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Fragment 185, word count: 505.

tags: philosophy, metaphysics, dystopia, embodiment, personality, reality, politics, culture, nature, freedom, Plato.

Rarely does an individual have much control over the evolutionary momentum of multigenerational cultural entities such as religions, sovereign states, cities, industries, or institutions such as armies and war, universities and literacy. A lifetime is barely enough to get a well contextualized sense of what they are. We behold them for a heartbeat, a blink, as we transform through the life cycle of a human animal. This combines with generational amnesia, the personal-level, deeply experienced knowledge lost with the mortality of each generation, and also with the new-generation’s  innocence and its inclination to have a joyful life in a joyful world. Biologically, our lives are expressed in bodies which are at some moment in an arc of species mutation already in progress for some unthinkable duration. We live the gifts and limitations of our moment in that long arc of mutation. It is not surprising then that, socially, accommodations are made for whatever activities and systems of relationship are practiced at our moment of intervention, even if they have a dystopian core, because often enough that seems to make it easier to find some joy in being alive. This makes a certain sort of philosophical work almost impossible.

Assertions about primordial reality, specifically of a fixed and eternal structure of existence, are always canonized in dystopia to support an exploitative social hierarchy, and that is why philosophy, as a critique of thinking about primordial existence and reality, is inherently political and ultimately unavoidable. For example, the commanding heights of Plato’s conception of metaphysical reality, typical of dystopia, exist somewhere on the invisible far side of objects, a substrate behind the impersonally given world of objective things. They are meant to make sense of how the never-ceasing fluidity of familiar things can be connected to a stability profound enough to count as essential reality. On that view, the situation may be tragic, but it is nature and you can’t change nature. Things are what they must be, manifesting an existential bedrock of categories and laws. Although canonical, this is only wild speculation.

There is an opposing metaphysics of primordial existence, a conception that denies any categorical commanding heights. In the most straightforward way, you are the metaphysics in your world, the living ideality here on the near side of phenomena. All forms of ideality occur in clusters that have the dramatic structure of a living personal “I”, subject of a personal drama which is an individual’s embodied life in the world. Ideality is always personality, the creative transcendence of ordinary, individual-level, temporal agency living a creativity that transcends nature and makes what sense it will of the physical or divine givens of nature. There may be a system of stark givens, but it has no intrinsic purposes, doesn’t matter to itself and cannot care, and that system has no immutable grip on the conceptions of us agents of temporal ideality. Social systems derived from this metaphysical source can be perfectly free of any influences from the patterns of organization in brute actuality.

Copyright © 2022 Sandy MacDonald.