The Socratic Embodiment (Part 2)
On “Developing With” and “Developing From,” Systems Design, and a World Which Gives Us Trouble
In Part 1 of “The Socratic Embodiment,” we discussed how Socrates can be viewed as explaining us to a place where we can “address one another,” emphasizing how Socrates is someone who “develops with” his shortcomings and ignorance, and that Socrates suggests that this kind of “developing with” is only possible with others. “The practice is the idea,” and Socrates always philosophizes in a “relationship,” in “the streets,” versus “develop from” the people in an Ivy Tower somewhere, “away from” relationships in which he can feel insecure, foolish, and the like. In this work, we will examine further the meaning and implications of the distinction between “developing with” and “developing from,” examining the implications both on a “micro-level” and “macro-level,” which will tie into points brought up in the conclusion of Belonging Again, as featured in these pieces:
Notes on “Game B: A Dark Renaissance Response w/ Alexander Bard, Cadell Last, Owen Cox, and Raven…
Points, thoughts, and the like on a response to Game B.
The Four Arrows
Mimetic Rivalry, “Cancer,” Scale, and Coordination Systems
The Knowledge Problem
An Elaboration on Points Raised in the Game B Discussion
The Tragic Tradeoff Between Ideological Negotiation and Systematic Programing
Daniel Fraga and Owen Cox at Technosocial recently invited Brendan Graham Dempsey of Metamodern Spirituality to discuss…
The Rationality of Freedom Relative to Ethics, Hermeneutic Binding, and Correlation Between…
Combing “The Tragic Tradeoff Between Ideological Negotiation and Systemic Programming” and “On Kafka, Character, and…
Recently, Brendan Graham Dempsey discussed “Metamodern Spirituality” with Layman Pascal, and the talk touched on the Game B and Dark Renaissance debate. It was a lovely conversation, and you can find it here:
Dr. Cadell Last commented on the video, leaving some particularly critical and eloquent remarks. Here, I would like to focus on this great point of his:
I don’t think anybody is juxtaposing “base instinct” versus “higher development” (i.e. some retroactive/naturalistic fallacy); it is that “higher development” must be cultivated through a “division/split” (requiring self-relating negativity) that is present within all “developmental levels” (Layman also pointed towards this). It is this “division/split” where the “base instincts” circulate in the present moment (not in the past). If the human being does not have real transformative practices to be in touch with these base instincts, then there will inevitably be repression and, in my view, “idealistic pseudo-development” (i.e. development that calls itself development in abstract presuppositions, but in reality is just repression of base instincts and a fear of self). To again give the quote defining the Dark Renaissance that was used in the Dark Renaissance critique of Game B: “The Dark Renaissance is a broader potential artistic, philosophical and religious movement which seeks to reveal, affirm, confront, transform the more disturbing aspects of the human condition as the only way to organize society truthfully.” At the center of this definition is the TRANSFORMATION of the more disturbing aspects of the human condition for TRUTH. How this ever got interpreted as nihilistic and post-modern is perplexing.
This is paramount, and I would like to focus on the opening sentence, where Dr. Last claims that ‘ ‘higher development’ must be cultivated through a ‘division/split’ (requiring self-relating negativity) that is present within all ‘developmental levels.’ ’ For me, this is an eloquent and beautiful description of “developing with” in opposition to “developing from.” In this work, I will not focus on the debate between Game B and Dark Renaissance, but it might be the case that while Game B seems to emphasize “developing from” (or “developing out of”), Dark Renaissance seems to emphasize “developing with.”¹ I’m not sure, and the points I lay out in this paper will not be dependent on the technical details of that debate. Still, the language of “developing from” and “developing with” might prove useful in that context, though I will leave that up to others to decide.
In this paper, I will explore differences between “developing from” (DF) and “developing with” (DW), with a focus also on questions of how the emphasis on DF or DW could alter relative to scale. All the same, an emphasis on “development from” is risky (even if sometimes valid). This will suggest, alluding to “The Socratic Embodiment (Part 1),” that the larger the system, the more “explanation” will be emphasized over “address,” seeing as address is particular and specific. There are advantages to this — explanations are more generally and universal — but there are also disadvantages (the loss of “address” has hurt mental health, for example). Regardless, the onus is ultimately on us to go “Inside The Real” of our neighbor’s home and find out what kind of people we can be.
We tend to only ask the question on if we are developing or not, which is to say we mostly only discuss “development toward” (DT) this or that, trapped in a dichotomy of “developing or not developing.” Here Derrida needs to be invoked, which is to say that we need to be skeptical of this dichotomy, for it is hiding from us an earlier step. I don’t know anyone who thinks DT is entirely impossible — the great debate seems to be regarding if we “develop toward” x while at the same time either “developing from” or “developing with” what keeps us from x. In my view, the great debates rests between DF and DW, not on if development is possible at all.
What we “develop from” is generally what we improve by leaving behind, while “development with” is what we grow alongside. Yes, DF and DW can overlap, and the same action can mean different things between different people to differing degrees. If both Dan and John stop drinking, it will look like both have “developed from” drinking, but while Dan has no desire for drinking in the slightest, John still does. Thus, while Dan is more purely DF, John must actually “develop with” a desire to keep drinking, a struggle that the phrase “developing from” doesn’t fully capture. Thus, while Dan is more DF, John is more DW. At the same time, if Dan was put in a room full of alcohol, his desire to drink might come roaring back, unveiling that he was “actually” DW (which is to say he learned to “develop with” his desire to drink by avoiding places where it was offered). Dan learned to “develop from” alcohol by learning to live with the condition that he needed to avoid it. In this way, Dan is more DF than John in being less tempted by it (under most circumstances), but it’s also not the case that Dan is utterly DF under all circumstances. In a bar serving drinks, Dan finds out that he has actually been “developing with” a desire that never entirely went away.
What is said here regarding alcoholism applies just as well to any topic or quality of “human nature” and what Alexander Bard calls “pathos”: anger, egotism, possessiveness, pity, irritation — problematic tendencies which the topics of sex, birth, and death might uniquely bring out. To stick with our example of alcoholism though, it is possible that someone learns to stop drinking and never desires it again under all circumstances, and this person would indeed be “purely DF” versus “a mixture of DF and DW” (which came out relative to certain circumstances). It is also theoretically possible that there exists someone tempted by alcohol all hours of the day, and this would be someone more “purely DW.” In this way, we can generally consider three camps:
1. Always Developing With (DW)
2. A Complex Mixture of DW and DF
3. Entirely Developed From (DF)
Now, I won’t surprise you when I unveil that most of us probably fall somewhere closer to camp Number 2 more than 1 or 3. To help visualize the point:
The majority of people are going to be more 2 than either 1 or 3 (hence why the line bends upwards). Yes, it is possible for people to be around 1 and 3, but it is highly unlikely that someone be “entirely 1” or “entirely 3” relative to every possible issue (a complexity we will explore momentarily). Anyway, my point is that we have denser clusters of people near 2, and far fewer dots around 1 and 3:
This image is relative to people overall, which is to say that, in general, the majority are more 2 than 1 or 3. I’m not sure if anyone can “actually” be “purely 1” or “purely 3” overall (hence why I have no dots “at” those numbers), but that is a theoretical possibility I won’t entirely deny.
But now we must “zoom in,” which is to say that when it comes to particular issues like say anger, short-temperedness, pride, alcoholism, or the like, the majority of us are going to be at 1 (“developing with”). When it comes to “the particularity” and “the specific” of say pride, we are either “developing with” or “developing from” — there is no middle. If all that there needs to be is a “single circumstance” or “single situation” in which anger can come out for us to be considered 1, then most of us will be 1.
As with the first visual, if we set the parameters as “relative to the average of all possible locations, situations, etc.,” then, yes, most of us are more 2 than 3 or 1 relative to say anger. However, if we set the parameters as “relative to any possible circumstance” (not an average), our visual becomes very different (as just shown). Again, yes, if we’re talking averages, then most of us will be 2, but if we’re talking “all or nothing,” regardless the issue, most of us will be 1 (most of us will not prove to be a Christ or a Buddha, though I don’t deny the possibility). Very few of us, regardless the circumstance, are never short-tempered, tempted by lust, tempted by alcoholism, or the like — basically none of us are entirely “developed from” (DF) x in every possible situation, for there is usually at least “one possible situation” that would unveil to us that we were actually “developing with” (DW).
Further complexity must be introduced. On the topic of anger, Dan could be “2 leaning 3,” while John could be more 1, while on the topic of greed Dan could be 1 while John is more 3. Does this mean Dan is a 1 while John is a 3? Should we try to find an average? How? And even if we somehow succeeded regarding Dan and John, what about the other eight billion people on earth? What should we do? Hard to say, but even if this cannot be determined, there is still reason to think that it is safe to assume that we are all more 2 than purely 1 or 3 on average. That said, please note that if Dan is 3 (DF) regarding anger, lust, and greed, but he’s a 1 (DW) regarding egotism, then if we treat that egotism on a systems or cultural level “as a 3,” that means Dan’s egotism will likely get the best of him. Yes, the system accounted for Dan relative to everything but his egotism, but his egotism will not be “addressed,” and so Dan might not feel “addressed” at all. This suggests the main problem: it seems that we are dealing with an “all or nothing” situation. It takes very little to destroy a community or family: a single fight could forever destroy a marriage. Thus, treating Dan as entirely a 3 could spell the doom of a marriage, even if Dan is 90% a 3. That 10% could be enough to make the other 90% irrelevant.
Most of us are not addicted to everything, just some things, and yet my overcoming of a temptation to be addicted to food, porn, rage, and attention will easily be “practically irrelevant” if I am addicted to gambling. Gambling can destroy my life, as can a single kiss from a friend’s girlfriend. Life is very fragile, which is arguably unfair, but life is life. For this reason, we should always assume that we are more DW than DF — it’s simply “the Precaution Principle.” If someone actually is DF, then treating that person “on a macro-level” (nuances will be addressed shortly) as DW will not impact that person negatively (after all, they’ve “developed from out of” the issue), but if we treat someone as DF who is actually DW, then the system will not be designed taking precautious into account that need to be taken into account, which will cause trouble. If we assume DW, then both DW and DF will be fine, but if we assume DF, then only DF will be fine, and DF compromise a very small minority of people.
Since very few people will fall around 3 (DF) either “generally” or “particularly,” we should always assume and orientate ourselves assuming 1 (DW). If we assume 1, both 2 and 3 will be address “on the macro-level,” but if we assume 2 and 3, we’ll likely make mistakes. And if human community and relationships are so radically fragile, then a single mistake could prove disastrous. Considering this, the Precaution Principle would have us treat everyone like a 1 or DW in all areas. Again, a wise system would be designed around 1 and “developing with” versus 3 or even 2. Yes, we are all more 2 “overall” than either 1 or 3, but if a society operates assuming 1, then it will also take care of people who fall into the camps of 2 and 3. In other words, if society is designed assuming everyone is always “developing with” more than “developing from,” then, on the macro-level, everyone will be addressed.
As straightforward as this all might sound, accepting the need to design ourselves (on a macro-level) around 1 requires humility and accepting “our tragic human condition,” which is for us to accept that we will never be perfect and never “develop from out of” imperfection (which is to say we must approach society “tragically”). If we have never experienced employing “Socratic Embodiment,” if we’ve spent all our days only using “Socratic Methods” to embolden ourselves, we may not be ready to accept this emotionally difficult reality. Choices have consequences; we are always habituating ourselves to what we can handle.
We’ve argued that a macro-system should be designed assuming more 1 (DW) than 2 or 3 (DF), but this of course leaves open the question of how the system can be more 1, for arguably creating a giant police state takes seriously the fact people always “develop with” a temptation to commit crimes (for example). Few of us would want this, but at the same time it’s reasonable to desire some kind of police force — how do we find the balance? This is where the word “developing” is critical, for the idea is that, regardless “with” or “from,” people are improving. Yes, law and police need to exist to some degree, but the degree both are needed will be relative to “the ethical life” of the society, as reflected in its development. This is expanded on in “The Rationality of Freedom Relative to Ethics, Hermeneutic Binding, and the Correlation Between Diversity and Systemization” by O.G. Rose, and ultimately “the right balance” is probably heavily emergent and cannot be determined or organized except “in the present” (which is arguably Hegelian). This suggests the need for flexibility, but by definition a system isn’t entirely flexible (otherwise, it wouldn’t be a structure). The particular details are everything.
If we believe people can DF, then we don’t need the police at all, but if we take seriously that people can “develop with,” then the police must not only keep people from doing thigs, but help them get better at living with those things. Thus, the police are not just preventative, but also meant to participate in a process of helping us improve. If people just keep us “from” doing things through control, there is no development, and so the police force would betray the spirit of DW. By believing in DW versus DF, we wouldn’t necessarily abolish the police entirely, but we would also assure the role of the police was to help with development. But what does that look like? Well, that depends on the particularities of the civilization in question (which suggests that the more the society is organized “top-down,” the greater the probability for error in finding the right balance).
In whatever way we decide to make our world, the main point is this: people who DF will always be a minority “overall,” which means our macrosystems should never be designed in a manner in which they only work if people “develop from out of” this or that — if a system requires DF to work, then the system should be scrapped. A system which requires DF to work is not tenable at scale. Yes, a small community could easily operate assuming everyone has (“practically”) “developed from” a desire to steal, for that small community could see and observe that the twenty members who compose the community do not steal and don’t want to steal, and so the community could decide that it does not need to install security cameras to monitor the community at night. But “at scale,” where the community was compromised of thousands of people, even if it was the case that everyone had actually “developed from” a desire to steal (which would be unlikely), it would be “practically impossible” for the community to determine such to be the case. In this situation, it could be best to install cameras simply to help “existentially stabilize” everyone, because even if people shouldn’t feel anxiety, the very fact that they do could contribute to them acting in such a way that damaged the community and hurt its capacity to efficiently operate. Where people cannot really intimately know everyone, which becomes harder at scale, the harder it becomes for people to believe they shouldn’t be anxious even if they really shouldn’t be: scale makes it increasingly difficult to believe in reality, increasing the probability that means are put in place that help people cope with that uncertainty (say by installing security cameras that actually aren’t needed).
The movement from “developing with” to “developing from” is always a movement from a larger group to a minority, and so large systems could be developed assuming DW versus DF. At the same time, if I’ve worked hard and actually indeed have “developed from out of” alcoholism, yet you treat me as if I’m still struggling with alcoholism, I could feel “unaddressed.” This suggests a tension: I have been arguing that it’s best to assume we are DW versus DF, but actually treating people that way could make them feel ignored and “unaddressed.” How do we deal and organize with this tension? Well, this suggests why a totally “centralized” or “totalitarian” approach is not the answer: though the macro-structure should assume DW versus DF, there needs to be “space” on the micro-level and in the particular for people to treat one another “as mixtures” of DF and DW, so that everyone feels properly “addressed.” How exactly that “mixture” is determined, and what exactly constitutes that mixture, varies between people and depends on the particularities of the situation. Thus, there must be room for individuation and variety.
On the personal and individual level, we need to adjust how we act to people based on how they have actually and practically “developed from” this or that and are “developing with” this or that: the reality of 2 (us all being a mixture of DF and DW) can “come out” on the particular and individual level. The small and more intimate the scale, the more we can adjust our relationships, communities, and organizations closer to 2 from 1, and we also should so adjust things precisely to assume that people feel “addressed.” Frankly, it seems loving to assume the people around us are more DF than DW, but we also shouldn’t be naïve and idealistic. In our personal relationships, perhaps we should “know” people are more DW than DF, and yet “treat” people as if they are DF (and so give them “the benefit of the doubt” of DW when they most benefit from it). This would algin with “assuming the best,” a principle defended in “Assuming the Best” by O.G. Rose, and perhaps we could sum up navigating these waters with the following:
Ourselves to Ourselves:
Ourselves with Others:
Assume DW of ourselves and more DW/DF of them, with emphasis on DF for them.
On a Macro-Scale:
On a Micro-Scale:
Adjust relative to variations in the mixture of DW/DF.
There is space for DF in our thinking, but while we naturally tend to use DF in our favor, we really need to use it in favor of others. Our egos love using DF to think of ourselves as having “developed from out of” this or that, while we tend to only think of others as “developing with” their pathologies. We need to do the exactly opposite, and yet at the same time we shouldn’t be naïve on the system’s level and, relative to scale, emphasize and prioritize DW, based on the Precaution Principle.
Isn’t this contradictory? No, and in fact if we focus on “the system” treating everyone as DF, then first we can always claim that we only treated the people around us as DF because “that’s what the system was doing,” absolving us of the responsibility of making ourselves able to “handle” the pathos and difficulties of relationships, nor will we ever, while in the midst of that difficulty, have to maintain a posture and hope that it is possible for that other person to “develop with” their struggles and human tendencies. If we simply model ourselves relative “the system” which emphasizes DF, not only will that system likely fail at scale, but also if people become difficult to be around, we can then simply claim that they need to be “moved outside the system,” which means we “scapegoat” and “other” them. We never have to change or adjust ourselves: a system of DF can simply push outside of itself those who fail to prove “fully developed,” creating a problematic “us and them”-dynamic.
A macro-system that stresses DW forces us to accept the realities of DW as well, which means we must face and learn about “the difficult parts” of being human. And yet since we do in fact believe in “development,” we also have to make ourselves available to help and support others: when they fall short, we can’t simply “other them” out of our lives. At the same time, we can choose in the freedom of our particular circumstances to see people as potentially more DF than DW (to “assume the best”), while knowing of ourselves to be more DW.
“Addressing” the people around us is a complex and difficult undertaking, but a world without “address” will be a world of people who feel encountered but not met. A macro-system that assumes DW, in that very fact, can also assume that it is not in a position to know and determine what everyone needs, at all times, to be “addressed” (a point which suggests Hayek), and thus it can make room for individuals in their own lives to “address” the people around them. By assuming DW of themselves and “DW leaning DF” of others, these people can contribute to “addressing” those in their circles who they have the power to “address” and help. Since the emphasis is on DW, we will avoid assuming that there is a time when we can consider “the work finished” — we will always have more we can demand of ourselves.
To bring this section to a close, though we have used the language of “develop with” and “develop from,” we could also think of people as “struggling with” and “struggling from out of.” Development does not come easily, and it will require us to work and keeping working. If humans are indeed beings who are always “developing with” something, then we cannot “address” humans until we accept this reality. “Truth organizes values,” as The Conflict of Mind argues, and based on the “truth” of what humans are, that will shape and determine what we think we “ought” to do. From a practical standpoint, macro-systems could assume DW, but really we are all a mixture of DW and DF: if that “mixture” isn’t examined and understood in all its intricacies, we will not feel “addressed.” But that work can only be done in particularity and specific lives, which is to say that if we are to determine “the breakdown,” we must be with people.
Yes, it would be great to “develop from out of” alcoholism, to be able to go into the bar and literally not feel the temptation or desire to drink. This is possible, but why not act like, to ourselves, that we are only “developing with” alcoholism? That will increase self-skepticism, which will help us avoid “a fall.” Again, accepting DW is not hopeless, for there is “development” — the question is only how we should sustain it and think about “our development” compared to “the develop of others.” This is the work of relationships, work which can only be done with others.
All “address” requires a theory of change and development, for we are in time and thus changing and developing, and “address” which cannot follow us cannot guide us, to ourselves or to others. This is why this paper has sought to make distinctions between “developing with” and “developing from,” ultimately associating DW with being more A/B while DF is more A/A, which gets into ontological topics such as those described in “The Philosophy of Lack” series, though intimate knowledge of that series isn’t needed here. Yes, there is overlap, and yes, I can DF here and there even if not entirely, so I don’t mean to say DF is impossible or always bad. Rather, my point is to say that since we all carry an “essential lack” (A/B) we cannot entirely “develop from,” and that there must always be to some degree “developing with.” If we don’t, we shall suffer effacement; any possible negation/sublation will escape us. Again, it’s not essential to grasp here, but to touch on the larger themes of (Re)constructing “A is A,” our natural “end” is A/A (competition, wholeness, totality, etc.): it’s what our minds are naturally “toward,” and what naturally “effaces” us. This natural orientation is why “a good death” and “a good life” are so difficult to achieve, and why “living with lack” and A/B requires so much work. Faced with this work, it is natural for us to “turn back to what’s natural” and seek A/A. But we mustn’t. We mustn’t.
To emphasize, seeing as human life and society are so fragile (that it takes one insult for our days to be ruined after a hundred compliments, for example), I am of the opinion that we need to design our macro-systems around DW versus DF, with particular variances being left to the micro-level (where people can see and experience that Dan has DFed from alcoholism but is more so DWing his temper, adjusting accordingly). The greater the scale, the more the system should be designed around DW (permanent pathos), while space can be made for “negotiations” between DF and DW on small scales. Address honors the name, while explanation understands the letters, but people can’t really be names unless we know them face-to-face. Address addresses Daniel, while explanation explains the organs. Address without explanation will prove fragile and not “grounded” or connected to actuality, but explanation without address won’t feel like it means much. Address locates, while explanations maps. Maps can contribute to locating us, but maps aren’t why we’re here. If maps didn’t exist, we easily still could.
It’s another topic, but I think we focus too much on “extreme things” to hide us from true things. We don’t murder, we don’t steal, and we don’t cheat on our spouses, so we think generally of ourselves as “good people.” This is a problem: we need to focus on our tendency to be irritable, to be judgmental, to be prideful, and the like. We are not evil, no, but I’m not sure if “good” describes us. Sure, Mr. A.C. Grayling is correct that the world is full of millions of examples everyday where people get along, and that should not be overlooked, and perhaps Dr. Pinker is correct in his “better angels of our natures” (I don’t know). But I’m not so much interested in the fact that we don’t entertain ourselves by burning cats anymore — an example Pinker gives — but I’m instead interested in that voice in our heads which is cussing out everyone around us. Perhaps we can “develop out of” a desire to burn cats, but I don’t think we can “develop from” that dark voice in our minds. If we think we can, we will design our political and socioeconomic policies accordingly, and I fear the consequences will be dire. If the macro-system fails, it might turn out that we need to start hiding our pets, that what we thought was DF was actually DW, hidden by the socioeconomic order.
I don’t know — at the end of the day, we all just guessing, for certainty is not possible in this life, only confidence. But a point of “The Philosophy of Lack” has been to suggest that there is very good reason to think “essential lack’ is something we must “develop with,” that if some “Transhumant Project” emerged which made “essential completeness” possible, we’d end up with something which wasn’t human. Perhaps things would be better (again, I don’t know), but at that point we’d either end up with Lovecraft or Paradise, and I’m not sure if we could go back. That is the great question of “Transhumanism,” a topic which must be taken up in “Transhumanism and the VORD” by O.G. Rose
Ultimately, I favor emphasizing “developing with” over “developing from” — if you disagree, we should discuss it. I see no other way for real and sustainable community. All other ways of life will only last until the day when it turns out what we thought was DF was really DW. For me, the goal is to create a social order which is ready for the surprise, and even grows from it (“Antifragile”).
The word “better’ always means “beyond,” for we must change what came before into something else, and no doubt what came before was thought best at the time. Every improvement, hence, can be of what was once thought unimprovable. Every approximation to perfection is possible through a perfection, the act of which unveils the prior perfection was never thus and that suggests the new perfection entails an unknown date of expiration. For this reason, accepting DW from a place of belief in DF can be very difficult, but that difficulty is part of what we must “develop with.” Otherwise, the expired perfection will continue to be what we aspire to perfect.
“The Philosophy of Lack” is not nihilistic, for we are not saying that improvement or development is impossible. Rather, we are saying that all development must be “with” lack, which is to say without a permanent solution to anger, addition, feeling insufficient, feeling “off,” and so on. This is based on an ontology of A/B versus A/A, and it matters to get this right because “ideas are practical” — how we think determines how we live — and “truth organizes values,” which is to say we determine what to do and seek based on what we believe is true. Generally, we could say “The Philosophy of Lack” is arguing that all improvement results mostly from “managing lack” and “working with lack,” that the moment we think we’ve “solved” our natures, we are fallen. In this way, “The Philosophy of Lack” engenders and encourages self-skepticism and epistemic humility, both of which I cannot help but believe this world would benefit greatly from having more.
It is of course possible for people to “develop out of” their desire to drink alcohol, and again I don’t want to say DF never happens. Rather, I want to say that very often the person who thinks they’ve “developed from” a desire to drink will find out in a bar that they rather “developed with” that desire, and now the desire is strong. Now, it’s likely a big mistake will be made, causing untold damage. So it goes with society at large, and why I think the emphasis on DW is justified, especially at greater scales. And none of this is to say alcohol is bad — everything is good in the right order, as Augustine taught — the issue is “disorder” and the human tendency to make good things bad. The problem is that because we “lack,” we cannot “develop out of” the capacity to disorder entirely (yes, we can DF “accidents” but not essences; essence require DW); we must always learn to “develop with” the capacity to disorder. If the world was complete, “the pieces of it couldn’t move around,” per se, and so we wouldn’t have to worry about disorder just discovering. But the world is not complete, and so we can always move around the pieces and disorder it. The moment we think we’ve “developed from” this possibility is the moment we’re most in danger, which is to say that saints are perhaps the most likely to be sinners.
Speaking of saints, I cannot help but see a Christian parallel in this notion. Following the theology, saints are always sinners, but sinners always have the potential to be saints. There is no A/A, no final competition, which means we are “always already” A/B, which in one way is disappointing, for that means we can never find final safety in being “a saint,” per se; in another way though, it’s hopeful, for every sinner is ontologically equivalent to every saint. This being the case, there is no reason a sinner can’t be redeemed: the same ladder that makes possible the fall of saints makes possible the climb of sinners.
If hope could not be lost, hope could not be found. If we didn’t have to work, there would be nothing we could do. The hope of “The Philosophy of Lack” is to tell us these things so that we can have peace in the troubles of this world, for if we know the troubles will always be with us, then we will not think there is something wrong with us when the troubles continue to besiege. We did nothing wrong. We were born into this world. If anything, we were thought worthy of the challenge. This world will never be “complete,” and that means we must learn to “development with” versus “develop out of” incompleteness. The hope is that, knowing this, we will finally go visit that neighbor who irritates us, who bores us and makes us listen to the same story fifteen times. The neighbor with dirty fingernails and a smoking problem. On his couch, I would wager that we will find our greatest philosophical test.
We are to give up our pursuit of “a perfect system,” of a dangerous “love of humanity” applauded by the politician, and “the next new product” marketed by the businessperson. We are to accept instead this person who challenges not just our minds, but our whole bodies, a way of life and thinking exhibited by Socrates. It is only here that we can ever hope to “develop with” our lack, for it is here that we “know ourselves.” We can only “develop with” what we feel, and that requires going into spaces which force us to feel what we don’t want to feel. No, that does not mean to entertain Satan, but we must entertain Peters and Johns who keep bickering and learn not to bicker back. Problematically, we can all “develop from” anything mentally and at a distance, without feeling it much, because all we have to be is be “away from it” to think we have “developed from it.” But to “develop with?” Well, we have to be “with” — “from” and “away from” will not do. We must be “with” our pathology, our symptom, our irritation, and our ego, which means we must venture where we “feel” it. We are never “with” what we do not feel. “Ideas are not experiences.”
Thus, we must visit that neighbor with the dirty fingernails, and note how quickly we want to judge him as Satan (which few people actually are) so that we can feel justified to leave our neighbor behind (as perhaps the Pharisees did with Jesus). It’s here that we can learn what kind of people we can become, so let us sit at the teacher’s feet. Let us sit. Let us see. For this world will give us trouble, and we will never be able to explain its hardship away, but that’s precisely why there will always be places for us to sit, and people to sit with — that is why there will always be story left to address.
¹Please note also that I used the term “emphasis” here, because I don’t think Game B would argue DW plays no role in their thinking, as I don’t think Dark Renaissance thinks there is absolutely nothing “out of which” we can move and change. This could easily be an “emphasis debate,” which though valid, can also lead to confusion and emotional trouble. I’m not even sure if the association of Game B with DF and Dark Renaissance with DW is accurate, so I will not push the point any further.
1. To emphasize death in our thinking is not to emphasize suicide, but to emphasize what life needs to understand itself in light of to be fully alive.
2. Mr. Ebert made the point that our ego is also an “other” which we must confront, identifying that ego with our “lack.” This is very fair: we could say that “the other” is the encounter which brings out our “ego” and makes us realize that it is, in fact, “other” In this sense, in the encounter, there are two “others” — our ego and the other person — which in sum means that three beings are present
Perhaps there are even “four beings” if we include the ego of the other person, but I’m not so sure, because we don’t readily experience “the ego of the other” as distinct from that “other” as readily as we can experience the distinction between ourselves and our ego. However, we can “know” that person has an ego like us, so I don’t want to claim it’s impossible.
3. Life to life alone is a problem (A/A); death to death alone is a problem (B/B); we need life and death (A/B).
4. We need a society that offers us ways to gradually develop into places where we can handle greater and more difficult examples of address. If we go to the gym and try to lift too much, we will tear our muscles instead of help grow them, but without a gym at all, we will not go stronger.
5. “The void” (alluding to Democritus), which makes possible “the movement of atoms,” cannot be fully explained, only addressed, so if reality is indeed A/B, then part of reality cannot be explained, and if we try, we will “explain it away.” Why this is the case is another question and could be axiomatic.