Are there tasks we would benefit from resolving that are out of our scales as mere individual human beings? Obviously, there are tasks that simply go beyond any limited capacity, like reaching mathematical infinity, but are there tasks that are resolvable at least in principle but yet out of bounds because beyond the scale of what is fitting for us as humans? The kind of tasks I’m thinking about is the kind a benevolent god of finite capacity would set himself in order to change the world for the better. Are tasks of this kind out of our scale? Is it hubris to take upon oneself the tasks of such a god, imaginary though he may be?
I don’t think it is. On the contrary, I think this is exactly the kind of tasks we should set ourselves. To spend our time grappling with the biggest, most important issues, those on the scale of the world, in particular if the alternative is to invest our intellectual powers to merely promote our individual place in this huge social and economic game that civilization seems to have degenerated into. I guess we can’t escape having ourselves defined as characters in some game or other, but in addition to being players, playing along in society as we must, we should be game creators and tweakers as well – (game) world tinkerers – or else we shall have lost the very heart of human dignity.
I think it is a good idea to identify oneself with a god, to the extent that a god is nothing but the embodiment of a full and comprehensive perspective and concern. The effect of immersion in this perspective is similar to that of immersion in scientific objectivity, insofar as one’s perspective and concern shifts from individual to universal. But it differs in that science has an exclusively empiricist focus. The imagined god-perspective I wish to define here is wider: Culture as a whole is the realm of tasks for this god of all the world within human reach – culture in a wide sense, including empirical science, but also religion, mathematics, the language of intuition, all beliefs shared or private – in fact, the entire virtual realm of possible thought and experience.
Is our culture sick? Well of course it is, nothing this explosively and elaborately developed can be healthy. But there are no gods to fix it but us. – So why don’t you get started? Trace out a problem, work hard on imagining what the ideal solution would be, and if you are confident enough in your solution, find out what practical obstacles there are to have your bugfix implemented in society at large, and… go campaign on Facebook or something.
Of course, there is not one huge problem with culture, but many large ones and countless smaller. Take for instance our flawed number system and time keeping systems (the clock and the calendar). The currently dominant solutions are terrible, finding better solutions to these are perfect examples of fitting tasks for culture gods like us.
– Please don’t let the silliness of the terms I prefer cloud the message. I am entirely serious. I would like to live this way, with a mind set on bugfixing or even recreating the world, taking on the biggest and most important tasks I can find, without letting practical concerns get in my way. Practical unrealizability is not an argument against theoretical action. Society is arbitrary and fleeting; the future is mental. Everything that can be envisioned can, in time, be realized.