The Übermensch and Purpose

The Übermensch and Purpose

“What is great about human beings is that they are a bridge and not a purpose: what is lovable about human beings is that they are a crossing over and a going under.”

Friedrich Nietzsche, THUS SPAKE ZARATHUSTRA

Nietzsche saw human beings as a bridge between the animal and the Übermensch (the superhuman), this superhuman being the next evolutionary step beyond humanity. For him this evolution was necessary to pull humanity forward again, away from a tendency to slip back down to the animal.

Our interpretation of the human condition is a little different to Nietzsche’s. For us, the evolutionary leap is already inherent in the nature of our species as homo sapiens sapiens, but that the sapiens quality of humanity has been retarded by the anti-human historical processes imposed on humanity by civilisations dominated by the power of wealth. Humanity, from our assessment, is more alike a road or a river that we are not allowed to travel very far along because the path has been diverted and drawn back in a circling way. Because of this we seem to be unable to make real progress and our distant past seems closer than any dawning great new future and subsequently, this constant coming back (which is real way that humanity moves, rather than Nietzsche’s crossing over) results in our losing touch with human purpose and become easily lost in nihilisms engendered by prophets and economists.

“I love the one who lives, in order to know, and who wants to know, so that one say the Übermensch may live.”

Here we have a definition of Nietzsche’s purposiveness. Nietzsche loves the one who lives in order to know because that is the most authentically sapiens quality (and anti-animal quality) of our humanity, and it reiterates Nietzsche’s idea of spiritual progress, that through exerting our will to know we transcend our animal state and become the superhuman, or transhuman, authentically sapiens species.

For us, this knowing has to be exercised in all fields of existence and Being, fulfilling itself through a knowing, sapiens relationship with the Universe. A relationship creating an authentic and spiritual relationship of absolute Being.   For a more detailed explanation of Authentic Purpose and Being see the related article: AUTHENTIC PURPOSIVENESS: THE THING – THE WORD – BEING | pauladkin (wordpress.com)

AUTHENTIC PURPOSIVENESS: THE THING – THE WORD – BEING

For humanity to evolve in a positive and authentically human way we must be able to affirm a common purposiveness for all. In order to do that, we need to answer the big question: “Why are we here?”, with the emphasis on the WE.

This is a question that contains a heavy theological load, as it has historically been the role of religions to try and answer it, so in order to pull it away from religious associations we could firstly open up the subject ‘we’ to include all conscious and rational forms of life that could exist and so rephrase the ‘big’ question in a more scientifically sounding manner: “Why is their intelligent life in the Universe?”

Not that we expect science to be able to give a definite answer to this question, in fact we presume it can’t, but we do think if it is armed with philosophical, logical speculation, it could fashion a new, metaphysical scenario to build a positive narrative of purpose from. From contemporary cosmological speculation science points to a quantum-mechanics kind of metaphysics that approaches the evolution of the Universe as a wilful process, not necessarily planned as such, but moving towards a logical evolution that gravitates toward purposefulness.   

Before science will be able to definitely prove any reason for intelligence, however, philosophy is needed to open a path for that speculative investigation and pave the way forward and attack the big question from a slightly different angle – not of ‘why’ directly but primarily ‘how’ and then ‘what for’. So, firstly, How is the existence of rational beings in the Universe possible? And secondly, What could the purpose of intelligent life be in the Universe?

The answer to the first question rests in the idea of evolution and that has to be examined scientifically. The religious idea of a Creator that opened its mind and let in light and a paradise world came into being populated by all the animals and plants and human beings we know of today has no scientific basis. The evolution of the Universe from pure energy into complex material forms with consciousness capable of practising art and science and developing technologies capable of shaping the world to satisfy their own needs is the end-result of a painstakingly slow development from absolute simplicity to incredible complexity. We are beings that know we are here because of that gradual, cause and effect development into complexity. One could say we are a result of a seemingly perpetual process of incremental intricacy, and, as far as we know, the human brain is the most naturally complex material phenomenon in this Universe. An intricate organ that is constantly producing more and more complexity. Knowing this, we can now ask ‘why?’. What is this complexity we possess for? Why would such a process of creating such complexity exist in our Universe at all?

To answer this we need to think of what the most basic purpose of the Universe itself could be, the answer to which lies in what it is.

The Universe is everything, and by being everything it is the antithesis of nothing. In theological and philosophical terms, the Universe is Being, and that which is not in the Universe is non-Being. The pre-Socratic Parmenides argued that the totality of the Universe was something complete and perfect, an idea reflected in monotheistic concepts of God, but science tells us that this is not so. The Universe has evolved from very chaotic conditions and continues to evolve – Being is a developing, qualitative thing. The Being of a Universe simply made up of nothing more than cold space, hot balls of gas and spinning rocks, is not a very interesting thing to know about, especially as there is nothing in such a Universe to know about it. To be but not be known even by yourself, is the most pointless kind of existence. From this image of pointlessness, however, we can derive a concept of ultimate purposiveness and affirm that the ultimate goal of Being is for its existence to know and be known.

So, in order for this more purposeful form of an aware-Being to come about, then the Universe needs to create the possibility of that awareness. This must happen via the creation of the possibility of it being named. Let’s call this naming process The Word. The Thing, thereby, which is the original, pre-sapiens state of Being, must allow a naming to happen by creating circumstances that permit The Word to be brought into Being and by so doing allowing the Thing-itself to be known, interpreted through and preserved by The Word.

This is the purpose of Being, a purpose which is necessarily engendered by its lack. Without The Word the Universe (Being) is qualitatively deficient and is closer to non-Being than Being itself.  

Through The Word the Thing becomes the Universe as a Being imbued with qualities and purpose becomes rooted in the interaction between the Universe and the conscious, rational, evolving intelligences that cohabit, discover and define it.

In order to arrive where we are now, with someone thinking the Universe in words that are communicated to other organisms capable of understanding those words, the Universe has to have been imbued with the purpose of qualitative Being. A purposeful will which has been able to create conditions allowing sapiens organisms with brains that are complex enough to create language, to evolve in it, name it, and construct communicable explanations for it that will uncover the secrets of it and allow for the development of technologies that will develop the understanding of the Universe further, with the goal of achieving total comprehension with the Universe in the distant future. For this reason, using theological terms, humanity is sacred in the Universe.

It is within this continually evolving development that our authentic purposiveness lies, and authentic human fulfilment can only be genuinely found through the pursuit of this development unto a complete awareness of Being. If our consciousness and language make us sacred, we have a sacred duty to develop our common intelligence (the accumulation of all human intelligence) to the fullest. 

Frustrating Questions concerning Meaning and Purpose

Meaning depends on purpose to furbish it with sense. If we are to be able to say what the meaning of life in society is, then we need to examine the purpose of the society itself.

What is the purpose of our society? By answering this question we should be able to find clues regarding what will make our lives meaningful. Nevertheless, the answers that spring to mind might seem ugly. What happens if we don’t really like their ugliness? Are we bad citizens for rejecting the ugly purposes of our society? If we don’t lie the purposes of society, how can our lives within it make any sense to us? And, if society is non-sensical, how can we ever be expected to make our lives truly meaningful?

In a global marketplace society of ugly purposes, where can we escape to in order to pursue a meaningful existence again? And, if we can’t escape, what can we do to make the ugliness pretty?   

Language, Meaning, Existence & Authentic Purpose

Language allows us to give meaning to our existence, and meaning is a bridge between existence and purpose.

Because of this, only sapiens organisms that possess a language can be creatures of purpose.

This does not mean, however, that the meaningful construct created by language necessarily has to produce purposiveness. Even with a deep understanding of the meaningfulness of human activity in the world the purpose of the word itself alludes us.

This is because the reasons for things are as numerous as the things themselves and all their parts, but not any of those reasons on their own give us any indication of real purposiveness.

But, how can this be? If existence and purpose are bridged by meaning, why isn’t that bridge a clear enough path to understand what lies on either side of it? What is the difference between meaning and purpose in this case?

If meaning comes through language, we are talking about the understanding of things provided by language, primarily through the naming of stuff (physical objects and mental concepts) and secondly through our linguistic capacity to formulate questions about things and find answers to those questions.

Once we have a language structure capable of providing an inquisitive mechanism we can search for an understanding of all things through the formulation of questions about them.

Authentic purposiveness is concerned with questions aimed at the totality of things as a singularity, or of the experience of the total, human singularity within the greater singularity of the Universe. Authentic purposiveness is related to metaphysics and the questions concerning the potential scope of human beings in the Universe.

We can discover what something is, and, by naming it we can preserve it and make it easy to recognise when we find it again or remember it. Likewise, by observing things or by using them or experimenting with them, or by learning about them from others with experience of them, we can know what they are for, where they have come from, or where to find them. Even things that no longer exist can be rediscovered through documents written about them or by talking to witnesses, or communicating with others who have talked to witnesses, or through photos or drawings. Some things seem easy to understand, like doors and tables; so easy that we do not even need to think about them. Their purpose is self-explanatory. Some other things of which we know beforehand what they are used for and which we take for granted, like televisions and phones, have complex technological motors that need instruction manuals in order for us to decipher how they operate. Cars need a driving course to learn how to manipulate them and musical instruments require hours of practice, study, and accumulative experience in order to make them sound harmoniously and be able to create musical forms with them. However, when we examine everything as a singularity in order to ask the big question, what is it all for?, certainty seems to crumble within our very minds.

Traditionally this is the area of gods and God; of myths and faiths, as if any answer can be good enough if you believe in it because the important thing, traditionally, is to have an answer, and really any answer will do as long as it is convincing. To make it more convincing, metaphysics turned to logic, which complicated things because logic can be complicating. Then, when any answer was now no longer good enough, we preferred no answer at all. God was pronounced dead and metaphysics died with It. If we really cannot know, then why try to know?

But let us return to the idea of meaning as a bridge metaphor. Through it we see that (i) meaning is a natural end result of existence and thinking itself, and (ii) the meaning that language invests our lives with drives us in singular direction that terminates in purpose. Meaning is dependent on a concept, object or an act making sense, but the sense of any concept, object or act can only be determined by considering its purpose.

When we stop looking for it our Sapiens qualities, of knowing, thinking, and questioning, lose their driving energy. Nihilism threatens all progress because it negates the drive that produces progress, which is purpose. As living creatures, we struggle to survive, and as Sapiens we need to know what that survival is meant for; but also, as Sapiens we struggle to give a purpose to our lives that transcends mere survival. It is because we need purpose to vindicate our evolution and progress that we need to make purposiveness a central feature of our culture and our societies.

Authentic purpose gives us a reason for language; a reason for meaning; a reason for thinking; a reason for being.

Purpose is also a measure of meaning. That which is imbued with more purpose is more meaningful and that which lacks purpose is meaningless. But, if this is the case, the difference between meaning and purpose has become muddied again, hasn’t it?

Meaning can define a phenomena and tell us what it is and even what it is for in the immediate sense of that term, but purposiveness points in the direction of an end result to the phenomena, to what it is ultimately here for, to its true vocation or destiny, if you like.

Meaning is discovered through scientific enquiry, whereas purposiveness is found through philosophical questioning via the results of the original scientific enquiry.

Meaning reveals how the world is; purpose shows us how it can progress and develop.

Meaning is factual; purpose is creative.

For this reason, purposiveness is tied to aesthetics, and through aesthetics to judgement, freedom and the eternal.    

Our Tyranny of Purposelessness

The System which rules us and which we benevolently call Civilisation, is actually a despotic plutocracy – a tyranny of greed. This dictatorship of the greedy is also a tyranny of the superficial and, subsequently, the most envious and stupid elements of society. Above all it is a tyranny of purposelessness.

Purposelessness creates shallowness and hates all depth. Without any authentic purpose to thicken its achievements, that which is won remains insubstantial and unsatisfying. Instead of being satisfied by our accomplishments we long for the success of others.

In the tyranny of greed, one follows one’s desires without knowing where those desires come from or where they might be taking us. On the whole, the tyranny of greed is a hopeless affair. Like all despotisms, the tyranny of greed negates humanity and ignores human rights whenever they do not favour its own greedy, superficial, and envious purposes.

The tyranny is so entrenched in our civilisation that it seems unmovable. But immovability has been the symptom of the collapse of all tyrannical civilisations. The stagnation of the system will always crumble under the disquietude of its citizens and their need to move forward.

To vanquish a dictatorship of purposelessness, the procedure is quite simple: inject an authentic purposefulness into that same system … and by authentic we mean meaningful for humanity; we mean an authentic human purposefulness, one that envisions an authentic human progress towards a civilisation with a forever evolving human quality of life.

But for that to happen we have to start seeing these purposeful human aims toward authentic progress ourselves.  

Society of Control (Part Two)

Continued From: https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/pauladkin.wordpress.com/3423

WHAT WE LIVE FOR

Truth implies a communication between people who share a similar view and experience of reality. In a global village, bearing a huge divide between the wealthy and the poor, this similar view of things is impossible. For society to be able to talk truthfully it needs to be authentically democratic and egalitarian. Our civilisation, that has been created and maintained by Wealth for the interests of Wealth, needs to impose its truth by control and repression, but also by concealing its desire to control and repress. This concealment is carried out by arguing that the control it desires is really an uncomfortable condition that is only imposed in order to ensure our safety.

The possessive adjective ‘ourhowever, should be substituted with ‘their – it is their safety that is being protected, not ours. Our so-called democratic world is not democratic at all. Power operates with abundant freedom to protect Wealth whilst the society itself is chokingly repressed.

Problems are repeatedly decontextualized. A terrorist attack takes place because a group of people feel a need to act against the Power that is plundering the natural resources of its region, or because Power has carried out a military invasion of a certain region, or is occupying a certain area by force. Because Power is the real bad guy in this scenario, Power decontextualizes it. It concentrates on the barbarity of the attack perpetrated by the terrorists, while at the same time playing down or completely ignoring the importance of the underlying reasons embedded in the whole context of the event.

Likewise, the economy, which is all about the distribution of wealth and exchange between people, is also decontextualized through a narrative that concentrates on macroeconomic figures that have noting to do with the economic reality of the person in the street.

The truth is, in society we are all involved with each other. If we work, we think we are working for ourselves, but this is only part of the truth. We are also working for others: for the company, probably in order to produce things that may be used by the rest of the society. This complicity is not ignored, but it is often pushed out of the picture, because the real answer to the question of ‘who are we working for?’ often gives a very ugly answer.

In reality we are all part of the equipment that the System uses to gratify the wants and needs of Power. We are, as the Pink Floyd anthem tells us, just another brick in the wall, a cog in the machinery of the System. We are the bolts and nails that hold things together, the tiny wheels that get the thing running.

Once this fact has been accepted, we must ask another even more important question: ‘toward what?’. Towards which final result are our efforts, as we work in the System, supposed to be directed? What is the purpose of our toil? That the answer is to gratify the needs and wants of Power, needs to be concealed from us and, in order to achieve that concealment, Power invents other ambiguous and decontextualized explanations explaining what we are working toward.

Thus, the System talks about a better life and the obvious happiness that will come with it because through the distribution of money workers are able to buy things that will make that better life possible. In actual fact, the whole narrative of our WEIRD civilisation revolves around this simple idea: if you have the power to buy new things and accumulate objects, you will be happier and your life will be better. The toward what goes no further than that. The message is: you, the workers, are improving your own standard of living by participating in the System. And yet, the real toward is not this reality at all. It is, you are contributing to the desires and needs of Wealth and helping Wealth accumulate more wealth and more power.

By articulating this true context, and only by articulating it, a democratic dialectic is allowed to challenge the system. But is this the towards what that we really want to participate in?      

Humanity (nothing or something?)

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Given the current unfolding of the Climate Emergency, the mesh of nation states making up the political fabric of the world is proving at the best to be an ineffectual apparatus for tackling the problems and, in the most part, states are impediments to any real solutions to our global predicament. To tackle this crisis, the idea of the State has to be transcended in favour of a unifying, universal concept like Humanity.

Nevertheless, in the present, humanity is nothing. There is no human culture; there are no human rights; there is no human history. For these things to exist, their defining element, humanity itself, has to become something. While humanity remains nothing, we are nothing. Instead of being something we are all sorts of things and we will only ever be something when we stop being all sorts of things. At the moment, humanity is merely a very meagre will, scarcely a hope, and definitely not a tangible desire. In short, it is nothing at all what it should be.

It should be a final cause, something to will for: something that will motivate us. It should be a matter of will, of work, of discipline as will-as-a-matter-of-un-will. It should be a fundamental desire, of being the essential something we desperately lack because we missed it.

Because of its absence it causes discomfort and bitterness. Humanity desires something for ourselves that has not yet been desired from us, ignoring the fact that what we desire for ourselves must come from us. We desire to be something more: something tangible and real rather than a merely abstract generalisation.

As for final causes: the real final cause will only be apparent when humanity has become something. For humanity to begin to fulfil itself and find purposiveness, it must first be something – be the thing that should be humanity.

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