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  • In an empty room, a person can overcome irrationality such as desire, sustain, and the process of being compelled through long enough introspection.

("long enough" meaning immortality if needed)

Are there any philosophies on this idea?


  • You might enjoy "The Lost Ones" by Samuel Beckett – Mr. Kennedy Jan 5 '17 at 8:28
  • This sounds a bit like the thought-experiment involving Mary the neuroscientist, who knows all about vision but has never seen color... – Joseph Weissman Jan 5 '17 at 23:09
  • I've played with similar. One of the interesting things that arises is the difficult of capturing what introspection is in a form which remains valid as all irrationalities fall away. Many approaches to rational thought run into issues with self-reference, especially if they need to be able to prove that they are doing the right thing. – Cort Ammon Mar 21 '17 at 17:26
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    I find the question quite muddled but you seem to be talking about the Perennial philosophy. Lao Tsu tells us he knows the origin of the universe by sitting in his hut and 'looking inside himself'. It hardly matters whether the room is empty or has a party going in full swing. It's not about external factors, it's about about seeing beyond the mind. – PeterJ Feb 21 '18 at 12:37
  • How can you be in an empty room? If you're in it, the room's not empty. If you're not in it ... you're not in it. – user4894 Mar 22 '18 at 22:39
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You have constructed a theory by your use of the word "can". No philosophy can help you with this, "could" would be answerable by philosophical investigation, "can" requires a scientific one. Secondly, you would need to resolve the conflict in your a priori belief that there is such a thing as human duality and that it is an illusion capable of being overcome. Most philosophies proposing duality do so as a statement of necessity to allow free will, for example, or other intuitive states, it cannot therefore be "overcome".

For arguments in favour of dualism you could look at Thomas Nagel, Frank Jackson or David Chalmers (if you must). For arguments against, I would look to people like Bruce Hood, V. S. Ramachandran or David Eagleman and the work they've done towards identifying the features we associate with 'mind' in the brain.


Edits in the light of the re-phrasing of the question -

In actual fact the answer doen't change much, you cannot derive a "can" answer from philosophical investigation alone, that requires the scientific method. You still have a priori beliefs which need establishing first, this time that desires and compulsion are a) separate types of thought capable of being removed and b) irrational. It is still true to say that most philosophies which have a duality of desire and physical action consider the existence of desire a necessity. Those that do not consider it to be a part of the brain. Either way your question as is stands can only really be answered by neuroscience.

In term of philosophers, however, if you're more interested in desire rather than classical duality, you would be better off reading Hume, G.E Moore or John Stuart Mill. The neuroscientists I mentioned are still relevant to the other side of the argument.

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    By "duality" I was more centralized to the existential idea of irrationality in human endeavors, I can't tell if this idea was recognized or by "duality" I referenced the cognitive association. Either way I can tell my question had bad support and was terribly phrased. – TheAutomaton Jan 5 '17 at 13:15
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    @TheAutomaton - if you know your question isn't being interpreted correctly, you should hold off on accepting an answer, and edit the question. "Duality" doesn't have the meaning you reference above, so consider using another term. – Chris Sunami Jan 5 '17 at 21:30
  • @TheAutomaton I've updated my answer to reflect your edits to the question. By my reading, you weren't far off, the dual bit of Duality does refer to the place our desires exist, it's just that the key statement of dualists is that such a place exists, not what its nature is. – Isaacson Jan 6 '17 at 7:58

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