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Fragment 165, word count: 595.

There is a longstanding pattern in the Western intellectual tradition of artificially separating a cognitive-rational aspect of a person’s engagement with experiences from the active play-out of emotional drama which is a person’s life in the world (and the definitive existence of ideality). As well as dealing with the precarious situation of living on the surface of planet Earth, what mainly shapes the drama for everyone is seeking out other sensitive beings to nurture and care for, constructing profound and enduring relationships with them. In this way ideality (always I-deality) is primarily empathy. Learning facts about things and solving problems are strictly incidental to the conceived imperatives of empathy. On the basis of the separation of cognition from empathic and dramatic agency, an edifice of conceptions has been built distinguishing data, facts and truths, from the emotional drama of “subjectivity” (often denigrated as inherently biased and limited by specific embodiment). However, it is always someone’s emotional drama which confers identified existence on anything.

We carry on living on the basis of a practical certainty that there is an actuality, some of which we eat and breathe and make clothes from. Actuality is what it is and persists in its nature quite independently of how it is conceived by us multitude of individually embodied ideality living with it. Yet it does permit a variety of ways of being conceived, and our ways of conceiving it express how things matter to us in the active play-out of drama which is life in the world.

The genius of ideality is creative ephemerality, turning ephemerality from imminent oblivion to an endurance of never-ending newness made possible by purposefully plunging and probing through time, conceiving freedom in a strictly non-actual but variably probable and possible future. The questioning push directing ideality’s gaze at the world is a self-directed re-orientation in flight: with a specifically directional bearing but also questioning, always incomplete. What is crucial to subjectivity is semi-reliable markers for orientation, to make agency,  operating into an open future, possible. We orient ourselves with ideas about actuality and other personalities, interpretations of experience, concepts created in the context of the teleological need for an open-ended and socially interconnected future-ward arc of living. Ideas are constructive acts of a consciousness living a life in the world, acts of gazing, creative acts of a knowing and learning at the questing point of an arc of purpose. Ideas are openings of newness, created outside actuality, interventions of an instance of a supra-actuality, non-being, which is the existence of living consciousness.

Individual subjectivity has to conceptualize and re-conceptualize the structures of the world, and to intervene in forming and altering those structures by exploiting the instability of actuality experienced as the passage of time. Having the power to do that is the genius of ideality. Knowledge is precisely a state of subjectivity in relation to the world in which a subject lives and orients itself. Nothing can be knowledge except in someone’s knowing, and only a particular subject/ person can know anything. Knowledge is first and always someone’s ideas. The conceptions of reality created by subjective ideality, and their cultural expressions, are tentative and mutable under the force of new experience, deliberation, and creativity. There is no absolute world-order (as in Plato) given (as data) to be known without the constructive activity of subjective ideality. Learning is a change of directionality of intent, expectation, and aspiration, of orientation, rather than a collecting and recollecting of images or word strings.


“ … Here is such a definition of truth: An objective uncertainty, held fast through appropriation with the most passionate inwardness, is the truth, the highest truth there is for an existing person.” Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments, An Existential Contribution, Volume I: Text with Introduction and Notes, written by Soren Kierkegaard, Edited and Translated by Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey (1992). ISBN 0-691-02081-7. (p. 203)

“Feeling is a kind of knowing; it is only through our feelings that we know that we have been insulted, that we love someone, that danger lies ahead or that it is uncertain what next step we ought to take.” How to Be an Epicurean, The Ancient Art of Living Well, written by Catherine Wilson, Published by Basic Books, an imprint of Perseus Books, LLC, a subsidiary of Hachette Book Group, Inc. (2019). ISBN: 978-1-5416-7263-5. (p. 269)

Copyright © 2020 Sandy MacDonald.