16 November 2015

Intentions are meant to achieve excellence...

I have been searching for a way to describe the social/economic/technological revolution that is taking place before our eyes and I think I have stumbles upon a key to a good description.  I have been observing it more and more ever since I was forced to make sense of the post-apartheid South Africa, but the key to unlock the problem came from an investigation of world history.  There does not seem to be very much sense in being verbose about this key, because good explanations usually fit into very short description, like E=mc2.  Therefore, I will simply state the past philosophy of human interactions and then describe what I see is changing about this.  I might point out what is trying to prevent this change or revolution to be successful, but that can be left to anyone’s imagination.

What is the old status being challenged?

In the recent and even ancient past a cruel view of existence was the norm.  Either people think that this cruelty of existence is the decline from a perfect past, like the Greeks believed or people thought that there is a utopian future in progress. But let us keep the focus on one simple very defining view for all of modern society.  That is the globally pervasive notions of “survival of the fittest”, but I am not going to restrict this view to the Darwinian notion that shaped Western thought, I am going to link it to a universal belief that “survival” is the only state of being that follows from any organism that exist in a system with limited resources.  It has been hailed by most Western thinkers and rulers to be the driving force that actually brought our current state of being to this point and will keep doing so into the future.

What is fundamentally wrong about this old status?

The fundamentally wrong aspect of this “modern” status is that it is based on an assumption that change happens without any intentionality. This faulty notion is pervasive and has been the norming factor in most of recent human history.  There has always been awareness of the folly of this view, but it has only recently become more visible and discernible in human activities.  This is because it is now abundantly clear that intentions are being poured into more and more configurations of matter and all these intention rich configurations become more and more influential (...we call it technology) and this in itself makes it more and more difficult to ignore intentionality as has been proposed by the Darwinian “Random Mutation & Natural Selection” version of the “Survival of the fittest” notion.
The wrong assumption that is being corrected in the revolution that is taking place before my eyes is simply that “Nature is NOT without intentions” or "Nature is full of intentions".

What is the best replacement for “Survival of the fittest”?

 This is the key… I think and I hope…
  1. Because all interactions where a consciousness are involved will always be influenced by intentions[1].
  2. …and because it seems as if human consciousness can, in principle, discern all intentions that it is exposed to – Regardless of the degree of logical coherence, because even the intention or utility of logic can be discerned by human consciousness.  Call it the “unreasonableness of the comprehensibility of nature and all of reality”
  3. We are, at least, aware of some of the nature of all intentions that we are exposed to.
  4. Survival is therefore just one possible aspect or “intention” of nature and can never be considered a superior aspect in any sense.  It should therefore be rejected as a fundamental guiding principle for our description of reality.
  5. In its place I propose that a more fundamental kind of intention would be one that aims to achieve mutual creation and extension of as many intentional states of reality as possible or fundamentally allowed by the system[2], because “things-that-is” seems to also form the creative resources and foundation of any potential future and new intentions[3].
  6. This fundamental intention can be used as a universal definition for excellence… Where excellence is a state in which it is possible to achieve an ever increasing pool of states and intentions to preserve as many unique states of existence.
  7. Any system that intend to reduce the number of intentional states can be considered a deviation from excellence[4].
  8. Excellence is therefore not a claim of some sort of static perfection, but clearly just a state of perpetual intentions, where all intentions can be maintained[5]. To illustrate this, it can be noted that intentions that has the property of destroying other intentions – (i.e. Immoral intentions), can simply be placed in a “state of containment” with an acknowledgement of its (immoral) character.  Which means that destructive intentions do not need to be destroyed it can simply be kept "in isolation" without enacting it in any way that can destroy[6].

As an afterthought it might be good to consider the church or body of Christ seems to be the sphere where perfect intentions and excellence can be achieved. This is where God is, in unity with humanity as He is the source of perfect intentions[7]. This is why eternity has always been part of Christian expectations and intentions.  Secular thought that has been trying to sterilize thought into singular intentions certainly does not seem optimum and the fact that God “created at all” is proof of this – God is what He is and we can observe and partake in it through His grace in Jesus Christ.

[1] Intentions can unfortunately not be part of material nature, because nature does not describe itself, but consciousness describes nature by assigning some abstraction or intention to it. Read Thomas Nagel about the status of teleology in the modern explanation of things.
[2] Here is implied the system that include both things and intentions and by no means isolated to material things.
[3] All “possible states of existence” does not contain something like the second law of thermodynamics as a universal axiom, but at most a localised aspect of what we experience as physical nature.
[4] The second law of thermodynamics should in this sense be narrowly seen, simply as the possibility for one state to change to another state and that in a closed system, like physical things, it will not be able to be maintain without new intentions introduced to it. For this reason, it seems as if matter is simply the flow of a series of intentions, which is certainly the case, at least for conscious beings like us.
[5] Take as an example a “world record” in athletics, it is not a static point of excellence, it is a local state of being that afford all other athletes the opportunity to aim for and achieve their personal level of excellence... that is why most athletes are ecstatic when they improved on a “personal best”.
[6] This convince me that even in the most perfect society or in heaven there should be a way to retain all past experiences even the destructive bad ones that deviate from excellence – further supporting my conviction that excellence is when states of new experiences are preserved and created.
[7] Consider the wonder of the prayer of Christ in John 17.


Louis said...

Survival of the fittest never sat easy with me. Excellence however is something that really gets me excited. I do believe that the generally accepted idea that the highest driving force of life being survival is a calculated deception by a conscious being to control the intentions of other conscious beings (that also happens to have material/physical properties) to mislead them into accepting a limited reality that is not the original design. People accepting this survival mode are caught up in focussing on their end (in trying to escape it) instead of focussing on what they were really made for - eternity. The author of Hebrews felt it important to direct us to Jesus as an example of someone focussing on what we were created for, instead of on survival (Heb 12:2). Jesus did it so well that He got resurrected for it. The question is if we can be resurrected in the same way? Using (His) excellence as a universal driver I can't see how we can fail (2 Cor 4:7). With this mindset, failure is a challenge (not a fear) and death becomes an opportunity to establish a new PB. Thank you for this new insight.

Michael said...

Great thoughts! In the context of a "war against terror", it seems as if terror is the only state of being available for those who believe that survival is the fundamental intention.