:: The Promise of Philosophy Part II ::
(quoted from the Landmark Forum)
The distinction possibility.
We take up first, as the Landmark Forum does, the art of “distinguishing.” This word—“distinguishing”—names the act by which something hitherto not even noticed, let alone known, is called into being with appropriate language. The ability to distinguish is critical because it is the access to what we don’t know that we don’t know. If, for example, I think that I have to be funny/clever to be accepted by others as a valid human being, then that is how I will be--funny/clever. Realizing this about myself is a practical insight into what Heidegger calls “throwness.” When I am able to distinguish that I habitually strive, however inadvertently, to gain acceptance via my humor or cleverness, then, and only then, am I no longer completely embedded in doing so and am thereby freed enough to consider giving it up for something more fulfilling.
Why would I want to give up what has made me acceptable? That is the challenge and risk participants in the Landmark Forum face. How would it be if I take that risk? How will I be in the moment of letting it go? I will be however I am when I am not proving myself. Here, then, is the beginning--albeit a kernel--of self-awareness and the experience of a certain kind of unexpected freedom. In the act of distinguishing our ways of being, and seeing them as such, we crack open our "thrown" or already given humanity. In the absence of such distinctions we live more or less automatically and unquestioningly; what is not known remains not known. Distinguishing different ways of being recurs throughout the Forum.
This brings us to the distinction, possibility. Possibility is not used in the ordinary sense; it does not refer to something that could or might happen. Rather, it is used in a way reminiscent of Heidegger, as a clearing for a new way of being. Possibility is both defined and distinguished as a phenomenon occurring now in present time, not in the future. When possibility is present, experience, expectations, and perspective open or are freed up; to follow the earlier personal example, I experience directly that I can give up my attachment to being funny/clever.
The distinction possibility is integral to literally everything that happens in the Forum. Its use is multilayered. We will elaborate its meaning and significance as we consider each new distinction.