Is it better to live in ignorant bliss, or attempt to understand and accept life’s harsh realities?
As ones cognitive abilities increase throughout childhood and adolescence protective and/or entertaining constructs society inflicts upon youngsters are gradually removed. Even though a young boy may cry when his parents inform him that Santa Clause does not exist and that, in truth, Christmas is driven by commercialistic self-serving motives; people understand that this painful realization is important for his long term good as certainly any adult who believes in Santa would be mocked cruelly by his peers. Fortunately for everyone, the tears dry quickly and the very plastic child almost instantly evolves to greater level of understanding incorporating the new found knowledge into a working schema that still allows for the enjoyment of Christmas.
Eventually the child grows into an adult and realizes that the true joy of Christmas is the joy of giving not receiving. Ideally the story ends there with the person believing that they are truly altruistic in their gift giving and that the joy on the receivers face is all that they need. Now what happens if the person’s cognitive abilities enable then to progress to the next level of understanding, should that be encouraged?
In reality there are no altruistic acts, be it volunteerism, providing orgasm-producing stimulus to others, or even the soothing of an infants crying… you name it. All actions are self-serving like it or not. Evolutionary and operant conditioning theories, among others, all explain how emotional contagion is the reason why we enjoy making others feel better when sad or making them feel really great at other more randy times. It’s not because we really want them to be happy, it is because them being happy makes YOU feel good (warm fuzzies). Similarly the desire to reduce another’s suffering is due to your OWN negative feelings evoked when you see someone else cry (that and the removal of annoying stimuli like crying noises).
So the question at hand is “when is it better to live in ignorant bliss rather than accept the unpleasant truths?” At what point does further understanding of behaviorism, or excessive introspection and meta-analysis become a bad thing?
This came up recently when I attempted to explain the actions of forum members in a certain thread that is popular due to simple Id impulse satisfaction. The moderators of this board apparently decided for all of you that you are meant to live in ignorant bliss, BTW. The idea I proposed wasn’t even very radical; all I suggested is that people use their appearance as a currency in order to get attention –usually sexual- in an attempt feel better about themselves and bolster self-esteem. GASP don’t tell the makeup, clothing, plastic surgery, etc, etc industries...
Could this understanding have led to an adaptation where an improved mental schema allows for self-validation, freeing them of this pseudo whoring of themselves? Or would it just be taken as an insult, as they do not have the mental capacity to reach the next cognitive level?