—-[[From Trope Talk: Robots]]—-
“Let’s see how many demographics I can piss off in this video.”
The fact that this attitude is still somewhat legal in the United States makes the place rather distinctive within the
Free Western World.
The annoying thing is if a mind isn’t human, we generally take away something to make it non-human.
“Non-human” naturally leads to less than human. “Inhuman” means “less than human.” And modern ideologies that seek to make men equal to dolphins or elephants or other beasts do not exalt the beasts: they bring down and dehumanize men.
Making something “More than human” (points to the Morthans) generally leads to some kind of impersonal, powerful moral monster, like Nietzsche’s Übermensch. (“Hey, it’s Grandfather!”) This is natural, as the “more than human” intelligence we most identify with with are demons, after all, and the solid majority of high-IQ humanity — a good percentage of sci-fi readers — value power more than justice.
(Side note: At the video above, at 7:39, you have a circle called “People”. Elves, dwarves, and humans are counted as people, as are some robots and aliens. Demons get a tiny bite into the circle, and count – just a bit – as people.
Beings who aren’t on the board — and therefore cannot possibly be people — include
- God, in Whose image we are made;
- The holy angels;
- Christ, the God-man.
This has been emotionally true since Adam met his first alien, a talking snake (something that should have set off alarm bells, right there).
5. Autonomy. Greek philosophy was based on the ideal of man’s mind as completely sovereign — no personal God allowed. Well, not quite. Socrates claimed he was given guidance in his thinking by a demon (daimon). But rationalistic scholars, beginning with Plato, have always downplayed this. They have sometimes said this was just hyperbolic literary language. Socrates could not really have believed in a demon. After all, they don’t.Gary North, Nine Corrupt Pillars of Classical Greece
That diagram at 7:39 gets to the point as far as the Modern Secular Mind is concerned. As does the current rise of witchcraft and superstitions and irrationalism, going hand-in-hand with the decline of Christianity in the West.)
Addendum: Why do Humans Identify with Demons?
Because both men and demons have the same enemy.
(Well, unredeemed men do: I surrendered to Christ some time ago, and work to expand His kingdom, and not the Kingdom of Man.
- The problem with the Kingdom of Man is that, after a time, it gradually shifts to the Kingdom of Satan, which inevitably becomes the Kingdom of Death.
- Also, I dislike being lied to by snakes, either no-legged or two-legged. And I prefer to listen to God (and so hold Him as my master) than demons (and have them be my master).
- Finally… the New Heavens and the New Earth are far more attractive than the Lake of Fire!
Better to be on the winning side.)
After all, who defines ‘justice’? Who defines ‘law’? Most sci-fi readers are agnostics/atheists, ‘sensible, practical men’ who therefore believe that ‘justice’ and ‘law’ is defined by those men who have the most power: in guns, in population blocks, in media control, in judicial authority.
Of course, I disagree, as I stand with Moses and Christ. As such, law and justice is defined by God, and not by powerful men.
This goes back to First Causes: if you believe that the world is at its core random and meaningless, arising for no reason and certain to die for no reason, then of course there is no law other than that of power. If you don’t, then you don’t.
But maybe this is just a roundabout way of saying that both unredeemed/natural man and demons are thieves, stealing fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of God and Evil, and not giving a second thought to the Tree of Life until it was far too late.
Thieves are closely tied to murderers and liars, who all naturally despise the Law, yet want not so much to destroy it, as to rewrite it to justify their evil.
To rewrite the Law is to be as God, just as the serpent promised.
A fool’s errand.
Socrates: the Philosopher Listening to His Demon
But the most important section of the book, to my mind, comes when he applies his account of Greek tragedy to the secular faith of modern times, which he calls “Socratism” — the belief that the world becomes properly intelligible only when the human mind has rid itself of myth.
“Socrates is the archetype of the theoretical optimist,” Nietzsche writes, “who in his faith in the explicability of things, attributes the power of a panacea to knowledge and science, and sees error as the embodiment of evil.” Later in the book, Nietzsche asks the reader to imagine “abstract man, without the guidance of myth — abstract education, abstract morality, abstract justice, the abstract state…then we have our present age, the product of that Socratism bent on the destruction of myth”.
The end-result of Socratism for the West is “a resolute process of secularization, a break with the unconscious metaphysics of its previous existence”. In turn, the triumph of Socratism leads to a violent rebirth of mythic thinking, inspiring the frenzied totalitarian movements that Nietzsche saw coming and which, ironically, he was blamed for inspiring.
Writing when Europe’s high bourgeois civilisation seemed unshakably secure, Nietzsche foresaw the present crisis of the humanities. Deconstruction is Socratism in an extravagant form, an all-out effort to subvert the myths and metaphysics that underpinned western civilisation — not least Socrates’s own faith in reason. At crucial moments, as Nietzsche notes, Socrates turned to his daimonion — a “divine voice” that enabled him to be a true philosopher — for guidance. (In 1952, the great Irish classicist E.R. Dodds presented a similar view in The Greeks and the Irrational, where the founder of western philosophy is presented as an heir to Greek shamanism.)John Gray, Why the humanities can’t be saved
Grandfather as Demon, Power and Knowledge as Life Itself
Traveller [the Science Fiction roleplaying game – AP] can be seen as an odd mix of scientism (where sufficient knowledge can do anything) and mysticism (with Grandfather, a powerful alien psion, as the greatest being in [Traveller’s fictional history – AP] , in intelligence and in mental power.)
The Enlightenment faith in reason to which many critics of the humanities would like to return was based on the belief that, once it had discarded myth, humankind would devote itself to the pursuit of knowledge through science. This was the “theoretical optimism” that Nietzsche discerned at the bottom of Europe’s bourgeois civilisation.
But “abstract man” proved to be an illusion, and during the 20th century, science became a vehicle for myths that made mass extermination seem rational. Turning to science as a panacea for evil today means turning a blind eye to the horrendous ends for which science has been deployed. If Nietzsche did nothing else, he predicted Steven Pinker.John Gray, Why the humanities can’t be saved
Traveller never implied that science could eliminate evil. Instead, evil is a non-problem: the real goal in life, as Grandfather taught, is the drive to gain knowledge to gain power. And if you need to exterminate your children and your civilization to get the knowledge (and, thus, the power) you want, so be it.
Well, there is a certain amount of sentiment Grandfather had for the survival of his species. He decided to create a psionic ritual that would insure the survival of his species on a few worlds.
(Note that even at its height, the Ancient Empire never was much larger than a few billion sophonts. Lots of experimentation and research and creativity, but little or no multiplication, and zero compassion on the Lesser Breeds created to Serve Their Masters.
From the Institution to the Individual
Nietzsche found no way out from the condition he diagnosed, and it may well be that there is none. The decline of the humanities may be no more than an episode in the decline of the West. The idea that a solution can be found in the academy is silly. A cultural malady that goes all the way back to Socrates is not going to be remedied by anything that is done in floundering 21st-century universities.
It would be better to admit that the battle there has been lost, and advise young people to get to know the canon by themselves. It will not cost them tens of thousands of pounds to buy a copy of Montaigne’s essays, Emily Dickinson’s poems, Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim or Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, for example. If they want to move beyond western traditions, they can read Dostoevsky’s apocalyptic and hilariously funny Demons, the delightful Chuang-Tzu and dozens of other world classics.John Gray, Why the humanities can’t be saved
Leaving the dead to bury the dead sounds like a great idea to me!
Unfortunately, Christians insist on dragging the rotting corpse of Greek philosophy around. Observe The Rise of the Bible-Teaching, Plato-Loving, Homeschool Elitists: How evangelicals are becoming the new champions of the pagan classics.
The world doesn’t need another pack of power-seeking, morality-free elitists. It really doesn’t.
[snip sci-fi reference]
And it definitely doesn’t need the disgusting spectacle of said elitists spewing God Talk as they stomp on the Lesser Sort, in their rush for Power and Control.
The Classical Christian Curriculum: Marriage to a Corpse
Like a dog to its vomit, fundamentalists return to classical Greece
Christians need to stop licking up vomit.
And to stop listening to demons.