November 13, 2012

Geography, culture, and evolutionary goal of nature

Why OOO? from Larval Subjects Nov 13, 2012 
Later there would be encounters with the “poor-man’s” Braudel in the work of theorists such as Jared Diamond in Guns, Germs, and Steel, who would thoroughly demolish biological and cultural racisms through their analysis of geography or the material features of the environment in which people lived, as well as other historians like William McNiell.  I add cultural racism, because text-based/signifier-based theorists are thoroughly unable to explain why certain cultures rose to prominence in the world without appealing to something “superior” in the signifying-systems of those cultures that rose to dominance.  We see it, for example, in Zizek’s claim that there’s something superior in the European, Christian legacy that gave them dominance.  Theorists like Diamond, McNiell, and Braudel are thoroughly able to demolish this cultural racism, this idea that there was something “special” about the Greeks, by analyzing geography, the prevalence of domesticatible animals and plants, available metals, growing seasons, etc.  For them it wasn’t the culture, but the geography; and this based on the axiom that peoples always make maximal use of the resources available to them because, well, folks are smart wherever they live.

What F.A. Hayek called the extended market order is one such greater good that has emerged as the unintended by-product of what are mostly self-interested actions by individuals within free, private-property markets… The key is freedom – free entry into, and exit from, markets; freedom of prices to adjust to supply and demand conditions; freedom of consumers to spend their money as they judge best; and freedom from excessively burdensome regulations and taxation, as well as from threats to the security of private property rights.
The invisible hand is both a valuable metaphor and a valid notion.  There is, of course, no real see-through hand guiding human actions.  But the idea that each of us is led, as we pursue our own self-interests within free private-property markets (and, more generally, through a rich assortment of voluntary arrangements), unintentionally to promote a larger and beneficial end, is unquestionably correct.

Read with James, Bergson, Whitehead and others of the time it is clear how valuable his contribution is to early 20th century metaphysics but it’s become a minefield today to tread there because there are all kinds of knots and snares one can get caught up in nowadays with metaphysics – usually in a reification, like our auro-jihadi friends – whose misplaced concreteness – is threatening to others because they mistake their ideology for reality…. 

The necessity of rebirth hinges on the ultimate meaning of the manifestation of the universe. If it is random chance, or purely mechanical machinery, there is no necessity of rebirth. If, on the other hand, there is a conscious Will and Purpose to the universe, and the human being is part of that purpose and carrying out an evolutionary role, then rebirth becomes a centerpiece of the process…
If we find that man is therefore a “transitional being”, as Sri Aurobindo has described elsewhere, then we can explore the “ladder of evolution” both with respect to the prior steps of the ascent of consciousness out of involvement in Matter, through the progressive development of Life, and the subsequent stages of expression of Mind, as well as the future stages beyond our current mental development into what Sri Aurobindo describes as the “supramental” ranges of consciousness. 

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