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.

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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 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/ )

The Purpose of the Universe

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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/

PROGRESS VS THE GRAVITY OF WEALTH

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PROGRESS

Progress is change with continuity. Revolution breaks continuity.

However, when the change gravitates into a cyclical motion, revolution is needed to reinstate progress.

In a positive, progressive sense, revolution is a poor term for the idea of this interruption of cyclical motion because it implies a new kind of cyclical motion rather than a positive redirection with a continual-change momentum. In a practical sense, however, all revolutions have in fact been redirecting-breakaways that have gravitated back into cyclical motion.

An analysis of this reality indicates a pessimistic vision of a never-ending cyclical reality. But, does it have to be so? And if so, why?

Nietzsche and Deleuze argued that this had to come about because ideals and purposes cannot be sustained once they are achieved. But, what happens if purpose has a deliberately unattainable objective? That purpose becomes the purpose of always becoming rather than the maintenance of what is? That it becomes motored by progress and creativity itself? Could this not be the basis for a forward pushing drive for humanity?

Yet, if this is possible; how is it that we’ve never been able to manage it before?

 

WEALTH

What is the gravity that has constantly pulled progress back around itself into a cyclical form?

That gravity is “wealth”. “Wealth” as a driving force within the libido of our very civilisation itself.

Any deep analysis of civilisation will always indicate (either positively or negatively, depending on the stand-point from which the analysis is carried out) the role of Wealth in the creation and maintenance of all civilisations. In other words, civilisation is a construct erected by Wealth in order to move all accumulations in an upward way that benefits Wealth itself. All revolutions, so far, have been simple replacements of Wealth without ever removing Wealth from the central position of society.

Wealth uses its own gravity to bend continuity, drawing it back and looping it in cyclical knots.

For this reason, the main foe to human progress is Wealth.

Cycles are necessary for the perpetuation of Wealth – and this explains why we have always had a cyclical reality. For Wealth to perpetuate itself it needs cycles. Wealth has always been the centre of Civilisation; therefore, Civilisation has always had a cyclical form.

If we now interpret Lampedusa’s famous political axiom: “In order for things to remain the same, things have got to change” from this point of view, we see the clever reversal that Wealth itself needs to bring about in order to maintain itself, takes place by bending the curve of progress so acutely that it can curl down and around and perpetuate itself as a cycle.

So, is continual progress impossible, or is it merely inconvenient for Wealth?

If progress is defined as economic growth, then continual progress is impossible; but if progress means an advance of humanity as a whole in the fields of learning, creativity and general well-being, then the answer is the latter – it is not impossible, it is only inconvenient for Wealth.

Wealth is diminished in authentic human progress, and maintained by a politics based on slave-creating economies that function in cyclical forms. For human progress to be possible we have to declare war on Wealth.

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The End of Purpose and the Crisis of Creativity

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In his 1981 thesis, ‘Simulacra and Simulation’, Jean Baudrillard lamented the ruination of the university: “non-functional … lacking cultural substance or an end purpose of knowledge.”[i]

Perhaps we should not victimise the universities, the same can be said of our entire nihilistic culture, nevertheless, the idea that a university lacks a reason for learning is a tremendously sad one.

The crippling result of the lack of purposiveness allows societies to throw in their own self-interested crutches: the university becomes a simple place to prepare people for the work-force, or, on a more hopeful level, an environment that will stimulate creativity. But if there is no purpose or reason, why be creative? In fact, how can one be creative when nothing matters? Or the opposite is true: it’s very easy to be creative when nothing matters – too easy.

Either way, the result will always be a crisis of creativity.

“Today’s nihilism is one of transparency, and it is in some sense more radical, more crucial than its prior and historical forms, because this transparency, this irresolution is indissolubly that of the system, and that of all the theory that still pretends to analyse it.”[ii]

Baudrillard regarded Romanticism as the first great manifestation of nihilism; the destroyer of the order of appearances. The second great manifestation came through Dada, Surrealism, the Absurd, and political nihilism – corresponding to the destruction of the order of meaning.

But, destruction is inevitable when appearances and meanings themselves are devoid of substance; when they are castles made of sand. It wasn’t the Romantics or Dada that destroyed meaning; they were merely realisations that meaninglessness had evolved around them. The real destroyers were those in the institutions themselves, trying to maintain a system which made no sense.

Such a condition can only be perpetuated by dissimulation, and only whilst society swallows the performance in the staging of an ersatz purpose that the system offers them. Once the society grows tired of the theatrics played out before them they will start to yawn, or grimace if they are injured by it, and through that yawn or grimace they will see through the stage-craft to the emptiness behind it. When this happens on a massive scale, real revolution or a brutal reaction can take place.

This awareness is happening today, it has been bubbling for some years, but the train is turning toward the Dystopia rather than any purposive Utopia.

Buadrillard observed a similar scenario in the student revolts of Paris, 1968. Why didn’t a revolution happen then? Why is a purposive revolution unlikely to happen now?

According to Baudrillard, the staging carried out by the media is no longer a staging. He calls the media: “a strip, a track, a perforated map of which we are no longer mere spectators”. All that remains, he says: “is the fascination for desertlike and indifferent forms for the very operation of the system that annihilates us.” [iii]

In other words, we are enchanted and enamoured by the same media that is strangling us and numbing our brains. We love to see the violence and perversion that the society produces so much that we would probably fall into a kind of spiritual crisis if the brutality of the system was taken away from us.

[i] J. Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulation, Michigan, 1994, digital version p. 98

[ii] Ibid, p.104

[iii] Ibid

REALITY AS A PURPOSEFUL LIE

The mystic philosophers were right when they told us that reality is elsewhere, but they were wrong in claiming that our ultimate delusion came from a lack of spiritual insight; our alienation from reality is a psychological and social delusion created by our tendency to perceive reality in lies.

In essence, however, even this delusional tendency to believe things that cannot be proven, may be a necessary element for any positive human view of reality.

Science gives us a view of reality that goes beyond the narrow confines of the world that we perceive. In this way, science is an attempt to uncover the delusional nature of our lying perceptions. The real is not really what we see and feel.

Nevertheless, scientific objectivity clashes with our attempts to forge a positive view of our place in the cosmos. Ultimately, scientific truth is nihilistic. Vanity of vanities. Everything is headed to an inescapable thermal death. All things will come to an end. There is no ultimate purpose to the Universe.

But does an acceptance of this ultimately pointless reality do humanity as a whole any good? Science tells us how insignificant and ultimately pointless we are in the Universe. The result is nihilism and a depression that bleeds down through the entire fabric of contemporary, nihilistic civilisation. Live the moment. Reality is ephemeral. And so, religion has to be saved or even restored. We need hope, don’t we? Even if that hope is a blatant lie.

But even religions are essentially nihilistic as far as humanity goes. For religions, reality is elsewhere, in the Paradise after death. And so we ask: Why is reality so negative? Why is truth so grim?

A positive view of historical human reality can only be truly comprehensible to human beings from the point of view of humanity itself. However, this statement implies an anthropocentric view, which most scientists now reject as biased; and because of that consider it to be unrealistic.

But, does this mean that in order to be realistic we have to forfeit any positive view of humanity?

In actual fact, science itself gives us a way out here; for there is cosmological data that points to a sentient-life purpose evolution of the Universe. Data exists that explains how the self-organising of the Universe was able to create conditions for organisms so complex that they can comprehend that same organisation.[i]

In order to determine reality without deluding ourselves in lies we need to look at the debate that scientists are having on the idea of a purposefully determined cosmos. In this argument the science that has to be allowed the most authority is cosmology. So, what do cosmologists and other physicists really think about the idea of a deterministic Universe; one that implies that we are evolving purposefully towards an ultimate goal?

Some scientists, like cosmologist Martin Rees and the physicist Paul Davies, are in favour of the idea of purposefully orientated evolution, whilst almost any quantum physicist would argue against the anthropocentric view, in favour of indeterminism. Nevertheless, arguments can be found, that take a middle ground. And perhaps it is here that we can resolve the debate.

We think this middle ground has been nicely described by Dan Pipono:

“There is no meaningful difference (between determinism and indeterminism). Suppose at some moment there is some kind of undetermined probabilistic event and the universe forks in one of two ways. Then mathematically we can describe the situation in two distinct ways A and B: (1) we could say that after the fork, the universe is either in state A or state B. The universe is non-deterministic because we don’t know which of A and B it is going to be before the fork. OR (2) the universe is in a state that consists of two pieces, A and B, each of which contains a copy of us. The universe is deterministic but appears non-deterministic because we don’t know which of A and B is the one that contains us. Some people will use Occam’s razor in this situation. Some will use it to argue for (1) because a universe with just A or B is simpler than a universe with both A and B. Some will use it to argue for (2) because often (2) is mathematically simpler than (1). I can’t see any way of distinguishing (1) and (2). In practice I’d use whichever is more convenient for whatever I’m trying to do.”[ii]

Like Pipono and Occam, we argue that reality needs to be viewed according to what is most convenient to what needs to be done with that reality. And what we, as humans, need to question is what is the most convenient reality for humanity; a purposeful state or a nihilistic one? If we still cannot, with true scientific certainty, resolve the debate in favour of either purpose or nihilism, which view of reality is ultimately more convenient for us; for our survival and progress?

 

[i] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fine-tuned_Universe

[ii] See Dan Pipono https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-evidence-for-and-against-determinism

JIGSAW PUZZLES – THINKING ABOUT THINKING

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

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

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

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

GETTING HUMANITY OUT OF ITS DEPRESSION

If we are with someone who is depressed we might tell them that only they themselves can pull themselves back on track, and the reason for giving this advice is simple – the purposes and grounds that determine and support our lives are individual, personal ones. Perhaps they include a family and they are no doubt embellished with certain other marking factors – stamps of identity, memberships, beliefs and ideologies. In fact, the mesh is so complex that if our friend tells us that he or she is feeling down and lacks the motivation to go on and we ask why? our friend will probably reply that he or she doesn’t know. Perhaps there are clear reasons for the break down, perhaps not, the point is that whether there are or not, when we ask why, they don’t know the answer. They don’t know because the reasons for the purposes and grounds that we stand on are themselves flimsy ones, without any more than a superficial substance based on a measuring of our lives against the lives of others.

This measuring of ourselves is void of any meaningful placement of ourselves within the entirety of things. As soon as we let our thoughts stray toward this entirety we are doomed.  Pascal’s nightmare of “the eternal silence of these empty spaces,” terrifies us all, and, like Pascal, we could drop into the religious for comfort, but even so, the day to day flimsiness still whirls around us and even the churches seem full of this flimsiness.

The temples feed us with man-made dogmas that supposedly come from our omnipotent creator only to make us more guilt-ridden than happy with our place in the world. In theory the monotheistic religions should draw us into the universal and allow us to embrace humanity, but they fail to do this because their dogmas are separating ones, buried in a narrative of good versus evil; of accomplishment versus failure; of our message against theirs.

Decentred, an individual needs to be centred again within the ecumenical whole, and the real community for the individual human being must be humanity itself. Only by positing ourselves with humanity itself can we start to find concrete answers to the why question.

Not only is the damage done by the devaluating of the human a psychological or spiritual problem, it has also pushed us to the brink of existential disaster in our persistent ecological damage to the biosphere that maintains us and all life forms on this planet. The lack of humanity as the measure of all human values and internecine promotion of sectarianism and separations will only keep us on a knife-edge over an annihilating abyss.

Nevertheless, this pessimistic condition has an optimistic side. As Nietzsche believed, the devaluing will lead to a revaluing. The nihilism embedded in our anti-humanity civilisation will become clearer and clearer to the individuals who suffer the consequences of that nihilism, a clarity that will create necessary revaluations and new purposes and grounds for existence, based, hopefully on unifying rather than separating elements. A will to be human, or to be Sapiens. But, in order for human power to be liberated we must accept that nihilism reigns in the world and understand that our nihilistic civilisation is working against humanity rather in its favour.

At the moment we stand at a crucial crossroads between a great revaluation of civilisation or a nihilistic slide into nightmarish dystopias or even internecine destruction and annihilation. Fukuyama preached we had reached the end of history[i]. Quite the contrary, we stand at the doorstep of its beginning – what we call the historical process so far has been an anti-human historical process that needs to be shut down in order to allow for a truly human history to take shape.

Both science and philosophy have led us beyond the magical relationship with the suprasensory. Sacrifices are no longer intelligible acts of bonding with the universal. What really binds us is the fact that we all possess rational minds that need to understand and articulate the reality around us. The real purposes and groundwork for our lives lies in our thoughts and imaginations and our capacity to perceive and dream a Universe that finds itself fulfilled. A Universe in which its own Being is authenticated in the representation of itself in our collective minds.

[i] See Francis Fukuyama THE END OF HISTORY AND THE LAST MAN

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