Monday, March 20, 2006


So here's part 3 in my little philosophical anthropology.

So: fundamentally, our efforts are devoted to justifying and pursuing our imago. If there is a difference between justification and pursuit, it is thus: our pursuit of our imago lies in the activities that we perform to take up certain roles in life. Our justification of our imago lies in the ways we attempt to add value to our imago itself.

Now, how do we increase/justify the value of our imago? Social recognition.

Consider gold. The value of gold lies entirely outside of practical concerns; gold's value is a purely social construct. If no humans recognized the value of gold, it would just be lumps of rock. It is the recognition of gold in the eyes of people that gold gains its value.

Our imagos are largely the same. Basically, we all want social value. We want others to Desire us. I wrote a bit about capital-D Desire near the bottom of this post. We need others to look at us and find us valuable.

Now, this is slightly different from one's value hierarchy. Saying that your "self" ranks high in your value hierarchy is not the same as social recognition. Your value hierarchy is basically a cognitive tool for judging the world; social recognition is part of our attempt to engineer the world into our own image. When we know others value us, it provides confirmation of the value of our personal centre (where our imago and highest values intersect). It is one of the two ways we can confirm the value of our personal centre; the other way is through actions, such as exercising our talents.

Social recognition also plays another role: it exercises and increase our power. When others value you, you increase your power; aka you increase your ability to engineer the world in your own image. Just like physical muscles. Working towards social recognition exercises our muscles, and gaining recognition acts like nutrients.

Social recognition is one of the most important aspects in our fight against nihilistic suicide. Being valued by others, and having a high social position, confirms and inceases the value of our centre and whole meaning structure.

So how to gain recognition? There are two ways: empathy and dominance. Empathy is a matter of two people seeing themselves in each other. You look at another personal, you are able to identify with them on some level. This provides them with recognition, and when they emphathize with you, you gain recognition from them.

Dominance is different. There is only one context that "equality" can possibly exist in human life, and that is within a complex legal system. Equal before the law and whatnot. Other than this, however, our lives are constant struggles over dominance and submission. You'll never find a social situation in which someone is not dominant. One person's meaning structure and power will always - even if subtly - shape the nature of any social situation. If you play the dominant role, than you gain more recognition from the submissive than the submissive gains from you. Um... I don't mean to sound so S&My. Really.

Empathy isn't better than dominance and vice versa. They have a strange relationship, and there are counterfeits of both. All for later dates, though. This is long enough already.

So: the justification of our imago takes place largely in the social world. Recognition tells us we are valuable and increases our ability to affect the world We gain recogition through mutual empathy and a master/slave relationship.

Questions? Yawns? Baffled looks?

(Post script: in later posts, probably about religion, I'll say that what we want is the recognition of "active subjects," or "knowing Is." Spirits such as God would then be included. But it's not important for now.)

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