From Doing to Being - Point 11
This point initiates an elaboration based on the advantages and effects of the knowledge as alliances and society philosophy. It is part advertising and part a checking of results. The first point has already been alluded to as presenting a philosophy that frames membership in groups and inhabiting a society rather than accuracy, correctness and a suppression of the vehicle, the body, for the arrival at some mythical idyllic point.
Although the the leading reason to adopt an understanding of the bodily basis of meaning is for clarity in our conceptual commons, the shift described here as a shift from doing to being is similarly very important. Many commentators today note how lives have become routinized, stressed from hyperactivity and increasing demands and unhealthy. When logic, reason and productivity of The System are the key drivers in society, then it is easy to see how actual people, lives and bodies would be ignored and stretched ridiculously.
This Page, this Point:
The idea that we are subject societies in an ecology of meaning places reason in second focus as only a tool in this environment which showcases my society, your society, her society. The simple turn to focusing on our larger society as composed of these member societies initiates a continual and collective awareness of "Who's here?" and "How are you?" Society philosophy begs for us to do more disentangling of where our motivations, cares, alliances and patterns of all sorts position us vis a vis others. And it removes the excuse masks of anyone who would attempt to use vast, seemingly reasonable gobbeley gook, disconnected from their own embodied interests as covers for deceptive and self-deceptive activities.
Such a shift can only help us relax with simple acceptances of ourselves and our limits. "Help" is the operative word since philosophies can only be frames that provide reinforcement and allow tendencies to be guessed but do not allow direct predictions.
But society philosophy should do much more. It should also open up a positive channel for people. In asking us to be aware of our embodied nature it also suggests that we are embodied in various groups and cultural collectives. In acknowledging specific group cultures and by disavowing ideal frames of what we and others should be, this should have the effect of freeing groups to be more creative and confident. And as point number 2 indicates group societies not only have an embodied character but this character of what emotional goods are transferred among the members shifts group identity to group emotional economy. What is the fun and satisfaction of any community? What relationships, memberships and identities can be adjusted to change this? What should become fostered is a renewed sense of excitement with everyday life and from the societies we shape and live in.
"There are at least two kinds of games. One could be called finite, the other infinite.
"A finite game is played for the purpose of winning, an infinite game for the purpose of continuing the play...."
"Finite players play within boundaries; infinite players play with boundaries...."
"A finite player is trained not only to anticipate every future possibility, but to control the future, to prevent it from altering the past...."
"Surprise causes finite play to end; it is the reason for infinite play to continue...."
"When I speak as the genius I am, I speak these words for the first time. To repeat words is to speak them as though another were saying them, in which case I am not saying them...."
"When I forsake my genius and speak to you as though I were another, I also speak to you as someone you are not and somewhere you are not."
"I am touched only if I respond from my own center--that is, spontaneously, originally. But you do not touch me except from your own center, out of your own genius....
"The opposite of touching is moving. You move me by pressing me from without toward a place you have already foreseen and perhaps prepared. It is a staged action that succeeds only if in moving me you remain unmoved yourself....
"A finite game occurs within a world. The fact that it must be limited temporally, numerically, and spatially means that there is something against which the limits stand. There is an outside to every finite game....
"...a finite game occurs within time....
"The infinite player in us does not consume time but generates it." Carse, James P. Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility. Ballantine Books. 1986. pps. 3, 12, 22, 81, 90, 107, 112-3.
"Enlightenment killed God; but like Macbeth, the men of the Enlightenment did not know that the cosmos would rebel at the deed, and the world become 'a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.' Nietzsche replaces easygoing or self-satisfied atheism with agonized atheism, suffering its human consequences. Longing to believe, along with intransigent refusal to satisfy that longing, is, according to him, the profound response to our entire spiritual condition. Marx denied the existence of God but turned over all His functions to History, which is inevitably directed to a goal fulfilling of man and which takes the place of Providence. One might as well be a Christian if one is so naive. Prior to Nietzsche, all those who taught that man is a historical being presented his history as in one way or another progressive. After Nietzsche, a characteristic formula for describing our history is the decline of the West.'
"Nietzsche surveyed and summed up the contradictory strands of modern thought and concluded that victorious rationalism is unable to rule in culture or soul, that it cannot defend itself theoretically and that its human consequences are intolerable. This constitutes a crisis of the West, for everywhere in the West, for the first time ever, all regimes are founded on reason. Human founders, looking only to universal principles of natural justice recognizable by all men through their unaided reason, established governments on the basis of the consent of the governed, without appeal to revelation or tradition. But reason has also discerned that all previous cultures were founded by and on gods or belief in gods. Only if the new regimes are enormous successes, able to rival the creative genius and splendor of other cultures, could reason's rational foundings be equal or superior to the kinds of foundings that reason knows were made elsewhere. But such equality or superiority is highly questionable; therefore reason recognizes its own inadequacy. There must be religion, and reason cannot found religions." The Closing of the American Mind, Allan Bloom, Simon & Schuster, 1987, p. 196.
“The Ables have created a different but deep connection. It seems to be rooted in a mutual appreciation of the other’s capacity to enter relation as a distinct and whole human being. They each seem to recognize and respect both the other and themselves as complicated persons who bring something important and different, but often complementary, to the relationship.
“As self-possessed persons who share a commitment to sustaining a relationship they treasure, they do not seem surprised by the appearance of differences, nor do they take them as a suspension of their connection, nor expect that the differences will be resolved if one of them simply molds herself or himself to the preferences of the other. Not only does the relationship continue in the face of the difference, but they seem to find their successful, collaborative handling of the differences to be an especially satisfying aspect of the relationship. Both their closeness as a couple and their evaluation of the quality of their decisions are enhanced, rather than troubled, by their difference. Difficult though it may be, they ultimately value the experience of being forced by the other, or by their commitment to the relationship, to take seriously the integrity of the different world view from which the differing preference, opinion, or plan of action arises. Like respectful and enlightened anthropologists, they regularly visit, and deeply appreciate, the other’s ‘culture of mind.’ At their best, they suspend the tendency to evaluate the other’s ‘culture’ through the lens of their own, and seek rather to discover the terms by which the other is shaping meaning or creating value. Not only does each seem to benefit from frequent ‘travel’ to the other’s ‘culture,’ but the one who is ‘being visited’ also seems to appreciate the experience of having the other come in with a nonimperial stance to see how reality is being constructed....”
“... the Bakers’ account reflects a qualitatively different way of constructing conflict and difference. Theirs is also a story of surviving disillusionment, but the truth they have been seeing as an illusion is not the truth of romance, it is the truth of modernism. Long ago, they say they set aside the truth that the source of their closeness lay in their sharing the same identity. The truth they are now in the process os setting aside is that the source of their closeness lies in the respectful cooperation of psychologically whole and distinct selves.”
“Unlike the Ables, the Bakers are prouder of the way they suspect rather than honor their sense of their own and each other’s wholeness and distinctness. At least they are suspicious of any sense of wholeness or distinction that is limited to an identification of the self with its favorite way of constructing itself. They are suspicious of their own tendency to feel wholly identified with one side of any opposite and to identify the other with the other side of that opposite.”
“When they take this suspicion to their experience of conflict or difference in their relationship, a quite different picture emerges from that sketched by the Ables. The Ables consider themselves at their best when, in the face of difference, they do not disdain the other but seek to discover how the other’s point of view arises out of a ‘culture of mind’ with its own coherence and integrity. But what is never open to question is that the respectful anthropologist is visiting a foreign culture. In contrast, the Bakers consider themselves at their best when, in the face of difference, they stop to see if they haven’t, in fact, made the error of identifying themselves wholly with the culture of mind that gives rise to their position (which now shows up as a kind of ideology or orthodoxy) and identifying their partner wholly with a foreign culture of mind that gives rise to their partner’s position (which now shows up as an opposing ideology or heterodoxy). Mr. Able comes over to discover the world of Mrs. Able, but in all his respectful discovering he never questions his premise that this is not his world. When Mr. Baker comes over to try on the perspective he has identified with Mrs. Baker, however, he is vulnerable to discovering another world within himself....”
“... For the Bakers, the good working of the self and its recognition by the other begins with a refusal to see oneself or the other as a single system or form. The relationship is a context for a sharing and an interacting in which both are helped to experience their ‘multipleness,’ in which the many forms or systems that each self is are helped to emerge. While the Ables begin with the premise of their own completeness and see conflict as an inevitable by-product of the interaction of two psychologically whole selves, the Bakers begin with the premise of their own tendency to pretend to completeness (while actually being incomplete) and see conflict as the inevitable, but controvertible, by-product of the pretension to completeness.”
“Both the Ables and the Bakers satisfy the demands of the modernist curriculum to construct the self as a system or form. At the heart of the difference between their constructions of conflict are these two related questions about that self: (1) Do we see the self-as-system as complete and whole or do we regard the self-as-system as incomplete, only a partial construction of all that the self is? (2) Do we identify with the self-as-form (which self then interacts with other selves-as-forms) or do we identify with the process of form creation (which brings forms into being and subtends their relationship)? Another way of putting this second question is: Do we take as prior the elements of a relationship (which then enter into relationship) or the relationship itself (which creates its elements)?” Kegan, Robert. In Over Our Heads; the Mental Demands of Modern Life. Harvard University Press. 1994. pps. 310-313.
"For the past 2,500 years or so, Western music has been obsessed with one polyphonic arrangement of tones, but there are many other arrangements, each as profoundly meaningful as the next and yet incomprehensible to outsiders. 'The barriers between music and music are far more impassable than language barriers,' Victor Zuckerkandl writes in The Sense of Music. 'We can translate from any language into any other language; yet the mere idea of translating, say, Chinese music into the Western tonal idiom is obvious nonsense.' Why is that so? According to the composer Felix Mendelssohn, it's not because music is too vague, as one might think, but rather too precise to translate into other tonal idioms, let alone into words. Words are arbitrary. There's no direct link between them and the emotions they represent. Instead, they lasso an idea or emotion and drag it into view for a moment. We need words to corral how we feel and think; they allow us to reveal our inner lives to one another, as well as to exchange goods and services. But music is a controlled outcry from the quarry of emotions all humans share. Though most foreign words must be translated to be understood, we instinctively understand whimpering, crying, shrieking, joy, cooing, sighing, and the rest of our caravan of cries and calls." A Natural History of the Senses, Diane Ackerman, Vintage Books, 1991, pps. 213-4.
"The Norwegian anthropologist, Frederick Barth, writes of how the Basseri, another tribe of Iranian nomads, were, in the 1930s, forbidden by Reza Shah to move from their winter grazing ground.
"In 1941, the Shah was deposed, and they were free once again to make the 300-mile journey to the Zagros. Free they were, but they had no animals. Their fine-fleeced sheep had suffocated on the southern plains: yet they set off all the same.
"They became nomads again, which is to say, they became human again. 'The supreme value to them,' wrote Barth, 'lay in the freedom to migrate, not in the circumstances that make it economically viable.'
"When Barth came to account for the dearth of ritual among the Basseri--or of any rooted belief--he concluded that the Journey itself was the ritual, that the road to summer uplands was the Way, and that the pitching and dismantling of tents were prayers more meaningful than any in the mosque." The Songlines, Bruce Chatwin, Penguin, 1987, p. 201-2.
"The objective mind has not yet been granted any scientific explanation of any experience of any kind, or of experience as such. Its very existence defeats our understanding." The Voice of Experience, R.D. Laing, Pantheon, 1982.
Interlocking both primary societies (of lifescape and conceptscape) shifts the focus of living from the operational pushing of mechanical buttons towards appreciating and adjusting social wholes. The first message of a social reality philosophy is to be, know and sculpt your own society, or your own best mind. The shift moves from compliance to joy, from doing to being. What at first might seem like the awkwardness of coping with so many societies will likely be the real promise of the global village–using the richness of diversity as multiple and expanding avenues to participatory joy. This subverts the modern day collision of cultures from a hurdle of coping to an opportunity where each culture/society is a source of being and a source of creating new hybrids of being.
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Page updated 3/5/03