Dabar [theme]

He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou find refuge: His truth is a shield and buckler
Psalms 91:4

Be it ours,when we cannot see the face of God, to trust under the shadow of His wings. C.H. Spugeon

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Conatus


The good, the good that we see, any good as defined by a person, that good that we would do is a derivative of the will to live; this will to live is defined and expanded in definition by the term conatus. Conatus is Latin: meaning, effort; endeavor; impulse, inclination, tendency; undertaking; striving. It is a term used to to refer to the innate inclination of a thing to continue to exist and enhance itself. This "will" forms the conatus of a body and its physical manifestation is the perceived "will to survive". In order that living beings may thrive, "they seek peace and fight anything that threatens this peace".

Conatus is also equated with "imagination", and states that a change in the conatus, or will, is the result of "deliberation". From all this, then, it is clear that we neither strive for, nor will, neither want, nor desire anything because we judge it to be good; on the contrary, we judge something to be good because we strive for it, will it, want it, desire it."

Survival requires adaptation and change to meet the volitional movements of all others seeking to survive and enhance their existence. There exists within us a 'vital impulse' which generates the power of that movement, the need to survive, to exist, to maintain equilibrium, balance, control, peace, security. Wills collide, cultures and people seek dominance, believing by their wisdom, knowledge, purpose or strength they are empowered, believing they are able to subjugate by the force of their will and the collective authority manifested by their superiority in any or all of the previous functions to assert their will over the volitional will of the lesser. The principle behind this derivative concept states that any given culture, "tends to persevere in its being, whether by dominating other cultures or by struggling against their domination."

My self-preservation efforts will always be thwarted by things outside of my control. We are finite creatures and cannot, in the end, control our destinies. People have tried this, even using violence, but they always fail in the end. But as my volitional range grows I'm able to calculate the causal chains that adversely affect me (or promote my existence) more and more deeply and deeply. My volitional horizon expands. I become the empowered, I attain to a measure of freedom from domination, fear, oppression. I become empowered to express, to create, to envision, to strive for perfection. I become free. I become 'free', not in the essence of being 'causally unconstrained', but in the essence that the realization of the choices I now have are increased by the opportunities to promote my self-interest. "...the very foundation of virtue is this very striving to preserve one's own being, and that happiness consists in a man's being able to preserve his being. "Yet, this very self-interest demands that you and I work together in mutual harmony:" "We can never bring it about that we require nothing outside ourselves to preserve our being, nor that we live without having dealings with things outside us...There are, therefore, many things outside us which are useful to us, and on that account to be sought." This is sought and found in community and is stated by this axiom, "To man, then, there is nothing more useful than man. Man, I say, can wish for nothing more helpful to the preservation of his being than that all should so agree in all things that the minds and bodies of all would compose, as it were, one mind and one body; that all should strive together, as far as they can, to preserve their being; and that all, together, should seek for themselves the common advantage of all."
'E pluribus unum'
Conatus will persue as an end cooperation and morality, not isolated self-interest. The complexity of the relational aspects of community are not evidenced by the tolerance, acceptance or ignorance of the members, but are found in the collective morality and virtue, ensuring the preservation and survival of the whole body in health and vigour. The determination of that health must be founded on an aspect which seems difficult to define; truth, the truth not as it exists for the self-interest of a person, but truth as it exists for the preservation of society.

The preservation of society is directly related to the threats against its survival. Nero fiddled while Rome burned. The by-words of a secure society or a culture experiencing a false sense of security are the words which reflect upon self-interest, the conceited view which declares the health of the individual subjugates the health of the whole, the declaration of the individuals rights to health, wealth and happiness at whatever expense can be incurred to ensure tolerance is placated. It is only when the appetite and desire of individuals desirous of pleasure and comfort affect the health of society creating pain that the threat of the tolerant view to truth is questioned. What is truth?

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