For the proper philosophical discussion about any particular thing, the identification of the thing itself is more important than the word used to refer to it: A word is merely a tool used to approximate the meaning of a concept, thus enabling an expedient means to refer to that concept in conversation or writing. In a way, this conventional approximation of conceptual meaning highlights the purpose of Philosophy, which I define here as the unmotivated, uncompromised expression of the innate need to Understand. And, Understanding is perhaps the most important concept to philosophise about—which I define here as the pure and thorough attempt to clarify the essence and significance of a thing. Thus for this essay, a cluster of related ‘things’ I consider worthy of discussion are most closely approximated by the word ‘understanding’, with each of these things representing a particular aspect of that concept, thereby being a different sense of its meaning. Hence, I will use the word ‘understanding’ in multiple senses, supported by my definition of each one; and by which I attempt to describe these particular aspects of Mind and Life.
Deeper into the essay, a thorough definition of words will be presented; but for the moment, a preliminary set of definitions is necessary for the leading discussion:
- UNDERSTANDING (noun) – the entire range of Thought; all there is to be understood; eternal knowledge.
- Understanding (noun) – an individual’s particular state of familiarity with UNDERSTANDING; his Understanding of things.
- understanding (verb) – the activity of attempting to comprehend a particular thing, with the underlying purpose of Understanding (i.e. not for worldly incentives)
- understanding (noun) – the products of the activity, being understandings of particular things.
As can be seen in these basic definitions, I have used the same word – ‘understanding’ – with variations of case to signify the different meanings. Ideally, an entirely new word would be created, with linguistically appropriate variations to represent each sense of understanding. However, the use of unfamiliar words would make the essay less accessible, and perhaps cumbersome to read. Hence, although not ideal, this little lexicon is practical for the purposes of this essay; meaning also the words are not intended to be neologisms. Finally, the capitalised variant – ‘Understanding’ – will also be used in a general sense, i.e. a catchall of the concept as defined by these four variants.
What follows can thus be described as an essay to facilitate understanding for an Understanding of UNDERSTANDING—the essay itself being the explication of this description.
The activity of understanding begins with the consideration of a most basic and universally familiar aspect of childhood: the child’s questioning. Naturally, adults remember little if any of their childhood experience of questioning the world around them; however, most will be familiar with having witnessed children’s distinct manner and proclivity for questioning—which in any case, is surely more instructive than subjective remembrances would be. With this in mind, there are two unmistakable and intimately related qualities with which children pose questions: pre-self-consciousness and innocence. An essential and conspicuous characteristic of childhood is the expression of a conscious awareness that is not (yet) self-conscious. This formative state of consciousness is apparent in the general behaviour of children, whose guardians are tasked with guiding its development by regulating the child’s behaviour. A most significant aspect of this pre-self-conscious behaviour is the child’s penchant for questioning anything and everything about his surrounding world; at times, with a seemingly compulsive repetitiveness. Questions such as “What is that? … Why is this?”—concerning the full range of phenomena, i.e. relating to nature, artifacts, and behaviours.
The aspect clearly seen in the nature of children’s questioning as distinct from adult’s questioning is the absence of motive in posing questions. More accurately, more specifically, and more significantly, it is the non-existence of the capacity for motive with which children ask questions: they simply ask… (and continuously…) To highlight the distinction, one need only consider the plethora of underlying factors that condition and characterise adults’ questioning—of anything: for with self-consciousness comes social responsibility, i.e. the ‘social sense’. Hence, from the time one’s self-consciousness emerges (usually during adolescence), his thoughts and behaviours (now) become directly conditioned by the social environment; in the sense that – at the very least – he must regulate what he says, does, and (therefore) thinks—just in order to be a functional member of his society. Questioning for the adult, then, is essentially conditional: for Society – i.e. society in essence – is a regulator of questioning—the regulator of questioning, in fact. Thus, the basic awarenessof social factors supremely affects one’s psychological life – both conscious and subconscious – which becomes enmeshed in these factors. With few exceptions, Life is characterized by the extra-regulation of behaviour, thought, and ultimately, questioning. This universal principle of Society as a governing force (which includes its social repression as being such) is often sensed when one observes the pre-self-consciousness of a child’s questioning: Often being amused or inconvenienced by the child’s unrestrained – i.e. pre-tactful – expression, one is reminded of the quality that is essentially lost in the transition to self-consciousness: Innocence.
Almost inherently, adults’ questioning of the world is underlain by motivations of various kinds, operating at the levels of the explicit, the implicit, and the subconscious. Conversely, children’s questioning of the world occurs with an observable innocence—that is, questioning made prior to the state of self-consciousness and the motivational conditions it entails. Herein, then, lays the critical question: Without self-conscious awareness and thus the capacity for motivational thought, why then do children persistently ask questions? When a child asks, “What is this?” … “Why is that?”, he clearly does so without the presence and capacity for self-reflectivity—meaning that he himself does not and cannot know why he is asking these questions. Not that he won’t produce ‘answers’ to the question “Why do you want to know this?” But his answers – as with his questions – will be made purely at the instinctual level, i.e. entirely without intellectual awareness—and hence, for adults, they can be as revealing as they are amusing to behold.
The reason why children ask questions ceaselessly despite having no awareness of self, and thus of Reason itself, is that their habitual and unconscious questioning is the expression of the innate instinct to understand. Human beings are understanding beings: the rational faculty is the primary distinction of being human (the secondary one being conscience). This activity of understanding is naturally related to and thus directed towards Life, i.e. comprising the natural environment, the social environment, human behaviour, the body and the self; expressed through impulses to wonder, observe, inquire, and comprehend.
During childhood, this instinct can be observed directly—for the reason that it is precisely during this period of life that the human’s being (i.e. ‘being’ the verbal sense) is in its formative state. Specifically, it is during the formative years that the human being is in a state of pre-self-consciousness; meaning that his consciousness is not existent within the domain of self-awareness, for his self-consciousness has not yet emerged. Thus, childhood consciousness is characterised by purely instinctual expression, due to its not yet having the capacity for the self-regulation that is born with self-awareness. This essential distinction – between pre-self-consciousness and emerged self-consciousness; between purely-instinctual and instinctually-rational states of being – is in need of elucidation, as a preliminary for the proper discussion of Understanding.
The essential context of Understanding is that of the aforementioned Social Sense: The influence and universality of this aspect of Life is so profound, that Understanding cannot properly be understood without consideration of it. Central to this principle is the demarcation between pre-self-conscious and self-conscious states of being, for it marks the activation of the social sense as a direct influence on a human’s being. Hence, a brief account of this influence is in order here.
Self-consciousness is an intrinsic aspect of human nature; as is its process of emergence, i.e. the period of formative years serving to prepare the human being for the state of self-consciousness. Although these formative and emergent processes are not fixed to specific periods of time (evident in the variation of ages at which adolescents become self-conscious), the sequential processes can be deemed laws of human nature, based on the following three facts: 1) No one is ever born into a self-conscious state of being; 2) All humans become self-conscious eventually (given that their life is not cut short during youth); and (therefore) 3) The period of life preceding self-consciousness is not one of un-self-consciousness, or a-self-consciousness, but of pre-self-consciousness: for although no signs of self-consciousness are exhibited, general experience proves that it is an intrinsic aspect of human nature that invariably emerges; and which therefore must be present latently from birth.
As a serviceable generalisation, the emergence of self-consciousness can be said to take place during the period of adolescence. At this point, the question as to when and how the Social Sense becomes effectual is central to the subsequent discussion of Understanding. Similar to self-consciousness, the Social Sense is a universal principle of Life in that it invariably emerges as an aspect of human being; and again, this emergence is not fixed to any specific range of time. More accurately in this case, however, is to consider it not as emergence but as activation, in that its source is not within the human being but is latent within his circumstance—namely, the social organisation that encompasses him. And (as a similarly serviceable generalisation) this activation takes place during the period of adolescence to young adulthood. Once the social sense has been activated in the youth, the effect – which is universal – concerns the psychological aspect of reflectivity. Essentially, this amounts to the fact that one’s awareness of self is reflected back to his awareness of others—the reflectivity of which can and does extend to further iterations. For example: (a) the basic awareness of oneself—which is then reflected back to (b) the context of other people’s awareness of oneself (as one perceives or supposes it to be)—which may then create (c) an altered awareness of oneself—that can then (d) be reflected yet again to the context of others. Given the universal prevalence of Society and its inherent regulation of questioning, the psychological dimension of reflectivity necessarily comes with a sense of existence within a system of social rules. The ultimate effect of this sense is not uniform, in that it produces a set of distinctly different effects; and these effects amount to particular predispositions (i.e. not merely dispositions), each of which will be identified during this discourse. Of this set of effects – these predispositions – is one that predominates—the description of which is therefore of primary importance. Firstly, however, I will elaborate on the effectivity of the Social Sense.
Before describing the psychological effectof the Social Sense, the external (i.e. social) phenomenon it implies should first be elucidated briefly. In even a cursory consideration of what Society is, the features of ‘rules’ which are ‘social’ and ‘systematic’ are immediately apparent—or at the least, they cannot reasonably be denied. A simple and direct definition of Society can thus be ‘a system of social rules’; and, as previously mentioned, Society’s function as “the regulator of questioning” is basically implied by this definition. Nevertheless, the connection between these two features will be properly addressed. For a more substantial clarification of this definition of Society, each element will be examined in turn. The ‘rules’ that constitute Society are both explicit and implicit. For example, laws and rituals are explicit; whereas customs and etiquette are implicit. Perhaps contrary to common perception, the implicit rules exert by far more force on people than the explicit rules—and this inexplicit dimension of regulatory pressure is essential to its effectiveness: for it permeates one’s entire environment so as to render it imperceptible—and thus inaccessible. In contrast to the ‘rules’, the ‘social’ element is more self-explanatory. Put simply, it refers to the inherent interconnectedness between the people that comprise any society, including that between its social strata (primarily, Lay and Authority). More accurately (particularly within this discourse) ‘social’ refers to the interdependency between people in Society, being an essential aspect of it. Thus, the social aspect both broadens and heightens the consequences implied by the following or breaking of rules, thereby making them inherently compelling.
Finally, the ‘systematic’ aspect of the social rules is perhaps less obvious than it seems to be. On the one hand, a tacit awareness of systematic associations is commonly shared by members of Society—be it in the context of religion, politics, culture, or combination thereof, as per predominance in a particular society or individual. On the other hand, however, the common awareness of systematicness is suppressed by Society – i.e. it is suppressed systematically – in that it is largely kept within the boundaries of tacitness. In other words, systematicness is merely alluded to in social affairs and thus only acknowledged superficially—and this epistemological evasion effectively conceals the immense intricacy of System, by which the dimension of Administration conduct the systematic organisation of Society in a fashion far more direct and explicit than as acknowledged in the social sphere. In this way, Society is composed of both common and occult dimensions—the latter of which implements the complex simplification of the former.
Having outlined Society as a system of social rules, I shall now give an account of its most prevalent effect on the psychology of its subjects; the consideration of which will be essential for the direct discussion of Understanding. The primary effect of the system of social rules is what I have termed the Social Sense, the meaning of which must now be elaborated. As a basic definition, it is ‘a sense of socially-binding notions’; and again, semantic dissection of the term is in order here. ‘Notions’ comprise all subjects of thought, in all their classifications of purpose. For example, conventional behaviours are often based on notions that are not backed by any philosophical or rational premise: they simple ‘are’ the proper way of doing things. Conversely, laws are explicitly backed by a premise of some kind, by which the laws are legitimised. And yet another type of notion is that of beliefs, which may or may not have moral or practical relevance attached to it. Briefly, it should be mentioned that Society is the disseminator of Notion. The range of thought and experience intrinsic to and latent within the human species is immense; and Society effectively – and necessarily, in terms of its phenomenological function – circumscribes this range to a customised portion of that immensity. Hence, any given society comprises particular notions and combinations of notions that are held as common knowledge within it. And significantly, this means that any given society will psychologically (i.e. in the collective sense) be oblivious to particular notions, or even whole areas of thought and experience. With regards to Understanding, this principle of Society is of course highly significant, and is to be addressed later in the discourse. Considering Society as a system for the collectivisation of people, then, places the human aspect of ‘notions’ firmly in the social sphere. Thus, Notion is automatically socialised, in the sense of a common range of thought—that the members of a society psychologically exist within the same circumscription of Notion. Within that common range of thought – i.e. a limitation of Thought – personal choices can be made; some trivially, others with consequences—and this dimension of choice serves to authenticate the conduct of personal thought in the context of a collective organisation. Thus, Society relocates (i.e. appropriates) the locus of Notion from the human to the social sphere, so as to circumscribe Thought (followed by Behaviour) according to its own customisation. Effectively, then, Society forms and imposes an ecosystem of thought. Within this socio-psychological ecosystem, however, Society also classifies the notions in terms: primarily, ‘approved’ and ‘disapproved’; using both explicit and implicit means to do so, including by degree. And it is in this classification that socially-binding notions are imposed, i.e. thoughts which constitute the ideological basis of any given society.
By the authoritative dissemination, classification, and representation of notions, Society creates and displays socially-binding ties of thought—the display of which effects its internalisation in the form of psychologically-binding ties. In other words, by the ubiquitous conformity to established patterns of thought, the threat of social alienation is implicitly latent within the form of Organisation itself; and thus, the existence of this threat is ultimately intrinsic to Society. Not only is it latent, however, but it is also expressed implicitly—as (for example) when certain thoughts or behaviours are ‘frowned upon’. And, to a lesser extent, the threat is expressed explicitly—as (for example) when religious dogmas or political imperatives are publicly affirmed. The principle of alienation can thus be effectual in the passive form, i.e. the sense of separation inherent to thinking substantially differently than everyone else; the active form, i.e. being ostracised due to the expression (or detection of) transgressive thoughts; or the extreme form, i.e. being penalised (punished as a criminal) for behaviour that represents transgressive thoughts. The ‘sense’ of socially-binding notions that defines the Social Sense thus includes the element of transgression, in the form of an awareness of transgression-boundaries; and its consequent element of alienation, in the form of a (largely inexplicit) threat of psychological if not social separation from one’s fellow members of society. Thus concludes elucidation of the Social Sense. Now, I shall address its psychological affect on the members of Society, who are thereby its subjects; and who, for convenience of expression, I will often refer to in this sense (although the word is particularly appropriate here).
Formulaically, Society generates a forceful atmosphere of ‘belonging’, which can be defined as the collective identification with something of utmost value, including the reciprocal affirmation within this collective identity. The metaphor ‘atmosphere’ is here meant to indicate that a ‘spirit of belonging’ envelopes and permeates Society, and that it does so imperceptibly, due to the lack of social identification of the phenomenon (i.e. despite that its presence can easily be inferred by explicit expressions of collective identification). This Societal atmosphere produces an artificial need—a need that is not natural to Man: the need to Belong. Due to the universal prevalence of Society, and therefore of this intrinsic influence, the artificiality of this need is not apparent; and furthermore, it is naturalised. Thus, Society imperceptibly compels its subjects to belong to it. The generation of the atmosphere and its production of the need culminate in the inducement of the state: the state of ‘belonging’. Whilst the need is cultivated systematically from the time of birth – i.e. merely by being born into and present within Society – the state can only be induced once self-consciousness has emerged, for it is only in this state of consciousness that the Social Sense can be activated. Thus, it is during this period of life that the sense of socially-binding notions – with its establishment of transgression-boundaries, and the threat of alienation those boundaries represent – induces a specific and profound psychological effect—in fact, a transformative effect, in the form of predisposition. Just as the adolescent is in a state of pre-self-consciousness, the newly self-conscious youth is in a state of pre-individuality, in that he has entered the formative process of establishing individuality of being. But – in the context of socio-atmospheric belonging, including the permeating pressure it applies – the need to Belong is ‘sewn in to’ the formative process—thereby cultivating the state of belonging in the process.
Belonging, then, is a state of dependency. Society is a system of associations between people that conditions (by its systematic affect) its conception as being implicitly of ‘utmost value’—the individual identification with which is entwined with the human’s formative process from birth. Thus, one’s psychology and identity is pre-conditioned during the formative years, in the form of a bond with one’s society that develops into an essential dependency once self-consciousness emerges. By ‘essential’, it is meant that the dependency relates to the essence of Society—its fundamental basis, as opposed to its relative accoutrements (hence people can and do change their society, and yet be equally if not more happy). And by ‘dependency’, it is meant that one has an internalised commitment to the basis of Society, as opposed to a conscious acceptance of it. The principal effect of this dependency amounts to a psyche conditioned by Unquestionability; in the form of a psychical realm of notions that are beyond question. Furthermore, their condition of un-question-ability – the inability to question – is ultimately not one of compulsion but one of inducement; for although unquestionable notions are Societally compelled and, in part, socially compulsory, the subject’s acceptance is ultimately based on incentive: the deeply-ingrained need and desire to Belong. Hence, he does not want to question these notions, for to do so is necessarily to impair if not jeopardise his identification with Society, and therefore the conception of himself – the identity – it has afforded him. By way of the Social Sense and compelled by the incentive to Belong, one sub-consciously detects the social cues by which to order his psychical realm of notions; and of which notions coded as ‘unquestionable’ are of primacy. While an ensuing classification of these primary notions is worthy of interest, suffice it to say here that within any given society, certain notions will be socially resistant to genuine questioning. As previously discussed, the Societal conditioning of Notion is largely effectuated indirectly; that is to say, by implication and intimation, rather than by explication. And this manner of conditioning engenders a corresponding indirectness, in the form of sub-conscious conformity to (what is essentially) intimated dogma.
Society’s regulation of questioning is thus effectuated sub-consensually—by the systematic inducement of self–censorship operated sub-consciously: further than suppressing one’s expression of any socially ‘problematic’ thoughts that may arise (that is, problematic for one’s integration within his society), one suppresses the thoughts themselves, for they would otherwise be felt as an internalised burden of latent alienation. Thus, the ‘self-censorship’ referred to here is not one of speech but one of thought; and hence, it can be more accurately termed ‘mental-censorship’. As previously indicated, the atmospheric pressure on the subject of Society effectively demands that this conformity be adopted sub-consciously. However, the systematic mechanisms of social regulation facilitate the comfortable accommodation of this autonomic conformity by necessity, in that the system could not function as a system if its subjects were conscious of these processes. Hence, mental-censorship is primarily conducted by the suppression and repression of awareness concerning any problematic notions that may inadvertently arise in one’s mind.
Having established the Societal presence of sub-conscious self-censorship of thoughts (mental-censorship), what now follows is an account of this operation by a tracing of its typical procession.
During the period of life when a youth enters the stage of self-consciousness, his awareness becomes increasingly sensitive to social rules both explicit and implicit—of which the implicit rules are (implicitly) more important, socially; and more significant, sociologically, for they are relatively imperceptible and therefore inaccessible. This awareness represents the Social Sense, by which socially problematic thoughts are sensed in near simultaneity with the consequences of expressing them. Thus, such thoughts represent the realm of the Unquestionable within Societal notions. Specifically, it is the consequences of being associated with thoughts perceived or sensed to be socially condemnable, if not intolerable, that effectuates the internal reaction of mental-censorship. Thus, the sequence of this conditioning begins with the sense of having mentally perceived a socially intolerable thought—immediately followed by the sense of the essential implication of being associated with this thought (primarily, alienation; with latent potential for ostracisation or penalisation); and culminating in the inducement of an intolerable fear of alienation.
In an internal, emotional reaction – i.e. not a response; and more accurately, a reflexive-reaction – to the sudden and unforeseen emergence of this fear, the subject immediately suppresses the ‘instigator’ of this fear, i.e. the ‘wayward’ thought—followed by the desperate attempt to suppress the flare ordeal itself. Essentially, then, he autonomically banishes (to the extent that he can) both the thought and the experience from his conscious awareness—both of which he would choose to permanently forget, if possible. The reason that the subject reacts rather than responds to the initial perception of (what are effectively) socially-forbidden thoughts; and further, that he reacts in this specific way—is due to the systematic organisation of Life that surrounds him in the form of Society. More specifically, however, it is due to Organisation having cultivated in him precisely this reaction; meaning, from the moment of his birth into Society. And ultimately, the product of this cultivation is that of predisposition—specifically, Belonging.
Since it is an inherent function of Society to regulate the thoughts of its subjects, so as to bind them together by a fundamental consensus of unquestionable notions; the aforementioned ‘ordeal’ amounts to an internal rite of passage: for it is a conflict inherent to, and thus latent within, the relationship between Man (Mind) and Society (Integration). Society is based upon collectively-held notions, both explicit and implicit; hence to question them is to undermine this basis, thereby undermining one’s integration into it. Thus, the internal rite of passage – or more specifically, the pre-existential crisis – almost invariably induces a subjective reaction against the possibility of disintegration, in the form of an aversion to resonance with socially-intolerable notions. The combined factors that ensure the prevalence of this reaction (i.e. as opposed to a conscious response, which will be discussed shortly) are pre-individuality in the context of atmospheric belonging: Following the emergence of self-consciousness, the youth (naturally) begins a period of his life in which he negotiates Life by an active dimension of awareness; and this negotiation represents the formation of Individuality – the state of being Individual – which is intrinsic to human being. But crucially, it is during the very process of individuality formation that the latent conflict between the integrity of Mind and the retention of Belonging actuates. Hence, the pre-individual is invaded by this threat-laden crisis—prior to his establishing the qualities with which to confront it. Furthermore, this crisis takes place within the socio-environmental context of the atmospheric belonging generated by Society. And Belonging is so influential on human affairs that it infuses Society with an aura of universality—the emotional equation of Society with World: for Society impresses its naturalisation on the psyche so as to engender the inconceivability of association without Belonging (i.e. a pure and thus Natural form of association—association without any conditions concerning the questioning of notions.) The internal crisis experienced during pre-individuality thus effects a sensed threat to one’s integration into Society; which is felt to be (what amounts to) a threat to one’s very life—one’s very existence. And this threat is a pre-existential threat, in the sense that it occurs during a period of Life in which one’s basic comprehension of Existence is essentially a preliminary one, due to the state of relative inexperience natural to youth.
The reaction to the internal crisis produces a conversion of state: from pre-individuality to belonging: In psychologically evading the crisis by suppressing it from consciousness (or, much less frequently, by rationalisation), a psychospiritual precedence is set that amounts to the actualisation of the socio-cultivated predisposition of Belonging. And the direct effect of this predisposition is a demotion of Understanding to the subservience of Belonging: Henceforth, the subject’s mind is (subconsciously) oriented by integration into Society, which has become the vital prerequisite to his life. Understanding is thus conditioned by the realm of socially unquestionable notions; and therefore, it becomes – at most – “understanding”, in the sense that it is compromised. Hence, it is no longer Understanding but something else—which can more appropriately be called Synchronisation, in that the subject is oriented by an essential pattern of thought to which he maintains conformity indefinitely.
To be clear, the activity of understanding – the natural expression of the instinct for Understanding – cannot be conditioned by any motives, in the form of bias, compulsion, or delusion: for if even one such condition is present, it ceases to be understanding. This principle represents the basis of this essay, in that Society cultivates the socially implicit pretention to Understanding, by way of its symbolic ‘World’ quality, which camouflages this conceit thoroughly. The basis for Society, therefore, is predicated on the misconception of Understanding; or, more accurately, the disconception of Understanding, in that it is not conducted by ‘mistake’ but by a submerged ‘intent’.
Synchronisation, then, replaces Understanding, thereby replacing natural psychological functioning with a conditioned state oriented by the Social Sense—for the mental synchronisation with Society in service to the artificial need of Belonging. And in this conversion of state, the subject becomes a distinctly different type of human from that of his innate potential, in that he diverges from the natural state of human consciousness, thereby becoming (what is essentially) a sub-type of human: the Belonger.
To return to the prefatory introduction of this essay, proper philosophical discussion of a subject necessarily involves a lexicological dimension, in that Philosophy first begins with the perception of things, to which words are then assigned as signifiers. And, since words are already associated with definitions and connotations, it is necessary to clarify one’s use of a particular word – with the (reader’s) understanding that the word is a mere tool used to refer to the thing – by defining this use before applying it to discussion. At this juncture of discourse, then, it will be useful to more thoroughly define the multiple senses of ‘understanding’, thereby creating signifiers for concepts not well-represented by the English language (if represented at all).
Prior to these definitions, however, I sense that an additional dimension of clarification is in order here; specifically, to clarify the spirit in which this discussion is being made. I consider this beneficial because – in essentially making the distinction between genuine understanding and disingenuous understanding; and therefore, between people of one kind and those of the other – the discussion may unintentionally convey (‘by default’, as it were) connotations or implications of superiority or inferiority, based on morality or ability—i.e. despite that judgement concerning neither morality or ability are present in this discourse, either in argument or sentiment. The overarching context of this essay (and my basis for writing it) is that Understanding is a crucial aspect of Life that is commonly (in fact systematically) misconstrued. The purpose of this discourse, then, is to clarify the nature of Understanding; including the processes involved, as well as those most relevant to it. And in so doing, my expressions are purely concerned with clarification, not with judgement. In other words, I consider the clarification of Understanding to be a worthy undertaking – both for my own Understanding, as well as that of my readers – and I aim to do the subject justice by treating it as thoroughly and as clearly as I can. The distinctions involved in this discourse are essential to it; and, in fact, largely constitute it. However, they do not imply contrasts of moral or personal worth, but are used purely in service to the clarification and elucidation of Understanding. Ultimately, this pertains to the existence within Humanity of different psychological relationships to Understanding; which thus essentially represent distinct predispositions of consciousness that practically amount to sub-divisions of humans: for as I stated earlier, human beings are understanding beings—and therefore, predispositions of Understanding effectively represent different types of being.
The following list presents my definitions of the distinct senses of ‘understanding’, followed by an elucidating discussion of the distinctions and relations between each other.
- understanding (verb); to understand – the attempt to comprehend something for the underlying (and ultimate) purpose of perceiving Existence (i.e. Nature, Life, Reality) truthfully, and as fully as possible; (hence) understanding as an activity; (which is thus) the activity of Understanding.
- to ‘understand’ used (merely) as a synonym for to ‘comprehend’ (thus not in the above sense of understanding).
- understanding (personal noun, particular) – the noun corresponding to the verb ‘understanding; to understand’; (thereby signifying) the isolated syntheses of understanding, e.g. “My understanding of this essay is…”
- Understanding (personal noun, general) – the developing integration of one’s understandings in their combined syntheses into a synthesis; (which is thus) a ‘state’, in the sense of a level or degree of Understanding (e.g. contrasting the ‘states’ of Understanding between one’s major phases of life).
- UNDERSTANDING (universal noun) – the archetypal totality of Thought and Experience from which one can understand; (thereby synthesising understandings of things and thus developing one’s Understanding of) what is intrinsically all there is to be understood.
The first sense (understand) is the verb, which refers to the activity of understanding, as illustrated by the following example. A proper reading of this essay is to comprehend its intended meaning: the reader attempts to comprehend the words, terms, concepts, and statements as he encounters them, whilst progressively integrating the them as per the author’s conveyance, for the ultimate comprehension of the author’s totality of meaning.—This is comprehension; but it is not necessarily understanding. For this activity to be one of understanding, a characteristic intent to develop Understanding must underlie it, thus being an expression of the uncompromised instinct to Understand. If the intent to comprehend is underlain by (if not directed towards) a motive of some kind, Understanding is compromised (if not consciously discarded), thus representing the conventional pretence to “understand”. A subsense of this meaning (understand) is the use of the verb ‘understand’ as a synonym for ‘comprehend’. Ideally, this is avoided as far as possible, for it demeans (removes the meaning of) understanding by conflating it with mere comprehension—hence the above distinction made between to these two psychological activities. However, since the English language does not provide a range of words relating to these activities, it is sometimes impractical to avoid this synonymic usage.
The second sense (understanding) is the personal noun in its particular sense: Thus, one’s successful attempt to understand something synthesises an understanding of it—and here, ‘successful’ does not mean that the understanding produced is entirely accurate, which it can never be; or that it is not fundamentally flawed, which it often is: it means, firstly, that he has attempted to comprehend something with the underlying intent for Understanding; and secondly, that he has done so to the extent that he can, being satisfied that he has sufficiently derived meaning of relevance for this occasion of inquiry.
The third sense (Understanding) is the personal noun in its general sense, thus being the (natural) integration of one’s formations of understandings – i.e. concerning particular things – thereby representing one’s developed Understanding. Essentially, then, one’s Understanding represents his present state of familiarity with UNDERSTANDING.
The fourth sense (UNDERSTANDING) is the universal noun, being the archetype of Understanding in the sense of the eternal universality of concepts to which Thought corresponds; and thus by which it exists. Within this realm of Thought is the potential to understand and thereby synthesise understandings—this being an expression of the instinct to develop Understanding; and which thus represents a state of correspondence with UNDERSTANDING.
Having defined the essence of Understanding in its related senses, it is possible – and largely necessary – to further clarify the meanings of these related concepts by contrasting them with what Understanding is not; and more specifically, with what is considered to be Understanding. The most illustrative way to do this by presenting the archetypal predispositions relating to Understanding, which are akin to characteristic ‘modes’ of consciousness that (therefore) represent different types of being; and which can, in this sense, be deemed as subtypes of humans. Hence, it will be practical to assign terms to these types, for the sake of convenient reference. But as previously stated, the distinctions made and terms assigned for them reflect judgement only in the logical sense, i.e. without connotations of morality or ability.
The following list defines human subtypes with regard to the different archetypes they represent in their relation to Understanding; and which is then followed by an elucidating discussion of the distinctions and relations between each other.
- Understander – someone whose instinct for Understanding expresses itself naturally—which is to say, the underlying (if not overarching) intent of his comprehending is the continual synthesis of Understanding. Thus, the mental life of an understander is in correspondence with UNDERSTANDING.
- Belonger – someone whose instinct (innate) for Understanding has been conditioned by dependency (artificial) on Belonging—which is to say, the underlying (if not overarching) intent of his comprehending is the synchronisation with society. Thus, the mental life of a belonger is oriented by Society.
There are two subtypes of belonger:
- Sophisticator – a belonger characterised by the application of his intellect within socially-circumscribed avenues of thought; and who thus forms “understandings” and “Understanding” – i.e. pseudo-Understanding – so as to develop sophistication of self (intellectuality) and/or enhance social integration (status).
- Naïvetee – a belonger characterised by the neglect of his intellectual faculty; whose conception of Life is thereby limited to a grammar of mediated symbols; and who thus does not form pseudo-Understanding, but absorbs and mimics the products of prescribed patterns of thought.
Of these types of being, the understander is appropriately listed first, for he represents the characteristic application of Mind in its essentially natural state; and hence, the lower positions of the other types indicate the (predispositional) movement away from Man’s natural state of mental application. The ‘naturalness’ of mental application refers primarily to the fact that it is essentially unconditioned; meaning not that the subject’s application of Mind has not been affected by the conditioning influences in his social environment, which would be impossible; but that this affect does not involve the constraint of thought to any degree. Thus, the type of being that constitutes an understander is not indicative of a positive quality; nor does it necessitate the complete absence of negative qualities: rather, it is based only on the uninhibited instinct for Understanding. Hence, it is improper to apply a term to the ‘understander’ at all, or to consider him a type, for he is simply a human being in his essentially natural state of Mind. However, due to the universal influence of Society and its systematic obstruction of Man’s natural state, the understander has become obscure to the extent that he is in need of philosophical identification.
The second type of being – the belonger – comprises the two subtypes not of Understanding, thus representing the common denominator and overarching principle of these types. The beingness of a belonger is constituted by the need to Belong, which thus overrides the instinct to Understand: By means of delusion, self-deception, rationalisation, suppression and repression, the belonger protects the basis of his integration into Society – i.e. his peer group at the least – so as to maintain the sense of identification he derives from the associations it provides. In doing so, Understanding is inherently compromised—and has therefore been effectively sacrificed. The mental ‘act’ of this ‘choice’, however, generally takes place largely at the unconscious level of thought: for what is chosen necessitates the suppression of awareness, i.e. including the very act of that choice itself. (Hence, the experience of the crisis is not likely to be remembered: firstly, because it was immediately suppressed, and thus not perceived clearly; and secondly, because it will be reactively repressed should it subsequently be prompted to arise into conscious awareness.)
The two subtypes of belonger are, firstly, the sophisticator, and secondly, the naïvetee; and their rankings indicate the two successive grades of deviation from Understanding. However, a discussion of the second grade (naïvetee) will better serve that of the first (sophisticator) than vice versa, as the latter somewhat represents the midpoint between two polar opposites.
The naïvetee is essentially a simple-minded person, who has no interest in penetrating the aspects of apparent reality, i.e. of Life as commonly perceived within his society (Social Reality). However, his state of belonging involves the ongoing affirmation of Social Reality—the “understanding” of which is purely symbolical and thus inherently illusionary. Hence, the mental life of the naïvetee subsists on the surface of his consciousness; and this subsistence is felt to constitute existence. Thus, naïvetee existence is one anchored by blissful ignorance.
The sophisticator is, primarily, one who has a basic awareness of the symbolic dimension of Social Reality – i.e. the social façade – and who is inclined to the selective inspection of its aspects. Secondarily, a sophisticator may be further inclined to actively apply his intellect to the study of particular aspects of Life, to a particular degree and with particular purposes. As with the naïvetee, however, the sophisticator’s mental life is conditioned by Belonging.—Hence, his use of Intellect is governed by Social Reality, in that Society circumscribes Thought and constructs avenues within it; whilst the sophisticator (tacitly) consents to orienting his intellect by these prescribed avenues. The sophisticator thus represents the sophisticated mode of Belonging, as distinct from the simple mode of Belonging represented by the naïvetee; and the product of this sophistication is pseudo-Understanding, which varies in degrees of depth and complexity.
Although not of direct relevance within this essay, but of supreme significance within a discussion of Society, the aspect of proportions between these types of being is worth a brief mention here, as these proportions are essential, in that they are intrinsic to Society. Firstly, naïvetees are the most predominant type in Society; and almost invariably, to a great extent. Secondly, sophisticators are a small minority, relative to the vast majority of naïvetees. These two types typically constitute two social strata; and during certain eras – particularly of civilising societies – the proportion of sophisticators increases (to varying degrees) into a larger minority—but always a minority, nevertheless. Finally, understanders cannot properly be called a minority, let alone stratum, for the rarity of their appearance is such that they are anomalies. To reiterate (for the sake of this point): an understander is one whose innate instinct to understand is not conditioned by any proscribed or prescribed thought to any degree, i.e. including those implicitly imposed and subconsciously affected.
Since a discussion concerning human types involves the comparison of people, which connotes judgement, clarification of my intention regarding this aspect is in order here. For example, as the word ‘naïve’ obviously connotes an unfavourable characteristic, the term ‘naïvetee’ may seem derogatory or implicitly contemptuous, based on a superiority of either morality or ability. This, however, is not the case here.
The first consideration is that these types are predetermined by external factors—namely, Society, which can be defined (also) as ‘the monopolisation of Association.’ Hence, it cannot fairly be said that one chooses to be of one type or another—at least not in the ordinary sense of the word ‘choose’. Rather, the predetermining factor is the integration of one’s particular circumstances of Life and conditioning, i.e. circumstance of which he has no capacity to control until he reaches maturity. Furthermore, these factors are too multifarious to be determined with absolute certainty; meaning that there are always random deviations from the perspective of the system (i.e. the demographic preferences or requirements of any given society). What invariably occurs, then, is akin to a chemical reaction of one’s particular life circumstances; and more specifically, during one’s formative period of life—therein either producing a predisposition of Belonging, or encumbering an Understanding mind with pre- and ongoing conditioning. Therefore, it would be quite pointless to make distinctions of superiority concerning these different types of human being, for they are essentially predetermined. And, to clarify this point further, this phenomenon is not related to the philosophy of Determinism, i.e. the consideration of all human action as being predetermined, as opposed to being ultimately determined by the Will. On the contrary, all human beings have the innate freedom to determine their choice of actions by the exercise of Will; and therefore, all of these human types have the choice to determine their actions—both within their type of being, and to change their type of being.
The second consideration is that this typology of human being relates only to Understanding, and not to human worthiness, i.e. Value. And furthermore, nothing can be inferred from it in this regard: as, for example, the simplicity of a naïvetee often engenders a more humane life than a sophisticator; more social contribution than an understander—and thus greater societal value than both. This is only one example; but it is the most instructive one—hence there is no need to state examples of how an understander or a sophisticator can similarly be of greater value than the other two types.
In conclusion of this point – and of the preceding definitions and typology – the distinctions and comparisons made in this discourse are purely for the purpose clarifying Understanding, which involves thoroughly exposing what it is not.
The previous section of this essay serves to establish the foundation of the following discussion, which restates and elaborates on the nature of Understanding and the aspects of its development; as well as the various factors involved in its pseudo-formation or evasion.
Man is, by nature, an understanding being: From the innocent questioning during childhood to the self-conscious investigation thereafter, the expression of the instinct for Understanding is to the Mind what breathing is to the Body. However, this innate quality of Man cannot be perceived or understood in isolation: for Man does not exist in isolation. More specifically, human beings exist – invariably – within a system of associations, known as Society. Inherent to his system is the imposition of (artificial) conditions on humans, who are thereby its subjects—hence they are subjected to Society and its imposed conditions. Equally inherent to Society is its engineering of this imposition to be felt and perceived as identification—which is thus, in effect, the conditioning to conditioning, in that the subject is dependent on the system for attaining meaning in Life: hence, he wholeheartedly depends on conditioning. From the perspective of the conditioned subject and his naturalised dependency on Society, his conditioned state – i.e. belonging – obviates Understanding. At the same time, however, Society necessitates the overarching pretence to Understanding (and generally, UNDERSTANDING, in that it claims possession of Truth), as well as the subjective pretence to Understanding within it. In this mutual obviation of and pretence to Understanding (i.e. between Society and its subjects), the natural instinct to Understand, then, is supplanted by the conditioned unwillingness to Understand. This condition highlights the distinction between the instinct to Understand and the will to Understand, for it represents their divergence. And, due to the (seemingly eternal) predomination of Society as a mode of human existence, the inducement of this divergence is, in effect, a universal and internal rite of passage—a private initiation into membership of Society. This initiatory experience occurs following the transition into self-conscious awareness, since it is only from this level of consciousness that the subject is psychologically exposed to the critical dilemma latent within his existence: Truth (in the eternal sense) vs. Consensus (being independent of Truth). Almost invariably, the dilemma is reconciled reflexively; which is to say, by emotion-determined subconscious operation—and the result is a psychospiritual state of orientation-by-consensus-based “truth”, i.e. the pretence to the attainment or seeking of Truth. If, however, the crisis is not reconciled but (somehow, for some reason) endured, the subject retains his essential natural state of being – i.e. the psychospiritual orientation-by-Truth – and thus does not effectuate the private initiation of Societal membership.
By the confluence of Instinct and Will, the activity of understanding is the naturally occurring expression of the innately human need to integrate thought-elements, as they are encountered by personal and social experience; as well as the active expansion of awareness of the possible elements of thought. Unrelated to Method or Technique, the activity of understanding is the uninhibited growth of the most distinguishing human faculty, which thereby develops according to its innate pattern. The natural process of understanding is the spontaneous activation of the intellectual faculties of Observation, Contemplation, and Investigation, in dynamic interaction with one’s perceptual experience.
Unlike during childhood, each of these faculties is active, in the sense that one exercises them within the dimension of self-conscious awareness; and thus, with the conscious and overarching sense of purpose, being the instinctual need for Understanding. However, the exercise of the intellectual faculties can be diverted from its natural pattern of expression: If one observers, contemplates, or investigates conditionally, i.e. with imposed limitations, applied consciously or not—this then represents artificial modes of those mental faculties, which are therefore not ‘active’ in the aforementioned sense. Furthermore, the Intellect can be reverted to a quasi-childhood de-activity. For example, passive observation (in the characteristic sense) is akin to childhood perception, in that it is not underlain or overarched by Understanding; and thus the observer is not in correspondence with UNDERSTANDING – i.e. the ongoing discovery of Truth – thereby neglecting the natural endowments of psychical maturity.
Observation is a critically alert perceptiveness, in that perception occurs within an overarching awareness; and at times, with the conscious intent to direct and focus one’s attention within his immediate experience, so as to absorb if not also identify any aspects from which he can derive substantial meaning—particularly by future recall and reflection.
Contemplation is, primarily, an activity of dedication to Thought—a deliberate session of thinking about something; or, of thinking in general, thereby allowing thoughts to arise in the mind and thinking on them, based on resonance of interest or relevance. Secondarily, Contemplation is the spontaneous (as opposed to deliberate) engagement of that faculty whilst in the middle of another activity, i.e. because a concept or cluster of thoughts has arisen that is prompting an urge to inquire or interpret—hence resulting in a momentary act of contemplation. The value of spontaneous contemplation is that it allows one to immediately establish the core of a substantial thought to be later developed (i.e. when there is an opportunity for deliberate contemplation). Thus, spontaneous contemplation captures and establishes the basis for a session to develop a particular thought that, otherwise, may have been forgotten altogether.
Investigation is to inquire into the thoughts or expressions of others, with the intent of intellectual stimulation concerning matters of substance. Primarily, this activity involves both seeking and reading books—because (good) books are concentrated forms of the substantial expression of thoughts and experiences; secondarily, the seeking and use of substantial works within the other forms of media—these being considerably less substantial than books for intellectual stimulation; and thirdly, inquisitive conversation with interesting and thoughtful people, as well as the seeking of such opportunities and individuals to converse with. (The primacy of books over conversation is due only to the abundance of the former amidst the impoverishment of the latter, in terms of substance. Or, to put it another way: if everyone was a philosopher, there would be no need for writing, let alone books).
The exercise of each intellectual faculty is not technical; and the alternation and interrelation between them is not methodological. On the contrary, Observation, Contemplation, Investigation, and their interrelation represent nothing more than the natural expression of the intellectual faculty, in its instinctual development of Understanding; which also includes the awareness, intent, and efforts to improve one’s capabilities of these activities. Conversely, one may adopt artificial patterns to employ these activities to some end, which thereby represents unnatural intent—and this ‘end’ is by definition not Understanding; rather, it is conformation to systems of knowledge. By the organic expression of observation, contemplation, and investigation, one’s knowledge and awareness expands developmentally; which is to say, in correspondence with UNDERSTANDING. Hence, this experience periodically generates moments of culmination, in which one’s thoughts since the last period (generally years apart) have profoundly synthesised, whereby one becomes aware that his general understanding (i.e. his Understanding) has distinctly advanced. The result of this advancement is an enhanced capability for discernment of both the past and the present – as well as the conceptualisation of the future – by an added layer of perception, composed of a richer depth and greater breadth of awareness and knowledge: not only of meaningful things, but within a meaningful context—a wondrous and uncompromised engagement with Reality. Thus, Understanding is an integral aspect of human experience; and one’s Understanding organically grows and develops within his ongoing experience of Life.
At any point in an individual’s life, he can be said to ‘have’ an Understanding of the World and Life; which is composed of his ‘understandings’ of particular aspects of them. However, by this term is not meant that an understanding of something is fixed or complete, but on the contrary: it refers to one’s particular ‘state’ in his development of Understanding, being nothing but the progressive familiarity with UNDERSTANDING. And, therefore, Understanding is something that can never reach a state of completion: for the World and Life are necessarily far too vast for anyone to perceive – let alone comprehend – in totality. Thus, it is implicit in the intrinsic harmony between Nature and Humanity that it is the innate ‘purpose’ of the latter to consciously engage with the former, i.e. as implied by his distinguishing capacity to do so; and particularly, by the instinctual expression of his intellectual faculty. Clearly, this implicit purpose of psychospiritual engagement with Reality manifests naturally in the human’s innocent impulses to discover the meaning within the World and Life, in its various aspects; which then (following self-consciousness) becomes conscious urges to do so more directly and actively. Eventually (following maturity), it becomes equally clear that this instinctual activity of understanding is not purposed to be aimed at a conclusive end, a completed state, or a collectively-validated constitution; nor is it purposed to be focused on particular aspects or areas at the exclusion, neglect, or conversion of others—which represents the falsification of Understanding.
Thus is the distinction between the innocent attempt to understand, being compelled by the innate instinct; and the artificial striving or willingness to “understand”, being based on a psychological or social motivation. On the surface, however, they can often seem like identical activities—particularly because the falsification of Understanding is generally based on subconscious intent – an internalised motivation – which is therefore not apparent. Furthermore, the product of one individual’s artificial (i.e. compromised) Understanding can be more comprehensive, sophisticated, and practical than the natural (i.e. innocent) Understanding of another individual. However, the latter’s spiritual direction and corresponding mental activity represents the natural expression of Understanding, in that it is not compelled, compromised, or conditioned by anything.—Whereas the former’s spiritual direction has been subsumed by a governing motivation; or simply by the principle of government by Motivation, whereby particular motivations change within a dependency on Motivation, thus being a predisposition of exclusively motivated thought. By these distinctions, the naturalness of Understanding is highlighted in principle—and this begins the next and final section of the discourse.
Understanding, in its senses as an activity; of which there are particular syntheses… from which an overarching synthesis is developed—should properly need no adjective to describe it, such as ‘instinctual’, ‘innocent’, or ‘natural’, for these are self-evident and self-explanatory aspects of human nature. Therefore, understanding is literally an unmotivated activity: for motivated actions originate from Predisposition and Disposition, with Circumstance as the modifier. However, due to the predominance of pseudo-Understanding, such adjectives are a practical necessity for identifying, let alone distinguishing, the nature of Understanding—so as to consider it authentically. And, therefore, the artificial forms of Understanding should properly be disassociated with that word: for the purely instinctual (unmotivated), innocent (uncompromised), and thus natural (innate) expression is absent, thereby transforming the activity, its syntheses and synthesis into something distinct from Understanding. This essential difference of pseudo-understanding is, however, generally far from being apparent, for the mental processes involved remain largely the same. The essential difference is the manner in which the mind is directed for identifying substantial thoughts and discerning meaning from them—in that this directing has been altered from its naturally uncompromised expression, so as to channel it into motivated and thus artificial ends.
The conditioned manner by which pseudo-Understanding forms is largely self-concealing: inherently, in so far as mental activity is imperceptible; but also conditionally, in that the channelling of the mind becomes automated (by ‘intention’, albeit subconscious), thereby concealing its operations from the self. In particular, intellectually inclined people who have formed a mind of substantial thoughts conceal from themselves – and thereby most others – their compromised manner directing of mind, i.e. movements of mind that are ultimately governed by the obligation – primarily, Social obligation (peer group above all); ultimately, Societal obligation – to adopt, maintain, disregard, and deny certain thoughts. Such an intellectual can develop an exceptionally sophisticated and erudite mind, which therefore seems indicative of the state and activity of Understanding. In actuality, however, this intellectual development represents an inversion of Understanding, which is Synchronisation: the orientation of mental processes by preconditioned notions—generally, the internalisation of Societal principles, which thereby operate unconsciously.
In such cases of intellectually sophisticated and erudite individuals, Synchronisation can be detected by one who has sufficiently broad awareness within a fundamental state of Understanding, for he will thereby be in a position to identify discrepant elements within arguments that are nevertheless sophisticated. More specifically, he will be able to discern inconsistencies of apparent thought that belie motivated reasoning—fallacious opinions or contexts that are incongruent with the individual’s general degree of intelligence and knowledge. A prime example of such cases is the scholar, whose discussion and argumentation – generally centred within a particular field of knowledge – is by definition exceptional (in terms of sophistication, at the very least). Generally, his arguments are not in themselves unreasonable; nor are they incoherent when considered together. However, despite the exceptional substance of the discussion or argument, motivated reasoning can often be detected in an essential disparity: between the immense breadth and depth of knowledge and/or interpretation—and the disavowal or seeming ignorance of highly significant and related concepts. In other words, the scholar conveniently (i.e. motivationally) ignores or discredits the substantial arguments of other scholars (who also play that game, which is thus institutional) so as to condition the substance of his discussion by the context of an established ideology: most commonly, the dominant ideology; less commonly, an alternative or marginalised ideology—but always an established ideology. This may include the introduction of a ‘new’ sub-ideology, i.e. one with novel features but that is nevertheless anchored by an established ideology (the presence of which might not even be noticed by readers, primarily because the conventionality of established ideologies engenders them being taken for granted, if not invisible). Scholars, authors, and people with a similarly exceptional degree of knowledge or skill in argumentation, thus represent a subtype of sophisticator who is authoritative, by either the sanction or ‘air’ of Authority. Thereby, the expressions of authors and such are implicitly marked by a distinction of significance, i.e. relative to the expressions of common people, who are tacitly subordinate in this regard. As a variation within the predisposition of Synchronisation, authors’ special (meaning generally valuable) form of pseudo-Understanding can be termed Authorisation. Primarily, ‘Authorisation’ indicates its essential derivation and affirmation of authorised thought, meaning established Ideology. Secondarily, ‘Authorisation’ indicates an implicitly authoritative representation of the author’s subjective thoughts, which may be novel and perhaps formative of a sub-ideology. Hence, this subtype of sophisticators can be called an authoritiser.
In keeping with this subdivision, an intellectually sophisticated person who is not authoritative can be called a replicator, in that the foundations (at the least) of his “Understanding” are exclusively composed from that of authoritisers, which he thus replicates. In conversation with a synchroniser, motivated reasoning can be detected by a thorough questioning of his most substantial thoughts; as well as the manner in which he forms them, the basis on which he holds them, and the conditions upon which he holds them. Should the responses to such questioning appear indicative of an uncompromised mind, one would naturally (i.e. in the continuation of genuine discussion) introduce concepts or information that contradict or potentially invalidate the basis of these thoughts or argument: In so doing, one will then observe the substance, form, and manner or the individual’s responses to this prompt for logical explanation or philosophical clarification, which may indicate an aversion or allegiance to particular notions, if not both: If such be the case, this represents a state of being in which thought is ultimately based on emotion—and this is the basis of Belonging. Predispositional deviations from understanding need not be actively exposed; rather, they will inevitably be revealed when engaged in genuine discussion, i.e. within which the consistency and validity of participants’ thoughts should be sufficiently scrutinised. In any case, the detection of these predispositions is not the aim of discussion, which should be the mutual stimulation of substantial thoughts. The recognition of predispositions can however help one adjust the content and manner of discussion to facilitate this mutual stimulation, primarily by omitting or modifying particular thoughts that may otherwise deter or incite another participant, which would be counterproductive.
Sophisticated yet inauthentic Understanding is ultimately perceived by its contrast to the behaviour of an understander, in that when exposed to unfamiliar concepts or information that disrupts his sense of validity of his present Understanding, he never reacts in rejection of this possibility—that what he thinks he understands is fundamentally flawed. If he did so, his act of excluding possibilities would prove him to be a belonger: for belonging is the essential motivation for the rejection of notions. Hence, an understander is instinctually open to all possible notions, in the sense that he genuinely considers them and investigates those that make the most sense to him—regardless of the implications to his psychological comfort. In the event of a disruption of Understanding, which naturally affects a psychological dissonance, an understander would acknowledge it as prompting a fundamental re-evaluation of Thought—of the structure of his thoughts. Perhaps he would recognise that, presently, his mood or state of mind is not conducive to confronting this situation, which may also have been (again naturally) affected by a pronounced emotional dissonance: In this case, he would effectively postpone (rather than reject) this confrontation, awaiting a more facilitating future occasion, i.e. when sensing that his state of mind or life is more suitable for the exceptionally demanding course of negotiating this confrontation.
Contrary to the instinctual response of the understander, any other type of intellectual – even the most knowledgeable and insightful kind – will reject information that is disruptive to his fundamental structure of thoughts. Understandably, this rejection is reactively performed so as to conceal its basis: for example, by sophisticated refutation—if not by an act of rejection itself, such as by subtle evasion. Ultimately, of course, it can never be proven that a person has formed the structure of his thoughts based on a foundation of motivated reasoning (which in this sense, are ultimately disingenuous and self-deceptive). However, there is no need to prove it: for an understander values, above all, the articulate expression of substantial thoughts concerning significant matters, which he utilises for stimulating his own thoughts. Hence, even if a profound thinker has expressed his profundity within a paradigm one recognises or discerns as being false; and further, whose expression obviously conforms to an established ideology, which he thereby legitimises if not promotes (subversively or explicitly)—this does not affect the understander’s utilisation of the otherwise misleading material: for he instinctively and consciously interacts with the substance of expressions—without the aim (motivation) of adopting the paradigm in which they are expressed, nor of forming a paradigm of his own. Instead, the understander uses such expressions in a manner that is ultimately independent of the author’s context, in that he may actively comprehend the context, and perhaps consider it should he perceive no flaws—or, disregard it if flaws are recognised: In all cases, his private thinking and interpersonal discussing is not based on seeking or formulating a fixed overall context of Thought; rather, he allows his intellect to naturally perceive, synthesise, and modify Context on an ongoing basis. Thus, the understander has no desire or pressure to achieve a solidification of context—not even in its most foundational aspects; and thus, he does not aim to form a Weltanschauung, let alone adopt an ideology.
The activity of understanding and the present state of Understanding, then, are represented by an overarching context of thoughts based not on its content but determined by it natural synthesis, being neither fixed nor directed for fixation. In this sense, it is the organic synthesis of Context – i.e. which includes its periodic restructuring – that characterises an individual as being an understander—whose activity and state thereby represent the expression and product of understanding.
An individual’s Understanding represents the flowering of the Human mind, in its distinguishing capacity and innate instinct to perceive and discern the nature of Life:—human life, the world it inhabits, and the relationship between the two. This flowering, in turn, represents the purpose of human life that is therefore implicit in its own constituents—these being the capacity for thought and the instinct for Understanding. Hence, by merely not acquiescing to the artificial limitation of this human aspect (i.e. motivated reasoning), one’s critical faculties will organically and ongoingly lead him to broaden his awareness and deepen his knowledge of substantial aspects of Existence and significant matters within it—the natural effect of which is to allow Understanding to synthesise beneath the surface of his thoughts. The natural development of Understanding is thus akin to ‘flowering’, as opposed to construction or formation; it is not an act of creation, but one of revelation, in that both UNDERSTANDING and the human capacity for Understanding are correspondingly eternal. In other words, the Mind is ‘seeded’ (i.e. by Nature) with the instinct for discovering UNDERSTADNING, with the potential to do so to a substantial degree. And hence, although there are different ‘paths’ to developing Understanding, these are merely variations of sequence within the Path of UNDERSTANDING.
The Flowering of Understanding: The Plants and the Sun
Consider a plant (i.e. being a stem, leaves, roots, flowers, and producing seeds) as symbolising the soul and spirit of Man; that all plants are planted within the tight confines of wire mesh cages, in which they sprout, grow, live, and eventually, die; and that sunlight symbolises UNDERSTANDING. The amount of sunlight passing through the mesh wire cage is but a fraction of the total amount sunlight, i.e. sunlight under natural exposure—sunlight without obstruction. However, the amount of sunlight passing through the mesh is nevertheless sufficient for the plants to grow and live—to comfortably subsist. Consider also that the mesh of the cage not only greatly decreases the total amount of sunlight exposure: it greatly fragments the sunlight too.
The plants are not aware of their confinement in the mesh cages; nor are they aware of the deficiency and fragmentation of sunlight they are subjected to: for not only have they grown from within this cage, but so have all of the other plants—and all of whom continue to live by it. Thus, the cage is not perceived as a cage: it is simply a ‘normal’, ‘natural’ aspect of life—and thereby, it subliminally serves to authenticate a plant’s ‘planthood’. In addition to obstructing the sunlight, the cage also restricts growth directly: for its dimensions both horizontal and vertical limit the free extension of the plant’s stem and offshoot, including flowers. Hence, the plant’s growth is eventually deformed and stunted by the obstruction of the cage, which deflects its natural form to that of the cage. As with the obstruction of sunlight, this deforming, stunting confinement is not perceived by the plants, whose existence as such has been naturalised by a life and environment of caged plants.
Not all the plants are unaware of this condition: some recognise the significance of the sun’s light; and to varying degrees, make efforts to erode parts of the mesh to allow more sunlight in. In most cases, however, these efforts are limited both in scope and degree—efforts made for the attainment of a most basic improvement of conditions, and nothing more: these are worldly plants.
Of the plants with awareness, a small proportion makes more concerted efforts to erode the mesh: they have a definite sense of purpose and, generally, overarching goals to achieve by their endeavours. To varying degrees, these aspiring plants make holes in the cage of substantial proportions, thereby freeing beams of sunlight into their life. Typically, however, the location of these holes – and thus of the beams – is situated only on one side of the cage; which, in exceptional cases, may have two or three holes, usually in close proximity. More exceptionally, a plant may have focused his efforts on achieving holes on multiple sides of the cage, thereby experiencing beams of sunlight from different directions. However, the efforts of even the most aspiring plants are ultimately limited in scope in that they are focused on at least one particular area of the cage; and thus, such plants are primarily concerned with particular beams of sunlight. Hence, although their achievements in revealing obscured sunlight are certainly exceptional, the results of their efforts belie an aspiration to exceptionality—not to the ultimate significance of sunlight and its obscuration. In particularly, such plants aim to release beams of light so as to allow their offshoot, flowers, or stem to extend outside of the cage: In doing so, they increase their nourishment, thereby promoting exceptional growth (exceptional under the conditions of caged life, that is); whilst simultaneously enhancing their prestige: for the distinguishing trait or feat of extending beyond the cage is perceived as evidence of superiority by the ordinary plants, who hence treat them with tacit deference. Indeed, the objective fact that such plants are caged from the Natural exposure to the Sun is not recognised at all; while the extraordinary display of one, two, or in special cases, three extremities, is perceived as a distinguishing characteristic that has as a kind of magical aura.
There is another kind of aware plant, a natural plant, which is rare in that it is not concerned with worldliness or exceptionality, but with nature. Like aspiring plants, natural plants make efforts to reveal more sunlight by eroding the cage, in awareness that it obscures the light of the sun. However, whereas the aspiring plants may be aware of the significance of sunlight, often achieving considerable beams and extraordinary growth, their efforts are not in direct correspondence with Nature; rather, they correspond with Nature insofar as it serves their purpose of exceptionality—of extraordinary achievement amongst the other plants. Natural plants, on the other hand, are not interested in such ‘achievement’: on the contrary, they make their efforts in direct correspondence with Nature, insofar as their ability and circumstance allows. To a natural plant, the principle of Natural conditions – of Sunlight, Life, and the Natural relationship between the two – is at the heart of its awareness; thereby recognising the principle that exposure to the Sun’s light is, by Nature, meant to be experienced on all sides of life, not just focused on two or three areas of exception. In other words, the natural plant is not per say concerned with releasing beams of sunlight—with areas of exceptional growth; but is concerned with the Unity of Nature and of discovering and experiencing this Unity to the extent that it can. Hence, the natural plant will likely not achieve impressive-sized beams, and thus the corresponding growth of extremities, for it does not aspire to such achievements. It will, however, erode the mesh wire all around the cage: on every side; and in every area of each side—in accordance with its ongoing correspondence with Nature and experience of Life. The natural plant thus perceives the significance of Sunlight—and is orientated by it purely: Hence, its efforts are made to reveal and experience the Unity of Nature, thereby developing its own growth according to its natural pattern—and nothing more.
Throughout his Life, an understander will periodically experience moments of realisation that his state of Understanding has developed to an advanced level—such ‘levels’ being unspecified ‘strata’, with each demarcating significant enrichment of Understanding. These moments of realisation often engender a memorable ‘milestone’ in one’s life by its affect on his perception, in that he now perceives the world – and perhaps himself – with an added layer of discernment. This development creates a distinctly different atmosphere of experience, which thereby distinguishes the current period of his life from all of those that have preceded it; or, more accurately, that have led to it. And the experiential succession of such milestones represents the progressive development of wisdom. A particular and most significant milestone for the development of wisdom comprises the following realisations: a) that the activity of understanding is nothing more than the ongoing perception and comprehension of natural principles in their holistic relatedness (i.e. UNDERSTANDING); b) that these principles constitute the eternal conditions of human life in this world (i.e. Life); c) that a single or even multiple lifetimes is not nearly enough to perceive, let alone comprehend, Life (i.e. life in its totality); and thus d) that it is implicit in human nature that the human being is intrinsically purposed to express his instinct for Understanding throughout his life—and that it is this expression itself – not a final state – that is solely representative of its manifestation: for to conceive or believe to have achieved any degree of completeness or definitiveness represents Synchronisation, not Understanding.
Closely related to this major milestone is an essential perception concerning the ultimate purpose of the Intelligence endowed to the human species: As part of one’s human and personal development as a whole, the development of Understanding may in fact serve as a preliminary experience for its metamorphosis into a non-physical existence, i.e. whereby such development is continued – perhaps in a purer or purest form – proceeding one’s death in the material world. For through introspection as well as observation, one perceives that the essence of the Human Being is clearly not the product of material properties, thereby indicating a metaphysical dimension to human entities underlying the visible and tangible dimension. An understander thus comes to give proper consideration to the logical implication of a spiritual world by which the spirit of humans continue their experience and development in another form of being, following the passing from the materiality by which spirits are embodied. Furthermore, he will also perceive the improbability of knowing the ultimate process of death until it is actually experienced, i.e. whether or not one’s existence continues spiritually following corporeal death. More importantly, however, he will perceive that no matter what the natural fate of the human entity following death – dissolution or continuance of metaphysical existence – the implicit purpose of Understanding remains: its instinctual expression throughout one’s life. Henceforth, the understander recognises the instinctual expression of Understanding as being the fulfilment of its natural purpose, in that it is expressed without compulsion or impulse to achieve concretised structure, which would thereby negate Understanding: For although what there is to be understood is both intrinsic and eternal, the perception and comprehension of it – i.e. from the life of any one’s experience – is naturally limited in both scope and depth. In this sense, one’s Understanding is a personal familiarity with UNDERSTANDING; and this represents a composition that is unique only in the sense of its particulars of elements, the associations between them, and the sequence of their synthesis. Therefore, one’s Understanding represents a unique instance of the common expression of the capacity for Understanding—to perceive and comprehend the universal and eternal principles of Life and Nature, to the extent that one can.
By nature, then, an understander is never pressured to maintain or gain any particular element within the structure of his Understanding; or to achieve a state of certainty: for these characteristics divert the instinct for Understanding into a channel of motivated thought, thus compromising its natural expression. Implicitly, an understander’s thought is ‘original’, in the sense that his instinct and will are the origin of its synthesis; by way of interaction with sources of information within his experience of Life, including the thoughts of others. This originality of thought is, of course, not in the sense that no one else – both in present and past existence – has had essentially the same thought; and thus it is not meant that one originates those thoughts within current or historical existence. Indeed, to originate a thought is literally impossible: for the essential elements of human experience must have been perceived and enacted long ago, in aggregate. And similarly, it is probable that the full range of Thought is ever-presently active amongst Humanity. Thus, there is never a moment in which one human being could think something that no one else has, in essence, thought too. In this way, individuals who are orientated by Understanding will inevitably share in common perceptions and conceptions of eternal principles of Life and the World, albeit to degrees of depth and range; and this represents the developmental perception of Truth.
The origin of this ‘originality’ of thought is the period of childhood, during which the instinct for Understanding is expressed in its most basic form: pre-critical—but uncompromised. This manifests in the child’s purely instinctive inquisitiveness, asking questions such as “What is this?” or “Why is that?” concerning various man-made and natural phenomena, including human behaviour. Clearly, the child is not ‘aware’ that he is asking questions, let alone his reasons for them, for his self-awareness has not yet emerged. Thus while his questioning cannot be critical, it cannot therefore be compromised either, in that the child is not yet capable of motivated questioning. With the child, then, the instinct for Understanding is expressed in its basic form, but not its purest form, which can only come to fruition once self-awareness has emerged: for this is when the instinct is expressed by way of – or at least in the presence of – the critical faculties. However, soon after the emergence of self-awareness (marking the entry into what can be approximately termed post-childhood) the encompassment by Society and the dependency it induces functions as a self-regulating pressure to intervene in one’s own instinct for Understanding: for eventually, something will prompt the youth to sense that a particular thought or area of questioning is effectively ‘off-limits’ – and thus tabooed – in that he will be subject to considerably undesirable social consequences if he were to express these thoughts or questions.
Essentially, the personal consequence of socially-tabooed expression is alienation from one’s society, of which there are degrees of severity. And such consequence is sensed when one’s thoughts wander into off-limit areas—which represent an implicit ‘threat’ of alienation. Almost universally, this mostly inexplicit threat is reacted to by an emotional intolerance based on a survivalist motive: the person’s pre-conscious perception of (i.e. limited to a ‘sense’ of) the disruptiveness of an instinctively or logically true thought causes a fear-based compulsion to escape that avenue of thought – both immediately and indefinitely – so as to mentally re-establish the essential structure of the socially-binding system of thought. In this way, the socio-psychological mechanism of Belonging – i.e. that is generated by Society – functions to imperceptibly convert the natural instinct and will for Understanding into the unnatural need for Belonging—hence at the exclusion of the innate sovereignty of mind and thus of genuine thought, let alone the expression of it.
The individual who does not react to this initial conflict (between his instinctual impulse for Understanding and the social compulsion to conform) is thus not compelled to escape it: Hence, he does not activate psychological denial and thereby avoids the consequent conversion this precedential denial entails. However, he does not necessarily respond contrarily to this reaction, i.e. by reasoning in his usual manner: for this is, nevertheless, an inner crisis of the most profound kind. Rather, the essence of this response is instinctual toleration, i.e. of the extreme discomfort that typically induces the conversion of inner state by reaction to sociative threat. Thus, it is the absence of reaction that constitutes the response (more accurately, the non-existence of reaction); and ultimately, the response-not-reaction is involuntary, being due to factors that are largely beyond inspection. The result of this response is to allow the pre-individual to actualise himself as being Individual—an individual in the true sense of the word: for his necessary disillusionment is incorporated into his experience – not circumvented – thereby affirming his development of Understanding. Just as with those who reacted by escapism, this moment of crisis represents a universal internal rite of passage, setting a precedent in the person’s psychospiritual formation. However, whereas the former results in predisposition, i.e. Belonging; the latter results in the absence of this condition, thereby affirming the instinct for Understanding. The understander thus represents the natural continuation of the Understanding instinct, in its development from its states of consciousness, self-consciousness, and sovereign-consciousness: In early self-conscious life (meaning before one encounters the psychospiritual crisis of alienating thought) the mind is free to explore the possibilities of Thought, which it does naturally; and most significantly, by instinctual questioning or impulsive investigation.
This proto-expression of inherent curiosity can be ascribed to Wonder: From the beginning of self-conscious awareness, the basic form of the Understanding instinct has now emerged into its critical form; and which is naturally in a state of general inexperience. Henceforth, the newly endowed ability to direct one’s mind; together with the basic discernment with which one now perceives aspects of life, both familiar and new—stimulates the impulse to wonder about such things, and the possibilities of things. Initially, the activity of wondering is originated purely by the instinct to Understand; and therefore, it is expressed with the same innocence as that of its basic form.—But, now it is expressed within the added dimension of awareness that distinguishes it as expression of the instinct, not just an indication of it. Sooner or later, however (and generally sooner), this innocent wondering will wander into off-limits territory: the innocent wanderer will perceive an apparent fact or logical conclusion to an aspect of life that is in stark contradiction with notions fundamental to Social Reality—the very basis of the cultural or structural ideology which (thereby) gives a common sense of legitimacy and livelihood to its members. Thus, the epistemological implication of this perceived contradiction is that one’s society is fundamentally false, being based upon essential falsehood. Consequently, the personal implication of this implication will usually be sensed immediately: to question one’s social reality in this way – i.e. in an authentically critical way – is to alienate oneself from society: for society will not repudiate itself—not genuinely, that is. Should this implication not be privately sensed, it will (inevitably) be expressed by someone else—usually by intimation, rather than explicitly, as the former is generally more facilitating to the socialising process.
Almost invariably, the typically young mind is unconsciously induced to react with extreme aversion to the affect of this implication—the sensed threat of alienation: for this potential consequence amounts to a phenomenological threat to the very foundation of his existence. Hence, a conversion of his Understanding instinct is effected; by which his natural impulse to wonder is inhibited; and effectively domesticated, thereby representing a loss of innocence in this regard.
Henceforth, his conditioned sense of critical transgression will function to unconsciously guide his thoughts and filter his awareness, thereby circumscribing both within the confines of socially-validated avenues and areas of Thought. This too applies to his impulse to wonder, which will find expression only within the psychological safety demarcated by the avenues and areas to which he has become sensitive.
As domestication is an inherent aspect of Society; and Society is greatly variated in particular characteristics—the domesticated impulse of wondering is hence represented by varieties of circumscription, in accordance with different structures of social thought (macrovariants); and further, in the different personalities and occupations of people within a society (microvariants). In all cases, however, the domesticated form of wondering no longer represents its true sense: for wondering is the impulsive expression of the instinct for Understanding, in compliment to its premeditated expression; and is intrinsically antithetical to circumscription, or any other kind of imposed limitation: Wondering and Understanding are implicitly explorations of the realm of Thought—of thought in its entirety.
However, an understanding individual (an understander) will typically need to acquire a sufficient range of knowledge and experience before he will perceive the overarching principles of his intellectual activity—that Intellect is intrinsically associated with a Realm of Thought, with which it corresponds. In other words, one eventually realises that Life is composed of eternal aspects, each of which finds expression at different times and places. But independently of their expression, the Mind is composed of an innate correspondence with these aspects, in the form of concepts—in that the Mind is designed to perceive and conceive of them. Thus, when an individual realises that life at any given time or place – present or past – is, in essence, a particular manifestation of these eternal aspects, which are therefore only superficially different or novel, he has reached a state in which direct Understanding can begin: for he now perceives that the aspects of Life and the corresponding nature of Thought are not formative – let alone transformative – or constructive, but are universal and eternal. (Notably, one distinguishes between the Universal and Particular by the contrasting of present and past events – the Historical and the Contemporary – therein exposing the conceit of ‘unprecedentedness’ that is implied if not claimed within Society: for the essential causes and effects of all events are eternally cyclical.) Henceforth, one begins to understand that Understanding is the unique expression of universal discovery—that his mind shares in common with Humanity the eternal universe of concepts to be perceived, comprehended, and experienced; as well as the innate means by which to do so. And therefore, one perceives that the inherent individuality of this expression of discovery is unique only in the sense that one’s experience – in terms of the phenomena encountered, the sequence of events, and the circumstance/context generated between the two – represents a particular journey through an eternal terrain—and one that is far too vast to be fully explored by any individual: Hence, the essential perception of UNDERSTANDING indicates that to attempt or intend to achieve completion – to know Truth – is to misunderstand the nature and purpose of Understanding.
Within the above essay on Understanding are three important topics of discussion, for which I have in mind similarly elucidating essays to write in the near future. Since these three topics are intimately involved in the above discussion on Understanding, I will here establish the premises of their future discussion.
Ignorance (verb), being the antithesis of Understanding. Just as the social pretence to Understanding obfuscates the nature of Understanding, the social obfuscation of Ignorance facilitates the common ignorance of Ignorance: Rather than being a state in which a person is lacking in particular or general knowledge, Ignorance is an activity, i.e. to ignore something—and this is the significance of Ignorance. Likewise, the adjective ‘ignorant’ should refer to one who characteristically practises ignorance—who habitually ignores facts or matters of significance.
Thus, by the official misconception of Ignorance – i.e. via its erroneous definition as a noun, being ‘a (state of) lack of knowledge’ – the nature of Ignorance is directly obscured by the abuse of its original signifier. And hence, that highly important mental activity to which the word ‘ignorance’ should refer – one of the most significant psychological habits in common life – is dislocated to the misnomer ‘willful ignorance’. By way of this idiomatic term, the concept of Ignorance is further abused: having first been directly misconceived, it is now largely misrepresented, thereby evading clarification of the nature of Ignorance—even in its misnomer representative. Furthermore, by situating this term primarily within the context of Law, i.e. the avoidance of knowledge to avoid legal liability; as well as by dislocating the phrase itself to the that of ‘willful blindness’, thereby eliminating even the word ‘ignorance’ from the very term that pretends to represent it—the nature of Ignorance is linguistically evaded. Additionally, the word ‘willful’ is more commonly spelled ‘wilful’—as if to symbolically disassociate it from the word ‘will’, and thus from the meaning of that word, thereby confounding even its tautological prefixing to the word ‘ignorance’. Thus in the term ‘wilful blindness’ – which seems to be approaching ascendency in common usage – both concepts of ‘ignorance’ and ‘will’ have been symbolically eliminated. Further still, both of these misnomer terms are academically evaded, in that the field of Psychology institutionally ignores the nature and significant of Ignorance, whereby its discussion is rare and its mention is fleeting.
Will (noun), being the source of individual agency by which one chooses what to do and what to not do, including the purely psychospiritual activities of intending and desiring. This intrinsic aspect of human being is less directly obscured than that of Ignorance, in that its definition is sufficient (for the common conception of Will) while its obfuscation is sophisticated. This obfuscation is achieved, firstly, by the misnomer term ‘free will’: for as with ‘wilful ignorance’, an unnecessary word is prefixed to the meaningful one; however in this case, the prefix is used for the creation of symbolic ambiguity, from which the conceptual meaning is then sophisticated – i.e. by the application of sophistry – into dissolution.
Ignorance – the antithesis of Understanding – is implicitly willful. Hence, the understanding of Will is essential to the understanding of Understanding. In a future essay, I will clarify the nature and significance of Will; perhaps also by contrasting it with some prominent examples of its sophistic obfuscation.
Society (noun), being the mode by which human beings are organised. The common definition of ‘society’ as an organised group of people identifies the most obvious aspect of Society; but the word – including its derivations – does not identify or even indicate how this ‘organisation’ is formed, or what specifically constitutes it. During the course of my essay on Understanding, the words ‘society’, ‘social’, ‘association’, and derivations of such, are used very frequently, indicating the significant influence these aspects of Life have upon the expression and development of Understanding. Furthermore, I have generally spoken of ‘Society’ as if it were an entity with agency, which of course it is not; and this should be considered as a simplified expression sufficient for the purposes of this essay. Hence, an elucidating discussion of Society is needed, in order to place the aspects discussed (and perhaps introduced) in this essay, into their proper context, thereby completing and unifying them for the understanding of Society.
Largely, an understanding of Society begins with an essential typology of humans, which is comprised of three types; and from which there are further subtypes. Within this essay, I have identified two main types of human being with respect to Understanding: the understander and the belonger. However, with respect to Society, the understander and the belonger represent one of two essential types of human: a type I simply call ‘People’. The second essential type was not mentioned here, for it has no direct relevance to the understanding of Understanding. But indirectly – via its place in Society, which conditions Understanding – this second type is of critical importance to understand—especially because it is seldom conceptualised, let alone identified, let alone understood. Or, to put it another way, given that one is desirous of Understanding, there is no phenomenon more critical to understand than Society. And in order to do so, one must first distinguish between the essential differences and the relatively superficial ones that are (nevertheless) universally represented as being the only differences amongst humans—such as racial, social, national, cultural, religious, political, etc. Hence, as one of the two essential types of human – People – has been discussed in this essay on Understanding, a future essay on Society will discuss People in relation to other type of human: Predators—human beings without conscience, who live by dissimulation, who live for manipulation, and who further conceal their essential difference by way of the superficial ones—i.e. racial, social, national, cultural, religious, political…