I am clearly in a serious perplexity. It is very painful, but the pain feels promising. It is manifesting as increasing impatience at being condescended to. Some are people who seem to me manifestly unqualified to condescend. They know something important, but they seem unaware of how much remains beyond their understanding, and how crucially important that beyond is. Others are possibly qualified. They might have important knowledge beyond mine, but I’m frustrated with our relationship — but perhaps because they are perplexing me with something as-yet inconceivable to me. The interference between the two possibilities is jamming me up. Plus I have some scary medical stuff going on, and that’s intensifying my already excessive intensity.
Here is my current attempt at resolving this perplexity…
A while back I began reflecting on the Golden Rule, and came up with the idea of Golden Rule Prime.
At its surface, the Golden Rule is a pretty terrible rule. Do to others as you would have others do to you. So you would have others serve you the disgusting food they themselves would like to eat, or have you listen to the terrible music they prefer? Who would want that?
But if we note that very fact, and run it back through the Golden Rule again, we get something much better. What would we like better? We would like others to serve us the food we ourselves like, or play the music we ourselves prefer. This iteration of the rule is Golden Rule Prime.
But even Golden Rule Prime is not quite right. Maybe we are not hungry, even for our favorite food, or maybe we are not in the mood for any music however much we normally love it. What would we like better? If we run this back through the Golden Rule again, we get something even better. We would like someone to check with us on what we want and then respond to what we tell them, or something along the lines of asking and responding to the person, instead of speculating or guessing. That would be Golden Rule Double Prime.
With each iteration the Golden Rule yields a deeper principle, approaching a moral asymptote, which I believe is absolute and not attainable. And with each iteration we presume less that we know better (or ever can know better), and put ourselves more on equal footing with others — who we must involve in our decisions if they are to be good ones
I am inclined to see wisdom as a function of this approach. How many Primes can you actively intuit in your dealings with others, how aware are you of the remaining unclosable distance between your own understanding and the intersubjective reality of the situation, and how ready are you to involve others in your effort to reduce that distance?