Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Why Should the Species be Preserved?

 

Why must our conquest of nature stop short, in stupid reverence, before this final and toughest bit of ‘nature’ which has hitherto been called the conscience of man?

The Abolition of Man, C.S. Lewis

It is time to extend Lewis’s vision….

Lewis is writing of the Tao: also known as Natural Law, Traditional Morality, or First Principles of Practical Reason.  After all else of nature has been conquered, why not also this?  After all, there have always been those, through each advancement in the conquering of nature, who have warned that the next step would be the disastrous step.  Yet, here we are.  So why concern ourselves with messing with the Tao?

Let us decide for ourselves what man is to be and make him into that: not on any ground of imagined value, but because we want him to be such.

But what is meant by “man’s conquest of nature”?  In reality, it is the power of some men over other men, with nature as the instrument (or weapon).  Lewis is not after the issue of man using this power in potentially corrupt ways.  He is after something more fundamental: what is meant when we say man has conquered nature?  It is using nature to exercise power by some men (the Conditioners) over other men (the Subjects).

And this power extends through time: conquest builds on conquest, ever more men are lorded over by ever fewer men; each new power won by men is also a power over men:

Man’s conquest of Nature, if the dreams of some scientific planners are realized, means the rule of a few hundreds of men over billons upon billions of men.

It will be a conquest over human nature.  At this point, the battle is won…but who, precisely, will have won it?  Having removed the Tao, or Natural Law, men are free to do as they please.  They need no longer act in accord with their nature – the nature of man.

The power of men to do as they please in reality is the power of some men (the Conditioners) to make others (the Subjects) do as these Conditioners please.  The Conditioners will create an artificial Tao, one that ensures ever greater power by ever fewer men: Nietzsche’s Übermensch.

Will some of their impulses, their Tao of artificial creation, prove benevolent?  Lewis has doubts.  History only offers examples of the opposite:

I am inclined to think that the Conditioners will hate the conditioned.

Without the Tao, obedience to impulse is all that is left; without the soul and reason, man’s base nature is all that is left.  In other words, we move from obeying Natural Law (the Tao) to laws of nature (the strong dominating the weak).

It is not that they [the Conditioners] are bad men.  They are not men at all.  Stepping outside the Tao, they have stepped into the void. 

All that is left to guide these Conditioners is their felt emotional weight of the moment.  When everything that gave us the idea of objective “good” is debunked, all that is left is subjective “want.”  To say that they are corrupt or degenerate implies some standard of objective value.  But there is none.

This, it turns out, is equally true for the Subjects – those being conditioned by the Conditioners:

Nor are their subjects necessarily unhappy men.  They are not men at all: they are artefacts.  Man’s final conquest proved to be the abolition of man.

Conclusion

What did I mean about extending Lewis’s vision?  He is writing of the most important and unique aspect of man – his soul, his reason; that which God breathed into him, the one thing that makes man different from all other created beings.  It is this that has been abolished.

Lewis hints at this extension, the next and final step, when he asks: with all of this power in ever fewer hands, what motivates them – these Conditioners?

The preservation of the species?  But why should the species be preserved?

In March 2020, we entered this phase.  There is no reason for the Conditioners to concern themselves with the preservation of the species.  The subjects, due to their training, have no reason to expect it or even desire it.

Once man’s soul, his reason, has been abolished – via abolishing the Natural Law – this step was inevitable.

10 comments:

  1. "Having removed the Tao, or Natural Law, men are free to do as they please. They need no longer act in accord with their nature – the nature of man." -- Bionic Mosquito

    "I am inclined to think that the Conditioners will hate the conditioned." -- C.S. Lewis

    I am inclined to think that men who have overcome the restraints of Natural Law will and do act in accordance with their own nature--that of sinful man. Rather than a conquest over human nature, it is a regression back to human nature.

    "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" -- Jeremiah 17:9



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    1. Roger, I think I didn't phrase it well. This other quote better captures my intent:

      "In other words, we move from obeying Natural Law (the Tao) to laws of nature (the strong dominating the weak)."

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  2. What you're describing is material reality about to take its toll from those who want to transcend it, without the faintest clue as to how, but who managed to convince themselves that they have a Plan. This sort of messianic delusion is hardly new, and it animated Communism as well.

    Ultimately, the only satisfying answer to the question "why bother existing as a flawed, suffering creature?" is "because existence is good in itself, and worth preserving". Any attempts to ascribe an ultimate, all-encompassing final goal to existence leads to evil schemes to mobilize everyone and everything towards that goal no matter the cost.

    Doug Casey often makes the point that there are people who desire power over things, and people who desire power over others. Maybe the difference is that the power-over-others people are not satisfied with living according to their limited nature, and feel compelled to enlist others in their grandiose, transcendent schemes.

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    1. "Any attempts to ascribe an ultimate, all-encompassing final goal to existence leads to evil schemes to mobilize everyone and everything towards that goal no matter the cost."

      All except one: love. The greatest commandment. When one acts in love - true love, not the nonsense peddled today - the tendency will be away from evil.

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    2. I wouldn't say that love is an all-encompassing goal, not in the sense of "everyone needs to be on board and obey the master plan". Love can only exist on an individual level and voluntarily. It may be the ultimate goal, but there's no such thing as "thou shalt love, or else!"

      (As long as we're talking about Christian love, from what I understand of it.)

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    3. Yes, you are correct and now I better understand your earlier comment.

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  3. Perhaps this is quibbling over semantics, but I found it interesting.

    "More than any other medieval writer, Marsilius dispensed with the idea of natural law. He did not reject the concept in principle, but he recognized it only as “the science or doctrine of right” and not as actual law. Law in the proper sense, he insisted, is “a command coercive through punishment or reward . . . in the present world.” The fundamental source of law, accordingly, is not reason but the will of the party promulgating it. Moreover, an indispensable sign of law is the omnipresent exposure to a sanction or pun- ishment for its violation—just what natural law lacked. This is the clearest expression in the medieval era of what would later be termed the positivist conception of law. (Stephen Neff, Justice Among the Nations, 79)" -- https://naturallawlibertarian.wordpress.com/2021/08/24/marsilius-of-padua-natural-law-not-law-because-not-coercive/

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    1. I am finding that I often have to rephrase it as "natural law ethics," precisely for this reason. The word "law" without some qualifier, is confusing - even to some of the best proponents of natural law.

      But I do think that violations come with punishment in this world - not prison time, but of a different sort. The woman who aborts her unborn child, the man who undergoes treatment to become a woman, the individual who does not show a loving attitude and concern (at least for those in his circle).

      All deal with real punishment - guilt, physical pain, painful emotional remorse, a loss of all life-sustaining relationships.

      Yet, to add the word "ethic" better clarifies the meaning of natural law.

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  4. "What did I mean about extending Lewis’s vision? He is writing of the most important and unique aspect of man – his soul, his reason; that which God breathed into him, the one thing that makes man different from all other created beings. It is this that has been abolished."

    This is, unfortunately, the sloppiest of writing to the point of being nonsensical and I highly doubt you even believe it. A far greater hell on earth would be apparent if it were true, thankfully, man's soul and reason are impossible to abolish.

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    1. Justin, I would have thought the meaning was quite clear - certainly to people who visit here even occasionally.

      Yes, man still has a soul - now, for many corrupted beyond recognition. As to reason, even just the last 18 months would be sufficient to demonstrate the lack of reason in the vast majority of the population. Or, let's just say, corrupted reason.

      One example will suffice to point to what has been abolished in both soul and reason: an individual with a penis can be female, and an individual with a vagina can be male. To the extent this is accepted or advocated, it clearly demonstrates the abolition of both soul and reason within the context of what I have written.

      I have considered writing on just this topic that you raise, however I felt the answers were obvious to all. Clearly I was wrong, so I may take this on.

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