there is no “I” there

In a voice memo recently I remarked that it made no sense to say “I’m grateful for this life” or “I am happy to be alive.” My thought was that such statements end up being nonsense. I think the problem comes down to counterfactuals. Being ungrateful that I wasn’t born rich or being grateful that I wasn’t born with a crippling disease is a form of reflexive reflection. It entails entertaining the possibility that the “I” in the statement could have been something else, which is not even logically possible. The subject that makes such a statement could not under any condition be different than it is at that or any moment in its existence.

I find this interesting because there is a great deal of utility in this faculty of the mind. It is the basis of empathy, for example. That we can imagine being “in someone else’s shoes” helps us to connect and exist as social creatures. It’s odd that this ability is based on a deep fallacy.


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