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José Víctor Orón Semper, researcher of the 'group Mente-cerebro ' del Institute for Culture and Society
Terms and mindsets. Desire and sensitivity
Desires of subject that is not lacking. Well, unless we are assaulted by acedia, the midday demon as the monks used to say, which plunges us into an absence of desire and awakens a certain subject of sadness. With acedia we lose the ability to move even in the face of what is good and attractive. Desire moves us and acedia introduces us into an existential appetite. Except for that sad and saddening status, as I said, we do not lack desires and we desire a lot. About desire, we could ask ourselves many questions: Is there anything that cannot be desirable? Is it possible to desire evil? Is desire educable? And if so, is it necessary to educate it? And what would it be to educate desire?
Aristotle already said that the virtuous person desires the good. Doing the good is not a sign of virtue if one does not also enjoy doing the good and, therefore, desires it in oneself. The problem is that there is no way to define good for a particular status . One might think that getting angry is not good, but it is not so clear, since there are times when getting angry is the good thing to do. It was also Aristotle who said that the grace is in getting angry at the right time, in the right way, with the right person, and so on. When everything has passed, we can say what was good and what was not good. Analyzing the past is possible. In many disciplines it is done. For example, how easy it is to see how economists explain what happened when it has already happened. But that does not mean that they know how to predict. If one knew what is good in each status, one could predict what is going to happen by acting in a certain way. But on a concrete level, and life is always concrete, one does not know what is good until it has been done. We are at agreement that the good exists, but when each person begins to explain what the good is, it is no longer so clear. If the good existed in a clear and evident way, it would be very easy to make decisions. When we say that the good exists, I believe that what really exists is the desire to do well.
Apparently desire moves us to approach something or someone. But, is it desire that moves us or is the movement simply desire? That is, do I approach something because I desire it or is desire the action of approaching something? Is desire a human function, like seeing, or is desire a description of a way of living? Human functions can be educated and, for example, one can be taught to look in order to look in a particular way. Let us be attentive to the fact that when we say that we educate seeing, in truth we do not educate seeing, but looking. Seeing is a biological question, we see as we can, not as we want. In the same way, we hear as we can. But seeing is something else because, for example, the will intervenes. Thus, seeing cannot be educated but looking. Seeing, rather than being educated, must be developed. When an animal's eyes are covered at birth and left covered for years, when they are uncovered it is blind and remains blind. That is why sight also has to be developed and for that it is necessary that the person lives according to his nature. But looking, in addition, can be educated. Similarly, listening can be educated, but hearing can be developed or atrophied. I think that desire is more like seeing and less like looking and, in that case, we should not speak of Education of desire but of development of desire.
It can look good or look bad, but it always looks good (if the organ has been developed). And what about desire? Can one desire evil? Can one desire bad? Since we have started with classics, let's continue with classics. Now with Socrates. Already appears in him an idea that will have much development in the Philosophy and is that, strictly speaking, to desire, we only desire the good, only good-desire. We could say that when we desire something bad, in truth we desire what we somehow see as good in that bad. In truth, a bad desire would not be to desire something bad but to desire a good when we would still have to choose another good. In that sense, it would be a skill of goods that we resolve in a specific way that is not always the one that makes us good. For example, when we wish to take revenge, we wish something good, which is to want, wrongly, to get rid of something that has hurt us. But, one does not badly wish to take revenge since it is good to wish to get rid of a wrong received. The problem is not in wanting to take revenge but in misunderstanding what it is that we should get rid of. If someone insults us we want to take revenge and that is fine, but revenge is not satisfied by eliminating the insulter, but by eliminating the effect of the insult by re-establishing the damaged relationship.
In this sense, it is not a matter of educating desire itself, but of learning to look at or understand the reality before us and to know why we live it as we do. Desire could be educated if we could decide to desire or not to desire or if desire were an act of knowledge voluntary. But we do not decide to desire, but we find ourselves desiring what we desire. Looking can be educated, but not seeing. Listening can be educated, but not hearing. In such a case, one can be educated to know the reality presented and the reality of oneself so as to know why I know as I know and want what I want. Desiring is similar to seeing and hearing. Seeing and hearing are not educated but developed. That is to say, if a person is offered adequate vision experiences, the sensitivity to see grows. The ability to look in more detail is recognized by the word sensitivity. If we put seeing or hearing in parallel to desiring, we could also speak of a development of desire, which would be concretized in a development of sensitivity, but it is no longer a sensitivity of an external sense like seeing, but a sensitivity of an internal sense, of an internal seeing that allows me to see the reality that is presented to me and to see myself with total depth.
That is to say, the problem of what we normally call bad desires is not properly in desire, but in knowing and willing and in being. In other words, the problem is in the intelligence, in the will and in the person. Knowing as one knows, one desires what one desires; desiring what one desires, one desires how one desires; being as one is, one desires what one desires. Therefore, it is better to focus on knowing, wanting and being, or in other words on intelligence, will and person. On the other hand, it is not a matter of having to think, will and be in a particular way. If we were to do so, we would be thinking that the person does not know how to think, will or be. It is not a question of having to think something, to want something or to be someone, but of helping him to think, to want and to be. One does not educate to look by putting on donkey earmuffs, nor does one educate to listen by putting on headphones with what one has to hear. Nor is being educated by telling someone what to be. These acts are manipulative and despotic acts. Looking is educated when the person discovers why he looks the way he looks. Listening is educated when the person discovers why he listens the way he listens. Being is educated when the person discovers why he is the way he is. When I know why I look, listen and am as I am, I discover that there are indeed other ways of looking, listening and being. And, in the presence of the other's face, I discover that I can look, listen and be in another way in order to meet him.
Let us focus on desire. We said that it is not possible to educate seeing but the sensibility to see. In a similar way we say that it is not possible to educate desire but the sensibility to desire. First the person needs to know why he desires as he desires. Desiring is not a whim or something one chooses. It is ridiculous to look at a blue drink and auto-suggest thinking "I will like it, I will like it, I will like it, I will like it" and then drink it so that I will like it. It will be liked or disliked depending on many things, but not on autosuggestion. Moreover, if it were to be liked because of autosuggestion, it would be worse, because it would be the same as closing oneself in on oneself and not encountering reality (this is called madness). So, the first thing to do with desires is to ask yourself why you want what you want, and that question can only be answered through other questions: How do you understand what is happening to you? Why do you want what you want? Why do you want to be that way?
I am sure that these questions alone are enough to realize that knowing the sources of desire requires a great and deep self-knowledge. And when that path has been traveled, I not only know why I desire what I desire, but how I live and understand myself. On this path, what we do from desire is very similar to what we do from feeling. Why do I feel what I feel and the way I feel it? Not surprisingly, feeling also shares something with desire and that is that feelings generate a tendency subject depending on how the same feeling is interpreted.
But something very important is still missing and that is the Education of sensitivity. Sensitivity is not educated by saying with what or with whom one has to be sensitive. Sensitivity is educated by way of resonance. The presence of the other discovers who I am. When a tuning fork (instrument for tuning the guitar) sounds in "A" and rests on the guitar, only the string tuned in "A" vibrates. When the person meets another person, their being staff vibrates. When we look at others and see them as people that happens. If I see the other as employee, as a means to buy something, or worse, as an enemy, my being staff is asleep. But when I see the other as a person, my being staff resonates. To educate in sensitivity is to allow the person to resonate when encountering another person.
If what is indicated is correct, what we should do, once we know why we desire as we do, is to educate sensitivity in a very simple way, helping to see that the other is a person. Educating sensitivity is nothing more than helping to see the person that is in each subject. And, by a resonance effect, I will know myself as a person. If I see the person, I am sensitive to the reality staff and a feeling of commotion is awakened in me, because I discover myself in her and I contemplate her singularly as a person and she appeals to my person. What are you going to do now that you have seen me? To educate sensitivity is to educate to see the character of person in the person. Whoever sees what he sees and how he sees it, will desire what he desires.
We are not lacking in good wishes. We wish for very good things and the bad things we wish for, we wish for them because we see something good in them. Experience tells me that when a person has no need to live defensively, he or she discovers that he or she has many, many good wishes. But when the person feels attacked and starts to live "in survival mode", the world of desires becomes disordered.
But it is not that it is necessary to order the disordered desires. Sadly, there are many who understand the person as a "bag of desires" and that each one operates in a contrary or different way from the others and that it is necessary to put order in it. To bring order to the bag of desires is to perpetuate the person in an already pathological state, since the person lives as a bag of desires when he or she has already been damaged. Kohut, a psychoanalyst, said that a person sees himself as a sack of impulses when his mother has treated him as such (whether by indulging or denying his behaviors). But if the mother treats the child as a person and does not simply place herself in front of behaviors to please or control, the child will end up knowing himself as someone (self) and not as a bag of impulses. That is why wanting to order impulses or to order desires is to perpetuate the person in an already pathological status . When one discovers oneself with what we call disordered desires, the path one needs to take begins by asking oneself: How do I live and how do I understand myself in order to live as a bag of desires? When we see ourselves as a bag of desires, we do not see ourselves as a person, why do I not see that I am a person? And how do I discover myself as a person? One does not discover oneself as a person until one discovers that someone loves him/her as a person. The child discovers himself as a person by resonance, when the mother treats him as a person. In discovering myself as a person, I discover that I am more than my desires and, therefore, it is not a matter of ordering desires but of living as a person in relation to other people. At that moment, desires begin to operate not destructively at civil service examination, but as a starting point for the interpersonal meeting .
UpToYou's emotional Education has a lot to do with the above. Starting from the emotional reality, the person wonders why I feel the way I feel? And begins a path that leads him/her to know the complexity of his/her life and how any emotion, even the most elementary and biological, is really an expression of how one's life is condensed or crystallized in a concrete way. When the person discovers that he or she is no longer a bag of emotions that emerge like sporadic mushrooms, but that emotions speak of our life more staff, then one begins to know the complexity of his or her own life. The knowledge of such complexity is the best place to see ourselves as a person, for without our character as a person, such complexity would not be explained. In this way, one becomes sensitive to one's own complexity. By learning to look, the person becomes sensitive. Sensitive to one and sensitive to the other. This is the Education in the sensitivity that we propose. The sensitive person desires what makes him and others grow. If you see the other as a person and you see yourself as a person, you will desire a person-to-person relationship. If you see yourself as a wounded person and the other as the aggressor, you will desire an aggressor-wounded relationship. I have explained it with "seeing" for the sake of simplicity but it is not simply a cognitive act but also a matter of loving yourself and loving as a person.
When your child becomes fixated on something by desiring it in a way that we usually call wrong, don't correct the desire, for it is not a wrong desire. Instead: help him to know why he wants it and how he wants it; help him to see the complexity of things; help him to see the person. With this, he will grow in sensitivity, he will be moved by seeing the other and he will desire in function of such a commotion.