What is the root of the game of One-Upmanship?

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12 Apr 2020 15:57 - 12 Apr 2020 16:52 #351044 by Rosalyn J
This is a thought experiment, so there are no right/wrong answers.

The background
Watts in his book "The Book on the Taboo of Knowing Who You Are" says some things about religion and our illusions about the nature of ourselves and the world that lead to this game of "one-upmanship" and sometimes "black vs white" in which "white must win". Some quotes from chapter 1 are the catalyst for what I hope will be a good discussion

Our perception of ourselves and the world
"For there is a growing apprehension that existence is a rat-race in a trap: living organisms, including people,are merely tubes which put things in at one end and let them out at the other, which both keeps them doing it and in the long run wears them out. So to keep the farce going, the tubes find ways of making new tubes, which also put things in at one end and let them out at the other."

"The root of the matter is the way in which we feel and conceive ourselves as human beings, our sensation of being alive, of individual existence and identity.We suffer from a hallucination, from a false and distorted sensation of our own existence as living organisms. Most of us have the sensation that "I myself" is a separate center of feeling and action, living inside and bounded by the physical body—a center which "confronts" an"external" world of people and things, making contact through the senses with a universe both alien and strange"

"The first result of this illusion is that our attitude to the world"outside" us is largely hostile. We are forever "conquering" nature,space, mountains, deserts, bacteria, and insects instead of learning to cooperate with them in a harmonious order."

:The second result of feeling that we are separate minds in an alien,and mostly stupid, universe is that we have no common sense, no way of making sense of the world upon which we are agreed in common. It's just my opinion against yours, and therefore the most aggressive and violent (and thus insensitive) propagandist makes the decisions. A muddle of conflicting opinions united by force of propaganda is the worst possible source of control for a powerful technology".

The Nature of Systems(In this case Religion)

"It might seem, then, that our need is for some genius to invent a new religion, a philosophy of life and a view of the world, that is plausible and generally acceptable for the late twentieth century, and through which every individual can feel that the world as a whole and his own life in particular have meaning. This, as history has shown repeatedly, is not enough. Religions are divisive and quarrelsome. They are a form of one-upmanship because they depend upon separating the "saved" from the "damned," the true believers from the heretics, the in-group from the out-group. Even religious liberals play the game of "we're-more-tolerant-than-you.""

"Furthermore, as systems of doctrine, symbolism, and behavior, religions harden into institutions that must command loyalty,be defended and kept "pure," and—because all belief is fervent hope,and thus a cover-up for doubt and uncertainty—religions must make converts. The more people who agree with us, the less nagging insecurity about our position."


Is the system (religion) responsible for our perception of the world and ourselves or are we responsible (with our flawed perception) responsible for the system?

Pax Per Ministerium
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Last edit: 12 Apr 2020 16:52 by Rosalyn J.
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13 Apr 2020 22:29 #351077 by Adder

Rosalyn J wrote: This is a thought experiment, so there are no right/wrong answers.

Is the system (religion) responsible for our perception of the world and ourselves or are we responsible (with our flawed perception) responsible for the system?


IMO, actual one-upmanship is just someone trying to assert power over another by sucking the air out of the room by being loud or having some authority, or trying to make themselves sound smarter without actually bringing anything of contextual value that is helpful. But that phrase is (like most) part of a language of superficial ego, where concepts are projected onto others to define some intention which explains ones current reaction to others activity. What I mean is, who says the other is better? For in one upmanship it is trying to 'better' each other.
While on the surface trying to better each other could also be seen as helping, there is plenty of times when it is not helpful. When the other person has some positional advantage and their participation is not actually helping but rather reasserting that advantage.
I think the biggest overlap in those two interpretations of behaviour is the experience of being helped, and how one reacts and responds to the value of that being offered. If something is not useful its not generally not considered 'better', so I'd assume anything 'better' is useful, so it seems to go to the interpretation of intent. There is not hard and fast rule to that AFAIK, as it will depend on the individual's reason for offering it and the individual's reason for reacting to it in a particular way. It may be nothing more then the result of a victim mentality where one feels ownership of something has been challenged by another viewpoint, and in that case I'd suggest it is not one-upmanship but rather one-downmanship by the person on the receiving end. Such that as a part of the ego vocabulary, a person trying to one up someone is trying to inflate their own ego in their and others eyes (often having the opposite effect though!), and sometimes a person might try to one down themselves (often wholly their own doing).

Either way that 'competitive' interpretation of activity (with other as victim or oppressor) would probably reflect a deeper personal struggle with self worth and even perhaps identity. As Jedi, and to be fair.... anyone, I think it's valuable to be aware of our self bias firstly, then consider others self bias, and view activity in the context of growth as a 'ground' which then the Doctrine can serve as guidance in how our focus should navigate the bumps.

And so I disagree with your 2nd last quote from Watt's... I think 'humanity' is the trying to find ways to be more 'humane', which to me is synonymous with compassionate. I'd actually prefer to just use compassionate instead of humane, because compassion is not limited to humans. But for Watt's to consider such a thing one-upmanship seems a bit silly unless his point is to point people at how an organization is inherently competitive and so will be prone to being abused much the same way people abuse each other. I think he does that often, take a concept and shove it into a different category which shares enough similarity together with relevance to the audience to make some point.... unfortunately it sometimes comes across from Watts as more itself an expression of one-upmanship itself, in trying to make everyone else wrong (by drawing larger circles to make his point relevant while potentially losing its accuracy by doing so)!? The only real failure is to stop trying. AFAIK Watt's does not consider himself a nihilist, so I be careful about interpreting his (nihilist IMO) 'method' of deconstructing self delusion and then making it relatable, as any hard model of truth of its own.

So "Is the system (religion) responsible for our perception of the world and ourselves or are we responsible (with our flawed perception) responsible for the system?"


There is no 'system', but only people being systematic. Because it's always changing, for it is the action of people. It's just simply not static, and things which are get left behind (like the old Church's). The 'system' has the appearance of being static from various points of view, but it's not. One's power rests in their ability to alter their point of view to see the change, so they can interact with it.

So to answer.... I'd say no - rather we are each responsible for our perception of the world, at least as adults, for that is what being a child is.... using other established models with pre-existing responsibility to serve as a nest for new life to develop their own self. But in this way often people don't want to take responsibility for 'wrong' and so project that onto something 'other'.... but that is literally just being childish (by this particular definition).

Knight ~ introverted extropian, mechatronic neurothealogizing, technogaian buddhist. Likes integration, visualization, elucidation and transformation.
Jou ~ Deg ~ Vlo ~ Sem ~ Mod ~ Med ~ Dis
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18 Apr 2020 11:08 #351230 by Kohadre
I've been thinking on this subject lately, and the conclusion I keep coming to is that scarcity is the root of this problem.

Whether perceived or actual, scarcity will drive any life form into competition for a finite number of resources.

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Live the creed; embrace the 16 teachings.
Honor your vows.
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18 Apr 2020 23:59 #351247 by Carlos.Martinez3
I can only answer where I tracked my own. I can’t speak for every one but this is one subject that is a every day thing for me.
There are real words and examples of this very thing somewhere in a book or there a very better explanation.

I was a runt and was called runt from people 6’2” 300 pounds and move like trains.
I’ve played football in Texas.
A lot of music was geared toward winning and being the best.
Growing up life was set and ran as a race.It was preached to me- it was sung to me- I read it and my focus was just that.
I noticed my focus was winning.

When I found a different focus when I began working on character. The idea of creating New and different types of character - created a very different action- actually opposite of that one up guy I was raised to be. Better at it than you. Growing up for me was be the pack leader type of thing. That had to be the one up guy.
For me - identifying blind hate was what did it. I didn’t like people for reasons really not in my control. I disliked people for their own identification. What a jerk. I one upped fold to prove I was the right choice and to exercise my ability - to remind them why they chose me. This type of thing for me in the work place and in my military career was encouraged and - deemed worth.

Eventually I got tired of the one up.
For me
I found different ways to think.

Rich Mullins says : in every footprint that you leave there will be a drop of grace.

I liked that.
My footprint left hurt and fear and upset and not ... helpful things. It was time for me to make a different Carlos. I didn’t slay the dragon - I poured it a drink. I gave mine a harness and took time to choose my own. We can do that.
Nosce te ipsum / Cerca trova

Now it’s a balance of the one up and the character I wish to display and leave behind. My choice.
I hope this helps this idea a bit.
Better - alway better - always one more level always one more thing always one more mile always one more - ...
I get lost often there - truly our focus determines our reality. Look at what your looking at. Ya may not or can make a change there - I know countless who do and can.

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