugality being the path to salvation that has been important in shaping post Reformation western (especially American) society of the last five hundred years. Thus, ingrained in my people’s heads, since their earliest childhood, were sayings like “God helps those who help themselves”, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop”, “A penny saved is a penny earned”, etc. Only recently has a consumption ethic begun to seriously compete with, some would say replace, this work ethic.

self control -- generally this refers to exercising restraint over one’s impulses, desires and emotions. Often it can involve deferring a reward or delaying gratification. -- an ability that many cite as a sign of emotional maturity or even intelligence. Some see the process of exhibiting self control as involving a battle between different parts of the mind.

stoicism--in modern, popular conception this term means indifference to pleasure or pain, but its classical meaning connects with a whole philosophy. Ancient Greek and Roman stoics taught the importance of self-control, reason,  and courage in maintaining clear judgment --especially during tumultuous times when one might otherwise succumb to destructive emotions.  In general,  stoics seek to maintain inner calm, have their lives flow smoothly and evenly.  Like Buddhists, they believe that life is potentially full of suffering brought on by passions and desires.  They stress that removing these--especially distress, fear, lust, and delight--is the key to having freedom.        

tao / Taoism--the former is a concept from ancient China that can be thought of as the way of nature and, as related to human behavior, the path of virtuous conduct in accordance with nature; the latter refers to the Chinese mystical philosophy or folk religion built around conformity to the tao. Founded by Lao-Tzu in the 6th century BCE, Taoism is polytheist / animist / shamanist in a traditional Chinese way. Ethically it values compassion, moderation, and humility.

thrifty (or frugal) orientation -- making do with less, saving money and resources by finding creative ways to solve practical problems and maintaining one’s current possessions, thereby improving their functional efficiency and extending their useful life.

voluntary simplicity -- a simple, typically environmentally sound and ecologically grounded, non-consumerist lifestyle that people voluntarily choose, typically for ethical, environmental or spiritual reasons

weight gain, avoiding -- the bulk of the human diet will be comprised of fats, protein, and carbohydrates and the energy they supply can be measured in calories. Calories consumed per day should be within a certain range to maintain a healthy weight. Since fats contain 9 calories per gram, and both protein and carbohydrates only 4 calories per gram, consuming lots fats leads to relatively lots of calories. This is not a problem in “hunter and gatherer” societies, where lots of physical activity (i.e. exercise) burns lots of calories, but in western sedentary societies it typically is! In general, if one is currently at a healthy weight, if the calories consumed vs. calories burned are roughly equal, one’s weight will be maintained. If calories consumed typically exceed calories burned, weight gain is inevitable. See books with charts of caloric contents of foods and calories burned by different types of physical activity for the details -- which are important!

yin & yang--in Chinese philosophy this refers to polar extremes or opposite sides of something. The yin is linked with a female, passive principle; the yang to a male, active principle. The distinction can also be made in terms of dark vs. light, cold vs. hot, wet vs. dry, etc. Embracing moderation can mean finding a balance of yin and yang in one’s  life.    

  Contrast Worldview Themes #29A and #29B --   these themes involve orientations, beliefs or behavior that are (more or less) diametrically opposed!           

Contrast Worldview Themes #29B and #47B --   these themes involve orientations, beliefs or behavior that are (more or less) diametrically opposed!        

Contrast Worldview Themes #29B and #16 --   these themes involve orientations, beliefs or behavior that are (more or less) diametrically opposed!        

aggression, origin and types of -- an offensive action, either physical act, verbal assault, bodily attack, display of hostility, or threat. If directed against an individual, it can do physical or psychological damage, reduce fitness, and limit freedom. The attack can be unprovoked and seemingly senseless, or it can be motivated by frustration, fear, or a desire to induce fear -- perhaps even flight -- in others. If the aggression is verbal, nothing more than a strong desire to advance one’s ideas, position or interests may be behind it. Or its origin may be rooted in a special situation or circumstances. Some of these types of aggression have been named, including 1) altruistic aggression -- aggression to protect others, 2) displaced aggression -- aggression directed at a person other than the person directly responsible for the grievance, 3) maternal aggression -- aggression by a mother to protect her children, 4) territorial aggression -- aggression to protect one’s territory.

amok syndrome -- an extreme emotional state, often triggered by loss of honor, love, or fortune so that one feels there is nothing more to lose, involving an uncontrollable, frenetic murderous rampage. The rampage can be carefully planned and seen by the perpetrator as a means of redemption or deliverance

dehumanizing before killing -- based on the idea that it is easier to kill people who are seen as less than human, before such killing a dehumanizing process must take place. This may begin with discriminating, perhaps tagging with derogatory epithet, scapegoating, and lead to generally “psychically numbing” oneself to the reality that the intended victims are fellow human beings.

domestic violence--occurs when one person in a relationship (or family) attempts to control or dominate--either physically or psychologically--the other (or another family member). The forms it can take range from continual emotionally abusive name-calling / putdowns to sexual / physical assault.

empathy -- concisely it refers to “fellow feeling” , that is imagining that you are in the other person’s shoes and experiencing his or her feelings, struggles, etc.  Emotionally immature people, in particular those who after experiencing so much pain as children have learned how to block it, may not feel compassion for other's pain. Empathizing with others thus requires being in touch with your own feelings.

fear--a strong, primary emotion associated with unpleasant anticipation of danger and pain.

law: civil vs. criminal--the former refers to the means by which individual rights are protected, the latter with offenses that harm (or potentially could harm) the entire community. In civil cases the responsibility for demonstrating harm and seeking remedy lies with the individual affected; in criminal cases the state must pursue violators and seek remedy--which may be imprisonment.

lawsuit--a comprehensive term for any proceeding in a court of law whereby an individual or legal entity seeks a legal remedy.  Such legal action is initiated by the plaintiff who complains (petitions) that he / she / it has been harmed / suffered a loss by failure of the defendant to act in accordance with the law.

machiavellian -- an approach to getting what you want summed up in the famous quote, “The end justifies the means”. Specifically, the desired end is increasing power and control. The opportunistic means employed to achieve this are whatever it takes, including deception, deviousness, duplicity, and cunning manipulation of others.

non-aggression principle--the idea, as expressed by Ayn Rand, that coercive physical force or the threat of such use against person or property should never be used first, and that its only legitimate use is for defensive purposes by individuals or by governments to punish law-breakers.

nuclear terrorism--generally refers to terrorists using or threatening to use either nuclear weapons or dirty bombs (which disperse radioactive material). It could also include their attacking nuclear power plants in an effort to cause release of ionizing radiation into the environment.

prisoner--a person deprived of liberty and confined to a prison, usually for violating the law. 

shame leading to vengeance -- if a person has been shamed, had self respect, sense of honor, pride assaulted, or for males, manhood attacked, if the assault has been grave and the wounds deep, then sometimes the only way the person can restore a sense of self esteem and standing in the tribe or community is by seeking vengeance.

Social Darwinism -- the application of Darwinian principles (natural selection, survival of the fittest, etc) to social practices as a natural defense of entrepreneurial capitalism

terrorist--one who engages in terrorism, another one of those difficult to define terms since "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter".  Most definitions of terrorism include 1) use of force / violence, 2) such acts are designed to instill fear / terror, and 3) political / ideological goals are behind these acts.  Some definitions also stress that the acts are unlawful and that innocent civilians are indiscriminately targeted.  

threat -- a gesture or action that intimidates, expresses intention of attacking, inflicting harm or injury, or communicates evil intent.

Tooth and Claw Ethics / Law of the Jungle--both of these date to the late nineteenth century, the former was made famous by "Darwin's bulldog" Thomas Huxley, one of the founders of evolutionary ethics, the later by Rudyard Kipling (perhaps influenced by the Social Darwinist currents of the time) in The Jungle Book   Earlier in that century, British poet Tennyson had characterized nature as "red in tooth and claw".  The law of the jungle is basically "kill or be killed".

torture -- severe pain is inflicted on someone in an effort to intimidate, get information from, revenge some past wrong, punish, deter, or simply to be cruel and sadistic. 



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