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september 26, 2010


My enchantments—psychological, philosophical, Literary?—make easy appearance of forgetting the prevailing human lot, dramatized at an extreme by flooded, now-starving Pakistanis chasing food package drops in the thick dust of a U.S. helicopter (e.g., circa 1:25 minutes into a recent news report). But I do not forget.

What histories emerge from so much news, I don’t yet surmise. But I do obsessive archiving (a morning obsession I anxiously wonder about, at times), partly for the critical sake of my interest in our evolving humanity, especially searching for progressive examples, possibilities, options, new ideas.

I have an incredible archive of journalism I won’t soon take time to summarize (let alone integrate—though it’s very well organized). That backgrounds my ventures to grasp what I can conceptually (theoretically, philosophically) when time allows, otherwise during the weeks trying to be useful—or become so someday—without exhausting myself during the weeks for that free time, wanting to do something exemplary and durable, but not primarily oriented toward gaining recognition (being admired for exemplarity). I just want to do the work I’m trying to speed along carefully, frustrating myself easily by requirements of daily life that unwittingly confound my aging capability for constructive focus (but a day’s sabbatical gets me back to mySelf well enough again, giving me this one day of the weekend to hopefully inhabit mySelf to some frutiful end—which, I think, was the original idea of a holy day, the holiday: retrieval of oneSelf in being).

Once upon a time, I was devoted at street level to educational reform, and I dare say I understand the inertia of that as well as anyone. To make a very long story short, the foundations of higher education could do well, for the sake of our humanity, to give their professional schools of education the central importance that the corporately-interested school of business or engineering has—which would have to be a matter of funded national policy, to have noteable effect.

I withdraw into, in short, philosophy of humanities, especially devoted (as, all in all, I have my whole adult life) to love of philosophical endeavoring, which becomes, ultimately, a matter of philosophy as such, implicating all manner of conceptions in their as-suchness.

Is it so “bad” (unrealistic) to idealize partnerships of this?—then to make that a philosophical endeavor? Amazingly, I can lose insecure friends by my being too expressive (too inconsiderate? Too selfcentric?). Then, there are the ones who see high aspiration as some kind of needy compensation, which for me is a saddening sight.

Anyway, conceptualizing good parenting seems to me unquestionably worthwhile, for me though, a Point in a pointillism of Project-ive aspiration. My insufficiencies in that (appearing too abstracted) are tacit invitations to others to participate in showing me better understanding, so I may learn.

Otherwise, I go on doing what draws me. As good child development is the Alpha of our evolving, a high humanism in academic life may be our Omega.

So what that the idea of The Conversation of Humanity is a fiction pretending planetary scale, aspiring to some impossibly comprehensive comprehension of leading minds brought into a pretext of singular discursive inquiry.

In reality, though, finitude and accessibility require modesty in practice, whatever one’s imaginability. And anyway, I’m not required to wait until all the struggles in the world are dissolved before making time, in this one life, for gardening: art—conceptual fun, but with deeply conscientious Care for where we are: with all due reverence for our prevailing lot, yet all due hope for informed idealization. Tending a reserve where aspiration prevails over actuality is no deluded caretaking; rather, an avowal of meaningful engagement, whose recursive pleasure—building fulfillment into intrinsic value and desire to go further—at least exemplifies what we are, if only in particular terms of what one life can be. That is enough, but it’s a lot I insist on sustaining as best I can (without seeking recognition for it. I want this to be the last avowal of such an apparently self-serving stance).

In good parenting and teaching, there is a selfless love (a Self-fulfilling love) of promoting individuation (beyond nurturance and caretaking which is like not asking one’s garden to “do” more than be well). Enjoying growth of youth is to welcome unexpected directions of active, enactive flourishing, for the sake of which parents are primarily educers (facilitators) and educators of that (habilitators, mentors, models, trailguides, etc.), as should be our society (ideally), thanks also to largely-unthanked remediators (professional helpers, therapists, rehabilitators, etc.; I have especially-detailed experience of “special needs” education).

Promoting individuation of children (e.g., open feeling, curiosity, resilience, creativity, ability to find and sustain engagements, and make Meaning) can be no better than the individuation of the promoter, for the sake of appreciating a youth’s potential, then securely welcoming its increasing independence.

“Its”: A youth is an era of life, not merely a person younger than, say, 25. Youth is dispositional, not wholly chronological (though it happens that chronological youth has the discretionary time to be dramatically dispositional about the openness and beginningness of a whole life). So, let not youth be wasted on the young: Renewing a life, moving into a new era of one’s life, belongs to the potential of any whole lifespan.

An adult’s youth may be validly uncompleted, especially when parenting or need to work for survival comes too early. Then, one’s fate may be to finish youth later. But it’s not a child’s business to finish the parents’ youth (i.e., they should not be supposed to become what the parent could not).

Also, a major change of life, like a divorce or change of career or seeing one’s kids launching themselves into their own adulthoods, can bring on another youth in one’s life.

So, individuation belongs to the lifespan, not just childhood. The potential in individuation is not mere anticipation of a plateau of “adulthood” (that then tends to turn slothful in its easy sense of completion). Parenting and teaching that imagine for youth lifespans that cannot be really anticipated, while appreciating the actual youth do so only in light of appreciating individuation as belonging to an entire life, unforseeable in its “End” (i.e., its Purpose—its ever-developing, even evolving [ideally], purposiveness).

Some months back, I expressed fondness for a notion of “designed self” discerned in Gen X. Such seems to apply just as well to the counterculture thriving I lived through, for many years; but also, tacitly valuing the notion applies to the so-called Millennials—or, at least, I loved finding a sense of designing self in a prodigal I knew.

I see a sense of designing self in the literature of positive psychology that seeks to conceptualize authentic happiness. But it’s important to understand—which I’ll be working toward—how much more than autonomy is involved. Autonomy—the standard base-concept of desirable individuality in modern society—provides for enactive efficacy, imaginativeness, and novelty, relative to formulating purposes and fulfilling related instrumental goals. This is integral to creative individuation (as I will be tending toward fleshing out a notion of creative individuation), but it’s not comprehensive of the meaningful engagement which individuation can be about, which free efficacy (autonomy) serves. Nascent, then actualized, autonomy is the engine of individuation, not yet a good trip.

Obviously (if you’ve been following along in my wayfaring), I highly value curiosity, aspiration, challenge, and creativity—which I’ll be elaborating, for example as inquirial creativity in learning; creativity as “intrinsic” value/desire, as constructive character strength; Idealizing understanding, then personification of an Idea (as practical idea); and creativity in reflectivity of Meaningful engagement.

Such valuation grew from my fascination with curious, challenging, inquirial others—those who can’t get enough enjoyment of exotic difference. I love the notion of The Exotic (allegory of mystery—also easily erotic.) Delicious mystery of our humanity appeals there, a radiant gravity in the night of this adult child who would fearlessly wander into dark woods, secure in my sense of being.

My near-term interest in better understanding how creative individuation (or Self-actualization) can be non-egoistic began mid-spring in wanting to dwell with developmental aspects of creative individuation, but a more thorough excursion into ontogeny will come later. The venture took me into key portions of recent concerns about happiness because aspects of Self-actualization are keynotes of that literature.

But my upcoming excursion through conceptual aspects of developing authentic happiness (according to recent psychological research) isn’t intended to be a concerted focus on the topic of happiness (which I intend later. However, the upcoming is a chance to highlight the confines of psychological research). The upcoming is also not overtly concerned with Martin Seligman’s book Authentic Happiness (2002), though I’ll eventually quote his sense of sustaining pleasure in meaningful engagement represented in a recent journal article I use. His book will be part of the later focus on the topic of happiness. Much has happened with happiness literature since 2002, even for Martin Seligman, who will publish a book titled Flourishing, spring, 2011.




  Be fair. © 2017, gary e. davis