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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Return to the Mission

I am sitting at my blog site after settling in body to our new settings while still a bit unsettled in soul. Yes, we've moved to a "retirement community" accepting our aging with our growing infirmities and like Diana and Tom in the BBC sitcom "Waiting for God."

Unsettledness is not unusual for me. I have often raised it to a virtue.

But now I want to get back to my mission: considering the future of the universe--or at least the world and the species--thinking about ethics and politics. Why not? Seems to be a worthy enterprise while I wait for God(ot).

I've had lots of discussions about my writings on The New Transformation. I am continuously trying to clarify what I mean, the distinctions that I consider crucial, the expressions I have made and their limits. And so thought goes on and I continue to learn in the process. I do not claim the truth of my positions. Indeed I want them to be challenged--but first understood.

Poor me! I am so often misunderstood.

In my unworthy desire to be loved, respected, and understood, I will attempt to summarize and clarify the main points I am making. I know they are controversial and many will not agree to them, including you. I repeat that I want you to disagree--but first understand what I am trying to say.

Here are my foundational propositions:

1. To be human is to engage the world and know reality.
2. Engaging the world is knowing reality.
3. Humans know reality (subjective and objective) through symbols, humanly constructed models and metaphors.
4. Culture, economics, and politics are distinct (not separate) ways of knowing and engaging the world.
5. The human enterprise of knowing and engaging reality is a social enterprise.

From these propositions come others on which to construct an ethics and politics:

6. Obligation (the "should") arises from the dynamic character of human existence (the "is").
7. Good and evil, i.e what should be affirmed or denied, is accessible to human nature and reason.
8. The illusion of the absolute, the negation of the other, the separation of being, knowing, and acting, and the confusion of modes of knowing and acting are obstacles to human existence and are the source of evil in the world.
9. Human transcendence does not rest on supernatural transcendents.
10. Within humans personally and collectively are the guiding principles to deal with the specific issues of life, meaning, and action which confront us today.

Now if reading those over, you understand what I am saying we can have a great conversation. But my expression is so influenced by my history, my values, my social status, my desires that I cannot expect anyone who has not read the same books, chosen the same life-style, had the same heroes, been brought up by the same ancestors to speak my exact same language. Yet our languages have evolved together with many of the same values and experiences; and we can actually take on each other's perspectives and appreciate each other's values through our ability for communication, for empathy, and for entering into each other's world.

So my hope and intent is that, as I elaborate each of these propositions and discuss them with you, we will reach the understanding of each other where we can hold a meaningful discussion, learn together, and perhaps settle on a course of thinking and acting ethically and politically.

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