Certainty and The Striving for Recognition in a Society Where Identity is Ephemeral
There are things we hide from ourselves but we are not aware of it, they are kept in our unconscious. At the same time we express it through or activities, speech and feelings that generate our thoughts but we still remain unaware of it. Even if somebody points it out to us we tend to not recognize what we are hiding from ourselves and there is an emotional reason for it. What people want to deny the most in a debate is the evidence they are being emotional rather than rational. As demonstrated by Antonio Damasio in his book "The Strange Order of Things", we are essentially emotional and not as rational as we like to believe,
Many people are starving for recognition. The reason of it is because identity is ephemeral in a society where we can dream of and pursue to become whatever we want to. Otto Rank describes the past civilizations with a strong sense of belonging and identity through their activities. Back then, people normally continued to live in the same community where their family had been for generations, working in the same field and business that their family had for generations as well, without ever think of or dream about to become an aristocrat or a noble. Each social group, and their relation to their jobs, had their own distinct psychology, mentality, behavior, fashion and culture where individuals tended to bound together. This distinct social characteristics is where they would always find their sense of belonging and identity. People were recognized by their work and community. David Harvey goes further by presenting how the community's land and landscape are so strong related to the individual sense of identity. It justifies the socialist worker unions in deteriorated industrial economy - conflicting with globalists socialists - fighting to keep their unhealthy jobs as well as polluting industries in their community. Because without it they feel they are losing something about themselves, the sense of identity and belonging that they get from such activities and landscape, because it's where and what their entire community have been living and working through all their lives. With the development of capitalism, and consequently the rise of the bourgeois psychology, as Hannah Arendt describes it, the nationalistic sense of equality as the dominant social ideology influenced people to move from their communities and from their traditional activities to cities, looking for better economic opportunities in different jobs - also losing their "know how" with the development of technology and specialization. The result is the crises of identity we find in society today.
Our identity is presented through our expression and every expression is a message to an other real or imaginary person (sometimes ourselves). Siri Hustvedt explains, there is no "I" without an "other" because the other feedback is what makes me perceive and know who I am. Because we can go after whatever we want to be, by chasing down the best jobs opportunities and neighborhood to live in, we need constant feedback about what we become. Or even worse, the confirmation that we are accomplishing the success of our personality, meaning archiving our dreams that is related to our identity, which is confirmed only by other people recognition. When a person still feel insecure about their accomplishments and recognition they pretend (to other people and to ourselves) they are successful and confident about themselves. The person pretends to have the recognition or accomplishment they don't have as a way to convincing everybody (and even himself) it's true, calling those who don't recognize their successful personality as envious, afraid of them to revel what he has been hiding their fragile image. By pretending the person can play it as if it is true and consequently he feels it as if it's true, often convincing people and even themselves it's true even if deep inside their unconsciousness they know it is not true.
John Berger shows how the glamour was born, the acquisition of the personality image that other people wish to have. The aloofness is the bureaucrat attitude of those who are the gatekeeper of the social recognition and consequently social integration (the group acceptance that gives the person the sense of belonging) through images, as described by Frédéric Lordon. The pretending is in order to not feel excluded, as attempt to protect oneself from feeling miserable for not feeling partially or totally belonging to a group recognized as successful by today's society.
The biggest fear of any bureaucrat is to lose their power. A power that is imaginary comes with insecurity. Certainty is the tool insecure people have in order to convince themselves about who they are. They have to believe that what they are is absolute. They need to believe in the absolute in order to overcome the insecurity.
In a debate we talk about our opinions, knowledge and beliefs but these three things are not just data that we put in and take out our mind, they are identity. Identity is related to people's cognitive experiences because the brain does not compute, it emotes. What we have as truth is from what we trust. Trust we get from what we identify ourselves with, as being from what we belong to or wish to belong to. For this reason insecurity tends to make many people to believe that opinions, knowledge and beliefs are absolute. Or even worst, it makes people believe that science is absolute. When the person believes something is absolute they don't need to question it ever, and they will not like if somebody else questions it. Questioning something the person believes to be absolute if for him as if you are questioning his identity. Changing opinions or point of view demands a changing of how you perceive and identify yourself with the subject, which literally means changing who you are. The person who looks for absolutism doesn't want changes because changes are the cause of the insecurity they are hiding behind their absolutist beliefs.
Many people want to believe that science and logic are absolute so they can convince themselves that their supposed absolutist beliefs are scientific and logical. So they can use personal attack on the identity of those who question them, and their absolutist belief, as no logic or no sense. But science is the opposite of absolute because reality is in constant movement and changes. So it requires the person to always question, challenge and change what they believe to be their knowledge in order to gain and grow their knowledge forwards. Certainty does not allows it. If a person questions the thing they believe to be "the truth" then they may not be certain about their "truth". They they may not be certain about his absolutist views and such uncertainty exposes insecure people to their own fears.
At the end, most people tend to research about what confirms their bias, what they strongly identify themselves with, often pretending they are looking for knowledge when in fact they are looking for their certainty confirmation. Absolutism is not for people who want knowledge but certainty, as the David Bowie 's "Law" song narrates.
Certainty is for the person looking for control (about themselves, about a group of people or about society). The faith of an absolutist rule that will not allows things to change (so people believe). Every search for control, morality and rules comes out of fear. The fear of the unpredictable spontaneity. The desire to force reality/nature to adapt to them instead of adapt themselves to reality and nature symbiosis, with the believe they have the absolutist knowledge and science to impose their wishes upon nature and reality.
Nothing of this is new. It is so old that the Greeks dedicated many of their narratives to it. It's called Tragedy. Stories about heroes who try to run from their fate but they can not. Greek Tragedies teach us about our incapacity to control the reality symbiosis. A symbiosis that we are not able to fully understand. More than that, it's good that we can not control it because it is the over control that breaks life and nature symbiosis, so shifting times come as the symbiosis own self regulation.
If we understand it we become able to stop blaming other people for the changes in society, in groups and in ourselves that make us so insecure. Then we better can recognize our insecurities and fears because we become more honest with ourselves and with other people. Through honesty we start to identify ourselves with people around us then and find comfort in them, feeling belonging instead of feeling the fear of social segregation (the losing of an image and its segregating privilege), the fear of a lack of belonging in a society of ephemeral identity.
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