Oh, private language. I know it all too well. Wittgenstein might have thought differently about it had he suffered from anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Psychology has at times been the butt of many a joke, with Behaviorism in particular (gavagai, anyone?), but it serves a purpose – even if this purpose is rather self-indulgent at times. How many times has someone told you to stop worrying about something, or to make yourself go to the store despite a lack of motivation?
I wrote a Philosophy paper in 2003 on the normativity of ethics and still hold some of my arguments to be true. I do believe that there is right and wrong in this world because we believe it to be so, while adhering to the claim that values must be objective. I didn’t come up with this line of reasoning myself, as it was derived from Christine Korsgaard, who derived it from Immanuel Kant. The premise of the argument is that there exists within us both an acting-self and a thinking-self, and the two are in constant communication with one another. Simply put: If you tell yourself to exercise and then go jogging, you’ve just had a “conversation” between your acting-self (the jogger) and your thinking-self (the one telling you to go jog). To me, this just seems intuitively right; however, I’ll gladly listen to arguments to the contrary, lest I forget my Philosophical roots. Whether the existence of these two parts of one’s inner-self entails the the normativity of values is up to those much wiser than myself.
If you’ve read this far, then you’re probably wondering why the hell does any of this matter? It matters to me because my thinking-self is overwhelming my acting-self to the point that it immobilizes me in thought… and anxiety. This is the way I think when dealing with my anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Maybe it’s not that my thinking-self takes over but that my two “selves” are so disconnected that I can’t listen to myself. I know that putting it that way makes me sound crazy, but I also know that every person reading this can relate.
I need to find a way to get my acting-self to take command. But, that’s the million dollar question, isn’t it? If I had that answer, I’d be the richest psychiatrist in the world.