As a private theophilosophical position, Something Deeperism suggests an individual work to get more and more insight into that and how the undoubtables are True.
With “undoubtables” I mean those beliefs and values without which human thought cannot make sense to itself:
we should think and act aware and clear (to the degree we don’t abide by these principles, we turn our thoughts to mush, and lose control over them);
we should be honest with ourselves and think logically and make progress towards our inner sense of “more preferable” (to the degree we don’t abide by these principles, we have no system for choosing one idea or action over another that makes any sense to us; we turn our thoughts to mush and lose control over them);
what we say and do actually matters, and other people are essentially like us and also matter, and we should all treat each other with kindness, respect, and mutual appreciation (to the degree we don’t believe in and abide by these principles, our life has no meaning we can believe in, understand, care about, or even stand; our feelings and thus our thoughts turn to mush and we lose control over them).
To these, you could arguably also add communication and Truth:
If our ideas and feelings cannot meaningfully communicate with one another, and/or there is no Truth within our conscious experience able to tell our ideas and feelings what is actually going on, what actually matters, and what is actually preferable; then how can we meaningfully steer our own thoughts and actions in a way that actually means anything to us?
And if we cannot communicate meaningfully with other human beings, who can stand the loneliness? And what meaning can we make out of everything we know–the bulk of which came from interactions with other human beings that we thought involved communication.
Naturally, just because a belief or value is undoubtable (ie: to the degree you doubt it, you doubt your own thought’s meaningfulness), doesn’t mean it is True; and just because you assent to a belief or value, doesn’t mean you know that it is true or True or understand what it means.
For this reason, Something Deeperism does not request blind faith in the undoubtables, but requires rather that one keep working to better and better understand that they are True and how they are True. Human thought is ideas, feelings, and etc all working together. The way forward is to assume a Truth shining through one’s conscious moment that one’s ideas and feelings can relate meaningfully, though of course not literally/definitively/1:1 to (the Truth is what is actually the case; not ideas and feelings about what is actually the case); and then to constantly work to discover, understand, accept, follow that Truth.
How to know how well one’s attaining that never-ending goal (never-ending because there will always be a mismatch between the Truth and our ideas and feelings about the Truth, and thus always some estimating/fudging/revising required)? Attached to the seed of wisdom within (the push towards awareness, clarity, honesty, decency, competency, loving kindness, shared joy), is knowledge of guardrails: “am I putting my lusts, greeds, vanities, fears ahead of treating others with respect and kindness? To the degree I answer ‘yes’, I’m going the wrong way”; “am I mean, am I cruel, do I get off on watching others suffers? To the degree I do, I’m going the wrong”; “am I doing this because it satisfies my greeds and/or ego; or am I doing it to help another person?”–things like that.
Something Deeperism is very compatible with the religious life. It is a philosophical argument for heading into a spiritual path and for keeping your spiritual path focused the Light that tells us we are all in this together and must be respectful and kind to ourselves and one another, the Light that alone knows that and how our life is meaningful: to keep fighting against our tendency to make Gods out of ideas and feelings: be they simple gimme-gimmes, or deeply-felt narratives about why our life is meaningful.
Something Deeperism seeks to keep dogmatism and skepticism in their proper places: in service of an ever-growing insight into that and in what way the undoubtables are actually True. Because that is the only path that allows for coherent thoughts and actions. Therefore, when thought-tools like dogmatism or skepticism are used in a way that undermines that path, they undermine their only possible meaningful purpose.
But what about for groups? What about for a political theory? Must we convince everyone of the preeminence of Something Deeperism before we set out a framework for shared government?
No! All we need to do is to make this point: whatever your belief system is, to the degree it is meaningful to yourself or anyone, it refuses to compromise on those values without which human thought is meaningless to itself (awareness, clarity, honesty-with-oneself, competency, kindness, shared joy, etc); and it also refuses to compromise on those values without which coherent public discussions and actions are impossible: accuracy, competency, honesty, and clarity in public debate; anti-corruption in politics and business.
People often agree to those values, but then let themselves and others set them aside in the name of some justifiable ends, or because they claim their opponents can’t or won’t abide by them, or simply because “you gotta be realistic”. Naturally, life is not perfectly clear-cut; however, the fate of all of us and the world depends upon how we humans manage ourselves; and while we don’t know everything and don’t share all the same beliefs, we should all be able to agree that to the degree a human is on the right track, that human shares certain basic values (obvious things like awareness, clarity, honesty, open-hearted/mindedness, decency, loving kindness; an honest search for accuracy, for competency, for what’s best for everyone; etc), and so it behooves us to keep working to at least protect those basic values that we do all share and that we can therefore all get on board with, and without which none of us can either understand our private lives or public discourses.
The more corrupt an individual or a state is, the easier it is for low impulses (greeds, lusts, vanities, lazinesses, delusions, cruelties, etc) to indulge their cravings and rule the moment, and the harder it is for high impulses (the ones we’ve been advocating for throughout this essay) to stand up for what is right and rule the moment. We want to always work to push against corruption in ourselves and in our state.
Ideas and feelings often tempt us; they want to count as Gods; and so they often fool us into supposing we are behaving well, or at least well-enough, when deep within we know we are heading down the wrong path. That is corruption in an individual. We can push against it by pursuing the basic spiritual values with an understanding that human insight into the Truth is an ongoing process of better and better organizing ideas and feelings around the Light within, and so requires constant effort and refinement.
But what about in the public sphere? How do we push back on the corruptions within the state? It seems like the starting point is to admit that they are a more fundamental issue than our personal political agendas because they create the framework within which our personal political agendas can be fairly tried. And we should only want our personal political agendas to be pursued if they are actually superior, and we should know that we cannot have successful long-term policies without building consensus. Therefore, we should all demand clear, honest, non-corrupt governing from everyone–not just those whose policies we disagree with. This is correct; but would it even be enough if everyone agreed to it? Most everyone is willing to nod at it, and that clearly isn’t enough. I don’t know what to do.
Here’s something: Recall that personal Something Deeperism has two main tenets: moral relativism is a hopeless slip-and-slide so you need to accept some basic spiritual values–the ones without which you cannot understand, believe-in, or care about your own thoughts and actions; however, blind faith just causes you to mindlessly clutch ideas you don’t understand, which also causes you to lose internal-meaning and traction within your own thoughts and actions. If we apply the same principles to political Something Deeperism, we’d have the demand for protecting our shared spiritual values (already made), but we’d also have the demand that we better understand and follow them, this time as a group. That would mean that part of what we’d discuss in public discourse would be “what is awareness, accuracy, honesty, decency, kindness? How to know they actually matter? How to know when we’re adequately aware, accurate, … ?”
Can we have that conversation in a productive way if some of us are atheists, some are fundamentalists of this or that religion, some are liberals of this or that religion, some are secular humanists, some think abstract ideas are unhelpful, etc? Or would this just invite chaos and discord? The political Something Deeperism was supposed to be less demanding than the individual Something Deeperism: we’re not asking everyone sign on to Something Deeperism, just that they agree that we can publicly share certain core values because, while we may feud about many details, we can still agree that we can and should demand valuing and pursuing honesty, accuracy, competency, kindness, and so on from ourselves and others in the public sphere. With political Something Deeperism, I was just trying to get us all to see that we have shared fundamental values, so we can all communicate with each other and work meaningfully together–to the degree we as a collective don’t jettison those values. OK, but wouldn’t everyone already agree to that? I don’t know; I feel like we slip away from it quite easily and I thought that if we were to all go through this logic together, we’d see that slipping away from our shared values is not acceptable: it causes each of us to betray our own individual values and to thus lose meaningful traction in our own ideas and feelings; and it causes us as a group to lose our ability to share meaning and thus coherently discuss ideas and make choices. In short, it invites confusion in at both the individual and the group level, and that invites corruption in, and that is bad for everyone. I thought if we would just go over this reasoning together, well then,
we’d all agree to demand more and more clarity, honesty, accuracy, competency, kindness of our elected officials; we’d all ag