An unattractive binary.
An unattractive binary.
What then the conjunction of philosophical and historical argument reveals is that either one must follow through the aspirations and the collapse of the different versions of the Enlightenment project until there remains only the Nietzschean diagnosis and the Nietzschean problematic or one must hold that the Enlightenment project was not only mistaken, but should never have been commenced in the first place. There is no third alternative and more particularly there is no alternative provided by those thinkers at the heart of the contemporary conventional curriculum in moral philosophy, Hume, Kant and Mill. It is no wonder that the teaching of ethics is so often destructive and skeptical in its effects upon the minds of those taught.
But which ought we to choose? And how ought we to choose? It is yet another of Nietzsche’s merits that he joins to his critique of Enlightenment moralities a sense of their failure to address adequately, let alone to answer the question: what sort of person am I to become? This is in a way an inescapable question in that an answer to it is given in practice in each human life. But for characteristically modern moralities it is a question to be approached only by indirection. The primary question from their standpoint has concerned rules: what rules ought we to follow? And why ought we to obey them? And that this has been the primary question is unsurprising when we recall the consequences of the expulsion of Aristotelian teleology from the moral world.
MacIntyre, Alasdair. After Virtue (pp. 118-119). University of Notre Dame Press. Kindle Edition.
A mind looking into a world external to itself will receive a picture of a world in which there are some phenomena that cannot be explained in terms of the laws generally ruling in that world. The reason is that a mind—any mind—is creating its world by means of a process of selection. The thing that will be missing in that world . . . is the law governing the total system because the mind is a part of the total system, and what it cannot perceive is itself. . . . The world as we see it is determined by the structure of what to us appears as its smallest components. To move deeper in this direction is to change the world. . . .
[T]he total system of which the point (consciousness) is itself an element will forever remain unknown to the point. It is itself governed by a system of which it can never grasp the totality. . . . Fully to grasp and understand what it is in itself would be to grasp the totality. Therefore there will in itself forever remain something unknown, and so there will remain something unknown in the world that it perceives as external to itself. That unknown will appear as life. The increasing approach to the unknown—the blind spot in itself—is the creation of life itself.
Lachman, Gary. A Secret History of Consciousness (p. 190). Lindisfarne Books. Kindle Edition.
Reading David Wallace-Wells seems always to be a downer. But that's because he's a thorough, detailed reporter of the awful truth. In this article, he informs us about air pollution, which is skimming away (and in some instances, ripping away) years of life and well-being from all of us. Most of the air pollution comes from burning fossil fuels and increasingly from burning forests. It's horrible in India and China (as I can personally attest); but only bad here in the U.S. and Europe. So "bad" is good enough for Americans? But then when it comes to our habits of consumption, as a people, we're often little better than a collection of addicts.
Perhaps, like me, you have spent the last five years in a state of panic about climate change. Perhaps it has inflamed your politics, and your sense of self. It should. The world is already warmer than it has ever been in the history of human civilisation. We have already exceeded the narrow temperature window which gave rise to everything we know as agriculture and society and politics and culture. The last time there was as much carbon in the atmosphere as there is today, temperatures weren’t 1.2°C warmer than the pre-industrial base level, as they are now, but about 3°C, with forests growing in the Antarctic and sea levels twenty metres higher.The climate is changing ten times faster than ever before in a planetary history that includes mass extinctions which wiped out more than 90 per cent of life on Earth. Half of that damage has been done in the last 25 years, since the publication of Al Gore’s first book on global warming and the formation of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – in other words, with the full knowledge of the scientific community and the effective consent of global political leaders. A quarter of the change has taken place since Barack Obama was elected president, having hubristically proclaimed that ‘this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.’ Just a few years later, he bragged to an audience in Texas that ‘suddenly, America is the biggest oil producer. That was me, people.’"
Every actual occasion exhibits itself as a process: it is a becomingness. In so disclosing itself, it places itself as one among a multiplicity of other occasions, without which it could not be itself. It also defines itself as a particular individual achievement, focussing in its limited way an unbounded realm of eternal objects.