NINE EXTRACTS ~ From talks at Kensington Library, London, UK by J.G. Bennett
Talk at Kensington Library ~ 1973
Excerpt from Q & A
J.G.B: “The question is whether we are deceiving ourselves or not when we think we are doing something intentionally. The obvious answer to this is to say that when we do what we intend to do, it is deliberate, and when we don’t, its accidental. But you’ve rightly seen that this is not good enough as an answer because we can deceive ourselves, and people do. We ascribe much more intention to human action than there is, and once you see that, once you realize that there’s a lot of fantasy and self-deception about the attitude of people toward doing, you see already that people tend to say that they have done something when it has been a success, and when it’s a failure, they say it’s an unfortunate accident. But it may be equally accidental in both cases. We have to build up little by little confidence in intentional actions. This doesn’t come from knowledge. There isn’t some kind of test like success or failure that one can apply. This you have seen. One has to learn to distinguish in oneself the inner state that makes intentional action possible. Sometimes it is contrary to what one is expecting. One may imagine that one is going along an intentional line, and if one looks more carefully or some shock comes which makes one see more clearly, one sees that the real commitment, what we were really doing was something quite different, that we were not conscious of or refused to be conscious of.”
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