Our Cancer & Its Cure through TELOS

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The doctrine of continual growth and perpetual accumulation of profits is a cancer to the world, it is our cancer. Half of the world are in denial that we have cancer, while most of those belonging to the other half who can admit to the severity of our illness, do not really know what kind of cancer it is (which is not surprising as the doctors, the media, have not really explained the seriousness nature of our illness very well at all).

You cannot put band-aids on cancer, you have to attack it at its roots, and the roots of this cancer are unbridled consumerism within a consumer market that is constantly growing demographically (that is what the doctors don’t tell us).

Buying second-hand or making your own is good, anti-consumerism (i.e. anti-capitalist) practice but as far as the cancer goes, it’s just a band aid. Every day, it seems, something new becomes a non-sustainable practice: driving cars or flying in planes has gone over the threshold, clothes are no longer a sustainable commodity, eating meat is no longer a sustainable act … capitalist recommendations: eat insects!

All these things are symptoms of the cancer and while we attempt to whittle them down the tumour devouring the planet keeps growing. Call it consumer-practices, capitalism, whatever, it is the System that we are immersed in that needs to be changed. It’s time to think big, not small. It’s too late to just do your own little bit, and to change the System we need to start talking about the fact that systemic-change is what is really needed. Only then will we be able to bring that change about and cure the cancer.

But to do that we need more than a will for a revolution, we have to have an idea of what we will evolve into if we pull down the system.

Once we look at the situation philosophically, we get a broader, more objective image than tackling it from a political stand-point. The philosophical view tells us that we are living in a deeply nihilistic era, and it is this nihilism that creates the ironically fertile field for consumerism to thrive in.

So, to change the system we need to change our philosophical standpoint: instead of a nihilist society we need to find a purposeful one. And that is where the idea of telos[1] comes in.

TELOS

The final-cause, and, subsequently, the fulfilment, of any human being, has to lie in the final-cause of humanity. But the only final-cause imaginable has to lie in perpetuity. The secret of all final-causes rests in continuity, in an eternal process of becoming. Once it all ends – if everything is suddenly reduced to nothing – then all has been in vain. This is the deep truth that our nihilistic civilisation chooses to ignore.

We hold the key to our fulfilment only if we are able to ensure the continuation, perpetuity and progress of humanity.

In order for the social-experience we are immersed in that we call civilisation to be meaningful and fulfilling, we must look for the teleological significance of civilisation? What should it be? How can we re-structure civilisation so that it does have a human and teleological significance?

To begin to answer these questions we first of all need to call a spade a spade. The System we live in is the cancer that threatens our existence and, logically, our perpetuity. Secondly, we need to identify ourselves as what we are in our essence, i.e. human beings, homo sapiens, the one who knows, who thirsts for knowledge and who will ultimately find fulfilment in that perpetual search for knowledge.

[1] Greek for ‘end’ ‘purpose’ or ‘goal’; from it comes teleology, which is a reason or explanation for something as a function of its end, purpose, or goal

Moral Teleology

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Kant proposed moral teleology, the idea of a moral final-cause, as a form of tackling, in a rational way via nature’s apparent final causes, the concept of the Creator or God.[1]

In our previous posts we have also been toying with this idea of the moral teleology, but instead of using it as a way to prove the existence of God, we do so to supersede the need to think of God, and allow ourselves to concentrate on human purposiveness. Our moral teleology is based on progress through becoming and concerns humanity – all of humanity without separations. The vision of the final-cause, even with the consciousness that it can only ever be a process of becoming, without end, and never be perfectly fulfilled, is a fundamentally moral concept that, as in all morality, implies duties. And while becoming negates permanence, and through that nullification a further negation of dogmas, it also maintains a need for the preservation of ideas via the imperative of learning.

In our concept of moral teleology, there are no divine commands, but yes, there is a moral gravity that tugs us forward in a purposive way. We have a duty, a sense of obligation, to creating a happy ending for humanity and the Universe.

But even in Kant’s case, despite building his moral-teleology bridge toward the Creator, he was also able to argue in favour of a rather atheistic kind of agnosticism: “Beyond all doubt the great purposiveness present in the world compels us to think that there is a supreme cause of this purposiveness and one whose causality has an intelligence behind it. But this in no way entitles us to ascribe such intelligence to that cause.”[2]

In a sense, Kant is arguing Plato’s cave-thesis in reverse. The temptation is to see God in our shadows, but, in reality, the illumination that casts that shadow is too bright for us to deduce anything at all from it.

And so, he says, we can handle the idea of God in a rational way through moral teleology, although, really, we are not entitled to come to any conclusions because they would be fantasies.

God exists because we want it to exist, but it would be more purposeful and positive to investigate the purposiveness of ourselves and the real human potential latent in our progress (with an aim of properly and positively unleashing that potential).

As a bridge between reality and fantasy in theology, Kant proposed the idea of psychoteleology.[3] This term is useful for tackling the idea of final-cause from our own perspective of becoming. A psychoteleological approach to the examination of theories of Cosmological Fine Tuning opens up a fertile field  for rationalising a forward-looking, authentically progressive philosophy of purposiveness for humanity.

[1] Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgement, Part One.

[2] Ibid, p. 313

[3] Ibid, p. 314

 

Cause and Effect

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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 MYTH OF SURVIVAL

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Recently we have received counter-arguments to our own humanistic theses using the premise that human nature is programmed or dominated by the need to survive. We agree that survival of the species is a fundamental moral necessity for humanity, but we see the association between survival instincts and human nature far too often used in developing justifications for morally questionable behavioural patterns or for defending ideological or dogmatic standpoints. For this reason, we now want to examine the biological knowledge we currently have concerning the relationship between evolution and survival or what we call the myth of survival.

First of all, let’s look at it logically. If the purpose of evolution were survival there would never have needed to be any development beyond the single-cell Bacteria or Archaea. These organisms are far older and far more resilient as a species than any of other more complex, Eukaryotic life forms like us. This world is teeming with bacteria, and there are probably more of them in a drop of water than the population of all of humanity. So what has evolving from a bacteria to do with survival?

Likewise if we look at reality from a subatomic viewpoint, particles and the atoms they make are virtually eternal and indestructible. The atoms in our bodies have been around for billions of years, since the early stages of the Universe, so it is doubtful that they are particularly concerned about “survival”.

But, if we are not programmed for survival, what are we programmed for?

The most fundamental leaps in evolution occurred at the cellular level: from single to multicellular types. Again, not for reasons of survival. But why? Complexity? Diversity? Does complexity or diversity offer any real benefits? Certainly not in terms of simple survival.

The transition from a one cell organism to one with two cells required numerous evolutionary steps, but the next evolutionary process was far more dramatic.

Now, in order to find reasons for why evolution takes place we would do well to consider how it takes place, for in the how we might find some clues that will explain the why. The how is embedded in cellular development, and so, perhaps, is the why. Or, in the words of biologists themselves: “Evolutionary mechanisms and cellular mechanisms are intertwined; each is necessary for the other and the study of one enriches the study of the other.” This quote is from the Preface of Gerhart and Kirschner’s “Cells, Embryos and Evolution”, published in 1997. The book is dedicated to the investigation into how cellular development has taken place in the creation of diversity. The first creatures with a high degree of intercellular cooperation were the metazoan animals. According to Gerhart and Kirschner, the secret of that leap contains a paradox. The gain was achieved via a loss. The morphological change came about when an organism shed its external cell wall.

Most unicellular organisms are invested with a durable outer coating to protect themselves from the environment. However, this protective shield also isolates the cell from its own kind. By shedding that exterior wall, therefore, the unicellular animal is not acting according to any survival techniques. Quite the opposite, it is making itself more vulnerable. What it is doing though, is opening itself up to the possibilities of interaction and communication with its environment. It is the first step towards being-in-the-world and everything that that implies: “By divesting itself of this outer wall, individual cells could begin exchanging living material – and information – with one another.”[i]  In a biological sense, the information age was born – over a billion years ago.

And so, after millions of years of survival, the multicellular creature decides to throw off its armour and start to exchange information with the world. Of course “decide” is the wrong term. Decision implies an intellectual process. The primordial metazoan did no more decide to do anything than we decide that we are hungry or decide that we need to pee. The need for communication came out of a natural “command”. Can we say from a “desire”? If we consider it a need we must ask: a need for what? What kind of need could be so important that it puts the primordial need for survival at risk? And the shedding of the protective coating must have been a risky venture. If the alternative is true: that there never was a need for survival as such, or at least not in the primary sense, then this would make the evolution unto information exchange the prime mover. The unicellular organism was just a first stage process, only really necessary until the organism had learnt how to progress to the next level.

Please don’t misinterpret us. The question of why evolution took place is a complex one that is better answered by biologists, palaeontologists and geologists than by us. We know that the primordial planet was a hostile environment vastly different in its atmospheric and tectonic conditions to the Earth we know today. Dramatic atmospheric and climate changes caused mass extinctions and stimulated incredible explosions of diversity in animal life. And yes, evolutionary leaps did take place when species were facing an adapt (change) or perish situation. But what we are arguing is that survival was not the logical prime mover of evolution, rather that the stimulus came from a need for communication.

This “communication” could also be its final cause: because communication is an ongoing process of constant exchange. Embedded in it is a necessity for qualitative growth in learning, and it is synonymous with “becoming”. As a final cause communication would be imbued with deep purposiveness. Arguably, the most generous form of communication is love, but that term has already been too greatly abused by religious dogma. So let us stay with communication as the real object of our human purposiveness.

[i] See Ward, P., RARE EARTH, p. 101