The recent earthquake in the greek island of Kefalonia, somehow convinced me that I need to re-evaluate my knowledge concerning human nature. At times, I consider what I know quite sufficient and “I rest my case” believing falsely that I know enough to interpret the world as well as humanity as an entity.
It seems that we are very weak and fragile as creatures, completely defenseless against the laws of the universe and the natural phenomena. Too bad we forget all about it when we materially prosper and acquire authority. So, it wouldnʼt be a bad idea to return to our timeless questions that we have been asking ourselves for thousands of years: Who are we? Where do we come from? What are we made of? How do we differ from all the rest of the living creatures?
Most people knowing their inability to sufficiently answer the aforementioned questions, resort to the good old religious myths of creation and receive answers that (superfluously) satisfy them or at least they think they do.
Unfortunately, there isnʼt any clear answer to those questions because we are still not able to travel back in time and observe the reformation of our cosmos. I purposely do not use the noun “creation” because the universe wasnʼt created. It has always been around one way or another. It just changes forms and shapes as it evolves but nobody created it out of nothing.
“This world, the same for all,
neither any of the gods
nor any man has made,
but it always was, and is, and shall be,
an ever living fire,
kindled in due measure,
and in due measure extinguished”.
Heraclitus (535 - c. 475 BC)
This is somewhat difficult to understand because as humans we have the luxury of knowing that our lifespan is limited and that one day our life will end. So, by accepting that there is an end, we logically conclude that there was a beginning as well. Perhaps, this is true concerning our appearance on this planet. Only through the pill of religion can we get some answers but again those answers do not stand a ghost of a chance to be proven correct if they are treated and examined scientifically. Such pills are very dangerous, however, because they amputate our reasoning and our quest for knowledge. No god made the cosmos and since we are part of the cosmos, no god made us!
So, what are we left with? Nothing, really. We havenʼt progressed that much to be able to trace the very beginning of our past.
However, there is a positive side to all this. Instead of worshipping gods, goddesses, spirits, ghosts, superpowers, messiahs and saints, we can philosophize. Philosophy canʼt provide us with solid answers either but it does help us significantly to attempt to rediscover our true disposition. Furthermore, by philosophizing, we may be able to realize that no specific purpose is necessary for something to be born or be evolved. In other words, if we want to maintain our sanity, it would be useful to conclude that the statement “everything that happens, happens for a purpose” is false.
The true essence of philosophy is to free us from misconceptions, stereotypes, fears and dependence on falsehood. That is indeed very important and we can be very proud of the fact that philosophy is indeed a human creation!
Another great advantage of philosophy is that it can take many different directions that may never converge to a specific point of reference. It all depends on how we see the world around us. This is what I would call freedom. Freedom to interpret the world through the uncountable variations of human reasoning.
Speaking of freedom, we should realize that we are talking about a purely unattainable condition because the notion of freedom is directly connected to the notion of evolution and since evolution has no end, it can be correctly assumed that freedom has no end either.
Letʼs see where we have gotten so far: We are living organisms with limited knowledge and abilities, we donʼt know how we were made and how we got here but we do know that our lifespan is very limited which makes our living somewhat tragic simply because it isnʼt easy to accept that we will not be around forever. We are products of evolution with limited freedom since the notion freedom expands beyond our limited horizons and can never be achieved during oneʼs lifetime.
We are defenseless against nature and no matter how much we move ahead and advance our civilization, we can never reverse the process of evolution or abolish the laws of the universe.
Nevertheless, we are capable of philosophizing and interpret the world as we please. We would surely have achieved a lot if we manage to enjoy our natural tendency to philosophize without the bondage of religion.
We are also animals. Letʼs face it. We act like ones on numerous occasions. We need our “pack leaders” just like the wolves and we need the protection of the “clan” as long as we live. Our “clan” is what we have been taught to believe in since our childhood years. It is what we use as our “identity” to differentiate ourselves from the rest. That's
where the notions of “ethnicity”, “nationality”, “cultural heritage”, “tradition” and ethnic mythology come to play. Unfortunately, all those notions do not indicate any progress regarding our human disposition.
It seems that we are unable to individually cultivate ourselves. We need to belong somewhere and to occupy a specific part of land that we think it is ours and nobody elseʼs.
When we talk of brotherhood and peace on earth, we actually pretend. We donʼt really
want that to happen because we are all supporters of “addition (+) and not subtraction (-) because to us “more” is better than “less”. We spend our lives acquiring things we donʼt really need… until…
…an earthquake comes along and makes everything vanish! Yeap, everything vanishes into thin air because human ethics and desires are completely indifferent to the laws of nature.
Luckily, we have a very short memory! Once the earthquake is gone, we return to our business as usual.
“Whilst human kind
Throughout the lands lay miserably crushed
Before all eyes beneath Religion- who
Would show her head along the region skies,
Glowering on mortals with her hideous face-
A Greek it was who first opposing dared
Raise mortal eyes that terror to withstand,
Whom nor the fame of Gods nor lightning's stroke
Nor threatening thunder of the ominous sky
Abashed; but rather chafed to angry zest
His dauntless heart to be the first to rend
The crossbars at the gates of Nature old”.
Lucretius apotheosized Epicurus,
(De Rerum Natura; I, 62-71)
Epicurus (341 - 270 BC)
Going back to the recent earthquake of Kefalonia, I must admit that I now understand Epicurus a little better. He once said: “I never desired to please the rabble. What pleased them, I did not learn; and what I knew was far removed from their understanding”.
Amazing, isnʼt it!
Enough for re-evaluating my knowledge concerning human nature!
For the time being, I rest my case and resort to my usual blues guitar strumming (until I hear the next life-threatening earthquake or natural disaster knocking on my door!)