Dystopic Thoughts: 21st Century Neurototalitarianism

On BBT, all traditional and metacognitive accounts of the human are the product of extreme informatic poverty. Ironically enough, many have sought intentional asylum within that poverty in the form of apriori or pragmatic formalisms, confusing the lack of information for the lack of substantial commitment, and thus for immunity against whatever the sciences of the brain may have to say.

– R. Scott Bakker, Reactionary Atheism

In my previous post I centered on the statement all traditional and metacognitive accounts of the human are the product of extreme informatic poverty. And that we know that informatic poverty is defined as that situation in which individuals and communities, within a given context, do not have the requisite skills, abilities or material means to obtain efficient access to information, interpret it  apply it appropriately. It is further characterized by a lack of essential information and a poorly developed information infrastructure.

I also want to return to the previous quote:

The epoch of intentional philosophy is at an end. It will deny and declaim–it can do nothing else–but to little effect. Like all prescientific domains of discourse it can only linger and watch its credibility evaporate into New Age aether as the sciences of the brain accumulate ever more information and refine ever more instrumentally powerful interpretations of that information. It’s hard to argue against cures. Any explanatory paradigm that restores sight to the blind, returns mobility to the crippled, not to mention facilitates the compliance of the masses, will utterly dominate the commanding heights of cognition. (ibid)

In the statement above I began to visualize a future where people were divided by genetic profiles and forced into dystopic conclaves of the stupid, the knowledgeable, and the players. This tripartite division came to me from Scott’s statement above about people through the power of science, and especially of neuroscience, being suborned into cognitive domains (“compliance of the masses, will utterly dominate the commanding heights of cognition”). One can imagine how our globalists and their corporate think-tanks would have a heyday with such ideas.

A dystopic society controlled through neuropathic or cognitive sciences as the basic premise. Obviously the horror of such a thing brokers our imaginations. But I think we have to assume such a possibility if we are to take seriously Scott’s and our investment in a society in which naturalism and science rule. If as he suggests in his original post that intentional thought is an illusion, and that thought itself may become a thing of the past, then what will replace it? Will we be controlled by neurosurgeons who divide the human species into workers that are more machine than human, devoid of emotion and thought they would become the perfect society of robots enabled to do all our work without thought or issue. Such a world of mindless beings, of zombies without the virus of cannibalism, who live to work, never complain, go about their lives with idiot smiles on their faces living to serve their masters.

While on the other hand you have the knowledge workers, those who have the ability to think (within limits), who can use thought (Math, language, etc.) as tools but no more. Manipulators of symbolic codes that no longer have the ability to feel, to love, to care only enabled to work the vast knowledge based systems of control for their masters.

And, the Masters, the elite of this society? What kind of power plays would be afforded to them? What kind of lives would they lead knowing that the majority of humans were enslaved within neuroprisons, free to move about and do their jobs and live out their lives oblivious to the truth of their slavedom. And what if these supposed Masters were conned into believing that they were truly free, that they were enabled to do whatever they liked but were in fact worse off that the suborned classes of stupids and knowledgers? What if these elite were neuropathically enabled with only a set of predefined emotional markers, enabled to love but only under controlled and manipulated forms, able to rule but only as the neurotoxins and neurosuregeries allowed for? What if these Masters were slaves as well to a system that their ancestors schemed up ages before and threw away the keys to such knowledge.

And, what if someone came upon this knowledge? What if someone accidently, as evolutionary thought has always supposed, became an enigma a new Eve or Adam and discovered that everyone else lived in a clockwork world thinking they were actually free and moral beings? What then? I can imagine this as a series of YA Dystopic Novels with all the antagonisms of young protaganists awakening from the long sleep within neuroprison. Reawakening all the old revolutionary ideologies etc. A tattered set of ideas, all, I agree… but what happens if Bakker is right… and such a neurotechnical society came about through the erroneous use of science without philosophy, ethics, etc. What then?

1. R. Scott Bakker, Reactionary Atheism

R. Scott Bakker: Artifacts of Missing Information; or, the Posthuman Blues

The epoch of intentional philosophy is at an end. It will deny and declaim–it can do nothing else–but to little effect. Like all prescientific domains of discourse it can only linger and watch its credibility evaporate into New Age aether as the sciences of the brain accumulate ever more information and refine ever more instrumentally powerful interpretations of that information. It’s hard to argue against cures. Any explanatory paradigm that restores sight to the blind, returns mobility to the crippled, not to mention facilitates the compliance of the masses, will utterly dominate the commanding heights of cognition.

– R. Scott Bakker, Reactionary Atheism

One almost expects to see the Wizard of Oz step out from behind the proverbial curtain. But instead we get the prognostications of a posthuman rabble rouser, daring philosophical speculators to trump his magic cards; or, better yet, walk down the golden brick road of BBT and rewire the world as a blind bug in a dark cave. The Saviour is among us, but he is not Jesus, no it seems to be none other than the veritable god of Science come round at last like some monstrous progeny or machinic entity of  naturalism offering its special prognosis for the blind brains of the earth.  Suddenly the new Cognitive Imperium rises before us, its latest spokesman, R. Scott Bakker, with pomposity and egoistic grandeur burying its supposed distant brethren within the prescientific domains of what used to be termed ‘philosophy’. The Imperium of BBT (Blind Brain Theory) is among us, no longer the fictional creature of a cartoon fantasy, this monstrosity purports to reduce everything to the three-pound lump of neuronal bliss we call our brain, the last frontier of cognitive theory and therapy. And, who is the emperor of this new Empire of the Mind? Is the grandiose ego of R. Scott Bakker taking the helm? A rock star of mythic fantasias and neuronal crime novels  he seems ready to replace all Master Signifiers of phenomenology and its epigones with just one GRAND UNIFIED THEORY of the Brain: Blind Brain Theory as Maximus Philosophicus, the Emperor of all Sciences. But before we bow down to such neuronal gods shouldn’t we make inquiries into this latest reductionary naturalism of which his science is the heir? Should we not ask a few questions of this grand system of discursive and explanatory power just why it is that Mr. Bakker with his if not magic, then scientific, wand can now cast all prescientific thought into the dustbin of lost notions?

On BBT, all traditional and metacognitive accounts of the human are the product of extreme informatic poverty. Ironically enough, many have sought intentional asylum within that poverty in the form of apriori or pragmatic formalisms, confusing the lack of information for the lack of substantial commitment, and thus for immunity against whatever the sciences of the brain may have to say.

Let’s take a peak at that first statement: all traditional and metacognitive accounts of the human are the product of extreme informatic poverty. Now we know that informatic poverty is defined as that situation in which individuals and communities, within a given context, do not have the requisite skills, abilities or material means to obtain efficient access to information, interpret it  apply it appropriately. It is further characterized by a lack of essential information and a poorly developed information infrastructure. Bakker argues that if “…philosophy is our response to informatic poverty, our inability to gather enough of the information required to decisively arbitrate between our claims, then philosophy itself becomes an important bearer of information. It is an informatic weather-vane. In this case, philosophy tells us that, despite all the information we think we have at our disposal via intuition or introspection, we actually represent a profound informatic blindspot.”2

The whole point of this argument for Bakker is that philosophy was fine and dandy as a prescientific tool, but compared to science it is no longer adequate to the task accept as an ‘informatic weather-vane’ for attracting information, yet blind as a bat when trying to apply theoretical or conceptual practices on that very information.

On another Blog post Bakker succinctly defines BBT:

This is the approach Blind Brain Theory takes: crudely put, instead of looking at our deliberative access to conscious experience as an example of *turning the lights on,* you look at it as *turning the lights off,* as peering through an informatic gloom you can’t recognize as such for lack of comparison – neglect. Then, taking the mechanistic brain revealed by the sciences as your interpretative baseline, you can begin interpreting all the puzzles and conundrums that have so plagued philosophy of mind as ARTIFACTS OF MISSING INFORMATION, as what happens when our environmentally oriented cognitive systems find themselves welded to a single informatic perspective in a crowded, almost totally dark room.3

A sort of Plato’s cave for departed information specialists who are using the latest BBT apparatus to seek out and destroy the missing artifacts of informatics Borg like conclave that just happens to reside in the missing spaces of our blind brain. Something like William Blake who thought eternity resided in a grain of sand, Bakker’s prognostications for us all tend to the nihilistic fold of ultra hip doomsters:

Our ‘epoch of thinking’ teeters upon the abyssal, a future so radical as to make epic fantasy of everything we are presently inclined to label ‘human.’ Whether it acknowledges as much or not, all thought huddles in the shadow of the posthuman–the shadow of its end. (ibid)

Looks like we’ll have a lot of zombie parties in the dark loam of the coming post-philosophical apocalypse…   problem is with such dark laughter arising from the corpse of philosophy who will gather all those lost artifacts of information so that our machinic progeny will remember the truth of their own very human flesh and blood ancestors? If that three-pound lump in the skull is finally eliminated, finally subtracted from the transcendental field, enveloped in some machinic semblance of a strange attractor who will teach them that it all started with thinking brains if thought itself is no more? Will that blind god in the informatic shadows speak of those old ones who stirred the mud of life under a dying sun?

————–

Previous review I did on Scott’s BBT: Post-Intentional Philosophy

1. http://rsbakker.wordpress.com/2013/02/27/reactionary-atheism-hagglund-derrida-and-nooconservativism/
2. http://rsbakker.wordpress.com/2012/08/27/why-philosophy-and-why-has-the-soul-become-its-stronghold/
3. http://philosophyandpsychology.com/?p=2292

Philosophy of Mind: Where do you fit in the scheme of things?

philMind

Philosophy of Mind breaks down into two basic categories: Monism and Dualism. Underneath these one can pick and choose among several subcategories within which to formulate your own diverse musings. There is also a Non-standard model which is seen as the bottom row of three, and are not truly considered worthy of most of those within this discipline. Thought it would be fun to just see it in a graph. I’m sure there are other breakdowns and divisions that could narrow the scope. There always seems to be battles among differing versions and nuances of approach, etc.

Sometimes I think of Borges’ Library of Babel when I realize how many millions of books reside in the Library of Congress alone, not to mention the other great libraries of the world. Only the dataminers of the future stand a chance of filtering out the noise and retrieving even a iota of the information contained in those vast resovoirs of knowledge; yet, someday there will be a discipline that will specialize in just that, one that will be able to not only retrieve knowledge from that chaos of texts, but will through some advanced intertextual or intratextual algorithms as of yet not invented be able to critically appraise, format, and recombine this information for the Knowledge Workers of some future conclave. Ultimately there will be the need for these decision making machines. Such things are already happening in aspects of computer learning, the web, datamining, etc. But I hardly every run across a philosophical perusal of such information technology in the mainstream except as a side note to philosophy.

The age of the singular philosopher is going the way of Renaissance Man, no one philosopher can pretend to assimilate the vast stores of information needed to truly instigate something new and viable that has probably not already been thought of and stashed away in some academic journal sitting on the dustbins of some small library with only a small indexical attribution of its basic tenets filling the notes of a specialist’s list. Without a team of research assistants one would never discover the hidden marvels of such thought, much less bring it to light as something that scholars or philosophers should know and see as a living idea. We will need to confront this complexity of information and invent tools to allow us to simplify its vast digest. One aspect will be the exclusion of repetition of knowledge: the vast undertow or scholars that repeat each other endlessly to know effect. One can read about a particular subject these days and realize that one is seeing the same thing presented through variation and minute differentiation without really gaining any specific benefit from such exercises since the knowledge attained could have been summed up in a paragraph. Polymaths will become specialists themselves. I used to think one could attain a generalist knowledge of almost all the worthwhile subjects of our knowledge industries… that dream has faded over the years. Our machines will do that for us someday….

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R. Scott Bakker: Post-Intentional Philosophy; or, How the Brain is Blind

Perhaps it is time, once again, to acknowledge that we are smaller than we supposed, know less than we hoped, and are more frightened than we care to admit. “Nature,” as Newton famously wrote, “is pleased with simplicity” even if we are horrified.

– R. Scott Bakker

A great post on Three Pound Brain, the blog of R. Scott Bakker: the first, with Scott summing up the quandary of two creative events in his life, the creation of his latest installment in the epic Sci-Fi cycle of the Aspect Emperor  The Unholy Consult; and, second, is his attempt to sketch out what he terms ‘post-intentional philosophy.’

In How to Build a First Person (Using Only Natural Materials) we discover that the self is not what it seems, that it is quite different than it at first appears, that our conceptions have gone awry and that we will never be the same again. This will not be an easy journey, it’s Scott’s labyrinth we’re entering, and if you go the distance you will not come out the same on the other end; in fact, you may never find the center of it, discover that the fate of the Minotaur is that he is blind, and that the only answer to his dilemma is the Blind Brain Theory (BBT); yet, if  you or persistent in your journey you will discover something else: a central truth dangling down from the scientific world, where the ‘scientific image’ and the ‘human (metacognitive) image’ begin to totter toward each other at an exponential rate. Will they fuse or will they clash like those fated particles in CERN’s sixteen mile Hadron Collider. Will this new theory be the Higgs Boson of the philosophy of mind? Or will it turn out to be just the fruit of that long curve of scientific endeavor to understand human consciousness that started with the early Greek philosophers two-thousand years ago?

So what is this strange beast coming our way? Is W.B. Yeats correct in his appraisal: “And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches towards…” us weary mortals? No, its much simpler than that dark beast, it’s just science doing what it does best, exposing the myths of our long and dubious journey as humans to the light of scientific method and reasoning. Or, maybe not, maybe we are the Beast blinded by our own Brain: a tale of blindness and insight. As Bakker tells us:

It’s all about the worst case scenario. Philosophy, to paraphrase [Ray] Brassier, is no sop to desire. If science stands poised to break us, then thought must submit to this breaking in advance. The world never wants for apologists: there will always be an army of Rosenthals and Badious. Someone needs to think these things, no matter how dehumanizing or alienating they seem to be.  Besides, only those who dare thinking the post-intentional need fear ‘losing’ anything. If meaning and morality are the genuine emergent realities that the vast bulk of thinkers, analytic or continental, assume them to be, they should be able to withstand any sustained attempt to explain them away.

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