posted on Apr, 26 2015 @ 05:54 PM
In thinking about how I was going to write up this post, I was searching for the right word. The word "individual" popped in my mind, as did
"self-sufficiency" as well as Nietzches concept of the "uber-mensch". But I think, at root, with each of these perspectives, is the idea that an
individual through the sheer force of will power makes himself.
Unfortunately for those people who believe in this, it is absolutely, and unequivocally, untrue.
Granted, the desire and need to believe in our inherent self-sufficiency or resiliency is bolstered by our sense that we are separate
individuals, living in physically different body's. But our physicality is not what is meant by self-sufficiency or resiliency. Self-sufficiency and
resiliency is phenomenologically about our emotional strength.
But where does one "find" or get, emotional strength? First, let me say something about a man I both revere and despise: Friedrich Nietzsche.
I think Friedrich Nietzsche, in his analysis of the world, often got things right. But what he got wrong, again and again throughout his
writings, was the necessity of other people in creating our feelings of resiliency. Perhaps, at some deeper level, the universe made an example
of Nietzsche by turning him into a useless and helpless syphilitic madman. In his time of need, his differently thinking sister took him and cared for
him, just as the mother he refused to acknowledge "imprinted in him" his capacity to think and believe in his ability to "will" himself beyond the
adversities life throws at us.
Militant and Conservative attitudes are fundamentally rooted in a traumatic way of orienting towards the world about us. Only a mind who has
encountered difficulties - and doesn't quite understand the nature of our embeddedness in a relational field - believes he doesn't "need" other
people. Such a person was Adolph Hitler, Benito Mussolini, and millions of other people. Of course, you might feel offended to be placed in the same
category as Adolph Hitler, unlike other people, I do not consider Hitler to be anymore evil than anyone else. There is a difference between the
"essence" of an individual, and the situational and historical context that a particular individual - by chance - will find himself. Adolph Hitler
was no more than a figurehead for a way of thinking and being that denied at a fundamental level the relationship between self and other.
Attachment theory, Affective science, Enactive Cognitive Science and traumatology are utterly dismantling the idea of a self-contained individual that
I would be amazed if either society doesn't change because of it, or society suppresses what the science of self-development is showing about the
From the moment of gestation, interpersonal processes 'impinge' on the developing fetus through the influence of cortisol on the placenta. When the
baby is born, the mothers responses and the "ambiance" of the social world around the child (which includes the larger social context the mother
exists within) 'structures' the feelings and associations of the infants early mind. But the relationship isn't entirely one sided: a depressed
mother induces an affect disorder in the baby's formulating mind. The baby will thus act in ways in the hope to 'elicit' attention and help. But
the mother, who herself is swayed toward depression, is apt to interpret the baby's needs as "oppressive" She'll respond hardly or not at all,
which only deepens the epigenetic-mechanisms underlying the responses demonstrated the baby.
So what about the self-sufficient person? The self-sufficient person is under the influence of amnesia. He doesn't know that within the "marrow' of
his deepest self, lies the responsive face of another. His capacity to "know himself", that is, to feel a conscious of his emotional states, is
entirely the product of the interactive matrix he 'emerged' within. His abilities, and his later life, more sophisticated ideas about reality and
about his "resiliency: as an individual, from a cosmic, or "truth" perspective, is truly embarrassing in the way it falsifies its ontological
dependence on the OTHER in the way he/she experiences their self.
We of course shouldn't blame Nietzsche, Hobbes, or Adam Smith for their ignorance. They didn't know any better because the social conditions didn't
exist at the time for the types of analysis, study and insight that modern research methods provide us. We should thank them for what truth they did
speak; but we must understand that there is nothing fundamental about the views of Adam Smith or the views of Thomas Hobbes.
We exist in a FEEDBACK. We needn't reify what we experience and perceive as "fundamental". What contemporary science shows, is how utterly POSSIBLE
it is to create and SUSTAIN a world where people are kind to one another without needing to be compelled by law (so bye bye Islam/and any other
religion which believes human beings "need" the threat of punishment).
What each of us becomes is a condition of our environment. And what are environment is is partly the result of our not taking ownership to change it.
But I think the biggest problem has been the tendency to ontologize and "concretize" our feelings about the world.
The most liberating discovery of modern science is really a rediscovery of something known by the ancients. We live in a circle. What we do influences
our biology. And once influenced, our biology/mind seeks out a world of meaning that conforms to what its learned.
The way out is acceptance. Acceptance that we ALL NEED ONE ANOTHER. And that none of us, not the homeless man on the street or the wallstreet
executive, is responsible for where they are. Feedbacks weaken self and likewise bloat the self. The weakened self can fall into a depression and kill
itself, or, it can realize and accept the truth of it's need for the other - as it is the other, in its "stronger state", which will help entrain
the weaker self to 'live' at a higher level.
Such a situation exists between nation states as much as it does between individuals. But just as the haughty and self-absorbed can barely think about
their fundamental relatedness to others, the rich countries are prone to dissociate their relatedness to poor countries. "Political realism" is a
type of reification that assumes the world 'is the way it is' without acknowledging the need to change it.
Of course, change doesn't happen overnight and there is much truth for the need to "titrate", to take it slowly and not move the system to fast.
But on an individual level, we as a society need to breakdown those philosophies and beliefs, such as the belief in the "self-made man" or a
political idea such as libertarianism that implicitly accepts certain ideas about "human nature" (reifying), when such notions absolutely ignore
what science shows to be the OBJECTIVE reality.
Each of us has a responsibility to take ownership for the decisions we enact when we learn something about the world. Although it isn't always easy
to make changes, and no doubt, some people will resent being told that their beliefs are fundamentally in error, but this is just how it is. The ego
can be a noxiously evil thing when it insists upon its 'separateness'. Although this belief has been popular in ancient wisdom traditions, finally,
sophisticated scientific and mathematical models show how it is fundamentally true.