Self – is the answer for all questions.
Maybe The Socratic Turn was too intensive and came back into initial position after running through all the 360 degrees?
Unlike the sociocentric people of Africa and Asia we, westerners, live in individualistic societies, but for some mysterious reason, beyond all the human rights and freedoms, we have almost lost the meaning of the individual.
We are very individualistic, but when it comes to essential issues – such as morality, politics or economy – we always try to give a sociocentric answer, and fail. The mere concepts were created for the sake of society, not for the sake of individuals. We need to understand that neither sociocentric nor individualistic answers are wrong – but just giving them we must go to the very end. What concerns the westerners, we are stuck in between, afraid to abandon the benefits of society and at the same time proclaiming the absolute value of the individual. We should finally see this conflict, for the awareness of an anomaly reduces the anomaly’s size.
Why are we so afraid of the individualistic answer? Leaving all the religious explanations (which are either forgotten or mutated by now) behind, we are afraid of something – the unknown part of us, terra incognita, terrible creature which needs all the restrictions of society in order to stay inside. Needs economy to restrain its covetousness, needs politics to restrain its imperiousness, needs morality to restrain its wildness.
To say “I love you” one must know first how to say the “I”.
Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead
But why did we decide that covetousness, imperiousness and wildness are wrong in themselves? Because we don’t know the creature, which manifests them, properly. And, by definition, unknown is aversive to us. And, since lust is only another side of aversion, almost all the anomalies of today come from people playing with this unknown creature. Try to play with the kindest dog and you immediately lose some part of your body if you do not even know that you should not gesticulate too much. Possessing all the treasures of civilization we still have theft in economy, tyranny in politics and debauchery in morality. Human nature, we say. We can say nothing else, for the mere essence of this nature has been mostly neglected so far.
We have been studying so much, from supernovas to anthropology. But what we study there is always them, and not me. Socrates (if he really ever existed) did not say “Know thyself” in vain, for, in fact, self is the only possible object of study – all the other sciences are merely means. More than this: since we are bound to study everything through ourselves self is the only source of knowledge – in science. Of wealth – in economy. Of freedom – in politics. Of good – in morality.
The creation of the new life comes through the mystery of individuality.
Nikolai Berdyaev, The Meaning of Creative Act
The concept of self has such a controversial demonic history exactly because of the mind’s habit of studying the external things. Therefore all searches of the perfect were always directed to the outside of self. Self was never honestly considered as a part of the perfect world, but rather as a border between perfect and imperfect. People has been observing that self was always a separating point of all communities, but what they really observed was not the self, but ego – the most visible, shallow and socio-dependant layer of self.
The ego can be considered as a source of all the “sins” or distortions of the perfect, but not the absolute source. For the ego is nothing but a transmitter of our real self, and every transmitter should be tuned up properly. Every self is by definition perfect, and so is the ego. Imagine a violinist playing a out-of-tune violin. The ego is a violin, the self – violinist.
Why do we not admit that a violin can not control a violinist?
Just as the ancient philosophies are too connected to mythology, all ancient religions are too much connected to law. In ancient hierarchy the Deity was always separated from man by society being almost a means to support community, not individual. Christianity is a very comfortable object of critique, but what The New Testament has really done is a Socratic Turn in religion, pointing out the real, internal, place of the Deity and replacing the links in the chain: Deity – Man – Society. Too bad that The New Testament is too grounded into separated pieces of ancient abrahamic culture, which, by coincidence, were collected under the title of one Book.
Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. Mark, 12.31
According to such ancient, tumbledown religions, which do not correspond to our societies anymore, we were always taught that our own will is sinful. We were taught to restrain the ecstatic creature of covetousness, imperiousness and wildness, which is by definition impossible, instead of studying and applying its cosmic abilities. We can observe 4-5 thousands years of our civilization but still have not learnt how exactly we should love ourselves in order to love our neighbors properly. How do we know that on the bottom of the self we will not find the Deity?