Month: May 2015

The purpose of this blog

This blog relates to a philosophical theory that I’ve been developing called ‘realisation as agency’. Very simply, this means that when we ‘realise’, as in, come to an awareness of, or creatively intuit, the current, dynamic systems we are enmeshed in, we become agents, to the degree that the realisation allows us to shift all the relationships, subtly but significantly, that we are involved in. This contrasts with our traditional view of agency, that it runs along the parallel lines of a dualistic set of events, involving a mental deliberation, leading to a physical action. I think this picture, or ‘narrative’ of our agency is a hangover from the Cartesian, dualistic understanding of the world, and without knowing that we do so, we still carry that picture of the world, or rather that paradigm, as the underlying structure of our understanding. We see ourselves as dualistic beings in a dualistic world and this sense of having a mind and a body, and sometimes even a mortal body and an immortal soul, colours our perception of every other relationship we have.

The most urgent among these relationships is the one we have with the ecological context (we normally call this the ‘environment’ but again, that gives a very ‘inside’/’outside’ view of the relationship, whereas we now know that this distinction is not a valid one). The conclusion of my thesis stated that if we understand our agency differently, we will begin to use the agency we have – realisation – and this will shift how we relate to the ecological context. In other words, dealing with the kinds of urgent problems we have – deforestation, desertification, exponential population growth, pollution, climate change, and so on – using the dualistic paradigm cannot address the problem. Realisation can.

Revising how we see ourselves in this way also affects how we relate to one another, including to those who take the polar opposite view to us, whether on issues like climate change, or on issues to do with politics, sexuality, or other areas where strong views emerge. Instead of being combative, the approach I describe is radically non-confrontational. We can still become enraged by issues of social injustice, but we can begin to see how they emerge as a result of cultural paradigms that allow us or, even more alarmingly, encourage us, to work hard not to think about certain aspects of our interactions. Only by drawing our attention back, through realisation, can we explore and, in doing so, shift how we relate in these contexts.

My political manifesto

If I were to get involved in politics, it would be to:

– help draw up a new development plan for participative democracy, focussed on how the political landscape can better reflect a plurality of views, rather than tribal politics, and grow more inclusive, so people of different ages and cultural backgrounds get an opportunity to express their views;

– work to develop a basic charter for communications, so that how we talk to one another becomes a field of focus and we move beyond ‘tit for tat’ politics. Let good ideas, regardless of who they come from, contribute to the flourishing of society;

-promote and develop independence and responsibility through making sure that between elections, there are ongoing events and discussions, online and in meeting places, that provoke people into thinking about how they can exercise more responsibility over their own lives, and critically engage with the political process. This also involves moving away from blame and mudslinging, and thinking about what it takes, materially and culturally, to live well, to be an independent, critical thinker, to be self-responsible, to relate to one another, to foster the common good;

-focus on rural regeneration that is genuinely sustainable: this involves supporting initiatives that are smart, efficient, and that benefit local communities financially and educationally or through higher levels of training; it includes addressing the issues of rural infrastructure, including looking at ways of ensuring a far better roads structure that includes plans for cycle and walk ways, better public transport systems, a proper roll out of broadband to all including those most marginalised communities. It includes properly addressing issues of rural housing, sticking to planning laws (and making sure those laws are sensible) ensuring that there is a housing stock but that there is also a culture of responsibility so people take responsibility for their property – this, in turn, means looking at the relationship between property and lending, and scrutinising the attitudes of the banks. It includes access to quality health care, through the development of primary health care centres that are accessible and affordable, and through a good rural transport service and provision of care, or better still, support for carers that encourages maintaining and supporting family relationships. It includes conservation of the environment through scrutinising agricultural policy, and promoting and developing genuinely sustainable agricultural practices. It includes protection of natural heritage by making sure that natural and historical sites are not just monetised, but are actually respected through careful management of access (but this, too, needs to be balanced with the educational value of getting local people, especially the young, to understand and appreciate natural and historical heritage).

-exercise and promote freedom of expression and whistleblow when necessary;

However, I will not get involved in politics, because I’m unwilling to stand as a candidate in a culture that condones the abuse of those who would stand up independently, who are perfectly competent in the realm of problem solving and articulation, but who do not have a party machine to back them, and who are therefore actively prohibited from participation. This is true, of course, not just for me, but for many others who could otherwise contribute to the political landscape.