TMI Ikegai insetIkegai—one’s reason for being, discovery of which brings satisfaction and meaning to life.

Everyone, according to the Japanese, has an ikegai. Finding it requires a deep and often lengthy search of self. Such a search is regarded as being very important, since it is believed that discovery of one’s ikegai brings satisfaction and meaning to life. In the culture of Okinawa, ikegai is thought of as “a reason to get up in the morning”, that is, a reason to enjoy life.

What percentage of people have it? Those whose identity, vision, actions, habits, goals, creations and passions are all congruent. Those who are innovators in their field, completely satisfied with the reason they are getting up in the morning and driven to make something newer, better and more innovative.

How does ikegai emerge?  Why is it that a minority of people truly possess it, and get up in the morning every day with excitement to manifest their vision and identity, while the majority in the middle class find their time disturbingly trapped by the limitations of money and lack of productivity and vision, drumming along with petty comforts and mediocrity, while even worse, the lower class and underclass live tormented lives in cesspools of crime and virtually no hope of transcendence of their condition?  The condition of a human’s consciousness is caused, whether directly through positive cultivation in childhood of enlightened and loving parents and community, or indirectly through the will to transcend any lack thereof; although that very will would have origins in other inspirations throughout life. Are there some systems where the percentage of manifested ikegai per capita is higher than in other systems?  Surely there is a low end—systems in which the vast majority are suffering, uneducated, poor, or perhaps under tormenting tyrannies. So, logically, what is the high end of the spectrum of a social system in regards to the measurement of ikegai per capita?  Is it possible to engineer a system proactively and with laser-like vision as to make imminent the highest percentage possible?

From the original position in the philosophical exercise of stripping all preconceptions, assumptions and biases of what a government or right to rule even is, we can attempt to rationally devise from scratch the values and premises we can consider to that end. The concept of government is fundamentally philosophical, and the level of philosophical purity is correlated to the status of advancement for that society. On the low end of the spectrum, within the original position of social order is the natural might-is-right doctrine. It is a sound logic that will-power and force would necessarily subjugate inferior levels of said attributes within social systems, just as in natural systems of physics and mathematics, greater levels of energy overcome the weaker. So, it is quite literally philosophy albeit in brute, unconscious form spawned from evolutionary psychology.  This is the origin of tribalism, dictatorships, any general system in which one group propagates hegemony over the status of another group.

In tandem with physical evolution in organisms there is another universal process in parallel evolution: the evolution of consciousness through intergenerational dialectical struggles and transference of information, which is ceaselessly expounded upon with fresh generations over time. So then political philosophy is a fundamental aspect of the collective consciousness that ever evolves, which thrusts it upward from its foundation of brute evolutionary logic of will, towards the nuances of philosophical thought on social order, into the culmination of Reason.

There is an astounding critical threshold in this process: the very meta-cognition of the process itself, the exercise of which is part of the process! Why? Because the very act of comprehending the progression of human knowledge and thought empowers one to take this to its logical conclusion: we must actively seek the highest standards of reason to make imminent the very order of civilization that entails the ceaseless advancement’s logical conclusion—lest the ebb and flow of power structures drown reason, and win out.

This would necessarily further entail an order of political will that best guides the collective through the maximization of the potential and uniqueness of the individual.

Therefore, at the height of political order, of which the brute might-is-right was the progeny, lies a systematic producer of Ikegai. However, one thing is critical:  While the enlightenment and various modes of political thought throughout history have gradually refined themselves to higher philosophical and political values, including checks and balances in government and standards of human rights, the original might-is-right doctrine of early civilization has never been annihilated in its entirety even amidst modern liberalism, as economic might is still very much in thrall to the brute realities of strong vs. weak (wealthy vs. poor), and manifested as the profit-seeking military industrial complex funded by private banking cartels, so is supported by physical military might itself. Indeed, this doctrine fundamentally represents will in its gross form, and hence can actually never be annihilated. Hence it is optimal that will be sublimated towards higher ends rather than brute physical or economic hegemony of one group of individuals over another. Therefore, the will of the nation is ideally guided not towards the end of materially enriching further the already materially enriched, or empowering militarily further the already militarily powerful, but enriching and empowering the mind, spirit and cultural direction of the people and the nation itself.

Do you believe that there is necessarily an ikegai for every human potentially? Are some people, based on preexisting conditions beyond their control, simply doomed from birth to a life of meaningless mediocrity? Or is any meaningless mediocrity a case of tragic lack of potential fruition?

The culmination of political organization is such that genius experts altruistically and hyperrationally guide resources towards the proactive cultivation of ikegai among its citizens. This constitutes a wise investment, as the result of those allocated resources would be felt in the ripple effects of higher human capital within the citizenry and its contributions towards society in return.

Far from contradictory or at odds, the dichotomy of collectivism vs. individualism is reconciled by maximizing the unique potential of individuals who then as a collective contribute best towards the whole. This maximization is itself originated within the conscious mission of the collective represented by the rational state, so there is a consistent feedback loop of betterment.

This loop can be guided through social capitalism, an economic model in which the Meritocratic and altruistic leadership and legal framework lay down the economic framework in which the private sector operates. Since a Meritocratic Republic must have a mission statement and constitution explicitly focused on proactive cultivation of intelligence, merit and self-actualization of its people, then all elements of the private sector—running efficiently within its markets by entrepreneurs—will be guided legally towards those ends. The Meritocratic Revolution will gain its will from the ideal of proactive implementation of the vision of a humanist enlightenment for the 21st century.

Since education, culture, creativity, rationality and mental health will be the concerted outcome sought to be maximized into its citizens, all entrepreneurs and larger businesses within the private sector whose product or service is congruent with those ends will be encouraged, promoted, taxed little, or subsidized. All private business structures and practices incongruent with the Meritocratic vision will conversely be discouraged, undermined, taxed heavily, regulated, or even banned outright.  Thus, the fruits of capitalism—productivity, efficiency and innovation—shall be cultivated and guided so long as the ends are deemed conducive to the vision, all within a framework that prevents the hyper-control of unelected private financial elites of the economy by which the entire citizenry is directly affected. This is the key variance between the orthodox free market capitalism and the heterodox social capitalism.  

By Phoenix Goodman

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  1. Ikegai | Political Philosophy | - June 5, 2014

    […] Ikegai — one's reason for being, discovery of which brings satisfaction and meaning to life.  […]

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