2017/01/05

From Modernity to After-Modernity (32)

Book 3. Divination


1. the future emerges in a given context

Obviously the future does not fall from the sky.

The future is resulting from the arbitration between the multiple determinant factors that are competing in the present. In other words the competition, between the multiple determinant factors in the present, is what shapes the context out of which the future emerges.


But where do these determinant factors competing in the present come from?

These determinant factors emerge necessarily out of the context that shaped up in the past. In other words it is the arrow of time forming the long haul history that shapes the context out of which emerges the determinant factors that compete in the present. Notwithstanding what some might be saying, the fact is that it is possible to visualize “the context out of which something emerges”. Let’s take an example to illustrate this. The emergence of mushrooms gives the dirt as the context that makes their emergence possible. Mushrooms do indeed not emerge anywhere as per a miracle. Their emergence results from the combination of a series of factors and no mushroom will ever emerge outside of such a specific combination of factors which forms their context. Each species of mushrooms obey their own specific context that always entails the presence of – some organic matter at a given biochemical composition, – in given conditions of temperature, humidity, light – and spores that feed on that organic matter when its conditions are right.

While its context may be more complex the same principle of emergence applies to the principle of life:
  • unicellular organisms emerge out of a given context that is composed of – a given chemical soup submitted to – the right amount of energetic forces. Some add a 3rd condition to these 2 and it would be that – the seeds of life land on earth in a process that is known as panspermia1. Whatever is the case, panspermia or spontaneous emergence, the fact of the matter is that on planet earth the specific context for life to emerge started to materialize some 4 billion years ago. There is no reason to believe that this mechanism uniquely occurred on our mother planet earth. The earth is one among trillions of planets out there. What would be the probability that life did not emerge on another planet? I would venture to say that this probability is zero. The idea that our planet earth would be so special, as to be unique in its life carrying capacity, to me this idea simply does not fly. History should have accustomed us by now to the idea that such a kind of exceptionalism, or”centrism”, is an illusion that we eventually always awake from one day or another.

  • multicellular organisms emerge when multiple unicellular organisms join together as the result of their perception of facing the necessity to adapt to a threshold of chaos existing within a specific context. In other words, at a given time, a set of determinant factors, competing to substantiate the future, forces one cell to join another cell to survive and their joining or cooperation, after being replicated over the generations, results eventually in a more complex organism. The same kind of process was then been repeated further an incalculable, near infinite, number of times which... eventually resulted in the appearance of the genus Homo Sapient in its present form. When looked at from the perspective of the principle of life one can’t but be overwhelmed by the thought that this whole process is like a gigantic chain growing ever new links that generate higher and higher complexity. It is as if life is a principle that feeds on increased complexity. This does not mean that the steps of each species must in principle be steps forward on the chain of complexity… it simply means that what results, from the interactions between the species themselves and between the species and their context, is bound to conclude in a higher complexity within the initial context that... later eventually materializes in mutations that jump the principle of life itself in whole new levels of complexity. What all this means is that the principle of life imposes prudence as the general rule of governance on each species path forward.

This brings us back to the present societal evolutionary phase of humanity which, in Book 1 and Book 2, I define as “Late-Modernity”. Late-Modernity emerged out of the context of High-Modernity and High-Modernity emerged out of Early-Modernity. In other words European Modernity is an evolving “quasi-worldview”2 that acts like it was a living organism shaping the societal character of the historical era of Modernity that replaced the earlier era of the religious worldview imposed by empire.

But as a quasi-worldview Modernity is not in any way substantiating a sustainable societal life. We are being indoctrinated to believe that the reason at work within capital, philosophic rationalism and science are procuring the truth about human existential reality. But the fact is that the reason at work within capital, philosophic rationalism and science, are concerned primarily by materialistic mechanisms that are ignorant of the primacy of the principle of life throughout our universe.

In other words the reason at work within capital, philosophic rationalism and science, are omitting the systemic reality of the principle of life from the narrative of their quasi-worldview. In consequence Modernity has encouraged the seeds of pathogens to grow and overwhelm the culture of its societies3.

I define the 3 fields that substantiate human societal life in the historical era of civilization in Book 1. Volume 1. Introduction to the concepts4 . Here follows a sketch of that presentation:
  • civilization”: after a long transition away from tribal societies the power institutions of empire kind of miraculously stabilized and perpetuated over the generations. Imperial stabilization was reached after the men of power started to rely on the men of knowledge to devise the foundational axiom of their narrative about what reality is all about. The application of such an axiom supplied the men of power with the necessary lever to ensure the institutional perpetuation of their societal control over the generations. Different contexts eventually resulted in vastly different axioms. So in China the continuity of the axiom founding Animism procured the empire with an existing and rich knowledge base while in the TriContinentalArea, of what Western Europeans called the Middle-East, the rupture with Animism fostered the necessity of inventing a story to glue the minds…
    An empire, or the societies that survived its eventual collapse, then added a worldview on top of their axiomatic principle of knowledge formation. A worldview is a narrative describing the general contours of what reality is all about that can be shared by all citizens within the territory of a given society. Such a worldview is then actualized in a daily culture comprising all ideas and behaviors within that given society.
    Civilizations emerged after a long and chaotic transition from tribal societies to empire that spanned over 6 to 8000 years. Only when the men of power started to collaborate with the men of knowledge were axiomatic foundations devised that eventually permitted to stabilize power societies in their imperial forms while ensuring their reproduction over the generations.
    Civilizations spread their axiom, if necessary by force, to the four corners of their territory and their axiom and worldview was adopted widely by all citizens. This is how axioms about knowledge formation came to form the foundations of civilizational houses upon which walls and roofs were later erected. Once established those axioms of civilization are soon forgotten by the conscious memory and then reside nearly exclusively in the individual atoms' subconscious which is the reason why so few people are aware that they exist at all”.
    Civilizational axioms vary widely from one geographical context to the next and these variations were being imposed by the necessity for societies to adapt to the reality of the following two factors:
    1. the size of their alluvial plains is what gives the potential size of their agricultural development which in turn defines the size of their populations and by extension defines their economic, cultural and military strength,
    2. the adjacent areas of a territory shape its character. If a territory is narrow and is situated at the intersection between different inhabited areas it will necessarily be marred by regular traffic which implies conflicts and rupture while if the territory is large and isolated from other inhabited areas it will live at peace with itself which suggest continuity over the long haul.
    These two factors determined the differentiation, in their future societal evolution, between China and the TriContinentalArea. Practiced over the Milena these factors have crystallized different models of thinking about reality and also different models of society which explains our present persisting perception of their otherworldliness. In light of this, the future being a probabilistic outcome, it is my firmly held belief that we should approach its probabilistic nature from the comparative angle of the interpretations given by different civilizations.

  • worldviews”: “...from their given axioms the member societies of a civilization evolved further worldviews. Worldviews are like grand narratives built upon initially accepted axioms. They act like psychic glues that bind the minds of their citizens around a same set of general ideas about reality and are then affirming the necessary societal cohesion that ensures the reproduction of their societies”. Worldviews constitute something akin to the walls and roofs of the societies participating in a common civilizational house. These worldviews act as these societies’ perception of the substance of what reality is all about and so they flavor and color the daily ways of doing and thinking of their citizens. Worldviews are being maintained, and eventually made to evolve, by the men of knowledge within their societies. These were the shaman in tribes, the priests or the scholars in empires, the merchants/capital holders and their agents the scientists and the intellectuals in Nation-States. With High-Modernity the European men of knowledge, the priests, were indeed pushed aside to let the stage to the scientists and the rationalist philosophers who unknowingly acted as the agents of the merchants and capital holders.

  • culture: It is substantiated by the forms taken by the diverse ways of thinking and doing in the present of a given society and as such it acts like the decoration of the societal walls and roofs or its worldview. “Culture in its broad definition relates to the ensemble of all present beliefs and doings of a society's citizens. This necessarily includes all economic, social and, cultural forms taken by their daily behavior. Culture is not static. It evolves and some elements of this evolution eventually solidify and are then integrated as add-ons or extensions to worldviews and at a certain threshold of installed cultural add-ons and extensions the worldview starts to change. Those cultural add-ons are not a threat to the worldview. On the contrary they are smoothing the worldview in the eyes of the citizens by adapting its substance to changing times”. Civilizational axioms glued the minds of all citizens within a given civilizational territory around a common principle of knowledge formation. Such a codified foundation within a civilizational territory allowed different societies to differentiate in term of culture according to their particular context and so over centuries of cultural add-ons societies that initially had identical worldviews would eventually see their worldviews bifurcate.
    The integration of cultural add-ons in the worldview was traditionally the role of the men of knowledge but with their exclusion during the emergence of High-Modernity we assist at the following:
    1. the worldview was no longer maintained and it was thus gradually eroding from the minds of the individuals.
    2. cultural add-ons were no longer been arbitrated and the culture of the day increasingly affirmed waves of hyper-individualism that marketeers and propagandists were surfing over to commodify daily consumption to inserting the minds in the molds serving the capital holders and the men of power…
Worldviews traditionally acted like the ideation substance that structures the life of societal organisms which taken together form a species. The life of these societal organisms is then being actualized into the societal present in the form of what we call culture. Worldviews are larger than culture. They constitute the life substance of societies, or are their shared narrative of meaning, and as such they are the essence of culture. And so we come to better understand that culture does nothing more than to adapt the present ways of thinking and doing of the individuals of a given society to the new clothes or forms that emerge from the present context. This societal model that originated with the emergence of tribal societies got erased by philosophic rationalism and science during High-Modernity.

Later hyper-individualism gave way to societal atomization and the erosion from the individuals’ minds of the traditional feeling of belonging ...to a society. I call this stage of societal evolution “the death of societies” and Late-Modernity is indeed the dieing phase of Modernity. Rationalism and science have no answer to this deadly societal sickness. By favoring the short term considerations, arising from the capture of the minds by the reason at work within capital, in the form of materialism and individualism they ignore the systemic complexity of the universe that governs the principle of life, that traditionally was known as nature or the Tao, and so they are incapable of observing the descent of Modernity in the abyss. It was the hubris represented by the conquest of nature that put mankind on a path that is antithetical to the systemic reality of the universe and its principle of life.

I indicated in “Book 2, Volume 4. Governance and societal evolution”5 that the evolution of living species is given by the interactions of their polarities   ̶ the individuals   ̶ their societies. When the interactions between individuals and societies, for whatever reason, favor one over the other these interactions end up being in a state of imbalance and decay sets in that is a direct threat to the survival of both polarities. More fundamentally the destruction of its polarities corresponds to the extinction of a species. This materializes when all the societies of this species have collapsed... In Late-Modernity humanity faces what I call “the great convergence” of the multiple crises that have been unleashed, ̶ by power, ̶ by Modernity upon the systemic reality of the principle of life, and the Great Convergence puts our species at risk of extinction. But being probabilistic in nature the future remains nevertheless open…___________



NOTES

1 Panspermia. How life originated on earth is a question that people have pondered for ages. Theories abound, from those based on religious doctrine, to the purely scientific, to others that border on science fiction. One possibility that hovers on this border is the panspermia theory, which suggests that life on Earth did not originate on our planet, but was transported here from somewhere else in the universe. While this idea may seem straight out of a science fiction novel, some evidence suggests that an extraterrestrial origin of life may not be such a far out idea”. Citation from Origin Of Life: The Panspermia Theory by Sonaali S. Joshi. 2008-12-02 in Helix Online.

2 Modernity as a quasi-worldview: Modernity is not a worldview in the traditional sense because a worldview relates to a narrative about what reality is all about and Modernity does not give a narrative about what reality is all about but a more restrictive narrative about one principle of human action that is founded in the reason at work within capital that later extended to philosophic rationalism that is an extension of this principle of action to all aspects of life. In other words the facts generated by Modernity are not the truth about human existential reality. These facts have indeed been generated to satisfy the sole concerns of capital holders and the implication is that the facts of Modernity have been successfully imposed in a first stage to all citizens in Europe and later to all citizens on earth. But as a matter of fact nor Modernity, nor science which is its active method of enquiry, are offering a narrative about what reality is all about... and in this sense we come to understand why Modernity can’t answer all the existential questions that pop up in peoples’ minds. This is why Modernity is not a real worldview and has to be viewed as a quasi-worldview and being a quasi-worldview means that the sharing of Modernity can’t cure the existential anxiety that afflicts most people in advanced Modern societies; societies that have reached the stage of Late-Modernity. This in turn explains why, when life conditions tougthen people flock to older worldviews like religions, or whatever sects are active in their local environment, to find relief from their anxiety. This failure of Modernity to quieten peoples’ anxiety was the context by excellence, or the fertile ground, in which hyper-individualism would eventually flourish that caused societal atomization which, as explained earlier, signifies that such societies are on their way to death.

3 See “Book 2. Volume 4. About governance and societal evolution".

4 “From Modernity to After-Modernity”. Book 1, Volume 1. Chapter 1. Introduction to the concepts.

 5  See Book 2, Volume 4. Governance and societal evolution. 4.3. A systemic approach of society and governance”.


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