Violence and radical inequality (practices and justifications) are cultural poisons in the human interconnectedness. The glorification of violence is a main poison permeating existing cultures, but it is not the only one. The notion of radical inequality and the normal violence of dominance and control (ultimately by a semi-covert oligarchy) is a more inclusive identification of the poison. Carriers of those cultures are malevolent forces which practice manipulation and control by (among other ways) emphasizing the continuity of individuals with groups or collectives they are connected to, and even with unalterable nature. To exercise full human competence and freedom in that situation, it is necessary to counteract that influence by coming to terms with the discontinuity between the interiority of individual intelligence and the common world of nature and culture (as identified by the whole humanist movement of Hellenistic Greece: Cynics, Skeptics, and Epicureans along with Stoics).
If ordinary thinking is systematically impaired and distorted by every individual’s ambient culture (culture constructed in a combination of historical accidents and strategically deliberate programs) can any way be found personally to resist and transcend that influence? Even as a thought experiment, the possibility that human unfreedom is created by a pervasive culture being deliberately poisoned continuously, more or less covertly, raises an important challenge for philosophy. The question could be framed this way: In the situation of living in a culture that is pervasively poisoned, is it possible for an individual, by personal efforts, to achieve unimpaired or fully functioning human existence, to find grounding in undistorted reality? The answer is: Yes, with a combination of responses.
Two Main Points of Personally Strategic Orientation
First: Equality and the Discontinuity of Subjectivity
The ordinary sense of “subjectivity” is a declaration of the peculiar interiority of intelligence, an interiority of non-actuality. It assumes a radical discontinuity between subjectivity and the world of pre-determined nature. Something is called subjective to stipulate its non-actuality, its disconnection from the measurable actualities of objective nature. The interiority of intelligence is exactly subjectivity. In ordinary discourse the non-actuality of subjectivity is held in a negative light, as a failing. However, it is exactly the non-actuality of subjectivity that transcends the brute actuality of nature. The non-actuality of subjectivity includes personally dreamed-up visions of the future, selections of which will be deliberately projected, by effortful bodily acts, onto the actuality of nature. The future does not exist in nature, but exists emphatically in the orientation of intelligence. As reviewed in the posting Rethinking Stoic Interiority, subjective non-actuality always includes variant personal scenarios for the non-existent future, experienced as a steady approach and arrival of, framing an intentional shaping of, decreasingly remote and improbable expectations and deliberately intended accomplishments, including surprises at the point of arrival, but also including, increasingly with remoteness from that point: contradictions, negations, probabilities, possibilities, speculations, fantasies, questions, and doubts, over which subjective intelligence deliberates and designs (and none of which exist in the measurable actuality of nature).
Art, Representation, and Interior Sensibility
It would be difficult to make sense of art without some conception of the interiority of subjective intelligence. There is a kind of art which is crafted representations of the appearance of things in the objective world, but representations suffused with the sensibility of the crafting artist, (sometimes of a character, point of view, imagined by the artist). The tension across the gap between ideals of exact representation and subjective sensibility is highly valued in that art, and qualifies an artifact as art. The advent of photography presented a challenge by seeming to remove the human interior sensibility from representation. Photography inspired a shift away from the traditional representational practices of painting and sculpture, for example, and placed greater emphasis in those forms of art on presentations of pure subjective sensibility, manifestations entirely of the interiority of subjectivity, often emphatically emotional. However, it was soon understood that the placement of the camera and the conditions of the chosen moment of image capture, for example, all communicate subjective sensibility in a photographic image.
The rich interiority of subjectivity is the basis of equality. Inwardly, every intelligence is a universe of creative non-actuality, with its own centre to find and own, discontinuous from the actuality of nature. Consequently, everyone has his or her private interior grounding, a separate universe. (Philosophers who assert that cultural artifacts, text or varieties of sign, are all that philosophy can clarify or conceive refuse to have any notion of powerful individual subjectivity.) Every individual’s interior wealth and power can serve as the portal to reality unspoiled by a culture twisted by malevolence. That is the spring of clean inspiration and questioning curiosity that can liberate every individual from cultural poisons. Therefore, when living within a poisoned culture, be aware of your personal discontinuity from nature and culture. Own and assert the discontinuity between your subjectivity and everything else. You are, as a human, a transcendent creative force, ultimately incomparable to any other. Own your interior surprise horizon, and its creative power of orientation. The journey there is solitary, private. No one is competent to judge a universe they cannot know, and incomparable entities cannot be ranked.
Second: The History of Cultures in the Interconnectedness
The interconnectedness is the product of a peculiar history created by previous humans, limited and desperate. As already mentioned, the glorification of violence and war is a main poison permeating existing cultures within the interconnectedness. The notion of radical human inequality, and the violence of dominance and control that results from that, is another concept of the poison. In the human interconnectedness, there are slavers, enemies of human equality, self-possession, and autonomy, so that, within the interconnectedness, individual self-possession, dignity, and autonomy are constantly at risk and must be personally protected and cultivated at all times. In aid of being appropriately sensitive to that, keep building an awareness of cultural history within the interconnectedness, and construct it by reference to the actual conditions around you. Be assured that violence and inequality are not pre-determined or necessary in the human interconnectedness. The interconnectedness itself is the most magnificent creation of multiple intelligences (mainly the work of women), and it still needs a lot of work. From the history of the dominant cultures in the interconnectedness, it becomes clear that to prepare for construction of a new culture we must finish the work of the enlightenment, as will be explained in postings to come.
Copyright © 2013 Sandy MacDonald. The moral right of the author is asserted.