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aspects of being well

  a continuum of genuinely being interpersonal
gary e. davis
February 17, 2019
“Good day!” It is? One hopes for the other? Make it so, please. Clearly, we want good days together.

One wants more than civility with strangers. One likes neighborliness.

One wants more than solidarity with acquaintances. One wants friendliness.

We want more than casual friends. We want enough deep friendship.

We want more than kinship. We want intimacy.

The continuum of interpersonal life (civility, solidarity, casual friendships, extended family) wants to merge enough with inter-selfidentical life (close friendships, heartful family, intimacy).

Being well interpersonally is comfortable in the continuum: letting civility become solidarity (or keeping boundary in solidarity that is largely shared citizenship); letting solidarity become friendship (or keeping boundary in casual friendship); caring for friendship deepening, caring for family heartfulness, and being openly in love with mutuality aross the continuum and in True intimacy.

At best, being well is good at turning civility into solidarity (when appropriate), turning solidarity into friendship, etc. That’s a capability that is probably uncommon, but it can become second nature (apart from special domains of professional development: teaching, counseling, public service, etc.).

A notion of the artistry of living pertains to interpersonal life as much as to well-organized leading of one’s own life. Or rather, organized flourishing (I call it) includes being well interpersonally.

This is a more-differentiated sense of being together than traditional notions of good spiritedness, because it idealizes appropriate mutuality as a differentiated continuum and promotes enrichment of being together.

The classical Greek notion of eudaimonia—transliterated as good (eu-) spirit—is non-differential. Indeed, it’s sociocentric, i.e., valuing interpersonal harmony (like the dynastic Chinese notion of harmonious society, which is homeostatic, if not humanistically compliant).

Unfortunately, positive psychology has referred to its conception of flourishing as “eudaimonic” happiness (distinct from “hedonic” happiness), when actually a notion of high individuation was in mind.

So, eudaimonia is easily a confusing notion: individualistic in conception of flourishing? spiritualist in its sense of mutuality? (homeostatic in its sense of spirit?)

The conception of differentiated flourishing that I’m individuating has no precedent (and it’s post-sociocentric or post-“mature” in a majoritarian sense of adulthood). Inspiration, graciousness, inclusiveness, and generosity of being well idealizes sensitivity in interpersonal life that cannot be appreciated in “social” thinking, unless ‘social’ becomes a precursory symbol of differentiated mutuality that is interpersonal, yet at best inter-selfidentical. Otherwise, ‘social’ is self-concealing of differential interpersonal relations, interested in enabling different degrees of mutuality.

A flexible adaptability that is sensitive to differential interpersonal relations (and promotes a degree of mutuality, relative to a given interaction) is beyond the Piagetian notion of formal-operational mentability (which idealizes logical formality and is interactionally homeostatic). And the interpersonality of flexible adaptability is beyond “post-conventionality” ethical modeling (classically promoted by Lawrence Kohlberg), not only because that is relativized to conventionality, but because sensitivity to differential interaction is an active capability in its own terms. Post-conventionality self-conceals the reality and value of differentiated interaction.

Yet, there’s more to flexible adaptability than differentiated interpersonal sensitivity and non-personal situational flexibility. Thinking relative to stages of individuational understanding (congruent with normal developmental psychology, yet in terms of the other’s terms of understanding) is another kind of differentiated flexibility (“vertical,” so to speak) that is “perpendicular” (so to speak) to “lateral” interpersonal sensitivity.

Later, I’ll discuss that more, as a notion of stage continuum flexibility (which is like a teacher’s sensitivity to teachable moments; or a psychotherapist’s sensitivity to mirroring an issue disowned by the client). Proximally, the two-fold continua of [1] i. basic—> ii. advanced understanding (“lower”—> “higher”) and [2] i. distance—> ii. near-and-dear understanding (“external”—> “internal”) suggests a four-fold heuristic, from meeting of strangers (2.i/1.i) to intimacy (1.ii/2.ii)—yet another fun sense of fourfolding. (By the way, such intimacy is sometimes idealized in art as interSelfal, as in “soulmates” or thinking/feeling as One—or dancing as One or being musical improvisation together in perfect sync.)

The sense of wholly flourishive life that I’m rendering idealizes flexible adaptivity—thus flexible perspectivity—which is individuationally sensitive in relation with the other, as well as sensitive in relation to (irt) “our” interaction as such. My sense of event of appropriation, discussed later, depends on such flexibility.

I’ve used ‘eudaimonia’ (and ‘eudaimonic’) a lot in earlier discussions (before 2019), but always implicitly as a notion of wholly flourishive life which grants to classical thinking the unwitting intuition of that which it didn’t differentiate.

Essentially, “social” pertains to what’s traditionally public. But anymore sociality has become vastly privatized through networking, which is largely a matter of casual relations (thin solidarities) and sets of “friendships” that may be widely distributed while cherishing selective privacies. Indeed, social space easily results in multiple senses of oneself in segmented, mutually exclusive circles or cliques, almost as if sociality tends toward multiple “personality,” in the thin sense of multiple personae.

That allegorizes the reality of potential interpersonal life to be manifold, as selfidentity enjoys a range of interpersonal lives (veritably autonomous of each other): separate friendships, family of origin in relation to extended family, romantic intimacy distinct from best friends.

Indeed, a flourishing life has selfidentity composed of multiple interpersonal lives, as well as an AProject-ivity whose open engagement is all its own, with a historicity all its own—a Selfness beyond the cohering of organized flourishing and manifold interpersonal lives.

Relative to this, “sociality” belongs to the thinly interpersonal, objectifiable domain of being that is supplemental to selfal and interpersonal time (worthwhileness) and authentic feeling (selfidentical value or importance). Sociality serves being well, but is not comparably important (except that systematic constraints of political economic life are very important, but as such: very supplement to selfidentity apart from one’s citizenry or for profession).

So, I find the dyad of interpersonal vs. social to antedate the dyad of private vs. public. Being well involves manifold interpersonal spheres in relation to (irt) social spheres—or (as some ethical theorists say) near-and-dear interpersonal spheres and otherwise (abstract and/or casually important).

There’s a normal theater to being well: We may start interaction irt a stranger as if he’s a neighbor (trusting), and maybe a new neighbor is brought into one’s life. We relate like friends to make friends. We make compatriots because we design to do so. We are the dramatists that we want to be (getting better with practice).

We live a shared humanity because we trust in each other’s desire to live that. We care because we desire caring to be mutual. We work to secure care because it’s selfidentically important. We work to institute sustainable community because it’s selfidentically important.

We who truly stand for that—or authentically want to—are better humans than those who aren’t really caring (while anyone might claim to be “caring,” because it’s commonly fashionable), yet always can be so.

next—> being a good_ life



  Be fair. © 2019, gary e. davis