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The gruesome dispassion of genius

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posted on Feb, 1 2009 @ 08:54 PM
reply to post by Illusionsaregrander

A bit of a paradox, eh?

One definition of 'dispassion' is:

dispassion, dispassionateness, dryness (objectivity and detachment) "her manner assumed a dispassion and dryness very unlike her usual tone"

So, in this example, Newton's passion for the exploration of scientific rationality fueled his ability for dispassionate experimentation.

When does such passion undermine it's own justification, by its resulting actions, I wonder? We could perhaps say "when it begins to harm others", but is that a moral or a pragmatic line that's drawn there?

And is the ability to maintain such dichotomy - emotionlessness driven by deep emotion - an attribute of genius? I'm reminded of Doulas Adam's definition of intelligence: the ability to maintain simultaneous contradictory ideas: "Having both tea and no tea".

posted on Feb, 1 2009 @ 09:22 PM
reply to post by Ian McLean

I think a passion for objective truth (to the degree it is possible for humans) requires dispassion for the egoic self. So yes, I suppose it is a bit of a paradox.

Although I think it could equally be explained simply by being more clear about what the object of the passion is. Those with a great deal of selfish passion, passion that is directed towards their physical self, their position in life, their own beliefs, ideas, etc., not surprisingly have less passion for "the thing in itself" or truth divorced from personal bias.

I think the common definition is simply a reflection of the fact that by far the greater number of people have passion first and foremost for their own interests, beliefs, ideas, etc. So they assume that a passion for "truth" or wisdom is a lack of passion altogether. I suppose they simply dont pause to think that there is something other than the egoic self worthy of great love.

posted on Feb, 1 2009 @ 09:37 PM

Originally posted by Ian McLean

When does such passion undermine it's own justification, by its resulting actions, I wonder? We could perhaps say "when it begins to harm others", but is that a moral or a pragmatic line that's drawn there?

I am not familiar enough with Adams to comment on that aspect of what you said, but the above I think I can.

I will go back to my first example. Dispassion as it is displayed in genius is not really a lack of passion. It is a passion for truth that supercedes passion for self interest. It is a passion for seeing things the way they are, rather than a passion for viewing things through the lens of self interest. And upon seeing things for what they really are, one then continues by not forcing upon the things-that-are ones own view. Instead, one observes and experiments within the bounds of "what is." NOT forcing ones opinion upon the subject, but operating withing objective reality as much as this is possible.

If one is capable of this sort of "dispassion" that also means that one can see that people and creatures do not like to suffer. It is obvious, everyone can see this. What people DO in practice is justify imposing their will or opinion upon the suffering thing. That is not "dispassion." That is the same egoic "passion for your own egoic self" that is most common among humans.

If you are truly dispassionate towards your own personal bias, your own desire for, or wish to, or opinion, what could possibly make you feel your own "desire to know" should infringe upon the right of another beings, "desire not to suffer?" It isnt a moral choice at all. It is a logical one. If one is not holding oneself to a separate standard, an elevated one, what could possible cause one to think that "I" have more of a right than "you?"

It is only selfish passion that makes us feel OUR ideas, OUR beliefs, and OUR wishes, should somehow take precedence over the simple facts of the matter. A passion for truth itself requires that you set your own preferences aside and consider what actually IS in the moment. Not what you wish was, or what you think should be.

So a truly dispassionate person would not create a justification for placing their own desires over that of another. They would not make a special case for their own interests. I would not say that was a morally based choice at all, simply a dispassionate one. (Where the term actually refers to a lack of selfish passion, not a lack of passion altogether.)

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