Rules and Consciousness

I was having a conversation with my shrink (ie I was in therapy) and he said in the past there were rules that govern how we act. Now with the advent of psychology, we have consciousness, personal decisions dictate how we act.  I do not live my life according to the book of Leviticus (some people do and that is ok). However I live my live according to my consciousness.  My shrink said that this is what is meant by a Nietzsche transvaluation of values.  I was never a big fan of Nietzsche, although perhaps I should reconsider that stance.

What is the transvaluation of values? It is NOT the adoption of unethical behaviors. It is NOT like a Kantian radical evil where I act in exact opposite to the moral imperative. Rather, as I see it, in a transvaluation of values that there is no more moral imperative.  The moral imperative is relative to your own value system, everyone is free to make their own value system. Does this mean relativism. No. There are some value systems better than others, I believe.  And here I am influenced by Ken Wilber who says something like the more depth (wholistic/encompassing) a system has the more correct it is.

With transvaluation of values there is no more blind acceptance of rules, instead there is conscious decision making on a day by day basis. This is not unethical or antithetical to ethics, it is about a personal ethics based on consciousness and interiority. We can all think of countless examples of unethical behavior carried out in the name of “following orders”.

If we look at the history of religion or society they are all structured by rules. And if we look at the social contract theorists like Hobbes and Locke, some how we leave the state of nature  (either bad or good),  because we create a set of rules that allows us all to live together.  The transvaluation of value is one of many things: rejection of these values as ethical, a creation of a personal set of values, a recognition that desires do not have ethics (in my interpretation only actions do).

I have been binge reading Ken Wilber and Claire Graves and so I wonder perhaps it is unwise to undergo a transvaluation of value unless your values are in some sense transpersonal (ie honor another individual’s sovereignty).  If your transvaluation of values are based in your ego or id (these are Freudian terms not Wilber or Graves terms but I am just mashing it all up),  then I can imagine some nasty antisocial behavior.

So now I can imagine what are my values, and then I can act in according with my values. What do I desire? Do they reenforce or contradict my values? Then I can decide how to act?

But what are my values, this is a hard question. For now I have come up with this: freedom, poetry, sovereignty.

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Relationships: Lists and Test

I just wrote this post and it was not saved. So I am going to try and recreate it. I am super bummed.

A few months ago my shrink pulled out a piece of paper and started reading it. It was a list of qualities one of his patients was looking for in a partner.  It had things like intelligence and humor. I asked, what about love? He said, she has chosen to fall in love with the person who has these qualities.

I never had a list. I had a constellation of qualities I valued: cosmopolitan, likes poetry but not too emo, aesthetic, nice hair.  It was never anything I wrote down or was really very aware of other sort of comparing it with other partners and people in my life and thinking I want someone like this, or the opposite of that.  In all of us, qualities are a constellation, sometimes a value is exalted in Taurus and sometimes it is in its detriment in Scorpio.

It was not very conscious, that I suppose is the point of the list. Make your desires and your intentions conscious. Figure out what you want.  My mother used to say don’t test people, no one passes the test. I took this advice to heart. Having a list is sort of like having a test.  Was my mother really saying don’t have a list no one matches the list or was it something else?

Lately I started to wonder if this was wrong advice. Should I have had tests? There are a lot of tests in life of the Joseph Campbell variety.  I think of these as life milestones: having a pet, or a plant or joining a community, or committing to a partner. These are tests, but of a different type than the list test.  You have to do certain things to successfully care for a plant, or get a partner to commit. If you cannot navigate these tests perhaps you should not reap their rewards. If you cannot care for a plant you should not have plant.

But back to the list meditation, the one thing I have on my list, and my partner probably has too, is flexibility. That is the value, like hope at the bottom of Pandora’s box, that makes everything possible.

My original post was much better, but it is lost. I have recreated some of my thoughts. But they are not as fresh as I thought this morning. I ended that post mentioning the relationship guru Esther Perel.  She says something like you will have many partners in your lifetime, and if you are lucky with the same person. It seems like constellations rather than lists are more flexible