every woman adores a fascist -- sylvia plath

Monday, August 23, 2004

A beginning is a difficult time...

I suppose that beginnings can be thought of as an arbitrary moment on a timeline, like the beginning of physical movement where a point on a timeline is named the starting point of a body in motion, or the point in a timespace manifold where one body collides with another and a different trajectory is created.

Were we to limit our understanding of human action as the result of particles coming together and separating, and pushing us into motion, then the beginning of our actions would simply be arbitrary in its identification. There would be no beginning, only moments on a vector.

There's another way, though, to think of a beginning: where it exists in a spacetime manifold and yet does not exist of it--like an end (telos), an emotion, or any other aspect of the human soul. It is this kind of beginning that is so difficult to talk about. Whereas the beginnings of bodies in motion verge on being completely arbitrary (and in that sense COMPLETELY understandable because we're the ones making it what it is), the beginnings of human action are almost always necessary and essential--they are not "made" by us as arbitrary things.

The beginning of human actions, as Aristotle describes them, has nothing that comes before it. There is no billiard ball (so to speak) hitting it that causes us to move. There is something else--something good that we take as an end. It is that end which causes us to act, and that end which does not exist in the past, but rather, the future. It exists within us as an aspiration, desire, and hope.

The beginning of our action, in this sense, is the end of it, and in that sense very difficult to talk about.