Monday, 23 January 2017

Thought 442: Amorality of Nature – Knowledge of Good and Evil

Neither moral nor immoral, Nature is amoral. There are predators, there are prey, the frail and injured not to mention the vulnerable young and old are doomed to be either preyed upon or left to rot by nature's stubborn mercilessness and even the most superficial viewers of natural documentaries will realise that life in the wild is no piece of cake, weakness being promptly and summarily punished with premature death not to say extinction. 

However, a more profound view of such documentaries will highlight the fact that even the most merciless and cruel of predators, such as sharks or wolves, have a key role to play in the natural world and its essential balance. 

For example, my father reported to me an upsetting scene in the documentary series Blue Planet where a mother whale is fleeing a group of killer whales along with her baby offspring and these killers just bide their time knowing full well that the calf whale will not be able to keep up in the long run, thus falling under their teeth and providing them with their next meal. 

Yet, for all the upsetting quality of this predation and the mother whale's loss of her youngling, the food as eaten by the killer whales and processed by them is essential for smaller, scavenger types of fish to survive so that there is dependency on the predators who often also have a function of population control, a function necessary for green food not to grow too scarce through over-grazing. 

In the documentary Yellowstone, it is clear that the reintroduction of wolves in that American Natural Park located in the Rocky Mountains actually led to the reappearance of beavers because the wolves reduced the amount of elk who ate the beavers' food and prevented them from erecting their dams. 

It is also clear in that documentary how some species scavenge and scrounge food off weaker species who worked hard for it, just like the boom and bust financial credit system parasites off genuine human labour in return for virtual debt money that was created out of nothing.  

In popular culture, the series Breaking Bad in its second season makes character Jessie out to be a blowfish, i.e. a fish that is harmless but able to scare bigger fish away through the deception of growing in size at will. This is because he is believed to be a ruthless killer when in fact he is not at all.

Nature's cunning indeed knows no limit where survival is concerned. Witness the attractive looking, carnivorous plants that attract insects with their tasty secretions only to close in on them when these insects do get attracted and land on them.

We would be seriously fooling ourselves if we failed to acknowledge that such dynamics of deception, predation and cunning not to mention interdependency and inter-relatedness apply to the human kingdom as well. 

In fact rampant capitalism itself constantly preys on the weaker, the smaller, the more frail and, like the ecosystem, everything is financially interconnected in commercial society so that if, for example, motor cars were to disappear all manners of business, be it tyre companies, garages, driving instructors, traffic wardens, road and motorway constructors as well as oil giants would be out of a livelihood (at least theoretically). 

The same is true of the internet. Were it to disappear masses of businesses and private individuals would have their financial livelihoods annihilated and would have to find alternative means and platforms to make money and publicise themselves, resorting back to old-fashioned market squares or even barter. 

Taking myself as an example, I know to be a most predatory, damaging company for many retailers and that Amazon are known to treat their labour force very poorly, whether blue collar in their massive storage houses or white collar in the form of their corporate headquarters which employ cruel psychological techniques to get the most out of their employees.

Yet the platform is so universal and effective I have managed to make money from it via Amazon marketplace which enables individuals like myself to sell their stuff, recouping some of the loss I incurred impulsively and imprudently buying from Amazon! And of course Amazon took a cut from each sale I made despite the fact I was selling items purchased from them!

It is noteworthy that Amazon too is dependent for its business on the internet but also a working postal and home delivery service as well as a system of electronic payments online. 

Looking to the natural world in all its glorious if ruthless balance, Nietzsche went so far as to consider evil to be 'man's best strength' since forcing him to become strong and overcome his weaker instincts and impulses.

And there is no doubt that, historically, evil men have fared better in wars, politics and wealth than moral peoples. Indeed modern England itself is the fruit of a ruthless invasion involving brutal killing, raping and starvation started by predatory French Normans led by William the Conqueror.

The anti-war banner never saw the light of day in the Ancient World because giving up on war in those days would have meant de facto being conquered and sold into abject slavery and living at the behest of cruel tyrants and masters. 

Pre-socratic philosopher Heraclitus expressed this insight most laconically and earnestly when he stated
"War is father of all and king of all; and some he has shown as gods, others men; some he has made slaves, others free."
Perhaps eating from the Tree of Knowledge as Adam and Eve did in Genesis was the moment we as a species removed ourselves from Nature's 'Divine Law' as English poet Ted Hughes put it, however unforgiving and predatory that 'Law' happens to be, making us understand moral reality and thereby introduce moral evaluations into Nature's mix.
"Man means the evaluator." (Thus Spoke Zarathustra) 
After The Fall occurred, we experienced shame for the first time (including at our naked bodies) and became conscious of our baser and higher natures whereas before The Fall we were entirely at one with Being without the need for reflection or moral decision-making. It is now necessary to wilfully choose rightful action over wrongdoing if one is to be deemed moral. 

Now I am not preaching social darwinism, preying on the weak or some such satanic ideology - readers of my blog will know that I believe in the concepts of good and evil and Natural Law - but the fact is there are those who use people as means rather than ends, deceive them, exploit them, harm them every which way, including the young and infirm, and that by virtue of our Knowledge of Good and Evil such actions need always be condemned and never tolerated precisely because we have removed ourselves from pure Being and thereby have become, some of us at least, attuned to right-ful and wrong-ful conduct. 

A right is anything that is not a wrong (not some centrally granted legal entitlement) and a wrong is any action that violates the bodily and mental integrity of other sentient beings without their consent. Such violation constitutes violence. Violence is always a wrong under Natural Law since force used against violence as self-defence is just that - force. Force does not violate the rights of others if these have wrongfully initiated force (violence) against us. 

In conclusion, before moral evaluations are introduced into the mix, amorality is the rule, neither good nor evil. The acquisition of knowledge of good and evil introduces said evaluations into the human kingdom - which means that the concept of morality and therefore also its opposite, immorality, takes the place of a-morality, that level of existence which lies, as philosopher Nietzsche would say, 'beyond good and evil.' 

That philosopher regarded the transition from amoral evaluations to moral ones as a decadent regression, creating neurosis and instinctual corruption within mankind eventually leading to the advent of nihilism, the devaluing of the highest values manifesting in spiritual exhaustion. His hope for the overcoming of nihilism lied with creative individuals who would come to offer means of evaluation that do not pass judgement but instead apprehend and redeem the world as it is, not for how it should be (see also Nietzsche's Position on Morality in Five Paragraphs and Relative Failure of the Nietzschean Project). 

Addendum - It is interesting to note that the substance of my position in this post regarding morality hinges on a book, Genesis, in the Hebrew Bible which of course became the Old Testament in the Christian tradition. Without 'knowledge of good and evil', i.e. without morality, how could one even begin to criticise the strong preying on the weak and other forms of social darwinism? To be sure Socrates attempted to challenge the perceived justice of the strong exploiting the weak in Plato's Republic. Nevertheless, it would seem that, despite the alleged conspiracies of Jewish Zionists to bring the world to ruin, the Jewish heritage is a great thorn in the side of those intent on global domination. Witness the statement by one of them, Adolf Hitler, according to which 
"The Jews have inflicted two wounds on mankind - circumcision on its body and conscience on its soul. They are Jewish inventions. The war for the domination of the world is waged only between these two camps alone, the Germans and the Jews." 
In other words Hitler hated the Jews precisely for their moral conscience whereas I am grateful for that moral conscience, my intentions being opposite to Hitler's and his ilk.