philosophy

Elementary Lament (Noble Bones with No Ability)

1:30:00 PMConstrux Nunchux

A claim is often made that one can be born into nobility. In fact, many fictional circumstances begin with such a premise, as if it's assumed this is a truth existing in nature without artificial human application. But what does nobility mean that such a notion can be conferred upon an individual at birth without any effort exerted or behaviors exhibited and confirmed with such unwavering certainty? Doesn't the whimsical way in which the word is wielded negate or at least somewhat contradict the weight and worldliness it imbues?

As I understand, one acheives nobility through actions, or more likely through accumulation of individual wealth (though that itself is not a noble end and is normally succeeded through ignoble means), but how does it transcend and transefer to one's descendents? If the notion is so powerful as to allow for a segregation of classes and separation in codes of conduct, then why does no one in a successive lineage need to attain their own status? If it holds little more than terms of address, then why does this idea exist in the first place? Is nobility a completely meaningless designation reserved solely for the wealthy to distance themselves? Do acts exist or occur that can be considered noble even independent of their enactor? It is my aim in this discussion to present nobility as a coherent and cohesive concept for practical use and to draw it away from its haughtier connotations.

First, let's agree that no one is born noble. While this is essentially definition through negation, a semantic turn that irritates me sharply and one I commit often, this helps understand that nobility is a quality beyond simply existing. It must be pursued and seized, actively. We are all born in debt, without question and by virtue of even being conceived. We take nutrients and breath from those around us, in a quite literal sense in the prenatal stages. An obvious question to arise from this is whether one needs to ascend beyond the level of debt to acheive nobility? Are we only noble (mind you a still undefined term) when the material gains we produce for others exceeds what our own consumption?

This question can only be answered when we arrive at a concrete definition for our core concept. I think to start small and slowly build would give this discussion the appropriate semblance of credence. Let's reflect on noble acts. What's a noble act? It's my belief that the only true noble acts are those attempted in the face of hopelessness.

When we set out on task, the aim of course is to fulfill a greater purpose, that the specific action undertaken is a piece of a linear flow, allowing for successive events that become more direct aims at an actual goal. This is common knowledge that's been passed down from ancient times. The question, Why do I work? leads us in this direction, where Aristotle penned a charming and enduring explanation everything we do is an attempt to make ourselves happy. I don't intend to dispute that.

The hopeless act is that for which an ideal end is imagined but unattainable given current and predicted circumstances. I am reminded here of our dear Sisyphus, as portrayed in a essay by Albert Camus I was never able to complete. From the little I know of it though, I'm not simply repeating his argument. A hopeless act is not a pointless act, because it's comprised of smaller actions that can yield an unintended benefit. To be simply content with static, stagnant existence where we constantly return to our starting point, we only continue in a pattern of consumption. Basically, those laboring for a known end, one that's attainable, are aiming for direct gain, without attempt to return back to the world what has been given to them since before birth, at the most elemental level which can only be repaid through exertion against inertia. That is selfishness and laziness.

Here is where the pursuit of a hopeless act gains its noble qualities. Unlike the pointless act, the hopeless one reveals truths about its pursuer, what one truly believes in, enough to continue chasing it once discovering the futility of doing so. This is where Sisyphus lacks nobility. He truly believes each time he pushes his boulder that he'll reach the top and that his task will be completed. That is what the Hell is, not the action of pushing the boulder and not even the proposed notion of reaching the top, but the belief that at some point he'll receive rest and respite, the desire to stop moving/influencing.

And this is what hope is. Hope is a passive belief that we can stop our individual agency in favor of an external force that will enable us or grant us either our desired conclusions or deliver us from them. Through hope, we attempt to dismiss ourselves from duty and responsibility. Hope is the complete antithesis of nobility.

Nobility is knowledge of one's inefficacy/ineffectiveness in regards to one's own desired accomplishments coupled with a willingness to sacrafice superficialities and technicalities to continue building towards the hopeless goal. A noble man can only be so through a repetition noble acts as defined above loosely, of reaching towards hopelessness. And no man, much less a noble man can ever escape the debt with which he's born, his original natural sin almost, because each day we live we continue to consume on top of the average amount of months as a parasite inside our mothers especially through all the resources we need to try to repay the resources we already used. And in a deafeningly defeatist truism, the attempt to ennoble oneself is itself a hopeless act, because the moment one becomes conscious that one's attempting to do so, nobility becomes a goal simultaneously being acheived and defeated.

Is a noble person then a happy person? Usually not, I would think, even though I also doubt that nobility and happiness are mutually exclusive. I would however think that the acceptance of these contradictions and determination/devotion required to pursue inevitable failure brings an inner peace that those too listless or scared to attmpt never have the opportunity to experience. This is only speculation, though, and can only be tested through an actualization of the theory above. I don't believe I actually eliminated contradiction from the notion of nobility, but I knew it would be hopeless which is why I could resist trying.

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