The Endless and Hopeless Dialectic of the Left

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Published on: August 20, 2015

Let us assume for the moment, as the classical and contemporary ideologues of the left do, that human beings evolve into new forms of consciousness.   Evolution, which the left is devoted to in all of its forms, argues that our biological ancestors were less sensate creatures.  Even recent ancestors, on the evolutionary time scale, might have been bereft of hearing, or a sense of smell, or taste, let alone vision.  And as we continue to evolve there may be whole new senses awaiting us.  These senses correspond to new forms of consciousness.

Obviously, a creature with sight, like a man, and a creature without sight, like a worm, have, as a consequence, an almost totally divergent consciousness.  Human consciousness and worm consciousness are separated by an experiential gulf as wide as the universe, for the worm has no consciousness of a universe he cannot see.  And so we see just how far evolution has supposedly taken us.

But consider what an attack on objective truth this whole idea of a continuously and permanently evolving consciousness is.  It means that in another eon, much of what we consider an experience of the universe today, as a supposedly stable basis for eternal truth claims, will be passé.  We might still be worms, relatively speaking. 

It is possible that even this claim that our consciousness is evolving may be prevented in our future state by changes which are not driven by any design, by any transcendental law leading to a final and complete consciousness of Reality.  We would have to believe in a guiding force in order to believe that our evolving consciousness is becoming more and more informed by Reality.  Without a transcendent plan it might be less and less informed by Reality.  Materialism, by itself, cannot offer any guarantee of a better, higher, more informed consciousness.  It offers only a different set of subjective experiences which do not have more intrinsic value, or truth value, than the worm’s.  Without teleology, our changing consciousness, at any point in time, has no claim to truth, to authority, to superiority.  For all we know this consciousness is projecting its own experience without any possible accumulation of eternal truth.  And as it changes our belief in the goal-directed nature of evolution might be eliminated.  Human consciousness, from any naturalistic point of view, may be nothing but a set of automatisms without transcendence, without objectivity.  Its belief in its own objectivity may be an epochal illusion. 

If human consciousness is changing, then the truth is changing, because experience is changing, perhaps radically.  No claim about the nature of Reality could have a stable basis in experience, including the claim that new forms of consciousness are possible, inevitable, or even real. 

But Darwin, as a biologist, and the transcendental idealist philosophers of the same century, seemed to take it for granted that new forms of human consciousness had to be better — better informed by the nature of Reality.  And the more we know about Reality, the more rational we might make our morality.  But then what does it mean to be rational?  If human consciousness is changing then reason must be changing.

Hegel published the Phenomenology of Spirit in 1807.  Darwin published On The Origin of Species in 1859.  Marx published Das Kapital in 1867.   These three works established the modern doctrines of the evolution of human consciousness (human reason), biological evolution, and social evolution respectively.  Comte is worth mentioning as the precursor to all three.  All three of these metaphysical notions came together in the nineteenth century as a supposedly new consciousness of the human experience as a process without a fixed nature, without a permanent set of categories in terms of which to understand or create experience.  Hegel, Darwin, Marx, all took it for granted that this process is somehow progressive.  It has a completely speculative, unexplained natural teleology.  But the survival of the fittest is a tautology.  And the notion that the latest liberal consciousness is superior is nothing but vanity in the face of the changing standards of our changing consciousness.  For all liberals know, conservatives are more highly evolved.  The Nazis were sure that they were more highly evolved. 

A few, like Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, were less metaphysically optimistic.  The dialectic, the overall evolution, might be blind and impulsive, without a meaningful transcendent goal.  It might be hopeless will frustrated by competing wills.  The process could only be absolutely progressive if it was designed to be progressive, if it were transcended, itself, by an eternal standard of progress.  But a standard of progress, a direction, could only be subjectively invented said Nietzsche.  It could only exist inside of the process as a closed system.  It is not out there in any objective, religious sense.  It can be nothing more than an historically relative will to power. 

The satisfaction of this will to power is the only real, i.e. natural, moral standard.  The main difference between Nietzsche and the liberals was Nietzsche’s honesty about this will to power.  Otherwise both were dialectical and evolutionary in their secular perspective.  The chronological snobbery of the liberal is nothing but blind faith.  Nietzsche thought an eternal recurrence of the same world was more likely than transcendental progress.  What Marx suggested and what Sartre stated flatly, is that the dialectic, as a combination of biological and intellectual evolution, is leading to a totalization — the complete dominance and finality of one supposedly natural view of Reality which is, in and of itself, good. 

This is not only religion, but bad religion, because it has no confirming historical foundation, like Christianity.  It is faith in the deity of man.  And that, above all else, is its seduction.  In order to understand the postmodern critique of all of this modern romanticism, this poetry, this escape into a collective and self-induced fantasy, you must make this foundational observation that reason is little more than the minion of this will to power, this heady replacement of God by Man; this whole idea that we are not limited by God; that we can be more than creatures in the long run.

This utterly fantastic, even extreme metaphysical speculation of the nineteenth century (for even Darwin is little more than extreme metaphysical speculation) is the legacy, the cornerstone, of progressivism.  As I have already explained, this completely imaginary vision of Reality makes it logically impossible to know that it is itself true; that it is anything more than an epochal fad, a will to power which is inevitably disappointed and finally abandoned.  Its faith in the superiority of the latest form of human consciousness is completely arbitrary.  Of course, there is no ONE latest form of human consciousness.  The totalization remains nothing more than the strange hope of eccentrics who cannot adjust to the real world in which they are relatively powerless.

As patently silly as this dialectical and evolutionary vision of reason, of human consciousness, is, you will find it to this day in those who take their sophistication for granted.  These contemporary actors are almost completely incompetent as truly critical thinkers.  They are, in fact, completely non-resistant conduits of half-baked metaphysics.  This sentimental service brings them success and adulation.  Brian Greene (The Fabric of the Cosmos, The Elegant Universe) is a contemporary example of this completely philosophical, speculative legacy, feigning scientific sophistication.  He takes it for granted that the evolution of physics illustrates new forms of human consciousness.  He cannot see the controversial theory of meaning, truth, and knowledge in this metaphysical claim.  He insists that science must run from the misleading character of human experience, as a new and paradoxically (oxymoronically) more informed consciousness, but has no idea how to rationally justify this view of Reality in the absence of experience, which his new consciousness rejects.  He makes science unrecognizable.  Like Hegel, he thinks that reason in the abstract is somehow self-authenticating.  He is satisfied with a form of science which admits of no experimental test for truth.

Even the popular view of science, or at least the popular view which scientists like Greene would like to realize, is infected with nineteenth century evolutionary dialecticism which cannot provide a standard of truth; which undermines the very possibility of objectivity.

One can see how dangerous a lack of philosophical sophistication is.  The progressive is living in a dream Reality established by other dreamers a long time ago.  The Reality they have described is bereft of universal, evolution-independent standards of reason and morality.  It is a romantic fantasy harking back to German idealism combined with a pretense to scientific reason the standards of which, once again, can only be relative to the biological, social, and intellectual era which creates them.  As we move on, these standards will disappear as part of a relatively unconscious, unsophisticated past.

From a philosophical point of view Progressives are horribly unsophisticated people who embrace the nineteenth century dialectical and evolutionary view of Reality out of a narcissistic motivation.  They have no way to make serious, respectable truth claims.  Their view of Reality undermines all truth claims.  They conveniently believe that their progressive consciousness is self-authenticating.  And this is what leads to the brutal authoritarianism of a Margaret Sanger grounded in biological evolution, and a Stalin grounded in a theory of emerging, dialectical consciousness and social evolution. 

It is all nothing more than a will to power where the intellectual foundations are so childlike, so amazingly self-deluded, that only a correspondingly pathetic system of government schools can keep it alive. 

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