The heart (2)

1.) Axiom. To be experienced. Human life requires an object that we look to for consolation. This object is the pole star of our daily experience with other things being time apart from it or time leading up to it. The good is structural to experience and the thought of being without it is – at least – unbearable.

2.) This object is older than choice, language, or even coherent sense experience. Children literally just out of the womb (cord still attached!) seek the breast like this and will crawl towards it. They continue relating to a breast like this for years.

3.) So while it was first introduced as “looked to for consolation” this object is central to life even before we need to be consoled. Sure, we look for consolation, but we also celebrate with it when we are happy, look forward to it when we are feeling nothing in particular, etc. This object is both experienced and structural to experience, in the way that a drug addict both wants to get high and looks to the experience to structure the actions of his day.

4.) The object is in the self, the self is made for the object, and the object is the self. All these are different ways of describing its role as structural to experience, but it’s truest to say the object is the self since the self is that part of us that first demands what we will do, and we experience this as first coming from the object with choices being a response to this. Saying the object is the heart or the heart desires the object are equivalent.

5.) Our account of the heart makes it absolute but one account of free will denies any object can be absolute. Such is the hypothesis that we have a sheer indifference to everything, which was the Late-Franciscan account of free will that later played an immense role in Enlightenment thought. This seems plausible because the object of the heart can change. Nursing at the breast is the heart of newborns but won’t be so for life. If the object changes it is contingent and not structural and so absolutely all objects are contingent.

6.) Changes in the heart must be more robust than those that arise from different stages in life. We  are not shocked by adults desiring more than nursing for the same reason that we are not shocked by frogs not wanting to breathe like tadpoles. Any substance existing in time has stages of life which allow for changes like this. The Franciscan-Enlightenment theory of free will demands, beyond this, that the objects of desire be per se contingent.

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