WHAT DO WE TAKE? … B) from Hegel

Hegel_portrait_by_Schlesinger_1831

FROM Hegel:

(i) “Man, because he is Mind, should and must deem himself worthy of the highest … The Being of the universe, at first hidden and concealed, has no power which can offer resistance to the search for knowledge …”[i]

Our consciousness makes us unique and blessed in the Universe.

(ii) “… in so far as we participate in the knowledge of it, we are in the truth; but in so far as we are singular, we are in error.”[ii]

Our participation with the Universe through our knowledge of it, is the truthful, authentic participation.

“… reality is the outcome of an evolving system of concepts, or movement towards the ‘Absolute Idea’”[iii]

Or, in other words, we are in an unfolding eschatological process; our lives are imbued with meaningfulness because of our knowledge and sapiens nature, and we are moving purposefully towards a great common goal – the Absolute Idea, driven by the Weltgeist, the World Spirit.

 

We’ve already discussed the human connection with the Universe in “What do we take? – A) from Feuerbach” https://pauladkin.wordpress.com/2018/10/21/what-do-we-take-a-from-feuerbach/, and briefly touched on how humanity, as consciousness in the Universe, is directly involved in this Weltgeist. We see this involvement as a deeply positivistic concept, so deep, in fact, that it makes the human need for God obsolete. It was a positivism that fuelled much of the 19th century’s Idealisms and Romanticisms, pointing a purposeful way forward for humanity through the progress of its understanding and its own shaping of the Universe through technological possibilities. Through science and technology, everything was possible, and that was an optimistic and motivating idea, until it became also the monstrous reality of the 20th century and its two world wars that left humanity on the brink of annihilation.

But, the pessimism that evolved into a profound nihilism had already begun in the 19th century, and was announced by science itself in 1852 when William Thomson, the first baron Kelvin, published a work called “On a Universal Tendency in Nature to the Dissipation of Mechanical Energy”. This thesis outlined the basis of what was to become the second law of thermodynamics, a concept that possessed ramifications that were to throw humanity into a period of irrefutable nihilism and pessimism still dominating human culture today.

The consequence of Lord Kelvin’s prediction was an announcement of the end of the entire Universe. According to the law of thermodynamics, this will take the form of a “heat death” in which the Universe will come to a halt in its expansion and freeze. Later, in the 20th century, with Einstein’s Theory of Relativity to support it, came a new, even grizzlier prediction for the cosmos. They called this the Big Crunch, which proposed that the Universe will eventually collapse in on itself and everything will be sucked into one nice, neat, totally-compressed pin-point of absolute energy.

Whichever way you looked at it, this physics affirmed that the Universe was doomed.

Nevertheless, a new age is dawning with a new scientific outlook that is immensely positivist and some cosmologists now dare to propose a vision of a Universe that, in a Hegelian way, has evolved meaningfully, with a seemingly wilful purpose.  This wilful universe, according to contemporary cosmologists, is not unlike Hegel’s Weltgeist driven Universe. It has fine-tuned itself in such a way that from an absolutely unconscious void in which nothing existed because there was nothing to perceive that existence, it has been able to create sapient organisms, not only capable of perceiving the world around it, but also of understanding the unperceived subtleties of that world. And we, as the highest form of sapiens’ evolution on our planet, are an integral part in the Universe’s plan to create and understand its own existence. What this means, is that humanity is placed in the centre of things again. We can now forget all nihilisms: ours is a purposeful universe, a beautiful place powered by absolute meaning, a godless-full beauty, in which we, as sapiens, are the key to all existence.

We have permission to think teleologically again. By which we mean, to think of the direction toward which everything is evolving as a purposeful thing. Once we have accepted final purpose, it creates a new gravity that tugs us from the end and pulls us forward, dragging us away from the vicious circles of all past conflicts.

But if we are to resurrect the idea of the Weltgeist, it needs to be protected against spiritualist and other religious manipulations. If we refer back again to our Feuerbach post, we have to insist that the Weltgeist should be considered a blind force and that we, as aware and rational organisms within the Universe it drives, are the “eyes” and “consciousness” of that spirit.

Our current ecological crisis shows us the dangers of pursuing nihilistic directions forward, and the disaster of equating progress with continual growth and human happiness with what we consume. Without the imperative conditional that humanity is in the world primarily, and the Universe secondly, and the subsequent consequences demanding that all progress take into consideration this partnership, there will be no evolution. In fact, the last century has been a devolution away from the Absolute Idea and Hegel has been shown to be wrong. The Universe is blind and we are its eyes, but if we lose touch with the Universe’s own driving spirit for natural progress, then we are also blind and that blindness could very well lead to the Absolute End of the Idea and the obliteration of all conscious, rational being.

 

[i] G.W.F. Hegel “LECTURES ON THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY” ebook version, p.15

[ii] Ibid, p. 245

[iii] From Ben Fine and Alfredo Saad, MARX’S CAPITAL, Routledge, p.3

Advertisements

OUR THYMOTIC PATHOLOGY 2: Achilles, Odysseus and the Bicameral Mind

In the evolution of Greek culture from the menis (cholera/rage) of Achilles to the metis (astuteness) of Odysseus we see a new power emerging in our species – the power of consciousness; the power of the mind. It is Odysseus and not Achilles who vanquishes Troy.

If Jaynes’ analysis of Homer and thymus is correct[i] and that an evolutionary leap took place between the composition of the Iliad and the Odyssey, showing us a literary expression of the transformation of the Bicameral unconscious man (Achilles) and the Conscious man (Odysseus), thymus and menis could also be regarded as biological facets of our temperament that were necessary to the unconscious man in his bicameral state, but became only a troublesome element for the conscious intelligence of our non-bicameral minds.

It is not the Achilles figure bursting with menis, or Hegel’s aristocrat hero sacrificing himself for his slave who should be posited as candidates for the title of the First Man, but rather the wily Odysseus. Odysseus is the first man, the first figure in world literature, who would be the first to display the tremendous advantage of consciousness and the astuteness that that consciousness empowered him with. Rather than a step forward, Fukuyama’s Hegelian idea of the triumph of thymus and the megathymotic instincts of liberal-democracy and capitalist society is in actual fact a backward leap in ontological evolution.

The Iliad man is slave to passions, which are not his passions but drives instilled by gods. It is Achilles’ thymus, stirred by Apollo, that makes him rise, leave his tent and go to battle. Achilles is a kind of schizophrenic automaton. He doesn’t think of himself but only acts when the gods tell him to act or when they stir his thymus. He is a patient potency that will explode when ignited. He will sit and wait, absorbing the world until he is called to act. He is an archetype for the invulnerable power of the masses. The masses who are stirred via their own thymus: the thymus of all religions and all nationalisms; loyal to all flags; the champion of all victims of any injustices. Achilles evolved into the masses and his thymus and his menis were preserved for anyone cunning enough to tap into to use.

Achilles, the archetypal hero of all who act when they are stirred, is a robot warrior. He is superseded in homo sapiens evolution by Odysseus, the genius survivor. As the archetypical automaton-man, Achilles is the first example of Nietzsche’s Last Man. The gods of Olympus are no longer the instigators and thymus stirring invisible protagonists of our current unfolding tragedy. They have been replaced by the cunning sons of Odysseus who learned the art of domesticating all Achilles-men. But now Achilles’ descendants, the Last Men, also have consciousness, or at least a latent consciousness, and the new god-king race of the Odysseus family must apply even more ingenious methods of manipulation to maintain the Achilles-masses automaton-slave condition.

The historical process has become a struggle to manipulate the Achilles-automatons, and keep them unconscious by convincing them that they are really free. But in between the Odysseus-god-kings and the Achilles-automaton-slave-masses are the other classes of men and women. Strange Odysseus-like creatures who use their intelligence not for cunning and manipulation but for knowing and teaching. They evolved in the post-Homeric times of poetry and philosophy (and Homer himself belonged to this same class). They stand on the outskirts of the prayer process of history, part of it, but never really accepted by it or accepting of it. They try to reshape it, redirect it.

 

If Jaynes is right, mankind as a consciously thinking species, as a true homo sapiens, has only existed for some four thousand years. Hegel saw life as a long process of becoming. A tedious but necessary process. We know that evolution has had its failures and there have been countless extinctions, so how should we imagine mankind in one or four thousand years’ time? If we were to meet such a person time-travelling back to our era we would probably not consider them human any more, just as we would probably have trouble relating in any meaningful way to Achilles. We are always in the middle of what we once were and will eventually become.

In the 1960s, when science-fiction writers tried to envisage an evolved humanity they gave us huge hands and long fingers. But our next great evolutionary leap will probably be like our last, not a physical change but a leap of consciousness. In the future men and women will have a more quantum awareness, perhaps with greater sensitivity to electromagnetic fields and, certainly, areas of the brain will be activated that we have never consciously used up to now. The shift from Jaynes’ bicameral Achilles to conscious Odysseus involved a shutting down of the bicameral activity and an activation of that part of the brain that makes us aware of the I.

We have evolved and we will evolve again if we survive extinction. “The goal is Spirit’s insight into what knowing is,”[ii] wrote Hegel. And for the Spirit to know through mankind then mankind’s perception will have to grow more acute and more finely tuned to nature. In the meantime, we must struggle against the bi-polarising of society into a conscious and unconscious one and the maintenance of that bi-polarised status quo. We still have a segregated society of Odysseus-royal-elites and Achilles-slave-masses, and a power struggle between the two. The automaton class tryies to preserve its dignity by demonstrating that it has clear consciousness, while the royal elite amplifies the servility of its multitude through the machinery of religions, patriotisms, publicity, spectator sports and other spectacular events for the masses.

 

[i] Julian Jaynes, THE ORIGIN OF CONSCIOUSNESS IN THE BREAKDOWN OF THE BICAMERAL MIND, First Mariner Books, 2000

[ii] G. W. Hegel, PHENOMENOLOGY OF SPIRIT, p. 17

 

PART ONE:

https://pauladkin.wordpress.com/2016/04/08/our-thymotic-pathology-1-fukuyama-and-sloterdijk/

 

WHAT HEGEL SKIPPED

WHOOPS!!!!

 

Hegel’s dynamic vision of history, and his optimism was to see the historical process as a movement toward a grand totality. In order to draw a positive conclusion from the millennia of oppression and exploitation, and of the rise and fall of oppressive regimes and greedy empires, Hegel described history as a process of overcoming that preserves that which has been overcome. The paradox of that which overcomes and at the same time preserves was termed Aufhebung by Hegel. For Hegel, the overcoming elevates that which has been overcome into a grand totality in which the essence of that which is overcome is allowed to be preserved.

However, in order to get into this Hegelian dynamic something essential needs to be skipped over, for how can something overcome something else if we are all flowing within the same river? Before an “overcoming” can take place a division has to occur between what is going to overcome and that which can be overcome. This primal division was overlooked by Hegel. He skipped over the essential element of our human condition, our “humanity”. That is what had to be overlooked in order to allow any “overcoming” to take place. In order for the grand totality to be created, we have to overlook the fact that the real grand totality of humanity already exists.

This skipping over was, therefore, a de-railing of history as human-history, projecting us into a cyclical continuum of separation and then a re-constructing of the amputated parts. What came about from this was an anti-human historical process which is, therefore, a seemingly endless process of separations themselves struggling to build themselves into other re-unifications that splutter and splatter forward until a new process of de-railing pushes the cycle into a downward spiralling trajectory again. This cyclical process takes place, not because it is the natural process, but because the frame around which the cycle takes place demands the cyclical procedure in order to keep the process contained.

This self-interested frame, created by those who can overcome, determines the anti-human historical reality and is reality, but this does not mean that it has to be reality. The logical condition would in fact be for humanity to be framed by a reality that is made for humanity itself.

By de-humanising the historical process and driving it into profit-making areas for certain groups, humanity itself is endangered and human fulfilment is rendered impossible.

In order to put history on track, we need to re-establish what has been skipped over in the anti-human historical process – we need to re-establish humanity and relocate the human element in the picture.

 

Our Optimism (a clarification)

575x270-panoramic_optimism_future_16181

Nietzsche affirmed that the pessimism of his culture was derived from a feeling that the world no longer had the value that it used to be thought to have had.[i] In the same way, we announce that our new optimism is derived from a feeling that the world is now becoming important again, perhaps more important than it has ever been thought of before. But not only that, humanity itself has also become more important than ever before. So important in fact that we are essential to everything.[ii] The initial result of this: everything is worthwhile again.

This is our positivism, inspired by the search for new values derived from authentic needs.

We are not talking about an egotistical anthropocentrism but a realisation of the absolute need for human (sapiens) qualities in order to manifest Being in the universe. As we explained in our article on Uroboric Will: “A need for intelligence is, in the Uroboric universe, an instinctive drive, coming from an instinct for Being and a sense of the most necessary potential.”[iii]

What we are pointing to might is a vision of a completely new era in which the anti-historical process that has brought us here will have to be left behind. We will need to sever our ties with our past, but without losing touch with it. Knowing is remembering, it is never forgetting. That which is forgotten becomes the unknown and loses being in time. Permanence is a human virtue.

[i] Nietzsche, WILL TO POWER, #32.

[ii] For more on this see our article Uboric Will, Hegel’s Spirit & The Godless, Purposeful Universe: https://pauladkin.wordpress.com/2013/12/27/uboric-will-hegels-spirit-the-godless-purposeful-universe/

[iii] Ibid.

Uroboric Will, Hegel’s Spirit & The Godless, Purposeful Universe

uroboros_by_den1s-d4bclbr

We have already mentioned the Uroboros and the Uroboric Drive or Will on numerous occasions in these blog entries and it is an important concept for us. In our article “Ecology as Ideology and the Uroboric Drive” we stated:

“A vicious circle is already unravelling itself, only to take hold of its own tail again in order to swallow itself. But perhaps this most ancient image of the Uroboros, the tail-swallowing serpent, is the final revelation: that our drives are magnetic ones, folding us back toward the Uroboric state of an autarchic relationship with the world which is the perpetual result, if only in a perverted way, of any attempts to revaluate or reinvent our circumstances. Capitalism’s final end is to become a Uroboros, even if this is not its conscious eschatology. The System, whatever form it has, is manipulated subconsciously towards the Uroboric, autarchic paradise which we lost so long ago. But while for capitalism the Uroboric autarchy is a Utopian dream that can only end in a complete annihilation of the tail swallowing serpent, the ecological Uroboros has to be imagined perfectly intact and healthy.

The Uroboric drive is in Eros as much as in Thanatos. It is the ultimate unity, representing where we have come from – the autarchy of the foetus in the womb – and where we are going – our final conversion into dust or gas. At either end of the unity the condition is an ecological one. A return to the Uroboric state of being is the Being of the Great Mother, the planet Earth. As an Eros-driven force, our will to freedom is an autarchic will, as is our will for love; our sex drive; our will for community and our desire for isolation; our will to communicate; our creative drives; our willingness to share; and also our need to be protective and cautious. The essence of all of this is in autarchy.”[i]

Hegel_portrait_by_Schlesinger_1831

We think Hegel was describing this Uroboric Will when he described the Spirit as “that which has being in itself,”[ii] or “that which relates itself to itself and is determinate,”[iii] or “it is other-being and being-for-itself and in this determinateness, or in its self-externality, abides within itself; or in other words, it is in and for itself.”[iv]

But this Uroboric nature of Hegel’s Spirit is only one side of its total substance. It must also be “the knowledge of the spiritual, and the knowledge of itself as Spirit, i.e. it must be an object to itself… a sublated object, reflected into itself.”[v] Which means, in our terms, it must be in possession of an intelligence.

A need for intelligence is, in the Uroboric universe, an instinctive drive, coming from an instinct for Being and a sense of the most necessary potential. Even though the matter being driven is blind, deaf and senseless. The Uroboric Universe wants to be perceived and known, even though it has no idea that it does. Nature wants to know, but does not know that it wants it.

It has to be blind and ignorant, if not there would be much more intelligent life in the Universe. If the Universe were driven consciously by a conscious Creator, there would have to be more success stories; more stars with inhabitable planets. Likewise, if Consciousness has existed from the beginning, then there is no pressing need for intelligence. That is the narrative of most religions: humanity is not at all necessary. In fact most of the time, despite Christ’s attempt to fill us with hope and self-esteem, we are a despicable species in the eyes of God, a failed mutation of something which should have been much better. But none of this makes any sense if the Creation was planned from the outset.

So, there is no Creator, there is no God, but…  there is most certainly a purposefulness in the Universe.

Our cosmologists tell us that the Universe is finely tuned and that it has to be tuned exactly this way in order for life to be even feasible. In a numerical sense we are positioned in the centre of the Universe, between the ultimate macrocosm at 1025 and the microcosm at 10-25, in a centre that we have to be in.[vi]This anthropocentricism is not an anti-nature one of human dominance and superiority. But it does imply purpose. We are here for a reason, and that reason has been determined, not by a God, but by the Universe. It implies a partnership, the partnership between the Object of Reality and the Subject that can perceive that reality, and make reality Being. It is a partnership between Sapiens creatures that know that they know things, and the Universe that allows a space for these knowing creatures to know It.

The fine tuning of the Cosmological Constant[vii] is so precise it could hardly have been accidental. But this does not mean that the fine tuning needed a Creator. Science does not need to embrace God on this issue, and nor should it – the idea of the Absolute has been a nihilistic, anti-life pessimism that has flagellated humanity for millennia. We know from thousands of years of experiences that the Idea of God does not make us better human beings, and that in fact it has been responsible for some of the darkest periods of history and some of the most violent, cruel acts that mankind has committed. If God exists, we’d do better just let It be and ignore all the power-driven dogmas that have been born out of the idea of the One.

600px-CMB_Timeline300_no_WMAP


[ii] Hegel, PHENOMENOLOGY OF SPIRIT, Preface, §25)

[iii] Ibid

[iv] Ibid

[v] Ibid

[vi] SEE Martin Rees JUST SIX NUMBERS (THE DEEP FORCES THAT SHAPE THE UNIVERSE), Perseus, 2000, pp. 6 + 7 )

OUR REALITY AND HEGEL’S FRUIT

Cherry_fruit_on_tree

It is the very fluid nature of human existence in the world that creates our uniquely human problem with “reality”. The human experience is enclosed within our  passage through time, our present is embedded in the historical movement through the ages of our technological development both in the past and the future. Of course this must be considered enriching, but we become so enamored by the motion of the historical phases that we lose sight of the constant and this creates a very dangerous condition: for it is when the continual is no longer consciously conceived amidst change that reality becomes a lie.

Hegel’s metaphor of the flower works here[1]. Imagine that reality is a tree. On the branch of this tree there appears a new, green bud which draws our attention to it. The tree had always seemed so dull and tedious before. Now it seems that there might be some other, more interesting, reason for its existence. This seems to be affirmed when the bud suddenly explodes into a colourful blossom, so beautiful that the flower itself refutes the significance of the bud and claims all attention for itself. The purpose of the tree is now so obviously to make this flower, we think. And in making this logical deduction we imbue the flower itself with the idea of Reality. But this is a mistake. The flower itself is merely an ephemeral phenomena and it will soon be replaced by a new truth, the manifestation of fruit.

Hegel uses the fruit metaphor to represent truth rather than reality, but if we were to implement our geometry of erroneous judgements on this (see our essay REAL DEMOCRACY AND THE LINE OF ERRONEOUS JUDGEMENT) we would be able to draw a triangle with a vertical axis of “truth” sprouting from a horizontal line of “reality” and linked by a hypotenuse of “ideology”.  Through understanding this relationship between ideology, truth and reality we can also see how Hegel’s metaphor works to describe the blossoming and fruition of ideologies that dazzle us, convincing us of themselves as the purposeful aims of humanity, until they themselves, explode, wither or just drop off. Of course it is the tree itself which is the constant source and power of all ideologies: but who can say they know now, with all the stentor, commotion and partitioning violence that the ideologies have thrown at us, what singular truth could possibly be the source of so much division? Where is the constant trunk from which all this diversity has grown?

As for our current, Western-world system it is very much a “fruit ideology”. We find it most often at the market-place and hardly ever on a tree. We may walk through a greengrocer, peruse the fruit and have no idea at all what the trees that they were plucked from may look like. We hardly even consider that the most essential component in the market is actually the trees from which the fruits were picked: we cannot see where the fruit of our reality came from any more. Reality has become too alienated from the real source.


[1] G.W. Hegel PHENOMENOLOGY OF THE SPIRIT, Forward.