It is easy when looking at NOR (Non-Objective Reality) to assume the value of conventional intellectual thinking is being negated. But this is false and would be ridiculous in any case; we humans would never have evolved abstract thought and the objective view of realty had such things not been advantageous.
However, the benefits of human thought are arguably only circumstantial, and come at a cost. Overall, the development of our species has dramatically changed the planet’s conditions to our apparent advantage, but the current situation includes numerous new problems.
Abstract thought and technology may have catapulted homo sapiens into a dominant position, but they also pose questions about our future on a single planet of finite resources. Having learned to more fully exploit the environment, the exploded human population and its industrial activities are also destroying that environment, proving the species to be far from master of its destiny. The physical organism needs fresh air, water and food, as well as a generally tolerable environment – but even these essentials are increasingly in jeopardy.
The conditions under which evolution originally birthed abstract thought have dramatically changed, thanks to abstract thought itself. And as a direct consequence, we now face new challenges. Imagining our traditional outlooks are up to these challenges is surely misguided. Whether considering our technologically enabled powers of mass destruction or our ongoing assault on the planet’s biosphere, we are confronted with issues unthinkable in former times.
When humans developed the means of encoding and recording their knowledge, they entered a new paradigm – human knowledge becoming a cumulative affair by which each generation stood on the shoulders of all previous ones. Such a transition can be seen as the birth of technology – the evolution of thought-out planning and manipulation of the world, as opposed to instinctive animal behavior.
We no doubt retain much of that animal aspect, but modern technology highlights that something dramatic has been added to it. Whereas a spider weaves a web as the seemingly reflexive thing that spiders just do, humans can access stored forms of knowledge and learning to design and construct huge suspension bridges that they actually have no natural instinct to build.
Unfortunately, this evolutionary development does not appear entirely beneficial. Abstract thought has arguably empowered us to the point of being our own biggest threat – confronted with new problems that logically demand new modes of thought.
However, in terms of NOR, we need not abandon existing views of reality – notably objectivity – to address new challenges with new ideas. We can hold objective and non-objective views simultaneously. As an analogy, although we know the Earth is not the centre of the universe, that traditional view still has some relevance; we still tend to think the Sun rises and sets, instead of the Earth rotating to produce that illusion.
The implications of NOR for objectivity and existing human knowledge are really quite drastic and invite serious intellectual blowback – but this is not why NOR chooses to accommodate the conventional model of objectivity. NOR is a partial critique of that model, but not a replacement model. Everyday conventional ideas are qualified without directly ridiculing them.
Questions are asked about the manners in which humans so habitually and subliminally interpret reality – as opposed to experiencing it in its raw state. But NOR is not an attack on our common sense ideas of the world. Instead, it is concerned about the implications of extrapolating from a model of reality that merely proves immediately useful, to some idea the same model can achieve an optimal understanding of the human condition. Even in something as mundane as golf an array of different tools are employed for different challenges.
The objective view of reality might have served us well in terms of getting us to where we are, but it now seems we need a more advanced and complementary view – one better adjusted to understanding and managing our new issues. We can no longer afford to successfully engineer specific situations amidst a disregard for the bigger picture. In short, we need to understand how not to destroy ourselves. The stakes could hardly be higher.
Continuing our planetary multiplication amidst endless technological interference in the manner so far done only increases the dangers we face. Historically effective ideas can surely only be of limited relevance for our future, given these dangers simply would not exist without those traditional approaches.
Whatever the best course might now be for human ideas and understanding, a cliff edge is already visible directly in front. Turning our vehicle in whatever direction appears suitable may be difficult. But failure to turn at all will be fatal.