consciousness, curiosity, human nature, ideas, metaphysics, personality, politics, Power, science, teleology, transcendence
Posting 139, word count: 793.
Politics is the competition for power, for effective ownership and control of lives and property, but there is also a countervailing movement against power that is inherent in politics without being part of the competition for power. This countervailing force expresses the underdog side of the historical quarrel over transcendence. The dominant side of that quarrel is the idea of a cosmic teleological force to be feared and placated, an external sovereign transcendence who promotes local operatives to impose the universal structure of supremacy and hierarchy. That idea of transcendence is a sanctification of power, normally coupled with a depiction of ordinary embodied personalities as envious and grasping. These are in the background of every person’s upbringing. On the other side of the transcendence quarrel is the idea that the only transcendence is each embodied individual’s teleological processes, each individual’s ideas, ordinary consciousness itself, and that is the resistance to power.
There is a third option, a repudiation of any and all transcendence. Materialist science claims to assert this but presents its ultimate mystery of mass/ energy/ space/ time as a distinct sovereign transcendence, a dead one, inertial and entropic, with no trace of reason, a world that, in itself, absolutely doesn’t matter.
The reason that politics can never be science is precisely ideas and ideality. The past and present of political actuality, dominated by hierarchical power, do not determine the future because ideality is unpredictably creative and utters conceptions of change in social, economic, and political cultures. Such changes always face predictable efforts to stifle them by conservative factions dedicated to preserving systems of hierarchy by both lethal force and the grotesque ideas of sovereign transcendence cited above. The scientific attitude that everything is determined by inflexible law, and so must always remain much as it is (a metaphysical idea), is indistinguishable from the conservative effort. Science has no help to offer in our political predicament. However, realty as experienced has two foundational constituents. One is actuality and the other is ideality in the form of a multitude of embodied personalities fountaining ideas. Every individual is an idea, the self-thinking idea of a particular life in the world, a particular idea of freedom, and ideas are not intrinsically hierarchical. Ideality is the transcendent being of personality at the level of the embodied individual, and ideality can effectively override in actuality what may seem to be givens of nature. In our being as fountains of ideas, people impose original events on the brute fall-lines of nature. A fountain of ideas is an imposer of change, and not a passive receiver or victim of time. (Here is the teleological structure in the sense of the passage of time.) Materialist science is not equipped to conceive personalities as fountains of teleological ideas, but an understanding of politics must do so for the chance of improvement in our longstanding dystopia.
The foundational status of ideality in experience, that is, in the world that matters, lands us squarely in metaphysics rather than science, and the whole of metaphysics rests on a single question: What should we make of teleology? ‘Teleology’ means ‘purpose’, ‘reason’ or ‘a poise within the anticipatory ideation of agency’. What should we make of the anticipatory ideation of agency which we know as consciousness? It is standard to present teleology in a stripped-down form to make it seem consistent with a mechanistic stimulus-response model of behaviour, separating it from how it is encountered in ordinary experience, namely as embodied personality. However, teleology really is personality. There have been attempts to show that purposive action can be reduced to automatic mechanisms pre-set to be triggered by specific stimuli. Such attempts are thoroughly political because if people are mechanisms it doesn’t matter how they are treated since morality and empathy are inapplicable to machines. So, denying ordinary consciousness as transcendence, as a fountain of teleological ideas with a creative arc of developmental continuity, that is, as personality, has the intent and effect of legitimizing the deception and manipulation of groups and individuals by people in culture pods enacting a fetish for power and trophies.
Teleology isn’t as simple as programmes of specific pragmatic operation, but also includes various creative postures bearing into futurity including curiosity, wondering, seeking and discovering original ways to make sense of things, existential questioning, and expressing all this in a personal voice. As thinking beings who use ideality for freedom by anticipating and imposing the novelty of original ideas on brute actuality, we are all in an immediate position to know that the bleak conservative story of human nature as a pit of appetites and envy is false! Liberation comes simply from declining to believe the default cultural teachings because the truth is plainly different.
Copyright © 2019 Sandy MacDonald.