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(947 replies, posted in Philosophical Anthropology)

FORM OF THE SUBJECT

In the classic "German" formulation, as I have already related, there is no object without a subject; object-ness is possible only through the subject, and vice versa.  These have become established principles in world philosophy.  I raise the issue of the subject-object relation at the risk, in the context of my writing so far--where I have talked frequently about this problem--of being repetitious.  Anyway, we may go on to say that,  likewise,  the subject can be grasped only in its, the subject's, relation to an object.  In the same manner we would know mind solely through the content of mind, insofar as there is no direct or sensory grasp of mind.  Mind as the absolute center of knowing can be inferred only by what is "known."  The task I have here, on the other hand, is not to add to understanding of the subject, object or (as a relation between the two of these things) mind; rather the task is to inquire as to whether tthis basic relationship plays itself out in human history.  That is--and here we must defer to Hegel as the inspiration of this idea--is there a "mental" process, one corresponding to Hegel's Idea, around and through which concrete historical events take place.  Hegel put his "Idea" "out there" in transcendent space.   The present Philosophical-Anthropological thesis iterated here, on the other hand, finds the source of mind--essentially, the Idea--in the structure of the relationship between biological predator and its prey, which structure, through evolution, finally imprints itself in the human brain.

An object without a subject is a physical impossiblity.  Such an object could be suggested only theoretically as a Ding an sich.  Such an object would have none of the qualities provided to it by the subject, such as space, form, quality and so forth; this object would then not be an object as we know an object to be.  But there is a further question that will advance us in our discussion:  that is the question of an absolute subject.  An absolute subject, I suggest, will prove to be the "end of innocence" in our thesis. We move from a certain bland "idealist" platonic German philosophy into the realm of the subject and subjectivity, of Wille and the problems stated by Schopenhauer; and thence, beyond the subject the subjectivity of Wille in Schopenhauer and Nietzsche; to issues of human power, of faschist and neofaschist theory that, inevitably reflect upon the immediate forms of the subject (and "form" of the subject is not a contradiction in terms) and the whole spectrum of German philosophy today called "negative" and "negativist."

Kant was focused on the object, on objectivity, and supplied a notion of a subject only to grasp this certain theoretical object.  The qualities of mind for Kant are those qualities that provide to the object the object's objectivity. Kant did not ignore the subject.  Schopenhauer, on the other hand, while superficially he appears to present a warmed-over Kantianism--and this appearance is accentuated by his warm praise of Kant--does, albeit without the fanfare of a Nietzsche, achieve a revolution in philosophy.  This revolution is not an overthrow of one principle by another but is a simple and subtle shift of emphasis from an object to the subject.  Schopenhauer is the true prophet (and prophecy, ultimatly, and an intuiton into the history of humanity is what we are talking about) of the absolute subject.  Again, on the other hand, we are faced with the same problem with the subject that faced us in grasping the absolute object.  How are we to understand a subject that has no object?  The only understanding possible--direct or so-called phenomenological understanding is out of the question--is pure theory.  Many planets are known just by the action of neighboring planets--this is how we must understand the subject.  We must know, here, that the way we ordinarily know a subject is through an object that is not purely an object; we must distil any subjectivity out of the object in order to know the subject.  So, the subject cannot be known perfectly.  The absolute subject is an abstraction.  At the same time, however, a related concept--that of absolute subjectivity--is not an abstract concept.  We know the subject by understanding what the subject produces, subjectivity.

Again we see that, to prove our point--or at least to give our point some credibility--it is necessary, having already descended to the "deeper" levels of philosophy, to descend even deeper.  That the predator, as a manifestation of life, has a distinct form is easy to see.  It is the relationship between the predator and its prey that gives the predator physical form.  Schopenhauer has described Will (Wille) as without qualities of time and space.  When we talk of the subject, then, we are left with a fire-like "substance" (?) with no "material" manifestations.  Again with subject, as with life itself, where the form of the subject manifests itself is not in any inherent form so much as in the form the subject takes through the subject's object; in short, it is the effect that the subject has that gives us an idea of the form of the subject.  These are mataphysical speculations.  Ultimately these speculations should turn into something important for our purposes.  What I have in mind, finally, is the proposal that race--and this is where we are heading--as a form of the subject belongs to an entirely different and distinct order of reality than does, say, any entity that can be called "civilization."  Race is a phenomenon of life, while "justice," say, and "truth" are phenomena of civilization. To apply criteria of truth to race, among other manifestations of Will, is mistaken.  Race is a form of life so long as life is viable; as such the race is "predator" in relation to a "prey."  As culture objectifies itself as forms of civilization, culture expunges, or attempts to expunge, any vestige of race among other manifestations of life; by this process culture becomes a pure or absolute object.  There remains only to consider, as we attempt to predict some outcome of the history of civiliation, how this absolute object stands in relation to an absolute subject.  Here we are compelled to contemplate a "history of barbarism" in relation to civilization.

The irony of the history of philosophy, which in fact has become an irony of history in general, is that the "negative" ideas--call them satanic or evil, or something like that--become better defined and meaningful than the positive ideas.  Not only do negative ideas come to mean more than do positive ones, negativity evolves as a more reliable and stable basis for actual human action.  Hegel said that evil is the direct motivational force of history.  He might have said that negativity, perhaps precisely by not being talked about slowly accumulates around it meaningfulness.  This seems true as we contemplate the words used to mean positive things and forces.  For instance, the words freedom and democracy mean, today, almost nothing.  I have already talked about the word race, which I am forced now to use; I would gladly avoid controversy and avoid "race," but the word--precisely because in its stated of being almost banned from our vocabulary it has accumulated so much meaning--stands obstinently in my way.  I cannot go around it; I cannot go through it.  I must adopt it.  Race, I am suggesting, is the most perfect form of the abolute subject, which otherwise has no form.

The structure of the predator-prey relation has represented itself as the oppositionality of subject and object.  This structure is essentially that of the individual mind.  As mind, while being oppositionality, also tries to solve oppositionality.  This point I have already dwelt upon at length.  The remainder of this treatise will attempt to depict actual collective events of history as they play out as a consequence of this fundamental (Hegelian) drama of oppositionality of mind.  The thesis here will be that the tension of subject versus object will become, in the length and breadth of human history, not so much a coherent structure of oppositionality as much more, on the other hand, an opposition of subjectivity and objectivity.  In this drama the subject is released from any "responsibility" or structured, necessary relation to an object; as the object "perfects" itself as in religion, in effect renders itself "holy" and "divine," and becomes thereby a Ding an sich, so also the subject, for its part, becomes an absolute subject--for our purposes race.

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CIVILIZATION AS THE CULTURE-SECRETED DING AN SICH

A chair is one object among others.  As an object, the chair has existence only in relation to a subject.  In this phase of our discussion, when some relief should be in sight from purely metaphysical speculation, it is feared, nonetheless, that we must further subside to that level.  A look is necessary at Schopenhauer's treatment of the subject-object relation, when this, too, begins with Kant's speculations on the thing-in-itself, which is the original "given" or ''stuff" of the world.  The thing-in-itself is that which is necessary to knowing, yet cannot be known "in itself," for the reason that knowing the thing-itself already changes it and makes it mind.  I have talked earlier about the predator-prey relation.  I have suggested that the structure of the predator-prey relation, which is oppositional, is the basis of mind. Of course, the wolf hunts "instinctively."  In the case of the human being, however, instinctive hunting is not precisely what we are talking about, rather, on the other hand, we can speak of mind as an image or model of the entire hunter-hunted relationship.  This structure, as I said, is not precisely instinct.  Yet the structure of the mind, set in a hunting mode (so to speak) is inescapable.   Referred to in this case is a structure or pattern of thinking; for forced animal behavior, in other words, is substituted in the case of human beings a forced pattern of thinking.  Human thinking, not "instinct" in the comprehensive sense of the word, is formed in a hunting setting.  The human mind all the more has thoughts that are "free."  Philosophical anthropology has in the past, from Scheler to Plessner, spoken of human thinking as "open."  We still aver this to be the case.  However, human thoughts are not random; they revolve around a model set in the hunting/gathering mode of human existence, as early as three million years ago.

Mind in these terms is simply a reflex of the way of life of hunters in their original setting and in their relations with animals.  There is no reason to repeat this material.  However, we must also say that the comparison between predator-prey on the one hand, and subject-object on the other, is by no means a mere analogy.  For our purposes the two sets of relationships are identical.  The object is,in a manner of speaking, the prey; the subject is the predator.  It remains now only to compare our homely small chair with the whole edifice of civilization as civilization has appeared out of culture.  Civilization in our terms is a refinement of culture, that is an objectification, wherein this aforementioned "chair" becomes more of an object than under early conditions of culture it might otherwise be.  Civilization expunges what is subjective out of culture, and along with subjective culture there is expunged, also, any oppositionality in the subject-object relationship.  Civilization "reconciles" opposites, which may continue as opposites ("diverse" or dissimilar elements of culture), not in their oppositeness but in their oppositionality.  Civilization is "conciliatory," it "brings together" entities even as opposites, by replacing all subjectivity, and thereby all oppositionality, with terms of conciliation and, as I said earlier, cooperation.  This "reconciliation" is all that is meant by the term "fairness" and "equality under law."  In these terms we may finally conclude that, as the object of culture becomes "an" object, not in relation to an oppositional subject but in relation to no subject and all, this object devolves to a status of "absolute thingness," or a (Kantian) ding an sich.  Civilization is a thing-in-itself, lacking all subjectivity, but not a thing that is "given" by nature, but as a thing created by the human being himself through culture.  Civilization is a "return," to use a cliche of earlier philosophy, to nature, but in a form that is a product of nature.  It is tempting at this point to invoke Spengler's mataphre of a tree that has died, yet still stands--it is of life, but not living.  This is what civilization is finally.

There has been discussion in earlier pages of this work of slavery; there will be more.  At issue is the role or meaning of slavery in the formation of civilization out of culture.  In culture, it is here suggested, tools and technology still serve human purposes that are subjective.  Thus culture is simple and straightforward.  Civilization at its inception entails, always, the element of slavery.  The slave is a tool or artifact like any other in its original purpose--to carry out a subjective intention of the user--but the slave is also a perfect tool.  The slave is the earliest version of the robot machine.  But the slave, too, has a will or volition and purpose.  This I have already said.  Such a will is contrary to the slave's intended purpose--which is the master's purpose--and in that sense negates the usefulness of the slave.  Now, civilization is formed around the slave, not the master.  This is to say that civilization itself has moved from the status, in human perception, of objectness to that of self-objectification.  The qualities of the ideal citizen of civilization is that of a "perfect" or will-less slave.  Such an idea is expressed in religious concepts of self-sacrifice, putting other people (meaning civilization itself) before one's own self.  Civilization is a total process, effected among other things through religion and law, of expunging the principle of subject-ness out of society or human relationships.  Thus even the will of the master is finally banned from the total process.  In the total spectrum of world history, on the other hand, civilization is put in a dangerous relationship with people who are still "subjective."  Meant here are barbarian groups; later I will single out the Goths as high in subjective motivation.  But this is a topic to be raised later.

Human beings, or ancestral humans, were hunters for several million years, and this hunting way of life is encoded into human genetics.  My thesis so far has been the point that the orientation of human beings in the hunt, which begins primarily as a physical orientation, prefigures the structure of the mind.  This point has to be expanded upon.  It is not alone the HAND which prefigures the mind;  more than just the hand the entire  "positionality" ( my neo-logism taken from Plessner's German) of the human hunter in relation to an animal prey is at issue.  Thus the whole structure of the relationship between hunter and hunted is finally reflected, over a three million year period, in the modern human brain.  Oswald Spengler made the Raubtier (carnivore) side of human personality the center of his thinking.  I will take the same point of view.  On the other hand, the problem which occupies me here is not so much the violence of the human being, who as a species seems to me rather typical of animal species in general.   Rather at issue presently is the structure of mind (geist).  What is presently at issue is  something I will call OPPOSITIONALITY.  For millions of years reality for early man consisted of a relationship between man and animals in which the animal opposed and resisted the man in the man's efforts to track and kill the animal.   The point of view of the early human was acceptance, or what I will call self-evidentiality (neologism made from Selbstverstaendlichkeit).     Self-evidentiality has been raised here to a level of philosophy to express the idea that a common understanding of a person's situation in life corresponds to the structure of his mind, or what is the same, his evolutionary collective experience, encoded into his genes, over thousands if not millions of years.   For primitive man, even, today, the world appears as self-evident as opposed to "problematic."  Oppositionality, then, was built into the relationship between man and animal, and likewise between man and plant.  It follows that, as the human brain evolved, this same sense of the problematic-ness of the world would be encoded as a mental structure.  But for the brain, too, this was simply a problem to be solved.   The paradox of human existence that the human being has long striven to SOLVE THE PROBLEM OF HIS OWN BRAIN.  This effort to solve a problem that the human being himself NOT ONLY HAS BUT IS, constitutes the paradox of human existence.

The oppositionality that has persisted throughout the human experience can be described perfectly by the flight of an animal in the face of a predator, or the intense inclination of any animal has to fight back with any weapons it has.  The prey resists the predator, and that  resistence defines what the predator is.  Animals and even plants have biological weapons to defend themselves, which must be overcome by the predators in search of food.  Somehow nature stays in a kind of balance, so that if there are dramatic events in nature they do not have to do with a sudden advantage one species has over another.  This is usually not the case.  With the appearance of human culture, on the other hand, this beneign flow of nature was disrupted.  The solutions to opposition that happened were solutions to one opposition or another, not to the fact of opposition itself.  Human culture has all along been an attempt by humans to solve the very problem of opposition, and to dissolve in that sense the very structure of the relation between human hunter and prey, and between technics and the objectives of technics, and, finally, between subject and object.  This attempt by humans began small and innocently enough, as when the hunter picked off the ground a stone or stick to use as a missile which would serve, the hunter thought, to "close the distance" between himself and his prey.  Still all along these attempts were only haphazard and left a good chance for the prey to escape.  But the prey did not escape.  When hunters got to be too good at what they were doing they all but eliminated their game animals.  The next effort of the humans was to protect their animals from competing predators whether human or animal.  What was begun in one direction, as hunters through weapon technics brought themselves closer to their prey, was completed in the other direction as herders brought animals closer to themselves through domestication of these animals.   What gap of resistance and opposition that there had been between man and food source became, with each human "success," smaller and smaller.  Absolute culture, then, would be the absolute resolution--elimination--of opposition itself.  Opposites would finally be reconciled.  The means for this was technics of culture, but the ideology of such a final reconciliation between man and nature was religion.

Under hunting and gathering as a way of life the issue of society does not intrude itself.  Society is a group of human beings gathered together for some objective purpose.  Society, as a collective entity, leverages and greatly extends human activity, so that issues that are small under hunting and gathering, or any very small human grouping, under society may become large.  The self-evidency under hunting and gathering or horticulture meant that humans accepted a certain balance of nature; when confronting an animal as prey the humans expected a certain resistance from that animal, and this, of course, was "just part of life."  There was challenge in this way of life.  Today such challenge must be invented as some kind of "sport," which is understood as "not real life."  More and more humans invent new challenges, including pointless predation on one another, to fill the void left in passing out of a hunting and gathering and horticultural way of life.  At issue is not what human beings do to survive, rather it is what they do collectively to survive.  Such collective behavior leverages human efforts to "solve" opposition, and to take opposition out of life.  What is done to help the human situation, on an individual basis, is done by quantum leaps by social effort.  The original structure of the human psyche (geist) is constituted not so much constructively as oppositionally. This oppositionality is undone by culture.   Collective solutions to oppositions, where human beings participate in these solutions, create a situation where the individual human being is constituted one way and culture, or the activity of the collective entity, is constituted another way.  This radical, we may even say oppositional, difference between the individual human and, on the other hand, culture produces what is commonly called alientation (entfremdung).

Philosophical Anthropology, as the word suggests, is a union of science and philosophy.  This is not a blend;  rather, on the contrary,  philosophy and science have their discrete respective roles.  It is crucial in Philosophical Anthropology that its science be called science and its philosophy called philosophy.  Examples are not hard to find.  I spoke earlier of a large tooth found by paleontologists in Africa.  The tooth is too large to be of a modern human; on the other hand the tooth's shape suggest that, indeed, this is a species related to our own.  The tooth's biting area is rather flat, unlike that of an ape.  The inference can be that this species ate in a manner similar to modern humans, grinding food rather than crushing and stabbing it.  But there is more.  Chemical analysis of the tooth shows that its owner ate meat.  We are talking, then, of a species that ate large animals as food but did not, on the other hand, use teeth to kill its prey.  How did protohumans of that period obtain large animals.  The only possible conclusion (other than eating carion) is that they used tools and weapons to subdue large game animals.  We may stop a minute here and these statements we have now made.  The tooth--as a distinct shape that shows a genetic relation to our own teeth--is an ascertainable fact.  Also, that the being ate meat is clear.  These conclusions are hard science.  But we move beyond these conclusions to an area of speculation that, indeed, may be called good speculation--responsible thinking--but, since the actual tools of the being are not present to us (later they will become visible, however), we are in a realm marginal to science, perhaps, but at any rate lacking the "hard" empirical test of science.  This speculation we may call "science" in the "soft" sense of the word science.  We have not drifted off, in other words, into the netherworld of arcane contemplation where nothing is entirely clear.  But that is about to change.  Philosophical Anthropology at some point passes over into just such vague speculation.  The word "essence" of which Philosophical Anthropologists are so fond is just such an example.  What do we mean by "essence"?  What we are saying about our field, which is the subject area of this blog, is that science appears to us, under certain conditions, a restraint rather than a help.  We want to get beyond science, not to bad science but to new science.  The only way to pass from facts that are obvious but old and uninteresting is through a phase of "pure speculation" which is open and nebulous but free and creative.  I draw out these observations about PA in order to form a basis of the subject under discussion.  We are no longer looking at small objects with definite forms about which we can make definite statements.  We have passed on to a much larger subject that includes many humans in complex relationships.  We are bound to leave pure empirical science at some point and move on to a certain grandiose vision that bears resemblance to the speculations of Plato and Hegel.  We are Hegelians.  Engels' views were responsible and serious without being hard science; we follow in his path, hoping, that is, to make a statement that is testable and empirically definable.  The point we are making now is rather simple.  At present our point is that the ideologies that there are--communism, fascism and democracy--in no way affect the workings of a modern industrial and technological system; they pertain, rather, to the relationship of human beings to these systems.  Ideologies of this sort are an afterthought, or after the fact of a system that somehow runs by itself; and it runs without any sense of purpose or direction.  All these ideologies--like Philosophical Anthropology itself--are simply statements of human identity in the face of their own technology.  They are all attempts to distinguish humans from their own technology.  We are saying that PA, unlike fascism, communism and democracy, is a more or less self-conscious, purposive attempt to find a human identity in the technical and industrial system that engulfs us all.

At the center of the Philosophical Anthropological movement is Helmuth Plessner's book Stufen des Organische und der Mensch.   Helmuth Plessner, an early voice of Philosophical Anthropology, said (Stufen...) that the human being lives "ex-centrically." The human lives, that is, "away from the (or 'a' ?) center." This essay will not contradict Plessner's conclusion; but we will qualify it. Our purpose will be:
1. To ask: what is meant by a "center"?
2. To ask whether there ever was, or still is, this center, as we have defined the word, in which the human being, individually or collectively, was or is centered.
3. To ask what the advantage or disadvantage, in regard to individual or group survival, would be to being centered. We know that an animal lives "centrically." We suppose that the human's ancestral forms, before tools and language, lived "centrically." Can man or animal, either one, ever live permanently and absolutely ex-centrically.
4. To ask whether, even assuming that the human being lives ex-centrically, this can be a permanent condition. Or whether, that is, the human being, while living ex-centrically for a time, must eventually find a center.
In a centric world there is a seer who sees objects and what is around him. But the seer does not see himself. This centrism is where living nature stood before the coming of man. I suggest that this world--perfectly centered in ego subjectivism--is rightly or wrongly perceived to be, by that seer, a secure world.

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CONTRACT AS MUTUAL SLAVERY

Culture, which began as simple technics is in essence just that--technics simply.  Technics is defined here as the employment of objects in order to gain objects.  In these terms, if culture has in it a certain subjectivity that it takes from its creator, culture also thrives as subjectivity is replaced by objectivity.  Culture, as I said earlier, serves to close the gap between subject and object, between subjectivity and objectivity, as first culture served to diminish the physical distance between hunter and prey.  This physical problem has over time been reduced to a mental problem.  Emphasis must be placed on the word problem.  Mind in these terms is not merely a tool to solve a problem, mind is rather a statement of that problem.  Mind features in its workings a certain oppositionality that inheres in the original problem of the relationship between advancing predator and retreating prey.  This I have already stated.  Where my thesis stands at this point is an attempt to "justify" slavery, not in moral terms--since moral judgement on slavery must derive from a moral premise--but to show the necessity of slavery in the context of cultural evolution.  Slavery is a straightforward and obvious attempt to solve a straightforward practical problem, the same problem, in other words, that the human being attempted to solve when he threw a rock or spear at a running prey.  There is fundamentally, for our purposes, no greater mystery to slavery than that practical problem.  We may indeed go on to state that the human slave anticipates every general feature of advanced techological culture, from computers to hydrolics and so forth.  What is lacking in the slave that would make the slave perfect "culture." is simply the will to be a slave.  The slave was bred and bred himself over the vast ages to be a competitor.  A man vulnerable to enslavement after a brief battle of some sort, wherein he succumbs to a competitor of his, is not going to be changed instantly into a willing servant in any short time.  This point--the oppositionality of the slave--should be emphasized.

It has already been stated that part of the "distance" or "gap" between subject and object, as between hunter and prey, is the oppositionality of the prey.  The prey does not acquiesce, it runs to escape and elude.  This effort to escape does not derive from the mechanism but rather the will of the prey.  Thus it is that the mechanism of the human body can be brought under control of a slave master, but not the will.  This is a universal fact of biological, not to mention human, evolution.  Groups first brought under control of a slave system were related closely, as territorial neighbors, to their captors.  Of course, later in history one race or the other went farther afield, to remote continents, to find as slaves distantly related humans who would not be in an historically direct relation of competition.  This began the era of "Negro" slavery.  The slavery system began on very simple terms, and among Europeans, meant, say, enslavery of Irish by Vikings.  Slavery was always present in European society from region to region; indeed, for all major purposes slavery was society.  This is a fact we must expand upon now.

True governments appeared, it is suggested now, when formal slavery gave way to a society established by contracts.  Contract was always present in complex civilizations; through cuniform scripts we now know that the Babylonians and Sumerians had contracts.  These were slave societies.  But, if we are to believe one Babylonian story--this was an early version of the Noah and the Ark story--a king could be sold into slavery if he did not pay his contracted debts.  (The King in the story, on a boat carrying animals to be sold to pay the king's debts, drifted off to sea.)  Still, over time, and as technology gradually solved the problems once addressed by slavery, slavery became simply obsolete.  More precisely, the general areas of concern came to be delt with by domestic animals and machinery more than slave labor.  In "freeing" himself from the need for human labor the entrepreneur freed himself also from the willfulness of the slave.

But the new technological age became highly complex; the material realities were diverse and convoluted.  For instance, under slavery the slave could be handed a stick and told to dig in some ground; to weed the garden on hands and knees and so forth.  Mechanical work demanded on the other hand machines that had to be assembled, bought and sold, and so forth.  Here we encounter the concepts of "infrastructure," logistics, a system based exclusively on money transactions and so forth.  An advanced technological society demands an advanced infrastructure of roads and communications and so forth.  I said earlier that the slave society did not demand a formal "government" such as exists today.  That is true.  But the relationship between master and slave, which was the basic relationship of the slave society, did not require money.  So, in this one fundamental respect--in the relation between master and slave--economic forces and vast movements of money did not exist.  Rather money was inserted into the relations only of social equals in different regions or sectors of the society.  Where there were money relations, and since money reflects a certain trust between equals, the necessity of contracts arises.

The form of a contract is in essence and very generally the form of the slave society which preceeded "contractual" society.  I use the term contractual society rather than the term government.  In other words, the word government assumes contracts as government is simply a totality of contracts.  Government in our terms is simply the logically and practically necessary third part to contracts.  Slave owners in slave societies did not need government, particularly, because the fundamental relationship of slave society was the physical force of the master class.  Strategy and personality, plus force of arms, were the basis of the power of the slave masters.  In a highly complex technological culture, on the other hand, the issue of trust was more important than the possibility of willful physical rebellion on the part of a massive subservient caste.  Where businessmen--and that group we are dealing with now--focused attention was upon their equals, in whom trust was necessary.  At this time however it is necessary to point out that some model was necessary to support agreements between equals.  The very fact of equality, a non-slave status of two men in their relationship with one another--was, necessarily, the source of new distrust.  Equals do not trust one another in their relationships; because the element of force is absent between them as they attempt to settle differences.   The slave society, while it lacks common purpose of master and slave, and therefore contains the seeds of physical rebellion, not lack trust.  That is because in an issue between master and slave the issue can be settled, forwith, by the physical force of the master.  It came to pass, finally, as the slave society gave way, as it was bound to do, to technological and commercial society, the issue of physical rebellion also gave way to the issue--more a psychological and mental issue than a physical one--of trust.  The greater the trust between men, obviously, the more stable their "social" relation would be.  This would be only obvious.  But there is more.  A "relationship of trust," where there is distrust, inevitablity tends to search for a new basis of stability, which can only be governement.  Government in these terms is simply a bloated "third party" in contractual relations.

There is however an ironic finaly result.  In consigning themselves to a contract, men also submit to a certain slavery.  The difference in this modern slavery is that the individual person is both slave and master.  He master of his opposite party in the contract; while he is also slave to that man.  Both are "slaves" to governement, which holds over them--but only according to terms of the contract--absolute authority.   Government in general is only the bloated authority over all contracts whatsoever.

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V. THE OPPOSITIONALITY OF SLAVERY RESOLVED BY (CIVILIZED) CONTRACT

Human slavery is a social solution to a basically technological problem:  how to close the gap of oppositionality between predator/subject and prey/object.   The human being qua slave is thought of as a tool or agent among others, and in this sense an object among other objects. To understand the full significance of what is proposed here, that men become acquiescing tools and agents, a reference to the so-called "state of nature" (Naturzustand) must be made.   What was the relationship between competing groups of hunters and gatherers during the 3 million years of palelithic culture?  The fact of tools and technology did not originally change this relationship; originally there were human groups that had tools but like apes and other animals lived in combative relations with territorial neighbors.  Elsewhere [citation] I discussed the significance of "trading blows," or hurling spears at one another, as an instance of early "trade" and reciprocity.  These ideas of mine remain open to challenge.  What is rather the case is that humans from the beginning, and especially since language evolved, had a complex and perhaps ambiguous attitude toward neighboring groups.  The possibility of cannibalism, or hunting their neighbors as food, may have occured to them.  These were ideas reflecting realities at the stage of hunting and gathering, which lasted between 3 million and about 8 thousand years ago.  At the time of agriculture, however, when herders and farmers occupied the same general space, human thoughts seem to have turned to some compromise between hunting one's neighbors and, on the other hand, enslaving them.  A kind of peace appeared in which trading and positive interaction were possible.  Evidence of this occured even earlier than agriculture, in the Magdalenian period, when trade routes spread all over Europe.  What does seem to be the case is that a reliable food supply enabled thoughtful relations among human beings as well as, as before, certain hostilities.  The period of slavery, on the other hand, opened in earnest as some human settled in their regions to practice agriculture; while others herded and moved about.  Herders learned to strike at farmers, and had them at their mercy.  Slavery rather than decimation seemed to be a reasonable prospect.  The subdued populations could rely in their master/warrior caste for protection against other raiders.   There is no reason to think that at this time slavery was the onerous condition depicted today in our time of "equality."   The change that there was in the human condition, however, at the time of slavery, was that social issues supplanted technological issues in human thinking.  The human being himself being an optimal tool or agent, that could carry out a human purpose, the issues that there were were social issues:  how to manage human beings.  Such management of one human being by another entailed social skills more than technological knowhow.  On the other hand, the purpose of such an arrangement was the purpose of the master; while the man, whatever purposes he may have had of his own, were irrelevant to the workings and direction of the system.

I have so far highly simplified, and perhaps oversimplified, the issue of the predator vs. prey relationship, as I have also simplified, thereby, the subject vs. object relation.  I have assumed that the hunter has a perfectly unimpeded path or shot at his prey.  This is never the case; there is always the need to consider the fact of competition with other human beings.  This was scarcely ever competition with predatory animals; always the neighbors of humans, human beings themselves, inserted themselves into relationship between man and objective.  The fact of human competition was in good measure a part of the oppositionality of the object.  The object was the object of a mutual interest, here in a competition with other humans.  Several men were striving after the same object.  The oppositionality of the object itself was usually almost insignificant compared with the resistance of the object when that object became the interest of several parties.  Thus it came to be, finally, that the problem to be solved by culture, involved not only interaction with objects themselves but interaction with other humans, through or on behalf of the objects, in a competitive relation.  Slavery resolved this competition by setting aside the interest of one party in favor of the interest of another party.  Slavery solved the problem of competition while also solving the problem of the relation between one party, the master caste, and an object.  But culture still had to resolve the issue of hostility in social relations.  Competition between neighboring territorial groups was transformed into friction between social classes.  This friction could have become more dangerous than territorial warfare.  This danger was perceived.  On the other hand, culture turned creatively to this new problem.  The contract was invented.

The relation between predator/subject and prey/object had, by virtue of the human agent inserted into the relation, already closed.  The problem addressed by culture, which was to close the gap of oppositionality, would have been "solved."  This is because the human agent between predator/subject and prey/object resolved all or most oppositionality through the "perfect machine," which is the human being himself.  At the moment of slavery, however, all the negativity that was in human relations to begin with, the competition between territorial groups over food and resources, were brought into the structured human relationship.  That is, slavery did not get rid of human competition so much as work around it, so to speak; there remained that human beings, as members of this caste or class or other group, still remained competitors.  To this day, obviously, this natural animosity among men has not been suspended.   Thus while coming closer in one way to his object, the predator/subject has, through competition of social class and caste, also moved to separate himself from it in another way.  A simple formulation of this principle would be:  although coming closer to his object, the subject also had to "share" this object.  The idea of a collective subject emerged at this time out of the relationship of master to slave.  This was a rather esoteric idea, to begin with:  it was an idea unnecessary to humans at the level of hunting and gather.

Finally the notion of contract arose.  Contract is mutual and voluntary enslavement.  But this idea could appear only when technology--which had progressed through the slave period--had advanced.  Slavery, which now had resolved by stages (indentured servitude, serfdom etc.) itself into wage slavery, served to fill increasingly smaller and subtler gaps in the overall technological system.  [A futher statement on contract will follow.]

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IV. TRANSITION FROM THE SLAVE SOCIETY TO CIVILIZATION


We earlier defined culture as a human condition in which the oppositionality, or "the gap," between predator/subject is bridged or resolved through mediation by technics, whether this be the technics of hunting (spears, etc.) or the technics of farming (domestication of plants and animals). The spear, a product of culture, brings the hunter closer to his prey; by domesticating animals the hunter (turned herdsman) brings his prey closer to himself.   I have already talked about this.  That technics mediates "the gap" or oppositionality between predator and prey assumes, in other words, that there is such a gap. This has been assumed in what was stated above.  We are saying, then, that culture transforms negativity or oppositionality of the original hunting situation into positivity or amenability between predator and prey.  A tension persists between human effort, in other words, and that toward which the effort is directed. Having defined culture we pass on to civilization; the problem of civilization was well stated by Spengler.  Spengler's view is that civilization is a late manifestation of what was earlier a vibrant growth, much as a tree transforms itself into a heavy trunk and branches, then dies. We need, however, to go further to determine the precise mechanism for this transformation.  My point here will be that civilization is a condition of human beings at the point where the oppositionality or resistence of nature toward man is "solved."

Following my earlier theme--that slavery is a late period in the evolution of culture--it may appear that slavery is also a likely consequence of predatory technology.  A logical progression from predation on animal and plant species is to predation on human beings themselves.  We are not speaking of cannibalism, here, except perhaps in a figurative sense.  The mentality of slavery is simply that the fruits of another man's labor can be appropriated for oneself.  That is the first stage of slavery, a sort of theft.  The second stage of slavery occurs when the enslaved man is put to work carrying out the master's purpose or plan.  Thus what began as predation on animals, but turned into fostering animals--herding--continues as a different sort of predation.  In the second stage of slavery the slave can be thought of as a tool or instrument which derives its purpose and direction from the master.  In any case, the human being is the optimal tool of the human being.  At the sound of a voice or a wave of the hand this human tool can be set in motion.  Such a slave is of course the ideal; in reality the slave poses problems.  That is, the slave will resist.  Even domesticated animals will resist, will refuse to work and will even bite and kick, a fact well known to farmers. 

The solution offered by civilization is precisely to appropriate not only the body of a human being, for use as a slave, but to appropriate the very purpose or intention of the human. The strategy of civilization is to create an identity of purpose of man and man, wherein the two are no longer master and slave but both master and slave to one another.  This sort of contractual purpose can be seen easily in marriage.  First men owned women; then men and women owned each other reciprocally.   This appropriation can be accomplished only by the pursuasion of reciprocity, or contract.  But the contract moreover binds the master to the "slave" in a mutual "enslavement" to the generality of society, or government as a third party to contracts.

At the late period of culture whole human societies are preyed upon, whereupon the concept of predator "barbarism" may be introduced:  an era of roaming herders bent on looting what they could find that had been produced by fellow human beings.  Barbarism in these terms cold be called high or finished culture; barbarism was the basis, say, of Classical Greek society.  The weapons of the hunt have become weapons of war, and subduing human beings is in effect no different than domesticating animals.    Slavery is still culture, even as the slave "opposes" the slave master and causes this master to use strength and skill to overcome the slave.  The "tension"  between barbarian /predators and enslaved population is in essence identical with the oppositionality between predator and prey.  The overall point of view manifesting itself here is the same sense of purpose wherein the human being through technics brings a prey closer to himself.  The thought in slavery is that to harness human purpose is one further way to solve the problem of oppositionality.  Here not only humans as mechanisms of arms and legs are enlisted into service, but the very purposes of these humans--which correspond to the purposes of the master class--are enlisted as well.  Of course, the master class assumes that the purposes of slaves are identical, or not in opposition with, its own purposes.  This is often not the case.  The whole issue of the possibility of domesticating human beings as one would domesticate animals opens up here. 

In civilization, nature is made "amenable" to human purposes.  For instance, a cow, say, is amenable to human purposes; the cow does not resist the human's effort to turn it into food.  The farm animal is food attached to a human gut, more or less.  The human turns nature in general from an oppositional reality into an amenable reality.   The point was made earlier that slavery, while it reduced or eliminated oppositionality in one sphere, introduced new resistence in another sphere.  This "solution" to the problem of universal life, the oppositionality of hunter and hunted, is, in the case of human civilization, also the solution to the oppositionality of humans among themselves.  The solution offered by civilization is precisely to appropriate not only the body of a human being, for use as a "slave" but to appropriate the very purpose or intention of the human.  To be civilized in the sense we are talking about here is to  identity of the purpose and interest of one man with that of another man, wherein the two are no longer master and slave but both master and slave to one another.  I spoke above of  the contract of marriage, wherein a man and woman "own" one another.   First men owned women; then men and women owned each other reciprocally.   This appropriation can be accomplished only by the pursuasion of reciprocity, or contract.  To find the origin of civilization out of slavery we need to understand that the human mind has worked relentlessly to eliminate conflict and oppositionality out of relations, with nature and among human beings themselves.  Of course the ability of mediators in social relations to find an indentity of interest between one human being and another depends on the fact that there are larger and more settled populations in the first place; thus the opportunity exists to find a closer match of purpose and interest.  In the long run, however, this reliance on mediation, as opposed to force of arms, to bring one human being together with another results in a de facto subservience to both men to government as the agency binding them together.  Ultimately force rules inasmuch as a contract is, upon agreement of both parties, a finally binding and enforced relationship.  Ultimately government appears as the stonger party; and the relationship between government and citizen reintroduces the whole prospect of slavery and the predation of one human being upon another.

The issue of human conflict in general is one that must be dealt with here.  The predator does not have an unrestricted or unimpeded access to its prey, usually, but has competition from other beings.  The predator itself may become prey.  It is not too much to say that human culture in addition to solving the oppositional relationship between hunter and hunted, has to solve the confrontational relationship between competitors. This is the point I have been making above.  Slavery is the form of culture that turns a competitor into a cooperator [neologism].  The slave society also has the paradoxical effect that it brings a potential competitor closer, physically, to his master.  In the case of human beings, universally, competition is not overcome by culture, even slave culture, so much as it, competition, becomes the assumption of cooperation.  This is the paradox of all late culture, even into early civilization; the paradox is resolved through all manner of contractual agreements.  Finally, however, and into the later forms of civilization, when culture is rendered obsolete--culture has "solved" the "problem" of oppositionality--the very fact of human cooperation is ended.  Cooperation itself, which hides oppositionality, is transformed into the abstract form of the machine, or automatic, self-motivated servant of human beings.

Cooperation is the lauded objective of communism.  Human culture strives further than cooperation, however--it strives to eliminate the very fact of human interaction, insofar as human interaction implies, necessarily, strife.  All that would be left, finally, would be a highly abstract master/predator and an abstract absolutely amenable prey.  What culture strives for is to eliminate all oppositionality and resistance; and in civilization this objective is achieved according to the ingenuity of its possessors.  My final point is a simple one:  slavery is merely the effort of one man to coerce another man to serve for very general purposes.  Slave societies are culture where larger "gaps" or periods of oppositionality separate the technics of acquisition (weapons and tools) and the objects of acquisition.    As culture passes over into civilization, these gaps are smaller and smaller; rather, technics is filling the space formerly left to human agency.  We may be specific on this point.  A factory employs human workers according to those tasks left undone by machines.  This point is made frequently by sociologists.  But the factory owners will ordinarily, when new technology comes along, do those same jobs with machines and disemploy [neologism] the workers.  The factory becomes a more "inhuman" (mechanical/civilized) place.  Civilization is no different in this respect than a factory; in solving the issue of oppositionality, civilization also ejects all human agency, insofar as human agency is anything other than totally submissive.

Finally, to reiterate what I was saying above, civilization tends to free workers from the generality of slavery; while at the same time those persons who were once masters consign themselves to a sort of "contractual" slavery.   From culture to slavery to civiliation, the basic principles of live--technics, force and contractual obligation--have appeared and disappeared as fine nuances of a general theme.  We may go on to say, specifically, that the difference between a slave caste and a proletarian or "worker' class is not a very significant one.  The slave is employed to do large and very general work; the "worker" or proletarian is employed to do small and very specific jobs, and those jobs are irregular and always changing according to financial and technological changes.  A proletarian worker is one who can be taken out of one job, kept alive (or barely so) as a "reserve industrial army" (Marx/Engels) until a new niche is found for him.  This is the "freedom"of the proletarian--that he can be moved from one job to the next.  Writers often point out that wage slavery is still slavery; freedom in these terms would be freedom to starve.  There are several sides to the issue of slavery.  The side we will not consider is the so-called moral side to slavery, which is more an issue of religion than of the way people actually think and act.

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I. THE SO-CALLED STATE OF NATURE
The state of nature, so called, was exited by man at the time man acquired tools, even though such tools were mere sticks and stones. The state of nature, Naturzustand, consists for our purposes simply of a straight path between predator and prey, with the predator advancing and the prey retreating or resisting, as the case must be.  This relationship I described elsewhere as "oppositional," in that the resistence of the prey--or object--opposes but does not contradict the advance of the predator, who for our argument is the subject.  Predator and prey are essentially the physical form of the subject -object relation that came to be played out in the human mind.  I have described this early relationship as "fascist":  the relationship was straightforward and direct, without recourse to intermediate stages, which later became convoluted. Early human life, like that of animals, was characterized by immediacy; while culture is progressive intermediacy.  Primitive man was simply an early "fascist," in our terms.  This was his "state of nature."  This was and is the way animals live; there is in these terms a fascism of general life.  If facism in these terms is to be circumvented, highly convoluted ways of doing things need to evolve.  This process of intermediacy, begun early on by culture--the simple ax or spear is just such a indirect way of doing something--accelerated through the various stages of civilization.  I talk later about this logic of history.  Of course, Natural Law philosophy--and this was in conjunction with the State of Nature idea--depicted an early human being without any culture whatsoever, only hands as tools, living naked with a mate and browsing for food as did baboons and so forth.   

Rousseau for his part said that the state of nature ended when one man could, through skill and technology, enslave another man.  If a man could walk out of a state of slavery, he was, then, living in fact in a state of nature.  Our view here is that the first slavery probably appeared when certain humans possessed both the leveraged violence--weapons--and the collective strategies to enslave other men. But first there were only simple tools with only such coordination in the use of tools as was possible involving the small number of men in a primal hunting band.  To build an entire society--slavery was the first real society--through or using technics came with larger numbers of humans sustaining themselves by herding and agriculture.   As I said,  slavery came only much later, perhaps millions of years, after a long period of hunting and gathering where groups were miniscule; the only inequality among humans in that period was according to personality and physical and mental strength.  As Ben Franklin did we are defining the human being as a "tool using animal."  What follows in human evolution derives from technics.   To be human, in other words, and to possess technics, is to live differently than "animals."


II. CULTURE
It is critical for our purposes to consider the structure of the predator-prey relationship, in a setting of primitive hunting and gathering, because this structure is the structure of mind itself, that is, the structure of the subject-object relationship.  This point has been stressed earlier.  At issue, finally, is culture.  Spengler and others--and this idea is taken up even by Friedrich Engels in his study of the Teutonic mark--distinguish between culture, so called, and civilization.  This distinction will be sustained here.  What is meant by culture here is a relationship between the human being and an object of his interest, wherein the relationship is oppositional.  That is, the object in one way or another, according to its physical and psychological capacity, resists being grasped or subdued by a subject/predator.  There is a "tension," in other words, between the predator and prey, and what is the same, as mind evolves, subject and object.  Culture involves tools and technics as mediating this relationship.  Culture in these terms would be the effort by human beings to close the gap, or end the tension, between predator and prey.  Hence the arrow closes the gap between hunter and prey.  The strategy of herding reverses this order, with the prey (the animals), being domesticated and more amenable to (what amounts to) human predation.  But in true culture, as opposed to civilization, though culture strives to overcome the gap between humans and their objects of interest, the fact remains, nonetheless, that such tension--opposition--does exist.  The tension though oppositional is necessary to culture, just as, for example, gravity is necessary to human locomotion or friction is necessary, at some point, to the working of a machine which tries to overcome friction. Schopenhauer has talked about walking as a motion necessary to prevent falling; this is close to what I am talking about. Friction and gravity are necessary forces to keep culture in place; but by the same token so also opposition is necessary for culture.  Culture is "pursuit"; without the pursuit there is no culture.  Finally, culture, as I have already implied, is a structured relationship between subject and object, even as also culture is a relationship between predator and prey.  The tension of opposition is the essential bonding of not only human activity, but of the structure of mind which is a reflex of that activity.  At the risk of appearing to repeat myself, a hunting society in these terms is precisely culture.  Hunting remains culture so long as the activity is not "solved" by the very mentality designed to solve the activity.  In other words, culture is a "game" which ceases to be a game, and thus to be interesting, at the time the game is solved and there is no challenge to the players.  Yet culture is not a game, precisely, but is a purposeful activity that is carried out with full human participation.  This participation and this challenge ends, finally, with civilization.

III. SLAVERY
A crude formulation of the problem of slavery is that slavery is a practical solution to a practical problem.  This institution stands roughly in the evolutionary spectrum between culture and civilization.   First, the slave is implemented to solve precisely the problem that technics should solve, that is, to bring a resisting object closer to a desiring subject.  The arrow brings the hunter closer to his prey; the domestic animal brings the prey closer to the hunter.  These points I have already made.  The slave represents an attempt on the part of some humans to employ "representatives" of themselves to stand in for themselves. The term "leverage" is appropriate here.   Slavery in fact is an effort to accomplish at one stroke what through technics had to be done bit by bit and piece by piece. The human being in these terms would be the "perfect" servant of human beings.  There is the ironic consideration that all a machine is is a replication of the human being, but a human who would faithfully serve rather than compete. 

The distinction between a machine and a human slave consists in the fact that the human slave must be induced to do the master's work.  Thus a person once disinclined to serve is induced now to serve.  This transformation can be accomplished only if the former (?) competitor is brought into intimate contact with the master/predator.  This situation is very problematic for the master class.  Instead of separationg himself from previous competitors, who are potentially also future competitors, he brings them closer to himself.  The falacy of slavery in these terms is the close contact that master must have with servant or slave.  As space between them diminishes, so also the master class becomes vulnerable to surprise attack.  Some vision of freedom was sooner or later hatched by the master class.  Nietzsche was wrong on this point:  the vision of freedom and equality is not born out of the servant or slave class, but out of the master class.  Master status was an onerus burden for the masters, since, as any sort of predation, such status was won only by effort and danger.  Such opposition was contrary to the basic effort of culture, which is to bridge any such effort. 

There is scacely anything more to slavery than leveraged technics.   Insight may be gained into the basic principles of society by considering slave work versus mechanical work.  Both machine and slave are acquired in order to serve some human being or other, who is called "owner."  As to advantages of one as opposed to the other, we may ask simply who or what serves best.  The servant or slave, however, is motivated as prey, to resist and oppose.  Thus, while the slave closes one gap between predator/subject and prey/object, he, the slave, constitutes a new opposition and the need for a new design to overcome this opposition.  That the slave will serve absolutely is only an ideal in the mind of the master.  Thoughts of coercing servitude from human beings lead naturally to new creativity in the purely physical, non-human world; in the non-biological world there is no resistance whatsoever to human effort.  The human slave in these terms comes to be replaced, slowly or rapidly as the case may be, by the machine.  The mechanics of operating a slave system give way to mechanics as such.   

The slave in these terms would constitute a middle reality that brings the (aforementioned) hunter closer to his prey; and would bring the prey closer to the hunter.  For a thousand years or more the order established between master and slave, and supported by an army of bodyguards and slavemasters, was all there was to society. The institution of slavery has been periodically the core of society; more complex organizations of humans would have been unthinkable without slavery.  For this reason, that the problem of slavery stands close to the problem of early social organization, slavery should be at the center of attention by theorists.  Alone Rousseau seems to have given slavery serious treatment.  For the rest, high moral sentiments such as those in America regarding slavery in the South, attribute slavery to some sort of villianous instinct that is entirely, through education and moral progress, a thing of the past.  Actually, however, slavery represents an attempt by human beings to seriously solve the problems presented to them by circumstances.  The issue of slavery should be treated by sociologists on the same level of understanding as one would understand the technics of a spear or ax:  these are efforts of human thinking.  Slavery is an invention among others, but one with certain drawbacks in the long run.

Slavery is effective from the master's point of view so long as the slave is amenable to the slavery.  The slave must accept the idea that his master's purpose has a higher priority than his own purpose.  Any willfulness on the part of the slave, that would defeat the purpose of the master, renders the insitution of slavery less valuable to the master.   Slavery began in an act of predation, with the master-to-be preying upon some weaker person who usually offered resistance.  The predator/hunter became a predator/slavemaster.  This was a natural evolution of society that followed upon population increases.  What was done at this point was to transform a competing population into serving population.  This transformation however was only partial.  As a more complex organization the slave society was in this sense also, potentially at least, a more efficient organization.  There is every reason to believe that a large and organized slave society was more productive, in terms of food per person, than was yoman farming.  But slaves resisted their masters, and always constituted a danger.  I believe that slavery in classical Greek civilization was successful; but slavery in the American South was a failed experiment.  In any case, slavery could not succeed on any terms without the masters creating around themselves virtual armies of slave drivers and bodyguards.  Slavery constituted a climate of danger for every person.  The obvious solution to this issue of slave resistance was to created a "domesticated" slave, in the same way one would breed a domestic animal.  This has been tried.   Mixing traits of masters and slaves through miscegination was one approach.  Another, in the case of Sparta, was to kill off the stronger or more resistant members of the slave group, the Helots.  None of these attempts really succeeded.   Rather than to produce helpers in the cause of culture, the master group brought about competitors, in other words, in the terms we use here, oppositionals.    The slave society became a perpetual struggle between predator/master and prey/slave.

Thus while freeing the human being, qua master, on one level from the struggles of life, slavery created new and more formidable struggles.   Slavery, while reducing or eliminating oppositionality in one sphere, introduced new resistence in another sphere. The slave population not only served but competed with its masters.  Throughout the slavery period, however, technics was improving.  The slavery system would, through technics, simply become obsolete.  When slavery became obsolete, and only then, it became immoral.

Slave owners cooperated strenuously to enable human beings to become free of slavery.  This drive on the part of the over-class is one of the great paradoxes of history; that the slave owner would willingly give up his master status.  There is a simple solution to this paradox.  Slavery is a greater burden to the slave master than to the slave--compared, that is, with the ease of existence enabled by machines and factory technology.  Thus "freedom" meant more to slave owners than the slaves themselves.  These masters had before them the vision of a machine, which was formed in the image of a full human being but without the resistance of a human being.   Freedom meant for slave masters a freedom from slaves. The end of slavery meant that the former master class could put true distance between themselves and their former slaves.  Masters were free from slaves.

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PERFORMANCE PHILOSOPHY

The purpose of this webbsite is to promote creative philosophy.    For some, the word "creative" may already hint at some sinister purpose.  For instance, creative accounting is generally meant to be illegal accounting.  The world we live in is largely set in "eternal principles"; in America these principles are freedom and democracy, ideas which are perfected wisdom and beyond "creative" interpretation.  But, creative philosophy is going to be, in the short term anyway, only for a few people.  Creative philosophy is in a realm by itself.  In a population of hundreds of millions of persons, there appears to be interest in philosophical anthropology only among a handful of people.  Then, in addition, the ideological issue raises its head.   The webbsite where my present ponderings originated, Philtalk.de, lays down a large number of rules forbidding verleumdung and rassismus.  Later, toward the end of my "fifteen minutes of fame" on that webbsite, a good section of the German Constitution was printed out for me, so many provisions I cannot count them here; it seems I was verfassungswidrig on all these rules.  That led to my suspension.  In due fairness to Germany, the trauma of their recent history have led them to lay down rules for public speech that echo Nazi times.  German history is different than the history of my own Midwest, which really has no history to speak of.  The enemy to speech in the Midwest is not institutional oppression so much as the enemy is complacency and indifference on the part of most people.  America is freer than Germany, I believe, so long as one expresses one's viewpoint outside established institutions such as schools, churches and newsmedia.  Finally, what protects insitutional theology is public indifference.  Here, in this blog, on the other hand, there are no rules other than to eschew what Oscar Wilde called the one unforgivable vice--shallowness.     

The internet itself, where this writing first appeared and will continue to appear, is a new world like the Wild West, where sudden and unprovoked intellectual and ideological shootouts are still possible without lawmen intervening.   Internet writing is inherently anarchistic and does not need rules.  At least, governments and institutions have found no way, to this day, to censor what is on the internet.  In the midst of pornography and shallow commercialism there is room for true creativity.  This creativity is not what freshmen are taught in college, however.  It is still assumed  by freshman students that philosophy simply is creative just by virtue of the fact that philosophy is in books. The printed book is in itself sanctified culture. But this philosophy is inherently conservative, hardly ever radical, and most certainly is never radical when taught in universities.   A line of demarcation was never clear, from the onset of writing, between philosophy and theology, between independent thinking and state- and chuch-sponsered ideology.  The great merit of the German people--and I take my main ideas and motivation from them--was that they produced a group of thinkers, the Young Hegelians, unconnected to any university; but also, with Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, a whole new tradition which was free of social entanglements.  I will say more about these men later.   The distinction between theology and creative philosophy in these terms would be in the source and motivation of the respective views.  My assumption here, in this webbsite, will be that the philosophy that gets public attention today is largely war-effort ideology.  Gods, and along with the gods, whole philosophies and theologies, have been enshrined to reflect the magesty of victorious armies.  One can speak of "creativity" in philosophy in the same way one can speak of a Mexican political party as "institutionalized revolution."   Not one but three wars have contributed to this sitatuion--the American Civil war and the two world wars.  In these terms, it is possible to conclude that creative or original philosophy is per se socially and politically radical and revolutionary.  It is outside the mission of this webbsite to challenge post-War philosophy.  I need only mention the names Wittgenstein, Schick, Russell, Adorno and a few others to make my point.  These writers have invented a word--"fascism"--which is to be my lot to defend.  In fact, Wittgenstein et al have imparted a great deal of meaning to the word fascism, meaning that I can build upon; even while, on the other hand, they have left the slogans and key words "democracy" and "freedom" vague.

What i have in mind for this webbsite was inspired, in part, by the concept "performance art."    Constructive trends in the arts cannot be overlooked for writers, given the instantaneous contact provided by the internet. All I mean here by the term performance philosophy is that I am writing a book, presently, on the internet.  Everything here, purely and simply, is my own contribution--along with misspellings and outright stupid pronouncements.  I apologize, insincerely, for any bigotry that might come forth.  A good editor is priceless; but the average editors pair down a book to conform with institutional goals.   Performance philosophy consists, then,  of the writer "performing" his art, or displaying for a public the process of creating his piece as it emerges unfiltered from his individual mind.    That is what is intended here.  It goes without saying that these essays, both on the part of the site host and those commenting, are not intended to be finished pieces, then, but are part of an ongoing effort to produce one or several contiguous works.  Modern art fashions afford some other suggestive possibilities.  Ray Johnson's version of performance art, or"mail art," might be worth emulating.  Mail art begins with a sketchy picture sent from one artist to another, with each adding a bit to the picture.  The result should be a finished picture, with coherence and cohesion, but the work of several artists.  That is not far from my intention here.  The finished product, on the other hand, albeit the work of several contributers, should have continuity and reflect some single point of view.

I began philosophical blogging one year ago on Philtalk.de, which I still believe, after all that has happened between us, to be the best formatted forum for philosophical discussion.  I advocate reading that site.  Unfortunately, my proverbial fifteen minutes of fame there was to end after one year.  There seemed to be a sort of death wish on my part, a desire to provoke their managers and to say things they warned me were unacceptable.  I take responsibility.  The ideological fit, in particular, was not good; a number of them were what is called "new left."  My viewpoint is "old right."  That is something that can be kept in mind among readers of the present site.  My only complaint toward Philtalk was that, while we were on opposite sides of social issues, I think the purpose of internet chat is precisely to respect other viewpoints.  I was verbannt (banned) so that I would not have been able to retrieve my writings--had I not anticipated this ban, and moved to save my writing.   I could have lost a year's work.  Also Google has chached much of my material.

This webbsite should be strongly focused on the issue of "man."  We are at this point speaking only theoretically.  We may mention, however, in passing, that the word "man" appears centrally in the most sacred documents of our society, for instance the American Declaration of Independence.  The word "man" is centrally located in the most important philosophical writings of our civilization, starting with the Greeks.  The theoretical idea of man intersects with the practical problems posed in law.  The only providion here, in speaking "creatively," we allow ourselves to hold the word "man" up for critical inspection.  The last few decades have been important for philosophical anthropology, I aver.  The most dramatic breakthrough, not only for science but for philosophy, was the discovery--Francine Patterson was critical in this work with Koko the gorilla--of the speech capacity of apes.  Charles Bukowski said ["This discovery] changes everything."  We may only agree.  Having said this, what philosophical anthropology has heretofore left unfinished may now be finished. What we aspire to in this webbsite is a new definition of "man."  That is quite possible.  The solemn documents of our time may be called religious, then, and in that sense still sacred, but by no means scientific or philosophically valid.

My theme will be culture as "mediation," a world of sorts of human creation but one which is not precisely the human being himself.  Culture is made by men in the collective image of man as he ideally sees himself.   Culture is a creation by the human to overcome or transcend the "oppositions" of his life, originally the opposition of hunted object to the hunting subject.  Thus, for instance, the thrown spear or shot arrow shortens the distance between hunter and fleeing prey.  Finally, with herding as a means of gaining food the prey is brought closer to the predator, in the form of herdsman.  In either case, whether by missile or by altering the food source to make it more available, culture closes the gap that originally, under hunting and gathering, separated man and object or objective.  We may speak of culture as the first and most essential "mediator" of human existence.  But there is more.

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(947 replies, posted in Philosophical Anthropology)

Is culture in some sense "cheating"?   Through culture the human can do what he is unable to do "naturally."    What the human being does, in using a stick to reach an object, is in effect to INVENT A PROBLEM that was not there before.  That is, the primal man aspired to reach a fruit hanging high in a tree; this fruit was previously "unreachable."    Not only was the fruit outside the man's immediate reach, it was in a tree that the human--who is not an ape--simply did not want to climb.  The man was weak, clumbsy and lazy.  The human's present accomplishments are intellectual; early man had no comparison of himself to other animals except through physical prowess.  In proposing that culture might be "cheating" we are undertaking an altogether strange and perhaps, in polite company, in appropriate train of thinking.   This in normal conversation would be an odd question; but it is one we can ask here.  The question is unusual and relegates Philosophical Anthropology to a remote corner of the human consciousness.   If we assume "nature" is some sort of game or sport played by rules, culture would be cheating.  Of course, nature in the raw is not a sport and there are no rules.  So, in this sense, culture does not mean breaking rules.  Culture would mean, rather, understanding nature from an oblique--Plessner would say, ex-centric--point of view.  The human being understands, first, the inadequacy of his own hands and physical strength to do a job.  He understands, too, that a mere stick or stone could solve his problem.  So, the human interposes the stick or stone into the problem he has; he interposes the stick between himself and this objective.  This seems to us now like a "natural" thing to do; by no means does this act, we think, "separate" this human being from so-called nature.  We are wrong in our assumption.  Culture in a sense is cheating.  That is, we were given arms and hands to solve a given problem that was at hand at the time of the evolution of these appendages.  Such a problem would be picking a fruit from a tree:  hands are adaptive for that puroose.  What the human being did, in using a stick, was to INVENT A PROBLEM.  That is, he aspired to reach a fruit hanging high in a tree; this fruit was previously "unreachable."    Not only was the fruit outside the man's immediate reach, it was in a tree that the human--who is not an ape--simply did not want to climb.   It was simply outside the reach of the forager.  In using the stick, the human had to "admit" that he is not as good a climber as an ape; nor is his neck as long as a giraffe's.    The problem that the human had was to reach the unreachable.  And to do so he "cheated" insofar as he "played the game" in a way that nature, so-called, never intended.  Of course, nature is not a sport or game with set rules.  We have already said that.  In speculating whether culture is cheating, we are engaging in a purely other-worldly kind of intellectual play.   From the vantage point of Philosophical Anthropology, however, where we stand for a moment outside ourselves, we can see a general sort of human error wherein short term benefits obscure long range consequences.  The human being has, as the post-Hegelians have observed, is an "alien" being of the humans own creation.  We may speak of culture as a kind of "rebuke" to human beings.  What we are saying is that, in using a stick, the human has admitted, sadly, that he is incapable of climbing that tree and reaching the fruit.   The human being made his appearance in the world, living as he does with technology that was simple but was the same in general concept as the technics of today, as one who understood himself to be a "cheater" and one deserving of criticism.  For thousands of years he looked to animals for inspiration; his religion--totemism--had the premise of the natural superiority of animals.  Modern man has not lost this admiration of the animal world.  Nor has he ceased to rebuke himself for his "cheating" of what was assumed to be a sort of game plan of nature.

Human beings, or ancestral humans, were hunters for several million years, and this hunting way of life is encoded into human genetics.  My thesis so far has been the point that the orientation of human beings in the hunt, which begins primarily as a physical orientation, prefigures the structure of the mind.  This point has to be expanded upon.  It is not alone the HAND which prefigures the mind;  more than just the hand the entire  "positionality" ( my neo-logism taken from Plessner's German) of the human hunter in relation to an animal prey is at issue.  Thus the whole structure of the relationship between hunter and hunted is finally reflected, over a three million year period, in the modern human brain.  Oswald Spengler made the Raubtier (carnivore) side of human personality the center of his thinking.  I will take the same point of view.  On the other hand, the problem which occupies me here is not so much the violence of the human being, who as a species seems to me rather typical of animal species in general.   Rather at issue presently is the structure of mind (geist).  What is presently at issue is  something I will call OPPOSITIONALITY.  For millions of years reality for early man consisted of a relationship between man and animals in which the animal opposed and resisted the man in the man's efforts to track and kill the animal.   The point of view of the early human was acceptance, or what I will call self-evidentiality (neologism made from Selbstverstaendlichkeit).     Self-evidentiality has been raised here to a level of philosophy to express the idea that a common understanding of a person's situation in life corresponds to the structure of his mind, or what is the same, his evolutionary collective experience, encoded into his genes, over thousands if not millions of years.   For primitive man, even, today, the world appears as self-evident as opposed to "problematic."  Oppositionality, then, was built into the relationship between man and animal, and likewise between man and plant.  It follows that, as the human brain evolved, this same sense of the problematic-ness of the world would be encoded as a mental structure.  But for the brain, too, this was simply a problem to be solved.   The paradox of human existence that the human being has long striven to SOLVE THE PROBLEM OF HIS OWN BRAIN.  This effort to solve a problem that the human being himself NOT ONLY HAS BUT IS, constitutes the paradox of human existence.

The oppositionality that has persisted throughout the human experience can be described perfectly by the flight of an animal in the face of a predator, or the intense inclination of any animal has to fight back with any weapons it has.  The prey resists the predator, and that  resistence defines what the predator is.  Animals and even plants have biological weapons to defend themselves, which must be overcome by the predators in search of food.  Somehow nature stays in a kind of balance, so that if there are dramatic events in nature they do not have to do with a sudden advantage one species has over another.  This is usually not the case.  With the appearance of human culture, on the other hand, this beneign flow of nature was disrupted.  The solutions to opposition that happened were solutions to one opposition or another, not to the fact of opposition itself.  Human culture has all along been an attempt by humans to solve the very problem of opposition, and to dissolve in that sense the very structure of the relation between human hunter and prey, and between technics and the objectives of technics, and, finally, between subject and object.  This attempt by humans began small and innocently enough, as when the hunter picked off the ground a stone or stick to use as a missile which would serve, the hunter thought, to "close the distance" between himself and his prey.  Still all along these attempts were only haphazard and left a good chance for the prey to escape.  But the prey did not escape.  When hunters got to be too good at what they were doing they all but eliminated their game animals.  The next effort of the humans was to protect their animals from competing predators whether human or animal.  What was begun in one direction, as hunters through weapon technics brought themselves closer to their prey, was completed in the other direction as herders brought animals closer to themselves through domestication of these animals.   What gap of resistance and opposition that there had been between man and food source became, with each human "success," smaller and smaller.  Absolute culture, then, would be the absolute resolution--elimination--of opposition itself.  Opposites would finally be reconciled.  The means for this was technics of culture, but the ideology of such a final reconciliation between man and nature was religion.

I may have earlier refered to primitive people as "fascists" in that their point of view is simple and straightfordward on the issues of life.  In no sense am I alluding to past political events of Europe or any political party.  I have already said that words which, because they allude to things considered suspicious and dark, are suppressed--these words come to have more meaning, paradoxically, than words that refer to positive thoughts.   Positive words, like democracy and freedom and truth, come on the other hand to mean nothing.  The word facism then does have certain basic meaning.   What fascism means to me is simply a direct way of doing things, without concern for highly sophisticated and indirect rules.   Fascist life is immediate; democratic life is intermediate.   Primitive peoples have a high degree of Selbstvertaendlichkeit, or self-evidentiality about what they do.  War, for instance, or punishment of crime does not evoke any complex need for rationale.    What I mean to say is that primitive peoples take a direct approach to issues of life and death, inasmuch as they do not have the luxury of so-called civilized peoples of obtaining food at supermarkets, and so do not have to see the food killed; they do not have the resources to  wait for other humans to prosecute crimes against themselves.   It is possible to speak of a fascism of everyday life.  The man who kills his own meat would be in our terms "fascistic."  The man who exacts revenge on his own behalf would be "fascist."   Modern human beings live in a sanitized world very much out of touch with brutal realities that affect primitive man. This has been often said before.   It could be said that modern man either is "decadent" or soon will be.  Oswald Spengler speaks of the Entartung of man, or loss form.  The civilized man may slide, or may have already slid, into a state of tired self-domestication.  Vague referrences to this decay are made frequently, in the constant talk about overweight and metabolic sickensses that afflict civilized man.  For our purpose this talk is more an issue for a doctor, physical therapist or psychiatrist.  As an essay in philosophy our problem here is the structure of the human mind.  Mind is most often thought of, and philosophers themselves are the worst offenders, as a solution to a problem that the human being has.  This view is not so much false as naive.  The problem, because of his evolutional past, is also the human being himself in the very essence or structure of his mind.  The mind has evolved to solve a problem that the mind itself is.  Culture is an organized, collective attempt to solve this problem; unfortunately the solution is too good, ultimately, and places the human soul in jeapordy.

There is a trivial, often discussed side to the issue of self-destruction through intelligence.  Biological self-destruction is just the most visible side to the problem, however.  For example, the invention of the bow and arrow, in the Upper Paleolithic period in Europe, led to over-hunting of animals and the subsequent disappearance of this type of human being, the Cro-Magnon, out of Europe.  Possibly a more apt comparison is that of chess, not how chess has ended as a game but could end.  The game might just be "solved."  Chess would be solved if the person making the first move would always win; and the game would be played out always with the same moves.  Even as computers continue to play the game this has not happened.  The problem is that the best moves in chess are programmed into computers, so that, even as very good players can still (?) beat the computer, the computer is closing the gap.  This is also the way of collective intelligence, or culture:  it "solves" the basic problems of human life.    But the problems that the human being faces are the thing that the human being IS.    The structure of the human mind is constituted not merely by the solutions that mind offers, but by the problems that mind is attempting to solve.  So that, in other words, the human mind is attempting to solve--negate-itself.  It is more than a passing platitude that the human being invents the very technics that will put him out of work.  Machines are in these terms "labor-saving"--labor negating--devices.  But the mind itself invents ways to save itself labor, "solving" itself and thus negating itself.  Mind is a perpetual "negation of the negation," and the mind itself works to undermine the relationship between subject and object, constituted by opposition, which is its underlying mode of cohesion.

Under hunting and gathering as a way of life the issue of society does not intrude itself.  Society is a group of human beings gathered together for some objective purpose.  Society, as a collective entity, leverages and greatly extends human activity, so that issues that are small under hunting and gathering, or any very small human grouping, under society may become large.  The self-evidency under hunting and gathering or horticulture meant that humans accepted a certain balance of nature; when confronting an animal as prey the humans expected a certain resistance from that animal, and this, of course, was "just part of life."  There was challenge in this way of life.  Today such challenge must be invented as some kind of "sport," which is understood as "not real life."  More and more humans invent new challenges, including pointless predation on one another, to fill the void left in passing out of a hunting and gathering and horticultural way of life.  At issue is not what human beings do to survive, rather it is what they do collectively to survive.  Such collective behavior leverages human efforts to "solve" opposition, and to take opposition out of life.  What is done to help the human situation, on an individual basis, is done by quantum leaps by social effort.  The original structure of the human psyche (geist) is constituted not so much constructively as oppositionally. This oppositionality is undone by culture.   Collective solutions to oppositions, where human beings participate in these solutions, create a situation where the individual human being is constituted one way and culture, or the activity of the collective entity, is constituted another way.  This radical, we may even say oppositional, difference between the individual human and, on the other hand, culture produces what is commonly called alientation (entfremdung).

Philosophical Anthropology, as the word suggests, is a union of science and philosophy.  This is not a blend;  rather, on the contrary,  philosophy and science have their discrete respective roles.  It is crucial in Philosophical Anthropology that its science be called science and its philosophy called philosophy.  Examples are not hard to find.  I spoke earlier of a large tooth found by paleontologists in Africa.  The tooth is too large to be of a modern human; on the other hand the tooth's shape suggest that, indeed, this is a species related to our own.  The tooth's biting area is rather flat, unlike that of an ape.  The inference can be that this species ate in a manner similar to modern humans, grinding food rather than crushing and stabbing it.  But there is more.  Chemical analysis of the tooth shows that its owner ate meat.  We are talking, then, of a species that ate large animals as food but did not, on the other hand, use teeth to kill its prey.  How did protohumans of that period obtain large animals.  The only possible conclusion (other than eating carion) is that they used tools and weapons to subdue large game animals.  We may stop a minute here and these statements we have now made.  The tooth--as a distinct shape that shows a genetic relation to our own teeth--is an ascertainable fact.  Also, that the being ate meat is clear.  These conclusions are hard science.  But we move beyond these conclusions to an area of speculation that, indeed, may be called good speculation--responsible thinking--but, since the actual tools of the being are not present to us (later they will become visible, however), we are in a realm marginal to science, perhaps, but at any rate lacking the "hard" empirical test of science.  This speculation we may call "science" in the "soft" sense of the word science.  We have not drifted off, in other words, into the netherworld of arcane contemplation where nothing is entirely clear.  But that is about to change.  Philosophical Anthropology at some point passes over into just such vague speculation.  The word "essence" of which Philosophical Anthropologists are so fond is just such an example.  What do we mean by "essence"?  What we are saying about our field, which is the subject area of this blog, is that science appears to us, under certain conditions, a restraint rather than a help.  We want to get beyond science, not to bad science but to new science.  The only way to pass from facts that are obvious but old and uninteresting is through a phase of "pure speculation" which is open and nebulous but free and creative.  I draw out these observations about PA in order to form a basis of the subject under discussion.  We are no longer looking at small objects with definite forms about which we can make definite statements.  We have passed on to a much larger subject that includes many humans in complex relationships.  We are bound to leave pure empirical science at some point and move on to a certain grandiose vision that bears resemblance to the speculations of Plato and Hegel.  We are Hegelians.  Engels' views were responsible and serious without being hard science; we follow in his path, hoping, that is, to make a statement that is testable and empirically definable.  The point we are making now is rather simple.  At present our point is that the ideologies that there are--communism, fascism and democracy--in no way affect the workings of a modern industrial and technological system; they pertain, rather, to the relationship of human beings to these systems.  Ideologies of this sort are an afterthought, or after the fact of a system that somehow runs by itself; and it runs without any sense of purpose or direction.  All these ideologies--like Philosophical Anthropology itself--are simply statements of human identity in the face of their own technology.  They are all attempts to distinguish humans from their own technology.  We are saying that PA, unlike fascism, communism and democracy, is a more or less self-conscious, purposive attempt to find a human identity in the technical and industrial system that engulfs us all.

At the center of the Philosophical Anthropological movement is Helmuth Plessner's book Stufen des Organische und der Mensch.   Helmuth Plessner, an early voice of Philosophical Anthropology, said (Stufen...) that the human being lives "ex-centrically." The human lives, that is, "away from the (or 'a' ?) center." This essay will not contradict Plessner's conclusion; but we will qualify it. Our purpose will be:
1. To ask: what is meant by a "center"?
2. To ask whether there ever was, or still is, this center, as we have defined the word, in which the human being, individually or collectively, was or is centered.
3. To ask what the advantage or disadvantage, in regard to individual or group survival, would be to being centered. We know that an animal lives "centrically." We suppose that the human's ancestral forms, before tools and language, lived "centrically." Can man or animal, either one, ever live permanently and absolutely ex-centrically.
4. To ask whether, even assuming that the human being lives ex-centrically, this can be a permanent condition. Or whether, that is, the human being, while living ex-centrically for a time, must eventually find a center.
In a centric world there is a seer who sees objects and what is around him. But the seer does not see himself. This centrism is where living nature stood before the coming of man. I suggest that this world--perfectly centered in ego subjectivism--is rightly or wrongly perceived to be, by that seer, a secure world.
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Life is the answer to all questions.
That is only to say: We cannot go beyond life to finally and absolutely answer any question.
What is not relevant to life simply does not exist.
Thus, life is the final answer to any question. That is to say, life is the only answer that there is to any question.
Wille (Schopenhauer), or life, is the ground of existence.
Life is the center of existence.
All being has life as its center. Without life, being would not exist.
To be without being centered is a self-contradiction.
Ex-centric being is a contradiction in terms.
As an ex-centric being, the human being is a contradiction in terms.
The human being has long lived as an ex-centric--self-contradictory--being.
He must finally return to his center.
Race is the resolution of the self-contradiction of ex-centric being.
An early voice of Philosophical Anthropology, Helmuth Plessner said (Stufen...) that the human being lives ex-centrically (exzentrisch). The human point of view, according to Plessner, is "away from the (or 'a' ?) center." Implied in his statement is that the human being had a center, or, better, was a center, sometime in his primal past, but finally moved away from the center. Plessner's writing is turgid and any extensive exposition of his major work would be counterproductive at this time. I am here giving an impression of Stufen which underscores his major point and draws out the implication of that point. Simply to save time, perhaps, I want to connect Plessner's viewpoint with Platonism and Kantianism. This is to put the so-called "essence of man" (a focal phrase used since used by Max Scheler in philosophical anthropology) outside the individual body, and outside, indeed, any heretofore evolved biological form. The transcendence or detachment of the human being has been a theme of philosophy. Thus Plessner's word exzentrisch is simply another way of saying transcendent.
The human being, simply speaking, has long been been regarded by philosophers and theologians as otherworldly. Calling man otherworldly or "transcendental" would account for many human traits--empathy, charity and so forth--that distinguish humans from animals. I want also to add to this list of ex-centrisms the phenomenon of nationalism, which delinates human relations in terms of an external, abstract line called a national border. Politically as well as philosophically the human condition would seem to be evolving, we may say, from one of centrism to ex-centrism. We will consider nationalism and several other ex-centrisms shortly. At present we say only that, stressed by Plessner as a recent philosophical anthropologist, was the notion that either in the human's present, somewhere, or in his near or remote past the human being was centered and centric. Derived from Stufen.. is the suggestion that centers were essential to life until the advent of humankind as an ex-centric being.
There may be alot at stake for our purposes in the distinction between "having a center" and "being a center." We may suggest that the human being, while he has a center, also is a center. Plessner's assertion would be radically impacted (a word?) by wondering, as we do here, whether he meant that the human being (prior to become ex-centric) has a center or, on the other hand, is a center. If the human being is a center, we are saying, to move away from that center would be to cease to be what he, the human being is. If he has a center, but is not a center, then he could presumably move away from that center and still be himself. We are denying this. We are saying, rather, that the human being is a center and cannot become exzentrisch without contradicting himself.
The human being could exist, still, both being a center and moving away from that center. What happens in this case would be--is--simply that the human falls into a state of dialectical tension wherein, contradicting himself, he must--in order to continue to exist--resolve that contradiction.
Again, the subject of territory was raised in a neo-conservative treatise by the American writer Robert Ardrey, who drew upon the work of the Austrian Konrad Lorenz. The word of the day for some time in the '70s was "territory." When we talk about centers, however, we are not necessarily engaing in any discussion of territory, which (I aver) is something different.
Ardrey's thesis--that the human being as other animals orients himself within a boundary that is outside and around him--could be described as "nationalistic." In fact, the concept of a national boundary appears rather late in human history, in the period of Spanish and French nationalism circa 1500. Before that time, human social life was oriented around centers. The city-state was ascendant. We are saying, contrary to Ardrey, that while human beings as other animals do orient themselves in space, and defend their spatial position as essential to their survival, this orientation begins with a notion of a center. Any concept of an outer perimeter is vague and tenuous. We are saying, furthermore, consistent with our philosophical-anthropological thesis--that a being's habits of life, established through instinct, become embedded as mental concepts. The brain and mind are little more, at least in the short term, than reflexes of habits that have already been established by experience in survival. This point was made in our section on Philosophical Anthropology.
Turning to Plessner's thesis of exzentrizitaet we see, in animal behavior but also in human life, an orienation first around a center; the human being for his part moves away from this center. I would suggest, following what was said above, that the human tendency to move away from a "center"--a mental center or point of viewing(?)--is preceded by a physical distancing from a center of life on the part of an animal. This statement needs careful exposition. What we are saying is merely that, while the animal has some point of space where it, the animal, feels secure, it does venture away from this point; the animal also looks back to make sure that it, the animal, has a clear path of retreat toward that point. The animal never willingly loses sight of that point. At this juncture in our argument we are saying, if an animal is territorial, it is protective not of all the ground surrounding it, rather it is protective of the space between where the animal is presently, having wandered away from its center, and the center itself. This is the spatial orienation of an animal. I suggest that a human being thinks this way. Mostly he also acts this way. That is, while the human being may mentally depart from the center that he himself is--his self itself--he does so only under the condition that he can observe himself. He demands the certainty that he can return to his self. Otherwise he is cut off from the basis of his existence. This is "mental territoriality." When we talk of the self, then, we mean something essential to life in the same way that an animal's center of existence is essential to it. We decry, consequently, "perpetual ex-centricity."
Human beings do not depend moment to moment on being centered. We may reword our statement for purposes of emphasis. The human being, while once centered, became, somehow--there remains to more precisely describe this state--"decentralized." In clear terms, the human being can and does stand outside himself, in small matters and large, in individual concerns and social ones, to see himself at a certain mental distance. This is how the human being, as opposed to an animal, lives.
Our purpose here will be to ask:
1. ... what is meant by a "center"?
2. ... whether there ever was, or still is, this center, as we have defined the word, in which the human being, individually or collectively, was or is centered.
3. ... what the advantage or disadvantage, in regard to individual or group survival, would be to being centered. We know that an animal lives "centrically." We suppose that the human's ancestral forms, before tools and language, lived "centrically." Can man or animal, either one, ever live permanently and absolutely ex-centrically?
4. ... whether, even assuming that the human being lives ex-centrically, this can be a permanent condition. Or whether, that is, the human being, while living ex-centrically for a time, must eventually find a center.


Those were our questions. The following are our propositions:
1. Life is the answer to all questions. 2. That is only to say: We cannot go beyond life to finally and absolutely answer any question. 3. What is not relevant to life simply does not exist. 4. No thing can be known fully without knowing the relevance of that thing. 5. Relevancies all point in the direction of life. Relevant means only--relevant to life. Where there is no life, no thing is relevant. 6. Thus, life is the final answer to any question. That is to say, simply, all answering stops at the point of life. This--that answering ceases at this point--is all we mean when we say that life is the only answer that there is to any question. 7. "Wille, or life, is the ground of existence." (Schopenhauer) 8. Life is the center of existence. 9. All being has life as its center. Without life there would be no being. 10. Being that is not centered, or ex-centric being (Exzentrizitaet--H. Plessner), is a self-contradiction. 11. As an ex-centric being, the human being is a contradiction in terms. 12. The human being may live as a self-contradiction. This paradox of human life compels that life to its high achievements. The human being has lived long and successfully as an ex-centric--self-contradictory--being 13. But ex-centricity is not a sustainable condition. The human must finally return to his center. 14. Race--concentrated collective life--is the resolution of the self-contradiction of ex-centric being.
An animal is safely at the center of its own world. This statement, apparently simple and straightforward, needs rigorous exposition. There is an obvious psychological reason an animal is safe at the center of its world: this would be a familiar place of refuge. But when we say the animal is safe at the center of its world--that world being defined by various familiar and protecting geographic and other features--we do not necessarily mean that the animal is safely at the center of its world. Here, when we say that a creature or man is "safely" some place, we mean something entirely different than "safe at." "Safely" and "safe at" are for our purposes entirely different words. Were an animal safely at some place, we would assume simply that the animal is safe. But the animal may not at all be safe at the center of its familiar world if we construe that world merely as an "environment" or physical surroundings. In fact there may be intrusive and disrupting forces that the animal presently is not aware of that make the apparent place of refuge not safe at all. The animal may be blind to the danger. The animal in this sense is not entitled to anything more than to feel safe, even when it is not safe. Its sense of safety may be false. All we mean by the phrase "safely home" is that, having wandered about and faced danger, we have avoided these dangers and have returned home "safely." We do not mean that existence of an animal is "safe" simply because the animal is at the center of it--this can be a highly unsafe existence--but that, if the animal exists at all he is "safely" at the center of this existence. He cannot be removed from this center.
In that sense, it is rather a whim of nature that determines whether some creature is dependent on some circumstance for survival. I do not mean to belabor this point beyond what is necessary for our present exposition. My point will be rather that a certain secure position of centrality is built into animal existence itself. Even word "existence" implies (following Kant, Schopenhauer et al.) implies subjectivity; so that merely by existing the animal is centered as a--subjective--subject. So, when I say that an animal is safely at the center of its world, I mean that there is no place other than at the center that an animal can be. The animal is constituted by its own subjectivity. The world of an animal is definitely structured, but the structure--which has the animal at its center--is not only "by" the animal but "for" the animal. There is no world that exists for the animal other than the world that serves the purposes of the animal. But this absolute subjectivity of the animal world constitutes, in and of itself, a security that human beings do not have.
The animal absolutely knows its place in its world. That certainty comes from never questioning its own self. And so the animal goes about its business confidently. The human being does not necessarily know his place; we will talk about human objectivity later. The human being has not only to deal with a shifting world of facts, but also with a shifting self-concept. The human being, in Helmuth Plessner's phrase, is ex-centric. This loss of centeredness--which comes, as we will show, with objectivity--is a source not only of human success but of human insecurity. Even as animal and human alike feel insecurity when removed from their familiar homes and places of refuge, the human being--as ex-centric--is insecure in being removed, by his own mental processes, from his cosmos. How this happens we will shortly show.
Not just animals but humans as well have to have a sense of safety in some familiar place, which is also the place they will go to rest and to be "at home." Among animals there is a sense of safe-haven, of course. inasmuch as an animal has a certain place of refuge where it feels secure. Otto Bullnow, my teacher at Tubingen has talked about this refuge in Mensch und Raum. The safe haven is also the center of the animal world; the creature's activities radiate around this world but it, the animal, is always drawn back to it. Any perceived danger compels the animal to retreat to it. The animal furthermore knows where this center is, and it becomes agitated and hostile if it perceives that it's line of retreat there is cut off. Humans have been killed by animals when inadvertently cutting off this line of retreat to a place of safety. Our real problem here, however, is not precisely animal behavior but the animal mind. The issue at hand is a "mental" center. Again, the animal is always at the center of its mental world; and this, too, is a secure place to be. The mental center is the self itself. Since the animal has no real prospect of thinking of itself as anything other than itself, it cannot be--or allow itself to be treated as--anything other than itself. Here again philosophical anthropology, in particular Helmuth Plessner--sheds light on the question of animal versus human centerness.
As I said earlier, the essential security that an animal has is the a secure centrality that the animal has. The animal is in the middle of a cosmos, such as it is thought to be, without ever being able to look at itself. This is the confidence of a one-sided view of nature. There are several ways in which a being can be "centered"; one is biological and the other is psychological. In an important way, centered in a mentally and physically sequestored world is an advantaged place to be. Among animals there is a sense of safe-haven, of course, inasmuch as an animal has a certain place of refuge where it feels secure. Otto Bullnow, my teacher at Tubingen has talked about this refuge in Mensch und Raum. The safe haven is also the center of the animal world; the creature's activities radiate around this world but it, the animal, is always drawn back to it. Any perceived danger compels the animal to retreat to it. The animal furthermore knows where this center is, and it becomes agitated and hostile if it perceives that it's line of retreat there is cut off. Careless humans, in inadvertantly intruding between the animal and its haven, have been attacked. Our real problem here, however, is not precisely animal behavior but the animal mind. The issue at hand is a "mental" center. Again, the animal is always at the center of its mental world; and this, too, is a secure place to be. The mental center is the self itself. Since the animal has no real prospect of thinking of itself as anything other than itself, it cannot be--or allow itself to be treated as--anything other than itself. Here again philosophical anthropology, in particular Helmuth Plessner--sheds light on the question of animal versus human centerness. Plessner's writings are turgid; I hope my own writing is less so.