How to “Know” People: An Introduction to Chaos Social Theory

All of life is chaos. One large act of chaos. We are born into a war that rages on endlessly and meaninglessly. We look for meaning at the mess that we are born into; we seek to find patterns and attempt to make sense of all that comes our way. Our very existence is chaotic. All humans must accept this. I would like to provide at least one simple example from everyday life. This will help establish what I am setting out to prove. 

Once upon a time there was a boy. He was 24 years old and he was a Christian. He was born in France and spoke French. He ended up coming to America and met a girl who was American. They both fell in love. She was a militant atheist. 

Now there are a few things with this scenario that must be examined critically. We must first step back and look at the data as nonchalantly and unbiased as possible. 

The boy is Christian and the girl is an atheist. These terms have meaning because society gave them meaning; it imparted meaning upon them. The girl, who was raised in America, who labeled herself a militant atheist, would probably believe certain things which society deemed she, being a “militant atheist,” should believe. But the boy, who grew up in a different country, would not be aware of all of the terminological baggage; in other words, he would be, right off the bat, misunderstanding her and creating an impression of her which does not exist. Because his creation of her is not what actually corresponds to reality, this means that he is creating an illusion of the girl. Because she is an illusion, this creates chaos. Hence my terminology.

From the moment that the girl met the boy, there was chaos. In the beginning there was chaos and nothing but chaos. What do I mean by that? Well, the boy met a girl who stood before him as an object. An object labeled “atheist.” This object he could only respond to via the senses. He would examine her height, her eye color, her hair color, etc. He would catch a scent of her and probably taste her lips at some point. He would talk with her and hear her speak words to him. These words would then be imparted to his brain where he would dissect the content and try to make sense of the data. 

What is going on here? 

What is going on is that this boy who met this girl is creating an illusion of her. I call this an illusion because outside of reality, he would never (and will never) truly “know” her in any meaningful sense (from an empirical perspective). All that he will know—in this life—is that illusion of her that he created, which exists only in his mind (and may, or may not, correspond to the historical figure [i.e., the girl]). This girl which this boy met exists—for him. But she exists in his mind. He communicates thoughts with her, he listens to her sing, he kisses her on the lips before bedtime, etc., but she is never his. She never is known by him.

She is a stranger. 

Now, this girl could love this boy very much. She could reinforce some of his ideas about her. She could verify and validate her feelings and he would then, I assume, toss her words into his cerebrum and make sense of the data (again). What is going on here? What is going on here is reinforcement of illusionary factors. First, the boy falls in love with a girl. Then he creates an image or illusion of her in his mind. This image is then reinforced or deconstructed by the girl. 

For example, let us suppose that the boy thought the girl was patient. However, upon marriage, the boy discovers that she is not patient. A number of things could happen. The boy could tell the girl what he thinks and she could either validate his ideas or deconstruct them. (Depending on which she chooses, he will create an illusion of her that resembles the historical figure either accurately or less accurately.) This process could be labeled “creation” or “formation.” It is here that people create illusions of one another. They create illusions that may or may not actually exist. 

But what do we mean by “existence” and “historical figure”? I take this to mean the actual human being. By “actual human being” I mean the human being that is the sum of all activities. Thus, for example, if a person is a pacifist in most situations—and only murders on occasion—then such a person is essentially a “pacifist.” Of course, one could debate this and stress the fluidity of human nature here (which I completely agree with) but, for the sake of categorization and (my very own) illusion formation, I will pretend that humans are somewhat stable and change minimally. 

What then does this boy “know” about the girl? Well, in my opinion, very little. It will take years of living with a person before you ever “know” the person. Before you ever come even close to creating an illusion that matches the historical figure in any significant way. This is why all of life is chaos. 

If marriage creates accurate illusion formation, then non-marriage relationships are pretty much all illusions that should be critically doubted. Of course, family members are probably safe at creating an accurate assessment of a given historical figure. 

This implies much for the world. This brief essay shows that it is impossible to really “know” people. The only people we “know” are people whom we have been with for years. And even then we may not know the person. Especially if any sort of “change” in personality is involved (a paradigm shift). A paradigm shift could be a religious conversion experience or something along those lines. 

What do we, as people, do once we have this basic knowledge? I say that we accept chaos. We should accept this and move on. We should realize that our relationships with other humans are very fragile—fragile indeed! Our loved ones must be cherished and we must move past our own inaccurate illusion formations. We must advance towards realizing what is real—what is reality. We crave reality. (Which is why virtual relationships almost never satisfy.) We crave to be known and we crave to know. I once wrote a song that had lyrics that went like this: “I don’t have to, if I don’t want to; I just want to hold you close, to know you and to be known.” I am arguing for a chaotic existence. However, I am also arguing that this knowledge presented in this paper forces us to look at life more critically and forces us to attempt to create meaningful relationships with people. We must strive to live an authentic life. A life in which we are known by people and known to ourselves; a life in which we act as we are and are known for those actions accurately. 

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