To Be Someone
Personal identity isn’t something that I expected to be exploring at SCA. After leaving University with a measly 2:2 in Philosophy I was glad to be rid of the painfully complicated idea of ‘The Self’. It is, without doubt, a tremendously difficult subject. One that great thinkers have spent entire lifetimes struggling to comprehend.
I thought I’d left the dusty old hardbacks of Heidegger and Sartre in my old, pre-SCA life. But it turns out, SCA enjoys a little dabble into the deep dark questions.
We were lucky enough to have David Pearl take us on a mind-bending trip into our own consciousness this week. The effects we felt both during, and after, our day with David were both mesmerizing and tangible. But what really interested me, was that what we had experienced in a couple of hours, equalled a semester of studying identity theory at University.
It’s a big claim I know. But to back it up, take the fact that David started the day by asking the students what ‘meaning’ means. This simple question, is the very essence of phenomenology (considered the most convoluted and tricky area of philosophy). David never gave us an answer to that question, partly because no one can concretely answer it, and partly because he didn’t need to. The question alone was enough for us to enter a state of mind where we began to actively recognise how we as Beings, respond to the world.
David took us out in Brixton, and let us wander around in this transcendental trance, focussing on what we felt connected to, what we were attracted to, and what we found beautiful. We may as well have just got a 1st class degree from Cambridge. He had taught us that things in the world have meaning because we give them meaning. More importantly, he had taught us that we can give meaning to anything, and that’s powerful.
The orange at the fruit stall now had the power to transfix us for half an hour. I genuinely stared at a quail’s egg for ten minutes because to me it looked like a map of the world (no drugs were involved). Being able to make any object meaningful is probably the most enlightening lesson I’ve learned so far at SCA, and it only took one day. Take that Uni. And thanks David.