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Ubuntu and the Individual

Previously: if a person is a person through other people, what happens when a person is substantially different from other people? How different can you be, and still be human? What is it I see that determines whether I greet you, flee you, or kill you?

EDIT: Related to The Social Model and the thread in the General Autism Discussion. And continues, with a new twist on the hazards of comingling empathy and compassion, in The Desert You are Going Through and "I Know How You Feel."

If a person is a person through other people, then I can only be as much of a person as they allow me to be; the only thing I can be is what they say I am. By that argument, a jury never convicts the innocent. Thus I refute Eze?

"When two people meet, there are six people present: each one as he sees the other, each one as he sees himself, and each one as he really is." That's more true. At least it lets in a third perspective, accounts for deceit and self-delusion, and holds open the mystery.

People of different colors initially met each other through a range of mythologies. Whites were ghosts or gods before they were thieves and invaders. The black and the olive were sons of Hagar or Ham, but before that, or with that, they were also kings with honor. Why did American red men think gold is dirt, and earth, shared wealth, but the European white men thought gold was valuable while earth was just dirt? When the yellow men substituted the unity of the state for the unity of the family, did they lose identity along with ancestor worship?

Then there's the gender gap. People of different genders meet each other through culture. Why are women and men objects of disgust when they step out of their "roles?" Why aren't those roles universally understood and universally clothed; why are some born in the bodies of the other?

These problems tell me that what makes a person a person is driven by what a group calls "common." And there's a limit to how much can be "common" before the "common" stops validating the individual. When the group stops validating the individual, it's time to move, because greeting gets replaced by one of the alternatives.

When the group starts validating an individual, the rules and conventions change very, very slowly, because groups won't validate what they can't recognize.

Another Way to Look
If a person is a person through other people, then ubuntu, humanity, human-ness, can't be only about the shared assumptions and conventions that create a common "mental model" what matters about an individual's life story, or for how a life can be lived without being extraordinary. Ubuntu must be the ability to change the rules about what human is. For as long as ubuntu is limited to the geopolitics of South Africa, it must also be limited to the problem of apartheid. But it could be more. It could address what it is to be human wherever a difference condemns one human being to a substandard existence for the benefit of another human being.

But to do that, being human would have to transcend the descriptions we most commonly rely on to describe human. What makes up humanity may not be just the clean-cut genetic lines or toolmaking behaviors or complex socializations.

If we do that, there are all kinds of alien life forms, right on earth, that become human. I'm looking at whales. Autistics and aspies. Chimpanzees and bonobo.

Humanity itself may be the spectrum. And the "human" needs a new word.

Thus I refute Eze.


I almost thought you where talking about Ubuntu the OS(Operating System) but I see it was something else. It like when someone talks about Genesis, I think of Sega Genesis instead of something that is religious.

I'm sorry I missed interrupted what you said. Many things I don't know about such as Hagar or Ham. I see how you write, you are a really good writer. Way above compare the level I'm able to write. Anyhow, sorry for not writing something useful for your post and got the wrong idea when I saw in the title.
Penguin, if we all understood each other perfectly, we could just be in one mind all the time :)

No worries. I had to look up Ubuntu myself, when I started the first article.
I'm mulling this over, not sure if I agree with the path to your conclusion. Then again, maybe I do; not sure yet. But it is a friendly mulling-over, grateful for the morsels of thought. :)
Here are a couple of quotes that may relate:
"All intimate emotional relations between persons are founded in their individuality, whereas in rational relations man is reckoned with like a number, like an element which is in itself indifferent.
Simmel, Georg and Kurt Wolff (Translator). The Metropolis and Mental Life. 1903."
"All relationships of people to each other rest, as a matter of course, upon the precondition that they know something about each other.
Simmel, Georg and Albion W. Small (Translator). The Sociology of Secrecy and of Secret Societies. 1906."
Here is a picture of my person-woman-river-rock. She appeared like this, I did not sculpt the rock. She looks (I think) quite a bit like the ubuntu art you posted previously.
I'm not sure yet I agree with me either, but there comes a point where I have to write down what it is I'm not thinking. o_O

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