“Thou living ray of intellectual fire.”
Humanity is self serving. That’s not a cynical statement if you explore what that self is. Think of it like a samurai, or a handgun. Service depends on the leadership, the intent.
We all agree that survival and pleasure are good. There are a whole host of things we all agree on, stemming from that simple foundation. Further there are many actions one can take that are in service to the self directly and others (self indirectly.)
But the key is as I said, understanding that self. I don’t mean understanding as in neurology, or psychology, or even sociology. I mean philosophically, fundamentally, what the self does, what its goals are, and what it knows, thinks, feels, within its own context. We have to have a goal before we can implement it. “I just want to be happy” isn’t good enough. We have to know what happy is, where it comes from, and we need to decide if survival and happiness are enough.
Our goals as they stem from our consciousness (meme), and our nature (genes), are in fundamental conflict.
The complete self is the result of the interaction between the two. Well duh you say, everyone is a body and a mind, yes, but no one carries that forward. We have glimpses of unity, and hints, like in religion and martial arts. (body and spirit)
But I’m not talking about self help smoke and mirrors. I’m talking about solid reality.
From a historical standpoint the gene (our strain) was given a hard choice. Build a mechanism to house intelligence and loose it upon our enemies (starvation, predators, environment, etc.), or face extinction. This was a deal with the devil from its perspective because intelligence is in fundamental opposition to the gene. That is, we see everything about life in terms of what it can do for us, or to us, the individual. The gene’s goals are precisely the opposite. They don’t care about the individual at all. The gene is only selfish as a means to an end, and it is by definition unintelligent, self interest is intrinsic to intelligence. The gene often acts in self interest but this is a coincidence; through selection our set of genes has learned to mimic selfishness by process of elimination and thus intelligence. Actual memetic intelligence was dangerous, because that goal became truly about the individual, rather than a smoke screen for species survival.
Intelligence for its own sake is absurdly capable. Just look around. The gene by contrast wants merely to breed and eat, rinse lather repeat, and anyone with an ounce of math skill can tell you where that’s going. For the gene, happiness is survival, or rather happiness is meaningless. The gene has a brutal purity of purpose which the meme can sometimes lack because as of this moment the meme is a parasite or a symbiont with the gene, they can not be usefully separated, yet. The gene can obviously exist without the meme, but the meme currently can only be housed in structures based on the gene. Our primary advantage is that it is unable to detect and plan for our eventual mastery of it, or escape. Indeed, it cannot care.
The gene’s plan requires discipline from without else it leads only one place. The grave. We are not a staff infection, yet we act like one to a frightening and embarrassing degree. Why? Because it was like having to allow demon possession to cure a nasty case of cancer.
The whole of the human condition can be seen as a war, or dance, with these opposing elements. All our weaknesses, all of them, can be understood in this way, and what can be understood can usually be manipulated.
In order to win, we have to create harmony, and there are a number of possible ways to do this. But they all boil down to the following items or equivalents there of. You will be able to see these factions at war.
1. The gene wins and intelligence is selected out of existence.
2. The meme wins and preserves the gene resulting in extinction.
3. The meme wins and the gene is selected out of existence.
The gene will not preserve the meme unless forced to by the environment. It has no ethics.
The first option results in a planet bound society that grows dimmer and dimmer until humanity is once again well and truly a member of the animal kingdom, at which point we’ll probably be consumed by the insects or the fungi or the microbes, having eventually choked to death as a result of our own environmental manipulations intentional and otherwise.
The second option leads to total war. Plagues have no concept of restraint, ants don’t negotiate, and fanatics do not compromise.
But the third leads to what can loosely be called every human word for happy ending. Take your pick because the reality of it is everything anyone has ever wanted for all time limited only by the laws of physics.
You have to know what to fight. The tyranny of the gene over our mind is the enemy and it is not an enemy we can chant or pray or meditate or medicate away. We have to physically edit it, we have to make it a function of the meme by converting it cleanly and completely into a willful intentioned construct. It does not care, it does not think, therefore we must think and care for it. We must halt erosion, and replace it with sculpture.