The Desire to be Right

It gets overlooked for water-to-fish reasons, but life is unintelligible without it.

The object of the desire is at our center and protected at all costs, since to lose it is unintelligible except as death (the contemporary talk of “my truth” makes sense if we take it in this way.) And since only truth makes us right, so it’s truth we’re protecting. When we try to imagine our fundamental sense of being right being otherwise we see can only visualize ourselves doing things irrational and wrong.

But I’m describing different things: on the one hand a desire to be right, on the other a belief that one already is right. We can only protect what we believe is already true, but the desire to be right is not limited to this. Already-truth must assimilate later-truth, but later-truth is unknown and so raises the thought that some is unassimilable. This raises the prospect of, again, death. In one sense this justifies humility on our part, though this is also an openness to being surprised, but there is something more fundamental at stake. Either there is some truth capable of assimilating all others, or not; and if not then the desire for truth is simply a desire for death. Truth might still be useful or even pleasant, but it is hostile to us. we should seek our fulfillment elsewhere. The only alternative to truth are the various forms of bestial life: endless diversion and amusement,  seeking some space outside one’s own mind with intoxicants and hallucinogens, heroic self-assertion seeking power for its own sake, or, most attractively, pretending that some less universal common good than a truth that assimilates all truth could suffice – the family, tribe, nation, etc.

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