The Grip of Reason and Compassion on Identity

-Reason awakens you to the world. It is the experience of truth, of realizing things about the world. If I learn that people somewhere are starving, while I live in comfort, I have two options. The first is to admit that this is true and let myself and my desires change on behalf of this admission. The second is to ignore or deny this fact, so that I remain the person I was before, desires unafflicted (if one proposes that they can accept these facts without having their desires or views of the world change, I consider this person either a liar or sociopath). If I accept the fact that people are starving, I am thereby immediately compelled to help, or at least, to resent living in such a world that would allow such a thing to happen. The same goes with all the evils of the world, especially the ones perpetrated by human beings, or easily preventable by human efforts. Fathers who rape their 5-year-old children. Sex traffickers who own and torture other human beings. Or even the litany of “banal evils” one can experience in first world countries on a day to day basis. The implicit acceptance and fetishization of rape in college fraternities. Hell, even a twitter comment revealing a malicious and unempathetic source can defeat even the slightest of hope one has for the human species.
-All of these things are bad. But the fact that they are revealed to the rational, caring individual…what is this? Is it good for the individual? Who is the individual? Is it good for the species?
-Human beings do not share a common identity. Some identify clearly, distinctly, and unshakingly as their body. They are a single individual and they care for themselves and that which is directly engaged with their body. They do not concern themselves with anything that does not apply to them.
-But what about those who do care about things that do not apply to them? Well, I think that they care not about things outside of themselves, but instead of a different conception of self. Empathy is the branching out of one’s concern to entites outside of the self, but if identity is the thing towards which one is concerned, then empathy is identifying with others, or conceiving of oneself as a part of a larger whole. The reason why people care about others on the other side of the world is because people can identify with these people. We are, in a sense, one. We share a common goal. Get these people food.
-But the imposition of reason, in the form of a transformation of individual identity into species or conscious identity, is not a talent without risk. We split ourselves because the mind of the embodied individual is what allows this process to happen in the first place. You frequently learn ways in which you are not one with, but significantly apart from the other. If you do not feed yourself, you cannot feed them. This is also a fact, and one that shapes one’s identity, one’s region of concern. This fact turns the individual back on the self, which is again the body that must be sustained in order for one’s region of concern to remain alive.
-These two forces, the needs of the world and the needs of the individual, fight against each other to continually build our experience of reality. But it is a never-ending fight that cuts to the heart of being alive. One imagines what it would be like to be whole. To not have one’s identity split between self and other. To not have that inner anxiety and tension in one’s heart.
-But these are fantasies, delusions and stories we tell ourselves to flee from what we know to be true. They lead us to irrational, unhealthy, utopian and tyrannical desires. Because to fix the split at the heart of an existent self is itself a utopian dream, the dream of a bodyless body, a whole man, a machine that doesn’t process, a living corpse.

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