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Fragment 157, word count: 552.

The pivotal dystopian feature of existing hive-mind-structured cultures is their denigrating concept of human nature. Hive minds are founded on an idea of human nature very far from creative free-agency at the level of the embodied individual; for example, on a conception such as Freud’s (in the tradition of Hobbes and Augustine): a human nature that is lethally dangerous (id) if not repressed by social control (superego). However, human psychology is so pervaded by social control that it is impossible to make reliable generalizations about human nature from either psychological phenomena or the history of human behaviour.

If acts of philosophical thinking are to be unprejudiced re-conceptualizations of the drama of existence, of existence structured in terms of caring, existence as experienced (something that matters), then de-culturing is the single crucial operation of philosophical action, not merely an incidental, occasional, or optional beginning. It is what is required for acquaintance with simple existence as ideality, as creative free-agency at the level of embodiment: a specifically oriented bearing into futurity, the point of view of a knowing, learning, and purposive gaze. Here is living human nature: to occupy, to dwell in, the reach or bearing beyond now and beyond no-longer, into an empty not-yet still to be created, the transcendent moment of ideality.

Any idealism asserts the existence of some supra-actual transcendence, creative fountain of surprises. Such transcendence has overwhelmingly been conceived, as in Plato’s idealism, as separate from the individual person, operating in some manner that is remote from embodied living. The tendency of Lutheran-stream Protestant idealism is to retain a sense of transcendence (the creative freedom of ideality) but increasingly to relocate the occurrence of transcendence from a remote central deity to individual human personalities. We see this worked out through a series of post-reformation Lutheran philosophers: Leibniz, Kant, Fichte.

The context of philosophical thinking is an age-old historical drama structured around the dystopian culture of patriarchal dominance, expressing the idea of deity by imposing the will of the strongest (imperialist exceptionalism) and culturing hive minds for compliance. Various intuitions of free-agent idealism, in which the individual, as a fountain of creativity and freedom, is conceived and treated as inherently greater than the cultured conceptions of any hive mind, have regularly found the courage to resist assertions that rights are the exceptional property of the strongest. A striking example of one articulation of that contrary intuition is expressed in Kant’s idea of universal maxims, formalizations of simple empathy. As anyone is capable of forming these maxims, everyone’s fundamental duty is universal empathy, recognizing all sentient beings as ends, bearers of rights from their transcendent manner of existence.

The idea of a divine plan and a supernatural planner who irresistibly determines everything has been crucial in legitimizing the lethal power of patriarchal sovereignty. The idea of totalitarian natural law has been used to the same effect. The tendency of scientific materialism is to eliminate transcendence, leaving a desolation of utter predictability: the future will be the same as the past. However, the supra-actuality of creative ideality at the level of the embodied individual completely negates those assumptions. Not-yet is empty and undetermined, to be created out of the transcendent moment of ideality in vast multitudes of individuals.

Copyright © 2019 Sandy MacDonald.