Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Laboring In The World

Or Loose Ends part 2.

So, to recap the previous post. I talked about how our imago is the foundation of our motivations in life, and how the knowledge that we build up over our lives is used by our imago, and how that imago regulates the significance of particular statements. Our primary use of information - be it education in carpentry, math or theology - is giving aid to justifying and pursuing our imago, the horizon of our efforts.

So, what do I mean by justifying and pursuing? Attempting to justify our imago is about asserting the significance or value of that image. It shares a lot in common with what we normally mean by "building confidence." That's the personal aspect of it; however there is more to it. We attempt to justify our imago in order to gain recognition from other humans. That is the common denominator of all social relations - the quest for recognition. More on this later.

Pursuing our imago centres around actions. Now, I'm going to be a bit cheap and lazy here: I'm going to set forth a rather strange and counter intuitive thesis, and then not defend it fully. We primarily perform actions not for the productive or practical benefits they offer, but rather because of how particular actions allow us to "look like" our imago.

Why do people become doctors? For sake of being doctors. Not to help others; the concern for the welfare of others (which is a real concern!) is secondary to the importance of the doctor pursuing their imago.

There's some ambiguity, of course. We all have careers for social purposes - people without jobs are bums. But this is simply another aspect of our imago at work. Even the seemingly mercinary goal of earning gobs of money has this truly unproductive and impractical fundamental purpose of pursuing the imago. I'm not saying practicality and productivity are not a part of our decision making processes. I'm saying the primary, fundamental drive is the attempt to assume our imago and to be just like that image we see in the mirror.

Now, justifying our imago works in two ways. One, the knowledge we have allows us to pursue our imago in fuller and more complete ways. I don't really mean to sound Platonic here... or maybe I do. I'm not sure. Anyways. If you know you're a kick ass carpenter, then you can more completely justify your own value relative to your imago's ideal. But even here, practicality and productivity take a back seat; the main concern is one's perception of their abilities and the resultant practical benefits. Hair splitting is fun for the whole family!

So the carpenter works for the usual reasons. He doesn't want to be a welfare bum. However, if he is a lucky man, than he also wants to be a carpenter. Being a carpenter helps him pursue his imago. So he builds a cabinet. Productivity is a seconary matter; so why does a carpenter take such pleasure in a well built cabinet?

A parallel motivation to wanting to be something: we also want the world to reflect our efforts and desires. When the carpenter builds a cabinet, he has taken some raw wood, and with his own labour, he has changed a part of the world to reflect his desires for the world. He has recreated at least a part of the world in his own image. This is the pleasure we take in our work. An addition source of pleasure is the exercise of power; both the labour and the skill required to build a cabinet are expresses of power.

Think about it. What is one of the surest ways to claw at someone? Call their work or art shit. And some of the highest praise you'll ever receive is towards work that is close to your heart. That's because it really is a piece of you.

Once the cabinet is complete, it becomes a tool for him to pursue some other goal. It can allow him to participate in the economy by selling it, or it will allow him to store his equipment in style, or it will gain him social recognition when others acknowledge his skill.

Ideas work the same way. Building what a presupper would call a worldview has many common denominators with building a cabinet. You select the body of knowledge your imago needs, and carefully build it with propositions and conclusions and concepts and whatnot. If you are really good, then you come out with a system you find coherant and useful. If you're kinda lousy at it, you end up an Evangelical. I JEST! ha, ha.

We're all engineers of our own worlds; some of us do it better than others. Some of us are so terrible at it that we lay on the couch all day sinking into depression, and some of us are are so God awful at it that we swallow a bottle of pills.

So, that's pursuing. Justifying next time.

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