TREATISES
of
The Society of HumanKind

1

OF KNOWLEDGE

SUMMARY
This first Treatise points out that a consequence of an acceptance of the First Axiom of the Society is to remove all and any final or ultimate certainty from our knowledge and beliefs. The Society therefore accepts that all the things we think we know, and all our beliefs not matter how strongly held, are disputable and open to doubt. The Treatise goes on to show that uncertainty has many positive consequences, helping us to live good, peaceful and useful lives, as well as to achieve the Aim of the Society.

The First Axiom has profound and far-reaching implications. The most significant and troublesome is that its chance explanation for the existence of humanity means that we can no longer be certain of any our knowledge, or sure of the skills and abilities based upon it. The problem is that if our species exists only by chance, then we cannot avoid the possibility that our characteristics, qualities, abilities and potential are equally the result of chance. In which case, there is no longer any certainty that our species possesses all the senses and abilities required for a complete understanding of ourselves, our universe or any of its processes. Acceptance of the First Axiom thus leaves us unable finally to establish the true nature and extent of the connection between our universe and our capacity to understand it, or to identify any ultimately certain base on which human knowledge or understanding can be built.

Clearly, accurate, reliable and useful knowledge of our universe and its processes can be, has been, and will continue to be, developed using the range of abilities, capacities and potentialities we happen presently to possess or may acquire in the future. But the First Axiom implies that such knowledge, however reliable it may seem or prove to be, must always be subject to the caveat that it may be subject to the effects or influence of factors, circumstances or conditions of which, due to our unknowable limitations, we are, and always will be, unaware.

Previous accounts of the origins of humanity tended to avoid this difficulty. They commonly did so by seeing our existence as part of an overall order of the universe in which our capacities and our environment had a common origin, or were parts of the same whole. Those earlier ideas were therefore able to assume that our attributes are sufficient to develop whatever quality or quantity of knowledge of ourselves, our universe and its processes we might want or need. No such comfortable confidence is available to the Society of HumanKind.

Furthermore, the Society must acknowledge that the First Axiom leaves no ground on which we can rest any assumption that the mental processes we presently use to explain ourselves and our world have any ultimately reliable connection with the nature or structure of our environment or its processes. What we call 'logic', or 'reason', or even 'intelligence' or 'intuition', may be characteristics peculiar to our species not necessarily shared by every, or indeed any, aspect of our universe. Followers of the Society must thus accept that everything and anything in our universe, including ourselves, may be governed or shaped by forces, processes, factors and influences to which we do not have, and will never obtain, any access.

The Society will never even be able to say when, or if, we reach the limit of our capacity to know or understand. Although we may be able to detect the outer edge of some aspect of our present skills and knowledge, in the epoch of the First Axiom we will have no means to establish whether that represents the absolute limit of the potential of one or other of our attributes, or merely a stage in their development. At a stroke therefore, the First Axiom leaves the Society and its adherents in a permanent and unavoidable condition of unending uncertainty.

This conclusion can give rise to overwhelming anxieties and perplexities. By removing any ultimately reliable basis for human knowledge, we appear to leave ourselves adrift in an incomprehensible universe at the mercy of forces and influences that we may never even detect, let alone learn to grasp or control. Acceptance of the First Axiom can thus seem to leave us with no hope for the future. How can we be sure of anything if we cannot trust our senses or our reasoning? Why should we try to improve or increase our knowledge if, in the end, we can never be sure of any of it, or the ground on which it is built?

So terrifying is this possibility, so destructive does it seem to be of the very foundations of our lives, that it is sufficient in itself to account for the defences of a belief in predestination, or faith in an external all-knowing omnipotent power or divinity, to be found in many of the ideologies and philosophies preceding the emergence of the Society of HumanKind. It may also explain the complex dogmas, mystic metaphors and impenetrable sophistry developed by many of those earlier systems of thought and belief. In the light of the Axioms all those devices appear as little more than an attempt to introduce a comforting hope of final certainty into the complexities and insecurities of human life.

Indeed, it is a recognition and acceptance of our fundamental uncertainty, of there being no ultimately indisputable base for any of our beliefs or our knowledge that chiefly distinguishes the Society of HumanKind from its precursors. If, however, we can steel ourselves to admit and embrace that consequence of the First Axiom and plunge whole-heartedly into uncertainty we can then begin to find a new and surer place and purpose for ourselves in the universe, and give ourselves hope for an infinite future.

That hope grows from an observation made earlier in this Treatise. Prior to the emergence of the Society, humanity has been in the habit of accepting, consciously or unconsciously, that there are some aspects of our lives and our universe that are destined always to be beyond our comprehension or control. Many examples of that self-imposed limitation are available, one being the tacit assumption that any attempt to use our existing attributes and abilities to account for their own origins must lead to an infinite regress, and therefore always be inconclusive. Another is the often argued proposition that we can never expect fully to divine the meaning of our lives since to do so would require us to possess all the powers and attributes of whatever we might regard as our originator or creator. No such limits exist in the era of the Society of HumanKind. With the Axioms as our starting point we may lose the illusion of certainty but we gain the liberating insight that no humanly conceivable area of interest or enquiry is closed to us.

So the first hopeful conclusion that can be drawn from the seemingly devastating effects of the First Axiom is that its destruction of the former basis for our knowledge also frees us from our earlier reliance on some external source for ourselves and our potentialities. Once that momentous step is taken, the Second and Third Axioms then enable us to recognise that our uncertainty must extend both to our future as a species, and to the potential of our attributes and qualities. In short, a beginning from the First Axiom leads us at first to the conclusion that neither our future nor that of our universe is in any way settled or determined, but then to a novel standpoint from which we gain an entirely new and hopeful perspective on ourselves and on our possibilities.

In a universe of total uncertainty created by the First Axiom we can never know how far; in what direction; or to what extent, human abilities and knowledge, or the skills that grow from them, might develop, nor can we anticipate the future form or capacity of human individuals or of the society they create. Equally, we can ever know when we have reached the limit of any aspect of our skills or abilities. Once we accept that as our reality, then the Second and Third Axioms allow us to conclude that at any and every moment in time we have every right, and indeed no alternative other than, to regard the potential of the skills, capacities and knowledge of our species as limitless.

Thus, in our absolute uncertainty we will always be entitled to assume that any unsolved problem we face, or any limit on our capacities we presently experience, will be removed at some point in our future by some as yet unforeseeable change in our environment or development in our skills or knowledge. And it should be noted that an infinite increase in the quantity of our abilities and knowledge is sufficient for this purpose. No qualitative change in either ourselves or our capacity to use our knowledge and skills is either necessary or implied.

But how does this new view of ourselves and our potentialities reflect on the question that must be of the greatest interest the Society and its adherents; that is, whether or not humanity has the potential to achieve the Objective of the Dogma and the Aim of the Society of HumanKind? What is required for those purposes is the discovery of a means to grant an eternal existence to all humankind under conditions that will allow us to extend that new freedom from death to all our predecessors and successors. These are powers and abilities we have never possessed, and ones clearly beyond our present grasp. If the uncertainty created by the First Axiom is all-pervading it must also apply to prospects of the Society for the achievement of its Aim.

The difficulty for the Society is that while the arguments so far deployed in this Treatise give rise to some hope for the achievement of its Aim, those same arguments will support diametrically opposite conclusions. On one hand the uncertainty created by the First Axiom can lead us to believe that the unprecedented abilities required for the fulfilment of its Aim must be within the reach of our potential. On the other, we can conclude that they will be forever beyond our grasp. Faced with that ambivalent implication of its own Axiomatic base the Society cannot rely solely on the possibility of an infinite expansion of our abilities, skills and knowledge to justify its commitment to the achievement of the Objective of the Dogma and the subsequent realisation of its Aim. Its hopes for the salvation of humanity need a wider base.

Thankfully, that greater security for the Society is available and can be found in a full understanding of the concept that summarises all three Axioms, and which forms the heading to that part of this book; that we are alone in the universe. To be thus utterly alone, as the First and Third Axioms imply, means that there is no power or entity to which we are subject. We owe our existence, our attributes and potential, and our continued survival, to no-one and to no-body. With no master to serve or please, and no omnipotent power in our universe with any interest in or concern with us, or having any degree of control or direction over our lives, we are, for the first time in our history, totally free to set ourselves any objective, and to search for knowledge in any direction and on any subject we may conceive and choose.

And while, at first glance, the implication of the Second Axiom; that the range and extent of our future knowledge, characteristics and capacities cannot be defined or predicted, sets a limit on what we might hope to achieve as a species, that otherwise negative proposition rests on an undeniable premise. It is that the human species does indeed possess characteristics and potentialities, albeit they may in time vary and change. And, on the evidence of this book itself, among those potentialities are both the power to imagine, and the freedom to choose, meaning and purpose for ourselves and our species. When the Society of HumanKind imagines an objective for our future that gives meaning to our existence, and then chooses to pursue it, that can only be an exercise of human attributes and an expression of their potential. Indeed any such series of decisions can only emerge from, and must be an integral part or an expression of, humankind.

The First Axiom may destroy the possibility of there being any ultimately certain base for our knowledge, and provide no guarantee that we will ever develop the capacity to grasp, let alone entirely resolve, all the mysteries of our universe. But a fuller understanding of the Axioms taken as a whole leads to an apocalyptic insight. We may never be certain of success in what we attempt, and cannot expect to grasp what is beyond our potential to understand. We can therefore never seek what we cannot imagine. But the manifest potential of our species includes a capacity to conceive a meaning and purpose for our lives, coupled with an ability to choose between various objectives for the future of our species. Any full grasp of the concept that we are alone in the universe will thus reveal what philosophy has long known; that nothing we can imagine can ever be absolutely impossible. Our potential is limited only by the range of our imagination, and since we can conceive of having an eternal existence beyond death, we are free to choose it as the purpose of our lives.

We can make that choice with the confidence described in this Treatise and summarised in the Dogma of the Society. All that is required is that we should choose to come together in a co-operative effort to expand and share our skills and knowledge, and then never abandon our search for salvation. The Society of HumanKind is the means to those ends, and these founding books of the Society are an example, as well as a demonstration, of what can emerge from that faith in ourselves and each other.

The freedom to determine our own future gained by an acceptance of the Axioms comes from their rejection of any dependance on an external source for the human species and its potentialities. That seeming negative assertion about the origins and nature of human existence enables us to see, perhaps for the first time, that our imagination is as much part of us as any of our other attributes and characteristics. Any aspiration we have, including any hope for salvation and a life beyond death, can confidently and properly be recognised as no more nor any less than an expression and measure of the potential of our qualities and capacities.

This Treatise begins with an acceptance that the Axioms destroy any ground for a belief that there must be a unity between the universe and our species. That was the base on which much earlier understanding of the future of humankind and of its abilities, skills and knowledge was built. In its place however, the Society of HumanKind offers a unity of humanity, and within each individual, on which we may securely build our hopes, not simply for the achievement of the Objective of the Dogma and the Aim of the Society, but for human possession of powers of perception, creation and transformation hitherto reserved to the gods and demons of our childhood dreams.


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©Lawrence Thornton Roach
2000-2005 AD