People, despite the desire of the misanthrope, are defined and made individual precisely because of others. Independence, as we come to find through age, means depending more and more on a select group of others. This selection must be more narrow than everyone but more than nobody but, besides that, we know little about the best possible form of communication with each other. We are born into relationships, flourish in relationships, are educated in relationships, grow old in relationships, and everyone wishes to die in the arms of those who love them. That group of lovers might be small or large, but everyone wants someone to love them.
This may seem relatively obvious and I hope it does. You see, like most foolhardy scholars I aim toward developing an ontology that I can live my life by but more importantly I hope to show others a better ontology (preferably my own) in hopes to contribute back to the web of relationships that brings me here. The above paragraph can be considered a thesis – the thesis of human relations as the core of individuality. It seems obvious to most humans but has certainly taken heavy criticism throughout the years. Both the adherence and the rejection of such a thesis finds its roots in the natural contradiction of the human person – a contradiction I have alluded to over the past year in this blog and hope to elucidate here.
Man desires to be with others but also desires to be chosen from the group as an essential component. That is to say that every person identifies themselves with a group but desires that from among that group they are special, perhaps talented, gifted, or great. Every person desires to be more than simply a member of any group and often this desire turns against the group. The easiest way for man to ascend is to force other people under their foot. Hence we arrive at the struggle of history. It is the tension between individual and group that drives history.
Yet another exception with undoubtedly more to follow. Not only to we expect ourselves to be special and among the horde an exception but we also think such (or at least desire or even expect such) from our lovers and beloved. An example, no matter how childish, is the “my dad could kick your dad’s ass” playground argument. Though neither boy has knowledge of each other’s father, nor do they most likely understand the level of kick-ass-ness of their own, they have set forth a parameter that they hold to be other parameters and above all others in that category they have placed their father. This complex doesn’t stop at childhood physically speaking, though one could make the argument that this particular trait of humanity might only exist in the childish in spirit. This same principle arises in culture in nationalism, patriotism, and even racism (but that is a whole different can of worms).
The question at stake behind all of this is… what is selfhood? Such a question escapes every form of investigation except introspection and finds most of its answer tied to the question “who am I” or even “what am I”. Such investigation eventually leads one to the idea of a self and also the idea of what a human is writ large. Yet, since our self is very affected by our history, introspection takes us to a point wherein we begin to make assumptions based on personal experience about other people that we identify as human beings. The question then asserts itself that maybe there is rather little that actually binds us at all – perhaps we are unique and that is actually very horrifying.
The truly unique are without companion, without understanding and cannot be understood, they have neither contrast nor compliment, and are completely alone. In our case, if we are unique, we are unique individuals with physical symmetry. That is to say our bodies do not reinforce this assertion and in fact forces the opposite conclusion very often. Our bodies are not unique; they are different, but not unique. They have contrast and compliment, we all understand those physical processes, and bodies are not alone. In fact they come from two other bodies and usually join to other bodies as life goes on. Bodies are what we hold in common.
Thus we arrive again to the question. Introspection leads one to discover the ways in which we are particular, unique, and special (perhaps only for ego’s sake) while our bodies drive us toward neediness for others. So what is individuality? What are we? In what ratio do we find true humanness – whatever that means. Very often our resources are divided between goods of the body and goods of the soul – which do we tend to and when? Why do we feel alone? Why don’t we love everyone automatically? These are questions without answer and constitute the entrance to a highway of my theory. Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated.