The Time Has Come … (After Nietzsche)

The time has come for humanity to set itself a goal and plant the seeds of its highest hopes. There is an urgency. The anti-human has plundered the earth and now the earth groans with the pain of its scars. Very soon, the Mother Earth that has engendered us will hate us and turn against us, turning its back to us and making itself inhospitable for us. The terrain for planting our hopes is already barren and the soil will need to be turned over and well-watered for it become fertile again. The Wasteland needs the planting of trees in order to cool the terrain. Trees create conditions for growing trees in. The anti-human has become obsessed with cutting and clearing and that must now change. But what form must such a change take? To answer this we need to look more closely at what it is that needs to be altered.

Anti-human history has given birth to the most contemptible species of anti-human beings – the ones who can no longer have contempt for themselves. Nietzsche called this species The Last Men, the last humans, but really they are the last of the anti-humans.

“What will our profit be from theses high hopes?” groaned the last of the anti-humans: “Why change our anti-humanity? What can we hope to gain by changing what has always been?” the anti-humans bleated. “We want jobs so that we can make money, but your hopes only point to poverty,” screamed the last of the anti-humans with his hands pushed firmly into his pockets.

The Earth has become small, and upon it hops the anti-human, who makes everything small. He is a pestilence, like the locust, turning fertile forests into deserts.

“We civilised the world,” say the anti-humans in a whimpering chorus, blinking and forgetting that what they really did was surrender themselves to perpetual slavery and misleading themselves that they themselves are really human and not anti-human at all – they actually think of themselves as human beings whilst constantly acting in a humanistically antagonistic way over and over again.  

Becoming ill and being mistrustful are considered sinful by them, even though they no longer know what sin is. In general, they proceed with caution, lest they should be tempted to lose their anti-human traits and become human again. Anti-humans allow themselves a bit of poison every now and again, that makes for pleasant dreams, but they know not why they are living, for they are terrified of death. This horror encourages them to prolong their lives as long as possible. Even when their bodies and brains hardly function at all they are kept alive by artificial means, misleading themselves that the mere act of breathing can be interpreted as a genuine mark of authentic human (i.e., anti-human) activity.  

They hate work but cannot renounce it as they lust after the money that can only be found by working. They think it is labour and toil that gives them the moral right to live, but it really merely enslaves them to jobs that are actually unnecessary. The only aim of work is to enable the anti-human civilisation to participate in the anti-human game of wealth distribution. This game is obligatory, and because of that there is an effort to make work never too burdensome, although it should always be stressful. This paradoxical situation is taken for granted by nearly all anti-human societies. They no longer become rich or poor, which are both too burdensome.

The anti-humans are nihilists. They either live for no good reason at all or lose themselves in religious fantasies of nihilistic paradises beyond this world.  

They despise their governors but have no idea how to get rid of them. Politics has no interest for them except when they can reduce it to the most simple and absurd levels, otehrwise it is just too intellectual and difficult. Because of this the political class has to be, or at least appear to be, as simple and ignorant as the vast majority of anti-human voters who elect them. It is for this reason that politicians have no sincere interest in the people, except in their capacity as voters, which is what presumably determines the kind of government each society obtains.

Anti-humans are a homo economicus, but the economy too is too complicated to worry about. The anti-humans hate using their brains to think. They believe there is something anti-natural and anti-life in any abundance of intellect and in anything provoking a need to think. But there is hope in the current existential misery we face …

The anti-human can only change in one direction, it must become human, must become a sapiens organism again rather than the herd animal it presently is, now subjected to the tremendous lies of our anti-human course of history. For humanity to be reborn there needs to be a new enlightenment, a rebirth of the intellect and reason. We need to put argumentation back into the argument again.

ESSE EST PERCIPI

The continuing complacency by world governments to apply the systemic changes needed to combat climate change is making the idea of a mass extinction on this planet in the foreseeable future, more and more feasible, and the predicted year of total climate collapse grows ever nearer. The greatest concern is that this unfolding scenario is still only considered a marginal problem, perhaps because the forecast of the tipping point that situates it some 30 to 60 years from now[i], still seems far away and, probably the major reason for our lethargic reaction, is that there is still a lot of money to be made in fossil fuels for those who have got so, so rich by exploiting them.

For those of us with humanistic sensibilities, however, this steady and persistent procession towards our total extinction is maddening for the madness it is. For a humanist, despite the seemingly mass-suicidal death-wish, humanity is something which is inherently beautiful and profoundly meaningful in the Universe. But what is it that will really be lost if a mass extinction of all biological life forms should occur on this planet, as may very well have taken place on our neighbouring planet Mars?

To get our mind around the tremendous consequences of such a loss, we merely need to contemplate reality in an idealistic fashion as Berkeley did with the concept of esse est percipi (aut percipere), Being is to be perceived (or to perceive).

In this idea, Being and Perception are mutually dependent if we consider existence from a qualitative point of view. A Universe of mostly empty space, with an occasional ball of hot gas or frozen rock, is, qualitatively void of Being because there is no consciousness of it, and it itself is not conscious of its own existence. In short, without any passive or active consciousness of it, a thing does not qualitatively exist. To be, a thing needs to be perceived, and to be perceived, a thing needs to be.

This kind of metaphysical thinking may seem trivial at first, but if we associate all percipi with organisms threatened with extinction (i.e., all life on Earth in the age of the Climate Emergency), then it becomes clear that the extinction of life on Earth could very well mean the extinction of everything. With the end of biological entities capable of consciousness, the entire Universe, in a qualitative way, will cease to exist as well. The result would be a state of absolute non-Being, an absolute void of perception is tantamount to an absolute void, in which there is nothing to perceive anything and because of that nothing can be perceived.

Esse est percipi should now therefore be taken as a moral statement, demanding an ethical response to preserve and develop consciousness, and this demand for consciousness is one that must affect the whole of humanity as the perceived and perceivers par excellence.      


[i] ‘Collapse of Civilisation is the Most Likely Outcome’: Top Climate Scientists – Resilience

The Übermensch and Purpose

The Übermensch and Purpose

“What is great about human beings is that they are a bridge and not a purpose: what is lovable about human beings is that they are a crossing over and a going under.”

Friedrich Nietzsche, THUS SPAKE ZARATHUSTRA

Nietzsche saw human beings as a bridge between the animal and the Übermensch (the superhuman), this superhuman being the next evolutionary step beyond humanity. For him this evolution was necessary to pull humanity forward again, away from a tendency to slip back down to the animal.

Our interpretation of the human condition is a little different to Nietzsche’s. For us, the evolutionary leap is already inherent in the nature of our species as homo sapiens sapiens, but that the sapiens quality of humanity has been retarded by the anti-human historical processes imposed on humanity by civilisations dominated by the power of wealth. Humanity, from our assessment, is more alike a road or a river that we are not allowed to travel very far along because the path has been diverted and drawn back in a circling way. Because of this we seem to be unable to make real progress and our distant past seems closer than any dawning great new future and subsequently, this constant coming back (which is real way that humanity moves, rather than Nietzsche’s crossing over) results in our losing touch with human purpose and become easily lost in nihilisms engendered by prophets and economists.

“I love the one who lives, in order to know, and who wants to know, so that one say the Übermensch may live.”

Here we have a definition of Nietzsche’s purposiveness. Nietzsche loves the one who lives in order to know because that is the most authentically sapiens quality (and anti-animal quality) of our humanity, and it reiterates Nietzsche’s idea of spiritual progress, that through exerting our will to know we transcend our animal state and become the superhuman, or transhuman, authentically sapiens species.

For us, this knowing has to be exercised in all fields of existence and Being, fulfilling itself through a knowing, sapiens relationship with the Universe. A relationship creating an authentic and spiritual relationship of absolute Being.   For a more detailed explanation of Authentic Purpose and Being see the related article: AUTHENTIC PURPOSIVENESS: THE THING – THE WORD – BEING | pauladkin (wordpress.com)

AUTHENTIC PURPOSIVENESS: THE THING – THE WORD – BEING

For humanity to evolve in a positive and authentically human way we must be able to affirm a common purposiveness for all. In order to do that, we need to answer the big question: “Why are we here?”, with the emphasis on the WE.

This is a question that contains a heavy theological load, as it has historically been the role of religions to try and answer it, so in order to pull it away from religious associations we could firstly open up the subject ‘we’ to include all conscious and rational forms of life that could exist and so rephrase the ‘big’ question in a more scientifically sounding manner: “Why is their intelligent life in the Universe?”

Not that we expect science to be able to give a definite answer to this question, in fact we presume it can’t, but we do think if it is armed with philosophical, logical speculation, it could fashion a new, metaphysical scenario to build a positive narrative of purpose from. From contemporary cosmological speculation science points to a quantum-mechanics kind of metaphysics that approaches the evolution of the Universe as a wilful process, not necessarily planned as such, but moving towards a logical evolution that gravitates toward purposefulness.   

Before science will be able to definitely prove any reason for intelligence, however, philosophy is needed to open a path for that speculative investigation and pave the way forward and attack the big question from a slightly different angle – not of ‘why’ directly but primarily ‘how’ and then ‘what for’. So, firstly, How is the existence of rational beings in the Universe possible? And secondly, What could the purpose of intelligent life be in the Universe?

The answer to the first question rests in the idea of evolution and that has to be examined scientifically. The religious idea of a Creator that opened its mind and let in light and a paradise world came into being populated by all the animals and plants and human beings we know of today has no scientific basis. The evolution of the Universe from pure energy into complex material forms with consciousness capable of practising art and science and developing technologies capable of shaping the world to satisfy their own needs is the end-result of a painstakingly slow development from absolute simplicity to incredible complexity. We are beings that know we are here because of that gradual, cause and effect development into complexity. One could say we are a result of a seemingly perpetual process of incremental intricacy, and, as far as we know, the human brain is the most naturally complex material phenomenon in this Universe. An intricate organ that is constantly producing more and more complexity. Knowing this, we can now ask ‘why?’. What is this complexity we possess for? Why would such a process of creating such complexity exist in our Universe at all?

To answer this we need to think of what the most basic purpose of the Universe itself could be, the answer to which lies in what it is.

The Universe is everything, and by being everything it is the antithesis of nothing. In theological and philosophical terms, the Universe is Being, and that which is not in the Universe is non-Being. The pre-Socratic Parmenides argued that the totality of the Universe was something complete and perfect, an idea reflected in monotheistic concepts of God, but science tells us that this is not so. The Universe has evolved from very chaotic conditions and continues to evolve – Being is a developing, qualitative thing. The Being of a Universe simply made up of nothing more than cold space, hot balls of gas and spinning rocks, is not a very interesting thing to know about, especially as there is nothing in such a Universe to know about it. To be but not be known even by yourself, is the most pointless kind of existence. From this image of pointlessness, however, we can derive a concept of ultimate purposiveness and affirm that the ultimate goal of Being is for its existence to know and be known.

So, in order for this more purposeful form of an aware-Being to come about, then the Universe needs to create the possibility of that awareness. This must happen via the creation of the possibility of it being named. Let’s call this naming process The Word. The Thing, thereby, which is the original, pre-sapiens state of Being, must allow a naming to happen by creating circumstances that permit The Word to be brought into Being and by so doing allowing the Thing-itself to be known, interpreted through and preserved by The Word.

This is the purpose of Being, a purpose which is necessarily engendered by its lack. Without The Word the Universe (Being) is qualitatively deficient and is closer to non-Being than Being itself.  

Through The Word the Thing becomes the Universe as a Being imbued with qualities and purpose becomes rooted in the interaction between the Universe and the conscious, rational, evolving intelligences that cohabit, discover and define it.

In order to arrive where we are now, with someone thinking the Universe in words that are communicated to other organisms capable of understanding those words, the Universe has to have been imbued with the purpose of qualitative Being. A purposeful will which has been able to create conditions allowing sapiens organisms with brains that are complex enough to create language, to evolve in it, name it, and construct communicable explanations for it that will uncover the secrets of it and allow for the development of technologies that will develop the understanding of the Universe further, with the goal of achieving total comprehension with the Universe in the distant future. For this reason, using theological terms, humanity is sacred in the Universe.

It is within this continually evolving development that our authentic purposiveness lies, and authentic human fulfilment can only be genuinely found through the pursuit of this development unto a complete awareness of Being. If our consciousness and language make us sacred, we have a sacred duty to develop our common intelligence (the accumulation of all human intelligence) to the fullest. 

Frustrating Questions concerning Meaning and Purpose

Meaning depends on purpose to furbish it with sense. If we are to be able to say what the meaning of life in society is, then we need to examine the purpose of the society itself.

What is the purpose of our society? By answering this question we should be able to find clues regarding what will make our lives meaningful. Nevertheless, the answers that spring to mind might seem ugly. What happens if we don’t really like their ugliness? Are we bad citizens for rejecting the ugly purposes of our society? If we don’t lie the purposes of society, how can our lives within it make any sense to us? And, if society is non-sensical, how can we ever be expected to make our lives truly meaningful?

In a global marketplace society of ugly purposes, where can we escape to in order to pursue a meaningful existence again? And, if we can’t escape, what can we do to make the ugliness pretty?   

Transcending the Ephemeral

Only once we have properly grasped something can we begin to judge it. Likewise, only when we understand something can we know if it is beautiful.

So, beauty can only be found by trying to grasp the things before us, but also, approaching this idea from the opposite direction, we can say that understanding phenomena helps us to preserve the beauty of it.

Understanding is a method for transcending the essential ephemerality of existence.

Globalisation and Freedom

PREMIS ONE: The greater is the unification of human commerce, the greater too is the diminution of judgements, and subsequently freedom.

PREMIS TWO: The greater is the unification of communication, the greater is the increase of judgements and subsequently freedom.

If both these statements are correct, what does this say about our globalised world that both expands and unites commerce and communication?

Neo-liberal economists argue that commerce is information (e.g., the marketplace can be read and interpreted) and is therefore communication. However, we need to understand that this kind of process is really a unification of communication through a filter, the filter of commerce, which is primarily elitist and autocratic because the information about the market is only read from the point-of-view of the top and is always reductionist. The increase of judgements provided by a united global economy do not therefore lead to any growth of freedom on a human scale. It is too burdened by its dangerous dogmas of continual growth and perpetual consumerism.

For any globalisation process to engender freedom, therefore, it would need to firstly liberate global communication from the confinement of the marketplace. For the world to be global and free, we need to create a new kind of economy modelled on the virtues of communication, rather than enslaving information and communication to the benefits of commerce.     

After Trump

Here, at the beginning of the 21st century, we are enduring an enormous moral crisis that is exemplified and amplified by the Donald Trump presidency in the USA.

The Trump phenomena has given us a perfect antithesis-model of the universal good, in which self-love (and self-pity) came to the fore as the most powerful driving force of the most formidable self-loving and self-pitying nation in the world. That such a super-narcissist like Trump could be elected in the nation that is the (self-proclaimed) leader of the democratic world, not only highlights the fundamental flaws in the USA’s electoral system, it shows how dangerously accepting of flagrantly immoral discourses our self-loving, self-pitying societies have either become or are capable of developing into.

That such supposedly moral and even puritanical groups as the evangelical congregations in the USA have been able to embrace the megalomaniacal candidate so warmly and enthusiastically, reveals their own profoundly shallow relationship to universal love as well as their complete lack of appreciation of any objective concept of moral good. Even the Christian teachings of moral uprightness and universal love become swamped by their self-loving/self-pitying support of their self-loving/self-pitying champion.

But while the evangelicals highlight the problem, they are only the tip of the global pandemic of nihilist self-love and pity. Moral law, if it exists at all in this nihilistic global village, has deteriorated into a state that gives ultimate credence to self-love/self-pity as a sufficient reason for duty and action. Rather than striving for the highest good in the world, those who once laid claim to the world’s moral high-ground have collapsed into the wreckage of self-loving and self-pitying patriotisms.

Likewise, virtue and happiness have become corrupted into forms of decadence and perversion. Nothing comes out of the narcissist’s office that remotely resembles virtue anymore.

But there is a positive side to Trumpism too for, through his absolute lack of morality that has highlighted the antithesis against a universally good world, he has also illuminated an image of another possibility, and his tremendous immorality has put a spot light on what an impeccably good society might be like. The very existence of a seemingly impossible entity like the immoralist, malefactor President Trump has made the antithetic element of a universally good system, which has always been considered impractical, now also seem not only desirable but possible. The positive lesson to be learned from the Trump phenomena is that if a dystopia can be made a reality, then so can Utopia be brought about.

Necessity makes the universal good an imperative, and the existence of its antithesis demonstrates the achievability of that imperative. But to get back on the road to goodness and universal love it is not to defeat Trump and what he represents in an election, we have to firstly evolve out of the nihilist state that our self-loving/self-pitying world has sunk into, embracing rational, logical truth to combat the relativity of lies, and promoting authentically humanist values over all attempts to separate humanity into races, nationalities or the politics of segregating identities. The concept of humanity is an all-inclusive ideal and once the whole is embraced the idea of the inclusivity of its parts becomes a non-issue. Humanistic purposes such as knowing, caring for the rest of humanity and the world, and the drive to improve the human condition and develop our enormous creative instincts are needed to temper and vanquish the perverting weaknesses of all self-loving/self-pitying desires.      

Language, Meaning, Existence & Authentic Purpose

Language allows us to give meaning to our existence, and meaning is a bridge between existence and purpose.

Because of this, only sapiens organisms that possess a language can be creatures of purpose.

This does not mean, however, that the meaningful construct created by language necessarily has to produce purposiveness. Even with a deep understanding of the meaningfulness of human activity in the world the purpose of the word itself alludes us.

This is because the reasons for things are as numerous as the things themselves and all their parts, but not any of those reasons on their own give us any indication of real purposiveness.

But, how can this be? If existence and purpose are bridged by meaning, why isn’t that bridge a clear enough path to understand what lies on either side of it? What is the difference between meaning and purpose in this case?

If meaning comes through language, we are talking about the understanding of things provided by language, primarily through the naming of stuff (physical objects and mental concepts) and secondly through our linguistic capacity to formulate questions about things and find answers to those questions.

Once we have a language structure capable of providing an inquisitive mechanism we can search for an understanding of all things through the formulation of questions about them.

Authentic purposiveness is concerned with questions aimed at the totality of things as a singularity, or of the experience of the total, human singularity within the greater singularity of the Universe. Authentic purposiveness is related to metaphysics and the questions concerning the potential scope of human beings in the Universe.

We can discover what something is, and, by naming it we can preserve it and make it easy to recognise when we find it again or remember it. Likewise, by observing things or by using them or experimenting with them, or by learning about them from others with experience of them, we can know what they are for, where they have come from, or where to find them. Even things that no longer exist can be rediscovered through documents written about them or by talking to witnesses, or communicating with others who have talked to witnesses, or through photos or drawings. Some things seem easy to understand, like doors and tables; so easy that we do not even need to think about them. Their purpose is self-explanatory. Some other things of which we know beforehand what they are used for and which we take for granted, like televisions and phones, have complex technological motors that need instruction manuals in order for us to decipher how they operate. Cars need a driving course to learn how to manipulate them and musical instruments require hours of practice, study, and accumulative experience in order to make them sound harmoniously and be able to create musical forms with them. However, when we examine everything as a singularity in order to ask the big question, what is it all for?, certainty seems to crumble within our very minds.

Traditionally this is the area of gods and God; of myths and faiths, as if any answer can be good enough if you believe in it because the important thing, traditionally, is to have an answer, and really any answer will do as long as it is convincing. To make it more convincing, metaphysics turned to logic, which complicated things because logic can be complicating. Then, when any answer was now no longer good enough, we preferred no answer at all. God was pronounced dead and metaphysics died with It. If we really cannot know, then why try to know?

But let us return to the idea of meaning as a bridge metaphor. Through it we see that (i) meaning is a natural end result of existence and thinking itself, and (ii) the meaning that language invests our lives with drives us in singular direction that terminates in purpose. Meaning is dependent on a concept, object or an act making sense, but the sense of any concept, object or act can only be determined by considering its purpose.

When we stop looking for it our Sapiens qualities, of knowing, thinking, and questioning, lose their driving energy. Nihilism threatens all progress because it negates the drive that produces progress, which is purpose. As living creatures, we struggle to survive, and as Sapiens we need to know what that survival is meant for; but also, as Sapiens we struggle to give a purpose to our lives that transcends mere survival. It is because we need purpose to vindicate our evolution and progress that we need to make purposiveness a central feature of our culture and our societies.

Authentic purpose gives us a reason for language; a reason for meaning; a reason for thinking; a reason for being.

Purpose is also a measure of meaning. That which is imbued with more purpose is more meaningful and that which lacks purpose is meaningless. But, if this is the case, the difference between meaning and purpose has become muddied again, hasn’t it?

Meaning can define a phenomena and tell us what it is and even what it is for in the immediate sense of that term, but purposiveness points in the direction of an end result to the phenomena, to what it is ultimately here for, to its true vocation or destiny, if you like.

Meaning is discovered through scientific enquiry, whereas purposiveness is found through philosophical questioning via the results of the original scientific enquiry.

Meaning reveals how the world is; purpose shows us how it can progress and develop.

Meaning is factual; purpose is creative.

For this reason, purposiveness is tied to aesthetics, and through aesthetics to judgement, freedom and the eternal.    

On Empathy

Humanity (homo sapiens) is the revealing, learning species and empathy must be considered one of our most valuable attributes. It is that which the psychopath lacks and it could be said that a dearth of empathy makes one less human, more monstrous.

Empathy recognises the positivity expressed in life and the importance of the adage ‘to live and let live’, which also means ‘live well and let live well’.

Empathy therefore promotes humanity: its preservation and its progress. It encourages the evolutionary process from the pseudo-humanity, that we endure now, into the fully developed form of authentic humanity that we will have to become for the species to survive in the distant future. Because of this, empathy is a progressive component in the law of natural selection applied to human beings. Progress towards the authentic humanity will only occur when humanity learns how to properly exploit the creative, revealing qualities of our species by allowing all of humanity real access to the conditions and resources needed to liberate and develop their most human capacities. Our empathy is the quality that will allow this process, through the development of human potential through dignity.

Empathy is the emotional quality needed to fight for the rights of those who have been disinherited and condemned by the anti-human historical process created and maintained by the power of Wealth. Empathy enlightens us enough to fight for the rights of those who are born into a world that has been fashioned to give them none.

Not only is empathy a virtue, it is the source of all virtues. In this way, it is the antithesis of all nihilisms, or at least as long as it maintains itself rooted in reality. We are not talking about religious virtues like Christian pity, which are in themselves nihilistic in their denial of the importance of this material reality, which is, in effect, the denial of the importance of life itself.

Empathy builds through the process of uncovering and unites by revealing and opening the common space of humanity and life for all of humanity to enter.