Monday, November 07, 2005

Island Dichotomies

Talking with a University friend today, who has shunned Philosophy in favour of higher marks taking English courses (another story), made me realise how strange it is when people feel trapped by their emotional needs even when they know them to be false. My friend seeks security, and certain particulars like this of conventional living, due to childhood needs that weren’t met due to a broken home scenario. What surprised me is that rather than attempt to understand and reconcile this with their obviously valuable thoughts (fairly radical and against social conditioning), cracking straight the contradictions implied by this, the idea they have of living involves a future of compromise where thoughts aren’t really met. I’m sure it isn’t making excuses, though these things often are, but a legitimate attempt to deal with living in the world. It occurred to me later what is most significantly wrong with this. Rather than working out life based upon a dichotomy of the future having to comply with our emotional needs and intellectual probings, there should in fact be an active principle working out the differences between the two (and prioritising the latter over the former), and this is consideration of the lives of others. As I reflect on the remarkably honest conversation I had today with my friend, I am mainly taken aback at my inability to offer this angle on the problem, and I wonder whether things are starting to take their toll on me even when I am ‘in gear’, so to speak, and able to have these wonderful explorations with people. I wonder how much legitimate trade off in the lives of the intelligent people I have met and will meet conform to this pattern of exclusion of others. The intellectual capacity of my friend is clearly great, yet this seems to make the issue more, and not less, worrying.


Blogger News is Good said...

I am gratified to see you posting again, as your thoughts are interesting to read (although you do smell of peat (and peat!!! ha!)).

I am not surprised with your article. First, people DO tend to 'cope' with the harshness of life by, effectively, selling out what they know is right because it is easier. The addict knows it is a bad thing to do, and it hurts others, but it helps them - whether they are addicted to crack or gambling or pornography. And the person working in telesales knows it is a meaningless job, but finds it much easier to progress in the structured world of business rather than in a personal world of rational improvement, as the current of life fights against the latter.

Second, your comments about emotion being properly subjugated to reason are pretty much Plato's Republic (which I have almost finished myself), and I am not surprised you did not bring the argument up. What will people say? "Well, it's MY decision to prioritise MY emotions". We all know that the biggest no-no is to demand the accountability of the self to the needs of others, as it has become 'right' to accept such selfishness.

We live in a harsh world. But now the pains are to do not with physiological survival. Nor to do with crushing poverty. It is to do with the easiness of middle-class living - coping with the world through ignorance and self-interest - against the rigours of intellectual analysis. We are fat and lazily content, and still we all suffer because of it.

1:36 PM  

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