For me, epistemology, judgment, and identity are the core variables that determine whether I engage people seriously or merely humour them.
How do you deal with motivations and behaviors you don’t understand? Do you superimpose meaning over them, thereby substituting an illusion for understanding, an assumption for reality, or do you allow yourself to remain in the dark and be comfortable with the dark, rather than fabricate artificial illumination?
How do you deal with motivations and behaviors you don’t agree with, but that harm no one? Do you need to get the other person to agree, or do you accept other people being ‘wrong’ and living ‘wrongly’? Are there areas where my harmless but “wrong” attitudes and behavior are simply unbearable? Should I then continue to bear with *your* wrongness, or shall I now decide that your wrongness is likewise intolerable?
How do you distinguish your perceptions from reality, or do you? Do you see the world as a function of your own mind, or is it a thing in itself that is often beyond your grasp? Can you live in a world like that, or do you require a solipsistic world – one in which you are the only real thing, and all else has reality only to the degree and in the way in which you perceive it?
Are you looking continually for truth in life, which is our representative word for the at once transcendent and real, or is expedience more important, which is a life that’s merely self-defining and has no significance in relation to another thing of which it is a part and microcosm? In short, is it just getting this or that thing you want, or is knowing worth more even if you get nothing?
Are other people the measure of you as a person, or are you unique and immeasurable by any standard, imcomparable, non-analogous, beyond comprehension? Is it more important to know what other people expect of you, what they like and don’t like, what they prefer, how they might respond, or rather to know who you are and what you want? Or again, is who you are and what you want a quantity of what other people expect and how they respond – which is simply to answer “other people are the measure of me as a person”?
Personally, I am comfortable with the darkness, I am comfortable with you being wrong and living wrong, I am not limited only to my perceptions – I can actually touch reality and know that I have, I do not accept existence without continual pursuit of truth – consequences be damned, and the world is not the standard – I am the proverbial unique star and there is no measure of me but me – I am an incomparable universe – a microcosm only of God himself, frail though I am. If you answer these questions differently, I accept that. I don’t need you to answer them the way I do. But we probably won’t ever engage seriously in the areas where we differ – not *these* areas. I consider these fundamental, core – determining factors of what we mean by knowledge, ethics, reality, transcendence, and identity. I think they are the core epistemic and moral questions. That’s all.
image is Diogenes by Jules Bastein Lepage