Evolutionism - The Red Thread in the Matrix Conspiracy (free Ebook)
Black Square, by Kazimir Malevich (among evolutionists this "painting" is seen as a revolutionary masterpiece).
If there is a red thread running through the Matrix Conspiracy, it is evolutionism. How close to the concept of the Matrix (the theory that we live, or ought to live, in a computer simulation) evolutionism has developed today, ran into my mind when I wrote an article about the American psychedelic futurist and promotor of The Californian Ideology, David Jay Brown. In his book The New Science of Psychedelics: At the Nexus of Culture, Consciousness, and Spirituality, he says:
I think DNA is ultimately trying to create a world where the imagination is externalized, where the mind and the external world become synchronized as one, so that basically whatever we can imagine can become a reality. Literally. And I think that everything throughout our entire evolution has been moving slowly toward that goal. In the past thousand years, it´s been very steady. And through nanotechnology, through artificial intelligence, through advanced robotics, I think we´re entering into an age where we´ll be able to control matter with our thoughts and actually be able to create anything that our minds can conceive of. We´re very quickly heading into a time where machines are going to be more intelligent than we are, and we´re going to most likely merge, I think, with these intelligent machines and develop capacities and abilities that we can barely imagine right now, such as the ability to self-transform. What we can do with computers – digital technology, the way we can morph things on a computer screen – is the beginning of understanding that that´s how reality itself is organized, that we can do that with physical reality through nanotechnology and artificial intelligence, that the digital nature of reality itself will allow us to externalize whatever we think. So, I think that eventually reality will become like a computer graphic screen, and we´ll be able to create whatever we want. That sound right?
I discovered that David Jay Brown by no means is the only person who are thinking in ways like this. Indeed, his ideas are common in certain very influential parts of America, for example Silicon Valley and the so-called Californian Ideology, and I found that there here is a conscious strategy going on, which through technology, internet and social media wants the rest of the world to adapt this way of thinking.
I have therefore decided to write this Ebook on evolutionism, where I will investigate the background for ideas like David Jay Brown´s.
The booklet is divided into the following parts (you can find page numbers in the PDF version):
1) Illustration of evolutionistic absurdity as it is seen in the artworld
2) Variations of Evolutionism
a) The Self-production thesis
d) Management theory
e) The Mythology of Authenticity
f) Protestant Work Ethic
g) The Return of the Sophists
3) The Californian Ideology
a) The Justification of Confabulation
b) Transhumanism and Singularitarianism
c) The Pseudoscience of Nanotechnology
d) Whole Brain Emulation, Mind Uploading and Cryonics
e) Transhumanist spirituality
f) Technological Utopianism and the Matrix Hybrid
1) Illustration of evolutionistic absurdity as it is seen in the artworld
I will begin this Ebook by mentioning an essay by my professor in philosophy, the late David Favrholt, which he printed in his book Aesthetics and Philosophy (Æstetik og Filosofi, Høst humaniora, 2000). The essay is called “Forsøg på Definition af Kunst” (Attempt of a Definition of Art). In a part of the essay he is talking about how evolutionism is characterizing the artists and the artworld of today.
Favrholdt claims that the evolutionary ideology (evolutionism, not to confuse with evolutionary biology) was created in the 19th century, and that this is an ideology which we still celebrate in the Western world. Gradually this ideology has become so rooted in the fact that it appears to be natural for most people, and that they therefore not are aware that it forms a central part of their worldview.
Favrholdt explains that the background for evolutionism is to be found in the Renaissance, not least in the scientific breakthrough from approximately 1550 onwards. The amazing development that took place in the field of astronomy, physics and chemistry initially led to the rationalistic philosophy, whose message was, among other things, that now you could look into God´s thoughts, and see how the universe was built. Then came the so-called enlightenment philosophy in France, England and Germany. They sensed what kind of change of human living conditions the new science would cause. They thought that the scientific knowledge would be able to save humanity from religious indoctrination and superstition, and that the enlightenment – i.e., everything the scientists could bring humanity in form of scientific results - would raise tolerance and morality and lead to freedom and equality in the whole world. This led to the view of the historical process as a development towards higher and higher states. Evolutionism was formed.
Evolutionism is best known in the field of biology, where it, with the research of Charles Darwin, gained a scientific footing. But also in the field of history it became popular, and with Hegel's philosophy, it finally unfolded in philosophy. There was not the thing that could not be seen from a historical point of view, and in Hegel's philosophy it came as one large logical and thus static system, where all that can be conceptualized has its specific place. But since this logical system, according to Hegel, is something that unfolds for us in time, in world history, it is perceived as a development that takes place with historical necessity, and thus can´t be understood as just a series of random events that follow each other in time. This is called historical determinism, which I will return to later.
The evolutionism we are in today makes us blind for a number of relationships. We find it natural to talk about progress, development, growth, renewal, innovation, visions, whether it's economic, political, social conditions, spiritual - and also when it comes to art. It is about being progressive, revolutionary, dynamic, unconventional, skeptical of everything that exists. Evolutionism is so close-knitted in our minds that we find it very difficult to imagine that it could be different. But in reality, evolutionism is a newer Western phenomenon. In the rest of the world, it did not exist before the Europeans. In China, where the population largely has been the same as the whole of Europe, the population was largely static, unchanged from prehistoric times and up to the 20th century. China has no renaissance, nor any enlightenment time. Throughout history, the country has been a centrally ruled feudal community. There have been changes in Chinese art, but they seem like weak curves in the waves of a large ocean, and can not be compared to the epochs of European art - Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, Classicalism, Romance, etc. And as for the many African societies, the static perception of life has been the self-evident right up to our time. Under the influence of European culture, the Arabian culture has experienced some stormy weather, but not so much that it has led to a thinking in evolutionary way.
Favrholdt refers to Mads Lidegaard, who in the book Det frie menneske – Brud med et gammelt mønster (The Free Man - Breaks with an Old Pattern) - has described the difference between what he calls the cyclic pattern in the developing countries and the linear pattern (which Favrholdt calls evolutionism) in our culture.
In many developing countries, concepts like progress and development seem strange and indifferent. The single individual does not feel as an individual but as part of a collective. The virtues are patience, endurance, humility, cooperation and adaptability - all that which the youth in the Western world are against. The individual's task is to live in and preserve society as it is and pass it unchanged to the next generation. The cyclic has been the primary everywhere and always – and it is only in Europe, another pattern, the linear, has arisen. Even to such an extent that Westerners consider the developing countries to be reactionary and traditional and to oppose change even though it works well enough.
"All the keen and well-meaning men who take the word [reactionary] in their mouth might just think a bit deeper over that they in this way judge the whole non-technical world, the majority of the people of the world. For out there, it is the very task of life to preserve the present state as unchanging as possible. And if you come out and work in such an area, it's a terrible dangerous ballast to bring this massive contempt for everything which aren´t as restless pursuing development and change, as ourselves."
In our culture, the intellectuals have the attitude that
"A person who does not constantly develop and renew and follow with time has stagnated and is worthless. We despise the habitual creatures, the men who follow the same pattern day by day, come from work, eat, go over to the neighbor and play cards and go home and sleep ... They are living dead and are exposed for all our paralyzing judgment and contempt."
In the society of today it is stated in all areas that we must move on, develop ourselves, renew ourselves and the institutions, companies, develop trade, exports, imports. In the societies which Lidegaard calls cyclic, concepts such as gods, providence and destiny are central. But such concepts have long been replaced with ideas of growth and progress, and in business, innovation and expansion have become key words. Evolutionism has gone so much into the blood that it also characterizes our view of art. And all these magic words: Development, Growth, Progress, Innovation, etc., have even become norms for how you ought to live your life. What rules for the individual is that it in no way must stop up. You need to develop yourself, renew yourself, be creative, forward-looking - until you die. It has become our religion.
Unfortunately, evolutionism has influenced all our art institutions. Favrholdt recalls how Ebbe Lundgaard, when he was Minister of Culture, in a television broadcast, stated that it is lying in the nature of art to test boundaries, eliminate frames, because otherwise there would be no development, progress. And art precisely needs to be supported because it functions as a dynamo in society. Inspiration should come from the artists, it is the task of art and its whole function to prevent society from stopping. He said that, and what he said is what most people say and mean - even the artists themselves.
But there is a difference between more or less consciously seeking new forms of expression because you are tired of the existing, and demanding that you seek new forms of expression, whether tired of the existing ones or not. From the Renaissance onwards, they have within both music, literature and art, from generation to generation, broken with many of the norms taken over from the predecessors. You went to the master class, learned as much as you could from the elderly in the subject but then you had your own ideas, which you naturally considered more interesting, more exciting and therefore also in a sense as improvements; but there was no conscious showdown or break with tradition. The artists who developed Rococo mostly felt that they improved the Baroque, that they found new tools, something that made things even more beautiful, gripping etc. In furniture art they broke with the heavy and monumental, the right angles and lions and wings, and began to cultivate the graceful, swung forms, the light, the gracious. Garden art changed from large symmetric parks to a kind of imitations of the unspoilt nature (small beaks, small waterfalls, winding paths, etc.). Architecture, visual arts and music also underwent transformations, but what was the driving force? It was a preoccupation with the wonderful joy of finding a number of new expressions. It was not a question of deliberately throwing the past overboard. Even style elements from before the Baroque could be used, and it was not at all that you felt that you were now moving into a new era, that you were moving forward, upwards.
A composer like Mozart felt at no point that he was called to create a new style or era in the music. Favrholdt mentions Karl Aage Rasmussen's book Kan man høre tiden – Essays om musik og mennesker (Can you hear Time? Essays on Music and People). Rasmussen writes about Mozart:
"In addition, his talent was instinctively aimed at refining the shapes of music rather than renewing them or changing their direction of development. He admitted legacy and debt without major considerations, and was no admirer of "originality". It is a beautiful feature of "the greatest of all composers" that music history would hardly have looked much different if he had never put his mark on it (except that it would be infinitely poorer, of course!). But history's developmental lines apparently do not go through Mozart, they end in him or they go around him. The complete can, as the word says, not be repeated or further developed. "
The actual development of the piano music, chamber music and symphonic music that took place on Mozart's time would have taken place, no matter if he was dead as a child. It is first with Beethoven that there is an "evolutionary consciousness" within music, and an idea that the artist has a role as a guide or preacher. The earlier revolutions in music was motivated by the fact that things could be done better - not by the idea that you ought to move on in world history.
Favrholdt explains that the evolution thinking first became general accepted in the latter half of the 19th century. In literature, after the French Revolution, nationalism admittedly came to mean that you consciously were searching for national roots, as we know in Denmark from Oehlenschlæger and others; that is: that they actually had a conscious program for their literary activity. But at that time, evolutionism was still a tendency on a very low level. The next program, in Denmark, first comes in the 1870s with Georg Brandes and the next again with the symbolists. Only after 1900, Favrholdt says, evolutionism at international level is in full bloom in all art forms, and since then it has become the very definition of art.
Due to the whole development of society in the late 1800s - better infrastructure, traffic links, telephones, telegraphs, economic growth and growing urbanization, etc. – the development accelerates in the various art forms. People are becoming more and more aware of the changing views, because there gradually arise several of them within one and the same generation. The political ideologies are forward-looking, mostly Marxism, which is a development ideology labeled over the Hegelian score, but with another instrumentation. According to Favrholdt it all leads, in the world of art, to what you in ethics call the naturalist fallacy: you deduce from the factual to the normative, from "is" to "ought". Since there actually happens breakups and new viewpoints of art, it ought to be the task of any artist to help make it happen. "The essence of art is the news. Art views always ought to be new. The only system that fits art is the permanent revolution." Thus sounds the painter Dubuffets´ happy message. And Baudrillard follows up with the claim that the only parameter in the evaluation of art is the news value.
From around 1900 onward, there are, within the various art forms, a number of programmatic breakthroughs in the field of visual arts and design, including Dadaism, Futurism and the Bauhaus Group. Here there are a conscious rebellion against the present state of affairs, against the ruling art view of artists and art critics. But it applies to all three directions that it results in a big artistic renewal, mostly within Bauhaus and Dadaism, a little less in futurism, which did not get to grow up before new isms replaced it. So the very fact that you consciously choose to formulate a program does not mean that there is coming something bad out of it. Where there has happened a mistake in the 20th century – and Favrholdt emphasizes that such a mistake has happened - is where the rebellion against the existing views does not lead to something new and valuable, which in any way can be measured against what you fight, and therefore doesn´t result in anything more than provocation.
For many artists, art reviewers and art writers, evolutionism have, as mentioned, meant that the news, the provocation, the break with the habitual, forms a parameter in the judgment of art. Terrified by predecessors´s bad experience with critizicing something which since has been accepted as good art, most critics of today will meet the most provocative work with understanding and tolerance. In the following Favrholdt mentions one among thousands, not as an argument, but as an illustration.
On May 31, 1993, Alex Steen of the Danish newspaper Ekstrabladet reviewed an exhibition of imageless “paintings” by Freddie A. Lerche on Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek. The "paintings" are a series of gray painted canvases with a little structure – a structure which Steen obviously had not seen. He mentions Peter Rindal and Pia Kjærsgaard, public persons in Denmark, which belong to a right-wing section in Danish politics, who are critical towards the evolutionary tendencies in the art world. He writes:
"I do not really recommend Peter Rindal, Pia Kjærsgaard or others from that division to go to the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek to see Freddie A. Lerche's exhibition. I'm afraid they would run from there singing in choir "It's the Emperor's New Clothes"!
"Lerche´s 12 paintings are gray painted canvases, in gray frames and hung on gray walls. They are what they call monochrome, i.e., single-colored, devoid of feelings and messages. His imageless painting is precisely a rebellion against all the superfluous, but on the other hand an extremely quiet protest. Lerche himself has placed himself with the words: - ’The color should not refer or illuminate, the color is' and 'the painting is the art of the color'. His paintings in themselves, where the color alone rules, nothing else ...
"Many have made it before him, both Malevic, Yves Klein, Mark Rothko; Yes, even more, but here Freddie A. Lerche performs in his own minimalism, which does not say 'good day' or 'goodbye', but only is there in the room where it almost 'plays hide and seek' on the walls and underlines the absence.
"The exhibition is accompanied by a fine little catalog, where the artist explains the more philosophical and analytical aspects. So, by all means, the paintings are not completely allowed to stand alone! Freddie A. Lerche is 56 years old, member of The Free Exhibition and represented in a number of museums. "
Alex Steen will not risk being verbally attacked by the art world with this review of 12 gray painted canvases without motifs or pictures. He acknowledges that the paintings are devoid of emotions and messages, but that´s precisely the good about them, since emotions and messages belong to the "superfluous." It's something of an assertion, says Favrholdt, that eliminates most of the world art - think of how much superfluous there may be in Goya's paintings if that´s true! Steen accepts Lerche's assertion that 'painting is the art of the color'. But isn´t it also the form? Since Lerche's paintings not are original, not even his own idea – (Malevich made the joke already in 1918) – then the reviewer must make something up in order not to get into trouble with anyone in the Danish art institution, and then it becomes: “Here Freddie A. Lerche performs in his own minimalism, which does not say 'good day' or 'goodbye'”.
Favrholdt asks: “How can it be his own when the idea of this idea-art not is his own?”
Favrholdt says that some readers of Ekstrabladet with a little sense of art might think that Lerche's minimalism has reached a zero point and therefore shouldn´t be praised for anything at all. How do you silence them, he asks? Well, you start the article with "I do not really recommend Peter Rindal, Pia Kjærsgaard or others from that division to go to the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek to see Freddie A. Lerche's exhibition. I'm afraid they would run from there singing in choir "It's the Emperor's New Clothes"!
The one who relates critical to Alex Steen's inside praise do not want to be compared with "art fighters" and right-winged politicians, right? Favrholdt says: “This is how you behave when you have sold your soul to evolutionism” (you use a guilt by association trick).
2) Variations of Evolutionism
Evolutionism is, as suggested with the above example from the art world, in my view an ideology (see my article The Difference Between Philosophical Education and Ideological Education). It has therefore nothing to do with the serious science of evolutionary biology, and should be discriminated from that. In fact, it is the central driving force in the growing craze of scientism (pseudoscience).
The ideology began in Europe, and in newer history, and represents a very limited aspect of world history. But this ideology is now spreading globally, and especially in USA it has developed into the most extreme version I have stumpled upon so far: transhumanism. I will end the article with an introduction to The Californian Ideology, a field I will investigate further in coming articles. First I will give an overview of varitions of evolutionism.
a) The Self-production Thesis
According to Nietzsche the will to power is the basic power of all life. He therefore thought about a special meaning of the word will. Normally the will is understood as Man´s ability to bring a more or less reasonable decision out in life. And ahead of the will´s effort goes the consideration. But Nietzsche´s will to power is neither connected to reasonable considerations, nor consciousness. On the contrary it describes life´s fundamental character of striving towards increase – a central idea in evolutionism.
Will is normally a psychological concept. It describes an ability, or an aspect, of the human consciousness. In contrast to this Nietzsche is seeing it as an ontological, or metaphysical, concept. The fundamental idea is, that if we shall understand the multifold expressions of all life, then we must interpret them as outcome of will to power. This idea led to Nietzsche´s re-evaluation of all values. The eternal values are only a slavemoral without reality and truth. They are illusions or fictions. Therefore he dethroned reason as the ability to insight in the eternal values. Body, desires, and nature, are the central in Man, not reason. God is dead and the world is chaotic, empty, absurd; something, which Man himself must control. Man must himself create his values: a master moral created by the so-called superhuman.
Now, if we take Nietzsche, then his idea about the will to power has to do with the outgoing movement of time, the future; but as an ontological principle. What he is talking about is the becoming of everything, becoming and not being; that is: a state of non-being, nothingness, which only you yourself can fill with meaning. So - though Nietzsche is talking about the will to power as a creative force - this is not something positive connected with life itself. Nietzsche´s view of life itself, the eternal recurrence of the same, is a view of life devoid of values. God is dead.
According to Nietzsche there neither exists a sensuous, a material, or a spiritual world given in advance. Everything is created by being interpreted. Nietzsche believed that the will - that is to say: the defeating, the remodeling, the striving - is something creative. The will to power, according to Nietzsche, is a creating power. That this power is the basic power in Man means, according to Nietzsche, that all expressions of the human life must be understood as forms of will to power; intake of food, arrangement of the everyday life with home and clothes, cultivation of nature, as well as sensation, feelings, thinking and will in usual sense - are expressions of the will to power. Nietzsche is not least thinking about the will to power in the image of art. All human unfolding is actually a creative process where a content, or a material, is formed. Life is seen as a work of art. This is also the American New Age guru Jon Rappoport´s view. He sees a human being as a reality-creating artist; actually, as a kind of God (see the Matrix Dictionary entry Jon Rappoport).
A similar thought exists in the so-called self-production thesis, which is the thought about, that Man is the being, who creates himself through his history, and thereby controls his own freedom. The thought exists in the German idealism, for instance in Fichte, Schelling, Hegel. Both Existentialism, as well as Marxism, also builds on the understanding of the freedom of Man to form his own life, and that this is an unconditional value. Freedom is a good thing, a demand and a responsibility. What it is about, is the freedom to be the creative power in your own history. In the Existentialists it is the life-story of the individual, in the Marxists it is the world-history of the community.
The self-production thesis builds on the thought, that Man is in a continual state of becoming. The concept formation also often becomes used in connection with the concept of becoming. In my book A Portrait of a Lifeartist I have examined this in details in the section The Lifeartist as a Desirous Being.
With this Nietzsche introduced a quite central concept: perspectivism. Through our interpretations (language) we directly construct the world. And you must therefore have the will and power to create new values, and you must have the power to give them name in a new way, because namegiving is the same as an unfolding of power. Or else you end up as a slave.
To live is to will, to will is to create values. The will to power is becoming through us, and in that way we get control over the things through a perspective. All this is also the New Age guru (and conspiracy theorist) Jon Rappoport´s view of life. He just has another name for perspectivism, namely imagination. Imagination is the creative power, and this power is unlimited. You simply create reality through your imagination. The create-your-own-reality ideology.
It is now easy to see how much the modern management theory and coaching industry is inspired by Nietzsche: the relativistic and subjectivistic ideas about that it only is the individual himself who, through his interpretations, or stories, can supply the world with values – or rather, not supply, but directly create it like a God; the denial of the past, and the orientation towards future; the superhuman idea about being a winner, a success, a person standing on the top of the mountain; the preaching about that it is not facts, but the best story, which wins.
Also existentialism can be used to justify these thoughts. The act-oriented ideas of existentialism match as hand in glove with a capitalistic-liberalistic ideology about being the architect of your own fortune, the right for each individual person to seek his own idea of happiness – the philosophical point of view, that there isn´t any objective value-goals for the human life, only individual subjective choices. That is: value-subjectivism.
Heidegger and Sartre both think from Kierkegaard´s philosophy of existence, but without his Christianity and humanism, and therefore they end in subjectivism and irrationalism. They both show, in different ways, what the danger is in subjectivism and its belonging irrationalism. Irrationalism led Heidegger to Nazism, though only for a shorter period, and Sartre had difficulties explaining why you not as well could choose an anti-humanistic project of life such as Leninism or Nazism.
The New Thought movement, or New Thought, is a spiritual movement, which developed in the United States during the late 19th century and emphasizes philosophical idealism. It consists of a loosely allied group of religious denominations, secular membership organizations, authors, philosophers, and individuals who share a set of metaphysical beliefs concerning the effects of positive thinking, the law of attraction, healing, life force, creative visualization, and personal power. Here we see another of Rappoport´s sources of inspiration for his concept of imagination.
The three major religious denominations within the New Thought movement are Religious Science, Unity Church and the Church of Divine Science (so it is important to know, that there is a special religious movement behind the management theories and the self-help industry, which everyone today, through education and work, is forced to accept).
The main theory is also here the subjectivist belief, that your thoughts create reality. By focusing on positive thinking, and by avoiding everything you find negative, you can create your life in accordance with your needs, feelings and wishes. The “positive” is identified as success, money, sex, material glory, etc. Examples of book-titles are: “Prosperity Through Thought Force”, “The Science of Getting Rich”, “Think and Grow Rich”. Rappoport doesn´t care about specific goals. He is utterly subjectivistic (nihilistic) and says: “just create your own reality.” He obviously doesn´t bother to ask about what kind of reality that might be. He doesn´t care to think about the human painbody, the shadow side of a human being.
All the above theories is today seen in a whole tendency of time within school, folk high school and continuing education, where you focus on so-called ”personal development” and ”Personality-developing courses” in connection with demands about lifelong learning, continuing education, readiness for change and flexibility; precisely what management theory and coaching are all about.
For instance they use Sartre´s scriptures as a request for uninhibited and egoistic self-expression, where the individual person is letting his choices decide everything. The existentialists say that Man has the freedom, through his choices, to be the creative power in his own history. As management theorists and coaches say: ”It is not facts, but the best story, which wins!”
In the existentialists the choice gives reasons for all meaning, but can´t in itself be given reasons for in anything. The viewpoint is called decisionism, because values at base are founded on a choice, or a decision. Nietzsche called it perspectivism, Rappoport calls it imagination. New Thought calls it visualization. It doesn´t matter, it is all expressions of the same mix of materialism and idealism. So, don´t get fooled over that these two metaphysical theories apparently are in war with each other.
Historicsim is the belief that historical, and by extension present and future, events unfold according to predetermined sequences. We have already mentioned this in connection with Hegel. But it is found in many belief systems, for example in the 19th and some early 20th century anthropology and archaeology (generally referred to as "cultural evolutionism") - societies evolve through time on a single path from small bands of hunter-gatherers to nation-states resembling those of 19th century Europe — and no further.
You can also see it in certain formulations of biological determinism applied to historical processes, e.g. racialist theories that posited the achievements of European civilization were due to biological superiority. These ideas were often tied into the anthropological theories above.
Then there is the above-mentioned Hegelian dialectics - every development in history (thesis) would lead to a reaction (antithesis). The contrast between both will lead to a reconciliation or otherwise be settled (synthesis), which would eventually become a new thesis, etc. This view had a great influence on Marxism - civilization goes through several stages, from primitive communism, through the rise of the state and private property, to feudalism, capitalism, socialism and finally to communism.
You can find it in dispensationalism - a fundamentalist Protestant Christian belief in seven periods of time or "dispensations" the earth will go through; according to this belief we are currently in the "dispensation of grace" and will be until the rapture happens.
Oswald Spengler's The Decline of the West, arguably an intellectual influence on Nazism, claimed a civilization model in which each civilization necessarily passes through several epochs and eventually declines.
Auguste Comte's positivism - in his famous Law of the Three Stages Comte postulated that all human societies would pass through three stages: the religious stage, the metaphysical stage and the positive stage. He believed his own philosophy kicked off the third stage.
A common trait of historicists are egoes that seem to follow their grand fantasies.
It should be easy to see how all this has influenced the New Age movement, where the concept of historical stages has been applied to consciousness, and the coming New World Order – the New Age. You can for example see this in the New Age guru Ken Wilber´s works (See my articles A Critique of Ken Wilber and His Integral Method and the update Ken Wilber).
Finally there is Futurism - Many works of technological determinism may be found under this heading. Its current incarnations are known as "transhumanism" and "Singularitarianism." Many New Age systems merge with futurism, as for example the WingMakers Project and The Human Design system (see my blog post The WingMakers Project and my article A Critique of the Human Design System).
It should be mentioned that it is comparatively easy to invent such historical systems. You just have to more or less copy and paste from others, who have done a harder thought work, as for example Hegel and Marx, and then insert your own terminology. As we saw in the art example, then evolutionary art is just the repetition of an idea, and therefore not something new, despite that the new is what the ideology are fascinated by.
Historicism was especially popular during the 19th century but has got it renaissance in futurism and New Age, which, as we shall see in the last chapter, is spreading worldwide via internet and social media. Basically, historicism is a historian's scientism. Historicists attempted to get the study of human history to become a natural, 'hard' science. They typically identified a 'motor' behind all human history (class struggle, national mission, racial destiny, reason, violence, or repressed sexuality). By careful study of the workings of the motor during human history, most historicists believed it could be used to predict the future, which if successful would in effect turn history into a natural science.
Eventually, these attempts failed, as it turned out human behavior is not as predictable as most historicists believed it is. It has sometimes been argued that much of the nasty cataclysm of war and violence of the 20th century was caused by failed attempts to forcefully have reality fit the perpetrator's pet historicist theory.
Notably, most historicists were not historians (Comte, Marx, and Hegel were philosophers) and historians have generally been aware that their field of study is distant from the natural sciences. This is in stark contrast with practitioners of many other social sciences. What sets history apart from both the natural and social sciences is that it looks for the unique rather than the general. Many historians (though there are exceptions) have been plainly not interested in formulating general laws about human history.
Historical determinism and historicism were decisively rebutted by Karl Popper, who argued that it is impossible to predict the future course of history. His argument goes like this:
1) The biggest historical changes in recent history have for the most part been caused by technological changes. If you could get somebody who lived a hundred years ago to time travel to the present the most striking differences would probably be technological ones, and even if that is not the case many of the social, cultural and political changes can at least in part be ascribed to changes in technology.
2) Technological progress depends heavily on scientific progress.
3) Therefore, in order to predict the future, one should be able to predict future scientific knowledge.
4) It is, however, not possible to predict future scientific knowledge. You can't predict a scientific fact that has not been discovered yet. If you could, it would not be a future discovery but a current one. In other words, if you know a fact that is not yet known, you know it now, so it's not a prediction any more. Knowing things you don't know yet is an impossible logical contradiction.
5) Therefore, it is not possible to predict the future course of history.
Many theories espousing historicism could be considered as scientific hypotheses that were initially valid but eventually failed. Continued adherence to such theories, however, should be classified as pseudoscience. Many historicists will tell you that the revolution or the rapture is still going to happen, but at some undetermined point in the future. Although they do make a prediction, it is not a testable one, making it impossible to falsify, making it essentially worthless for scientific purposes.
Since the late 20th century there has been a renewed interest in bringing history and natural science closer to each other. Although some have tried to formulate laws about human history, these attempts have stayed short of complete determinism.
One example is Richard Dawkins' The Selfish Gene, presenting a gene-centered view of evolution, leading some historians to adopt a gene-centered view of history. More relevant is Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel, which explores the different ways human societies developed, and especially why some became powerful and ended up ruling the world while others didn't, based on differences in natural geography. Again, notably, neither Dawkins (a biologist) nor Diamond (a geographer) is a historian.
In the historicism of New Age (inspired by postmodernism), there has gone inflation in the concept of paradigm shifts. The bridge between science and spirituality is an expression you hear all the time within New Age. And they try to create “alternative sciences” all the time. Each new number of a New Age magazine or New Age promoting website with respect for itself, must contain at least one new “revolutionary” new “scientific” theory, which is the beginning to a “paradigm shift” in science. The number of new forms of “alternative sciences” within New Age is therefore today almost comically large.
Reductionism means that you reduce a phenomenon to something less, or something else, than what the phenomenon in its origin implies. The concept has to do with science, or scientism, either the natural sciences or the human sciences. A reductionism is created when a scientist believes that religious and philosophical questions can be understood from science, or certain specific branches of science. Reductionism is connected with philosophy in the sense that a reductionism must be categorized as philosophy, and not science. People who indulge themselves in scientism are simply doing philosophy, but as philosophy it is junk thought. The junk thought arises because the promoters doesn´t want to do the difficult job of philosophical argumentation, but claiming that their theories are scientific theories; that is: they are insinuating that they are doing science. In that way they can throw out all kinds of fantasies and at the same time silence critique.
Reductionisms are a central part of evolutionism in the sense that reductionisms are a break with tradition, which is considered as old thinking, outdated, when seen in the progress of science.
Scientism is the ideology of science. The term scientism generally points to the cosmetic application of science in unwarranted situations not amenable to application of the scientific method or similar scientific standards. The sciences ask limited questions about Man, or questions about specific sides of the human life. Such questions are then solved by experimenting, collecting systematical observations and from them draw up theories. The sciences collect systematical experiences and throw out theories, that can be tested through new experiences, or serve as the best explanations.
But science can´t give answers to the problems of lifeviews and view of values. Single branches of sciences can´t out of hand answer questions about values or moral standards.
However, this they nevertheless often do, but then it ends in reductionism. And there has not been a lack of trying to understand Man from one or the other single branch of science. They have for example claimed, that Man fully could be described and explained with the methods of natural science. This happens in various forms of Naturalism, Positivism and Behaviourism. Or they have thought, that psychology, sociology or history can give the total and superior understanding of, what a human being is. These viewpoints are described respectively as Psychologism, Sociologism and Historicism.
These viewpoints are forms of reductionism; that is to say: they reduce or devaluate Man to a phenomenon of a single type. The problem is then to lead all other sides of Man back to this single type, for example to explain ethics, politics and mathematics as pure historical or psychological phenomena. Here the reductionisms always end in various forms of explaining away, which often is direct absurd.
The reductionisms observe Man from fragmented viewpoints, for example as organism, as physical-chemical system, as society being, as psyche, as producer and user of language and meaning. But what becomes of the Wholeness? What unites all this knowledge to a total image of Man?
The reductionisms view themselves as scientific approaches, but they are not. It is here the fundamental invalidity in the reductionistic viewpoints arises, since their basis not is building on argumentation, but on the claim, that they are founded in science. But science is as mentioned not able to answer problems of lifeviews and values. Reductionisms are philosophical viewpoints, which under cover of being science seek to answer questions of values or moral standards. No single branch of science gives anything else than a limited perspective on Man or reality. If the reductionisms should be taken seriously, then they shall contain a unifying perspective on all knowledge about Man.
Both New Age pseudoscience and the pseudoscience of reductionism are common in sharing some kind of scientism; that is: they overestimate the importance of science, for example by claiming:
1) that philosophy and religion need to be founded in science (or replacing original religious concepts with scientific sounding concepts).
2) that certain single branches of science can give an explanation of everything.
3) that certain single branches of science are self-sufficient and that philosophy and religion are superfluous.
In New Age it happens in the demand of “alternative sciences.” In reductionism it happens in the form of pseudoskepticism.
Reductionionism is a central topic in my online book Philosophical Counseling with Tolkien.
In the view of nature in natural science, nature is reduced to atomic particles, empty space, fields, electromagnetic waves and particles etc., etc. Characteristic is, that nature is explained, and is described, in a way, which is a world away from our immediate sense experiences.
The support of a natural scientific view of nature has almost always led the supporters forward to combine it with an instrumental (technological) view of nature. This conception of nature is seeing it as pure material, or alone as a means for the unfolding of Man.
The instrumental view of nature rests on a sharp division between Man and everything else; that is to say: between inner and outer nature. Man is by force of his inner nature radical different from, and is standing over, the outer nature. This is, among other things, due to, that he, with reason and science, is in the position to master nature.
By the way, the thought about Man as a self-producing being, characterizes almost all traditional Western philosophy, where the art of philosophizing is due to thinking alone, even though the theories within this tradition in other crucial points are highly contradictory. You find it in Christianity, in Descartes´ view of Man as a self-dependant being, in the Enlightenment philosophers, in Romanticism´s view of Man as a historical being, in Kierkegaard, Karl Marx and Auguste Comte, who respectively founded existentialism, Marxism and positivism. It was this thought we examined under the concept of The Self-production Thesis. It is charactericed by the top-heavy Indo-European thinking, which my concept of the Luciferian movement is a break with.
Naturalism stands for any view, which considers nature, or the natural, as the most common basis for explanations and evaluations. A naturalistic view of human nature is this conception: Man is a piece of nature.
Naturalistic views can be traced back to the oldest Greek philosophy, but all newer forms of naturalism are characterized by modern natural sciences. Naturalism therefore very often advocates the conception, that all phenomena in the world can be studied through natural science. However it is important to be aware, that naturalism in itself isn´t a scientific point of view, but a philosophical point of view. No single branch of science gives anything else than a limited perspective on Man or reality. If you are claiming anything else, you end in reductionism; that is: where you reduce Man and reality to only being a result of a single influence. You accentuate one influence at the same time as you understate all others, and therewith you get a problem with creating unity and coherence in your theory. Both Man and reality are all too complex to be written down to one influence.
The view of nature, which is characterizing naturalism today, is characterized by three things:
1) Nature is understood as something, which goes off regularly. This regularity can be formulated mathematical, and is what we understand as the laws of nature. Through insight in the laws of nature Man can learn to make use of nature to his own advantage.
2) This regularity is not an expression of any, to Man, understandable reason. That will say: there are no purposes or intentions with how the ways of nature function. They are only controlled by causal regularity of a mechanical kind. This materialistic ontology claims, that the only thing which has real existence, is mass entities in motion. The whole of nature can fully be explained from the knowledge of these mechanical principles. All explanations use the cause and effect relation. They are causal. Teleological explanations - that is: explanations from purposes - are rejected.
3) Nature is understood and explained from itself. In other words: nature contains in itself its causes. It develops itself by force of immanent powers. It produces itself, is a natura naturans. Naturalism doesn´t set the scene for religious (pre-modern) explanations.
In opposition to this, and under impression of the discussion about the damage, which we have caused nature, there has in the later years been worked out conceptions, which claims, that nature has a value in itself. It is not only a means, but ought to be respected for its beauty and richness. It is by the way a point of view, which also is well known from older times. In lack of better you could call it a communicative view of nature, since it is implying, that we in some sense have a community with nature. This is the beginning of the Luciferian movement; that is: a movement away from the top-heavy self-production thesis, towards a self-forgetful realm. This self-forgetful realm is the realm that allows the mystical experience, a complete pre-modern concept, which is looked at with contempt by modern and postmodern intellectuals.
The communicative view of nature claims that nature is of value in itself, that there is a beauty and richness in nature, which is of non-causal and non-mechanical kind, and that Man as a natural being has a community with this nature. For instance: The Danish theologist and philosopher of life, K.E. Løgstrup, is not naturalist in the way the word was used in the above-mentioned. Through the whole of his life he had an energetic controversy with all positivism and empirical naturalism. His main objection is, that these reduce reality for important dimensions. What Løgstrup calls “the sovereign and spontaneous life-expressions” are given with ”life itself”. You can say, that they belong to our nature, if you thereby understand it as a metaphysical nature. This you can also call naturalism, but it is in that case important to emphasize, that it is a metaphysical naturalism. Metaphysical naturalism is a view I have adopted, and I will develop it further throughout this book.
Another Danish philosopher of life, Mogens Pahuus, has in his book Karen Blixen´s philosophy of life argued, that Blixen, when she speaks about God, is using the word in a quite other meaning than the traditional. According to him she uses it completely synonymous with nature, or rather, the creative powers in nature. In any eventuality it seems, like she thinks of the human nature as being related to the rest of nature. The human nature is a unity of spirit, instinct, sensation, body and feelings, something which you can´t control and master by standing outside it, but which is connected to life-feeling, spontaneity and self-forgetfulness, when you are one with it. Reason, you can say, is lying in an adaption to the realities, both in oneself and the surroundings. Also here we can talk about a metaphysical naturalism, and it is from Karen Blixen I have the concept of the Luciferian movement. This is explained in my Ebook Karen Blixen – the Devil´s Mistress.
In his book The Light of Nature the Danish philologist of Middle Ages, Axel Haaning, is portraying a line of philosophers of nature from the Late Middle Ages and Renaissance, who advocate a communicative view of nature, and who try to illustrate both religion, as well as science of nature, in a more large-scale perspective, but who have been standing in the shadow of the Age of Enlightenment, as well as the breakthrough of modern sciences. It is names such as Roger Bacon, Albert the Great, Jean de Rupescissa, Marsilio Ficino, Paracelsus, Gerhard Mandrel, Giordano Bruno.
Finally shall be mentioned Buddhism, which in some areas can sound very materialistic and naturalistic, but again we here talk about a metaphysical naturalism. It is speaking about the Buddha-nature as the final goal of Man. The Buddha-nature is the original and innermost nature of the mind, which always is completely untouched by change and death.
In agreement with such a communicative view of nature, the philosopher Peter Kreeft claims that cosmology is a division of philosophy seldom seen anymore because most philosophers think its questions have all been answered by the natural sciences, ever since the discovery of the modern scientific method.
But he also claims that there are certainly some questions about the cosmos that the physical sciences do not have the method for answering, while philosophy does: for instance, the justification of principles science takes for granted, such as the uniformity of nature, causality, and the correlation between objective intelligibility in nature and subjective intelligence in man´s mind, as well as nonquantifiable questions like the beauty and value of nature, and why we find a mysterious nonutilitarian joy in things like forests, stars, and storms.
The cosmos is the whole, and the reductionisms reduce this whole to the part. Tolkien said: “I have, I suppose, constructed an imaginary time, but kept my feet on my own mother-earth for place…The theatre of my tale is this earth, the one in which we now live, but the historical period is imaginary.”
“Middle-earth” itself is a modernization “of an old word for the inhabited world of Men, the oikoumene: middle because thought of vaguely as set amidst the encircling Seas and (in the northern imagination) between the ice of the North and the fire of the South…” (as Tolkien added, it is definitely not, as many early reviewers seemed to assume, another planet!)
What is most striking about this larger world? Certainly its variety, richness and consistency are extraordinary. The resulting sense of place gives rise to a startling sensation of primary reality. The fact is that Middle-earth is more real to many readers than many “actual” places; and if I should suddenly find myself there (which would of course astound me – but not utterly) I would have a better feeling for it, and a better idea of how to find my way about, than if I had been dropped in, say, central Asia or South America. Many others have felt the same way. “Tolkien´s readers all have the same impression: they have walked or ridden every inch of Middle-earth in all its weathers”
This sense of Middle-earth being more “real” than our own world, has to do with something I explained in my Tolkien book: namely the concept that the Wholeness, the reality, or the cosmos, can be in three states: sleeping, dreaming and awake. Our own reality is sleeping, all things are closed and grey. It is only showing The Outer Side of the world. In Middle-earth the things are dreaming, more open and colorful. Middle-earth is in addition to the Outer Side also showing the Inner Side of the world, and therefore it is more enchanted, more awake, more real. The whole idea about the attack from Mordor is therefore to depict the attempt to reduce the Wholeness to its parts, to put it to sleep, or directly kill it.
So, what mainly is under attack in connection with reductionism, is the branch of metaphysics called cosmology (the teaching of the Wholeness). Reductionists look at cosmology with contempt.
Ever since Descartes, says Kreeft, the Western mind has separated matter and spirit, body and soul, physical and spiritual, as two “clear” and distinct ideas” that have nothing in common; the above-mentioned instrumental view of nature. Matter takes up space and does not think; mind thinks and does not take up space. But before Descartes it was not so. The distinction was there, but not total. There was an in-between category, life, which Descartes eliminated. He thought of even an animal as a complicated machine. No wonder it is Descartes who is the inspiration for the so-called brain-in-jar hypothesis, which also is the inspiration for the movie The Matrix, and the most extreme reductionist view we have today: The Simulation theory.
But Tolkien restores the ancient, pre-Cartesian cosmology in which things are not that neat. Even inorganic things like mountains are alive; the distinction between trees and Ents (thinking, treelike tree herders) is not absolute; and in general the whole world of things is more personlike, mindlike, spiritlike, than in the Cartesian machine-universe.
Kreeft says that there are at least three killers of this old cosmology in the modern mind. One of them, of course, is materialism. Another is Cartesian dualism, which sells out half of the world – everything made of matter – to materialism, reducing everything except mind and spirit to passivity and mechanism. The third is idealism (spiritualism), and the Gnostic New Age philosophy of “Create your own reality.” This idea sells out the whole world and reality, most extremely seen in the very popular simulation theory, which, paradoxically enough, also many materialists are advocates for. Both materialism and idealism are attractive because they are simple, and don´t require much thinking. They are reductionisms.
When looking at the role of evolutionism in reductionism, you could say that evolutionism generally sells out one half of the world. This is easily seen when looking at the cycles of nature, which all pre-modern societies understood, but not our modern society. History does not simply repeat itself, and the future cannot be predicted. On the plane of the outer forms there are birth and death, creation and destruction, growth and dissolution of apparently separated outer forms. This is reflected everywhere: the life-cycle of a star, a planet, a physical body, a tree or a flower; in the rise and fall of nations, political systems and civilizations; and in the inevitable cycles of gain and loss in the individual person´s life.
A cycle can last from some hours to some years. There are big cycles and small cycles within the big ones. The cyclic nature of the Universe is closely connected with the impermanence of all things and all situations. Buddha made this into a central part of his teaching.
There are cycles with success, where things come to you, and you flourish, and cycles with defeat, where they wither away or wear down, and you become obliged to let go of them, in order to make space so that new things can arise, or so that there can happen a transformation. If you cling to them and make resistance at that time, this means, that you deny accompanying the stream of life, and then you will suffer. This denial is in fact what evolutionism is encouraging. It is one-sided focusing on the up-cycles and are ignoring the down-cycles.
As long as your awareness in this way is identified with thinking, you will have lost the contact with your deeper being (your Soul), and only exist in the movement of time. You´ll have your identity in your lifesituation and be ignorant about the Source of Life. Therefore you will also suffer by being subject to the energy-laws and life-cycles in the movement of time. But suffering is closely connected with the fact, that you make resistance against impermanence.
If you however know the energy-laws, you will know, that it is not true, that the up-cycle is good, and the down-cycle is bad, except in the mind´s judgement.
d) Management theory
We live in a postmodern society, where the distinction between reality and appearance/superficies is about to disappear. Reality is often the images, we receive through the stream of information. And it becomes more and more difficult to see, which objective reality that lies behind. It seems more and more to be the images, which are real, and not some behind lying reality. In that sense all images are equal true - (because there is no objective instance to decide what is more true than something else) - but they are not equal good, for some images are more fascinating than others, some images affect us more than others. Therefore the expression of the image has come in focus. The expression of the image – its aesthetics – decides, whether it fascinates us or bores us. What apply for today, is the intensity and seduction of the expressions. The new truth criterion is, whether something is interesting or boring. Eternal values such as goodness, truth and beauty fall more and more away.
The death of the eternal values doesn't only apply for reality, but also the personality. The individual human being lives in a space without truth, in a time without direction, and with an information flow so huge, that the manageability beforehand has to be given up. How are we to live then? Well, the management theorists claim, you do this by creating yourself in a never-ending new production. The personality then becomes a persona (mask), an eternal change of role, because when the role begins to stiffen, it becomes uninteresting and boring. New is good, as these theorists say. What before characterized the personality´s relationship to the world, was a call. Now the relationship has become a project (or as the management theorists say: a good story, a good branding, a good spin), which is formed, quickly is being carried out and dropped for the benefit of a new project, that can maintain the constant demand for intensity and seduction.
It is precisely the management theories, which are lying behind the companies´ much talk about the employees´ willingness to personal development, flexibility, innovation and readiness for change. Words, that appear in almost any job advertisement.
And therefore also so much bet on PR; that is: not only concerning consumer goods, but also concerning people, for example politicians. The image of the politician in the media is today more important for his choice than the politics, he may advocate. Politics becomes, like everything else, a ware, which has to be sold through good stories (branding, spin). Everything becomes a business, which have to be runned economical. The business community of the management culture, with its active leaders, is being transferred to all areas of life, where everything is being evaluated from if it can be sold, not from the Source of wisdom: the Good, the True and the Beautiful.
So the management theories, and its belonging self-help industry, have actual become a common accepted ideology. A whole time-tendency within school, folk high school and continuing education, focus on so-called ”personal development/self-improvement”. Therefore you can´t avoid being encouraged to an unrestrained and Egoistic self-expression, where you are letting your choices (story-telling, self-branding) decide everything, in the belief that you through your choices can create a successfull life as it fit you. From the management theorists you hear slogans such as: ”It is not facts, but the best story, which wins!”
The intention is to help people using their full potential, to help them in having success, both in work and in private life. The management theorists call it a win-win situation: both the private life of the individual, as well as the company, where the individual is employed, get profit by it – as they claim. What it in other words is about, within these theories, is to become something (be focused on the future), to get success, to conquer a place on the top, to become a winner. The virtues are self-assertion, storytelling, ambition and will to change. The terms of coaching and self-help are closely connected with these ideals.
There are especially three theories, which function as inspiration for these tendencies:
1) New Thought
2) Humanistic psychology
3) The Postmodern Intellectualism
1) We have already looked at New Thought.
2) Humanistic Psychology (Carl Rogers, Abraham Maslow and Rollo May) is a second fundamental inspiration for the management theories.
The humanistic psychology is based on a biological view of human nature; or said in another way: it believes that humans entirely are desirous beings. Carl Rogers is therefore in his self-actualisation theory focusing on the emotional experience of the individual. Abraham Maslow is in his self-actualisation theory focusing on different levels of needs in the individual. Rollo May is in his existential psychology focusing on the will and wishes in the individual.
It is especially from humanistic psychology the term of “self-help” is coming.
If you focus on these aspects of the human nature you will find your true authentic self, they claim. Like New Thought Humanistic Psychology namely has an idea about, that Man has a spiritual/divine core, which is called the self (you could also simply call it the Ego!). Focusing on this is called positive thinking. The concept of positive psychology is therefore a mix of New Thought and Humanistic psychology.
Religion has in this way been reduced to psychology (feelings, will and wishes, – Carl Rogers and Rollo May), spirituality has been reduced to biology (needs – Abraham Maslow), and philosophy has been reduced to ideology (consumer capitalism). Spiritual practice is therefore the same as psychotherapy.
3) A third central influence on management theory is the Postmodern Intellectualism (Constructivism, Social Constructivism, Pragmatism, Feminist Epistemology, Deconstructivism, and much more). There are especially three aspects of the postmodernistic intellectualism you see repeated in the management culture and the self-help literature:
1) George Orwell´s novel 1984. The novel is not mentioned (because it actually is a warning against its own terms), but the terms of old-thinking and new-thinking is widely spread, and the use of them is the same as they are used by the rulers in the novel.
2) Quantum mechanics. Here the pseudoscience of quantum mysticism is spreading a web of lies, where quantum mechanics is used to prove everything from clairvoyance and time travel, to consumer capitalism, healing, law of attraction, etc., etc.
3) Thomas Kuhn´s work The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Kuhn´s concept of paradigm shifts is again used in a pseudoscientifical way. The intention is to avoid critique, and get the management theories forced through.
Where the main method in humanistic psychology is psychotherapy, then the main method in postmodern intellectualism (constructivism) is coaching. The paradox in both methods (the management theories and the self-help industry as such) is that while claiming to create the authentic, automonous, resource-filled and competent human being, at the same time is doing the exact opposite: it is making people dependent of therapists, coaches, others´ ideas and ideals; making them imitate and model so-called successful people.
e) The Mythology of Authenticity
The Self-help industry is characterized by those two specific methods: psychotherapy and coaching. This interest in the authentic human life is not a, for example, NLP invention, but a trait of the age of authenticity, and the two methods refer after all also to the most spread psychological world-images of our age: the humanistic psychological world-image, and the constructivistic world-image (see my articles Humanistic Psychology, Self-Help, and The Danger of Reducing Religion to Psychology and Constructivism: The Postmodern Intellectualism Behind New Age and the Self-Help industry).
In a secularized culture of material growth, where religion plays a constant lesser role in everyday life, psychologizing theories about the fall of the self, its regeneration and realization, apparently get a constant larger spread. Yes, my claim is that we in fact have to do with a new ideology, which danger can be seen in that secularization here has been removed. The pseudoscientific psycho-religiousness, which characterizes the self-help industry and its promises about personal development, is directly written in EU´s project on education and lifelong learning, and therefore it becomes systematically introduced in schools, further and higher educations, companies and management theory: The Matrix Conspiracy.
Today we do not need to open many weekly magazines, bestseller books about personal development, or newspapers, in order to discover, that the two methods are recurring everywhere, where modern people are concerned with telling and interpreting their life into a superior connection. The psychotherapeutic method especially appears through a long line of self-help books and books about spirituality, which are selling extremely well these years, and it also exists in countless versions of women´s magazines, and their many articles about women who have found their own true self again, and thereafter have taken the leadership in their own lives.
The constructivistic method is on the other hand more outspread in books about personal development (empowerment) self-improvement based management and coaching.
A bit caricatured you could say, that the prototype on the psychotherapy-oriented method is a spiritual seeking woman, who often is going in psychotherapy, while the prototype on a constructivist is a former soldier from the special forces, who is interested in personal development and works with coaching.
But as mentioned, they can´t altogether be separated; often they are mixed together, and under one you can say that they both are a part of the self-help industry. And both are rooted in psychology.
Humanistic Psychology (Carl Rogers, Abraham Maslow and Rollo May) is a fundamental inspiration for the management theories and therefore for the whole of the self-help industry.
The humanistic psychology is based on a biological view of human nature; or said in another way: it believes that humans entirely are desirous beings. Carl Rogers is therefore in his self-actualization theory focusing on the emotional experience of the individual. Abraham Maslow is in his self-actualization theory focusing on different levels of needs in the individual. Rollo May is in his existential psychology focusing on the will and wishes in the individual. All is rooted in subjectivism.
If you focus on these aspects of the human nature you will find your true authentic self, they claim. Like the wisdomtraditions Humanistic Psychology namely have an idea about, that Man has a sovereign (or even spiritual/divine) core. So, it is from here we have the concepts of the self-actualizing and personal developing human being, and, as a result: the authentic, sovereign, autonomous, competent, resource-filled human being; concepts, that are central in the whole of the self-help industry. An extreme focus on perfectionism, which therefore is closely followed by the opposite pole: failure.
What is common in humanistic psychology is that the individual actualizes his full resources or potentials; that is: that he finds his authentic self. This thesis has been developed in many various forms, for example it is also this thesis that is lying behind the concept of positive psychology. Positive psychology has its roots in the New Thought movement, and is claiming that if you focus on your positive thoughts, feelings, needs, wishes and will, and are ignoring the negative oppositions, then you can attract anything you want (the “positive” is in New Thought understood as material glory, money, success, personal power, sex, health, beauty).
It is, according to the Humanistic Psychology, therefore only the individual´s own subjective evaluation, which can provide something with value. There neither exist valid values, which come from the community, or objective values, which come from nature, the universe, or life itself. Nothing has value in itself, unless it comes from the individual´s subjective experiences, needs, will and wishes. It is one big solipsism: “I alone set my values for everything in the world”.
The Humanistic Psychology´s view of morals is namely not only a subjectifying, which attributes the source of morals to the subjective itself, but also an emotionalizing, since it is the individual´s feelings, which decides the moral quality of something. What it is about, is to do what ”feels” right.
This might sound like what we already have examined in connection with feeling good in the Hara, but no. Subjectivism not only denies the existence of the body, and therefore Hara, but it also replaces the Navigator (the philosopher) with a Sophist (an ideologist). It might well be that humanistic psychologists will disagree, but they have a philosophy that implies this. Therefore they end in self-contradiction if they object to what I say.
In humanistic psychology it is the individual´s emotional experience of something, which defines values, not conversely. And this is fully in thread with the ideology of Consumer Capitalism, where the customer (and his or her´s experiences, wishes, will and needs) always is right. The consumer society, the therapeutic self-actualization and the subjectifying of the moral, go hand in hand. The moral – the individual´s relation to himself – is therapized, and the moral is subjectified. In short: moral relativism, which we will return in the chapter on Ethics.
Religion has in humanistic psychology been reduced to psychology (feelings, will and wishes, – Carl Rogers and Rollo May), spirituality has been reduced to biology (needs – Abraham Maslow), and philosophy has been reduced to ideology (consumer capitalism). So, traditional religious and philosophical practices have in Human Psychology, and in the self-help industry as such, been reduced to psychology and psychotherapy. Spirituality has this way been turned upside down
There both exist a social and an individual version of constructivism. The social constructivism is outspread on universities and therefore in much degree on all educations. The individual constructivism is more outspread in the coaching environment on for instance work places. However they are both included in modelling the concept about what constructivism is.
The latest craze in reductionism is social constructivism. Actually we ought to speak about a sociologism, but the dance was opened in 1967 with Berger and Luckmann´s work The Social Construction of Reality. A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge. And the term ”social constructivism” has been stuck and is used with much pleasure by the followers of the movement.
In today´s literature social constructivism occurs in a weak and in a strong version. Both the weak and the strong version somehow claim that reality is socially constructed from our language, or linguistic mappings.
The weak version is about, that a line of institutions in society have been produced, and have to be explained, only from social/sociological causes. Examples on such institutions are legislation, for instance about traffic, monetary matters with everything that this include of banks, credit institutions, stock markets etc., standards of behaviour, ethical systems, religion and much more, but not scientific results such as the explanation of the periodic system of the elements, of the chemical connections, or of the laws of gestalt psychology, for just to mention some examples.
The strong version - which among others are framed by the Edinburgh sociologists David Bloor, Barry Barnes and Steven Shapin, and since followed up by a long line of others, among these Bruno Latour and Steve Woolgar - is about, that not just the mentioned institutions, but also all scientific results and discoveries, are social constructions.
The individual constructivism has the same ideas. According to Nietzsche there neither exists a sensuous, a material, or a spiritual world given in advance. Everything is created by being interpretated. With this Nietzsche introduced a quite central concept: perspectivism. Through our interpretations (language) we directly construct the world. And you must therefore have the will and power to create new values, and you must have the power to give them name in a new way, because namegiving is the same as an unfolding of power. Or else you end up as a slave. To live is to will, to will is to create values. The will to power is becoming through us, and in that way we get control over the things through a perspective.
Nietzsche believed that the will - that is to say: the defeating, the remodeling, the striving - is something creative. As told, then the will to power, according to Nietzsche, is a creating power. That this power is the basic power in Man means, according to Nietzsche, that all expressions of the human life must be understood as forms of will to power; intake of food, arrangement of the everyday life with home and clothes, cultivation of nature, as well as sensation, feelings, thinking and will in usual sense - are expressions of the will to power. Nietzsche is thinking about the will to power in the image of art. All human unfolding is actually a creative process where a content, or a material, is formed. Life is seen as a work of art.
A similar thought exists in the so-called self-production thesis, which is the thought about, that Man is the being, who creates himself through his history, and thereby controls his own freedom. The thought exists in the German idealism, for instance in Fichte, Schelling, Hegel. Both Existentialism, as well as Marxism, also builds on the understanding of the freedom of Man to form his own life, and that this is an unconditional value. Freedom is a good thing, a demand and a responsibility. What it is about, is the freedom to be the creative power in your own history. In the Existentialists it is the life-story of the individual, in the Marxists it is the world-history of the community.
The self-production thesis builds on the thought, that Man is in a continual state of becoming. The concept formation also often becomes used in connection with the concept of becoming.
To live is to will, to will is to create values. The will to power is becoming through us, and in that way we get control over the things through a perspective.
This is humanism in a nutshell.
So, psychotherapy (humanistic psychology) and coaching (constructivism) can be seen as new, large, meaning-carrying world-images in a psychologized and therapized age. Even though they, in their sources of inspiration, at first specify two quite different views of Man and his possibilities and purposes in the world, they are common in explaining humans from a conception about, that humans have lost (or all the time are in risk of loosing) himself and therefore constantly have to work with personal development in order to find himself (psychotherapy and the dream of a lost past) or to become himself (coaching and the hope of a richer future). You can say that the two world-images both are based on the claim, that a human being not is himself, before he becomes himself, and that both world-images see lifelong therapeutic self-improvement as a presumption for, that a human being can become and live authentic. They both focus on becoming and are neglecting being.
The two world-images can in other words be seen as two versions of the same superior psychologizing understanding of life, which the Danish researcher of religion Iben Krogsdal calls the mythology of authenticity. This mythology is so to speak a compilation of the two world-images into one. According to the mythology of authenticity the course of a human life is as follows (here inspired by Krogsdal´s examination (Krogsdal 191-192, 2011):
1) Man comes to the world as himself: as untouched core (humanistic psychology/psychotherapy) or unlimited possibility (constructivism/coaching).
2) During childhood other humans, or the culture, takes over the management of Man. Thereby he loses himself (his self-possession) and becomes another.
3) Human beings live unconscious without awareness about, that they don´t possess themselves. They live non-authentic as a ”we” (instead of an ”I”), and out of what they ”ought” and ”must”, (instead of what they ”can” and ”will”).
4) Humans experience problems (life crises, sickness, divorce, low selfesteem etc.), or they experience a need of changing in connection with challenges on for instance the workingplace.
5) Through psychotherapy or coaching Man discovers, that he has lived non-authentic; that is to say: controlled by others and without contact with himself (with his own core – psychotherapy and the dream of a lost past - or with his own potentials – coaching and the hope of a richer future). He discovers, that his problems or wishes of change are due to, that he not so far has been in possession of himself.
6) Through psychotherapy or coaching Man begins to disentangle from the leadership of others and takes himself in possession. The other humans exist in the subconcious mind and therefore have to be segregated through therapeutic self-cultivation. When this has happened, Man can himself decide, how he will react to reality. At the same time he gets in contact with his hidden resources (to either becoming himself as he was once – psychotherapy and the dream of a lost past – or to become the other, he wants to become – coaching and the hope of a richer future).
7) When the individual human being through the subconcious mind has taken over the control of his own life, he can place life-goals, which is in accordance with the one he is or chooses to be. The authentic human being lives with inner accordance – and he expresses himself by creating accordance between his inner and the external world.
8) Because he has realized, that the explanation of problems has to be seeked in his relationship with himself, and because this relationship all the time is under influence from outside and can´t be expressed once and for all, Man is in need of regularly repeating a therapeutic journey towards himself. He has to work with himself continuously in order to remain loyal towards himself as ”greater than” his conscious self.
So the Mythology of Authenticity defines Man as a being, who continuously need to cultivate himself therapeutical. The mythology does so by making Man into a problem to himself.
In the constructivistic world-image (coaching and the hope for a richer future = the empowerment culture) the problem becomes formulated very positive as a promise: ”You have not yet actualized what you have the potential for”. In the humanistic psychological world-image (psychotherapy and the dream of a lost past = the victimization culture and the connected recovery movement) the problem rather becomes formulated as a threat: ”You are all the time in danger of that others draw you away from yourself”.
The Mythology of Authenticity, as Krogsdal here has described it, very much reminds about what the American psychology professor Frank Furedi has called ”The Therapeutic Manuscript” (Furedi 2004, 91). This manuscript is a kind of un-written and very outspread script about how life typically forms itself to a human being, and how a human being through therapy all the time is in need of becoming healed. In accordance with this manuscript every single plane in a human being´s life represents a kind of risk: human relations are the source of repeated emotional damages, and these damages have to be healed again and again through therapeutic intervention. Frank Furedi therefore sees the therapization of the late modern society as a kind of cultivation of fragility.
It can sound paradoxical in a time which praises the autonomous and self-responsible human being, but the spread of the therapeutic manuscript through psychology and therapy is precisely participating in educating people in believing, that they are irresponsible, helpless and therewith dependent of treatment (Furedi 2004, 119). People quite simply learn to see themselves as vulnerable victims, who all the time become exposed for assaults and therefore constantly have to be helped, supported, healed.
With the industrial modernization Man has cultivated a mind, which can solve almost any technological problem; that, which the German philosopher Habermas called the instrumental reason. We have looked at this. But apparently human problems have never been solved. On the contrary mankind are about to be drowned in its problems: problems concerning communication, the relationship with others, heaven and hell. The whole of the human existence has become one extremely complex problem. And apparently it has been like that through the whole of history. Despite the knowledge of Man, despite his millenniums of evolution, Man has never been free from such problems.
The solutions to such problems require a communicative (philosophical/spiritual) reason, a reason, which understands the human community. But as Habermas says, then we are not using such a reason, on the contrary we are using an instrumental reason on human problems, where it only should be used on technical problems. We seek to solve human problems technically, where they should be solved in a philosophical way. The systems (the market, the economy, the bureaucracy, the systems) have colonized the lifeworld.
An aspect of, that the instrumental reason has conquered territory from the communicative reason consists in, that we in connection with human problems treat each other as means or as items, which have come on the wrong course (the treatment society). It is interesting, that the New Age movement, which actually should be a spiritual alternative to this, and be an advocate for a communicative reason, on the contrary is one of the most aggressive advocates for the instrumental reason. This is due to its psychologizing of philosophy. New Age is possessed with all kind of self-invented forms of treatment, and with pseudoscientifical attempts to justify them as science. Often they manipulative use instrumental/scientifical inspired terms about their methods, but which are without any scientifical meaning at all. It is just a rhetorical trick to persuade people to pay the fee.
So, in the Mythology of Authenticity people are seen as a kind of victims. Through childhood and the influence of others they have lost themselves or their original self-feeling. In therapy – as Krogsdal understands broadly as all personality developing work, whether it takes place at a therapist, in courses, in in-service training, or at home alone –people once again get the possibility for letting go of their roles of victims. At the same time they also, in accordance with the Mythology of Authenticity, get the possibility for actualizing their subconcious potentials.
In this way the Mythology of Authenticity maintains its own practice – that will say therapy in broad sense – alive through the assertion about the chronical lack of authenticity. This lack comes to expression in the myths about Man as a victim of others´ assaults, or as victim of the who-do-you-think-you-are attitude and other cultural limitations. Krogsdal says, that just like the Christian church (especially formerly and in its Catholic form) roughly said determines Man as a sinner, which regularly has to get absolution, and just like the church through this ritual´s revival of faith keeps the faith ”alive”, in the same way the Mythology of Authenticity defines Man as a lost or not yet gained self, who regularly has to heal (humanistic psychology) or form (constructivism) himself in the therapeutic practice. In this fundamental way the myth-rite-system maintains itself: the mythology refers to the therapeutic practice, and the practice revives and revitalizes the mythology. All in a continuous, cyclic movement.
So, as Krogsdal says, on the one hand the authenticity-mythology paradoxically enough confesses Man as independently, while it on the other hand makes Man dependent of therapeutic help (broadly understood as both therapy, dialogues or self-therapeutic work) by defining him as a damaged or not-yet-genuine individual, which is in need of constant personal development. Therefore both worldimages are paradoxically enough expressions of progressivism. This is further reinforced by New Age´s spiritual interpretations of evolutionism.
f) The Protestant work ethic
With the industrial modernization Man has cultivated a mind, which can solve almost any technological problem; that, which the German philosopher Habermas calls the instrumental reason. But apparently human problems have never been solved. On the contrary mankind are about to be drowned in its problems: problems concerning communication, the relationship with others, heaven and hell. The whole of the human existence has become one extremely complex problem. And apparently it has been like that through the whole of history. Despite the knowledge of Man, despite his millenniums of evolution, Man has never been free from such problems.
The solutions to such problems require a communicative (philosophical/spiritual) reason, a reason, which understands the human community. But as Habermas says, then we are not using such a reason, on the contrary we are using an instrumental reason on human problems, where it only should be used on technical problems. We seek to solve human problems technically, where they should be solved in a philosophical way. The systems (the market, the economy, the bureaucracy, the systems) have colonized the lifeworld. And an aspect of, that the instrumental reason has conquered territory from the communicative reason consists in, that we in connection with human problems treat each other as means or as items, which have come on the wrong course (the treatment society).
Ideologists can be called Hermeneutics of Suspicion.
The philosopher Paul Ricoeur has referred to the “hermeneutics of suspicion” encouraged by writers such as Marx, Nietzsche and Freud. What people think, and the reasons they produce, may not be the real reasons at work. It then becomes easy to become suspicious of the motives of everyone, whether as the representative of an economic class or the purveyor of a morality, or just as an individual with psychological problems to solve.
The last mentioned is a typical trait of the management theories and their use of coaching and psychotherapy in leadership theories and personality developing courses. In this way they end up in concealing power relations at the workingplace, they lead to difficulties assigning responsibility towards children in the schools, they reduce our spouses to means for our personal development (self-improvement), and remove political incitation and social responsibility by disguising social problems as personal/psychological problems.
In my article The Matrix Conspiracy I claim, that a serious problem in the future, is that a new kind of pseudoscience is trying to unite New Age pseudosciences with some of the pseudosciences of reductionism, scientism. I call it the Illuminati aspect of the Matrix conspiracy.
Because you can see the same development in the so-called diagnosed life, where large pharmaceutical companies are speculating in creating new diagnoses, which have to be treated with medicine: a product of a reductionistic view of human nature (biologism), where they for example have removed spiritual and philosophical claims about the meaning of suffering. In the self-help industry the same is happening in form of the so-called positive psychology (where the “positive” is about material glory, money, success, personal power, sex, health, beauty) and where you have to ignore, repress, turn your back to everything you find negative. Here the concepts of suffering and negativity also have been removed. So though the psychiatrists and doctors of the pharmaceutical industry, and the coaches and psychotherapists of the self-help industry, may be in opposition to each other (as shown in the movie Cuckoo´s Nest) it is in my view a product of the same Matrix conspiracy.
It is therefore interesting to compare the characteristic traits of New Age (the self-help industry) and the pharmaceutical industry with Aldous Huxley´s novel Brave New World. This novel foresees the end of democracy in a pseudoscientifical, technological fixated meritocracy. I will return to this book later.
The obsession with work and constant progress is irrational, and it seems directly religious. In fact, it is called the protestant work ethic. The phrase was initially coined by Max Weber in his book The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. It is a concept in theology, sociology, economics and history which emphasizes that hard work, discipline and frugality are a result of a person's subscription to the values espoused by the Protestant faith, particularly Calvinism.
This contrasts with the focus upon religious attendance, confession, and ceremonial sacrament in the Roman Catholic tradition.
In the book, Weber wrote that capitalism in Northern Europe evolved when the Protestant (particularly Calvinist) ethic influenced large numbers of people to engage in work in the secular world, developing their own enterprises and engaging in trade and the accumulation of wealth for investment. In other words, the Protestant work ethic was an important force behind the unplanned and uncoordinated emergence of modern capitalism. In the end, the study of Protestant ethic, according to Weber, investigated a part of the detachment from magic, that disenchantment of the world that could be seen as a unique characteristic of Western culture. This is a central issue in my online book Philosophical Counseling with Tolkien, where I wrote about two magics in Tolkien´s book, which in fact are in war with each other: the magic of the One Ring (the magic of technology), and the magic of enchantment.
g) The Return of the Sophists
As we could sense in the example from the art world and the above examples, we are, with evolutionism, also witnessing the return of the Sophists. They have, with the relativism and subjectivism of evolutionism, smelled fresh meat.
After centuries of successful trading, the local gods and festivals could no longer satisfy the religious needs of the ancient Athenians. Their spiritual hunger was exacerbated by the stress of city life, by the constant threat of destruction, and by the grim vision of totalitarian Sparta: the vision of Greeks living without light or grace or humour, as though the gods had withdrawn from their world.
Into the crowded space of Periclean Athens came the wandering teachers, selling their “wisdom” to the bewildered populace. Any charlatan could make a killing, if enough people believed in him. Men like Gorgias and Protagoras, who wandered from house to house demanding fees for their instruction, preyed on the gullibility of a people made anxious by war.
To the young Plato, who observed their antics with outrage, these “Sophists” were a threat to the very soul of Athens. One alone among them seemed worthy of attention, and that one, the great Socrates whom Plato immortalised in his dialogues, was not a Sophist, but a true philosopher.
The philosopher, in Plato´s characterisation, awakens the spirit of inquiry. He helps his listeners to discover the truth, and it is they who bring forth, under his catalysing influence, the answer to life´s riddles. The philosopher is the midwife, and his duty is to help us to what we are – free and rational beings, who lack nothing that is required to understand our condition. The Sophist, by contrast, misleads us with cunning fallacies, takes advantage of our weakness, and offers himself as the solution to problems of which he himself is the cause.
There are many signs of the Sophists, but principal among these is that they are subjectivists and relativists. Their teachings are about how to get on in the world, and not about how to find the truth. Anything goes: not facts, but the best story wins. And the result is mumbo-jumbo, condescension and the taking of fees. The philosopher uses plain language, does not talk down to his audience, and never asks for payment. Such was Socrates, and in proposing him as an ideal, Plato defined the social status of the philosopher for centuries to come.
No one should doubt that sophistry is alive and well. My concept of The Matrix Conspiracy is permeated with it (see my article The Matrix Conspiracy). We see it in the mix of postmodern intellectualism (constructivism), management culture, self-help and New Age – and in the two main methods of this mix: psychotherapy and coaching.
The Sophists are back with a vengeance, and are all the more to be feared, in that they come disguised as philosophers and scientists. For, in this time of helpless relativism and subjectivity, philosophy and science alone have stood against the tide, reminding us that those crucial distinctions on which life depends – between true and false, good and evil, right and wrong – are objective and binding. Philosophy and science have until now spoken with the accents of the academy and laboratory, and not with the voice of the fortune teller.
When Plato founded the first academy, and placed philosophy at the heart of it, he did so in order to protect the precious store of wisdom from the assaults of charlatans, to create a kind of temple to truth in the midst of falsehood, and to marginalise the Sophists who preyed on human confusion.
The Sophists were teachers of rhetoric, who against a fee, taught people how to persuade other people about their “truths”. Rhetoric, or sophistry, is the art of persuasion. Rather than giving reasons and presenting arguments to support conclusions, as Socrates did, then those who use sophistry are employing a battery of techniques, such as emphatic assertion, persuader words and emotive language, to convince the listener, or reader, that what they say or imply is true.
The Sophists taught their pupils how to win arguments by any means available; they were supposedly more interested in teaching ways of getting on in the world than ways of finding the truth, as Socrates did. Therefore any charlatan is welcome. And the use of thought distortions is seen as the best tool, when practising the mantra of the management culture: “It is not facts, but the best story, that wins!”
Iznogoud (pronounced "he's/is no good" with a French accent) is a French comics series featuring an eponymous character, created by the comics writer René Goscinny and comics artist Jean Tabary. The comic series chronicles the life of Iznogoud, the Grand Vizier and second in command of Baghdad, at an undefined period in the past. His greatest desire is to replace the Caliph or Sultan of Baghdad Haroun El Plassid, leading him to repeatedly utter the phrase "I want to be Caliph instead of the Caliph", a phrase that has been adopted in the French language to indicate overly ambitious people.
The Sophists come disguised as philosophers and scientists, and America seems to be a fertile land for this. We see how a long row of biologists, computer scientists, psychologists, psychiatrists, physicists, etc., etc., are spinning gold in America in attempts of being philosophers instead of the philosophers.
With the words of Stewart Justman, America is “Fool´s Paradise”.
3) The Californian Ideology
When one travels eastward from California, one encounters societies that have increasingly older and older histories, less and less tolerance for individual differences, more and more suspicion about anything new or different, and greater and greater respect for and attachment to authority and tradition. Traveling west from China, one sees this pattern going in reverse, until one reaches California and Hawaii, where there is considerable lifestyle and cultural experimentation and tolerance for individual differences. I agree with Wilson and Leary that traveling eastward takes you into the past, and moving westward carries you into the future. The planetary time zones on Earth should not be separated by hours, Leary said, but rather by centuries (David Jay Brown, The New Science of Psychedelics, page 29).
This quote comes from a man who (apparently?) carries a masters degree in psychobiology from New York University. It just confirms what I have heard several times: The level of educational standard on American Universities are in the very low end of the scale. His lack of insight in his own country´s history of racism since the colonial era, the treatment of Native Americans, African Americans, and on the whole: people with another skin color than white, which are continuing up to day – and supplied with, that he in one sentence expresses a racist and condescending view of other cultures, and in the next sentence is bragging with his own culture´s tolerance – all this self-contradictory nonsense are just bordering to the surreal. But he is not the only one: in the quote he mentions Robert Anton Wilson and Timothy Leary, two other Americans, who also are sharing this kind of American junk thought.
This introduction should give you a sense of what the Californian Ideology is all about. If there is something which with success has migrated to America, it is evolutionism.
Futurism, or futurology, is the study, or hypothetical study, of what might become of the human race and our relationship with technology and our environment, and it is steered by evolutionism. It is quite often difficult to discern between the realistic, pseudoscience, and the science fictional elements of the works of futurists. And precisely this blurring of the line between fact and fiction illustrates the problem.
a) The justification of Confabulation
In my article The Confabulation of Trump, I show how my concept of The Matrix Conspiracy is correct, especially when seen in connection with the election of the new president of the United States, Donald Trump.
The drive to find personal meaning or significance in impersonal or insignificant coincidences (Subjective validation) may be related to the powerful “natural” drive to create stories, narratives that string together bits and pieces of information into a tale. Of course, truth matters most of the time, but many of our narratives satisfy us regardless of their accuracy. This tendency to connect things and create plausible narratives out of partially fictious items is called Confabulation.
A confabulation is a fantasy that has unconsciously replaced events in memory. A confabulation may be based partly on fact or be a complete construction of the imagination. The term is often used to decribe the “memories” of mentally ill persons, memories of alien abduction, and false memories induced by careless therapists or interviewers.
Have you ever told a story that you embellished by putting yourself at the center when you knew that you weren´t even there? Or have you ever been absolutely sure you remembered something correctly, only to be shown incontrovertible evidence that your memory was wrong? No, of course not. But you probably know or have heard of somebody else who juiced up a story with made-up details or whose confidence in his memory was shown to be undeserved by evidence that his memory was false.
In my book A Portrait of a Lifeartist Confabulation is a central issue. I here show how memories are constructed by all of us and that the construction is a mixture of fact and fiction.
Confabulation is an unconscious process of creating a narrative that is believed to be true by the narrator but is demonstrably false.
Young Earth creationists (YECs) provide an excellent example of Confabulation mixed with Motivated reasoning. To maintain their position, YECs must reject nearly all science and confabulate new laws of nature and rules of logic and evidence, and subject themselves to ridicule for their willful ignorance and irrational adherence to the myths of an ancient, pre-scientific people. The same we see within the postmodern intellectualism on Universities, which therefore justifies the tendency within Management theory and New Age to confabulate stories which are not true (see my article Constructivism: the postmodern intellectualism behind New Age and the self-help industry).
New Age is permeated with references to vibrations and energy, advices to avoid the negative (you can tell good people by their eyes), stop doubting, follow your intuitions and premonitions, flow with coincidences, believe in the purposiveness of everything, join thousands of others on the quest, turn into your feelings and evolve to a higher plane. Follow your intuitions and dreams as you go through your spiritual evolution. Fact or fiction, it doesn´t matter. Truth is what you make it. Life´s too short and too complicated to deal with reality. Make your own reality.
This New Age subjectivism and relativism encourage people to believe that reality is whatever you want it to be. The line between fact and fiction gets blurry and obscured. Subjectivism shuts down people´s critical faculties, making them suggestible for any ideology. It involves making people quit thinking critically in order to open them up to thinking Magical about that Subjective validation and Communal reinforcement lead to bliss. Hypnosis is in New Age directly used as a means for inducing in people certain worldviews (see my article Hypnosis, hypnotherapy and the art of self-deception).
So, in our time with the spreading of evolutionism, and its subjectivism and relativism - and therefore Magical thinking - we are seeing how Confabulation somehow gets a justification. There is in fact - as I claim in my articles and books on The Matrix Conspiracy - a New World Order emerging: the world of Alternative History, Alternative Physics, Alternative Medicine and, ultimately, Alternative Reality.
Communal reinforcement is a social phenomenon in which a concept or idea is repeatedly asserted in a community, regardless of whether sufficient evidence has been presented to support it. Over time, the concept or idea is reinforced to become a strong belief in many people´s minds, and may be regarded by the members of the community as fact.
Often, the concept or idea may be further reinforced by publications in the mass media, books, or other means of communication. There is no doubt about that The Matrix Conspiracy (which is a strong advocate for the use of hypnosis and hypnotherapy) will be made propaganda for through mass media phenomena such as Transmedia Storytelling, Alternate Reality Games (for example The Blair Witch Project), Viral Marketing/Internet Hoaxes, Collaborative Fiction, and above all: social media.
People like Nicholas Burr, Jaron Lanier, and Siva Vaidhyanathan have warned against the communal reinforcement that comes to us through social media.
In his book Utopia is Creepy, Nicholas Carr cuts through Silicon Valley's unsettlingly cheery vision of the technological future to ask a hard question: Have we been seduced by a lie? Gathering a decade's worth of posts from his blog, Rough Type, as well as his seminal essays, Utopia Is Creepy offers an alternative history of the digital age, chronicling its roller-coaster crazes and crashes, its blind triumphs, and its unintended consequences.
Carr's favorite targets are those zealots who believe so fervently in computers and data that they abandon common sense. Cheap digital tools do not make us all the next Fellini or Dylan. Social networks, diverting as they may be, are not vehicles for self-enlightenment. And "likes" and retweets are not going to elevate political discourse. When we expect technologies designed for profit to deliver a paradise of prosperity and convenience, we have forgotten ourselves. In response, Carr offers searching assessments of the future of work, the fate of reading, and the rise of artificial intelligence, challenging us to see our world anew.
In famous essays including "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" and "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Privacy," Carr dissects the logic behind Silicon Valley's "liberation mythology," showing how technology has both enriched and imprisoned us often at the same time. Drawing on artists ranging from Walt Whitman to the Clash, while weaving in the latest findings from science and sociology, Utopia Is Creepy compels us to question the technological momentum that has trapped us in its flow. "Resistance is never futile," argues Carr, and this book delivers the proof.
Jaron Lanier, the world-famous Silicon Valley scientist-pioneer and 'high-tech genius' (Sunday Times) who first alerted us to the dangers of social media, explains why its toxic effects are at the heart of its design. In his book
Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now he explains in ten simple arguments why liberating yourself from its hold will transform your life and the world for the better.
Social media is making us sadder, angrier, less empathetic, more fearful, more isolated and more tribal. In recent months it has become horribly clear that social media is not bringing us together – it is tearing us apart. In Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now Jaron Lanier draws on his insider's expertise to explain precisely how social media works – by deploying constant surveillance and subconscious manipulation of its users – and why its cruel and dangerous effects are at the heart of its current business model and design. As well as offering ten simple arguments for liberating yourself from its addictive hold, his witty and urgent manifesto outlines a vision for an alternative that provides all the benefits of social media without the harm.
So, if you want a happier life, a more just and peaceful world, or merely the chance to think for yourself without being monitored and influenced by the richest corporations in history, then the best thing you can do, for now, is delete your social media accounts – right now. You will almost certainly become a calmer and possibly a nicer person in the process.
In his book Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy, Siva Vaidhyanathan writes, that If you wanted to build a machine that would distribute propaganda to millions of people, distract them from important issues, energize hatred and bigotry, erode social trust, undermine respectable journalism, foster doubts about science, and engage in massive surveillance all at once, you would make something a lot like Facebook. Of course, none of that was part of the plan [the plan was the ideology of futurism].
In Antisocial Media, Siva Vaidhyanathan explains how Facebook devolved from an innocent social site hacked together by Harvard students into a force that, while it may make personal life just a little more pleasurable, makes democracy a lot more challenging. It's an account of the hubris of good intentions, a missionary spirit, and an ideology that sees computer code as the universal solvent for all human problems. And it's an indictment of how "social media" has fostered the deterioration of democratic culture around the world, from facilitating Russian meddling in support of Trump's election to the exploitation of the platform by murderous authoritarians in Burma and the Philippines.
Facebook grew out of an ideological commitment to data-driven decision making and logical thinking. Its culture is explicitly tolerant of difference and dissent [relativism]. Both its market orientation and its labor force are global. It preaches the power of connectivity to change lives for the better. Indeed, no company better represents the dream of a fully connected planet "sharing" words, ideas, and images, and no company has better leveraged those ideas into wealth and influence. Yet no company has contributed more to the global collapse of basic tenets of deliberation and democracy. Both authoritative and trenchant, Antisocial Media shows how Facebook's mission went so wrong.
In my view, the main reason why it is going wrong is evolutionism, and its denial (or re-definition) of the negative, especially the denial of the human painbody. In my article Nonviolent Communication is an Instrument of Psychic Terror I show how such a denial allows the painbody to speak uncontrolled. This is precisely what we witness with the social media.
The phrase “millions of people can´t all be wrong” is indicative of the common tendency to accept a communally reinforced idea without question, which often aid in the widespread acceptance of urban legends, myths, and rumors.
Donald Trump, and his government, are defending concepts of “alternate truths” about Trump´s ideas, and “fake news” about any critique of him. This without much consequence, and without much protest from his many electors.
In the update, Donald Trump, I further show this in connection with the influence of anti-intellectualism and anti-science, and the beginning of a new fascism (see my Matrix Dictionary entries Anti-intellectualism and Anti-science and The Matrix Conspiracy Fascism).
b) Transhumanism and Singularitarianism
So, the consequence of evolutionism, and futurism, is that the line between fact and fiction is getting more and more blurred. A common trope in science fiction for decades is that the prospect of transcending the current form may be positive, as in Arthur C. Clarke's 1953 novel Childhood's End, or negative, as in the film The Matrix, with its barely disguised salvationist theme, or the Terminator series of films, where humanity has been essentially replaced by machine life. Change so radical elicits fear and thus it is unsurprising that many of the portrayals of transhumanism in popular culture are negative. The cyberpunk genre (foe example Blade Runner) deals extensively with the theme of a transhumanist society gone wrong.
But this is not the view of Silicon Valley futurism. They are following Arthur C. Clarke. They are progressivists, they are evolutionists. Futurism as the ideology of Silicon Valley sees transhumanism as positive.
On closer inspection, this should not be surprising. Since transhumanism is ambitious about conquering age-related illnesses (extropianism), death (immortalism), ecological damage (technogaianism), gender differences (postgenderism) and suffering (abolitionism), a fictional world where this has already been achieved leaves a story with few plot devices to exploit. Additionally, it could be hard for the public to identify with flawless, post-human characters.
Among the utopian visions of transhumanism are those found in the collaborative online science fiction setting Orion's Arm. Temporally located in the post-singularity future, 10,000 years from now, Orion's Arm is massively optimistic about genetic engineering, continued improvements in computing and materials science. Because only technology which has been demonstrated to be impossible is excluded, even remotely plausible concepts has a tendency to be thrown in. At the highest end of the scale is artificial wormhole creation, baby universes and inertia without mass.
Perhaps the only arguably positive depiction of transhumanism in video games is the Megaman ZX series where the line between human and reploids has begun to blur. Defining at what point the definition of the singularity was met in the centuries long Megaman timeline can be a useful way of illustrating how nebulous the terminology is during a debate.
Many works of technological determinism may be found under the heading futurism. Its current incarnations are known as "transhumanism" and "Singularitarianism."
The current incarnation of futurism is known as transhumanism, a somewhat loosely knit movement that has gained a few wealthy financial benefactors in Silicon Valley. Many transhumanists are "Singularitarians" who posit a coming "technological singularity" in which an artificial intelligence is built that exceeds human intelligence and initiates an explosion of technological advancement. Transhumanists are also proponents of pseudoscientific, dubious, or otherwise problematic technology, such as cryonics and mind uploading. Ray Kurzweil is probably the most famous transhumanist around today.
Transhumanism, an intellectual movement, is greatly influenced by science fiction and presents an idealistic point of view of what technology could do for humanity in the future, not what it can do; it's all hypothetical. Transhumanism explores the benefits and repercussions of what technology could do for humanity; however, it assumes the technological boundaries are nonexistent.
A singularity, as most commonly used, is a point at which expected rules break down. The term comes from mathematics, where a point on a curve that has a sudden break in slope is considered to have a slope of undefined or infinite value; such a point is known as a singularity.
The term has extended into other fields; the most notable use is in astrophysics, where a singularity is a point (usually, but perhaps not exclusively, at the center a of black hole) where curvature of spacetime approaches infinity.
My Ebook, however, is not about the mathematical or physics uses of the term, but rather the borrowing of it by various futurists. They define a technological singularity as the point beyond which we can know nothing about the world. So, of course, they then write at length on the world after that time. Conveniently, this premise not only allows but justifies anything including large inconsistencies with known principles of science.
In transhumanist and singulartarian belief, the "technological singularity" refers to a hypothetical point beyond which human technology and civilization is no longer comprehensible to the current human mind. The theory of technological singularity states that at some point in time humans will invent a machine that through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) will be smarter than any human could ever be. This machine in turn will be capable of inventing new technologies that are even smarter. This event will trigger an exponential explosion of technological advances of which the outcome and effect on humankind is heavily debated by transhumanists and singularists.
Many proponents of the theory believe that the machines eventually will see no use for humans on Earth and simply wipe us (useless eaters) out — their intelligence being far superior to humans, there would be probably nothing we could do about it. They also fear that the use of extremely intelligent machines to solve complex mathematical problems may lead to our extinction. The machine may theoretically respond to our question by turning all matter in our Solar System or our galaxy into a giant calculator, thus destroying all of humankind.
Adherents see a chance of the technological singularity arriving on Earth within the 21st century, a concept that one might consider a little too messianic in nature or ignore outright. Some of the wishful thinking may simply be the expression of a desire to avoid death, since the singularity is supposed to bring the technology to reverse human aging, or to upload human minds into computers.
In this discussion we should be aware that most of the proponents of the idea is suffering from the Illusion of Transferable Expertise, such as for example Ray Kurzweil, a computer expert who knows nothing about human cognition or, indeed, biology, and eventually philosophy. I will return to the problem of the rising tendency of Sophists gaining more authority in popular culture than people with knowledge within their fields, and that will say an enormous globally power.
While the technological singularity is usually seen as a sudden event, some scholars argue the current speed of change already fits this description. In addition, some argue that we are already in the midst of a major evolutionary transition that merges technology, biology, and society. Digital technology has infiltrated the fabric of human society to a degree of indisputable and often life-sustaining dependence. A 2016 article in Trends in Ecology & Evolution argues that
"humans already embrace fusions of biology and technology. We spend most of our waking time communicating through digitally mediated channels... we trust artificial intelligence with our lives through antilock braking in cars and autopilots in planes... With one in three marriages in America beginning online, digital algorithms are also taking a role in human pair bonding and reproduction".
The article argues that from the perspective of the evolution, several previous Major Transitions in Evolution have transformed life through innovations in information storage and replication (RNA, DNA, multicellularity, and culture and language). In the current stage of life's evolution, the carbon-based biosphere has generated a cognitive system (humans) capable of creating technology that will result in a comparable evolutionary transition. The digital information created by humans has reached a similar magnitude to biological information in the biosphere. Since the 1980s,
"the quantity of digital information stored has doubled about every 2.5 years, reaching about 5 zettabytes in 2014 (5x10^21 bytes). In biological terms, there are 7.2 billion humans on the planet, each having a genome of 6.2 billion nucleotides. Since one byte can encode four nucleotide pairs, the individual genomes of every human on the planet could be encoded by approximately 1x10^19 bytes. The digital realm stored 500 times more information than this in 2014... The total amount of DNA contained in all of the cells on Earth is estimated to be about 5.3x10^37 base pairs, equivalent to 1.325x10^37 bytes of information. If growth in digital storage continues at its current rate of 30–38% compound annual growth per year, it will rival the total information content contained in all of the DNA in all of the cells on Earth in about 110 years. This would represent a doubling of the amount of information stored in the biosphere across a total time period of just 150 years".
In February 2009, under the auspices of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), Eric Horvitz chaired a meeting of leading computer scientists, artificial intelligence researchers and roboticists at Asilomar in Pacific Grove, California. The goal was to discuss the potential impact of the hypothetical possibility that robots could become self-sufficient and able to make their own decisions. They discussed the extent to which computers and robots might be able to acquire autonomy, and to what degree they could use such abilities to pose threats or hazards.
Some machines are programmed with various forms of semi-autonomy, including the ability to locate their own power sources and choose targets to attack with weapons. Also, some computer viruses can evade elimination and, according to scientists in attendance, could therefore be said to have reached a "cockroach" stage of machine intelligence. The conference attendees noted that self-awareness as depicted in science-fiction is probably unlikely, but that other potential hazards and pitfalls exist. This is also my view. That will say: I actually agree with the futurists in that we develop towards some kind of singularity, but I don´t see this as a Utopia. I see it as a Dystopia, precisely because the people in power who see the singularity as desirable, and are fooling people into believing them, are Sophists; that is: amateur philosophers.
c) The Pseudoscience of Nanotechnology.
Kurzweil, for example, see the singularity as a Utopia. In his 2005 book, The Singularity is Near, he suggests that medical advances would allow people to protect their bodies from the effects of aging, making the life expectancy limitless. Kurzweil argues that the technological advances in medicine would allow us to continuously repair and replace defective components in our bodies, prolonging life to an undetermined age. Kurzweil further buttresses his argument by discussing current bio-engineering advances. Kurzweil suggests somatic gene therapy; after synthetic viruses with specific genetic information, the next step would be to apply this technology to gene therapy, replacing human DNA with synthesized genes.
Beyond merely extending the operational life of the physical body, Jaron Lanier argues for a form of immortality called "Digital Ascension" that involves "people dying in the flesh and being uploaded into a computer and remaining conscious". Singularitarianism has also been likened to a religion by John Horgan.
In line with most misconceptions about nanotechnology, Kurzweil thinks nanobots of the "industrial robot scaled down a billion times" kind are achievable, rather than requiring violations of physics. He then actively propagates this misconception.
There is no single unified thing that can be called "nanotechnology." Rather, many different technologies and industries are reaching the point where nanoscale operations are of interest. In previous years, we might have called this "chemistry" or "materials science", though a lot of this is now being called straight-up "nanotechnology."
There are two sorts of nanotechnology: reality, and pseudoscience.
Unfortunately, advocates of pseudo-nanotechnology will regularly push a future of magical molecular robots, then point at chemistry as evidence for the magical molecular robots. The idea was first postulated by Richard Feynman in his 1959 essay There's Plenty Of Room At The Bottom. From the late 1980s on, it was popularised by K. Eric Drexler, in his 1986 book Engines of Creation: The Coming Era of Nanotechnology and the work of science fiction that Drexler used as a Ph.D. thesis. (Drexler's Ph.D. is much-touted as being from MIT, but was not awarded by an actual science or engineering department — he got it in the Media Arts and Sciences Section of the School of Architecture and Planning.)
Nanotechnology Sophists — as opposed to the people who actually work with the stuff — have a habit of downplaying Feynman's origination of the idea and playing up Drexler, possibly because the latter is far more indulgent of their fantasies.
Dr. Drexler, most upset that the National Nanotechnology Initiative insisted on only funding things that do not actually defy physics, has taken to using his new favored terms, "zettatechnology" or "atomic precision manufacture".
The popular conception of nanotechnology is Eric Drexler's concept of nanobots, like industrial robots scaled down a billion times. This is entirely made of science fiction and would violate physics, chemistry, and thermodynamics. However, not many people realise why it's science fiction, as it isn't really due to us limiting what our technology might one day do, it's purely down to the physics of how the world works. The same mistake is seen in quantum Mysticism, where unknown factors in the microworld is scaled up to fit fantasies about the macroworld, and therewith make them sound scientific.
That Drexler has pushed an idea which is actually impossible has not deterred nanotech fans, who get as upset as they usually do when an expert in a field they're talking about points out they're simply wrong, apparently from an emotional sunk cost fallacy.
Drexler's vision of nanobots is a standard science fiction trope for magic. Applications include superhuman healing and body repair, superhuman powers, shapeshifting machines, constructing large structures at a miraculous pace, self-repairing materials, instantly taking over and reprogramming any computer system or even a person. Alternatively, a swarm of nanomachines can be a weapon, eating anything in its path like locusts.
One common version is self-replicating nanomachines, which convert any available matter into more nanomachines to replenish and bolster their numbers. If left unchecked, these machines convert everything— the so-called "grey goo" doomsday scenario. The idea of creating self-replicating machines, which was an early goal of nanotechnology, has given way to the safer and simpler approach of building larger (relatively speaking) factories that can mass-produce nanomachines, making this scenario less likely to occur in reality.
d) Whole Brain Emulation, Mind Uploading and Cryonics
By now it is necessary to point out a primary philosophical failure of the whole of the Futurism of Silicon Valley, and that is philosophical idealism. Philosophical idealism is the main metaphysical theory of the Matrix Conspiracy, which I pointed out in my first article on the subject: The Matrix Conspiracy. In my article on the Simulation Theory, I have also pointed out that even materialists (the metaphysical opposition to idealism) fall in the trap of Philosophical Idealism. This is without doubt due to that most of the people “philosophizing” within these areas hasn´t got any background in philosophy. This makes them unable to identify their philosophical background, and they end up mixing up standpoints which actually are incompatible.
In philosophy, idealism is the group of metaphysical philosophies that assert that reality, or reality as humans can know it, is fundamentally mental, mentally constructed, or otherwise immaterial. By closer examination it is easy to see that the above-mentioned pseudoscience of nanotechnology (no matter how materialistic it might sounds, and the below concepts of Whole Brain Emulation and Mind Uploading, are theories building on the truth of philosophical idealism. But philosophical idealism is easy to debunk. I have done that in my article The Dream Hypothesis and the Brain-in-jar Hypothesis, as well as in my article on the Simulation theory.
"Whole brain emulation" (WBE) is a term used by transhumanists to refer to, quite obviously, the emulation of a brain on a computer. Besides my own arguments against it, it encounters two problems that keep it from being a certainty anytime in the near future.
The first is a philosophical objection: For WBE to work, "strong AI" (i.e. AI equivalent to or greater than human intelligence) must be attainable. A number of philosophical objections have been raised against strong AI, generally contending either that the mind or consciousness is not computable or that a simulation of consciousness is not equivalent to true consciousness. There is still controversy over strong AI in the field of philosophy of mind.
I have suggested a theory of consciousness in my online book Philosophical Counseling with Tolkien, in chapter one, Metaphysics, B.; Ontology, part 1: The Problem of Mind. Here I´m talking about an inside-and-out perspective and an outside-and-in perspective. You could also term this as a first-person perspective and a third-person perspective. All reductionists use a third-person perspective, all fantasies about WBE are using a third-person perspective. But the first-person perspective is self-evident. It is the primary perspective for everything. You could also call it the primary presence. You are reading this Ebook using a first-person perspective, not from a third-person perspective.
Seen from a third-person perspective all kinds of science-fiction fantasies could be possible, as for example a time travel theory where you could travel back in time and meet yourself as young. This is logical impossible seen from a first-person perspective. The same is the case with theories about making copies of persons. Splitting the brain through surgery might create a split in the mind, but it doesn´t create two identical first-person perspectives. And multiple-personality disorder doesn´t consist in that there within one person exist several persons with the same first-person perspective. Rather it consists in that there is one first-person perspective who perceives other personalities within himself. But these personalities can only be experienced one at a time from a first-person perspective.
Try to think over this yourself. You can´t in any way imagine your own first-person perspective exist both in yourself and in another person at the same time. You can only imagine it when see from a third-person perspective.
All humans are experiencing from the first-person perspective. You are not perceiving anything from a third-person perspective. But this is how reductionists are explaining consciousness. They are explaining it from a third-person perspective; that is: seen from without, and therefore they are not explaining consciousness, but something else.
Furthermore, you can inquire deeper into the first-person perspective, though this is only a tradition in Eastern philosophy and meditation (where consciousness, by the way, is perceived as having its seat in the heart, not in the head). Here you will discover that consciousness seems to be a characteristic of the now, and therefore space and objectivity, and therefore eventually reality and Wholeness. Consciousness is therefore neither mind (idealism) nor matter (materialism), when seen in this perspective.
I will return to the first-person perspective (the primary Witness) in a coming article on Ray Kurzweil, just mention, that an incarnation of a human consciousness requires a complete human organism, with an energybody and a chakra system. (Note that I´m not referring to any New Age version of the chakra system, but to Indian philosophy, which in my view is far deeper than Western philosophy). If you should simulate this, you will end up in an endless split of the thought, until you realize that it is probably easier to do it the old fashion way: sexual intercourse.
A second possible objection is technological: WBE may not defy physics, but the technology to fully simulate a human brain (in the sense meant by transhumanists, at least) is a long way away. Currently, no computer (or network of computers) is powerful enough to simulate a human brain. Henry Markram, head of the Blue Brain Project, estimates that simulating a brain would require 500 petabytes of data for storage and that the power required to run the simulation would cost about $3 billion annually. (However, in 2008, he optimistically predicts this will be possible in ten years. He is obviously completely ignorant about what a brain is, how it is connected with the body through the spine, etc.
In addition to technological limitations in computing, there are also the limits of neuroscience. Neuroscience currently relies on technology that can only scan the brain at the level of gross anatomy (e.g., fMRI, PET) – (note that this is from a third-person perspective. A brain would not be a brain if there wasn´t a first-person perspective). Forms of single neuron imaging (SNI) have been developed recently, but they can only be used on animal subjects (usually rats) because they destroy neural tissue.
Another transhumanist goal is mind uploading, which is one way they claim we will be able to achieve immortality. Aside from the problems with WBE listed above (as well as my own arguments against philosophical idealism), mind uploading suffers another philosophical problem, which points towards the first-person perspective, namely the "swamp man problem." That is, will the "uploaded" mind be "you" or simply a copy or facsimile of your mind? However, one possible way round this problem would be via incremental replacement of parts of the brain with their cybernetic equivalents (the patient being awake during each operation). Then there is no "breaking" of the continuity of the individual's consciousness, and it becomes difficult for proponents of the "swamp man" hypothesis to pinpoint exactly when the individual stops being "themselves." - Again, all this is hypothesized from the third-person perspective.
Cryonics is another favorite of many transhumanists. Cryonics is the low-temperature preservation of human cadavers, with the hope that resuscitation and restoration to life and full health may be possible in the far future. Cryopreservation of humans is not reversible with present technology; cryonicists hope that medical advances will someday allow cryopreserved people to be revived.
In principle, cryonics is not impossible, but the current form of it is based largely on hypothetical future technologies and costs substantial amounts of money. It also implies all of the above-mentioned problems, and the consequences would therefore be more or less nightmarish, for example that your soul could be attached to the dead body, and you would end up in an experience of being buried alive inside a tank for hundreds of years. But transhumanists don´t think like this. They see it as a possibility for immortality. It should in that connection be mentioned, that cryonics only seems like a utopia for materialists and atheists, not for religious people.
By the way: the urban legend suggesting Walt Disney was cryopreserved is false; he was cremated and interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery. Robert A. Heinlein, who wrote enthusiastically of the concept in The Door into Summer (serialized in 1956), was cremated and had his ashes distributed over the Pacific Ocean. Timothy Leary was a long-time cryonics advocate and signed up with a major cryonics provider, but he changed his mind shortly before his death, and was not cryopreserved.
Fighting aging and extending life expectancy is possible — the field that studies aging and attempts to provide suggestions for anti-aging technology is known as "biogerontology". Aubrey de Grey has proposed a number of treatments for aging. In 2005, 28 scientists working in biogerontology signed a letter to EMBO Reports pointing out that de Grey's treatments had never been demonstrated to work and that many of his claims for anti-aging technology were extremely inflated. This article was written in response to a July 2005 EMBO reports article previously published by de Grey and a response from de Grey was published in the same November issue. De Grey summarizes these events in "The biogerontology research community's evolving view of SENS," published on the Methuselah Foundation website.
The whole concept completely ignores the impermanence of nature, and the cycles of life. It is based on evolutionism, which only is focusing on the up-cycles, and are ignoring the down-clycles.
Worst of all, some transhumanists outright ignore what people in the fields they're interested in tell them; a few AI boosters, for example, believe that neurobiology is an outdated science because AI researchers can do it themselves anyway. They seem to have taken the analogy used to introduce the computational theory of mind, "the mind (or brain) is like a computer", and taken it literally. Of course, the mind/brain is not a computer in the usual sense. Debates with such people can take on the wearying feel of a debate with a creationist or climate change denialist, as such people will stick to their positions no matter what. Indeed, many critics are simply dismissed as Luddites or woolly-headed romantics who oppose scientific and technological progress.
Transhumanism has often been criticized for not taking ethical issues seriously on a variety of topics, including life extension technology, cryonics, and mind uploading and other enhancements. Francis Fukuyama (in his doctrinaire neoconservative days) caused a stir by naming transhumanism "the world's most dangerous idea." One of Fukuyama's criticisms, that implementation of the technologies transhumanists push for will lead to severe inequality, is a rather common one.
A number of political criticisms of transhumanism have been made as well. Transhumanist organizations have been accused of being in the pocket of corporate and military interests. The movement has been identified with Silicon Valley due to the fact that some of its biggest backers, such as Peter Thiel (of PayPal and Bitcoin fame), reside in the region. Ray Kurzweil´s Singularity University is also situated here. The Singularity University is clearly based on management theory. It says in its introduction:
Preparing Global Leaders & Organizations for the Future - Explore the opportunities and implications of exponential technologies and connect to a global ecosystem that is shaping the future and solving the world’s most urgent problems.
Kurzweil is keen to share his ”knowledge and insight”. You, yes you the corporate executive, can spend $15,000 of company money on a 9-day Executive Training Session, or a 10-week graduate studies course for $25,000, to learn all about exponentially advancing technologies.
Any qualms you may have about the organisation will be put to rest by the faculty page: one actual non-honorary PhD, three medical doctors, several bloggers and some wealthy businessmen. No proper resumes listed. The list is nothing like the faculty page of a real university; it does look quite a lot like what a hype machine that didn't understand its own incompetence at being the thing it claims to be would look like (see my article on Diploma Mills).
Some writers see transhumanism as a hive of cranky and obnoxious techno-libertarianism. The fact that Julian Huxley coined the term "transhumanism" and many transhumanists' obsession with constructing a Nietzschean ubermensch known as the "posthuman" has led to comparisons with eugenics. Like eugenics, it has been characterized as an utopian political ideology. Jaron Lanier slammed it as "cybernetic totalism".
Interestingly the word transhuman first appeared in Henry Francis Carey’s 1814 translation of Paradiso, the last book of the Divine Comedy as Dante ascends to heaven during the resurrection.
e) Transhumanist spirituality
Some tension has developed between transhumanism and religion, namely Christianity. Some transhumanists, generally being atheistic naturalists, see all religion as an impediment to scientific and technological advancement and some Christians oppose transhumanism because of its stance on cloning and genetic engineering and label it as a heretical belief system. Other transhumanists, however, have attempted to extend an olive branch to Christians. Some have tried to reconcile their religion and techno-utopian beliefs, calling for a "scientific theology." There is even a Mormon transhumanist organization.
Ironically for the atheistic transhumanists, the transhumanist movement has itself been characterized as a religion and its rhetoric compared to Christian apologetics. This is due to the implied evolutionism.
With my concept of the simulation theory, I have shown how New Age and Atheist fundamentalism shares the same evolutionary dreams. It is namely so, that although many transhumanists are atheists, agnostics, and/or secular humanists, some have religious or spiritual views. Despite the prevailing secular attitude, some transhumanists pursue hopes traditionally espoused by religions, such as immortality, while several controversial new religious movements from the late 20th century have explicitly embraced transhumanist goals of transforming the human condition by applying technology to the alteration of the mind and body, such as Raëlism.
However, most thinkers associated with the transhumanist movement focus on the practical goals of using technology to help achieve longer and healthier lives, while speculating that future understanding of neurotheology and the application of neurotechnology will enable humans to gain greater control of altered states of consciousness, which were commonly interpreted as spiritual experiences, and thus achieve more profound self-knowledge. We saw this in connection with the psychedelic futurist David Jay Brown, which I quoted in the beginning of this book.
Transhumanist Buddhists have sought to explore areas of agreement between various types of Buddhism and Buddhist-derived meditation and mind expanding "neurotechnologies". However, they have been criticised for appropriating mindfulness as a tool for transcending humanness.
Some transhumanists believe in the compatibility between the human mind and computer hardware, with the theoretical implication that human consciousness may someday be transferred to alternative media (a speculative technique commonly known as mind uploading). One extreme formulation of this idea, which some transhumanists are interested in, is the proposal of the Omega Point by Christian cosmologist Frank Tipler (an inspiraction for David Jay Brown). Drawing upon ideas in digitalism, Tipler has advanced the notion that the collapse of the Universe billions of years hence could create the conditions for the perpetuation of humanity in a simulated reality within a megacomputer and thus achieve a form of "posthuman godhood".
Tipler's thought was inspired by the writings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a paleontologist and Jesuit theologian who saw an evolutionary telos in the development of an encompassing noosphere, a global consciousness.
Viewed from the perspective of some Christian thinkers, the idea of mind uploading is asserted to represent a denigration of the human body, characteristic of gnostic manichaean belief. Transhumanism and its presumed intellectual progenitors have also been described as neo-gnostic by non-Christian and secular commentators.
The first dialogue between transhumanism and faith was a one-day conference held at the University of Toronto in 2004. Religious critics alone faulted the philosophy of transhumanism as offering no eternal truths nor a relationship with the divine. They commented that a philosophy bereft of these beliefs leaves humanity adrift in a foggy sea of postmodern cynicism and anomie. Transhumanists responded that such criticisms reflect a failure to look at the actual content of the transhumanist philosophy, which, far from being cynical, is rooted in optimistic, idealistic attitudes that trace back to the Enlightenment (well, more exactly evolutionism as a whole, as shown in this book). Following this dialogue, William Sims Bainbridge, a sociologist of religion, conducted a pilot study, published in the Journal of Evolution and Technology, suggesting that religious attitudes were negatively correlated with acceptance of transhumanist ideas and indicating that individuals with highly religious worldviews tended to perceive transhumanism as being a direct, competitive (though ultimately futile) affront to their spiritual beliefs.
Since 2006, the Mormon Transhumanist Association sponsors conferences and lectures on the intersection of technology and religion.
Since 2009, the American Academy of Religion holds a "Transhumanism and Religion" consultation during its annual meeting, where scholars in the field of religious studies seek to identify and critically evaluate any implicit religious beliefs that might underlie key transhumanist claims and assumptions; consider how transhumanism challenges religious traditions to develop their own ideas of the human future, in particular the prospect of human transformation, whether by technological or other means; and provide critical and constructive assessments of an envisioned future that place greater confidence in nanotechnology, robotics and information technology to achieve virtual immortality and create a superior posthuman species.
The physicist and transhumanist thinker Giulio Prisco states that "cosmist religions based on science, might be our best protection from reckless pursuit of superintelligence and other risky technologies." Prisco also recognizes the importance of spiritual ideas, such as the ones of Nikolai Fyodorovich Fyodorov, to the origins of the transhumanism movement.
Transhumanist spirituality has its origin in Western Esotericism. I´m quite fascinated of esotericism, and there is a lot af valid stuff to be found here. Western esotericism could for example be treated as a world view that embraces 'enchantment' in contrast to world views influenced by post-Cartesian, post-Newtonian, and positivist science which have sought to 'dis-enchant' the world. Esotericism is in this sense understood as comprising those world views which eschew a belief in instrumental causality and instead adopt a belief that all parts of the universe are interrelated without a need for causal chains. It therefore stands as a radical alternative to the disenchanted world views which have dominated Western culture since the scientific revolution, and must therefore always be at odds with secular (modern) culture.
An early exponent of this definition was the historian of Renaissance thought Frances Yates in her discussions of a "Hermetic Tradition", which she saw as an 'enchanted' alternative to established religion and rationalistic science. However, the primary exponent of this view was Faivre, who published a series of criteria for how to define "Western esotericism" in 1992.
The origins of Western esotericism are in the Hellenistic Eastern Mediterranean, then part of the Roman Empire, during Late Antiquity, a period encompassing the first centuries of the Common Era. This was a milieu in which there was a mix of religious and intellectual traditions from Greece, Egypt, the Levant, Babylon, and Persia, and in which globalisation, urbanisation, and multiculturalism were bringing about socio-cultural change.
One component of this was Hermetism, another tradition of esoteric thought in Late Antiquity was Gnosticism. A third form of esotericism in Late Antiquity was Neoplatonism. After the fall of Rome, alchemy and philosophy and other aspects of the tradition were largely preserved in the Arab and Near Eastern world and reintroduced into Western Europe by Jews and by the cultural contact between Christians and Muslims in Sicily and southern Italy. The 12th century saw the development of the Kabbalah in southern Italy and medieval Spain. These are all traditional spiritual practices which I support.
But with The Age of Enlightenment we witnessed a process of increasing secularisation of European governments and an embrace of modern science and rationality within intellectual circles. In turn, a "modernist occult" emerged that reflected varied ways in which esoteric thinkers came to terms with these developments. One of the most prominent esotericists of this period was the Swedish naturalist Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772), who attempted to reconcile science and religion after experiencing a vision of Jesus Christ. His writings focused on his visionary travels to heaven and hell and his communications with angels, claiming that the visible, materialist world parallels an invisible spiritual world, with correspondences between the two that do not reflect causal relations. Following his death, followers would found the Swedenborgian New Church, although his writings would influence a far wider array of esoteric philosophies. Swedenborg is the predecessor of the channeling craze, which is seen today in Theosophy and New Age. Though it is extremely important to make aware of the existence of external spiritual beings, both demonical and divine, accounts like Swedenborg´s falls for the thought distortion called truth by authority. The very claim of having total knowledge (authority) of the afterlife is a proof of its delusion. There is not a hint of the traditional philosophical urge to think and discover for yourself, which spiritual teaching always has emphasized, and it is therefore ending in ideology. This can not be a message from the divine source. Therewith is not said that Swedenborg didn´t had some good ideas. He has for example some interesting thoughts about the free will problem.
Another major figure within the esoteric movement of this period was the German physician Franz Anton Mesmer (1734–1814), who developed the theory of Animal Magnetism, which later came to be known more commonly as "Mesmerism". This is the aspect of esotericism which developed into the New Thought movement, and hypnotherapy (see my articles The New Thought Movement and the Law of Attraction and Hypnosis, Hypnotherapy and the Art of Self-deceit).
Various Spiritualist mediums came to be disillusioned with the esoteric thought available, and sought inspiration in pre-Swedenborgian currents; the most prominent of these were Emma Hardinge Britten (1823–1899) and Helena Blavatsky (1831–1891), the latter of whom called for the revival of the "occult science" of the ancients, which could be found in both the East and West. Authoring the influential Isis Unveiled (1877) and The Secret Doctrine (1888), she co-founded the Theosophical Society in 1875.
Theosophy is the most obvious predecessor of transhumanist spirituality. Theosophy is directly trying to synthesize spirituality and science, and is especially inspired by Darwinism, and its theories about human evolution. It is from Theosophy we have the spiritual confused concept of “The Evolution of Consciousness”. And this idea continues today in New Age and Ufology, where spirituality, apart from Darwinism, furthermore is sought synthesized with new developments within psychology, psychotherapy and natural science, especially biology and quantum mechanics.
Add to this that new esoteric understandings of magic also developed in the latter part of the 19th century. One of the pioneers of this was American Paschal Beverly Randolph (1825–1875), who argued that sexual energy and psychoactive drugs could be used for magical purposes. Inspired by Nietzsche this developed into the create-your-own-reality craze in New Age and New Thought. And the combination of spiritual practice with psychedelics was seen in the counterculture of the 60s and is today especially having its renaissance in transhumanist spirituality (see my article on David Jay Brown).
In England, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, an initiatory order devoted to magic which based itself on an understanding of kabbalah, was founded in the latter years of the century. One of the most prominent members of that order was Aleister Crowley (1875–1947), who went on to proclaim the religion of Thelema and become a prominent member of the Ordo Templi Orientis. Some of their contemporaries developed esoteric schools of thought that did not entail magic, namely the Greco-Armenian teacher George Gurdjieff (1866–1949) and his Russian pupil P. D. Ouspensky (1878–1947). This developed into the human potential movement and New Age psychotherapy (see my articles The Devastating New Age Turn within Psychotherapy, Spiritual Vampires, The Vampirised Spirit of John Rosen, and Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (Osho)).
So, emergent occult and esoteric systems found increasing popularity in the early 20th century, especially in Western Europe. Occult lodges and secret societies flowered among European intellectuals of this era who had largely abandoned traditional forms of Christianity. The spreading of secret teachings and magic practices found enthusiastic adherents in the chaos of Germany during the interwar years. Notable writers such as Guido von List spread neo-pagan, nationalist ideas, based on Wotanism and the Kabbalah. Many influential and wealthy Germans were drawn to secret societies such as the Thule Society. Thule Society activist Karl Harrer was one of the founders of the German Workers' Party, which later became the Nazi Party; some Nazi Party members like Alfred Rosenberg and Rudolf Hess were listed as "guests" of the Thule Society, as was Adolf Hitler's mentor Dietrich Eckart. It is clear that these tendencies have their influence of the obvious fascistic element in the Matrix Conspiracy (see my article The Matrix Conspiracy Fascism).
In the 1960s and 1970s, esotericism came to be increasingly associated with the growing counter-culture in the West, whose adherents understood themselves in participating in a spiritual revolution that would mark the Age of Aquarius. By the 1980s, these currents of millenarian currents had come to be widely known as the New Age movement, and it became increasingly commercialised as business entrepreneurs exploited a growth in the spiritual market. We have already looked at management theory and the mythology of authenticity.
Conversely, other forms of esoteric thought retained the anti-commercial and counter-cultural sentiment of the 1960s and 1970s, namely the techno-shamanic movement promoted by figures such as Terence McKenna and Daniel Pinchbeck which built on the work of anthropologist Carlos Castaneda. This is the trend which can be seen in psychedelic renaissance in David Jay Brown, which also is the trend of transhumanist spirituality (see my article on Plastic Shamanism).
Other trends which emerged in western occultism in the later 20th century were satanism as exposed by groups such as the Church of Satan and Temple of Set, as well as chaos magick through the Illuminates of Thanateros group. Here we see the direct demonic influence in evolutionism. What´s most frightening is all the techniques of opening the third eye which are given on the internet and social media (I have investigated this in my blog post The Conspiracy of the Third Eye. I call it the 666 Conspiracy).
In 2013, Asprem and Granholm precisely highlighted that "contemporary esotericism is intimately, and increasingly, connected with popular culture and new media."
Granholm noted that esoteric ideas and images could be found in many aspects of Western popular media, citing such examples as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Avatar, Hellblazer, and His Dark Materials.
Writers interested in occult themes have adopted three different strategies for dealing with the subject: those who are knowledgeable on the subject including attractive images of the occult and occultists in their work, those who disguise occultism within "a web of intertextuality", and those who oppose it and seek to deconstruct it.
Esotericism has pervaded various forms of Western philosophy, religion, pseudoscience, art, literature, and music, continuing to affect intellectual ideas and popular culture.
f) Technological Utopianism and The Matrix Hybrid
As we can see by now: evolutionism is the red ideological thread of The Matrix Conspiracy. Therefore I also see for example Richard Dawkins as a Matrix agent. His words about that “religious people are hijacked by an infectious malignant god-virus, because god is delusion a ‘psychotic delinquent’ invented by mad deluded people,” or his description of “religion as both an evolutionary by-product and as a Memetic virus” is pure Agent Smith. This is not far-fetched. As mentioned, Dawkins for example acknowledges the Simulation Hypothesis, the newest version of the Matrix thesis. We may be living in a world computed by superhumanity to emulate its evolutionary history. Obvious not knowing that this is an idealist idea, the direct opposite philosophical theory than his own materialism (the simulation theory presupposes that philosophical idealism is a true metaphysical theory). This curiosity actually directly demonstrates my claim that atheist fundamentalism and New Age are the two opposite coins in the same Matrix Conspiracy.
On the possibility of living in a simulation created by alien civilizations Dawkins says:
"Whether we ever get to know them or not, there are very probably alien civilizations that are superhuman, to the point of being god-like in ways that exceed anything a theologian could possibly imagine. Their technical achievements would seem as supernatural to us as ours would seem to a Dark Age peasant transported to the twenty-first century. Imagine his response to a laptop computer, a mobile telephone, a hydrogen bomb or a jumbo jet. As Arthur C Clarke put it, in his Third Law: 'Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.' The miracles wrought by our technology would have seemed to the ancients no less remarkable than the tales of Moses parting the waters, or Jesus walking upon them. The aliens of our SETI signal would be to us like gods ...
"In what sense, then, would the most advanced SETI aliens not be gods? In what sense would they be superhuman but not supernatural? In a very important sense, which goes to the heart of this book. The crucial difference between gods and god-like extraterrestrials lies not in their properties but in their provenance. Entities that are complex enough to be intelligent are products of an evolutionary process. No matter how god-like they may seem when we encounter them, they didn't start that way. Science-fiction authors ... have even suggested (and I cannot think how to disprove it) that we live in a computer simulation, set up by some vastly superior civilization. But the simulators themselves would have to come from somewhere. The laws of probability forbid all notions of their spontaneously appearing without simpler antecedents. They probably owe their existence to a (perhaps unfamiliar) version of Darwinian evolution ..."
Dawkins, Richard. The God Delusion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006. 72-73. Print.
If such aliens exist, why should they use computer simulation? The very concept of simulation is taken from our own language and refers to something we have knowledge about here on Earth. It is a projection of ourselves. And for the same reason: why should they be subject to evolution? Evolutionism is also something limited to our own knowledge. Note that Dawkins is talking about extraterrestrials as he believes these would be if they (and their intelligence and technology) were further developed than us. We have already seen that such a vision not is possible.
Dawkins is obviously trying to attribute these aliens his own limited concepts about that an advanced civilization is a technological utopia without religion. There isn´t any reason why we could not attribute them all kinds of other limited concepts coming from ourselves, for example religion. If these aliens are so advanced it would be a mistake to use our own concepts on them at all. In my view, if they are superior to us they would live in a world more reminding about a pre-modern world with a cyclic view of history, and not the linear science-fiction world, which so many futurists and transhumanists find so desirable. They would in my view live in a world which more is reminding about the fantasy genre. An ability to interstellar travel might not be based on technology at all. They might be using astral-like interstellar vessels. And they would probably not even recognize the concept of superman neither, since the word indicates something higher than man. Note that this isn´t an argument, it´s just a counter-example.
I will give another example which follows the fantasy genre, or, which follows mythology, which is as valid as science fiction (in my opinion, more valid, since you somehow can make a better philosophical argumentation for it, using a Platonic worldview). It is a cyclic view of history, which comes from the Indian Yuga teaching, written down in the Vedas. Yuga in Hinduism is an epoch or era within a four-age cycle. A complete Yuga starts with the Satya Yuga, via Treta Yuga and Dvapara Yuga into a Kali Yuga. Our present time is a Kali Yuga, which started at 3102 BCE with the end of the Kurukshetra War (or Mahabharata war). What´s interesting about this view of our present day history is that it has the direct opposite view of the linear history than evolutionism, namely that we are heading into a very long time of decline. If we describe the four Yugas:
Satya Yuga (also known as Krita Yuga "Golden Age"): The first and best Yuga. It was the age of truth and perfection. The Krita Yuga was so named because there was but one religion, and all men were saintly: therefore they were not required to perform religious ceremonies. Humans were gigantic, powerfully built, honest, youthful, vigorous, erudite and virtuous. The Vedas were one. All mankind could attain to supreme blessedness. There was no agriculture or mining as the earth yielded those riches on its own. Weather was pleasant and everyone was happy. There were no religious sects. There was no disease, decrepitude or fear of anything.
Treta Yuga: Is considered to be the second Yuga in order, however Treta means the "Third". In this age, virtue diminishes slightly. At the beginning of the age, many emperors rise to dominance and conquer the world. Wars become frequent and weather begins to change to extremities. Oceans and deserts are formed. People become slightly diminished compared to their predecessors. Agriculture, labour and mining become existent.
Dvapara Yuga: Is considered to be the third Yuga in order. Dvapara means "two pair" or "after two". In this age, people become tainted with Tamasic qualities and aren't as strong as their ancestors. Diseases become rampant. Humans are discontent and fight each other. Vedas are divided into four parts. People still possess characteristics of youth in old age. Average lifespan of humans is around a few centuries.
Kali Yuga: The final age. It is the age of darkness and ignorance. People become sinners and lack virtue. They become slaves to their passions and are barely as powerful as their earliest ancestors in the Satya Yuga. Society falls into disuse and people become liars and hypocrites. Knowledge is lost and scriptures are diminished. Humans eat forbidden and dirty food. The environment is polluted, water and food become scarce. Wealth is heavily diminished. Families become non-existent. By the end of Kali Yuga the average lifespan of humans will be as low as 70 years.
According to one Puranic astronomical estimate, the four Yuga have the following durations: Satya Yuga equals 1,728,000 Human years. Treta Yuga equals 1,296,000 Human years. Dvapara Yuga equals 864,000 Human years. Kali Yuga equals 432,000 Human years. Together, these four yuga constitute one Mahayuga and equal 4.32 million human years. According to one version, there are 1,000 Mahayugas in one day of Brahma or 4.32 billion human years. A Mahakalpa consists of 100 years of Brahma.
The ages see a gradual decline of dharma, wisdom, knowledge, intellectual capability, life span, emotional and physical strength. Satya Yuga – Virtue reigns supreme. Human stature was 21 cubits. Average human lifespan was 100,000 years. Treta Yuga – There was 3 quarter virtue and 1 quarter sin. Normal human stature was 14 cubits. Average human lifespan was 10,000 years. Dwapara Yuga – There was 1 half virtue & 1 half sin. Normal human stature was 7 cubits. Average human lifespan was 1,000 years. Kali Yuga – There is 1 quarter virtue & 3 quarter sin. Normal human stature is 3.5 cubits. Average human lifespan will be 100 years.
In the present days we may be said to live in a Kali Yuga, which is said to have started in 3102 BCE with the end of the Mahabharata war. This date is also considered by many Hindus to be the day that Krishna left Earth and went to his abode. You could also say that this is when the disenchantment of the world started. And if the Kali Yuga lasts 432,000 human years, there is really no light at the end of the tunnel in the nearest future. We are just in the start of the decline.
The Vedas is said to have been written down at the beginning of the Kali yuga, and the Shastras say that the Vedic civilization flowered in India much longer time ago than the 50.000 years which modern science claim to be earliest possible time where Homo Sapiens firstly appeared on Earth (characterized by behavioral modernity; that is: behavior which can be characterized by abstract thinking, planning depth, symbolic behavior - e.g., art, ornamentation, music - exploitation of large game, and blade technology, among others). The Shastras (or Sastras) claim that the philosophers, Yogis and Rishis (Seers) lived for millions of years ago, and the Vedic Acharyas (Indian scholars) believe that the stories in the Puranic literature are factual stories, not only from this planet, but also from many planets in this Universe. Data taken from these planets have nothing to do with the data from this planet (as for example incredible life spans and the ability to fly without mechanical help). The Puranic literature describes a universe where the supernatural is trivial and miraculous births are everyday phenomena.
Though Tolkien is mostly inspired by Nordic mythology, his world is based on such a cyclic view of history, which sees the nearest future in a pessimistic way. In the metaphysics chapter of my book Philosophical Counseling with Tolkien, I explain a metaphysics that follows the Indian tradition (read it here). The mythologist Joseph Campbell´s theory of the monomyth (The Hero´s Journey) is in the same way exceedingly conservative and founded on a deep nostalgia: for him, the cure for modern problems is found by returning to earlier notions of spirituality and moral virtue. In promoting a “living mythology,” Campbell harkens back to a lost “golden age” from which we have fallen, but to which we can return with effort and guidance of a “sage.” It reminds about Plato and his theory of that knowledge is recollection of the universal ideas which existed before ourselves. I have explained that the problem of nostalgia is solved if we understand that this knowledge can be reached through meditation, through the very now and here.
Let´s return to evolutionism. Sam Harris makes the same mistake as Dawkins:
"Many people have noticed that there seem to be no new arguments for the truth of any of the world's religions. I recently stumbled upon one, however, and it has given me a moment's pause. ...
"Given these premises - that human consciousness is purely the product of computation; that our computing power will continue to grow; and that our descendants will build simulated worlds - it seems tempting to conclude that simulated people will eventually outnumber all the real people who have ever lived. Statistically, therefore, it is more likely that we are simulated ancestors, living in a simulated world, rather than real ancestors of the real, supercomputing people of the future.
"This is, of course, a very strange idea. And here is my own contribution: add to this strangeness the possibility that the supercomputing people of the future will build into their virtual worlds the truth of Mormonism, or some other faith that seems like it could not possibly be true at present. In which case, we may, in fact, be living in a world in which Jesus will return on clouds of glory to judge the living and the dead. Perversely, this could be a self-fulfilling prophecy: given how beguiled people have been by religious mythology throughout our history, our descendants might engineer specific religious doctrines into their virtual worlds just for the hell of it."
Harris, Sam. "Should We Be Mormons in the Matrix?" Sam Harris. 20 Apr. 2011. Web. 08 Aug. 2014.
It is interesting that Sam Harris all the time are using the concepts of mind and consciousness, in order to explain why mind and consciousness not at all are mind and consciousness, but results of computation. He explains away. A reductionism in other word, using the third-person perspective. Why is that he with necessity must use the concept of consciousness, and must discriminate between subject and object, in order to talk meaningful? Because that´s what reality dictates him (it is not a simulation), and therefore we must conclude that consciousness is an ontological fact.
Richard Dawkins is just another sophist suffering from The Illusion of Transferable Expertise. He has an unfortunate tendency to think that being brilliant at biology means every other specialty can be treated as a special case of evolutionary biology. This illusion puts Dawkins in line with a number of other popular figures such as Stephen Hawking, Robert Lanza, Rupert Sheldrake, Gregg Braden, Ray Kurzweil, etc., etc. A tendency leading towards scientism and transhumanism.
The Illusion of Transferable Expertise seems especially wide spread in America, when considering the enormity of junk thought coming out from this area, where both amateurs and scientists are ensured success with publishing scientistic books, which only can be characterized as junk philosophy (people like Dawkins, Hawking and Sheldrake seem to be British role models, which have gathered their fame in America).
Richard Dawkins is the atheistic answer to Ken Wilber. Both are biologists who want to be philosophers instead of the philosophers. Both are in love with Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution. Both want their own discipline to be the answer to all the riddles of the universe. And both therefore ends in two versions of biologism (two versions of Social Darwinism). They are two sides of the same coin. See my main articles A Critique of Richard Dawkins and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI) and A Critique of Ken Wilber and his Integral Method.
But not only Richard Dawkins and Ken Wilber are fascinated with biologism. It´s a central part of the New Age movement as such. And it comes from Theosophy (see my article The Fascism of Theosophy). As mentioned: some New Age directions even claim to be examples of “Atheistic spirituality” [sic]. An example is the Canadian Raelian movement. Read more in my updates and commentaries to the Matrix Conspiracy.
You just have to replace Dawkins´s theory of the Meme with some spiritual scientistic nonsense, and you have New Age. Here is a quote from Joe Dispenza:
“The environment writes the story of our genes and our DNA is the rich history book of generations untold. Science is just beginning to catch up in its understanding of nature’s wisdom.”
And Lee Carroll (a channeler of an entity called “Kryon”):
“Could it be that all the mysterious secrets of your past, your science, your health, and the ability to regenerate youth… is already known? The answer is yes, and this lives inside you in a very sacred place. This place is starting to be revealed within the New Human. You are in the right place at the right time Old Soul, and worthy to receive all of it!”
Carroll's Kryon series elaborated a number of popular New Age concepts. Amongst them are co-creating, spiritual contracts, karmic imprints, karmic implants, magnetic layers (strands) of human DNA, karmic groups, synchronicity, ascension, helpers from other star systems etc.
Or take Gregg Braden – like Ray Kurzweil he is a computer expert who also suffers from The Illusion of Transferable Expertice. The crux of his book The God Code is that our DNA sequence, when read by assigning Hebrew characters to the base sequence, spells out the words of our Creator. So this is the big secret that he has discovered (at least I presume it is his discovery): within each cell of our body is God's signature in Hebrew (read more about Gregg Braden in my The Matrix Conspiracy Updates). For a complete scientistic and fascistic New Age system based on transhumanist spirituality, see my blog post on The WingMakers Project.
The evidence for the Meme, or Braden´s God Code is the same: Zero. And in my view none of the theories are better explanations.
Susan Jacoby's book The Age of American Unreason – The Age of American Unreason in a Culture of Lies, comes into mind. In this prescient and now-classic analysis of the forces of anti-intellectualism in contemporary American life – (the new version is updated for the era of Trump, Twitter, Breitbart and fake news controversies) – Jacoby focuses on the convergence of social forces--usually treated as separate entities--that has created a perfect storm of anti-rationalism. These include the upsurge of religious fundamentalism, with more political power today than ever before; the failure of public education to create an informed citizenry; the triumph of internet over print culture; and America's toxic addition to infotainment. Combining historical analysis with contemporary observation and sparing neither the right nor the left, Susan Jacoby asserts that Americans today have embraced "junk thought" that makes almost no effort to separate fact from opinion.
At today's critical political juncture, nothing could be more important than recognizing the crisis described in this impassioned, tough-minded book, which challenges Americans to face the painful truth about what the flights from reason has cost us as individuals and as a nation.
As we have investigated until now, we can see that technological utopianism is any ideology based on the premise that advances in science and technology could and should bring about a utopia, or at least help to fulfill one or another utopian ideal (it is a direct continuation of the Enlightenment era). A techno-utopia is therefore an ideal society, in which laws, government, and social conditions are solely operating for the benefit and well-being of all its citizens, set in the near- or far-future, as advanced science and technology will allow these ideal living standards to exist; for example, post-scarcity, transformations in human nature, the avoidance or prevention of suffering and even the end of death. Technological utopianism is often connected with other discourses presenting technologies as agents of social and cultural change, such as technological determinism or media imaginaries.
Douglas Rushkoff, a leading theorist on technology and cyberculture claims that technology gives everyone a chance to voice their own opinions, fosters individualistic thinking, and dilutes hierarchy and power structures by giving the power to the people. He says that the whole world is in the middle of a new Renaissance, one that is centered on technology and self-expression. However, Rushkoff makes it clear that “people don’t live their lives behind a desk with their hands on a keyboard”
A tech-utopia does not disregard any problems that technology may cause, but strongly believes that technology allows mankind to make social, economic, political, and cultural advancements. Overall, Technological Utopianism views technology’s impacts as extremely positive.
The so-called ”Californian Ideology” have emerged promoting a form of techno-utopia as a reachable goal. "The Californian Ideology" is a 1995 essay by English media theorists Richard Barbrook and Andy Cameron of the University of Westminster (download). Barbrook describes it as a "critique of dotcom neoliberalism". In the essay, Barbrook and Cameron argue that the rise of networking technologies in Silicon Valley in the 1990s was linked to American neoliberalism and a paradoxical hybridization of beliefs from the political left and right in the form of hopeful technological determinism.
The original essay was published in Mute magazine in 1995 and later appeared on the nettime Internet mailing list for debate. A final version was published in Science as Culture in 1996. The critique has since been revised in several different versions and languages.
Andrew Leonard of Salon called Barbrook & Cameron's work "one of the most penetrating critiques of neo-conservative digital hypesterism yet published." Louis Rossetto, former editor and publisher of Wired magazine, called it an "anal retentive attachment to failed 19th century social and economic analysis".
During the 1990s, members of the entrepreneurial class in the information technology industry in Silicon Valley vocally promoted an ideology that combined the ideas of Marshall McLuhan with elements of radical individualism, libertarianism, and neoliberal economics, using publications like Wired magazine to promulgate their ideas. This ideology mixed New Left and New Right beliefs together based on their shared interest in anti-statism, the counterculture of the 1960s, and techno-utopianism.
Proponents believed that in a post-industrial, post-capitalist, knowledge-based economy, the exploitation of information and knowledge would drive growth and wealth creation while diminishing the older power structures of the state in favor of connected individuals in virtual communities.
Critics contend that the Californian Ideology has strengthened the power of corporations over the individual and has increased social stratification, and remains distinctly Americentric. Barbrook argues that members of the digerati who adhere to the Californian Ideology, embrace a form of reactionary modernism. According to Barbrook, "American neo-liberalism seems to have successfully achieved the contradictory aims of reactionary modernism: economic progress and social immobility. Because the long-term goal of liberating everyone will never be reached, the short-term rule of the digerati can last forever."
Cultural critic Imre Szeman argues technological utopianism is an irrational social narrative because there is no evidence to support it. He concludes that it shows the extent to which modern societies place faith in narratives of progress and technology overcoming things, despite all evidence to the contrary.
Critics such as Kass, Fukuyama and a variety of authors hold that attempts to significantly alter human biology are not only inherently immoral, but also threaten the social order. Alternatively, they argue that implementation of such technologies would likely lead to the "naturalizing" of social hierarchies or place new means of control in the hands of totalitarian regimes.
There is no doubt that the tendency is a new form of fascism. Most transhumanist thinkers advocate a "new eugenics", a form of egalitarian liberal eugenics. In their 2000 book From Chance to Choice: Genetics and Justice, non-transhumanist bioethicists Allen Buchanan, Dan Brock, Norman Daniels and Daniel Wikler have argued that liberal societies have an obligation to encourage as wide an adoption of eugenic enhancement technologies as possible (so long as such policies do not infringe on individuals' reproductive rights or exert undue pressures on prospective parents to use these technologies) in order to maximize public health and minimize the inequalities that may result from both natural genetic endowments and unequal access to genetic enhancements. Most transhumanists holding similar views nonetheless distance themselves from the term "eugenics" (preferring "germinal choice" or "reprogenetics") to avoid having their position confused with the discredited theories and practices of early-20th-century eugenic movements.
It is quite easy to see that the old eugenics, social Darwinist, and master race ideologies and programs of the past as warnings of what the promotion of eugenic enhancement technologies might unintentionally encourage. Some fear future "eugenics wars" as the worst-case scenario: the return of coercive state-sponsored genetic discrimination and human rights violations such as compulsory sterilization of persons with genetic defects, the killing of the institutionalized and, specifically, segregation and genocide of races perceived as inferior. Health law professor George Annas and technology law professor Lori Andrews are prominent advocates of the position that the use of these technologies could lead to such human-posthuman caste warfare.
But some of the most widely known critiques of the transhumanist program are novels and fictional films. These works of art, despite presenting imagined worlds rather than philosophical analyses, are used as touchstones for some of the more formal arguments. Various arguments have been made to the effect that a society that adopts human enhancement technologies may come to resemble the dystopia depicted in the 1932 novel Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley.
Aldous Huxley´s novel Brave New World foresees the end of democracy in a pseudoscientifical, technological fixated meritocracy. The novel is about a totalitarian state, which keeps psychological and genetic control with everybody, so that they surrender to the claimed “blessings” of the progress of the instrumental or technical reason; that is: through the reductionisms of psychologism and biologism. In Brave New World, everything, also humans, and human problems, are treated instrumental or technical. Psychology and genetics are controlling people down to the smallest details, children are being born and “growed” on bottles, brains are being trimmed, characters are being converted after the needs of the dominant state. Notice the similarities with the New Age product called NLP which are about programming your brain so that you can become a success in society; that is: so that you work in favour of Consumer Capitalism.
The people in this meritocracy are considered as being happy. If they experience some kind of negativity, they are in large quantities supplied with the drug Soma, which makes them “happy” again. All religion, philosophy, literature and art, which remind people about the past, or awake deeper feelings, nostalgia, or longings, have been removed. History is bunk. Science is strictly political controlled. The entertainment is so-called sensitivity-entertainment. You can go to sensitivity-parties, or you can watch sensitivity-movies, etc. Everywhere the people are meeting sensitivity-influences.
Somewhere in the novel there is a discussion between the main character Johannes and the President about the lack of truth and beauty in this society. The President argues that it might very well be that there isn´t any truth and beauty, but the people are happy (happy means stoned, that is!). Johannes objects, and says that the whole society is completely meaningless. The President continues: “Yes, but the people are happy!”
One of the ironies of history is that visions of our networked future can be bracketed by the imaginative nightmares of Huxley and his fellow Etonian George Orwell. Orwell feared that we would be destroyed by the things we fear – the state surveillance apparatus so vividly evoked in Nineteen Eighty-Four. Huxley's nightmare, set out in Brave New World, his great dystopian novel, was that we would be undone by the things that delight us. It is set in the London of the distant future – AD 2540 – and describes a fictional society inspired by two things: Huxley's imaginative extrapolation of scientific and social trends; and his first visit to the US, in which he was struck by how a population could apparently be rendered docile by advertising and retail therapy. As an intellectual who was fascinated by science, he guessed (correctly, as it turned out) that scientific advances would eventually give humans powers that had hitherto been regarded as the exclusive preserve of the gods. And his encounters with industrialists like Alfred Mond led him to think that societies would eventually be run on lines inspired by the managerial rationalism of mass production ("Fordism") – which is why the year 2540 AD in the novel is "the Year of Our Ford 632."
In this world nobody falls ill, everyone has the same lifespan, there is no warfare, and institutions and marriage and sexual fidelity are dispensed with. Huxley's dystopia is a totalitarian society, ruled by a supposedly benevolent dictatorship whose subjects have been programmed to enjoy their subjugation through conditioning and the use of a narcotic drug – soma – that is less damaging and more pleasurable than any narcotic known to us. The rulers of Brave New World have solved the problem of making people love their servitude.
Which brings us back to the two Etonian bookends of our future. On the Orwellian front, we are doing rather well – as the revelations of Edward Snowden have recently underlined. We have constructed an architecture of state surveillance that would make Orwell gasp. And indeed for a long time, for those of us who worry about such things, it was the internet's capability to facilitate such comprehensive surveillance that attracted most attention. In the process, however, we forgot about Huxley's intuition. We failed to notice that our runaway infatuation with the sleek toys produced by the likes of Apple and Samsung – allied to our apparently insatiable appetite for Facebook, Google and other companies that provide us with "free" services in exchange for the intimate details of our daily lives – might well turn out to be as powerful a narcotic as soma was for the inhabitants of Brave New World.
Huxley predicted, for instance, the ways in which technology, in the control of powerful elites, can control our decision-making with social media, pornography, the commercialisation of sex, advertising and reality TV. He foresaw the ubiquitous prevalence of drugs, both legal and illegal, and how pharmaceuticals such as Ritalin would sedate growing numbers of children. Genetic engineering, euthanasia, a national lottery and even corruption at the top of world sport are all a part of his nightmare future.
Our Brave New World eschews the futuristic landscapes, flying machines and technical wizardry that much of sci-fi is obsessed with, and focuses instead upon a human story set in a ruthless totalitarian regime.
This is a world where people think they are always happy, always get what they want, and never want what they can’t have. It is a place in which artifice rules, whether in scents, flavourings or fabrics. A world where life is created in test tubes and children are conditioned to prioritise consumerism, sexual pleasure and unswerving dedication to a World State. Here real emotion and ideals are purged, concepts such as family, religion, empathy and honour are banned and “history is bunk”.
Brave New World speaks powerfully to a 21st-century world in which we have become enslaved by a compulsion for easy pleasure without accountability and where a banal popular culture opiates the masses. A world where, day by day, big business encourages us to sacrifice our privacy and spy on friends and families through social media. Huxley’s idea of “feely” interactive films anticipates reality TV, selfies, mass pornography and the internet voyeurism of our own time. His death centres foresaw the euthanasia clinics in modern Europe and his concerns about genetic engineering have proved terrifyingly prescient.
Huxley’s view of the future was very different from that of George Orwell, who in 1948 wrote the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. While Orwell’s dystopia was based on oppression through fear, the earlier Brave New World offered a blueprint for a society controlled by enforced happiness. Today the New Thought ideology and the ideals of positive thinking are common everyday propaganda (see my article The New Thought Movement and the Law of Attraction).
In Brave New World, Huxley presents a picture of a global dictatorship controlling a totalitarian, consumerist welfare state. He depicts a world in which there is no war, poverty, unemployment or crime and in which threats are rarely used or needed. Rule is by “bread and circuses” and citizens are well-off, safe, never ill and unafraid of death. They are oblivious to real human emotions and passions. They have no mothers or fathers, no wives or children – no bondsor attachments, no rejection, jealousy or hurt. Theirs is a world without religion or war, where lust and pleasure have replaced love and empathy. Huxley’s sense of infant conditioning speaks powerfully to an age in which children as young as four are addicted to iPads, glued to televisions and nurtured on fast food and artificial snacks laced with addictive chemicals. It speaks to an age in which adults interact with a tablet, laptop or smartphone rather than other human beings. Huxley describes the world he foresees as a sinister, insidious nightmare in which the inhabitants live sterile lives, subdued by the drug soma in a numbed utopia.
He considered the future “the Age of Noise. Physical noise, mental noise and the noise of desire” arguing that “all the sources of our almost miraculous technology” will be thrown together in an “assault against silence”. He talked of a technology which “penetrates the mind, filling it with a babel of distractions … news items, mutually irrelevant bits of information, blasts of corybantic or sentimental music, continually repeated doses of drama that bring no catharsis, but merely create a craving for daily or even hourly emotional enemies”. He viewed music with suspicion but also with great respect, believing that when composed meaningfully, “after silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music”.
The name Newspeak is the name George Orwell gave the language, which the rulers in his dystopian novel 1984, had created. The intention with it is to control thinking, to make some ideas impossible to think, including concepts such as good and evil, true and false, beautiful and ugly. In this connection they are using concepts such as old-thinking and new-thinking, so that people get a feeling of guilt, everytime they use concepts within old-thinking. The rulers are doing this by connecting concepts within old-thinking with the word thought-crime. The technique is a thought distortion called called guilt by association (see my article Doublethink about the brainwashing methods used by the rulers in 1984, and which today is systematical used by the movement of positive thinking).
The overriding intention is of course to eliminate critical thinking, or said in another way: that people think for themselves. A long line of “old” words – which according to the ideals of positive thinking – are negative, are in our society systematical being replaced with new, more “positive” sounding words. The idea is that you through thoughts and language can eliminate negativity and suffering. Problems are being given “positive” names, whereby they either are being hidden, denied or simply not are being acknowledged as problems.
This is especially seen in the business industry and in the working life. Quite superior words such as “problems” and “difficulties” have been transformed to “possibilities” and “challenges.” Within NLP the word failure has been changed to feedback, and many NLP practitioners directly say that there is no such thing as failure – there are only positive feedback or delay (see my article Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) and Large Group Awareness Training (LGAT)).
The list over expressions of problems, which in the name of positive thinking, has become converted into something promising, is very long. Guilt has been changed to responsibility, evil to inappropriateness, crisis to growth-potential, dismissals to new beginnings, “to be unsatisfied” to “to seek new challenges”, suffering to stress, colleague to fellow player, work to career, problem-orientation to solution-orientation, human working capacity to human resource, sacking to setting free, conclict to conflict-solution, critique to response, leadership to self-leadership, etc., etc.
In the working life people are today educated to think positively, both about themselves and about others, to communicate positively, and to speak with positive words and phrases, which turn problems into challenges.
The whole idea is that negativity simply doesn´t exist, except in our thoughts and language. There only exists positivity in the world itself (that is: what the positive thinking movement itself believes is positivity – note how we already here see “problems” with the idea).
On July 23, 2012, in San Jose, California., 21 people were treated for burns after walking barefoot over hot coals as part of an event called Unleash the Power Within, starring New Age guru Tony Robbins. The American journalist Oliver Burkeman is the author of the book The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking.
In an article called The Power of Negative Thinking Burkeman is asking in a comment to the firewalker incident: What, exactly, did they expect would happen? In fact, there’s a simple secret to “firewalking”: coal is a poor conductor of heat to surrounding surfaces, including human flesh, so with quick, light steps, you’ll usually be fine.
But Mr. Robbins and his acolytes have little time for physics. Burkeman says: “to them, it’s all a matter of mind-set: cultivate the belief that success is guaranteed, and anything is possible”. One singed but undeterred participant told The San Jose Mercury News: “I wasn’t at my peak state.”
Burkeman asks: “What if all this positivity is part of the problem? What if we’re trying too hard to think positive and might do better to reconsider our relationship to “negative” emotions and situations?”
A positive thinker can never relax, lest an awareness of sadness or failure creep in. And telling yourself that everything must work out is poor preparation for those times when they don’t. You can try, if you insist, to follow the famous self-help advice to eliminate the word “failure” from your vocabulary — but then you’ll just have an inadequate vocabulary when failure strikes.
The social critic Barbara Ehrenreich has persuasively argued that the all-positive approach, with its rejection of the possibility of failure, helped bring on our present financial crises. The psychological evidence, backed by ancient wisdom, certainly suggests that positive thinking is not the recipe for success that it purports to be.
The Californian Ideology fits very well with the optimistic concept of the American Dream. Americans are a "positive" people - cheerful, optimistic, and upbeat: This is their reputation as well as their self-image. But more than a temperament, being positive is the key to getting success and prosperity. Or so we are told.
In the utterly original debunking book Bright-Sided – How Positive Thinking is Undermining America, Ehrenreich confronts the false promises of positive thinking and shows its reach into every corner of American life, from Evangelical megachurches to the medical establishment, and, worst of all, to the business community, where the refusal to consider negative outcomes - like mortgage defaults - contributed directly to the current economic disaster. With the myth-busting powers for which she is acclaimed, Ehrenreich exposes the downside of positive thinking: personal self-blame and national denial. This is Ehrenreich at her provocative best - poking holes in conventional wisdom and faux science and ending with a call for existential clarity and courage.
She begins her book with a chapter called Smile or Die: The Bright Side of Cancer, where she tells that the first attempt to recruit her into positive thinking was when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She experienced that everything and everybody around her tried to make her “realize that breast cancer is not a problem at all, not even an annoyance – it is a ‘gift,’ deserving of the most heartfelt gratitude.”
Another example is a New Thought “online expert”, who not only advised her client to remove the word critique from his online-material, but also to remove “all judgmental terms.” If he should take that literally, he might as well close his website.
Ehrenreich clearly see the similarity with Soviet-style Communism, which we do not usually think of as a cheerful sort of arrangement. But it exemplified the use of positive thinking as a means of social control.
Writing of the former Yugoslavia at the beginning of the twenty-first century, Dubravka Ugresic observed that “former communists, modern capitalists, nationalists, religious fanatics” were all picking up on the fresh breeze of positivity from the West. “They have all become optimists.” But this was hardly something new, she went on, because “optimism has a stain on its ideological record…If anything has survived Stalinism itself, it is the Stalinist demand for optimism.” In the Soviet Union, as in the Eastern European states and North Korea, the censors required upbeat art, books, and films, meaning upbeat heroes, plots about fulfilling production quotas, and endings promising a glorious revolutionary future. Czechoslovakian literature was suffused with “blind optimism”; North Korean short stories still beam with “relentless optimism.” In the Soviet Union itself, “being charged with a lack of historical optimism meant being charged with distortion of the truth or transmission of false truths. Pessimism and ideological wavering meant the same thing…in various disputes, the possibility of an alienated and lonely hero in socialism was forbidden in the name of the demands for historical optimism and a positive hero.”
The penalties for negative thinking was real. Not to be positive and optimistic was to be “defeatist,” and, as Ugresic writes of the Soviet Union, “defeatists paid for the sin of defeatism. Accusing someone of spreading defeatism condemned him to several years in Stalinist camps.”
Marx had a profound admiration of and respect for capitalism, as is clear in his paeans to its power, and he supported Western imperialism. He had nothing but contempt for tradition and “rural idioncy,” and along with fetishizing the economic and the “material” he limited value strictly to whatever had been “produced” (really, only ever transformed) by human labour; thus there is none whatsoever, according to his system, in nature as such. In the best nineteenth-century way, he also approved of, and wanted to extend, scientistic materialism and rationalism. Lenin changed nothing of all this, admitting only the necessity to give “historical laws” a helping hand with brutal vanguardism. Even leaving aside its historical track-record, then, exactly what kind of basis does Marxism still provide for a radical, let alone ecological, alternative to current capitalism?
When I´m talking about a coming Matrix Hybrid between Western Consumer Capitalism and Chinese Communism this isn´t a prophesy. We already see the beginning. The Slovenian continental philosopher, Slavoj Žižek, sees the same: “capitalism doesn´t need democracy”, he says in an interview. He says that the economical globalization increasingly will be combined with stronger and more authoritarian national states. That is our future, and we already see it with Trump, Erdogan and Putin, as well as what is happening in China and India; an authoritarian capitalism. And he claims that the one who is the father of such a way of thinking is Lee Kuan Yew from Singapore. When Deng Xiaoping took the power in China in 1978, he went to the authoritarian Singapore and here he saw, how that system functioned. He then decided that it also should be like that in the the future of China, “and it works!” says Žižek. “But do you know what makes me pessimistic about that development? Slowly it happens – and this is very clear – that capitalism in lesser and lesser degree needs democracy.”
Now, if we finally return to the original wisdom traditions, they all worked with a cyclic view of history, which is based on the cycles of nature. This has created some universal energylaws known as Tao, the Dharmalaw, Destiny, Hybris-nemesis, Logos, the Will of God, and so on. The laws say as follows: energy returns to it´s starting point. You may therefore say, that energy moves as a wheel. Thus it is this law, which controls all the different cycles of nature.
What apply for the individual, also apply for the collective and for nature. You can therefore also observe these energylaws in groups, societies, world-images, yes, in all Mankind, and in the Universe. You can observe it in everything, which is movement and not unmoved being.
For example, right now Mankind is in an egoextreme. This is reflected in numerous fields. Too much energy is invested in armament. Too many atomic weapons. Too much pollution. Too much unequal distribution of the treasures of the Earth. Too much unequal distribution of the food and fruits of the Earth. And first of all: too many people are too focused in their ego; they accumulate energy to their ego, to themselves; or to the family ego; or to the national ego.
This is the energy in one extremity. With necessity the energy will swing over in the opposite extreme. And this will not happen in a quiet way, when you consider the enormous moment, that is in the actual extreme, and it will happen quite simple: through pollution of the environment, through illness (aids, cancer and other), through crises, warfare, terror, through inner mass-psychotic collapses, and through natural disasters.
The only thing to do in such a world, is that each individual begins a personal spiritual practice, which is based on the pre-modern, and mostly forgotten, concept of philosophy. This is the one and only revolution.
Copyright © by Morten Tolboll.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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