The mythical abyss

It is an age of moral delinquency. We stand on a abyss, into which our world will fall.

Such statements are more than simply wrong. They play on the conservative and fearful instincts of the human condition. Spoken from a place of historical ignorance such claims usually hark back to the ‘golden age’ of our parents or grandparents. But there never was a ‘golden age.’ There may have been periods of relative quiet but these have been achieved through the subjugation of free thought: if not through dictatorship, then through tyrannical tools such as religion. But if they achieved peace then aren’t these times to be extolled? The answer to that is a definitive ‘no’ because they achieved only the impression of peace, in all actuality leading to explosions of thought and feeling, as witnessed in the countless revolutions of modern history. And hand in hand with the subjugation of free thought comes the subjugation of the other things which make us human, both the creative and intellectual impulses.

One of great ironies of religion in the Western world is that the virtues and values it extols are at odds with the society we live in. Economic individualism stresses the virtues of winning and of competition. Our heroes are based on coveting what it is they have. We place very little value on original thinking, if any at all. We choose to misinterpret the past. We are told we should re-claim ‘victorian values’, conveniently ignoring the disparity between rich and poor, the existence of child labour, the acceptance of high crime and the environmental ignorance that such values incorporate. A return to ‘Victorian values’ would be a hugely backward step.

At the same time our media is prolific at producing vast quantities of panic. The increased availability of information about what happens in our society is not matched by a public capacity to reflect upon and make sense of it. How, some will ask, can one make sense of such things as the murder of school children or the apocalypse of war?

That is the greatest challenge we face and so far we have failed miserably in our attempts. Until recently religion was used to quiet our society and excuse diabolical acts as the work of omnipotent evil. Staggeringly many folk still believe in the absolutes of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ ,not in secular terms but as external realities which make a mockery of man’s attempts to live a good life. By accommodating this kind of thinking in our culture we deny personal responsibility and the capacity of each of us to think for ourselves. There are indications of a universal morality. Human beings, all over the globe, recognise the depravity of murder and rape, yet many externalise our responsibilities for these acts through faith in absolutes and certainties. Nietzsche recognised the frailty of such categories in his work ‘Beyond Good and Evil’ but failed to replace religious, and some philosophical, explanations, with anything but thoughtless nihilism. In the absence of religion in the contemporary west relativism, or lazy thinking, has come to the fore. So far our reaction has been either the moral preaching of a return to false golden ages, predictions about mythical apocalyptic futures, or the abandonment of free thinking to the ravages of relativism.

3 thoughts on “The mythical abyss

  1. “One of great ironies of religion in the Western world is that the virtues and values it extols are at odds with the society we live in.”
    The god of most religions is a “Lord”, so religion is conceived on the model of an aristocratic power system (complete with an eternal prison with eternal torture). Indeed, this is ad odds with modern democratic societies in which most people recognize that power is a dangerous and even evil phenomenon that has to be controlled, and that torture is unacceptable. So our societies have moved on but the religions have stayed behind (and is keeping society behind in some places).

  2. An excellent disquisition. There are however a few points upon which I’m not certain we can agree. I may be misinterpreting and, if so, I beg your indulgence.

    I think that we do, in fact, stand at the edge of an abyss. It’s called extinction. It happens to any species that cannot or, as is the case with homo sapiens, will not adapt and conform with the laws of Nature.

    There is no exception for a species that refuses to comply with those laws because it believes itself superior to all other Life and therefore exempt. To conclude otherwise is pure delusion and will prove fatal.

    The creatures we named dinosaurs dominated Life on Earth for over 200 million years before succumbing to natural forces beyond their comprehension. Not their fault. Could happen to anyone.

    After a paltry 200 thousand years, “modern” Homo sapiens teeters on the brink of extinction as a result of its own hubris. Nobody’s fault but our own. We know what we’re doing and what the most probable outcome will be.

    Our likely demise has little to do with “moral delinquency”, at least as applied to the majority. There are much more than “indications” of a universal morality. It requires no more than common sense to discern its existence.

    That there is “evil” outside the realm of supernatural, religious or spiritual thought is equally certain and it is this scientifically detectable and controllable pathology that lies at the root of human misery and suffering throughout the ages.

    “Inherited and acquired psychological disorders and ignorance of their existence and nature are the primal causes of evil. The magic number of 6% seems to represent the number of humans who either carry the genes responsible for biological evil or who acquire such disorders in the course of their lifetime. This small percent is responsible for the vast majority of human misery and crime, and for infecting others with their flawed view of the world.” (source) (emphasis added)

    I strongly urge you to take a bit of time and apply it to research into Ponerology. It is my considered opinion that this science brings us closer to understanding the human condition than any scientific theory or philosophy heretofore put forth.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s