Sunday, July 15, 2012

Changing Perspectives

I have undergone a massive shift in my world perspective. I won't go into details. The point that I want to cover is the stunning effect that a single shift in one's outlook can have on every other element of a world view. The real success of an internal dialectic is the emotional acceptance of the conclusion. It's very easy to have an intellectual awareness, but humans are not purely intellectual. For example, everyone knows that they should not be eating unhealthy food, and yet most of us do. We are an increasingly fat country, even though we know how to not be.

I, for one, was well aware of what made a good diet. Still, I was nearly 260 pounds at my peak. If you had asked me ten years ago whether my diet was good or not, I likely would have answered correctly. It was not. But I was still eating crap! I was a cheese fry connoisseur. I had not been emotionally aware of the reality and because of that continued to, almost mindlessly, eat garbage. Only now, after a deeply emotional epiphany that I didn't enjoy eating crap did I stop and start eating better.

I had a similar emotional revelation when I became deeply aware that I do not know what the world of another person is like. I am fundamentally and metaphysically disconnected from everyone else. There is no way that I can ever know another person's world. Everything from the way that they look, their physical abilities, their upbringing: all of it has a substantive effect on the very nature of their reality. It is a reality that is as different from mine as it is similar.

How can I judge? How can I talk about other people? How can I even talk to other people?! Realizing that someone else's world is different from one's own threatens a nearly fatal blow to the very foundation of my social reality. I am me. What are others? They are something about which I care. I want friends and lovers. I want to be a good person. I want to be a good in society. But when society is comprised of millions of people, all of whom are ignorant of everyone else, how can we ever hope to make progress? How can we be shocked by racism, violence, and war, when the very ignorance of which I speak all but guarantees this sort of behavior?

It is, in many ways, a startling form of skepticism. It's not so easily rejected as true skepticism precisely because it is not so extreme in its rejection of knowledge. We know what the world is. It is what it is. And if we assume that other people are in fact thinking, feeling entities, we are left with a sense that what they think and feel is important, with no way to quantify it or make sense of it. We are socially incapable of any knowledge. That is a crippling realization, and one that has left me with a profound reassessment of my world.

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