The Teleological Gaze: Part 6, Story

Looking back over these posts, I'm not sure if they add up to a coherent point or observation. As I said at the start, these posts have been jottings, musings.

It seems to me that something is here, some thread that goes to the root of a lot of what ails us in our modern, secular age. Basically, without a teleological perspective--some idea about what existence, life, society, commerce, and material goods are for--we become lost and unmoored. Without any ready and sturdy answer about what life is for, we become captive to nihilism, cynicism, consumption, distractions, and desire.

Another way to express this is to say that the teleological gaze is also a narrative gaze, seeing life as story, drama, and plot. As we know, humans are story-telling creatures. Stories are how we make meaning of ourselves, our lives, and our history. And stories are teleological because stories are journeys. If a story isn't "going anywhere" we'd quickly lose interest.

The self is the story we tell ourselves about ourselves. It's a story that has come from somewhere and is going somewhere. There is a telos, a direction you're heading. And whenever we lose that telos, whenever we lose the thread of our story, we feel lost, like we're drifting. We've can't locate the plot of our lives.

To be clear, I'm not saying our stories, collective or individual, must be or are inherently religious. Nor am I saying that we can't change the plot and re-narrate our lives. I'm simply pointing out that the narrative structure of our identities means some goal, direction, or purpose sits at the root of being a human being. Our minds require a horizon. Otherwise we drift.

Perhaps another way of saying this is that we need a why. Why am I getting out of bed in the morning? Why am I here on this earth? Why does this matter and make a difference? Why keep pushing and struggling and fighting?

The answers to all these why questions place you within a teleological framework, providing you with the purposes and goals that convert the randomness of existence into a life, into a story.

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