Living Life Penultimately (Part #1)
There is a curious dependence on the "ultimate" in a variety of forms. This may be related to anticipation of an ultimate experience, whether in the form of a theory, a spiritual revelation, an encounter with another, a global strategy, or the like. The expectation is that this will be "ultimately" transformative in ways which can only be intuited, but whose consequences are much anticipated.
Of particular significance is the manner in which the term is used in a variety of contexts to "qualify" that which is most valued, or to which humanity most aspires -- or of which it is most afraid. Use of "ultimate" thus tends to imply a conflation of qualities from the contexts with which "ultimate" is associated.
The concern here is with assumptions regarding how the ultimate might be recognized -- if this is possible -- and with the manner of engaging with it, given its extraordinary nature. Also of concern is how the ultimate for one person may be of little significance to another -- despite all efforts at communication. This is especially relevant to assumptions regarding the possibility of global consensus on an ultimate remedial strategy for the world's problems, as previously discussed (The Consensus Delusion: mysterious attractor undermining global civilization as currently imagined, 2011). This could be seen as related to any anticipated ultimate emergence of an effective global leadership for the world in its present condition -- or perhaps some corresponding insight or discovery.
These considerations suggest that -- to the extent that the ultimate may be essentially elusive or inaccessible -- it may be more fruitful to explore ways of "living life penultimately". Given expectations of the ultimate collapse of global civilization -- even if not imminent -- living life in this way would be consistent with the injunction of James Lovelock (The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning: Enjoy It While You Can, 2009).