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What is coercion?

The original: The psychological state of enacting one idea or impulse while a conflicting impulse is still active in one's mind.

An improvement: Coercion is the state of two or more personality strands being expressed in different options of a single choice such that one cannot see a way to choose without forsaking some part of his personality.

If you're wondering what the use of all this is, coercion captures ideas like mental pain and distress precisely. It explains just what they really are.

And now, a whole new way to look at it:

First off, we need to think of a worldview (personality) as having various parts (strands, groups of theories) that are approximately autonomous. The argument that they are goes as follows:

Is Buffy the series or Buffy the movie better? Most Buffy fans would say the series. In this way they are alike. There are various other questions about Buffy we could ask to also get the same answers.

Now, each Buffy fan has a different worldview, and some different ideas. But when asked about Buffy they can generally give the same answer. This shows that the alike, Buffy part of their personalities does not consult with the rest of their personality. If it did, they would answer differently.

Of course this isn't a perfection distinction. If you ask complex enough questions the answers Buffy fans give will vary more. And part of someone's personality can't be entirely autonomous. But it acts approximately autonomous.

Alright, so the point is we have various different separate parts of our personality. Now, suppose we have to make a choice. Most of our personality won't have anything to say about the choice. Say it's what to eat for dinner. The Buffy part will have no view. Nor the math part. Nor the hockey part. Only a few parts of our personality will be relevant for any given choice.

Alright, so there is some choice to be made, and some parts of our personality give input on what we choose. For each relevant part of our personality, there is a set of options for how to choose that are consistent with it (this set exists abstractly -- I'm not saying all these options are in our mind). When asked if Buffy is cool, we could choose to say "yeah", or "yes", or "yup", or "totally", or many other things, without contradicting our views on Buffy. On the other hand, there are some ways to respond that would not work, such as to say "no" when we actually do think Buffy is cool. So, the point is, there's a set of options (ways to choose) that work with any given personality strand, and all options not in that set would constitute acting contrary to our own personality.

Alright, so now we get to the key new idea: the set of non-coercive options is the intersection of the sets of choices for each part of our personality.

(Intersection of sets means only the things in all of them.)

And, also, the only possible way to change the set of possible non-coercive options (for example to make it bigger) is to change our personality. By altering a part so that it is consistent with a different set of options. (Or by removing a part, like a bad hangup.)

Elliot Temple on April 26, 2004

Messages (9)

I have no doubt that what you have observed and are describing here is a real phenomenon.

I just don't know why you call it "coercion". The most I would be willing to say as of now is that coercion is, probably, a *special case* of what you are describing. So, I guess you are proposing an extension of the common understanding of coercion.

But why?

Blixa at 4:50 PM on April 27, 2004 | #919 | reply | quote

I use the word coercion because Taking Children Seriously has for years.

Elliot at 5:23 PM on April 27, 2004 | #920 | reply | quote

oh, that explains it /sarcasm_but_don't_want_to_provoke_a_"just go read through all TCS materials"_response

Blixa at 7:10 PM on April 27, 2004 | #921 | reply | quote

i talk to TCS ppl a lot. so easiest to use their word. it's not like I know a better one anyway.

Elliot at 7:20 PM on April 27, 2004 | #922 | reply | quote

The point is, now that I know how you define coercion (is yours the same as TCS def BTW?), what do I do with that knowledge? Where do I go from there?

Nowhere, if I don't follow TCS?

Blixa at 10:41 PM on April 27, 2004 | #923 | reply | quote

My coercion is the same concept as TCS. The def in the TCS glossary is very old, and I gave it as "the original". I prefer the newer version meant to be the same concept given after.

If you don't follow TCS, I did mention briefly why coercion is important.

If you're wondering what the use of all this is, coercion captures ideas like mental pain and distress precisely. It explains just what they really are.

I hold there is no mental pain/anguish, or distress, that is not coercion. Coercion is the real thing happening behind those various bad states.

This helps clear up common confusions. For example the state "sadness" is very ambiguous. There is coercive sadness. And there is also non-coercive sadness where you simply recognise that something bad has happened, without being hurt. These are entirely different states, and the difference is the presence or not of coercion.

To go a bit further, it's difficult to name something bad besides coercion, destruction of wealth, and destruction of knowledge.

Elliot at 11:34 PM on April 27, 2004 | #924 | reply | quote

Hm interesting. Actually, I get it now, I think. Thanks!

Blixa at 8:24 AM on April 28, 2004 | #925 | reply | quote

p.s. Just goes to show I should read your posts more carefully.

Blixa at 12:09 PM on April 28, 2004 | #926 | reply | quote

well, certainly you can if you like. but don't think I mind questions.

also i'm now worried someone might get the idea that immorality and bad were synonymous in my last comment. ie, that immorality consists of causing coercion, destroying knowledge, and destroying wealth.

this isn't accurate at all. an example of another immoral thing to do would be to not hire someone because of racism. is that bad? well, maybe. but how about this. a kid in class doesn't raise his hand and answer a question that he might like to b/c he's shy. and thus learns a little less or is a little more bored or whatever. is this bad? well maybe. but if we want to call every tiny little less-than-perfect behavior everywhere bad, we'd have to say there's zillions of bad things happening every day, and this would continue forever. thus making "bad" kinda lose it's meaning. thus i favour terminology where acting slightly less-good isn't called bad (but does constitute immorality, however slight).

Elliot at 12:39 PM on April 28, 2004 | #927 | reply | quote

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