Monday 21 June 2021

Imagining our present world - actualities, possibilities and limitations

If you are with me so far; Man now has not just the capacity to imagine his reality - but he simply does, necessarily, imagine actual, current reality. 

It is our fate and destiny that our reality Just Is imagined

This was/ is the millennial change which was prophesied by some and felt by many more - albeit it has not worked out at all as the optimists supposed (those who felt a New Age approaching; which they supposed would be imposed-upon Mankind from the spiritual realm). 

The optimists supposed that when Man imagined reality, Man would (they thought obviously) imagine a better reality... The problem was with what 'better' was supposed to be. 

At first (late 19th, early 20th century) Man tried to imagine a 'utopia' in this mortal earthly life (a utopia perhaps including - what is not possible - immortality): a world without misery or suffering; a world of pleasure and stimulation. 

But this was never possible - no plausible utopia was ever imagined, none were believed-in; and all attempts to do think or make utopia ended in dys-topia - which was a dominant popular art form from the later 20th century

(By contrast with utopia; believable imagined dystopias were ten-a-penny - and most of them have already come true - to some significant extent.)  

By the millennium; Man had developed and decided-upon such an idea of 'better'; that it led to this trivial, bureaucratic, totalitarian world of incoherent and value-inverted ideology - a world of imaginatively-encouraged and officially-implemented resentment, fear and despair. 

In particular Man made the primary decision to imagine No God - specifically that there was no God who was the creator, and our loving parent - with us God's children. For millennial Man; a better world meant first imagining a world without God; and that meant always dystopia (or one kind of another). 

And having imaginatively ruled-out the reality of creation and the relevance of this world to each and every person - Man imagined a world of meaninglessness, purposelessness and isolation

So far, so bad; but can we do better - starting from here? 

The answer is Yes; so long as 'we' means our-personal-selves; and not collective humanity. 

And so long as we do not repeat the mistake of trying to imagine a utopia in this mortal world - which is not made to be perfected; but was made as a (temporary) place of experience and learning to prepare us for eternal Heavenly life beyond biological death. 

...Which does not-at-all mean that this mortal life is trivial -- on the contrary we are here, we remain alive (reading this, thinking about its implications) exactly because this temporary life is so important - forever

What we imagine from here on, and with what motivation, is crucial - and by 'we' I mean you, and me. Since our life Just Is imagined; and since imagination (intuitive, from the heart's thinking) acts directly on creation. 

Therefore I can think of nothing more important, immediately, than that we encourage and allow ourselves to imagine The Good. 

The Good is that which is in harmony with divine purpose and 'methods'. Such is what we are here to learn and practice - albeit partially and  intermittently - in face of many challenges and experiences. 

Start Now!


R.J.Cavazos said...

Great post. Though the utopia seeking behavior is it seems hard wired in humans.

A good read on this is Norman Cohn - The Pursuit of the Millennium: Revolutionary Millenarians and Mystical Anarchists of the Middle Ages. A great chronicle into utopian movements and also interesting how 'wokism' led to the takeover of mainse germany in the middle ages. Perhaps nothing new under the sun.... An under appreciated book by Brian JL Berry Americans Utopian Experiments, we see since 1700 Shakers, Rappites, Mormons, Fourierists,and others all pursuing some version of utopia and some of these groups being plainly bizzare. Cohn seems to imply the reason for this is that this is simply the way we are (we are not rational or as smart as we think we are, Cohn influenced John Gray) whereas Berry has it that economic troughs or other social factors drive groups to go to imagine a new world elsewhere.

Bruce Charlton said...

"utopia seeking behavior is it seems hard wired in humans" - Surely not? Nobody does it anymore.

ben said...

@R.J.Cavazos Northwest Europeans engage in status competition through moral innovation. These utopian movements can be seen as one outcome of this. This process has gone horribly wrong over the last 200 years or so by mutation (beginning with abolitionism? or maybe French/American revolutions?).

Jon said...

@Bruce Wouldn't transhumanism, 'consciousness upload', etc. count as seeking utopia (even if that 'utopia' will actually be hell. I guess one might wonder actually if all utopias would be hell...)

A said...

Do you mean to imagine God, or the good, manifested more fully in this world? Actively living out our relationship with The Father, communicating with him, etc.?

I find the post compelling, but I first default to trying to imagine things materially better (e.g. a true Christian society), but then of course that is also an impermanent and imperfect step...

Bruce Charlton said...

@Jon - That would probably be the closest. If it were possible to abolish entropy (which is what would be required to abolish disease, ageing and death) then that would address the fundamental problem of the world.

A few transhumanists (like David Pearce) imagine a world without any suffering (except what we happened to want, for whatever reason); and pleasurable sensations (simulated by drugs or neural stimulation) available of whatever kind and degree were wanted.

So in terms of pure subjectivity, this is indeed a kind of utopia. But it does not so much answer the question as answer a different question; because originally a utopian world was meant to be really-real; not a convincing delusion.

In other words, transhumanism is something of a sleight of hand combined with bait and switch; which first reduces life to a materialist model of pure feelings; and then aims to manipulate subjective feelings so as to enhance experience (regardless of inputs).

But I agree that TH is the only alternative to other-worldly religion; as I once argued some years ago (just before I became a Christian)! We either take human nature as basic, which leads to religion; or we change human nature (open endedly) in pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of suffering.

Bruce Charlton said...

@MA - No that wasn't what I was personally imagining.