morality, art and science

Statue "Ava Gardner as Pandora" (Ció Abellí) in the municipality of Tossa de Mar, Catalonia, Spain - by Jitka Erbenová (cheva) (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

We always seem to find ourselves in collective predicaments, due to innovation or creativity, and we always seem to get a call for moral restraint as an answer to these problems. Problems we find with our new found freedoms and capabilities. Moral pleas for retraction, censorship, forgetfulness, an intentional return to a past: before porn, the internet, sexual freedom, technology, TV, cars … crop cultivation, the wheel.

This is essentially a religious response to our capacity to create, experiment, and innovate, and it can never work, because it is just not up to the task of addressing these things, which are so much more alive than it is. In the modern world, politics has largely taken on the mantle of religion.

Art and science are essentially without morality, for intelligence and creativity are basically amoral. That is why political art is generally pretty crap, and scientific problems and dilemmas (such as plastics pollution) cannot be solved by lifestyle choices or moral sentiment. The preachers will exhort us, but we know that it will be creativity and insight that solves the problems, not getting X number of people to refrain from doing something problematic. The answer needs to be on the same level as the problem, and numbers of people agreeing on something doesn’t change that. Creativity, insight and effectiveness are not democratic.

The impulses behind art and science are powers, and they defy control, while morality is predicated upon control and prohibition. It’s like asking people to have sex without risk, overwhelming lust, or loss of control. It just isn’t going to happen. You can get a peripheral compromise by ignoring the centre of the issue, but the situation itself is fundamental.

We have ethical higher needs, but these will not come into play on demand, or through a merely conscious choice. We are deeper and more troublesome animals than that.

The deepest human will and desire drives us to freedom and fulfilment, and recognises these powers. It does not let us retreat from our own nature without exacting a great price. The daemon must out.

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2 Comments

  1. You know, this kind of reminds me of a few things.

    First, I sometimes see traditionalists (of the political variety, namely hardcore social conservatives and self-described reactionaries) bemoan the modern to such a staggering degree that they even complain that the Allies won the Second World War because of how “degenerate” and ugly they see the world as now. If they’re identitarians, they’ll sometimes complain through memes about how the “real” reason we fought Nazism was so our children could be raped by migrants courtesy of open borders policies to satisfy their creditors, who may or may not be “muh evil Joos”. For a lover of freedom like myself it’s detestable, but for a realist it’s also untenable. We know that the society they would like to see restored will not come back. And it’s not just due to social attitudes changing. Think of how we’ve got to where are: technological advancement and economic growth are some of the biggest reasons we have the society we have and the progress we made to get there, and they have had a profound impact on our collective way of life. We can’t simply roll back the clock. All we can do is renew the traditional, update the old doctrines and ideas with the new wisdom, in a manner that those ideas can survive, possibly even thrive, without being doomed to age to the point where they become ultimately incompatible with the world we have now.

    Secondly, I think I agree with you on the central point: creativity trumps regulation. It’s why I’m skeptical of the environmentalist movement, and similar political forces. I detest how every argument about how to solve the challenges posed by the Earth’s changing climate and environmental problems turns to some form of tax or regulation or some kind of burden we have to place upon the people. It’s just not that creative, and the problems we face today require creativity, and a boldness to challenge the status quo.

    • I very much agree Aleph, and it makes me shake my head nowadays (which is preferable to the head to desk manoeuvre 😉 ). It’s like people thinking that signing a petition will actually force any change they want, or minorities acting as big street fighters, when their doing so is only dependent upon the good will of the majority they are shouting at, only it’s more basic than that. You have a problem which came out of the exercise of creativity, often the amazing creativity of one or just a few people, and they expect the amassing of numbers of non-creative people to solve it, but it won’t. We progress through creativity, and creativity is predicated on individual capacities and insights, the exercise of that kind of power. Solving problems will come from more creativity, plus the wisdom of experience, not from massed “good intentions”. It’s always been that way, otherwise we would be living in grass huts, and whatever you think of grass huts and being in harmony with a nature that is as monstrous and ruthless as it is wondrous (look at our own natures), we’re just not that kind of animal, otherwise we wouldn’t have even got as far as grass huts

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