Even before being a political problem, coexistence is a primary need of the human being: a reflection
Often when we talk about coexistence we tend to see first of all a chapter of political philosophy, in reference to the peaceful coexistence between states or to the social contract, the decision of humans to create a commonwealth to end the war of all against all. But in my opinion a mistake. Which certainly does not lie in the attempt, in the need, to develop as much convenience as possible in politics, at a time when the winds of war are blowing powerfully. But rather in considering political coexistence as the paradigm, the essential form of coexistence. In my opinion this is not the case: the imperfect and bureaucratic copy of a much deeper and defining fact of the human, the need to be together, the lack of which generates the greatest spiritual sufferings that life often forces us to experience, and which explode with particular virulence during the holidays, when the interruption of work can mean, for the less fortunate, an interruption of living together.
We have illustrious examples of this need to be together, even without going back to Adam and Eve or Euryalus and Nisus. Between 16 and 18 August 2004 Jacques Derrida, who was in the terminal phase of the cancer that would take him away in a few weeks (he would die in Paris on 9 October), did not escape the effort of crossing the Atlantic, a very long journey to the southwest, to participate in the conference For a reflection on deconstruction: political, ethical and aesthetic problems. That heroic and almost superhuman effort is not difficult to explain: Derrida had always lived, as authors often do, in view of a community of readers, and it was to that community that he wanted to bid a final farewell. , if you will, the specular but complementary inverse of the large collection of epidices of friends and traveling companions that he had hurriedly published the year before, Chaque fois unique, la fin du mondeevery time the end of the world is unique, because it is true that every time a human goes away a whole world to sink, that, big or small, with which he had relations, and which constituted his world. That is, here is the point from which it is necessary to start, the world of an individual immersed in a community.
In other words, ego cogito, ego sum a certainty of existence, but by itself little if it is not supplemented by the enormous wealth of our fellow men, those with whom we have relations, whether they are friendship or enmity, but who enjoy our time with us: the German Zeitgenossen, which stands for contemporaries, means just that: enjoying or sharing the same time. It would therefore be wrong to see Descartes as a solipsist philosopher, because indeed all of his reflections are summed up in the proof that there is a God, that he created an external world, and that, in this world, there are alter egos. Conversely, a living that did not involve living together would not be life. Why? The first proofs come from direct experience. The fact that humans are social animals is a solid matter of course. We will never see a cat frustrated by the disinterest of another cat, while being dismissed, or undergoing ostentatious indifference, one of the worst offenses, and sufferings, that can befall a human. Think about theanathema hurled at Spinoza by his community: You are all warned, that from now on no one should speak to him orally, nor communicate with him in writing; that no one must serve him, nor sleep under his own roof, no one approach him beyond four cubits (about two meters, as at the time of the lockdown), and no one read anything dictated by him or written in his hand.
Why is this anathema that would leave a lizard completely indifferent to be so terrible, and correspond to that dry and cutting form of death that civil death brings us back to origins of human nature. And first of all to our first nature of organisms, and of particularly disadvantaged and slow-moving organisms. Precisely for this reason coexistence, as a remedy that introduces a second nature into the first, from the outset is certainly rooted in our caregiving needs, linked to neoteny, that is, to the survival of infantile elements in adult development, which is distinctive of the human. Just as human, all too human, is its late development, which makes it initially dependent on the forms of nourishment received as an infant (which is a very first and elementary form of coexistence) up to the dependence of the child on the symbolic authority or perhaps on the sentimental blackmail of a parent or a professor, of the writer on the opinion of the critics, and of myself, obviously, on how you will judge these lines.
But it is not just a question of poverty, of need. It's hard to imagine a life really such that it's a life without other selves. The anchorite or Robinson certainly lives a solitary life, and the former by choice, the latter by necessity; that is, they live in solitude, but a solitude populated by the ghosts of a previous social life. While a human animal growing up in complete isolation would have no hope of survival, unless (as in the fabulous stories that fill our childhood with children adopted by wolves) it takes the form of the group it belongs to; therefore, of a community that is not human. Nor is it simply a question of the generic sharing of a human nature. For example, it is difficult to argue that spending one's time among strangers is truly living together. In these cases, rather, one gets the impression of being alone in a multitude, which is exactly the opposite of living together. Conversely, there may be couple relationships which, especially in the first phase, that of absolute and exclusive falling in love (a rare gift that many humans have not had the grace to know), can leave the surrounding world in the background so that only two figures stand out. They are great moments, which obviously pass, transform, sometimes break leaving great pain, but which demonstrate the quintessence and excellence of a coexistence that is neither social nor political.
In all the cases we have examined, from the archetype or stereotype of the social contract to the ever-changing singularity of the union that can bring two humans together in a couple, a hermeneutical circle is at work, that of social life. The human animal, which has only internal purposes, like any other organism, receives, very early in life, a series of external purposes, growing up very young in a very old world full of myths, rites, traditions and languages. Meanwhile, engaged in strenuous feats, if you look back, such as acquiring the upright position, learning to speak, then reading, writing and arithmetic…
All this avalanche of internal purposes returns to the human animal which in the meantime now feels more human than animal. He is living, but his life is already very different from that of the other organisms because it is full of ambitions, difficulties and shortcomings that the other organisms do not even remotely suspect, and which inevitably have to do with coexistence. We will never find a beaver frustrated because he got a bad grade in school or in sadness because the beaver he is madly in love with does not respond to his messages or is limited to sibylline or sloppy emoticons. These are ways of being that belong exclusively to the human form of life. And it is precisely in this form of life that it can happen to a human to ask himself a question that is inconceivable for a beaver or a dolphin, that is, to wonder whether what he is living is a real or a fake life, whether or not he has an authentic experience of life, and to quibble for a very long time, perhaps for the whole of his life, on questions of this kind, to conclude, once again, that a lonely life no life.
What I propose with the idea of coexistence as a constitutive element of human nature, both of the first, the biological one, and of the second nature, the social one, a transcendence on this side. We are not alone in the world, there is another, different from us but human like us to whom we can address with hate or love, but precisely as an alter ego that has something of us in itself (recourse to pets is also admitted, but it is not difficult to notice which and how many anthropomorphisation processes we subject dogs, cats, parrots...). the rule of the game: you can't feel human without having some relationship with another human. How books, said Umberto Eco, provide us with an immortality to the past, retrospective, like this living together, recognizing ourselves as human beings, provides us with an entirely worldly transcendencethat is, it offers us a sense of being together that bypasses the limits of a life which, examined for what, without the additional sense of living together, remains lonely, poor, unpleasant, brutal and, however long it may be, still too short.
July 24, 2023 (change July 24, 2023 | 1:04 pm)
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