Saturday, October 5, 2013

Wisdom Of The Week

I cannot think of anything better this week after reading John Gray's brilliant book Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals and as I had mentioned earlier in the week, it is one the best books I have ever read in my life. I found a very good summary of the book here:
  • Mankind should recognize that we are not separate from animals in any way, we are animals, destructive animals, driven by instinct, reproductive urges and the need to survive
  • Our consciousness is not a unique, ordered, thoughtful, Descartian phenomena: it is a mess of conflicting actions and impulses, many of them submerged, subliminal, or so dominant as to ellipse any attempt at analysis: his conclusion is that we can never have total control over our minds and bodies, a basic component of some liberal and marxist thought, we can never be remade, remoulded or reborn, because our conscious self is the tip of a very mysterious iceberg (same goes for transhumanists, who Gray dismisses as utopians, his favourite attack slur)
  • Individuals are not the most important factor of humanity, or at least, our individualism is as much an illusion as our conscious control, because both rest on a false pretense that we are conscious, intelligent, different from animals and separate from one another
  • Western philosophy, ethics, morals and religion seek to erase that point completely, and to emphasize our individuality and our ‘rationality’ and ‘will’ versus instinctual, mechanical animals, despite the fact that we are not different from them
  • Additionally, morality is a construct that excuses our fears and helps our vanity; morality does not exist because, at heart, we are animals, clever yes, organised yes, but our morality does not just come in from the cold, it is a veil we put over ourselves willingly to hide the truth
  • Our technology has always been beyond our control, it has always provided benefits behind our vision and disasters from our nightmares; technology, also, is independent of morality, that is, technological progress is not synonymous with moral progress
  • Human beings are homo rapiens, we plunder destroy and desecrate with little impunity, and this has always been and will be: we cannot be redeemed, because there is nothing to redeem, we are just well organized locusts, and Gray quotes Lovelock approvingly
  • Christianity created the idea of purpose or meaning in life, deeper then just survival, and of ‘saving’ humanity, both ideas being wrong and foolish, because we are animals after all: we seek to escape from death through this creation of purpose and meaning, because the West is the civilization most afraid of death and the end, because of our conception of linear time and failure to include ourselves as part of nature
  • We are fixated on what ought to be, rather then what is, and so try and redeem, save or adjust the world: this is the ideological project of science, this is the project of Marxism, this is the project of liberal capitalism, and it is stupid. because, again, there is nothing to save
  • There is no such thing as progress, that is, of things getting better: science and technology may improve, but the human animal will not; purpose does not exist independent of human construction, history and civilizations have no grand plan, no superior march towards glorious progress, nor can that purpose be a moral redemption of mankind
  • Various criticisms of free market liberals, leftists, and Western civilization, as compared especially to Hindu or Chinese philosophy

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