Perhaps over the Christmas season, you have had a joyful 'moment' (a 'peak experience') when you became aware of the situation you were in - let's say with other people, other people with whom you share love - or at least a warm, positive affection and common purpose...
It seems to me that the first thing to note about this, is becoming aware of the situation. It is possible, indeed usual, Not to notice such times. Eiether they pass unmarked, or are seen for what they are, only in memory - with nostaligia (as with my memories of Christmas at age three).
Having become aware of the 'moment' as it is happening; then it seems to me that my mind can go in two different ways...
One way, is to take that moment and suspend it; consider it as a timeless and eternal moment.
It is as if I distilled the essence of that moment - and then it becomes, in aspiration, a moment that always has-been and always will-be. The moment becomes crystallised, perfect, unchanging... And I hope to be able to attune-to that moment... forever.
And the assumption is that all such moments are actually windows upon a single moment; which is the one-ness of unchanging, perfect, divine reality.
In other words, the suspended moment is an epiphany, a showing-forth; and that which is shown is single, undivided, divine, impersonal.
The second, which is my current way; is to think of my awareness of this moment as me tuning-into ongoing-being.
Becoming aware that the reality of Life is creation; and creation is create-ing; so I am, for a time, aware of the here-and-now-happening, real-time, multiplicity of living, developing, unfolding, growing...
To put it abstractly - awareness of a 'process'; but which the experience isn't like a 'process' - but like being-part-of something alive, conscious, cohering by relationships.
By this understanding; each such moment is unique and unrepeatable. It is me temporarily (perhaps incompletely) waking-up to the divine reality of creation as being-in-time; becoming conscious (for a while) of the reality of a living, knowing, itself-conscious universe.
The joyous 'moment' is a revelation of harmony in creation, typically rooted in love; and with a shared purpose.
So, the coming-to-awareness of a special moment is the basic experience; but what I make of that experience, what it tells me, differs according to my understanding of the basic nature of reality.
(My understanding of the basic nature of reality = my metaphysical assumptions.)
Because, of course, to a mainstream modern materialist - an ordinary modern person - such a joyful moment is regarded as a subjective emotion, merely.
Perhaps a random coincidence of neural and hormonal states; or perhaps a behaviour influenced by the organism's set-up, as a consequence of its evolutionary history (making us susceptible to evolutionarily-significant combinations of relations, allies, social cohesion etc)...
Or it may be that this joy is seen in terms of societal structures; a socially-contructed joy; a reward for assimilation into norms and approved attitudes.
How to decide?
Well, there is no 'neutral' authority' than can universally be trusted to tell us which of these interpretations (or some other) is correct. Because all 'authority' requires prior assumptions regarding (for example) who knows, who will be truthful, who cares about the well-being of our-selves...
And these assumptions of what constitutes 'authority' are themselves down-stream consequences of our fundamental metaphysical assumptions concerning the basic nature of reality...
So, to decide; we each would need to bring our metaphysical assumptions to awareness, and to hold these 'explanations' of joyful moments in context of our assumptions, and intuitively discern which (if any) explanation chimes with our convictions and experience.
And to be honest about it all! Truth-seeking and truth-speaking! Patiently to continue until steady conviction is reached.
Such is philosophy - when done as it should be!
I will put this one in my notes. Excellent and insightful thoughts.
I've always wondered how actual thinkers can be materialists or behaviorists or determinists.
Because their theories never explain the objective reality of subjectivity, if that makes sense.
When you were a child, and perhaps as an adult if you pursue it right (as Bruce may guide us to), reality was alive. You knew it. You felt it.
I never gave up that feeling, totally, despite the brainwashing. Which made me not scoff when I read my first Bruce Charlton essay.
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