Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Part 22: (Self Love, the Natural Master and the Natural Slave?): Dialogues on a Philosophy for the Individual

(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2015)

With this post Flora Sapio and I (and friends from time to time) continue an experiment in collaborative dialogue. The object is to approach the issue of philosophical inquiry from another, and perhaps more fundamentally ancient, manner. We begin, with this post, to develop a philosophy for the individual that itself is grounded on the negation of the isolated self as a basis for thought, and for elaboration. This conversation, like many of its kind, will develop naturally, in fits and starts. Your participation is encouraged. For ease of reading Flora Sapio is identified as (FS), and Larry Catá Backer as (LCB).

The friends continue their discussion around the problem of the individual and the liberation project, and particularly the problem of the individual self in which the friends touch on the issue of narcissism and the self. Flora Sapio responds to the points made earlier and the friends are joined briefly by Yvonne Love (Penn State Abington) who comments on points mentioned earlier by Flora Sapio.

Contents: HERE

(BHP) rsrssr Larry Catá Backer, you turned my brain! rsrsrss Very good! Yes you're right, maybe everything back to the beginning. But as i already mentioned,between lines, for me, compassion is real only if there is empathy. I even do not like many things that accompany or that arouse the compassion. One of the main things i do not like, is to blame. Many people have compassion for guilt. And this i consider hypocrisy. On the other hand, in my opinion (that not necessarily it is correct), hardly empathy carries some kind of hypocrisy. Empathy is something that people have or not. They can be educated to have. But the level at which they will feel empathy depends on their nature.

(FS)  false feelings, implanted feelings and care of the self.
(YL)  None of us is Buddha and none a Saint, but we do as individuals choose a life, and I think those of us that step outside of societal constraints, usually have a streak of compassion that has a depth which doesn’t allow us to step into the machine. I believe further, that compassion is innate, and few are born with this true trait, which creates the conflict you discuss, whether personal or part of the organization. Today for example, I was exploring a particular University’s suggested employee contribution to health care. It was suggested that employees earning less than 45k pay a certain rate, employees earning between 45k and 120k pay a graded rate, while the rate was capped for 120k and above. Why? Simply because people who earn more – have more power and leverage to negotiate a higher salary – to compensate for contributing to their healthcare package. I can’t imagine how someone’s brain works – where they would want to live in a world where this is ok? The divide…perhaps compassion and the lack there of…cannot know one another.

(FS) Should one choose the pursuit of a virtue as one's final goal, and if so, which is the virtue one should pursue: justice, temperance, prudence or courage? Should one instead care for the self? What you refer to as self-love or self-esteem has got many sides, with 'true' empathy and 'true' compassion being only two of them.

Non-selective compassion is the outward manifestation of empathy, and it is therefore grounded in empathy, but here a distinction should be made between 'true' empathy, and the false empathy that is either projected onto us or implanted in us.

Substituting one's sense of the other for what the other really is – a mere projection of one's self onto the other! Any projection of one's own psychological, cognitive or emotional states (regardless of whether these are actual states or ideal states) onto the other is not empathy, but potentially a subtle form of emotional violence – empathy is based on an entirely different dynamic. Let me try to make this clear by specifying what you cannot do when you empathize with others.

You cannot experience or perceive the same feelings as the other, because empathy does not involve the senses or the intellect, but a different mode of knowing. To use a metaphor, you can only “receive” or “capture” the other's physical, emotional, psychological or cognitive states in the same way as a radio receiver receives radio waves, or as the ear receives sound waves.

Each one of the different states susceptible of being captured is a specific state, it subsists here and now, and it involves first and foremost the individual who is experiencing it. Each one of us is a unique being endowed with attributes that despite their similarity will never be identic. Given the difference in individual attributes, no two different individuals will experience the same physical, emotional, psychological or cognitive states. These states may be and often are exceptionally similar, but they will never be completely identical.

Therefore, even though you can sense a given state of the other as the other is experiencing it, and you can know what the given state of the other is, and what the other feels in going through that state, you cannot experience yourself as the other. You are sensing only a limited part of the other. Any psychological, emotional, cognitive state will involve one or more different “strata” and sides of the self – and obviously the self has deeper and more superficial strata and multiple sides. Ordinary cognitive, psychological, emotional states of the self are a temporary condition, and even though there are states that truly involve almost the entire totality of the self, such states do not occur ordinarily. Also some strata and sides of the self, some states and experiences can be known only by the self.

Can you project back onto the other the state you've captured? Of course you can! But under the best case scenario this would only be a sad attempt at psychological and emotional colonization, rather than true empathy. True empathy involves providing an appropriate response to whatever state has been sensed, and this is where the transition from true empathy to non-selective compassion occurs. An appropriate response is a response that is beneficial to the other. Most would assume that the best response would be responding positively to negative states – repaying hatred with love, or responding positively to positive states – repaying kindness with kindness, while in reality each person requires a different and non-standard kind of response...

True compassion and selective compassion, true empathy and false empathy cannot know one another - their signal paths travel on different wavelengths, but the individual who wants to practice the care of the self can choose to attune herself to a different and non-destructive frequency.

1 comment:

Betita Horn said...

A melhor resposta é a verdadeira. E a resposta verdadeira, é uma conquista.

The best answer is true. And the real answer, is an achievement.