Suicidal Utopian Delusions in the 21st Century: Philosophy, Human Nature and the Collapse of Civilization-- Articles and Reviews 2006-2017 2nd Edition Feb 2018
Michael Starks (ed.)
Las Vegas: Reality Press (2018)
This collection of articles was written over the last 10 years and edited to bring them up to date (2017). The copyright page has the date of the edition and new editions will be noted there as I edit old articles or add new ones. All the articles are about human behavior (as are all articles by anyone about anything), and so about the limitations of having a recent monkey ancestry (8 million years or much less depending on viewpoint) and manifest words and deeds within the framework of our innate psychology as presented in the table of intentionality. As famous evolutionist Richard Leakey says, it is critical to keep in mind not that we evolved from apes, but that in every important way, we are apes. If everyone was given a real understanding of this (i.e., of human ecology and psychology to actually give them some control over themselves), maybe civilization would have a chance. As things are however the leaders of society have no more grasp of things than their constituents and so collapse into anarchy is inevitable. The first group of articles attempts to give some insight into how we behave that is reasonably free of the theoretical delusions that are universal. In the next group, I show how these insights apply by reviewing some books in philosophy and psychology. Next I review books on science and religion and finally provide reviews and articles showing how understanding of both science and philosophy gives insight into the tragic delusions destroying the world. People believe that society can be saved by science, religion and politics, so I provide some suggestions as to why this is unlikely via short articles and reviews of recent books by well-known writers. It is critical to understand why we behave as we do and so the first section presents articles that try to describe (not explain as Wittgenstein insisted) behavior. I start with a brief review of the logical structure of rationality, which provides some heuristics for the description of language (mind, rationality, personality) and gives some suggestions as to how this relates to the evolution of social behavior. This centers around the two writers I have found the most important in this regard, Ludwig Wittgenstein and John Searle, whose ideas I combine and extend within the dual system (two systems of thought) framework that has proven so useful in recent thinking and reasoning research. As I note, there is in my view essentially complete overlap between philosophy, in the strict sense of the enduring questions that concern the academic discipline, and the descriptive psychology of higher order thought (behavior). Once one has grasped Wittgenstein’s insight that there is only the issue of how the language game is to be played, one determines the Conditions of Satisfaction (what makes a statement true or satisfied etc.) and that is the end of the discussion. Since philosophical problems are the result of our innate psychology, or as Wittgenstein put it, due to the lack of perspicuity of language, they run throughout human discourse and behavior, so there is endless need for philosophical analysis, not only in the ‘human sciences’ of philosophy, sociology, anthropology, political science, psychology, history, literature, religion, etc., but in the ‘hard sciences’ of physics, mathematics, and biology. It is universal to mix the language game questions with the real scientific ones as to what the empirical facts are. Scientism is ever present and the master has laid it before us long ago, i.e., Wittgenstein (hereafter W) beginning with the Blue and Brown Books in the early 1930’s. "Philosophers constantly see the method of science before their eyes and are irresistibly tempted to ask and answer questions in the way science does. This tendency is the real source of metaphysics and leads the philosopher into complete darkness." (BBB p18) The key to everything about us is biology, and it is obliviousness to it that leads millions of smart educated people like Obama, Chomsky, Clinton and the Pope to espouse suicidal utopian ideals that inexorably lead straight to Hell on Earth. As W noted, it is what is always before our eyes that is the hardest to see. We live in the world of conscious deliberative linguistic System 2, but it is unconscious, automatic reflexive System 1 that rules. This is the source of the universal blindness described by Searle’s The Phenomenological Illusion (TPI), Pinker’s Blank Slate and Tooby and Cosmides’ Standard Social Science Model. The astute may wonder why we cannot see System 1 at work, but it is clearly counterproductive for an animal to be thinking about or second guessing every action, and in any case, there is no time for the slow, massively integrated System 2 to be involved in the constant stream of split second ‘decisions’ we must make. As W noted, our ‘thoughts’ (T1 or the ‘thoughts’ of System 1) must lead directly to actions. It is my contention that the table of intentionality (rationality, mind, thought, language, personality etc.) that features prominently here describes more or less accurately, or at least serves as an heuristic for, how we think and behave, and so it encompasses not merely philosophy and psychology, but everything else (history, literature, mathematics, politics etc.). Note especially that intentionality and rationality as I (along with Searle, Wittgenstein and others) view it, includes both conscious deliberative System 2 and unconscious automated System 1 actions or reflexes. Thus, all the articles, like all behavior, are intimately connected if one knows how to look at them. As I note, The Phenomenological Illusion (oblivion to our automated System 1) is universal and extends not merely throughout philosophy but throughout life. I am sure that Chomsky, Obama, Zuckerberg and the Pope would be incredulous if told that they suffer from the same problem as Hegel, Husserl and Heidegger, (or that that they differ only in degree from drug and sex addicts in being motivated by stimulation of their frontal cortices by the delivery of dopamine (and over 100 other chemicals) via the ventral tegmentum and the nucleus accumbens), but it’s clearly true. While the phenomenologists only wasted a lot of people’s time, they are wasting the earth and their descendant’s futures. Many of the articles describe the ‘digital delusions’, which confuse the language games of System 2 with the automatisms of System 1, and so cannot distinguish biological machines (i.e., people) from other kinds of machines (i.e., computers). The ‘reductionist’ claim is that one can ‘explain’ behavior at a ‘lower’ level, but what actually happens is that one does not explain human behavior but a ‘stand in’ for it. Hence the title of Searle’s classic review of Dennett’s book (“Consciousness Explained”)— “Consciousness Explained Away”. In most contexts ‘reduction’ of higher level emergent behavior to brain functions, biochemistry, or physics is incoherent. Also for ‘reduction’ of chemistry or physics, the path is blocked by chaos and uncertainty. Anything can be ‘represented’ by equations, but when they ‘represent’ higher order behavior, it is not clear (and cannot be made clear) what the ‘results’ mean. Reductionist metaphysics is a joke, but most scientists and philosophers lack the appropriate sense of humor. Other digital delusions are that we will be saved from the pure evil (selfishness) of System 1 by computers/AI/robotics/ nanotech/genetic engineering created by System 2. The No Free Lunch principal tells us there will be serious and possibly fatal consequences. The adventurous may regard this principle as a higher order emergent expression of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Hi-tech enthusiasts hugely underestimate the problems resulting from unrestrained motherhood, and of course it is neither profitable nor politically correct (and now with third world supremacism dominant, not even possible) to be honest about it. The last section describes various versions of the ‘altruism delusion’ that we are selected for cooperation, and that the euphonious ideals of Democracy, Diversity and Equality will lead us into utopia, if we just manage things correctly (the possibility of politics). Again, the No Free Lunch Principle ought to warn us it cannot be true, and we see throughout history and all over the contemporary world, that without strict controls, selfishness and stupidity gain the upper hand and soon destroy any nation that embraces it. In addition, the monkey mind steeply discounts the future, and so we cooperate in selling our descendant’s heritage for temporary comforts, greatly exacerbating the problems. I describe versions of this delusion (i.e., that we are basically ‘friendly’ if just given a chance) as it appears in some recent books on sociology/biology/economics. I end with an essay on the great tragedy playing out in America and the world, which can be seen as a direct result of our evolved psychology manifested as the inexorable machinations of System 1. Our psychology, eminently adaptive and eugenic on the plains of Africa from ca. 6 million years ago, when we split from chimpanzees, to ca. 50,000 years ago, when many of our ancestors left Africa (i.e., in the EEA or Environment of Evolutionary Adaptation), is now maladaptive and dysgenic and the source of our Suicidal Utopian Delusions. So, like all discussions of behavior (philosophy, psychology, sociology, biology, anthropology, politics, law, literature, history, economics, soccer strategies, business meetings, etc.), this book is about evolutionary strategies, selfish genes and inclusive fitness (kin selection). Many accept the delusion that we are selected for cooperation with people generally (group selection or altruism) and not just our immediate relatives (kin selection or inclusive fitness), so I spend some time in the essays of the last section demolishing this fantasy. One thing rarely mentioned by the group selectionists is the fact that, even were ‘group selection’ possible, selfishness is at least as likely (probably far more likely in most contexts) to be group selected for as altruism. Just try to find examples of true altruism in nature –the fact that we can’t (which we know is not possible if we understand evolution) tells us that its apparent presence in humans is an artefact of modern life concealing the facts, and that it can no more be selected for than the tendency to suicide (which in fact it is). One does not really need science or mathematics to grasp this – it is crushingly obvious that an organism cannot be selected for behavior that decreases the frequency of its own genes in the next generation. One might also benefit from considering a phenomenon never (in my experience) mentioned by group selectionists -- cancer. No group has as much in common as the (originally) genetically identical cells in our own bodies-a 100 trillion cell clone-- but we are all born with thousands and perhaps millions of cells that have already taken the first step on the path to cancer and generate millions to billions of cancer cells in our life. If we did not die of other things first, we (and perhaps all multicellular organisms) would all die of cancer. Only a massive and hugely complex mechanism built into our genome that represses or derepresses trillions of genes in trillions of cells, and kills and creates billions of cells a second, keeps the majority of us alive long enough to reproduce. One might take this to imply that a just, democratic and enduring society for any kind of entity on any planet in any universe is only a dream, and that no being or power could make it otherwise. It is not only ‘the laws’ of physics that are universal and inescapable, or perhaps we should say that inclusive fitness is a law of physics. The great mystic Osho said that the separation of God and Heaven from Earth and Humankind was the most evil idea that ever entered the Human mind. In the 20th century an even more evil notion arose—that humans are born with rights, rather than having to earn privileges. Thus, every day the population increases by 200,000, who must be provided with resources to grow and space to live, and who soon produce another 200,000 etc. And one almost never hears it noted that what they receive must be taken from those already alive. Their lives diminish those already here in both major obvious and countless subtle ways. Every new baby destroys the earth from the moment of conception. There cannot be human rights without human wrongs. It cannot be more obvious, but one will never see the streets full of protesters against motherhood. America and the world are in the process of collapse from excessive population growth, most of it for the last century and now all of it due to 3rd world people. Consumption of resources and the addition of 4 billion more ca. 2100 will collapse industrial civilization and bring about starvation, disease, violence and war on a staggering scale. The earth loses about 2% of it’s topsoil every year, so as it nears 2100, most of it’s food growing capacity will be gone. Billions will die and nuclear war is all but certain. In America, this is being hugely accelerated by massive immigration and immigrant reproduction, combined with abuses made possible by democracy. Depraved human nature inexorably turns the dream of democracy and diversity into a nightmare of crime and poverty. China will continue to overwhelm America and the world, as long as it maintains the dictatorship which limits selfishness. The root cause of collapse is the inability of our innate psychology to adapt to the modern world, which leads people to treat unrelated persons as though they had common interests. This, plus ignorance of basic biology and psychology, leads to the social engineering delusions of the partially educated who control democratic societies. Few understand that if you help one person you harm someone else—there is no free lunch and every single item anyone consumes destroys the earth beyond repair. Consequently, social policies everywhere are unsustainable and one by one all societies without stringent controls on selfishness will collapse into anarchy or dictatorship. Without dramatic and immediate changes, there is no hope for preventing the collapse of America, or any country that follows a democratic system. The popular notions supported by the Democratic Party and Third World Supremacists are that Democracy, Diversity, Equality and Social Justice will produce a Utopia in America and the world, but it is clear as crystal that they unavoidably foster selfishness and divisiveness and are producing collapse. Hence my concluding essay “Suicide by Democracy”. The most basic facts, almost never mentioned, are that there are not enough resources in America or the world to lift a significant percentage of the poor out of poverty and keep them there. Even the attempt to do this is already bankrupting America and destroying the world. The earth’s capacity to produce food decreases daily, as does our genetic quality. And now, as always, by far the greatest enemy of the poor is other poor and not the rich. I had hoped to weld my comments into a unified whole, but I came to realize, as Wittgenstein and AI researchers did, that the mind (roughly the same as language as Wittgenstein showed us) is a motley of disparate pieces evolved for many contexts, and there is no such whole or theory except inclusive fitness, i.e., evolution by natural selection. My writings are available as paperbacks and Kindles on Amazon. Talking Monkeys: Philosophy, Psychology, Science, Religion and Politics on a Doomed Planet - Articles and Reviews 2006-2017 (2017) ASIN B071HVC7YP. The Logical Structure of Philosophy, Psychology, Mind and Language in Ludwig Wittgenstein and John Searle--Articles and Reviews 2006-2016 (2017) ASIN B071P1RP1B. Suicidal Utopian Delusions in the 21st century: Philosophy, Human Nature and the Collapse of Civilization - Articles and Reviews 2006-2017 (2017) 2nd printing with corrections (Feb 2018) ASIN B0711R5LGX Suicide by Democracy: an Obituary for America and the World (2018) ASIN B07CQVWV9C
First archival date: 2018-01-19
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