Exploring the Social Imagination

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Meaning and Reality... in the Social Imagination



There is no other reality other than the meaning we gain from our social interaction. It is meaning that comes from being together and meaning that comes together in our social imagination as a picture which we call reality. In our social interactions are grounded in and by a location. It starts in our mother's womb. It moves out from there with her as our point of departure. The place we are born and raised is the very beginning of meaning in our social imagination. That kind of meaning gets written in as a default mode program. It can be good, bad and even ugly in terms of information as what is good for one or bad for one is not necessarily good or bad for someone else. What is ugly can only be death and even in that when considering the point of departure 'mother' and location have a lot to do with what death means in the social imagination.

What the world means, the universe, the cosmos and its creation all come to us in the same way - social interaction. Information is passed on from one to another, from generation to the next generation. Sure, sometimes upgrades occur, or new to us/you get in and become part of the social imagination in a place but it is never like the original, nor can it ever be. That is why we can observe abstract concepts like: justice, liberty and democracy as applied differently in different countries: what does freedom look like, what does religion look like, family look like, what marriage and divorce look like, what education looks like, what gendered roles look like, and what private property looks like and so on.

Meaning is applied in all those sectors of the social imagination. What it means to have private property here in the US is not the same as it is elsewhere. In some countries, a person has what is called the 'right to roam'. Does that mean then I can be a bum and drift around? I suppose. The right to roam does not mean you have to be employed or paying taxes in order to have that right. Here in America, roaming around is frowned on. We know that in order for this country to function, people have to work and pay taxes. It means something to own your own house in America.

What does it mean to tolerate someone or something? What does it mean to put up with someone or something? What does it mean to love, hate, be happy, be miserable. All those emotions have meaning and they are acquired in a place over time. They are first established in us through mother and dispersed thereafter in a place over time. Our being in a place causes meaning to shape an image in our social imagination of who we are and are not.

"From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands" ~ NIV Acts 17:26.

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