Intention – a “why” – is an ethical question and is always future-tense, even if an intention in question occurred in the past. To understand a past intention is to reconstruct its future.
An idea from Dewey’s Freedom and Culture that’s stuck with me: “We cannot continue the idea that human nature when left to itself, when freed from external arbitrary restrictions, will tend to the production of democratic institutions that work successfully. We have now to state the issue from the other side. We have to see that democracy means the belief that humanistic culture should prevail; we should be frank and open in our recognition that the proposition is a moral one — like any idea that concerns what should be.”
Systems thinking is about taking responsibility not only for yourself but also for your determining conditions. It means taking an active stance toward your factical situation. It means acknowledging that much “inner work” must be done in one’s “outer world”.
It involves knowing the boundary: the ontologically peculiar region between where you as an autonomous being ends and the conditions that contain, exceed and determine you begin. Conditional determinations are strange and indirect in their effects and they defeat reductionist modes of thought.
The interplay is nonlinear. You change the conditions, you change the self who changes the conditions.
Perhaps many romantic and poetic intuitions are pre-thoughts lacking the right intellectual tools for practical understanding.
Pragmatism appears deep only to those who think deeply. To everyone else, it just looks like mere expedience, arbitrary relativism, anti-spiritualism, chaos and superficiality.
I’ve been reading American Pragmatists in the morning and Obama’s Audacity of Hope at night. A romantic and poetic intuition to play with: What if the USA can be loved – not despite its philistinism – but philosophically and culturally? What if the USA is on the verge of waking up to its own world-historic philosophical importance, which is so elusive that it looks pedestrian to the untrained eye, even/especially to those versed in European esoteric metaphysics and to their exoteric dupes, the rank-and-file American patriots who love the USA generically (as any Roman loved Rome, as any Nazi loved Germany?
Perhaps no civilization since ancient Greece has had something so philosophically revolutionary in its womb.