Sunday, September 02, 2007

A salve to one's solitude

The sad death of another student desiring of acceptance to a fraternity has reminded me once again how despite all the affectations we may assume, in spite of all the sophistication we from time to time want to convey to the world, we are all, deep inside, just a solitary people needing the warmth of other people's friendship.

How else would you explain the deep aspiration for a seemingly intelligent young man to subject himself to physical torture just to belong to a clique he can call his own?

Aristotle wrote that a man who doesn't need the companionship of other people, who doesn't feel the need to join the polis, is either a god or a beast. Yet, irony of ironies, the ideal good life outlined by Aristotle in the Nicomachean Ethics, is one that is meditative, a solitary pursuit.

How does one join other people in various human pursuits and still retain the space to privately pursue a meditative life? If you pursue the warmth of human companionship, you, surely at one point, are bound to be disappointed, even brutally hurt and disillusioned. Friends betray each other, lovers part for newfound love, an apprentice trumps his master, a UP pledge sometimes get beaten to death all in the hope of human friendship and fraternity.

Really, what is the value of a human relationship attained thus? It must needs be better to be a hungry wolf that hunts the world in solitude. You may not be Aristotle's solitary god, but a troglodytic beast will survive in the wild best.


Bonn Juego said...

Sad. And at the same time angry; because there is so much to be angry about this intolerable incident!

It is painful especially to think that we - if not, they - have not learned at all! No sensible person could justify hazing, that act they do which they should not be doing anyway. The murderers of Cris were not mindful at all of the Aristotelian 'good life' telos (and I could probably say that most people are not conscious about this Aristotelian ethic - I believe that one has to consider 'consciousness', which is a deeper level of internalisation or mindfulness of one's action or decision, in understanding human behaviour).

May Cris rest in peace. To be for justice.

Anonymous said...

unfortunately as mortals, we are social beings. and whether we admit it or not, we all crave varying degrees of acceptance and companionship. some more than others.

we can't fault these victims of hazing for giving in to their loneliness, or their ambition, or maybe just their social nature, and eventually falling prey to groups who precisely take advantage of the fact.

but this "good life" as proposed by Aristotle may simply be a cop out for those who (like Aristotle, maybe) have been badly burned and have opted to distance themselves from people lest they be scorched again.

Ronnel Lim said...


Yup, it seems people at UP never learn. They keep on repeating the same thing again and again. And these are peoplw with supposedly higher IQ's than the average Filipino.

If we can't see change at UP, we mighth just as well fold up, call it a day, and just give up.Just like people in the government: doing the same stupid thing again and again ad nauseam.

Ronnel Lim said...

Dear anonymous,

You see sometimes I envy those old Chinese who never interact with the world and just limit their social interaction to strictly contractual non-permanent human relationships. What self-sufficiency! How admirable the happiness that does not depend on the whim of others. To be alone but not lonely seems to be the attainment of nirvana or some such similar thing.

Any way, as far as I know, Aristotle never suggested the solitary life, but only hints to it in his Ethics. But his Politics says that a man who does not need the polis is either a god or a beast. What is the problem with trying to be godlike? Hehehe I know we are not Greek pagans.

Baldagyi Hatipoglu said...

according to psychologists, the need to be loved or affirmed is a basic human need.

Ronnel Lim said...

Yes, sadly, we need to be loved and affirmed by other people. But don't you think life would be more peaceful sans that need?

No wars, no religion, no PTA meetings with that ambitious parent who wants to be elected president.

Very tempting, something that must be discussed when scientists a century hence deliberate on the perfection of the human genes.

Baldagyi Hatipoglu said...

i don't know how to answer that question. people who don't seem to need love must be either so full of it already they msust give some of it away or that they are God.