Protagonism used to take its name directly from my values. During my late teen years, I believed in 32 virtues instead of the 5 values I do now. They were grouped into 8 "cardinal" virtues. One of them corresponded to my current value of Agency, and I considered it the holiest (whereas now I don't believe in a hierarchy of values). Since I had to split it into four distinct subvirtues to fit the pattern, I ended up attaching direct moral value to a lot of things I don't anymore (but were closely related to the will to agency). One of them was Adventurousness. I was also coming at it from a virtue ethics mindset rather than a consequentialist one, so part of my problem was that I was trying to describe morality in terms of what makes a good person rather than what makes a good action.
So I saw it close to the center of my "religion" that a Protagonist was a protagonist of a story in a very deep sense, the story, even. If God watched the human chronicles as a story, Protagonists would be the protagonists.
The derivation of the name started to make a bit less sense after I moved away from the 32 virtue model, through an 18-virtue model, then a 12-virtue model, then 6, and eventually 5 (sort of), as I kept gaining understanding and noticing that one thing I believed in reduced to another. I started to explain the name as based on a sentiment that Protagonists were protagonists rather than that being explicitly a moral value. I still think that sentiment is true, but I understand why better now.
Around the time of moving from 6 to 5 main values, I noticed a deeper definition of Protagonist. Everyone is driven by ideology. It never ceases to amaze me how powerful "believing" in something evil can be as a motivation for doing it with seemingly selfless devotion. But not only are their ideologies wrong, but their devotion to them seems entirely divorced from conscience. They rarely change their ideology, and when they do, it's not usually because they encountered a situation where it conflicted with their conscience. It's because someone they see as a "legitimate authority" told them (Christians are an especially good example), or because they entered a new group where they were expected to believe something different.
Me, on the other hand...
My ideology was born out of the quest to make it align with my conscience. It's why I left Catholicism. My story has been a story of changing ideology. Almost more than anything else. And a lot of the scenes have been taken up by arguing with ideologues who are beyond reaching.
I've only met two other people like me. Both of them are now friends - in the
There seems to be a fundamental difference between people who change their ideology, people who improve, and people who don't.
And I know it can't actually be predetermined because of metaphysics. I abhor personal determinism in all its forms. But that there seems to be a fundamental difference is... beautiful.
So the real definition of a Protagonist is someone who is sufficiently loyal to conscience to change their ideology because of it, without social pressure or personal interests forcing them to see the truth. Not someone who believes everything I write in the Protagonism section. Not even someone who agrees with most of it. Someone who's after the truth, no matter where they are now.