Friends and Fans — I have retired from my work as a public intellectual, so Philosophy in Action is on indefinite hiatus. Please check out the voluminous archive of free podcasts, as well as the premium audio content still available for sale. My two books — Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame and Explore Atlas Shrugged — are available for purchase too. Best wishes! — Diana Brickell (Hsieh)

Perfectionism, Possessiveness, Term Limits, and More

Webcast Q&A: 5 February 2012

I answered questions on overcoming perfectionism, false but beneficial ideas, possessiveness in romance, term limits for politicians, and more on 5 February 2012. Greg Perkins of Objectivist Answers was my co-host. Listen to or download this episode of Philosophy in Action Radio below.

The mission of Philosophy in Action is to spread rational principles for real life... far and wide. That's why the vast majority of my work is available to anyone, free of charge. I love doing the radio show, but each episode requires an investment of time, effort, and money to produce. So if you enjoy and value that work of mine, please contribute to the tip jar. I suggest $5 per episode or $20 per month, but any amount is appreciated. In return, contributors can request that I answer questions from the queue pronto, and regular contributors enjoy free access to premium content and other goodies.

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Segments: 5 February 2012


Question 1: Overcoming Perfectionism

Question: What is the problem with and solution to perfectionism? Lately, I've realized that I might have a problem with "perfectionism" – meaning that I hold myself to unrealistically high standards in some areas of my life. For example, I feel like I should be much more productive, to the point of being unrealistic about what I can do in a day. What's the basic error of such perfectionism? And what can I do to overcome it?

Answer, In Brief: For a person to seek perfection, based on rational standards that take account of his particular context, is often good. Perfectionism, however, means doing so based on out-of-context or unrealistic standards of perfection. A person with perfectionist tendencies needs to identify them, then think and act consistently based on standards appropriate to his purpose – whether seeking perfection, good enough, or merely adequate.

Tags: Emotions, Ethics, Introspection, Perfection, Psychology, Rationality

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Question 2: False But Beneficial Ideas

Question: Should you just keep quiet when a friend's bad philosophy works for him? If someone you know pretty well believes in something mystical, such as "The Law of Attraction" (from "The Secret"), or "The Power of Prayer," and this has helped them move their outlook on life toward a benevolent universe premise, and they are more productive and happier, is it better to leave them with their faulty metaphysics and avoid the topic, or should you try to show them the error? What do you say when they start trying to convince you of the truth of their view?

Answer, In Brief: People in the grip of worse ideas are sometimes helped by less-bad ideas. If you're both willing, you can discuss even better ideas with them. However, doing so is not obligatory.

Tags: Communication, Friendship, Philosophy, Relationships

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Question 3: Possessiveness in Romance

Question: Is possessiveness wrong in a romantic relationship? I have a drawback: I'm extremely possessive. I expect that the person who loves and understands me – he being the only one who understands me – should be mine and only mine. I can accept other women in his life and contain my jealousy on the condition that he reveals to me every single of them who was, is, or will be. But he should love me the most. And I expect that he should stay with me till the end and that we spend the last days together reflecting on the past and life. Am I wrong in expecting all that from my partner? If so, what can I do to change?

Answer, In Brief: To be possessive means treating your partner as an object to be controlled, rather than an independent individual who wants to share your life. For this depth of problem, therapy is the best option.

Tags: Conflict, Dating, Emotions, Independence, Jealousy, Psychology, Rationality, Relationships, Romance

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Question 4: Term Limits for Politicians

Question: Are term limits necessary and proper for good government? Many people – usually conservatives – claim that term limits are essential to liberty. They say that the Founders never intended to have career politicians, and they blame the growth of government on those career politicians and their pork projects. Do you support term limits? Are they an important restraint on the growth of government?

Answer, In Brief: Term limits might be part of the government of a free society, but they're not a panacea.

Tags: Conservatism, Free Society, Government

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Rapid Fire Questions (1:00:48)

In this segment, I answered questions chosen at random by Greg Perkins impromptu. The questions were:
  • Should President Obama be defeated, at any cost?
  • What's wrong with going with your gut feelings?

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Conclusion (1:06:20)

Thank you for joining us for this episode of Philosophy in Action Radio! If you enjoyed this episode, please contribute to contribute to our tip jar.


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The vast majority of Philosophy in Action Radio – the live show and the podcast – is available to anyone, free of charge. That's because my mission is to spread rational principles for real life far and wide, as I do every week to thousands of listeners. I love producing the show, but each episode requires requires the investment of time, effort, and money. So if you enjoy and value my work, please contribute to the tip jar. I suggest $5 per episode or $20 per month, but any amount is appreciated. In return, regular contributors enjoy free access to my premium content.

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About Philosophy in Action

I'm Dr. Diana Brickell (formerly Diana Hsieh). I'm a philosopher, and I've long specialized in the application of rational principles to the challenges of real life. I completed my Ph.D in philosophy from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2009. I retired from work as a public intellectual in 2015.

From September 2009 to September 2015, I produced a radio show and podcast, Philosophy in Action Radio. In the primary show, my co-host Greg Perkins and I answered questions applying rational principles to the challenges of real life. We broadcast live over the internet on Sunday mornings.

You can listen to these 362 podcasts by subscribing to the Podcast RSS Feed. You can also peruse the podcast archive, where episodes and questions are sorted by date and by topic.

My first book, Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame, can be purchased in paperback and Kindle. The book defends the justice of moral praise and blame of persons using an Aristotelian theory of moral responsibility, thereby refuting Thomas Nagel's "problem of moral luck." My second book (and online course), Explore Atlas Shrugged, is a fantastic resource for anyone wishing to study Ayn Rand's epic novel in depth.

You can also read my blog NoodleFood and subscribe to its Blog RSS Feed.

I can be reached via e-mail to diana@philosophyinaction.com.

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