Sunday, September 23, 2007

The great dragon

'Thou shalt' is the name of this Great Dragon. But the Lion-spirit saith: 'I will.'

Thus Spake Zarathustra.

Nietzsche tells the tale of the three human states. There is the camel, willing - desiring - to carry the load. An unthinking state. Then there is the lion, which wants freedom to do as it pleases. But it must face the Great Dragon, which is the holder of morality, the 'Thou shalt' and the 'Thou shalt not.'

The lion is I, the realised self, capable of choice, of an act of will. The great dragon is oppression, the suppression of the spirit.

Now, in my younger days I was happy to see the great dragon as religion and religion as the imposition of the status quo on the individual, and therefore a very bad thing. It is easy to see in black and white - 'I will' good, 'You shall' bad. And so we lions must face down the great dragons and march to freedom.

But where does society fit into this? Where does humanity fit in? It's a difficult question. How do you exercise the freedom of the individual while maintaining the community of humanity? How do you organise to support the community of humanity without it spilling into control?

So much of the philosophy I've read has as its focus the 'I' and the 'you' - will and dictate - but as I get older and more comfortable with myself but less comfortable with the world, I need to see a philosophy of 'we.'

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