Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Part 11: (Whose Project; Does the Individual Exist?): 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).

We continue with the discussion among Flora Sapio Larry Catá Backer, Paul Van Fleet and Betita Horn Pepulim in which the friends consider the value of education and the context of the discussion.

 Contents: HERE.

(BHP)'ll re-read it a few times what Paul wrote, and the observation of Larry. To discuss, among others, the question of the cage. (BHP) Dear Larry, Paul and Flora! About putting Paul and about putting Larry:

At birth each individual becomes an important part of a whole. His individuality is gaining ground, according to your preferences and attitudes. It is impossible to deny the influence of the people who are close to the individual in the course of its development. A child is like a sponge. It absorbs what adults do and is molded from how they behave. If the man is considered a political animal, means that it has a natural need to live in society. According to this way of thinking, the greek polis is a human need, it is a living organism. The goal of the polis is to ensure that man has nourished the necessary material needs for survival and for a better intellectual life. It is noticeable that there is an organic unity between the political nature of the individual and the state. The man who does not need to live in society, or is a God or a fool. rsrsr

Aristotle argued that every city is a form of association and every association is established for purposes some good.

For Aristotle individuals not associated only for live. Individuals come together to live well.

Regarding the political physiology of Aristotle, it is education that provides organic unity to the state.

It is only through education that man will develop what is considered by Aristotle the most important science, precisely because its object the common welfare, ie the policy.

As you Larry, Flora and Paul know (because they know the subject more deeply than I), for Aristotle education is a process of improvement of nature human.

In his view the individual is not born ready. The individual self builds the relationship with the other guy. For him, ethics, politics and education guide the life human for her to be happy.

And virtue is a necessary condition to achieve happiness.

Virtue is not an instrument, but a voluntary habit. Is a consequence of practice that should be stimulated by education. There is a dichotomy of the soul in this sense: there is a rational part (logic), which divides the theoretical reason of practical reason. And there is also a private part (feeling, feelings, passion) which must conform to logic. Education should consider the divisions of the soul, cultivating actions that correspond to the upper part of the soul. In this way, too, arises, the division of virtues.

The divisions of the virtues are: a) intellectual: wisdom, intelligence, common sense, justice;

b) moral: generosity and temperance.

In the group the virtues a) are involved in teaching and therefore need the experience and time. The virtues of group b) provide the habit and are not innate.

The virtues are therefore qualities of the soul acquired only with activity and the effort. And this is where that fits education of which I have spoken my friends.

Sorry, but perhaps because of the limitation of language, I can not understand how we, I and Flora put the individual in a cage.

For me, life is a kind of cage. It can be a very broad or very narrow cage.

The life limits the individual. It is natural.

There is an expectation of life. And you have to take care of your body and your mind if you want to have a good life. Degenaração [degeneration] of body and mind are part of a natural process, and are the strongest bars of the cage in which we live.

I talk a lot in education because I truly believe that education allows man to realize, through their actions, their potential.

And so, perhaps, the man feel more free to the point of even realize that somehow he lives in a cage. I twist, so I was able to make myself understood.

My English is bad. In addition, write on topics like this is delicate in their own language. I write and then use the Google translator to see if it was intelligible.

(LCB) Betita please continue to use both Portuguese and English, we can work through language issues.

(FS) Thinking she was on a different wavelenght, Betita wanted to leave the discussion. However, the four of us are just speaking different 'dialects' of the same 'language', and while different dialects may use a different vocabulary they are still mutually intelligible. Three shared points have emerged this far, thanks to the differences among us, our backgrounds and worldviews:

(1) Theory has its perils, which can be avoided by relying on non-rational, non-theoretical modes of knowing: experience (Betita), and the language of poetry (Paul). These all are signposts along the path. (2) We need to remain closely focussed on reality (Betita), realize that reality poses constraints to theoretical possibility (Larry), and work within them. (3) Some emotional states, as a sense of duty, may be imposed upon us (Larry), but there are also authentic emotional states – the duty to act as a transmitter of change (Betita), and no one can control this duty or impose it upon us, because it comes from our most true selves.

We are slowly moving towards understanding the individual. Regardless of whether we use Paul's or Betita's code of communication (Dasein, nature of the mind, systems theory) now we are realizing that:

There is no separation between ourselves and the world.
We live in our times and we become in relation to our times.
The world never needed any control.
There are social constructs that introduce a separation in us, between us and our times, between us and our environment.
These social constructs, as they exist here and now in relation to us, are to be indentified and neutralized.

We may already have found one such social construct – education - and a way to neutralize it.

Does knowing a bunch of facts or theories count as education? Does having a PhD automatically make you better than those who can only read and write? Larry played the skeptic's role, saying that education only allows us to succeed within the structures of society, and if we remain within these structures then we are not liberated. Those who can barely read and write may forever remain content with drinking beer, watching soccer and finding their liberty in the Social Contract. But, the same can be true of those who have a PhD after their name.

Betita instead observed how education can be liberating, and I am with her on this. Betita, I was lucky enough not to experience war and revolution, but I too had to start work at a very young age, had to fight to get education – a right that often exists in abstract only – and during my stints in Italy I have done similar work with African “refugee” (the word refugee is another construct!) children.

The kind of education one does with these persons is much more than showing them how to read, write or speak the local language. One tries to overcome the social constructs that separate us from our environment and our community, to disprove to others several ideas: the idea that these persons are “black”; the idea that they are dangerous, dirty, “difficult”, worthless and so on. As you said, this process involves acquiring, sharing and exchanging tangible and intangible goods. It involves making knowledge and know-hows circulate within and among individuals and communities. Systems theory can be used to capture and model this and similar processes, but only experience allows to understand them. A broad set of mental, intellectual, rational, emotional social and physical abilities is needed to transcend the structures of society, deactivate social constructs and open up a space of freedom. Only the right kind of education can contribute to developing those abilities in us and in others, and this kind of education cannot be bought or sold.

(BHP) Dear Flora Sapio Imperatrix Maris, marvelous your response. I must confess that it was exciting to read what you wrote. I really like your way of thinking. And this their response not only gave me the opportunity to know you better, but also to confirm that this discussion is very interesting. Last night, before bed, I was thinking to talk with you and Larry, to build an a kind of summary of what has been said so far. But in many ways, you have provided it. Very serious, very real and very cool! Larry Catá Backer good initiative create this collaborative space to discuss this topic. And the two of you, thank you for allowing me to participate.

(FS) Thank YOU for participating!

(BHP) O discurso parece bastante razoável.Mas como "jornalista", necessito ter mais informações sobre o assunto, até para emitir uma opinião pessoal sobre uma entrevista.

(LCB) Here Betita makes my point, both about the project and the individual. The project of liberation that is too focused on context fails for the reasons Nietzsche warned us about the caste fo priests who oversaw and re-imagined the Evangel. The project is transformed from philosophy to governance, and the individual is recast from autonomous to instrument. And perhaps that is what is marvelous about this discussion.  It has forced me to consider more dispassionately (or perhaps passionately) on the core of the contradictions of projects for the liberation of the individual, for a philosophy of the individual, for the concept of liberation that is not choked to death on 2000 years of ulterior motives and the imperatives of managing a flock of aggregated individuals to stability and contentment.  IT leads to me consider the idea that this is a project of self management and of liberation from and through the education and context that provides both shackles and potential.It is not therefor nihilist, in the sense of rejecting context; but it is anarchistic in the sense of rejecting he centrality (or relevance) of context to the central question of personal liberation.  That produces a set of very interesting questions relating to ownership of project and of the self (who owns the self--and thus to Aristotle's notion fo the natural slave, but in a new context). It provides a method of acknowledging that which cannot be avoided--the lust for managing others and for the aggregation of individuals within structures that obliterate and reconstruct the self into something useful.  It suggests the possibility of a sense fo self beyond good and evil, and toward perhaps a more compelling set of truth (though we will see if such a thing is possible in the absence of a divine order). This is not so much the skepticism that Flora mentioned, but the movement toward a consideration of a liberation that is neither contextual nor dependent on the other--and in that sense I would reject, as the first affirmative act, the shrug of Paul's poetics, even as I acknowledge its power and its unavoidable nature.  But even within the prison of the construction by others, can the self birth itself as something distinct. . . . . . we will see. .


Betita Horn Pepulim said...

Interesting your placement Larry! But you still need to clarify for me, the question of the cage. Why can I not feel that we are(Flora and me) actually doing it. I have an idea to continue this our dialogue. But I'll have to dig up my journalism school books. As i mentioned with Flora, was the period when I studied philosophy. It happened 31 years ago. And Larry, rsrsrsrs, yes I will put my text in both languages. As you master the spanish, can better understand the portuguese. And i also know that this english i provide is just tolerable.

Betita Horn Pepulim said...

Bom dia Larry! O que eu escrevi sobre o discurso parecer razoável, mas eu não ter condições de opinar sobre ele, se refere ao post sobre os muçulmanos em Cuba. Não sobre esta discussão.Eu acho que você colocou aqui por engano.Abraços.