[This was supposed to be a short one.]
The way I see the ethical challenge of these times, if looked at globally in the sense of a generation's challenge, it is being presented with an impasse of which there seem to be only two escapes, which I see in the figures of the "machine" and the "beast." Both provide, at least the relief part, of Hegel's Aufhebung; but at the price of repressing the Nietzschean overcoming. Hegel hated the Jews too much to recognize his own Judaism, where a longing for the same lethargic acceptance that he identified and despised in Judaism was left unchecked and took over. Nietzschean overcoming, of course, has a built-in mechanism that probes and pokes at any such acceptance, a mechanism for the creation and enriching of discourse.
The failure or corruption of humanism led to the literal desecration of the 'human.' Nobody ever wanted to acknowledge its metaphysical assumptions - it must have felt so warm for western philosophers to remember the good old days of Christian brotherhood (hey at least Hegel was honest about it, god bless his antisemitic soul - in this new "Man" of common sense and Reason. Everything that troubled them they made a private affair. Why is that so surprising? If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out, wasn't radical enough to trigger any warnings? The priest of ressentiment, first and foremost, teaches his herd to reverse the direction of their demands and complaints back to themselves.
Your eye is the problem.
Nietzsche called this vivisection, because he saw how this radical ethico-metaphysical move slowly eats away at the core of all moral valuation by generating infinite discourses that define fault and grace, obsessively. We can see this now, we literally have more discourses than we know what to do with. More and more faults and values, so many, too many, one starts to replace them at an alarming, surely upsetting, rate. Call-outs of callouts, hypocrisy allegations stacked up on microaggressions, gaslighting suspicions, public apologies, cancellations and rebrandings, and, of course, hate and "prejudice."
I would argue something else is happening here.
I would argue that if discourse can no longer accommodate a safe subject position - that is, a discourse that rejects its own power (mostly by suppression tactics) - is no longer a discourse for humans.
Alas, vivisection was only the beginning.
Contrary to popular belief, there's some sustenance to be found in the caverns of ressentiment.
It did make "Man" a more interesting animal, Nietzsche comments.
The mentality that the cave brings creates framework or 'image' of thought whereby - similar to melancholia - alternative ethico-metaphysical realities are preempted, and desperately, hungrily so. The slave's tools are geared; they are constrained to specific operations and realities because they are tools forged in the fire of the latter's denial.
If the man of ressentiment finds sustenance, they will use it to dig further down, deepen the denial. And as they become more desperate so do they become more hard. The tissues grow scars and lose tactile sensitivity. It is being trained to die.
Vivisection used to hurt in the glory days of the Church. There was blood.
No blood left. What we're after doesn't run us, but our machines; including our digging machines.
I wonder if we have any other machines.
Vivisection has come to its logical conclusion: fracking.
Use water found in the depths to fragment ancient rocks and in the process destroy or poison (or both) deeper water reservoirs. Is it any wonder that people can be left without drinking water - this has happened on several fracking locations (but look it is already here in principle) - so that machines won't go thirsty?
When man becomes a beast he goes lower than the animal, more hopeless, too in charge of his own evolution perhaps. To this resulting monster of stocks and securities, to this universalized "manifest destiny" hypnosis/fanaticism victor and perpetrator, it is a religious duty.
A humility of man: sacrificing humanity itself to, exceedingly senseless, work; if you use social media you know wat I mean, it's a commitment. This creates a dangerous yearning for, either the safety of less resource-heavy mechanisms of self-control/corrections (you know, like prison), or a the relief of a melancholic divestment of the possibility(/legitimacy) of pleasure, as well as meaning.
Just like the water that is discovered in the depths and then used to frack the earth, feed machines and poison that same water so it's undrinkable for people, so marches the current climate of thought and discourse. Any new concept, discovery, any new sensibility or argument that pop up are fodder for obsessive fracking. How? Simple, we use the previous products - previous new concepts, discoveries and sensibilities - to attack the old ones, see what survives.
That's why bots do it better. It doesn't affect their mental health. It doesn't make them feel inadequate, alienated, and helpless.
That is also why thinking has become a true burden in today's discursive crisis. Thinking is not a solitary affair, and needs discourse to live, to make its moves and points.
But when there is no secure Subject position, when any statement is barred pending complete vindication of the person that issued it (which, something Christianity made us internalize, can only truly be judged after death), then meaning itself becomes contingent on this strangely deferred mechanism of evaluation. Maybe we can talk about the zombification of the author here (in a sad homage to Barthes), forced to rise from the dead as a monstrosity that no longer responds to or communicates meaning, only basic survival.
This is the rock bottom of value that Nietzsche warned us of, debris from the inevitable implosion that the priest of ressentiment lit the fuse on. This is nihilism.
And so we're back to those lovely two options:
Cut off your eye,
and/or replace it with AI.
The zombie is the perfect analogy for man's becoming-beast avenue. It is the rock bottom of meaning and value, the meek that will inherit the Earth. Long mistrust of discourse leads to abandonment of it (unless some - affordable - way is found to secure it). This path, however, is anything but a "return to nature." No, it is a regression in nature, if anything.
Think of that scene from Carlito, where he finds out his lawyer stole mob money. What does Carlito tell him? "You're a gangster now. You're on the other side. Whole new ball game. You can't learn about it in school, and you can't start late. There's no school for that. And you can't start late." We're not equipped to be animals anymore. We don't have the training, the habits, the immune systems. Our bestiality will be a zombie-like abomination, with all things that caused us to desire have been twisted and humiliated to the simplest and most dependable want. Animals have a future. This is dying branch of existence.
The robot is of course the other option. The cyborg, the android - it will have an AI that will be forever right and provide better tweak control, programmed to never slip-up, to communicate with like-minded entities, and to error-correct without the hassle of cancellations, all that human drama of desiring creatures...
But you can see already who it is that does the fracking here; who is the machine and who is the water in this analogy. The zombies will crack their heads open on meaningless quarrels until all heads are cracked; just like the water blasted into the earth forms - and farms - deep fissures in the bedrock. That's hard work, dangerous; like terraforming Mars.
The infallible should have the lobotomized do it.
[Maybe this will continue. For now I'm just putting it out (t)here.]