OVERCOMING OUR AGE OF NIHILISM: METAPHYSICS & SCIENCE

universe

Nietzsche said that nihilism is reached when “all one has left are the values that pass judgment – nothing else.” A Nihilistic Age is, therefore, an age when everyone is held accountable for their actions without taking any higher purposes into consideration, because there are no common higher purposes. It is a tragic age. It is our age.

The Nihilistic Age needs to be overcome if humanity is going to progress and any Superman-leap over the Last Man that is blocking our way[1] must be via an injection into values: a vaccination which will see clear, irrefutable purposeful-values that cannot be judged – being beyond judgement, because they are true.

 

In the dialectics between the two-sided judgement that is passing values, the weak will perish. For that reason, Power (which in our society is Wealth) constantly recreates these black and white arguments. There can only be one winner, Power (Wealth) itself. This Nietzsche understood, but he failed to see the way over the dilemma; failed to see that blocking the way on the tight-rope was Power itself, and that to become the Superman, the hero had to leap, not only over the Last Man, but over Power itself. Going beyond good and evil means going beyond the judgement-passing values created by Power; going beyond the separating fundamentals of identities, so deeply rooted in human cultures. This also implies a going-beyond our misapprehension of our human nature. Division and competition is deeply rooted in our Power/Wealth forged psyches – but so are so many other types of psychological traumas fetishes and complexes. The fact that they are there, does not mean that we cannot overcome them.

But how?

To begin we must question our own identities. This means we must question the failed concept we have of ourselves as a species: question our own status as Humans. Throw the term out of the window, it is too splattered with failures and pessimism. Embrace a new clearer definition of our species: we are the Sapiens-Sapiens part of larger genus of all Sapiens beings in the Universe. We are those that know ourselves, capable of understanding the very Universe itself. This is an optimism that does not currently exist.

The way out of pessimism is optimism, but optimism itself is a very dangerous thing that has created many irrational, cruel regimes.

Any enduring optimism, therefore, must itself be rooted in meaning; in an answer to the metaphysical problem of Why?. But this raises another conundrum, because the problem of the metaphysical why is that its answer must always also be metaphysical, unprovable and a question of faith. Or at least, that is what we have been led to believe from the professionals in metaphysics; the monotheistic religions. Theirs is a messianic optimism: the gift from he who dares pronounce himself to be in possession of truth. The fact that we have had two millennia of believers demonstrates the thirst we have for optimism, which is the thirst created by the dry, hot sun of pessimism.

Optimism has been rooted in meaning, but by doing so we have also perverted metaphysics by infecting it with the mythological. This was Plato’s strategy when he created the myth of the Noble Lie[2], and that Noble Lie was itself born out of a deeply pessimistic belief in the uniqueness of intelligence – only the philosophical caste can be capable of truly understanding the metaphysical; as for the rest of them, let them eat myths.

So, if we have to root optimism in meaning, we need to ask ourselves what is the nature of that meaning? We must look at the quality of the meaning: a quality that has to be gauged according to the measuring stick of truth. But how can we approach any demonstration of the metaphysical truth if the metaphysical can’t be demonstrated?

Firstly, by admitting our limitations, that the metaphysical truth can only be an approximation until we have developed our physical understanding well enough to unveil the authentic, physical nature itself. By unveiling the truth in the grey cloud of the metaphysical, what we do in fact is kill the metaphysical component of that truth. The concept of the metaphysical truth is valuable however, because it points the sciences in meaningful directions of investigations, in order to uncover authentic purposeful directions for our Sapiens-Sapiens species to take.

In this approximation-to-truth, we have a positive stance in itself: in a belief that through investigation and the development of technology, authentic meaning can be uncovered. To embrace this in a positive way, we must assume that through thinking, observing and discovering (or, in other words, through the scientific process), we will uncover the meaning of the Universe.

 

As for the inherent dangers embedded in the truth-seeking optimisms, the danger that it will collapse into a dogmatic proclamation of a truth now found, when, in reality, nothing certain has been uncovered at all, is palliated by science’s inherent scepticism.

In scientific terms, reality can only be what we think we know, but while science still operates, or while there is still a need for science, then what we know is always open to being questioned. It is the constant questioning of what is, converting what is into what it seems to be with a sceptical suspicion that it might be something completely different, that gives science it dynamism and power. Science can only uncover whilst it is obsessed with the desire and need to search. Science, per se, does not interest itself with the metaphysical why?, and yet the scientific process is always working towards uncovering that why.

Science evolved out of the Greek philosophers’ metaphysical questions, and those same metaphysical questions have never been fully extracted from science.

 

So, for our Nihilistic Age to be overcome, we need to inject values with purposeful-truths; truths that should be derived from science and scientific investigations of philosophical or metaphysical questions of why.

[1] The Last Man (der letzte Mensch): Nietzsche introduced the concept of the Last Man in his book Thus Spake Zarathustra, as the antithesis and antagonist of the Übermensch , the Overman or the Superman. The last men are a herd-like species: tired of life, taking no risks, and seeking only comfort and security; the Overman on the other hand has a clear vision of progress, but needs to overcome the Last Man if he is to advance. In TSZ, Nietzsche created a short parable describing a funambulist crossing the rope of human evolution between animal and the Overman. On his way, an imaginary clown, or demon, comes out behind the tight-rope walker and leaps over him, causing him to fall. By taking Zarathustra into consideration, our image here images the tight-rope with the lazy Last Man perched in the middle, so one must jump over him before one can cross the rope and progress in an evolutionary way.

[2] Plato brought up the idea of the Noble Lie in the Republic. It revolved around the necessity to create a myth which would convince the people of a natural division of classes in society, created by the gods.

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The Sapiens Superman versus Nietzsche

Superman vs Nietzsche

When Nietzsche proclaimed that ´Life is Will to Power’ he was both right and wrong. Life as we perceive it is the life enslaved by the Will to Power, but he was wrong to deduce from this that such an apparent reality was the essence of life itself.

‘Life is Will to Power’ can be seen as a lucid evaluation of the way things are, but it should not be interpreted metaphysically or as a definitive statement on human nature.

Nietzsche’s sharp mind was able to see the dangers in and undermine the teachings of Christ and Plato, but he was unable to make the Superman (Übermensch) leap over the monkey himself and see how Power, in the human-society sense, had absorbed knowledge – and hence Plato and Christ – into itself, for its own egotistical enhancement and preservation.

Instead of being a liberating force, Power, which in our civilisation has always been Wealth-as-power, is a selfishly conservative force that is constantly moulding reality into the forms and architectures of its own interests. Interests that are often contrary to the cosmological-will itself. A universal, physical-metaphysical drive that is geared towards the creation of knowledge in what is otherwise a predominantly unconscious space.

One of the greatest leaps in the history of thought has been the need to either divorce ourselves or reclaim our marriage vows with our nature. Both ways have done little to enhance our knowledge, or enhance our lives through knowledge. The great divorce between the body and spirit is just as knowledge-numbing as the hedonistic quest of the sensualist. But even more deadly to the essential Sapiens values of the enhancement[i], are those ideas that claim their justification in nature.

Thus, Nietzsche raged against the ‘Denaturalisation of values,’[ii] and came to defend Aristocratic Power as an example of natural rank. What Nietzsche ignored was that the evolution of the Sapiens brain was an enhancing step in which life went beyond its own limitations by fine-tuning the ability to determine what its own limitations should be. The essence of physics and nature is a logical process and in this way, we see that an intuitively logical procedure is ultimately responsible for the creation of logic.

The dead-rock and all-consuming fireball universe, made up of particles of space and light, has evolved into life-creating conditions: but how? And why? By an accident; or the work of some time and space transcending creator – God? Or, why not consider evolution to be a self-evolving evolution of itself into the natural evolutionary realm of complexity – until the complexity itself finds itself willing an unravelling of itself.

An unravelling which can only take place through perception and knowing. Some millions of years after the Big Bang an intuitive mechanics has evolved in the universe. What we call the laws of physics, accidentally created but now imbued with their own tremendously creative potential and intuitively striving to Be – which is to be known – which needs a new kind of physical nature, the creation of biological organisms – life. A new complexity capable of evolving into a form which is both complex and efficient enough to comprehend the logic behind this whole incredible process that is unravelling – the Sapiens brain.

Through the evolution of the Sapiens brain, we see that life is not Will to Power, but a will to know and a desire to preserve that knowledge.

The Superman (Übermensch) doesn’t evolve through an evolution of power, but through a liberation of knowledge.

[i] For an explanation of the idea of “enhancement” see the articles WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE? (parts one and two) https://pauladkin.wordpress.com/2017/04/26/what-is-the-meaning-of-life-part-one/

https://pauladkin.wordpress.com/2017/04/29/what-is-the-meaning-of-life-part-two-why-there-is-no-authentic-meaning-in-our-lives/

[ii] Nietzsche, THE WILL TO POWER, #37

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.

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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

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/

 

Incomplete Nihilism

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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 OF WILL (PART TWO)

quote-i-am-sworn-brother-sweet-to-grim-necessity-and-he-and-i-will-keep-a-league-till-death-william-shakespeare-333150

(IN OUR FIRST INSTALMENT[1] WE ARGUED THAT WILL IS A COMPLEX THING, HARD TO PIN DOWN, AND THAT THAT COMPLEXITY HIDES THE POTENTIAL FOR AN UGLY REALITY – THAT FREE WILL DOES NOT EXIST. IN ORDER TO ANALYSE THIS EQUALLY COMPLEX QUESTION OF FREE WILL, WE LOOKED AT THE WAYS THAT ADULTS USE TO COERCE CHILDREN AWAY FROM THEIR FAVOURITE GAMES IN ORDER TO TRY NEW THINGS. THROUGH ASSOCIATION WE CAME TO THE AGGRESSIVE MARKETING TECHNIQUES THAT INVADE OUR LIVES AND THE ATTEMPTS BY MARKETING TO MAKE ITS WILL BECOME OURS, SUGGESTING THAT OUR PASSIVITY FACING SUCH AGGRESSIONS DEMONSTRATES A WEAKNESS OF WILL ON OUR BEHALF. FINALLY, WE CONCLUDED THAT THIS EXAMPLE TELLS US SOMETHING ABOUT WILL ITSELF)

III

We want to be happy. We want to enjoy ourselves. But does that mean that our basic drive is to achieve happiness? If it were, wouldn’t our civilisation be far more hedonistic?

We quickly grow tired of the game, even forget that we ever had a favourite one. Likewise, we grow sick of the attempts to coax us into playing new games. Non-will starts to become more real than will.

Stressed by constant cajoling, we become resistant rather than submissive. New tactics for seduction have to be employed. The System knows we will give in eventually. It is certain of its own power to manipulate any of our desires with ease. So, what does this tell us about our will?

What this narrative seems to be unfurling is the conclusion that will is not that which actually drives our desires at all. The relationship between will and desire is a kind of shimmering mirage.

Will must be something deeper. In order to get a more solid representation of it we need to root it in another kind of soil instead of the sandy stuff of desire. It needs to be allowed to grow from a more substantial, fertile terrain. Let us now imagine what it could grow into if we let our will sprout from the bedrock of Necessity.

The more that will becomes associated with desire, the weaker it becomes, whereas, in a proportional way, it is strengthened by any association with need.

So, the best way to resist the aggressive desire implanting of our surplus-creating culture is to move toward that which is really necessary. A movement which, as Nietzsche preached, will require a revaluation of all values. The revaluation of those systemic values which are oedipal norms and codifications.

Paradoxically, will is the drive that takes us toward that which needs to be done. But the paradox here is a revelation: by simply paying attention to will, rather than desire, we can put our free will back on track, in the direction of what we need. The revaluation has to be through the separation of will from desire.

The Last Men, the ignorant nihilist, and the slave to the surplus-market system – they are all weak-willed creatures, seduced by the desires imposed on them and imbued in them. Strength of will is needed in order to see the greater human purpose. The purpose beyond nihilism and beyond the oedipal system of human separation, towards a non-segregated, truly human and homo sapiens’ idea of that which really must be done. That which is necessary in order to fulfil human potential and create a truly human course of history in which we are able to establish a meaningful partnership with the world we depend on.

Desire is in our bodies and minds. In our organs and in our libidos. In our DNA and in the chemical reactions that outer stimuli produce on us. But the will depends on decision making. Will is the how we drive our machine. The towards what we decide to go unto. Will is a directional faculty. We use it to navigate with.

Desire is not will. But if we are to be able to redirect the mechanism of our will so that it in turn can take us on a different, more positive and more human journey, then we need a desire to change our will. From the will-to-want-more to the will-to-be-human.

But, in order to achieve this revolution of wills we must temper our desire. Desire to want less. Desire to break down the walls and codes of separation between ourselves as human beings. A desire to be a conscious part of the world in a conscious way. A desire to understand, and a desire to be in partnership with reality through knowledge.

[1] https://pauladkin.wordpress.com/2015/09/19/the-problem-of-will-part-one/

Adolescent Society and the Anti-Nihilistic Anti-Oedipus (a revolutionary statement)

anti-oedipus

Consumerism’s constant pressure on the pleasure button has fermented a nihilistic culture driven by a plutocratic system calling itself democracy. Our anti-human civilisation has embedded this nihilism with a deep, grass-roots pessimism. Modern life and its emphasis on individual fulfilment has fabricated a depressive tone with uninspired muscle.  Underneath the pristine glamour of the consumer society, lies the internal suffering of he or she who always wants more. Achievement is never enough – each acquisition creates or finds another lack that will open the doors toward another subjugation.

Psychologically we are an adolescent society, torn by narcissistic desires and paradoxical notions of conforming in rebellious ways. We hate the father-figures of power that govern us and will be quick to show our disdain for the present in the next elections, but, nevertheless, we are happy to receive the protection offered by that same parent without giving anything other than grudgingly back. The paternal power maintains its hold over us by creating our dreams and desires, but the Disneyworld factory of dreamworking is the system’s greatest instrument of repression. The anti-human civilisation can exert its power and control over all because the system tells the individual that he or she can also enjoy the same power. What the system promises each individual is the chance that they too can be a leader: a president or king of their own company, or at least a fascist parent.

Here we arrive at the same psychological root to the problem as Deleuze and Guattari: our society is Oedipal.[i] We submit to power because we ourselves are dreaming of achieving that power. The message manifests itself in positive thinking “You can do it!”, “Yes, we can”, “Just do it” etc.. The Fisher King is waiting for you to take his place. Laius must succumb   to you eventually, no matter how cruel he is to you now, no matter how much he wills your destruction. You are destined to step into his shoes and become the King of Thebes and, “Everybody loves a winner.”

Deleuze and Guattari argued[ii] that to fight the system one first of all had to become anti-Oedipal and become an orphan (breaking family ties), an atheist (without beliefs), and a nomad (without ties to any particular region, state or culture). To that list we would like to add a but – but without submitting to nihilism.

So, in our terms, the revolutionary must learn to be an orphan, an atheist, a nomad and an anti-nihilist believer in necessities.

Of course there seems to be a contradiction here: how can an atheist – the non-believer – also be an anti-nihilist moralist redeemer, the kind, let’s say, who believes and who can distinguish between good and evil. In order to resolve this apparent contradiction we would need to analyse what belief and non-belief is, starting with the premise that the pure non-believer does not really exist and the second, seemingly absurd proposition that it is possible to believe and not-believe at the same time. Here we don’t have room for such an analysis but … meanwhile, let a quote from the anti-Oedipal Nietzsche act as post data …

Nietzsche believed, like us, that the future survival of humanity required “another sort of spirit than those we are likely to encounter in this age.” What he called “the redeeming man of great love and contempt, the creative spirit who is pushed out of any position outside or beyond by his surging strength again and again, whose solitude will be misunderstood by the people as though it were a flight from reality – whereas it is just his way of being absorbed, buried and immersed in reality so that from it, when he emerges into the light again, he can return with redemption of this reality … This man from the future will redeem us, not just from the ideal held up till now, but also from those things which had to arise from it, from the great nausea, the will to nothingness, from nihilism, that stroke of midday and of great decision that makes the will free again, which gives its purpose and man his hope again, this Antichrist and anti-nihilist, this conqueror of God and of nothingness – he must come one day.”[iii]

Our redeemer must be Antichrist, Anti-Oedipus and Anti-Nihilist. The old edifice must be pulled right down to allow a new foundation of true, human reality to be laid. A foundation rooted in human purposiveness and a renewal of our necessary partnership with the world that is so important for our existence. Only from this completely new foundation will be able to reconstruct anything truly meaningful. Only from the ruins of our anti-human civilisation will be able to build the Human one.

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[i] SEE Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, Anti-Oedipus, Capitalism and Schizophrenia

[ii] Ibid

[iii] F. Nietzsche, On the Geneology of Morality, II, xxiv

THE UNIVERSE AS WILL

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WILL

What is will? It is a very vague concept, held up by assumptions and superstitions. Nietzsche called it something complicated[i]. It is certainly a very German obsession: Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche … Is it not a trap? Shouldn’t we stay clear?

Superstition or not, whatever we imagine it to be it has a great bearing on our lives. One must pit one’s will against the will of the masses, or against God’s will. We use it as a term to describe how we are driven, where our impulses come from, negative or positive.

There are powerful wills and frustrated ones. In the end, the concept boils down to an ethical one. There are positive wills to do ‘good’ things and negative wills to do ‘bad’. Instead of taking us beyond good and evil, the question of will brings us back to the great dialectic: What must be done if we are to do the right thing? Once we have at least a sketch of an answer for such a question, then we can start to imagine what kind of will we need to have – for will is a lonely word that needs to be determined by its goal if it is to mean anything. We need to define it by establishing where it comes from and where it should go.

Nietzsche understood this. He called will: “a plurality of sensations, namely the sensation of the condition AWAY FROM WHICH we go” … (as well as) … “the sensation of the condition TOWARDS WHICH we go” …. (but also) … “an accompanying muscular sensation which … comes into play through force of habit.[ii]

If we accept this definition then there are two main channels flowing from and through it: a) the conscious channel of personal desire, and b) the unconscious channel that we understand as habit. This latter channel has been coded for us and it exists in the likewise coded matrix of the systems that envelop us.

COSMOLOGICAL FINE TUNING

Cosmological Fine Tuning[iii] implies that the universe has a determination to create life. This poses problems for science and gives oxygen to theologians for: how can an inanimate thing have determination (without God)?

However, the idea that “the inanimate universe created the animate because it was God’s will”, is not much more revealing than “the inanimate universe created the animate”. Or, in other words, in order to understand what God’s will is we need to understand what physical forces could allow the fine tuning of the universe to take place. Which is also saying that by understanding the fine-tuning of the universe we can understand how the universe is capable of determining its own destiny. Which implies that God is not necessary again. If science can demonstrate how the universe was able to fine tune itself in order to make life possible within itself, then the phrase “the inanimate universe created the animate” is sufficient.

DECODING REALITY AND THE SEARCH FOR COSMIC WILL

A drive does not have to be conscious, but consciousness could be the result of a drive if the idea of consciousness is inherent in the mechanics of the drive itself. If the underlying mechanics of the universe lies in the behaviour of the quantum particles that are the basis of everything, then we must ask ourselves if the mechanical nature of those particles has any relation to consciousness.

Physicists like Vlatko Vedral and James Gleick claim that the universe consists of information. According to Vedral’s thesis, the universe is a massive compilation of quantum information[iv]. Information therefore, is the key to understanding what connects the universe and also why existence came into being in the first place. Likewise, it could also be the key to understanding how the universe could fine-tune itself to allow the creation of life within itself. In other words, Vedral’s thesis may point to an explanation of what the cosmic will is in physical, scientific terms.

In the introduction to his book, “Decoding reality”, Vedral says that the universe is made up of bits of information[v]. He argues that the actual evolution of any information gathering and communicating system would be a subjective, self-analysing condition. The kind of thing that we see manifested through consciousness. For Vedral “information is physical”[vi]. Information provides the “building blocks of matter and their interactions … on which everything is constructed.”[vii]

We believe that if understanding is a logical development of information, and that in fact it is a desired outcome of information, then there is an implicit determination buried in the information-universe that would find its absolute fulfilment in the all-knowing, intuitively gravitating towards such a fulfilment as a teleological end.

Seen from this perspective, the evolution of the information sharing sequence that is the DNA strand is a logical result or reflection of the information system that was already built into the cosmos. It also explains why life would evolve into the information discovering and creating machine that is the homo sapiens.

THE UNBEARABLE FRAGILITY OF FINE TUNING

But before someone gets a notion of bringing God back into the debate, we would like to make another observation about the nature of the universe. If Cosmological Fine Tuning does display a determination to create the animate from the inanimate then the success rate of that determination is depressingly low.

If Ward and Brownlee’s thesis is correct[viii] then complex life is an uncommon thing in the universe, which is strange if the whole universe is fine-tuned to the creation of life. In Ward and Brownlee’s investigation, we get a picture of a violent cosmic environment that is adverse to the creation of complex life. So how can the universe be fine-tuned toward life creation and hostile to it at the same time?

In order to answer this question, it is necessary to think about the quality of information (and consciousness) contained in the inanimate universe. It is basically intuitive and blind, lacking in any objective consciousness that perception can give it. It will have learned things through trial and error, trial and error. It is not the all-wise, all-knowing phenomenon that the religious like to imagine their God to be. Fine-tuning is therefore partly an accidental result of trial and error that is inspired by a desire by information to improve its own quality of information through an intuitional will to “know”. Knowledge has to be the desired result of any information system and so, if the universe is based on information that is its intuitive drive. Nevertheless, it is the most fragile of ambitions and the success of its dream may very well totally depend on us, and the evolution of the sapiens species.

[i] Nietzsche, BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL, #19

[ii] Ibid

[iii] See Martin Rees JUST SIX NUMBERS (THE DEEP FORCES THAT SHAPE THE UNIVERSE), Perseus, 2000

[iv] See Vlatko Vedral, DECODING REALITY, OUP, 2010

[v] Ibid, p.2

[vi] Ibid, p.3

[vii] Ibid, p.10

[viii] See Peter D. Ward, Donald Brownlee RARE EARTH: WHY COMPLEX LIFE IS UNCOMMON IN THE UNIVERSE, Copernicus, 2003

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