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July 28, 2006

Identity due to force-feedback response to conditioning

Force feedback...!! It is the feedback that many gaming machines offer us in response to an instruction that we give to it. For example, in the car racing gaming machines, when we try to move the steering wheel in a particular direction to turn the car, the wheel offers us resistance in the opposite direction or assistance in the same direction to simulate real conditions like inertia of the vehicle, friction of the wheels, air, etc.

Isnt this similar to the response that we give to the conditioning the outer world gives to us, which eventually defines our identity and makes us what we think we are?

When somebody suggests us to do one particular thing, often we either tend to think he is right, and think "that is what I feel I should do", or we tend to think that he is wrong, and think "it is better if I do the opposite". Now, it might appear that this is very obvious, whats so significant about this pattern. I beleive it is. Because this suggestion actually does impact our thinking..! It actually changes our opinions either towards the suggestion or opposite to it, and makes it "change" - makes it different than what it was before -- in other words: "polarizes" it. And this is very often in essence the form in which "conditioning" occurs: polarization due to explicit or implicit suggestions.

This conditioning makes us develop opinions and choices; and the development of these opinions over the longer run makes us what we think we are, since we are after all, a "choosing bag". And our very manifestation in reality is our self-expression of our thoughts, our ideas, and our choices...

Though these are subject to change and conditioning very easily over time, we still appear to "feel" that they have some permanence associated with them and the resulting self-identity has some static or permanent nature, and one of our important goals then becomes to protect our identity, and to "exercise" it.

I have observed that for some people, following lifestyle choices ("exercising identity") becomes more important than everything else, even moral obligations.

Somehow I believe that for me, moral obligations are more important than lifestyle choices, but I am not very sure how strongly I believe that.

By the way, I also think that marriage makes us value lifestyle (greatly overlapping with family values) more and more and more....over everything else...


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Hi Gaurang,

I read your post, and was wondering just what you were getting at with the distinction between lifestyle or identity one the one hand and moral obligation on the other. I struggled with the issue of conflicting lifestyles in this post. On further reflection, I wish that there were some ideal public space where lifestyle choice (along with it, cultural/ethnic/sexual/gender identity) could take a back seat to a discussion of what is 'morally' important, in a universal sense. Is that what you mean? Is everything a political struggle to make one particular lifestyle or identity choice come out on top, when a long objective view does not necessarily 'favor' one choice or identity over another. In order to enter into the ideal democratic forum I have in mind, a prerequisite would be to empty yourself of your identity issues, and become in a sense, nobody. Is that possible, or must we always carry a vestige of our cultural identifications (principles, beliefs, ideology, tribal affiliation). Can one be a human being first and only incedentally a male/female, gay/straight black/white? Or is one already all those things first, and can only become a human being with great effort, if at all?

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