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The above infographic is about imagining yourself in someone else’s shoes. When I say “someone” I mean anyone. Think of someone you truly cannot relate with. Your exact opposite. Someone you just do not get! Now imagine that you were them, atom for atom, environment for environment, moment for moment. All of those things that you just did not “get” about this person would be your reality. You would instantly have their mind and thoughts, make the same decisions as they, and do all of those things that the “you” in your own shoes simply could not relate to.
I think if we could frequently imagine ourselves in the shoes of others, our empathy and compassion would increase as we recognize that if we were stuck with the biological and environmental variables of another person, we would be stuck in those thoughts and behaviors as well. This is something we should practice whenever we have a negative experience with another person. This is something we should practice whenever we think that people are more or less deserving than others. This is something we should practice whenever we let our anger get the best of us due to another person’s behaviors.
Just close your eyes and imagine that you were them, atom for atom. Imagine your brain as a product of their unique biology and environmental conditioning.
I’m a naturalist, but also keep in mind that this works even if you are not a naturalist or physicalists. Even if, for example, you believed that each person had a soul – the soul a person would have would be no different from one’s biology and environment. Imagine you had the other person’s soul instead of your own. Imagine you were born with a different soul, and that soul evolved through its environment and configuration as well.
No matter how you slice it, if you were that person at any moment in time, your behavior would be dictated by the specifics of that moment: your genes, the chemicals in your body, your molecular structure, physical characteristics, environment, soul, and any other factor that makes a person who they are and do what they do.
We can even throw in entirely random (or acausal) events into the mix and you can recognize that if any random events played a part in how a person was or the decisions they made, if you were them and had those identical random events play out the same way, they would have the same effect on you.
There are many ways that you can imagine yourself in someone else’s shoes as long as you recognize all of the events that made them who they are and behave how they do at any given moment in their life. You can recognize that people do not really have a say in the constraining variables of their existence, no matter if those are entirely causal, have some acausal events, entirely natural events, or even some supernatural events. It is that recognition that can start to change the world for the better.
Want to see more infographics on the topic of free will skepticism? CLICK HERE for a bunch I’ve made in the past. If you find one you like share that as well, with a link back.