Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Relational Reality

Scott Bradley


The only reality of which I can speak is my reality, a subjective reality. This conceptual reality has absolutely nothing to do with the way things actually are; that would be Reality. As to what Reality may 'be' I have no idea, and consequentially, even the idea that there is such a thing is entirely theoretical and 'unreal'; without someone to pronounce it, it does not exist as an idea.

However, I suspect that even the unreal, if thought, is Reality, in that something unreal thought of something likewise unreal. If Reality is the Totality, then nothing that happens is not Reality. If I think of unicorns this does not make unicorns real, of course, but it does mean that unicorns were really imagined.

But then perhaps nothing really happens. In this case, Reality also includes the non-happening experience of a non-entity that believes things happen. As for the foundation of the universe, "It's turtles all the way down."

This (whatever it is) having been established, I would like to discuss reality as relational. To speak of relational reality requires two or more things which can relate. This may likewise be illusory; indeed, it seems likely that it is. Nevertheless, it is my reality, and as such, I am obliged to live it.

Kierkegaard made the obvious enough observation that the self is a relationship with itself. I find this reassuring in that I now know that there was at least one other who talked to himself. It is by virtue of an internal dualism that my thought is made possible. As I have said before, I suspect self is the source of all imagined dualism. So, since the very condition of this experience of human existence requires dualism, let's hear it for dualism.

The primary experience and source of relational reality is thus one's relation with oneself.

Then there is 'the world'. I hope you will forgive me for saying so, but that includes you. You are the 'other', just as the rocks and empty space are the other. If it makes you feel any better, know, too, that Dao, Heaven and God are also 'other'. Everything that is not me is, in fact, other. And I, as a relational reality, am obliged to have a relationship with the lot of you.

So there are really just the two of us, me and the other. But I understand that this likewise applies to your experience. I am your other. This helps to determine my relationship with you. You are to yourself as I am to myself. We are the same. Here we have a foundation for ethics.

But this particular ramble is not intended to deal with ethics as such. What I wish to say is that reality as experienced by the human is essentially relational. This is not optional. It is a given. It is inescapable. It is the condition of being human. This being the case, it is in understanding the nature of these relationships and how most effectively to nurture them that the work of harmonizing within our particular realities takes place.

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

1 comment:

  1. Sometimes "us&them" is quite exhausting :( ... for those times it helps to hear a friendly face.

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