What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos

1

Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
Close

True Selves and Closet Cases

June 11, 2011, 10:50 AM
Mirror

My friend Josh Knobe has an interesting piece in the New York Times about his research on the concept of the true self.

Most people would agree that the crusading anti-gay pastor who feigns interest in his wife for the sake of propriety while lusting after men is not being true to himself. But what if being true to yourself is defined in terms of living according to your principles, however ridiculous they happen to be?

A lot of commenters at Jezebel seem to be misunderstanding the philosophical question. This isn't about whether sexual orientation is hardwired or how people choose their religions.

The philosophical question is whether your "true self" is defined by your desires or your values. If you're unfortunate enough to have anti-gay values and gay desires, are you being truer to yourself by holding tight to your bigoted values and being a closet case, or by jettisoning your principles and having the gay sex you've craved for as long as you can remember?

Even if you agree that holding fast to bigot principles is the best way for a bigot to be himself, that doesn't imply that you approve.

You can be true to yourself and a terrible self. Or, you can change. You might say that the anti-gay bigot who becomes an out, proud gay person has been "untrue" to his former self. Certainly if his former self could see him now, the former self would be furious. But so what? His old self wasn't worth preserving anyway.

Which goes to show that splitting hairs about the nature of the true self is basically a waste of time. Though it might still be interesting to study what people mean by the concept.

[Photo credit: Willie Lunchmeat, Creative Commons.]

 

True Selves and Closet Cases

Newsletter: Share: