4. On what basis should the life of human beings together be organised?

  1. The ‘social’ life of animals is determined by Nature. Consider ants, bees, birds etc. Animals themselves merely follow the programmes for living together that Nature prescribes for their particular species.
  2. Humans by contrast are free to devise their own forms of organisation. At the same time, it shouldn’t be forgotten that humans are forced – again by Nature – to do this devising. This is because they cannot not live together. A child has a long dependency on its parents, for a start. And then any task that two humans undertake together requires them to adopt roles in relation to one another and to agree on how those roles are allotted.
  3. Every social group aims to devise a way of living together that is peaceful and, more than that, loving. This is the emphasis, at least in principle, of all religions and every atheistic view. It is inconceivable to us that any group should aim for the opposite. Even those who contemplate or actually seek to carry out revolution – perhaps even going so far as to pursue violent world domination – seek the establishment of a ‘good’ society of this kind as their ultimate goal.
  4. There is no universal agreement, however, about the basis on which such a society could be established. It is Hlatky’s contention that for there to be such a universal agreement, what is required is a logical, reality-based hypothesis about the original cause and meaning. In other words, we require a logical, reality-based understanding of the whole reality (which includes ourselves and the world around us), an understanding that is convincing to every single person so that it need not be imposed in an authoritarian way.
  5. The problem is that none of the world religions and no atheistic view (Post 2) have presented such a logical, reality-based hypothesis. (This is argued throughout Understanding Reality.)
  6. There are many historical as well as current examples of societies where religious worldviews influence or dominate. More recent historically are societies where atheistic science plays the same role. Of these, the social form considered the best in western societies is democracy, which is a genuine attempt to avoid authoritarianism of any kind.
  7. Democracy, besides seeking to restrict the power of individuals, attempts positively to take account of the views of individuals. The problem is that this latter can only occur in a limited way, given the infrequency of local and general elections and also referenda. More importantly, in the absence of an underlying agreed worldview informing the participants in the various levels of social organisation, democracy in practice cannot be more than a matter of compromise and tolerance between the various conflicting views held by individuals or groups. Although compromise and tolerance are enormously preferable to rigidity and intolerance, they still leave the society open to constant tensions and clashes – witness the problems that occur in all democratic societies, not to mention between democratic nations internationally. The focus in such societies remains on competition and/or the acquisition and exercise of power of one kind or another – which is the opposite of the loving society that everyone seeks. (See also UR, p.13)
  8. As argued earlier, for a worldview to be agreed upon by all, it must be logical and reality-based, and thus not authoritarian. Hlatky’s hypothesis of the original cause is an attempt to offer such a worldview – however preposterous and utopian such an attempt is regarded as nowadays. And, of course, this blog has the aim of engaging a wide audience in a debate of that hypothesis. [1]
  9. Politicians and political commentators often refer to a need to belong [2]and sometimes use the mantra ‘We are all in it together’. But they don’t specify what the ‘it’ is that we are all in, nor on what basis we are in it. They seek to take advantage of the definite emotional appeal that the statement has. Its appeal harks back to the sense that every child has, in its very early days, of having been born into a world where its need for relationship can be satisfied in relation to the other human beings that it finds itself in immediate contact with – human beings whom it regards, in a spontaneous, preverbal way, as basically like itself. This is what the infant’s first smile is about.
  10. The appeal also draws on the feeling that arises spontaneously among us all – in a more or less distant echo of that childhood feeling – at times of natural disaster: suddenly we see everyone else as human beings basically like us. Such situations demonstrate that the feeling of ‘being in it together’ lies dormant in us all.
  11. So it is right to say that ‘we are all in it together’. But this is a trivial statement, unless specified. Hlatky specifies the ‘it’ as firstly the original reality, in which we are parts of the whole (God); and then creation, where we each connect to a body. This is in order to meet God’s need to be understood and thereby loved, as well as to meet our own identical need – through our recognition that all of us, God included, are basically alike in having this need. So we are bound by a common meaning (Post 2) which should guide us in our behaviour towards one another, as well as towards the physical world around us. (For elaboration of the philosophical background, see UR, pp.55-6.)
  12. A note of caution: Hlatky is not saying that his view is the definitive uniting view that society requires. In other words, he is not saying that he has ‘the truth’ (see UR p.72). Rather it is a hypothesis that is in need of constant scrutiny as to its basis, and at the same time constant testing against reality [3]. His aim was simply that his view should be discussed, compared and tested alongside the other worldviews – of religion and of atheistic science. (This, again, is what has been done throughout Understanding Reality.)
  13. Politics places a huge emphasis on power: the power to push through or defend a point of view and a course of action – on the part of an individual, a group or a whole society. This over-concern and over-involvement with power is unavoidable where there is no fundamental reality-based agreement philosophically – no matter how committed people are to discussion or ‘creating a consensus’. But, as argued, a society based on power is the opposite of a loving society. A loving society can only be achieved, in Hlatky’s view, by philosophical agreement – and, again, by this he means specifically a reality-based agreement about the original cause and meaning[4]

Footnotes:
1. For an analysis of the difficulty of this endeavour in the current philosophical context, see Post 5.
2. A current example is the writing of George Monbiot who talks of the need for a ‘politics of belonging’ (see, for example, his latest book: Out of the Wreckage: A New Politics for an Age of Crisis).
3. For consideration of this complex but crucial question, see section ‘Checking Hlatky’s hypothesis’ (UR pp.128ff).
4. For an application of some of the general ideas contained in this Post, see Post 6.

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