Friday, March 09, 2007

Reductionists Are Like Rats in the Woodwork

I was astounded to read under The Atlantic's Agenda section in a little snippet taken from The Journal of Consumer Research entitled, Psychology that "myopia" is introduced as the tendency to enjoy pleasures in the present and "hyperopia" is the giving up of immediate pleasure in favor of future ones. Traditionally psychologist have referred to this as delayed gratification, which is itself a further watering down of the ontological and spiritual linkeage of the meaning of self-restraint. A far more useful calculus ignored by all reductionists and diffusers of causality is that of the traditional concepts of virtue and vice. Virtue always looks to the future while vice always looks to immediate gratification. We tend to forget that the origin of the word vicious come from the appellation vice-ridden.

Might I suggest that without locating these human habits within the context of morality, i.e. the ability to distinguish right and wrong based on a calculus of what truly works and what doesn't work (in the most general sense) that psychologists do everyone a dis-service. Such intellectual gibberish as distinguishing between "hot" emotions and long term regret and throwing in the implicit conclusion that we shouldn't worry about long-term remorse is a receipe for irrationality.

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