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  1. #1
    Senior Member
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    Oct 2007

    Default Are we playing a fictional role in life?

    Are we playing a fictional role in life?

    Sapiens are a species that has lost many of their animal instincts and our “soul” replaces these instincts. I use the word ‘soul’ to signify what many might call consciousness, spirit, conscience, mind, reason, etc. We are thus thrust out of the arms of Mother Nature and onto our own ability to adapt and survive. We are forced into replacing the natural selection process, which has led to our evolution, and we are thrown upon our own abilities to adapt or to be extinguished. It is our “soul” that creates the games we play. These games replace natural selection; and determine our survival as a species.

    Socrates was an intuitive genius, who may have been the first to understand that man needs to function in a shared social fiction before he can earn his own social honor, and social approval. But even Socrates could not intuit the degree to which this need was rooted. He could not see how deep ‘social performance’ goes and the degree that it is rooted in the anxiety of all sapiens. Humans cannot recognize their own self-worth without the word from their own social group.

    We have successfully struggled against Mother Nature to gain great material wealth only to discover that, as Pogo might say, “we have met the enemy and it is us”. The enemy is our great material play-form itself; it is our own profit-and-loss economy, our money-over-the-counter game that is defeating us. We have lost all relationship with our nature. Our created fiction has crippled our ability to rationally adapt to our world we have created. We run as fast as we can from school to shopping center to the bank and back home in our new SUV only to discover that the gods have already made us mad. Our own fictions are killing us.

    War itself is a fiction, it is a game, and it is a play-form. Roman civilization itself was a great “potlatch spirit” (a ceremonial feast of the American Indian of the northwest coast marked by the host’s lavish distribution of gifts or sometimes destruction of property to demonstrate wealth and generosity with the expectation of eventual reciprocation). What begins as simple contests, develop into complex play-forms. “Poetry, art, law, philosophy, war—all are contests or play-forms.”

    To call them play-forms is not to say that they are not serious. In our great game of society we create meaning; fictional meaning but nevertheless these fictions are life-meaning fictions. Me and Earnest agree, our problem is that we must create better fictions to live by, because our present fictions are killing us.

    What is the difference between playing a fictional role in life versus a non-fictional role?

    Ideas and quotes from Beyond Alienation by Ernest Becker

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2009


    I would not call these roles "fictional." However I have a feeling that Ernest is being really specific with this vocabulary, so I won't argue that case.

    I'm going to guess what the author meant by "fictional" was:
    fictional = created, imagined, symbolic

    So I'm going to roughly equate fiction with creativity in order to ask you a question:
    So basically you are trying to say that creativity is responsible for the evolution and success of the human race, but it has also become pernicious to our well being in recent times. Is this what you're trying to say?

    You are saying that we are often becoming too creative without analyzing the real substance of our creative fabrications. This in turn engenders much conflict and poison in our lives.

    Are my interpretations wrong or right?

  3. #3
    a scream in a vortex nanook's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007


    this is partially true but a little to black and white.

    there is fiction but most of this "soul or reason" is still inspired by nature. the example of how we (not only our self-worth) depend on others, should remind us, that this "soul or reason" is still nature itself. its designed for the web of live, not for individual autonomous intelligence. we can corrupt the web a little, at ego-will. but then again, if we just loosen our grip on it a little more, the creativity of nature itself will pop up immediately and make the day. the "fiction" of our superficial reductionist understanding of life is always dragging us down half a level, just enough to loose all joy, but never deep enough to sabotage evolution and break the whole game.

    These games replace natural selection
    rofl, wake the fuck up.

  4. #4
    a scream in a vortex nanook's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2007


    None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.
    Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2007


    As one example I think that our role as consumer is very large, it is a fictional role, and is alien to our nature.

    This role as consumer has led us into our credit card mania that has resulted in our financial melt down.

    We still have instincts but they play a much diminished role in our welfare. Our welfare is determined primarily by our artificial life of meaning that we have created.

    The great truth of human nature is that wo/man strives for meaning. S/he imposes on raw experience symbolic categories of thought, and does so with conceptual structures of thought. “All human problems are, in the last resort, problems of the soul.”—Otto Rank

    In the nineteenth century, after two hundred years of opposition paradigms, science faced the dilemma: if we make wo/man to be totally an object of science, to be as this object merely a conglomeration of atoms and wheels then where is there a place for freedom? How can such a collection of mere atoms be happy, and fashion the Good Life?

    The best thinkers of the Enlightenment followed by the best of the nineteenth century were caught in the dilemma of a materialistic psychology. Does not the inner wo/man disappear when humans are made into an object of science? On the other hand if we succumb to the mode of the middle Ages, when the Church kept man firmly under the wraps of medieval superstitions, do we not give up all hope for self-determined man?

    “Yet, we want man to be the embodiment of free, undetermined subjectivity, because this is the only thing that keeps him interesting in all of nature…It sums up the whole tragedy of the Enlightenment vision of science.” There are still those who would willingly surrender wo/man to Science because of their fear of an ever encroaching superstitious enemy.

    Kant broke open this frustrating dilemma. By showing that sapiens could not know nature in its stark reality, that sapiens had no intellectual access to the thing-in-itself, that humans could never know a nature that transcended their epistemology, Kant “defeated materialistic psychology, even while keeping its gains. He centered nature on man, and so made psychology subjective; but he also showed the limitations of human perceptions in nature, and so he could be objective about them, and about man himself. In a word man was at once, limited creature, and bottomless mystery, object and subject…Thus it kept the best of materialism, and guaranteed more than materialism ever could: the protection of man’s freedom, and the preservation of his inner mystery.”

    After Kant, Schilling illuminated the uniqueness of man’s ideas, and the limitations from any ideal within nature. Schilling gave us modern wo/man. Materialism and idealism was conjoined. Wo/man functioned under the aegis of whole ideas, just as the idealists wanted, and thus man became an object of science while maintaining freedom of self-determination.

    The great truth of the nineteenth century was that produced by William Dilthey, which was what wo/man constantly strived for. “It was “meaning” said Dilthey, meaning is the great truth about human nature. Everything that lives, lives by drawing together strands of experience as a basis for its action; to live is to act, to move forward into the world of experience…Meaning is the relationship between parts of experience.” Man does not do this drawing together on the basis of simple experience but on the basis of concepts. Man imposes symbolic categories of thought on raw experience. His conception of life determines the manner in which s/he values all of its parts.

    Concludes Dilthey, meaning “is the comprehensive category through which life becomes comprehensible…Man is the meaning-creating animal.”

    Does it make sense to you that “All human problems are, in the last resort, problems of the soul”??

    Quotes and ideas from “Beyond Alienation” Becker

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