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  1. #1
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Default Peer directed behaviour and lack of a self

    I've been thinking lately a lot about the books suggesting that the self is an illusion or that people are merely vessels for memes or cultural constructs, thinking about it in relation to something I have observed, particularly in populations of young people known to the authorities, police or social services, some of these young people are extremely peer directed, this is different from peer pressure because there's not any pressure, its just a matter of doing, sometimes in a quite determined and even obsessive manner, anything which a peer suggests as opposed to tradition, authority, others suggest whatever the rational or even emotional basis for making those choices.

    This has been investigated by at least one sociologist in the book The Lonely Crowd, although it discusses the rise of "other directed" rather than peer directed behaviour, other directed rather than tradition or ideological precept behaviour, that author, believes is something everyone in the present day and age (and this isnt a new book) are more susceptible to than any other age.

    I'm wondering if the idea that the self is illusionary, and the time invested in researching it, isnt contributing to making that a reality and that for specific populations which are already vulnerable the absecence of a self is filled by relying upon others who have a slightly greater sense of self, at least a capacity for self assertion or conception which permits them to be influence others. What do you think?

  2. #2
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Young people seem to go through a period of rebellion as they approach adulthood. From what I have read, this is all part of separating themselves from their parents and becoming independent people. There is some tendency to reject what their parents and upbringing represent. For many young people, though, there is a conformity in this rebellion, since they rebel by embracing the culture of their peers. In trying to "find themselves" and become their own person, they simply start following a different authority or "tradition". This isn't universal, of course. Some young folks don't reject their upbringing this way, while others truly do march to the beat of their own drummer. I wonder how much it has to do with having an internal vs. external locus of control.
    I've been called a criminal, a terrorist, and a threat to the known universe. But everything you were told is a lie. The truth is, they've taken our freedom, our home, and our future. The time has come for all humanity to take a stand...

  3. #3
    null Jonny's Avatar
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    Well, we're all responding to the environment in some manner or another. I think what Coriolis said about internal vs. external locus of control is right, although I prefer to use the term focus rather than locus of control. It just so happens that for some, the "environment" they respond to consists primarily of other human beings, and for others a significant portion of that environment is in their own head. Ultimately though, almost everyone is responding in some way or another to something external and related to other humans, but for some there is a lot of mumbo jumbo that goes on on the inside before the response is ready for prime time, so to speak.
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  4. #4

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    I have been thinking about this a lot. In many ways, the self is a "construct"...I am not sure of the right word. But, for me, illusions are errors in perception.

    Our plans and designs are constructs too in the sense I mean. Even if the objects of our plans and designs never come to fruition, we may still have perceived their possibility correctly.

    So, in my brow, I interpret what you are asking as whether people are choosing their construct of self based more on their peers than from tradition, then I would say yes. --Especially, for the groups you mentioned.

    What would you choose for your construct of self in their place? What tradition would you have to choose from? Would you choose a construct based on peers who respected you as equals, or adults who see you as "problems"?

    Only in the social sciences do we get to look at an existing real phenomenon and call it "irrational". I know you didn't call it that. But, I picked up a kind of "kids these days" tone. Perhaps, I read too much into the op.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo View Post
    Only in the social sciences do we get to look at an existing real phenomenon and call it "irrational". I know you didn't call it that. But, I picked up a kind of "kids these days" tone. Perhaps, I read too much into the op.
    In some sense you are correct because I'm talking about younger people, ie kids, and my frame of reference is the present, ie these days, but if you mean that its a kind of curmudgenly approach or something you'd be wrong.

    We're living in such a post-traditional and post-ideological present, even the pop culture doesnt have a trace of either, I think it is part of the reason that self is considered a vacuous concept and "character disappears beneath the microscope", I dont proffer that observation as a value judgement so much as a matter of fact.

    It is interesting to see how those most immersed in that setting are affected by it, I knew a very different one and I am also pretty identified with an even earlier phase of life, but the younger people who have only known this and have no rudder or steer other than peers or slightly older peers exhibit markedly different patterns of behaviour and thinking.

    Its a sociological and psychological interest as opposed to value judgement, at least in the first instance, which is supposed to be operative.

  6. #6
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    The majority of my coworkers are early twenties. Male or female they all exhibit what I call drone behaviour. Acting out the behaviour of the strongest personality in the group. They also have few interests beyond reality TV and shopping. Could be that generation or could be my inability to find anything in common with most of the populace. A hell of a lot of people I meet are non-entities.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Pseudo's Avatar
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    Isn't there the idea that no one lives in a vaccum that essentially you can only respond (acceptingly or rebelliously) to what you encounter in the world. The self than being a series of overlapping influences from a variety influencers. I feel like there is still a self in regards to action, but perhaps this explained away again by indoctrination. Two people might share a beilieve that something's is morally wrong but only one person acts. Perhaps the one who acts has come to value the moral stance over their comfort/life and the other hasn't.

    But even still I don't think it makes the self unimportant just because it isn't inherent. Maybe exposure latter in life to new information and the decision to ignore or embrace that new experience is how people form their own selves.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Pseudo, the big theories that I am aware of in relation to the self are that it corresponds to what is constant, ie we change physically but our memory remains, ergo memory is self, is one example.

    So in some ways if you lose your memory you lose your self. I'm not averse to that idea but it could lend itself to some pretty awful conclusions, ie "there is nothing more useless than a new born baby" or that babies, infants and children lack or have not developed a self relative to adults or the elderly and have not the same value.

    I like it because it suggests that we as conscious beings are more than the mice in Skinner boxes which will respond to conditioning and be easily conditioned infact and ergo are just the sum of the "good" or "bad" conditioning they have been exposed to. That sort of determinism I think is wicked, goes too far and is a product of fundamentally "bad faith" or distrust of human beings and any innate nature, like Daniel Dennett's thinking.

    Although one aspect of the self as memory idea is perhaps the developmental or potential aspect, that it grows or the growth aspect, there are many people who dont appear to possess a self or to have engaged in much growth or perhaps an expected or requisite amount of growth by certain key stages in life and perhaps it is they and how they behave which lends a lot of plausibility to Skinner and Dennett's theories.

    It is they, who I would say lack a self, can be easily peer driven and appear to vindicate the self illusion thesis who are a popular rather than universal reality.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Pseudo's Avatar
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    That developmental theory seems somewhat of a biased way for outsiders to critique majority culture ( keep in mind I find myself very much outside he majority). What I was talking about before didn't necessarily include the idea of goodness and badness so much of conflict sets of values which can be view from many sides . For instance truth versus comfort. Two people are raises to value these things differently. They have a friend whose long time girlfriend has and affair and takes off. Friend one, valuing comfort, thinks they should tell the jilted guy that his girlfriend was reassigned to some job in a remote place and couldn't stand to say goodbye. Friend one reasons that it will be less sad for the guy this way because at least he will have his happy memories. Friend two is appalled. He values truth, letting him beilieve things unfaithful woman loved him is awful! Friend one says "but shattering his idea of her and making him feel hurt and humiliated when he doesnt need to is cruel!".

    I think the friend you agree with just depend on what you value more and it can work in other ways. Is self expression and a fullfilling job more important than financial stability. What comes first in importance, the individual or the group?

    All this to say those "drone" people aren't necessarily underdeveloped as much as they have developed in a way that is displeasing to you or I. They might conciously value being a part of the group, not causing upheaval, enjoying rather than over-analyzing their lives. I mean I'm sure they see people with values different from theirs as stupid. Thinking why wouldn't you want to make the most money and get the most enjoyment and sex and fun out o your life?

    The memory idea is interesting to me. An infant really would have no self at all beyond their differences in physicality to other babies. But they talk about how babies still have temperaments. So maybe the self in Brain wiring convoluted but what people try to force on top of that.

    Side note they talk about how language sort of controls our minds by controlling what we are able to conceive of. Babies pre language wouldn't have the cultural imprint. Babies don't have a self in the sense of a unique personhood but they still have motives and drives. In the self a set of tools for fulfilling our basic needs. Do basic needs expand with time to include things like happiness, truth love ect.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Pseudo's Avatar
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    Ramble ramble ramble

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