Modern life is incredibly entailed, regardless of the level of adventure we seek. Our world is so complex and busy that it is easy to bypass all the little choices we make and steps we take to fulfill our responsibilities. Due to this complexity, it is much easier to bypass understanding the entailments of our choices and simply act according to the conclusions offered by habit, tradition, or group-think. These three criteria are commonly referred to as obligations because they are exercised via compulsion.
So what is an entailment? Quite simply, an entailment is something that needs to be fulfilled for other things to be fulfilled. Drive a car? Well, you need not just fill it with gas and change the oil, but you need to get a driver's license and insurance, and follow the rules of traffic. Yet, driving is so simple in itself...just turn the key and go. Thus, the process of driving is heavily entailed.
Entailments are not limited to the concrete world though. Our thoughts, beliefs, and relationships are even more entailed than our concrete affairs due to the plethora of alternatives and contingencies implicit within their abstract nature. Evidence of this lies in how you know exactly what driving a car entails. In the abstract world of relationships, passions, and goals, do you ever exactly know what it will entail? No, because you cannot predict the future, nor can you predict exactly how things will naturally mutate and develop. In terms of our relationships, since others have their own convictions, drives, and responsibilities which they have thoughts and feelings about, you cannot claim exactitude over another's life, perspective, or the entailments borne of them.
This is why it is easier nowadays to be a relativist. To be clear, relativism is the relinquishment of judgment based on the assumption that no objective standard can be determined or communicated. The complexity of our modern world facilitates relativism because unless one hone's their mind and emotion through objectivity, things become messy very quickly: We miscategorize things, we misinterpret words and ideals, we mix short-term and long-term goals, we confuse healthy selfishness for unhealthy selfishness, the list goes on. I can observe and feel the social pressure to relativize my own comings-and-goings because the vast majority of our modern world is still subjective, hence only embraces portions of reality they find immediately comfortable and familiar. Yes, understanding the network of entailments of our thoughts, actions and habits can be nebulous and frustrating and discouraging at times, but only because we are at that point unpracticed. Becoming more objective helps clear the water and provides a better look at our entailments.
Understanding, taking control of, and mastering our entailments entails (no pun intended) looking at them from the inside out. I like to think of it as the organic approach because it involves the steps of the process, or the organs of the activity. So in the driving example, instead of defining driving as navigating the road in a vehicle, the organic approach defines it by all the steps involved to allow the act of driving to occur. Does this seem like unnecessary mental gymnastics, or some impractical mantra? If so, that is too bad, because due to the nature of entailment, each of these steps must be fulfilled to legally navigate the vehicle on the road. So prudence suggests we master the organs of the activity so that we may continue the activity adaptively and confidently rather than accidentally and uncertainly.
Changing our mental orientation toward understanding the entailments of our concrete, daily affairs is one of the most significant--if not the most significant--method of improving our ability to function, adapt, and improve the more complex processes of our modern lives. Are those not the activities that we overlook, anyway? If we approach everything as some grand conclusion that needs to be memorized or as an activity that needs to operate predominantly with muscle memory, then there is no way we can stop ourselves and adapt our methods mid-activity. And that is a big deal: Since our modern worlds are so heavily entailed, why would we not want the ability (aka: competence) to stop ourselves mid-activity to adapt the process to a better one? Do you want to be just a helpless tire rolling down a hill? All it takes is practice, practice, practice.
Doing this in our relationships involves a similar process, except instead of simply intellectualizing the steps involved in an external activity, we empathize the dynamic characteristics and perspectives exhibited by another person. To us, people are outside reality as well, except they are more complex than objects because they are thinking/feeling beings, hence moving targets! If we do not pay close enough attention to others, we may find ourselves holding them hostage to their past selves, rather than their present selves. Even if someone is highly principled and therefore fundamentally unchanging, their experience of their mental and emotional world will develop as they grow their experiences, so if we are not attuned to their process and experiences on their terms--rather than the terms we prescribe--we will not be able to forge a strong relationship with their current, dynamic self.
And yes, this is all from the concept of entailment, and our orientation toward it. Civilization and our modern world will not get any less complex, and will certainly become more concrete the more we focus merely on the act part of action rather than the organic steps that produce action. I want to be clear that actions and conclusions will always exist: Every book has a beginning, middle and an end. However, when we organically navigate the networks of our actions and relationships we will be much clearer on how and why things function, what the consequences and repercussions will be, and what is in and out of our power to change. Which is why the worst case scenario is acting out of obligation and not acknowledging our entailments at all.
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