The Society of HumanKind
The Treatise on Morality notes that, when the Society of HumanKind achieves its Aim, the meaning and purpose for our existence that was gained by our acceptance of the Axioms and choice of the Dogma will be lost. It is possible to imagine humanity existing without a purpose. It may be that when we reach the new beginning our liberation from death will bring we will no longer be interested in the meaning of our lives. It is highly unlikely however, that we will be content to exist in our new-found new immortal epoch without choosing some purpose or objective for ourselves.
One possibility is that we will embark on an attempt to create a new form of self-conscious life, as a natural extension of gaining immortality for ourselves. That is not to suggest that there is any necessary or logical connection between our transformation into immortals and that kind of creative impulse. But it is reasonable to suppose that, with the prospect of an infinite life before us, we would want to apply some measure of how interesting the available alternatives are likely to be, and to prefer long rather then short-term projects.
Using those criteria, what could be more fascinating and endlessly absorbing than to try to create a self-conscious life form, preferably something with a degree of adaptability, and then to set it free to develop as it wills. The trick will be to create an organism which would have sufficient adaptability to have the potential for infinite survival, and then to set it up so that it had a real chance of achieving that objective. Or not, of course. A certainty of success or a predictable development would be very tedious and hardly worth the bother, other than as a preliminary stage in the creation of a truly independent entity.
These otherwise idle and incoherent speculations about what our immortal successors might, or might not, decide to do with their new-found freedom from the prison of oblivion open some interesting prospects. They must surely raise the possibility that we ourselves are merely the product of some project giving meaning and purpose to the existence of some already existing immortal inhabitants of the universe. Such beings could have found some reason to create us and put us on our remote world, thus becoming the kind of power or entitity that some readers might find to be an uncomfortably close fit with the very God or gods of our earlier beliefs.
Whether they be the gods of our childhood or not, if we allow that such infinitely superior immortal beings might exist in our universe, we cannot then say what their attributes might be. We can reasonably suppose that their characteristics are likely to be far outside the range of our experience. We cannot therefore, ignore the possibility that, unlike ourselves, such beings might be a species that has never been constrained by time. It then becomes conceivable that our imaginary beings, far from being our creators, might simply have stumbled on us in their timeless exploration of the universe, rather than having any responsibility for our creation. In which case, their presence in our lives will not contradict the proposition of the Axioms that we are the products of chance.
Equally, it is possible that such beings or entities do, indeed, exist in our universe, but have not yet found us. Again, no contradiction of the Axioms results, and since these beings are not necessarily subject to the oblivion of death that restricts us, they could discover us even after we had come to the end of our existence and disappeared, perhaps by destroying ourselves.
A halt to these highly attenuated speculations will now be called since they are in grave danger of drifting into realms of pure fantasy. But this otherwise fanciful line of thought does have some value in the context of this Essay. It can at least serve the function of bringing a morsel of comfort to us in our uncertain and unending struggle to find solutions to the problems of our survival. The speculations of this Essay raise the hope that even if we are truly alone and are masters of our own fate, and that we do fail in our efforts to preserve ourselves, (which is the worst possible case to be considered here) we may still be saved from oblivion. All that is necessary is that some other entity or species in our universe does possess or achieve the Objective we have failed to reach, and then finds some reason to save us, perhaps from our own folly.
But beyond that residual hope for salvation in the worst possible circumstances that may face us in our pursuit of our Aim, further speculation along these lines becomes valueless, potentially harmful, and cannot be allowed. The risk is that ideas can arise of circles of existence beyond even that of our neighbours, creators or rescuers, and consequent speculations about their origins. That must open a dangerous and destructive door to a possibility of a regress into circles within circles to an infinite degreee and in infinite dimensions, taking us into a fruitless search for certainty where none can be found
More importantly, such flights of fancy might adversely affect the determination of the Society to pursue its Aim whole-heartedly. It is of the utmost importance that all adherents of the Society should conduct their lives on the basis of the Principles; on a wholehearted acceptance of the Axioms, and on an unreserved commitment to the Objective of the Dogma. Otherwise the full impact of those decisions on our moral and social life will be lost, and our chances of achieving the Aim of the Society correspondingly reduced. So while this part of this Essay may perhaps provide some ground for hope to sustain us and give us the courage to take action in our darkest moments, it must never be allowed to distract us from our determination to achieve the Aim of the Society unaided.
However, given that sobering and wholesome constraint, it is possible to use the speculations of this Essay to develop a tenable view of what should be the purpose giving meaning to the existence of our species after our liberation from death - which, the reader will remember, is where this Essay began. In short, the earlier speculations suggest that it might be possible during our mortal lives, to settle on a purpose for our immortal era that might preserve the final faint refuge of hope for our species described in this Essay; that is, that a presently unknown but timeless and/or deathless life-form or entity in our universe might be willing to save us even where we have failed in effort to achieve our Aim, and have consequently disappeared from the universe.
Clearly, if we are to gain that eminently desirable prize and expect our presently unknown neighbours to come to our rescue in extremis we must give them some reason to do so. And we must set about that process now, well in advance of our having any need of recue from a total and final extinction. Because even if such other beings are indeed capable of being our creators or rescuers, why should they be concerned to save us from our fate? Why should they, or any of our neighbours, feel any responsibility toward us if we fail to save ourselves from our own folly or failure? It has to be said that our history and past conduct have hardly made us attractive or desirable to other residents of the universe. Indeed, we have probably been, and remain, so aggressive, noisy, childish and destructive that any outsider sufficiently close by to have become aware of our presence might well be considerably relieved (or whatever their equivalent emotion might be) to find that we had managed to do away with ourselves completely.
If therefore, we wish to make our neighbours or creators feel any obligation to save us from the worst that can befall us we will need to make some effort to correct the bad impression we have almost certainly already made on our fellow beings, and convince them that we are worth saving. We ought to begin perhaps, to try to become better and more acceptable citizens of our universe. We could make a useful start in that direction by setting out to demonstrate that we are a species that recognises and advocates a brotherhood of all life-forms. We might also try to minimise the possibility of our appearing to be a danger to others.
We could also make it clear, in all our future actions and patterns of behaviour, that we will be content with what we have, and that we are willing to live at peace within our present environment and its resources. That posture should not however, preclude us from taking appropriate and prudent action to provide for our infinite needs and security. There is no necessary conflict between a policy of peaceful co-existence with our neighbours and our laying claim to any unused resources which may be available in such unoccupied parts of our own solar system and its galaxy as are properly and equitably essential to our survival, and which are within our reach.
There may even be an immediate benefit of that change in attitude and pattern of behaviour, if it is coupled with an adoption of the benign image of ourselves which this Essay suggests. It may save us from a threat to our extinction of which we are not yet aware. That danger arises from the possibility of some other species or entity detecting us and, seeing no sign among us of any recognition of a fundamental brotherhood of the life-forms of our universe, coming to the conclusion that it would be best to eliminate us before we become a threat.
Having taken that first precautionary step and established a peaceful and non-threatening outward stance toward others in our universe, we may then begin the next stage of the process of convincing others that we are worth saving from ourselves. We should embark on an attempt to create a moral climate in which our neighbours or creators recognise and accept an obligation to rescue us from the oblivion that will follow our failure to achieve the Objective of the Dogma, if that is to be our fate. We can of course, have no certainty that our concept of a moral obligation has any meaning to other species or entities. But we can hope that any beings sufficiently developed to be aware of our presence will at least be able to interpret our intentions correctly.
Given that reasonable hope we can perhaps best foster the moral obligation which we would like to establish among our neighbours, by ourselves making a highly visible commitment to provide that ultimate rescue service to others who might need it, if it is they, rather than we, who find themseves in need of that ultimate refuge from oblivion. Clearly however, and as was mentioned earlier, we must be prepared to lay that foundation of mutual obligation well in advance of any danger of our having any need for such a service; if, that is, we are to be effective in drawing our neighbours into feeling obliged to come to our support.
Drawing then, all the threads of this Essay together, its proposal is that we should abandon our present childish and irresponsible patterns of behaviour, and reject any plan merely to amuse ourselves in the new epoch of our existence that will follow from the achievement of the Aim of the Society. We should now determine that, following our own translation into immortals, we will then search for and rescue any life-form in our universe which is in need of the gift of immortality. As has been indicated, our present and continued commitment to that cause may serve us well in providing some reason for our hypothetical neighbours to feel a sense of unity with us, based on a common ground of an aspiration to achieve immortality. That is a unanimity which will be of inestimable value to us if it is we who have the misfortune to need to be rescued from the oblivion of death.
But while that may be a powerful argument and a sound moral case for now making a commitment to the salvation of all life-forms in our universe as the purpose of our lives in our immortal epoch, it is not the sole justification for the suggestion. There will be additional advantages in our adopting it, and particularly for our effort to achieve the Objective of the Dogma.
In the first place, that commitment to the salvation of other life forms and to a peaceful coexistence with our neighbours might encourage them to make peaceful contact with us. Great profit can be gained by any such friendly contact, particularly since it will enable us to develop a better understanding of ourselves. Are we really an 'aggressive' species? To what extent are we well equipped in terms of senses to understand our universe? What are our limitations? Such questions may never finally be answered, but our chances of gaining some useful insight into them will almost certainly be improved by any opportunity we may have to examine and study the attributes and characteristics of other viable life forms. In addition, our joining with others in our universe will add a wholly new dimension to the range of skills, abilities and qualities available to us to face the presently unimaginable hazards and chances of our existence, both in our present circumstances and in the unprecedented environment of our immortal epoch.
Taken together that must surely be as good a set of reasons as can be imagined for adopting what might otherwise seem to be a somewhat loftily altruistic attitude toward our, as yet unknown, neighbours, as well as laying a foundation for a common purpose with all other life forms. As so often happens when we start from the Axioms and Dogma, we end by discovering a concordance between our best interests and those of others. In this case a unity which parallels and transcends our common commitment to the pursuit of the Objective of the Dogma, to forge a link with all the inhabitants of our universe.
One final point. The reader will not have failed to notice that these speculations can also be seen as one possible justification for the attitude of tolerance toward religious beliefs set out in the Treatise with that title. If it does nothing else, this Essay must surely reinforce the uncertain stance of that earlier discussion, and admit the possibility that, in the fullness of our knowledge, the advocates of such beliefs may yet prove to have been right in ways neither we, nor they, can, or could, anticipate.
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