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A thought inspired by Tuesday’s Daf (page) in the Talmud, Gittin 77

A thought inspired by Tuesday’s Daf (page) in the Talmud, Gittin 77

Seeing individuals and their spaces.

This post presents a philosophical idea inspired by the text of today’s Daf. The Daf is one page in the Talmud that tens of thousands of people study each day. I explain the connection to the text in a comment below. My purpose is to show that there are underlying philosophical assumptions in the Talmud that can have great significance for anybody today trying to understand our complex reality.

We process our stream of consciousness, experiences, memories, and emotions using a verbal framework. This is not a one-way relationship; the verbal does not serve the non-verbal, but rather they develop together.

The verbal framework we use does not seem to be determined solely by pure non-verbal experience. There are probably many different frameworks that might be effective at fulfilling our experiential needs. We express assertions in words drawn from one such framework or another, and sometimes we experience certainty regarding these assertions. We then use short chains of inference to produce more assertions that share this certainty.

One verbal framework that we often use to express our truths about ourselves, and the larger groups of people we coordinate with, is the collective perspective. When viewing the world through a purely collective lens, the people who make up our society are often seen as components, even just cogs, operating as part of a larger machine.

A different perspective sees the world as composed only of individuals. Each of these individuals has a space around them that is their own, where they have the right to decide, desire, and express a vision for its future. The language of this framework makes heavy use of words such as “theirs” and “rights.”

Working with these two perspectives in an integrated fashion is not easy; the contradictions between the two frameworks tend to keep our thinking rooted in one or the other at any given time, or in any given discourse.

When considering the projects that society as a whole should strive to succeed at, it is natural to think within the collective framework. As the future looms large and even causes some panic, it becomes more difficult to see the individuals and the spaces around them. Moreover, an individual is a finite entity with a clear end-time, and therefore does not seem to be a productive concept for thinking about the future. However, we forget that an individual may be bounded in time, but their space includes their preferred vision for the future. Visions are less time-limited.

One might challenge the assumption that our thinking is overly collectivized. Is not the opposite true? Are most of our problems not caused by the selfish nature of human beings? It is because people see only themselves and their own needs that we are in such a mess.

Perhaps there is a deeper way of looking at what “selfish” means. Consider the idealist who takes nothing for themselves, someone who gives endlessly. Perhaps, surprisingly, there are examples of such people who are, in fact, ultra-selfish. They do not believe in the ego or further their self-interest. They have dissolved their own ego in favor of the group. However, perhaps they have merged their ego with the group, and the group becomes their super-ego. They have expanded their ego to encompass the whole world.

Louis XIV, the King of France, famously declared, “L’état c’est moi,” meaning “The state is me.” Do not some visionaries say the same thing? Such idealists might give everything they have to everybody, but they demand that their vision of the truth and the future apply to everybody. In doing so, they trample the spaces that are not theirs to enter.

Perhaps we should take special care not to ignore the spaces around others. The atoms, or building blocks, out of which we shape our common future should be the individual together with their spaces.

submitted by /u/eliyah23rd
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Source: Reditt

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