“Higher Power”. “Inner Child”. “Trauma”. A 21st century technological inept human being cannot but cringe when those words are uttered. Indeed, the entire 12 Step program is cringe and corny all the way through. Its simplicity verges on brutality, One almost cannot help but treat it with irony and sarcasm. Because it really is ridiculous. But it works. It has saved countless lives. How can we reconcile its manifest stupidity and its power? What if one is in a situation where one does need help akin to the 12 Step. Would you do it?
Is it not the strangest, but most common thing—that the most stupid thing, works the best? And if so, if it works so well, what is the point of philosophy? Of reading Kant, Hegel, Heidegger, Aristotle, when you have the simple 12 steps to follow (which, don’t get me wrong, is definitely not an easy task).
12 Step is praxis’s ultimate challenge to thought—like Pascal’s infamous and ingenious wager. And I don’t think thought has a good reply. Thought is not always so utilitarian.
But perhaps by entering into the conversation, but directly answering the question, by being summoned to defend itself, thinking has already lost the debate. For the medium, the very format, the very questions answered, is the message—they betray certain assumptions and prejudices that permeates one’s symbolic universe. Love, after all, is the most highly esteemed, but the most worthless, of human emotions. In order to justify thinking, we might need a new plane. One that I do not have.
This, perhaps, also protects 12 Steps from the onslaught of irony and the false sense of intellectual superiority. For they are different ontological categories, and should be considered and judged differently (and isn’t judgement just that power to decide the concept, the universal standard, to submit a particular to?). The ability to do so is a triumph of the human.