Interpersonal rights

The thinking we do about the world in general and the people who inhabit it necessarily applies to individual persons.

But those individual persons also have their own way of thinking about the world, about people, and about themselves.

What right does a person have as an object of another person’s thought? If a thought is about me, do I have any say about that thought — or about the faiths, theories or assumptions that generated the thought?

Compounding this problem is the question of conceivability. In my philosophical work over the last couple of decades I have acquired new conceptive capacities that enable me to have new thoughts and spontaneous understandings that were inconceivable prior to the acquisition. Truths appeared ex nihilo from the inconceivable ground of reality, the pregnant nothingness from which all existence springs. If we try to express one of these newly conceived. truths to the “uninitiated”, that truth is, to them, manifest nonsense.

But this strange ignorance cuts both ways. How can any of us eliminate the possibility that another’s nonsense is not, in fact, an as-yet inconceivable truth?

To make matters far worse, each new truth changes us and changes our sense of where we ought to attend next. Our truth changes, our project changes, we change — who we aspire to become changes.

The question for me becomes this: does this other who wishes to converse with me seem to understand this condition? Do they seem to appreciate the difficulty of mutual understanding, and to have some sense of what it takes to navigate conceptive differences?

We can never answer this question with perfect certainty — but in our practical choices of who to engage and who to ignore, we must make a practical response. In cultivating some relationships, neglecting or even severing others we engage in a kind of triage.

My triage decisions have everything to do with whether another person seems sufficiently aware of this condition and its practical consequences to converse respectfully and productively about matters of shared interest.

But if a person approaches me in a way that suggests that they believe that their right as an object of thought trumps my rights as a thinking subject — my inclination is to disregard that person as hopelessly unphilosophical, narcissistic or both.

By demanding a right that is not theirs, they lose that right.

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