My first encounter with the non-buddhist project was a traumatic experience. After a long struggle to find a spirituality that suits my needs, I began to settle in to some sort of naturalized buddhism. The settledness felt good, for I was relieved of constantly thinking about a way of life for myself. I should have known better. Since my teens, I always had a hammer with me which sooner or later smashed my ideological dreams. There were times when the hammer hanged on my belt but I could not find it, just like searching one’s glasses when they are in fact on the nose.
But at that time, the non-buddhist project reminded me implacably of my hammer. I used it cautiously but constantly. So, did this experience liberate me of my constant search for a safe haven? Wide of the mark! I first turned to Christianity (yes, you read it correctly) and soon jumped on the philosophy bandwagon, hoping to find my safe haven in an atheistic naturalism. While deeply hoping for quietude, everything I established was smashed again, leaving me in more than ruins, something like a black hole lurking beyond the ruin. Nothing was left.
And that’s where I am now, trying to live my life without living beyond my means. I am still haunted by a lot of questions: How should I live my life? Should I engage socially and politically? If yes, what should be my compass? Do I need a worldview like naturalism? Isn’t everything relative in the end?
To engage these questions, I am trying to put into practice ideas from Laruelle’s nonstandard philosophy. In what follows I will try to explain how they are of help to my engagement with life.
The Arena Under the Dome
Awakening from a deep slumber, I find myself in an arena abundant with ideas, philosophies, religions, thoughts. But something is different than in the haven of my slumber. Here, in the arena, it is impossible to project one’s immanent thoughts to the outside. All ideas created in its inside share the fate of not being able to break through the dome canopying the arena.
And what naturally comes along with a multitude of ideas under a black dome is the fact that those particles not only bounce into the dome (only to bounce back), they also bounce into each other. It is important to realize that these two kinds of events have different effects.
Hitting the dome effectuates a bouncing back. That’s it. But when particles are hitting each other, something intimate happens. Their shells get liquefied and begin to exchange their contents with each other. Once those particles have come to realize that getting intimate with each other is much more fruitful than mindlessly bouncing into the dome, the practice begins.
To make clear what this practice could look like, I will use some examples from my own experience under the dome (which may be, in Laruelle’s language, the border to the black universe).
As I said in the introduction, I gave Christianity the opportunity to become a safe haven for me. It did not succeed. There is tons of literature in my library (I am exaggerating a little) on the rationality of theism, respectively, atheism. But despite my willingness to let both views bounce into each other, it was the view of atheism that convinced me more. I would like to emphasize that in the last instance, echoing from beyond the dome, both of these views are equal. They are equal in being both immanent thoughts with the lack of transcendental safeguard.
So have we arrived at relativism? No. Maybe a relativism of sorts. Relating beyond the dome, both theism and atheism are made relative. But within the immanent grounding of the arena, we have immanent tools (like rational, critical discourse) that obviously give us the possibility to choose between the one or the other view. Another example would be the diverging views of naturalism and creationism. By looking at my experience of the world, I simply cannot make sense of a transcendental designer. What I am seeing and experiencing can best be explained by evolution.
So yes, I am taking sides, but in a disempowered style. I am open to new findings, arguments, experiences, observations, always expecting to be surprised at what may break into the immanence of my thoughts.
I don’t know if I got Laruelle’s idea right. Maybe I failed. But from my point of view it seems to be imperative that when modeling all the stuff in the arena, we have to choose models that make sense to us and put them to use.
Always reminding ourselves that we should not live beyond our immanent means.
Matthias Mauderer is a man who does not want to tell much about himself. He tries his best to make it through life, always having had problems to determine exactly who he is respectively to see a meaning in such a determination. He simply is who he is, holds down a job as social pedagogue, loves making and hearing music, is fond of thinking about everything else and spends as much time as possible with his family.
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