Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Fact of Separateness: Dialogue with a Student (Philosophical Essay)

The Fact of Separateness: Dialogue with a Student (Philosophical Essay)
by Tim Kavi

Foreword: I have had a number of students in China or elsewhere that sometimes ask me questions. The following is one such discussion. Some of these are students I have had in an educational setting, some are questions from persons who view me as a 'teacher' for other reasons. Of course, I am honored by their respect, and must remember the seriousness of it; but most of all I want to be remembered for simply being ' a person'. There is much more potential for relating between person and person.--T.K.

Beginning the Dialogue: The Fact of Separateness

(Upon recognizing that One is apart from another).

Do not let the facts of separateness disappoint you. This is the distancing effect of the counterpoint of relation. I say to you it is not the quantity of dialogue and togetherness that always is the most significant--it is rather, the quality. When we speak it is to one another, when we are together it is You I encounter. When you happen to me and I you there is always the possibility of sweet fulfillment of meeting. This is especially true if you are always in your precious otherness--bringing your heart of dialogue where you voice your views that although different from mine, even oppositional from mine, we still care for each one in that moment of encounter!

You are always I and Thou to me in that graceful appearance of meeting. Meeting always appears by grace and not by forced will. When we do happen to each other it is always a complete moment yet a juxtaposition of the future hope foreshadowed in that dialectical moment and seasoned with the promise of dialogue!

The Dialogue Continues: A Response to the Statement of 'The Fact of Separateness':

(My answers to direct questions are in italics here)--T.K.

When I wrote this entry on separateness (reprinted above).. a student replied with these questions...

you ask: > Why did you use "moment" again and again? for me, you only seek "moment"? i don't understand.

I answer: > This is a good question, in what I wrote I used "moment" quite a bit. Yes, because I am a cognitive constructivist in part--I believe that human beings create their realities each moment out of what they think and perceive in the moment. Yes they bring their personalities, their pasts, and their futures to those moments. IN a sense, I do believe the most important reality we have is the one we are experiencing right NOW. (I am walking a pointed line here--because I do always value history, culture, and art--all reflections of things that capture past moments in the NOW of the past--but when we view them and interact with them they are even in the NOW--where the past impinges upon the NOW in those cases). SO when I say we encounter each other or have dialogue in the moment I am NOT saying we live only for moments or only have each other a moment--but that we actually affect each other in the only moment of time we experience that is the most real--the moment of the eternally present THOU, the present moment. Far from being a bad thing this is a good thing. Whn I adress someone in dialogue with the you, I want to be only in the real with you, only in the moment-- as that is where reality changes and encounters history. The past is past, the future is a dream or goal where potential unfolds, the present is where we love , see each other, and meet each other---therefore I use "moment".

you asked: > Why did you think "not forced"? , i don't understand.

I answer:> Now this question is also good. I mean the response we have to any other person can be a totally free choice of response . We have the freedom to choose how we will respond in the dialogue with that person. It is never forced because we have free will and freedom of choice!

you wrote: >Why are we "nothing more than..."? i don't understand.

I answer:>
Yes, this is a very philosophical point. Are we ever really "nothing more than.." ? Human beings are much more complex than simple or certain things that we refer to-- but in a bare moment of relating where we happen to each other--are we not nothing more than the total experience of each one of us happening to the other? This is a philosophical point of essentialism in a bare moment of existence! I believe that when human beings dialogically relate they are a sum experience of their joint mingling of each other--I affect you and you affect me--we are both changed--and therefore we are in a sense, nothing more than that really! (hehehhee at that moment).

You ask: > You think "we still care for each one in that moment of encounter", but i think i "always" care for my friends no matter what!?

I answer: > Yes, but even if a moment of encounter is marked by disagreement, (and I used the word 'THAT' moment to signify such a moment) where we are in disagreement --can that be caring? Yes I think so! SO that is what I meant. Yes, the answer to this is similar to what I write just below this. Yes, we can even care for one another if we wrestle with each other's potential even in opposition. By opposition I mean your difference challenges my "different from you" view--it stretches me to see the world differently if I will allow it. My world is richer because of the "you" then--so even if at the moment of opposition where it seems the most threatening to our peacful agreement--even that can be a moment of caring because we share the joint repsonsibility to address and learn from each other in dialogue.

you asked: > Why do you think me"you still appreciate me"? you should know i always appreciate you, i don't understand.

I answer: > Yes, I understand that you (personally) always appreciate me as a teacher, and I should know this, but here Western and Eastern ideas may clash. The Western person is not sure if another person always appreciates them if they say something in dialogue that makes the other person unhappy, sad, or mad! heheheh At those moments I can understand that maybe the other person wouldn't appreciate me! But it seems that wonderful friends still can--and that is what I meant really--so, it is a complement to say that those in an I and Thou encounter can "still appreciate" each other even if their views have just opposed each other! That is the wonderful beauty of dialogue and the ultimate challenge and responsibility of it, I think, -- can we still appreciate the other even if they said something that we found stressful, different from us, or even oppositional? So if the friends can do this, and even if the enemies ever could--we are talking about significant powers of social collective binding! Obviously I know that friends are not my enemies, but even my friends are uniquely different and their ideas may oppose mine at times! We are indeed talking about mind in the world!

Collectively, these ideas represent a few thoughts on the relationship established by and impacted by the facts of dialogue and the aspects and dual nature of that relationship; namely, those of closeness and distance.--T.K.

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