“CHARLES: Your words seem to come
From very far away. Yet very near.
You are changing me
And I am changing you.
How much of me is you?
CHARLES: And how much of me is you?
I’m not the same person as a moment ago.
What do the words mean now – I and you?”
T.S. Eliot, The Elder Statesman, Faber and Faber, 1969, p. 13
[Re-posted from The Old Site, original dd. 05-03-2010. I’m not even confident of the quote but the ending of the quought isn’t all bad.]
Yes, I love my wife too.
People want to understand. We want to capture the meaning and then vivisect it.
Trace each and every detail until it’s well and truly known. Until it can be recited and reproduced ad infinitum. There is a preference for natural numbers over rational ones and for rational numbers of real ones. Although the real numbers do not outnumber the complex ones, they clearly outperform them as regards the popular vote. The same is true with respect to the discrete vs the continuous. If we can split in two halves we will.
Anything is preferred over the messy reality of there being an infinite number of ways for us to look at a single thing.
We prefer the linear over the non-linear as well; things come in well identifiable singles, if at all possible, we will go to the most extreme of all extremes to avoid having to consider what happens as a whole that can’t be reduced to constituent parts.
The ‘whole’ is for our everyday understanding: a big, glaring hole. I hate that.
I like to say that what takes effort is probably not worth the effort. My bad, I guess. My loss as well. If you count in number of hits, at least.
The worst of it you’ll get if one questions the identity of people’s personality and the hard and fast truth of being born as an atomic spirit into a growing body. If we do it, we get stared at: “For sure, you don’t imply that this I is something, continuously in flux & merely a function of its environment (more specifically its linguistic context)!” It is precisely what I imply, what T.S. Eliot implies, what Pirandello implies and what can’t but be the consequence of what can’t but be right in contemporary philosophy.
“But what about guilt?
If the person is no longer a trustable unit of accountability, it is impossible to attribute guilt.” It would be impossible and it is impossible to ‘guilt’ somebody in the absolute way that people want to make other people guilty (and – which is the same – themselves potentially innocent). Sin is impossible but workable as a concept within the limits of the over-all fogginess of all other concepts, ‘person’ included. Original sin is definitely out. Original sin would apply to those just born, and to those not capable of language. It doesn’t apply – because it cannot hold.Before feeling yourself as a self there was no self and no guilt, original or otherwise.
One should not underestimate the power religions have in presenting a linear and discrete and natural picture of atomic spirits that can be wrong or right, that can be saved or doomed. This is serious business even if, by nature, somewhat fuzzy. This cannot be. The most you can do is have your ‘you’ influence another ‘I’ – thát is what we get as an after-life: not even so much as ‘being remembered’ but merely having caused something for the good of what comes after.
This is also enough for Kant’s sense of morality because it is enough to want to cause something good.
I am sorry to have focused on the negative, with a quote that so clearly opens doors to the positive. But the easy way out of that is to tell you to reread the quote – and I hope you have somebody like that – and if you haven’t, it is the easiest thing to get (because it may be very difficult to get many friends, or to become popular but it’s a matter of the smallest difficulty to talk to somebody, & be transformed, & transform at the same time – just let go of your own individuality – and in any case the mere fact of you feeling like an individual is only the consequence of others having talked to you and breathed life in you – you were created not by God but by everybody that has taken the time to nurture you).
I will never ever get softer than that 😉
[Whilst writing this I was listening to BOENOX, ‘STUDIO’ (will be a hard one to find but one well worth the effort)]