The myth of society: On the soul

Author’s note: This post is part of a series which explores the political mythos which encompasses modern conceptions of society. The first part can be read here, the second here the third here and the fourth here.

What is the soul? This is a question debated extensively by the most erudite minds across time, yet no consensus exists. Perhaps this is because the soul, as a personal, intimate entity, cannot be measured empirically, but by individual discretion.

The soul, broadly, is a binary entity, formed by the dialectic between reason and emotion. It is the cohesion between the head’s ability to discern facts and values and the heart’s capacity for feeling and expression passion. It is the union of these that births the universe’s most rare and valuable element: the consummate man.

The man of ideals exists in a world of absolutes. His singularity of purpose, bordering on a sublime monomaniacal obsession, is with the potential of perfection, not as some intangible idea to grovel before as a miserable inferior, but as the indefatigable catalyst driving his every thought and action.

Granted talent and discernment, and choosing of his own volition to exercise them in everything he does, the consummate man, by demanding the highest from the world and from his self, does nothing but step forward to claim his birthright: the Ideal.

This is not some mad quixotic crusade. The absurdity of Don Quixote lay not in his quest, nor in the vision that was his alone. It was pursuit of this that made him sane. It is the expectation that pursuit of that which is highest and most moral demands destruction and self-sacrifice which is absurd.

The self cannot be separated from the Ideal. The Ideal represents the ultimate objective good, and pursuit and attainment of it is the ultimate form of self-interest. The consummate man does not sacrifice himself for the greater good in pursuit of the Ideal. He reaches self-fulfillment in attaining the Ideal. The “greater good” is not divorced from his own interests; it is aligned with his interests.

An Ideal is not a master who can crook a finger and demand obsequious tribute. There is no feudal servant-master relationship in consummate belief, only a value-for-value relationship of the best within the actor for the best within that which he acts in the name of. A cohesive set of beliefs, which are the manifestation of Ideal-driven morality, is antithetical to the self-harm implicit in the idea of martyrdom for the greater good. The quibbling of the soul’s dual organs is safely constrained within the guide rails of Idealism.

But there is weakness in the very thing that is strength to the man whose values are ubiquitous. His vision is towards the perfect, but he lives in a world where compromise is viewed as a positive. The masses hedge and equivocate,with an eye to mitigating the renegade individual’s effect on the delicate social balance of good. But these are the death of the absolute truth which the consummate individual reveres.

 How, when both head and heart demand devotion to the purest forms, is he to bear an existence where all his most dearly held beliefs are constantly repudiated, branded dangerous, extremist?

The only response to such callous treatment is to remain unchanged by that which is false rhetoric. Those who shy from rigid principles, whose code of ethics is not so stiff as those of an honest broker, can pretend blindness at the nature of reality, but they cannot avoid the consequences of doing so. Eventually, the discrepancy between false rhetoric and the laws of nature becomes too great, and society’s gatekeepers will fall as the shaky foundation they ruled from collapse under their own weight. And in that moment, the consummate man, whose soul is unencumbered by the detritus, can step forward and revel in the promise of the best within him taking root in soil, now free from pollution, and flourishing.

Also published on Medium.

All content protected by copyright. The Politics of Discretion, 2016.
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