It is more difficult to describe one actor than to write a whole philosophy of art, and more difficult to describe one of his performances than to describe the actor.
If you look at lives in particular you can begin to see life in general. When you want to see a whole forest, you start by looking at some of its trees. This may seem to be an awfully slow and roundabout way to go about it, but if you were to begin with a satellite picture of the whole thing, you still wouldn’t know what things actually looked like when you’re close enough to touch them. You couldn’t pick out a single item by looking at it in your photograph.
Delving into these modes one by one, by looking at the lives of six people as an example of each, gives us a glimpse into what it means to live in the world in their particular way.
What is of utmost importance to keep in mind about these modes is that they are not mere abstract formulations having only a conceptual reality instead of a “real-life” and actual one. They occur only in the lives of actual human beings, and there only in those individuals actively engaged in transforming themselves into something they had not been before.
Beyond all a human being has ever done in life, at any single given moment, any individual is more what they are becoming . . . and growing themselves into being from that point on. To fail to take this burgeoning into account seriously distorts our understanding of anyone’s life (our own included) by omitting the that growing edge there is to everything that lives.
This is why we must look into the life lived by actual human beings to glimpse the modes as they are found to occur in human existence. Without this, our understanding of ourselves, others, and all human life in the universe will forever remain incomplete.
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