《Choice》的笔记-1 WHY CHOICE MAKES US ANXIOUS
- 章节名：1 WHY CHOICE MAKES US ANXIOUS
- 2016-03-19 23:53:55
Benjamin Franklin also cherished the idea of the self-made man: he stressed that the most successful men in history were of humble origins and were often self-taught. These men were marked by an ability to rise above the difficulties of life, to seize every opportunity in the pursuit of some honest and worthy aim. Underlying the ideal of the self-made man was the conviction that getting rich was the natural result of a man realising his particular talents... Above all, the self-made man is independent from social constrains. With sheer determination and hard work, he could rise above the social and economic conditions into which he was born. He confronts the world with an all-conquering will, and obstacles only help to shape him. By confronting and dealing with adversity in a heroic fashion, a man can become a true conqueror, of himself and of the world.A long-standing debate, unresolved to the present day, about what the state owes its citizens and what those citizens owe one another, peaked in the nineteenth century. The question was whether an individual was obliged to consider the welfare of all or whether his ambition should be given free rein. While critics of the 'laissez-faire' approach insisted on regulatory legislation and the active intervention of the state in economic affairs, defenders of free trade clung to the belief that good intentions, personal rectitude and the universal laws of moral retribution afforded sufficient protection. ....At the turn of the twentieth century, however, the tone of many self-help guides to business slowly changed, the notion of picking off competitors and claiming scalps gradually gained acceptance. When a man tried to succeed in life, he was embarking not only on a struggle with his inner self or with the circumstances that he was born into; he also needed to focus on overtaking others who were in pursuit of their own success. Choosing the direction of one's life was thus linked to the post-Darwinian idea of the survival of the fittest, and life was perceived as a kind of battlefield where only the strongest or the most cunning succeed....In discussions about the nature of victimhood the idea of choice has led to the idea that one can choose to be a victim or a survivor and that individuals can choose how they regard their suffering and can decide what to do about it. The mantra in scores of self-help books that only we can control ourselves and that we have a choice as to how we regard negative events and circumstances has become linked to the ideology of positive thinking, which often gives step-by-step prescriptions for how to overcome set-bakcs in one's life. While some self-help theories promote positive action and behaviour, others promote positive thinking. The first kind often foster unreal expectations about what people can actually do, and the second raise false hopes about the power of thinking. These theories play on the idea of the individual's omnipotence in a particular way. On the one hand, there is the idea of all-powerful individuals who with their sheer determination can change the world around them and thus increase their own well-being. On the other, there is a rejection of reality as such and a perception that individuals have power over the way they see reality around them and that by seeing things differently you can even change them.In these times of crisis and uncertainty the ideology of positive thinking plays an essential role in masking the need to rethink the nature of social inequalities and trying to find alternatives to the way capitalism has been developing. When individuals are made to feel they are the masters of their own destiny, and when positive thinking is offered as the panacea for the ills that they suffer as the result of social injustice, social critique is increasingly replaced by self-critique.The crucial point about self-help guides is that they manifestly do not work. Despite a huge and hungry readership, they have failed to create a happier and mentally healthier society. ......The coach does not ask what is causing anxiety in her student's professional environment, for example, but focuses on how the student can change his behaviour. The ultimate goal of coaching is to reintegrate the student into the traditional roles of production and consumption. As a new form of social control, coaching encourages individuals to become more and more self-regulating, to adapt constantly to the changes in society around them. Whoever is capable of total self-control, of fully determining his desire, will fulfil his potential and realise his goals. ....Clearly our generation has thrived on the illusion of progress, while privately the idea of ever-expanding possibility has only made us more anxious. The more we have tried to convince ourselves that choice brings greater satisfaction, the less we have actually seemed to enjoy having it.
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