Our Cancer & Its Cure through TELOS

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The doctrine of continual growth and perpetual accumulation of profits is a cancer to the world, it is our cancer. Half of the world are in denial that we have cancer, while most of those belonging to the other half who can admit to the severity of our illness, do not really know what kind of cancer it is (which is not surprising as the doctors, the media, have not really explained the seriousness nature of our illness very well at all).

You cannot put band-aids on cancer, you have to attack it at its roots, and the roots of this cancer are unbridled consumerism within a consumer market that is constantly growing demographically (that is what the doctors don’t tell us).

Buying second-hand or making your own is good, anti-consumerism (i.e. anti-capitalist) practice but as far as the cancer goes, it’s just a band aid. Every day, it seems, something new becomes a non-sustainable practice: driving cars or flying in planes has gone over the threshold, clothes are no longer a sustainable commodity, eating meat is no longer a sustainable act … capitalist recommendations: eat insects!

All these things are symptoms of the cancer and while we attempt to whittle them down the tumour devouring the planet keeps growing. Call it consumer-practices, capitalism, whatever, it is the System that we are immersed in that needs to be changed. It’s time to think big, not small. It’s too late to just do your own little bit, and to change the System we need to start talking about the fact that systemic-change is what is really needed. Only then will we be able to bring that change about and cure the cancer.

But to do that we need more than a will for a revolution, we have to have an idea of what we will evolve into if we pull down the system.

Once we look at the situation philosophically, we get a broader, more objective image than tackling it from a political stand-point. The philosophical view tells us that we are living in a deeply nihilistic era, and it is this nihilism that creates the ironically fertile field for consumerism to thrive in.

So, to change the system we need to change our philosophical standpoint: instead of a nihilist society we need to find a purposeful one. And that is where the idea of telos[1] comes in.

TELOS

The final-cause, and, subsequently, the fulfilment, of any human being, has to lie in the final-cause of humanity. But the only final-cause imaginable has to lie in perpetuity. The secret of all final-causes rests in continuity, in an eternal process of becoming. Once it all ends – if everything is suddenly reduced to nothing – then all has been in vain. This is the deep truth that our nihilistic civilisation chooses to ignore.

We hold the key to our fulfilment only if we are able to ensure the continuation, perpetuity and progress of humanity.

In order for the social-experience we are immersed in that we call civilisation to be meaningful and fulfilling, we must look for the teleological significance of civilisation? What should it be? How can we re-structure civilisation so that it does have a human and teleological significance?

To begin to answer these questions we first of all need to call a spade a spade. The System we live in is the cancer that threatens our existence and, logically, our perpetuity. Secondly, we need to identify ourselves as what we are in our essence, i.e. human beings, homo sapiens, the one who knows, who thirsts for knowledge and who will ultimately find fulfilment in that perpetual search for knowledge.

[1] Greek for ‘end’ ‘purpose’ or ‘goal’; from it comes teleology, which is a reason or explanation for something as a function of its end, purpose, or goal

The Necessary Marriage of Art, Purpose and Honesty

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There are two vital ingredients required for the fashioning of any good work of art: purpose and honesty.

When art has purpose, it also becomes meaningful; when it strives for honesty, it gains depth. However, if we separate honesty from purpose, what do we get?

Purpose without honesty creates lies. The purpose itself becomes a veiled thing, losing its clarity. This is true at the social and political levels when we tackle terms like democracy or freedom: terms that are full of purposiveness, but a purpose which is rendered impotent without honesty to bolster it.

The result is an absurd civilisation that alienates its subjects through the confusion created by its inherent hypocrisies.

Honesty without purpose, on the other hand, slides into another kind of impotence, that of scepticism. Everything is questionable, but no progress can be made because even the answers are to the queries are debateable. And that means there is nothing left after the interrogation to tug problems forward with.

Purpose needs honesty and honesty: the two concepts are intertwined by necessity. And, because one needs the other, any creative act must also require them both. Good art, good government, good relationships of any kind, or a good life: all of these things are destined to depend on purpose and honesty.

CULTURE AND ENVIRONING

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PART ONE: CULTURE

I.

Traditionally there has been a European idea of values which is a universal concept of culture as life endowed with purpose. This notion of culture was not only born from spiritual creativity, it also engendered that spiritual creativity, and as such was self-generating. In its origins it was a humanistic idea, but that has been distorted and sullied by nationalistic, romantic notions that are basically anti-human, species-separating concepts. Now, the admirable and purposeful idea of culture has been reduced to a minutely marginal non-importance and is more closely associated with utopian fantasies rather than being the cultural-wing of any political agenda.

The rise of nihilism and the spirit of the homo economicus castrated the great idea of Culture (with a capital C) and guided its tamed, gelding spirit into the stables of the marketplace, reducing it to the status of commodities. As something that can be bought and sold, culture (with a small c) became intelligible for Wealth (with a capital W) and once that Wealth knew what it was handling, it could welcome culture into its system.

But the sterilized culture is not the same as the purposeful Culture. Culture with a capital c does not now exist beyond the realms of the hypothetical, and if it did exist once it must now be pronounced as lost, or dead. Meanwhile, the sickness inflicting culture in Europe could very well be a direct consequence of this disassociation, because:

A) The idea of Culture has not completely disappeared. A phantasmagorical remnant of it still exists in the ideal realm and that is capable of producing nostalgia for the purposeful, even though it never really existed. We are expected to believe that any absurd search for the ghost of something that never even properly was, is a sad, sick neurosis.

But even worse than the neurotic craving for the never-existent is:

B) A morbid belief that Culture is something dangerous and even seditious, and that we must be on our guards against it all the time. This idea sees Culture reflected in the ideological, nationalistic spirits maintained by the likes of Wagner, or they reduce it to that which threatens their self-esteem by positing the virtues of the intellectual and unintelligible.

Pop-culture is nihilism’s rejection and refutation of Culture. The Beatles proved that culture didn’t have to be difficult to be good. With pop-music and Hollywood cinema, culture was blasted into being a great commodity, and it became an enormous industry. Pop-music and film were the nihilistic bridges bringing culture and capitalism together.

Another way of looking at culture is as a kind of reaction by human beings (societies and individuals) to the needs created by their environment. Seen like this, culture becomes a kind of technological evolution driven by needs for survival or adaptation to environments. Some of the needs are created by hostile environments, but not always. Of course, the environmental reason for culture explains why there are so many diverse human cultures.

But how does all this apply to the grand idea of European or Human Culture?

II.

Our environment now is dominated by our economics. We are what we can buy. We are what we can earn through our labour. We are the money that we have or are capable of manipulating. We are this homo economicus because we live and breathe money inside a bubble created by the economy. Our environment is the economy.

Perceived in this light we can see that if culture is our spirit, then that spirit is an economic one as well. Money is our body and soul: it is the nature and spirit of society.

No wonder it feels like society is sick.

III.

With apologies to the ecosphere, the environment in which humans dwell, is, for the most part, a human-made environment – and if human-made sounds somewhat exaggerated, then at least we can talk about its human-acclimatisation.

Throughout the world, the phenomena of acclimatisations are often radically different. One way we like to measure these differences is via the concept of standards of living. Here the System tries to bring in its own technological theme and it attempts to measure its progress and, from that, its successes, via the concept of improving living-standards.

Yes, all this is far-removed from the human purposiveness inherent in the grand idea of European Culture. Living standards are means of success through acclimatisation that have nothing to do with spirit and purpose. The lures of living standards are comfort and happiness through comfort. The drawbacks one faces once one embraces this culture-of-comfort is an obligatory compromise to conformity.

Nevertheless, in the historical process of acclimatisation, humanity also developed a second path away from the merely material necessities into other psychological, theoretical or spirited areas that are generally embraced in the term the arts.

 

PART TWO: THE ENVIRONING WORLD

It is the arts and the artistic spirit unified with technology[1] which is the true basis of the spirit of European Culture. In his essay on the Crisis of European Man, Husserl referred to this as the Umwelt or the Environing World, [2]which he called: “a spiritual structure in us and our historical life.” [3] We point to this term because we see the importance of making a distinction between acclimatisation for material reasons (either for survival or the improvement of living standards) and the environment we create around ourselves from the theoretical or ideal, due to our psychological needs (these could include the abstract concepts of love and beauty, or moral concepts like respect and truth). Environing has, therefore, a deeper purposiveness than acclimatisation and offers reasons for working beyond the simple necessity of survival or the luxury of comfort.

Also, whereas acclimatising is a process that ends with the achievement of the desired result, within environing there is an emphasis on the process rather than the achievement. As such, it implies a concept of becoming that goes beyond the present and allows for the idea of the eternal.

Husserl’s environing was something that was not necessarily born with the Greeks, but was sophisticated by them through the development of philosophy. The spirit of European Culture is therefore also embedded in that Greek philosophy and its core of purposiveness, reflected in its own environing of its culture.

Environing transcends acclimatisation. Acclimatisation has created local peculiarities, but these cultural traits are only relevant to environing as windows or reminders of the variegated fabric of humanity. We are the same and we are different. This is the paradoxical reality of the human condition. The truly defining ingredient of humanity must lie somewhere in between.

However, the middle-term between SAME and DIFFERENCE is hard to find: SIMILARITY is too close to SAMENESS to be satisfying. We need a term that contains both of the antagonistic elements without prejudice to the other.

By focussing on the aspect of BECOMING, which turns the cultural process into a continuation, we get an image of humanity as a forward pointing arrow that desires the eternal. Acclimatisation is about the actual, environing is concerned with the final causes of an eternal process of becoming.

From the point of view of soul, humanity has never been a finished product, nor will it be, nor can it ever repeat itself[4].”

There can only be environing in the realm of the human, because there cannot be a national or individual goal except to die or destroy itself. In terms of nation states, ultimate purposes, end goals or the Greek idea of telos are tragic notions, and they can only lead to the most terrible and perverted conflagrations of spirit that become manifest in violent international conflicts.

Environing, therefore, must always be contained to the greater, general set of the Human. The individual artist will achieve the eternal only if humanity itself can achieve the eternal. And the same is true of the nation-state: To succeed for its subjects, nations have to evolve, and the evolution of a nation can only be successful if it is able to dissolve into the higher evolutionary body of Humanity.

But what is humanity? In biological terms we are the homo sapiens; and from an environing perspective we are the animal with the power to rationalise and create art and technologies that can transform our environment and ourselves. In psychological terms we are a river, always changing, but which can also flow into pools that can quickly stagnate if we lose touch of the ocean which we are destined to become, and in which our authentic fulfilment lies.

Like the river, humanity is past and future and the actual is a dangerous illusion that we will perish in if we get trapped by the mesmerising force of that mirage.

[1] an etymological tie wrapped up in the original Greek term techni which embraced both art and technology

[2] Edmund Husserl, PHILOSOPHY AND THE CRISIS OF EUROPEAN MAN, 1935, p.3

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid, p.5

Cosmological Purposiveness

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Contemporary cosmology offers us two possible explanations of reality that are useful for developing a strong sense of human purposiveness.

(i) RARE EARTH: the first of these is the Rare Earth Hypothesis, which describes the intricate complexity required of a system in order to produce developed life forms such as those on Earth and concludes that such life-forms must be extremely rare in the Universe, if not completely confined to our planet itself.

(ii) The second is the concept of Cosmological Fine Tuning, which implies that the Universe is deliberately fine-tuned in a way that makes the creation of life possible. In essence these ideas seem contradictory: if the Universe is set up to facilitate the creation of complex life-forms there should be life in abundance all around the Universe, but Rare Earth tells us that is not at all the case. However, if we accept both hypotheses as correct, we get an image of a fine-tuned cosmos that has all the basic necessities for creating complex life-forms, but that the evolution from the original idea is carried out in a random, blind way. It is as if God built a game (the Universe) based on determined rules, physical laws, but the game is a game of chance. In other words, God built a nice casino (the Universe) so It could play dice, but not with the combinations of two or three dice, rather with the combinations of millions of them. Instead of an omnipotent God, we have a blind, quite impotent one.

Yet, if this is what our reality is based on, how can such a paradigm be useful for developing human purpose?   

If we take the idea of Fine Tuning and tweak it with the Rare Earth hypothesis, the picture of a determined, planned Universe arises, but one that is set in a chaotic, random manner to produce complex and ultimately intelligent life-forms. This mix of determinism and randomness, mixes into a middle-point reality, sitting between the conflicting axis of theological against scientific outlooks. It could, therefore, be an alluring new paradigm, seducing a compromise between the theological and scientific ideological stances. It is satisfying from a religious point-of-view because it admits the presence of a Creator and points to a teleological outcome, a Creator-willed end in which humanity plays a vital part (hence our purposiveness). If the Universe is designed for the creation of intelligent life, and we are very likely the most developed form of intelligent life in the Universe (Rare Earth Hypothesis), then the development of our progress as Sapiens entities is vital to the completion of that Creator’s will. In fact, these entities are necessary agents for that will to be made possible.

At the same time, the Rare-Earth/Fine-Tuning idea is inspirational for scientific and artistic sectors of humanity: our purpose is to allow our intelligence to evolve in a limitless way, understanding, imagining and creating with the Universe in a constant process of continual becoming. In a God-willed random Universe, the Creator is not omnipotent, and our duty is not to any religious dogmas but to the Work itself: which now is that of developing human potentials to the full.

In this new paradigm, sapiens organisms are the final cause of an evolutionary process, while, at the same time, we are also the beginning of a new transcendental process of transformation: via the sapiens mind itself, and through the space-transforming technologies that the sapiens are able to manufacture.

The amalgamation of Rare Earth and Fine Tuning is deeply imbued with purposiveness and duty. If we are unique, we cannot afford to disappear. We have a duty to protect our world, and protect ourselves. Our ultimate duty is easily appreciated, to the world and to our species, above all other duties. All meaning rests here. The Earth is a unique harbour of life in a Universe that is evolving chaotically around it, and it must be preserved, so that complex life can be preserved.

Our most pressing task, for all of us, is to overcome the problems of human separation. This can only be done through the development of purposiveness as an ideological alternative to all the separating, identity-ideologies that are so embedded in our societies today. Our cosmological reality leads us, therefore, to a moral and political stance, which is a profoundly humanistic one.

We are of vital importance; we are necessary. Our future, and the evolution of the Universe itself may depend on us recognising that necessity and the great purpose it imbues us all with.

Good and Evil = Purposiveness and Counter-purposiveness

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When we elevate problems up to the “Human” level, the question of “what should be done” is immediately purified and made simpler. The problem of humanity is not humanity per se, but rather the self-interestedness of the non-humanity that infects the simplicity and clouds the perspective of our progressive-thinking, sapiens nature in favour of egotistical accumulations and wealth.

For instance, from a “Human” perspective, the problem of good versus evil can be seen more clearly if we change the terms to purposiveness instead of good, and counter-purposiveness in the place of evil.

In order to properly see human purposiveness, we must examine the absolute of the final end: What is the final end of humanity in the Universe?

A purposive resolution of this question would firstly have to take humanity’s special qualities into consideration (i.e. our sapiens qualities, that make us capable of understanding that we have purposes), and then imagine how this special quality can be meaningful and enriching for the place we inhabit, which is, ultimately, the Universe itself.

(Here we lift humanity to the level of all sapiens entities, at the same time elevating our home to the Universe, and reality to that of the possible rather than the actual.)

Seen as the purposive entity that we as sapiens creatures are, therefore, our purposive thesis should be: The final end of humanity in the Universe has to be the fulfilling of humanity’s role (as sapiens entities) in the Universe, as an integral part of the Universe’s Being.

The counter-purposiveness antithesis would be: The final end of humanity lies outside the Universe. In this way we immediately see the negative force of the transcendental reasoning of the spiritual as a distraction away from authentic purposiveness.[1]

Seen from this point-of-view, our anti-human view of history has been a steady process of counter-purposiveness.

As Kant said: “it is only as a moral being that man can be a final end of creation.”[2] Only man/humanity as a moral being with purposiveness regarding its place and role in the Universe can be a final end of creation.

When separated into groups, humanity becomes contemptible – only as humanity itself, as a whole, or as individuals or groups working for the purposiveness of that whole, can humans ever be regarded as admirable.

[1] When considering God, we would all do well to keep in mind that the deity was created by reason, and reason tells us that while the idea that reason created God is reasonable, the idea that God created reason is less reasonable.

[2] Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgement

Cause and Effect

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The effect cannot be the cause of its cause (Kant) – but the result can be an inspiration for beginning the process of its own creation. This causal nexus is true of anything that is created from an idea, or all things which are the products of visionaries. The cause of the thing comes from the fact that it has been imagined (nexus of ideal causes). In many cases, if there had not been an imagining of the result the initiative to create it would never have taken place. And so, in our technological reality, cause and result are closely intertwined, because most inventions are imagined and made to satisfy a perceived need: forks came about from an idea of the need to save our fingers from getting sticky when we ate.

But how does this help any metaphysical understanding? Can we apply this idea to the question of the first cause? Can intuition be enough to create something out of nothing? How can this relationship exist without a mind to start the creative process? For it to be possible the nothing has to be capable of intuiting something, which would imply that the nothing would possess awareness; and this suggests that the nothing is not nothing at all but awareness, which is something; even though, in the beginning it would be an awareness of nothing, which is a very poor form of consciousness indeed. Of course, next to nothing, any something is everything, so in the long run this intuition of something has limitless scope.

The dilemma might point us in the direction of the idea of God (before anything there was an eternal thingy that made everything out of itself); or perhaps we could assert that the primordial God is awareness (omnipresent in everything that is aware). Likewise, it brings up the concept of determinism (Awareness blending into purposeful Will), and also suggests a way of envisaging a purposeful universe without the necessity for God (unless a religion can be made in which God actually does become Awareness). Through intuition of a nexus finalis, in which entities-with-awareness (sapiens life-forms) are able to fully know the Universe in one great act of love (Being through knowing and being known, as well as appreciating and preserving what is known), a determined future opens up for us. An idea which can have enormous practical benefits for humanity, because it positions us in a purposeful place within the evolution of everything (the Universe).

But perhaps you think this is a pointless argument: that we are trying to prove the unproveable. In fact, we are not trying to “prove” anything: what we are aiming at is a pragmatical solution to the insalubrious effects of nihilisms; to wrestle with the ingrained pessimism that is debilitating humanity. Why do people prefer the non-purposeful over the purposeful?

Part of the blame for this must be heaped on the religions, for they dogmatise the purposeful universe and distort it in order to drive purpose in the direction of the interests of power. If purpose is a tool for power, then many will reject it. The irony of this is that even the resultant nihilism has itself become a tool for that power, especially now that power nurtures itself via an economic system of anarchic capitalism. For this system, purpose is too directional itself and offers too much clarity for the system which requires relativity in order to mask its real purposes. Purpose is therefore a threat to the system that can only be tolerated by allowing it to be projected through the distorting glass of religion.

In this way, we can see that there is nothing more radical in this world than real purposiveness; by which we mean the examination of a non-theological, cosmological, nexus finalis direction to the Universe.

Progress does not come about through cause and effect alone, but only through effect-driven causes inspired by purposive ideas. The Universe is the effect-driven result of the condition of nothing that allows for the possibility of everything. But our Universe is also a refined everything, stabilised through the filter of intuitive purposiveness. A purposiveness which is denied by the global money-driven civilisation we have now created, propelling us into a chaos of pessimisms and cynicisms regarding our own humanity. To find harmony in our lives, we need to harmonise our way of living with the same intuitive purposiveness possessed by the universe; we need to open our eyes and see where we are all going; where our ancestors will be at the end of time; and imagine what they will emerge as when the final evolution eventually takes place.

Purposiveness and Beauty

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We all have our reasons for doing things, but what is our purpose? What is the purpose of anything? What is the purpose of the whole?

If we analyse purpose, we can discover the beauty of the thing. The beautiful is inspirational: it inspires purposeful activity – searching, discovery, creation and imitation of that which is purposeful and beautiful.

It is through beauty that we find the purposiveness of pleasures. All art is a searching for and a working within the purposes of pleasures.

 

Purpose

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Kant divided his critique of judgement between the aesthetic and the teleological powers of judgement. For Kant, the aesthetic side of judgement is that which judges formal purposiveness through the feelings of pleasure and displeasure: this is a subjective judgement. The teleological side, on the other hand, judges the real, objective purposiveness of nature by using understanding and reason[1]: teleological judgement is objective.

Our nihilistic, capitalist system has done away with the teleological side of judgement as its forward-moving impulse clashes with capitalism’s need for the cyclic. The system is therefore imbalanced, in favour of the feelings of pleasure (predominantly) and the need for displeasure in order to fuel the highs through their contrast with the lows.

This abandonment of the teleological has been our greatest mistake. By ignoring the teleological and, as such, the objective powers of judgement, we have pushed ourselves ever deeper into an apocalyptic scenario. By ridding nature of its purposiveness, we give ourselves free-rein to exploit it to the end, extracting the last drop of sense from the biosphere until there is nothing left to sustain us or any other life here on Earth.

Nature’s purpose has to become an object of concern again if we are to get ourselves back on the forward moving track, which has to be a partnership between us and the world. And, as in any partnership, the alliance must be based on understanding, which is precisely what the teleological judgement aims for: an understanding of the purpose of the Universe, beginning with an affirmation that such a purpose must exist.

[1] Immanuel Kant, CRITIQUE OF JUDGEMENT, Oxford World Classics, OUP, p.28

The Purposiveness of the Subjective

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Through the creation of sapiens life-forms, the Universe adopts a new external reality for itself, in which it becomes subjected to the subjective perception of individual consciousnesses. And these consciousnesses are themselves struggling to channel their own subjectivity in the most objectively meaningful form possible. Thus, in the external dimension of sapiens cognition, the Universe is basically an aesthetic phenomenon.

Our minds are the external dimensions of the Universe.

Each mind is a universe in itself.

Minds are layered. Language and memory, as well as imagination and feelings, seep into the mindscapes provided by perception. The mind needs the Universe not just to create it, but to inspire it and give its cognition something to think about or, in other words, to give fuel (and meaning) to its power and potential. Likewise, the Universe needs the mind to discover it and give it the Being, which comes through being known, and the subsequent meaningfulness that comes from the relationship between the subject and the object of that Being.

Once the meaningfulness of this interchange is unveiled, the result is pleasurable and liberating. Meaning is a tool for freedom. The sapiens entity finds its freedom in the universe itself has created, which is a subjective one, discovered through its own consciousness and which is its own subjective reflection of the Universe as a whole. Our universes are their own subjective cosmos in the vast space of multiverses created by the accumulation of all sapiens consciousnesses.

But this liberation is only felt when the sapiens is able to understand the meaning inherent in its own experience. It is not the thinking itself, but the meaning inherent in the thinking that is liberating.

WHY DO WE FEAR INTELLIGENCE?

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The only finite being that could be an absolute end of creation is the human being, considered not merely as a link in the chain of natural causality but as a moral being capable of grasping itself as such. This is Kant’s moral theology …”[1]

As an absolute end to creation, humanity also becomes a purpose of creation. Do we have a more inspiring idea pointing to the importance and meaningfulness of our existence in the Universe? An existence which is not only an evolutionary aim of nature, our perceptive and cognitive faculties are appropriate or conformable to nature, and are purposive for it. By investigating the nature of the Universe, we allow the Universe to know itself through us, and that self-knowledge enriches the Universe with meaning. This train of thought leads to the anthropocentric idea that our cognitive faculties have been deliberately fashioned by nature in order to allow the deepest reaches of the inanimate cosmos be made meaningful through a process of being known and appreciated.

According to Kant, being human had to be defined through the three faculties of the mind: the faculties of cognition; feeling; and desire. We are rational, but sensitive and easily driven (as well as mislead) by desire. Likewise, we are condemned to exist in a reality of paradoxes: once we start thinking deeply, we discover there is an abyss of scepticism before us which can pull reality itself into question – How can we be certain that what we perceive is truly real?

As Socrates said: the more we know, the more we know that we nothing at all. Thinking is dangerous: it can be tormenting; can provoke madness. So, is it so hard to understand why so many people choose not to bother? For the majority of human beings, the most human faculty of all, our cognition, is the least interesting one, and it is repressed by the most vital faculties of feelings and desires. Thus, we have the intellectual: which becomes an aberration or freak of society – or what is popularly ridiculed by being labelled a nerd.

Western society is certainly one driven foremost by desire, with a strong sympathy for feelings and little time at all for the cognitive faculties. Sometimes it seems as if the cognitive just gets in the way of the fun: it is a party-pooper. Nevertheless, every time we deny the cognitive faculty, we are really denying our most human quality – certainly our most Sapiens’ quality.

This latter idea, however, has been both reinforced and contradicted whenever our own capitalist society has envisaged us meeting other, more advanced species of extra-terrestrial visitors. Our imaginings of the more advanced races of interstellar travellers visiting the Earth, are almost always endowed with an over-abundance of cognitive abilities and a sharp lack of feelings and desires. The alien visitors are intrigued and seduced by our human propensity for the sensibilities they lack. At the same time, in the same sci-fi scenarios, we humans are portrayed as being proud of our anti-intellectual, wilful and sentimental souls.

In the sci-fi vision of us versus them, the anti-intellectual is warm-hearted and good whilst the rational beings are cold and bad. Of course, much of this material was fabricated in the Cold War and is a capitalist fantasy of the desire-driven subjects belonging to the liberal economy cultures triumphing over the cold-hearted, emotionless intellectual beings created by communism. But nevertheless, this tradition has transcended the fall of communism. For Hollywood, an alien invasion is still a possibility, and if we were conquered by creatures from another galaxy, they would have to be cold, calculating monsters of pure cognition. How would they have been able to develop a technology complex enough to have transported them across the Universe if they weren’t?

But, why are we so scared of aliens? Why are we so frightened of intelligence and deep thinking? Shouldn’t it be something to aim toward rather than tremble with fear at? And, why in the first place does intelligence seem so alien to us? Why can’t we associate ourselves with it; sympathise and empathise with other Sapiens?

Of course, Kant pointed out that cognitive judgements have a sensuous dimension and sympathy and empathy have to play an active role in any decisions made that affect others. To not allow sympathy or empathy to sway our judgements would turn us into a psychopath for a simple definition of the psychopath is one feels no empathy.

But the psychopath, who is highly intelligent, is not reason enough to disdain intelligence: it is rather an example of an unbalanced human personality. Yes, the result of too much thinking without enough empathy and feelings creates serial killers and other monsters, but that does not mean that intelligence is bad for us.

Is the cold-blooded sadist and killer reason enough for us to fear intelligence? Do we hold an assumption that an over-developed cognitive mind would dominate and deaden feelings and desires, turning the anal-retentive genius into a psychopathic demon? Yes, some brilliant minds are anti-social, but so are many non-brilliant minds. An excess of rational thinking can turn us into a Raskolnikov or an Einstein, and a lack of it can fabricate a Rocky or a Donald Trump.

We must remember that to be human, according to Kant, we need the three faculties (the cognitive, as well as our feelings and desires) to be harmoniously balanced. But if we are to develop our humanity and ensure human-progress, we have to develop the intellectual side along with our feelings of empathy. Empathy is important because it combats the psychopathic tendencies and therefore liberates the intellect because it keeps it rooted within humanity as a whole. Lack of empathy leads to megalomania and a lack of humanity. Without empathy humans cannot be the moral beings meaningfully linked to the cosmos which allows us to fulfil our role at the end of the great process of creation. But neither can we achieve that purposive role without a highly developed intelligence either.

It seems more coherent to us to imagine alien visitors not only with mega-intellects but also with a highly developed sense of empathy. And empathy and intelligence are what we on Earth are lacking if humanity is ever going to progress in an authentic way; more empathy and more intelligence is what we need if humanity is ever going to fulfil the enormous ends that it is supposed to achieve.

[1] Nicholas Walker from his Introduction to Immanuel Kant’s CRITIQUE OF JUDGEMENT, Oxford World Classics, OUP, p. xix