M. Stirner: Real Love and Egoism

“Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of everyone of its members. Society is a joint-stock company, in which the members agree, for the better securing of his bread to each shareholder, to surrender the liberty and culture of the eater. The virtue in most request is conformity. Self-reliance is its aversion. It loves not realities and creators, but names and customs.”

~ R.W Emerson

Erich Fromm states that all people are more or less narcissistic along a spectrum where sometimes at severe levels of malignancy to more passive forms that are covert, such as associating with ‘popular’ individuals that indirectly enables one to receive the congratulations and attention that they desire. While narcissism is born by a strong vulnerability to low self-esteem that paradoxically causes an inability for empathy and an intense need for admiration, it is a person or mind who perceives the outside world in a way that is not real or present. Read More

M. Foucault: Is Masculinity A Vulnerability?

Violence does not necessarily need to be physical violence, on the contrary playing psychological and emotional games that is manipulative and potentially cruel with the intent to control and hurt a person is indeed a form of violence. Subtle or passive-aggressive acts such as trying to make your partner jealous to “climbing up the corporate ladder” by mistreating the competition are forms of violence, as is insulting a person and then disqualifying the hurt by claiming they have the problem. Sometimes, this violence can be directly aggressive such as publicly humiliating. Read More

R. Descartes: Love Is The Only Way To Experience The External World

How can we be sure that we are experiencing the external world? While we may have conceptualised an external world within our own minds and interact with friends and family, but just like how my dog hears that I have come home and becomes excitable, experience is not merely forming concepts as a passive observer. One may experience fragments of the external world where ideas causally evolve merely by a complex yet functional process of cognition within the parameters of the quality of our mental faculties, but that would mean that perceptions and experience are synthesized solely on an objective order of our physical activities. So how can we have an awareness of an external world without the experience, the very subjective quality that enables us to intuit representations, to capture a conceptual framework that transcends the mere cognitive ability to order complex physical events into an effective information system?

The mind-body dualism is a conceptual division between our mental states and the physical properties of the external world and the problem therein is whether one is capable of being able to distinguish themselves as separate to this external world. The experience of the external world can never adequately be explained, according to solipsism, beyond the limits of an individual mind and thus we become fundamentally incapable of moving beyond our own mental state and that therefore concludes that only our mental state exists.

Indeed, the greatest flaw in metaphysics even until today is the inability to clearly and distinctly demonstrate the existence of an external reality. The problem, however, is that the notion sets in an entirely subjective experience that becomes devoid of an objective world, where – like the movie Matrix – our bodies are sitting warmly in a vat with plugs attached to the back of our brain that stimulates virtual experiences that we assume to be reality. Descartes’ cogito ergo sum is an epistemological inference that if one is capable of thinking, the latter being what he defines as the, “first and most certain of all to occur to anyone who philosophises in an orderly way”[1] then there is no doubt that the person exists, but the nature of this Cartesian aptitude is very specific, that one is required to have embedded in their nature an exclusivity that would enable the conditions necessary for ideal cognizance.

Similarly, the psychological theory of introspection vis-à-vis the problem relating to the structure of our experiences with the external world suggest that we have the reflective capacity to examine our own mental state, but the practice relies exclusively on the quality of this self-examination that cannot guarantee an absence of error. A key to this is the authenticity that enables a reflective practice which can overcome the preventative thresholds that envelope the honesty necessary to facilitate a genuine narrative, what John Locke refers to as “the perception of what passes in a man’s own mind.”[2]

A phenomenology of this introspection, however, differs from an empirical view of the mind. While the mind as a functional tool necessarily requires the complex ability to maintain an order of the continuous inflow of experiences, empiricists such as Locke would say that all knowledge is formed by sensory experience of the external world alone and that we place experience within a framework based solely on this causal evolution. The first-order level of the mind or the rules that govern the cognitive resources and the sensibility that enable the objective conditions for understanding and perception exist that any phenomenal consciousness would need to move beyond empiricism.

While phenomenology is the study of being and experience within an external world, introspection is fundamentally the epistemological relation that studies the inner experience of this being with the external world; consciousness is fundamental. That is, the introspective experience of phenomenal character or the subjective and intrinsic quality of qualia is accessible and is central to the nature of consciousness.

The phenomenal character of mental life is a feeling of this sensory experience, that is, perceptions have a distinct phenomenal framework that differentiates between a mere perception with consciousness of the perception, an actual awareness of the activity where each experience has a distinct, conscious character so to speak. It is lived action. Unlike the empiricist who believes the contents of our being are made up of a series of perceptions, Kant takes it one step further and claims that the transcendental conditions enable us to have the experience rather than being a result of this experience.

His interpretation of the transcendental differs entirely to transcendence, which purports something that exists beyond perceptual experience or non-sensory modes of understanding, which is a realm that one cannot verify and thus ultimately irrelevant to our epistemological system since if it transcends knowledge, it is beyond knowledge and falls into the dimension of faith. The transcendental conditions that extend beyond the grounds of reason is defined by Kant as what enables knowledge to not just be occupied solely with objects, but the very mode of our a priori knowledge of these objects.[3]

Our experience of the external world is spatiotemporal, separated causally through an arrow of time that evolves over the period of our cognitive existence and thus while there exists an external world, time is entirely a subjective experience. The transcendental aesthetic is an a priori mode of engagement with space and time, where patterns of sensations and experiences ascribed spatiotemporally to cognition a priori that enables the coherence of the external world, rather than space and time being actual, external entities.[4] Yet, we are capable of non-empirical representations of space, where we can see a human in front of us without that person actually being there spatially that leads Kant to label this mode as Intuition and hence why he famously stated that, “[t]houghts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind.”[5]

Time enables the intuitions to make sense of the spatial experiences in an orderly fashion and this succession organises the mental states where knowledge of thus formed. The difference is that that intuitions are the representations themselves given in sensibility: “In whatever way and through whatever means a cognition may be related to objects, that through which it relates immediately to them, and at which all thought as a means is directed as an end, is intuition. This, however, takes place only insofar as the object is given to us; but this in turn, is possible only if it affects the mind in a certain way. This capacity [to acquire representations] is called sensibility. Objects are therefore given to us by means of sensibility, and it alone affords us intuitions.”[6]

But it is not simply a disposition that one emulates and there needs to be an authenticity that one feels autonomously that evokes a strong sense of duty to moral principles themselves independent of the required obligations set by others. If we look at this from a geometrically different angle (namely through the lens of Husserl), intentionality is the property of mental states themselves, the very internal experience that functions independent of the external world.[7] The mental states are thus empowered with the function to take an experience of an object and transcend beyond that experience, the nature of this property enabling a moral transaction.

When one considers existential feelings of angst, for instance, the isolation and emptiness of feeling estranged from the company of the external world embodies an intentional state where one is conscious of this separation via possibilities that enable a non-empirical narrative and reconfigure consciousness to interpret ones place in the external world beyond space and time. It leads one on a path to ascertain the possible phenomenal connections that echo this potential merger between ‘I’ or my subjective experience with the external world.

It is thus through empathy that one is enabled with the sense experience of the external world, where ones ‘conscience’ becomes the key to consciousness of an external world beyond this self-conceit. It transforms that intuitive ‘possibility’ into an experience that enables a channel to the external world and objectifies a narrative of shared experiences, thus becoming the very foundation that builds an ethical mindset, but it nevertheless requires reason as a basis for being able to interpret and identify moral consequences.

Conscience, the very sense of right from wrong and the will that propels one to act morally, is sensually the very experience of giving love, but universally even though this ‘revolution’ may have been initiated by love for one object or person. Moral agency embodies the ability to conceptualise abstract principles and for Kant is derived from pure reason; the duty that motivates the will to conform with these principles by sensually experiencing the suffering of others establishes a sense of sympathy and emotional angst that moves the will to act ethically.

This very act of expressing moral standards sensed by a subjective pain irrelevant to our own experiences in the physical world is an act of moral consciousness – love – the very desire to want the pain or suffering of others to be removed, to want their lives to be improved, the very desire to care for another person and thus authentically explore the external world.  While this ‘revolution’ may be stimulated by a specific object or experience, this intuit becomes a principle that one conceptualises into an abstract form that becomes universal, hence the categorical imperative. The question here is, is this shared experience merely a simulation or is it a genuine exploration of sensing beyond the subjective mind?

 

[1]Rene Descartes, Key Philosophical Writings, Wordsworth Editions (1997) 279
[2] John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, P. H. Nidditch (ed.). Oxford: The Clarendon Press J. (1975) 115
[3] E. Kant, Critique of Pure Reason (A11, B25)
[4] Ibid., (A23/B37-8)
[5] Norman Kemp Smith, A Commentary to Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, Springer (2003) 80
[6] Op. cit., Kant (A19/B33).
[7] Susi Ferrarello, Husserl’s Ethics and Practical Intentionality, Bloomsbury Publishing, (2015) 101

M. Nussbaum: Love and the Ethics of Emotions

Martha Nussbaum discusses emotions, or in particular emotional-thoughts, as contributing toward a better understanding of the subjective human qualities that reconstruct a conception of moral virtue. One aspect of her work that I appreciated was her ability to reflect on her own personal experiences as part of her seminal study of human emotions of which I will attempt to replicate, in doing so knowing that this is all merely a study and process of reflection for my own personal advancement and healing.

As the sciences define categories to distinguish and relate as part of a process that schematically represent key analytical labels in order to rationally approach and advance a particular topic, the human mind and our experiences function in the same manner. The only flaw in this process is that it is individually up to ourselves to traverse this cognitive dominion and any identification is dependant on a range of factors, more importantly the honesty that we study the biological, environmental, social and a range of other features including emotional and psychological responses with critical evaluation.

This is not an easy feat, for instance whether one is an atheist or religious, both are beliefs and to question the nature of that belief and the certainty of conviction often entails a broad epistemic and phenomenological analysis; a mature mind is able to transcend ‘belief’ – broaden their horizon – and ascertain the subjective ingredients that reflect the causal nature prompting emotional responses and moral considerations, or the lack thereof. According to Kant, a moral agent is one who acts on maxims that attune moral judgements toward guiding and motivating virtuous principles and values: “[t]he moral law is for itself the motivation in reason’s judgement and those who make it their maxim are morally good.”

This is under the basis of a law of autonomy, the capacity to reflect and identify information, decisions and experiences accessible only to an individual separate from any dispensation to others whether it is institutionally, socially, religiously or even personally including family and friends; one capable to self-govern as an authority over his or her own existence. While many people believe themselves capable of such authority, it is clear that this individualism merely cloaks what is a strict adherence to social constructs that provide the falsification of an ‘individual’ – like in the United States there exists rhetoric that loudly speaks of individualism when a majority blindly follow in masses.

One particular element I found intriguing in Nussbaum’ argument is the nature of emotions being subject to a world that we cannot control, that our emotional responses become the impetus that compels a better understanding of value and of well-being. “Nussbaum argues that an emotion is constituted by judgements that we make in relation to objects that are of importance to our world and wellbeing. Commonly these evaluations pertain to things we cannot fully control.”

An important aspect to this argument is the impact this lack of control or separateness has on the individual – perhaps causally the reason for someone to become the ‘bully’ – as this separateness from the world around us provokes an emotional disarray, leading to such confusion and anxiety that one is compelled to repress or act in a manner that is damaging to others or themselves, becoming dishonest or deceitful in nature and incapable of confronting their own wrongdoing. As Nussbaum shows, the loss of a family member confirms that we lack any control. When I say separateness, I take the Frommian approach to the term:

“Man is gifted with reason; he is life being aware of itself; he has awareness of himself, of his fellow men, of his past, and of the possibilities of his future. This awareness of himself as a separate entity, the awareness of his own short lifespan, of the fact that without his will he is born and against his will he dies, that he will die before those whom he loves, or they before him, the awareness of his aloneness and separateness, of his helplessness before the forces of nature and of society, all this makes his separate, disunited existence an unbearable prison… the experience of separateness arouses anxiety; it is, indeed, the source of all anxiety.”

The anxiety stems from the fact that we are alone and separate from the world around us that we create symbiotic attachments at personal and social levels to falsify a fictional connection, sometimes being brutal in our attempt to control our environment due to this unbearable anxiety. My emotional collapse following the extremity of the preceding experience enabled me the capacity to study and reflect on my own existential position in a world where aloneness became clearly perceptible that – slowly but surely – I became aware of the importance of my own health and body, my mind and my capacity to achieve that I suddenly realised my own significance; I transformed from a miserable, hollow person to a Kantian moral agent standing fearlessly in an eternal and universal form of love.

Viktor Frankl discusses this deep emotional challenge following his experience during the holocaust where he transcended the suffering to illustrate the importance of finding meaning in his life. “Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.” That the underlying and unbearable truth is that we lack a purpose.

Emotions and being vulnerable are not a reflection of weakness, on the contrary they play an evaluative role that exposes an incompleteness that we feel but are yet to understand. The nature and role intuition – the oft elusive tool that I believe utilises an emotional reaction to an unconscious belief such as feelings of doubt, fear, or confusion arouses a reactionary response without conscious awareness – becomes an epiphenomena or by-product of an experience and the very stimulus that develops a perceptual examination of a moral or ethical quandary.

That is, we may have experienced something we do not consciously understand or even remember objectively and thus when we encounter a situation that prompts an intuitive reaction, it is as though an epistemic mental representation without an explicit logical structure is speaking to us something that we already know but that we do not yet understand at conscious level.

As said by Frankl: “For the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth – that Love is the ultimate and highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love.”

 

[1] Glennis Hanley, “Don’t Do What I Do – Just Bloody Well Do What I Say! The Workplace Bullying Experiences of Australian Academics” Monash University Working Paper 63/03, September 2003.
[2] Clare Mayhew and Duncan Chappel, “’Internal’ Violence or Bullying and the Health Workforce” NSW Department of Health, Taskforce on the Prevention and Management of Violence in the Health Workplace.
[3] George M. Batsche & Howard M. Knoff, “Bullies and their Victims: Understanding a Pervasive Problem in the Schools,” School Psychology Review, 23 (1994), 165 – 175.
[4] John Blosnich and Robert Bossarte, “Low-Level Violence in Schools: Is There an Association between School Safety Measures and Peer Victimization?” Journal of School Health, 81:2 (Feb 2011), 107-113. The Mental Health Reforms through the Gillard Government has provided hundreds of millions of dollars to better mental health care to Australians due to the rising problem of mental health issues such as depression and suicide.
[5]Australian Covert Bullying Prevalence Study, “Covert bullying: A Review of National and International Research” Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, Australia, pp12-62
[6] §55A (1)(a) of the Occupation Health, Safety and Welfare Act 1986
[7] Please see Martha C. Nussbaum, Upheavals of Thought: The Intelligence of Emotions, Cambridge University Press, (2003)
[8] G. Felicitas Munzel, Kant’s Conception of Moral Character: The “Critical” Link of Morality, Anthropology, and Reflective Judgment, University of Chicago Press, (1999) 68-69
[9] Chris Barker, Emma A. Jane, Cultural Studies: Theory and Practice
[10] Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving: The Centennial Edition, A&C Black (2000) 8
[11] Itai Ivtzan, Tim Lomas, Mindfulness in Positive Psychology: The Science of Meditation and Wellbeing, Routledge (2016) 228

J. Nash: Love, Self-Deception and Game Theory

I have always wondered why I am not that great at playing chess. I almost always seem to find myself playing on the defensive, trying to shield and protect but never cast any aggressive maneuvers to capture an offensive. The reason is because I never approach the game with a defined strategy anyone could follow from a ‘how to play chess‘ book that explains the best openings or combinations of common moves. Knowing how to play the game is one thing, but a dominant strategy breeds a type of weakness to a large part of the game since and any intuitive fluidity largely depends on your opponent’ knowledge of common game plans. I find myself rolling my eyes knowing that they have executed a known opening or a genial move and the cold and calculative process ignites my boredom that I simply juice things up by adding an element of surprise, a sacrifice or some positional compensation to entertain a zwischenzug for instance.

In similar vein, Chess can be like going out on a blind date with a man who strategically follows dating conventions that is socially predictable and regulated in order to attempt to win his desired outcome. Hume would probably agree that it is to feign common interest by playing his part in courtship methods to shape some mutual understanding and the behaviour and responses are so predictable for me that my only interest is to uncover this conventional order and expose the camouflage or the formalised script he is following. We are expected to emotionally identify with these customary social constructs – that somehow ‘romance’ equates to roses and chocolates for instance – and that reality itself or our very individuality becomes just some mechanism based on status and how well we present these feigned conventions. We give gifts with the expectation that it will be reciprocated. We come to believe that what is socially conditioned, that pre-established patterns of behaviour that we blindly follow and our emotional reactions is ‘who we are’ when we are merely demonstrating this social deference. Thus, I purposefully throw him off by asking meaningful questions or otherwise acting in a manner that deviates from this compressed method of social interaction just to find out if he actually exists and try to uncover the real person that I am having dinner with.

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Any first-person phenomonology that articulates the actual or underlying motivation that prompts romantic activity – loneliness, a need to be socially accepted, biological or sexual etc – is hidden under this social guise that relationships are no longer about any genuine connectedness or any authentic bond between two individuals. It prompts people to suffer and tolerate a subscription to activities that they are culturally told to perform and by conforming to these variables of ‘love’ that merely explains predictable and dominant romantic scripts to idealise sexual relationships, they are applauded or rejected by the general audience depending on how well they perform and read this pre-written script. The delusional aspect to this ‘game’ is that it actually generates emotional responses to socially conditioned stereotypes as though the game itself were real.

It is also probably the reason why I often win when I sit to a game of backgammon, since the probability distribution through the randomisation of a rolled dice makes the heat of each move more intuitive and one needs to think quick within the confines of luck to be able to capture the strategy. The strategy finds you and you need to architect the weight to anchor the win. It is like meeting a man randomly at a conference where you both are mutually attracted to one another, however you survey the authenticity of this interaction without strict convention and therefore quickly proceed to formalise the initial assumption. It requires a complex analytical system motivated intuitively by the consistency of a common prior. Chess is a game to win and any enduring excitement is dependent on the equilibrium between you and your opponent and how well you both mutually employ regulated moves and execute strategy until reaching a point where manipulation and deception is activated for the final kill. There is certainly more ‘romance’ in backgammon because it is a game to play, to enjoy given that one can regulate the activity with a structured strategy but relies on chance, trust and intuition.

The Prisoner’s Dilemma is a hypothetical example of how game theory explains the failure of people to act or be motivated to act in a manner that is not in our best interest to do so. We can be prompted with incentives or rewards that advance our decisions over reason, that we are vulnerable to non-cooperative feelings of power and hierarchy over stable strategies intended to improve our situation. We could easily find ourselves suffering an unhappy relationship, for instance, if the incentive or reward outweighs our personal experience as though the payoff strengthens a continuity of engagement. The network is productive as the Nash Equilibrium points out, as it resolves and simplifies relationship dynamics and affords stability through predictable outcomes. The power it is given is only possible when people believe in this designed reality.

So two people have been apprehended by the police for a crime that the latter has no evidence of either doing. Since the police do not have enough evidence, they need to resort to threatening tactics and do so by explaining to both criminals have options. The two criminals confirmed that they would never betray one another, so the police separated the two into separate rooms and said that if they do not comply and thus say nothing, then both will be imprisoned for twelve months. They were additionally told that if they both confess, then they will be imprisoned for a five year term each, which is also incentive for the final possibility; if one confesses over the other, the person who confesses will be released while his partner in crime will be imprisoned for ten years.

prisoners_dilemma

A & B are arrested

Option 1: Both say nothing neither do they admit to committing any crime and consequence serve twelve months of prison time.

Option 2: Both admit to the crime and are imprisoned for five years.

Option 3: One admits the other had committed the crime – who is allowed to go free – while his partner is imprisoned for a decade.

While it is clearly logical that cooperating rather than defecting would be in the best interest of both criminals, the expected payoff of defecting – Prisoner A or B goes free – becomes the greater incentive and so both prisoners ultimately choose to defect. That is not in their best interest. If we turn this around, the two prisoner’s are actually symbols of the possibility of two people in real love and the police are a symbol of society giving them the incentive. We are compelled toward the incentive of cooperating with the police (society) and defect what is logically and rationally better for us (love) and ultimately cooperate toward something that makes our situation worse-off. We defect our own happiness by cooperating with socially constructed ideals reinforced by society through idealised stereotypes.

Social constructs model and architect ideas that become deeply embedded in how people identify with reality, serving as a paradigm that forms categories and roles that pattern predictable and defined attitudes to responses like ‘love’. Despite it being constructed – therefore artificially created – our emotional responses formed by the conditioning we have absorbed makes us believe that this identification is somehow real when the underlying motivation or incentive is much more problematic than that. Traits like ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity’, social networking and publicizing affection, giving flowers and chocolates and other contexts that define a broader schema of symbols and definitions exemplify how little we are actually and authentically bonded with others.

There exists no mathematical formula or algorithm that provides an answer to love, sometimes one does not even know how or why they feel the way that they feel because the experience is genuine and stands outside of all the conditioned ideals they have been taught is ‘reality’. The answer to this conundrum is not available in some test, there is no way of slotting people into a matrix cube and correspond probabilities of compatibility to formulate a strategy and achieve a desired outcome. The only answer is to really understand yourself, to interpret the decisions behind our own activities and motives, to explain the dimension of social roles and come to freely adopt a more personally intimate view of reality not subordinated to the collective, to think against the grain of social cliche’s. It is only that and meeting another of individual, equal standing can two people – separate and authentic – can become genuine friends and lovers. The only admiration you should have is for their ability to be true to themselves and not how well they socially perform.

The Desert of the Real

It was in Raymond Gaita’s book Romulus, My Father that exposed to me an intriguing thought. Romulus, living in an isolated town in Central Victoria, wrote letters to a woman, Lydia, back in his home country of Romania and she responded with the same feelings of affection that he had. His interest in her became so intense that he invited her to be his wife and she accepted. Yet, his deep and unswerving commitment to his principles put him into a state of disarray when Lydia betrayed him and married another man, developing into a madness that Raymond called, “a passion whose force and nature was mysterious and that anyone who came under its sway should be prepared to be destroyed by it.” This romantic love exposed the deeper vulnerability and loneliness he had within and the mysterious force is the powerlessness he felt for this isolation where a panic begins to manifest, so much so that insanity became the safer option than allowing the anxiety to continue and Romulus shut down, a man of resolute principles and dedication to his duty grew disillusioned before he gave up and admitted himself into an institution.

Kant explains the possibility of transcendence from learned knowledge, the ability to occupy thoughts that are independent from our experiences of them, an autonomy where we contribute to our own understanding of moral principles. Our cognition as children develops through conditioning that articulates the relationship between you and the external world through ‘good’ or ‘bad’ behaviour and we are automatically prompted to react with the same fight or flight response when confronted with a problem. It is an automaton mode of being or relation that is inherently limited and consciousness develops as our brain matures that enables one to become conscious or self-aware. Synaptic pruning occurs in all humans that sheds neural connections that are formed in the brain during childhood in order to make room for a more refined capacity for adult use. The young adult begins to experience conscious impressions of objects that enables him to experience a self.

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We become conscious of ourselves and this self-awareness lacks the solidity that we have in our orientation with the external world, a ‘nothingness’ between our mode of being and our interconnection within an object-oriented world. There are a number of barriers such as childhood trauma, lack of education or adequate guidance such as problematic parenting that disassociates this natural engagement with our own cognitive abilities. The social and religious constructs that are entrenched in our environment conditions one to respond against any deviation from the rules as ‘bad’ (fight or flight) that impoverishes our capacity to reach self-hood.

 The experience of independence and self-realisation becomes fragmented as we are not prepared to acknowledge the responsibility for our decisions and this is further thwarted by feelings of anxiety that deters us from proceeding down the rabbit hole of consciousness. It is like – for a moment – the plug in your brain that treated your existence as a safe, virtual reality awakens to see that reality is, well, real. The emotional response to this realisation is anxiety and it is anxiety because we simply do not know how to be ourselves. There is no language in this independence because we have never used it before and so we cannot explain and articulate our perceptions and identification to our experiences. This is referred to biblically as being born again, the path which is narrow and few are able to find it.

We naturally want to avoid anxiety and are compelled to things that give us happiness. Ignorance is devoid of these emotional responses. Like Romulus, we either retreat to insanity – a realm where one gives up entirely any cognition or responsibility that thus removes the pain of the emotions – or one completely conforms to a belief-system, society or even a person and in effect becoming what Hegel would call a slave where they lose their ability to feel because they get others to think for them. To avoid retreating, familial support can enable a gradual move toward transcendence or independent thinking however reliance on this is ambiguous particularly with the fact that in Australia 132 divorces occur every day and 1 in 4 children are exposed to domestic violence. As language is a tool that enables us to articulate and communicate our understanding, education becomes the primary necessity for building adequate knowledge that explains this ‘unknown’ self hood.

A person who has not been completely alienated, who has remained sensitive and able to feel, who has not lost the sense of dignity, who is not yet “for sale”, who can still suffer over the suffering of others, who has not acquired fully the having mode of existence – briefly, a person who has remained a person and not become a thing – cannot help feeling lonely, powerless, isolated in present-day society. He cannot help doubting himself and his own convictions, if not his sanity. He cannot help suffering, even though he can experience moments of joy and clarity that are absent in the life of his “normal” contemporaries. Not rarely will he suffer from neurosis that results from the situation of a sane man living in an insane society, rather than that of the more conventional neurosis of a sick man trying to adapt himself to a sick society. In the process of going further in his analysis, i.e. of growing to greater independence and productivity, his neurotic symptoms will cure themselves.

As it is a cognitive disposition that we each possess, we are not capable of retreating without forming an imagined meta-narrative, an abstract representation of reality that becomes an apparatus to form an identity within the margins of something imagined and that can be rationalised. Our temporal and spatial representations become linked to a faux ‘unity’ with our environment that conceptualises our identity as homogeneous and timeless, similarly like what Romulus felt when he fell in love with a picture and a letter. In romantic love, we form a symbiotic attachment as a way to possess our beloved and we imagine that this possession – which stems from that inner anxiety – is actually a real connection by framing it within a meta-narrative of true love and other imagined ideas drawn by social constructs and further fed by a false authenticity. It is a self-defence mechanism that enables us to experience the world without being overwhelmed by the emotional impact honesty and authenticity can have, which explains why people become very defensive when this fictional meta-narrative is openly discussed. Social constructs give validity to the imagined narrative and the more people do the same thing, the more real the experience becomes since there is a shared acceptance of this imagined transaction.

Love is something that we give. It is a process that is only enabled once we reach that state of transcendence because authenticity – which is a state of mind or how we interpret our perceptions and experiences – is necessary since love can only be real when we express it through this self-hood. That is, when our motivations and intent are no longer tainted by these imagined meta-narratives but expressed in synthesis or unity within ourselves. Without this, our engagement with the external world is about receiving – where people present themselves like a Hegelian slave by adhering to socially constructed archetypes – where they imagine they are connected to society – and yet there is really no inner connectedness. We are prompted or motivated by the need to be recognised by others and by adhering to social constructs we receive recognition. There is no giving. It is all about wanting. It is essentially a deep vulnerability and these superficial connections based on how well we perform socially only further alienates one from this self-awareness.

We each have layers of cognition similarly to the Freudian triptych between the Ego, Id and Superego, and Bandura explains these stages of cognitive development (coming of age) where consciousness, the unconscious, and our imagination structures our responses through socially learned expectations. Our motivations are filtered and controlled by probable reactions and rewards that we will receive from others. This is why people lie as though they are protecting themselves from punishment, just as much as these meta-narratives protect one from the pain of anxiety since our emotional responses can be just as unpleasant as the threat of punishment.

Heidegger concludes that this anxious response is causally rooted to fear, the fear of something threatening and that compels us to lie and to be self-defensive. The cure is to overcome this fear, to have the courage to be actively engaged with your inner self and accepting the responsibility you have for this cognitive freedom and independence. Moral consciousness suddenly switches directions; it is about developing your own awareness and deciding your own moral standards where you are motivated by an authentic connectedness with your own being. One transcends the narrowness of the imagined narratives and the self-defensive responses to make decisions independently and thus become aware of our cognitive faculty and the possibilities of knowledge a priori and thus reach our epistemic capacity by overcoming all the barriers. It is a type of love for oneself, a belief or faith in your ability.