|Is the adventure over?|
|This I believe ("The net") [fn.106]|
uman culture should unalloyedly nurture each of us humans. Suffering should come only from non-human forces of nature we cannot [yet?] control, never from the human world ("family", "community", "company", "society"...). Pleasure should not become associated with pain. A person does not need to suffer to appreciate what is good (what is good stands out in its virtues, without needing to be compared to anything else).
Forces beyond our control may sometimes make effort and even sacrifice necessary, but, as Bertold Brecht wrote:
Student: Happy the land that breeds a hero.
Galileo: No. Unhappy the land that needs a hero. [fn.112b]
Harsh conditions do not make pleasant people.
The "flop side" of my quote from Melanie Klein (above) is that a person who grows up in an environment where he or she is not straightforwardly nurtured and valued, cannot be expected to develop a straightforwardly nurturing and valuing orientation in life, neither toward themself, nor toward other persons, nor toward animals and things, nor toward "the whole world". Our life is pervasively corrupted and corroded by ambivalence, even if few develop into murderers or overt neurotics (when those who hurt us threaten to hurt us even more if we try to stop them -- or if we even just refuse to love them! --, sometimes we "sublimate" our frustration and hurt ourselves...). We don't even notice we are missing the goods of life we could have had instead:
I distinguish: (1) empirical deprivation, where one knows what it is one does not have (privation), from (2) categorial deprivation (), where one lacks even the very notion of such a kind of thing, and therefore one cannot imagine one does not have it or even could want it (oblivion). We learn to care about our world ("others", etc./et al.) through wishing to emulate the model they set of caring about us. Or they don't, and, consequently, we don't.
good society is a community of peers, in which none are asymmetrically subject to the power of others: neither employers nor employees in production, neither testers nor testees in learning.... As Aristotle foresaw, technology eliminates the need for anyone to do harmful or demeaning labor. All participate collegially in examining and designing their (i.e.: our...) shared social life, and all participate cooperatively in making it happen ("the adminiatration of things replaces the government of persons").
Each person must freely want to participate. "Rational" arguments that prevent the individual from getting a word in edgewise are not appropriate. (Kant's "categorical imperative", e.g., can be used to deduce a person into a stifling joyless Prison of Practical Reason.) Especially if the arguments are "compelling", so that the individual cannot "dismiss" them, the feeling that he or she is being compelled (aka intimidated) to give assent provokes resentment. The individual needs straightforwardly to want to participate, due to the freely appealing desirability of prospects participation promises, and the promises need to be kept. When what Habermas calls "the unforced force of the better argument" leads to: "Yes, but", the question needs to be asked, and the individual needs to be convinced that it is safe freely to answer it:
What is it about our truth or the way we are presenting it that does not respect what is important to you? How can we find a way to not just accomodate each other, but to be mutually helpful to each other?
The individual must freely come to feel safe, and confident that he or she really is in a really reasonable place, where not even "Reason" or "Truth" will be used to hurt him or her.
onald Winnicott coined the phrase "holding environment": social provision of a safe context in which the individual can elaborate his or her unique individuality. In a good society, the mother provides a holding environment for her child, the father provides a holding environment for the mother, and the polity and the economy provide a holding environment for the father. As the child grows up, his or her creativity will inspire him or her, as a consequence of gratitude for goodness received (see above), to desire to contribute in to sustaining the holding environment for both themself and for others.
A good social world is not just a flat peerage (superficiality in which all share equally). Each person's place in the space of peer interaction needs to be both (1) grounded in depth of close personal caring, and also (2) rich in opportunities to rise into heights of universal culture. The role of "institutions" is to be places where persons secure in the former (intimate holding) can freely devote themselves to pursuing the latter (universal meaning). Winning "immortal fame" through great deeds and masterly works is empty if one is not loved and cared about in intimate life. Embeddedness in a close-knit family is stultifying if it does not clear the way for individual cultural accomplishment of high and lasting value. If one can speak of a "good death", it surely is in the company of life-long close friends, and in shared awareness that one has made a creative contribution to universal culture -- the deathbed set in one's library of the books that have nourished one's spirit all one's life, including one or two oneself has written and knows are valued in others' libraries, too.
have long disagreed with a lot of [what I think are...] Plato's ideas (e.g., his "Ideas"...), and I am recently becoming increasingly disaffected in general with much of philosophizing (which I have spent much of my life doing). But one thing about Plato I increasingly am convinced is deeply "true" is the leisured, gracious, collegial... setting in which his dialogs take place ("...for friends should have all things in common." --Phaedrus, 279c).
There is more to the surface than meets the eye (--Aaron Beck). If it looks like Plato's dialogs are largely about metaphysical, cosmological and other such "philosophical" issues, I invite you to look again at what's going on, and to attend focally to the fact that the dialogs are also about building and nurturing and enjoying the "dialogical space" of collegial association, itself. No matter what the vicissitudes of the questions and the answers, all philosophizing depends on persons trying to reach uncoerced mutual agreement. They (we) need to preserve, protect, and nurture the social situation in which the questions and the answers (etc.) find their places. Respect for the individual, in a nurturing social milieu, I feel ever more strongly, is "where it's at".
These things I have discovered (and continue to uncover...) through many years reflecting on what my childrearing made me into, and deprived me of.
If you deem all of this utopian, I beg you to reflect
on the reasons which render it utopian. (--Bertolt Brecht)
|Is the adventure over?|
|Leisure is the basis of culture.
Learn to eat well, enjoy and stay thin.
it's About time (which is all we have...).
Read Louis Kahn, on why a city can deserve to exist.
|See IBM poster: "How to Stuff a Wild Duck".|
Repeat intro. sequence to this page (1 » 2).
Revisit The Tower of Babel (a model of the good life).
See my page on Philosophy and daily life.
Read about ambivalence.
"Shipwreck with Spectator" (Life as a journey...).
See War from the Grassroot Perspective. [View intro!]
Think about [Freud's] Civilization and its Discontents.
Think about the role of myth in culture.
Read my proposed ten better commandments (work in process).
What can we do?
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|Each person needs to be a peer member of a world, a family and a community: cosmos, oikos and polis.||Each person needs to be a peer member....|