SAPIENS CULTURE VERSUS THE HOMO-ECONOMICUS HERD

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With the devolutionary success of the Homo economicus, the herd virtues have also devolved into obsessions with what has been bought, or, what could be bought, or should be bought. Our herd virtues are stamped by brand names. Pride in the brands I wear and carry. Quality depends more on the label than the thing itself. Identity through association. The tribe of the club. Patriotism, the act of carrying the flag.

But while our civilisation is now that of the Homo economicus, we need to remind ourselves that this reality is just a fabrication. We don’t have to be here. In fact, the alternative to the Homo economicus could well be a return to our authentic nature, the Homo sapiens. An identity with Sapiens would actually be a revolution toward an authentic individualisation of culture and society and a liberation from our current herd mentalities. But a Sapiens individuality would not be the source of competition and rivalry that we see in the pseudo-individualism of the capitalist herd. rather it would be a rejoicing in human creativity and invention generated through the acquisition and utility of Sapiens’ knowledge gained and shared.

Under the herd instinct of the Homo economicus, the individual is reduced to, or exalted as, a model, a figure to follow and acclaim, but, above all, to model oneself upon. These models are often presented as examples of the herd’s own fantasies of freedom. As archetypes of success, the models are waved about like a carrot on a stick before the donkey’s mouth. Implicit is the idea that ‘one day, you could be like this too,’ and yet, at the same time, there is the notion that these models are the supremely privileged exceptions. As superstars, they are allowed to express their individuality freely, although this is also a great fallacy for the models are under continual scrutiny from the lenses of Paparazzi cameras.

For a Sapiens society, on the other hand, individualism would be seen as a creative gift that the society itself will benefit from. Sapiens society would have no fear of the individual and even the logical antithesis of the Sapiens’ rational-animal culture, irrationality, would not be feared but channelled into the much-admired field of creativity.

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However, individualism does carry moral values and, in a society that truly values individualism, the negative aspects will have to be controlled or rejected. Selfishness or haughtiness would be immoral in an authentically Sapiens culture. Sapiens is a natural trait of our species: knowledge is information and information implies sharing. Sharing, learning – building from contemplation. Not the contemplative life of the monastery-society, but a contemplation towards progress. Authentic history is an evolution of the entire universe – being is becoming and the mind of the Homo sapiens is an important part of that becoming, whereas the Homo economicus is an aberration, a step backward, a devolution of that process. To step forward again we need to re-establish authenticity … the authenticity of the Homo sapiens sapiens.

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THE ANTI-SAPIENS PROCESS OF CIVILISATION

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Human history has been a steady process of de-Sapienisation through social and tribal stratification. Once knowledge became associated with excess, and subsequently wealth and power, and it was realised that the ownership and protection of technological know-how was a necessary means of maintaining that excess, then humanity lost touch with all possibilities of identifying itself as a species and became a prisoner to the man-eat-man scenario of the stratified species, divided by casts or race, culture or nationality, and measured according to possessions or accumulations, or simply, after its invention, by the quantity of money one possessed or was empowered to obtain.

Through categorising and measuring, humanity has lost touch with its essence and, in even greater terms, with its destiny. Knowledge has become a peripheral aim. Knowledge has lost its primary position in Human-Sapiens identity to become just another tool that can be used to gain advantages in the competitive struggle for excess and the will to be measured highly in the in the economic society of modern civilisation.

For the homo-economicus the idea of freedom means being able to maintain a control of one’s life and keep oneself afloat as comfortably as possible upon the competitive waters of the excess-fuelled, money-edified civilisation. In order to do this, the majority are willing to sacrifice other more Human-Sapiens freedoms such as the freedom to obtain knowledge or the freedom to be granted the power to use any acquired knowledge creatively and productively in the arts and sciences. Instead, intellectual freedom is a victim to a desire by Excess to capitalise the ownership of innovation and ensure, through copyrighting, that profits made from artistic and technological innovations are channelled upward into the sphere of wealth and power.

In this way, it can be seen how the oppression of knowledge is predominantly a political problem. A problem that will never be overcome until the idea that wealth is a sovereign power that must produce privilege, even within democracies, is tackled head-on by democratic societies in order to be transcended.

Sapiens versus the Homo Economicus

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Nietzsche thought that pessimism was a slandering of the most powerful desires of life. This was no doubt true in the 19th century with its puritan, Victorian values. However, now we live in a global culture that embraces the potent life-impulses that Nietzsche loved and yet we are still a pessimistic and cynical society. Freud knew that Eros trickles into Thanatos. The will for life is tainted with the death wish. Life-impulses are not enough to give us a meaningful direction or purposiveness. There needs to be a rational, ethical anchor, an aesthetical positivism to drive our forward looking, future-feeling creative drives.

The future of the homo sapiens has to be Sapiens driven, instead of the mirror-world prison of the homo economicus.

The homo economicus is trapped in a purgatory of market exchange. That exchange system has no ambition other than to perpetuate the same old fantasy game of sacrifice for reward –

my labour for your money so I can purchase your products.

The Sapiens in us needs a stronger motive, a reason for being that is firmly locked into reality itself. Locked into the fresh metaphysical air that seeps out of our firm physical reality. Locked into the positivism that repositions humanity in the centre again.[i]

The homo sapiens has to channel its life-impulses through its sapiens reality. For us, knowledge is inseparable from life. Knowing is the highest expression of human existence. In sapiens terms the homo economicus has been a triumph of mediocrity and the insipid fantasies of that same mediocrity. The homo economicus has no feeling for human greatness and prefers to trample on it, screaming that its own insipid exchange-system reality is stronger than anything else.

In fact, the word noble sounds like a joke now. After all, it was the liberal revolution that beheaded all nobility. Even if only to replace the noble with its own creation – the star system. Good and evil have been transcended, but only to replace it with the winners and losers.

“Nobody any more is able to answer the question ‘for what?’”[ii] And Nietzsche’s lucidity continues when he predicts a culture (our culture) in which: “sensitivity to pain, restlessness, haste and hustling grow continually … and that the individual, faced with this tremendous machinery, loses courage and submits.”[iii]

But what does cowardice mean for the homo sapiens? Surely it has to be associated with a fear of thinking. Isn’t our lost courage a lost will to do what we do best? It is certainly a submission to the shackling of that sapiens faculty of knowing through discovery and its channelling into the all-consuming world of the market, our ubiquitous exchange system.

[i] See our earlier related blog entries:

https://pauladkin.wordpress.com/2015/05/29/our-dependence-and-significance/ ; https://pauladkin.wordpress.com/2013/12/27/uboric-will-hegels-spirit-the-godless-purposeful-universe/ ;

https://pauladkin.wordpress.com/2013/11/01/ecology-as-ideology-and-the-uroboric-drive/ ;

https://pauladkin.wordpress.com/2013/04/21/the-importance-of-metaphysics/

[ii] Nietzsche, WILL TO POWER, #33

[iii] Ibid

WHERE ARE WE?

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Where is humanity now? Where have we arrived at? Our thinking has enabled us to know how to manufacture a technological world of our own making, but from this grand achievement it must be asked: if this is a world of our own making, who is it made for?

The truth is that the world made by humanity has not been made for humanity and still a large part of humanity are enslaved or condemned to a life of little hope and much suffering in our man-made world. Nevertheless we still identify with our world, or more correctly, with a certain part of this world, and most people justify their miserable condition through the identifying concept of “this is the way things are,” with the implication that it is also the way things have to be. Thus a metaphysical reduction is made without us even recognising it as metaphysical, that the essence of existence is the way things are, which gives us the Principle of Identity: A=A.

For this reason we believe that the only way to alter the answer to the question of who is the man-made world made for? in order to be able to respond “for humanity”, we must rethink our metaphysical outlook to reality. Firstly, by accepting that there is a metaphysical outlook which is itself inhibiting the possible realisation of a human world made for humanity itself. Secondly, by rooting our new metaphysics primarily in the homo sapiens attribute of knowing rather than the lesser but current principle of having. When to have is given priority over to know as a mere tool for obtaining or having things then the homo sapiens becomes perverted in its essence allowing the Sapiens element to be retarded and enslaved in the process of lack-want-have (or have not), a retardation which even threatens to reduce or maintain most of humanity in an unconscious, automaton reality: fodder for the labour-market and the consumer-game-world of macro-casino-economics.

Rediscovering humanity as the homo sapiens sapiens might be the best chance we have of overcoming the devolution we have suffered into homo economicus, and perhaps the only chance we have of making the world a world made for humanity again.