Anthony McCann on the Philosophy of Proximity

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Digital Album: Helpfulness - An Introduction to the Philosophy of Proximity, by Anthony Thomas McCann:

"For me, philosophy is an invitation. By that, I mean it doesn’t only have to be learning what other, notable, famous, largely male, mainly white, usually well-healed people think about what is possible, plausible, desirable, or necessary about art, about life, about being human. It’s an invitation to explore, articulate, and represent, in whatever way we can, everyday revolutions.

Ultimately it comes down to what we think it means to be human.

What do you think it means to be human?

What, for you, is possible, plausible, probable, necessary, or inevitable about human nature?

Perhaps more important, whatever about what’s possible, what for you is desirable for your life and for the lives of the people you love and care about? What’s important to you? What do you want to be important to you? Do those questions embrace and dance, or do they stand hostile, apart, in tension within yourself? What’s important around you, and how does that influence you? What are the architectures of thinking, feeling, and doing that you move through every day? Do you make a difference? Can you make a difference? Are you hopeful? If so, on what basis do you hope? Is it a fragile hope that you carry delicately, afraid you might drop it, and it might shatter, or is it a hope that infuses every muscle, vein, sinew and drop of your blood?

Until we commit ourselves to really becoming more accountable and transparent to ourselves, until we commit ourselves to thinking more deeply about our thinking, our emotions, and what we do, we leave ourselves open to being and becoming people that we don’t necessarily want to be or become. We leave ourselves open to becoming less imaginative, less creative, less ethical, less political, less relevant that we might otherwise imagine ourselves to be. Without a vigilant and thoughtful practice, we leave ourselves open to unthinkingly allowing our ability to make sense of the world to be displaced by the thinking, feeling and doing of other people, other times, and other places, not our own.

Until we really interrogate ourselves, until we ask ourselves what we want helpful to look like or feel like, how do we know what we have been living with on a day to day basis is working for us in the ways we want? How do we know whether we are coming to a greater participation in the creative, ethical, or political possibilities of life, or being distanced, blocked, duped, or just casually nudged along by desiccated, shrivelled, constrictive understandings of what it means to be human."