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Bharath Vallabha's picture

authentic aloneness

I would like to think about Paul’s giving up the “glassy mirror” in relation to Mark’s idea of the “authentic experience of being alone”. It seems to me that in one way Paul’s idea reenforces Mark’s idea, but in another way it detracts from it.

I think Paul’s point reenforces it in that if everything is perspectival, then in an important sense each of us is alone. If there is nothing outside of us which is objectively real which each of us is trying to represent, then the singularity of each of our experiences is itself the most we can focus on. And I take Paul and Mark to be suggesting that this is not a bad thing, but in fact a good thing. If I understand this line of thought, then I find it to be courageous, hopeful, and open to the wealth of diversity in the world and within ourselves. This is a focus on “aloneness” which is not pessimistic or despairing, but life affirming.

It seemed to me though that there was something about the way Paul was making the point which cut against his own point. There was a strong affirmation by Paul that the “glassy mirror” is unhelpful, unsupported by the facts, more wrong than the perspectival view! I got the sense that we are supposed to abandon it, give it up, ditch it, free ourselves from it. But all this vehement opposition presupposes the very sense of an objective reality, and saying that one view captures reality better than another. It presupposes that two people, say Descartes and Paul, share enough space in common that one can criticize the other. Whatever we might think of that, it doesn’t gel with the thought that we are in some sense liberatingly alone. From that standpoint of authentic aloneness, I am not sure there is anything to give up at all, any history to overcome, or anything to get less or more wrong. There is only each of us being a reflection of a reflection of a reflection, and enjoying the beautiful and sometimes painful colors caused by those reflections.

p.s.: I vote for Ben to talk about what he was orginally thinking of talking about, instead of continuing the conversation from last time. I imagine these issues will be coming up anyhow. 

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