Progress, Technology and Human Purposiveness

technological-progress

The measure of human progress cannot be a mere technological one. Technology has become an end rather than a means to an end because we have lost sight of what authentic human-ends could be.

The classic rubric of the true, the good, and the beautiful, which are basically aesthetic objects when drawn together, would also be truly transforming ones if they were understood as pathways to human fulfilment.

This may sound odd, or absurdly romantic, but if we consider our current motor for fulfilment which is money and examine how technology has become an instrument for manufacturing profits, then we can see how progress becomes swamped in a circular movement that is totally absorbed by the singular notion of making money. The result is that, without an end-notion or a teleological principle, authentic progress towards fulfilment cannot progress at all. Something is needed to pull the activity forward and out of the nihilistic circle of money-making and money-spending in order for any human realisation to be found.

We believe, and have tried to show in many of these writings, that the principle motivating force for pulling us out of the circle has to be necessity. Only after necessity has been embraced will the great aesthetic ideas be feasible as purposeful motors for humanity as well. Only through authentic human-necessity will the seemingly non-utilitarian notions of aesthetics become powerful life-affirming elements capable of drawing forth the true Sapiens potential of humanity as a vital element in the vast idea of the Universe itself.

Our relation to the Universe is an aesthetical one, but so is our relationship with the world we live in and our very survival in this world will depend on how quickly we can make the leap forward from the economic animal of the money-system to the aesthetic being of authentic human-fulfilment.

Human purpose cannot be disassociated from the Universe which we depend on for our existence, without being fatally short-sighted. Through association with the cosmos, the ends of physics have to also be metaphysical or transcendental ones – knowledge is an unending voyage unto truth; purposeful actions are movements toward good; and all creative acts are born out of the passionate struggle unto beauty.

Once these concepts are allowed, through necessity, to become motors for our life-affirming instincts, authentic purposefulness can begin to become manifest.

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ON HAPPINESS

 

HAPPINESS

Let us make it quite clear: Happiness is not our goal.

But how could happiness ever be a goal in the first place? It is illusionary to assume that happiness can be searched for and then found, and if this sometimes does happen it is always brought about by accident rather than via any law of cause and effect. Happiness is always only a possible emotional result of something else that has occurred or has been striven for.

That is not to say that happiness is impossible, and we do believe that a strong, enduring kind of happiness can be found through fulfilment. This is the happiness given through the satisfaction of getting important things done; or of being in the process of doing important things; the satisfaction from the feeling that one is on the right course.

There is nothing new in this idea, but the anti-human historical process of civilisation has pushed fulfilment away from any universal purposiveness toward subjective profit-making ideas of pursuing the right course. It is in the interests of our System of Accumulations that the fulfilment of one’s right course will trample over the rest and perpetuate the competitive elements of all societies that allow social injustice and economic tyranny to thrive in an almost uncritical environment. Thus, we find ourselves driven by the right course of the nation or the empire; or the family or the company we work for; or a placing of the right course in some god’s will. But really, the subjective decisions we make when deciding on our own course of action are hardly our own decisions at all, but products of constant, systemic propaganda.

Our proposal for finding happiness, is to abandon your own pseudo-subjective course in order to anchor it in humanity itself: redrawing our right courses from a cosmologically-centred, Sapiens’ point-of-view. In this way happiness is found through a universal purposiveness, which is possible for all, and because of that an authentic happiness that can be durable and life-fulfilling.

OUR CRIME AND PUNISHMENT

bad_conscience70c

Bad-conscience, Superego, Freedom: how much are these three things intertwined? Our Superego gives us a bad conscience, a sense of what should be done that we are not doing – it inspires an action. Freedom is to be moved to act – either because we want to or because we need to – and in the choice of either consummating or not that act. Only if we are inspired to act can we be free, and we will only ever be inspired to act if we have a sense of an action that needs to be carried out, of something that has not yet been started or finished. And this sense of duty is mainly generated by our bad conscience or our Superego.

When will humanity start to see itself as humanity? When will we start to judge the value of our lives according to what humanity has done? Not as a race, or nation; not as a competing thing – and all nations, classes, religions are competing things – but as Humanity.

                When humanity does do this, if it ever can, it will have to fall into a depression caused by the guilt of a terrible conscience. That guilt which will be the realisation of how much has been wasted; how much history of non-progress, of movement away from the humanity that has never ever been realised. Humanity is that which we are but have never been. Humanity: our great family that we have always been avoiding; that we have never been able to embrace.

If we look at history, the creation of the polis and its politics, the creation of the Nation State, and the empires of trade and religions, we must see a steady process of division rather than any unification. This should weigh on our consciences. What kind of guilt gnaws at us for that loss, not of innocence, but of unity and the potential civilisation that could have been born out of that unity? What kind of guilt for all our crimes against those of our own species? What kind of perverse diversion from reality made human beings the objects of fear and hate and the exploitation of one another?

 Raskolnikov[2]

But is this guilt, this bad-conscience for doing so badly at fulfilling our true human potential a bad thing? Doesn’t the guilt not remind us of a duty? Does it not evoke a direction for all of us? Knowing what one’s duty is liberates one from having to search for it. Duty anchors and liberates at the same time. Anchored we become free to float without fear of being carried away into waters we cannot possibly get back from.

                Has there ever been a more depressing age than our own nihilistic one? What is worse, nihilism has submerged guilt to far deeper subconscious levels than the religions ever did. Guilt and duty can only be positive forces if they are conscious ones. In Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment Marmeladov is healthier than Raskolnikov, but only because he is aware of a duty, albeit a phantasmagorical one. Both Raskolnikov and Marmeladov are disillusioned by the duties they think they must follow, because both of them ignore their most real duty, which is the duty towards humanity. Both become afflicted by the fantasy of sin, and become incapable of comprehending the real humanity they are told they should love. They are incapable of finding love for humanity because it is overshadowed by a love of the fantasy figure of the monotheistic God. Raskolnikov’s guilt is tripled by turning his back on Christianity to embrace nihilism, which unsatisfactorily maintains him and he finds himself struggling for the anchor of guilt. A guilt which is of such a nature that punishment cannot absolve him from it. The nature of guilt is in the non-fulfilment or in the losing of one’s way. It seems it can only be remedied by putting one on the tracks toward a real purpose and aim.

                And the only real aim for humanity can be the aim to be human and to recognise all other humans as human beings the same as we are. The only real aim can be the non-competitive aims of creativity and invention, not for personal gain, but for the satisfaction for having contributed in the furthering of human fulfilment as a knowing creature, as Sapiens.

NIETZSCHE’S ASSAYING ANIMAL

Quality

In his Genealogy of Morals, Nietzsche, searching for the essence of the human condition, uncovered the “assaying animal” the one that quantifies and qualifies. He observed that mankind is the species that sees itself as “the being that measures values”[1] and linked this self-perception to human pride and acuteness. Mankind is the assaying animal of the market place and “mankind soon reached the grand generalisation that everything has its price, everything can be paid for”[2]. But was Nietzsche here really associating the essence of the human with the Homo-economicus? It is certainly a very neo-liberal notion that we are, and that Nietzsche did… but how true is this assumption?

 

The assaying animal is a competitive animal, but is this a truly logical assumption? Assaying is not just a process of quantification: we don’t just compare things according to size or volume, but according to quality. In fact we could say that quality is considered uppermost over quantity, in almost all human assaying, in all fields of human activity except: (a) the economy and (b) the game. In these two areas quantity is the important thing. The economy is a mathematical reality in which pride can be measured according to the more zeroes one has following a figure that is not zero. Likewise, the game is usually devised as an accumulation of points. Sure, there is the idea of sportsmanship and cheating is frowned upon, but in the long run what matters, in the game and the economy, is that one has more points than one’s opponent.

 

Games and economies are abstract inventions, but in the real, beyond these abstractions, what is essentially important is quality rather than quantity. If one is ill, one doesn’t need any overdose of alimentation, what one needs is the right kind of diet to make one well. Offer a banquet to a starving man and you may kill him. The buffet bars that offer as much as you can eat, and the publicity campaigns that imply the same, are as damaging to public health as any drugs. When the assaying is quantitative the spirit cannot be an essential quality of our nature. There can be no real fulfilment in having more. The fulfilment comes qualitatively, by having what is better.

 

Human measuring, however, whether through quantity or quality, is inherent in the concept of freedom-granting power. It has always been in the interests of Power to determine quality by quantity and reduce reality to mathematical abstraction. Only when we can see all the perverse side-effects stemming from the subjection of the qualitative by the quantitative will Sapiens[3] be able to release itself from the cruelty inherent in the sadistic, aristocratic desires for the freedom of power.

 

All economic injustices are a direct result of aristocratic fantasies for the freedom of power. Fantasies which can only be conquered by a stronger desire – that which is inherent in Sapiens – the lust for knowledge, and the revaluation of all concepts via understanding and knowledge.

 

For example, only when democracy is understood as a universal granting of access to knowledge will the status quo of power elites be finally undermined. Power is knowledge and if the civilising trend is to be a democratic one then it must be understood that the universal access, distribution and sharing of knowledge is democracy; any secrecy is undemocratic; is anti-civilisation and barbaric. And knowledge cannot be measured quantitatively but qualitatively. A Sapiens measuring will be predominantly a qualitative one. Poverty will no longer be measured according to the amount of money one has, but according to the amount of fulfilment one has. Fulfilment for Sapiens will be a knowledge-based satisfaction. We are talking about an empire of Wisdom that is shared democratically and used for sensible, practical necessities primarily and for personal pleasure secondly. Dignity through a fulfilment of what is necessity. Pleasure through the quality of the life experience in the world. This is the Sapiens future.

 

[1] Friedrich Nietzsche, THE GENEALOGY OF MORALS, Second Essay, VIII.

[2] Ibid

[3] For more on Sapiens see my post “Where are we?” https://pauladkin.wordpress.com/2013/08/02/where-are-we/