Belonging Again (Part 34)
“The Conflict of Society” Part II
As “Conflicts of Mind” get worse and more widespread the closer we approach “The Technological Singularity” (as Cadell Last teaches on and Ray Kurzweil explores), so “Conflicts of Society” get worse the more we approach “A Single Nation State” (“Globalized State”). Diversity is complexity as complexity entails diversity, and approaching both causes more “conflicts.” Today, we are suffering both increased “Conflicts of Mind” and “Conflicts of Society” — we are double burdened. Epistemic responsibility is conflicting with epistemic possibility while social responsibility conflicts with social possibility (no wonder we are stressed). For decades, religions have worried about nihilism and relativism, but really the loss of religion has caused a radical explosion of pathologies. Religion through “givens” seemingly protected us from “Conflicts of Mind” and “Conflicts of Society,” and now that protection is gone. At the same time, if we manage to turn the “negative space of this “Meaning Crisis” into a sublation, then perhaps religion kept us from ontological evolution. Time will tell (Hegel’s history is contingent).
It is socially responsible for us to want justice to just “be” (A/A), but it is impossible for there to be a society (that isn’t authoritarian) that makes justice just “be” without a process, and if there is a process there is “becoming” (A/B), which a desire for “be-ing” will resist. Also, even if society could just happen to guess “the best justice” to “be” (by decree), that justice would likely not feel legitimate to us, for it lacked a process to make it feel legitimate and reliable. Thus, we would likely oppose it: we could have the best of all possible justices, but not have the eyes to see it. We require process for justice to be legitimate and for justice to be determined: the only way to totally avoid “Conflicts of Society” is through authoritarianism, and that’s only if we’re the authoritarians with the power. And this is no victory but to fail “The Meaning Crisis.”
Justice phenomenologically and logically demands to just be (A/A), not to be “processed,” as likewise demands “freedom,” Jesus, equality, and what have you. All values have a scent of Eden in them, something Freudian — a desire for “pure being” (“A/A”). Values are inherently Edenic and Wholesome, we could say, but as we’ve discussed throughout O.G. Rose, “pure being” is always an effacement. Well, this means that all values are naturally effacing, for all values want to “just be” (A/A). And all social orders must manage this desire in values to “efface themselves” (for “good reason”), and this is why we must deal with “The Conflict of Society.” How do we stop values from effacing themselves? Well, by forcing them to engage in processes they will naturally hate and want to destroy, which means society must set itself up to be attacked, to take the bullet with which values are trying to shoot themselves. And this is us.
What do we mean when we say that values “seek pure being?” Well, we mean that values seek to be “infinite” (“not bound by ‘becoming’-finitude”), which is to say values seek to be “noncontingent.” To desire to “be” (A/A) is to desire “noncontingency,” and since finitude inherently entails contingency (change, time, situations, etc.), to desire “noncontingency” is to desire “infinity” (“a state that isn’t A/B”). Why is this? Well, if there are circumstance in which values don’t apply, they lose their authority and unveil themselves as “perhaps” simply being personal tastes. If values don’t always apply, how are “values” any different from “preferences?” This would get us into Moral Philosophy, which though important, we do not need to explore here: the point is that values seek A/A to maintain their legitimacy and authority, which basically means they seek to be “given” and “thoughtless.”
Wait, haven’t values always been finite? What’s the difference now? Yes, humanity has always known it wasn’t infinite, but when we collectively believed in God, we could believe we were finite while we participated in infinity, while now we are finite while believing finitude is all there is from which to derive authority. To the degree a finite value system could make claims it “participated in” infinity, it could grant itself legitimacy and authority, but now finite values can only gain authority from claiming “they are the best finite values.” But of course, everyone “practically believes” their finite values are the best values, and according to which metrics could we judge which values are best? Is it not easy for each of us to choose metrics which just happen to legitimize our values?
Finite values, to give themselves authority, naturally try to present themselves as infinite and “noncontingent,” which is to say “equally applying to everyone in all circumstances.” This means finite values attempt to expand themselves, and this leads to a multiplication of values both where people try to spread their values to others, and a multiplication in “the number of value systems” there are, as people search for different ways to “get at” infinity and noncontingency. But as it is the case that no matter how many times we multiply finite numbers we never reach infinity, so we can never reach infinity with finitude. Infinity either exists or doesn’t exist, and if finite values must be infinite to be “noncontingent” and authoritative, then it is already too late for them. And this can make them pathological.
As already noted, religious people have always warned about moral relativism and moral nihilism, but really I think we find ourselves in a world of “moral pathology.” Pathology is a strange world, for it sounds like “logical path,” which suggests that when we only have finitude, then the only “logical path” presented to us leads to pathology, an effort for finite values to “be” infinite, which it is already too late for them to be. As a result, finite values try to hide the fact they are finite (A/B constantly tries to presents itself as A/A), which leads to neurosis and pathology, and frankly it tends to lead to the formation of a Central Power that values have a chance of grasping, gaining, and then forcing everyone to treat the values “as if” they are authoritative and infinite. Outside religion, for good and for bad, the State comes to be “God-like,” a source of power values can gain to make themselves authoritative “as if” infinite and noncontingent (after all, everyone must follow the State, or there could be consequences).
Again, values which are contingent or “matters of cultural conditioning” lose authority, and so values seek to be “infinite,” which means they seek “Transcendental Grounding,” and so values are attracted to religions which can grant them “plausible deniability” as participating and “representing” an infinite order. In that circumstance, even if values are “imperfect representations” of God, we expect that, and the authority of the values comes from our imperfect and “fallen” attempts to match our values with God’s Values. Where there is a God, the “contingency” of values lies in that we have to “align” the values with God’s Will, and it’s possible we fail in this endeavor, but there still Exists God’s noncontingent Will, and thus a source of authority still exists. When God doesn’t exist to us, then values are contingent and can only be contingent: there is “endless finitude” versus a possibility of “infinity and/or finitude,” per se. Values must be “stuck in becoming (A/B)” versus “in becoming (A/B) with hope of ‘aligning’ with being (A/A),” and since values naturally seek being (A/A), when they are stuck in “becoming” (A/B) and have no hope of “ventilation” or “calming themselves” by believing they align with some infinite being (A/A), then values become pathological. It’s one thing to believe we are “becomings” who are “becoming being,” and entirely something else to believe we are “becomings” who aren’t becoming anything but ourselves. The later is difficult to understand, let alone accept, and yet we cannot live without finding ourselves in the paradox, for to live is to live according to values.
When being (A/A) was transcendent in God, then humans expected never to feel “totally right” in the world, and so when their values failed to be “noncontingent,” that was to be expected until “Jesus came back,” per se. But when finitude is all there is, why don’t we feel right? Why do we feel “lacking?” As discussed in “The Philosophy of Lack” series, is “lack” part of the ontological structure of finitude itself? It would seem so, and that is a hard truth to take, especially when we don’t believe in a divine being (A/A) which could redeem this hard truth. Handling this truth might require us becoming Absoluter Knowers and/or Deleuzian, even if we believe in God, so that we don’t take our belief in an infinite A/A and attempt to realize it in finitude (becoming “Absolute Knowers” is good for everyone, I think).
To believe in God was to expect values to prove messy on this finite side of reality, but their very messiness didn’t cost the values their authority: if there were mistakes, it was our fault for applying them wrongly, not a mistake inherent in the values themselves. If we believed in God and values naturally sought “being” yet failed, well we too naturally sought “pure being” and failed — that was part of life. Also, though it didn’t always work out, there was a potential defense against Centralized Power which tried to realize “pure being” (A/A) in finitude, for only God could do that — the act was potentially heretical. Of course, the State could claim it acted on God’s behalf, thus intensifying its power, but arguably the State still has incredible power even now, without any hope of reference to a Divine Being to contain it. Hard to say, but the point is that now that we collectively don’t believe in God, we must believe we and our values both entail natural tendencies toward a “pure being” which doesn’t exist at all, and that means pathological tendencies are integrated into life itself. That’s hard to accept, and yet even if there is a God, it seems true relative to us and this side of finitude. Considering “The Conflict of Mind,” “The Conflict of Society” — everything is a pathological “becoming.”
When religion wanes, values still seek “Transcendental Grounding,” but that option is no longer on the table. Thus, values realize their own “groundlessness,” and “The Value Circle” becomes visible and undeniable. Once this occurs, we either turn to a totalitarian dictator to hide “The Value Circle” from us or evolve into “Deleuzian Individuals” — glimpsing “The Value Circle” is simply too much.