Posing the first problem:
Non-human living entities live in an objective reality (that is, they’re consciously at-one with material objects, surfaces, exteriors: a monological reality). Conversely, humans seem to live concurrently—and self-consciously—in both subjective and objective realities (that is, a dual, or dialogical reality). This very basic truth is built into our [‘integral’] holism mnemonic:
One’s journey may be in faithfully pursuing a vow of silence. If not, this basic ‘dual realities’ truth presents the first problem. Using language in any attempt to communicate concerning Reality presents a dilemma: Is the first step an objective or a subjective framing?
So. How to begin?
As we’ll see below, one minute Harari makes claims and arguments that would seem to prove he is a hard empiricist and materialistic reductionist. Then, he offers his personal speculation that is entirely contradictory to those positions. Any one argument Harari deploys may well be a contrary counterpoint to his overall message. I feel Harari’s writing is synergistic.
There’s one particular word that, for me, best describes Yuval Noah Harari’s writing style. I’ll bet you can pick it out from this short clip:
The sooner the Sapiens or Homo Deus reader realizes Harari chooses his words—seemingly, more often than not—as provocation, the easier it will be to settle into his argument. In the meantime my counsel would be: “Don’t get furious, rather, get curious.” Why does what Harari says in a given instance push all your buttons? It’s pure gold for reflection.
Harari often writes/speaks in the objective language of the world (e.g., speaking monologically in terms of its: physical concrete objects, surfaces, exteriors). On my view, Harari often talks like a strict empiricist (e.g., scientific materialist). Harari’s approach rhymes with, and speaks well to a worldly objective/rationally focused perspective.
Granted, on face value, Harari clearly seems to reflect the world (e.g., the given, science and academia), a materialistic reductionist. I’ll provide a couple of examples.
In Homo Deus, Harari talks about the scientific out-pacing of the ideals supporting liberalism. By “liberalism” Harari means the West’s manifestation of Orange [ER] values—e.g., rationality, individuality, innovation, competition, merit—after the Enlightenment, expressed in the West as freedom, autonomy, democracy, and capitalism [Orange content].
The life sciences, however, undermine liberalism, arguing that the free individual is just a fictional tale concocted by an assembly of biochemical algorithms. —‘Homo Deus,’ pg. 306
Harari was asked about the adaptive value of consciousness in evolution:
But. Wait. Not so fast! Harari speculates:
Here’s where many religious folks are willing to make what I think is a very large mistake. What Harari speculates about materialism is interesting, but it’s important not to overreach with it. It’s tempting to say: “See, I just knew my religious narrative was correct, and now science helps affirm that.” Here’s what Harari goes on to say:
To say humans add a “a fictional tale” to objective reality is—as is Harari’s way—a provocation, and likely a sore one for many people. Harari’s writing will surely test the reader for their level of dogmatism—and Harari shows (in the ‘Consciousness and Materialists‘ video above) that dogmatism appears in many unexpected places. The more dogmatic one’s worldview, the more Harari’s thought will provoke and challenge. If that’s you, again: “Don’t get furious, rather, get curious.”
I’m convinced that the world has it mostly upside down—or backwards, or inside out, you can pick the image you prefer. I feel this is essentially what Jesus said, too, according to Mark [cf. Mark].
The world likes to begin and remain in the ‘objective’ right-hand quadrants.
I can’t prove it without being able to ask him, but Harari seems to be, along with the world, questioning whether or not our body has a soul. However, I strongly suspect Harari’s provocations are an impassioned reflection of his sense, too, that the world is upside down.
So, I know, I said last week we’d get into the grave implications of the human “useless class” this week. Sorry, out of space. I plan to lead with that next week.
I never know what I’ve said till I hear the response. What did you hear me say?
Note: This blog page has employed a serial approach to outline, Spiral Dynamics, a helpful developmental anthropology based on the research of Clare Graves. Introduction (June 30, 2018), first in series (July 1, 2018).
One thought on “The first problem”
Your distinction at the beginning between monological and dialogical reality led me to think of the hermeneutics of Raimon Panikkar. Actually I just recently dug out a file Panikkar quotes in connection with some study of dialogue. My interest in Pannikar is longstanding, coming out of my deep interest in interreligious dialogue. Panikkar wants us to think about intrareligious dialog, dialogical dialogue, Diatopical Hermeneutics, and more.
As I recall Raimon’s mothers’ family was Catholic from Spain and his father’s Hindu from India. He had interreligious and intercultural dialogue built into his family.
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