The Misunderstood Debater
The devil, and by extension the debater or devil's advocate is often portrayed as an unnecessarily evil entity which randomly inflicts suffering upon others. But earlier accounts of the devil, including early religious forms and mysticism, accounted for the devil as a form of punishment to those who have veered away from a "divine" path. In Christianity the devil typically comes for those who sin, thereby creating the incentive to not sin. This is the type of embodiment we want to explore; it is a symbol of motivation to act in accordance to whichever virtues are in vogue.
As the custodian of your idea's development, you are also the one responsible for punishing your idea, like a parent setting out the conditions for their children that will enable them to live more fulfilling lives if they act in accordance to those limitations. At the more infant stages of an idea's development, it will need to be guided according to rules that it has not yet been introduced to. We tell children not to stick the fork in the power socket, and we might perhaps be seen as a tyrannical devil like figure to the child in the short moments following the instructions; before they understand the consequences of their actions. This is how we should see our role, during the stages of considering the concept and it's limitations.
The myth of the devil at the crossroads describes a scenario where an obsessed creator, typically a musician or artist, desires making a masterpiece so much so they are willing to sell their soul to the devil. They invite the devil to the crossroads at midnight, and set off to the negotiation with their soul as their bartering good. The devil will offer to tune their musical instrument or grant their creativity almost unlimited potential, in exchange for their soul. Robert Johnson is a famous example, as were stories of John Lennon doing the same and dying in unfortunate circumstances at the conclusion of his contract with the devil.
Superstition aside, this myth tells a story about the nature of interactions with embodiments of suffering. The devil will present you with multiple options, with one option very obviously leading to greater suffering; losing an eternal piece of yourself will no doubt cause a lot of suffering. The wisdom of this negotiation with the devil isn't to take this obviously one sided deal; the wisdom is in having your deepest temptations revealed to you so you know what your obsessions and weaknesses, and you are presented with the obvious one sided value of this arrangement. If you take the deal you are a fool, but if you take the negotiation and say no, you are granted insight into your own Achilles heel.
We can achieve the same by applying the devil's advocate mindset to your idea - what does the crossroads look like for your idea? What choice is going to make your idea suffer the most? What kind of trajectory will your idea follow if it "sold it's soul"? What kind of incentives could you offer your idea in exchange for it's soul? What does your idea obsess about, if anything, that might end up causing more suffering than good? Is your idea veering off into the path of something else that may punish it, which could be avoided if you are able to create proactive strides towards enforcing meaningful limitations. Is your idea straying from the virtues that you originally set out to achieve?
Watch out for your own devil
This archetype is also a reminder to become proactive about your own desires and intentions - to help set out limitations for yourself. By this stage, your own vision and original inspiration should have a sense of meaning and ethical value - now that you have populated the concepts that embody your vision, are you still certain it is what you want to do? Are you perhaps likely to take the deal with the devil to push the idea into the world, even if it cost your own soul? What would the crossroads look like for you , as the idea developer? Can you be certain you wouldn't take the deal, if you were offered a pass for your idea to become a world famous idea?
In a business setting the best examples of the devil at the crossroads would be "selling out", perhaps hoping for more short term rewards as a result of your idea's development than long term sustainable rewards. If you are willing to "sell out", then you should probably re-evaluate your idea from the beginning with something that includes your inspiration for short term success; i.e. like combining the concept with a limitation of short term success or choosing consumer appeal as one of the axioms of the vision of your idea. The key here is being authentic with what you want, and expressing that authenticity via the development of your idea. This idea development model won't work if you really want a famous idea, but haven't included that at some stage of it's development as one of the first principles.
Use this archetype to explore these existential questions, because if you are obsessed with pushing your vision into the world, without caution towards why or whether it is virtuous; then you may be visited by your own devil in some form or another at a very inconvenient time and space. Be proactive with the destructive and less savory archetypes, so that you can choose when they influence your idea, and yourself rather than leaving the choice to fate.
If you need a devil's advocate for your idea, or would like to consider the virtues and ethics of your vision and embodiments, then please don't hesitate to reach out. We thrive on engagement with the community and would relish the chance to discuss your ideas.
“To live is to suffer, to survive is to find meaning in the suffering" - Nietzsche
The devil has played a role in the development of ideas since time immemorial. Fear of, and even worship of, the embodiment of suffering and evil has led to a lengthy list of dark deeds which has caused the unnecessary suffering of many of our ancestors. The debater archetype is the Devil's advocate, or the one responsible for representing the "devil's" interests.
What we associate with the devil has been named many things, well before the establishment of monotheist religions like Christianity and Islam. For our intents and purposes we will treat the devil as the necessary evil that it is; as something which forces us to think about the nature of suffering and evil, and learn how to work "with" the embodiments of suffering to guide setting better limitations.
You will need to become the devil to your idea, to best understand the triggers and consequences of your idea's suffering. Without the devil there is no punishment that can condition your idea into an ideal direction.
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