Who Am I ? And Who Are You?
This idea of ‘I’ cuts a wide swath. It is not just for Vegans. It is the original question. And the final fault line.
‘This is the entire essence of life: Who are you? What are you?’ wrote Leo Tolstoy [I’ve tried to finish: ‘War and Peace’. Twice.]
Shūnyam isn’t just for confused eccentric beachcombers. Without a recognition of its centrality, a lot of things go awry.
Every Politico-Legal System for example mounts on a set of presumptions that Shūnyam brings into question. What does Crime and Punishment mean if you cannot confirm the presence of independent and separated perpetrators?
What does it mean to ‘Vote’, what is a ‘Res-Publica‘ if it does not comprise of individuals that make up a ‘Public’?
How should we affirm the ‘Man’ in Jefferson’s luminous line: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’ A line at the core of the modern Liberalist platform.
I can go on and I will in upcoming Posts.
Here is Dr. Samuel Huntington from his: ‘The Clash of Civilizations’, that sits on every Foreign Ministers bookshelf:
‘A Civilization is the highest cultural grouping of people and the broadest level of cultural identity… Civilizations are the biggest ‘We’. [And] cultural identity is the central factor shaping a country’s associations and antagonisms…
The question: ‘Which side are you on? has been replaced by the much more fundamental one: ‘Who are you?’ Every state has to have an answer. That answer, its cultural identity, defines the state’s place in world politics, its friends and its enemies.’
[The late Dr. Huntington was the Albert J. Weatherhead University Professor and Director of Harvard’s ‘Center For International Affairs’.]
I can go on with such extracts laying out the idea across a variety of disparate contexts. Here’s a citation from Erich Fromm, a Writer-Psychologist I have never read, from an article exploring the irrepressible passion of Trump’s Devotees following the January attack on Congress:
‘The frightened individual seeks for somebody or something to tie his self to; he cannot bear to be his own individual self any longer, and he tries frantically to get rid of it and to feel security again by the elimination of this burden: the self.’