So much in life can be seen as invisible – thought, social meaning, feelings, consequences, technology. All these areas where things happen, away from the clear light of day, that truly matter in so many ways. Tangible things are much easier to pin down; this realm of invisibility is something we can perhaps only hope to somehow understand and shed light on.
How do we find out about what we cannot see? With feelings and social meaning, communication – questions, listening, empathy – hopefully helps us understand the inner lives of others, their motivations and struggles, so we stand in better relationship to one another. With nature, we’re relying on science to grasp the theories and knowledge that underpin our place on earth.
In both, it’s this activity of thought that’s helping us see what we can’t – our inner life of perception, interest and understanding seems to be what’s driving us to make sense of the world and connect ourselves with it (Notes One). Don’t we “need” that inner picture of what it all means and what matters in order to engage responsibly and creatively with the realities of being alive?
It’s fascinating, really, that we all carry within us our understanding of life. Through childhood, youth and, hopefully, adulthood we’re constantly developing, expanding and refining this mental representation of all that’s around us – an inner map to help us wisely navigate the external world and position ourselves well in relation to all we find there. Isn’t that the aim? Harmonious integration.
And all this clearly taps into the fundamental importance of education, information, and the like (Notes Two). Isn’t creating and maintaining the inner reality that forms our counterpart to the world around us a large part of what makes us human? How well are we guarding, populating and directing the space that is our mind?
These days, it’s certainly seeming a monumental challenge. Staying on top of all that’s changing in the modern world, filtering out the unnecessary, discerning the important from the unimportant, deciphering the meaning behind the tone of all that’s communicated to us every instant of every day is an incredible concept of what it might now mean to be human (Notes Three).
How well “can” we understand all that’s going on? Every area of activity’s now speeding ahead in all these divergent directions with seemingly little coordination of how well it can fit together. Doesn’t specialisation effectively now place the thinking behind our progress just beyond the reach of most people’s understanding? How we’re supposed to judge the wisdom of all this is an interesting question.
And, of course, technology’s activities are also invisible: we don’t truly see the systems our interactions feed into or how that data is used; we can’t often see the impacts of all we’re engaging with online; we’re not quite seeing the reality of how all this is changing the world around us (Notes Four). How exactly are we supposed to fathom, master and wisely direct all this power we’re now wielding?
Notes and References:
Note 1: Ideas that tie things together
Note 1: Seeing, knowing and loving
Note 1: What are we thinking?
Note 2: Common sense as a rare & essential quality
Note 2: Which voice can we trust?
Note 2: How ideas find their place in the world
Note 2: Working through mind & society
Note 3: Knowledge, capacity & understanding
Note 3: Freedom, what to lean on & who to believe
Note 3: Overwhelm and resignation
Note 3: Life’s never been simpler…
Note 4: Technology as a partial reality
Note 4: How important is real life?
Note 4: Social starting points for modern ways