As humans, is it simply that we’re born into the world as it stands? Absorbed into this world of thought manifest through the systems we stand within and ideas being spun around it. All this nested meaning which we take in, make our own and move forward one way or another. As if life’s simply this world of thoughts and their consequences, working themselves out through us, as the environment we’ve all stepped into.
This sense in which we, as thinking beings, arrive in a world we might try to understand – a world that asks we take it up in thought, accept its ideas and structure our lives within it. How can we do otherwise? If thought’s in our nature it must mean we would apply it in how we live our lives, individually as much as collectively. That “being human” might mean living from the level of thought.
Don’t we find meaning through social relationships, artefacts and infrastructure? All the details of our lives somehow conveying to us the sense of how “we” feel it best to be living – the values, priorities, activities, conversations deemed worthwhile in sustaining what’s needed from either the personal or communal level. “What life is” speaking to us out of all that we do.
Almost as if “that” is the picture we build in our minds: all the details of everyday life, culture and the media melding into a shared sense of what life’s about and all that matters within our community. That, in thought, everything converges to form our understanding of what it is to be human and all the functions sustaining our lives. Isn’t it all necessary? All part and parcel of fulfilling genuine human needs.
It seems such an intriguing picture: that we would all be born into a world of ideas we take up and make our own. That, the world over, we’re all absorbed into various interlocking worlds of meaning that increasingly jut against one another, jostling for space. That to be human is, perhaps, to be acclimatised to a certain way of thinking about reality – one of many distinct configurations of “how to live”.
On the small scale, perhaps our ideas would match the location in which the details of our lives played out, creating a tangible picture reflected in the mind of each individual. These days, it’s all become so vast, so hidden and deconstructed, that the idea of piecing together a realistic sense of “what life is” sometimes seems impossible – as if we live in a world of strangers, unable to see what we mean to each other.
Still, there must be a delicate balance within it all? That reciprocal relationship between all we do and how it affects others – the meaning of our actions. Isn’t that, in a way, what life “is”? Understanding, in thought, all that we’re doing and all that it means. Seeing all the ways our personal needs or desires come together in this collective network spanning all the spaces between us.
Notes and References:
What does community mean?
Can our thinking match realities?
Life as adjustments in meaning
Holding back, for the sake of others
Culture, thought & coexistence
Somewhere between ideals & realities
Learning all we need to know
Seeing what things mean