THE HUMAN AS A VALUE

Anatomy art by Leonardo Da Vinci from 1492 on textured background.

Whilst the human is something enormously valuable that should be treasured, in actual fact it is a worthless thing, made so by its dubious existence. Asking what humanity is, is like asking what a unicorn is: everyone knows what it should be like but no one can actually find one.  

In the conditional sense, humanity has become a should be: The human should be something we want to become, even though we already are. But: How can we become what we already are? The problem is that everything we want to become (and do become), things like our nationality, race, wealth (or lack of wealth), and religion, strip us of the human thing that we authentically are.

In a sense, our human way of life erodes our humanity. Because of this, the value of the human needs to be regained. It needs to be rediscovered in our nostalgic ability to resurrect lost things, restore them, and preserve them. Of course, there is a great irony in this process, that what needs to be discovered is that which is all around us; that we cannot find the forest because the tree we are sitting under gets in the way. But this irony only reveals the simplicity of the task once we find the will to achieve it. To rediscover we have to merely remember; recall that our humanity is that which unites us to the rest of our species; it is that which we all have in common … that we are bipods with hands that have fingers and a thumb; that we have the ability to laugh, etc.. However, an amputee is not considered non-human because they have lost a leg, or a thumb, and one can imagine human beings who never smile or laugh. No, the real determiner of the human being is rooted in our special intellect, in our special ability to communicate via language, and in our curiosity, to know things, and our creativity to invent and make things. It is in these qualities that the sapiens instincts are housed, and it is the sapiens qualities that really define the human.

Curiosity creates our restlessness and our passion for uncovering. It makes us capable of boredom, when there is nothing that sparks our curiosity, and fires our creativity. Curiosity then is a positive human value that needs to be stimulated and nurtured by any sapiens-human society. Likewise, our intellectual and high artistic values need to be resurrected as that which is valuable, where valuable is considered as that which is enriching for our humanity.  

But aren’t we curious and creative enough already? If you look around, the world is full of the fruits of our curiosity and inventive imagination: Aren’t we living in a marvellous information age in which we can enjoy the gifts of the incredible technologies we have already developed and can be purchased? Yes, and no … because in the reality expressed in that question lies the great divider of the human … in human civilisation as we have it at the moment, the fruits of our creative, collective, curiosity have to be bought. Money, and what we call the economy, is the great shredder of humanity, slicing through us like a ploughing machine through the common home of our humanity.

A civilisation geared toward what money can buy, turns its back on the human and the intellect as things of little value in themselves. Intellect in a society driven by the plutocratic impulse of making money, will be little more than a small tool toward achieving that final goal, or even an impediment to it. Intellect in our society is not valuable in itself, and its only value comes from the salary gained by the kind of job requiring intellectual skills. In the economy, the authentically human is undervalued while those with the anti-human, human-shredding skills that know how to manipulate money are the successful sub-species that has turned much of humanity into the sad-cruel figure of the homo economicus.

When civilisations become too dependent on, or become slaves to their own technologies, decadence sets in, and this truth must not ignore the most influential technological invention we have ever come up with – money. Our relationship with money has been the most obvious whilst at the same time most obscure process of human degeneration. In its essence money is a tool that can be used to facilitate exchange and make life simpler. Nevertheless, the effect of money on society has been quite the opposite. Money is now a complex thing that dominates all human societies. It creates more misery than happiness; it is responsible for the virtual enslavement of the vast majority of human beings; it is used as the measure of society and its use is, for the most part, unjust.

Money is the root of all evil: and yet we cannot live without it. We are totally dependent on the evil of it; it is the cause of all degeneracy; it is degeneracy itself. The degenerate-value of money.

To be able to remedy this essentially anti-human reality buried in the very fabric of our civilisation and to resurrect the authentic nature of the human, will require a revolutionary upheaval. Yet at the same time, that revaluation will have to come from a very simple source: through the recognition of the authenticity of what we already are – through a recognition of the authentically human. To rediscover we only have to remember.  

OVERCOMING OUR AGE OF NIHILISM: METAPHYSICS & SCIENCE

universe

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

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

 

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

But how?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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