The Cause of Possibility: (Possibility versus Actuality)

 

a-better-world-is-possible

Perhaps the most distinctive feature of human reasoning is our capacity to see beyond the actual and perceive possibility.

Possibility is what makes us moral animals and throws us unavoidably into the divisive areas of good and evil and right and wrong. It is through our capacity for seeing possibilities that our tremendous creativity is allowed to bloom. Nevertheless, human society itself is responsible for much repression of possibility and civilisation itself tries to mould actuality into its own image at the price of possibility.

For the most part in contemporary society, that which ought to happen is constantly thwarted by actuality. Thus, poverty ought to be eradicated but actuality seems to turn the idea into some idealistic fantasy; war should be a thing of the past, but actuality makes it eradication impossible; we ought to have eliminated many more diseases and found cures for countless other simple ailments, and yet actuality engenders more new viruses year after year; we should have become more human and less nationalistic, but actuality makes a norm of the nationalistic spirit …

Possibility is constantly being strangled by actuality, and we are gasping in a choking planet. If there is a cause that we should now be defending above all others, it is the Cause of Possibility. Once that is empowered, all the rest of the causes, all the “ought to be” things in the world, will fall into place.   

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Our Specialness

galactic_habitable_zone

Sapiens life-forms, gifted with the ability to be conscious of and understand the physical mechanics of the world around them, are, most likely, a very rare part of the enormous cosmos we inhabit. Despite the vastness of the Universe, the stability required to produce ecosystems capable of harbouring organisms is extremely scarce.

This Rare Earth Hypothesis was put forward by the geologist and palaeontologist, Peter ward and the astronomer and astrobiologist, Donald Brownlee in their book Rare Earth. Their thesis is an argument against the Drake Equation that was championed by Carl Sagan and was a favourite of Fox Mulder in the X-Files.

The Drake Equation is more or less based on probabilities suggested by the simple vastness of space and fails to take into consideration neither the enormous inhospitableness of that space, nor the tendency for organised systems to fail or fall into mutually destructive relationships with each other. The Drake equation was most definitely an exaggeration, while the Rare Earth Hypothesis points to the Anthropic principles put forward by Barrow and Tipler and other champions of Cosmological Fine Tuning. It suggests the probability that the complex variety of life-forms on Earth may be unique in the Universe. In other words, we may very well be alone here.

Unique or not: we are special and rare, and immensely important for the qualitative existence of the Universe. Once we embrace this condition of uniqueness, ideas of fulfilment and purposiveness are radically augmented and changed as well. If we are the best there is, we should act accordingly and try to make sure we always act correctly, according to our noble status.

Our specialness implies purposiveness, and points toward meaningful life-philosophies. Likewise, it indicates that our negative feelings of alienation and absurdity are fostered by a lack of connection with the authentic purposiveness implied by our uniqueness in the cosmos. The truth is here, but we cannot see it because what we are, is buried in what we are. Our partnership with the Universe, established through Being, that puts us in a privileged position of importance within the cosmos, has not only deep philosophical significance, it also cries out for a drastic re-thinking of our attitudes to politics, economics, society and the very reasons we have for doing anything.

The Anthropic Principle demands a return to humanist principles and a revolutionary upheaval of the system that nurtures and governs our global civilisation today.

The Science of Necessity

necessity-is-the-mother-of-inventions

In our previous pots (Intelligence and Being[1] and Natural Purpose is born from Necessity[2])we made necessity a force; a physical law of nature. But, how can that be?

Within metaphysics there is the Necessitarian Theory which puts forward the idea that the “Laws of Nature are the principles which govern the natural phenomena of the world”. But this was more of a nomic debate between must and is [3], and a questioning of free will which is certainly not where we want to go. Necessity is also implied, if not stated, in much of the debate on final causes and purposiveness in biology, and, again, championed by theologians, but that is not where we want to go either.

A surprising upholder of final causes and purposiveness as a driving force in biological design was Kant. For him, mechanistic materialism was not enough to explain biology.[4] Nature needs more than just an understanding of its laws to explain it.

But to avoid the philosophical pitfall of tripping over into theology when unravelling metaphysical ideas, perhaps the best way to tackle this would be through an examination of the information used by systems – mechanical or biological – in order to drive themselves. Traditionally we have called much of this information laws: But how do these laws happen? Why must systems act in a certain way? Doesn’t this obligation imply necessity?

If atoms in water must solidify at 0ºC, and must agitate and become gaseous at 100ºC there is a certain force of necessity involved. Once we have established that all natural-laws contain the element of necessity, we see that necessity is everywhere, running throughout the very fabric of the entire universe, on the cosmic and the sub-atomic levels. Things happen because they must; because necessity demands it.

Science thinks it understands phenomena when it has been able to understand its laws, or, in our terminology, when it has understood its necessity – although knowing that something happens necessarily is not the same as knowing why it happens. It is in this field of trying to understand why, that those who ask the question are drawn into the problematic area of teleology and final causes.

Or perhaps not … The answer to the question of why organised systems come about may have nothing to do with final causes – the finality in each law may be just the singularity of each separate law. Initially, the necessary function of each law may simply be that it works. Nevertheless, once a system becomes complex, it needs the individual elements that make it up to all work in a necessary way.

Could we say that physical laws, and therefore needs, evolve as the system evolves? Structurally there is really nothing static in the Universe, everything is changing or inter-changing. Everything is dynamic, evolving into systems that seem in macro-cosmological terms to be stable.

It is this dynamism that eventually produces, in at least one tiny speck of the Universe, conditions for life. With the emergence of organisms, complexity takes on a whole new form. Really there are three stages of complexity in the Universe: (i) the mechanical stage of organising matter; (ii) the organic stage of evolving life forms; and (iii) the perceptive and idealistic stages in the evolving of minds.

In each stage there are laws or needs which deal with: a) lack; b) the problems of the maintenance and preservation of the system; and c) the needs for adapting, changing and progressing through creativity. The interesting thing here is that at all three stages the systems are liable to fall into internecine relationships with themselves. There seems to be an effort to regulate itself and find equilibriums and conditions which are self-regulatory, but the overall rule seems to be that this is impossible, at least in an absolute sense. While systems seem to strive for regularity and permanence, any absolute permanence seems to be impossible. All systems must eventually collapse, even though this seems to be the opposite of the intentions of the needs.

But, if the intentions are real, then the Universe is imbued with purpose; with a struggle; with the need to overcome its own internecine tendencies and evolve into regularity and permanence or at least to keep moving in that direction through the progressive evolutionary forces of adapting, changing and creating.

Looked at in this way, the final cause is in the process and is embedded in progress and becoming geared towards permanence.

[1] https://wordpress.com/post/pauladkin.wordpress.com/3120

[2] https://wordpress.com/post/pauladkin.wordpress.com/3117

[3] Internet Enciclopedia of Philosophy www.iep.utm.edu/lawofnat

[4] See Stanley N. Salthe, DEVELOPMENT AND EVOLUTION; COMPLEXITY AND CHANGE IN BIOLOGY, p. 270

Intelligence and Being

Harmonia_macrocosmi_cum_microcosmi

For there to be Being there needs to be a perceiving subject that can acknowledge existence through its discernment of it, or self-consciousness in the subject so that it exists because it knows itself and is aware of itself. These knowing and/or perceiving requisites for Being make intelligence a necessary element of Being.

That which is will only be significant or fulfilled once it has become Being through the perceiving and knowing process of intelligence.

In our inanimate, three-dimensional cosmos in time and space, a principle of necessity[1] has developed conditions allowing it to evolve into a universe endowed with Being.

To exist without being blessed with Being is absurd because logically non-sensical. Without Being there is no existence to any qualitative degree. Even though an object occupies an area of time and space, if it is not perceived or known in any way, it is, to all qualitative degrees, not actually there.

[1] See our article Natural Purposiveness is born from Necessity: https://wordpress.com/post/pauladkin.wordpress.com/3117

Natural Purposiveness is Born from Necessity

deism

The purposiveness of nature is not a product of design, but of necessity. The Universe needs perceiving, living organisms in order to exist. It needs sapiens creatures capable of perceiving and understanding it in order for its existence to be comprehensible. The underlying fabric of everything is necessity.

Existence was born out of a need intuited by the infinite lack of the void, and the presence of need in that metaphysical equation points toward a universal purposive meaning.

In evolutionary science, need, through adaptation, determines or explains evolutionary processes – and it can also explain the process out of the inanimate universe into worlds with life. If we can admit that the first amphibian didn’t develop its lungs in a purely accidental fashion, then why should we assume that life on earth had to have been formed in a purely accidental way?

But this need is a great problem for science, because it leads to an idea of the deterministic universe, which allows room for the idea of God, which opens the door to religions, which leads to a lot of very unscientific hogwash and the negation of science.

Yet, must determinism be rejected because of this. What is God? The fact that the Universe has an a priori element in its creation doesn’t oblige us to admit the validity of scripture. Not at all. To suggest that the Universe is deterministic and that the origin of its necessary existence is necessity itself, does not have to be an invitation to pray. There may be a deistic element in saying the Universe was born from need, but, historically, deism has always be associated with atheism by religions and should not be problematic for science.

How is necessity understood by science? To what extent can science be understood by understanding necessity? Can we say that all necessity exists like oxygen exists, or like the platypus exists, waiting to be discovered through observation and analysis? Can we therefore imagine a science of necessity dedicated to the uncovering of authentic needs?

Or perhaps these questions are irrelevant: scientific validity is already subject to necessity and possibility. All causes contain a certain amount of accident, and because the accidental is buried in cause, indetermination must also be embedded in results. But is it valid to ask what the necessity is behind a cancer? Or what is the necessity involved in a hurricane? Surely it is: for only through understanding its necessity can we possibly understand why things exist.

Everything exists for a reason that includes both necessity and possibility. It is there because it could be and because it had to be given the circumstances.

This should not be confused with fatalism. If what has to be is not desirable then, if we understand that it has to come about given the current conditions, we can go about taking steps to change those conditions and avoid the otherwise imminent outcome. This is pure common sense. But in order to avoid what is inevitable we have to firstly understand what is inevitable.

THE DANGERS OF DETERMINISM

 

sistine-chapel-ceiling-hands-adam-god

Last week we published an article examining the positive depths of the idea of a purposeful, deterministic Universe[1]. However, as some readers pointed out, determinism has also got its negative side, and we are going to look at that now …

It was Kant who warned us of the dangers of allowing God into the equation when tackling the notion that purposiveness exists in nature. For Kant it was quite simple: using God to explain natural science is no good for either science or theology. It produces an overlapping of boundaries and that creates uncertainty in both camps.[2]

But: Why is this so? If we can deduce that the Universe seems to be fine-tuned towards the creation of life[3], what is wrong with attributing that fine-tuning to an omnipotent, eternal force like God?

Well, our first objection is that the concept of God is by no means a neutral one. It has too much semantic baggage, and those that claim ownership of that luggage are adamant about the enlightened stand-point of their perspective. Likewise, it is hard to see religions embracing cosmological arguments as a proof of the existence of God, simply because cosmological fine-tuning is not found in the Scriptures and when seen from the scientific point-of-view, the science undermines the Scriptures or renders them unimportant. If God did fine-tune the Universe, it is very doubtful that It would be the same God who is said to have communicated with us via the prophets. Once fine-tuning, or any other scientific explanation of creation is accepted, the Scriptures no longer make any sense.

So, if science explains the deterministic, fine-tuning of the Universe it cannot use the term God to describe how or what could have been involved in the process that allowed this fine-tuning to come about.

Kant’s own warning was: “We must scrupulously and modestly restrict ourselves to the term that expresses just as much as we know, and no more – namely, an end (purposiveness) of nature … For the purpose of keeping strictly within its own bounds, physics entirely ignores the question whether natural ends are ends designedly or undesignedly. To deal with that question would be to meddle in the affairs of others – namely, in what is the business of metaphysics.”[4]

Of course, what cosmological fine-tuning implies is that yes, things seem to have been designed, or that there seems to be a design embedded in the structure of the Universe, driving it towards a certain end. Whether this end is willed or desired by the Universe is not a question that can be properly answered by science, but neither is it a pertinent question for theologians who would need to try and apply fine-tuning to the scriptures or vice-versa. That would be an absurd task.

The question here then becomes: If the implications of cosmological fine-tuning is a metaphysical question, who should deal with that metaphysics if it goes beyond the scope of theology and science?

To answer that we must consider where metaphysics came from, and we find its origins in Greek Pre-Socratic thought; the same thinkers who gave birth to philosophy and science. Through the Pre-Socratics, and metaphysics, science and philosophy are genetically tied. The first philosophers were trying to explain the essence of reality by defining the essence of nature; this is what science does through theory and experimentation, and it is also what metaphysics does through logic.

Cosmological fine-tuning is a logic-deduced concept derived from scientific data made from observations of the cosmos. It creates a metaphysical field that needs to be explored philosophically, and it implies the existence of a deterministic Universe, or an infinite Multiverse, and that suggests deep, positivistic repercussions for humanity.

Cosmological fine-tuning is a controversial subject for science, as are all deterministic ideas. Physics and mathematics might tell us that the nature of the Universe is incredibly precise and that, without this minute precision in its structure, the Universe would have been incapable of evolving as it did, but this also implies that we are the results of such an incredibly precise mechanism that the least likely explanation is that the cosmos was a beautiful accident exploding out of the Big Bang. And this makes theologists clap their hands and scientists blush.

To save themselves from the theologians, scientists have come up with an equally speculative idea that our Universe is not a real singularity and we should talk of a Multiverse made up of an infinite possibility of universes.

Quantum physics has opened the door to the realm of the speculative and allows, if not demands, very creative thinking. In a way it has pushed cosmology back into the area of philosophy again – especially towards the primal area of the Pre-Socratics. Scientists are now daring to think within the dangerous space of infinity and recently even sacred concepts like time, the Big Bang and Thermal Death have been questioned.

If philosophy is focussed on necessity, and if our necessity is rooted in the survival and permanence of the sapiens species, our humanity, then the positivism inherent in purposiveness has to be embraced, and the fine-tuned cosmos has to be interpreted as a positivistic inspiration for humanity. The Universe has allowed the conditions for life to be created and evolve into a creature that is aware enough to perceive and to try and understand the very nature of its own creator. And if we permit our own destruction, we are threatening the destruction of all perception of the Universe as well … This is philosophy as positive incentive, as a rediscovery of humanity as a vital force within the cosmos.

If we want to survive as a species and evolve as sapiens, then we must embrace concepts like permanence and progress as virtues. But permanence and progress together. Progress seen as that which will create valuable things that can endure. Endurance is what we see when we marvel at the pyramids or when we tackle the classics in literature, or stand before the great masterpieces of art and music. But the value of endurance must not be limited to conservative sentiments that lead to decadence, rather, endurance can only be guaranteed through progress as human and sapiens concept.

[1] https://pauladkin.wordpress.com/2019/04/07/the-depth-of-determinism/

[2] Immanuel Kant, CRITIQUE OF JUDGEMENT, p.209

[3] https://pauladkin.wordpress.com/2013/04/21/the-importance-of-metaphysics/

[4] Kant: Ibid, p. 210

Transcendental Reality – from the Big Bang to the Virtual Laboratory of Being, via Plato

Matrix-and-Internet

In order for reality to exist it needed to create an object/subject capable of perceiving it, but in order to do that, it had to firstly manufacture a physical space for that perceiving-subject to evolve in. This needed to be constructed in such a way that life could evolve within it.

The problem is analogous to our relationship with our computers. If we can imagine things from the computer’s point of view … well, from the perspective of an AI computer that would be capable of having a point of view …For that AI consciousness, reality is out of the box that the physical universe is contained in.

Nevertheless, something in that same out-of-the-box reality is responsible for programming the operating system that allows the AI to exist, be conscious of its existence, and even be capable of understanding its own condition as an artificial form of reality created in order to understand the real. Even though that reality is outside of the box and hence alien to the AI’s own immediate environment.

A question arises from this: Could an artificial intelligence ever come to really understand that which it’s been designed to do without being able to leave the box and experience the authentically real for itself?

In fact, this dilemma seems to be a moot point, having been made irrelevant by the fact that an intelligent computer does have access to input from outside. Actually, the imagined world of the Cyberentity would be mostly formed by its perception of the information that it could gather from the Internet, which would be information about the other reality, outside of the box, that is our world.

So, here the analogy breaks down, or does it? Here, perhaps, Plato was right. Everything that exists in the physical world has been created from information uploaded into it from the pre-physical or transcendentally Real dimension.

Thus, we also have the Biblical “God created the Universe in his own image” …

Or perhaps not … Could our physical reality have been a different kind of computer to the ones we are accustomed to be using?

Imagine that we want to build a device that could actually teach us about ourselves by clearly revealing to ourselves what we are from a purely objective stand-point. Our main aim therefore, would be to fabricate something which would provide an objective perception of us and, at the same time, be able to communicate its impartial perception of us to us, in a language that we are capable of understanding.

It might be considered that the best way to do this would be not to invent a super-AI observer of us, who could teach us, like a Messiah (we already know how flawed that process is), but rather to fabricate a virtual, but distorted image of a civilisation, that we could observe from a safe and impartially-perfect distance. If the civilisation were flawed we could learn from its mistakes, if it were perfect and Utopian, we would have a model to learn how to improve our own societies from.

In order to make this didactic universe, we would need to programme an environment capable of evolving in its own original way, but in a direction in which the creation of perception, consciousness, self-consciousness and curiosity were all possible. At the same time, the process would need to be monitored by us, so that, the internal language of the organisms evolving in the process can be learned and understood by us. Only if we allow a language of evolution that’s alien to our own, and therefore objective because distorted image of ourselves will the experiment provide scientifically important results (a mirror-image of ourselves would not give us the distance needed to truly learn from our observations of it). Only if we are constantly monitoring the language in order to understand its idiosyncrasies will we be able to draw purposeful conclusions and enjoy a meaningful experience from the experiment.

The fact that it is conceivable that we, or an Artificial Intelligence, could be capable of conducting such an experiment, opens a mind-boggling window into the question of reality. In fact, the very existence of virtual-reality questions the nature of our own perceived-world in exactly the same way that Plato did. We are not only capable of imagining the creation of a virtual universe, the purpose of which would be to understand our own being, we could also very well be the results of such a fabrication by an entity outside of our own box.

It also tells us that consciousness of the virtual does not have to be a nightmarish experience, like the one depicted in the Matrix films, but rather it provides a purposeful meaning for our existence in terms of the entire multiverse – in and out of the box experience of Reality. If the scenario we have imagined here is correct, and we are the virtual creations of the universe, then it means that we are the objects that the universe learns from, which turns us into the didactic material that the universe absorbs.

And the moral lesson this teaches, is that the essence of the universe is moulded by our example and that is a tremendous responsibility.

Yet, if this is so, what needs to be done?

Perhaps the best way to solve this question will be to create our own virtual-universe laboratory … and by doing so extend reality further into the infinite regressions of the multiverse. Infinity is a reality, but it is found not in expansion but in regression.

Cause and Effect

cause-effect

The effect cannot be the cause of its cause (Kant) – but the result can be an inspiration for beginning the process of its own creation. This causal nexus is true of anything that is created from an idea, or all things which are the products of visionaries. The cause of the thing comes from the fact that it has been imagined (nexus of ideal causes). In many cases, if there had not been an imagining of the result the initiative to create it would never have taken place. And so, in our technological reality, cause and result are closely intertwined, because most inventions are imagined and made to satisfy a perceived need: forks came about from an idea of the need to save our fingers from getting sticky when we ate.

But how does this help any metaphysical understanding? Can we apply this idea to the question of the first cause? Can intuition be enough to create something out of nothing? How can this relationship exist without a mind to start the creative process? For it to be possible the nothing has to be capable of intuiting something, which would imply that the nothing would possess awareness; and this suggests that the nothing is not nothing at all but awareness, which is something; even though, in the beginning it would be an awareness of nothing, which is a very poor form of consciousness indeed. Of course, next to nothing, any something is everything, so in the long run this intuition of something has limitless scope.

The dilemma might point us in the direction of the idea of God (before anything there was an eternal thingy that made everything out of itself); or perhaps we could assert that the primordial God is awareness (omnipresent in everything that is aware). Likewise, it brings up the concept of determinism (Awareness blending into purposeful Will), and also suggests a way of envisaging a purposeful universe without the necessity for God (unless a religion can be made in which God actually does become Awareness). Through intuition of a nexus finalis, in which entities-with-awareness (sapiens life-forms) are able to fully know the Universe in one great act of love (Being through knowing and being known, as well as appreciating and preserving what is known), a determined future opens up for us. An idea which can have enormous practical benefits for humanity, because it positions us in a purposeful place within the evolution of everything (the Universe).

But perhaps you think this is a pointless argument: that we are trying to prove the unproveable. In fact, we are not trying to “prove” anything: what we are aiming at is a pragmatical solution to the insalubrious effects of nihilisms; to wrestle with the ingrained pessimism that is debilitating humanity. Why do people prefer the non-purposeful over the purposeful?

Part of the blame for this must be heaped on the religions, for they dogmatise the purposeful universe and distort it in order to drive purpose in the direction of the interests of power. If purpose is a tool for power, then many will reject it. The irony of this is that even the resultant nihilism has itself become a tool for that power, especially now that power nurtures itself via an economic system of anarchic capitalism. For this system, purpose is too directional itself and offers too much clarity for the system which requires relativity in order to mask its real purposes. Purpose is therefore a threat to the system that can only be tolerated by allowing it to be projected through the distorting glass of religion.

In this way, we can see that there is nothing more radical in this world than real purposiveness; by which we mean the examination of a non-theological, cosmological, nexus finalis direction to the Universe.

Progress does not come about through cause and effect alone, but only through effect-driven causes inspired by purposive ideas. The Universe is the effect-driven result of the condition of nothing that allows for the possibility of everything. But our Universe is also a refined everything, stabilised through the filter of intuitive purposiveness. A purposiveness which is denied by the global money-driven civilisation we have now created, propelling us into a chaos of pessimisms and cynicisms regarding our own humanity. To find harmony in our lives, we need to harmonise our way of living with the same intuitive purposiveness possessed by the universe; we need to open our eyes and see where we are all going; where our ancestors will be at the end of time; and imagine what they will emerge as when the final evolution eventually takes place.

The Depth of Determinism

Vitruvian_macrocosm

If we accept the deterministic conclusion implied by Cosmological Fine Tuning[1]that our physical universe is geared towards the creation of life and that this creation of life is the purposive aim of a purposive Universe, then the next question to be asked is – Why is this so?

The Idealist reasoning of existence, that the subject only exists when there is an object to perceive it, suggests that existence itself is the aim of this cosmological plan.

If the Universe is purposive, then there is a reason behind evolution. A deterministic development of the Universe, driven to develop sapiens life forms, would indicate that the cosmos desires more than mere existence itself, it needs to be perceived and known in a state that we call Authentic Being.

What is the purpose of being known? How could knowledge, via these sapiens entities, be a necessary element in the cosmos?

Perhaps these particular questions are irrelevant within the cosmological plan, nevertheless, they are essential for any desire to establish deep human purposiveness and combat nihilism. A school of study and debate on these questions and the purposiveness enshrouded in Authentic Being could create more human progress in ten years than capitalist ideology has managed in five hundred years.

Human purposiveness can only truly be appreciated once we examine the role of life in the Universe. Why is the Universe here? Why are we here? Once we have accepted these queries as valid concerns for all of humanity, we will start to see the authentic purposiveness in our art and technology, and the retarding effects of our economy.

[1] An explanation of the basic principles of Cosmological Fine Tuning can be found on our entry The Importance of Metaphysics @ https://pauladkin.wordpress.com/2013/04/21/the-importance-of-metaphysics/

On Taste

paradox

In logic, antinomy is the term used to describe a “real or mutual incompatibility of two terms”.[1] It could be regarded as a synonym of paradox. The statement “there is no absolute truth,” is antinomic because the statement declares a truth that it also claims to be impossible. Likewise, the concept of Fake news is an antinomic entity, if we consider news to be reports of what has actually happened, and, therefore, inherently true.

Antinomy is not only resolved when its conflicting propositions are found to be not in in fact contradictory, it is also seen to be one of the more profound insights into the apparently contradictory structures of truth. These conflicting propositions are capable of existing together, although in a way that, as Kant says: “transcends our faculties of cognition”.[2] Likewise, we have discovered how often conflict can be resolved by finding the middle way between them, and this middle way also possesses a certain transcendental quality that, when applied to the conflict, can take hold of these two antagonistic forces and, through its own possession of qualities in both of them, resolve their otherwise internecine obliteration of each other.[3]

Between the objective opinion and the objective judgement comes cultural taste, which is an opinion formed from a combination of objective study and personal feelings towards things. As such, we have taste standing between opinion and judgement, transcending the negative qualities of both.

For Kant, the judgement of taste has its determining ground: “in the concept of what may be regarded as the supersensible substance of humanity.”[4] In Jungian terms, we could say that taste is powered by archetypes which, if they are nurtured, will pull the subjective into the realm of the human, allowing for humane judgements that equally transcend the cold calculations of purely objective meaning.

As Kant said: “it is the supersensible, through taste, that brings reason into harmony with itself.”[5]

And yet, in terms of the human and universal, there is hardly anything more untrustworthy than taste. But: how can a thing that is so untrustworthy be the harmonising agent of reason? And, what are the consequences of this untrustworthiness of taste?

TASTE AND IDEOLOGY

To answer these questions, we need to examine how ideology uses taste to perpetuate itself. Here, perhaps, a viral analogy can be used: The viruses of ideologies insert themselves into the cells of taste in order to propagate themselves throughout the System. And as ideology is a divisor and anti-human force, the harmonising and humanising potential of taste is constantly mitigated.

Yet, it remains our only hope – and for this reason taste must be cared for and cultured towards the human, away from the ideological. It is ideological taste which perpetuates the social and environmental antagonisms we are faced with today. Refinement of tastes is, therefore, a humanising process concerned with universals and archetypes; with what connects us to each other and to the world, rather than what separates us.

TASTE

Taste is a mixture of both the aesthetic and the rational. The aesthetic is intuitive by nature, the rational is analytic, and taste is intuitive and analytic at the same time. It is in this combination of intuition and analysis that makes taste so important. But in order to be effective as humanising agent, it needs to be carefully refined. Perhaps there can be no more important labour for humanity than this refinement of our personal tastes.[6]

REFINED (UNIVERSAL) TASTE

A universal taste, for example, is one that still believes in good and beauty, but good and beauty themselves are universal and ideal concepts. For this reason, and in order to anchor the ideal in a coherent world-view, it is necessary to see the Universe as a purposive thing. It is only through this anti-nihilistic world-view that human progress is possible. Within our economy-obsessed System, progress is taken away from the domain of the human and invested completely in the realm of the economy under the guise of growth. But growth is not progress, because growth in the economy is always quantitative and never qualitative, whilst human progress must always be seen as an improvement in the quality of life for all human beings.

Aesthetic and moral concepts are purposive things. Things we are striving to make; discover; be: and all of them carry a sense of improvement in them.

The purposiveness of taste is both realist and idealist: the real is a process we are necessarily moving through before the ideal can ever be realised or attained, or, perhaps, even discovered. Accident is part of the real, but it is the real that makes the accidental possible.

In order for taste to become something of worth again, we need to anchor it to the ideals of universal purposiveness in order for real to move at last in a purposeful direction.

[1] Antinomy, Encyclopædia Britannica Online

[2] Immanuel Kant, CRITIQUE OF JUDGEMENT, p. 168

[3] See https://pauladkin.wordpress.com/2012/08/24/the-middle-way/

[4] Kant, CRITIQUE OF JUDGEMENT, p. 168

[5] Ibid. p. 169

[6] We are not advocating snobbism here, but a humanising process. Snobberies divide and are anti-human because of that. Refining our tastes towards appreciating what we all have is common and the archetypal forces that direct our collective subconscious has nothing to do with snobbery at all. What we are talking about lies closer to religion, but religion without ideology – and religion is now infested with ideology.