Thursday, June 18, 2020

On Medium: The Quest for Godless Honour

This article is about the myths of liberal humanism and the shallowness of new atheism, following up on "Scientism and the Downfall of New Atheism."


  1. 1. I am agnostic and I'm not really a fan of the new atheism because it seems confrontational and dogmatic in its own right. If you want to convert people who are spiritual-but-not-religious to your cause you probably shouldn't mention that you think that Jesus isn't real. Even if they don't think he was a man with Supernatural Powers they at least admire him as a genuinely good person with good beliefs.

    2. You also say but we should become Gods ourselves but you also pointed out that any actual deities would be tyrannical and cruel. So how do we become better deities? The depressing fact is that we've already had an entire generation raised on inclusiveness at interacting with people they wouldn't normally meet online. But because they have encountered people who are charismatic and and seemingly earnest yet hateful, ignorant, or conservative online. There is a strong case to be made but these people could easily be classified as living cognitive hazards and should be censored or exiled from the internet and public life. So what should we do we've already run in experiment about raising our children away from or at least aware of the dangers of toxic and harmful traditions and ideas?

    3. Assuming you haven't already done so you might want to do a full article on what anti-naturalism means, how we could achieve this state, and how this might affect our day-to-day lives. Valuing the world around us for its aesthetic nature might have some satisfaction, especially as a creative person with a keen sense of design, but on its own I find that aesthetic focused beliefs and practices are ultimately Halo on their own.

    4. Also the articles of yours I read previously were extremely depressing as you did not mention any form of Hope or elaborate what anti naturalism Mike bring as a positive force to the concepts you were bringing up. You really need to find a better balance between existence, bleakness, anti naturalism, and the tantalizing possibility of becoming gods who can create a universe or at least an artificial reality responsive to life. Even if we become better Gods then there's not much point if we can't leave this universe and move between different universes. One Avenue about becoming better gods that could be explored is the concept of games like Civilization or others where you play the role of God, the idea of fandom as a productive Force for Creative output, narrative structure, and the absolutely necessary step of having genuine accountability, and the ultimate end goal of engineering a better, more affirming, more habitable, and life centered universe. Your most essential questions that you need to answer are: how do you make your ideology and way of thinking palatable for the masses without becoming ignored or a dictator yourself, how do you keep multiple Generations from reinterpreting your ideas in ways that you never intended and might be harmful, sense we can't hold the rich and powerful accountable then will we die as a species, if we are not truly aware of the suffering of the oppressed but how can you apply your ideologies two vowels people without coming off as ignorant, how do we become gods, how do we learn from our mistakes without harming others, and how does one hold a god or Eldritch Abomination accountable? If we can hold the rich and powerful accountable for our actions what chance do we have of doing the same for artificial deity's or post-humans?

    1. It seems we share an interest in transhumanism, but we should distinguish between describing and prescribing something. When I talk about antinaturalism (artificiality) and becoming gods, I’m usually talking about what I see as a prominent theme in history. This is what’s actually happening, whether we like it or not or whether it’s good or bad.

      But I’m ambivalent about whether this is indeed good or bad. Antinaturalism seems like a substitute for what religions have called supernaturalism: we use science and technology to build an ideal world and to create gods, whereas without such human effort there would be only the amoral, godless wilderness. In the process, we seem to be destroying our planet’s ability to support life, and thus we threaten all known life with extinction. Western religions call such a humanistic ambition “satanic,” since in the myths Satan too was unhappy with Creation and tried to undermine God’s plan. In reality, “God’s plan” would be the mindless self-creativity of nature, and all intelligent life would rebel against that ground-level indifference.

      Whether we could do so successfully or forever and whether we could complement our divine power with wisdom and heroism is of course a crucial question to ask about transhumanism. We have optimistic scenarios in science fiction, such as Iain Banks’ Culture novels. Those are the most hopeful, realistic scenarios we have, of a galactic civilization whose citizens are practically immortal.

      In any case, I don’t think I come out and say unequivocally that we should become gods. I say that’s what we are in fact, and have always been, striving to achieve. For example, in “Mythopoesis and the Consolation of Technology,” I say secular humanism seems to be vindicating the prehistoric animist’s vision of a world that’s saturated with mind and with values, so that religions act as odd foreshadows or even blueprints that modernity has been fulfilling or putting into practice.

    2. I suppose most of my writings are negative, but I do have some hopeful ones, including those that pursue an aesthetic interpretation of pantheism that builds on Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, and Spinoza. (See, in particular, “Enlightenment and Suicide.”) You’re right that I haven’t gone into systematic depth about that positive view or about the aesthetic reconstruction of morality. Maybe I’ll return to that topic with a more comprehensive treatment. (I think there may be a typo when you say you find aesthetic morality “Halo.” I’m not sure what your criticism was there.)

      You made me laugh out loud when you suggested I need to figure out how to make my “ideology and way of thinking palatable for the masses without becoming ignored or a dictator” myself. It’s flattering that you think this should be a primary goal of mine. I’ve argued, though, that some ideas aren’t meant for everyone. Indeed, as Leo Strauss pointed out, that’s been the standard view since ancient times, that there are two levels of truth, the exoteric and the esoteric. Most people aren’t interested in philosophy or in challenging their na├»ve assumptions, so their worldview is childlike, literalistic, and otherwise oversimplified. They don’t confront reality with the same heroic directness as the intellectual insider or as the philosopher in the classic sense, who sacrifices the prospect of being happy for the chance to understand the inhumanity of our existential situation.

      I doubt there’s any way of writing philosophy for the masses. Philosophy as such is esoteric; it’s not meant for the masses. You can popularize philosophy by writing self-help or New Thought pablum, but that would be only to pervert the unsettling truths, to sell-out by pandering and telling palatable lies. I’m afraid I can’t do that. However, I have been thinking of a way to package my worldview in a graphic novel or comic book format, which might have wider appeal. Art may save us after philosophy’s disturbed us.

      Thanks for reading, and I’ll see what I can do to make use of your advice.