Synthetic materialism states that the material state of matter is determined by some synthesis (meaning “coming together or putting together”) of various elements and agents to form the material reality, one which would not persist were one of those elements to be removed or compromised.
All conditions and conceptualizations are the result of a material synthesis of this sort.
Let’s consider the idea of “moderation in all things.” Well, what are “all things”? Physical things, like chairs, books, wind, and machine guns, constitute matter. Nonphysical things, such as ideas, memories, and the like, come into being through the arrangement of certain chemicals in the brain, meaning they are matter also. So to be moderate or immoderate in all things is still to be extreme in matter, since it is in matter that all things, including moderation or immoderation as ideas, exist.
While it may seem like these ideas exist separately from us, they don’t. If all human life ended immediately, all ideas, including moderation and immoderation, would cease to exist, as would love, justice, freedom, and the idea of meaning itself. They exist only insofar as they persist in one or more minds.
So to alter a material reality, one must use analysis (which means “taking apart,” and is the opposite of synthesis) to understand its synthesized elements and identify which one, or sum, constitutes most clearly its “material essence.” That is to say, which elements, if removed or compromised, would most greatly alter the whole of the reality? Which would stagger, injure, maim, or even destroy it? Which would leave it unrecognizable? This is the only way to drastically alter a material reality.
Some people would like to change one or two things about themselves. They would like to target the synthesized components of themselves that they don’t like or that cause them to be led astray somehow. Perhaps they would like to lose some weight, get a new job, or be better at time management. This is very hard without someone else’s help and support, and this is no coincidence, since it is many “someone elses,” i.e. society itself, that is the central constituent element of this person’s material reality which has embedded that disliked and problematic element into his or her personality and mind.
That is to say, the main thing that determines who we are as people is society, i.e. other people.
By society, I’m referring to social structures such as family structures, educational systems, and political structures, and the systems of moral values that allow for the sustained function of those social structures. So as an example of one moral value (of course there are often several) that allows these structures to function, within the family structure, reverence for parental figures allows that family structure to function. Within the education system, reverence for teachers, within the political system, reverence for police, laws, et cetera.
To reiterate, as people, society itself is the main thing that determines “how we turn out.” Of course, we make decisions based within a certain limited set of choices—to eat or exercise, to get a certain job, or to leave the house at a certain time, as in the examples above—but the way we process decisions and the types of choices we have are entirely dependent on our place in and relationship to society.
So, in the mission to alter oneself, one must first critique and ultimately attack, stagger, and destroy the most decisive synthesized material element that has taken up residence in the neurons and dendrites of the brain: reverence, respect, awe, and deference towards these social structures individually and towards society as a whole.
It is not that we must hate and despise our parents, hate and despise education, et cetera. Rather, we must analyze these structures and identify what elements of them contribute to and prolong human suffering, and it is those elements that must be attacked and undermined. Which elements of them have implanted in someone the things about themselves that they hate? Which elements have implanted into human civilization the things that humanity hates, or should hate, such as war, poverty, misery, alienation, et cetera? One must no longer hold society in any high or medium regard. One must deplore society, and all of the harmful realities it implants in people’s minds, as the sole cause of humanity’s own misery and self-destruction, for despite also being the source of many of its improvements and good things as well, the necessity of these things would be rendered questionable were the miseries and inequities of war, poverty, destruction, enslavement, the profitability of uncured illness, et cetera, not created initially.
Until one can do that—critique the social relationship—and place the blame where it belongs, and act somehow on that feeling, one will remain a victim of one’s own misery and self-destructive urges as they become one’s only link to one’s own humanity.