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a philosopher of human development confesses
September 6, 2010

So, the point of “‘God’ as Good luck” is not religious, but conceptual: Hybridity not only belongs to cultural evolution generally, but to keynotes of our cultural evolutionarity as well. The Artist leads, but does so backstage, for the sake of the efficacy—if not the radiant gravity—of natural goodness, but also for provocative marginality that may expand our boundaries and educe reflection, maybe leading to enriched self-realization and enriched horizonality (i.e., an enriched sense of what horizons are, as well as enriched ostensible horizons).

The history of art, in the guises of various 20thC movements, underwent a revolution in conceptuality, where that became the axis of art history: conceptual motives in assemblage, combination, improvisation, etc., in which the overt movement called Conceptual Art was part of what continued a conceptual evolution (after the early ‘70s) into the present, where art—and “theory” across all the humanities—is distinguished by kinds of conceptuality. Interdisciplinarity may only make integrative sense as conceptual design.

Our evolution is hallmarked, obviously, by what we are, which I try to honor in notions of our humanity, which is at least an emblem of our reality in nature, as minds, psyches, developments, intimacies, kindrednesses, interpersonal arrays, and solidarities (with a least-common-denominator of civility among strangers). Ultimately, we are mysteries, and philosophy is at heart, I tell you, an Intimacy of Mystery.

We choose to preserve and advance good qualities of life. This hallmark of our humanity is the bottom line in our evolution—but not our promise. Our humanity is defined, in countless ways, by our promise, our potentials, which we act to realize for the sake of creatively employing developed capabilities.

Way in the distance may be some beauty of goodness of truth in finding authentic happiness, which may continue into vitalities of good old age. The scale of potential mindfulness can be breathtaking. The spectrum of love truly awesome.

But our prudence would have us settle for much, much less, as the years seem to pass increasingly quickly, and we must “get a life.” Good relationship is difficult enough, along with gaining a workable degree of empathy, a modest appreciation for intrinsic value, enough autonomy, sufficient Meaning, adequate Self realization—going with the flow of life, gaining a good equilibrium of well-being, self-determination, value, fulfillment, and good feeling.

So, there’s a “realism” to be had in conceptual design, at least to understand all those notions enough relative to understanding good enough lives—good enough parenting (please, not needing perfection), good enough marriage, etc. (But perfectibility in health might be a good aspiration, since innocence about its [im]possibility is surely good for one’s rapt attention to doing better, relative to our consumerist world.)

The modeling I want to do, considered “theoretical” and philosophical, must (to my mind) remain realistic, in the above senses. But I go off in ways that easily seem to forget common ground. That can seem to make my felicitous (I claim) modeling serendipitous (if not arbitrary), but it’s not. But the case for this is difficult. I would argue for an array of intrinsic values that derive from intrinsic human interests, composing a Janus-faced domain of focus: On the one hand, looking forward into the purposes that may follow from values worth holding good, and my modeling is quite dependent on the appeal of aspirational purposes (as aspiration itself is intimately a matter of intrinsic human interests). On the other hand, my modeling looks back into the evolution of value, and that’s a very elusive excursion. Let me just claim here that we can account for our nature in terms of cultural and biological evolution (which I’ll pursue in detail way up the road).

The concerted conceptualities emergent in art are metonymic of our intrinsic creativity in cultural evolution. We are the Appropriative species, I will argue (someday), relative to our conceptual designs (relative to which most else is made, as legacies, standards, values, archives, etc.). So, being in love with the elusiveness of our creative nature comes natural for me, anymore.

Yet, there is much distance between the conceptuality of the theoretical or philosophical excursions and its relationship to actual lives (mine or anyone’s). Sitting together or walking, hiking, traveling and where we would go in conversation or reflection (or discursive venturing) would be delicious mystery, as appropriate, relative to us.

I have a sometimes-overwhelming attraction to the fact that our humanity begins and can only be continued in the good infancy that becomes the good individuation of the smart child. I am a philosopher of human development, living high (so to speak). Notions of unity and Oneness in our presence have been annuled for me, in my development, by notions of evolving singularities, and our Singularity is our humanity always only literally evident in the singularity of a life—or what a mind may do. Indeed, the life of the mind astonished me, when I was young, and nothing seems to override the beautiful appeal of what minds may do. So, naturally, the singularity of Our Singularity seduces me, like (for example) “extraordinary minds” may be a Siren call to psychology and to theorists of the humanities (from which science derives).

Amazingly, such confessions of love can be isolating, as relatively few persons are engaged in odysseys. But we have each other, spread diffusely around the Earth (usually sponsored by university labor).

I am still alive, thank goodness! Briefly put, as philosopher of human development, I’m living at/in the interface (potential mirrorplay) of understanding (a) deep friendship, (b) lasting good marriage, (c) good enough parenting, (d) educational excellence, (e) highly empathic ethics in professional life, (d) democratic support for humanitarian values in social policy, and (e) exemplary admiration for high humanism in academic life.

So, what best seems to be (according to research in positive psychology of human development) the basis and promise of authentic happiness beginning in infancy and anticipating, let’s say, a beauty of goodness of truth (here as classical placeholder for The Unnamed Future we each want in our own way)?