We’re Groundless

You can doubt pretty much everything today. There are Flat-earthers who doubt that the earth is a sphere. There are carnivore dieters who reject all food except for beef (or liver), salt, and water. There are anti-vacciners for whom the injection of COVID-19 vaccine, were such to exist, would be tantamount to poisoning one’s children. There are, in no apparent order, climate change deniers, anti-statists, polyamorists, and atheists.

In some cases, to doubt this is to be convicted of that, yet in others it is, more simply, to heap doubt on whatever it is that is at hand. It seems that we–there’s a doubt! who is this “we,” huh?–can’t agree on much of anything, not even on “agreeing to disagree.” Nor do we very often converge on shared understandings. The doubts, tossed into the air, remain, corroding any possibility of mutuality.

Any appeal to a common standard is also subject to doubt. As is clear in the cases above, you can’t very readily appeal to tradition, science, reason, or revelation to decide the matter unless you want to have the experience of someone questioning tradition, science, reason, or revelation, respectively. Many on the left think that “experience” or “lived experience” cannot be cast in doubt, but in time that too will be just as untenable a basis for claims as any other. The birth of the psychological term known as “gaslighting” suggests as much.

Here’s the truth (do you wish to doubt it?): we’re groundless. Yet we are like Wile E. Coyote who, running off a cliff, only falls once he realizes where he is. Until that time, he’s free-floating. But then, someone might interject, maybe gravity is a fiction, right?

It’s not just that we’re groundless; it’s also that we’re clueless, helpless, and lost. We don’t know how to live, we don’t know that we don’t know how to live, and if we did know that we don’t know how to live, then we’d come face to face with our meta-crisis. And were that to happen, we’d cease being merely groundless and start being clear about how clueless, helpless, and lost we really are. And that, in my book, would be a very good start.