January 26, 2006

Surpassing Man

An Epistolary Dialogue Between Roberto Calvo Macias and Dr. Sam Vaknin
Nietzsche's Overman is a challenge to society as a whole and to its values and value systems in particular. The latter are considered by Nietzsche to be obstacles to growth, abstract fantasies which contribute nothing positive to humanity's struggle to survive. Nietzsche is not against values and value systems as such - but against SPECIFIC values, the Judaeo-Christian ones. It relies on a transcendental, immutable, objective source of supreme, omniscient, long term benevolent source (God). Because God (an irrelevant human construct) is a-human (humans are not omniscience and omnipotent) his values are inhuman and irrelevant to our existence. They hamper the fulfilment of our potential as humans.
Enter the Overman. He is a human being who generates values in accordance with data that he collects from his environment. He employs his intuition (regarding good and evil) to form values and then tests them empirically and without prejudice. Needless to say that this future human does not resort to contraptions such as the after-life or to a denial of his drives and needs in the gratification of which he takes great pleasure. In other words, the Overman is not ascetic and does not deny his self in order to alleviate his suffering by re-interpreting it ("suffering in this world is rewarded in the afterlife" as institutionalized religions are wont to say). The Overman dispenses with guilt and shame as anti-nihilistic devices. Feeling negative about oneself the pre-Overman Man is unable to joyously and uninhibitedly materialize the full range of his potentials. The ensuing frustration and repressed aggression weaken Man both physically and psychologically.
So, the Overman or Superman is NOT a post-human being. It IS a human being just like you and I but with different values. It is really an interpretative principle, an exegesis of reality, a unified theory of the meaning and fullness of being human. He has no authority outside himself, no values "out there" and fully trusts himself to tell good from evil. Simply: that which works, promotes his welfare and happiness and helps him realize his full range of potentials - is good. And everything - including values and the Overman himself - everything - is transitory, contingent, replaceable, changeable and subject to the continuous scrutiny of Darwinian natural selection.
Paradoxically, the Superman is a very social creature. He regards humanity as a bridge between the current Man or Overman and the future one. Since there is no way of predicting at birth who will end up being the next Man - life is sacred and overcoming becomes a collective effort and a social enterprise. Creation (the "will's joy") - the Superman's main and constant activity - is meaningless in the absence of a context.
Let us see this "exceeding" of man from a different point of view. At the beginning of the century an Indian "thinker", Sri Aurobindo, was studying some Western philosophy. He found Nietzsche's writings and saw in them a confused, fogey prophecy - but at least it was a prophecy. By that time, Aurobindo himself was working on the subject of evolution from an Asiatic point of view. In his view, nature evolves from matter to spirit, using a universal, multipolar (post-modernism?) point of view. He devised something called the Supermind, the next evolutionary step.
As far as I know Aurobindo was one of the first to state so clearly and in such terms the next evolutionary step. A comparison of Aurobindo's theories (we will resume the super-mind learnings in the next letters) and modern theories of "the information society" is fascinating and revealing. Aurobindo's works allow us to see the superman form a different point of view, not titanic but divine, in the best style of indian metaphysics. Well, it is just another point of view:-) but it is curious to behold these different views. best regards roberto

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