Here is a transcript of a recent dialogue on an Internet marketing forum. It has to do with new age concepts of being ourselves and what is acceptable for just being ourselves. Can we ever really be our true selves? Do we have a self separate from the society we live in and the other people we come into contact with? Is the self an illusion, as the Eastern mystics have held all along?

Dude #1 wrote: Instead of being “first rate” or “second rate” it is more important that you acknowledge that you are YOU. YOU do NOT have to live up to anyone else’s expectations except your own. It IS ok to be creative, to think outside the square, to be boring, to be a geek, to be rich, to be crazy, to be a genius, to be a garbo. You can’t compare yourself to anybody else because we are all unique. So who cares about ratings???

Me:

I disagree. This is the relativist fallacy, which equates everything as being equal to everything else. It is ok to have certain standards, adhere to certain principles, and to judge others under certain circumstances.

It is not ok to be crazy, it is not ok to be rude and obnoxious, it is not ok to be selfish, it is not ok to hurt other people, it is not ok to lie and deceive, it is not ok to be unreasonably ignorant and naive, it is not ok to victimize and exploit others (unless you have agreed ahead of time and receive a certain sadistic/masochistic pleasure from it, and maybe even then it is not really ok), it is not ok to procrastinate endlessly or suffer from paralyzing anxiety, it is not ok to be sick, it is not ok to be a lot of things.

Just being “you”, whatever that is, does not justify everything as being ok.

Dude #1

I have no idea what “relativist fallacy” actually means. Am guessing it is where everything is relative to everything else. If so, then that is NOT what I said. I also disagree with your comments about not being allowed to be crazy or selfish as sometimes it can be necessary. Sickness and anxiety are not things you can always control so you cannot use those as examples saying they are not ok. “Being you” does not justify everything being OK and I never claimed that it did. Being YOU means you don’t have to bow to peer group pressure. Of course you can have standards. But they are YOUR standards, not ones set by others. I ask you to simply re read what i wrote because I think you have misinterpreted it, or i didn’t explain it clearly enough for you. I do have an ebook that actually goes into this subject in great detail but that is the essence.

Me:

I read what you wrote very clearly, but I don’t think you have really thought through your position. It sounds a bit simplistic, from the “new age” school of political correctness and psychobabble.

Your writing/thinking is sloppy. First, you say you are “guessing” the relativist fallacy is that “everything is relative to everything else.” Then without showing an understanding of that concept or defining it, you merely say it is not what you said. It is hard to know you didn’t say it if you can’t or won’t define the meaning of what you claim not to have said.

If you read my remarks more closely, you’ll see that I defined the relativist fallacy as everything being “equal” to everything else, not “relative” to everything else. In fact, everything is relative to everything else (Einstein’s Theory of Relativity), but that does not make everything “equal” to everything else (your notion that you are OK and I am OK as long as we are genuinely OURSELVES).

So without defining anything, you disagree with my statement that it is not ok to be crazy. Now you may be playing loosely with semantics here, but by crazy we are most strictly taken to mean psychotic or out of touch with reality. Insane. If you think that is ok, fine, but most people would disagree with you. We are not talking here about creative geniuses who stretch the bounds of what is known, of what we are conscious of – hence enlarging our notion of “reality” – nor are we talking about going out and having a “crazy” night on the town. Most people would find those things acceptable, at least in hindsight (or maybe the crazy night on the town not so acceptable in hindsight :-).