by Richard E. Noble
Ever since I took up reading, as a teenager, I have been a student of Philosophy and a practitioner in the art of Philosophastering. Even the names of the different subject matter of Philosophy fascinate me - Cosmology, Epistemology, Ontology, Ethics, Theology, Logic, Metaphysics, Aesthetics, Phenomenology, Existentialism, Idealism. Contrary to popular understanding, Cosmetology is not a branch of philosophic study and Ayn Rand is a novelist, not a philosopher.
I was attracted to Philosophy because I felt that it dealt with the big stuff - the big questions. It even questioned the question - God, for example. Philosophy doesn’t deal with Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, Christianity, Islam or even Calvinism - it goes right to the big stuff is there a God; is the concept of Creation a rational possibility - the philosopher asks. That’s what I like. Philosophy I have always felt is basic. It goes to the root - to the source. Philosophy is the bottom line of everything. In Philosophy you have the right to question anything and everything - even the speed of light, space and the Big Bang.
I have spent years studying Nothing in Philosophy. And believe me, the study of Nothing in Philosophy is really something. There are volumes and volumes in Philosophy written about Nothing. (Check out Nothing on my blog search)
Recently, I have been reading two books on two different subject matters. One is on Cognitive Science; A Companion to Cognitive Science, edited by William Bechtel and George Graham. And the other is on the Global Economy; One World, Ready or Not by William Greider. Both books point out that we are on the brink of a revolution.
The Global economy book points to a revolution being precipitated by the international business community - the new world of the multinational conglomerate. This new, uncontrolled dictator of the world and its governments and its peoples is bringing our previously established core values into question. What is patriotism? What is nationalism? What is Country? What is a Nation?
The cognitive science book is equally interesting. It begins discussing artificial intelligence. They have made robots today that can think. They can solve problems; they can deduce theorems; they can write a poem. These machines are so good that when a human is placed at a keyboard and directed to question the machine and a real person in a third room, the questioner can not differentiate between the machine and the real human being. If there are machines that can think creatively, solve complicated scientific
problems and even meditate and speculate on their own existence - this brings into question what we have traditionally defined as the soul or human essence.
Since the days of Prometheus when he was given the gift of self-knowledge and awareness and then tied to a stone for his misbehavior, the human’s ability to reflect upon his own existence has been his one unique identification. Nothing and no one in the universe is supposed to possess this quality other than mankind.
According to St. Augustine not even God could possess this attribute, because if God could reflect upon his own being and his place within existence this would make Him subject to time and God, according to Augustine, is beyond time. This would not make man greater than God though, because God is also not subject to definition or comparison. Trying to compare man with God is trying to compare apples with oranges - so there you go.
So here we are in this War of the Worlds - not only are we men without a Country, we are human beings without a soul. Wow! Where do we go from here?
But there you are - this is what I like about Philosophy. It blows your mind. Talk about thinking out of the box. We don’t even have a box to think out of any more.
“One Nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all”
My first philosophical dilemma in the above statement was with the word God; this dilemma then expanded to the phrase under God; then liberty under God; then justice under God. I have even spent a good deal of time on the concept of … all. After investigating a multiple of the controversies with regards to these concepts, I had never before given much thought to the notion of the word ... Nation; or One Nation. I thought of it somewhat when reading Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf - but never had I thought of the idea in terms of losing my identity as an American - or my country disappearing. A Nation in the future may be simply an ancient geographical determination - or a magazine; quote the Raven, and nothing more.
Sony Company is on the brink of losing its Japanese identity - sixty percent of its employees are not Japanese. Is a National Company a part of The Nation when more than 50% of its stock holders are from foreign countries; or when over half of its profits come from foreign investments; or when it pays no taxes or pays more taxes and fees in foreign countries than it does at home; or when its managers and executives are all foreign born; or the majority of its employees are from the international community? Where does that leave McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Ford Motor, IBM, ITT, Halliburton, Motorola, General Motors etc.?
“Think Globally; act locally.” What the hell does that mean now? And for that matter; “I think, therefore I am.” Yeah? I think not. I think, therefore I could be some kind of a machine sitting in another room writing poetry in my spare electrical impulses. Wow!
These multinational megagopolies have so much capital even a coalition of the most powerful nations in the world do not have the ability to check their direction or policies - if they had a direction or policies. There is enough independent investment money out there that if they choose, they could bankrupt the currency (economy) of a Nation the size of France or Germany - maybe the USA. We don’t know.
In this competitive world the smart guys can outwit themselves - once again. Remember 1929?
The War of the Worlds - it’s a new world and a whole new war; where do we begin - even if we want to fight?