Tuesday 2 May 2023

The role of the individual in Life

As so often - the two most-available mainstream options are both wrong, ineffective, and unsatisfying when it comes to 'my' role in 'life'.  

On the one hand there is a conceptualization of 'religion' that regards The Church - its tradition, rituals and practices - as an objective and overwhelming reality; to which the individual must conform. the church does not need me; but I need the church... The church objectively is, while I am just subjectivity...

I can recall this as a child - the dull, deadening weight of Christianity as I experienced it. It was something that pressed on me in a crushing way, always trying to shape and mould me - yet offering none of the future excitement, hope, engagement that I found in (for example) science, literature, music when I contemplated a life 'in' them...

I felt I personally could contribute to the arts, philosophy etc; in a way that was impossible for religion - therefore the future was one of being actively-entwined with life-unfolding; rather than incrementally being squeezed into standard shapes in a set-pattern. 

Yet the other option of these times was also hope-less. The idea of self-development; the idea that each Man would 'make' his own world - the ideas of the relativity of truth and values... These were experienced as toxic; because such a 'freedom' and creativity is at the price of its irrelevance. 

We can believe whatever we want - but none of it matters. We can explore human relationships in unconstrained fashion - but in the end it is just a game of mutual manipulation and attempted exploitation. We can do whatever we feel we desire, but in the end we die and all is washed-away. 

Nothing really matters, nothing lasts... When life is no more than 'whatever I want' then it is meaningless, purposeless, wearisome; and demotivating because there is no point in doing what will not lastingly satisfy. It is just a matter of doing whatever is easiest, short-term pleasantest - and of Not thinking about the future - because the future is irrelevant to the present, unpredictable, and never adds-up.

Both these options are wrong and utterly unsatisfying. And that dissatisfaction means that life Must Be futile - if church and subjectivism are the Only options. 

What is needed is something else quite simple to state; which is that we need to live in a way that recognizes both the objective reality of a life beyond our-selves; and also that we personally - our subjectivity, our efforts and aspirations, will be able (in principle) to make-a-difference to objective reality.  

The trouble is that our usual mainstream (and going back to ancient times) assumptions about objectivity and subjectivity, about reality and the human mind, are such that we keep on channeling the possibilities down to just the two above: either subjectivity conforms to objective reality - and subjectivity is some kind of an irrelevant illusion; or, if subjectivity is all-there-is, then we fall into some kind of nightmarish solipsism of life as a random dream-nightmare. 


This is why I return over and again to the need to understand and expose our underlying metaphysical assumptions (i.e. our basic conceptual model of reality); and to revise them. 

We need a picture of objective reality in which we - each and personally - can change objective reality - which must therefore be one in which objective reality is known to be dynamic, developmental, 'evolutionary'.

However we formulate it (and any specific and communicable formulation, or state-able 'model', is bound to be incomplete and distorted, compared with the boundless and openly-interconnected nature of reality) - we need to have this kind of picture in-mind; if we are to envisage life in a way that is both motivating and true. 

At the level of communication, it sounds unsatisfactory. But we are part of creation, as well as participants. We are children of God (the primary creator) as well as immortal beings with agency. 

At the ultimate level, beyond the capacity of symbolic representations (such as language) we have this experiential-knowledge of our-selves and of reality.

We have lived-through a vast (cosmic) background of events; all of which form that ground of understanding which makes possible a sufficient grasp of our role in Life.  

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