Sunday, August 10, 2014

Escaping the Totalization of my own Thinking

One of the highest-order things that we can do for ourselves and others is try to escape our own thinking style. Each of us has a way of thinking, a default of which we may not even be aware. Even if we are aware that we each have a personal thinking style, we may not think to identify it and contrast it with other thinking styles, consider changing our own style, and even what it might mean to be portable between thinking styles.

This is a form of the totalization problem, that being completely within something, it is hard to see outside of the totality of that thing. If we are thinking through our own mind, how can we possibly think or see anything that is not within this realm? By definition, this seems an impossible conundrum; how are we to see what is beyond what we can see? How can we become aware of what we are not aware?

The totalization problem has been an area of considerable philosophical focus, whether there is an exteriority (an outside) to concepts like world and reality, and if so, whether it is reachable. Philosophers like Jacques Derrida thought that yes, escaping totalization (any system that totalizes) would indeed be possible. One way is though literature, which offers its own universe (totalization) but also inevitably a hook to the outside (our world). Another way is through the concept of yes, assent, which has a hearing-party affirming and a talking-party asserting in a dynamic process that cannot be totalized.

In a less complicated way for our own lives, there can be other ways of escaping from the totalization of our thought into an exteriority, an outside where we can see things differently. Explicitly, we can try different ways of experiencing the world by learning other of how people apprehend reality, and noticing that more joy may come from experiencing the journey rather than attaining any endpoint. Perhaps most important is being attuned to new ideas and new ways of thinking and being, especially those that don’t automatically make sense.

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