Self-Knowledge and Systems

Self-knowledge is almost meaningless if a system is indifferent and unresponsive.

That’s one of my big take-aways from the last couple of years.

Self-knowledge is a good thing.  Not everything, mind you.  But it’s something.  Observation of what makes you tick, “why you get up in the morning,” what it is that brings joy or frustration.  Those are good things to realize about yourself, especially if you get a sense of those things over time and not just in the moment.

But all the self-knowledge in the world is meaningless if the system you are a part of is either indifferent or unresponsive to your realizations of self-knowledge.  Granted, most systems are by nature indifferent and unresponsive.  That’s why they are systems.  I suppose you could use the term frameworkOrganization might be a better fit.  But ultimately, people are behind systems.  And even opting out of a system is probably a kind of system.

There was a quote on the office door of my political science professor in college: freedom is what you do with what’s been done to you (or something like that).  The quote assumes a hierarchy of some kind, a contingency of the individual’s life on something bigger or greater or more powerful.  There’s something slightly defeatist about the quote. (I just looked it up; it’s attributed to Sartre.  So yeah, there’s something existential about it.)  But there’s something freeing about it, too, especially if it points you to what is beyond the system.  Because there is something beyond the system.  And that’s a good thing.

Next time: what I learned from renting a car.

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