The Significance of Interconnectedness and Natural Order in Human Existence

Lucas Charbonnier

Lucas Charbonnier

Feb 27, 20244 min read

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The Significance of Interconnectedness and Natural Order in Human Existence

In the realm of human consciousness, the relationship between individuals is defined as relational intersubjectivity, where each person exists as a subject in relation to others. But is this interconnectedness truly essential? Does the presence of others not provide us with something absolutely vital? Autrui, or the presence of others, not only allows us to comprehend the complexity of the world and access reality, but it also enables us to understand ourselves better.

Being too close to ourselves often leads to a lack of perspective and objectivity. We require some distance from ourselves, and the gaze of others provides us with that distance, allowing us to become aware of who we truly are. The gaze of others connects us to ourselves, turning us into a being that is observed. However, this gaze also objectifies us, as it represents what others see in us. We become confined within the label or stereotype imposed upon us by the perception of others, which can be suffocating and restrict our freedom. The one who perceives this label may immediately brand us as someone envious, further exacerbating our sense of being alienated.

Yet, it is not impossible to establish a non-conflictual and authentic relationship with others. Dialogue plays a crucial role in utilizing intersubjectivity for the common pursuit of truth, whether it be in friendship or love. The notion of "loving thy neighbor as thyself" raises interesting questions about the commandability of love. If love is a sentiment, how can it be a duty? Immanuel Kant argues that love is a matter of sensation, not will, and that one cannot love because they want to or should. Therefore, a duty to love is nonsensical. What we owe to others is not love, but respect. We must refrain from using them as mere means to achieve our personal ends and respect them as ends in themselves, as human beings with inherent dignity. Acting as if we love, as a moral virtue, generosity is not about giving to those we love but giving to all, including those we may not love, out of a sense of duty towards humanity and respect for others.

Now let's shift our focus to the question of whether the presence of others truly alleviates solitude. On the one hand, the presence of others can indeed provide companionship, whether through love, friendship, or dialogue. It prevents us from feeling isolated and lonely. However, on the other hand, solitude is an inherent aspect of human existence. As conscious beings, each person possesses a unique perspective that ultimately cannot be fully shared. Paradoxically, the presence of others can also engender solitude. Others may fail to understand us, leading to extremely tumultuous relationships. While the presence of others may not completely eradicate solitude, it can certainly help to assuage it.

Moving beyond the realm of human relationships, we contemplate whether nature can serve as a norm for human conduct. Modern natural law theories, such as Locke's concept of natural right to property and Hobbes' possibility of a social compact based on human nature, explore this idea. In contrast, ancient conceptions, like the example of harmony and living in accordance with nature presented by Epictetus, emphasize the ethical fortification found in adhering to the natural order. For humans, living in harmony with nature acts as a safeguard against excessive behavior, and the most fulfilling life involves accepting and rediscovering this inherent natural order within ourselves.

In conclusion, the interconnectedness of individuals and their relationship with the natural order plays a significant role in human existence. The presence of others provides us with the opportunity to understand ourselves better, while also presenting challenges and potential conflicts. Moreover, embracing the natural order can guide our ethical conduct and help us lead a more fulfilled life. To navigate these complexities, here are three actionable pieces of advice:

  • 1. Foster open and honest dialogue: Engaging in genuine communication with others allows for a deeper understanding and appreciation of diverse perspectives, strengthening the bonds of intersubjectivity.
  • 2. Practice empathy and respect: Recognize the intrinsic worth and dignity of every individual, treating them as ends in themselves rather than means to an end. Actively strive to respect and empathize with others, promoting a harmonious coexistence.
  • 3. Embrace the balance between solitude and interconnectedness: While solitude is inevitable for self-reflection and personal growth, seek meaningful connections with others to alleviate loneliness. Find a healthy equilibrium between introspection and engaging with the world around you.

By recognizing the importance of both interpersonal relationships and our connection with the natural order, we can navigate the complexities of human existence and lead lives that are not only fulfilling but also respectful and harmonious.

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