Philosophy and Psychology and Relationships19 Oct 2009 01:25 pm

I have stated on numerous occasions on this website my theory that man has a basic drive towards intimacy. The definition of intimacy I am using isn’t strictly sexual, but rather our desire to become closer to, more familiar with or connected to others, ourself and the world around us.

Our ability to be intimate isn’t restricted to people and objects but also includes things such as activities and areas of knowledge. One can become more intimate with others, oneself, nature, religion, spirituality, trivia, history and sports. The list of things which we can become intimate with is as endless as the number of things which interest us or attract our attention.

One of the benefits of recognizing intimacy as a basic drive is its potential of being a positive definition of human existence and our humanity. Most views of man and his goals have a tendency to be negative or based on negative perspectives.

The current and historical views of human nature and his goals are to be found in religion and the sciences. In these arenas the basic definition of man and his existence are generally lacking in fundamental optimism.

Man is viewed as being sinful and his life and sense of self are viewed as being illusions. More often than not human existence and our humanity is viewed as a problem or as something to overcome.

From Christianity to Buddhism the basis of life is pain and suffering and life itself is an illusion. Enlightenment and Salvation come to him who overcomes life and becomes detached from it. Whether one achieves this through preparing for the afterlife or through transcending the wheel of life (pain and suffering) the negative message of human existence is impossible to ignore.

At every turn were told to flee and overcome our humanity. All worthy goals are placed outside the realm of natural finite human experience. We are beckoned to look outside of ourselves into a universe of absolutes. Whether that absolute be god, spirit, the eternal, consciousness, the afterlife, the infinite, or the unconscious the goal to overcome life stays the same.

In Psychology and the sciences, as in religion, our humanity is a problem to be overcome. In Freudian psychology we are at best neurotics with repressed sexuality, or thwarted drives and unmet basic needs. Our only hope for some measure of joy is to sublimate our needs, not directly get them met, and minimize the damage caused by life’s traumas by getting in touch with the unconscious.

Intimacy neither denies nor reinforces these viewpoints or perspectives. Yet it does allow for the possibility of our not only accepting but also embracing of our humanity. Intimacy has no need to demonize our humanity or our experiences. Sure as one becomes more intimate with themselves or their world they may encounter past damage incurred through trauma or repressed desires. Yet, there is a huge difference between identifying pathology and basing one’s existence on it.

Psychology, Science, Religion and Spirituality all have a tendency to bewail the limitations of human experience and seek to overcome these limitations through the creation of eternal Truth, infinity, God, etc. My theory of intimacy, being based on real human experience, has a more balanced view of limitation.

Without limits there would be no human experience. All of my senses are senses because of their limitations. I can see something, because I don’t see everything. My finite existence is full of limitations, and is only possible because of these limitations. For a full exploration of the role and function of limitation on our experience of Intimacy read Chapter 7 of my book Exploring Intimacy in the Words section of this site.

The theory of an Intimacy Drive allows us to appreciate and understand our humanity and our day-to-day experience of life. Viewing our life from the perspective of a drive for intimacy allows to look at our life on its own terms while not having a need to overcome or idealize human life and experience.

Our drive to become more familiar with, at home and closer to life and its experiences is finite yet never ending. One will seldom if ever exhaust the knowledge and experience offered us through any area of interest. We can always gain a new perspective or add to our feelings of connection or closeness through an additional if not novel experience.

I could learn a lot about trees by gaining closer and closer inspections of its bark. Some experiences and knowledge would just be impossible from a distance (like small variations in bark, or the smell of the tree at different levels and during different seasons). Likewise I would become even more knowledgeable and familiar with the tree if I looked at slides of the tree cells under a microscope.

Ironically enough, one often becomes more intimate with something by gaining a more removed perspective of that which you are intimate with. Seeing the aforementioned tree from a neighboring hillside or from a hot air balloon would allow me increased intimacy of the tree. Without such a perspective one might not be able “to see the forest from the trees” as the old saying goes.

I do not feel that intimacy is our only drive, but it is a fundamental drive which propels into our lives. It is a drive which can provide a life with much meaning and satisfaction. And it is a drive which allows us to celebrate our humanity.

Like intimacy itself, discussions on intimacy are difficult to exhaust. I will donate the next few posts to expand on a few ideas presented today.

I once again invite you to read Exploring Intimacy on this site for free.

Enjoy.

Jim Guido

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