I, at best, am rational+social+animal.
The middle term can explain the bulk of human activity, mine included, lest the first term become.
The third term informs, like matter to form, much of the content of the effort at social tie.
But there is much in the second term that is messy. I don’t want to focus on it in this post. Two much attention on the identity politics of the current age is about gratifying the social animal in me, giving me security that I am a member of the favored ones, giving me confidence that my raging wild passion is justified given all the other raging wild passion I am surrounded by. Their is much back patting, virtue signaling, and halo wearing that the social animal does. The mob like herd–who knows the direction it heads or what it tramples under food in order to satisfy its cravinb.
What would the ultimate membership be for the human? It would be to be a member of the rational. What makes this best is that the rational is the best part of the human–that without which the social animal does not rise above the wolf-pack or the feral pig or any other animal herd. To be a member of the rational would be to join the other rational beings in unity. This is what the best part of me longs for and seeks. Call it, what Kant did, the church of the men of good will.
A few notes on this “church” (and it is worth consideration how much any attempt at instantiation of the rational community is infected or sullied with that which merely satisfies the social animal side of the human. As if there is nothing satisfactory in the human animal for holding the proposition in his head that he is in good relation with the divine! Oh how this consoles the social animal. Oh how this relieves fear. Oh how this gives security. And to meet regularly to join with the others who make the same assertion cognitively and reaffirm it publicly thus remembering what consoles, comforts, and makes secure. But it is not the rational that is made secure. The rational could not be made secure by the mere attaining of gold or avoiding of fire. It is the animal body that seeks power and seeks to avoid pain. The rational merely seeks reality, truth).
Good will will be defined as aiming at deep reality. Buddha calls it dharma. Jesus called it heaven and sometimes when he referred to it as being instantiated on earth he called it the kingdom of the god. Socrates called it logos. LauTzu called it the way. The good will is the human freedom (itself inexpressible) which aims at conformity with the inexpressible depth of reality.
An implication: if good will is defined in the above way than its certain verification is impossible. What would be required for complete verification of total good will is an articulation of deep reality such that the will’s direction could be assessed to be either in conformity with it or not. So, if membership in the ultimate club requires something which is ultimately only probabilistically verifiable, then membership itself, insofar as it is known by any man, can only be probabilistic. He who is familiar with current social animal community membership will see the pack get defensive immediately. Anyone who argues that “we” may not be “secure” is to be ousted. So, oust me. It is the Membership in the club of security is merely membership in the club who seeks material sustenance independent of moral and rational life. To seek the latter is to eschew security in membership.
An implication: to the degree that my own membership in the community is necessarily probabilistic, seeking ultimate-beyond-doubt certainty is a waste of time. In fact, as Kant says, what even the only partially rational being will recognize almost immediately is that the probability of membership is only increased by effort at the becoming worthy of membership. Any diversion of energy into the effort to verify is worthless. All energy must be invested in the production of the rational, the production of the good will, conformity with deep reality.
Please don’t wait for an argument. In fact whatever group loyalties you have or whatever new ones you build or whatever currently fashionable groups showered with praise by the screen controllers or screaming the loudest or most popular have at it. In fact I invite you to virtue signal. Where membership like a badge. Make sure others know. It will enhance your standing.
I am going to aim, as much as possible, at deep reality. I will let those in charge of membership of that club determine whether I am worthy. I will not waste time on anything else. If I am invited into membership I am invited into membership of the nameless, the placeless, the timeless community of men of good will. Since I am the ONLY one who can produce good will in me, I bear all responsibility for whatever I am able to achieve.
One more implication: because the pursuit and success are to some degree insecure, the “location” of the club anywhere and any time conformity to deep reality is instantiated, the mere social animal in me rages. It calls what it feels loneliness. It calls what insecurity feels like fear. It calls all of this discomfort.
The sages tell me that the nameless and invisible is to be sought and instantiated in the limited and finite. That which is beyond expression is to inhabit this impoverished reality. I begin with the one part of reality I have control over–my will. I move from there to my desire and aversion, my passionate responses to the getting or not getting what I want or don’t want. I move out from there to the management of body. I have already lost much control. Parkinsons Disease or Pulminary Fibrosis may come or it may not. The will that aims to be good will take each in stride. I have deep gratitude for how I have been witness to rational activity in relation to loss of control over body. But as long as I have it I will use it to develop these other potentially rational humans, this other body (land). In each case the sweet, intangible, invisible, unverifiable conformity to deep reality is my aim.
Such idealism has risks. Here are some of them: I am merely blaring a trumpet of competitive virtue signaling out-competing others. Let me state as explicitly as I can: to the degree that is what I am doing it is over. Destruction awaits. I receive my reward in the cheap pat on the bat from the other virtue-signalers. A greater risk: the idealism is a growing and real hunger and thirst for righteousness. What awaits such a one is failure, falling short, not living up, not making the cut, AT ALMOST EVERY MOMENT. How does the not-yet-fully-rational but developing human animal respond to such moments. Well, the mere social animal will attempt to cheat, obfuscate, find membership that is more secure, ignore the failure as if it wasn’t there (which is the opposite of rational conformity to deep reality). This is the back slider. Even worse, the idealist in my will react in anger against the part of me unwilling to live up. This is the tyrannical parent who drives the child away through impossible demands and murders at worst. This is the defeated one who wanders back into anything that will enable escape from reality– especially escape from self (drugs, opioids, screen time, sugar, sex, the list is endless).
What is the proper response the failure in the idealist aiming at good will? Mercy! Mercy is ONLY for he who is trying with all his might. It is not for he who turns on crying out of fear of being caught and awaiting punishment. The idealist must assess well and treat with mercy the self that aims well but falls short. This is no easy task, but notice how the sage Jesus has mercy come after hunger and thirst for righteousness. And what follows? Purity of hear (otherwise treated here as good will).
Let us go, men who aim for membership in the church of men of good will. I hope to see you there anywhere and anytime.