Systems of meaning…

With all kinds of bows to Gadamer, Philip Cushman writes in Constructing the Self, Constructing America, page 309 of the 1995 Da Capo Press edition (Perseus Books Group):

There is something in the very nature of being human that makes it extremely difficult to differentiate what we are from what we construct, or what we can be from what our horizon permits us to be. We construct the social world in such a way that we can consider it, experience it, as reality itself — the one, true, concrete truth. To do otherwise would be to open up the existential abyss for us, to force us to confront our own lacks, absences, and emptiness, to challenge the taken-for-granted power relations, economic privileges, and status hierarchy of our era, and to acknowledge the relational rules, alliances, and secrets of our family of origin. For various reasons, an awareness of the constructed nature of our world appears to be too difficult to acknowledge and too frightening to live with.

Sounds like nothing a good dose of Sartre and a little psychotropic therapy wouldn’t cure. What’s wrong with encountering that existential abyss from time to time?  And seriously, this seems to delineate the essential political paradox. How do you influence people who think they know what’s real and true, while their reality and truth vary greatly from your own horizon?

[tags]strike the sets, refute berkeley, think about it, alienation, alien nation, bpd, narcissism, solipsism as hermeneutics[/tags]

Posted in Miscellaneous, People, Politics
4 comments on “Systems of meaning…
  1. “And seriously, this seems to delineate the essential political paradox. How do you influence people who think they know what’s real and true, while their reality and truth vary greatly from your own horizon?”

    Frank, I’ve come to the wistful conclusion that it’s utterly impossible. Many people have hardened themselves to those existential knots that the rest of us enjoy unravelling. Whether it’s a defense mechanism of some sort or merely inclination, (them) people don’t change unless circumstances force it.

    Best you can hope for is to catch a few of the undecided butterflies.

  2. Winston says:

    “How do you influence people who think they know what’s real and true, while their reality and truth vary greatly from your own horizon?”

    You have, sir, defined not only the ideological chasms that separate humanity into warring tribes adrift on our own seas of despair, but why kids fight over whose ball it is, and couples argue on weighty matters such as thin crust or thick.

  3. Brilliant, Winston!

    (and the way out of the crust dilemma is to order doubles. trust me.)

  4. tom says:

    If marketers would only apply some such insight to their own alleged activity and find something better to do.

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