Do Things Have to Be This Way
December 17, 2021 @
To quote the last line of a fine read: “What if, instead of telling a story about how our species fell from some idyllic state of equality, we ask how we came to be trapped in such tight conceptual shackles that we can no longer even imagine the possibility of reinventing ourselves?”
One very good question.
My answer to that question revolves around a conundrum involving humanity’s transition from instinct into intelligence and the consequences of intelligent imagination paired with symbolic communication. Among a great many positive things that pair did for the human condition (first among them the ability for a group, a collective, to be proactive rather than reactive to their environment!) it also added some very unique difficulties. Introducing intelligent imagination communicated could not have avoided enlarging the human creature’s point of view… imagination adding the second and third person perspectives required for group cohesion.
Equally, that addition opened into the human condition the unique possibility of seeing one’s self within the known collective from the third person perspective and being compelled to ask “Who is That (stranger)?” Translated back into the first person perspective of an imagining collapsing back into first person reality that question is as unique a marker of being human as I’ve ever found… the question “Who am I?”
I maintain that attempting to answer that question (in the literal reality of an expanding and evolving awareness) has been one of, if not the, largest driving factor of humanity’s social evolution. The humans, surviving and thriving on the proactive strength of intelligent imagination communicated within the collective, turned again to their collectives for assistance with that absolutely critical answer. We began to define ourselves… to ourselves… in a working vocabulary drawn from the very social collectives that compelled the question in the first place.
A very circular workaround that history reveals as totally prone to the dangers of multiple positive feedback loops. Religions, nationalities, ethnic issues, race and rival bigotries, all of those unhappy things find an easy explanation with those feedback loops.
So, my answer to the question at the end of the article? Yes, sadly they do have to be the way they are. At least until we as Human Beings acknowledge and understand the relationship within our own inner selves between whatever we take as the core of our self definitions and the various and sundry collective and social entities which provide us the vocabulary we use in attempting to establish that self definition.
[[shameless plug]] This question is the core of my serious work writing as the philosopher Cyranos DeMet in the forthcoming (if I live that long!) treatise “The Third Reality of Man.”