INSITEVIEW- - tom shugart's weblog

Thursday, February 28, 2002

Arrival and Comeuppance

You know you've arrived when AKM Adam critiques you in his blog (one of the best damn blogs on the Web, by the way). He applies a slight (I hope it's only slight) rap on the knuckles in referring to my post of Feb. 21:

"[Tom's] suggestion that the 'true self, in my view, is created as a conscious act of existential will,' sounds a lot less convincing. My true self includes a mountain of stuff that I didn't choose, and some of what I did choose (much of it in the 70's--say no more) I would like to think doesn't express the truest dimensions of my self."

Ouch! When Adam speaks, I listen. Clearly, I was careless in my choice of words. I shouldn't have said "true self." But "authentic self" wouldn't have worked either. As Adam notes:

"Tom's version begins to sound a little Promethean, a little Ayn-Rand-ish, a little of the dangerous part of Heideggerian (what Adorno scathed him for in The Jargon of Authenticity)."

(John Dvorak, please note the absence of kiss-up). Adam continues . . .

"Some of what is truest about us is more or less bred in the bone, and some of who we are depends on the material conditions under which we live. However much we may wish that we were altogether our own creation, a big, powerful, inexorable world of contingencies exerts its claims on us every time."

You nailed it, Adam. Clearly, our existence is a never-ending dance between autonomy and determinism. Had I been more careful with my words, I would have said that we need to exercise responsibility for that part of authenticity that's available to us, and that, if we do that, something can emerge that might not have been predictable. I see blogging as having the potential to facilitate that--which is one of the things that makes it so exciting.

So, instead of "true self," perhaps I should have said "more vibrant self." Would that get me off the hook?


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