OUR CLIMATE & COMFORT

Hurricane-Irma-NASA

Superstorm Hurricane Irma

How much does our quality of life depend on the climate? How much of civilisation is the taming of climate, or the acclimatisation of our ‘civilised’ living areas? Part climatization, part sanitation … that which makes the cities ‘comfortable’ and for the masses to gravitate towards their ‘comfortable’ centres … What makes up the core of our lives is all a consequence of the process of gravitating towards comfort: the organisation of mobility and communication; the provision of security; and the chance to find work and the subsequent salary which will hopefully be generous enough to make life comfortable in the comfort-zone centre. For most people, civilisation = comfort. And real comfort depends on the acquiring of a good climate, or more correctly, the taming of climate through acclimatisation. So, we could declare from this that: civilisation = acclimatisation.

Yet, what price is paid for this climatization and sanitation? We now see only negative effects on climate itself that operate in a vicious circle that is spiralling civilisation into a rapidly spinning vortex that threatens to blow civilisation itself into the exact opposite of what it desires. The deeper our level of acclimatisation is, the greater is its effect on the deterioration of the climate. This deterioration creates more need for acclimatisation which creates more deterioration which makes more need for better acclimatisation …  until it all collapses.

in the struggle to be comfortable we make the world more inhospitable, until climate change takes on life-threatening proportions. Present scenarios are uncomfortable and the future promises to be more uncomfortable. Is this what we want? Of course it isn’t, and what is demonstrated by the lack of political or economic will to change this ridiculous cycle, demonstrates a) the levels of denial that societies are able to perpetuate; and b) the vicious cycles’ advantageousness for enterprises, especially the energy industries, that are making vast profits from the spiralling mechanism of climate degradation.

It is hard to fight the power that corporations wield, but that difficulty is augmented thousand-fold by the range of denial that is rife in society. We know what has to be done to preserve the comfortable in a sustainable way. We know what we want, and, to get what we want, we need to vocalise it loudly enough to change the hugely profit-making spiral of destructive-acclimatisation before it’s too late to ever be comfortable ever again.

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THINKING

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That we all think: this is what unites us and separates us. We all think – we are the same. But, how we think and what we think about – that is what separates us. However, while we are thinking, we are human; and when we stop thinking and act on instinct or by muddled logic, we are not acting in a completely human way.

The quality of humanity depends on the quality of our thinking.

Can we imagine, therefore, a quality of life based on quality of thought? For example: this place is good because it is conducive to clear thinking; that job is bad, for it does not allow us time to think; this other activity is good because it clears the muddled mind and opens spaces to think deeply in again. In such a quality-of-thought world, we would look for, and create, climates that are conducive to thinking; design cities that help us think.

The leaders of such a society would be chosen according to their merits as capable and clear thinkers who develop other thinkers and create a thoughtful society via their own thoughts. If we as a species are the animals that know; the homo sapiens; because we think; then having a world leader who makes decisions without thinking them through, is an absurdity. That this occurs, is a perversion of humanity that demonstrates that our present human condition is an anti-sapiens one, and, therefore anti-human. Humanity can only be rediscovered and societies can only become human again by thinking clearly about what we are and where we are going.

Thinking is an active way out of the decadent cycle of the simulacra culture in which we are immersed.[1]

How many of our best thoughts do we ourselves strangle or, at best, keep tightly locked away. Now, it’s time to let our good thoughts breathe, driven by human purposiveness itself rooted in thinking. It’s time to make thinking synonymous with an affirmation of the human and a negation of the anti-human.

What do you think?

[1] See our previous article DECADENCE AND STAGNATION: https://pauladkin.wordpress.com/2017/08/16/decadence-stagnation/

Decadence & Stagnation

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Decadence: when things are just too good and easy that no one bothers to push forward anymore, bringing about stagnation

But there is also another kind of stagnation: one which comes about because there just isn’t enough time to go forward; when all time is taken up with something that is essentially futile when considered from the point of view of the bigger picture. Like making money. Even the seemingly dynamic world of business, if it is dedicated only to business and not to authentically meaningful human progress (things associated with knowledge and discovery), it is essentially stagnating. Any society that is a simulacra society, hell-bent on reproducing copies rather than on developing its creativity, is a decadent, stagnating society. We are stagnant not because of what we are doing, our anthill society is always busy, but because what we are driven by, in all this anthill activity, is not creative. When production is synonymous with reproduction, then we know we have fallen into the stagnant pool of decadence.

Nietzsche talked about the residual nature of decadence[1]. That decadence is a cumulative thing. Certainly, it is nurtured both by dogma and nihilism. Only a sceptical meaningfulness can push forward in a creative way.

Sceptical meaningfulness? How can such a thing be? Surely it is a contradiction in terms.

To understand how this oxymoron combination can work, we need to see meaningfulness as a forward pushing phenomenon. Once it stops pushing forward, meaningfulness slips into dogma. Meaning is fuelled by truth, but it does not swim in truth as if truth were a lake. Truth, in order to be lasting, has to be a river.

The meanings we discover have to be like the discoveries of science. Science declares things as truths only as long as it takes for new realities to be revealed under the surface of those once-truthful things. Truth therefore is an accumulative thing, although it accumulates by stripping away at the surfaces of reality. This is the onion-nature of reality that science must always continually peel away at. Reality is just another thin surface layer that can, and must, be stripped off if we are to make headways with truth.

“Decadence has gained predominance in our value judgements,” said Nietzsche[2]. There is decadence in everything cyclical. In this way, Nietzsche’s own Eternal Return is essentially a decadent concept, for there is decadence in every complete simulacra and copy.

To get another perspective, let’s consider Nike’s famous advertising slogan “Just Do It”. This statement is also a propagation of decadence, because it incites a spirit of pure, thoughtless action. Of course Nike sells trainers, shoes for sportsmen and women, but what this statement proclaims reveals the price society must pay for the sporting culture. For sporting-culture concepts drill deep into the fabric of the civilisation that promotes them. Decadence through mechanics; through the repetition of all exercises and games. The match, and all its essential repetitiveness (in whatever sport — matches are always basically the same game) as the desired repetition; that which we are waiting for; longing to experience just once again; over and over again. Despite all its analyses, which are always trivial, empty statements and clichéd observations, to explain the binary sporting condition of win or lose; despite these attempts to enrich something which has no depth at all – sport remains the cyclical emblem of all decadent, simulacra, Sisyphus souls. The mechanical life needs a mechanical pleasure: how could we expect the brain-dead worker to stomach anything that could challenge him or her intellectually?

Whether the participation is passive or active, the result is the same: the mechanisation of society in a decadent, cyclical rhythm that goes nowhere; that is never thought out; that we just do it.

[1] Nietzsche, Will To Power, #39

[2] Ibid

OVERCOMING OUR AGE OF NIHILISM: METAPHYSICS & SCIENCE

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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.

The Anti-Human

Black-figured Tyrrhenian amphora (wine-jar) attributed to the Timiades Painter

There are no non-human humans, but there are anti-human thinkers and thoughts, created by anti-human cultures. Separation through ideas is a sapiens separation, which can only be remedied by reminding ourselves that the fact that we are able to have these ideas in the first place is the very thing that unites us all. It doesn’t matter that we think differently, what really matters is that we think. This revelation is the first step toward a Sapiens Positivism.

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 Two (WHY THERE IS NO AUTHENTIC MEANING IN OUR LIVES)

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(If you haven’t read Part One yet, you can find it here: https://pauladkin.wordpress.com/2017/04/26/what-is-the-meaning-of-life-part-one/ )

HUMAN IDENTITY AND NON-IDENTITY – WHERE SHOULD WE GO NEXT?

The species learns to love itself as the way it sees itself to be, which is the function power has given to cultures, nationalities and religions. Evolution beyond the human therefore becomes a terrifying concept; an evolution into monstrous non-human forms.

The formation of a Sapiens-species identity, an identity which would make us value the very part of our nature which makes us so unique – i.e. our intellect – would be an evolution in itself, paradoxically taking us away from our present concept of our humanity. And this idea makes the conservative part of our nature, so embedded in most of our identity factors, tremble. In this way, a fear of what our intellect can allow us to be makes us cut our most marvellous feature away from the idea of our humanity itself. Too much intellect makes us cold and in-human. But how can a sapiens intellect make a homo sapiens the opposite of what it is? How can human intellect, that which defines us as Sapiens, be anti-human if human beings are homo sapiens?

The idea of a cold-hearted species of beings with enormous brains and weak limbs makes us shudder. Weak limbs and a diminished sexual appetite: perhaps psychology will see here the unconscious fear of castration generated by our anti-intellectual Eros souls. Yet, in our massively over-populated world, Eros will also have to be tamed. Its lemming-instinct pride in unbridled propagation will need to be mitigated, if humanity, perhaps all life on Earth, is to survive.

Furthermore, if our essence lies (as we proposed in the first part of this essay) in the spiral relationship between knowing and technology, how is it that humanity is distrustful of the intellectual side of our natures?

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SAPIENS VERSUS WEALTH-AS-POWER

In order to understand this absurdity, we need to consider the relationship between Wealth-as-power and the essence of our Sapiens humanity.

Knowing and technology are caught up in a paradoxical relationship: knowing creates and enhances technology, but, at the same time technology creates and enhances knowing. Or in other words, we know enough to build things that help us to know more and build more things that help us build more and more things that … We’ve already tried to envisage this process, in the first part of this essay, and visualised it as a spiralling helix (like the DNA helix). Two pillars that are winding; parallel but interconnected. And the forward direction it is tunnelling through is what we called enhancement.

However, if this was all that was taking place, then human progress (its enhancement) would almost certainly have advanced far more rapidly and consistently on all levels. But this is not the case because enhancement is a double-pronged agent, pulled forward by two different forces. The social sapiens-animal, which we are, has two paths to follow: the Individual and the Universal path. This is the essential moral dilemma of all human beings.

 

It is within the area of this moral choice that Wealth-as-power steps in very heavy-handedly to take its own control of the Knowing/Technology helix.

The discourse of Wealth-as-power says that Universal enhancement is guaranteed by Wealth-as-power’s own enhancement. In fact, Wealth-as-power says, Universal enhancement can only come about if the enhancement of Wealth-as-power itself is guaranteed.

But, the effect of this intervention is to curve the helix around and away from forward-moving enhancement, into a circular, cyclical process.

Wealth-as-power needs its measure of man to ascertain its own enhanced position over and above humanity itself. The Universal makes Wealth-as-power essentially meaningless, because wealth and power only have purpose if they are always in a quantitively dominant position in which meaning is derived by the difference in distance from the rest. The question asked by Wealth-as-power is never “What can we do?” but “What can Wealth-as-power do that no-one else can do?”.

“If the Universe is to exist,” thinks Wealth-as-power: “Then it may only do so in the form of my own Universal Power.”

In order for Wealth-as-power to achieve this universality, it must divide, then conquer. But above all it must reduce the mass of humanity to the meagre realm of the people or the citizens; the flock or the followers. This flock is always subject to Wealth-as-power’s omnipotent systems and to the control of the Wealth-as-power-created reality.

Wealth-as-power appropriates enhancement for itself, and, in so doing, perverts the natural flow and unfolding of the meaningful essence of life. Within the singular truth/lie of the Wealth-as-power driven reality, Knowing is shackled and starved. Ignorance and forgetting are nurtured by Wealth-as-power to combat the essential nature of the Sapiens organism.

Wealth-as-power is a life-hindering force: an anti-life. Standing against the essence of life which is the enhancement gained through knowing and the technology that knowledge creates.

The essence, the meaning and the value of life is in the enhancement of knowing, but only when that enhancement is allowed to spring forward, unhindered, Universally.

This is not to deny or negate individual genius. Quite the contrary, rather it embraces the genius of all individuals and celebrates their discoveries in the collective process of the Universal-enhancement, which is an authentic, meaningful life-enhancement.

(If you haven’t read Part One yet, you can find it here: https://pauladkin.wordpress.com/2017/04/26/what-is-the-meaning-of-life-part-one/ )

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.

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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.

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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

The Purpose of the Universe

BOSS-BAO

DO WE REALLY NEED RELIGIONS?

All religions have their basis in the question: What is the purpose of this existence in this Universe?

There are two basic answers to this question: either no, there is no purpose; or yes, everything is meaningful.

Taking the latter point of view has its psychological advantages, because it creates an underlying meaningfulness to everything and makes us feel that our own lives are part of a bigger purposeful picture as well. We may think we are mere specks of star-dust, but, in fact, something marvellous is really happening in the world (and the cosmos) around us.

God, or the gods, is a simple way of saying why the Universe is purposeful. But in practice, the God-idea evolved into something sinister and perverse – dogma.

Religions as such, have taken a patent out on the concept of the Universe’s meaningfulness, and we have suffered millennia of human conflict and strife because of the defenders of the God copyright.

However, God is not a necessary component of a meaningful Universe. The Universe can be just meaningful in itself.

MEANINGFULNESS

Of course, “meaning” is just a human-made concept, and the English-language version of that concept. Without self-conscious, rational beings, there can be no meaning as such, because meaning implies an entity capable of understanding that meaning.

Hence the assumption that God is necessary for a purposeful Universe. However, homo sapiens and other self-conscious life forms exist in this Universe whether God exists or not. Life has evolved, in a non-deterministic way, through trial and error. There is no need for God in understanding the purposeful Universe. In fact, if we do feel it to be necessary to throw in a Creator, then it would make more sense to imagine that creator being blind. Existence itself is a desiring, intentional thing. Existence wants to exist and humanity, as a sapiens organism, is an integral factor in that existence.

Berkeley was right when he argued that, in a practical sense, nothing would exist if there were no consciousness. But he most probably was wrong in assuming that the Universe itself is conscious. The Universe probably created consciousness, unconsciously. However, if we affirm that the Universe is purposeful, then there must be an unconscious desire in the unconscious-Universe for the evolution of consciousness within it. This desire resides in the need to exist. The motivating current of our Universe is “To be, or not to be”, affirming the first part.

EXISTENCE AND MEANING

A desire for existence implies a desire for the preservation of that existence and ultimately an eternal existence. Eternity only makes sense if the Universe itself makes sense by being meaningful.

Meaning therefore is embodied in the existential reality of the Universe; in the meaning in the act of becoming involved in the eternal-process of knowing and being known that is the Universe’s relationship to itself and to the life it has created. Life that is the centre and purpose of its creation.

This point of view is atheistic, but anti-nihilistic. The important thing is universal achievement and the fulfilment of our essence which is always in life itself.

The nature of life then, is to exist, which means, live and rejoice in living. Its striving is to overcome the non-existence implicit in death. It is here where the authentic human nature lies – in our shared purpose with the Universe.

SEE ALSO: THE IMPORTANCE OF METAPHYSICS https://pauladkin.wordpress.com/2013/04/21/the-importance-of-metaphysics/

THE CIVILISING PROCESS

 

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In his book, Symbolic Exchange and Death, Jean Baudrillard examines the psychological consequences of the civilising process and concludes that while civilisation has pulled us from the primitive condition that revolved around the ideas of GIVING-RETURNING-EXCHANGING, it has sunk us into a much grimmer reality of KILLING-POSSESSING-DEVOURING.[i]

The irony that this observation reveals is that our so-called progression into the civilised beings we are, now must be seen as a bestialising process for humanity. Which means that civilisation is actually the exact opposite of what it pretends to be.

Once Baudrillard’s analysis is accepted civilisation is stripped of its pretentions to be what it says it is. The horrific consequences of civilisation have been seen over and over again throughout history, without diminishing civilisation’s own blind faith in its own existence: from the tremendous brutality of Rome with its perverse emperors; to the slave trading and war hungry empires of the modern era; to the epitome of civilised barbarity in the totalitarian regimes of Hitler and Stalin, of Mao and Pol Pot. In fact, humanity has paid an enormous price for the so-called comforts and pleasures that civilisation has brought us.

Perhaps it’s wrong to put all the blame on the civilisation process (and Baudrillard only implies the repression of civilisations without naming them), but the evolution from giving into taking (even by killing); returning into keeping and possessing; and exchanging into devouring, seems to flow with the same gravitational force that constructed the first great cities and their monuments.

In looking at the system’s death-drive instinct, Baudrillard says: “Freud installs the process of repetition at the core of objective determinations, at the very moment when the general system of production passes into pure and simple reproduction.”[ii]  For Baudrillard the radical nature of the death-drive is “simply the radical nature of the system itself.”[iii]

[i] Jean Baudrillard, SYMBOLIC EXCHANGE AND DEATH, SAGE, 1993, p. 139)

[ii] Ibid, p. 148

[iii] Ibid