Nothing.

A rather brilliant friend was saying the other day, "I have always known that I came from nothing." The word nothing kept peppering his phrases. He said, "If someone thinks they are something, it's best to let that go, to see if it rightly comes back to one or not." And I looked at myself in comparison to that "nothing" realising there are days I've been worrying about nothing as I ostensibly worry about becoming something. I never wrote here that I was hired again, if without defense date. And as if his words weren't enough, the end of Part Two in Truth and Method was another huge mirror, in which I saw how I have strayed from the nothingness that releases.
Gadamer writes explicitly about how if one wants to know one must know that one doesn't know, and ask questions. Socratic dialogue confuses the interlocutor into admitting their not knowing, creating conditions for such knowledge. This openness is superior to preconceived opinion because it can conceive possibilities as possibilities.
Openness also enables a person to accept reality. "As a rule we experience the course of events as something that continually changes our plans and expectations." That can be challenge in life, at some times more than others. There are no straight lines; expecting them to be there causes bitter disappointment. Also, it does not necessarily follow that to work hard in one area will lead to advancement in that same area. The Chinese adage that complies with a line from Virgil tells us that we may be sure to find solace elsewhere, where we least expect it. If this is true on the personal level, history is even harder to understand: "The infinite web of motivations that constitute history only occasionally and briefly acquires the clarity of what a single individual has planned."


That life does not work out how the ego wishes may sound pessimistic and negative. Gadamer addresses this. The dialectic of experience is painful and uncomfortable, he writes, but this is only because it is thwarting our expectations. In this way we gain insight, which is greater than knowledge of a situation as it involves an escape from something that has deceived us, i.e. the wrong ideas, lazy reason, empty reflection which seeks victory on the surface.
We gain experience, learning that that which appears victorious may in fact discredit all reflective thought. We learn to discern that which is not wrong but isn't right. To seek through participation a dialogue that does not put ideas down, but extracts from them the best ideas, creating something new, "that even the person leading the conversation knows he doesn't know".
The experienced person knows that all foresight is limited, all plans uncertain. And where Gadamer got me was where he wrote that one doesn't, as Hegel thought, reach some higher plateau of knowledge once and for all, rather one is to experience truly and fully for the first time, all the time. One learns to live in indeterminacy. "I came from nothing." What is there to hold on to?
And it is only in this state that one loses one's dogmatism "which proceeds from the soaring desires of the human heart". The experienced person is undogmatic because the dialectic of experience is achieved not in definitive knowledge but in the openness to experience taught by (indeterminate) experience itself. This is the confusion surrounding religion: the dogmatist moves in straight lines; the true believer participates in the creative and ongoing art of application.
If one is feeling negative and pessimistic, this may be a grand invitation to the experience of life.




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