If there are certain key concepts that encompass my entire existence, then this is certainly one of them. To do all the things that I do, and to do all the things that I wish to do, and to do all the things I yet don’t know I want to do, I play the role of the outside observer.
Being an outside observer allows one to participate in any given situation, but in a way that it allows observation, deduction, and rational action. But it is much more than just that. It is a core principle. I will go from ‘I’ and ‘one’ to ‘we’. We should always strive to remove ourselves from the game and observe it from the outside. The game is in this context pretty much everything. Let’s say that there is a big political debate on an important question going on. Let’s say that it’s something really important, and that there are two main sides, together with some other options. In an American context, this might mean Democrats and Republicans, in a European one it could be Euroskeptics and pro-EU politicians.
We, who strive for greatness, are obliged to remove ourselves and observe the debate as if we were watching it on a screen.
Let’s say that there is a fight between our friends. Again, two opposing sides. We are once again obliged to remove ourselves from the fight and be an outside observer.
Let’s say that there is a war going on. Let’s say that a certain terrorist organization, that gains more and more power as time goes, gains so much power that it starts an all-out, overt war against one state. Let’s also say that we live in that one state which has fallen under attack.
Again, we must do our best and more, we must stay an outside observer.
Why do we need to do this constantly? Does it not make us lose contact with the world? If there is a key political issue, we should act on it, right? We should try to influence it. Shouldn’t we try to change the world for the better?
Well, yes… This brings me to another important point.
Doublethink is one of the concepts from George Orwell’s celebrated book 1984. In a nutshell, doublethink means holding two contrary opinions in mind and believing in them at the same time.
To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget, whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again, and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself – that was the ultimate subtlety; consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word ‘doublethink’ involved the use of doublethink.
Doublethink is rightfully known as something bad, but there is no closer term to describe what I want to describe, so I will ask you to forget about its negative connotations and see it in a new light. Maybe we can find a more suited term for this, but in the meantime, we’ll use this one.
Humans are very kind. Humans are very violent.
These two statements are both true. This is what I mean when I say doublethink.
In the case of this post, doublethink refers to being an outside observer and being an active participant at the same time.
Being an outside observer (in the rest of the text OO) requires assuming a certain mental attitude in life in general, a sort of distance from ‘earthly affairs’. But in no way does it stop one from acting in an ‘earthly affair’. Being an OO and an AP (active participant) at the same time requires us not to commit completely to a certain course of action. It requires us to be able at all times to change our opinion completely, thus avoiding cognitive dissonance. It requires that we rid ourselves of emotional attachments to our opinions and in that way, we never really take sides and always remain outside observers.
In conclusion, we should participate in life. We should influence others, expand positive concepts and change the world. But never should we take sides before looking at the entire situation from the perspective of an outside observer, and we should continue to use this distancing while we do what we do.
Stay out, observe everything.