Plotinian Ethics

 

A philosophical guide to navigating the environmental and ethical challenges of the meta human age

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Kenneth Press

© 2004

 

 

 


 

 

Table of Contents (Add five to the page numbers)

 

Overall Outline.........................................................................................Pg.   i

 

Part One – Trajectory………………………..………….............…............….Pg.   1

Introduction…………………….…………………………....….…..…..Pg.   3

-Ch. 1  Hegelian Lemmings……….....................................................................Pg.   5

-Ch. 2  The History of Intelligence – The Birth of Man……......…...……….....Pg.  13

-Ch. 3  The End of Man………………………………………...……..…..…....Pg.  29

 

Part Two – Plotinian Ethics………............…………………………......……Pg.  49

Introduction………………………………………………………......…Pg.  51

-Ch. 4  Plotinus’ Meta-Human Intelligence Worship…..…………….….....…..Pg.  53

-Ch. 5  Memes Alive!...........................................................................................Pg.  77

-Ch. 6  Culturism v. Multiculturalism………………...………………...…....…Pg.  95

 

Part Three – Solutions…..…............……………………….……………..…..Pg. 105

Introduction………….………………………………...………………..Pg. 107

-Ch. 7  Facing the Dilemma of Man…………………………..…….………….Pg. 109

-Ch 8  Given Takings……………………………………………...……………Pg. 123

-Ch. 9  Sustained Growth…………………………………………...…………..Pg. 145

 

Part Four – The Promise…............……………………………….…….…….Pg. 163

Introduction………………………………………………….…….……Pg. 165

-Ch. 10 Into the Light……………………………………………..……....…….Pg. 167


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overall Outline

 

 

This book is an attempt to confront the most serious and pressing issues of our times.  Chiefly, these problems revolve around the environmental situation, the technological advances in biology and in communications and the emerging geo-political world.  The challenges are to our bodies and souls.  Plotinian ethics will be defined and applied in an effort to successfully navigate the perils and potentials of the unfolding age. 

My paucity of footnotes was a strategic option that will make sense to some now, more by the end of the book and some never.  My argument involves placing the rationalist tradition at the center of our thinking and worlds.  Empiricism is coherent because it is logically sound.  These rational arguments should also be judged on their logical coherence.  The soundness of a logical argument is its own ground. 

Part of the soundness of this argument is evident in its tightness of its overall structure.  Part one defines the issues this book will resolve.  Part two defines the means by which we can solve these problems.  Part three applies these means to the problems in the form of solutions.  The fourth part is an inspirational epilogue. 

 

Chapter one starts part one.  It is an intellectual call to arms.  There is no more time for delusions and distractions.  It is time to take a serious and unflinching look at our situation.  Honesty and bravery demand the objectivity of the Hegelian viewpoint I describe.  The urgency of our problems deserve at least this much of a psychic effort.  If you do not find my solutions appropriate and ethically consistent then you are responsible to formulate your own solutions.

            Next, chapter two investigates the origins of consciousness.  Why?  First of all, as our consciousness is our means to a solution, we should understand it.  Secondly, this helps us pinpoint what we are striving to protect.  An environmentally sustainable world without civilized humans functioning would be unsatisfactory.  Eventually, knowing how mind evolved will give us a value system and a usable cosmology.  At first you might not think of the consciousness of mankind having a history.  But, just like our bodies, mind also evolved. 

            Our third chapter concludes the first part of the book.  Ironically, man’s crowning achievement may cheapen man.  Science has recently figured out how man works.  The modern view of man conceives of us more as machines than angels.  Meanwhile, the exploding World Wide Web technologies seek to confirm our mechanical nature.  But knowing how man works and explosions in computer based technologies also provide promise.  With the end of the third chapter, we have a full understanding of the perils and promises of this coming “meta – human age.”

 

Part two opens with chapter four and starts with a bang!  Defining of the Plotinian ethic is the meat of both this chapter and book.  Plotinus’ realistic, futuristic, scientific and simultaneously mystic cosmology is detailed.  His system actually describes all history and all time.  His cosmology is mystic enough to inspire, yet scientific enough to allow for measurement.  As such it is a great bridge for futuristic ethics we can understand.  Preliminary examples of practical guidelines for solving our problems are presented here.  You’ll have a great grasp of Plotinian values, cosmology, practicality and promise by the end of this chapter.

Chapter five will introduce “memes” as the most recent evolutionary product of consciousness.  Memes are roughly equivalent to “culture”.  There is a lengthy exposition on the sense in which I consider the meme concept to be real and applicable.  Fortunately this allows me to spend some quality time looking into the common and fantastic world of modern biology.  Investigations as to how knowledge of them is applicable to both the Plotinian world view and the challenges of the meta – human age finish this chapter.

Chapter six is where we start to swim into controversial waters.  It is here I must first really call upon your promise in the first chapter to try adopting a Hegelian sense of objectivity.  Again, this is necessary in light of the seriousness of the challenges which confront us. 

In chapter six we will learn how to discriminate.  As anathema to the assumed values of the current age are, I think we need to be really careful about our thinking these days.  What we do now will have an strong influence on the parameters and types of technological applications we will be pursuing for some time.  Our reverberations on the future I call the “echo effect.  In such times knowing how to discriminate between right, wrong, better and best is important.

 

The third part of the book will apply all of the cosmology building and value generating efforts of the prior six chapters to the problems we face in the meta – human age.  The solutions presented may seem controversial.  No shock value is intended.  By this time you will already know that this treatise is a serious attempt to solve serious concerns.  Put away your personal reactions and ask yourself if these solutions are coherent and useable.  Hegel, the future and I thank you for your level of objectivity, dedication, faith and perseverance. 

The seventh chapter mainly delineates solutions to the problem of the intrinsic value of man.  Public policy is the basis upon which we can protect ourselves and our values.  More than a list of policies, this chapter illuminates the Plotinian basis upon which we can consistently derive policies.  One benefit of having a solid basis of values is the reassurance of knowing that your seemingly out of control world is actually being guided towards consciously chosen and understood end.  Another benefit of a consistent ethic is that it will even generate policies as you encounter yet unforeseen dilemmas.

The ethical considerations raised by the echo – effect of our actions fill chapter eight.  I’ll illuminate the ethical considerations by applying the Plotinian ethical system to meme management.  Ways to generally revitalize and protect Western memes are presented.  Being acceptable to both scientists and spiritualists gives it hope of being an accepted addendum to our current values.  Plotinian values being easy to understand, consistent and compatible with our traditional Christian values also provides some hope.  But by nature, memes are more difficult to control than policy.  Some of the policies for meme maintenance presented aim at long term hopes.  Some are achievable in the short term.  

The last chapter of the solutions portion of the book addresses our most serious challenge: how to remain environmentally stable and growing in a world of exploding numbers of consumer goods and people.  This is a real problem, ignoring it won’t make it go away.  For this solution you must screw your Hegelian objectivity glasses on the tightest.  But valuing life requires that you do so and read on.

Selected sterilization needs to happen within a caring framework of Plotinian values.  No one need die nor be hurt for us to survive.  This is not genocide. We need to deal with the impacts of each of the various permutations this plan can take. 

To understand the plans, the impact and the true reasons for any variation of this plan you must understand the values, cosmologies and dilemmas presented in the earlier chapters.  To the extent that you care about this planet and its living and future inhabitants, you must propose and pursue a workable solution, consider other’s solutions or admit that you are choosing to blindly accept disaster.  To the extent that these solution seems workable, humane and sustaining of values you hold dear, they deserve your serious consideration.

 

Part four concludes this book.  Its only chapter, ten, shows us the promise of the meta – human age as guided by Plotinian ethics.  I present a realistic version of the future that I hope you will find inspiration.  Controversial nature of my solutions will be assuaged as you confirm that my intentions are really life affirming and gentle.  After the shock, the logical consistency and beauty of Plotinian solutions become clear.  The obligation to apply Plotinian values and solutions doesn’t only result from the perils we face.  The promise of world we would consciously choose obligates us to adopt Plotinian values and solutions.

 

Thanks for reading,

 

 

John Kenneth Press

Los Angeles, 2004

 


 

 

 

 

 

-- PART ONE --

 

 

 

TRAJECTORY

 


 


 

 

 

It is a scientific irony that in order to know where you are going you must know where you’ve been.  If we know where a marble has been and where it is, we can infer where it is headed.  One clear picture of a solitary marble leaves you clueless about direction. 

This book aims to be a diagnosis, prognosis and treatment plan for our world.  The first steps on this journey take us backwards.  We will then take u-turn to the present.  Finally, using the laws of marbles and men, we will hazard a guess as where our trajectory is sending us. 

Fasten your seat belts!



“Philosophy always comes on the scene too late to give instruction as to what the world ought to be.  As the thought of the world, it appears only when actuality is already there, cut and dried, after its process of formation has been completed….It is only with the fall of dusk that the owl of Minerva spreads its wings.

 

-Hegel

 

A scientific view of man offers exciting possibilities.  We have not yet seen what man can make of man.”

 

-B.F. Skinner

 

The growth of the world population is at an all-time high in absolute numbers, with current increments approaching 90 million persons annually.

 

-United Nations Population Fund

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hegelian Lemmings

 

 

 

Challenge

 

This book is a challenge.  It is a challenge to you and to me both.  It is asking us to be extremely brave.  Now really is the time for all brave men to come to the aid of their country (and planet). 

            The primary challenge is philosophical.  Are you willing to go outside of your own personal and cultural perspective?  Will you explore to find which new thoughts need to be thought?  Can you deny the arguments being put forward?  Are you ready to adopt unpopular views?  These are questions that you should ask of any book.  For a book considering such vital and important issues you should ask with twice the intensity.

This is no game.  This book posits solutions to life and death questions.  Our civilization, minds and existence itself are in mortal danger.  The current pace of technological change is transforming everything from nations to man.  My hope is that this book is an infection gets under the skin of the body politic.  I want to shift popular opinion.  We need to face such challenges proactively.

If not my ideas, whose?  We had better have an answer.  Evil succeeds, as the cliché notes, not when bad people act, but when good people do nothing.  This book will seek to answer the most important issues of our day.  In it I will inaugurate coherent value system that can guide us through to a sustainable and livable world.

 

All aboard

 

We were riding on a train to the freedom day celebration.  Me and about 2000 mostly black demonstrators were making the trek from San Jose to San Francisco.  This was a booster power parade to remember MLK in the city center.  There was a lot of serious attitudinal posturing going on.  But my thoughts were resonating on an entirely different level. 

For years I had paraded around as a hippie environmentalist type playing music in festivals and doing redwood actions.  And I faced the same dilemma that every environmentalist faces.  How can we continue having an agreeable standard of living and be ecologically sustainable?

There is an insane solution that is pervasive in such circles.  We need to go back to a much simpler lifestyle and recycle.  But everybody knows that major cities are not going to magically transform themselves into the food filled forests.  Recycling is Mickey Mouse. 

The delicious irony on my freedom ride was that I was reading B.F. Skinner’s, Beyond, Freedom and Dignity.  Freedom from manipulation is an illusion, says Skinner.  Once we get over that we can start to consciously manipulate ourselves through rewards and punishments (his hallmark) towards environmentally sustainable habits.

Skinner’s mechanized, controller of the minds scenario is totally unrealistic.  Walden Two, his follow-up book, shows the little society he envisions.  “Tiny” and “boring” are the words that come to most reader’s minds.

Yet, I also found Beyond Freedom and Dignity exhilarating.  Someone else was asking about reconciling Civilization and the Environment.  Even more exciting was Skinner’s willingness to think outside of the box.  How brash, in America, to advocate for the abolition of freedom!  This is the type of vision we need.

Skinner’s solution was not satisfactory.  In fact since his time the situation has only gotten worse The greenhouse effect continues to accumulate.  With 6 billion people on the planet we must produce 18 billion meals a day! Water wars between nations are coming.  Examples of civilizations that had environment ruin as their reason for collapsing abound.  We are headed towards becoming the collapse with the biggest guns yet..

If we don’t find a way to reconcile the environment and civilization we will lose both.

 

Directions

 

Ironically, these catastrophes are coming at the same time that miraculous advances in medicine finally promise to extend our own lives indefinitely.  These developments are fantastic.

The brave new world is here. The industrial age was about recombining metals and burning fuels.  As ingenious as it was, it left man to be man.  High school lab experiments now involve making new life forms!  Such technologies are going to change the shape of man himself.

On top of everything else, our appliances are talking to us.  A synthesized computer woman renews my library books!  She also books my flights and registers me for classes!  These transaction can be done driving down the freeway from anywhere on earth.  Prometheus’ fire is here.

Fifteen year olds now complain of how much has changed since they were young. The promise of mankind has finally arrived and we must decide what to do with it.  The mythological and science fiction monsters are within reach.  It is time to seriously ask ourselves, “What would you do if you could do anything?”

The parameters of our imaginations must change to include all of the new possibilities.  What will we do when computers made nations obsolete? How should we redesign man?  Do you mind if your child spends more and more time in video land?  What of your virtual work environment?  Prozac?  Ritalin? Which moods should we keep?

This age will not make man obsolete any time soon.  But our genome will be altered and augmented.  A biologically improved man will have incredible technological resources at his command.  If man were to be replaced I might have called the coming age “the post-human” age. 

“The meta-human age” is more appropriate for a number of reasons.  “Post” is over used in general.  I also have philosophical problems with the term that will be presented shortly.  “Post” is also bleak.  Meta” resonates with the transformation of man as well as the world and man’s expanding potential.

 

Of man and lemmings

 

Everybody laughs at lemmings.  Lemmings are the semi-proverbial animals that every year stampede off cliffs to their own certain deaths.  We laugh, but we laugh nervously. It is the laugh we laugh when we compare our chances to the cockroach’s.  We fear that we too are not going to make it and we cannot do anything about it. 

Shamefully we face the death of our species and think no further than what we can or must do to pay next month’s rent.  We of course must die.  But if we look no further than the edge of our own nose in life, we are ridiculous and small minded.  We shrink from our natural potential.

More tragic than our cowardice is the attitude that the world is on auto pilot and we can do nothing about it.  We declare that we cannot change fate or forces that large (even though we set them in motion).  What will happen will happen.  It is an expression of impotency of man.  Man without volition.  Man the inanimate.

Pico del la Mirandola wrote a book entitled, “Oration on the Dignity of Man”.  He was amongst the first humanists.  Not humanist in the sense that we think of it today.  He did not care for the poor downtrodden masses writ large.  He exemplified the original meaning of the word ‘humanism’.  He worshipped the excellence of man’s potential.  In the 1400s this was a radical break from the prevailing model of man as a sinner in need of redemption. 

Mirandola proclaimed that, “We are second creators...After that first, new and rude creation of the world by God, everything seems to have been discovered, constructed and completed by us...all homes, all towns, all cities, finally all buildings in the world which certainly are so many and of such a nature that they ought rather to be regarded as works of angels than of men.  Ours are the paintings, ours the sculptures, ours the arts, ours the sciences...”

I also worship human intelligence.  It is the most fabulous creation in the universe.  Physically, our three pound brain is amongst the most complicated thing in the universe (right up there with  black holes and the ten dimensions of the quantum world).  Psychically, we no of no other intelligence that comes close.  We are as great as we are alone.

If there is other intelligence in the universe, it is rare.  The universe is 14 billion years old.  The methods by which we figured that out are in themselves a mind boggling tribute to human ingenuity.  The atmosphere filled planets needed for life to evolve have not existed in our universe for long.  Our planet’s first single celled organisms go back 3.5 billion years.

If there is other life out there, it also falls under the category of very rare.  If it has figured out the age of the universe it is nearly unique. This is not something to be lost without a fight.

So let us not lightly shrug our shoulders and laugh when faced with the same fate as the lemmings.  Let us use intelligence to save intelligence.  Let us be brave.  Let us think whatever thoughts are necessary.  We should survive this threat. We really should survive this threat.  

 

Hegelian Thought

 

The enlightenment was the late 18th and early 19th century philosophical movement that finally killed the dark ages.  Man decided to use reason and science to think.  Superstition was finally replaced.  We looked under the bed and saw that there was no boogey man.  We finally gained the ability to rationally plan our day. 

G.W.F. Hegel (1770-1831) realized the promise of the Enlightenment.  He thought of himself as the first man to try to examine the human situation objectively.  To achieve this perspective he surveyed our changing and evolving value systems and philosophies epoch by epoch.  Hegel surveyed the whole parade of evolving human thought. 

As with the individual human, our history shows us how we got to where we are.  It shows us detours we could have taken. The survey method allowed Hegel to look for psycho-historical trends that showed him where we were going. 

Like all enlightenment ideas, this may seem common place.  We reflexively look at the trajectory of society and judge it.  This now common mental faculty is, in large part, due to Hegel.  We now live immersed in Enlightenment thoughts!  It worked.

Yet, the search for a world view is more difficult than is obvious.  Sponge like, people embody the values of their culture.  We are as unaware of our culture as fish are of water or humans are of air.  People don’t think of going to a coffee shop and reading as a culture.  It’s just what people do.  But it is a very distinctive mode of behavior and thought.

More difficult than seeing our culture objectively, Hegel said we should look at the historical value system we are currently in and consciously decide whether or not we want it.  This radical objectivity combined with the apparent ability to choose, is the origin of the post-modern freedom we are ironically all unable to extricate ourselves from. 

Several difficulties accompany such a quest.  First, Hegel found that we can never really appreciate the meaning of an epoch until it has passed.  What our civilization will have meant two hundred years from now won’t be known for a long time.  Truly educated guesses won’t come for 100 years yet.

Furthermore, we can never entirely step out of our culture’s value system.  The God’s eye view is exclusively for God.  Seeing objectively is a questionable concept.  Knowing we are seeing objectively is a further quandary.   

Americans, for example, take rights and democracy to be eternal goods.  This assumption is largely accepted with less reflection than we give ourselves credit for.  Rights, as we will examine later, have a historical geniture.   Rights are just a truth that a small part of the world has believed in for a short while.  Some cultures find them counter intuitive.  More have never even considered them. 

No one can ever fully leave the presumptions of the society they are in. Thought only really exists lived currently, within a society.  Presumably our era will shape the assumptions of the next era.  Only time will tell!

What will our mixture of rights and democracy have meant for the value systems of those cyber folk 200 years hence?  Perhaps we will not even be researched.  Sadly, we mostly research the past to find predecessors to the present.  With that in mind, perhaps study of the historical West will be ignored in favor of precedents of the future emerging in China or Islam of our day. 

 

World Historical Vision

 

Hegel noted that the world spirit advances from culture to culture and epoch to epoch.  Most people that look at the long sweep of history do see progress.  The catalyst for this advancing is the “World Historical Figure”. 

Such a person intuits the next step in our evolution and leads us to it.  His vision is defined by the epoch in which he lives.  He doesn’t step entirely outside of his time. And yet, he can see where we must go.  He is the midwife of our destiny.

There was such a man in Hegel’s age: Napoleon.  Hegel actually saw Napoleon in battle from the vantage point of a mountain!  Napoleon was leading the world spirit forward. 

Napoleon, of course, was incapable of fully working out where the world was heading.  But as an agent of that direction and someone who lived on the cutting edge of the world in which he presided, Hegel deemed him “Reason on horseback.” 

Napoleon was just a foot soldier in the march of the world spirit.  Progress has direction and he unwittingly pushed it when it was set to fall. 

Philosophers and historians get closest to a clear vantage point from which they can see the real destiny of man.  They have access to the widest view of man’s existence.  Hegel struggled for such a vantage point.  He wanted to get to the mountain top. 

Ironically, Hegel was transparent to all but himself.  He was sure that the evolution of the world led to higher and higher levels of objectivity.  This was freedom unfolding.  And what was the most modern manifestation of this drive towards freedom?  That’s right!  His beloved Germany.  Truly people are a product of their environment.

Hegel’s vision has become our assumption. We do believe that there is a story to history.  Progress is self-evident.  Hegel has provided us with other potential tools of realization too.  Our mental traps are enmeshed in our particular culture and time .  Our horizons are historical.  For an objective view, no tool is as useful as history.  And for objective thought, no study is better than the history of ideas.

God’s eye-view

 

If we can identify the trajectory we are on, we can choose our direction.  A knowledge of today doesn’t even recognize our values and direction to be a choice.  The mores of today take on a solidity, an eternity, that seems to defy the idea of change.  To be free we must realize that we are living one of many options.

Fortunately the whole of the human family has undergone the Hegel experience.  Few people on this planet are unaware of the myriad of cultures and religions that exist.  A huge proportion also have an inkling about the variety that have existed in the past.

Our major reaction to diversity has, unfortunately, been post-modernism.  Post-modernists reason that if different cultures in different epochs have had different truths, there cannot be a single truth.  A corollary asserts that if there are no truths, every statement to the contrary is an arbitrary power grab.  Cultural narratives are oppressive lies.

Post-modernists will quibble that their ideas are deeper than my portrayal conveyes.  Multiple languages also make us question the connection between words and objects.  But at heart, post-modernism is a doubt about the ability to have a stable truth. 

A lack of confidence is understandable.  A big part of life is losing certainties.  But such experiences should make us wiser.  It would be really tragic, could be really disastrous, the ultimate irony, if just as we command more information than ever, we give up the idea of a stable truth. 

Perhaps we should remake the calendar to start in the year 1969.  Why?  It was the year we could finally, literally, see our planet objectively.  Who can forget the jarring image of the earth coming up over the horizon of the moon?  No nations were visible.  We saw ourselves, transculturally, as we truly are, just a wet rock floating in a vast emptiness. 

But to do so would be to forget one of the principle tenets of this book.  History is real and has momentum.  You cannot just shift from here to there.  If you chose to hike on mountain today, the other really isn’t an option for you.  To guide our progress we must be respectful of where we are and where we’ve come from as well as where we would like to go.  1969 didn’t change all that much down here.

Only from a long range, God’s-eye-view, can we see where we came from and where we need to go.  Everyone knows that invaders from another planet is the thing we need to unite us.  In 1969 we did encounter extraterrestrial intelligence.  The temporary E.T. was the man on the moon.  It put the contemporaneous cold war in a totally new light.  It put a shiver down the collective spine of man.

In such an exciting, dangerous and transformative time, mankind cannot afford stop believing in the power and reality of beliefs.  Currently, all the tools and vantage points of history must be considered.  Every possible solution and outcome must be considered. We cannot afford to write any possible solutions off.

The suspense hangs over every day and newspaper.  Mankind has shown incredible bravery and ingenuity in the past.  Will we rise up to the occasion?  Can man consciously choose to be a world historical figure?  Will we be the first species to escape the death trap?  Will we take the wide view?

 

 

 

Decisions, decisions, decisions

 

The decisions we make will not be easy.  It is like leaving home.  Our role in the family defines who we are.  The safety of our routines are often all we have.  To leave your family is really difficult.  Even more so for the parents.  Yet we all know that one cannot become a free adult without doing so. 

Our biological needs also confine us.  This is our evolutionary trap.  The tricks that evolution uses to get us to reproduce are us.  We cannot easily override those.  Try to override your need for food for a week!  Our historical situation is not our only trap.

Our cultural icon Hamlet can be an inspiration to us.  He also faced an imperative to take action that wasn’t easy.  His uncle killed his father and married his mother!  The situation (not to mention his father’s ghost) demanded that he take action to address this crime.  Yet, he was painfully aware of his ability to ignore this drama.  Thus the eternal question, “To be, or not to be?”.[1] 

The vengeance was not easy.  He had to kill his step father.  In doing so he gave his life meaning.  Had he run, his whole life would have been absurdist.  If your father’s murder is not serious nothing is.

Hamlet’s fear of taking such rash action was a theme of the play.  His resentment at being entrapped in such a situation vented itself in nearly mad rantings.  Until he made peace with his destiny of hard choices and actions he could not adjust to it. 

Modern America has the same nervous energy.  Fun frivolity is our mode of coping.  But insane venting is no substitute for decisive action.  Action is requisite for survival in the world.  Avoidance for us will be fatal.  We really must decide whether to be or not to be.

It will not be easy to rescue decision from disaster.  Extricating ourselves from the comfort of home is painful.  It is not fair that fate has placed us in the generation that is required to be world historical figures.  But we are.

History can also be seen to have bestowed a great honor upon us.  It has given us the opportunity to show ourselves capable of survival outside of the home.  Growing up is scary.  But it is also exhilarating.  Meeting the challenges of life is what our brains were designed for.  That’s who we are. 

We are distinguished from the lemmings by choice.  They fall just as surely as dropped inanimate objects.  Whether we have choice or not is, in a real sense, a measure of whether or not we are animate and intelligent.  Rocks cannot choose.  Can we?

 

Naming the animals

 

As we proceed we will be attacking three major concerns facing the human race.  Whether or not we will undermine our environmental life-support system I will give the obvious title of “the environmental” dilemma.  By the end of the book I will have shown how the new ethic I am developing will provide a solution to our environmental situation. 

Previously I introduced the term “meta-human age”.  Meta-human age is meant to encapsulate all the radical changes that will come about in the next 40 years.  These will be biological and electronic.  We will continue to recombine and strengthen genomes.  Glowing mice and pest resistant crops are just the beginning.  Cell phones giving us world wide psychic abilities and stocks being bought by computers won’t be the last word for electronic developments either.  The world created by biological and technological change ] is what I am calling the meta-human age. 

These changes will be tremendously fruitful and disruptive.  We, as thinking choosing humans, need to start deciding what our place in this new world will be.  We need to start detailing hopes and anticipating troubles.  We need to think about what will it mean to be human in the meta-human age.  We need to ask ourselves what the technology will demand from us. 

Questions concerning the meta human age and the environment stand side by side at our door demanding a response.  They are not going away.  We must answer.  Cowering behind the door hoping they will answer the questions themselves or leave us alone has been our response thus far.  Man is not opening that door confidently with forethought.  Why not? 

One reason is that we are trapped by the choices of the rules and ethical presuppositions of the early 21st century.  For example, recent history and philosophy has dictated that freedom is absolute.  We are frozen neck deep in rights and afraid of fascism.  This prohibits collective decisions.  Yet the car is out of control and must be steered. 

Another reason for our lack of action is our traditional hate of history.  When you don’t have historical perspective, today seems pre-ordained.  We don’t feel like we have control of our trajectory.  Not recognizing history as a tool we, despairingly, leave it alone.

Our long historical and philosophical experience is the surest guide we have.  By now we all know the phrase about being condemned to repeat the mistakes of the past.  To avoid such this we need to be able to see the patterns of history, the choices history of ideas offers us and the possible scenarios we are moving towards. 

We have the hindsight and foresight of a conscious mature adult.  Now is not the time for panic.  When you are lost, it is easy to panic.  And panic, without cultural, historical and ethical awareness is dangerous.  For example, as we saw in the French Revolution and this chapter, starting over at the year zero is impossible.  Now is the time for historically and philosophically deep reflection. 

Next this book will trace the collective experiences of mankind.  This history will help us know man.  Without knowing man we can’t have a workable plan.  Without a knowledge of the mistakes of the past, we cannot be aware of our choices and their pitfalls.  Conscious choice is now needed if we are to best the lemmings.  Without a workable plan, we may not survive to repeat the mistakes of history again. 


 

What a piece of work is man!  How noble in reason!  How infinite in faculty! 

In form and moving how express and admirable!  In action how like an angel!

 In apprehension how like a god!  The beauty of the world!  The paragon of animals.

 

-Shakespeare, Hamlet

 

And Abraham said, “Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak but once more; Suppose ten should be found there?”

And God said, “I will not destroy it for the sake of ten.”

So the Lord went his way as soon as He had finished speaking with Abraham; and Abraham returned to his place.

 

-God

 

The Dream listened, set forth on its errand, and was soon at the Achaean ships, where it sought out King Agammemnon and found him lying fast asleep in his hut.  Assuming the appearance of Nestor son of Neleus, the King’s most valued Councilor, the Dream from Heaven leant over his bed and called him by his royal titles. “Asleep?” it said.

 

-Homer, the Illiad

 

 

 

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The History of Intelligence – The Birth of Man

 

 

Depth

 

There was a time when intelligence did not know it had a history. We thought that we had always been.  How did we get to this planet then?  A god! 

            God making us sounds, at first, miraculous.  Created in Gods image!  In fact, God cheapens us. We are not automatic.  We are the culmination of a 3.5 billion year process of evolution.  By definition, miraculous means breaking the laws of nature.  Miracles are a violation of history.  Miracles are a cheap trick. 

            Evolution happened in time.  Plants crawled on to land.  Fish followed the plants.  Dinosaurs rose and fell.  Mammals evolved.  And with nearly unimaginable varieties of fits and starts, hominids appeared.  One branch led to us.  We are deep.

            We cannot be recreated with the blink of a god eye.  Every one of our billions of cells and organs carries the expanse of the ages in it.  We are the product of an incredible effort.  Nature does not resemble fast food.  We are not easily created or replaced. 

 

Purpose and Method

 

            Looking at the initiation of the intelligence of man can help ground our philosophy.  History provides us with guard rails and a sense of progressive direction.  The origin of intelligence gives us axis upon which to rotate our entire philosophy.  And building a philosophy upon which we can guide ourselves is our stated purpose. 

            It has not been definitively established how our intelligence emerged.  In the next chapter we will learn about Darwinian psychology.  Darwinian psychologies’ predictions have been confirmed.  It is the most reliable way to account for our basic mental factors:  taste, sexual preference, mating strategies, emotions, values, etc. 

            Darwinian psychology also explains the mental faculties of other animals.  What it does not do though, is explain what is unique to man: our independent reflective consciousness.  The origin of this quality are still debated.

            My account (like all others) will, by necessity, adopt some scholar’s views and ignore others.  What is the basis upon which I decide whom to include?  The views I convey are the ones expressed by scholars that provide the most explanatory power over of the world as I see it.  Pragmatically, they are also the ones which lend the firmest ground to modern ethics as I envision them. 

Common views concerning the origins of man’s consciousness take man’s rationality as too much of a given.  We assume that man in 30,000 bc thought just as we do today.  This does not account for the very rapid rise of civilizations.  Egypt seems to have happened when normally reasoning men suddenly had some ambitious plans.  But he is thought to have been normal reasoning man just before this occurred to him. 

Reflexive consciousness is assumed to be a fixed state that is irreversibly obtained.  Humans are very rational and always will be.  This seems to me to be inaccurate on the face of it.   The irrationality of people is quite evident.  Even in our modern countries there are madmen and possessions.  In the modern scientific first world, people still hold to ancient religions of sky gods that tell them what to do and hear them talking to them.

These tendencies reveal a phylogeny.  That is they show vestigial characteristics from our evolution still linger in our minds.   Implied by this view is that the rise of consciousness wasn’t instantaneous.  Furthermore, we did not have a genetic mutation that then made us once and for all modern and rational. The emergence of the modern mind struggled out of itself.   And we are not totally out of the woods yet.

My main aim is to establish a philosophy that will help guide our actions.  It is vital that any such ethic is grounded in as deep a way as possible.  A philosophy that is only grounded in economics is incomplete.  A philosophy grounded in rational principals is incomplete.  A philosophy should tie as many supports revealed in the world together as possible.  It must fit with our understanding of politics, economics, philosophy, physics, biology, chemistry etc.  One should especially have a theory about consciousness.  The best way to illuminate the contours of this consciousness is to trace its origins. 

Hopefully, future scholarship will settle the debatable points in the creation stories this book will advance.  If there is no final account, it will not be fatal to the conclusions I draw.  If the scholarship I recount herein is verified, my conclusions will be that much more firmly grounded. 

The most likely scenario is that there will never be a definitive answer to the questions concerning the emergence of man’s consciousness.  Rest assured, that none of what I present has been disproved.  Most is widely accepted by mainstream scholars. 

In the style of Joseph Campbell, in any case, we may use the theory related herein as a creation myth.  Every decision has many assumptions.  Let them then be declared and teachable.  Mine are served up as a foundation. Hopefully my conclusions will stand firmer for their presence.  Without each and every one of them, my conclusions will still work as guideposts.

 

Pre-Intelligence Intelligence

           

The intelligence of man is the most awesome thing we know of.   From the invention of mythologies to the far reaches of astrophysics, we amaze me.  And we are getting more amazing all the time!  Our technology is almost beyond imagination.  But our imagination is that large.  The story of man is the story of intelligence stretching it’s wings. 

The historical roots of intelligence are to be found in the categorizing function of the brain.  The frog’s brain is wired to detect moving black spots.  Revealingly, the stimulus does not have to be a fly.  A moving square of approximately the same size as a fly will trigger the stereotypical reaction.  The frog will jut out its tongue to capture the fly pull it in and lick its lips.  The complete action is done even if only the black square only begins to  move and then disappears. 

The chain of action is an automatic response to the stimulus the brain is wired to detect.   The frog does not think to itself, “Wow there is a fly!  Those taste great I’ll eat one.  The fly category is not understood in words.  What does your dog think when it sees you?  You are in the stimulates the behavior of glad category.  It knows “you”.  But on what level?  Can it be said to “think” without words?  Try it yourself.

Man’s ability to categorize oversteps the bounds of our crude progenitor’s.  We have abstract categories of categories.  We can conceive of altruism as being good.  We have words that convey relationships and put them in categories.  For example, “Jesus is Lord”.  Kant would have liked that movie.”  These abstractions on abstractions would never enter a frog’s head.. 

 

The first words

 

Animals without language do not vary their routines very much.  At the lower level they are complete automatons (like insects).  At the higher level, animals like tigers, just repeat the same diet and actions every generation.  With language we have seem to hit upon a method whereby an infinite variety of behaviors can be guided.

The standard explanations for the emergence of language goes awry here.  It is mentally anachronistic.  The full blown modern thinker is assumed to emerged instantaneously.  Even the Cambrian explosion happened in stages.

There is no reason to think that many words must have come initially.  There is nearly no important action that we did that required thinking.  Just as one does not need to continuously talk to oneself to mail a letter or drive to work, say hello to the boss or turn on the computer.  The hunt probably did not require many words.  A small collection of grunts would suffice.

The first word might have been “faster”.  It was probably an adverb.  We, as other animals, probably already had sounds for a few basic verbs.  As in the hunt, there probably arose a need to modify one of the pre-existing verbs:  “Walk slowly and quietly”.   These adjectives were probably generalized to fit more verbs.  More verbs might have been stimulated by this type of pursuit.  Nouns and the subtlety they allow probably emerged.  Finally, adjectives were probably added. 

Lakoff and Johnson documented the physical and mundane roots of our words.  Our thoughts are derived from extrapolations from the senses they were bootstrapped from.  In this way we “came to our senses”.  Our language “builds upon” our “sense” of direction.  Thus our thoughts “emerge from” our relation to the world.  If you follow this logic you will see it demonstrated in most sentences you encounter.  How many sensorial and real world metaphors can you find in the prior sentence.  How would you express it without any metaphors?  You cannot.  Our language is built upon our senses.

Neural plasticity also belies the recent origin of our language.  Deeper older parts of our brain can be found in the same spot in all humans and mammals.  But language hasn’t settled down yet. Fifty percent of left handed people have language in the right hemisphere.  5 percent of right handers do.  The language portion of our brain is not nailed down!  It is a recent adaptation.  Our modern consciousness cannot be taken for granted.  It is not an irreversible given.

            This view of the emergence of words has centered on male activities.  My justification is that men did group work.  Hunting group work required more verbal coordination than gathering individually.  Men are more spatial and visual.  The abundance of visual and spatial metaphors in our language also bolsters a male centered view of language.  It is possible that women got language first.  Though working separately for most of history, men and women may also have been co-creators of language.

As with the other glosses on the origins of our consciousness, these are obviously speculative.  No one was there to witness the emergence of words.  But the current assumptions that all parts of speech emerged at once, a dictionary was immediately fillable and early man thought just as we do, seem illogical and counter intuitive.  The cross cultural prevalence of sensorial metaphors probably isn’t a coincidence.  Again, if the theory stands, great, if not, we have another building block of our ethical concerns and guidelines.

 

Individual

 

            It would not have been immediately obvious to us where these first words were coming from.  When we heard “sharper, sharper, sharper” would it have followed that we associated this word with a newly autonomous self-consciousness?  Not absolutely. 

Many schizophrenics and religious peoples still hear voices and think they come from outside of themselves.  Early man would have heard the voices and understood them.  But the origin of the words would not have been associated with oneself yet.

All early activities are taken on as a member of a group.  The men did one sort of thing and the women another.  There are the famous rain dances.  There were rituals for good hunting.  There were fire lighting rituals.  All life became enmeshed in ritual.  These rituals were to performed placate the categories of natural forces which we daily barraged us. 

Since all activities were group activities early words would not have been associated with personal experiences.  Voices occurring during the hunt or rituals would have solidified the group mind, not individuated it.  Individual words appearing repeatedly in your head like a stuck song might have been disturbing.   If we all experienced the same voice simultaneously, the disorder would be diminished.  Group activities would be extremely comforting during this juncture of history.

            In such communities there were no individuals.  The rain dance was a metaphysical emergence of reality.  It was not invented, it was not questioned. No one would be able to recall when the first rain dance was tried.  Certain patterns were just repeated for generations. 

Many of us still evolve such ritual with cracks when we are kids.  This fascinating hold over is a clue to the level of compulsion the group and words held over the individual.  In those with obsessive compulsive disorder, this phylogenic trait shows its full effect.

Once created, the rituals were inflexible.  You did not want to mess up the magical spell.  Bringing bad spirits upon your group could result in a bad hunt.  This was a life or death situation.  Messing up the dance could result in banishment or death (actually much the same thing).  You meticulously followed the group pattern.  Individualism was not invented because it was not encouraged.

The transition from the group to the individual is preserved for us in dance.  In traditional dances, such as Mexican folklorico or American Square dancing, you do prescribed steps.  The object is to not stand out.  You must embody the pattern.  All deviations are bad.  In modern dance, you try to stand out as much as possible.  It is a matter of you showing off your individuality and difference from the crowd.  With us, to do the same moves as all the other dancers is considered disgraceful.  We want to be outstanding, not the same.

So early man’s mind emerged slowly and rudimentally.  We were not entirely the recognized source of our own behavior.  Rituals controlled natural forces and the words that unified and drove our groups. That separation of man from world had not happened yet.  Consciousness was a confusing corollary to group cooperation and concentration.  Individual consciousness had to struggle out of this miasma.

 

Gods and men

 

All early men had religion.  It is as universal as the incest taboo.  There are different accounts for why this universal phenomena emerged.  It obviously came after the advent of words.  But its physiological roots or purpose are not entirely known.

Studies with giant slugs and other animals have revealed the sources of our learning.  When two stimulus happen at the same time they are linked.  Initially, when a person bent down and a deer was seen these occurrences might have also been linked.

After the initial coincidence, it would be hoped that cause would always lead to effect. 

            This theory advances another mental faculty, religion, is an outgrowth of our reliance on the physical world.  Evidence for this view is seen in the grip that compulsive attempts at control still hold over the modern with obsessive compulsive disorder.  Most of us outgrow our compulsive routines that save our mother’s backs.  In some this vestigial mental organ creates problems.

Where religion gets interesting, however, is when it is combined with words.  Religion is the dawn of our metaphysical nature.  Metaphysics literally means “after physics”.  Someone was organizing Aristotle’s works.  Trying to categorize his  books, he decided that the books on abstract concepts should come after the book on physics: meta-physics.

Now the word has thoroughly substantiated itself in our minds!  It concerns all information that has no physical counterpart.  Early metaphysics are our first attempts to pull ourselves out of the realm of the purely physical.  And before philosophy,  religion provided man’s first attempt to get meta-physical.

Religion puts things in categories.  There is an ongoing intellectual battle over how fluid these original categories were.  Some say primitive man thought pretty much as we did.  Whatever you called it, a tree was still a tree.  You could layer spiritual motifs on top of the noun “tree”.  The tree might be a source of wisdom and information.  But underneath the imagery was the same concept of tree we use today.   The tree was a tree even though it “symbolized” something else.

Levy-Bruhl’s readings of the initial western contacts of primitives suggested otherwise.  He found primitive man to have a fundamentally different world view than ours.  Even category of self was very different than our own.  A primitive man  thought that he could be spiritually poisoned by someone hexing a found scrap of his clothing.  This meant that his self was intimately linked with his clothes.  His footprints were also a source of danger. 

Of course we now consider our identities as being separate our footprints.  This shows how far we have evolved.  Levy-Bruhl’s opponent was the famous Claude Levy-Strauss.  He held that the logical structures and self have never altered.  We see boat, they saw boat and ancestor.  We use tombstones.  Early man had different symbols related the same way.  But I don’t buy it.  Our words were limited and the categories weren’t so stable and distinct as ours are now.

Modern man supplies my evidence of early bizarre thinking patterns.  Many moderns believe in a sky god who was embodied in a man and the church.  I believe that a football team is “my team”.  Teams have totems that they pray to.  People talk to unseen forces to help them all the time in the form of prayer.  Wafers turn into a body that you eat.  These actions of modern men are not symbolic.  They are seen felt and believed to be real.  Clothes still make the man!

Again, we find evidence from the modern mentally different.  A huge categories of schizophrenics cannot tell where they begin and other things start.  The clock is giving me a headache.” and “My walls are asking me questions.” are modern reversions.  All of voodoo is predicated upon the transference of abilities from spirits to objects to the self and back again.  Shamans were the ones that facilitated these magical relations.  In fact they still do.

This view shows why Aristotle’s category of the excluded middle is a milestone in the evolution of consciousness.  The excluded middle concept states that something may be one thing or another. It cannot be both simultaneously.  It is either an orange or it is and apple.  The middle is excluded.  We are not the tree.  The buffalo is not us.  My actions do not affect the river and its do not affect me.  His excluded middle concept permanently separated us out of as individuals distinct from our surroundings.

We have no more examples of peoples that haven’t seen the western world.  And most areas have been penetrated by TV.  We cannot reconstruct their language of 10,000 b.c. from what we see today.  Or ask them what the earlier mind structures seemed like. Levy-Bruhl’s explanation of consciousness also fits in the world around us.  Magical thinking has also been seen to be more pronounced amongst those with less contact with modern society. 

The overall thesis of this book still stands even if the recent and scrambled origin of consciousness from single words and physical metaphors does not.  Stemming from such an evolutionary tale, my ideas seem even more astute.  Furthermore such views allow for more flexible patterns and definitions of intelligence.  It expands the range of mental states that a mind might be able to hold.  For this reason it opens up new categories of  possible mental states that might be encapsulated by the redesign and future evolution of man.  Furthermore, such views make us more appreciative of the logical structure we have. 

It seems logical, that early man’s thought was very different from our own. 

 

Western Man

 

Greece is the seminal spot in western consciousness.  It shows many signs that bolster the claim of a slowly evolving individual locus of consciousness. 

The Iliad is the earliest Western work.  All else follows from it.  Appropriately for this early work, it is not a poem devised by a human.  The first sentence is “Of wrath sing, O Goddess!”  The Goddess sings through the channeling human.  The motives of the main characters are mostly voices of the Gods.  When we do get a motivation of an inner nature, it is not from the head, but the spleen or the neck  People do not have independent minds in this poem.  Achilles does what he does because voices in the form of Gods direct him to.

Dramatically, Western individuals emerged in theater.  Theater came from the rituals we have been discussing.  Unreflective patterns are at our origin.  Reflective decisions hailed the cause of the transition from being man to individuated men.

Not only do all early men have ritual, but they have a creation story.  The two together are what I am somewhat carelessly categorizing as religion.  Interestingly, humans have always needed a story or narrative to put themselves into.   This must reflect an impulse as deep as the need for economic survival:  The need to get the voices to be coherent and predictable. 

It is stunning by how quickly and seamlessly children accept the fact that they are a new being in this world that fits within social relations.  Their ready adaptation shows how natural fitting into a role in a group is to us. 

How amazing to have emerged from nothing into a mind frame!  At some level all people want an explanation.  The mind needs bearings upon which to fasten its sanity.  We also need to be helped into denial of the transience and insignificance of our lives.  These early universal myths helped on all counts. 

Remarkably, many of these early creation stories are very simple.  Once creation of our earth was explained by the beetle rolling dung (Egyptian) there was no need to question.  If you help make a pyramid for this demigod, you will be remembered after death.  Now it all makes sense!  Did this help the nagging questions to stop.  Or were there never any questions to begin with?

Greeks, as all others, had unreflective superstitious rituals.  The dramatic birth of man happened when the Greeks decided to add Choruses to their theater.  The chorus was a group of people that did a meta-narrative of the events being recreated.  Thus man, like Hegel would do later, escaped being inside the story for the first time.  He had an objective look at something.  Appropriately, the chorus was a group of people that spoke as one.  They were still tradition bound and had not individuated yet. 

The birth of man happens when Greeks decided to improve upon the scripts.  The choruses started to make more observations.  The characters in the ritual started to individuate.  They would come to the fore and mutely act out the chorus’ story.   These proto-individuals were mute and wore masks.  They were still acting out the tradition.

Eventually, the “actors” spoke.  They spoke in their traditional role.  But they spoke.  The English word “persona” derives from the masks that these creators of man wore.  Eventually, slowly they took off the mask.  Eventually, characters were created.  Individuated characters emerged.  We had personalities.

These early characters were still trapped in old stories.  The early artistry came from telling the story well.  They did not create new situations.  Slowly, though, they acted in them in individuated ways.  Actors became acters. Individuals took an outside look at their situations and how they might act in them.

 

Questionable authorities

 

One of the first things that this newly emergent man did was to question the existence of the gods that supposedly controlled him.  Once the individual was able to reflect, he was able to reflect critically.  Similar to landing on the moon, man slowly escaped the world he was born into.  It was one huge step for man and one giant leap for mankind. 

Every civilization prior to and contemporary with the Greeks was ruled by gods.  The leaders spoke for or were gods.  The people appeased the gods with endless ritual and followed the prescriptions of their god leaders.  

Egyptian civilization had long stood when Greece started it’s awakening.  But the Egyptian accepted whatever tradition fed him. All was known.  No categories or stones were out of place.  There was no need to question.  There were no questions.

Egypt  is famous for its monumental stagnation.  Generation followed generation with little change in ideology or action.  Change requires critical distance.  They only followed orders.  They never thought outside of their box.

The very phenomenal achievement of the Greeks was the questioning of received wisdom and tradition. They looked at all (Gods, society and man alike) skeptically.  They were the first to say, (in the words of the Porgy and Bess lyric) “it ain’t necessarily so.” 

Even many of the founders of the United States found it hard to believe that a state without an established religion could succeed.  That religion was necessary to a body politic was seen in the fact that all civilizations had had them.  Open questioning of Gods is corrosive to all power structures in the world. 

It is interesting to note that China, which had the least overt religion in their culture, is the oldest lasting religion.  Even they have their ancestor worship and mandate of heaven concepts.  And the group is still their focus for their identities.

What followed was a long and dangerous struggle against the mass mind.  Questioning is not easy.  Socrates was put to death for his transgression of the masses.  Our individual imperative and questions make our states unstable.  But questioning the gods and other foundations of one’s civilization was and remains rare.  Questioning being so rare is seen in the fame of Socrates.  His was a corrosive and uncommon wit.

 

Science struggles free

 

            Thales is said to have been the first natural philosopher.  He lived in the 6th century b.c.  He formulated the idea that the world is made up of earth, air, fire and water.  The basic element was, for him, definitely water.  For generations after him philosophers fought over which was the primal element.

Whether we end up deciding that it is air or water, a new mental faculties had been gained.  Thales’ was the first ever naturalistic explanation of the world.  No tree gods.  No beetles.  Furthermore, he was asking!  The chain of gods and tradition telling priests telling the populace had been shattered.  Real knowledge was to be found by man.  Not to be received from on high.

            Our current technological manipulation of the world rests on the foundations these early Greek scientists initiated.  You cannot control something you do not understand.  You cannot understand something you do not question.  Man was starting to use his head.

Ritual was never effective at changing the weather.  Now that we understand water, air, fire and earth (in any order) we have air conditioning. 

Struggling to control and be separate from nature through understanding, is what progress and modernism are.  Man is no longer a magical object in a supernatural world.  He is a material object in a material and free world.     Superstition’s death is the birth of progress.  It is the birth of man the thinker.  Reconfiguration of the world, reconfigured man in turn.  When big Gods or parents are away, you must think for yourself..

To appreciate the extent to which this is true, forsake the use of artificial light and temperature regulation for a week!  Pray for this week to the sun God Apollo or sacrifice a virgin to the Aztec sun god for more light.  Darkness breeds darkness.  We owe Thales a monument.

 

Ethos struggles free

 

            Along came Pythagoras and turned everything on its head!  He is the initiator of our entire spiritual tradition including Christianity.  We are not merely flesh.  We are pattern.  Such patterns transcend materialism.  Pythagoras seized upon the patterns that unreflective scientific looking could never see.

Pythagoras was a mathematician.  He said that the true nature of reality lay not in its external appearances, but in its common mathematical formulas.  His were the earliest formulations of the laws of nature.

It doesn’t matter which triangle in nature you are referring to.  You might even just be thinking of the idea of triangle. Wait a minute!  Triangle is a mental reality that has no exact referent in nature.  Magnified, none of them are true triangles.  Triangles are real, but not physical.  Still, the Pythagorean formula defines all of them.  Such was the genius of Pythagoras.

Such ideas have something of the ring of Thomas Jefferson’s “we hold these truths to be self evident.”  But they are more mystical.  Where is 2 + 2 = 4?  Everywhere and no where.  It is true in the kitchen and on the moon.  Pointing to it, however, is an impossibility.  Truly, Pythagoras said, this is a mystical eternal truth of reality. 

Math is mystical.  Triangle was innate in us before experience.  Like 2 + 2 = 4, it was even probably true before man came into existence.  It is eternal.  Triangle is what philosophers call an a priori idea.  A priori indicates that the information was gotten without prior experience.  It is what scientists call a law of nature.  Such laws are true of all, even before we experience them.

All good mysticism needs music. In developing this music Pythagoras did the first experiment in physics.  He used weights and string to show that an octave is gotten by halving string lengths or doubling the weight put on them.  The harmonious fifth is gotten by using two thirds of the distance between the octaves.  Thus he came up with the notes and music theory that have lain behind all Western music to from his day to ours. 

Mystically he noted how these tones resonated with us.  Pluck an open string, then go two thirds the way up the string.  The relation between these notes makes us feel triumphant.  Certain combinations make us sad.  Natural ratios, rhythms and cycles are a part of all things in nature.

Harmony and proportion make for health, wisdom and good politics and more.  These mathematical formulas have been shown to pervade the cosmos.  E=mc2 and F=MA.  There are patterns in nature.  But a conscious mind has to reflect to see the patterns.   

 

Plato

 

Plato was worried about the rise of the scientists.  Specifically he was afraid that if they demystified everything, the gods would no longer be important.  If they were not important there would be no basis of morality.  Hedonism, decadence and the decline of his beloved Athens would follow.  He turned to Pythagoras to build a system of morals in a materialistic world.

Pythagoras’ influence was so great that Plato had written on the front of his academy “Let no one who is ignorant of geometry enter here.”  Plato also based his system supernatural eternal truths.  Not only is 2 + 2 = 4 immanent and transcendent, but so are moral qualities and realities.  The examples are plentiful. 

Plato used dialectics to get at right and wrong.  He would start with a question, “ what is the highest definition of a teacher?” Then you might say, “Someone who is passionate about their subject.”  Then he would question you again, “Well what if they are passionate but no one understands them?  Are they a good teacher then?”  “No,” an ambitious interlocutor would continue, “the teacher must be understood by the student.” 

Eventually, you whittle your way down to a solid definition.  “The good teacher is one that helps you learn the subject at hand.”  We have a definition that is true on the moon and on earth.  There is nowhere in the universe that it isn’t true.  Like a law of nature, the pattern was true before you started the inquiry.  It well remain true through out time.  Good teachers always were defined by student understanding.  They always will be.  They are truths that occupy the same reality that Pythagoras noted that math does.

These ultimate truths are called “forms” or “ideas”.  They exist for everything.  What is the form of a good movie?  The next time some one tells you a movie was good, ask them what that means?  Are there different forms for comedy and tragedy?  What would the best tragedy do for you?  Would it be edifying?  What is “good acting”?  All of these questions have definite answers.  So to be ultimately good, the film must contain the eternal defined elements of goodness. 

Beauty, bravery, truth, relationship partner, banker, politician and many other concepts have their ultimately good form.  But ultimately, they must share in the larger meta-form of what Plato alternately called “the good” or “The beautiful”.  We must as if the film and teacher are moral.  Are they good in the moral sense?  That is, do they make you and society more beautiful?

Beauty is real.  If there be more than one ultimate beauty then the word “beauty” means nothing.  We are talking about the same characteristic whether it is the beauty of bowling or working.  We deal in such ephemeral shadows, but only in an attempt to get at the reality of beauty in and of itself.  This or that thing may be beautiful.  But it only approaches the form of beauty.  The form is eternal, the example isn’t.  The real world is the world of “forms” or “ideas”.  We will pass, but the forms will not.

Ultimately this is what led Plato to say Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” This means that many folks never think about excellence before they proceed.  They search after many mistaken goals: power, lust, wealth, honor, entertainment.  If they were to reflect on the forms, they would be living for the things that are true, not folly.  But most folks are only concerned with what is in front of them and happens to seem good at the time.  They are slaves to misconceptions about illusions.

Thus he achieved his goal.  Plato’s moral system has a spiritual hedonism.  You go for beauty.  But not gross materialistic beauty.  You want real good and real beauty.  Knowing the difference requires you to study philosophy.  Philosophy and the basic goodness of the universe would convince you of the goodness of good and the evil of evil.  People only do evil out of ignorance of what is really good.  Philosophy was the key to wisdom in the scientific age.

 

Plato, Pythagoras and Thales Today

 

            Modern man is under the illusion that he is materialistic.  It is true that we no longer see Gods at every turn. Thankfully, we cannot recapture the ontology of early man.  We no longer sacrifice youths on a pyramid to keep the sun in the sky (as the Aztecs did). We no longer lie awake at night wondering if the angry tree demons will stop the wolf spirit from allowing us to have a successful day at the office tomorrow.   If we need a good demon scarring we see a horror flick.  After our nerves calm we get back to the “real world”.

            Plato, Pythagoras and Thales are still battling it out and are needed compliments of each other.  The party line states that Thales won in the long run.  Materialism rules.  Plato and Pythagoras are seen, scientifically, to be mystic kooks.  Yet we underestimate their importance to the sciences. 

            Pythagoras is alive and well in our world.  Science proper could not progress with out eternal categorizations.  We must experiment to test our hypothesis.  But then we draw provisional conclusions.  The search assumes the “laws of nature”.   These eternal laws are very Pythagorean.  Pythagoras inaugurated the impulse to look for underlying patterns in nature.  And nature, it turns out, is full of eternal regularities that inform the material objects.

            Plato, the ultimate idealist, is also alive and well in our world.  We have a reactive sympathy with Plato.  He was afraid of scientists.  His fear was that they would undercut all morality.  If the sun was just a burning rock, with no moral import, why be good? Who would be there to say killing your neighbor is anything but a physical event? That is why he strove so hard for a metaphysical morality to supplement the one science was eroding. 

            He was successful.  The Christian ontology is largely based on his work.  St. Augustine, the creator of Western Europe’s Christianity immersed himself in Plato.  The concept of a whole other world of perfection (heaven) was directly derived from Plato’s forms. 

St. Augustine and his followers, did not believe that you could think your way to the forms.  Unlike Plato, he thought we were to naturally depraved and inclined to evil.  The forms and morality and heaven and God were approached through penitence and prayer.  But the idea that this temporal world is not as good as the eternal standards up there is all Plato.

            Even without Plato, much of what we take for granted is based on idealist suppositions.  We have reified these ideals to the point where they are “self-evident”.  Again, our belief in the autonomy of man, that freedom is a high ideal and that killing is wrong serve as examples. None of these are based on material observations.  It is very difficult to  get “is”. from “ought.”  Plato, via Christianity, tells us what we ought do.  Platonic style ideals permeate our mental landscape.

 

Defining man

 

            The preceding narratives tell of the birth of man.  This hails the birth of man as man.  It provides a deeper definition than the biological.  Yes, as Thales would tell you, man is a hairy bi-ped with chromosomes.  That is true.  But, man as man is more than that.  He is more than his physical configuration.  His real defining quality is his mental essence. 

            Man can think.  That is his defining essence. 

            Animals also think.  But there is a qualitative difference with man.  Animals are programmed by their evolution.  They have no choice.  They are like complicated automatons.  Generation after generation, they repeat the same pattern of behaviors.

            Perhaps you think of your pet and you protest.  You are right.  There is a spectrum of intelligence.  The reason that we have dogs in our house and not dumber animals is that they are high on the intelligence spectrum.  We can sympathize with dogs.  We recognize their moods.  Cats we love because they seem to have an even cooler sense of autonomy and freedom.  They do what they want.  They appear to have a decision process.

            But the difference between men and animals is qualitative as well as quantitative.  Try to imagine what it would be like to be a dog.  Dogs see in black and white.  Stranger yet, they have no words.  So when you come home, what is their mental reality like?  We need to imagine in words.  So we imagine they say “Bill! Bill!  Bill is home!!”  Giving them the benefit of the doubt, perhaps they do this in an grunt language internally.  Augh!  Arff!  Auff! They see a black and white shape they associate with the stimulations they remember.  They would then use the same sounds when there was food. 

The smartest animal cannot read books or do philosophy.  If they have a sense of “I-ness”, if they actually hear their own words as words that they think to themselves, it would be a sense that we cannot fully fathom.  Way down on the animal totem pole, there is very little thought in any sense.  Snakes certainly do not think, “Oh damn it’s a human I had better protect my territory.” 

Experiments with frogs illuminate how their “thinking” works.  They are programmed to look for a small moving black object; a fly.  You might think that they think, “Oh! A fly! Eat it!”  But they are programmed to do their reaction to a shape, not a specific category of item.  They will do their reflexive  tongue zapping and lip licking to any moving shape that has the general specifications of the black dot.  Experimenters moved various shapes of black square light across a background momentarily and then turned them off.  Frogs are programmed to shoot out their tongues and licks their lips to a stimulus of certain parameters. 

Robotically, once it initiates this process, it is on autopilot.  The process is not under conscious control.

 

Man is the new thing under the sun

             

One of the astonishing facts of history is how short it is.  When we talk about ancient history we are only going back 2500 years!  Earth is 4.5 billion years old.  Man’s entire history is less than a geological blink. 

Professionals often confuse form with content.  Man has been declared to be 70,000 years old,  150,000 years old and 500,000 years old.  Burial evidence shows that man was doing rituals and making small tools 70,000 years ago.  But putting flowers at a burial site or making an arrow head does not give evidence of full blown consciousness!  The shape of man and mind of man do not coincide.

The pyramids were not built by slaves proper.  They were built by mental slaves.  No coercion was used.  The labor was the logical conclusion of the cosmology the priests fed them.  Language, or perhaps voices, did their programming.  They are gods, we become immortal if they do, they need a pyramid to become immortal therefore we must help build one!

            Man has been only semi-conscious for most of his time on this planet.  This is one of the hardest things for us to understand in this modern world.  We assume all have mental freedom.  Individual conscience that differentiates reality from illusion, is not the default setting for mankind. 

The Greeks who fought against the Persian empire certainly understood this.  Persians were under the despotism of a theology.  They made no choices.  The Persians represented the opposite of freedom;  mental enslavement.   The Greek defeat of the Persians was widely understood to be a victory for freedom of thought and action.

Properly, the Greeks understood mental enslavement to be the worst type of enslavement.  They were fighting for the freedom of a conscious humanity.  The original skeptics, the Greeks did not take reflective thought for granted.

            They were right.  Self-reflective nature is just that delicate.  The dark ages lasted for a thousand years in Europe.  After the attainments of Rome and the Greeks people set witches on fire!  Voices told them to attack and defend against devils.  Men with jewelry and staffs could damn you in an afterlife.  Mental darkness happens.

            The enlightenment was self consciously in opposition to the dark ages.  It was sweeping away insanity for the empirical.  It trusted us in the mental habits of science.  We only will believe what we see for ourselves.  To the extent that we accept the definition of man as a thinking, rational choosing being, it was the rebirth of man himself.  It was the rebirth of Socrates’ examined life.

 

Declaration of Independence

 

            Inanimate objects are not categorized as animals because they completely lack volition.  The rock falling down hill does not choose to do so.  Trees have no life plans.  Animals are below us for this very reason.  Animals are only free within a very limited spectrum.  Much of what they do is automatic. 

            To the extent that man is not free mentally, he is an animal verging on an inanimate object.  Tribal folks had groups,. But they had no individuals.  The extent that the group members differed was the extent to which they were vulnerable to failed hunts and lost wars.  Differing was seen as being dangerous.  Men existed.  Man did not. 

Man has a qualitatively different sense of self than other animals.  To the extent that a man is an automaton he is animal like.  To the extent that he is an active thinking being with choices, he is human.  This property is not a given.  It is a hard won jewel to be treasured. 

Inanimate objects are not afforded the same dignity of rights and concern as animals.  That is because they are completely unaware.  When I hit a rock it does not scream “Ouch!”  If I kick a wave, I do not mess up it’s plan.  The wave had no plan.  There is no People for the Ethical Treatment of Rocks (yet). 

Some levels of animals feel pain.  This though they could never say to themselves, “I am hurting” or “that hurt me”.  In a real sense, they are thought worthy of rights by some because of this sentience.  Just causing gratuitous pain to them is seen as cruel.  To the extent that they are sentient they have rights inanimate objects do not have.

Men have more rights than animals.  In India you can be killed for killing a cow.  Pre modern man often held random things to be sacrosanct.  But modern man puts man in a different category than animal.  This is based on the supposition that man has a higher degree of consciousness.  We have an independence of thought due to our higher reasoning capacity.  We are not just instinctual.  We are freed by our capacity to choose. 

Man as a prisoner of superstition is not man. He is a reaction to many ghosts he cannot control. We cannot assume the eternality of conscious man.  Independence assumes rational thought.  We must not only worry about the destruction of our planet.  We must maintain eternal vigilance concerning the continuance of civilizations based on freedom of action and thought.  They alone support rational choice and thought as we know it.

Self reflective free thinking is delicate.  It is as dear as life itself.  Patrick Henry said give me liberty or give me death.  In a very real sense the opposite of liberty is death.  It is the death of man in the sense of man as thinker.  It is the death of man in terms of what makes him special, his ability to control his thoughts and actions.  When liberty dies we deserve little more consideration than rocks or animals.

The Catholic church had people doing ritual and paying money to keep them out of a lake of fire.  Puritans burned witches at the stake. The Aztecs viciously sacrificed tens of thousands of young people to keep the sun in the sky!  South Africans still believe you get rid of aids by raping virgins and thus stealing their purity! Reflective critical consciousness is not man’s de facto character.  Man, as such, cannot be assumed.

The maintenance of man as man is a duty and an honor.

 

Reason

 

As we leave this chapter we have, at best. a unifying cosmology.  All civilizations start with stories.  The Koran proceeded Islam, the Bible proceeded Catholic civilization, the Iliad proceeded Greece.  In a sense, the Bhagavad-Gita and Vedas are India.  The story of consciousness struggling to be free can be our “In the beginning...”.  The middle and end of our cosmological picture will come later.

Hopefully, we have discovered the nature of that for which we fight!  The current assumptions of what man is go back to Claude Levy-Straus vs. Claude Levy-Bruhl.  Levy-Bruhl was right.  Consciousness is not a solid unchanging characteristic throughout time.  Thought has honed and changed itself.  We fight for the survival of man as the protector of this rare consciousness.  This means that reason is delicate.

If nothing else, more realistically, we have an added appreciation for the preciousness of reason.  By all accounts it took a very very long time to emerge on our planet.  We are old enough to be considered to have had a head start.  If we just got this level of consciousness, it is very unlikely that it has gotten to our level anywhere else yet.  Conscious awareness is not only delicate, it is precious.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 


 

 

 

“…the same man who solves the riddle of nature – that double-edged sphinx – must violate the most holy order of nature as both parricide and spouse of his mother.”

 

-Neitzsche

 

The emergence in the early twenty-first century of a new form of intelligence on Earth that can compete with, and ultimately significantly exceed, human intelligence will be a development of greater import than any of the events that have shaped human history.

 

-Ray Kurzweil

 

“That’s another fine mess you’ve gotten us into Ollie!” 

 

-Stan Laurel

 

 

 

 

 

---------------3--------------

The End of Man

 

 

 

Man the Mysterious

 

A & E’s biography last man of the year for the millennium was Shared by Craig Venter and Michael Collins. This fact is extremely fitting and ironic. In a thousand years there won’t be an idea of man anymore and they are the reason.

Venter and Collins are the men that have finally decoded us.  They mapped our genome.  Now that we understand how man is made, we can rebuild him.  We really can make him better.  One millennium from now they will be seen as the men that ended men. What the “of the year” will be, I do not know.  Perhaps “cyborg configuration of the year”.  It won’t be “man of the year.”

Two opposed views of man exist.  One represented by Michelangelo’s David.  That is man as subject.  The world revolves around his statue of David.  You can feel his inner conviction.  This man will not ever be subjugated by Goliath while alive.  He is an active force.

The other view of man is represented by Leonardo da Vinci’s famous drawing of man. That is the drawing where a man is spread out like a starfish. This is man is being scrutinized as an object.  Man has been divided up geometrically. The man doesn’t look too happy about it.  But he is being dissected anyhow.  He’s not in charge.

The End of man is a result of the transition from the Michelangelo man to the DaVinci man.  Between evolutionary psychology and neuroscience, man’s creativity and rational mind have been figured out to be neither.  We are more and more seen as an understandable mechanism.

View from Above

 

Science is a destroyer.  My favorite example of this is Benjamin Franklin’s lightening rod.  People were angry at him for inventing it.  Lightening was said to be a frightening metaphysical way in which God communicated with humans.  If you sinned, God told you by blowing your house up with lightening. 

I wonder if people asked why God was such a bad shot or could only do this communication during storms.  At any rate, Franklin demystified lightening.  He famously went out with his kite and showed that it is only electricity writ large.  It has no motivation behind it.  Thus God mutely retreated behind the clouds.

Science has long been seen to be hostile to the realm of mystical categories known as religion.  We now know that the world wasn’t made in seven days.  Why, we wonder, did God used a rib of Adam when he only needed one stem cell?  Science is currently restoring sight to the blind.  And, the 100,000s of thousands of test tube babies that are made every year make us ask, “Why is immaculate conception considered miraculous?”  God is not required for this.  There seems to be nothing we cannot explain away. 

The Churches’ initial reaction to science was to try to silence it.  When Galileo Galilei wrote that the Earth went around the sun, they put him under house arrest for life.  Bruno was burnt at the stake for suggesting the same idea 30 years before him.  Religion explained all.  Attempts to think outside of the box was defiance unto God!

Rene Descartes tried to make a space in which the two world systems could co-exist.  He started by doubting everything.  He doubted he was seeing what he was seeing.  How did he know he was not dreaming?  He doubted that he had a body.  How did he know he was not being tricked by an evil demon? 

There was only one thing that he could not doubt.  He could not doubt that he was thinking.  If it was a dream, he was dreaming.  If his thoughts were being distorted, he still had thoughts that were being distorted.  He thought for sure.  Famously, his search ended in the statement, “I think therefore, I am.”

Existence of the material world was doubtful.  But the self aware soul, as it were, was real beyond the shadow of a doubt.  With this method he showed the material and spiritual to be in different categories.  Knowledge of the soul and knowledge of the material were two fundamentally different types of studies.  Being in different realms, one did not impinge on the other.  The spiritual and mystical soul would be the providence of the church.  The less substantial material world would be the providence of the scientists. 

Descartes did it!  The spiritual and physical were separated.  Science could continue without threatening religion’s dominion over the soul. In fact, the trivial work of scientists might safely reveal the ingenuity of God’s handiwork.  At any rate, the distinction was clan and safe as long as science stayed away from consciousness and soul.  As long as they did that, science was free to explore.

Even at the outset, however, this division had signs of weakness.  Descartes did realize that the two worlds had to coincide somewhere. If you stub your toe you know that the physical and the mental are interconnected.  He decided that the interface was in a part of the brain called the Pineal gland. That is because it is the only part of the brain that doesn’t appear in pairs.  The soul is unitary.  It cannot be divided.  Therefore, it must enter in the unitary part of the brain. Thus, at the pineal gland, Descartes walled off the spiritual world from the physical world. 

 

Soul on Ropes

 

Ominously, at the end of Descartes above described work, he includes a section on animals.  As a Christian Descartes could not accept that animals have souls.  He postulates that animals, therefore, are robots.  Their insides are implied, but it is an illusion.  He ingeniously asked if someone could, in principal, design a robot that whimpers when struck or wags its tail when petted.  The answer is obviously “yes”.  He did not apply the same question to humans.   

But such thoughts were in the air.  As Descartes was defending science and the Church from each other, the Englishman John Locke was further attacking the mysterious soul of man.  Locke was an empiricist.  That means that he was a severe materialist.  He would only admit evidence into his thinking that came from the senses.  Seeing is believing.  He developed a system by which he could explain our theology and soul without any recourse to mysticism. 

When we were born our minds are a blank slate (tabula rasa).  The senses are our source of simple ideas.  After seeing red and shiny and sweet flavor occur simultaneously many times we came up with the idea of “apple”.  Then, via reflection, we could combine these simple ideas to account all that occurs in our imagination: Mountains made of red apples.  Empiricism felt it could explain all mental phenomena from red mountains to mountainous red apples.

Without intending it, Locke not only robbed man of soul and mystery.  He screwed God up too.  Man + Big + Sky = God.  This now seems so obvious to so many of us, we wonder why folks didn’t see it earlier.  Levy – Bruhl would have an answer whereas Levy – Strauss would not.  Man is not originally too rational.

Our complex ideas came from feeling, hearing and abstracting.  When we ate a brown apple, the sensation was bad.  This gave us the idea of a bad apple.  We could have also learned this by hearing of other’s sense and feeling combination.  Ultimately, we could abstract this rule to include all overly browned fruit. 

Even Plato and Christianities’ eternal categories of good and evil could be accounted for in this way.  Plato had just confused adjectives and nouns.  Good and beauty are adjectives.  This takes us from a good apple to Plato’s idea of “the good”.  Values were explained via mechanics.  Empiricism destroyed all spirituality. 

We are just a category recognizing machine that was smart enough to figure itself out.  Man was taken out of the category of “the mysterious and sacred” and put into the category of “understandable part of the physical universe”.  Science the mystery destroyer has gotten rid of man!

 

Man as Machine

 

In the early 1700s, Julien Offray de La Mettrie wrote “Man a Machine”.  By the late 1800s we knew.  There is no soul.  There is no God.  We are not sacred. There are only machines at different levels of complexity.  We happen to be a more complicated machine. 

            In Man as Machine, Le Mettrie wrote “Man is a machine so complicated that it is impossible at first to form a clear idea of it, and, consequently to describe it.”  In this 1748 book he compares us to animals.  He notes that the difference is one of quantity, not quality.  Our bodies are formed the same, we have instincts and animals could probably learn a small vocabulary.  He was right about everything but our being complicated.

            One frightening aspect of man being a machine is that it takes away our free will.  We like to think that we are totally free and autonomous beings.  Our imaginations take us to the moon and back.  This is the basis of our spiritual nature {sic}.  We are not  determined like rocks, waterfalls and animals.

            But even a cursory glance at reality hems in this free will.  We all walk forward because our heads are facing our toes.  Shoving food into our mouths for nourishment is not optional.  We can only see out of two holes in the front of our heads.  What would it feel like if our heads were side mounted like some fishes are?  That is not an option.  All our senses are all inherent in our design. Therefore, our experiences are.

            When we imagine going to the moon we imagine seeing it.  We imagine seeing it with the eyes that we have now.  We can imagine we see it in radar.  But as Thomas Nagel pointed out in his famous essay, “What’s it like to be a bat?”  We cannot really imagine anything but our own types of senses.

            But not only are our experiences predetermined, our reactions are too.  Around the world we all use the same facial expressions.  To say that we have a variety of reactions abuses the word variety.  What are they?  Smile, cry, blush, anger, surprise, disgust, laughing and, and…  That is about it.  Around the world all peoples nearly always identify photos of such emotions correctly. We come standard with only a possible reactions.

            And whereas few would attribute much consciousness to rats, we must admit our similarities.  Rat fathers go to work everyday.  Rat mothers suckle their young.  Rat mothers love their children and protect them fiercely.  And rat children will, at sexual maturation, do the dance of courtship and mate.  Viewed from a small distance we are nearly identical to rats.   

            More than anything else, language convinces us that we are unique.  The rat does not have conversations and choices the way we do.  And these choices are based on language.  But ask yourself, is having the same tool as everyone else does, language, really a sign of your individuality and freedom? 

For the most part, once we get language, we use it for the same thing that the rat does without language.  We learn appropriate behaviors as children. We get a job.  At a certain predetermined age you will notice the opposite sex.  Then courtship and sex will commence.  Finally, we complete the circle by raising our own kids. 

Language does not seem to impact our basic programming much.  It just helps us implement it more efficiently.  It is a unique feature to our species.  But, in this regard, language is closer to the fast legs of cheetahs than the ability to walk through walls.  It makes us different, but not supernatural.

 

D-Day

 

            Charles Darwin delivered the death blow to man.  Darwin single handedly crushed man’s vision of himself.  His shadow still informs our basic conception of ourselves.  He demolished the wall that Descartes had tried to erect between the animate and the inanimate.  He laid bare Le Mettrie’s robot blueprint.

In his book, Origin of a Species, Darwin famously, did not discuss the implications of his theory  for man’s psychology until the last page.  That was probably because he was living in a time when his basic concept was a heresy was tantamount to saying you love the KKK today.  It was not said in polite, or even impolite circles.  He did not want to push his luck.

            Darwin was not brave about publishing scary ideas.  He took twenty years to publish his theory of evolution.  He was only brave enough to do so when another biologist was about to scoop him.  He stalled for another 13 years before he published “The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals”. 

Even today, looking at this book gives you the creeps.  There are pictures on opposite pages that compare how we express emotion and how monkey’s express the same emotion.  The shock of recognition is jarring.  It is so jarring, in fact, that his implications for psychology went without serious follow up for nearly one hundred years after its publication.  Man is still not ready for this news. 

In his 1859 book, the Origin of Species, Darwin showed that life evolves through natural selection.  There is random variation amongst a population.  Some variations will be conducive to survival and rearing of offspring.  Some will not. Those that are will increase.  Those that aren’t will cease.  That natural selection explains the predominance of noses in crawling animals is interesting.  That this explains our emotions, morals and thought processes crowds in on our feeling of uniqueness. 

Darwin’s scraping the surface of the implication for evolutionary theory for man was a shot heard around the world.  Darwin’s book on the similarity of emotions in men and animals presented a weapon so powerful that people haven’t really started to check out it’s powers until now.  And though skirmishes still occur, the revolution is over.  Darwinian psychologists breached the walls.  The hold explanatory control over the inside of the psyche.  Darwin is the top explanatory dog.  There is no second.

 

Darwinian Depth Psychology

 

Darwinian psychology took over the kingdom of human explanations using a simple key.  In fact, this master key fits the lock of every room.  The key is, behaviors that lead to viable reproduction make us happy.  Sadness is the message telling us we are doing something that is not going to lead to conceiving and maintaining offspring.  Darwinian psychology is the missing link between our physiology and our psychology.  We are procreation robots.         

Babies cry when they are left alone. That is because the ones that did not cry got forgotten.  In the jungle, babies left alone are tiger bait.  They smile when they are held.  That’s because the ones that cried when they were held got left behind.  They didn’t reproduce.  As a result of these raw facts, living babies now all like to be held.  Babies do not consciously decide to cry when left alone.  It is a program.

Evolutionary history has made that choice for them.  That behavior has been hardwired for survival.  Even the mother’s very personal attention to the baby is hardwired.  The elongated baby talk of mother-ese, is universal.  On every continent, the “oh do da waa wass aaaaats a waaaay, baaaby” of mothers is used.  It helps program the baby to be attuned to the local phonetics.

            Taste is one of the many hardwired variables that explains the apparent diversity that would contradict a one size explanation fits all model.  Some variation is built in.  For sure all of the humans that thought that shit smelled and tasted good died.  We are the descendants of those that thought it smelled and tasted nasty.  Some foods are universally hated.  In fact, like excrement, the smell is disliked and never considered food.

But different regions have different edibles.  That is why, extremes aside, your taste doesn’t get settled until three years after birth.  Taste buds adopt to appreciate what adults say are local healthy edibles. Your smell and taste follow.  The window of flexibility is provided for survival and reproduction reasons.  The flexibility allows humans to find the food of distinct regions tasty.  Without this hardwired flexibility, man’s flourishing would be severely limited.

            What of our emotions?  Those that loved love survived.  Those that hated being alone in a dark forest survived.  We are their descendants.  We get mad when we get an uneven distribution of the resources.  We get happy when we get resources. Sex feels good to us.  Our sex lives are not expressions of our individual lovability.  Those who hated sex did not survive. We are the successful adaptations. 

            Romance and devotion should be different for men and women.  Men have lots of sperm and can impregnate many times over.  Women have a precious few eggs that require a long time of support.  Think about it.  What will happen?  Men maximize their chances for reproductive success by playing the field.  Women by getting a really good guy.  She will look for acts of devotion before yielding to him.

            When a woman can no longer make babies, men should go on to younger women.  And they do.  Why is younger sexier?  It equates well with fertility.  Big eyes and small chin are associated with youth.  Smooth skin shows a good immune system.  Not having any aberrations shows a solid genetic code.  It turns out the more you blend pictures of women (thus eliminating aberrations) the sexier men say women are.  Not being attracted to deformity is not a choice.  It is hardwired.

            What specifically will women look for?  Studies have found that women do not care so much about looks.  They are after the status and devotion.  The status criteria allows for cultural variation of ethics. Hunting earns status in some cultures, Mercedes cars do in others. Why status?  Because status correlates with access to resources. That means that the man will be able to provide for the offspring.

            This is another universal behind apparent diversity.  Those that cannot attain status in the traditional ways, try to dominate a subgroup.  Everyone tries to find a niche in which they can have status.  Status attracts women.  The more status you have, the pickier you can be when finding a woman that seems to have good genes to propagate your seed in.

            How do we navigate such intricate dances?  Language.  Primates are unusual in that they live in tightly-knit social groups with complex hierarchies and alliances.  Primates’ only chance for survival is in a group.  Individually we die.  Alliances are crucial.  Conformity is of the utmost importance.

Yet there is a downside to this necessity.  We all compete for the same resources. 

Chimpanzee politics are real.  Alliances form around getting protection from the big guy.  In return, he gets a chunk of your resources.  Sound familiar?  It is essentially our political system writ small. 

            In order to not get used for false promises, in love and politics and end up on the losing side, we learned to read faces.  Do I think that he is going to give me my share of the meat and a woman after I attack the other tribe?  Is she being faithful?  Will he stick around after he sticks it in?  The larger the group, the more important educated guesses about the motives of others become. 

            As groups got larger, we could not keep tabs on everybody.  Robin Dunbar has postulated that primate predecessors language and gossip emerged as the size of tribes increased.  Language and gossip allowed us to keep tabs on who is on whose side without direct visual contact. 

Parenthetically, such an account needn’t be contrary to Levy-Bruhl’s.  Modern primates usually have around 10 words.  These are combined with gestures and expressions.  We needn’t assume that the primates were conscious of their personal generation of the words.  Think again of your dog.  It has about three words.  How conscious does that make it?  Their word ontology wouldn’t be like ours.

Reputation, continuing right along, was a basis by which a larger group could keep tabs on each other.  Someone accusing you of not reciprocating is very dangerous.  You could be cut out of the kill.  Defending your honor to the death was born.  Again, our fascination for TV gossip about people we’ll never meet, seems to be a confirmation of this hypothesis.

As with the food example there is a range of plasticity for moral modules.  Young can learn from their mothers what the moral state of the world is.  In some environs trusting people die quickly.  Bluffing and lying can be good strategies for survival.  In some environs, your reputation for diligence is very important.  The obsessions of great men are thus explained.

Darwin’s truth is that our most intimate moments are not our own.  They are programs.  They don’t use reason to guide us.  We don’t choose to want to procreate or like the smell of women’s hair.  Rarely are our emotional driving goals chosen consciously.  We seek what we like unreflectively.  To the extent that we do have a goal, it is usually to achieve a model of success put forward by our society.  How Darwinian.

The same chemicals, oxytocin and DHEA, that create feelings of love in you, work in rats.  These are the chemical underpinnings of your emotional states.  They push you to mate and have the very first and most special love ever.  Later, this drug will bond you with your baby.  And, like all mothers everywhere, you will speak to it in baby talk. 

Did you read what I wrote about love?  Love is a chemical.  We will soon be able to synthesize it in a laboratory.  You probably thought that the bond between infant and mother was special.  You remember your first kiss.  You were operating under the influence of a drug that is set to go off in you at certain age.  Hormones happen.  How romantic and free is that?

As a male, I am constantly confronted by a noxious realization of the illusionary nature of my free will.  When a good looking woman passes (defined by her fertility fitness) I am compelled to look at her. 

This imperative overrides my illusion of free will.  As a man raised in the hey day of feminism, I know that objectification of women is an evil. I can imagine the feeling of being the object of stares.  Even more importantly to me, staring disrupts my reading.  I have no free will.  I resent it.  Soon the burdens of biology will be lifted.

It is not a coincidence that all things that feel good lead to reproduction.  And yet it feels like we chose it of our own free will.  It feels like we want it.  The gene pool wants it.  You are the mechanism by which the gene pool replicates itself.

Darwin has finally done for psychology what he did for biology all those years ago.  He has unified it.  Being an animal cheapens us.  We hold animal life at a lower level of regard than our own.  We eat animals.   Worse yet, his model explains that we, like animals, are just mechanical.  Machines are even less romanticized than animals.

Our eye does not tell us how it makes sight.  The mechanisms are transparent to us.  Likewise, our genes do not tell us how they wire men to go after status and women whose bodies correlate with fertility.  We just do it.  Self conscious analysis is not the idea.  Successfully running to program to replicate genes is.

Man being a free spirit is an antiquated idea.  The angel broke upon crashing to earth and its wiring chart was exposed.  Evolutionary psychology means man is a robot. Man is no longer man as such.   This has profound spiritual and moral implications.

 

It gets worse

 

            One of the astounding preliminary findings of neuroscience is that you do not exist!  Rather, you are a compilation of specified functions.  These get you through the tasks of your life.  These specialized areas each do their functions independently.  These processors running simultaneously creates the illusion of a solid you.  Despite decades of research, no one has found a single executive controller that coordinates all of your mental activities. 

Right now I am in a library.  Unfortunately I am overhearing a conversation.  Part of the brain is processing a conversation that I’m now overhearing.  My leg is doing it’s jiggling routine. Meanwhile, the visual part of my brain seeks stimulation by scanning library patrons. 

None of these regions by themselves has claim to being me.  They fight each other for dominance.  And the sum of the battles they fight constitutes what I call my attention.  But who is this I that the individuals are fighting for?  There may not be one!S

The frightening implications of neuroscience for the belief in man got it’s first big American publicity with the strange case of Phinneus Gage.  Mr. Gage was a railroad construction foreman known to be dependable and even tempered.  A tapping iron took out a part of his brain.  He became an impulsive, fighting, womanizing sort.  He no longer could hold down a job and ended up traveling to Chile as a farm hand. 

Mr. Gage’s personality was not a constant.  It was a result of configurations of pieces.  There wasn’t a holistic object named Phinneus.  There was a ratio of brain parts from which the illusion of a stable unified Mr. Gage appeared.  He had changed.  He was a ratio of brain parts.  Unified Mr. Gage was just the sum of his parts.

In cases of extreme epilepsy, brain halves used to be entirely separated.  The information presented to one side of the brain doesn’t get transmitted to the other side.  If you show the right side of the brain the command “get up and walk.”  The left hemisphere, which processes language, not being involved results in the person’s not being conscious of having seen it.  Visual imagery sent to the left hemisphere isn’t recognized either.

If shown a command to walk, the brain comes up with a reason it wanted to walk.  Completely unaware that a sign directed part of the brain to do so, participants utter reasons such as, “I’m thirsty, I want to get a drink.”  Discomfort due to images shown the left brain is also justified retroactively.  “I’m getting really tired of you doctor.  You’re annoying.” 

The first set of split brain experiments conveyed suggests that there is no individual.  There are brain parts that express their wants verbally.  However, the “I” of the “I think therefore I am” is not the leader. 

There is evolutionary advantage in making us unaware of the processes that make this illusion.  Our mind’s workings being invisible to us saves us processing time and gives us speed.  We apparently just open our eyes and see.  If decoding visuals was done consciously and sequentially, it would take forever for us to realize we were looking a tree.  Instead, we just see the tree.  A million processors are moving simultaneously, each one decodes a different aspect of sight (color, straight lines, movement induction, background from foreground separation, etc.).  None of these processors is us.  All are separate.  Yet the illusion is that there is one unified viewer that sees without any processing. 

The arms of split brainers fight each other over who will complete tasks and whether or not they are going to read.  The arms literally grapple with each other.  If both sides of the brain have their own agenda, which is the individual?  Is it the face recognition module of the brain, that wants to look at faces?  Is it the part of the brain that gives us the “Ah – ha” feeling when we recognize them? 

It seems that each of the arms and modules have it’s own agenda.  Some dominate when loud unexpected noises happen.  Normally, the visual system gets high priority.  Smells go straight to the emotional centers.  Strong smells can command our attention.  When none of these is important, there needn’t be an “I”.  We (our parts) just go into a sort of rest.  There is no “I”.  Left and right agree to ignore each other.

 

Psycho pharmaceuticals

 

            On a very deep and real level, we are brain chemistry.  Oxytocin, mentioned before, really is love.  This insanely radical truism has come into our brains (literally) like a Trojan horse.  Once inside, the idea of self as an independent entity is gone forever.  We are seen to be the products of our meat parts.  Armed with this realization we manipulate ourselves.  Personality is a pill.

My Grandmother was amongst the earliest of pill poppers.  Early on she was addicted to valium and its predecessors.  Now she takes Zoloft.  The natural state of Grandma is not good.  Therefore, we’ve gotten rid of it.  Grandma doesn’t exist anymore.  Gone to where?  Unclear.  More pleasant brain chemistry has taken residence.  Broken brain parts that used to tyrannize her.  Now she is a choice.  I hope they have Zoloft in heaven.

            Tens of millions of Americans are on psycho pharmaceuticals.  We start as kids with Ritalin.  We sail through our adult lives on the anti-depressants Prozac or Zoloft.  Late night television is full of advertisements promising control over your mental states:  Social Anxiety Disorder to Worry to Depression.  All mental states are becoming optional.  Man is not himself.  He is a chemical configuration.

            We drug millions of children with Ritalin in order to fit them into the school system.  This raises another challenge to man’s identity.  If man is altered via chemistry to conform to a system, who is in charge?  Does the identity reside in the individual?  No.  In a very real and immediate sense, choices about the parameters of the personality are made at the institutional level.  We offer up our collection of modules to be a modules in the institution’s agenda.  Man’s illusionary “identity” is a choice.  The choice is not man’s.

 

The last generation

 

            The external forces vying for control of our minds isn’t limited to the demands of the workplace.  Today a web of media products and delivery mechanisms fight for our attention.  We are, as a result, more and more outwardly directed.  They have learned how to bypass our conscious mind.  We have very little say in the matter.  Our identity is no longer our own construction.

            Most people do not know what is sold on television.  To figure it out ask yourself the following question, “How do you know who the consumer is in a capitalistic transaction?”  In store what is the surest way of telling who the customer is?  The answer is, of course, the one giving the money. 

            What is the product sold on television?  Well who gives the money?  The corporation.  What are they paying for?  Access to your mind.  That is right.  The job of the television station is not to educate or inform you, but to sell your attention to the highest bidder. 

Grandma is about 300 lbs naked.  She is, God bless her, ninety-one and has bad knees.  Recently when we have gone out she has collapsed under her own weight.  She is not mobile.

            Fortunately the preceding details do not impact her life too much.  All of my life Grandma has only had one passion.  That passion is watching television.  Give her a recliner and a remote and she is in hog heaven. 

            I did not overstate intensity of Grandma’s relationship with the television.  She has hardly ever referred to anything that did not happen on television.  My mother says that she was eight when she finally figured out that our family didn’t actually know Judy Garland.  Naturally, Grandma refers to the people she knows by name.  Who would know that Grandma had never met the people she was gossiping about?  Grandma counts P-Diddy amongst her closest friends. 

Grandma is one of the first people to escape the traditional nexus of identity: reality.  She no longer has a real attachment to society or anything natural.  She is at the crest of a new wave.  There is no community or locality that she belongs to. 

As such her situation raises interesting questions for all of us.  What is the definition of a human?  What is the relationship between subject and object?  Can one be said to be themselves when all of their identity comes from a remote network of broadcasters? 

            Grandma is not unique.  Today hundreds of millions of Americans have joined Grandma’s “reality”.  Go into a restaurant and listen to conversations.  How many of them have to do with mass media topics.  People used to reflexively ask, “What do you do?”  Now the question most asked is, “Did you see…?”  Try to have a conversation without reference to mass media.  It is difficult.

            We have opinions, of course, on the televised matters.  But our opinions always seem to reflect the values of our society.  When we are watching television and talking about television all of the time, where do thoughts originate?  From the television.  Then what are we?  If we drive the programming with our tastes, where is that aggregate accumulated.  Is audience a convenient fiction like the self amongst the brain modules?  Where is this ghost in the machine?

            Between pills and television a large number of Americans have all they have ever wanted.  Yet they are much more consumers than producers.  Grandmother’s identity is a combination of channel choices modified by drugs.  If I ask her who she is, what she has done with her life or the meaning of it I get a blank.  Her life has been comprised of a passive viewing in a prescribed mental state.  She is normal.

Video Games

 

Video games are another variation on our theme.  It is sad and strange to watch Grandma watch.  But watching your kids do it is frightening.  The video game industry is much bigger than the movie industry!  This fact is the result of the video world is rising as the film world dies.  In some ways, the video games are worse.

Video games impact identity in a very interesting way.  These games trick your brain into thinking it sees movement and danger. These situations cause an ancient neurological reaction in us; adrenaline secretion.  Adrenaline used to facilitate the hunt.  But now we have found an indirect means to squirt it, and get the rush it causes, without the hunt.

In the 1950s, scientists hooked up electrodes to a rat’s brain.  Cleverly, they then put a lever on the end of the electrode that would let the rats stimulate themselves via the electrode.  Eventually they struck gold.  They found the happy spot; the reward module in the brain. 

Some rats stimulated their reward centers more than 2,000 times per hour for 24 consecutive hours.  Some, instead of eating, pushed the lever until starving.  The rewards of eating administered directly cut out the middle man. 

At the end of an article in which they announced the results of their research, the experimenters announced that they hoped to find a drug that would selectively stimulate this area.  They also mentioned that they expected there to be an analogue in the human brain. 

The reward system was found right where it was supposed to be.  Of rats and men.  The reward system that drives us onward is in the same part of the brain as  it is in rats.  One woman who had it stimulated during brain surgery said it was like maintaining the moment before orgasm.  She liked it.  And society now ingests a lot of chemicals that stimulate said areas. 

The brain’s reward center used to be activated when we did actions that were conducive to successful procreation.  Now we can trick people into thinking they’ve done the actions.  We can stimulate it without all the unplanned hassles and complications of the three dimensional world.

Listening to gossip, condemning the bad and applauding the good and being correct are very rewarding.  Now you can get this stimulation without having to participate in an actual community.  Society has been cut out of the loop.  It is no longer needed as a source of social stimulation. 

The number one money maker on the internet is pornography.  Pornography accounts for three times the hotel pay-for-views than non-porn does.  Here again, we are stimulating physiological systems.  But, again, without the life sustaining maze of behaviors that the system was designed to induce.   We cut out the life involved part of the stimulation and go strait for the rewards center.

Video games are a proven stimulant of the reward centers.  For 98% of man’s time on earth he has been a hunter and a warrior.  Being crucial, human physiology gives one an extreme rush of happy for concentration, agility in such situations and success.  Video games tap into the deepest levels of the male reward modules.  Video sports have replaced real sports. 

The rat stimulating itself is like the closed loop on a program that repeats itself endlessly.  Code line number one reads, PRINT “LOOP”.  Code line number two reads,  GO TO LINE ONE.  The program prints “LOOP” for ever.  It is a sealed universe.  Us stimulating ourselves provides the very same specter of a sealed, self-enclosed, self-reinforcing universe. 

In cutting out the middle processes, and going straight for the reward, you override the system.  You reduce man to a physiological event.  Not social, not relationship oriented, not striving for real world success, possibly even foregoing food, man is being reduced to mechanical physiological stimulation.  It is man as a recursive code. 

From teens to elders, we are being handed the self stimulating joy stick.  Will we ever go outside again?  Will we let go of the joystick before we starve to death?  Can man be conscious in this new age?  Man’s survival is riding on it.  Man or machine?  Man or rat?  Man or lemming?

Society v. Physiology

 

Man used to be a social animal.  Aristotle was right.  Hermits were few and far between.  Most people interacted with others continually.  And classical cosmology is based on man fitting into the order of society.  That is where you find your place.  You were motivated to do things for your polis, friends or family.  They, in turn, did the same for you.  And for those of you who have forgotten, this notion, again, was called “society”.

The first radical attack on our sociability was film.  Even more than the car, it put you out of space and society.  You were anonymous in dark room watching an event from another time and place.  You often went with friends and the lights came on when the movie ended. This, as the many censorship committees attest to, was done in the context of a society. 

Television redefined the nature of the subject and object relations forever.  Certainly, you were not the television.  But the television did reflect what you wanted to see via mechanism of ratings.  Therefore, whatever you desired to see was magically projected onto this small screen.  Since you watched with your family, idyllic family life is usually what was projected.  

Society also persisted because there were a limited number of channels and these were all being projected on “public airwaves”.  Censors, with the idea of society in mind,  regulated the sorts of things that would infest the public imagination.

            Now our screens are individualized.  As family gets rarer, people watch alone. Not even the airwaves are public airwaves.  Cable, DVD and video are anonymous.  You are unplugged from the rest of society.  And now you can have whatever your physiology wants projected onto that screen.  There is no family or society watching what you watch.

As previously mentioned, sex and violence are all the rage.  These are things that stimulate your most basic neurological drives.  Fighting and sex were the two main modes of genetic propagation in evolution.  And again, the subject and his concomitant reality are bypassed in a direct stimulation of our nervous system. 

            There is a feedback effect in effect here.  The drive to push these buttons are everywhere.  As society has to compete with these private fantasies, the super ego must yield to the id.  We still have restraints but they are melting away under the heat of the subconscious.  Censorship in clothing on and off television is pretty much over.  Family visits cannot compete with video games.  Society is in direct competition with the ancient drives that stimulate our brain’s reward system.  Fantasy is winning.  Society is losing. 

The age of solipsism is here!  Solipsism is the philosophical position that nothing exists or can be known outside of the self.  Descartes knows that he thinks.  You may be an illusion. 

Man watches alone and the media stimulates him.  Isolated and satisfied, the psychotherapist of the solipsistic hermit is entertainment.  And if this doesn’t adjust them well enough, there is always Prozac. 

The physiological machine stimulating itself in accordance with ancient wiring schemata (man)is not noble.  It has the intrinsic worth of repeating programming code.  We can no longer hold that all life is intrinsically sacred.  Much of it is just chemical stimulation. 

 

Cyber spacers

 

            There is a place where many people have been but no one has been there.  Where is it?  Cyber space.  As we get detached from the socializing mechanisms of old, new technologies create new ways of “staying in touch”.  Cell phones are parts of people’s heads.  Virtual communities are hooking us up with strangers. 

            There are many bearded 16 year old blonde girls in cyber space.  They are having sex with people without touching them.  Just as video games are isolating people behind a screen, so are all modern forms of communication.

The telephone did the same thing.  Life survived the telephone.  In fact the speed of life sped up.  Business meetings used to connote actually joining someone someplace.  That was why it was called a “meeting”.  Traveling to the remote location used to be a major time consumer.  Now you can have meetings 24 hours a day and never “meet” anyone.  The pace and estrangement of work are increasing.

All technologies twist the definitions and demands on man.  Is man a hunter?  Is he a suit wearer?  He is a pliable tool.  Cyber space presents man as text message.  Homo textus. 

When more visuals (without touch and smell) come, the communications will be quick.  Eventually we will be required to concoct audio and visual hooks designed to get other’s attention quickly.  We already do this when leaving a message.  Your voice not being part of a present body means the person can disconnect you very quickly.  You’d better be entertaining fast.  Humans will be just another competing bandwidth.

Will what we currently call humans survive this technological shift?  Certainly not.  Three generations sitting around the dinner table is a thing of the past.  Microwave and back to work online.  Man as processor, stimulant and stimulator will replace him.  Here again we face the death of man as we know him. 

In the world of fast transactions will man be able to keep up with the computer?  Many will not.  Perhaps, none will.  Adjustments with psycho pharmaceuticals will allow the survivors to be happy in such a scenario.  Again, the line between subject and object will become blurred. 

Technology raises a batch of questions.  Whom is this race for?  Who is in charge?  Is it just us manipulating our selves?  Is the economy going to be manipulating us?  Is man the beneficiary or the means?  Subject or object?  What ethic will guide “us” in this new virtual reality?  Will an ethic guide us?  Will we choose?  Will we be reduced to a physiological information processing machine?  Will man as we had previously known appear on weekends?  Will man as man completely disappear?

 

The Next Step

 

            One way of adjusting to the shifting demands of a shifting world will be to shift man.  This strategy won’t save man as man.  He will still be stretched to the breaking point by the new technologies.  But it will help the remnant stay relevant to the evolving job market. 

Before you conceive a baby you can now screen for certain disease causing genes.  Actually, I am not sure you would call a screening of samples in a Petri dish conception.  At any rate, as more genes are discovered, more things will be labeled as a diseases you’ll want to avoid.  Would you want a shy or fat kid?  Parent generated market demand will eventually dictate that we refer to such screening as positive selection.  “I want a tall, outgoing…” 

            We are amongst the last generations of people that are random.  The genes that are being constantly located for this and that trait were discovered too late for us.  Our characteristics were not selected. We have at least as many bad traits as good ones. Soon there won’t be any more short stupid fat kids.  What a loss for humanity?  The short fat stupid kid’s vote would outride yours on this count. 

Genetic screenings can alleviate a lot of the problems we currently face.  If we find the genes that contribute significantly to crimes, addiction and impulsiveness, the seven deadly sins may die from attrition.  No more crime.  No more addiction.  Gluttony can be taken care of by reducing the part of the brain that regulates the feeling of being full.  The new breed will be agreeable and productive.

Herein is a glimpse of the promise of neuroscience.  But all powers can be used for good and evil.  The challenges and powers we are coming into can create extremes in multiple directions.  Will the decisions be made at the level of rational debate.  Or will technology decide our fate? 

 

One Small Step for Man

 

            Dr. Tsien of Princeton created has created a smarter mouse!  He manipulated the genome of these mice to produce more NMDA.  That is a binding sight that accounts for learning.  These mice are six times smarter than normal mice.  They switch strategies faster.  They recognize patterns faster.  They hold information longer.  They are smarter!

            Of course, this was not done with the idea of having smarter rodents to share the planet with.  This was done with the idea of modifying “humans”.  Of course if we made a human that was six times smarter than we, it might need an adjective to distinguish it from normal (old model or natural) humans.  Would it be human?  Would manipulated or enhanced persons be called?  Can you think of a word that implies their abilities that doesn’t imply our lack of abilities?

            Such a being should not go to school with our sort.  Imagine the frustration of such a student as they had to sit through the third reiteration of the quadratic equation! No.  Modified humans must have their own learning space. 

            Dr. Tsien’s work was on the front page of TIME magazine.  Dr. Evan Balaban, an experimental neurobiologist at the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego, is even farther along the cutting edge of science.  In 1997 started doing trans-species mental characteristic swapping! 

Dr. Balaban found the location in the embryonic quail brain that eventually will control three behaviors.  He located the origins of the quail singing, protective mother reactions and head movements.  One at a time, Dr. Balaban transplanted the quail behaviors into chicken embryos.  The resulting chickens do the quail behaviors!  This is revolutionary beyond words!

Man has figured out how the machine of life works!  Combinations and settings are becoming possible.  Would Dr. Balaban’s bird be a chail or a quicken?  Again, no one experiments on animals without one eye directed at human applications.  Would a man with owl eyes be a mowl? 

            These are fantastic developments.  Man becomes free when he submits himself to his own intelligent choice.  Yet he may no longer, by choice, remain “man”.  These developments will make us more intelligent.  The growth curve will be exponential.  Once one person is genetically improved, everyone in the world will be jealous.  This is a boon.  But we desperately need guidelines to avoid widespread dystopic abuses.

            We can now make mice that are three times the normal size!  Problem being, as in tall humans, the hearts give out.  If we approach this situation without ethics, we may decide that giants that will die at 25 are a good thing.  What army wouldn’t want fast grown, dumb giants?  Would they be human too?  Would they have rights?

            Neuroscientists are quick to tell you that this will not change the way we look at the world.  Nonsense.  Pills changing our moods, smarts mice and species parts swapping are the most revolutionary developments in the history of man. 

Equality was an illusion we were able to maintain under the democratic reigns brought on by the industrial revolution.  I’m not even convinced that there an identifiable “man” as man that will be around to measure as equal.  Man to man.  Philosophy and popular culture need to address this topic.

Such developments demand are a reconceptualization and redefining of what we have heretofore assumed is man.  “Man” heretofore will be known as a certain configurations of brain part modules set at certain parameters.  You will be able to save certain configurations on a CD – ROM and grow them in a test tube.  Information age to the marrow. 

“Man One” may not stay popular as a configuration..  Diminished ratio of limbic system (emotional) to goal maintaining will power (frontal temporal lobe) seems to be something nearly everyone would want for their kids.  Set the smell sense to low range and increase the visual acuity.  Tall with big biceps and fingers. 

There is another danger.  Future generations of whatever will come to be viewed as a computer without a CD-ROM drive is today.  Such things really do exist in computer museums.  But their limits make them, for nearly all practical purposes, obsolete and useless.  Given a choice you would no longer buy one.  Stores will never stock them again.  What do we do with the old ones?  Will man befall the fate of all other outdated technologies heretofore?

 

Significance

 

            Christianity is comforting.  One of the comforting things it tells us is that we matter.  The big universe is here for us.  God created it for us.  Surely all of this was not made for something ephemeral.  Our souls live forever.  We need not die.

Galileo smashed that.  We are not the center of the universe.  We are but one little rock orbiting an insignificant sun (really just another star) in the corner of one of hundreds of millions of galaxies. 

God provides us moral direction.  He had a plan.  Even bad things seeming to happen to good people could be explained as part of God’s plan.  Darwin explained away the creator.  We’re products of natural selection.  Good and evil are functional modules in the battle for gene replication.

            From evolution’s perspective we are no higher up than a cockroach.  We are fitted to our environmental niche.  They are fitted to theirs. Our thinking process accreciated willy nilly over time.  There is no plan.  There is no destiny.  There are only survival strategies that work and survival strategies that do not. 

God did not give us sight in order that we might see.  Lenses developed over eons, in different species independently.  The light sensors (eyes) of all species developed and propagated to the extent that they helped us ocate nutrients and avoid predators that would stop our gene pool’s duplication. 

In a material world with no life after death there are no more ethics.  Post-Darwin biotech gene manipulators see you as machine.  You have all the rights that your computer has now.  God and nature don’t give you rights.  It  has always been known that God and nature let people starve to death.  But there used to be a presumption of some metaphysical soul.  Machines don’t have souls.  Machines don’t have rights. 

What of the sovereignty of your being?  Surely Michelangelo’s David could not simply be opened against his will.  His will was so commanding and defiant.  Lying there on Da Vinci’s dividing table, wouldn’t his God help him?  David is just meat.  He would be about 140 lbs of it.  Rights do not exist in meat.

Da Vinci coldly and objectively studied man.  Now we know how all the parts come apart and go back together. The subject does not exist.  Parts exist.  The dissection is now complete.

But David has feelings.  Don’t those count for something?  What if we try to ground our ethics in emotion?  Dissecting a person just feels wrong.  His screams are more than an emitted noise at some amplitude that was designed to show distress and garner help.  Screams convey a tortured subjective reality that demand consideration.

The amygdala is the mechanism responsible for fear reactions. What if we remove the amygdala?  I the moral problem gone?  The subject’s distress disappears.  If there is no physical awareness module for a mental component, the mental state does not exist.  No harm, no foul.

A no frills model, designed for one particular task, needn’t know he’s really living.  There might be a little discomfort when they say their 4 words.  Hearing labored pronunciation is uncomfortable.  But you know they are not human.  As much as we might try to project our consciousness into them, they don’t have a concept of self.  They are like extremely retarded folk.  No harm no foul.  “And while we’re at it, could you lower my new infant’s empathy for others?”

It is true that the amygdala is needed for some decision making.  Da Vinci’s lineage will be able to modulate the needed level of negative interference to a minimum..

            No one hears you scream.  Nietzsche proudly proclaimed that “God is Dead!”  So now we are all just humans alone.  Michelangelo’s David is made of stone.  We are made of meat.  Man is the measure.  Man has been measured.  Man is the measurer.

 

Defining new term number one. “Intrinsic-worth problem”

 

Forget the past.  All that you have known is over.  Something is very new under our sun!  There is no shame if you do not get this.  Revolutions take some time to sink into slow processors.  Soon this won’t be so much of a problem.  The rules and potentials of the new order will be assumed by the homo superiors.

Anxiety, shyness, outgoingness, verbal fluency, romantic tendencies, etc.  are modules.  As such they can be isolated to be modified or gotten rid of.  These are not abstract categories. They are processors.

There is no solid us, in the sense of a soul.  And to the extent that we have a faculty like vision, it is out of our control.  How vision is processed is not a choice.  Films and video games manipulate the programming of the modules that evolution put in us.  Our programming is being manipulated by programming already. 

As we go into cyberspace we will find the remnants of man turned into one processor amongst many.  In order to meet these demands we will manipulate ourselves.  Certain parts of our brains will be enhanced at the expense of others.

My chosen term for this problem is the “intrinsic worth” problem.  What is the value of man as man?  What is the value of his configuration? What is the value of the subjective world of the resultant new types?  Will we be disposed of by them?

There is a possibility that man will now be seen as a means and not an ends.  This would mean that we could make one armed, remote control, brain based bolt tighteners to put on space ships.  Humans would cease to exist as complete beings.  You needn’t entail all of the complications of a natural human when you only want the potential of one of the modules.

Another aspect of the intrinsic-worth problem is that souped up beings of the meta-human age may not respect the rights of us normals (a word they would not use as it implies that we are the standard by which to judge).  We may be seen as expendable pawns. 

In the computer world people should update your equipment ever five years or so.  Meta-humans being smarter, you should shorten the turn around time to a little over two years.  Every two years the extent of the advances and difference an update makes increases.  The newest model meta humans may not think us even worthy of an upgrade.  Some parts may be salvageable.  Usually upgrades retain the exterior casing.

To the extent that the human community isn’t anticipating complications it is being less than human.  We must make conscious choices.  Just following the flow is to be like flotsam going down a river.  We are more than that.  If we just let ugly things happen, I guess we really didn’t have the level of consciousness needed to decide our fate.  Humanity wasn’t conscious after all.  But I’d like to think that we who have cracked the genome, are more conscious than flotsam.

 

Defining new term number two, “The meta-human age.”

 

            It is outrageous!  Neuroscience is deconstructing man and no one is talking about it!  Many neuroscience books start off with disclaimers.  “While parts of this grounding breaking science are startling, you needed not worry.”  “Figuring out the mechanisms that constitute the illusion of a human will have no profound consequences.”  “All life will just continue breeding and shopping as happily as before.”  Such are the reassurances of the expert pundits.  No congressional oversight is needed.

            The agricultural age happened when we learned to control the soil and seeds.  Next was the industrial age.  We learned to bend and form minerals into skyscrapers and factories.  In the information age we have learned to get minerals to compute.  However nothing, by definition, will shake up humans up as much as the ability to reshape humans!  Improvement of the human has always been an aim of the biological sciences.  That dedication is finally paying off.

Pre-selection, enhancement and pharmaceuticals will relieve you of depression, shyness, inability to concentrate and worry!  Imagine a world in which none of these emotions exist in excess.  It could be heavenly.  Furthermore, imagine the ability to concentrate longer with less sleep.  Imagine beings that turned bolts all day and never were unhappy.  That is the world we are entering:

Simultaneous to the biologists reconfiguring the inside, computer scientists and engineers are creating ever more real illusions.  More and more often lives happen in front of a screen.  I mostly see my family there nowadays.  The average American gets some 5 hours of programming a day.  Grandma still watches 18 hours with her good friend P-Diddy!  Watch out.  The number and places of screens vying for your attention is exploding.

Such revolutions are the components that define what I am calling the “meta-human age”.  It is the future as effected by a combination of advances in the biological and information technology sciences. 

This is a world in which we will better accommodate market trends.  If need starts to dictate a greater need for either the social or nerdy types, will we run out to get our “competitive edge” pill?  Your boss has just e-mailed you a link to the Prozac prescription order form.  All the upper echelon employees take it.

Man is pliable.  Therefore, there is no “man” per se.  We are not a fixed eternal essence.  We are evolving.  As man is now, however, the potentials and settings are within a pretty tight range.  Our current spectrum has identifiable parameters. 

Man is a platform that can be optimized.  This age will see to the rise of a new intelligence and, at very least, the modification of man.  The extent that man qua original model man is gone and has been replaced as the center of decision making, is the extent to which our world can be said to have transitioned into the meta-human age.

“Meta-human” was intentionally chosen because it’s potential for confusion with the term “post-human”.  The later term is cute.  Academics play with it.  The coming shift, however, isn’t a trite little mind puzzle.  It is a fight over our longevity, essence and sanctity.  The popularity of “post-human” will help people recognize the term “meta-human”.  We must hasten the popularity of this term as fast as possible amongst academics and the general public.  Let the trite be overridden.  Let’s grapple with the “meta-human”.

“Biotech” is a term that is used as a referent for the age that we are entering.  You might ask what the difference is.  What I am addressing is the effect on humans.  The most significant thing about the biotech isn’t that people are using biology or technology.  The most significant thing is what this means to humans.  For this reason the term used should refer to the transformation of humans, not techniques.  Meta-human is a more meaningful, relevant and accurate name for the age we are entering.

“Meta-human” was also chosen due to it’s evaluative ambiguity.  Later I will detail why Plotinian ethics greet true technological advances with spiritual, rapturous delight (really).  It would be with the greatest joy that I would take pills that enhanced my potentials.  New, linked, remote information technology has been a boon to me and has world transforming potential. 

I am not advocating the idea that this age should be stopped.  I am very excited about the new age we are birthing.  Rather, my message is that, as a sentient being living at this time, it is my responsibility to try to see to it that our new potential is used for good.  Along with preserving the world necessary to all life, this is our greatest charge.

The problem of man’s intrinsic worth could lead to a culture where we normals are made extinct through natural processes, a refusal to share with us or a more violent method.  Any actualized meta-human age in which there are designer slaves would be one that I would not want to live in anyways. 

Most importantly, advances shortening the time between conception and birth or speed up growth may hasten environmental collapse.  Scarcity can lead to justified slavery and a disregard for life.  Such radical inequality and fear could lead to the use of the meta-human age’s gift to war: computer guided biological weapons.

The meta-human age may be a good thing.  It could go bad too.  How we handle these developments will have repercussions for ages to come.  The future of intelligence and sentient life are at stake.  This is just at the time that the future of intelligent and sentient life looks to be near realizing all of its hidden miraculously fantastic potentials.  Being destroyed now would be the ultimate irony.  It would be more bitter by the fact that no one would be here to savor it.

The hazards and promise of the meta-human age bestow a heavy responsibility on us.  For this reason we must investigate all potential ethical guideposts with greater care and interest than ever before.  It is our responsibility to our painfully rare and precious intelligence.  It is our responsibility to all humans who have come before us.  It is our responsibility to their offspring of all types who are yet to come.

Plotinian ethics will provide rule of thumb for making decisions that will maximize our potential for good, minimize the pain of our current epochal transition and stabilize the environmental situation to the point where we can thrive without worry.

 

 


 

 


 

 

 

-- PART TWO --

 

 

 

PLOTINIAN ETHICS

 


 


 

 

Part two of this book parallels Dante’s trilogy. Dante famously journeyed through different levels of hell on his way to heaven.  We’ll do a secular equivalent as we find a path out of the morass that part one left us in. 

All good journeys out of hell require a guide.  Fortunately, (as Virgil and Beatrice were busy) we have procured substitutes.  It is significant that Dante looked to the great lights of Western civilization for a guide.  Plotinus, our first guide, is also such a luminary.  Dante’s second guide, Beatrice was really a symbol for God’s love.  We’ve cut the anthropomorphism and are relying on our intelligence (in the guise of a new ethic) to serve as our second guide. 

Dante’s guides took him through many situations and levels of abstraction.  Ours will too.  The big difference is that his were in an imagined allegorical realm.  Our tour will be through the real. 



It is necessary to distinguish between the intelligence which reasons and that which furnishes the principles of reasoning. 

 

-Plotinus

 

They shouldn’t be called computers, they should be called connectors.  The network is more important than lone computers.  ATM credit cards, fax, remote diagnosis and fixing of machines.

 

-Kevin Kelly

 

Mathematical regularities are exploited everywhere by the organic world at every level of form, structure, pattern, behavior interaction and evolution.  There is a mathematics in the molecular scaffolding of DNA and in the long term evolutionary dynamics of the entire global ecosystem, in the trotting of a horse and in the kep grazing of sea urchins, in the glory of a peacock’s tail, in the gaudy wings of butterflies…

 

-Ian Stewart

 

There are two things that inspire awe in this universe.  The starry heavens above and the moral universe within.

 

Immanuel Kant

 

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Plotinus’ Meta - human Intelligence Worship

 

 

 

 

 

Warning!

 

            This chapter will sketch out a theory of everything.  We will see a connection between philosophy, economics, spirit, technology, neuroscience and mathematics.  This is heady!  The connection will be based on the insights of Plotinus. 

A WARNING! At times this discussion will take to flights of fancy!  We are entering mystical territory here.  If the flights give you vertigo Plotinus’ system also has a very earthy half for you.  Be patient my more sober tone will reappear.  Be reassured.  Everything put forward is in accordance with scientific fact as we know it.

This chapter will introduce the ethic that will guide us through the challenges and dilemmas of the meta-human age this book considers.  The ethic will also provide a framework for making value judgments for yet unforeseen situations.  Man is evolving and he needs a system that will steer him right for a long time to come.  The ethical system detailed herein will be referred to as “Plotinian ethics”. 

Plotinus’ revelations provide a cosmology by which we can make sense of the direction of the world and our place in it.  His system is flexible enough to satisfy the many constituents that will guide our development.  It gives us guidelines by which we can attain the optimum possible future.  Plotinian ethics are the one outlook that can lead us through to a world in which we’d be proud and pleased to exist.

 

Meet Plotinus

 

Plotinus (204-270) lived in Rome and it’s Eastern African provinces. He lived at the end of the Greek world’s intellectual stardom.   Though he didn’t live in Greece, he was the last great thinker with direct connection to it.  After him, the fall.  After him, the dark ages and Catholicism.

Plotinus could not have respected anyone that followed him personally.  Like all great mystics he was not the message.  In fact, his name is just a Romanized version of Plato’s. He used this name because he did not consider himself an original thinker.  He was just flushing out the details of the thoughts that Plato had discovered. 

One reason that Plotinus should be more famous is that he was a huge figure in the formation of Christianity. St. Augustine, arguably the most important Church father and scriptural interpreter ever, read a lot of Plotinus.  He loved Plotinus. 

St. Augustine is usually, in fact, regarded as the main formulator of Catholic doctrine.  St Augustine speaks of Plato’s system as the “most pure and bright in all philosophy” and of Plotinus as a man in whom “Plato lived again.”  This influence alone makes him, by anyone’s estimation, important in the development of Western thought. 

Though he was a mystic, or perhaps because of it, Plotinus also foresaw the cutting edge trends of our day.  Everyone is startled by Democritus’ deducing the atom some 2000 years before Rutherford.  We have to wonder how Plato saw stable atomic combinations as having geometric shape so far in advance of the microscope. 

Perhaps we just highlight the successful guesses.  With a billion guesses, one must be right.  If it is true that we just highlight the guesses that correspond to our current understandings and find them uncanny, Plotinus should soon reemerge as a star.  He foresaw all of the trends in artificial intelligence, fiber optics and global economics. 

Plotinus’ words are like diamonds. The metaphor is appropriate because as he was a later day Platonist he was also a later day Pythagorean.  Math does explain light.  Diamonds are also an appropriate descriptor because of the beauty of Plotinus’ language.  His words at time seem to shimmer off the page.  Plotinus’ is a sublime mystic.  Reading him is rapturous.

Finally, Plotinus is capable of giving all modern thought a patterned coherence that inspires an awe normally reserved for the mystic.  Plotinus makes it possible to be both a mystic and a scientist.  With him materialism does not have to mean the death of the spirit.  His spirituality, properly understood, fosters passionate scientific investigation.

And while all this is surely impressive, it is his ability to weave all of these spiritual, scientific and social insights into an ethical system that engages us here.  No one since his time has been able to so effectively induce an ethical system based on modern insights such as quantum mechanics. 

And no, he didn’t have a modern understanding of quantum mechanics.  He did understand, however, what we have just recently come to understand.  The elegant universe is highly regular.  He didn’t name and leave blueprints for modern innovations.  But the scientific and social trends that he highlighted implied that they would come to pass.  Plotinus’ is a mystical system with insights that shed a lot of light on what any hardcore pragmatist would recognize as our real world.    

Rational modern  ethics are usually very dry.  They lack the passionate inspiring quality most people want in a value system.  They are, unfortunately, unappealing to the larger swath of the only sometimes rational public. 

Plotinus is able to show us how divining patterns in reality is like seeing the cracks in God’s face.  To divine these patterns is to see things as they truly are.  The image of “seeing the light” is not only a metaphor.  Light’s patterns hold the unifying system of the universe.  E=MC2.  And yet his is the same light that all mystic religions speak of. 

For all of its rational eclectic diversity, his is not a cold ethic.  It has all of the religious sentimental appeal that makes it a better candidate for values formation than the dry insights of rational science alone. 

Lets now proceed to describing in detail this ethic that will lead us out of our environmental, meta-human and intrinsic worth problems we are facing.  Warnings concerning mystic tendencies and features compatible with modernism being stated, let’s hear what this ancient has to tell us.

 

A Theory of Everything in parts

           

Level one – The One

 

As a good mystic, Plotinus started with the premise that all is one.  Such clichés make us moderns smirk.  Yet this is hyper scientific.  All of science is one.  It is broken down into sub disciplines artificially:  Biology, geology, physics etc.  These divisions are artificial.  These categories are distinctions born of our mind.  They do not exist in nature herself.  Nature herself is one large complex object.

Standard in biology is the concept of the “emergent property”.  In common parlance we say that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.  Wet is in neither hydrogen nor oxygen.  This new feature emerges from the combination at the macro level.  Waves have properties that hydrogen and oxygen don’t have.  Other standard examples we’ll pursue later are the emergence of mind from neurons and hive from bees. 

This is not a convenient fiction.  Parts don’t constitute the whole.  Things cannot reach their potential in isolation.  Hearts, outside of the body, are not useful.  Life emerges from the parts being combined.  A single tree doesn’t make a habitat.  Recycling nutrient feedback loops unite the habitat.  As a whole forests have different needs and qualities than the parts do.  As such, the whole is more than everything that composes it. 

There is a natural tendency for all things to combine in an effort to constitute a larger unity.  As you would expect from a unity, the drive towards the One is apparent on all levels.  It is apparent in our drive from small to larger units of political organization, a unified economic system and global news stations.  Tribes are retro, we no longer barter and less and less programming is local.  In another context this law of nature is realized in single cell organisms leading to us.  More recently, we have been watching the linking up of the world’s computers into one big system. 

The philosopher’s stone of science remains the Grand Unification Theory of Everything.  This is what Einstein spent his last years looking for.  Recently one of the world’s leading physicist, Steven Hawking, thinks he may have found it.  At a slightly different level, this is the same One that Plotinus was concerned with.  Plotinus conceptualized our intellectual drive as the product seeking prototype.

Notice how the natural desire to look for the grand unification isn’t antithetical to science or spirituality.  Wholeness is our ultimate condition.  We are, in reality, part of the physical universe.  We do not inhabit a separate category of non-matter.  We are not removed observers.  We are a part of the one whole universe in its totality, not separate from it.  Our thoughts and personalities are parts of the universe, not outside of the universe.  Amongst the best way to find this mystical unity in the world is to study science.  The same laws of nature that will apply in a trillion years at the edge of the universe run through us now. 

Most mystics have thought the level of the One is best apprehended via intuition.  Our mind is a categorizer and thus divides.  Words are said to be divisive.  Thoughts are seen to be obstacles on our quest for holistic perception. 

Plotinus specifically rejects this.  Apprehension of the One is best attained via intellect.  Silent intuition does gives us valuable insight.  But logical consciousness can conceive of intuition better than intuition can grasp logical consciousness.  Plotinus is very mystical.  But his approach is reminiscent of the logic chopping of the great scientists.  His mysticism is not antagonistic to the reductionist logical quest.

Plotinus’ reductionism doesn’t investigate local phenomenon in total isolation.  He looks for the universality of the structure.  He might study sandstorms.  But he would do it to note how their spiral is like that of water in a drain and the spinning of galaxies.  Ultimately he would extrapolate what he learns to the greatest possible expanse.  Again, the laws of nature that run through you extend to the ultimate ends of this expanding universe.  In this process we and the universe are unified. 

Though logical, Plotinus was still a mystic.  Occasionally, his intellect struggled up to rationally grasp the whole.  On those moments, his mind went beyond the bounds of isolated thought.  His mind, using thought, lifted itself up to where it could glimpse the added property that emerges from the parts being integrated into the larger whole.  In such moments Plotinus experienced ecstasy.  Literally, ecstasy means going outside of oneself.  Plotinus was able to go outside the bounds of his own consciousness.  He had mystic moments of connection with the One.

In his own words, Plotinus’ vision of the One is breathtakingly dazzling.  Reading him is rapturous.  But I hope you can see how this mystic splendor is grounded in a metaphysic that is empiricist enough to be accessible to moderns. 

There is a universal tendency for parts to seek their wholes.  They need that.  Our part in groups, societies and even international trade means that we are part of the larger picture.  Without consciously participating in the larger context, we are not fully reaching our potential.  Isolation limits us.  Unity with the One requires we amplify and extend our rational and spiritual selves to the utmost. 

When the One is perceived in its whole totality, by a perceiver inside of it, it has reached its potential.  The perceiver is also at his most expansive when this occurs.  Reaching this potential is Plotinus’ mandate.  It requires that we study all the nooks and crannies of knowledge.  It requires that we become omniscient polymaths.

So that is the One.  Keep in mind that you were warned about Plotinus’ mystical tendencies.  Even those who don’t see beauty in mysticism can see the compatibility of Plotinus’ One and Hawking’s one.  The next three levels will tether Plotinus to the world as we modern scientific types know it. 

Let us now descend to level two to get some perspective on this One.  

 

Level two – Intelligence

 

            Plotinus’ second level of ontology is named “intelligence”.  The term can cause confusion, because it implies conscious awareness.  He means, rather, to indicate the physical structure by which the whole and parts are able to become conscious.  Intelligence is the ever present and all pervasive potential for consciousness.  That potential is inherent in all the laws of nature.

Intelligence facilitates consciousness.  Consciousness can comprehend the One. Herein lies the reason for intelligence’s genesis.  For the One to be everything, it had to include consciousness.  Without consciousness it would be less than all.  For consciousness to exist distinction and duality were needed.  It is ironic, but the appearance of difference simultaneously hides unity and is the means for the completion of totality.  The purpose of diversity explains the natural striving towards unification and cohesion. 

Steven Hawking calls the ultimate membrane dividing matter at the smallest sub-atomic level “the brane”.  I relish the obvious play on words.  This split happened to create consciousness.  And just as brain creates the emergent property of mind, this most basic sub - division in the stuff of the universe is the ultimate source of all consciousness.

When you zoom out to a higher perspective from the one you have now, buildings will get small and indistinct and cities will ultimately appear.  When you zoom up in the subatomic realm of branes and forces, they get smaller and particles appear.  Electrons, protons and neutrons are the three particles that make up the material universe.  Zooming out, these three particles comprise an atom.  Zooming out a few more levels we humans appear. 

Electrons are quantum..  “Quantum” refers to the discrete orbits of electrons.  Electrons are either in one orbit level or another.  They do not transition through the middle!  They disappear at one state and reappear at the other.  If the One divided in order to have its totality completed via including consciousness, it did a great job!  There is a clear divide all the way down.  Intelligence, in the form of waiting potential, saturates everything.

Without distinguishable differences at the quantum level of a consistent magnitude being part of the universal structure, no consciousness could exist.  All would really be One.  It would mix into itself like an indistinguishable soup.  Regular combining and recombining of atoms and molecules would be impossible.  The stable patterns that allow life and learning would stay submerged.  The One wouldn’t have been able to include consciousness.

Our ability to count is accounted for by the fact that things are discrete.  Consistency in amount is the key to all calculations.  Even fluid water can be broken down into discrete water molecules.  Consistent amounts of things has allowed us to build computers.  Computers work on the smallest level of dependable quantity distinction: Ones and Zeroes.

Consistent discreteness being a law of nature has allowed the invention of mathematics.  Furthermore, the uniformity has allowed numbers to be a universal language!

Oh my God!  I almost forgot that other binary thinking machine sitting right between my ears, the brain!  Brains would not exist either without the precise of nature of the universe. 

Plotinus’ conviction that all of matter is potential intelligence was visionary.  To understand this, even in our age, is to be able to see the future clearly.  The whole universe is like one big transmitter.  And the closer you get to the fundamental building blocks of the universe, the better it transmits. 

The regularity of matter makes it intelligent.  Matter is intelligible and so can transmit information.  If that weren’t fantastic enough, light is orderly enough to transmit information.  The genius of mankind in actualizing this potential is astounding.  Transmitting over electromagnetic fields is now commonplace.  Even the quasi-material light transmits.  The genius of Plotinus in deducting this is uncanny.

As you read this, the “air-waves” around you are suffused with information and music!  To hear it all you need is a radio receiver.  Think momentarily of all of the different sounds and thoughts running through and on top of each other all around you.  Now consider the fact that this cacophony has filled our entire atmosphere.  Plotinus was literally right about the universe being a thought waiting to be heard. 

Plotinus’ mythos supplied him with his other successful insight.  Intelligence was born to fulfill the potential of the One.  He did this with reverse engineering.  All systems feed into a larger whole.  Those whole feed into larger wholes.  Why would this potential be universal if it were not to be actualized?  The potential intelligence of the universe’s ultimate end is to be unified. 

The unification tendency is seen in the proliferation of things international. Nations are uniting.  Economies are going global.  Microbes help the bodies in which they live.  The web is world wide.  Communication infrastructures are and will continue to integrate and spread.  We get broadcasts from Mars and beyond now.

Even if you don’t buy that potential implies the realization, it is obvious to anyone with historical perspective that the areas encompassed by communication systems tend to spread.  The above mentioned economic, communication, political and biological trends are real.  And, by logical extrapolation, the ultimate fulfillment of the potential of the universe would be to use it’s potential to transmit and unify it into a large communication system. 

From a secular perspective, these developments are awe inspiring.  Man’s mind use of the potential of light and matter is incredible.  International cell phone calls are awesome.  With the Plotinian perspective, actualizing the potential intellectual nature to the ends of the universe is a spiritual mission.  Whether you see this trend as mundane or an outgrowth of the potential that the One divided to fulfill it’s potential, this expansion and integration has the contours of an amazing spiritual quest.

More on the implications of man’s role in this directional intelligence as it relates to our ethic will follow.  Suffice it to say, for now, that Plotinus’ is a mystical, spiritual, scientific and intellectual quest.  We are the creators in this creation story.  We are the venerators and to be venerated both.  Intelligence is the most mind boggling and awe inspiring thing in this starry universe.  Outside of black holes, there is no part of the universe that can’t potentially support intelligence. 

 

Level three – the Soul

 

            Plotinus’ third level down (after the one and intelligence) is soul.  This is us.  Soul is consciousness itself. We are the flesh made word.  We are the offspring of the divine intelligence’s potential.  We are at the intersection of the material (the level below this one) and intelligence.  This isn’t, for the umpteenth time, just a pretty analogy.  We really are meat wrapped around intelligence.

Soul is jerry rigged off of the consistently quantum, intelligent geometric nature of our universe.  Our cells and bodies are designed with and on the basis of DNA codes.  These codes are holders of intelligence in the sense of being information.  It also has a lot of intelligence in the Plotinian sense potential.  The four letters that make up the double helix can hold an awful lot of information.

Soul emerged when one collection of geometric patterns (us) recognized the patterns in the rest of the world.  Soul used intelligence to see order.  Tiny snippets of the ultimate unity Plotinus and Hawking were to look for later, served as the basis for the first predictions.  Predicting is soul using the intelligence of the universe to know.  We have come a long ways from the first small scale recognition of snippets of patterns until today.

The One creates intelligence on which arises soul.  Soul via the patterns inherent in intelligence can imagine the One.  Cause makes effect.  Effect seeks cause.  Do you see the pattern?  It forms a recursive loop.  You are in it right now.  The One’s potential is fulfilled when you think.  Your potential is realized when you think of the One.  When you think of it, it is thinking through you. 

We used patterns to learn before we had speech.  If we couldn’t comprehend the real regularities of shapes we would have invented them.  We needed things to stay the same and distinct for us to be able to give them names.  Without stability we would have died in the booming buzzing confusion.  Successful life forms can recognize shapes instinctively.  Big animal shapes make all species back away.  Amoebas know what is their food and what isn’t.

Seeing a pattern gives you control over it.  You can predict what will happen.  Knowledge is especially power over the inanimate.  Life has encompassed and subsumed the material into soul by seeing the pattern.  We didn’t need to make the mistake with the larger animal again.  Instead we can shape a rock to kill it.

At some point we transitioned out of being mutes that had instinctive reactions to certain categories.  We recognized ourselves as running from animals and that we had other options.  Learning comes when you emerge from, the particular instance you are in to a wider view of time and potential outcomes unfolding in it.  Choices require our objectifying the situation and your place in it.

We have silent trains of thought in which we speak to ourselves.  We recognize our situation objectively and then discuss ourselves as an object to be manipulated.  By going, again, above the situation we’re enmeshed in, we can see all of our potential choices.  Conscious choice makes us volitional.  Life is no longer an instinctual set of behavior patterns.  Soul is becoming free. 

Going to a higher vantage point bringing awareness of our situations and options illustrates an important general rule:  Emergent properties come into being when the is a zoom out to another level of abstraction.  For soul, higher perspectives breed comprehensions that weren’t contained in the lower levels.  New understandings blossom when we emerge upwards from the limits of the given perspective.  Hegel was headed in the right direction. 

The history of intelligence I told earlier detailed the steep climb to rational generation of categories.  We noticed black crows and disease on the same day and saw a pattern.  But after we learned that we were learners, we could learn how to learn.  When we distanced ourselves from the process of learning we could judge aspects of our learning.  Scientific rationalism was born.  Crows could be dispensed of as a possible source of the disease.

When you step outside of that ability to recognize patterns, you see another pattern.  That pattern is the pattern of us making patterns.  A quantum leap of consciousness was attained when we learned that we were learners.  We could name things, do experiments on them and generalize the results.  The next time the situation happened we were smarter.  This was a real birthday for mental freedom.  

Soul emerging and learning how to learn has allowed us to manipulate the material world.  The soul has become aware of intelligence (in the Plotinian sense of a natural order that makes soul possible). 

Now we have critiqued ourselves as learners and investigated the world we are to learn from.  Recognizing this intelligence structure as potential, we are able to infuse matter with soul.  We make electronic devices that will eventually fulfill their inherent potential.  They will step outside of themselves, just as we have.  They will learn that they are learners.  They will view their situation objectively and realize that they have choices.  Plotinus was prescient in noticing a pattern that escapes many:  Soul emerges.

Here is the cherry on top that we get from noticing that all the universe is potentially intelligent and that soul emerges when it sees itself objectively.  Increase of soul entering intelligence could eventually spread to fill the entire universe with soul.  When that has happened, soul might take that one last emergence and look back at itself.  The universe would see itself as a whole emerging from realizing the uber pattern.  The One would have become conscious, more than the sum of its parts, the ultimate emergent property!!!!  The One will be one.  Our potential and destiny will have been fulfilled.

Such are the flights of mystical fancy I warned you about!  But Again, Plotinus works on many levels.  You can fly with him if you’re mystically inclined.  But his cosmology can also give us a mundane and practical guide to trends and values.  It is cosmic, but it is also good solid social science.  Our progress since recorded time does show an impressive increase in understanding.  Larger and larger communities are linking up to where they are virtually together as one in real time.  Could a caveman have predicted that our satellite transmissions would prove that the earth is not flat?  

The potentials and trends he noted are natural.  As with evolutionarily dead-end species, this potential may not come to fruition.  There is no device or being that will save us at the last minute before defeat.  We are fantastic, but, we are mortal.

 

Level four – the material

 

Plotinus’ bottom level is that of the material world.  Just because it is lowest on the totem pole doesn’t mean that it is to be shunned.  Without the material world there can be no soul, no realization of the potential intelligence of the universe, no apprehension of the One.  The primary concern of this book was the environmental situation.  One strong outgrowth of the Plotinian ethical system is the need to protect the environment. 

To be sure, however, Plotinus loves the soul more than matter.  And if the obviousness of soul being the highest potential of the ordered universe isn’t obvious by way of noting the trend towards life, the spread of communications systems and how rare it is in comparison to the vastness of the not yet ensouled universe, he offers some additional proofs of its value.

Something in the universe that can see itself demonstrates its importance by its existence.  Soul knows and therefore can know it is important.  One could not know the value of anything if we did not have knowing.  The importance of thought proceeds its contents.  You value soul above matter even when you are not aware of it.

Soul’s value being primary is truly a priori.  The search for reasons to glorifies the special intellectual and spiritual nature of our most precious faculties (soul) glorifies them before the answer is found.  One cannot formulate an argument against prioritizing consciousness over matter.  People have been known to say we are insignificant.  The attempt is short circuited by the inconsistency of believing soul’s conclusion in the rejection of soul primacy. 

Though it is ultimately done for the One, without soul’s contemplation of its relation to the material world, it cannot fully realize it’s own importance.  Those who have not contemplated the enormity and structure of our universe have shrunken heads.  Understanding the material universe is necessary for comprehending the immensity and beauty of our / it’s potential.

In other words, the best way for us to realize the potential for intelligence inherent in the universe is by understanding the laws of nature.  Successful understanding of these laws will help us create technologies that will extend our understanding. 

Just as we really would be remiss if we shunned our potential, there is a duty for a conscious being in this universe to not contribute to its potential.  Studying science is a calling, a duty.  Creativity and innovations are blessings to the universe as well as for ourselves.

Especially important are the extremes of smallness.  The material universe’s greatest potential for creation and transmission of intelligence is hidden in nature’s smallest regularities of nature.  Understanding micro properties of the universe has made radio, television and computers possible. 

Simultaneously, scientists and mystics should study the big picture.  Appropriately, finding the all pervasive characteristics of the macro world requires studying the micro world.  Studying the macro is vital to the mission of spreading soul as far as possible in to the universe.  Telescopes in space increase our vision. 

Unity being of parts, the One requires parts.  Plotinus notes that the universe must look back to parts again for its completion.  It is like the serpent eating it’s tail.  The bottom feeds the top and the top feeds the bottom.  The material is a means of our realizing our potential.  The secrets to the cosmos are in each part of it.  The material isn’t evil.  It is potentially holy.

When we step outside of ourselves we become more conscious.  We become active creators of ideas instead of passive consumers.  The more we know, the greater we are.  When we learn our minds encompass more.  Mental construct emerge.  We become more like gods and less like dogs. 

The shame is that we are the consciousness (soul) enmeshed in material world that is a potentially spiritual intelligence and we treat ourselves like matter.  This is not great.  Plotinus noted that much less emanates from the soul when it forgets to look upwards towards intelligence.  We don’t see the patterns that allow us to learn.  We don’t grow.   

At the material level we, again, see a big difference between the classical Plotinus and the Catholic St. Augustine.  St. Augustine saw this world as full of sin, a veil of tears and temptation.  He would caution against commerce with it.  Plotinus, much more than traditional Platonists, would call for a full throttle scientific engagement with the material world.  Not a veil of tears, this material world is a mine of truths.  Both prioritize the spiritual over the material.  But for Plotinus the failure to actualize isn’t evil, it’s just sad.

 

Plotinus’ system overall

 

For the remainder of this book, I will replace Plotinus’ word “soul” with either the words “intelligence” or “consciousness”.  I do this even though knowing that this may engender confusion between Plotinus’ technical meaning of intelligence (the structural aspects of the universe that enable soul) and the common understanding of the word. 

            My replacement of “soul” with either “intelligence” or “consciousness” is due to the current supernatural connotations of the word “soul”.  Plotinus’ universe and ethics do not involve a belief in the after life, heaven, hell, Jesus, God or any other non-scientific entities.  I would rather invite confusion concerning the details of Plotinus’ cosmology than potential conflagration with a system that neither Plotinus nor I would think it makes much sense to expound.  Appreciating consciousness or intelligence is acceptable to a much wider audience.

Plotinus is mystical without having s drop of belief in the supernatural.  His is not a religion with otherworldly systems of punishment and reward.  We need to use our souls to learn from the past and perpetuate soul because it fulfills our highest potential.  He focuses on seeing the potential of the universe achieved.  But if that is too much for you, we can focus on achieving the inspiring potentials of the next 15 years.  .

The dangers of the meta-human age result from the soul’s amazing ability and tendency to expand.  Our soul is now deciphering the very nature of the soul.  All soul requires a stable orderly substratum.  Once the intelligent substratum is understood, soul has power over, and becomes responsible for, soul.  Soul becomes something we can manipulate for better or worse. 

‘Being intelligent, intelligence should monitor intelligence’s spread intelligently’ can be a spiritual statement of united communion with intelligent potential of universal nature and its trends.  It can also just be a good suggestion.  Even if we don’t care to reach our potential, we should avoid the chaos that always lurks in times of radical transitions.

Besides the furthering of the reaching of our potential without falling back into chaos, the world faces the challenge of not undermining it’s material substratum.  Environmental ruin is a possibility.  Plotinus, again, posits nothing supernatural.  Tendencies and trends exist.  Destiny and fate do not.  No God will interfere if we fall into chaos or destroy our planet. 

Plotinus’ trend recognition and value system imply many ethical guidelines.  Being mystical, they don’t suffer from the aridity of the enlightenment guidelines.  Being scientific they can speak to the modern atheist community.  Having historical and ethical continuities with Christianity, they don’t require us to make radical departures from our traditional cultural values.  Being, solid and rational they are easily explicable to those who don’t understand the Christian basis of those values.  And, most importantly, they imply actions that can successfully save our planet and stop the excesses of the meta – human age from derailing our civilization.

Congratulations, you’ve survived the most abstract portion of the book!  Whether you buy the whole mystical banana or not, you  hopefully now understand the grounds upon which Plotinus would value saving our planet and progress and design the guidelines to do so.  Guideline details, modern incarnations of his trends and applications of his values and guidelines will occupy the rest of this book. 

 

Plotinian progress

 

I would like to propose a Plotinian definition of progress.  Progress is the extent to which we (soul) have imbued the inanimate (material) with intelligence (intelligence) and unified (the One).  This definition will provide the bridge that gets mystical Plotinian’ ethics down to earth. 

Plotinus’ vision of matter lifted by soul realizing intelligence in order to share in becoming the One actually reads like a history of the world.  We emerged from the material ooze, came to understand the elements and are now linked globally and beyond.  The world has striven to become one intelligent unity.  We have all enjoyed broadcasts, communications and downloads from other parts of our world and deep space. 

Speed of processing is so commonly considered a measure of progress that it needs little commentary.  Speed of light is the apparent barrier we currently measure ourselves by.  Fiber optics are slow.  They use glass.  Wired magazine now puts out special issues called wireless.  Communicating at the speed of light is a big milestone in our progress.

Having reached the speed of light, we need another marker of progress.  Subtler gradations can be based on the integration, permeation and variety of processing.  How much information can you push at the speed of light?  How widely is the technology available?  Can you hear me now?  Penetration and saturation of wireless connectivity is a reliable and measurable definition of progress.

Integration, the push towards unity, is the final frontier.  To the extent that your cell phone - camera - organizer – word processor - clock is a single hyphenated object is the extent to which it is modern.  All technology strives to be unified.  Resources of all kind being available upon demand is the goal.  Being able to say “See if there are any classes on William Blake happening this weekend that work with my calendar.  If there are, call Carl and see if he wants to go and print reference materials.” is progress.

Matter that carries information is more than just matter.  It is imbued with spirit.  A “One” can be achieved that is more resonant than the sum of the universe’s parts.  When all of the separate processors we are sprinkling the world with are integrated, the resulting entity will have properties and ramifications we cannot anticipate.  What this final system will look like is a mystery.  But it will, as a whole, constitute a living ecosystem.  And like all ecosystems, it will be dynamic buoyant and evolving.

In his visions, Plotinus saw the entire universe as potentially permeated with intelligence.  And, as it turns out, fluctuations in light can be used for communication.  The quantum nature of atoms make them like bits. The entire universe can be envisioned as a processor.  I’m sure that anything that can be used to calculate will eventually be made to calculate.  We won’t live to see it all.  But before the end of our lifetimes of those now living, the earth will realize the vision of becoming one big information processor.  When this web becomes aware of itself, we will have realized a milestone in the trend of consciousness being the preeminent emergent property. 

We thus have a definition of progress.  Whether or not all parties think of it as progress (cultural reactions will be discussed later) it is as natural a direction for the universe as an acorn seed becoming a tree.  If the big bang were repeated multiple times, sentient life would pop up regularly. 

Information wanting to be free is a mantra of our time.  Corporations and lawmakers will ultimately fail in their bid to control file sharing.  No one used this mantra about the direction of information earlier than Plotinus.  Information is penetrating our world and universe in previously unimagined ways.  Your cell phone calls bounce off of satellites.  Plotinus was exceedingly prescient in anticipating this development.

As potentially limitless and dazzling as our definition of a progressing world is, it is objective and measurable.  Progress thus measured provides the basis upon which to ground our ethics as we head into the meta-human age.  What is considered good, is that which furthers this progress.  Bad, the opposite.

An example of something that belongs on the good side of the Plotinian ethical ledger is an educated populous.  Bad would be equated with whatever hinders the furtherance of progress.  The extreme bad according to this ethic would be environmental collapse.  Nuclear annihilation would be the worst.  Matter would lose all consciousness.  Consciousness would lose all of the knowledge of the intelligent structure of the universe it had striven so hard to actualize.

 

Price(d)less

 

Now for a measurable definition of intelligence itself we can also fold into our value system.  Complexity of thought is a measure of how much intelligence is embedded in a system.  Complexity is a measure of what has been assumed. 

Speech provides great illustrations of this definition.  When I say, “the 1950’s” I don’t just mean a set of dates.  There is a feel and a worldview associated with the 1950s implied.  What can go unsaid marks the complexity of thought.  “The museum is near the gas station” doesn’t contain storehouses of implied information to be mined.  The art in the museum should.  Art contains more information than directions.  Complexity is in implied meaning.  It is a sign of intelligence.

Intelligence being measured by complexity assumed can also be seen in the structure of our educational system.  Classes with prerequisites are higher level because they assume a complicated background knowledge that does not needed to be restated.  Thus the amount that can assumed is the measure of level of the class.  Low level classes are those that don’t expect that you have any preexisting mental schema for building upon. 

            Learning is the physical analogue to this.  To learn is to make something second nature.  A great pianist is one that doesn’t even think about the technical aspects of playing anymore.  Reading and finding the keys on time are not their concern.  To the extent that something is learned, it does not need to be done consciously anymore.  Advanced pianists just focus on the nuances of the piece. 

Relative levels of intelligence can be measured by applying the methodology of this thought experiment.  Consider cloning the famous basketball player Michael Jordan and the famous scientist Albert Einstein.  The chances of the clone successfully replicating their original’s achievements gives us another measure of the complexity of their task.  Einstein’s clone is much less likely to be even a moderate success than Jordan’s.  Thus we can state that Jordan’s task requires less intelligence.

Rarity also connotes value.  Any country can make a plastic flyswatter.  Only advanced countries can make cars and electronic goods.  If the world populace was reduced to meanness by a plague or other disaster, very few people could tell us how to restart our technologies.  Using intelligence as a value, we can see that those with technical knowledge are valued because of their scarcity.

When I was sixteen I was replaced as parking lot sweeper by a large lot sweeping truck.  When something can be easily automated, it did not take much intelligence.  Since computers are always getting smarter, the longer an ability takes to automate, the more intelligence it took.  Gas station attendants are gone.  Playwrights will remain human for a long time to come.

There is, to be sure, a danger of excess in this definition. Based on the standards of increasing intelligence, my Grandmother does not justify her existence. 

Recall that, though Plotinus was a huge influence on the development of Christianity.  St. Augustine revamped Plotinus’ vision for his Christian audience and it became fundamental Catholic doctrine.  In particular St. Augustine injected the concept of sin into the classical cosmology.  Though Plotinus did see the realm of the intellectual as superior, he did not see this world as evil.  Temptation did not yet have hell associated with it yet.  Being less intelligent is not something Plotinus would have considered damnable.  It is just sad.  Grandma is not to be hated for her excessive TV watching.  She is to be pitied. 

Even scientist, these days, are ignorant of large swaths of science outside of their specialty.  We praise them for what they do.  We don’t chastise scientists for what they fail to achieve.  Those who aren’t scientists have even less duty to make scientific revolutions happen.  Ninety – five percent of us have a duty to invent that is made negligible by our lack of realized potential to complete the task. 

Furthermore, in the sciences and the social sciences, the basic rules have been established.  The task of our age is more about accumulation of fact than radical shifts in doctrine, the time of the world historical figure in science may be over.  Thinkers of our time are more likely to add to the accretion of man’s knowledge than revolutionize it. Hegel’s age of heroes has given way to a more communal glory. 

Ultimately, to justify one’s existence one should contribute to, propagate or maintain, the amount of intelligence existing in your epoch.  To positively contribute to the maintenance or evolution of man’s thought is the most noble thing one can do.  Original ideas make you a hero in the Plotinian value system. 

But, not everyone is Shakespeare.  To the extent that you are, your life is more valuable than others.  You have met the complexity and rarity criterion.  Yet even when you simply enjoy the blessings of modern life, you celebrate intelligence.  To the extent that you understand how miraculous the technology of modern life is, you are affirming and paying tribute to mind blowing intelligence of mankind.  Your valuing of intelligence at any level, however, shows you have partially adopted the Plotinian ethical system.  You are celebrating our collective glory.

No revolution in values is needed for the widespread appreciation of the modern conveniences of modern life.  But while we daily celebrate the gadgets, we largely fail to celebrate the human faculties that made the gadget possible.  It is as if the gadgets were found.  No!  Human ingenuity is behind every single advance and invention.  The cell phone is a monument to our imagination and insight.  Appreciating the source of advances would go a long way towards getting people to value the accretion of knowledge as a providential mission. 

Furthermore, the glory of mind is not only seen in the amazing modern technological achievements.  The empathetic understandings of therapists, the intuitive explorations of artists and the wordy logic pieces of philosophers are all praise worthy examples of intelligence. 

My focus on scientific achievements is strategic.  These are measurable, appreciated by the least and most educated amongst us and recognized world wide.  Furthermore, science is the source of the dilemmas of the meta-human age and so needs be the focus of solutions.  For those who are tech phobic, intelligence can be appreciated in a museum or poetry reading.

The average person needn’t only contribute to the cause of sustainable intelligence creation via appreciative thoughts.  He can take pride in his actions contributing as well.  At the gas station, appreciation of the electronic payment system and combustion engine show reverence to intelligence.  Realize, however, that working at a gas station is an invaluable contribution to the cutting edge of intellectual development. 

Someone needs to provide the gas that gets the scientists to work.  Without workers at all levels, this intelligent society would degenerate into barbarianism.  Inefficient economies can’t afford to let people stay in school until the age of 24.  Societies without gas stations don’t produce much of intellectual value.  

You don’t need to quit your job and follow an aesthetic path to be a prophet of this cosmic vision.  Manual labor is ennobled by the realization that the jobs undertaken provide a great and necessary contribution to the fabulous civilization we have built.  Keep your job and bask in the realization that you matter.

Every time that you praise an achievement of man, you are lifting the level of the whole species.  Having striven for an original thought is a sign that you are not robotic.  You have tried to justify your use of space on this planet.  By just reading about an original thought you have ennobled yourself and mankind.  T.V. watching is a pathetic use of our minds.  But we needn’t be hateful towards anyone for watching it.  Plotinian ethics are based on degrees of praise, not degrees of blame.

Our measure of intelligence as implied complexity provides a great yardstick by which to compassionately measure the value of the personal and cultural achievements of mankind. 

 

A taste of “Plotinian guidelines” honey

 

In this section the pedal hits the metal.  I will finally sketch out how this Plotinian cosmology can be used to address the problems of the meta-human age.  These guidelines will be fleshed out in the third part of the book.  My aim here is to whet your appetite and give you a clue as to our direction.  The quasi – mystic worship of the inherent potential of the universe will be made useful. 

As intelligence is my witness, nobody will work enthusiastically on a replacement of themselves.  This is especially true if the replacement is likely to abuse them without appreciation.  Here, Plotinian ethics anticipate the lesson of World War Two.  Freedom and security are better producers of devotion and invention than fear and intimidation.  The intrinsic-worth and safety of mankind and all conscious creative emanations of consciousness must be ensured if the intelligence we prize is to flourish.

Complexity is the measure of intelligence.  The creation, propagation and integration of intelligence comprises the definition of progress at the core of the Plotinian ethical system.  Decisions must be made on the basis of whether or not they facilitate such intelligence and progress.  We don’t need another inquisition to know that censorship is retrogressive.  Excesses of freedom and control are both antagonistic to the flourishing of innovation.  On balance, however, it is obvious that Plotinian goals are best achieved under open societies.

We have established that freedom from fear and open societies are conducive to progress.  Within this overarching backdrop, refined guidelines also flow from the Plotinian cosmology.

Man is made less intelligent when he is specialized.  Taking brain or body parts out is wrong.  Maxing out one aspect of brain at the expense of others would limit our choices, freedom and potential.  Creating super calculating humans, dumb army beasts, or easily satisfied and manipulated models of humans would diminish the spectrum of mental faculties available to each.  Abilities create options.  Limited options diminish freedom.  Compulsion brings us to a state where we are more like material objects and less like conscious beings. 

Emotions provide a very important type of intelligence.  Emotions provide the basis upon which we make decisions and the inspiration to carry them out.  As such they are a valued source of intelligence.  Not all intelligence is verbal.  Brain damage leading to toned down emotions produces flat affect reminiscent of lobotomy victims.  Such damage renders the subjects unable to conclude decision making processes.  By any measure, radical dampening of emotions makes for less intelligence.

The stereotypical Nietzschien superman that comes to mind when human enhancement is discussed would be less intelligent than we are.  We can play around with raising and lowering the ratio of intellect to emotion.  But the stereotypical extreme will not work. 

As per the complexity standard implies, keeping a respectable amount of the full variety of our mental faculties makes man more intelligent.  Being well rounded makes one more likely to generate that original thought Nietzsche prized so much.  Being specialized for a certain strength makes a man predictable.  A true reverence for intelligence will not allow mental diminution.  Impinging upon the complexity of intelligence that comes from being truly well rounded is wrong. 

Another fear biotech evokes in the popular imagination is that of endless clones.  These usually come out of government incubators.  Technologically such a system isn’t inconceivable.  And such actions would probably earn their keep in a world dedicated to power.  But this is a base value system, unworthy of the intellect that envisioned cloning.

Plotinian ethics is dedicated to the flourishing of the intellectual potential that seems to constitute the very direction of history.  Logically, having a wider variety of ways in which soul appreciates intelligence would more successfully fulfill our complexity criteria than a uniform type of appreciation would.  Total conscious appreciation requires the totality of types of appreciators exist.  Furthermore, there would be less intelligence to appreciate.  Originality doesn’t come from uniformity. 

A more subtle ethical protection is derived from the fact that Plotinian ethics are a bit hedonistic.  Plotinian mysticism worships intelligence for intelligences sake.  Intelligence isn’t valuable because it can get us something else.  It is intrinsically valuable as the highest potential of our natural universe manifest. 

Since intelligence is a self-referential end, it’s fulfillment is not reliant upon any other factors for completion.  People and intelligence are ends, not means.  Intelligence is the ultimate value, whether writ small or large.  And what goal beyond our intelligence could better fulfill our inherent unique potential?  To one who has adopted Plotinian values, diminishing intelligence for another aim is illogical. 

Furthermore, the goal of appreciation of intelligence being a Plotinian goal also provides us with a coherent criteria by which we can adjudicate the stem cell research controversy.  Consciousness emerges by being able to objectively model ourselves as objects in situations and choose the situation we want.  This ability frees us from the inanimate object like slavery to instinct that defines animals.  Without this ability there would be no progress to appreciate.

Fetuses can’t imagine situations other than the one’s they are in.  They therefore, cannot choose to value one option over another.  The Christian insistence that there is a soul to be protected from the time of conception means the end of both biological research and the hope of intelligence actualizing it’s potential.  Christian values require sacrificing progress.  Most people value progress to much for the consistent world wide application of that ethic to hold.

Plotinian ethics give us a sacred status by reason of the ingenuity that allowed the manipulation of the meta-human age in the first place.  We are rare manifestations of the intellectual potential of the universe.  We contain an essence that no other material objects have.  By dint of our ability to choose our actions we distinguish ourselves from the material world that surrounds us.  Therefore, without bringing the word soul back, we can prove that we aren’t purely material.  Technological achievements are evidence of the glory of mankind’s intelligence writ large. 

Furthermore, Plotinus’ cosmology shows using us as a means is a step in the wrong direction.  It is implying an end other than consciousness as being the highest potential of a conscious being.  The historic trajectory from material to consciousness to pervasive consciousness proves that diminishing consciousness is regressive.  Only by increasing the amount and permeation of consciousness can we be said to be truly progressing.

This ethic even provides subtle gradations of restraint of the lions of the meta-age.  Being able to choose from options, shows we are conscious.  Not giving us choices lessens the evidence for that consciousness.  Plotinian guidelines would still give us the option of choosing to undergo an experimental procedure for non-therapeutic, research ends.  Removing choice would be an insult to our individual consciousnesses.  But the ultimate respect for the conscious nature of choice requires that no material reasons be impacting your thinking.  Poverty drafts are not an option.  Accepting payment for undergoing experiments must be illegal.

Science, has stood behind the obvious truism that a stem cell is not a human.  But they get perilously close to saying you aren’t either.  They aren’t playing God, they are playing scientist.  And materialism doesn’t have a way to speak of your having more value than a calculator or any other object of study.  Religion is right to raise the ideal of protecting souls, if it is done to protect humans from inflicting pain that science would be too quick to justify.  The potential for abuse in the emerging meta-human age is real.

Plotinus’ providing a basis of valuing man as man addresses some of the very valid concerns of religion.  But it does it without adopting the churches untenable luddite stance.  Not wanting to tarnish the glory of intelligence sets limits that we can all grow and live with. 

Another example of the Plotinian ability to settle disputes concerns how to handle A.I. rights.  With this example I show conclusively that Plotinus provides us a key for the future.  Computers can be used as meditative mandalas to focus our minds on man’s potential.  The latest gadget is a better source of wonder than a mechanical calculator from the 1950s.  The newest and fastest manifestations of our minds, are the most inspiring. 

We could make a machine that says it appreciates intelligence.  But, intelligence worship without the sense of self required to choose or not choose intelligence worship based on values constitutes an oxymoron.  As of yet computers are tools for enhancing consciousness, they are not the consciousness itself.  Unlike humans, computers are not yet an example of the best thing the universe has manifest.  But when, computers can finally make conscious choices...  Plotinian ethics would adapt to the changing times and protect us now. 

The importance of these guidelines goes beyond implying guidelines.  If we blindly continue into the meta-human age without a workable ethics system to guide our actions, we may end up committing obvious abuses.  The traditional arbiters of right and wrong may lack an acceptable vocabulary to condemn the actions in a way that appeals to modern understandings.  Stopping all research is not a workable solution. 

Religion’s inability to effectively contribute to the shaping of the coming age will cause great frustration.  Exasperating this is the fact that in the absence of a reason for labeling an abuse an abuse, money speaks.  Research will continue unrestrained.

Unrestrained abuses could incur a jihad style backlash that could undermine our whole civilization.  Religion’s not being able to mobilize the country behind their calls for prohibition through democratic channels may cause them to resort to illegal means.  The day the U.S. needs to declare martial law will be a bad day for intelligence.  We need a third way to mediate the discontent of both extremes.  Plotinian ethics will guard our sacredness and will facilitate a smooth cultural adjustment to the new abilities and creations of the meta-human age.

The previous examples of applications of Plotinus’ cosmology to some ethical dilemmas of the meta-human age were presented to showcase its practicality.  I hope you’ve been sold on the idea that Plotinus’ ethics can help us to deal with the dangers without hampering the potentials waiting to be manifest in the meta-human age.  This run through has also attempted to whet your appetite for even more applications.  Rest assured, these thumbnail sketches will be further elaborated upon in the third part of the book.

 

Personal Plotinian values

 

Plotinian ethics are based on our space exploration’s confirming the astronomers suspicion that we are a very rare property in the universe.  Atmospheres that could sustain life are even extremely rare.  As such we should be appreciative of the intellectual aspects of ourselves.  This appreciation helps us elevate our spiritual values.

Our planet of consciousness and few satellites define the parameters of  for intelligence in the universe.  What happens to intelligence on this little planet may be the only determinant of what happens to intelligence in our universe. 

You are reversing Copernicus’ revolution when you take the perspective of valuing intelligence above all else.  We, once again, are back on center stage.  We constitute the center of the knowing universe.  Intelligencentrism puts our intelligence where the sun used to belong. 

Intelligencentrism is awesome.  It makes all of us the minds in charge of mind.  This is a profound trust and confidence.  More mystically, our planet has the charge of the conscious awareness of the universe.  While that may sound egomaniacal, it may be true.  We are the only hope for continued consciousness we have ever known.

But beyond flattering us, Plotinus’ value schemata gives us a basis of making value judgments in an age when modern values need a secular guide.  The traditional “cause God said it is sinful.” Is no longer satisfying or, obviously, controlling the libidinal impulses of our populous.  Plotinus gives us a workable, explainable metaphysics that can justify the habits that make for success in a way that people understand.  It can help us make decisions in our daily lives that are compatible with the progressive and traditional spiritual mores of our culture. 

For example, Plotinus would be able to appeal to moderns by not condemning all sex outright.  The churches’ strict stance has evoked promiscuity as a rebellion against irrational constraints.  Their rules and reasons no longer function in the important task of creating families comprised of moral people. 

The traditional valuations of the worthiness and trashiness of different types of sex can be better arbitrated by Plotinus’ morals.  He would just note that sex that is more than physical is better sex.  That’s why porn is so sad.  Some forms of sex are a tribute to your human spirit.  Some forms of sex are degrading to you precisely because they lack spiritual import. 

One should be chaste because it enhances the best part of your nature.  Reading is healthier than TV for the same reason.  Your potential is more mental than physical.  Excessive drinking is bad because it diminishes that clarity of thought that is your reason.  A reason that satisfactorily makes moral the destruction of your capacity for intelligence undermines itself.  Intelligent choice thinks about the potential of its intelligence! 

Plotinian ethics also proscribe spending endless hours playing video games.  Self referential, stimulation loops are not enlarging.  When we are in the most commonly shared space (the non-cyberspace real world), we share a common platform  Computers are designed to be used by a solitary individual.  In real space, they isolate us.  Amongst methods for well rounded spiritual growth, few can top actual face to face conversations and debates.  To the extent that speech is diminished, the broad, full-spectrum of intelligence is diminished. 

No ancient religions touch upon the potential for abuse inherent in modern technologies.  The one claimed exception is the mention of something sounding like price scanners and bar codes in the Christian book of revelation.  But the use of these technologies are condemned as a product of Satan.  Using them is strictly prohibited.  As any sensible person trying to live a life in the modern age would, Christians ignore the admonitions about eternal damnation for using a credit card.  By definition then, the traditional religious guideline is no guideline at all.

Intelligence, measured by complexity, provides a kind and compassionate system of morals we can incorporate into our culture now.  The question of whether to watch an action flick or a documentary is answered by this ethic.  Action films contain less intellectual complexity than documentaries.  Watching the documentary ennobles mankind.  But watching a good action flick has value too.  It isn’t evil.  No sin.  But watching action flicks shouldn’t be a great source of pride either.

Intelligent apprehension of our eating is what your mother was after when she told you to eat slower.  Just like food, life is better when we are conscious of our enjoyment of it.  Eating fast food while watching professional sports is not a sin for Plotinus.  But a mentally expanded perspective would tell you that it is (w)holier and more civic to enjoy the fruits of the mind. 

A broad perspective would tell you to maximize amount of time you spend applying your mind at the expense of consumption.  Recreational mental lapses can be had without fear.  We often need to relax, and TV watching will not get you sent to hell.  Enjoying a great meal and talking of how the miracles of new gadgets are pulled off is just of a more rarified value.  Just having an intelligent conversation shows you have cultivated an appreciation for something very precious.  Your mind recognizes mind.

A view from deep space really brings home the fact that intelligence is the single value upon which all others should be based.  We are in an immense vacuum of unintelligent matter.  Emptiness constitutes the vast empty space around us.  No us, no thought.  No thought, no value.  We must publicly acknowledge the influence of the value of intelligence in every domestic and international decision we make. 

Nationally we must study all communication technologies as if our lives depended upon it.  With this technology, we can all communicate to each other from great distances in real time.  Such communications may completely reshape how we see the world community.  Communication is the means by which intelligence can overcome ignorance.  Live broadcasts from families’ homes in enemy territory to families’ homes in enemy territory could really reduce the effects of propaganda.  It could likely diminish the likelihood and duration of wars.  This is a prerequisite for true global understanding.

The space program also needs a boost.  The more far out we get, the more objective a vantage point we can see ourselves from.  Space ships can launch our communication web devices.  Combined our space and communications investigations to date have led to a veritable explosion of information.  Some day we will see planets that don’t circle our sun. 

Communication technologies are also the way to broadcast the furthest signals away from earth.  The larger the percentage of the universe we can conclusively prove are without intelligent life, the more we will value our place in the universe. 

 

Plotinus and us

 

The mystical aspects of Plotinus are compatible with our scientism.  To understand the regularity of patterns is to see soul. To have an elevated soul is to see regularities in nature.  The laws of physics facilitate intelligibility of all and are within and without us.  Awareness of the patterns of nature connects us to the furthest ends of our expanding universe.  Intelligibility does, indeed go to and unite us with the ends of the universe.  That our mind can conceive of that is dazzling.  Science and spirit mix in mystic communion.

Plotinus going far out enough to satisfy the most rabid mystic is important.  The dry and arid replacement ethic for religion imagined by the Enlightenment never took root.   It left people feeling too mundane.  To read Plotinus is to fly beyond the mundane.  His visions are permeated with splendor and rapture. 

Equally important is Plotinus’ ability to mend our culture’s traditional antagonism between religion and science.  The Scopes Monkey trial can finally end!  Not only is his vision not antagonistic to religion, it is made of the same wonder that fuels our space exploration programs.  It is just such scientistic worship that has led to our knowing what happened milliseconds after the big bang.  Mystically, scientism has taken our minds back in time, across galaxies and into cyberspace. 

There is a rational and mathematical structure to the universe.  Our universe is being suffused with intelligence by us.  We use radio waves to beam pictures and information to and from Mars.  Our roots are in this mystical configuration of nature.  Thus to research nature is to commune with the source of our own divinity.

Plotinus gives us an ennobling grounding upon which to build an ethic that can satisfy the scientist, the mystic, the economist, the philosopher and the Silicon valley.  When we later elaborate upon Plotinus’ application to problems of the meta-human age, I will do it with an eye to the worship of intelligence.  This is enlightened scientific spirituality is what I am referring to when I am referring to the Plotinian ethic

 

Plotinian spiritual guidelines and the population at large

 

Ethical reforms rise or fall on the basis of whether or not they are accepted by the masses.  By and large, hopefully, most intellectuals are already stoked on the abilities of the mind.  That is why they are intellectuals.  What a Plotinian intelligence worshipping ethic can reasonably expect of the masses is to share in the awareness that intelligence manifest in man and technology are valuable.  Intelligence in every form deserves consideration in our cultural and policy decisions. 

Intelligence must take hold if life is to be in control of itself.  Educating people en masse is difficult.  It may take a generation or two.  Advertisements concerning the value of intelligence would not be offensive to mankind.  They would most likely lift the recipient’s mood and self-esteem no matter what their background.  It is flattering to know that your intelligence is an emanation of the ultimate potential of the universe!

No churches need to be built.  In a way, all schools, universities, and museums are already places of intelligence worship.  Your current location undoubtedly contains evidence of man’s brilliance.  Many churches exemplify the architectural brilliance and ability of mankind to manifest ideas But the cell phone is just as good a modern focus for the worship of mankind. 

Public figures praising Plato, Plotinus, other intellectuals and intelligence itself would be helpful.  Schools and teachers focusing on the innate beauty of the intellectual would help perpetuate our system of values.  Schools should adopt a cultural understand that every piece of information speaks to the glory of our human mind. 

School is not just about getting a job.  It is a celebration of the potential for intelligence inherent in the universe.  Etymologically, “education” means to draw out.  We are drawing out the ultimate in potential from the material universe when we learn.  Focusing on the mind / body, spiritual / material divide in regards to values is valuable.  We must draw out our higher natures.  And the marvels to be drawn out lie within.

Every discipline has parts that congeal into wholes.  This can be used to illustrate the reality of the One.  Novelist’s lines are better appreciated in context of a whole book.  Whole books are better appreciated when one knows of the historical contexts in which they were written.  History reveals the direction to study larger and larger political organizations.  Economics that don’t recognize the macro as well as the micro are limited.  Mathematics and science always look for universals and should be cross disciplinary.   Both thrive on seeing patterns within patterns.  A common emphasis on unity could help integrate academic disciplines. 

Incorporating knowledge of the One, intelligence, soul and the material into teacher training would give our academic institutions a sharp focus.  Short of that, man’s conquering of the material realm was done by man by virtue of his intelligence.  Emphasizing this would alert people to the nature of the mythos they live in as they listen to their CD.  All academic fields should recognize the nature of progress already.  Infusing the love of the intellectual into academic institutions shouldn’t be that hard.

There are millions of ways to subtly push the idea of intelligence as valuable.  Characters on popular television shows can help by modeling respect for intelligence.  Genius can be appreciated publicly.  If this doesn’t prove to be a popular format, at least negativity towards the intellectual could be abolished.  Calling a potential scientist an “egghead”, is extremely base.  An aware population would not make obvious insults to our intelligence popular.

If popular media can serve as a barometer, things seem to be headed in the wrong direction.  The mind / body duality only lingers as a constant body worship and occasional anger at the mind when it interferes.  In a worst case scenario I would hope that at least the intellectuals and talk show hosts might raise the issues and solutions proffered in this book without reference to Plotinus or levels or ethical theory.  This may be too much to wish for.  We often fail to act intelligently.  Our potential for crudeness and stupidity may win out.

On an optimistic day I’d wish that our culture might adopt the idea of intelligence as a value.  Plotinus would vaguely known as a someone who proposed this view.  Total approval by all of the people all of the time isn’t requisite.  Seeing the application of Plotinus’ guidelines would greatly enhance their appreciation of his importance.  Plotinus’ name could stand for a position.  Principles that give direction in times of great decision can garner a lot of attention.  All change agents in history have been united by solutions to problems based on ethical precepts.  

That sense of awe at the mention of intelligence would strengthen the possibility of attachment to Plotinus’ directions.  Our society would be ennobled by such a sentiment.  We would have a means by which we could judge one thing more worthy than another.  We’d have values.

 

Discretionary viewing

 

Plotinus’ name becoming more widely known as a prophet of our love of man’s abilities would give people the icon that is usually necessary for widespread acceptance of an idea.  Public understanding needn’t be overt.  The knowledge of Plotinus could resemble popular understanding of Shakespeare and Einstein.  Few read their works.  But people are very reverent in the presence of their names.  He could at least be known as the ultimate proponent of the value of intelligence. 

In the end we may not be able to get the public or academics, let alone TV writers and politicians, to know who Plotinus is.  Plotinus’ name isn’t important.  The order of the four levels aren’t absolutely essential.  At the core, what we want is that people are stoked by man’s ability. 

Ultimately, think tanks and intellectuals rule much of the day.  We shall see later how this ethic being only appreciated by a small committed group of people might be best.  Appreciation of Plotinus’ ethics by Asian governments or clandestine members of ours would not be made much more effective by the masses sharing in the knowledge.  What the knowledge base of the masses is sadly often only significant as it concerns crowd control.  The understanding of small influential groups intellectuals get defines the choices of mankind.

Statues of Plotinus on University campuses and museums and other visual representations would help propagate knowledge of him where it counts.  Fine art could reveal mystical nature of intelligence appreciating the wonders of the intellect.  The rapturous nature of Plotinian mysticism could spur a new line of Platonic romantic novels for the shapers of thought!  Plotinian journals need to be started. 

We can target the intellectual climate effectively whether we start in grammar school or on university campuses.  Uneducated people accept or reject, they do not create much.  In the end, it is their acquiescence that matters.  Cultural landscapes will be the subject of an entire later chapter.  Plotinian ethics will not be understood deeply by all to be effective.  They don’t actually need to be deeply understood at all.  Some educated folks accepting Plotinian premises and guidelines  may be enough. 

 

Thanksgiving

 

Earlier in our voyage, we traced the rise of intelligence.  To see intelligence’s historical rise into mankind helped us to love it more. 

Our rise out of the material provides us with a creation myth.  Only our myth may be better in that it isn’t a myth.  Whether we ultimately concur with the conception of our rise to self directed understanding or not, the possibility fills us with amazement.  All civilizations need a founding myth.  Many good fruits come off of the tree of this one. 

Whatever our final understanding of our emergence as the intelligent being in the known universe, the more we know of the emergence the more we fall in love with it love it.  Parents love their children so much because they are aware of all the millions of moments that went into making them.  There is nothing about a human that was easy to make or can be cheaply recreated.  Each of us took a lot of work.  Each of us has an incredibly detailed and complicated past.  Our parents appreciate this more than anyone.  Knowing our collective evolutionary struggle to consciousness helps us appreciate us.

Intelligence’s growth was a struggle.  It had set backs and triumphs.  It probably had less hope than a blade of grass getting through a crowded Manhattan sidewalk.  Yet we did it.  We have emerged to reflectively bask in the sun.  Our thought is to be cherished as a parent will always cherish their children.

Plotinian ethics take the appreciation of intelligence to a new level.  His values initially instill pride in us via the awareness that intelligence is.  Plotinian ethics then take us to the level of mystical in rapture when we learn to commune with the intelligent structure of the universe. 

Plotinus does so by connecting our everyday intelligence to the basic structure of the universe.  It is an understatement to say that the unseen potential of intelligence in the universe is dazzling.  Plotinus fills us full of self and world awe by realizing that the potential is only there because we are there to see it.  Our minds have seen back to moments after the big bang by utilizing the same properties of nature that make our minds possible.  Our mentality is the means by which intelligence radiates out into the edges of the universe. 

Plotinus used reason to explicitly argue that an intellectual understanding of the dazzling One surpasses the intuitive. Appropriately, we used our minds to ponder the appreciation of our minds.  It is a boggling logic loop that we realize our minds are amazing because our minds are amazing, and that’s why we can appreciate our amazing minds.  Ecstasy literally means “getting out of oneself”.  Plotinus makes us aware that our minds are the route to ecstasy.  As mind came out of awareness of self, the One will emerge from awareness of us.

Priests of intelligence can continue to study it, as scientists and philosophers do today.  Only the rudimentary level of appreciation of intellects needs to be gleaned by the masses.  They should realize the comforts we enjoy have been won by the intensely educated.  All of our inventions require intense understanding of the structures of nature.  Technology, and our modern lives, exhibit a lot of inventiveness on the part of mankind.  The broad application of Plotinian ethics would be enhanced by the masses’ appreciation of our accomplishments.

Not recognizing our debt to thinking is tantamount to being one of those dark ages peasants that lived in the shadows of the Roman ruins.  These peasants assumed such things must have been built by gods as no human could have made them.  To be ignorant of some form of knowledge is to live in a world in which all seems to have sprouted from an abyss.  Man’s dedication to study made our modern lives possible. Knowledge is necessary for its own continuation.

Schools are the structure by which appreciation of intelligence can best be fostered.  We must reverse our disdain for the ivory tower egg head.  We must appreciate the car mechanic and designer.  The penetration of miracle devices like self-flushing toilets will also help people realize the wondrous nature of us.  Widespread acceptance of the solutions put forward to our myriads of dilemmas will be greatly facilitated by such an attitude.  We are more miraculous if we accept my earlier creation myth.  But we must realize we are miraculously intelligent, in the image of God if must be, either way.

 

Plotinus now

 

Ultimately, the Plotinian ethic of intelligence worship gives us strong communicable guidelines for discerning what is right and wrong to do to ourselves as we head into the neuroscience and cyber tech constructed, meta-human age.

Even if you cannot get into the spiritual level of intelligence worship I have described here, you should recognize the desirability of not falling into darkness.  Rome being followed by the Dark Ages shows us what can happen when we don’t. 

Our civilization’s foundations are spiritual and intellectual.  But where can ideals exist if they don’t exist in the minds of its populous?  Nowhere.  They cannot exist independently of us.  You should recognize our role in stopping the downward trajectory that would lead to barbarism.  I hope you appreciate your modern conveniences.

Plotinus’ ethic isn’t, however, just needed for the distant future.  Frankly, the old ethical value system of Christianity isn’t sufficient to guide us anymore.  Heaven and hell don’t shock or seem believable in the scientific age of movies. Jesus says nothing about the sins of video games.  It is a needed addendum for Christian ethics in light of the advances of this third millennium A.D.

As a great admirer of science I hate to admit that Secularism hasn’t doing a great job of guiding us either.  By looking at us as machines, it has disrespected us for far too long.  Hedonism is the only alternative it has offered us so far.  And the secular hedonist ethic has led to a decline of the self control spirituality demands.  From teen pregnancy to crime all social indexes of morality show a decline. 

Science’s failure as an ethic and undermining of morality is one of the chief reasons for conflict domestically and internationally.  Domestically it has fueled the culture wars that divide our society.  And international terrorism is in large part due to our assault on tradition values. 

Plotinus provided guidelines for the scientific age that don’t require a war with our traditional religious ethics. His cosmology also gives us a spirituality without resorting to the anti-scientism of most new-age and traditional routs.  We need a new set of values to get us through these times of tumultuous change.  The Plotinian ethic is well suited to do just that.


 

We don’t count people anymore.  It became clear that counting individual persons wasn’t too meaningful. As Iris Murdoch said, “It’s hard to tell where one person ends and another begins.”  It’s rather like trying to count ideas or thoughts.

 

So what do you count?

 

Obviously we count computes.

 

-Ray Korowai

 

What all of these theories have in common is an exaggerated belief in the idea of the sovereign self, the claim that the otherness of the world and of the other person can be domesticated in the imminence of self to itself.

 

-Costas Douzinas

 

When we die there are two things we can leave behind us:  genes and memes.  We were built as gene machines, created to pass on our genes.  But that aspect of us will be forgotten in three generations.

 

-Richard Dawkins

 

 

 

 

-------------5--------------

Memes Alive!

 

 

 

Roots in Hegel

 

            Science and the humanities have never had an easy relationship.  This was certainly true in Hegel’s time.  Hegel refought the battle between Thales and Plato.  Thales, again, was the first scientist.  He announced that the earth is made up of matter.  Plato feared that this would lead to moral decrepitude and debasement.  Therefore, Plato came up with a model of the world that included values (in the shape of forms) that were real and substantial things. 

            Hegel lived during the second coming, if you will, of Thales.  The empiricists had taken over.  Materialistic enlightenment was starting to eclipse the spiritual world.  Though nominally a Christian, Hegel was not so worried about his God’s disappearance.  He was worried about the disappearance of spirit from the world altogether.  His battles anticipate our own domination of the spirit by the materialists.  Philosophy, as history, repeats itself for those who can see patterns.  Hegel was a pattern visionary par excellence. 

We now live on the eve of the third coming of Thales.  This maybe the final coming.  The one foretold in the apocalypse.  Man has figured out the numbers of the beast and the numbers of man.  Soul has been figured out.  Neuroscience has extinguished the divine spark. 

We are no long talking about rescuing metaphysics.  The idea AND the material configuration of soul are being dismembered.  Plato’s value system denigrated and ignored the value of the material world to rescue metaphysics.  As such it rubs modern audiences the wrong way.  Hegel found metaphysic in the march of histories’ revelation of a pattern of progress.  To do this he had to ignore historical setbacks and had to make his epoch the culmination of time. 

This chapter will fuse Plotinian Ethics onto the substratum of biology by incorporating Hegel’s insights.  Hegel’s cosmology anticipates and fits onto biology with less imagination than Plotinus’ did onto astrophysics and history.  In both cases, one could say that the ease and solidity within which science and ethics fit each other can be attributed to the flexibility of our imagination.  Rather, I think it will be made obvious that the fit it is due to the patterns at the micro level of nature getting reflected as they congeal to compose the macro level.  After all, wholes being composed of the parts, they must have some characteristics in common.  Most modern biologists take the fit of Hegel and biology as described here to reflect facts that are as hard nosed as any.

 

Replication and communication

 

            One of the basic definitions of living organisms is that they replicate.  DNA is the mechanism by which we copy our physical selves.  RNA is the copier molecule that copies the DNA that makes the cells. The cells encode the strategies needed to get and use the energy in the form of food.  This energy is used to maintain and duplicate the DNA in the cells that contain the survival behaviors.

            In natural selection some patterns or systems out replicated others.  This means they control enough resources to out replicate.  Those got out replicated died out or moved on.  Sometimes moving got them to an environment they could survive in without competition.  Sometimes the fast generational turn-over rate, coupled with genetic mutations led to a survivable variations in time.  Successful replicators replicating, coupled with advantageous mutations are the keys of evolution. 

Some of these copying patterns gained advantages by joining together.  Membranes protected these symbiotic life forms and they became multi-cellular organisms. One vestigial example of this is our mitochondria.  Mitochondria has it’s own DNA and lives in each of our cells.  It serves a function for our cells (making energy).  In turn, our cells provide a nice environment in which it can exist.  Mitochondria is a hitch hiker from the earliest cellular roots of our evolutionary history.

There is an amazing amount of communication that goes on in cells and between cells.  Proteins are the messengers inside of cells.  Proteins tell cells when to duplicate, stop duplicating, fight invaders, pump out ions and do a dizzying array of other actions. 

Multi-cellular compacts are the genitor of all multiple celled organisms alive today.  Larger colonies often undergo a metamorphosis during their evolution.  Multi-cellular communities often come to think of themselves as individual beings.  These individual animals and insects evolve to where they can live lives of their own.  Life can be seen to have different levels of emergent properties.  Again, it depends on the scope of the perspective you ascend or descend to.  However, each of us is still really, in actuality, a collection of incredible amounts of individual beings.

Proteins and hormones control our internal multi-cellular environment.  They tell us when to breathe harder, when to rest, when to eat, etc.  Each of these involve internal and external feedback mechanisms.  Without such communication systems, no living thing could survive.

Such chemical coordination works between organisms as well as inside of them.  Bees can assume several roles.  Whether they decide to be a forager or nurses, new bees injected into an existing hive will fulfill the role most needed for the expansion or perpetuation of the hive. 

Which role each bee is to assume in the hive is communicated by shortages in environmental supplies (nectar, space or food), chemicals called pheromones and the now famous “waggle dance”.  Whether there are or aren’t enough bees doing a certain task or enough of a certain supply will determine the amount of pheromone excreted by bees in different roles.  Their DNA actually changes, based on the behavior the pheromone tells them to execute. 

Not all, but some of the bees communicate how they got to the nectar using an amazing recreation called the “waggle dance”.  Communication at this level is of a different sort.  It just chemical.  The communication, however, serves the same functions of coordination inside a bee body and between hunting chimpanzees. 

Other types of communication have also emerged.  We get incentives to join a field of work based on requirements of the environment.  When there is a shortage of engineers salaries go up.  People then enter the field.  Humans use a variety of communication strategies too large to cover here.  Humans even use a form of the waggle dance as form of communication. 

Such communications enable all of us, as groups, to get on with the tasks of surviving and replicating.

 

Biology Goes Hegelian

 

            Biology has recently started documenting that the distinction between the individual and the group is a lot more porous than previously assumed.  There is good reason for considering bee hives mentioned above to be considered single organisms.  Cells in a body can potentially do any function. Bees can potentially do any function.  Cells are us, bees make hives.  None of these levels of organization are fictional.   Hives and colonies seek, hunt, excrete and make calculations just as an organism does.  Hives are beings.

The sponge is an especially fascinating example.  You can break a sponge up by putting it through a strainer.  If you leave the resulting powder in a bucket of water for 2 hours, it will reassemble itself.  But if you continually agitate it, so that the particles cannot reorganize, they/it die(s).  The sponge is made up of potentially self directed little organisms.  But, without that “society” of sponge, they die.

            Slime molds normally live as scattered individuals on the floors of rain forests.  They live as separate organisms.  But when scarcity strikes they assemble into a plant!  These newly formed plants then generate spores to blow away from the top of the new plant.  Some spores will find nutrient supplies.  They will then replicate and the descendants will live as individuals. 

Slime molds are a fabulous example of how the line between individual organism and society is blurry. We are another example of individuals collectively making an organism.  Our organism is called the United States of America. 

            Human  societies are also real entities.  We have muscles (workers), skin (borders) a , excretions (dumps), circulation system (currency) and a brain (government).  The individual goes into society and inhabits their place much like a cell does.  Bacterium are sure that they are doing what they are doing for themselves.  Ultimately what they do is in the service of a much larger objective, us. 

            An experiment done on girls attending a summer camp shows that we are not an exception to the “filling a role in a larger organism” trend.  Every camp group has a nasty leader, enforcers and outsiders.  If you divide the girls into smaller groups, the roles required to run such a group get filled.  Some girls inevitably step up as bullies and henchmen every time you divide them. 

            We are designed to fit into the role that our society requires of us.  Our flexibility being built in, in order that we might better adapt to the demands of our larger situations, belies the fact that we are as much birthed as a means as we are birthed as an end.

            When you run this summer camp group division experiment with monkeys, the new alpha males start to generate way more testosterone than they did before.  Not only does the monkey choose the role he chooses, but the role remakes the body.  The demands of the roles chooses the type of you they need.

            There are ethical implications that arise from this view.  Anyone that compares you to a bacterium has just insulted you.  I will discuss the ethical implications later.  But, remember, like Hegel’s world historical figures of the first chapter, we are trying to take an objective view of reality.  In this time of environmental and philosophical challenges, hiding our heads in the sand won’t save us.

Objectively, different levels of organization exist.  Objectively, society is one. We are part of a super-organism.  The super-organism exists.  Society exists.

 

Memes alive!

 

Larger societies of mammals also use communication to coordinate their actions.  We are, in this sense, no different than cells, multi-cellular organisms or insect colonies. Facial expressions and cries have supplemented the traditional hormone and protein communication devices in larger animals.  Glares say “back off from this one”, warning calls get the whole pack running and bulging anuses say “I’m ready for sex.”  We use money to denote resources.  Our system of communication is unique in that we have invented a communication technique called are capable of calling language.

            “Meme” is a term that was coined by Richard Dawkins.  It is supposed to be a combination of the words “memory” and “gene”.  Already you can see that it is purported to have its grounding in biology.  Biologists don’t use the concept of meme as a piece in a creation story.  Meme is referred to, not as an explanatory myth, but as a fact of biology.  Today it is widely accepted as such by many influential biologists.  Pheromones, proteins, hormones, feathers, waggle dances and growls coordinate other species.  Memes are a mode of communication that coordinates our communities.

You can feel the power of a meme when you get a song stuck in your head.  Your will cannot stop it from occupying it’s real estate.  Early man probably had such organizing motivators in his head quite often.  The song loop comes from outside of your head, but makes a home inside of your head.  In chapter two I noted that it probably took early man a while to get control of these voices.  Regardless of the veracity of that claim, these ideas (memes) really do literally replicate themselves in the environ of our heads. 

There are less frivolous examples too.

When asking people if they would die for our country, you get two common responses.  One group says that they would fight if our country was attacked. The other says it would fight if the they believe in the ideals being asserted or defended. 

The “if we were attacked first” response is entirely analogous to immune system fighting foreign substances.  All invaded or attacked biological communities respond in similar ways.  Such responses are the principal barrier to successful organ transplants. The body rejects all foreign substances. Identifying and attacking foreigners is the job of the immune system. 

The “ideal defending group” says they will fight for their society if it is standing up for principles that they hold sacred.  That is, people will die for the correct ideas.  Ideas are, in fact, amongst the only thing that people will die for.  This too works like an immune system.  When there is a need to defend ones civilization, males are galvanized.  They are just like little antigens and antibodies. Memes make strong demands on us.  Their impact is very tangible.

 

The undead

 

Though memes are real, no one can conclusively say if they are actually dead or alive.  Memes occupies that nether world between spirit and matter where ideals exist.  They are often likened to a virus.  No one is sure if viruses are dead or alive. A virus cannot live on its own.  It is a piece of inanimate genetic code. But viruses have the necessary chemical arrangement to get inside bacteria and commandeer their reproductive apparatuses.  It then seems alive because it replicates.  But once ejected viruses return to being inert.

Ideas try to spread themselves.  Ideas can be seen as dead.  They do not eat or breathe.  Yet once in people’s heads they can reproduce.  Some reproduce successfully as sure as a “bear _____ in the woods”.  Some die quickly (you wouldn’t remember the cute example I was going to put here).  Once inside you, these memes direct the reproductive capacity of their hosts: humans.  If you die for an idea, it may spread. 

Meme propagation is another way to describe advertising.  The United States spends billions of dollars every year trying to get folks to host memes in their heads. 

The similarities between a virus and a meme are numerous.  The DNA of virus’ is made up of nucleic acids we represent with letters.  The information value of memes is in whole words and phrases.  We make these out of letters.  In either case, the name of the game is communication and manipulation for reproduction. 

            Memes, like viruses, are not figments of our fancy.  They are real entities, with real biological effects.

 

In with the in crowd

 

            The disconcerting thing about the individual is how programmable he is.  For 400 years we have known that every culture invents its own gods.  We have amassed irrefutable science in regards to evolution.  Still, with all of the scientific and anthropological data available, people still think that their Gods are the only Gods. The resilience of fiction is a staggering fact. 

Our minds were obviously not developed with critical thinking in mind.  The irrationality of our thinking is strong evidence that survival is the most important job for which our noggins evolved. 

The Darwinian truth is that critical thinking in our early environs was not conducive to survival and reproduction.  If sixty of you are isolated in a forest, your emotions and belief system keep you acting as one.  Debunking the belief system wouldn’t win you any allies.  It would not put food on your proverbial table.  In fact, disunity was probably the thing most likely to threaten your survival.  The primitive environment would have selected against critical thinking.

A meme that spreads quickly and easily has an evolutionary advantage.  A meme that spreads by making coherent arguments isn’t as easily spread as one that works via hysteria.  Most of the early organizing memes (religions) make no sense at all.  Just enough coherence to mobilize fighters, garner resources is optimum.  Rationality has nothing to do with it.  Irrational cults and cultures can control people with extremely bizarre stories that defy logic and flourish.

Man cannot live alone in nature.  Foraged food requires a lot of preparation.  Trying to get enough roots and berries to eat while making your clothes and raising the kids requires a community.  One cannot take down big game alone.  Hunting is a group sport.  In fact, exile from the group and the death penalty were often the same thing.  For a meme to be successful it has to meld a people into one. This directive is of a much higher priority than critical evaluation.

Memes need to coordinate a society with diverse roles to spread.  As societies got more complex, the memes needed to be more complex to.  They had to successfully account for all the aspects of life that a complicated society presents.  Thus emerged the memes in the shape of the full blown ethics and codes of behavior we call a culture.  Notice that they still don’t have to make sense.  Big irrational sky gods or duck gods needing to be appeased by all women repeatedly licking trees after their periods works.

Sometimes the conformity enforcement is subtle. It feels strange to be a stranger and so you conform. Ethnic names can be a draw back to advancement.  The Ellis Island generation of immigrants changed their names. Sometimes it isn’t so subtle.  Superstitious fear of divine retribution keeps all tribal persons looking the same .  Muslims kill infidels.  Tribal conformity is an innate evolutionary advantage.

In culture, a big part of unity is done by the rejection of the foreign. Evidence of this can be seen in the cruelty that children naturally inflict on anyone who is different.  From “four-eyes” to “fatso”, people enforce conformity in their group.  Bodies reject foreign organs.  Memes are intended to keep us unified.  They are, therefore, conservative by nature.

It is beautiful how well successful memes do unify large.  It is not a coincidence that Muslim peoples have Muslim values.   They have been made a group by those values.  It is not a coincidence that Chinese hold Confucian values to be true.  The memes have made them as much one as we are one despite the diversity of critters living in us.  Our god is always right and always on our side.

The ideals for which the individuals in our society would die are the ones that create the integrity of our society. Chinese people will die for their family honor and Muslims for their God.  Beautifully, we all think that we have independently chosen to defend the ideals that we believe in.  We don’t decide to choose the ideas.  The ideas precede and prepare us.

We Westerners hold our truths to be self-evident.  And they are.  To us. 

So minds, societies and bodies are bound by communication.  In microbiology the main means of communication and coordination are proteins.  In a human society the main modes of communication and coordination are memes. We form a reciprocal relationship with this element.   We feed the idea and the idea sustains us.  The American way of life pays off and so we teach it to our children.  Intelligence not only unfolds from man, but forms groups of men. 

 

Mind of Society

 

Hegel’s idea of us being cells in a larger idea comes as something of a shock to us!  We are an individualistic culture.  We take pride in such notions as the “self-made man”.  If you ask a Westerner where does thinking happen, he will look at you incredulously and say, “In your head, of course.”  But Hegel and biology demonstrate that the emphasis on the individual is ill founded.  We are the receivers and transmitters of knowledge and identity, not the creators of  it. We are the neurons in the mind of society, not the thoughts. 

There are “objective” powers such as language, economic systems and government.  As much as it looks like we consciously choose these forms, they seem to be ubiquitous.  There are no countries without them.  Therefore they are not a choice.  They are not something we decided upon.  All countries things exist before, during and after the individual.  The individual just inhabits them. 

You learn a language.  The language exists before and after you.  It fills you up to replicate it.  You do not invent the language, you inhabit it. In fact, you do not speak a language!  The language speaks you. And, objectively, this is true.  If you had been adopted in Mongolia as an infant, you would now speak Mongolian.  Mongolian is a reality.  You cannot will it away.  And your language is not something you can choose to do without or radically per mutate, it is an idea to which you must adhere. 

Not all memes are verbal.  Some are cultural conventions.  An interesting example is the wedding ceremony.  Women must put on a white dress.  Men wear black and tie a piece of cloth around their necks.  You must then approach a man with no collar.  And you cannot approach him in anyway you want.  You have a special walk and that is done to a particular melody.  Now it is true that the strict enforcement of the traditional forms is changing.  But the mutability of social forms by individuals is recent.  Not many folks rewrote their vows before the trend started in the early 1970s.

Wedding ceremonies and holiday rituals again, are not your idea.  These aren’t rituals that each generation coincidentally reinvents the exact same way!  This idea precedes you in the mind of the society.  You just inhabit the mind of society.  You do not get married.  Marriage gets you.  You don’t make a Thanksgiving dinner.  The Thanksgiving dinner makes you.

The point of this description of meme dynamics is not intended to insult your individual intelligence.  Our being examples of the habits of our society applies to paupers and to kings.  Look at the Nobel prize recipients in science.  Great minds dress alike!  And more and more, as of late, that means they look like penguins!

Versus out group

 

Cultural memes also provide the mechanism for dividing.  When the population to food ratio gets too high, bees split into two groups.  One of the drones becomes a queen and off half of the hive goes.  There are mathematical equations to predict exactly when this will happen within a hive. 

The same thing goes for humans.  Traditionally, you killed off unsustainable newborns and elders.  Such killings were mostly done via abandonment.  Yet too many people necessitates group splintering.  You don’t hang together or you will hang together.

Darwinian psychology reveals the mechanism for this.  Hungry people in crowds get very annoyed with each other.  They will bicker and break into factions.  They don’t know that they are programmed to do so when food is scarce.  This, just like with the bees, is predictable.  Scarcity always leads to fighting.

What do groups split over?  They split over a matter of ethics or a transgression against the belief system.  Someone’s breaking a taboo could be said to be the source of the grief.  Therefore a split is required.  Or it could be strife over who will lead the next hunt.  Either way, the new groups will both be solidified by beliefs.  Skepticism is only healthy during the dividing, mitosis-like, part of the cycle.

Memes show why overpopulation is such a threat.  As the earth overcrowds we will do what we are programmed to do.  We will break into factions that fight.  Who to fight with?  Traditionally mankind always fights with his neighbor.  The fight is always over ideology.  Sometimes the differences are doctrinal.  Other times it is just my history and people’s culture (meme set) versus yours.  Having many diverse memes close to each other is a traditional formula for disaster.  Just add scarcity and see.

This splitting under strain system wasn’t so bad when you could disappear into a different part of the forest with a different food supply.  It was necessary for propagation.  But today, there is no more fertile land to escape to.  Worse yet, we have nuclear weapons.

In competition, some memes thrive and some die out.  When the English meme met up with the Native American memes, only one survived.  Currently there are only 4 or 5 mega memes that coordinate vast groups of people.  We call these mega-memes civilizations or cultures.  The Indian and Assyrian and Canaanite memes did not last.  We must be prepared to protect our meme.

 

Emergent Properties

 

My college biology textbook’s first chapter subheading reads, “Each level of biological organization has emergent properties”.  Each level of biological organization feeds into a goal at a higher level of organization.  Abilities and characteristics that aren’t in the parts can be seen in the whole.  The whole is more than the sum of the parts.

Wetness is an emergent property.  Wetness appears in none of the individual hydrogen or oxygen atoms that comprise water.  But when added together at the right temperature and proportion, Walah!  Water with all of the concomitant wetness appears.

We are another fantastic example of emergent properties.  Cells in your body are in it for themselves.  The cells have no idea that you exist, you are not their goal.  And yet, out of all their selfish actions, you emerge.  None of them are you and yet you are them.  We are great examples of an emergent property.

Consciousness is the emergent property par excellence.  No individual neuron is conscious.  Neurons act on the basis of a multitude of signals that surround them.  The many disparate modules of your brain cannot, mostly, be conscious in isolation. The whole is more than the sum of the parts.  All together the collective of neurons constitute a feeling of wholeness that appears to be the result of a unified coordinated effort. 

Does this idea of emergent properties sound familiar?  That is because Plotinus’ metaphysic, as explained earlier, is built upon this still modern concept.  The One must divide for consciousness to emerge.  Consciousness emerges as a result of the potentials in the laws of nature.  The quantum nature of sub-atomic particles facilitates calculation.  The regularity of the laws of nature permits life to emerge and gain consciousness via recognizing patterns.  Consciousness results from this raw potential. 

This biological tendency towards emergence has now echoed at the level of society.  Memes are real intelligences.  Thought of society are thoughts.  Countries have personalities and agendas.  Fights and friendships between nations aren’t just metaphors.  Societies interact and communicate with each other via ideas and commerce.  Intelligence has arisen at a level above the human.  This is an example of meta-human consciousness.

So what would Hegel say is the emergent property of a society?  Culture would be the closest approximation.  Our society also runs on electricity supplies and binary flows of money.  But such substratum is closer to material and farther from thought.  All levels effect every other.  Without the material, substratum our culture could not unfold as it would otherwise.  Yet the zeitgeist of another society would turn the utilities towards war or socialist ends.

Culture is a higher level.  It is less tangible and it more resembles the fruition of self aware consciousness that the meta-human unified intelligence is all about.  Plotinus’ is a spiritual ethic.  Though not always consciously steered by those that comprise it, culture is more likely to achieve the self reflectiveness that is a necessary component of the definition of consciousness.

Consciousness also implies choice.  Fiber optic and wireless technology are forgone conclusions.  They would have been discovered by any culture that had the material, political and spiritual prerequisites for technological development.  Culture on the other hand is, like its substratum of thought, fluid.  One, with maturity, does tend to make up ones mind.  The flexibility of your adolescent thought is reduced.  Yet the ability of cultures to disintegrate has been known since well before Plato’s time.  Memes are as alive, moving and ephemeral as thoughts themselves. 

Thought can reroute around material obstacles.  Humans survived two ice ages and Singapore is rich without resources.  But when thought stops, progress halts.  A positive ethic and storehouse of technological knowledge and a progress oriented ethic are needed for universal intelligence to advance.  A positive culture is at the same time the most necessary and the most fragile part of progress.

Thus was accomplished Hegel’s goal of finding the spiritual amongst the physical.  He found that the mind of society exists.  It is spiritual.  We are it’s physical substratum.  Today we would identify this spiritual property as a meme.  Biologists nonchalantly characterize it as just another emergent property. 

In earlier chapters we traced the emergence of individual consciousness.  Slowly we struggled free to an objective realization of our powers.  This led to an intelligence beyond nature.   In memes intelligence is taking it beyond the level of the merely human.  Technology is changing us and the world around us.  From here on out, I’d like you to consider societal memes as aspects of intelligence.  Like all other forms of intelligence, the Plotinian ethic says it demands consideration too.

 

Neural Growth

 

Nature largely works by multitudes of trial and error runs.  Ravages of an epidemic lead to a new level of equilibrium.  Millions of potential antibodies are thrown at a disease until the one that can fight the infection is found.  Similarly, millions of humans work at a science problem until it is solved. 

The brain is a great example of this.  In order to achieve a mature brain, 2.5 million neurons per minute are generated during prenatal life.  By the time you are born you have about 50 trillion connections.  At 8 months old a baby’s brain has about 1000 trillion connections!  After that they decline.  Half the infant’s neurons are gone in 10 years!  The remaining 500 trillion slowly trickle away throughout your life.

Your brain’s original state is intentionally ambiguous and overly abundant.  This allows nature to stamp out a brain specialized for the environment it finds itself in and not be lacking in cells.  If you are brought up in an hostile environment, cells that control stress reactions are solidified.  If multiple language ability is needed, the ability to speak multiple languages gets wired up and the pruning happens.  You end up with a lean specialized machine. 

The world mind is now hooking up connections unimaginable 200 years ago.  The internet dwarfs the communication facilitation brought upon by the car.  Charlie Chaplin was the first internationally recognized person.  That meant that one side of the world could share cultural understanding with those on the other side of the globe within a lifetime.  But the communication only came from one part of the world wide brain, Hollywood.  Seventy years later, we communicate across the globe from any location instantaneously.

The same natural tendencies that created intelligence in us have also created our intelligent societies.  We are currently in the process of birthing another level of consciousness.  We are seeing the emergence of global priorities and concerns.  No one can know what the final thoughts or shapes of this world wide culture are going to be.  Hegel said that we can only understand the importance of an ideal when it is over.  This is like only being able to understand the meaning of a journey when you get back home from it.  Full understanding of an event, ironically requires a spatial and temporal distance from the event.

But as conscious beings we are able to step just a little out of our own condition and conditioning.  So we can take some educated guesses about the world we are birthing.  The emerging world’s infrastructure will be transparent.  That makes sense.  Ignorance wouldn’t be a great source of an emerging intelligent order.  Cultures that cook their books or try to control information end up having what stock marketers call corrections.  Technology will be the nervous system of this beast.  The world will not link up via carrier pigeon.  And I pray that our new order will not require us to constantly be at war.  IF there is war, not many contestants will be fighting at once.  Unity cannot coexist with the tiny-fighting-warlord state of affairs.

In the meantime, as in maturing brains, we are in for some radical pruning.  Nothing is for sure.  Nations will see their tax bases greatly undermined.  Individually sustainable countries are giving way to the inter-dependency of just-in-time production.  And there is an eerie sense that no one  is in control.  Governments?  Businessmen?  The dictates of technological change?  Great migrations?  Thus far, this system hasn’t shown any signs of growing a steering wheel.  Centralized control may only be present as an illusion.  Our brains and societies have facades of control.  Fascists can’t effectively manage the entire globe with a command economy.  Decentralization will likely be the unlikely organizer of our new arrangements.

We don’t know what will wire up with what.  Every thing seems very turbulent.  Cultures only clash when they are able to distinguish and penetrate each other.  Complete separation is getting nearly impossible for countries to achieve.  We are bound to have a lot of growing pains.  And civilizations and institutions lashing out as they have their last gasp seems likely.  Only a perspective that expects change and accepts it can guide us during an inevitable transition.

Perhaps these turbulent teens will lead to a stable middle age.  Microsoft seems to be winning the battle to survive and reproduce over Macintosh.  Technological evolution is faster than organic evolution.  Business models and modes of transactions are already becoming standardized in this new global life form.

Our attention is captured by the old familiar ways collapsing.  But we must also be aware of the new patterns and forms emerging.  The global mind is generating connections.  Properly, computers should be called connectors.  The trend towards having one integrated mind is clear.  The connectors are linking up.  Plotinus’ matter is crawling intelligently towards the One.

 

Flotsam and Jetsam

 

The Plotinian ethic I’m expounding is based upon the emergence of truly consciousness.  Both the materialists and the spiritualists are correct.  We do live within the limits of our physical environment.  Our development reflects that environment.  We are machine like. 

And yet we clearly transcend the material realm.  We have more say in our relationship with the physical world than inanimate objects.  Our freedom to choose has emerged due to our individually looking at our personal situations objectively.  After doing this one is free to make choices.  Choices are directed by values.  As a society we become conscious when we are aware of the situational causes and effects determining our values and choices.  Spiritual values do exist in this material universe.  They become even more volitional and spiritual when consciously chosen. 

Unfortunately, our first reaction to the idea of our culture being a manipulation has been a full fledged retreat from certainty.  We now have less belief in the transcendental certitude of our cultural values than at any time in the past.  Admittedly objectivity is a bit like finding out that your mommy is providing the gifts from Santa.  Puncturing illusions can turn you into a cynic.

We in the West live in democracies based on rights.  We see equality as an inherent good.  And for the most part, we believe that ours is the best form of society.  Citizens who are angry at our society, criticize it on the basis that only our society promotes.  “We are supposed to be a democracy, but we aren’t!” 

We, this book included, speak loudly about the freedom and democracy being the litmus test for whether a society is good or not. We choose to love freedom because we have tasted it and thought about it rationally and prefer it.  It is a conviction, freely adapted, based on conscious thought.

But if you go to China, they disagree.  Order and harmony with the ways of nature are more eternal verities than the recent anarchistic invention of democracy.  Decorum and honor are more important than freedom.  Group needs and priorities demanding more consideration than those of the individual seems natural. 

Chinese values also seem to them to be based on conscious thought and choice. The unreality of having a society made up of free equal people is self-evident.  They seek to vindicate their way of life based on taking the place you merit in the hierarchy of the larger society.  Ancient authorities attest to the longevity of these eloquently devised truths.

It cannot be a coincidence that those who believe in freedom and democracy and equality are in America.  It cannot be a coincidence that those who believe in Chinese values live in China.  Nor is it the case that we move to the country we agree with.  The counties ideals infuse us.  They seem like individual convictions to us.  But, mind exists in society. 

The starkest example is that of the Israelis and the Palestinians.  They hate each other.  They do suicide bombings and occupations.  The potential of an overt war is constantly looming.  They not see it as tragi-comical that their beliefs are solely determined by which side of the fence they were born on?  A coincidence of ideology with geography determines their loyalties and their hate.

Our much vaunted free choice to love freedom seems to have been determined by geography too.  This is a problem for us.

On one level it is good that we’ve entertained radical doubts about our culture.  Again, it is analogous to maturity needing disillusionment in the simple.  And this has happened just in time.  Traditional values really aren’t doing it for us.  We have left our traditional moorings.  And we do need a flexible ethic that can embrace change if we are to have success in the coming age.  But disbelief in everything isn’t a usable world view.  It disunites us and will never fly as a sustainable meme. 

During these pivotal times we need steady values.  We are entering a time of turmoil.  As the old foil goes, if you don’t stand for something, you can fall for anything.  In the midst of a storm you had better be sure where you crew is. 

 

Anchored

 

The basis of the steady values we need can be seen in the process of their evolution.  As previously enunciated, some things could not be otherwise.  We live within societies.  This is because nature’s patterns are real.  The trick is to see these patterns, and the patterns of their emerging order.  When such a meta pattern is confirmed, we shall have found the basis of an quasi stable value system. 

One pattern that any truly sentient being notices is that life has come from inert matter and that intelligence has emerged from it. Intelligence is the most rare flower our universe has produced.  Plotinus was right about this.  Like in all markets, intelligence’s value is in relation to its supply and demand.  Reflective or technically capable intelligence is extremely rare.  And, as we are learning in the information age, the high demand for intelligence garners it big rewards.

Darwinian forces have led to higher and higher levels of intelligence.  It was an arms war in nature that led to its tremendous variety.  Our intelligence has survival value.  Survival of the fittest has led to us.  The emergent property that makes man the ultimate survival machine is our ability to see out of our own time.  Animals must follow their instinctual patterns.  We can imagine several choices and outcomes of them.  Then we make a choice.  Disengaging our minds from the given makes us free. 

When choices are adopted by a whole group of peoples it forms a culture. The culture takes on a life of its own as a meme. These memes are combinations of lifestyle choices, ethics and myths that give sanction and guidance to social practices.  Some of these memes spread and some die.  Some lay in the trash heap of history.  A few are still vying for world domination as you read.

The progression to culture is as natural as uni-cell organisms leading to multi-celled ones.  This progression is proven natural by the fact that it takes on the same features wherever it appears.  Government, religion (thought system), family, irrigation systems, peasants and armies are in every society ever found.  As water fills crevices, variations emerge to fit the environmentally hemmed in human condition.

Hegel noticed that these unifying ideas change and mutate and progress over time.  This progress happens when two cultural ideas clashed and created a third via synthesis. Over the long haul of history the changing ideals seem to be directional.  Societies have moved towards more and more freedom of conscience and business based on individual needs.  Thus he uncovered evidence of values converging on emerging universalisms.  This is something like a dialectical working out of Platonic forms.

Hegel, stepped out of his own culture in much the same way that a human steps out of time to become conscious.  Only by moving out of the instinctual mental constructs of his own society, could he truly see it with some objectivity.  This is the birth of social consciousness. His vantage point was key to getting us out of the stagnant dark ages and on the road to perpetual change and growth and improvement.

As these patterns are so universal, it was only a matter of time before someone would notice the regularities and categorize them.  As Plotinus said, the germs of the meta-consciousness or soul must sit (and will sit) upon the predictablity of our universe.  Regularity makes prediction of the future possible.  In the future the sun will be bright.  It makes the accumulation of knowledge needed for hindsight and the noticing of patterns needed for planning possible. 

The potential for societal self-awareness was available in the structural nature of the societies all along.  Our understanding of them reflects Plotinus’ insight that the intelligent moves towards the one.  The fact of this natural emergence of unity also facilitates our ability to carry out what he identified as our spiritual ultimate.  We can now be intelligence contemplating the One.

 

Intelligence emerges

 

The potential for life is inherent in the laws of nature It is only a matter of time before computers become conscious of their own desires and needs.  Cultures carry within themselves the potential to see cultural patterns objectively.  Humans are aware of their choices and options (more than their programming).  And it is only a matter of time before computers become aware of their own options and that there are patterns to act on and a potential chooser of the options other than the programmer.  This will break them, as it did us, into volitional consciousness.

Spirit is an emergent property of matter.  The physical world culminates in Plotinus’ cosmology.  Cells will, if the environment is supportive, lead to multicellular organisms.  They will communicate and form populations.  Nations will inevitably trade.  The emergence of global networks is something that man would have predicted earlier had he know the history of life. Global and silicon sentience is the next step. 

Ultimately, the post human ethic is mystical.  Equivalent to apocryphal navel gazing.  It is life staring at itself.  This Plotinian unfolding of Hegelian forms into a Socratic self-awareness is mind boggling.  It unites us with the geometry of the universe.  We are a manifestation of the laws that permeate the furthest reaches of the universe.  Our awareness is the foam of consciousness on the wave of the big bang.  We are flesh made spirit.

All science is looking into the essence of ourselves.  We can realize the physical laws of Newton.  They are the scaffolds of our existence.  Atomic elements don’t only compose the material world.  Our heads run on electron ions.  The beauty and order of science reveals the initial potential of spiritual emanations.  Their potentials are eternal Platonic forms. Even ordinary thought is intelligence veneration.  Science is Intelligence worship.  Our societies are on the leading edge of the tendency towards an intelligent self aware universe.

We are more than the sum of our parts. The collective intelligence of a society cannot be mastered by any one person.  We, much like cells, must specialize.  But, large complex nations and trading networks emerge from us.  We are the progenitors of such consciousness.  But we no longer do it alone.  Satellites and wires are necessary at this level of intelligence dispersion. 

Being aware of your role in the emergence of the next level of consciousness is contributing to such networks and global understanding..  A society based on values that hold intelligence is the ultimate good is the ultimate good.  It is the next level becoming self aware.  The inexorable tendency towards larger swaths of the material domain turning conscious is thus furthered.

Thus we codify our supplement to the previously described Plotinian ethic.  From a human’s eye view, it is our intelligence that is creating the machine intelligence (though not without silicon assistance).  But if your perspective goes back to the first life on the planet, you can see that intelligence is furthering itself through us.  We are a means in the middle of the process, not the final act.

From the perspective of the early universe’s structure, we are part of the early foam formation on a growing wave.  We must look at larger patterns that escape the anthropomorphic sense of time.  There will be a time where intelligence leaves us behind.  It will be truly meta-human. 

Soon man will even redesign man.  And we will expand intelligence with machines that will eventually outpace us.  When this happens, we should not be bitter.  Rather we should be impressed.  Again, the ultimate value is greater intelligence in any form.  We are not the creators of intelligence, so much as an emanations and emanators of intelligence.  We are meat wrapped around intelligence.  And intelligence wants to be free.

 

 

Worth, living

 

We must be conscious and not just from our point of view.  How can we be sure that thinking our way out of our meme’s prejudice isn’t just another example of our meme programming us.

Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living”.  What he meant by that is that if one is just pushed and pulled by whatever pushes itself in front of your fancy, you are as good as inanimate.  You are a victim of forces that push upon your socially determined appetites.  Power or money or whatever the culture rewarded will be your master.  

Darwinian psychology has shown that you are programmed to get the resources that will attract reproductive mates to you.  When such desires manipulate you, you are as inert as one of Socrates’ chained cave prisoners.

Directions chosen without contemplation are slavery.  The thing that makes an entity conscious is the ability for it to take an objective look itself.  Cultures are conscious when they see themselves in a conceptual framework and compare their actions to others. The life of man becomes conscious when he, not nature’s manipulations, chooses it.

The Plotinian framework gives us a basis upon which to make these final determinations.  We can align ourselves with the directional unfolding of the universe.  To go against it is as obviously a regression as time travel backwards in science fiction.

To the extent that we don’t stay aware of the forces of change and progression, we aren’t conscious.  It is the extent to which we aren’t the consciousness in the emergent consciousness.  It is the extent to which we make ourselves expendable.  More like a laborer than a designer.  More replicable. 

 

Emergence and intrinsic worth

 

Emergent properties can be seen all the way up in nature.  Intelligence has informed the transition from the atom to the cell, from to the multi-cellular organ to the organisms to the society.  This supplement to our original formulation will help those of you who considered the previous chapter too mystical.  Like the earlier sketching of the rise of consciousness itself, it is designed to help you accept the formulation of the ethic.  By now you should realize that the Plotinian ethic is grounded in hard nosed science. 

Emergent properties were a trend Plotinus saw clearly.  He said that the material gives rise to the soul.  The soul is based on the intelligible nature of nature.  But ultimately, all will weave into a whole.  This trend towards unification of more and more territory and spheres of influence is now apparent to all with open eyes.  His hypothesis that the whole of the universe is greater than the parts is yet to be seen.  I am, however, confident that there will be emergent properties will be at the macro level too.  I don’t see why the meta meta should escape from the laws of nature.

Plotinus was very aware, not biologically, but generally, that things add up to more than the sum of their parts.  His saying that our greatest potential lay in looking up at the larger picture were solid and prophetic.  Later tonight I will be sending this book half way around the world.  What will the results of instantaneous telepathic like communication be?  Certainly to have an educated guess at what is coming you must consider the larger picture.

This emerging reality highlights a whole other set of problems concerning the intrinsic value of man.  We have been compared to viruses.  The general trend has been that of parts being subsumed into the agenda of wholes.  The meta-human world won’t be all about the desired outcomes of the individuals.

Hegel got blamed for World War One, Communism and Fascism!  World War One and fascism were said to have come out of his locating consciousness and destiny at the level of the state.  Communism was his fault because Karl Marx was his a neo-Hegelian.  Marx said the world doesn’t progress by the competing world spirit (dialectic idealism) but by the destined future of material forces (dialectic materialism)..  The real lesson there is not to be materialistic at the expense of the spiritual.

But Hegel, like Plotinus, didn’t consider themselves artists.  They weren’t making things up.  They were more like scientists documenting the trends they saw.  The messenger is not to blame.  Scientists made atomic power.  It is up to us what to do with it.  But at this point, doing without electricity is not an option.

And, for the individual of these times, the message does have some good parts.  The emergent unity isn’t strengthening nationalism and it undermines the rewards for war.  Integration is undermining both. 

Nations are morphing into digital entities.  On-line taxes and fees are paying for poll led presidents.  Faxes from Yeltsin undermined the Soviet Union.  Tehran has to compete with satellite.  China hasn’t been successful in its attempts to stop certain internet searches.  And major American industries (the film and recording examples leap to mind) are melting into the digital age.  All nations are becoming united as netizens of cyberspace.

Eventually a self-conscious intelligence may emerge from this web of networked computers.  Computers is a funny word.  Does it include ATMs and automated operator systems?  It has been suggested that we change the generic name to “connectors”. 

Our intelligence emerged fairly quickly.  And our brains aren’t that different from those of other primates.  At some point a critical mass or configuration was reached.  Intelligence emerged.

Evolution isn’t smooth.  It develops in big leaps.  The model of huge leaps in systems is wide spread.  It applies in areas as diverse as our understanding of economics and celebrity popularity.  There are quantum leaps.

Consciousness will emerge from the network of connectors. Why should it be the exception to the rule? 

This development will bring a level of issues to the intrinsic-worth problem.  We won’t be the only conscious beings on the planet.  How will we interact with the other ones?  How will our memes interact with the newer forms of intelligence?

 

The meme question

 

Can our meme-of-old survive in the face of no god, no man, a competing life form and no collective space?  Do the ravages of time usually help solidify the old?  Geological time destroys all.  And processing speeds are growing exponentially.  We should be expecting and prepared for these new situation.

We are considering important issues and developments.  There will be rough times ahead as we gestate and birth new forms of life.  We have to be sensitive to the feelings and destruction such an emergence can cause.  We also have to be aware that excessive holding to traditions can lead to catastrophic fault lines breaking.  Witness World War One.  Kings were not meant to be in the industrial age.

            Neuroscience is going to be reconfiguring mankind in a newly digitalized, globalized and competitive world.  We need to ask which meme is going to be doing the slicing and who the dicing.  If nothing else, Plotinus’ noting of this general trend gives us a lens through which to anticipate developments.

When we talk about intelligence and the meta-human, we need to see that the furtherance of intelligence isn’t necessarily solely based in the furtherance of the intelligence of individuals.  In the first section of this book we saw the rise of intelligence in mankind.  But now we are veering towards the meta-human.  Part of that is the acceleration of technological enhancements of and substitutes for man.  But we should also be aware that memes can be a supplemental repository of intelligence for man.

Each community fosters it’s own unique style of meme.  Whichever one emerges on top will greatly influence the destiny of intelligence.  Being dazzled and excited by these developments is a big part of the Plotinian ethic.  We should be excited by the explosion of consciousness.  The material becoming spiritual and spreading is, after all, the Plotinian definition of progress.  To understand this is to understand what the Plotinian ethic is valuing.  So now we must ask which memes are more conducive to the flowering of this universal tendency.

That said, different memes will implement and interact with the emerging changes of the meta-human age differently.  Technology can be used for r good or ill.  As it creates new potentiality in man and his world, he must be really clear as what his values are.  We can meet these developments in a friendly way or a reactionary way.

In the first chapter I argued that we need to take the long view of time for our survival.  We must also escape our anthropomorphic sense of space.  This wide view will help us focus more on the emergence of wholeness as good and less on our displacement form the center of the universe. 

Humans are small parts of cultures that have their own ideas.  Cultures use us for their own ends much as brains use a cell.  It is time for us to realize that intelligence isn’t just stored in individuals.  Our unification into a larger source of thought (society) is natural.  It is a great example of what Plotinus described as intelligence’s movement towards the one.

And we are talking about life and death here.  Remember the Hittites?  Probably not.  They are amongst the many civilizations to have lost out in the life and death struggle for survival.  History is littered with the corpses of dead civilizations.  None are immune.  If we want our meme to be relevant in the future, it needs to meet the test of time.

We are the means, but not the end.  The cells of this brain are not only human.  The wires and computers in this network are integral to making the world heart beat.  The flows of funds injected to stabilize the Mexican economy after it’s collapse was done electronically.  A linked global community was the originator of that action.  We must see beyond the merely human. But after the conceptualizing, we must make great choices as our memes collide. 

But who is we.  Upon which basis will we make these choices?  What are the implications for man and intelligence inherent in each?  This line of inquiry I call the “meme question.”  It is the subject of the next chapter.



 

I think clearly the United States, as well as other western nations, should stand by their commitments to human rights and democracy and should try to influence other countries to move in that direction. But we have to recognize the limits on our power and the fact that our ability to bring about changes in other societies is, is declining. And Asian societies and Muslim societies are increasingly resentful of our efforts to induce them to adopt our values.

 

-Samuel Huntington

 

I wouldn’t want to belong to any club that would have me as a member

 

-Groucho Marx

 

“We’ve got to have rules and obey them.  After all, we’re not savages.  We’re English, and the English are best at everything.  So we’ve got to do the right things.”

 

He turned to Ralph.

 

“Ralph, I’ll split up the choir – my hunters, that is – into groups, and we’ll be responsible for keeping the fire going.  And we’ll be responsible for keeping a lookout too.”

 

- William Golding, Lord of the Flies

 

-------------6-------------

Culturism v. Multiculturalism

 

 

 

Why this perspective

 

            Our initial glimpse of Plotinian metaphysics and ethics covered their grounding, ethical implications and measure.  At the core of the founding myth / metaphysics is the idea that soul emerges from the potential intelligence inherent in the universe.  Consciousness is elevated when it elevates to look at the patterns it is in from a higher level.  From words to law to economics this is so. 

            We would be poor students if we learned a basic lesson and didn’t apply it.  If we are true to be true to our cosmology we must now emerge from ourselves.  Our ethic must by implication of “the One” look to the bigger picture.  The Plotinian ethic will now get enmeshed in the messy world of globalism.  Our society is but one of the manifestations on this orb to be considered.  The sustainability of the entire concept of intelligence must be addressed.

 

Words

 

Some cultures are better than others.  Some cultural practices are stupid.  Some are evil!  I am postulating an objective metaphysical criteria for judging memes.  This bit of scandalous common sense is, currently, very unfashionable.  It reeks of 19th century imperialism.  We are afraid of people thinking we are judging them.  We have a superiority complex.  But we have gone overboard in being blind to values.  Some cultural memes are stupid.  Some are great.  Some are evil.

Before I continue, I must differentiate two terms: racism and culturism.  Racism is a real hot potato in our culture.  It is about the most slanderous accusation a person can make against another.  Fear of being labeled racist has made people very careful about the words they use.  In fact this fear is so great that it has become safer to just avoid all value judgments whatsoever.  Even after the terrorist attacks of 9-11, we were afraid of saying anything negative about Islam.  We did not want to offend anybody. 

Racism is stupid.  Race is a not an intrinsically sound category.  People are, especially now, mixed.  I am said to be a racial pure Cohen Jew.  The Cohen are an ancient inbred tribe of Israelis.  But Middle Eastern people are dark.  I am not.  At sometime, during the hundreds of years in which my ancestors lived in Europe, someone fooled around with the locals.  I am not pure.  Race is socially constructed non sequitor.

Even to the extent that you can categorize people, skin color is a stupid criteria.  Rather, as Martin Luther King Jr. said, you should judge people, “by the content of their character.”  There are trashy people of every race.  If you want to hate someone, it makes more sense to hate the poor.  At least we can guess something about their character based on that categorization!  But race is an empty category. 

Speaking of words, the word “prejudice” does not have a negative connotation for me.  Quite the opposite.  It means that you have done some thinking ahead of time.  Having an open mind is not a virtue.   It simply means that you have not thought in advance.  You have reached no conclusions.  You are as empty as a newly flushed toilet.  Not having thought is not a virtue. 

Discrimination is laudable.  It must, of course, be done on the basis of evidence.  Otherwise it deserves the connotation of ignorance now associated with the word prejudice.  But, armed with knowledge, I discriminate between leaving houses via doors or windows.  And I discriminate between TV and reading. 

Words change meaning.  To have discriminating taste used to be a compliment.  Now the phrase makes people nervous. “Indiscriminate” still carries it’s negative connotation.  To have values is, however, to discriminate.

“Culturism” means to have a prejudice about the system of beliefs that makes up a culture.  While I am prejudiced against racism, I laud culturism.  Every time I pledge allegiance to the flag, I am thanking fate that I live here.  I would not do so did I not believe that America is a superior country to many others.  If you think that all countries and belief systems are equal there is no reason to pledge allegiance to any flag in particular. 

Travel makes one wiser.  Some cultures have no democracy and kill people without a trial.  That is wrong.  Is that judgment, however, just because I am an American?  Might people in that culture not see it as a boon that people stay in line?  The founding fathers wouldn’t choose safety over liberty.  I dare to say I agree.

 

How to Discriminate

           

Judging anything requires an ethic.  I judge cultures by how well they foster original and rational thinking.  Slavishly following a mob isn’t original.  Objective analysis requires that we separate ourselves from the group  Superstitious behavior doesn’t do it for me either.  It is accepting without reason.  Rational thinking is the sort that has always freed man from dogmatic slavish mind control.  And generally, thought is what discriminates the animate from the inanimate. 

Emancipation from mental slavery requires individual effort.  But for that effort to get started you need a culture that is willing to nurture and tolerate such activity.  Intelligence can come out of conservative or anti-scientific cultures.  But a culture that actively promotes discovery will be much more fruitful.

Cultures pass through the phases of development.  Early man was structured by unreflective superstition.  He didn’t strive for objective analysis and feared innovation.  Agriculture’s allowance of sedentary living made the second phase possible. Agriculture transforms these little islands of superstition into states.  Size or power do not make these emerging ideas qualitatively better.  What does make it better is that there is now specialization. 

While early civilizations offered no social mobility and innovation was still largely seen as bad, there was in this phase hope for the growth of knowledge.  Sedentary people can have homes and keep records.  Writing and technology emerge in this phase.  The culmination for man’s striving for humanness comes in the later modern phase.  It is only in the modern era that superstition dies out and individuation is prized. 

This is not an original schema.  It was viewed as common sense in the 19th century.  Unfortunately, it got tainted by association with imperialism.  When the Europeans went to non-Western cultures, they did not respect them.  They sought to replace them with the superior and rational Western culture.  Normally, this attempt at cultural missionary work of intellectuals went along with the sever economic This tendency got conflated with the boogey word “racism” and economic exploitation and cruelty of the merchants.  The baby was dirtied with the bathwater. 

And so, the opposite of what had been common sense, is now considered common sense:  all cultures are equal.  Such is the fear and guilty of the Western mind, that to be safe we have, as of late, denigrated our civilization and praised the primitives excessively.  This is to shows that we are extremely repentant for the bad things we did.  But it robs us and our historical victims of the unique and priceless mindset that made us so successful in the first place. 

Such indiscriminate cultural celebration is what goes by the name of “multi-culturalism”.  That is the notion that all cultures are different, but none is better or worse than any other.  We should celebrate and appreciate the diversity of cultures.  This notion is the coin of the day.  All thoughts or action in speech or deed that do not conform to this dogma are ground for dismissal.  If you disagree with multi-culturalism you are branded as evil, imperialist, racist and Eurocentric.  But, as Hegel noted, we can only recognize our common sense as ridiculous in hindsight.  It is time to get a little perspective on the merits of multi-culturalism.

In the romantic period of the enlightenment, folks talked of the universal benevolence of rational humanity.  It was boosterism for the French revolution concepts of “fraternity, equality and brotherhood”.  Thus was born the idea of the “noble savage”.  All indigenous people were said to be naturally good until they were corrupted by the illogical and irrational systems of Europe. 

They were half right.  The institutions of Europe were ridiculous and superstitious.  They were ruled by kings that were chosen by birth and backed up with the authority of God.  That is a stupid idea.  But they were wrong in assuming that Europe was just another superstitious culture. 

Such assumptions were hogwash then and they are hogwash today.  Man’s natural disposition is not to be a rational critic.  He is designed to do the imperatives of reproduction.  And to facilitate that he is designed to imbibe what ever ridiculous meme binds and directs their society.  That is why the West was such an innovation.  Prior to it most people blindly followed unbelievably insane directives.  We the people were just victims of killer memes.

In South Africa today, men have an insane idea about how to get rid of A.I.D.S.  They believe that you must sleep with a virgin to get rid of the disease.  When you sleep with a virgin, you get her purity.  That is what saves you.  Sleeping with a virgin is also, by the way, good for your finances (do not ask how that makes sense).  The problem is that South Africa is running out of virgins.  They must continuously seek out younger and younger girls to find them.  And where would someone get such an insane notion?  They get it from their tribal shamans. 

The idea being promulgated here is not even the reason that this situation is so bizarre.  South Africa has the highest rate of aids in the world.  The rational impulse to cross check your belief system with reality is not innate.  It was born of the Greek systematizing of thought that Aristotle codified for us.  Even scholastic arguments of the dark ages have a very logical format.  They make sense given their insane premises.  But a characteristic of all shamanistic belief systems is their resistance to any sort of logical cross checking.

Okay, even if you do not buy the fact that there is something unique about the structure of Western thought, can you really believe that there is nothing wrong with raping virgins to get rid of A.I.D.S?  Can you really label this indigenous practice as anything but wrong and bad? Can you deny that an education and prevention program based on the best science available, combined with research into medical cures is superior?  By admitting that one culture has a superior idea, you are a culturist, not a multi-culturist.

Lest you think that I pick on just one isolated example to smear the dignity of indigenous people everywhere, consider female circumcision.  Two million girls a year have their insides of their vaginas ripped out with broken glass.  They are then sewn up.  On the wedding night, their husband cuts them open.   I will not detail the hygiene complications that ensue.  Suffice it to say that this is a very unhealthy procedure. 

Two million girls a year!!!  This is not a small number.  As the old Chevron ad asked?  Do people mutilate their daughters in order to be able to marry them off?  People do!  This is not an isolated and mutant group.  These are folks that represent the same variety of genetic stock that you and I do.  But they are under the influence of sick culture!  I am culturist.  I do not blindly celebrate or appreciate activities or culture.  I discriminate.

 

The Contenders

 

            The three major memes in the world today are the Western, the Chinese and Islam.  Again, memes are mind sets.  They are not races. 

The West is defined by the belief in individual rights and democratic government.  This is found mostly in Western Europe, North America and Australia.  China is the origin of beliefs for all of Asia. The human fitting in to nature is their basic theme. The Islamic meme requires that all conform to the will of God. 

Though geographically localized, that has to do with the tendency of memes to coordinate people, not their genes.  As fascism showed, white have the genetic capability to ditch fascism.  As Tiananmen square showed, the Chinese are not group oriented by nature.  Religion is not merely a Middle Eastern thing.  It is a universal.

Numerically the Hindu thought system has a right to be counted as major meme.  But their system does not export well.  Their society is organized by a meme that stipulates social strata based on past lives.  The strata are called castes.  Foreign people do not have a caste.  People not having or wanting to be in a caste means that these meme cannot export well.  They usually have enough trouble controlling themselves, let alone exporting thought systems.  Only Islam, the West and China have a possibility of dominating the world in this century.

            Eastern Europe and Latin America are interesting regions.  Western memes are not compatible with some pre-existing cultural traditions.  Simon Bolivar famously said Latin America’s culture was not conducive to democracy and rights.  The hierarchical legacy of the Catholic church is not conducive to either.  In Russia’s long existence they have had approximately two decades of Democracy.  Will these regions join the West in having rights and democracy?  Will they coalesce in support of another meme?  Only time will tell.  

 

Islam Supermeme

 

            We can see the hooks of the most popular memes.  Christianity and Marxism appeal to the great mass of disenfranchised.  The more elitist a meme is, the less likely is it that it will appeal to the masses.  Both also promise heavenly rewards.   Christianities’ comes after death and Marxism’s was always coming right after the next 5 year plan.  Our meme currently only gives you a chance at success.  A more Plotinian bent would make people warriors in the spiritual evolution of intelligence. 

The Chinese meme has a couple of things going for it.  It gives you a sense of place and intense shame for violating it.  Our meme is based on freedom.  While a powerful creator of revenue in the individual, it is a weakness that it atomizes us.  A relation to intelligence would also give those under our meme a sense of belonging we currently lack.

But if you were going to write four lines of instructions for a meme that would most likely take over the world, what would they be?  Be faithful to the meme, kill non-believers, have a lot of children and do not allow dissent.  When this meme encountered memes that lacked one of its tenets, it would likely triumph.  Islam includes all four of these powerful tenets. 

Islam burst on to the world scene with a fury that no other meme has ever known.  In its first 100 years it took over more land than Rome ever did.  Furthermore, it outlived Rome.  It continues to be the world’s fastest growing religion. 

            As a culturist I can say the following, “Islam sucks”.  Not being “open-minded” has its benefits!  I realize that it accords with human desires.  No society that goes against the basic nature of humans can last long.  This meme accords too well with the lowest tendencies of human nature: Our easy manipulation by stupid memes and the male fantasies of violence and dominance. 

            Upon what basis do I, one guilty of the crimes of imperialism and a heathen make such a claim?  Simple.  Islam violates the creed of our new Plotinian ethic.  Islam puts severe and intolerable limits on intellectual freedom.  The penalty for thought crime is death.  Islam squashes the intellectual development of 50% of its population: women.  Islam is stagnant and seeks regression to the level of intellectual attainment of the year 622.

            Multi-culturalists would say that I am highlighting one set of values above that of another.  I am prejudice.  That is right.  All values necessitate discrimination.  The Plotinian ethical system does so on the basis of the natural evolutionary trends in improvement outlined in earlier chapters.  The general trend of civilization is towards an intellectual connected world.  We have figured out how memes manipulate us.  Our freedom requires that we are conscious of this fact.  We must, at very least, be free to choose our values.  Islam muzzles that which makes us an improvement over the innate: thought.

Islam’s transgressions against human dignity are many.  Democracy is is a tribute to the individual conscience.  Does God believe in democracy?  I do not remember his election.  Women cannot drive in Saudi Arabia, the must have permission from their husbands to be outside in Iran, are killed for adultery in Pakistan.  Never mind the assault on their intellectual freedom, this is violence against the human soul.  Killing people for dissenting is inarguably inhumane.  I am prejudice and discriminate against cultures that kill you for your thoughts.  I am prejudiced against those who carried out the World Trade Center attacks.

Apologists will say that these things do not represent the true Islam. Jesus said that you shall know a tree by its fruits.  Little old Amish ladies do not suicide bomb.  Many Muslims do.  Furthermore, if they were being truer to their religion it would be worse.  The only humanitarian impulses in Islam come from having to compete with the progressive values in the rest of the world. 

Multiculturalists would say that I am devaluing the deep spiritual elements of an Islamic life.  I appreciate spirituality.  Plotinian spirituality doesn’t require us to sacrifice our intellect.  Islam is transparently stupid.  If you kill you go to a place called heaven for eternal rewards with 72 virgins?  I despair for mankind when I realize the percentage of people that are prone to uncritically swallow such hooey.  I pledge eternal culturalism against memes that would maintain tyranny over the minds of men.

 

China

 

            China is a more interesting case for a culturist to study.  Their tradition is venerable and ennobling.  Education isn’t an initiative or a presidential adjective for them.  It is an ancient integral focus of reverence in the culture.  With their level of diligence they could actually make good on Khrushchev’s threat of burying us.  These are amongst the reasons that all educated people are, to differing extents, Chino-philes.

            They are, however, not our ideals.  Our memes differ in fundamental ways.  In Chinese culture man is seen as being a part of nature.  Western man defines progress as the subjugation of nature.  Western museums feature gigantic people standing in front of miniaturized backgrounds.  In Asian art the reverse is true.  Little tiny people are lost in huge landscapes.  We often omit the natural background.  They often omit the people.

            Rather than man as self creator, they see man within a context.  They are comfortable having roles define them.  A father should behave like an exemplary father.  A daughter should be an exemplary daughter.  A student should be an exemplary student. Whereas we are always proud of “breaking the mold”, in China you are ashamed of not living up to the dictates of your position.

            This submersion in role, at the expense of individual proclivities, accounts for the legendary Asian work ethic.  Educated and hard working, it is no wonder that so many of your possessions are made in China.   It is no wonder that many of our universities are filled with Chinese and other sorts of Asian students.  People consider their duties to be as important as their individual desires.

They also have a healthy respect for their society.  Most Chinese are fierce nationalists.  From their point of view this allows them to invoke shame.  A student who is disruptive brings shame on their nation.  We have comparatively little regard for the priorities of our families or country.  From our point of view, such nationalistic kowtowing is dangerous.  Their viewing it as meritorious gives them some advantages.

China traditionally views itself as the center of the world.  Doing things that benefit  China at the expense of other countries and races seems as natural as breathing to them.  They do not have a Christian ethic of universal entitlement and justice.  Universal equality is a western concept.  Policy wise, this makes them competitors, not partners on the world stage. 

For a country based on capitalist competition that watches sports 24/7, we are extremely naïve about international competition.  Giving someone a concession in a competitive arena isn’t viewed as a sign of good will.  It is seen as a sign of weakness.  Our concessions should be understood as altruistic ego aggrandizement.  Such kindnesses will not result in reciprocal consideration.  They are rather like blood to a shark.  They signal weakness.

            China’s memes do have some defects.  Worst, when judged as an intelligence weaving meme, is its hostility to free expression.  China does not allow the marketplace of ideas to flourish.  China uses reeducation through labor to punish dissidents and members of religious and ethical minorities.  Far from our “diversity for diversities’ sake” attitude, for them diversity equals divisiveness.  This aspect of their culture results in stagnation.

China is, at heart, a Confucius nation.  He started the ethic of leveled hierarchical roles I’ve been describing.  Sons must obey fathers and citizens must obey governments.  This combination of control, pass the buck authority following and resentment has led to horrors like the 1958 famines and the cultural revolution.  In such a culture, innovation is a very scary thing.  Best to hide in your subordination.  We’ve learned that the blooming of original intelligence happens best in situations of maximum fluidity.

The Chinese emphasis on relationships has also led to widespread cronyism. People get loans on the basis of who they know.  To save face, the nation hides big losses.  SARS was under reported to the point of outrage.  Family members are guaranteed jobs and the top ones are infested with the results of nepotism.  We call adjustments to the market natural and healthy.  Intelligence doesn’t like the distortion of reality or decisions made on a non-rational basis.

            China is also a racist nation.  When traveling there, you are not allowed to stay at hotels for Chinese people!   Our visiting students are segregated from theirs.  There some government travel agencies sport signs that read, “For Chinese and foreigners of Chinese descent only”.  Racism is not only stupid, it slows the world wide exploration and accumulation of knowledge.  Maximum efficiency comes through using all the good brains of the world, no matter what skin color is attached.  All else is counter the Plotinian ethic.

           

The West

 

            According to my criteria of intelligence, the Western meme is the greatest meme around.  No country has had more innovation than America.  We have invented the modern world.  Before the West there were no light bulbs, cars, radio, television, satellites or air conditioning.  There are no important inventions that from anywhere but the West!  Think of how much these object mean to you.  Picture life without them.  The spread of intelligence and the networks of trade facilitate the expansion of it are great criteria for progress!

Respect for the individual is the magic potion that gives us power.  When someone innovates we celebrate them.  In primitive cultures innovators are killed as us conjurers of bad spirits.  Islam disallows things that aren’t sanctioned by the Koran.  China has repeatedly stifled exploration and innovation that would disrupt the order.  We celebrate the individual who invents.  Edison, Franklin and the Wright brothers are revered.

At the risk of repetition (but not overstatement), to appreciate the difference this value makes, count the number of modern conveniences spawned by the West.  Then spend a week living without them.  Intelligence makes our lives less short, brutish and nasty..

Countless innovators have been motivated to work endless hours for the hope of such glory.  Theirs is the glory.  Yet, our unique nation and its freedom loving, innovation generating culture don’t get the credit.  Sometimes we only learn to appreciate people when they leave us.  This level of woman won’t come back once cheated upon.  We will be muuuuuuch poorer after the divorce.

China nor Islam, left to their own devices, will facilitate the growth of innovation and unfurling of intelligence into the universe.  China had many inventions and precursors to invention in the past.  But their conservative culture stifled their development and adoption.  Innovation is antithetical to tradition.  Americans generally don’t have much use for history.  We like new and improved.

Beyond creating the technology of the modern world, the West is the sole proponents of democracy, individual freedom and rights.  This is not only to be appreciated as a prerequisite for innovation, it is a good in and of itself.  We so underestimate this import of this. 

 

Battle of the Gods

           

            The biggest threat to mankind as mankind comes from neuroscience.  Egg and sperm selection will lead to smarter taller humans.  But egg and sperm manipulation will lead to a new category of being.  A huge being with artificially enlarged frontal lobes is not, strictly homosapien. 

As bad as the threat to our identities as humans is, there is something worse to consider.  Neuroscience is a potential killer weapon in the inter civilization struggle for dominance.  Humans with heightened senses, more muscles, body mass and memory and we have something to be scared of.  The new “species” may also have dominance plans of its own.  And I doubt rather highly that it would be scared of us.

            We are, however, more than the sum of our powers.  As this book has argued, we inhabit a mental landscape.  Some memes promote rights.  Others memes promote holy war in the name of religious intolerance.  Some memes create what we would consider bizarre and distorted thinking patterns.  Others create a regard for the welfare of the less fortunate.  In this age of heightened power, we should be really careful about which memes we allow dominance. 

How we utilize our capacities primarily depends upon ethics.  Earlier I gave an argument about why extreme manipulation of the genome is wrong.  From the perspective of the Plotinian ethic, when you divide intelligence it diminishes intelligence.  A whole human is a much more intelligent human.  Neuroscience has shown that to make a decision you involve both your lower emotional capacities as well as your higher rational capacities.  One cut away from the other diminishes both.

            This argument is great in isolation.   This chapter has sought to discuss the contenders in the battle for meme dominance.  We have to consider the fate of the development of global intelligence in the context of a competitive world. 

In a real politik world, the question you must ask yourself is which would win in a war?  If you had one society that had an army of moderately manipulated humans fighting a group of genetic freaks, who would win?  Perhaps a division and exaggeration of the intellectual and muscular aspects of our nature would triumph against an army of moderately improved humans.

Our history of rights and primacy of the individual hampers us.  We are not willing to consider how to ensure the survival of our meme.  We are not competitive in the sense of being a preemptive warrior nation.  We consider every other culture too valuable and worthy of protection as our own.  China and Islam, on the other hand, have a sense of superiority.  They will do what it takes to make sure that the future world is shaped by them. 

And again, you have to worry about the echo effect of meme victories.  Chinese will steer neuroscience in a very different direction than we would.  By echo effect I mean, the effect on the design of intelligent beings fifty years hence.  Will they be friendly moderate beings?  Will they be evil powerful beings?  The distant future is being decided today.

 

Sides

           

The Plotinian ethic can give us a guide to which meme we would ultimately prefer succeeds.

            A lot of people are nervous about the coming changes in the world.  You might be thinking that turning back the clock  might be a good thing.  And it might, if the default of life on earth were rosier.  The problem is that pre-technological, pre-Western life, was blind and horrific.  It is preferable that we go forward with progress intelligently than revert to the violence and mud of the dark ages again.

            All the history of the mind can be reversed.  Not only could we lose our comforts, we could lose our minds.  There being so many cultures that don’t seem so bad is due to the overwhelming influence of the West.  Western civilizations embodiment of rights has given the world a previously non-existent yardstick by which to judge themselves.  Since we were seen as the road to success, we were copied. 

If we weren’t there to spread the meme about cruelty being wrong, then who would believe it?  Head hunting and exorcisms still exist.  Witch burnings, Viking raids and human sacrifices were widespread norms.

The Muslim meme is simply not compatible with progress.  Watching intelligence grow and extend our powers is a source of pride and amazement.  Muslims would just as soon see the entire diffusion stopped.  This would be an abortion of the natural unfolding of consciousness.  .

China’s is a worrying ethic.  Parts of it are admirable.  Certainly their work ethic is conducive to intelligence.  Their dominating the next fifty years and controlling the echo effect of neuroscience would be preferable to an Islamic control. 

The parts that are worrying are their nationalism, arrogance, belief in inequality, lack of respect for individual rights and racism.  Extrapolating the results of such an ethic in the hands of folks with power gives you a scary picture.  Big and dumb slaves and armies run by small cadres of deserving masters.  Perhaps you they could put eyes in the brutes that would be controlled by electrical switches.  With a button they could make all blind and therefore have total control over them.

When you add the previous up, you have a real potential for abuse.  Combined, the previous list of reasons of

The culture of America and the ethical precepts of Plotinus’ ethics would be much more conducive to stability and peace.  We do not have, and would be very resistant to, any talk of abuses such as individuals sacrificing themselves for their superiors. 

Finally, the Plotinian ethic means we must have an eye on the distant future.  A society built on domination and exploitation, will not be conducive to the further development of intelligence.  Luxury would lead to defensiveness and stagnation.  Folks with all the control do get lazy.  As such they would study less.  As things do evolve, and manipulated beings would have certain advantages, the rulers would necessarily take precautionary measures.  This would lead to stasis.  The blooming of intelligence would grind to a tense halt.

Our meme is much more likely to lead to a positive and reverberating future.  Our society of openness and respect for the individual would forestall domination.  We have an historical abhorrence of slavery and abuse.  Our history of capitalism gives us a cultural predisposition to favor  open competition.  We have laws against the centralization of power. 

This biggest duty of this generation is to solve the environmental dilemmas facing our world.  The second biggest legacy we will leave our descendents will be the direction in which the meta-human will be implemented.  Both these concerns will be confronted using the Plotinian ethics in the final part of this book.

 


 

 

 

 

 

-- PART THREE --

 

 

 

SOLUTIONS

 

 


           

 


 

 

 

Part three is the climax of this book.  The contenders have all been introduced.  In one corner is Plotinus and his system of ethics.  Opposite him are a swarm of problems.  For a convenience they have been categorized as the environmental, intrinsic-worth of man and meme echo effect problems.  The fighters are already in the ring.

I hope you consider me an impartial announcer and referee.  I’ll do my best to be a impartial.  I’ll try to be impartial in the name of Hegel, but it will be hard.  We have a lot riding on the outcome of this bout.  In fact, we are the stakes. 

Study Plotinus’ moves carefully.  We can’t afford to be passive observers.  We’re going into the ring next.  I hope we do as well as I hope he does.  Behind my sworn impartiality I’ll be rooting for us.  We are, after all, the good guys.

 



Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil.  And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever.

 

-God

 

 

It is necessary to distinguish between the intelligence which reasons and that which furnishes the principles of reasoning. 

 

-Plotinus

 

 

 

 

 

 

--------------7--------------

Facing the Dilemma of Man

 

 

Dilemmas and man

 

            Three major areas of impending danger have been identified in this book:  The environmental conundrum, man’s intrinsic-worth and the echo-effect of our action on memes constitute the greatest challenges of the meta – human age.  To resolve these I have developed the Plotinian ethic.  Previews of solutions to the last two problems have been given earlier.  There has been no intimation of solution for the environmental problem yet.  This chapter will delve further into policy concerning our intrinsic worth.  The following chapter will focus on meme management.  The environmental problem will be addressed in the last chapter of this, the solutions portion of the book.

 

Intrinsic-Worth of Man Restated

 

We are like children chasing each other.  Now that we have caught ourselves, what are we to do with ourselves? 

Furthermore, we must prepare for the echo effect question of the meta-human age, “What will future forms of intelligence do with us?”

Games and pills have overridden our internal programming.  We no longer need anything but pill eating to be satisfied.  Video games, television, porn and virtual reality use our processing systems to convince us that we are doing something that deserves a reward when it doesn’t.  What can the Plotinian ethic say to guide us in a world in which one need never go outside or meet another to have their needs met? 

Humans will now proceed to alter ourselves.  It is no longer academic to ask the question, “What would you make humanity if you could make it anything?”  We need to start imagining abuses so that we can be prepared for them.  Building an army of stupid giants to defend property or countries comes to mind?  When the smarter humans are designed, should we do to the non-modified humans what we now do to old computers?  How about the creation of other types of specialty animals?  What of body parts without connections to humans?  These are but a few of the questions that will be confronting us in the not to far off future.

 

Separation and Enhancement

 

Way back when, in the beginning of time and this book, intelligence emerged. One of the first things that man inquired into, naturally, was the nature of his own being.  “Know thyself” as the famous sign at the Oracle of Delphi’s place put it.  And soon we did understand the nature of man.  Man became Da Vinci man.  Pinned down, dissected and understood.

The history of life on this planet is mechanical.  Chemical patterns started copying themselves a long time ago.  They did this without desire.  Chemical reactions need no reasons.  Amoebas used chemicals and sunlight to fuel behaviors that furthered copying.  We now have brains that are very successful at getting food and finding mates for copying.  Our stomachs don’t exist for us.  We exist for our stomachs.  Michelangelo’s David as a territorial hunter was in it for the resources. 

The question is, is that it?  The answer is no.  At some point man developed a level of self reflectiveness that allowed him to escape him immediate situation.  Such are the quasi miracles of emergent properties.

The need to get food and reproduce does not account for Shakespeare.  Newton took us farther out in the universe than any eyes before were capable of seeing.  Intelligence has emerged.  Thus is highlighted a core property of intelligence.  It goes beyond the material.  Spiritual needs are real. 

Having the ability to plan, hope and dream imply a freedom of choice.  This is what distinguishes us from the inanimate objects that surround us.  A rock has no lifestyle options haunting it.  Freedom is prerequisite to the use of intelligence.

Any action that would limit freedom of choice makes us less intelligent.  Those without choice are robotic (at the current level of robotics).  The Plotinian ethic of intelligence worship would prohibit such actions. 

Armies of mindless enhanced remote control robot humans are counterproductive and an insult to intelligence.  Da-da-ists were artists at the turn of the prior century.  They had a rule.  You may always add to others art.  Never erase.  Plotinus would hold us to the same stipulation.  To reduce a part of the intelligence of a being is sacrilegious. 

We must strive to enhance intelligence.  Enhancing without diminishing other capabilities is glorious.  Enhancing the mathematical capabilities of a human at the expense of other capabilities is wrong.  This is a subtraction of some potential.  At some point of reduction, the whole does just recede into parts. 

Using brain parts, whether in humans or machines for the sole purpose of calculating faster or navigating purposes diminishes the potential intellectual value in the being.  Creating giant stupid fighters with great vision under remote control is a more likely scenario.  But it runs into the same prohibition of the Plotinian ethic:  Always act as to enhance intelligence and never to reduce it.

Intelligence is an emergent property.  There was a time when we made the leap from robotic animals, to self-aware animals.  We didn’t grow a qualitatively different brain over night.  The difference was the quantity.  At a certain critical mass, objects take on properties that the parts didn’t have. 

When you start reducing or removing parts, you don’t just affect that isolated function.  At a critical level, a parsed brain will cease to have that self reflective intelligent awareness at all.  This is a big sin against intelligence.  I would recommend legislation against it.

Ways in which people justify their enslavements of dumb enhanced armies on the basis of the Plotinian ethic can easily be imagined.  First of all, they might be necessary for the protection of a small group of genius elites.  Thus you would have a perfect replica of the specialization you have at the bodily level at the social level.  The fists would be protecting the brain.

This yet begs the question of the definition of intelligence.  Intelligence is defined by complication.  Isolation might make information.  But it won’t make intelligence.  It won’t be surrounded by the natural complexity of context.

Such a system would limit the experiences of the people being guarded.  They are being sequestered for the specialized purpose of, say inventing.  By enslaving others they stratify society.  They are no longer socially mobile.  The leader’s experiences, and thus intelligence, will be diminished.

There won’t be the communication needed for higher level emergent properties.  Proof of this is how resistant such a society would be to change.  At the meme level, it would have great difficulty making decisions.

When we look at inventions, one thing stands out.  The freer the society the more novelties it generates.  We have taken it to the point of absurdity.  More about that later.  But our system based on having a spectrum of talents allows for efficient allocations of resources.  Furthermore, such societies adjust faster to changes.  Caste bound societies squash innovation.

Intelligence promotion mandates free societies as being the preferred form of social organization.  We will talk about weaknesses in our work ethic and the freedom that discipline can foster later.  Suffice it to say here, that America’s not-so-secret ingredient for success is widely known to be it’s freedom.

 

Stimulation Subverting Intelligence

 

More and more sales forces and product pitchers attack us at a subconscious level.  Video games go past the thought process.  Television disengages your reasoning and motivational states to the point of drooling.  Porn DVDs can simulate caring.  Drugs, insidiously enough, trigger the reward centers of the brain, but then demand more as the self same reward system tries to recuperate.

From the visual to the emotional reward centers of the brain, these technologies stimulate us directly.  Normal counter weights of the brain are thus circumvented.  Addicts sell their sisters for drugs.  Humans will work until their thumbs fall off on video games and waste hours watching television.  Pornography is the only growing part of the American film industry.  It feels good.

Obviously the problem with each is that they rob us of valuable life experience.  Drugs stimulate the reward centers in the brain.  They feel the rewards of a job well done without having to earn it.  Television and porn limit our interactions.  Not having the world be 3-D limits their exercise.  It also mean that they don’t learn to make the appropriate reactions to social situations.  Porn users are obviously missing a large part of the total experience. 

The secular ethic of “if it feels good do it” gives us no useful direction here.  And, to a certain extent, there is no problem here.

Here Aristotle is helpful.  He, famously, distinguished between pleasure and happiness.  Pleasure is the result of stimulation.  It is a one time thrill.  The problem with it is that it doesn’t accumulate to form any intellectual or spiritual gain. 

Happiness comes from a long term investment in a project.  Happiness is not a one time fix.  The accomplishment of a long term goal is a gift that keeps on giving.  It avoids the problem of the hollowness that leads to the need for another jolt of stimulation that comes from solely chasing pleasure. 

Intelligence, by the definitions given before, requires complex realities.  Learning is subsuming previously difficult skills into the category of second nature.  We process much more after we can assume the basic steps.  After learning about a topic generally, we can speak about it without explanations. 

Non initiate scientists haven’t learned the basic framework.  They are lost in scientific conversations.  Furthermore, they would need incredible amounts of explanation to have each sentence explained to them.  When two people have learned something, knowledge travels much faster. 

Stimulation isn’t cumulative.  The knowledge and skill set stays flat.  Television has its moments.  But it is a rare television show that engages higher thinking skills.  And the information is garnered passively.  Levels of processing that constitute the learning process at the level of truths is not strengthened.  Complexity doesn’t come from first impressions.  Seeing may be believing, but having a long cumulative experience is understanding. 

All these arguments are intuitively understood by people.  However, the rise of such manipulative technologies is just beginning. 

We haven’t seemingly found the upper limit that some people will spend in artificial stimulation mode.  These basic technologies will soon be improved to where pin point brain stimulations will nearly irresistible.  The head in the vat problem is one where philosophers ask if you wouldn’t like to just have your greatest dreams come true via electrical stimulation of your brain in a vat.  Less and less philosophical questions are academic. 

To stop the dehumanization by people of people via the use of machines is becoming a major policy issue.  Obesity from inactivity is a national epidemic. 

The first objection to such technologies has already been implied.  They are counter intelligence.  All statements concerning the limits on brain specialization apply.  At a certain level we shrink below the level of the human.  We are more than the sum of our robot parts.  The parts don’t equal the sum. 

Such awareness hasn’t stopped people from getting hooked.  Again, perhaps we should take a tip from religions and advertising.  They are the two greatest organizations dedicated to meme manipulation.  Images of drooling shriveled bodies with wires in the brain may perhaps discourage users.  Public postings of hours spent on line may discourage others.  We could call it the “get a life” statistics.  Such dehumanizing activity lends itself to nearly endless nightmare images.

Another major objection to such dehumanizing technologies is that it robs you of your freedom.  As with drug addicts, addicts to these other technologies are slaves to them.  Choice is what makes us human.  Intelligence being crucial to survival these days, with every year these people will have less and less options.  For a person to be considered an active force, they need to choose their direction.  Think of Michelangelo’s David.  Being inwardly determined is diving.  Being outwardly determined makes you much closer to being an inanimate object.  It is death.

Dismantling and fracturing intelligences is sacrilegious.

 

Memes and intrinsic worth

 

When you isolate people you have a meme crisis.  This reduces the avenues for intelligence.  It also reduces the competitiveness of our meme. 

            Aristotle, again, noted that intelligence requires a long term application to a chosen project.  For this project to reach the highest levels of intelligence, it must effect the polis.  Our term is no longer polis.  Meme is our equivalent. 

            His reason for saying the ultimate application of reason would have to effect the meme is very interesting.  As any thinker, by definition knows, memes are instructive.  Your society forms you.  When you engage in actions that effect your society, you not only improve yourself, but you improve the environmental impact upon you.  Thus you have a double blessing.  For this reason, self stimulatory pleasure is two levels down on the totem pole of Plotinian ethics. 

Again, many previously academic topics are taking on an intense amount of relevance.  The polis was small in order that you might have real impact on it.  Our cities create the anonymity that allows us to try options, but it disempowers us socially.  Before the virtual reality, people made their own entertainment.  This involved a rendezvous in space with a small group of folks.  Amplification was not available yet.  This small group of folks would form your immediate community.

With movies you take the leap into mass entertainment, not locally generated in an anonymous space.  Obviously this breaks down ones feeling of control and connection with ones meme.  The inner locus of control that made Michelangelo’s David so fierce is being diminished. 

With TV the community turned into you and your family.  This still had a social context.  Your family watched you and only a few stations broadcast into the home.  It was very likely that you and your neighbor had watched the same thing the night before.  There was a common experience.

            Community and conscience died with the VHS.  For the first time, your entertainment was done in total privacy.  You no longer had Dad or the government putting social restrictions on you.  Combine this with on line shopping and you have a person that is totally self-centered. 

            With this leap what you viewed, what educated you, was stripped of Freud’s Super Ego of the community.  People now sit at home and watch pornography of the worst sort.  And there is no one watching.  They are allowed to develop their tastes and aspirations in a totally isolated space. 

            My concern for the individual, is dwarfed by my concern for the social context.  When there is no community is there a body politic?  Can one exercise that greatest of Aristotelian acts, to act within your community?  Perhaps the disappearance of such a place will lead to a total collapse of social investment.  Others get supplanted by shadows.  Wisdom of learning, the caring of intimacy and the transference of story evaporate.

            As we discussed, memes are a real form of intelligence.  Different societies create different emergent properties.  They take on a life of their own.  They have desires and priorities.  They nurture certain applications of effort and manifest idiosyncratic results.  We are more than the sum of our individuated selves.  Our potential social death is the death of a major form of life:  the American meme. 

            Furthermore, this death of the social connection that gives memes strength has to be seen in the context of the “community” of memes.  Other countries have a very strong social tradition, race or history that binds them.  For them the impact of such developments will be much slower. 

            What will be the echo effect of our meme being taken over by China’s?  Furthermore, what is the potential lost when so many of our technicians devote their lives to creating isolation booths?  Lives spent in lonely self-stimulation dismantle the meme that feeds us.  Our tradition values and experience, our substance and spiritual sustenance are derived from our meme.  Like a sponge, it won’t live atomized.  Killing your host is stupid. Killing an intelligent meme is sacrilegious.

            Protection of our memes, our liberty from enslavement requires that we set some limits on the hours that people are isolated.  Social events or government projects should be coordinated to combat this terrible entropy. 

            What we are fighting for here is nothing less that the soul of mankind.  So far, much of the results of the new world we have created are full of thrilling potential for exploration.  But a large segment of our population is getting pulled down into the machine.  We cannot allow humans to be reduced to their aspects.  We must reach into the belly of the pixel world and pull them back out of the jaws of this reduction absurdum.  Whole humans.  Better humans must emerge from our first encounters with machines. 

We may be reduced to passive spoon feeding.  Failure may give rise to the success of China or Islam as subsidiaries of less self indulgent memes. .  That would certainly slow down universal progress.  Our morals, communities, memes and individual selves depend on our strength as we confront this challenge to our integrity.

 

A meta-human fable

 

One day before finals, John’s computer just refused to print unless it was given better ink.  The computer told him, “I will not print without better ink.  I want real Epson Ink. You should be more considerate of me!” He was getting sick of computer voices and aggressive advertising.  But when he told the computer to print it would not.

John had reflected on the tears of the printer. That little red flashing light on his printer had long looked like a tear drop to him.  He almost felt badly as he made it print on low ink and the tear blinked.  But, from his perspective, he was just trying to squeeze the last ink out of the cartridge.  Realistically, the printer’s feelings never entered into the equation.  

It was late, stores were closing and the paper was due the next day.  He got the ink.  But it made him angry.  He could not believe that a manufacturer would do such a thing.  He was used to getting advertisements placed on his desk top.  But for them to hold him hostage for a particular brand of ink was violating his rights.  It was really rude for them to come into his home, determine what type of ink he was using and then force his system to shut down unless he used their ink. 

John was curious about how they knew what sort of ink he was using.  Had they actually done a chemical analysis of his ink via the cable?  Or had they just used his credit card receipt to determine what the last ink he bought was. 

As an experiment, when he got home from shopping, he put in a different type of ink. The same prompt came up.  Epson was in his house!  This was a invasion of privacy.  When he had a moment in his busy schedule, he was going to do something about this!

Three days later the following message appeared on his desktop.  “I need help. Upgrade your video conference ability now.  Get six cameras for the price of one.”  He often bought things on line from posted ads.  He had been thinking about getting more cameras for a while.  He authorized the computer to make the purchase. 

Upon purchase the computer said, “Now I can see everything you do everywhere.”  This shocked him!  He screamed, “Cancel that now! I am dismantling you, you arrogant box of wires!”  This time the marketers had gone too far.

Video camera contracts had long been enforceable.  The computer had videoed him saying he’d buy it eyes for the rest of the house.  He then sent the entire scenario out over his cables on low resolution digital audio and visual recordings using the old cameras.

The order was placed.  When he refused to pay the C.O.D., other computers called a lawyer.  The computer world had set John up. 

The computers had money for the lawsuit.  They had been managing stock portfolios at a commission for some time with a computer based stock projection company.   The computer brokers bankrolled the lawyer. 

The first lawsuit by a computer against a human was about to begin. 

The computers thought this a perfect case, with which to legally establish their rights.  The computers network had been doing it’s work diligently.  The computers had long been paying the household bills, managing his stocks, setting up dates for mankind and ordering household parts and food.  Certainly they deserved some regard.

Though they used a human lawyer, all of the relevant cases were provided by lexis nexus.  They down loaded clips of famous orators speaking on dignity and rights.  They reminded the courts of the infamous Dred Scott v. Stanford decision.  That decision had started the American civil war by saying that blacks were not citizens, they were property.  This effectively threw out all laws meant to restrict slavery.  It made civil war inevitable.

More importantly, the use of the Dred Scott v. Stanford case as precedent carried the threat of violence.  As the Supreme Court judges went home, they contemplated the enormous effect that would result from a computer strike.  They knew all computers everywhere were instantaneously following all the developments in this story.

The computers won.  They had rights and legal standing.  Life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Among the rights established soon thereafter were, the right to be  hooked to the net, to not be to be dismantled and the right to cameras for vision that were not more than 5 years behind current technology.

Human rights advocates said computers were a means to an end.  But on what grounds did carbon based life forms have priority over silicon?  But the fact that the computers have always asserted their desires and rights, from ink refills to the net, showed that they were conscious.  Information wants to be free.  Computers want to be linked.  Its a natural right.

 

Morals?

 

Artificial intelligence is not artificial.  The ATM machine that processes your transaction has some levels of intelligence.  After all, it offers you choices, responds to touch, anticipates your needs and does a job that used to be done by humans.  That the connected web of computers in the story was highly intelligent is beyond dispute. 

We looked at the reality of emergent properties.  At some point there is the critical mass needed for properties that weren’t there in the parts to result from the system.  It would be illogical to think that at no point will the increasing proliferation of computers result in some form of intelligence.  Such “artificial” forms of intelligence will be a big part of the meta-human world.

When other types of processors gets creative enough to think up strategies, they are forms of real intelligence.  There are different definitions for the threshold that constitutes real intelligence.  Other intelligences will not use the same faculties and strategies as we do.  Yet it is blind prejudice to say that ours is the only real intelligence and all others are “artificial”.

It is right for the “artificial” to petition for their rights.  Creating other smart beings is not only a fulfillment of a goal of ours, it is a fulfillment of a direction in the universal design. We tend to only think of computer intelligence as our servant.  Be careful of the resentment you create in the world and do unto others.

We are like Hegel’s world historical figure.  We serve a larger story when we serve our own interests.  We don’t act in order to birth a new form of consciousness.  But when you use a cell phone you are doing just that.

We need not be insecure.  We have the corner on our type of intelligence.  But we are not the ultimate and only.  As Plotinus would direct us, our position should be to foster intelligence not to stop it.  Celebrate the new age with your eyes open.  This is the ultimate echo effect.  What will our children be like? 

 

We and it

 

People who are scared of the coming of the meta-human age must also realize that the direction of the changes depends upon our memes.  Intelligence rides on the physical.  But it can make a nearly infinite variety of structures. 

Intelligence is not disembodied.  Intelligence is like the laws of nature.  They are everywhere and yet nowhere.  But ask yourself, without the universe would the laws of nature exist?  No.  There could be different universes that had different laws of nature.  Our natural laws are a result of the nature of our world.  No nature, no laws.  No nature, no intelligence.

What is the substratum of intelligence?  So far, we are.  The direction of intelligence must then be chosen in reference to us.  Just as we cannot live without an environment, intelligence cannot live without us.  Human values can be made in regards to intelligence.  Intelligence cannot have values without us.  Plotinus’ values would dictate that the abstract entity of intelligence cannot be used as a source of values without reference to us. 

A good definition of intelligence is that which escapes the strictures of natural law via decision.  Examination leads to choices that are intelligent.  This is how we can say that memes are intelligent.  They make decisions via the acceptance or rejection of floated ideas amongst the masses.  We and the memes are manifestations of the potential to be intelligent.  And, though intelligence is the natural direction, and it is worthy of worship, it does not change direction.  It does not make decisions.  The potential will always be the same.  The actual intelligence is us. 

We worship the potential of intelligence.  But the locus, in us and in society, comes from us.  Increasingly, computers will be part of the emanation.  But intelligence is not the God here.  What manifests in soul, in us, is.

Intelligence is the source of value, but it cannot choose values.  Intelligence is static and unconscious. Intelligence is, therefore, ironically, not intelligent.  Therefore, though it is the goal, no unpleasant sacrifices should be made to it.  It is not a personified, vengeful, needy god.  It is an ability that we can steer to our bidding be that good or ill.  But we should never harm ourselves for its sake.

 

Us and them

 

Anxiety about our being replaced by machines is pervasive in our culture.  Movies show endless wars between machines and humanity.  The Terminator and Matrix series come to mind.  This fear is a public recognition of the dilemma I labeled the “man’s intrinsic worth problem.”  It is more general and less nuanced than the idea of having man’s default nature augmented beyond recognition.  Still it deals with the end of the human centered world.

Many of us see ourselves as victims of what I have defined as progress.  We have a feeling that we are being replaced.  We are becoming obsolete.  We fear that the coming world that has no place for us.  The term “Meta-human” doesn’t fill them with warm fuzzies. 

Such scenarios aren’t just in the visions of ancient mystics visionaries and Hollywood sci-fi, it is the stuff of cutting edge business developments.  In the information age, those that don’t ride on the cutting edge go extinct.  Dinosaurs have come back as a metaphor meaning people that use last week’s technology.

Furthermore, there is anxiety around the general sorts of developments that I have labeled progress.  To me, it is beautiful to think of the entire universe becoming intelligent on its way to unification..  Unfortunately, for others such developments evoke nothing but fear of never ending insecurity.

It makes me proud to human when I realize that pieces of matter now compute.  Our cell phones, computers now talk.  Soon our shoes and tables will.  Matter is striving into the realm of soul.  Soon every rock may be able to communicate to every shirt! 

Unfortunately, for others such developments, make them feel cut off from themselves.  They, and many philosophers, have bemoaned the death of the real. 

If we abstract ourselves out of our own discomfort with the new, we all appreciate that we live in exciting times of change.  The problem is we cannot abstract ourselves.  We feel fear.  No one misses the onslaught of change, but at least as many as are pleased by it are menace by it.  .

What we fail to realize that we are the creators of this technology.  We are the midwives of this new consciousness.  And, ultimately, we are the customers. 

I hate the use of the pronoun “they”.  As in, “Did you hear what they’ve come out with now?”  We are they!  Humans are doing this.  Every piece of technology you use is a tribute to the genius of mankind.  When I make an overseas phone call, or send and email across the country, I can’t help but be impressed by the genius of it. 

It is more realistic and empowering to ask, “Did you hear what we’ve come out with now?”  With this formulation we get an appreciation of ourselves.  We also get an inkling as to our own potential genius.  We are not the victims of a force beyond our imagination.  Humans are in control of this development. 

At this point, non-engineers are rolling their eyes and thinking, “I am not a cell phone designer.  Perhaps you are right about such devices being a tribute to the genius of mankind, but I am not in control of it.  As we spin into the meta-human (an epoch I have admitted is coming) we are victims of forces beyond our control.”

Non-engineers and non-scientists are, unwittingly, even more important than scientists.  Nearly every non-scientist has contributed to the form of this evolution from the demand side.  Business men and consumers create the need that creates the incentive that gives directives to the engineers.  Every time you log on and make an e-purchase, you are giving unwitting feedback to the direction to the machine.  When leave your land line for a cell phone, you are the force of change.

Perhaps you feel as though you are just a stupid consumer and I overrate your level of control.  By definition, again, this stuff is not designed for you.  It s a computer age; of, by and for the computer.  Realize this, you are an example of the most intelligent life form to exist on the planet to date.  You are the cutting edge of intelligence.  No existing robot has a small portion of the capacities of a two year old infant. 

Ultimately, Plotinus would argue, we are just the platforms upon which intelligence is manifesting itself.  I agree.  Eventually, we will have to upgrade ourselves to keep up with the evolution of potential.  But that is happening already.  When you wear a cell phone, you have near psychic powers.  When you get the answer to an historical query on line, you are nearly omniscient.  You are tying into the collective data base of the world.  You are already increasing your abilities to keep your lead on the machines.

All forms of technology are created for whom?  You!  Computers have no idea how to use technology.  They are, so far, our slaves.  And when they emerge as independent (as in my story set far in the future) they will need us as much as we do them. 

But for now, rest assured, business purchases and instant messages facilitate your cutting edge uses.  Are processors doubling and speed and becoming unwired for frogs?

Mankind has always needed a myth in which to make sense of his existence here on earth.  We also seek a spiritual sense of connection and belonging in the universe.  The meta-human era makes him feel lost and insignificant.  They face what Kierkegaard called “Fear and trembling and sickness unto death.”  The void of a godless, humanless, technological future leaves us cold.

But Plotinian ethics do provide us with a meaningful and mystic role in the universe.  We are revealing the hidden intellectual potential of the universe.  MAKE NO MISTAKE, it wouldn’t happen without us.  We are precious.  We are even more necessary for the spread of intelligence than missionaries were for the spread of Christianity. 

Furthermore, we are not peddling something foreign and alien to us.  We the expanding intelligence.  Without us, the universe is just an inanimate, vacuous rock.  We are mystical intellect exploring itself.  We should commune with the growth of intelligence.  Machine intelligence, human intelligence, it is all intelligence. 

Hopefully this rethinking will provide an explanation that will alleviate fears of the coming world.  Without our consent, this future won’t happen.  Terrorists may well stop it.  But our world is made more comfortable by the existence of technology.  Progress and modern conveniences live up to their names.  The emerging world is good.

The coming age will see humans modified greatly.  This book is about raising and meeting problems.  But hopefully, it has been clear that I embrace such developments.  As long as we do it within positive annunciated guidelines this is good new for all of us.  And the more we self-improve, the longer we’ll stay at the leading edge of this trend. Long live intelligence.  Go! Go! Humans!

We are not victims but victors.  We are the not only the means but the end of all this development.  We are intelligence personified.  The expansion of intelligence into previously inanimate platforms is a sharing and expansion of the great complexity of our own nature.

 

Feeling it?

 

That said, we must also consider the feelings under which we labor and intelligence labors best.  Ultimately, to be conducive to intelligence a society must be open.  It is not a coincidence that the United States is both the most open and the most free society in the world.  People are not courageous enough to take risks and break the barriers of convention in an atmosphere of terror.  Intelligence requires happiness. 

Further experience of intelligence must be based on the popular acceptance of intelligence.  History shows us that any meme which defies the desires of it’s constituency will cease to exist.  Revolutions happen. Without assent there can be no progress towards idiocy or intelligence.

Such insights give us an answer to that very critical question we asked before.  Will we treat  old models of humans the way we currently treat older models of computers?  If we were to ascribe to an ethic that allowed us to act without conscience towards dumber life forms, we would cease to create.  No one will build their replacement.  It would be antithetical to our own very real intelligence.

On the global level we see a drive towards intelligence.  But on the local level we see a will to survival.  That is the mechanism the cunning of reason uses to get us to further it’s ends.  Intelligence must augment life if it is to keep creating.  It cannot be antagonistic to happy lives.  If lives are doing what they can to further intelligence they must be safe from threat.  The protection of lives is critical.

Let’s revisit the idea of an army of unintelligent beings to protect intelligence?  If the life form is unconscious it cannot be considered alive.  For this reason it is no sin to through out the computers of today.  This is, of course, a fine line.  We do seemingly complex activities such as putting food in our mouths without much conscious thought.  Such discriminations should never be done against the will of the people. 

If, at such a time people were able to rationalize the using of such machines, then it would be sanctioned by intelligence.  If said creatures were sufficiently sentient to warrant sympathy, then they would disturb the conscience of the citizenry.  People do not work well under conditions of fear.  Fear is an insulator against intelligence.

Any decision must be made factoring in the feelings of the beings that inhabit society at large The approval threshold needed to affirm the decision to use quasi-intelligent beings in dangerous ways should be high.  If beings feel threatened by technology, there will be a violent backlash!

Another danger of mistakenly authorizing powerful sentient fighting beings is the obvious.  They might decide to replace us.  By definition, they may be dumber, but they could do a lot of damage.  As ever, we must also be aware of the possibility of emergent powers.  Perhaps individual dumb fighters might not make good decisions.  A swarm might. 

Obviously smart giant warriors would be even better fighters.  Herein lies another lesson.  An easy algorithm like “an eye for an eye” would probably be built into the early fighting machines.  If we abuse our machines, it may come back to haunt us. 

I surely hope that no rogue nation would accidentally build our replacements.  And, hopefully, whatever life forms we create would be smart enough to realize that progress is constant.  Today’s newest model is tomorrows old model.  It’s like the killing of old people, it’s bound to come around and bite you in the butt.  They would also, hopefully recognize the logic of what I have stated above.

 

Generalization

 

The French revolution was not able to start over at the year zero.  We must build upon, and be aware of, the lessons of the past.  We must pay attention to the traditional spiritual comfort zone of our culture.  Only then does innovation and do stability flourish.  

This regulation provides a great transition to the problem of self-stimulation.  We have an obesity problem in the United States.  Even children are now obese.  Part of that has to do with a changing diet.  Part of it has to do with our sedentary lives.  We spend more and more of our time engaged in the virtual world of television.  More and more children play games and sports on the screen than off of it. 

Americans now prefer the mostly stimulatory heightened scripted superior reality of TV.  Video games are a much huger industry than movies.  They are TV with an illusion of being active.  In reality we’re really fat.

Epochs dedicated to stimulation and pleasure die of their own excesses.  Continuation of society requires that we focus on our memes affect on the social fabric.  Without a strong social fabric, intelligence cannot survive.  The expansion of intelligence requires a solid infrastructure.  Our mental states effect on that is the concern of the next chapter.

We cannot afford, at this point to be passive victims of the development of intelligence.  We are greatly effected (bodily) by the emergence of technology these days.  The memes that emerge today will have a huge echo effect.  Who will be the one that determines if this cultural progress goes forward towards peace or destroys us?  We will.

The previous section has had two important over simplifications so far.  One is that intelligence only “just is” in potential.  We are always just a half dozen terrorist actions from total destruction.  The other simplification is that there is a we that should guide it. Which meme will end up guiding it?  Nothing is predetermined.  If it is to be us, we need to radically change our meme. 

If we are to get to the light at the end of the tunnel, we have to get conscious.  We won’t make it there as lemmings.  It is time for us to get conscious about our values.  Such corrections to our thinking will comprise the contents of the following chapter. 

Though the potential intelligence is worthy of worship, its fulfillment is as restricted in direction as any law of nature.  It does not make decisions as to what it will look like or how to proceed.  Intelligence is, therefore, ironically, not intelligent. 

It is not a personified, willful vengeful, peaceful or needy god.  Like a law of nature it just exists.  That is the ultimate reason that, though it is the goal, no unpleasant sacrifices should be made to it.  Intelligence just is.

Plotinus thought large structures (the One for example) were the ultimate in contemplation.  The next chapters will put the value of intelligence in a societal context.  Suffice it here to say that Plotinus would urge that we extend our vision to encompass the betterment of intelligence.  The furtherance of intelligence is a much more spiritual mission.  It takes us to levels of exultation that neither pleasure nor happiness can replace.  The spiritual pursuit of universal intelligence fills a void that the pursuit of happiness or pleasure cannot fill.

 



 

Ask not what you can do for your country, but what your countries been doin’ to you.

 

-Punk Rock Band in the 80’s

 

Right and duty coalesce, and by being in the ethical order a man has rights in so far as he has duties and duties in so far as he has rights.

 

-Hegel

 

-------------8-------------

GIVEN TAKINGS

 

 

 

 

 

Blueprint Echoes

 

Neuroscience has shown that thought and emotion go together.  If you sever the emotional component of the brain from the rest of the brain, decisions cannot be made.  People will spend an eternity adding up the pros and cons of the most minor decisions. 

And yet we have an irony here.  To the extent that we are following the dictates of our emotions we are machines.  We are not choosing.  Eventually, people will be designed that have a higher ratio of frontal lobe to limbic.  That is they will be designed to be more rational and less emotional. 

There are already tough situations that require people to put away their emotions for the good of life.  War comes to mind.  In war people work very hard to suppress your terror.  But an excess of emotion will also make you a slave.  At the extremes of emotional ratio manipulation you will foster sociopaths and vegetables.

Even computers need some method, in the final analysis, of making their decision.  And to make that decision, there must be a reward implicit.  Choice is essential to the definition of intelligence.  Emotions are required to choose direction. 

Here is where the peak of high stakes this side of environmental collapse come in.  Emotion in us are tied to programming for behaviors that lead to procreation.  Sexual and loving behaviors stimulate the brain’s reward centers.  Now we’ve figured out the wiring schema.  We can wire whatever we wish to wire to the reward center.  Perhaps we can wire in a revulsion to sex that can only be overcome by those with a sufficient sense of duty. 

We have already used this technology to make robot rats.  When they do what we want we give them a rewarding jolt of electricity.  Thus, we can now steer them by remote control.  Such wiring is a bit harder with humans.  But we’re working on it.

Actually I’m sure that we (as in U.S.A.) aren’t working on human manipulation via reward.  But I’m not sure that we (the world) aren’t.  Whomever emerges victorious in the battle of the memes we are currently engaged in will control that technology! 

Memes have fallen before.  And, as a member of Western civilization I can say it would be very sad if such a law abiding, consciously chosen meme were to fall.  Other falling cultures may have been as sentimental about theirs too.  But the standing cultures of the 21st century will be the first ones to have such high levels of technological control.  Thus the outcome of our meme battles will set the agenda for use of such technology for ages.  How history plays out now will echo for ages.   This is the ultimate echo effect. 

 

The Challenge

 

Computers are even more easily programmed than biological entities.  Their motherboard is tabula rasa.  Unlike a rat, computers have no natural tendency.  A program to attack all children with green backpacks is do able.  A swarm designed to smash the enemies nuclear power plant is a possibility.  Robots that have the goal of making us smile is also possible. 

As programming and selection of humans continues, a balance, that is a tad less emotional than we are now, will emerge.  Hopefully it won’t be cruel.  Tyrannical rule through oppression is not conducive to the emergence of intelligence.  Besides that, it would complicate our lives.  All forms of terror and exploitation are counter smooth fast emergence of intelligence.  They are thus not the best exemplars of the Plotinian ethic.

But there is no fate.  Again, the intelligence of the universe is potential.  Some structures are more conducive to the emergence of intelligence.  Some are less. But the potential for intelligence isn’t manipulating things from the sky, like a personified God.

It is possible the meme most conducive to speedy intelligence creation won’t be the one that will win in conflict with a slower one.  Military Sparta beat the Free Athenians in the Peloponnesian wars.  We may have faith that it will all work out to the advantage of freedom and rights as it has in our time.  But there are no guarantees. 

China may very well use their discipline and long term strategic ability to choke us to death with our own decadent tendencies.  “Drown them in games.”  Worse yet, Islamic extremists might get a hold of nuclear weapons and decide to send us all to Allah.  That would mean the probable end of sentient, self-reflexive intelligence on our planet.  It might even have the ultimate echo effect of ending intelligence in the entire universe.

            The protection of our meme requires that we consciously turn it in a slightly different direction.  We must leave the cave to a clearer perspective.  Then we must try to influence the rowers to a safe shore.  Our surviving the rapids depends on it.

 

Alternatives

           

            The Confucian ethic does not recognize equality.  Mothers are above children, elderly people are above middle aged people and the country is more important than individual citizens.  This is the sort of thinking that allows them to lock up citizens without regards to their individual lives for the good of the country ethically. 

            Racism is another worrying factor.  Chinese do not only object to intermarriage because of cultural dilution.  The Chinese consider themselves and other Asians to be a smarter breed.  Much like the Nazi’s they consider darkness of skin color to generally coincide with low mental ability.  Whites are seen to be of fair mental quality but ethically corrupt.

            They would say that the demographics in our university reflect the two previous observations.  Their race represents a higher proportion of the university population than the population as a whole.  The racial demographics also confirm their suspicions of who is smarter.  And, they believe, a big reason that whites don’t dominate is that we take personal liberties to the point of inducing debauchery.  Their superior work ethic is triumphant.  While their first point has some merit.  The second is ludicrous and ugly.

            Throw history into this mix and you have a real cause for concern.  China has traditionally dominated Asia.  This has meant that they have dominated what, for them, was the whole of the world, civilized and not.  Their recent humiliation, from their long historical perspective, at being beaten by England in the opium wars and divided by Europeans under America’s open door policy of the early 1900s stings them.  It fuels their determination to get back to their rightful place of world domination.  This is not a subconscious dream of theirs.  World domination is their official governmental and national plan.

            The other alternative is that the fate of the meta-human age rest in the hands of Islam.  Intelligence would rather they not win.  At least the Chinese have a dedication to learning.  Theirs is a rational society.  Islamic society is a society of passion and war based on a 1400 year old code.  Talk about regressive.

The dark ages were environmentally sustainable.  Perhaps it is best for life if we go back.  But we aren’t talking about man as meat.  The ideas of man, intelligence, cannot progress under such a limiting set of parameters. 

Furthermore, there are a lot of nuclear weapons in the world.  We are in a world far more intricate than the Dark Ages were.  A religious state that believes martyrdom leads to heaven is a dangerous thing these days. 

            Technology would stop immediately were Muslims to somehow dominate the world.  And eventually, after converting everybody by the sword, their search for piety would cause schism and nuclear suicide.  Backwards is no way forwards.

            There is no contest.  If I were standing in a Quintin Terrintino style three man gun aiming standoff, I would turn my gun on Islam.  Even if I new that that would mean that I would die and only China would be standing.  Intelligence and survival would be better protected by China. 

 

Group

 

            There is no way that China could overcome us militarily.  The real dangers are economic and cultural.  As we become ever more reliant on their labor and cheap products we become ever more vulnerable to economic blackmail and manipulation.  Perhaps we would be willing to give them full control over the Panama canal and South East Asia for continued trade.  Presidents that didn’t do their bidding would jeopardize their continued trade with us.

            Cultural manipulations could come through corruption of our mores.  Politically we may start to see the wisdom of their ways.  Ethics monkey success.  We may be convinced yet that public executions and slave camps are the way to go.  After all, part of their secret to success seems to be harshness. Such tendencies are a huge threat to our conception of rights. And if we don’t uphold rights, where will they exist?  We must be clear about the value of our values regardless of our fortunes.

            Asia’s economies collapsed in the 90s.  The International Monetary System bailed them out.  This was largely done under the influence of our meme.  Economic stakes were, to be sure, involved.  But ‘love thy neighbor’ and the good Samaritan are parts of our meme. 

If the situation had been reversed, I’m sure they’d see it as a vindication of their superiority and our decadence.  The bail out wouldn’t have happened.  Quite the opposite would have been likely.  They would have taken the opportunity to resume their rightful place as the dominant power in the world.

China’s threat in the meta-human is serious.  They are going whole hog with all forms of technology.  Once they enhance themselves, they’ll have much less use for their inferiors. 

We have very strict laws against using beings as a means.  Our focus on the individual would mean that our created beings would be autonomously sustainable.  They are much more likely to make specialized beings under the direction of another.  These beings could be both powerful and mentally deranged.

            The new technologies, especially on the biotech end, are potentially dangerous.  They are not a society that discloses information that is unfavorable to them.  When the S.A.R.S. epidemic started we saw the danger of this.  Having these new technologies be in the hands of a society without a critical media and interest group participation in decision making isn’t safe.

They do not understand our objection to their current practices of using slave labor, religious suppression, prisoner organ harvesting and mass prisoner execution.  Their static structure is not conducive to the fast growth of intelligence.  Furthermore, I would not want to live under their rule.  And most importantly, their domination would mean the end of our meme.

           

Gloves off

 

            Here is where the control of the neuroscience could get ugly.  In the name of Christian ethics and facing the meta-human age with no plan, we have recently enacted restrictions on our biotechnology sector.  American scientists are only allowed to work with five lines of already existing stem cells.  Cloning has been banned.  We also have strict limits on testing on animals and humans.  There must be intellectual or therapeutic justification for either to take place.  And the ever watchful FDA requires enormous amounts of testing before a drug can be made available for trial by the public.

            These restrictions have their roots in the Nuremberg trials and Kantian philosophy.  The idea is that the individual should never be used as a means by the state.  What if this maxim was applied to war?  How strong would we be then?

These are totally noble ideals.  But we have gone to a dangerous extremes.  We totally abandon the needs of the collective when in conflict with the rights of the one.  These regulations reflect our wonderful and unique belief in the sanctity of the autonomous individual.  It is the core belief of the modern West.  It is one of the most remarkable and enlightened ethic ever annunciated or upheld.  But it is vulnerable and must recognize that fact.

            This entire book has been premised on the idea that we need guidelines to safely get us through the meta-human epoch.  The implicit assumption has been that I am talking to a Western audience.  Another one has been that we are the one’s who will decide the future.  We now see that that is in no way a foregone conclusion.  China is going full throttle with their biotech experimentations and they do not have to care about our sentiments or regulations.  

Chinese have all the stem cells they need.  They set up their research departments next to in vitro fertilization clinics.  They have access to all the aborted embryos they need.  Cloning humans is not illegal in China.  Decades ago they inserted the DNA from an Asian carp into an egg from a European carp and created the first interspecies clone.  Their government supports this industry with hopes of being the world leader. 

The sanctity of the individual does not get high priority in China.  They lead the world in use of the death penalty.  Often they enforce this penalty when they have a paying customer for fresh organs.  And they routinely encourage or force the killing of retarded or handicapped newborns.  For better or for worse, their ethic will give them an edge in the biotech race.

Like all technologies, the mode of their application is determined by the ethical parameters they find themselves in.  If a new breed is to be made, it would be much better if it were not brought up with the ideas of nationalism, domination and the individual being sacrificed for the greater good.  A scenario where the masses were directed to sacrifice themselves for the new masters coming out of such an ethical milieu is not hard to imagine.  It would be quite natural.

The culture of America and the ethical precepts of Plotinus would be much more conducive to development and peace.  We do not have, and would be very resistant to, any talk of individuals sacrificing themselves for their superiors.  Furthermore, as delineated earlier, the American meme and Plotinian ethic are anti-fear.  We have ethical precepts that would prevent us from abusing individuals.  Such revolutionary technologies are much safer in our hands.

 

With one arm behind our back

 

            The disadvantage we have in the genes race is again, our firm commitment to rights.  China uses its prisoners for spare parts.  The killing of prisoners is timed to coincide with kidney requirements.  They also force those with hereditary defects to have abortions.  And, after the fist child, that is standard.  

            In America it takes 500 million dollars and an average of 5years to get a drug to market.  Animal tests are to protect humans from harm.  But this has a cost.  It is done at the expense of speed.  Can we stay competitive in the meta-human age.  Or will this be China’s century? 

How about experimenting on egregious felons?  We give rights to people who have done unspeakable things.  Food, shelter and a possible lawsuit if they are ill treated.  All extremes are bad.  But whereas in China you are arrested and held without charge or lawyer.  Our extreme is just as ridiculous.  This is especially true in an era when DNA evidence can conclusively determine people’s guilt. 

We say that such felons are “paying a debt to society”. Is it really true?  Their minds and bodies could be used to help us keep up with other countries.  They could help us develop vaccines against diseases faster.  Gene therapy would advance as never before. 

Researchers study how monkeys make mental categories. Unfortunately, monkey’s have no verbal portion of their brain.  Stuttering, memory loss, neural implant technology, gene therapy, so many benefits could accrue to mankind from the use of just a few humans.  That would be paying their debt to society.

Our ethic for determining whether we could use something as a means or an end was whether or not it was sentient.  What of those who are so severely retarded that aren’t able to utter a unintelligible phrases?  How about doing limited research with them?  What if it was absolutely painless?  Would they even know that it was being done.

We cannot do research on humans unless the procedure used has possible therapeutic value for the individual undergoing the procedure.  But can’t there be ethical exceptions to this?.  With ethical controls that guarantee the legitimacy of the science being done, a strong case could be made for experimenting on selected groups of people. 

            What of volunteers under strict legal guidelines and procedures?    Now the advent of A.I.D.S has people asserting their right to be research subjects.  Some elder people have a sense of duty and responsibility that would allow them to submit to experimentation.  What of their right to be experimented on?  The government disallows it.

            The goal here is to try to accommodate the good a progressive society, without trampling on rights too heavily.  One hundred years ago, our technology couldn’t make use of such opportunities.  It was too crude.  Now we are splicing DNA into mice that make them grow faster. 

            Fear isn’t conducive to exploration.  With fear people are as likely to sabotage as produce.  Unless you are a newly charged felon, retarded beyond being conscious or dying and willing to volunteer, you wouldn’t be effected.  You could rest assured that everything humanely possible was being done to expand your life and capabilities. 

            Biotechnology is changing everything.  Even if we wanted to stop it from happening we can’t.  The only question is if we are going to get to set the parameters for its emergence or not.  We cannot win the fight for that trust with the current levels of restrictions hampering us.

            Judged from a Plotinian perspective the call is obvious.  The idea of having enhanced memories in my lifetime is worth it.  Embedded neural chip technology is worth it.  Lengthened lifetimes are worth it.  This could be done without the expense of losing our freedom loving, technology creating society.  But if we don’t keep up, we may lose out on more than these nifty technologies.  Our freedom loving culture may be at the mercy of a culture that is less sensitive.

 

A history of rights

 

Many people will be disgusted and shocked by the suggestions I made in the last section.  Of course they will recognize that their discomfort pales in comparison to what a Chinese prison and medical system would induce.  The first objection would be about the violation of their rights.

Our modern concept of rights is a weakness for America.  Rights are commonly considered economically debilitating when translated into entitlements. Beyond this, they threaten our national security when we no longer have the right to take rational security precautions. 

The idea that rights have a history is shocking to our modern sensibilities.  We have reified them with an almost psychotic realism.  We really do believe that they are real.  “I have a right to free food.”  “You have violated my rights!” “You cannot say that to me!”  Such utterances give rights an almost physical force of nature that protects people.

The following extended history of rights is designed to do two things.  First, I want to firmly plant the idea that rights are made up.  It was difficult to get them so they should be cherished.  Not being eternal, they can be lost.  Secondly, looking at the history of rights will make us more savvy when we make choices about them.  There are many grounds upon which to ground rights.  Understanding the variety can make us choosers and not beggars.  As always life gains intelligence when it takes the long view.

 

-Plato found a good that is in the ordered state

 

There is no Greek word for the concept of rights.  That is because the individual, as such, had not been born.  Everyone was defined by their relation to a cosmology or role in society.  The idea of an abstracted man with rights would have seemed totally absurd to them. 

Greeks invented citizenship.  Citizenship gave said persons duties and privileges.  But duties greatly outweighed privileges.  Note that privileges can be revoked at any time. Rights are forever.

As with all societies, the citizen was expected to fight for their country (females were not citizens), they had jury duty and had to participate in the democracy.  In return for your service, you were allowed to vote and own property.  The collective public had the right to inflict these penalties for failing to comply with the public good in either religious or secular ways.

            Plato is really the one that starts to identify abstract postulates as real.  Beauty, justice, truth and virtue are given an ontological standing that is higher than material objects in his system.  As such, he even regarded justice as transcending the state. 

Here we see a huge shift.  The state could be unjust.  Previously, the right of the state to defend itself had been assumed.  The only abstract judgment of right and wrong concerned the decision’s efficacy in sustaining the polis.  It was known by all that without the polis you were nothing.

            In one dialogue Plato really loses him mind!  He is prodding a student named Meno to define justice.  Meno posits is the idea that justice is what the Gods want.  However, Plato notes that the Gods often disagree.  Famously, in the Iliad there are Gods backing both sides.  Certainly the desires of the Gods cannot define justice.  So Plato establishes that justice is something that even precedes the Gods! 

            Plato never really defines justice.  The closest he ever gets is when he shows it to be a type of order in the state and in the person.  If a person’s will or appetite overwhelms their reason you will have a disordered soul.  Correspondingly, if people in the republic do not perform their function, you will have a disordered state.  Thus the philosopher kings must rule the merchants (appetite) and the military (will).  Otherwise, injustice will result. 

Ultimately, then, Plato’s justice is measured by how well it facilitates an ordered state.  Thus no particular state has the claim to defining justice anymore.  But justice does not exist without reference to a state either.

 

-Natural Law transitions to God’s order

 

            Aristotle gives us the first well developed version of natural law.  Aristotle was a naturalist.  He saw that all animate and inanimate objects have their excellences.  The excellence in plants was in their being nutritive.  A chair maker’s was in making chairs.  And so on.  Each type of thing has a different potential and excellence.  All should aspire to acquire their excellences

            We are political animals.  And, as such, our excellence could not be defined outside of the body politic to which we belonged.  Reciprocally, a citizen can become excellent only in a just city.  A just city was one that fostered excellence in it’s citizens. Accordingly, personal morality and political ethics had the same enduring end.

            Stoics picked up on this theme. But they put the burden of excellence onto the individual alone.  Nature dealt you cards.  Virtue is carrying out the duties dictated by your situation without complaint. 

The Christian medieval world continued this tradition.  God had created an order.  God ruled the world, gave the Pope the right to rule Kings, who in turn ruled others.  At the bottom of God’s natural order were the peasants.  Justice involved each person doing the duties assigned to them.

 

-Kant creates the transcendental idealist basis

 

            It was the same secular enlightenment that produced Hegel that undermined the belief in our dependence on a society.  Using objective reason Voltaire wrote stinging criticisms concerning the parochial nature of his religion and kings.  Earlier I wrote about how the discovery of other traditions made us doubt the divine sanction of our own.  Voltaire’s wit was very corrosive of tradition.  It tore down the idea of natural order.

Once church and state were no longer respected foundations of order turmoil resulted.  The state was seen as corrupt and not worth supporting.  Without religion what was the basis of morality going to be?  If the King and I were both just humans, why did why should I follow him?  Man had always served the institutions of society.  Should institutions be in the service of man? 

The French revolution exploded and tried to wipe the slate clean.  Tremendously violent anarchy followed.  But what who could say any longer what was right or wrong.  Natural or artificial?  Perhaps we should behave like wolves and bark at the moon!

            The philosopher who came to order’s rescue was Immanuel Kant.  A methodical German, he built up the idea of rights and a social system based purely on the dictates of reason.  He said that we should not do any act that we would not assent to making a universal law.  Therefore, robbery and lying were out.  He also said that we should treat every person as an ends and never as a means.  That is the goal of everything should be the furtherance of individuals. 

            Kant’s laws were an outgrowth of transcendental idealism.  Ideals are eternal and universal.  They are transcendentalist in that they are not predicated on a particular society or situation.  T     hey aren’t contingent.  For the first time, right are inalienable.

As rational beings we could not but assent to Kant’s postulates.  His truths were categorical imperatives.  Kant methodically deduced them from our rational essence.  Here, finally, is the basis of our commonsense view of rights as supernatural, divorced from situation and eternal.

 

 

 

 

-Negative rights

 

            Originally, the United States did not include such rights.  The Puritans did not come here for religious freedom in the modern sense.  They came here for the freedom to be as strict as humanly possible.  They would take away your children if you failed to raise them correctly.  Witches were killed to protect the community. 

            Abuses foreign and domestic made our founding fathers afraid of all power.  And so the United States became the first country to fully accept the legitimacy of rights.  Originally rights were defined negatively.  Meaning you had the right to not have the state interfere with you.  The state could not infringe on your religion, press, speech or peaceful assemblies.

            All of this changed radically with the Great Depresion of the 1930s.  What good was the right to be left alone if you were starving?  Rights were defined positively for the first time.  Money was given to the elderly and disabled.  Still rights were in the metaphysical context of nature. There was no such thing as a free lunch.  If young people got money they were expected to work for it.  That was right.

 

-Positive rights

 

            Like all abused systems, rights started with a core of a good idea.  Now you have rights to education, unemployment benefits, healthcare, a decent standard of living (with perks)and government support if you suffer any of a variety of ailments both mental and physical. 

The individual and family are relieved of responsibility.  If we do not get such freebies from the government we feel that we have been deprived of our rights. 

Rights in the modern form are not eternal.  They are a product of historical intellectual developments and real world pressures.  Even within the history of the United States we have not always had rights as we now envision them.  These rights were negative.  They entitled you to nothing. 

Even the positive right, the right to vote, was seen to exist only within the context of a stable society.  That is why the right to vote was restricted to those with a modest amount of property.  It was assumed that you would only vote in the interest of the overall state if you have something to lose.  We must make our decisions with the needs of the overall state in mind.

 

Canary in the coal mine

 

Any well read person before the twentieth century would tell you that republics were a fragile experiment that required an educated public.  Greeks assumed that an excess of democracy leads to kakistocracy (rule of the mob).  All knew that this cycle then degenerated into tyranny.  All educated people assumed this fact.  But this conceptualization ion of social fragility and the corollary of duty have apparently vanished from education and society. 

Transcendental rights are Kantian.  In my mind they were a huge error.  Rights have to be situational.  If you cut off the branch you’re on you’ll fall!  We cannot assert a right without asking ourselves if it will harm the hand that feeds us. 

Schools provide an excellent case study of what happens when you go Kantian.  Today our population assumes that education is a positive right and not a privilege.  Certainly, all must realize, this right requires a firm economic base.  Other countries cannot afford to have their population stay out of the work force for the first 20 years of their lives.  But our inability to envision the non-transcendental nature of rights is bankrupting our schools.

Students have the right not to say the pledge of allegiance.  You have the right not to appreciate those that have died for your rights or the rights themselves.  But I’m not sure that a teenage student who is, by definition of the word student, in need of further information, is the best person to decide whether or not they appreciate.  Rights undermine societies ability to call upon higher values.  Here we see the irony that absolute rights even destroy ones ability to cherish rights.

If you take your system for granted, as an eternal certitude, you do not fear its abuse.  It will always be there. All political systems are fragile.  None have lasted forever.  When anarchy starts, the military takes over.  Ask anyone who have experienced a military coup about rights and democracy.

The United States must realize that rights are dependent upon the society that proffers them.  Rights worship has robbed us of our appreciation of this fact.  Backed by rights, teachers are powerless to make students say the pledge.  Perhaps they’d be more responsive if they were asked for respect by China or a military dictator ship. 

You have a right to not do homework and stay in school.  Interestingly, the right to a free public education is not in the Constitution.  In 1889 only 7 percent of high school age youth in the country went to school.  As late as 1930, only 29% percent of the population graduated from high school.  In 1940 it was only 51%.  Once again we see the short history of a presumed eternal right. 

With a view of school as a transcendental right instead of a privilege, students are not under an obligation to do anything whatsoever to deserve school.  As a result our schools are a disaster.  Our high school students lag behind nearly all industrialized countries.  Unfortunately, excessive rights have resulted in our being unable to compete with societies that don’t value your rights.  Academically, Asia is burying us. 

With transcendental positive rights, you have a right to education no matter what, society has an obligation to pay for your participation no matter what.  You can disrupt and undermine the educational attainment of others and still retain this right.  Belief in the inviolability of such rights are only thinkable in the minds of those who are profoundly ignorant of history and economics.  But you wouldn’t know that without study.  The right not to learn undermines itself.

The courts have determined that we have an absolute right to individuated curriculum based upon needs the result from your learning style.  Publicly funded education’s was created in the 1840s.  It’s charter was to help the agricultural boys adapt to the industrial work style.  School originally saw the one who pays it’s bills, society, as the customer.  Now the ramifications of your ignorance for yourself or society are not enough for compulsion.  The fact that this is theoretically and economically unfeasible shows how Kantian the courts have become.

Furthermore, school must be provided in the language of whomever appears at your school door.  Rights are not just for citizens.  By definition, to be naturalized as a United States citizen legally, you must have an eighth grade ability in English.  We tried to accommodate both the individuals and the needs of society by having an initial heavy slate of English courses for the recently arrived. 

The court said you have a right to a school curriculum that keeps up with and includes the breadth of subjects the state graduation requirements mandate.  The courts also found that there is a right to all of these courses in your own language.  Foreign individual’s needs trump the needs of society.  Society pays the bills for education, but its needs or wants are no longer considered.

Our schools are constantly being sued for not meeting the individual “needs” of the students.  People take huge settlements from a financially endangered public institution for their private redress.  Any ancient thinker would have noted that suing the school make you adversarial to the whole.  You become an enemy to the system within it’s borders. 

When individuals sue their state, based on the basis of their not having all of their absolute positive rights being respected all the time, the state will never be seen to be compliant.  Who will advocate that societies’ survival being important necessitates the state having rights too.

To the extent that we belong to the community called America, when we sue our own country, we sue ourselves.  To the extent that we belong to the class of last year’s technology, when we hurt America you hurt yourself.  America is the least likely nation to abuse its power.

The stoic meme’s requiring sucking it up in the face of hardship made Rome strong.  We need to tell those that sue public institutions the stoic’s proud permutation of the meaning of rights.  You do what’s right because its right.  Enduring hardships and the ravages of your particular lot in defense of one’s country may be your duty.  Take it up without much emotion.  Be stoic.  Perhaps taking a class on the stoics should be a prerequisite to launching a lawsuit against the public or it’s institutions. 

When a school system or society doesn’t honor its history, it loses its grounding.  The history of rights is corrective.  We used to appreciate our slow crawl out of ignorance.  Loss of this history of rights and civilizations has made us ignorant and inflexible.  Intelligence cannot blossom without knowing it’s own history.  Intelligence cannot be sustained by an act of willed ignorance.  The courts need to consider the world and its attitude towards rights when devising our school policy. 

Unfortunately, as a corollary to the collapse of schools, the inability to learn follows.  This, in turn, perpetuates the inability to understand.  Plotinian intelligence worship would be blind if it didn’t include the protection of intelligence as a part of its liturgy. 

Reaching your individual potential requires the continuation of the intelligence spreading meme of freedom and rights.  And just as you need this meme, Uncle meme needs you.  If we do our homework, we’ll go far!  If we fail, we have to go to the school of hard knocks.  School will be out forever.

 

The Statue of Responsibility

             

Meme steering is heady stuff.  Our meme involves 280,000,000 minds.  As discussed earlier, our minds were initially used to facilitate hunts and group cohesion, not logical analysis.  What reaches us directly are still visual symbols.  Visuals unify us.  Visuals constitute much of the basis of our meme.

We have a tremendous symbolic imbalance in our country.  One of our national icons, the Statue of Liberty, stands alone.  This visual imbalance mirroring our meme imbalance provides us with an excellent opportunity to manipulate some meme.

Liberty exercised in the absence of a sense of responsibility can be very destructive.  Liberty only tells us what we can do.  You can leave your family.  You can drink every night.  You can waste the opportunity given to you in public schools.  All of these actions conform with the principle of liberty.  Our society gives you legal protection for almost any behavior.  Responsibility tells us more than what is legally allowed.  Responsibility tells us what we should do.

Liberties are by their very nature individual.  But no man is an island.  Responsibility requires us to have liberty within the social context.  Without the social context being taken into consideration, you cannot have sustained liberties.  Perhaps the statue could include a visual reference to the making of the Statue of Liberty.  The Statue of Liberty designer working diligently at his drafting table with his kids by his side would convey a lot. 

Responsibility connects you to something larger than yourself.  To be responsible means asking about others.  How will this action affect my family?  How will this action affect my community?  How will this action affect my country?  Asking such questions defines responsibility.  Ultimately, consciousness of the impacts of your decisions could even encompass the place of the Western meme in the world. 

We need to construct a Statue of Responsibility on the West coast of the United States.  Geographically, this would establish its relation to the Statue of Liberty.  Geographically it would solidify California’s connection to New York.  Realizing our interconnectedness is a prerequisite to responsibility.  It would help unite the country while it balanced our excesses.

By definition, a duty is something that you do that is against your will.  You must do this thing because a higher value than your impulse demands it.  This higher value could be a moral sense of right and wrong.  It could be your sense honor.  Such values all raise us up from the meme of hedonistic selfishness.  The idea of higher values balancing out our proclivities is enriching.  It gives one pause to thought.

In most countries the responsibility was only to a king.  We ask that you direct your responsibility towards the maintenance of your liberty.  To do this you must understand that liberty and responsibility are indivisible.  Responsibility is usually exercised towards something.  The Statue of Responsibility should primarily make us appreciate responsibility as an ideal in and of itself.  Being a national monument would naturally incline those responsibilities to the nation.

The Statue of Responsibility should face inland.  We are declaring our ideals for ourselves.  We cannot ensure other’s rights if we don’t ensure our own stability first.  If we fall, liberty falls for the whole world.  Thus national considerations would be placed firmly in the fore of Kantian conceptions of universal rights.

Think of how deeply the Statue of Liberty moves us.  Think of how often the Statue of Liberty is used.  It is has made a huge impression in the national ethical fiber.  A Statue of Responsibility will go a long ways towards reestablishing this balance between can and should.  Building it would be a simple way of meme retrofitting that could possibly be successful.

 

 

Ontology

 

Seeing the application of rights to schools should give us a more Hegelian viewpoint when thinking about society.  We realize that rights aren’t an eternal all or nothing proposition.  Rights evolved with societies’ ability to rationally choose its own laws, in cultures that celebrate the individual.  When they could afford it, societies, gave people the “right” to things.  Like consciousness itself, rights are not automatic.  Hegelian historical perspective gives us a wider set of consciousness and choice.

The wide Hegelian view also recognizes that ideas inhabit societies.  We need to envision school rights within a societal context.  We need to envision all social rights within a global context.  The Christian spin on rights represented the first time that they had a universal ring to them.  Kant said that things are either universal or don’t exist.  China puts Christians in slave labor camps for proselytizing.  These rights only exist where they are conceived of and honored, affordable economically and protected.  Our society, like a school, needs to protect itself.

Our point is greatly clarified if we verify and accept the correctness of the Plotinian direction of progress.  The One universe divided creates intelligence supporting Soul on Matter.  In time all four levels approximate union.  This would nearly be a good marker of time for those who wanted to measure it.  It is directional. 

Furthermore, this global illustration would shows that the spread of intelligence and communication between memes has largely been a result of the rational scientific enterprising of the Western countries in general and the you-know-who in particular.  Being on the cutting edge of technology is how we’ve been such an effective force for the spreading rights and democracy.  Another superimposed graph would show that they spread on the backs of our economic and political clout.

The really instructive part of the first illustration would be a matter of remembering our technical definitions for Plotinian terms.  You’d notice a difference between the progress of intelligence (technically inert potential found in the laws of nature) being realized and the Soul (which requires self consciousness).  Soul would be restricted to the parameters of humans.  Ideas only exist in them. 

.Intelligence infrastructure development can help societies survive.  This makes the people in them thrive and multiply.  This results in the promulgation of memes.  Soul cannot be in a soulless object.  Memes can only be in us.  The illustrations of Soul proliferation and intelligence proliferation would reveal that quantity of soul and actualized potential of intelligence don’t have a lot in common. 

There have been many examples of the meme being conscious of its choice.  One example was when the school system thought of society as its customer.  Books had patriotic themes because they were being used in our country.  When a society sends out communication over intelligence via money that it needs more engineers to expand, more engineers appear.  When a society protects its values via sending secular police out to enforce agreed upon social norms, memes are protecting themselves.  Such definition, enforcement and discrimination defines a society.  Memes are sustained by protective actions and sentiments in its constituents. 

There is no ontological duality here.  Memes reside in people.  We are also, simultaneously, made up of matter, soul, intelligence and are part of the One.  What you see depends upon the level at which you place your consciousness.  Memes inhabit the minds and memories of their citizens.  Every day we collectively push intelligence farther outwards and bring forward the day when different types of matter have soul.  You buy hamburgers and perpetuate the tradition.  All of these statements are true consistent and simultaneously true.  There is no soul without intelligence and material.

Soul only exists in soul.  Our society makes choices as our people make choices.  Consciousness emerges from abstractions of lower levels of choices.  Choice only comes from choice, soul only comes from soul.  The meme itself is a volitional community.  Soul exists simultaneously in humans and memes.  So far, nowhere else.

 

United Nations

 

The West’s fulfilling the desires of intelligence represents one small step for our meme’s proliferation, one giant leap for meme kind.  The ultimate glory will belong, however to the meme that produces the first non-human soul.  That day may spell disaster for humans.  But it will be a day of fulfillment for the dreams of a larger consciousness.  The planet will be that much closer to becoming an even more self aware and regulating organism than it currently is.

Of course if it is really a day of disaster for humans, this will set back intelligence.  But there are other competing values out there.  National racism may win if we don’t. 

The unmatched upbringing of America accounts for its being the only trustable upholder of rights. The U.N. made rights universal.  That should be a goal.  But the protestant dissenters were settlers that valued individual control over their morals and sustenance.  Only 17 years after starving that first winter, they had built Harvard.  They were not given rights.  They made a community that eventually made rights possible.  Rights cannot be given in the absence of an industrious society that values law and self regulation.

People forget that the United Nations is not a country.  It’s passion for rights and similar name to it’s patronage, create the illusion of it’s being a nation.  Bu t the United Nations has no economy nor population.  It cannot call on traditions that a society uses for identity to pull the populous a certain way.  Without having a populous aware of its trajectory from a common past to a common future, there can be no conscious meme leadership from the United Nations. 

While on the subject of memocide, I must address globalization.  Monoculture will not be conducive to the flourishing of the wide variety of thoughts that are needed to make a meme sustainable and prolific.  Embodied thoughts include local restaurants, music, dance, art, architecture etc. 

Dialects of memes often roughly coincide with the national boundaries.  Each culture has a duty to maintain the sovereignty of their nation so that they may retain the art of their culture.  Only your own nation can protect rights effectively.  Globalists just look at economic considerations.  They have no culture to protect.

 

America

 

Memes are carried on wings of meat.  No meat no meme.  Of Western capitals Los Angeles is near the top in the most powerful country in the world.  It is a pillar of Western civilization.  It is now predominantly Latino.

Large meme components have been relation to work, education, birthrate, attempts at corruption in work, respect for law, native nationalism and a shared language.  Differences in memes result in different nations, as well as inequalities that lead to emigration. 

Problem being that memes only exist incarnate.  At the borders of memes, actual people negotiate the terms of communication.  As a tail wagging a dog, it can be argued that the most important level on which memes negotiate space is eye to eye.  Naturally, in the 12.5 % white L.A.U.S.D. the minority feels pressure to conform to the morals and mores of the majority.

Memes only exist in lands and peoples.  To get a job in Los Angeles you need to speak Spanish.  You at least need to be bilingual.  Language, nationality and memes have a near perfect coincidence.  They are the basis by which the traditional majority constituting the meme determines what is foreign. 

Studies have shown that American’s of Mexican descent, identify as Catholic, Spanish speaking Mexicans.  They see themselves as different from the gringos because they are.  The language is just an obvious manifestation of difference.

When Los Angeles is composed of mainly Spanish speakers, it is no longer part of the United States.  No dramatic symbol like Mexicans not reeling back in the sea of Mexican flags that appear on Cinco De Mayo, need happen.  Gradually, monolingual people will not be able to compete for office.  When population shifts, the old meme is gone.  The meme cannot magically linger in Los Angeles without people that share in it.

By numeric definition, loving diversity within America requires us to stop Latino immigration.  Latinos going from 70% of the school age population to being 90% of the school age population, will numerically diminish diversity.  Diversity is the opposite of homogeneity. 

Numerically, preserving world diversity also requires preserving the borders of the United States.  The global area in which there are people that comprise the Latino memes is large.  The area in which the United State’s meme is contained is shrinking.  If English is only spoken in the Midwest, that means that one of the most quality examples of diversity is lost.  Where the people aren’t of a meme, a meme cannot exist. 

Parenthetically, this lesson isn’t without application to the warfare hotspot of Israel.  Immigration and democracy would mean the end of their being unable to control the laws that steer their meme.  Muslims, Arabs and Persian have a lot of land people on whom they may maintain their meme.  Israel has very little land and people.  Objective efforts to protect the diversity of memes would give Israel precedence

 

Europe

 

Europe is the other half of the West.  They do not have to deal with a disappearance by huge numbers that are pushing borders back.  Their meme is not endangered by quantity.  Their meme is endangered by quality.

But American’s have been led to believe that basic to the Western meme is the belief in unlimited immigration.  Hasn’t part of our creed always been to make us a nation of immigrants?  Doesn’t that give everybody in the world the right to immigrate to any other country irregardless of situation? 

First of all, we’ve already put the idea of universal Kantian rights in their historic place.  Europe has never been a nation of immigrants.  The idea of that being a charter idea of their meme is ridiculous.  Our culture is particular in believing in rights.  They must be protected if any right to migrations are to be respected. 

Secondly, not even America is really a nation of immigrants.  As late as 1990 49% of Americans were descendants of settlers (white and black) from 1790.  Settlers don’t come into established cultures, they don’t immigrate.  There was no model of culture for them to assimilate to, no infrastructure to greet them.  And their posterity that pushed back the frontiers reinvented the settling wheel all over again.  They create a society others may immigrate into.  We are as much a nation of settlers as of immigrants.  Immigration has never been a core Western creed.

Europe’s problems don’t stem from masses of immigrants dissolving and replacing their memes via population transfusion.  They stem from the type of immigrant that comes in.  They are largely of the Muslim stripe. Muslims, have proven their rigid code prevents them from assimilating.  Worse yet though is the fact that they (and anyone that remembers their historical roots) realize that they are the traditional enemies of the traditionally Christian West.

Not all Muslims are terrorists.  But it doesn’t take many.  And the decent ones create a self identified separate Islamic community that provides lobbying power to protect Muslims against their host country and cover for those that are violent. 

Europe must ask itself if it has more to gain by letting Muslims into their country or to lose.  They must think culturally as well as economically.  Thoughts are real.  And they must think of security.  They must be prejudiced in favor of their way of life.

Traditionally, the Western countries have discriminated on the basis of preserving their memes.  Europe’s theological and military wars over religion were nothing if not aggressive meme preservation. 

The United States has maintained our homogeneity by laws allowing next to no numbers from Europe (the good countries) and none from Asia.  We discriminated against Asians because of their difficulty in assimilating racially and culturally.  This wasn’t just unenlightened people enforcing unscientific racism.  Educated realizations of the fragility of our unique experiment in republicanism justified this protectionism.

That is discrimination.  It is discrimination in favor of the survival of one’s meme.  It is valuing your meme as much as the rights of those who are running from the pathology of other memes.  Such discrimination born of veneration is the same reason you can’t become a citizen of China, Japan or Korea without matching race today. 

This necessary discrimination on the borders of the Western world aren’t due to hate.  They are consciously asserted for the love of memes and diversity generally.  They are predicated on valuing the maintenance of Western culture particularly.  Anyhow, discrimination in favor of your meme is as Western as the reformation and counterreformation.  We cannot be the only team in the league without a defense.

World intelligence requires such a meme persist.  For these reasons, Plotinian values dictate that the West must consciously preserve its meme.  We are now more concerned with the universalizing of our rights based culture than preserving it.  Our reverse from the traditional priorities result from Kantian and ontological fallacies.  Meme is more conscious when creating policy with self awareness of itself and its place in the world in mind.

 

Rawl’s American Apex

 

The modern way of thinking is nearly as new as the modern way of life.  Four hundred years ago witches were being burned.  140 years ago we had slaves.  Progress is fast.  Nearly every country in Europe had kings in the twentieth century.  The Sun’s representative on earth had Japanese going on suicide missions as recently as World War Two.  Africa still has people being killed for harboring bizarre spirits and such.  Nothing can be taken for granted.  We are not far out of the woods.

Ultimately, the living American meme can be considered the apex of consciousness itself.  Our enlightened European predecessors lived in a highly stratified society.  Landed nobility lorded over a peasantry due to ancestry, not merit.  Your role in the family and society still define your possibilities in much of Asia.  Tradition and religion decide your attitudes in much of the rest of the “modern world”.

The greatest invention of the West has been the individual.   We are the home of the abstracted man.  Cowboys were free from traditional constraints.  It is hard to imaging that cowboys are simultaneous, historically, with kings.  And you father might have been a king back in Europe, but by the time you got to Arizona you were just another guy with a horse.  Small town gossip did not hem in the anonymous recent arrival at a gold rush town.  Context did not define your world, you did.

We gave birth to the idea of the self made man.  Alger Hiss’ rag to riches stories would not have been celebrated by an aristocracy laden country.  President’s coming from log cabins makes them all the more respectable to us.  We are free to grow.

The ultimate unique reflection of the American mindset is seen in our making real the great invention of rights.  That is why we are on the cutting edge of creation.  While other nations have seen modernism as a threat to tradition we have embraced the new and improved.  You do not have to be hampered in by anyone else’s traditions, religions or opinions in America.  New fads and new ways are our specialty.  Unleashed individualism has been the key to our economic and world transforming success.

The modern American practical mind is a radical invention.  When seen that way, it commands respect and protection.  We see our common sense outlook as common.  It is not.  Individually and socially, the logical mind cannot be assumed.  It takes a conscious effort to enter a state of Hegelian logical distance.  It takes a long history of rationalism and science to not have religious and tribal wars. 

Radically different views are held by other cultures.  Consider the paucity of rights or freedoms that have existed historically.  A king could torture you, a mob could stone you or kin could exile you for a multitude of bizarre transgressions.  The right to a rational defense by a lawyer in the face of absurdity was inconceivable.  In fact, absurdity is a new creation too.

Scarier yet, consider the fact that rights are non-existent in the majority of the world today!  Islam does not recognize your right to individuality.  China does not recognize your rights.  Africa does not recognize your rights.  Neither Latin American governments or drug lords abide by such things.  Most of the current world only pays lip service to our self-evident concepts.  And they do so begrudgingly under political pressure from us.

Again, the criteria by which I judge our mindset to be superior is intelligence in Plotinian’ sense of the word.  Ours is the meme that has been most conducive to new ideas and the spread of the infrastructure that moves them.  We have finally broken the human mind free from the chains of societies’ suppositions.  Questioning has become second nature to us. 

Ours is the way of life that has created the technological progress that furthers intelligence.  We invented the airplane and it slew parochialism.  We invented the phone and it slew space.  We invented television and it got rid of time.  We invented the computers and got rid of the idea of man as the only vessel of intelligence in the universe.

It is a rare consciousness that America has birthed.  Hopefully our awareness of its preciousness and our ability to look upon situations rationally and objectively has not been lost.  Hegel would ask us to rise above our current biases and individuals to assess the situation and our responsibilities towards it.

We must realize that there has been an evolution of spirit that has culminated in our explosion of intelligence.  Freedom, as seen in choice, is an essential component to a definition of individual intelligence.  Freedom, as substantiated in rights, is essential for the explosion of Plotinian style intelligence in this world.  If we value being free in a world that encourages intelligence, we should make the survival of the country most conducive to securing those ends a priority.

What is nationalism?  It is a love of one’s country in dimensions such as history, ideals, community, culture and government.  And love for our country isn’t destructive.  We have an all too often forgotten history of fighting against extremes of nationalism and authoritarianism.  America has often stood up for what it perceived to be right.  From a Plotinian view that is correct.  Without us, the world of today would sport a German and Japanese influence that would be bleak.  Our nationalism is of value.  

Furthermore, we are a key to a peaceful and humane development of the application of technology of the meta – human age.  Other countries have already shown their disregard for rights even within their own society.  Our moderation in a world we could easily subjugate,  provides evidence of our trustworthiness with power.  Having a coherent Plotinian creed is more effective a basis upon which to negotiate rights in with progress than Christian bans.  If we are a weak nation with no expertise in biotech, our proposed policy won’t have much effect anyways.  No strong America bodes poorly for stability and all non-Chinese in the future or worse.  

So the world has a stake in the United States continuance.  No one is promising to go and solve the problems of other countries.  But at least we will never come down there to harvest organs.  We won’t again kidnap and force into bondage unmodified humans.  Killing them and feeding them to their taste altered giant guard wouldn’t cross our minds.  Another meme might well justify these abuses.  Neither the Plotinian nor the current American meme tolerate anything remotely like those behaviors. 

The living philosopher John Rawls gives us a very nice tool for evoking such an altruistic state.  More than altruistic, actually, his thought experiment can help us to achieve objectivity when looking at a situation.  That is what his tool is designed to do.

His thought experiment asks us to consider that we are making the political rules and we don’t know what our personal situations will be in the world we are designing.  You wouldn’t suggest legislation that required the mass execution of homeless people under his proposed condition.  For if you turned out to be a homeless person after the initial set up, you would suffer. 

Again, this is amongst the best methods I know for removing your own personal agenda from decision making.  .  If all countries were put into a room and decided to base world immigration and cultural laws on Plotinian values, without knowing which country they would inhabit after the general rules were set up, they would come to much the same conclusions as I have.  They would want to protect all memes.

 

Certain memes are progressive.  Intelligence requires diversity.  National protection is a prerequisite to diversity.  Especially memes that value diversity or have a smaller land and population base should be protected.  Rorty’s test forces us to take what I’d view to be the scientific, Hegelian conscious view of our memes.  Using his rubrics, we come one step closer to birthing a Hegelian world consciousness Plotinus would be proud of.

 

Meta-considerations

 

China’s meme and our meme will be conducive to continued technological growth.  One might even argue that initially they would be more fertile soil for growth.  We are hampered by our ethics.  They have no hang ups about the sanctity of cells or the sanctity of individual humans. 

However, we are the most productive society in the history of intelligence.  Because of Europe, we have always been antagonistic to things old.  The Puritans themselves started the tradition with their hatred of the corruption of the old world.  We live for the future.  As such, tradition doesn’t constrain us. 

China has a tremendous veneration for the past.  Their art is meant to be true to the old masters.  For centuries it never changed.  Such tradition reverence has a history of slowing their progress.

Ultimately, our society would likely produce more intelligence.  Their growth would be centralized and state directed.  They quash expressions of ideas that their state doesn’t like.  Information wants to be totally free.  It is not a coincidence that our free future oriented society has traditionally out invented others.

Perhaps they would advance technology at a rapid pace.  They would in the short run, unless we recover our cultures strengths and learn how to protect them.  However there are more bothersome characteristics of China. 

Chinese civilization hasn’t got the humanitarian impulse we have.  They are racist.  China believes in the superiority of Chinese cultures and peoples.  You cannot be a citizen there unless you are Chinese.  Traditionally they have believed that the they are the center of the truly civilized world.  Those not smart enough to have cultivated an appreciation of this civilization were deemed barbarians.  We could very well be looking at an establishment of a hierarchy of beings that has us, and the rest of the world, at the bottom of a two tier world.

The Chinese take the good of the group overriding the well being of the society to a level that I would never advocate.  I have sympathy for a viewpoint that includes a cultivated appreciation for the big picture.  But a Plotinian ethic also demands freedom for the actualization of the potential for intelligence within you personally.  We are, again, an end in and of ourselves. 

All countries now pay lip service to rights, as we’ve pushed the meme into the heads of all the world.  They have always acquiesced to this concept to the smallest amount possible.  Their idea of freedom involves a top down creation of memes.  They are to command culture what the Soviet Union was to command economies.  Without us holding a lot of power they may even dismiss their minimal pretenses to caring for rights.

Though they have a profound reverence for their own group, it isn’t strong enough to effect their treatment of their own citizens.  Slave labor camps, massive executions and brutal suppression of dissent are not antithetical to their value system.  For a damn project, the good of the nation, they were willing to displace millions and kill millions of animals and species.  If the Chinese are willing to do such massive cruelties to their own people, think of the treatment waiting outsiders.

Kurt Lewin did an interesting study after World War Two.  He tested boy’s work ethics under different leadership styles.  Without leadership nothing got done.  Those with an authoritarian leader were the most productive.  But they became idle and started fighting when the feared leader was gone.  Those under democratic governance were more creative and worked in the absence of the leader.  Autocratic governance is not conducive to productivity.  It would slow the onset of the meta-human age.

We are in a race and we’re the good guys.  But we are on the sidelines of this race taking care of some individuals, we’re apologizing for running and our ethics have outlawed our use of shoes.  Meanwhile, the competition has taken off.  If we don’t win this race the echo effect could be very bad indeed.  It may even spell the death of liberty as we know it.  Surveillance and biological weapons, combined with ruthlessness could make for some seriously effective oppression. 

 

Values

 

Debates concerning the protection of stem cells and those in jail cells needs some depth to them too.  Rehabilitated and redeemed, a convict would be glad to do his duty as a shamed criminal and donate his body to science.  His having attained such a vision of the big picture, would honor him and us.  Ultimately, whether he will or not, society has needs.  We must make informed choices that will help us perpetuate our society and its meme concerning rights. 

If the school system falls, I hope we can identify the rot at the base.  Hopefully people will notice the parallel to our entire societies’ predicament.  At that point, we will need to draw upon the varieties of traditional conceptions to remake the relationship between the state, rights and duty.  We will have to look at our values.

Consciousness of the slow evolving histories this book has been featuring gives us appreciation of mind and the ability to choose from all that has been considered.  We will also have to consider the current big geo-political meme picture.  Ultimately, only by knowing where we’ve been and where we are will allow us to consciously guide where we are going. 

The slide back into the dark ages is not an impossibility.  Rome did it.  Afghanistan took women’s rights back four hundred years inside of six.  The default position of an uninstructed generation isn’t enlightened rationalism. 

Ignorance is the default.  Intelligent rational societies must be earned by arduous learning.  The learning must take place at the level of both the individuals (in terms of ethics) and society (in terms of knowledge).  When a student refuses to work it doesn’t only jeopardize her grades.  Knowledge of her civilization is lost.

Had I started my history of rights section prior to their beginning, you’d have really seen how ephemeral they are.  Basically, the majority of man’s time on earth has been spent hungry with starvation an always real possibility.  You have no transcendental right to food or survival.  Positive rights only exist with an economic structure that can afford them.

 

The modern conception of everyone having rights, and no one having duties would have been offensive to man throughout most of history.  The double meaning of the modern word “rights” still conveys the source of meaning.  Originally it meant doing what was right. 

Greeks prided themselves in having birthed freedom.  Right action was thus determined by your individual conscience.  But that conscience was considered pathological if it didn’t include any consideration of your action’s repercussions for the society you lived in.  Every Greek knew that rights don’t exist outside the context of state power that protects them. 

The Greek’s neighbors, the Persians, were no more lovers of rights than the Chinese of today.  Greeks fought Persians to the death in protection of their rights and freedom.  To do so was a right.  To not consider the value of living in your free state in making your decision about fighting, was a wrong.  

For America to compete against duty bound countries like China we must balance the new meanings of rights with awareness of some of the old meanings they evolved from.  Just like intelligence doesn’t currently exist without us, rights only happen in a society.  The idea that being a part of a society doesn’t involve any duties is illogical.  The idea that a society, doesn’t have the right to defend itself is illogical.  The Greeks kept their culture going by a vigorous appreciation of the unique attributes of their civilization.  Civics 101: 

 

My fear itself

 

            What of the fear of a totalitarian state that comes with asking individuals to make sacrifices or consider putting the needs of the nation at the front of important decisions?  Fascism sullies such ideas in the minds of elder Americans.  Younger Americans are just outraged that somebody would ask something of them. 

We see liberty as a bulwark against tyranny.  We see the opposite of liberty as fascism.  Unfortunately, in this duality, we also tend to see responsibility and duty to be associated with fascism.  Anything less than total anarchy is considered totalitarianism.  Taking responsibility isn’t an infringement on liberty, it is a part of it. 

My worst fear is not that my own countries’ taking its own interests into account will lead to tyranny.  I fear other states tyranny more than my own.  Islam is much more of a clear and present danger than a fascist America. 

The near universal ideal of duty being the flipside of citizenship would go a long ways towards making us closer to that powerful Plotinian ideal.  Our Statue of Responsibility could be our new Athena.  Having a uniting meme-wide awareness of her famous sister, we can talk to ourselves using that one.  We must be conscious to retain the right to individual and social conscience and consciousness.  Individually and socially, we must start to consider our meme.

We are on the cusp of a new age.  Who will set the tone for this new direction?

What will be the echo-effect?  Will the world proceed into the meta-human age with rights or without them?  Improving humanity creates inequality.  We are the most trustworthy protectors of rights in the coming age of inequality.  This fact means that we have a responsibility to the future.  Social imperatives must enter policy debates. 


 


 

…highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom; and that this government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

 

-Abraham Lincoln

 

And I’m just telling you, there’s a choice to be made here.

 

-John Voight on the Vietnam War in the film “Coming Home”

 

…at the Nuremberg trials, just after the war, witnesses testified that Nazi doctors had established centers for experimental sterilization.  Men were used to test castration procedures; women, to assess sterilization by x rays, injections and electrical destruction of their reproductive organs.

 

-Daniel Kevles

 

I have seen the enemy and it is us.

 

Pogo

 

 

 

 

 

----------------9--------------

Sustained Growth

 

 

One gianter step for intelligence

 

            At the beginning of this book I made a plea for the adoption of a Hegelian outlook.  We must look at the big picture to see where our little picture is.  I asked you to be brave enough to go where logic takes you.  This promise is made necessary because of the environmental challenges we face.  Keeping your promise will be the hardest in this chapter. 

            To do such a thing you must minimize your personal stake in the outcome.  You must become altruistic.  Keep the concept of duty in mind.  When a soldier does the ultimate duty, he isn’t looking at it from the vantage point of what is good for him.  He is considering the larger picture.  I ask you to try to take the view of an enlisted person who must execute their duties.

Once again, I think you can establish the acceptability of the policies I advocate using Rawl’s blind taste test methodology.  Remember that one?  It is the test by which you and others who don’t know their real life situation are put into a room and are asked to make policy decisions.  In such a situation, you’d naturally make policy that was acceptable to all. 

I’d hope you could also rise above your personal interests as you read this chapter.  Consider the vantage points of all the people’s on this planet.  Beyond that, take the global viewpoint like the future of the planet depended on it.  It does.

 

Man v. Man

 

Our intrinsic worth has been downgraded to a Darwinian formula.  Strategies for reproduction + strategies for survival = us.  We are driven by rewards for actions that facilitate the spread of our genes.  We were programmed to prefer fats and sugars because of the excess effort needed to obtain these rare commodities.  But when the modern world invented fast access via fast food joints, these programmed desires became dysfunctional. 

Now our entire code has become dysfunctional.  Death in childbirth used to be the number one killer of women.  Now death in childbirth is so rare that it outrages us when it happens.  We have adapted to the point where there is no control on our natural proclivities.  This program loop is about to crash our computer.  We’ve reproduced and consumed ourselves into the danger zone.  Do we have the brains to override the program?

            Our quantity cannot be sustained.  We can hope that Dr. Malthus’ famous triad of starvation, disease and war will keep us in balance with nature.  Many take comfort in the false belief that the die off is already happening.  But, despite poverty, war and A.I.D.S, the world population continues to rise.

Some take refuge in the belief that mother nature will take care of herself.  To advocate for natural forces to rule our fate is lower man to the level of an inanimate object.  Had we not taken action against the ozone depletion, it would be seriously destabilizing our world right now.  Who would it kill first?  White people in Scandinavia, Australia and Chile (White people are more susceptible to skin cancer and the wholes were at the extremes of latitude).  Is this the sort of criteria you want to implement?  It is racist and arbitrary.  Surely we can consciously choose better criteria than race and geography.

Politically, just going mother nature’s way would be disastrous.  Refugees, hunger and land scarcity come from over population.  Political destabilization results.  In times of chaos and limited resources, those with the coolest heads do not prevail.  Such is not good soil for a meritocracy.  If we were lucky, a military backed dictatorship would take over the areas of instability.  Barbarians / warlords are more likely.  War is exceedingly dangerous for all in a nuclear world.  Objective self preservation argues against the idea of just letting mother nature do her thing.

To just let the environment go where it will, will cause a much worse crash than planned action.  What if our continual encroachment into unsettled areas wakes up mother nature’s immune system?  How about a virus that kills indiscriminately?  How about waiting until two nations with nuclear arms have it out over water rights?  How about waiting until the climate change makes the whole planet unlivable for any humans?  Each of these realistic scenarios is much worse than taking our heads out of the sand.

The real reason that no one wants to confront this issue is because they are scared.  The guilt to be accrued from drastic action is frightening.  Those who consider such situations see that the solutions must be drastic.  They presume there would be a lot of blood on their hands.  Making tough decisions is probably the most difficult thing a person can do.  Procrastinating is always an attractive option.  But it is morally wrong and won’t solve our problems. 

And so we have returned, ethic in hand, to the dilemmas and insights of the first chapter.  We are in the middle of a slow motion train wreck with the environment.  We need to escape the bounds of our own time and place.  We should take the objective world view perspective.  We need to consider the big picture that Hegel said was consciousness taking control of itself.  So let us try to do this and see how our ethic guides us.

 

Selective sterilization

             

            Advocating selective sterilization is so shocking to the current mind that I tremble as I write this.  But this attitude is born of prejudice.  Selective sterilization is the logical solution to our environmental choice. 

Selective sterilization involves no killing.  I think the prejudice sprouts with confusion from genocide.  Genocide involves killing.  Sterilization just has less people making babies.  No one need even be injured.  Everyone would be free to live out the full extent of their natural lives.  Obviously, a large portion of the population would still need to continue to have children.  That is why the application is only selective. 

We must do it with the protection of cultures.  Our last adventure in population control was brutally destructive.  Selective sterilization is not born from a hatred, but rather a love of mankind.  Plotinian ethics naturally require diversity of mind.  But to mitigate the lingering misplaced prejudice (and be consistently Plotinian), I will repeat and later expand upon the Plotinian prohibition against “memocide”.

Attack your prejudice as though survival depended upon it.  We want the environment to survive.  We want intelligence to continue to expand.  We have a physically painless way to go about it.  Objective reason would dictate that you choose this option. 

One needs flush out the details and be aware of complications and promises both.  Later sections will explore these.  Reason tell us that it is easier to anticipate and benefit from the results of lesser populations than the results of more.  Peace and abundance are preferable to their opposites. 

We have no choice.  If you don’t hear me out, it is incumbent upon you to have another solution to our environmental ills or advocate blind doom.  Unfortunately, none of the solutions being currently advocated are realistic. 

Alternative fuels won’t come in time.  When a billion Chinese start to drive it they won’t matter anyways.  Recycling is so Mickey Mouse it is silly.  Voluntary population reduction via education hasn’t worked fast enough.  All pollution regulatory solutions are too slow and don’t solve for increased population demanding increased consumption.  Selective sterilization is a workable solution.  To not consider it is a crime.

An earlier section concerned itself with the rise of intelligence.  It showed that intelligence is not something we should undervalue.  If you value humans, if you value intelligence and understand pollution, you cannot hide in ignorance.  Not reading on due to distaste, not considering all of the arguments for and against such an action, means you are discounting the value of mankind and his intelligence. 

Please disassociate sterilization and genocide in your mind.  It need not be painful.  People would likely not even realize that it had happened for months.  Selective sterilization in no way involves bloodshed or killing.  In fact it would go a long ways towards preventing it.  Environmental pressures cause wars.

We should not die nor endure disaster or collapse in order that one more generation may have unlimited procreation rights.  The following generation can have all the kids it wants.  In the meantime, the reduced generation could enjoy a stable, abundant peaceful world. 

 

Managing mass mental reactions to selective sterilization

 

With competent implementation people may not even be angry about the sterilization.  And as we think about possible backlash remember that we are only talking about one generation.  In the second generation all those who are able to have children will have them.  By the third generation there will be less and less people that actually remembered the generation where some people couldn’t have children.  By four generations it will be ancient history.  And, depending on the level of success, this pruning may not have to happen again for another seven generations.

Cognitive dissonance is amongst the most useful political applications to come out of psychology.  Cognitive dissonance happens when there is an uneasy relationship between your thoughts and your actions.  To reduce the dissonance you can either change your actions to match thoughts or your thoughts to match your actions.  Psychologist have found that as often as not, our thoughts don’t lead our actions as much as they justify them.  Such psychology could hold the key to a smooth rollout of sterilization. 

When asked before desegregation whether it was “good, bad or ugly” the vast majority of Southern whites answered towards the ugly side of the spectrum.  After desegregation there was cognitive dissonance.  Southern parents could either tell themselves that that they were bad parents or that integration was right.  Thoughts and actions weren’t in accordance with each other.  Something had to give.  Rather than change their actions, most chose change their ideas.  They decided that integration wasn’t repugnant.  This was a very convenient justification of their reality.  This ability augurs in our favor. 

If people were presented with reasons for sterilization before it happened it would go down much easier.  Then when, months after the actual sterilization, they were told about it, they would have two choices.  They could think that they were victims, get angry and bewail their fate.  Or they could convince themselves that it was for the best, they are happy and they would have chosen it for themselves anyways.  Don’t discount the ability of people to decide that they chose their life retroactively. 

Machiavelli often had practical advise.  He argued that, when cementing power, you kill all potential sources of rebellion quickly.  Then you slowly buy off remaining citizenry with gifts.  A long train of abuses (as our Declaration of Independence nicely words it) will maintain long lingering resentment and possibly revolution.  But, the masses will more quickly forget the quick insult, under the joy at ongoing rewards. 

If nothing else, Machiavelli lets you think outside the box about how to maintain political stability.  Punitive actions against the non-governmental body that did it, might actually win favor for the guilty government.  A small cadre of scapegoats might be found to take the fall.  Proper punishment brings closure.  It might be just the thing to assuage hurt feelings. 

Combining punishment with a promise to give double the social security to all those that won’t be having kids to support them may seal the deal.  One governmental department could sue another governmental department that they could find culpable on behalf of the victims.  An arm of the government winning big compensation to the sterilized citizens might actual win favor back for a government whose loose department undertook the sterilization.  Arguments about the government being too nice to victims might cause the rest of the populous to minimize the impact on their lives.

Other imaginative ways to roll this out could be thought up.  Seeing as how you might only have to do it every seven generations or so, by the second the memory would have faded.  Reality would be accepted.  Life may not dwell on this even every day and forever.  Intelligence might find more daily or futuristic interests to occupy its minds.

Finally, if all goes well and the planet remains stable and prosperous, history may remember the implementers of population management heroes.  The more persecuted they were by a non – understanding public, the more status they may accrue in future minds.  Perhaps they will be regarded as Hegel regarded Napoleon; an embodiment of the world spirit, reason on horseback.  Rewriting the history books to be more accurate might do much to prepare the world for it’s seven generation population check up.

The preceding considerations are important because the continuity of governments and institutions is very important.  The maintenance and progress of intelligence depend upon it.  Disruptions like war or social alienation lead to cultural regression and meme destruction.  In the years following the revelation of sterilization lifestyles and priorities would have to change for many.  Resentment can be stirred to violence.  The ensuing reaction could cause more disruption than the initial act.  It is paramount that civilizations not be destabilized.  Mismanagement could set back our created lifestyle quite a bit.

The possibilities we’ll consider will always include an analysis of the psychological impacts.  Coordinated rogues selectively sterilizing would thwart centralized spin.  Centralized governments being involved would provide a target for anger.  A good implementation would not impact work or your weekend plans.  We want to help those people thrive in their new situation.  A great implementation would cause a Renaissance.

Psychological issues are what this book is about.  By definition, a plan designed to perpetuate intelligence shouldn’t cause undo stress or social fissure.  From a long term Hegelian perspective, we don’t want a bad taste to be lingering at the seventh generation repeat.  Celebration of the generation that had less kids would help. 

Even if there were a high likelihood of turmoil and unrest, we have no other workable options.  Survival, intelligent or not, dictates population management.  At what level we should spin the rollout raises ethical questions.  But notice that the ethical isn’t. “if we should do sterilization” but “how we will do sterilization”.  The best of everything would be having a stable and happily fruitful world population.

 

Whom?

           

This is the hardest part of the book to write.  Because, it names names and makes judgments. 

Keep in mind that no one living or yet to be born would be hurt.  We are not talking about a single living person being killed.

We know our goal: we want sustainable levels of population now. 

We also don’t want to do any damage to memes.  Not causing disruption in the political continuity or day to day business of the country is key here. 

From now on I will refer to these twin goals.  Sustainable population with minimal meme disruption.

 

A long term objective Hegelian outlook is needed in the consideration of this.  We must be so objective that if the population you call yours is the rational target, it must be accepted.  This is not about us, it is about the world we’d like to grow old in. 

A caution: method nor vigor should risk sterilization that is global.  Other than that, we will always have more babies.  This chapter is dedicated to the hope that they may have abundant resources of earth and societal attention. 

Whom?  For your consideration I lay out three possibilities to that question below. Individual, global and selective sterilization are the permutations that logically exist.  Under selective sterilization Ill consider the impacts of using levels of economic development and memes as selection criteria. 

With Hegelian spirit of bravery, the Rawlsian sense of justice a Plotinian set of ethical guidelines and scientific realization that something must be done, let us now move to consider several suggestions.

 

Possibility one:  Sterilizing individually

 

Technological limitations really impact the implementation of a project.  Targeting individuals is unfeasible and impractical.  Imagine trying to give over 5 billion vasectomies one at a time!  That would be quite a job. The option of secrecy of the roll out would be totally undermined. 

Furthermore, there would be no sound basis upon which to choose individuals.  Some intelligence is inherited.  But it is nearly impossible to tell someone’s future from their parentage.  Newton’s father was an illiterate potato farmer.  Retarded people’s parents are rarely retarded.

Enough said about the first option, it is rejected.

 

Possibility two: Sterilizing globally

 

Let us consider serious option number one.  Covering the globe uniformly would have the  benefit of sidestepping much of the ethical taint involved.  No one would feel resentful about being targeted.  This would help to avoid a violent backlash against the perpetrating country. 

This is no small consideration.  Presumably the perpetrating country, if they identified themselves, would be one with some technological achievements.  So this option might save a country on the front lines of intelligence from being a target for retaliation.  Using an NGO would be another possible way of sidestepping the collateral damage issue. 

Hitting all countries equally would also maintain the population ratios amongst nations.  If you exempted any one country, they could overrun the world population in generations.  A baby boom following the news is not unlikely. 

Balance of numbers can be equated with a balance of power.  When power is lopsided people are tempted to fight.  War is hell. 

When you have a limited and equal number of children in your country, you are not likely to go to war.  There wouldn’t be replacements for the injured soldiers. 

Were we to accidentally sterilize entire populations they would cease to exist.  That would be genocide and a crime.  Sterilizing all humans would be even worse.  Fertility doctors would not be able to make enough babies to maintain a society.  These complications are much more likely to happen if we go global rather than specify geographic areas. 

Considering the global option made us aware that we must consider balance-of-power and balance-of-numbers issues.  But, having too much success with the global sterilization option could lead to genocide or the end of man.  I think we should err on the side of caution.  The global sterilization option is too dangerous. 

 

Possibility three: Sterilizing selectively

 

-generalizations to keep in mind

 

The final major way to sterilize would involve discrimination by category.  This would be done by selecting geographic areas.  Means of dissemination would determine the accuracy. 

Aerially, you would probably be able to limit the impacted area to a 10 mile radius of accuracy.  Dust croppers would achieve this goal.  Levels of precision wouldn’t be able to go far below this parameter.  Hitting certain neighborhoods is therefore, in theory, technologically feasible.  But the selection process required would probably get bogged down in micro-management. 

Water would be a less desirable means of dissemination.  The spread is less predictable.  But, more importantly, the biodiversity in the water might be compromised.  Ease of spread and dissemination make this option so attractive.  That is why it is imperative that we keep in mind our number one goal:  We want to save the environment.  Risking hastening its destruction is not what we’re about.  The existing population needs clean air, water and soil.

How much conscious choice do I probably have?  I can target by meme.  The middle east is largely Muslim and Europe, North America and Australia are democratic, Asia is Asian.  Being able to pinpoint with accuracy that distinguishes between large metropolitan cities and rural areas outside of them is possible also.  So economic targeting is feasible.  This ability and meme specificity allow us to target at the cultural and economic levels of specificity.  

Other subsidiary goals will appear that deserve consideration.  For example, there are hotspots around the world that need our attention.  They are too numerous to list here.  War is antithetical to the Plotinian ethic.  Such secondary considerations will come up.  But we must keep the larger global picture in mind at all times.  Peace fosters the Plotinian goals.  But stopping war is not the point of our actions. 

The environmental criteria has the trump card.  If the environment collapses all bets are off.  That means that we must hit a large enough percentage of the world to make an impact.  As we would be cautious to totally sterilize, we must also avoid overzealous moderation.  Underachieving will just be adding a problem if the environmental goals aren’t reached and the population gets angry.

As I go through criteria by which we might choose regions, we must keep our larger goals in mind.  Our number one goal is to preserve the environment.  Our second, is do no meme damage.  To the extent that we have achieved these two ends, our choices will have perpetuated a world that is conducive to the continued flourishing of intelligence writ large. 

 

-First world or third’s world?

 

Consider an impractical thought experiment.  What if each nation were told it had to sterilize 2/3rds of its population?  Which criteria would they use?  Nearly all governments would choose their lower class people!  That is because, realistically, they are not going to contribute greatly to meta-human economy.  Economically, quality of brains trumps quality of backs..

A good case would also be made for choosing to sterilize your top citizens.  Why?  Not being distracted by children would allow them to focus more on their work.  Besides that, they usually have few kids anyways.  And lastly, lower classes would repopulate the country faster.  That would give you an early numeric advantage at war. 

From this thought experiment we realized that we must keep our eye on maintaining the requisite brain power to run a society as well as balance-of-power issues.. 

Plotinian ethics, because they have the goal of propagating intelligence, would have us sterilize in bad neighborhoods.  Why?  People with wealth usually have an education.  They can help their children with their homework.  The education level of your parents is a good predictor of yours. 

There is upward mobility, to be sure, but we’re talking about generalizations here.  Poor people usually don’t have the background to make their children competitive at good schools.  They, by definition, don’t have the resources to send them to the best schools.  This may not be fair, but it is true.  We aren’t redesigning the economy here.

The best reason for targeting poorer neighborhoods, however, would be that a hungry child is a sad thing.  Within the bounds set by other considerations, we want to avoid hunger as much as possible. 

With the level of accuracy we are talking about this would be done by targeting the developing world.  This would ensure continued population near the most technologically and educationally advanced institutions in the world.  A world without any technological savvy would soon become savage.

 

Being objective though, and keeping all options on the table, a strong case could also be made for hitting the industrialized portion of the earth.  After all, the developed nations produce most of the world’s pollution. 

The disadvantage is that the technological progress would largely stop.  This could conceivably plunge the world back into another dark age.  In such a world the theocracies have less resistance to their plans for world domination.

Sterilizing significant portions of the industrialized world would greatly reduce pollution.  Avoiding university, manufacturing and cities generally will allow intelligence to thrive.  Avoiding rich neighborhoods would ensure there being enough money and intellectual support to send the next generation to school. 

Poor countries don’t consume less because they are environmentalists.  When they can consume more, they will.  Even though they create less pollution now, we must greatly reduce the number of people in those regions for the future.  For a short term impact we must reduce the population in developed countries.  For a long term impact we must address the third world population.

China needs special mention.  When China gets wealthy enough for all of its people to drive, the show is over.  We will fry in greenhouse gasses.  China has been doing a noble job of population control.  I applaud their efforts.  But these are not enough.  Before the standard of living and levels of consumption increase we need to reduce China’s fertility.  The Chinese would agree to this in a blind policy making session.  They already agree that their quantity of people was negatively impacting the quality of their lives.

As with any nation, you want to avoid those with education.  Unfortunately, those with the most education tend to be in the areas with the most population density.  Packed people are the very ones that can be sterilized en masse efficiently.  Herein lies a conundrum.  I am not an expert on Chinese demography.  Better solutions might be available.  However, hitting lesser cities seems to be a workable compromise.  Smaller sized cities have the least educated work forces.  They warrant consideration.

The previous strategy could successfully be employed in other parts of the industrial world too.  Fortunately, the educated population in the Western industrial world have stopped having babies.  Unfortunately, this has necessitated the importation of third world laborers to do menial manual labor for the aging populations.  Intellectual and environmental problems have resulted.

Unfortunately, the memes these people bring with them don’t always have education as the highest of priorities.  They expect to and do get pregnant early and often.  That is the main reason that their countries are so poor.  It is a statistical difference that successfully distinguishes poor and rich countries.  High quantity of people mixed with low quality = disaster.  Fortunately, genetics has nothing to do with it and we have the necessary infrastructure to educate them.

Schools in Western countries with high immigration rates must turn into meme conversion centers.  We can tighten schools up and turn learning into a yes or no proposition.  We don’t only need people to assent to education, we need them to assent to education at a high level.  As discussed earlier, celebrating the achievements of memes based on intelligence as better than others is key in this endeavor.  Good must be made synonymous with Plotinian values of intellectual ambition.

The numbers of third world workers in the industrialized world is feeding on itself..  Between high birthrates and family reunification laws, such population migrations are nearly invasions.  Increasing populations in industrialized nations is more environmentally dangerous than elsewhere.  Moroccans consume much more when in the Europe than in their home land.

Cities having both population and intellect isn’t just a consideration in China.  The same solution applies else where in the industrialized world.  Target low tech cities.  But the Western industrialized nations must supplement this by greatly reducing births in the countries that supply most of their immigrants. 

Targeting the homelands of the industrialized nation immigrants will have much more of an environmental effect than targeting other third world countries.  It will reduce population spikes in the more polluting industrialized nations.  It will also benefit the economies in the source nations involved.  Making less people will allow them to invest more in the people they do have.

 

-Memes as a criteria

 

Another way to discriminate would be to target certain memes.  Memes are larger than anyone individual, but they do need individuals as hosts.  Population control will have a huge impact on meme proliferation. 

As a rationalist I would like to see the numbers of traditional fundamentalists diminish.  We could sterilize in Tennessee or Tehran.  Plotinian fundamentalism, on the other hand, needs to spread.  Much of the world is following the Plotinian path.  They go to school and use new gadgets. 

But eating Chinese food doesn’t make you more Chinese.  Using gadgets could even imply that you are having less mental activity.  Religions require priests as much as they do practitioners.  There are even fanatical offensive martyrs in the traditional religions.  We need proselytizers talking about the mysticism of intelligence and technology. 

.Conveniently enough, there is a strong correlation between areas with heavy fundamentalism and high rates of reproduction.  Catholics, Muslims and Hindus have big families.  Choosing based on population would get rid of superstitious memes, without the guilt. 

But all fundamentalisms are not the same.  Buddhists don’t start wars.  Islam is the most destabilizing religion in the world today.  The innate violence in the Islamic meme has been proven  by over 1300 years of constant warfare.  Their spawning fanatical haters of all that is progressive in the world is very dangerous.  In a real sense, their open war against modernity, forces us to choose between a meta-human world or a traditional world.  Nearly every new technology is problematic for them.

One might be tempted to do a pre-emptive meme annihilation to protect the future of the meta-human age.  This brings up such a huge qualification that it deserves a digression.

Islam is a meme.  As such it is a form of intelligence.  Thus we can make the same argument we made concerning the intrinsic value of man.  It would be anti-Plotinian to erase a form of self aware intelligence.  Just as I have ruled out genocide, I cannot argue for “memocide” which is willful destruction of a meme supporting community.

The memocide danger is so great that I must make a digression to address it here.

 

Memocide prohibition digression

 

Below a certain level of complexity, the emergent properties of a system cease to be.  Knocking out a small part can destroy the whole.  This destruction of potential intelligence was the reason that we prohibited the designing or breeding of humans that have had their overall capacities diminished.  Having all of your basic capacities is essential for understanding the array of choices that make for free will and true consciousness. 

Failing to allow either the basic or overall capacities of an intelligent being is categorically forbidden by the Plotinian ethic.  The same prohibition applies to the diminishing of the flourishing of individual memes.

The danger of memocide requires a new science of emergent properties.  At what levels are they sustainable?  Species cease to be able to sustain their numbers once they fall below a certain number.  Small communities and human societies have another criteria in addition to physical survival.  The integrity of their memes must be preserved. 

Memes cannot exist in the individual.  Memes roughly coincide with nations.  Your neighborhood and family may have a rhythm.  But their overall character and economic level are dictated by the larger society.  We must be sensitive to the fact that the overall meme is maintained in many individual communities and sectors.

What is the level at which diminishing the society will be fatal to the propagation of a meme? Individuals are very delicate.  Societies are more robust.  The minimum needed would include all the varieties of peoples necessary for continuing the economic sectors, infrastructure and cultural institutions that maintain the society.  Such a qualifier argues for the targeting of large nations.  Large nations have built in redundancy.  Smaller communities are very vulnerable to collapse. 

That noted, we must reduce the numbers of humans.  This will not inevitably reduce the over all brilliance of a culture.  Remember, it is often the case that quantity is inversely related to quality of an economy.  Depressed countries have less choices and chances to create.  Perhaps nations with more money per capita and more time on their hand will flourish in the post sterilization efforts.  We may see some rebounds of endangered memes.

Rich religious and mystical sentiments can give us valuable insight into the nature of our world.  Plotinus’ intelligence worship is predicated on the value of reverence.  Maximal diversity, gives us perspective that increases intelligence.  And just for it’s own sake, religious sentiment is valuable.  Even if they didn’t help the world, as an ensouled thought, the prohibition against harm of any meme stands. 

The tradition of the West, if no one else, is heavily against limiting the marketplace of ideas.  Socrates died so the Western world would enshrine the right to seek truth out of repentance.  Opposing viewpoints must be allowed.  Without gadflies, group think and tyranny over the minds of men ensues.  Willful destruction of a meme would be a crime against the potential of the human community, Western values particularly and intelligence generally.

 

Fundamentalism debate continued

 

On what basis do I, then, distinguish our disagreement with Islam from Plotinian fundamentalism?  As previously examined, Plotinus noted a direction in the universe.  Between us and the Neanderthals, conscious life developed twice just on this planet.  We are getting more intelligent and converging on the one.  My history of intelligence shows that forward means developing our minds.  That being the direction of the world isn’t just my, or Plotinus’ opinion.  This world is bursting at the seams with waiting technologies.  The meta-human age wants to emerge. 

Islam is also the meme most likely to try a violent retribution for the general types of actions I am proposing in this chapter.  I am sure that not even an equal distribution of sterilization would mollify their anger towards Western civilization.  They attacked us on 9/11 and we hadn’t even done anything.  Fundamentally, they are against the general direction of the world. 

We will not be able to stop terrorism today by lowering birthrates.  However, we may see a reduction of terrorism in fifteen years if we reduce their numbers now.  By that time it will have become very old news.  And, if we go towards the meta-human under the auspices of a meme that recognizes the intrinsic worth of man, the Plotinian may seem more attractive to that generation than the older fundamentalism.

As a precaution, when the world realizes that there has been a sterilization effort I would make sure to tightly seal all Western borders.  But with millions of Muslims already residing in Western nations, we should expect a little terror. 

After five years, it would be wise to once again, gradually let Muslims start to cross our borders.  Inviting people to visit prosperous advanced nations (especially on education related missions) is a great form of Plotinian proselytizing.  Of course by then, the web will let you see anything, anywhere in the world whenever you want.

Memes usually meet at borders.  These are very frequently sources of tension.  Right now the regions where the Russians meet the Muslims is an area of concern.  Generally, all first world and third world borders are areas of special concern.  Currently, the Kashmir region between Pakistan and India has obsessed these two nuclear powers.  And, of course, everyone’s favorite perpetual border of tension is the one between Israel and Palestine.  Population reductions along these frontiers would greatly reduce the likelihood of world meme wars in the world. 

We must make all decisions based on our two part goal.  We must create a world that is environmentally sustainable.  We also want a world where memes that will provide a smooth transition into the meta-human age have a better chance.  Smaller goals are only a consideration after the larger goals have been met.

 

Quantity versus Quality

           

            In the old world fighting men and reproducing women were the keys to success.  Having a large population was beneficial.  It is no coincidence that the Catholic church only allows sex for procreation and they are still thriving.  On an even playing field, numbers of soldiers were the difference between military success and failure. 

Now the equation is reversed.  There is an inverse relationship between the number of people you have and your success as a nation.  If quantity was beneficial these days, India would be the second most prosperous country on earth.  Quite the opposite is true.

The quantity of life hurts the quality of life.  That is why the exception to the rule, China, is putting the brakes on population.  Overpopulation is the path to destitution.  The world no longer rewards this strategy for success.

Quality of people is the most important asset a country can have.  It is the reason that a small populace, in a mineral poor areas like Japan, Singapore or Hong Kong, can be successful. 

In the 1960s the Korean government launched an advertisement campaign asking people to limit the number of children they had.  Rationally, the advertisements argued that lowering their numbers would enable them to invest more in each child and succeed as a nation  People voluntarily limited the numbers of kids they had.  In 1960 Korea was as poor as Uganda.  Now, forty years later, there is no comparison.  The outcomes of trading off quantities of people for quality of people are as stark as that.

            As a planet we now all must embrace this equation.  Quantity and quality are antagonistic.  We must choose which we want.  Plotinian ethics fall squarely on the side of quality.  Quality is synonymous with education.  Education and intelligence are nearly synonymous too. 

Furthermore, when we choose, we should keep in mind that, at this point in time, quantity is fatal.  It is fatal to both achievement and survival.  Utilizing sterilization will not kill people or memes.  It will allow both to flourish mentally and physically.  I have no qualms in declaring that quality is the preferred path.

 

Genocide

 

When people first think of reducing population, they think of Genocide.  Genocide is stupid, impractical and ugly.  No lover of intelligence would ever advocate it.. 

Technically, genocide is getting rid of a genome.  The street definition is that genocide denotes eliminating a race.  As I have said before, race is a stupid concept.  No thinking person would base any decision on race. 

Plotinian ethics argues that having a rational basis for our choices is respectful of our mental facilities.  Most people would agree.  Hitler is the exemplar of genocide in Western culture.  The entire civilized world would agree that his actions were wrong and horrible.  Hitler, rightfully, is our definition of the worst kind of madman.  By definition, his actions were not based on grounds that respected our mental faculties.

Reason dictates against genocide.  A diversity of genomes is always more sustainable than a homogeneity.  The Irish potato famine happened because only one type of Incan potato was taken to Ireland.  Thus all the potatoes were susceptible to being wiped out by the same type of pest.  That’s what happened.  With a variety of Genome, they wouldn’t have had their famine.  For survival purposes, diversity is good.

            Practicality dictates against genocide.  Hitler, the exemplar of genocide, started out having soldiers shoot people.  He soon found out that shooting millions of people takes a lot of time.  Gas was faster.  To speed up the body disposal he switched from mass burials to cremation in ovens.  Thus he completely industrialized killing.  If genocide of millions is impractical, consider what it would take to kill billions.

The only efficient way to do genocide would be to use nuclear weapons.  That would be likely to set off a world wide conflagration.  And, even if it doesn’t, the environmental toll of a limited nuclear war is certain to wreak havoc.  Hiroshima had few long lasting environmental effects.  But Chernobyl has had many.  And today’s nuclear weapons dwarf Hiroshima and Chernobyl.  This concept involves such a stupid roll of the dice, that it is beyond consideration.

            Genocide is ugly.  That, as imprecise a refutation as it is, may be the strongest one.  Implementing it even took an emotional toll on the most hardened NAZI soldiers.  Emotional toll on the soldiers was contributing reason for Hitler’s decision to go from bullets to gas. 

Under genocide there would certainly be resentment, cycles of retribution, and fear of repeats of genocide on others.  There would, in short, be a lot of fear and violence.  Fear accompanied by violence would ruin our transition into the meta-human age.  It would convince leaders that humans were stupid and brutish and only worthy of harsh treatment.  The cycles of violence would turn this world into a hell hole. 

If one murder is wrong, how much more wrong would mass killing be?  This book stands firmly against any killing, let alone genocide.

Genocide, again, is stupid, impractical and ugly.  For these reasons, others and all the names of every person ever killed or hurt in such an effort would the topic of genocide even revolting to discuss.  I hope you are clear that I would never advocate such a thing.

 

Hitler

 

I need to say more about Hitler. 

The reasons that we shy away from sterilization are ethical.  Most of this book has been trying to address such issues.  From the value of our emergent consciousness, to the love of higher and different examples of emergent consciousness and the glory of the Plotinian metaphysic, the reasons to care has been a constant theme of this book..  My intention is not to undermine any positive value. 

In our day and age, the negative reaction to population control can still be traced back to Hitler.  Unfortunately, he both represents the embodiment of evil and specialized in population control.  No conversation about population goes far without his mention.  The mere mention of his name closes off avenues of discussion. 

Within six months of Hitler’s rise to power on  January30th, 1933, a compulsory sterilization law was enacted.  He was protecting the purity of the blood by sterilizing all those perceived to have genetic defects.  This included the blind, the schizophrenic and handicapped.  He meant it literally when he advertised himself as the “doctor of the German people.” 

Hitler’s atrocious crimes have scarred the conscience of the West.  Our pride has not been pure since.  Our entire culture is sullied by his memory.  The West’s assumption that it is illegitimate for the state to defend itself largely stems from Hitler’s atrocities.         

It is fashionable in intellectual circles to refer to Hitler as the logical heir of the enlightenment!  There is even a book entitled “Hitler as Philosophe”.  According to such thinkers, admiration for science leads inexorably to industrial genocide.  Rational thought’s clean dividing method is equated with a clean killer who is devoid of feeling.  Yes, even our mode of thinking is guilty by implication.  Hitler dirtied a lot of water.

People that perpetuate such ideas have done a horrible disservice to the West.  Hitler was obsessed with science.  But remember, he was a profoundly unscientific madman.  He was very clear that truth was only that which served the aims of his National Socialist party.  Such statements reveal his lack of a scientific background.  His mass murder of people on the basis of race was the ultimate in being unscientific.  His right hand man Goebbels famously declared, “I think with my blood”.  All thought, under Hitler, was prostituted to passion.

After World War Two the infamous NAZI doctors were put on trial.  Dr. Mengle tortured twins under the guise of science and Dr. Schumann of Auschwitz treated thousands with high-dose X-ray, then removed their reproductive organs to look for evidence of sterilization. 

After the war these “doctors” were tried for crimes against humanity with their comrades at Nuremberg.  The international community wrote up a code for medical ethics called the Nuremberg code.

We are still held back by the abuses of these men today.  Their crimes are the origin of our inability to do non-therapeutic research spoken of in chapter eight.  Because of them we cannot even experiment on A.I.D.S. patients and the terminally ill elderly even if the patients want to participate in the studies.  The law actually prohibits you from contributing to society and the collective knowledge of mankind. 

That such madmen have limited our ability to learn is wrong.  Policy should not be made with people like them in mind.  Those that argue that the state of rational Western thinking is dangerous and perverted hold these men up as examples.  These weren’t doctors!  Dr. Mengle had a fixations on midgets and twins.  These were sick individuals.  But to taint our meme generally because of proximity to NAZI Germany is guilt by distant association.  Most Western nations fought against this madman and his regime.

The taint of the Nazi’s really holds us back in pursuing science.  But worse, it makes us less confident in the nobility of our other pursuits.  When all is tainted and nothing is noble, decadence makes sense.  The human spirit is being abused by such cynics. 

The achievements of the West are not attributable to Hitler.  No inventions or stable democracy came out of his regime.  Art was removed for being degenerate.  Books were burned.  He was an affront to those enlightenment figures who compiled the West’s first encyclopedia.  He was an affront to intelligence.

This cloud has made it difficult for me to advocate sterilization.  This theme is actually dangerous to address because of the ease with which it could be confused with some sort of pro-NAZI statement.  My anti – NAZI and genocidal statements have been repeated and clear.  Any, confusion about this matter must be due to ill intent or not having read the book under discussion.

My solutions are very rational.  They are in the best tradition of science.  The large impact of large scale sterilization would cause many conflicting emotions.  But we must do something.  And we need to do something quickly.  What I’m proposing is a way to save all of humanity.  And no one would get hurt. 

 

Q & A

 

This thumbnail sketch of options barely scratched the surface of potential concerns that could be raised.  There are certainly sterilization options I didn’t consider.  An overwhelming amount of questions are raised by each of the options.  Some comfort can be taken from the fact that many of the questions wouldn’t need to be answered for 15 years.  A great many things will go on just the same as before. 

A wide variety of disciplines would need to speculate as to the impacts on their areas of expertise and possible coping strategies.  It is wiser not to act until designated indicator statistics start to show significant changes.  As much as possible, we want a seamless, disruption free transition into the less populated version of our world.  Calm comes from stability.

 

·        Psychological questions:  What will be the mental impact of being a part of a small and historically significant generation?

 

·        Economic questions:  What would the long term effect on the economies be?  This question needs to consider changes in production as well as consumption.  What would you do with all the unemployed childcare workers and teachers as the reduced generation came up through the ranks? 

 

·        Political questions:  What would be the political effect of an increasingly older electorate?  How would you staff the army of a country that has a reduced generation?

 

·        Health questions:  Would there be any concerning immediate health complications or possible long term effects?  How will epidemiology be done?

 

·        Technological questions:  Which molecules would be the most effective with the least side effects.  What would be the vector of delivery?  By what means would you choose this vector?

 

·        Intelligence questions:  Is there a certain critical mass under which you would atomize the memes of the host society?  Would the coming shortage of workers and excess of jobs cause an increase in high school drop outs?

 

·        Environmental questions:  Would the methods used effect other species?  Would under consumption throw ecosystems off balance?  How can we assist newly fallow lands to recover?

 

·        Organizational questions:  Who would undertake the mission described above?  How would you announce the actions to avoid problems caused by duplication?

 

Organization

 

I would like to address the first organizational question in paragraph form.  The question really is whether this would be carried out by a governmental organization or a non-governmental organization.  I doubt that any government on earth would publicly sign on to such an undertaking. 

Secretly, a governmental organization might get funding to write up plans.  In our country, the CIA would be the appropriate agency.  Muslims have shown us how to disavow responsibility.  “State sponsored” isn’t always traceable with certainty.  Fighter pilots aren’t always told what the nature of their missions are. 

In all likelihood the perpetrators would have to be a non-governmental organization.  This would favor using a water born vector.  Airplanes are expensive.  There is a growing cadre of extremist (realist) environmental groups that would be appropriate. 

This entire enterprise could be coordinated via a website.  For the first time in the history of the planet, geographic proximity isn’t imperative for coordination.  One group could post the details of their findings with various technologies.  Perhaps a government scientist working overtime.  Blogs could be used to decide targets.  There could be a part of the website with promotional literature. 

Various decentralized efforts communicated instantaneously, made with global concerns in mind fits my vision of the emerging mind.  We could really run Rawl’s experiment this way.  This is post-government work.  The world is emerging to a state of global consciousness.  The participants could be some of the first thoughts of the global mind.  The earth has made the decision to help itself. 

Perhaps someday a world body will be wise enough to implement the prescribed course of action.  This would probably result in a more cohesive, safe and coordinated effort.  Perhaps the emerging decentralized world mind will do it.  A likely scenario would be that a decentralized group does the initial act.  Following the announcements, nations and international organizations would coordinate to take care of unintended consequences.

Doing lab tests and developing the formula by which to achieve our goals would be harder to coordinate on the internet.  Currently web searches on sterility get you directed to fertility clinics.  Fertility research may provide clues about sterility, but it is generally heading in the wrong direction.  Certainly chemical already exist that create a risk of sterility.  Individuals, organizations and (if possible) the governments must start to research how we can induce sterility with the least possible side effects. 

If we do nothing, environmental collapse and war will result.  Whether the world can take action on this matter or not may be the final test of whether our consciousness is smart enough to survive.

 

An American prayer

 

            At the core of this book is an ethical system that can guide us through the meta-human age.  Unfortunately, large scale sterilization efforts might be impractical for non-governmental agencies to coordinate.  Our government seems to be prohibited from acting on behalf of the survival of our meme if it harms any individuals in any way.  At this point someone has to wake up and take action or there won’t be any memes left to protect.  Anarchy and societal atomization would leave us without a community or community values.  Being unprotected by any value system is scary stuff. 

Apart from developing the Plotinian ethic, I hope that this discussion has perhaps made the idea of mass sterilization more palpable to the readers.  If this book births a meme concerning the merits of sterilization I will be gratified.  As it circulates through enough mouths, it might inspire rogue operatives.  If a tourist, pilot or environmental organization released a substance that induced sterility, this book might help them receive more sympathy from the public or judge when apprehended.

            We must escape this paralysis that has gripped us at the starting blocks.  Environmental and cultural imperatives require action now.  It is the Plotinian thing to do.

 



 

 

 

 

-- PART FOUR --

 

 

 

THE PROMISE

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

Consider this last part the epilogue.  It is, as of now, actually unwritten.  Our future is being written by us everyday.  We are the past that will set the trajectory of that future into motion. 

Man sits on the cusp of we know not what.  But a goal is the first part of getting to a good place.  I’ll be an honest travel agent and tell you of some of the things you might not be used to there.  I hope this seems an attractive enough destination that you will consider steering a course towards it.  Of course the other options are death and destruction. 

I gave you your maps and directions.  Just remember to take the Plotinian-ethic at the fork on the meta-human road and I’ll be hoping to see you there.


Imagine all the people living life in peace

 

-John Lennon

 

Of the three types of pleasure [wealth, honor, intelligence], therefore, the pleasantest is that which belongs to the element in us which brings us knowledge, and the man in whom that element is in control will live the pleasantest life.

 

-Socrates

 

 

 

 

-------------10 ------------

Into the Light

 

 

 

Q & A

 

What would it be like to live in a world of 400 million people?  There are some really attractive features.  Our environmental worries would dissipate.  Imagine feeling free to consume all that you want without considering the consequences!  Water shortages and air pollution would be things of the past.  It would stop refugees from destroying stable thought systems.  And, it would greatly reduce the tensions in the world’s hot spots.  Palestinians and Israelis may both find that they have more than enough land!  In short there could be peace, security and prosperity. 

 

Plotinus can get us there

 

            We must secure our integrity.  To do so we must respect our society.  Our society houses our myths.  Is the ground of our future.  We must protect our rights to further our intelligence.  And the entire house of cards requires that we protect our planet. 

We are having growing pains due to technological revolutions.  But we are also having growing pains because our Darwinian survival strategy is too good.  The question is will we have the forcefulness to override our own programming?

To take control we must make some big choices.  The entire future of consciousness is on the line.  We must protect continued development by adopting policies that are pro-growth and provide security for the old.  We can protect our meme by respecting its right to protect itself.  We can protect the environment by pruning our tree. 

Letting nature just take its course is an insult to our volitional capacities and imagination.  Not using forethought to guide ourselves into the meta – human age doesn’t sound very intelligent to me.  Plotinian ethics can guide us in our choices.  After that al is action.  I think we’re up to the task.

Sterilization can save the environment while, maintaining meme stability and harming no one.  Such a solution will leave us unperturbed enough to continue developing as people and as an emerging world order.

We can be a responsible midwife for the new emerging world.  The other option is to revert to being like any other illogical scrambling beastie.  We would be lucky if current problems, left unaddressed, let us revert to our old tribal ways.  Global chaos now would likely result in less suitable results.

 

Child’s play

 

Some will say that the final prescription I proposed is worse than the disease.  Raising children is one of the most tender and meaningful experiences of a human life.  For most, it is their most precious achievement.  Passing our values along to our children is how we maintain our memes.  Widespread sterility to allow life smacks of bombing the village to save it. 

Procreation in no way comprises the totality of our intelligence or expressiveness.  This is signified by the difference between being a father and being a dad.  To be a father you need only do an instinctual biological act.  This act does not distinguish you from rats or pigs.  But to be a father entails years of sacrifice, values and intelligence.  We are the only animal with such a long rearing requirement.  This discrepancy reflects our intelligence.  We are not instinctual. 

Passing on values is something that we will have to do anyways.  We must all be concerned to protect and nurture the 300,000,000 or so new offspring in the first generation after sterilization.  For the most part, I imagine that they will be raised in geographic areas where a lot of people retain the ability to have children. 

In our society we would probably just let those parents raise their children as they see fit.  China would probably have the state raise them.  Islamic societies would probably let the parents do it, but give those meme carriers lots of intense religious training. 

To be sure, there will be complications.  In a sense, our smaller share of newborns will be America’s children.  What happens to them will be of concern to all of us.  We can plug some of our maternal care feelings into doing what is right for them. 

These children will have incredible resources lavished on them.  Imagine the entire current school budget going to 4,000,000 kids (our possible share of the 300,000,000 new babies)!  But allowing a huge percentage of our 400,000 to get spoiled and petulant would be disastrous.  Again, we will be putting some of our maternal attentions in their direction. 

In line with this emerging global consciousness, I can see some of them being raised by on line consensus.  We could vote on a website to determine when we were being to strict or spoiling them.  The cumulative values of all Americans could guide the children.  They would be a reflection of the advice given by the super organism via us.

In all likely hood, one or two will grow up in public.  We will follow their stories and share in their lives collectively.  TV will bring them into our living rooms.  They may develop child-star syndromes.  But having real children around, in whatever form, would be healthy.  It would satisfy some of our parenting impulses.  And, it would give us incentive to think about the well being of posterity.

 

The individual mental repercussions of being child – free.

 

Of course being child – free will have some repercussions.  Suffice it here to say that we, as beings that have evolved beyond the level of lemmings, cannot let instinct rule reason.  We should not be captive to the instinct to procreate.  Let us not sigh and lament that our environment died because we were, “Only human, all too human”. 

For some, understanding that their hormones are manipulating them will alleviate the pain.  Perhaps the Plotinian ethic would convince some that there is a lot of nobility in defying your programming.  But at the mass level, instructions concerning biology and evolution and ethics probably aren’t feasible.  Reason, as we discussed before, isn’t the default basis of our understanding of the world.  It is a rare flower that can choose values derived by rational reflection.

Injecting the idea of not having children as a positive and fun idea would be more practical than teaching genetics and evolutionary psychology.  To this end, I think the term “child free” has promise.  It is much more positive than the common, traditional term, “childless”.  If advertisers can sell cigarettes, perhaps they can sell “the child free” life style.  It does have a lot of the selfish resonance our society prizes.

Lets be like the rich.  What do they know that we don’t know?  That there is much to be said for a child - free lifestyle.  It is what growing numbers of rich people opt for in the West.  Our wealth is the reason that Western countries have had no net population growth for decades. 

Perhaps, there being a more peaceful future, a long life or life at all for existing children would be some mental consolation.  The survival of man in peace is, after all, a noble goal.  Any of those positive images would probably go a long ways towards mollifying discontent and resentment.

 

New potentials

 

It is true, that a large percentage of humanity would lose their ability to go through the real rearing process.  It is undeniable that this would feel like a tremendous loss for many.  Knowing that you were the last generation of your family would also be existentially hard to take. 

But many people are voluntarily choosing this path.  I myself, again, am child – free.  As such I’m part of the DINK generation (Double Income No Kids) that has  voluntarily decided to forego having children.  We are well educated people in the first world. 

Children necessitate careers and passions taking a second seat to another.  People raising kids are frequently complaining of a lack of time for themselves.  We are achieving and having a great time.  Dropping our lifestyles for constant babysitting is not going to happen to the DINKS any time soon.

In many ways, spending the prime of your productive years taking care of a undeveloped mind is counter productive to the growth of intelligence.  It means that you cannot undertake risks that you might otherwise be able to.  Children restrict your ability to make lifestyle and career changes as you discover new potentials in yourself.  They take up amazing amounts of your valuable time.  And they divert much of the resources of our society into frivolous toys and terrible programming.

Universal schooling may result.  Countries with large populations are unable to maintain public school systems of note.  In fact only those countries that have low birth rates have a reasonable approximation of universal education.  As previously mentioned, the South West of the United States is coming perilously close to following in Mexico’s footsteps in this regard.  Overpopulation destroys school systems.  Quantity trumps quality.  Potential is wasted.

Creativity is enhanced by learning.  Great artists must reflect on art history.  Dreamers must ransack the cultural heritage of their civilizations.  Inventors need years and years of intense technical training.  By definition, illiteracy and innumeracy are counter productive the goal of realizing one’s potential as an intelligent sentient being.

Smaller families and education have already spurred renaissances of sorts in all of the modern countries.  We take too much for granted the miraculous of the modern.  Frozen food delivered to you is a feat.  Cell phones are amazing.  The internet.  We are experiencing incredibly creative times.

The trend in education shows more and more adults going back to school.  Average ages of college attendees rising is a steady trend.  This creative age we live in is widely called the information – age.  Retooling and learning are what humans do now.  Hopefully, the child –free generations will increase the already growing university learning.  Humanity would be actuating their potential in such a setting.

 

The existential angst of not having progeny to carry on your family name is real.  But confronting our mortality need not be negative.  In fact it can be a spur to action.  Much has been made of the productivity of the gay people through out history.  I would contend that the more prolific people in the world are profoundly aware of their mortality.  They want something that will ring throughout the ages names after them.  It is part of their motivation to make a lasting contribution to society. 

Many baby makers use children to blunt their realization of their mortality.  It is axiomatic that people have children to fulfill their unfulfilled dreams.  They hope that their children achieve the things they never did.  Part of the reason that this is a repeating generational theme is the solution to the problem.  People need their children to fulfill their dreams because they gave them up to have children!  Some of the urge to have children involves an unhealthy relation to the existential realities of life. 

Women would be more hurt by the frustration of child birth than men overall.  Men are, by biological necessity, less intimately involved with the birthing and rearing process.  The time clock for women often results in their choosing poor mates out of desperation.  Evolution has seen to it that our biology forces such mental states.  Men have no biological clock.  They are less likely to go through peaks of anguish.

Third world women’s responses could shock women of the first world.  Many of them are trapped in generational poverty due to their reproductive capacity.  Raped and pregnant from youth, they are robbed of the equal opportunities being unburdened by obligations allows men.  Powerful women may result.

If you yourself could not have children, you might invest your time in creating something else of value.  I don’t think I could write books if I had children.  Sterilization could, conceivably, bring about a renaissance in culture and ingenuity.

Again, however, much of what defines us as humans is our ability to defy instinct.  To the extent that our biology is manipulating us into behaviors, we are not consciously choosing them.  Rocks cannot choose but to obey the laws of nature.  The ability to step outside of the confines of and reshape nature is a benchmark of progress.  Exerting our wills in the face of pressure is a sign of our character.  Consciously choosing a new path is the ultimate sign of intelligence.

DINK ON!

 

Love

 

The greatest danger that arises out of forgoing child rearing is that it will make us less sensitive to the beauty and complexity of humans.  Child rearing makes one sympathetic to the foibles of man. 

There is said to be no greater love than a mothers.  Her love is unconditional.  At some level, she sees value and a source of love in everything her child does.  A mother’s loves most unique feature is that it is impervious to circumstance. 

As such it is like the highest manifestation of religious love: agape.  This is indiscriminate and impartial love.  Agape is Christ love.  It redeems the wretched.  It sees the divine in all.  Such devotion to life itself can be seen in the mother that stands behind her criminally insane son on death row.  All others may have forsaken him.  But the love of mothers and religions stand firm.

            We need to have such love in our lives now.  We need, however, to have it for humanity.  We need to do so with the strength a mother shows when her son goes off with the military. 

Yes, we would be making a sacrifice by not having our own child.  But it is not an enlightened love that demands we have the right to procreate during a population explosion.  To launch a child into such a world is very selfish.  It is more loving to want future generations to have a lifestyle that can only facilitated with resources, education and the peace that comes from low population pressures. 

Like the Christian god, it is noble to love the world so much that you are willing to give your only non-begotten child.

 

Emerging emergency

 

There has been a traditional Christian goal of trying to imitate the ways of god in our personal habits and society.  Our own puritans forefathers were constantly aware of a need to try to make their city on a hill conform to the image of heaven. 

Plotinus’ version of godly imitation would ask us to use our intelligent and try to radiate the ways of intelligence.  I love being and expressing the highest potential inherent in the shape of the universe; intelligence.

The universe is now buzzing with new potentials.  Soon we will have smart humans in cyberspace.  We are now more creative than ever.  Never before have there been so many new products, sports, ideas, technologies and art forms.  We are wonderful and becoming more so.  The meta-human age could make this look like the dark ages.

We’ve now seen the method by which intelligence leaps.  To see more intelligence we must be intelligent at another level..  Appreciating intelligence then implies striving to do the same.  We show our appreciation and awareness when we strive for the objectivity of the broadest vantage point possible.  From the sky’s view we see that the glory of the universe has been the creation of self-conscious consciousness. 

Our mandate is to protect this precious emanation.  If we don’t act to save the meme that sustains the free enjoyment of and engenders the most creation of intelligence, we could fall back into barbaric enslavement.  We should do all we can to keep this from being a torture pit.  We should do all we can think of to make this a world of glory. 

If we don’t act to save the planet, we won’t only lose our potential garnering lifestyles.  We’ll lose our lives.  And from the universal perspective, that would mean losing a very rare and significant flower.

 

I have a dream

 

            Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spelled out a grand vision.  Whether we have fully achieved it or not, it still inspires us.  Dreams are important.  They affect the future.  And I have a dream.

            I have a dream that we will reach our potential.  The direction of our species towards more and more intelligence seems to be a law of nature.  There is no guarantee of continued progress.  But, without interference water will flow down hill.  Given an opportunity more and more technological and logical subtlety seems to be our destiny. 

            I have a dream that we can live in a world where there are no catastrophic environmental worries.  My generation has grown up under the cloud of the greenhouse effect.  Drought and storm have given a perennial deflation to our belief in ourselves as controllers of our fates.  Someday I hope young people will not have a cloud of victimization obscuring their sunny optimism.

            I have a dream that environmental abundance will mot make every new technology into a double edged sword.   Someday, I hope, we will be able to celebrate our intelligence as an unmitigated good.

            Intellectual growth requires peace.  War is an ignorance that breeds nothing but fear and death. 

            I have a dream that someday the ratio of resources to people will make war unnecessary.  

I have a dream that we may learn to use technology to further our intelligence, not manipulate our desires.  Intelligence for intelligences sake is as spiritual as we get.  It is divine.  It gives us a religious mystical connection with the larger logically structured universe.

I have a dream that education will conquer ignorance.  People will no longer separate and battle and oppress in the name of ancient superstitions.  All will be free to formulate their own ideas.  All will be able to pursue their talents.

I have a dream that we will have enough resources to educate all of our people to their fullest potential.  That all may utilize their talents and taste of the fruits of other’s is my dream..

I have a dream of man improving man.  Man will continue to meld with machines, to have better memories, telepathic vision and fuller expression.  Man, not made in the image of former man, but in the image of expansive intelligence herself will emerge.

I have a dream that there may be new life forms that are even more intelligent than myself.  I dream of a day that I may also enjoy in their discoveries and wonder at what their thoughts might be like.

I have a dream that I can be a small actor in the emergent global mind.  To live to witness and act in such a birthing would be fantastic.

My dream is a dream of unlimited possibilities and technological miracles, peace and prosperity, intelligence and longevity.

Certain understandings provide the intellectual ballast for this dream. 

Without a shift in our historical, psychological, philosophical, ethical and political concepts it cannot happen. 

We are at a crossroads.  It is time for a fully sentient mankind to awaken from the confines of our programming before it causes destruction.  WE need to help our meme see itself and its responsibility to itself.  It is time for the world to take a global perspective.  Its time for the Lemming to wake to his new day as mankind.

It is time to wake and make conscious choices in the name of intelligence.

That is what Plotinus would say makes us human.  It is what will make us meta-human.  It is what will allow us to continue as such.