I have written previously about egos within the paranormal field and that we need to put egos aside and work together etc etc. Most of you know where I am coming from. It was more a general commentary on the state of the paranormal field and I think we have all encountered the type. While that was the initial point I was trying to convey, someone came back with an interesting take and one that had me thinking. They rejected this and brought up the point that there are historical figures of the past (Nikola Tesla I believe was the example he used) that were egoists and that they would not have been the person they were or achieved what they did without ego. So it made me wonder, where does egoism fit in with the paranormal?
In philosophy, egoism is the theory that one’s self is, or should be, the motivation and the goal of one’s own action. Egoism has two variants, descriptive or normative. The descriptive (or positive) variant conceives egoism as a factual description of human affairs. That is, people are motivated by their own interests and desires, and they cannot be described otherwise. The normative variant proposes that people should be so motivated, regardless of what presently motivates their behavior. Altruism is the opposite of egoism. The term “egoism” derives from “ego,” the Latin term for “I” in English. Egoism should be distinguished from egotism, which means a psychological overvaluation of one’s own importance, or of one’s own activities.
Harry Houdini is an example I am going to use here. If you read my blog, you will know I am quite a fan of Harry Houdini. As much as I enjoy his books, reading about his exploits and even proudly displaying his magic posters on my wall, I also acknowledge that he had quite the ego. At times, he probably acted as a bit of an egotistical asshole towards some. Some of the wording he has used in his books to describe people who believed in certain phenomena is too offensive to repeat in modern times (and was really disappointing to read). While he was in the pursuit of truth, make no mistake, Houdini was a showman and it was all about him.
We all have an ego within us. It is our sense of identity or feelings of self-importance. It is also what makes us feel unique and makes us stand up for ourselves when we feel we have been wronged. It makes us be respected for our worth. While this of course is the good side of ego, we know too the darker side. It affects our decision-making process and maybe in some instances we over estimate our worth or our uniqueness. Our ego wants us to feel important. It is a basic human instinct that we all desire. I work hard at writing this blog for example, and a part of me enjoys praise or achievements I make within that. This is my ego at play. If I take something personally such as a bad comment, again this is my ego albiet maybe a little hurt. In a lot of ways, it feels like we cannot control some of the basic feelings that we feel as a result of our egos. We can however control how we act. I make a comparison to super heroes, do we use our power for good or for evil?
Acknowledging egoism, doesn't give us free license to just become horrible towards one another or do what we want. I still feel pretty strongly about the ego thing and there are unspoken codes for me at least of things you don't do. There are a very large amount of egos within the paranormal field, this I think we can agree. Social media thrives on it. When it comes to the paranormal field, there are always those who feel they know better and it is their way or the highway. There are some people that are more interested in the look at me than the research. I suppose this is the opportunity to use the more positive side of your ego. Let your ego tell you that your ideas are not stupid. Let your uniqueness show and like those who paved the way before us and walked their own path inspire you to walk your own. Ego can be used for good. Ego is always going to be around and could influence those around us in a more negative way. While we can be offended and often are, we also have to take a moment to remember our past. Some of the greatest minds we look back to today were in essence extremely egotistical. It doesn't mean it is right to treat others a certain way, but we have a tendency to gloss over a lot of our past. Maybe this is why we say never meet your heroes. We look at this today as courageous and say they never conformed to what others wanted them to be and walked their own path but the fact is if not for their highly inflated egos, they probably wouldn't even be known by us today. So I choose to take inspiration in my own way from this and walk my own path but while making an effort to be kind to those around me. Some will probably still see some of what I do as an act of ego, but at the end of the day I know my truth as you know yours.
I will end this with a quote from Houdini himself which I think sums it all up for me:
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