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Fragment 197, word count: 596.

Tags: nature, hierarchy, politics, essentialism, spirit, perception, reality, time, Nietzsche.

The awesome weight and depth, the clear outlines and forces of resistance, the ‘thusness” or brute presence of Nature-at-large are considered by an essentialist sensibility as unassailably declarative of “what is”, or “what is real”. The essentialist sensibility attaches itself to apparent knowability, the overt public availability of material objectivity. Nothing real is hidden on this view. True reality can be lit up, measured and mapped, identified and specified, depended on as definite and enduring. Moreover, what is striking in the structure of Nature to the essentialist sensibility is a Great (food) Chain of Being extending into the exercise of power among humans, into social and economic organization. Competitive hierarchies are at the core of this essentialism and competitive hierarchies encourage stark “us against them” conceptual dichotomies: master/ slave, predator/ prey, strong/ weak, victor/ vanquished. Nietzsche, for example, in his darker aspect, embraced this essentialism with enthusiasm, asserting that some people are really aristocratic, giving them the right to dominate, control, and loot the work of others. His view included the aristocracy of men over women. Such realist essentialism defines the political right-wing for whom Nature, understood in this way, is incomparably more important, more authoritative, than ordinary individual spirituality, whatever such spirituality might be. Essentialists assume that the categories of things that make up the world (male/ female, aristocrat/ worker, master/ slave) are predetermined prior to any creative work of ideation, which is to say prior to any application of the particular interests of caring drama-projecting sensibilities. The reason conservatives get so agitated about transgender people is that gender fluidity contradicts the basic conservative essentialism which includes that male and female are different Categories of Being, different substances, different materials or essences.

Fragment 196, February 1, 2023, Spirit is Reality (word count: 283)

In our world in which spirit is reality, though, in which spirit exists as a busy multitude of localizing and personally dramatizing principles of world organization, the general authority of any essentialism is impossible. Meaning, relevance, and portent have to be conferred by acts of a spirit onto the structures and forces that are given in nature, and no kind of oligarchy or commanding height, neither human or cosmic, holds a monopoly on the power to do that. It is the dramatic conceptual work of individually embodied ordinary subjective spirits. Nothing experienced is or can be beyond the creative work of ideation. Perceiving is part of that creative work. Spirit is the questioning push directing any perceiving gaze to keep opening the world in its dramatic flight, never finished. For living spiritual agents, time is a personal future opening by the power of skills learned in the work of aging and by inherent creativity. These busy personalizing principles of world organization warp their vicinity of objects and events toward some kind of suppositional best case among multiple alternative and variously improbable futures, all non-actualities, separate from the brute actuality of nature. The existence of spirit manifests an unfinished world, always being created, a world new and indefinite in a passionate embrace of time.

Fragment 195, October 21, 2022, Spirituality of the Left (word count: 474)

If the truth of metaphysics can be spread about, the truth that there is no Great Chain of Being (that idea being an article of class propaganda) and that in fact the world, especially the social world, is mutable because every individual person is a source of creative power (transcendent opening of possibilities for the shape of things in an otherwise inertial and entropic world), then political essentialists lose their legitimizing ideals.

Copyright © 2023 Sandy MacDonald.