Culture: the strongest placebo

How to choose among competing worlds; that is, competing cultures; that is, competing placebos?

The distinctions—the linguistic conventions and categorizing practices—that carve up my world and populate it with identities are already placeboic. Things are what we say they are, and every view is true, to some degree—i.e., to the degree that a world still appears while we affirm it.

Imagine that you have died. Look back on all the nicely coherent worldviews that people and societies have made, and lived inside of, since the days of the Lascaux Caves. “Wow, those people really believed in those coherent systems of conceptualization,” you say. “I wonder what motivated their sincere and unquestioning belief.” Why are most people so thoroughly locked into their cultures?

1. Every conceptualizing tendency pretends to be complete. Every element refers to every other in a whole, and certain parts cannot be negated without disrupting the solidity of the whole.

2. Every culture is (locally) universal. Normativity is the anchor of public language and, so, all private meaning.

3. There can be no conceptualization at all without relying on some particular conceptualizing tendency.

It is the functional nature of cultures to overwhelm and distort.

And think about this: our conceptualizing must be driven by an entrenched standard and not be a matter of free choice—if we are to take the resulting fabrication as extra-subjective. We do not choose our metalanguage; at any moment we are helpless without it. The metalanguage chooses us—it is what is most dear to us, what illuminates by internalizing via analysis-synthesis.

We should not marvel at the plurality of worlds, the plurality of coherent structural spheres inside of which people live their lives. Every subject is the slave of a sphere.