Here I attempt to illustrate that agency is a sense of identity with a purpose given by love. That is, the ability to make choices has two components: identity is the sense of perspective within a complicated system of moving parts, and love is the motivating force to navigate that system.
In sociology and philosophy, agency is the capacity of an entity (a person or other entity, human or any living being in general, or soul-consciousness in religion) to act in any given environment.
This is a concept of great significance in the modern world. In a way, we are privileged to live at a time where we can see this break down, like Phineas Gage’s prefrontal cortex. The idea of floating through life aimlessly- with little idea of what to do and no motivation to do it anyway- isn’t some abstraction anymore, but rather the typical experience of the last two generations of Americans. If you’re in the alt-right blogosphere to begin with, chances are you can look at the people around you and understand this. If you’re the introspective sort, you look within and come to the same conclusion. I doubt if this idea has ever been so concrete before now.
The concept of identity isn’t a black box to us anymore, like an engine humming away under the hood of a car. Because it’s not humming- it’s broken down. I understand the politically minded aspies have systemized this as neoreaction and identitarianism (despite my feelings about those movements, I have to give those nerds their due for that). In brief, we can take action in a vacuum all we want, but outside the context of other people our actions lack all meaning. A single particle in space can move, but it can’t be said to rise or fall.
A Christian can still have identity within the body of Christ, but what does everybody else in Western society do? Beside that, I’ve found myself in a weirdly specific situation where Christian fellowship is logistically impossible. A Christian prisoner alone in a dungeon also has no fellowship with other believers. In all of these situations (red-pilled secularism, extreme social atomization, literal bondage) a person’s identity is stripped down to the elementary monad, being nothing more than the philosopher’s brain in a vat or the single particle in space.
Without love, there is no power. Without love, we are meat robots dying slowly of biological malfunctions. “And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.” Love is the philosopher’s stone which turns lead into gold, heals all injuries, and grants eternal life. It is the bulwark of entropy and decay. Love powers the perpetual motion machine. It is an ever-flowing wellspring of willpower.
The concept of love admittedly confuses me. It seems most people are content to leave it as some kind of hippy-dippy black box that must never be opened so that its beauty isn’t tarnished. Not me- when I become infatuated with something beautiful like a rainbow, I open the wikipedia page and learn as much trivia as I can stuff into my brain. If I ever become infatuated with someone of the opposite sex, one consequence of this will undoubtedly be the creation of spreadsheets.
The best description of this I’ve heard (from a source that might surprise you) is that “love is the recognition that someone else exists”. It’s the opposite of philosophical zombies, and the lack thereof in our equalist dystopia causes predictable fantasies.
What did you think the zombie fad was really all about?
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.”
I hinted at a specific application of this synthesis previously (love + identity = agency), with respect to genius-as-chemical-addiction:
Further, a highly creative person has the option of choosing this as their self-identification, as explained by Charlton in the genius journey. If they do this, it is possible for them to regain their agency, their sense of self as someone who chooses and acts. Maybe this is due to the social nature of genius? Artists get out of bed every morning because they’re addicted to the applause. Thus the civilization-building altruism is still selfish in the psychological sense, and the group selection is more of an accident of feeling connected to Western Civilization (in our case), and important to the group.
Speculatively, this is probably where it becomes possible to “direct” genius like a shotgun, and come up with creative solutions simply by directing attention at a subject or a particular problem. (Remember I once said I’ve very occasionally done creativity on purpose?) Otherwise the highly creative are stuck in a lower level of pure associative addiction to their particular subject matter.
Tomorrow’s topic: magic.