Hegel: “What happens to a people and occurs within it has its essential significance in its relation to the state; the mere particularities of the individuals are most remote from this subject matter of history.” But the state is always only a means for the preservation of many individuals: how could it be the aim? The hope is that with the preservation of so many blanks one may also protect a few in whom humanity culminates. Otherwise it makes no sense at all to preserve so many wretched human beings. The history of the state is the history of the egoism of the masses and of the blind desire to exist; this striving is justified to some extent only in the geniuses, inasmuch as they can thus exist. Individual and collective egoisms struggling against each other—an atomic whirl of egoisms—who would look for aims here?
Through the genius something does result from this atomic whirl after all, and now one forms a milder opinion concerning the senselessness of this procedure—as if a blind hunter fired hundreds of times in vain and finally, by sheer accident, hit a bird. A result at last, he says to himself, and goes on firing.
One may read the “wretched human beings” line and become alarmed, but the point here is not that human beings are categorically wretched, but rather that the State makes so many of them that way, through the inherent logic of totalitarian control (or even the attempt at such), be it through doctrinal caste or capitalist competition. Thus, “achievements” of the State are completed not because of, but in spite of the governmental apparatus. Accidents of history tend to only accentuate the “positive” aspects of hierarchy based on resources (e.g. Golden Age Athens) while glossing over the much more numerous negatives. Would we have the Golden Gate Bridge if it weren’t for the Industrial Revolution? No. But that assumes we need the bridge in the first place, and also that all the other requisites and consequences of industrialization make the bridge worth the price.
According to the CDC, heroin use is on the rise in the US, especially among white people. This statistic will no doubt be almost completely ignored—as we instead discuss vague global threats and how we can “grow the economy”—but it really calls into question most of modern America’s foundational myths about progress—let alone America’s myths about the War on Drugs, which is going swell.
I thought that with more machines, more leisure industries, and more “opportunities” in the service sector, we should see less drug use, not more (especially with a drug like heroin, which has huge risks when compared to marijuana, which is simply an edible plant), because people should be oh-so happy with their personal computers and internet watches and Amazon drones. Taking up heroin seems to be an endeavor chosen by a depressed, desperate person (correct me if I’m wrong), and the rise in heroin use would, to me (again, correct me if I’m wrong), indicate that people are unhappy with the current state of affairs.
Maybe the drug use is tied to our lack of good sleep (which is caused by glowing screens, apparently):
Last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared lack of sleep “a public health epidemic,” linking it to car crashes, increased mortality, and reduced quality of life and productivity. See also: chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, depression, and obesity.
Here’s a book review (of “Seeing Things As They Are”) that starts out with an intriguing critique of how philosophers in the past have struggled with the idea of objective vs. subjective realities, but it’s only readable for about four paragraphs.
Maybe I need to read more ontology 101 texts (not really: how arduous would that be?), but by the midpoint of the review I’m completely lost and bored and uninterested. I didn’t finish reading the review, and not because the review itself was bad—it isn’t—but mostly because the “problem” of whether a truly objective reality exists doesn’t seem like much of a problem to me.
I could read the review (or even the book itself) or not, and my daily life would not be any different. Having no bearing on how I move about the world would typically disqualify a philosophy from being useful or profound. Yes, sometimes thinking about something just for fun is extremely useful—sometimes necessary, even—but to write whole books on it and to have whole academic departments debating it?
If the answer to a philosophical question is “I’m not sure, but either way I’m going to live my life in the same way as before,” then why ask the question? Does human perception actually create external reality? Here we have a question that not only fails to satisfy the above criterion, but perhaps doesn’t even make sense as a question. Better, then, to move on to other discussions—even philosophical ones—as we careen towards an era when we’ll briefly be the only mega-fauna, and then there will be no mega-fauna to speak of (or to perceive, subjectively or otherwise).
Side note: I need to get back to reading Nietzsche every week.