Why.Forming ourselves

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To form ourselves

On A Place to Study, what do we mean by to form ourselves? We all pretty much grow up in similar ways. We develop, start to toddle and talk, play, go to school and learn similar stuff, better or worse. At a certain point, we decide our parents didn't know everything and then soon enough learn that we don't either. It all seems to happen in a flow of experience that mostly comes to us by surprise. Suddenly we've gotten formed in the school of life. But let's not objectify ourselves excessively.

Stuff does happen this way, more or less as we look at it through the portal of the fictitious observer, but our lives take place as our lived experience, which is the seat of our seeing, hearing, feeling, thinking, judging, doing, suffering, and enjoying — for each, the locus of life. Much of what takes place in my lived experience takes place independent of my conscious perception, will, or control, but that is not reason for me to think that it is not part of my lived experience, belonging instead to some abstract developmental process. All of it sustains the lives we live. Somehow we have to form the whole of it.

Know thyself puts a difficult imperative to us, for it requires that we take into account not only the parts of ourselves we know in conscious awareness, but also those we do not know, or know poorly, or even know deceptively, parts we cannot know directly, however much we feel and experience with and through them. And know thyself requires further that we anticipate how this complex, unknowable self will react to forces and actions impinging on us from without, about which we are ignorant and confused. We can't simply say, "Oy! This is too much!" For in its fullness, we live this life, which we suffer and enjoy, for worse or for better, in and through our full subjectivity.

By to form ourselves, we do not expect that we will make all the hidden uncertainties and complexities fully clear and docile, bringing all junctures to a positive conclusion. Self-ignorance and circumstantial complications will always bedevil us as integral parts of our full selves, and no omnipotent onlooker will, by a stroke of science or belief, render them transparent in reflection or action. We can, however, through our study, work to strengthen our judgment, to recognize and anticipate difficulties we would otherwise blunder into. Assessing better the sources of uncontrolled difficulties, we can marginally improve the situation of our complete selves and achieve fuller, more meaningful lives as we direct ourselves in interacting with our actual circumstances. By to form ourselves, we mean trying to do all that to the best of our powers.