Everyone lies. Even so, it is the legitimate role of the New Mind to not simply detect lies, but moreover to dethrone those entities which pretend to the role of God. The Ethical Skeptic does not know what a god even is; nor does he possess all knowledge and wisdom. However, he can easily spot a monkey with a gas can. Even and especially if that gas can serves to intimidate via means of institution, socialized rationality or specious claims to science, evidence or truth.
Inside this awareness, several telltale character traits, life signatures, differentiate the poser elitist from someone who can be trusted. This is his threshing floor – upon which he exercises the disruptive nature of ethics.
To a degree, ethical skepticism can be viewed as a method of exercising a New Mind. It involves a keen survey of the landscape of animal, primate and human behavior, along with an understanding of how these roles, tactics and strategies of both survival and inhabitance, have played into our success as a species. It also involves (as does true skepticism) a keen understanding of the pitfalls of each strategy and how such pitfalls might manifest in our lives inside the societies in which we dwell. Everything of merit possesses a relevant range of application, outside of the bounds of which, even the best strategy can devolve into a practice oriented towards power; producing deception and suffering. Remember, that to a sentient intelligence species, deception-based ignorance and suffering are the same thing – one is simply the expression of the other. Lacking of knowledge is not a sin. The withholding of knowledge and denial of the right to thrive is a sin. This is a key tenet of ethical skepticism. It is not so much bunk we are fighting, as bunk will eventually falsify itself in a free information environment, rather cultivated ignorance. The ethical skeptic gets this, the small mind, no matter how rational, does not.
The Knowledge of God and Not-God
Let’s take a step back and examine the myth outlaid in the Torah, a myth which has for right or wrong, ruled much of our foundational understanding of good and evil as a western superculture. A condensed version of manuscripts taken from an older Levantine religion (I suspect from which the Sumerian, Akkadian, Hittite lineage spawned) now included in what we call The Bible. In the renamed condensed later manuscript now called Genesis, we see in verses 3: 22 – 24 (NASB):
Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the Tree of Life, and eat, and live forever”— therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken. So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the Tree of Life.
Now I have found manifest in my years working with nations and corporations all over the globe, that man possesses a serious dearth in ability to distinguish good from evil, nor even cozen a coherent definition of each thereof. What man understands is ‘proper’ and ‘improper’. These are simply popular constructs relating to socialized rationality. Hence the persistence of malicious religions, governments and corporations – entities which thrive on ‘rationality’ but do not serve its goals necessarily; rather ultimately their own. Were we to recognize them in the context of true good and evil, possibly we could work to mitigate their deleterious effects. But we cannot even recognize such effects, even if we did possess a knowledge of good and evil at the outset. No, we are their prey – seriously falling under the contention that we must have eaten from the Tree of Lack of Knowledge of Good and Evil, were there such a mythical flora indeed. The bottom line is that the Bible is wrong, we do not know what good and evil is. We know harm, proper and improper. That is all. Perhaps our fall after all, simply resides in our presuming of skill at good and evil discernment in the first place.
Just think to yourself, what if your family dog one day licked an electrical socket and suddenly obtained the mental clarity to ascertain your true nature and celestial position as a human being? What if in a bought of tragic rift, your beloved pet, the furry creature who used to greet you at the door with such abandon, excitement and love each day after work, became knowledgeable about just who and what you were? What if he understood that you did not really kill and prepare the food you so faithfully gave him? What if he understood that you routinely lie to your parents in order to placate them? What if he understood that you had to betray a friend and take full credit for a paper that was partly her idea, in order to make the next step in your career? What if he understood that you destroyed a friend and former lover, in order to chance a relationship with someone more attractive – and it all collapsed in a heap of angst and broken hearts? What if he knew that you habitually tolerated or promulgated lies between 10-200 times every single day – along with the rest of humanity?¹ And even lived in a state of denial of even doing so, lying even to yourself? But never mind this, what if your faithful dog – suddenly possessed even the slightest understanding of who and what you are? He would hold then the wisdom of the Knowledge of God and Not-God. He might even bite you and leave.
He would be wise to you, and no longer serve in the faithful role in which you both previously existed. Bad dog…
Everyone lies. Even so, it is the legitimate role of the New Mind to not simply detect lies, but moreover to dethrone those entities which pretend to the role of God. The Ethical Skeptic does not know what a god even is; nor does he possess all knowledge and wisdom. However, he can easily spot a monkey with a gas can. Even and especially if that gas can serves to intimidate via means of institution, socialized rationality or specious claims to science, evidence or truth. Inside this awareness, several telltale character traits, life signatures differentiate the poser from someone who can be trusted. This is his threshing floor.
The ethical skeptic knows that it is often those who adhere to the most strict appearances of honesty – who can produce the most corrupt manifestations of ignorance and suffering. They can be known by hints derived from their motivations.
Standing Up to The Monkey with the Gas Can
Ethics are therefore disruptive by this very principle alone; and in an evolutionary context actually, eruptive. And in as much as this comforting metaphor of the family dog can serve to exhibit the crucial relationship between knowledge and control, even so we as thinking and discriminating beings can fortunately now examine the playing field inside which we reside. Our task is to become more than simply the smart but formerly obedient dog. In so far as Pamela Meyer has outlined in her work “Liespotting,” the ability to spot lies in other people;1 even moreso, the task at hand for us the ethical skeptics, is understanding the conditions when someone is pretending to the role of God in our lives. And trust me, it is not just mainstream religion which is pretending to this role. Primates seek power, pleasure and entitlement by any means they can – and uber-correctness, fake humility and social rationality can serve as great cover for such foibles.
First however, let’s examine the transitional role which primates have played in the evolution of consciousness and conscience. The stacked hierarchy of tactic and strategy inside the reality of the need to survive or thrive within this physical realm in which we find ourselves. A New Mind may perceive itself as an unwilling participant inside the grand play in which it holds a role. And whether self-deception, illusion or none of the above, it is of no matter. The reality is that we survey this landscape nonetheless.
Perhaps two examples from the natural world, the first from the Jane Goodall Institute and the second from the work of animal psychologist Penny Patterson of The Gorilla Foundation, can suffice to elicit this graphic below. (As a note, I would ignore the abysmally incompetent, paltry and biased writeups in Wikipedia on both these matters as the authors of those entries were merely doing amateurish hackjobs, and not true research expose on each topic – so the entries are useless as information other than nominal facts and fake skeptic viewpoints on the matter):
[One Chimpanzee named Mike (1938 to 1975) began a strategy of dominance through employment of a gas can.] One day as Mike was batting a gasoline can around, the loud thuds and irritating banging noises it produced resulted in a few of his fellow chimpanzees running quickly away from the strange object and the noise it produced. Mike understood this to mean that he had found a means to intimidate his fellow chimpanzees. Mike began to practice his new brand of display with two cans bouncing off trees and earth as he went running madly down the path with hair standing erect, shoulders pushed back, and face molded into a fiercely determined look. Chimpanzees cringed in fear as they heard his noisy approach and saw him running at them. They scattered off the path and out of his way.
Large high-ranking males fled up the tree trunks when Mike began his descent down the forest path slapping, kicking, and smacking three cans in front of him! The other chimpanzees had never seen or heard anything like it. It was as if the worst thunderstorm had erupted and Mike was directing it toward them. They shrieked and tried desperately to get away from him and the terrible rattling and banging noise the cans made as they flew down the hill in their direction. Not wanting to fight with the unknown, the males of Mike’s community acquiesced. Mike became the first alpha male ever to employ his brain rather than his brawn to govern his community. One year after Mike began his unusual display, he attained the position of alpha male.2~ ChimpaZoo; The Goodall Institute, Chapter 21: “Mike the Alpha Male”
Successively then, let us regard a tale of Koko the western lowland gorilla, the primate who has single-pawed overturned our understanding of the primate mind.
Like most people, Koko has good behaviors and bad behaviors. Like most people, she takes credit for the good behaviors and blames the bad ones on someone else. The cat [All Ball] came in handy on one particularly destructive day. When no one was around, Koko managed to rip a sink out of the wall in her habitat. When the humans returned, they asked Koko who ripped out the sink.
Koko signed, “The cat did it.”3~ A Conversation with Koko”; Nature (1999) The Gorilla Institute
What this indicates is then, the death of the idea of glorified but fallen-sinful humanity, and the introduction of the idea that our vulnerabilities, our proclivities for both illicit and legitimate gain – are simply expressions of natural strategies to survive and thrive. They are natural, albeit higher DNA based manifestations of expression. We were simply blinded to this by entities pretending to the role of God in our past. Bluffing into a form of control, or what might reside inside the blue levels of the primate pyramid below. Below, I have constructed a graphic depicting the less-than-dramatic schism between humanity and the natural realm, along with the challenge resident in the mind of the ethical skeptic as to how we progress from this problem of philosophy (Social Skepticism), and onto the next step. What I call, The New Mind.
Traits of the New Mind
The decision as to whether control, coaching and conscience are sufficient to the task of fostering The New Mind, or whether or not to apply the draconian measures of culling and conversion, wholly resides inside another camp altogether. So for purposes of this blog, let’s assume that coaching and conscience are the tactics which provide for success in crafting of The New Mind. In that context, for the ethical skeptic, the matter is not simply one of determining liars and lies. Everyone lies. This is the reality of the natural realm inside which we reside. Pretending to be able to counter all the proclivities of the natural realm is a matter of magic, self aggrandizement and boast. Our task is NOT to detect every single lie which is uttered, and swell our egos in a virtual cocoon of correctness. Such a state stands itself, manifest as a sort of lie of its own crafting. The key for the ethical skeptic is to detect when lies become institutionalized, when they begin to manifest suffering on a small or even grander scale.
The question on the mind of the ethical skeptic is “How do we get to the New Mind?” And more importantly, how do I take control of my intent and begin to serve a New Mind in myself? This is the essence of becoming an ethical skeptic. To become a skeptic of one’s self, and others – in so far as spotting the character traits of one who is – or is not – residing inside this New Mind:
Be tenacious, not stubborn
Leave griefers in the wake of your silence
Be kind, rather than nice
Be firm, but not cruel
Be genuine, rather than frank
Be ethical, rather than virtuous or moral
Tender epoché, rather than doubt
Examine self, before others
Discern, rather than judge
Be a learner, rather than a professional test taker
Be curious, rather than incredulous
Be level-minded, rather than humble
Be transparent, but not full disclosure
Recognize and eschew ‘playing God’
Nurture, but do not molly-coddle
Possess integrity, rather than compliance
Be merciful, rather than charitable
Teach, but do not handhold
Learn how to learn when there is no lesson plan
Dream, rather than fantasize
Stand up for those who cannot
Resist the unaccountable Narrative
Lead, rather than draw attention
Focus on others, not obsess over them
Observe, rather than assume
Risk, rather than suffer ‘what could have been’
Communicate, rather than speak or be silent
Run, rather than race
Laugh, rather than mock
Joy, whether comfort/love is near or absent
Serve, before being asked
Leave a legacy, without trying
These are the hallmarks of the person who can be trusted, and not whether they have ever made a mistake – nor pondered ‘pseudoscience’. A person who has overcome themselves, and further then realizes that the goal of life is not simply to be happy, judgemental or controlling – and especially to not pull off primate tricks in order to amass such pleasure. Rather, possesses the quiet focus to be steadfast, faithful, compassionate, hungry and firm in the face of elite thirst for power. In a world of primate tricks, corruption, collusion and control – such traits are innately disruptive.
The Ethical Skeptic, “Nurturing the New Mind: The Disruptive Nature of Ethics”; The Ethical Skeptic, WordPress, 31 Aug 2016; Web, https://theethicalskeptic.com/2016/08/31/nurturing-the-new-mind/