Unconcealment (Part Four): Metaphysics as unconcealment

Continued from Part Three: https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/pauladkin.wordpress.com/3386

13.

Returning to the question of Being – Unconcealment is an ontological necessity. Without Unconcealment, Being is impossible. In the ontic field, through an analysis of cosmological fine-tuning, we see that the cosmos has evolved towards Unconcealment by creating conditions for life forms that can be aware. What cosmological fine-tuning suggests is that there is a certain determinism towards Being. In moral terms Being is an absolute good, and anything that threatens Being should be considered an absolute evil.

In the 16th century, the metaphysical thinker, Giordano Bruno, intuited this idea of existential Unconcealment when he talked of universal Providence, to which, he said: “I apprehend three attributes … Mind, Intellect and Love, with which things have first, Being, through the Mind; next ordered and distinct Being, through the Intellect; and third, concord and symmetry, through Love.”

Existential Unconcealment elevates humanity and has moral repercussions in our own lives, especially ecological ones. Without sapiens life on Earth, Being itself is threatened with annihilation. The first priority of homo sapiens must be: not to allow ourselves to become extinct. This is a moral imperative, and our civilisation should adapt itself accordingly. If not, it must forfeit its right to be considered a civilisation. At the moment, we have to admit that we belong to an evil empire that threatens the perpetuity of Being itself.

Let me be quite clear: without Being there is Nothing. “To BE or NOT to BE,” needs to be written like that, with capital letters, emphasising the dramatic nature of this concept. Being is everything, and if unconcealing, sapiens life on Earth is threatened, then everything is threatened. The Apocalypse won’t be brought about through the wrath of God, but it will be caused by the disappearance of that which makes the concept of God possible. Without the Unconcealment of Being, everything is exiled to the ontic purgatory of the un-perceived, concealed, infinity of Non-Being.  

Unconcealment (Part Three): Transparency vs. gossip

Continued form Unconcealment Part Two:

https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/pauladkin.wordpress.com/3382

10.

As a conscious being, the homo sapiens is a naturally unconcealing one. Nevertheless, whilst we have this passion to unconceal, we also have an aversion to be the object of Unconcealment. The conscious being in society needs to protect him or herself from the prying eyes of the society itself. Without privacy, life is stressful and the structure of society is totalitarian.

A political dialectic exists, therefore, between the need to be able to unconceal, and the need to protect oneself from the unconcealing of others.

11.

By embracing the Information Age, we have consciously and/or unwittingly surrendered ourselves to the stress and fascism of the unconcealed society. However, it is imperative to understand that unconcealment has different shades: from the gleaming brilliance of creativity and scientific discovery to the gloomy greyness of gossip and the invasion of privacy.

At the political level, the popular term for unconcealment is transparency, and whilst this is important for the healthy functioning of democracy, unconcealment also has an invasive, negative side. At the social level, this is called gossip. It is non-creative, accusative and stress creating and is often based on tenuous suppositions or blatant lies. The System loves it because it channels the creative and critical forces in society away from an unconcealment of the obscure world of power itself, into the mind-numbing noise of social chit-chat. However, with the surge of populisms in politics, the power of gossip has been thrown into the political arena, with the subsequent debasement of political theatrics, in which complex debate can be lifted out of the parliamentary setting and vomited forth in dangerous over-simplifications and memes propagated via Twitter.

The technology of the Information Age will not go away. Quite the contrary, it will offer more and more transparency, much of which will be negative and democratically dangerous. When freedom of speech devolves into the freedom for, and perverse enjoyment of, perjury and slander, democracy itself is infirm and knocking on the door of a dictatorship. To protect ourselves from this latent totalitarianism within the transparency-system itself, we have to nurture the brilliant side of unconcealment: the artistic, creative spirit and the unconcealment of scientific discovery.

12.

In order to protect themselves, the corporate powers that pull the strings of our global-world, capitalist civilisation, do allow a certain space for this brighter light of unconcealment to take place, whilst at the same time fomenting a gossip society of atrophied intellects that will happily consume that which is absolutely unnecessary. This causes a gap betwixt the brilliant creative part of society and its gloomy, gossiping grey side: a rift less visible but just as profound as the economic divide of rich and poor. However, this brilliant/grey society is only one stride away from slipping into the totally grey world of fascism. A proximity narrow enough to envisage a sudden, massive leap to the dark side.

When society nurtures atrophied intellects, it creates a breeding ground for fascism.

Read Part Four: https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/pauladkin.wordpress.com/3395

Unconcealment (Part One)

1.

Heidegger defined Being as that which is unconcealed or, more accurately, he proposed that what entities are depends on the conditions that allow them to manifest themselves, and it was this dependency that Heidegger called Unconcealment (Unverborgenheit).

Implied in this link between Being and Unconcealment is a dependency on the unconcealed buried in the nature of all Being.

Unconcealment is an important concept for us for three reasons:

Firstly, we believe that the Universe, as an entity, has evolved in a deliberate way that enables Unconcealment to come about.

Secondly, the human, homo sapiens, as an unconcealing entity, finds itself in a central and essential position in the Universe. We are invested with the power to unconceal the Universe; the same Universe that created the conditions allowing for our existence as unconcealers in order to bring forth Being … Being comes from the sapiens’ unconcealing of it.

 Thirdly, the vital role that humanity plays in the Unconcealment and subsequently the very Being of the Universe, creates a positive, moral purposiveness for humanity embedded in Being and the perpetuation of Being through our power to unconceal.

2.

Before Unconcealment, or before the existence of sapiens’ consciousness, there was no awareness of the Universe and no possible context for the Universe to exist in. With the evolution of consciousness that context was created. From a purposive point of view, therefore, we think in order to unconceal. However, paradoxically, the human mind is also proficient at making its own concealments.

We were created to unconceal and yet, ask anyone what truth is, and they will almost undoubtedly struggle to give any semblance of a satisfactory answer. Embedded in our power to unconceal is also a powerful capacity for sceptical reasoning. If there is a struggle in human society between light and darkness, it is contained in our proficiency to conceal and unconceal at the same time. In fact, our very own ability to unconceal is concealed from us. Although the will to unconceal is manifest in all truly creative, artistic and scientific endeavours there is very little in the design of human societies and cultures pushing Unconcealment forward as an essential element of human activity.

In reality, the importance of our unconcealing faculties, which are our true nature, are concealed from us, and this paradoxical fact may be the basic human flaw that allows for the seemingly unavoidable propagation of all crimes against humanity such as war and famine and the deliberate fermentation of ignorance created by anti-Unconcealment, and subsequently anti-human, economic principles.  

3.

It is not hard to understand why Unconcealment as a basic, purposive drive for human beings is concealed. After all, all human purposiveness is in the main part concealed by all human societies. Of course, this seems wrong: the same societies that enmesh our lives are alienating us by obfuscating authentic human purpose from us. Surely, the first thing that a civilisation would want to impart to its communities would be a common, authentic purposiveness, yet, in actual fact, the complete opposite is true. How can this be so?

The answer is simple: the power (Wealth) that organises and runs society is an economically-interested one that reaps more profit by concentrating all our attention on the present rather than any long-term future. Capitalism builds only where profits can be made from that construction, whereas purposiveness demands a different kind of progress.

The concealment of long-term purposiveness is therefore a conscious, anti-human act, dictated by the immediate purpose of making profit. There is no profit to be made out of the long-term.   

Continued at Part Two: https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/pauladkin.wordpress.com/3382

Heidegger’s Accordance (via Nietzsche)

th

In the third volume of his opus on Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger asks:

‘In what direction does the security of stability of the living being “man” go?’[1]

In other words: what line must the train of history be carried along in order for the stability of humanity to be guaranteed?

Given the ever-present threat of ecological collapse, and the social-political-economic chaos that would result from such a break-down, this question is paramount for humanity at the moment. So …

what was Heidegger’s answer to the question? And …

can his analysis, made in 1939, shed any light on our human condition eighty years later?

 

Heidegger claimed that we are moving ‘In a twofold direction,’ adding: ‘that is already prefigured in the essence of man,’[2] by which he means, by our relationship to other people and things.

For Heidegger then, or for Nietzsche as Heidegger understood him: ‘Man stands in relation to man, man stands in relation to things.’[3]

From this double relationship a kind of two-fold mutual accordance is made in which individuals relate, not only to the other individuals that make up our societies, but also to the things which we, and those other people, relate to. At first, this seems to be just another way of saying no man is an island, but then Heidegger makes a more committed definition, stating: ‘that accordance in the essential sense is the highest and most difficult struggle, more difficult than war and infinitely remote from pacifism. Accordance is the highest struggle for the essential goals that historical humanity sets up over itself.[4] And then, in the same paragraph, he makes a claim which, we believe, makes as much sense now as it would have done in the tragically turbulent 1939: ‘… in the present historical situation, accordance can only mean having the courage for the simple question as to whether the West still dares to create a goal above itself and its history, or whether it prefers to sink to the level of preservation and enhancement of trade interests and entertainments, to be satisfied with appealing to the status quo as if this were absolute.’[5]

However, we would now add that the situation has become so grave that the ‘daring’ attitude has become the dangerously daring one which maintains the status quo, whereas the act of creating a goal above itself and its history would be one of simple good-sense.

*

The positive view that Heidegger’s logic shows us, is that the direction towards a higher goal is no more difficult than the pursuit of the status quo: it is all just a matter of accordance. To go either way, the same procedure has to be followed – we have to be able to count on each other. In either case, we must think ahead ‘to a horizon that contains directives and rules in accordance with which what throngs towards us is caught and secured.[6] To go forward unto a Utopia, is no different to creating the Dystopia that promises to arise if we maintain the status quo. Whichever way we go, the choice must be made by establishing a process of accordance.

*

According to Heidegger/Nietzschean logic: ‘Representing beings and thinking rationally are the praxis of life, the primordial securing of permanence for itself,’[7] and in order to secure permanence today, humanity has to move in a direction that goes above and beyond the status quo that we have today. In order for survival to be guaranteed, a doctrine of permanence needs to be accorded; a doctrine that can replace the internecine doctrine of constant, economic growth that currently drives the status-quo, and which threatens rather than guarantees safety and survival.

 

 

[1] Martin Heidegger, NIETZSCHE, Volumes III and IV, ed. David Farrell Krell; Harper Collins, 1991; p.90

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid, p.91

[5] Ibid

[6] Ibid, p. 92

[7] Ibid

What is the Meaning of Life? (Part One)

Meaning of Life

WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE? Is there a bigger question than this? Some will answer that there is none; or, that only God can know the answer; or that it’s whatever you make of it. A philosopher might argue that the word-level in the question is wrong; that we need go deeper to answer the question “What is the meaning of meaning?” before we can say what the meaning of life is. A philosopher like Nietzsche would rephrase it as “What is the value of life?” because all meaning is subject to value judgements. But in order to determine this, as Heidegger knew, we need to get down to the most basic level of questioning and ask, as the pre-Socratic Greeks did, “What is the essence of life?”[i]

Of course, we are talking about Life, with a capital L, although by answering that question one should also be a huge step closer to understanding the meaning of their own individual life; defining the generic does help us understand the specific. The generic form of it makes it, in part, a question for science, and, in another part, a question for logic. Nevertheless, the resolution of the query has been severely soiled and butchered by being taken as a theological one.

“Whatever essential characteristics value has as condition of life depends on the essence of life, on what is distinctive about this essence.”[ii]

What is the distinctiveness of life from non-life? Isn’t it life’s distinctive ability to reproduce itself; its capacity for evolving into forms that are better suited for survival; in its desire for survival itself, which could be seen as a will for an abstract concept of permanence through reproduction.

quote-the-sole-meaning-of-life-is-to-serve-humanity-leo-tolstoy-185827

WHAT IS THE MEANING OF HUMANITY?

Yet, if the purpose of life is survival, then the evolution of the potentially life-threatening organism that humanity has become, seems like an ultimately failed process rather than a great triumph of world-will.

The reason for this resides in the fact that evolution is blind. It seems to have a purpose (survival) and a creative process capable of learning and relearning things in order to ensure the final success of that purpose (evolution), but there is no hand manipulating that process other than the achievements of the process itself.

Does this then make us a mere accidental product of a random evolution designed to survive certain inhospitable conditions arising at any given moment? If we answer in the affirmative, then we accept that there is no meaning to humanity, a nihilistic view that renders everything to the coincidental, with no footing in any certainty at all.

However, the sceptic must eventually become sceptical of his/her own scepticism. So, sceptical of scepticism we return to the question at hand: Why would life evolve into a life-threatening form like humanity? What can Life gain from humanity?

If we can find a positive answer to that question, then perhaps we can answer the query into the meaning underlying our human existences as well.

smithsonian-hallofhumanorigins2

WHAT IS THE MEANING OF HOMO SAPIENS?

A word carries a lot of semantic baggage and ‘humanity’ has a lot of negative connotations for a lot of people that are embedded within our pessimistic notions of ‘human-nature’. In order to imbue our humanity with a less prejudiced vision, we will use the scientific term for our species homo sapiens sapiens. By doing this we also clearly leap beyond the reductionisms of race, religion and nationalities and treat ourselves as members of a species, which is what we ultimately are. So, what does Life gain from our species? What does Life gain from Sapiens that it doesn’t get from other non-sapiens organisms?

Immediately we have an answer: knowledge of Itself.

Through Sapiens organisms, life knows itself. Existence becomes something more than just a thing that flows over one, or that which we float in and react to. Through a Sapiens consciousness existence is grasped as something which has come from somewhere and is moving forward into something different. Knowing gives existence a sense of permanence, and a conscious creative vision that comes from the realisation that all things can change.

Here, a circle of logic closes in on itself: knowing tells us that the essence is permanence through creative evolution. But this conclusion also immediately throws us out of its apparent circle. A circle is a non-evolving cycle – evolution, however, is always a leap beyond the apparent enclosure of the self-reproducing cycle.

Nature creates evolutionary leaps genetically, in a way that is even superior to the species’ own will to survive through carbon-copy reproduction; and also technologically, via the use of tools manipulated by organisms.

dna-double-helix

SAPIENS: THE TECHNOLOGICAL SPECIES

Homo sapiens is the technological species par excellence. Sapiens is the knowing, technological animal.

Technology and knowing evolve in a spiral way, and we could probably map their relationship in a form that would very much resemble a DNA helix.

The spiral is a dynamic form of the circle. It winds itself, but in a way that moves forward as well as around. Because it has an elongated form it can advance and change. It can progress through self-change and adapt to changing environments.

Perhaps we could call this creative process ‘enhancement’, as Heidegger did: “Enhancement implies something like a looking ahead and through to the scope of something higher.”[iii]  

(TO BE CONTINUED)

[i] Heidegger, Martin, NIETZSCHE, vol. III + IV, Harper One, p. 16

[ii] Ibid

[iii] Ibid

JIGSAW PUZZLES – THINKING ABOUT THINKING

If the purpose of thinking is to uncover the hiddenness of Being, how does thinking about thinking help in fulfilling the deepest aims of the human condition as Sapiens? Thinking about thinking can uncover the traps that thinking plays on us when it convinces us that we know. Thinking about thinking is necessary in order to objectify our thought, to objectify the way we objectify reality. This objectification is necessary for all learning which is primarily subjective: the first relationship we have with the word is as an appropriation of that world through the entrapment of reality that takes place as soon as we frame it within our own perception. So, thinking about thinking has to take into account the limits of that framing in order to conceive of a greater enframing[i].

This could be explained through the metaphor of the jigsaw puzzle. A subjective experience that is not deeply thought about can create a piece of the jigsaw, but it has no idea of the larger frame into which that piece can be purposefully slotted if we want to complete the puzzle. Or in other words, without deep thought about life and about how our lives are or should be conceived, we throw ourselves into the game, but without the box to guide us. We have the pieces but no idea of how the finished product should look. So, in order to complete the puzzle we need to first of all try and create a mental construct from the pieces of what the overall picture could be. If there is a lot of sky blue, then the picture is probably an outdoor scene. Can we find any grass, or rocks? Etc..

Having the pieces of the jigsaw is not enough. We need to look for the bigger picture before we can hope to slot it all together. And in order to do that we need to think about what we are thinking about.

[i] One of Martin Heidegger’s terms. See especially his essays from the The Question Concerning Technology

Life in the Hive

For the greater part of humanity, the experience of life is reduced to mere busyness. We are bees if you like, albeit intelligent ones, who are blessed or cursed with a self-consciousness that is full of great hopes and expectations. Yet our hive is a most ambiguous place. We find ourselves working within a great, global civilisation that is supposed to be structured to improve the standards of living for humanity, whilst, in reality, despite global think-tank institutions like the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, we proceed without any authentically human driven plan toward actually achieving our humanistic aim. The real honey-gathering bees, it could be said, are actually motivated by more genuine purposes when they fly from flower to flower than we do whenever we turn on our computers or catch the train to work.

If our global civilisation does have a plan, it has very little to do with humanity itself. Instead of using our immense technological potentials for improving lifestyles globally, the system is obsessed with the creation and maintenance of channels that allow wealth to be streamed in a constant upward flow. The busyness of the human-hive is a perpetual process of making the rich richer and the imposition of security systems to protect its accumulations and keep its doors open for more wealth to enter. If standards of living at the lower levels can benefit from this process then it is tolerated, but only as long as the bigger aim of pushing money upward is not impaired.

And so the busyness is a nihilistic activity that lacks any purposeful strategies for the lives of the human bees that are doing most of the buzzing. The plan that does exist, fabricated in the silent halls of the echelons of wealth, are devoid of any true forward transforming goals for humanity. Wealth is already turning its backs on the humanity it never cared for and looking toward the transhumanist stage of their own elite’s evolution.

Technology evolves because it is good business or because its evolution will allow the elite’s own evolution away from what it hates – humanity. The elite has no interest in humanity, and it has always been interested in confounding and thereby ultimately degrading humanity.

Heidegger said that busyness gives the impression of a higher reality, but this impression is not authenticity. “Ongoing activity becomes mere busyness whenever, in the pursuing of its methodology, it no longer keeps itself open on the basis of an ever-new accomplishing of its projection-plan, but only leaves that plan behind itself as a given.”[i]

In fact, the plan was left behind so long ago that no one can really remember what it was in the first place. We have been busy in our nihilism so long that we have started to have faith in that same nihilism as something meaningful, which is absurd. Meaning is being confused with busyness, an empty meaning, lacking the grounding of a projection-plan. A projection plan rooted in what we are: human beings, homo sapiens, creatures that think and can envisage great, purposeful things for the future, who can see a purposeful direction forward for all of humanity.

[i] Martin Heidegger, THE QUESTION CONCERNING TECHNOLOGY, p. 138

Incomplete Nihilism

tunnel001

In the Will To Power Nietzsche has a brief note mentioning the concept of an incomplete nihilism:

Incomplete nihilism; its forms: we live in the midst of it.[i]

We are in the midst of it, but what does that mean? Does our condition reconfirm what Nietzsche says or has contemporary society evolved out of the incomplete nihilistic state? Our civilisation certainly possesses a dynamic in which the big questions are played down and made flimsy whilst the old values are maintained in order to give us something to hold on to whilst we blindly stagger through the void – is this what Nietzsche was referring to? A nihilism that hides itself in religions and ideologies? We live in a nihilism but it doesn’t actually feel nihilistic. Is this what Nietzsche sensed as well?

What is civilisation driven by if not a flimsy will to acquire more wealth, or to improve our personal image as we measure ourselves against the acquisitions of all the others. We are in awe at the novelties of technology rather than creating a technology that will free our human gifts of real invention and allow us real freedom from the obligations of mindless, soulless labour. We are immersed and trapped in the money system and the anti-human behaviour it engenders in our lives like violence, poverty, crime, hunger and war. The only justification for any of this are flimsy ones: weak-willed arguments that our weaknesses are ingrained in our human nature, stamped in our genes. The real Sapiens’ potentials are not encouraged unless they can promote egoistic acquisitions. Even medical research is only carried out when potential profits are seen.

And through all this weak-willed pessimism and egoism the system is bolstered up by the values of the family, God and the nation. The nihilism is incomplete, but it is there, and, paradoxically, all its weak-willed nihilism is, because of this incompleteness, enormously powerful.

This condition is of real benefit only to a select few, although, absurdly enough, it seems perfectly rational to the majority. They see it, not as a flimsy superficial existence but quite simply as the way things are. Which is also the way things have always been, and this collapses into the submission to the way things have to be – until we die.

The system is our oxygen. The majority believe and can only imagine anything different to be an utter disaster.

Nietzsche believed that the only way to escape our nihilism was to revalue the values we have held so far. This is obviously very difficult to do, but, as Heidegger says:

“Revaluing becomes the overturning of the nature and manner of valuing.”[ii]

However, it is the uncertainty in this overturning that frightens us. A fear of opening a hole in the wall of the dam; of creating a deluge by inventing a way of making it rain.

Nevertheless, perhaps the answer to the problem of our incomplete nihilism is also an incomplete revaluation. I.e., not to revaluate everything but to revalue with real values: values that all human beings can call authentic because they are authentic human values; that a strong humanism is the answer to a weak and incomplete nihilism.

 

[i] Friedrich Nietzsche, WILL TO POWER, #28

[ii] Martin Heidegger, THE QUESTION CONCERNING TECHNOLOGY, p.70

GOD IS DEAD or THE END OF THE SUPRASENSORY

According to Heidegger, Nietzsche’s statement that God is dead is referring not just to the Christian God but to the general suprasensory world, or the realm of Ideas and ideals.[i] Its death is a loss of power.[ii] The human ideal, through a suprasensory or metaphysical partnership with God, has been replaced with squabbling idealisms that are rooted in nationalisms or warring monotheisms that take on a political or economic significance, in the service of Wealth. Through separation the original metaphysical partnership loses its vitality and the great unifier degenerates into a chaos of warring factions struggling for power. However, it is a power which is already degenerate, for the God of the monotheisms has demanded too much. The needs of the Wealth-driven-Power look to liberate through an enslaving of the others rather than by establishing a partnership with the human. In this way, as Heidegger says, metaphysics is “cut off from its essence, (and) is never able to think its own essence.[iii]

Or, as we interpret it, humanity is cut off from its origin and authentic purpose as Sapiens, and is made unable to think purposively beyond the great distractions of God, or Economics and/or Nationalism or the Family. The metaphysical charges into historical progress, evolving into economic progress, and now the Measure of Man is based on how much money one has managed to obtain and what image of oneself one has been able to fashion because of that money. For Heidegger, Nietzsche pronouncement was an affirmation that we are “straying through an infinite nothing,”[iv] cut off from our essence. There is no longer anything left to cling on to and orient ourselves with.[v] “Nihilism, the most uncanny of all guests, is standing at the door.”[vi]

Within this environment technology has become an adornment to human life. It has not effectively liberated humanity from any drudgery as much as it has given us a reason to endure the drudgery. We work to acquire more knick-knacks, which in turn seduce us and draw us away from any meaningful or fulfilling reasons for living, and pulls us apart from the authenticity of our human condition. Our authenticity as Sapiens.

[i] Martin Heidegger, THE QUESTION CONCERNING TECHNOLOGY AND OTHER ESSAYS, Garland, New York & London, 1977, p.61

[ii] Ibid

[iii] Ibid

[iv] Ibid

[v] Ibid

[vi] Ibid, p.62

THE PROBLEM WITH HUMANITY

What is the measure of man? This question has absorbed humanity for millennia and is responsible for the competitive, dog eat dog quality of our internecine societies and cultures. In fact our measuring of ourselves against one another is so great that we have lost touch with what humanity itself is. We cannot see the forest for the trees. The sum total of the achievements of all human individuals does not actually add up to humanity. In fact, if we carried out such an equation we would find that most human activity, especially that which competes with others in the day to day process of envious measuring oneself against others, actually subtracts from human achievement as a whole.

Heidegger said that contemporary man’s destiny is still “but little experienced with respect to the truth.”[i] In this idea, instead of a Measure of Man, we get a Measure of the Human in which the quality of human experience is calculated in respect to its truth. For humans, the human truth has to be found in the human quality of being essentially Sapiens, and the integrated relationship that Sapiens has with Being as creators and custodians of Being, as well as the children of Being. Human truth has to be found in this Sapiens/Being partnership. We depend on the world and the world depends on us – any meaningful measure of our fulfilment must take this partnership into consideration. The real worth of our cultures and technologies, and the of the civilisations which are made up of those cultures and technologies, has to be estimated according to how much they have contributed to furthering human fulfilment, which is the furthering of the relationship between Sapiens and Being.

[i] Martin Heidegger, THE QUESTION CONCERNING TECHNOLOGY AND OTHER ESSAYS, p. 54