Illusions of Self

“Surrounded as we are by such people – so confused, so ignorant of what they’re saying and of whatever faults they may or may not have, where those faults came from and how to get rid of them – I think we too should make a habit of asking ourselves, ‘Could it be that I’m one of them too? What illusion about myself do I entertain? How do I regard myself – as another wise man, as someone with perfect self-control? Do I, too, ever make that boast about being prepared for whatever may happen? If I don’t know something, am I properly aware that I don’t know it?

– Epictetus

What illusions about myself do I entertain?

The illusion that I am wiser than I am?



More objective?

What views of myself do I accept as true merely because they are comfortable or convenient?

And how do I go about recognizing those perspectives for the sugar-loaded candy poison that they are, and removing them from my formula for self-evaluation?

How do I know if I’m truly wise? Can the possession of wisdom be recognized by the one who holds it? Or does greatness in wisdom necessarily coincide with ignorance of the fact that it graces one’s head?

Likewise, does adherence to folly escape the observation and awareness of its employers?

How do I know if I am smart? Even if people tell me I am, or I get good grades? How do I know that their definition of “smart” is accurate? What does it mean to be “smart” in the first place?

How do I know if and when I’m truly being objective?

Well, if I happen to advocate or believe something that I’d rather not advocate or believe, that might be at least a partially good indicator of objectivity. It suggests that I’ve done some research, or at the very least, that something deep within me makes me aware of something that I wish weren’t the case. Yet I cannot simply ignore what I see, once I’ve seen it. Just as one cannot ignore an incoming massive tidal wave. They may not like the reality of that tidal wave or find it comfortable, but they accept it, because ignoring its presence could prove fatal.

However, if my beliefs rest within my comfort zone, I think a higher level of examination is called for regarding the reason behind such beliefs.

Do you think it’s possible to know our blind spots? Is it possible to know what artifacts or agents are blinding us, while they are in the process of doing so?

© 2018 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved

6 thoughts on “Illusions of Self

  1. Millennial Monk

    Our existence is ultimately one of subjectivity and uncertainty. Shedding the ego deep in meditation certainly provides an exercise in observing one’s own objectivity, or lack thereof.

    I would approach my own objectivity the same way a scientist would – testing it in the field and attempting to make sense of the data. A hundred people may recount a hundred impressions of me or my ideas, and they are all correct.

    I do believe we ultimately find ourselves incapable of completely untethering our will from the lens through which we observe the universe. Yet, fault it is not. To be human is to err, and to love is to appreciate the missightings of others.


    1. Thanks for reading and for your thoughts, Millennial Monk! 🙂 I like the picture of untethering the will from the lens through which we observe the universe. The lens is often chosen by the will, rather than the other way around.


  2. Pingback: Five Factors that Can Skew Personality Test Results – Reflection Cube

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