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. 

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.

The Aesthetics of the Universe

universe00

The Universe is creative, capable of engendering novelty and incredible complexity as well as beautiful simplicity and harmony. In fact, when we examine the cosmos it is easy to make an analogy of its mechanics with the creative process of art: there is trial and error, perhaps even deliberation and accidental inspiration; there are moments when it destroys its own work, rubs it out and starts again; new options can emerge and it will follow them.

All art is in the Universe, and the Universe is in all art. It starts off as a Jackson Pollock and evolves into Da Vinci and then goes back to Pollock.

To be a good cosmologist, one has to study the aesthetics of the Universe.

5 WAYS TO CHANGE THE WORLD …

575x270-panoramic_optimism_future_16181

Surely, we all want a better world, and that better world is possible if we …

1) Believe that a perfect world (Utopia) is attainable, and that, subsequently, the eradication of wars, poverty, disease, crime and social injustices is possible. Believe that we can create better living standards in clean environments and that work will be a labour of love for all.

2) Understand that this Utopia can only be possible if it is constructed for the enjoyment of all of humanity, and that nation-state borders are an impediment to the construction of this better world. A constitution already exists for humanity, it’s called the International Bill of Human Rights Insist that this universal constitution be taken seriously. 

3) Understand that the alternative to Utopia is Dystopia and that this Dystopia is the current direction we are headed. In Dystopia, wars are a constant reality; poverty is rife, as is disease; criminal organisations control and govern us; the environment is dirty and noxious; and labour is an alienating reality for the worker and a daily purgatory. Understand that the creation of Dystopia has to be resisted at all costs.

4) Understand that technology is the main tool that will make the utopia or the Dystopia a reality. Understand that our creation and use of technologies must therefore be bravely orientated towards Utopian purposes.

5) Understand how our current system, which is geared towards acquisitions and the protection of acquisitions, is prejudicial for Utopia and a motivator of Dystopian scenarios. Understand that this system needs to be dismantled in order for the possibility of Utopia to bloom.  Help provoke this dismantling of the system by believing in (1).

IF WE ARE ALONE …

X-FILES-i-want-to

We are either alone in the Universe, or we’re not alone. Until formal contact with an extra-terrestrial life-form is established we can only affirm that: Intelligent life exists beyond the planet Earth or it doesn’t.

Nevertheless, we can statistically try and calculate what the possibilities of life existing beyond Earth are, and yet … does it matter? Well, if a positive, progressive energy can be generated by the conclusion, then yes, it does matter.

*

This week, the media have been latching on to a recently published article from Oxford University’s Future of Humanity Institute that argues the case that statistically we are most probably alone in the Universe.[1]

The article in question, by Sandberg, Drexler and Ord, called “Dissolving the Fermi Paradox” adds very little to arguments already put forward by Ward and Brownlee in their Rare Earth Hypothesis formulated nearly twenty years ago. Despite this fact, the media have picked up on the FHI paper as if it were a totally new discovery, proving that we must be very much alone.

New or not, the Rare Earth Hypotheses argues that the astrophysical, geological, chemical and biological combinations needed to create the cocktail for the evolution of intelligent life is so complex and needs to be so precise that our own existence is a freak stroke of luck, and that the accident we are is so special and fluky that it is very doubtful that is has been repeated anywhere in our Universe.

Yet, should we now assume this hypothesis as definitive? And if we do accept it, can this ‘we are alone’ perspective be beneficial for humanity in any way?

*

There is an X-Files episode (Redux, the first episode of season 5) in which the hero, Fox Mulder, is in a motel room watching a video of symposium featuring astrophysicist Carl Sagan amongst other, in which the question of the existence of life beyond Earth is being discussed. The actual symposium was held in 1975 and was joint sponsored by NASA and the Boston University.

In this conference, it was argued, in a proclamation by Richard Berendzen, that “the amount of stars in our galaxy alone is so staggeringly large, to the order of 1011 or more; the probability of stars having planetary systems is so high, perhaps half; the probability of those planetary systems might be comparable with our own and that the stars have some kind of ecosphere … suitable for life and it’s not too hot, not too cold … it begins to lead to the sorts of conclusions … that life must exist in the Universe and it must exist quite abundantly.”

Carl Sagan then affirmed that the most optimistic estimates about the number of civilisations there would be in the galaxy is in the order of a million.

Once it had been established unanimously that civilisations had to exist in the Universe, all of the speakers at the symposium expressed the view that contact with an advanced civilisation would have to be positive and enlightening for humanity. With the exception of the scientist and Nobel Prize Winner, George Wald. Wald began his speech with a positive affirmation of life in the Universe, like the others, but ended with a very sobering reflection. The tone of his voice suddenly drops into a melancholy register and he confesses that: “I can conceive of no nightmare as terrifying as establishing such communication with a so-called superior … advanced technology in outer space.” For Wald, such an encounter would be: “The degradation of the human enterprise.” He then went on to describe this enterprise: “One of the greatest of human enterprises is our understanding; something that men have sweated out to the greater dignity and worth of man, and to see the thought that we might attach us by some umbilical cord to some more advanced civilisation, science and technology in outer space, doesn’t thrill me, but just the opposite.”

What Wald is warning us of here, is that an encounter with a superior civilisation would rob ourselves of our purposiveness. And what is implicit in this argument is that humanity could have no meaningful place in any world populated by superior beings, because all our understanding would suddenly be rendered obsolete; and, as such, the human race would itself suddenly become obsolete.

What Wald is describing here, is our reason for being, which is encapsulated in our understanding.  

 

Reflecting on this point, and on our own civilisation at this point in time, we have to conclude that our own lives are very much alienated from this meaningfulness which is our understanding of things, and this displays the tremendous decadence of our system.

But what Wald’s observation also tells us is this: That if we are not alone, it is best to believe that we are alone.

*

If we are alone it imbues humanity with a tremendous responsibility – the obligation to be sapiens; to understand; to develop the human enterprise toward the fulfilment of knowing; to enjoy the meaningful pursuit of becoming knowledgeable; and, through this understanding, participate in the very Being of the Universe.

The Universe can only really exist in a qualitative way, if there is a conscious entity within that Universe that understands that It does exist. The homo sapiens is the species that knows and reflects on that knowledge. Whether or not we are the only species that knows in this Universe, believing that we are fills us with a powerful, driving purposiveness.

Embedded in this purposiveness is a duty to prolong existence in time and increase the quality of that existence, through progress.

And, in order to do that, we have to overcome the deep, nihilistic decadence that infects our civilisation today.

But again, we run into another paradox, because the human enterprise of understanding necessitates the exploration of the possibility of discovering other intelligent life-forms, even though there is a possibility that we may encounter civilisations so superior to ours that our meaningfulness in the Universe will be totally diminished.

However, perhaps this paradox is false. When we do have the technological capabilities to encounter other civilisations the dilemma would no longer have relevance for we ourselves would be advanced enough to communicate on a partnership level with the other civilisation. Likewise, if Ufologists are right, and we are being visited by extra-terrestrial civilisations already, these civilisations are wise enough to disguise their presence from us, precisely in order not to destroy our purposiveness.

[1] SEE: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jun/27/aliens-exist-survival-universe-jim-alkhalili

https://metro.co.uk/2018/06/25/probably-intelligent-life-universe-depressing-study-finds-7657344/

 

 

 

Dreams, Time, Death and Life

rene-magritte-interpretation-of-dreams

TIME AND DREAMS

In María Zambrano’s essay on Dreams and Time[1], she argues that time in dreams is an ambiguous element because it doesn’t really exist, and that the time we experience in our waking lives is a creation of consciousness – an integral aspect of thinking. From this she comes to a very interesting conclusion, that time is a liberating force for consciousness.

Within this thought lies a profoundly humanistic proposal: the consciousness we are endowed with as human beings is a liberating force in itself, but only when that same consciousness is able to process time.

Of course, we are so immersed in time that this seems like a tautological statement: how can we not be in time? And isn’t time an oppressive rather than liberating force? Haven’t we heard so many artists and poets complain about the tyranny of time on our lives; the great dictator over existence, from which it is impossible to ever free ourselves. Yet, Zambrano’s point is that we do escape time. In fact, we escape it every time we dream, and that happens daily. Yet where we are truly free is not in the time-liberating dream, but in the time-controlled waking world.

Freedom lies in the power to decide and that is what is denied us in our dreams. The dream world is imposed on us, we have no choice unto where it will take us; we cannot make real decisions there. It is a prison-world, in which the mind seems to play cruel games on the ego-subject that slips into it. Decisions are not made, and problems are never properly resolved in dreams. Things just occur randomly, in a world with an absurd logic in which the subject experiencing the dream is essentially powerless.

Freedom lies in an ability to make decisions and all oppression resides in the power that can nullify any expression of such decisions or squash any acts of realization that may be regarded consequential of those decisions. To exist only in the dream world, would literally mean to be trapped in a nightmare.

But more importantly, the essence of being human, which lies in our conscious, sapiens mind, is also wrapped up in this freedom to make decisions, and time is therefore an integral element in that freedom. A: I am human because I can decide; B: I can decide because I am in time; C: I am human because I am in time.

Zambrano’s argument, however, is that we are both in time and out of time: in time when awake, and out of time whenever we dream. But we would take this one step further, we are also in time while we are alive, and out of time when we die.

Surrealism_charnine8

LIFE AND DEATH

Let’s assume that life after death exists: what then is it? If our individual consciousness can exist after our corporeal state has perished, where would that consciousness be?

In trying to imagine such a state, the best approximation we can make is to imagine death as something like an existence in the timeless space of dreams. “To die; perchance to dream” – or more precisely, not to dream but to live in the dream: perhaps in death we dream of being alive; of being in time.

But this idea of the dream-state of consciousness in death applied to Zambrano’s reflection on the totalitarian experience of consciousness within the timeless, turns all religious optimisms on their head. Death is not a release from the nightmare of life, but an immersion into the nightmare itself. The idea of reincarnation is therefore not a Buddhist notion of spiritual learning and evolution into the state that no longer needs to be reincarnated, but a yearning from the prison of death to return to the freedom of life.

The essence of modern religions, lies in the hope they offer of the after-life and their narratives that mitigate our fear of death. For the religious, death is a liberation from an imperfect, inharmonious world of constant suffering – but it is in fact quite the opposite of liberation. A consciousness in death would be drowning in the freedom-less dimension beyond time-space, in which every subject exists in an ambiguous reality, with no decision-making power and no control of the reality they float around in at all.

But what the religious lose here is humanity’s gain. Hope lies here, in this dimension of reality. Plato’s cave may lack the light of God, but it has the time-space that allows those within it to feel the power of freedom. A liberating force which has always been mitigated and undermined by all world religions and the civilisations and cultures that those same religions have architectured around their anti-human narratives directing all hope unto death.

Our greatest hope in death can only be that it is not a permanent condition: that from the time-less space of the dream of death we will reincarnate again back into time and the freedom of the deliberating, decision-making endowed consciousness.

 

[1] María Zambrano, EL SUEÑO CREADOR, Turner, Madrid,1986

PROGRESS VS THE GRAVITY OF WEALTH

wealth-cycle

PROGRESS

Progress is change with continuity. Revolution breaks continuity.

However, when the change gravitates into a cyclical motion, revolution is needed to reinstate progress.

In a positive, progressive sense, revolution is a poor term for the idea of this interruption of cyclical motion because it implies a new kind of cyclical motion rather than a positive redirection with a continual-change momentum. In a practical sense, however, all revolutions have in fact been redirecting-breakaways that have gravitated back into cyclical motion.

An analysis of this reality indicates a pessimistic vision of a never-ending cyclical reality. But, does it have to be so? And if so, why?

Nietzsche and Deleuze argued that this had to come about because ideals and purposes cannot be sustained once they are achieved. But, what happens if purpose has a deliberately unattainable objective? That purpose becomes the purpose of always becoming rather than the maintenance of what is? That it becomes motored by progress and creativity itself? Could this not be the basis for a forward pushing drive for humanity?

Yet, if this is possible; how is it that we’ve never been able to manage it before?

 

WEALTH

What is the gravity that has constantly pulled progress back around itself into a cyclical form?

That gravity is “wealth”. “Wealth” as a driving force within the libido of our very civilisation itself.

Any deep analysis of civilisation will always indicate (either positively or negatively, depending on the stand-point from which the analysis is carried out) the role of Wealth in the creation and maintenance of all civilisations. In other words, civilisation is a construct erected by Wealth in order to move all accumulations in an upward way that benefits Wealth itself. All revolutions, so far, have been simple replacements of Wealth without ever removing Wealth from the central position of society.

Wealth uses its own gravity to bend continuity, drawing it back and looping it in cyclical knots.

For this reason, the main foe to human progress is Wealth.

Cycles are necessary for the perpetuation of Wealth – and this explains why we have always had a cyclical reality. For Wealth to perpetuate itself it needs cycles. Wealth has always been the centre of Civilisation; therefore, Civilisation has always had a cyclical form.

If we now interpret Lampedusa’s famous political axiom: “In order for things to remain the same, things have got to change” from this point of view, we see the clever reversal that Wealth itself needs to bring about in order to maintain itself, takes place by bending the curve of progress so acutely that it can curl down and around and perpetuate itself as a cycle.

So, is continual progress impossible, or is it merely inconvenient for Wealth?

If progress is defined as economic growth, then continual progress is impossible; but if progress means an advance of humanity as a whole in the fields of learning, creativity and general well-being, then the answer is the latter – it is not impossible, it is only inconvenient for Wealth.

Wealth is diminished in authentic human progress, and maintained by a politics based on slave-creating economies that function in cyclical forms. For human progress to be possible we have to declare war on Wealth.

positive-wealth-cycle

Where does our Conception of God come from?

Image result for eternityYayoi Kusama: Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity, 2009

We didn’t conceive and refine the Judaeo-Christian concept of God out of natural phenomenon or even logical deduction – apart from a First Cause, there is no logical need for God. Instead, it was formed out of a mainly intuitive comprehension of Humanity’s own potential. The image we have of God is a reflection of what our own collective intellect could be capable of being and producing, and of the incredible power that a highly advanced and evolved humanity could be capable of achieving if it survives, and manages to develop in a progressive way, for millions of years to come.

At the moment we have to be considered very poor candidates for the Master of the Universe. Nevertheless, we stand at a crossroads that demands that we must now take an optimistic evolution into consideration or perish. It is time to shake off our tremendous nihilism and pessimism and admit that an anthropogenesis into a God-like species is an idea that ultimately reflects our own collective potential – albeit in a far, far distant future. Of course, the entire history of our civilisation has been a process of turning our backs on that potential; God was created in our own image to mitigate the obligation to become godly ourselves. The responsibility is awesome, but sooner or later we will have to embrace it or disappear: that is the ultimate choice between purposiveness and nihilism.