Friday, July 31, 2009

Some Thoughts

I've had two great, burgeoning philosophical ideas of late. The first is the problem with the rejection of humanism and the loss of a system of rights. The idea of rights and ethical behavior have been dependent upon the notion of a soul or nature that all humans have; from this metaphysical existence, humans arrive at all their rights. But if we are to maintain our conceptions of nature post-Darwin and in a modern sense (i.e. nature is blind, accidental and not imbued with any human truths), and we wish to abandon the nihilistic plunge into the justiifcation of life by metaphysical constructs (i.e. the human body is sacred by the invisible soul that adheres to it mysteriously and in an unverifiable state) then we need to borrow loosely from Kierkegaard. We can transcend or break down the ethical approach to life that are based upon the notion of rights. Instead we enter into a pure relational subjectivity. As my mind and body is presented to me and your mind and body are presented to me as well, two total selves meet, we can enter into something relational that will justify and produce fruitful interactions beyond the pettiness, superficiality and artificialness of rights, ethics and humanism.

This obviously needs to be fleshed out much more, but a relational approach to life, rather than an ethical one, would allow us to escape many of the problems of humanism. One of the those problems being the excluding nature of humanism, where there is no guidelines for behavior toward animals. Humanism, in its various historical forms, has also historically and conveniently left out numerous unrecognized and disenfranchised groups of people; humanism was, in the ancient Greek notion of it, only to include Greek men of particular high-ranked families -- nobody else was deserving of or of the same type of being as them. Humanism is always thought to be the lifeline keeping us from wild, unrestrained madness, the key to civilization, but it has done much more to excuse abuses against those who were not considered humans.

Another idea I've thought about is something that's a mix of sci-fi daydreaming and the philosophical implications of technology. I've become convinced that the cyborg will be the next step in technology. Rather than the building of robots and the rapid development of technology that is outside of the human body, technology will shift and become increasingly incorporated into the human body and mind. It's already happening now. Think about headsets, bluetooth, cell phone, iphone, artificial limbs and the various medical steels and plastics they put inside the body when its damaged. We also live in a world where cosmetic surgery is becoming more and more acceptable, and the idea of the human body as mode-able plastic that can be changed and altered to fit the desire of the mind is a highly popular feeling and idea in our post-modern society; how strange is the endless presence of photo-shopped models and gyms?

Not only will technology become completely incorporated into the human body, it will also enter the brain and the mind. The internet and its endless growth and increasing presence is becoming more and more tied to our daily consciousness. At some point consciousness and the internet will become one. Think about the calculator for example. The human mind has always figured out math problems by the cognitive, mathematical abilities of its mind, but with the invention of the calculator, that use of that part of your brain has decreased and been replaced by an external cognitive tool. What if you could access a calculator at all times anywhere without your hands through the installation of a calculator or the internet directly into your brain? You would no longer use that part of your brain at all, you would use your mind to rapidly access the external technology. The merger of consciousness and the internet would produce a massive hive-mind and make human consciousness extremely flexiable and ever-present. Your mind could be at any part of the world at any time through an internet that exist at every street corner. It's difficult to capture the full reality of such an idea with words.

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