PHILOSOPHY PATHWAYS ISSN 2043-0728
Issue number 35 30th June 2002
I. Munayem Mayenin on the 'Dehumanisation of Humanity'
II. 'Zero Ground' by Munayem Mayenin
III. In Memory of Rogers Albritton
I. MUNAYEM MAYENIN ON THE 'DEHUMANISATION OF HUMANITY'
The following is an extract from the Introduction to a projected four volume work, 'Dehumanisation of Humanity' by Munayem Mayenin. Below, I have reproduced Chapter 1, 'Zero Ground'. The author is an amateur philosopher who studied in Bangladesh. I was moved by the passion of these writings and charmed by their poetry. The theme is revolutionary, apocalyptic. Yet the author is steadfast in his opposition to violence of any kind. Settle down for a gripping read.
"...I was born in a so-called civilised society that kills everything that is human and tries to make everything saleable, beastly, naked, dark, vulgar and worthless. I should have been born in a different time where I could have been a good and pure human who could have earned a meaning by living a human life where I would not have been merely staying alive! Where I would not have 'lost life in living'. But I am here and I am in now and must say I feel a foreigner to this civilisation (in the east, west, north, south, up, down, left and right of it). Because I see its vulgarity, I see its insanity, I see its lunacy, I see its waste. I myself alone cannot change it. But this ought to be changed (made better) for the sake of humankind. And what ought to be changed, that must be changed. What ought to be and must be changed, that can be changed. And if anything can be changed, that should be changed and it will be changed.
"From this belief I have started this work, simply as a very personal, private and in a way poetic business, completely on my very personal resources, to make my contribution towards this change. Because I believe this is how I could still by-pass and fail this system, which is determined to stop me being a human being, and earn a meaning by contributing towards the betterment of humankind. I cannot alone change this insane and lunatic civilisation but I could help it change. I am leaving this for the people who would try to understand the case for change and who would realise the eternal dreams, desires and visions of humankind that says, there is nothing you cannot do, only when you know, believe and choose that certain things must be left to the category of 'ought not to be done'. What ought not to be done, that must not be done. What ought not and must not be done, that cannot be done. What cannot be done, that should not be done and thus will not be done.
"I am writing this work because I believe humankind must be free from lunatic madness and from living a worthless life that can be equated to a cheat, as people are not living a life, rather they are staying alive. The system is, on the other hand, living with the ones who have been able to negotiate the best value for their terms of slavery and conditions on their contracts. I am writing this work because I believe humankind and thus every single one of us have infinite potential. By that I mean we have an imprint of the whole of the universe and the things and possibilities it holds in our being, namely, our mind and having a civilisation that supports that potential to be released we can be a limitless exploration, an endless journey of adventure, a colourfully blissful creative explosion.
"I am writing this work as I believe our dreams and vision of eternal multitude to see fairness and equality can finally be established and I believe it ought to be done. Thus I believe, it must be done and can be done and should be done and that we as a race can do it. Not with class struggle or bloody revolution or in vengeful retribution or zealous callousness but with rationality, purpose and working together as an orchestra of humanity. We are not in a hurry. We have suffered millennia we can suffer a bit longer if necessary to avoid much more imposed killings and hatred. I do not and will not, under any circumstances or positions or times or background, subscribe or support bloodshed or hatred or vengeance.
"Ever since we came into being it has been ruthless madness that surrounded us. We had never been able to materialise our dreams. Humankind's eternal pursuit for natural justice, explored in the form of equality, to create a just society has always been featured and explored through Socrates, Plato, Aristotle to Voltaire, Rousseau, Kant, Hegel, Feuerbach, Karl Marx, Sartre. In all the schools of Philosophy in the west and east we see this continuous theme. Hundreds of revolutions and experimental efforts had been afforded in the search of equality and justice. This eternal dream, this longing vision, this burning desire for equality and justice have always been supported and pioneered by different schools of philosophy that have been taken on by political power (by the states). And there came legislative, administrative and judicial back up, outlining the principles of equality and justice, spelling out policies and drawing on the procedures to follow. After the collapse of Marxist socialist countries and their philosophy it is clear that that was not the way of getting justice and fairness established. But now the big question is, Why so far has everything failed?
"Marx's efforts to analyse the capitalist society and economy and to find out the answers were tremendously powerful and liberating for the world in the sense that it was he who dared the world to get ready for the big project and showed a vision to people, almost like a science, that it was not only possible but also achievable to actually change the world and make it fair and equal for everybody. However, throughout this discourse we will deal in detail with this, suffice to sum up and say that his answers have apparently failed to sustain. That failure or missed opportunity has taken away all light and signs of light along with the hopes and dreams of mankind and now 'everything seems quiet in the western and eastern front' and this silence sounds like sonar and people who have the ability to listen to sonar cannot sleep. We are back to square one again! All is lost? It may not be as Marxism served its philosophical historic purpose and will always be a philosophical milestone so long as humans shall live on this planet. However, our journey must continue. For humankind is much bigger and greater than any particular school of thought!
"I am writing this work as I feel this is the best I could do to change this evil civilisation and the irrational, immoral and lunatic system that is obstructing the progress and development of the whole of humankind. It needs to be changed into a human, moral, rational and free civilisation that is in tune with the need of humankind and that is based on these six foundation stones that essentially define and identify us as humans: rationality, morality, equality, liberty, natural justice and purpose. A civilisation is a natural system that has these things alive and active on the planet (that is part of the greater universe), as natural as the scented air of the green meadow, as natural and inherent as the blue sky reflected on the beautiful unspoiled Mediterranean sea, as natural as to say that we no longer have any need to even be aware of these things or have declarations made, signed and ratified for these foundation stones, as natural as looking at a butterfly serenading the spring flowers or the dancing spring singing Beethoven or Mozart to the mountain trying to kiss the cloudy sky.
"And finally we the humankind come to be able to be united in vibrant and colourful diversity where really 'thousands flowers bloom' (God forbid not like China! or the Soviet Union!). Nothing could now destroy humankind. It's a new civilisation on this beautiful blue planet of ours (which I call my home). It is a new way of thinking, a new generation of languages, with a new vocabulary created to reflect the newly earned values and meanings. This is not a utopia. It is not only possible but also achievable. Look at the system we are in now. It is a mess and it is messing us up terribly badly. It is dying and at the same time it is suffocating and killing us. It says it is trying to fix problems but as soon as it goes to fix something, a new something goes deeply broken or gets messed up. It cannot survive. It cannot sustain itself let alone to sustain humankind..."
II. 'ZERO GROUND' BY MUNAYEN MAYENIN
The most important of all tasks before us, is to begin our study with the assumption that we will, at every way and perspective possible, try our utmost to make best use of our faculty of rationality so that whatever we see and show are to be the best of humanity possible. For we take the view that the best that we as human beings could claim to have is our ability to think and think rationally, just as we take the premise that what differentiates us from being simply animal is this rationality. All animals are genetically and physiologically capable of feeling emotions to a varying degree but most, except humankind, lack the quality of rationality. Thence they act out their lives and live it following their emotions. A scared dog would essentially bark or run away where a scared human will react differently. We have not only emotions but have their varied forms and coupled with multiple complexities, and not only are we able to recognise them but also control them to a certain degree.
How we manage to do that is an essential question. We do that by the utilisation of rationality. That is why we say that we feel with the heart but run our life not by following the heart or its responses; rather we rationalise and make decisions and then follow or execute them. That is what we propose to take with us in this journey of analysing ourselves and the systems in which we find ourselves imprisoned. However, our overwhelming difficulty is that the system we have developed does not permit us the opportunity to afford to use this faculty, and thus creates a series of problems and difficulties one after another since there are other instruments which influence everything we do and we end up not only losing ourselves and losing control but also the ability to even see or understand it.
So, here we stand, at a point of society or civilisation that claims to be civilised, which fosters, nurtures, upholds and advances the best of humanity, namely justice and fairness, equality, human rights, liberty and most of all the rule of law or democracy and still we see, or feel the majority of our fellow members of this civilisation disagreeing that we have any of these things that the system claims that we have. To a very basic level we are hungry, we are poor, we are uneducated, we are homeless, we are jobless and we do not have access to any kind of Medicare. Moreover, we cannot even recognise that we have been made personless; we lack so many important and invaluable items, so that without them we can hardly be called human beings at all: things like being able to develop the capability to use rationality, act with morality, live with equality while enjoying liberty, in short, to live and interact with a purpose. In a situation like ours it is the most hard of all jobs to endeavour and try to analyse the whole of so-called civilisation and try to find out why things are forced to be the way they are; why, instead of supporting the progress and enhancement of humankind, it is putting up all sorts of possible and impossible barriers and obstacles to our being or progressing at all.
In order to avoid any dispute or controversy we have to decide the beginning point of our study and take a point to start, namely to point out the beginning of humankind. We would like to take that point as the 'zero ground' where things began. We must accept this that things do not begin from one, they begin from a state of nothingness or a point of no numerical or mathematical significance and then onwards as progress is made the number line continues to count. We do not think that until humankind reached slavery they had actually started making any progress with regards to the zero starting point.
If we then take the journey with that group of our predecessors out on this planet trying to live a life how would we find them? We must warn our readers that we must leave all the so called clothing of civilisation as well as the filthy prejudices we have been made to digest, such as primitive people, uneducated bunch, barbarians, uncivilised, lacking of modern way of thinking and being unable to recognise the sign of Microsoft or unable to eat McDonald's fries or drink Coke. It is paramount for us to be able to understand how those people made their way into life and left their marks on this beautiful planet and since then how continuously we continued to destroy and corrupt this planet and along with it brought about all sorts of evil for our kind.
That ideal 'Humanity' holds light for us and would show us the way in which we should have been living. Let us begin our investigation of their way of living. Those people are the pioneers of humanity and they were on a planet that was uninhabited and they treated it as a gift to them so that they could live on it; and they lived on it, leaving it, if not better then not worse to their children. They did not buy the planet, they did not fight any war to occupy it. They merely found themselves on the planet and we could only take the view that they treated it as well as their own life to be a gift from a superior being. They respected both their own lives and the planet they lived on. There were no homeless persons, there were no jobless persons, there were no persons without Medicare, they did not have rich nor did they have any poor. They had no one who was mentally ill or psychopathically oriented. They had no crime nor had they have any criminals. They would not kill anything the way we do.
They lived as part of the planet as an organic part of it. They lived as friends of nature in harmony. They lived like fishes live in water without disturbing it, they lived like snakes in the jungle, they lived like the bees or butterflies without disturbing the flowers. They lived like the mole under the ground. They lived like the eagles of the sky. These animals live in nature as part of it without challenging it or tampering with it or manipulating it or destroying it. They did not have to do any of this as they believed that they were part of the planet and without harmony with it there can not be peace in oneself. This is like the infant who has had an argument with his mother and who, no matter who says what, can not find mental peace, even if he pretends that he is peaceful. That is where we had left our mental harmony, our peace and emotional well being.
Our predecessors never lived in irrationality. They had the highest degree of liberty and they held the uttermost equality on this planet. They were moral in their way of living. And when we say moral we do not mean a puritan morality. They had a purpose in living and they did not lose 'life in living'. That was where we had humanity. That society was the one that was there to enable humanity to be. Their society enabled them, enhanced them and they lived to the full and they left the world better than they had received it. But it is us who destroyed all this. This is not imagination, what we are talking about. That early well being we had acquired is still helping us to hang on and not all become insane. All prisoners would go mad had they have no earlier life of liberty to a certain degree and had they no hope of being able to come back to something better than prison.
In that society they had no government or state as we know it, nor did they have any such thing as law the way we know it or view it. They did not have police, courts, security services or royalty: yet they managed to hold onto the best of humanity that we only could dream of having.
How was it possible? All that was possible because they had natural justice which now we try to enshrine through declarations of rights or declarations of conventions convened so that we can feel good about ourselves as doing something. My father used to say he who needs to swear is definitely lying. They were equal and thus they had liberty. A human being can live few minutes without air yet with human dignity, but he can not live a second without liberty maintaining his human dignity, and unless human beings are equal to each other they can not enjoy liberty at all. Thus those people had these two essential elements that kept humanity in being.They had other paramount items of humanity: they had rationality as they were the only humans who were able to exercise rationality to the fullest in everything they did and thus whatever rational things they did, they did morally. Moral they were and thus they had a purpose. With all these they had the system and apparatus to support their humanity and to enhance, improve and maintain continued progression of it.
As soon as that state of affairs was changed we started to degrade ourselves. Still trying our best to maintain the good qualities of humanity, we continue failing it, bending it, manipulating it, tampering with it, destroying it and finally we have been successful in dehumanising the whole of humanity and here we stand with a dehumanised humanity that can not even be. The whole system of civilisation is now standing like an all round death wall of humanity that keeps killing us every second of our life until we physically die. In effect, in this civilisation we are only allowed to a certain limited degree to be able to live like human beings, which is in early childhood. As we cross the threshold of that tiny and brief childhood the system starts manipulating us and turns us into dehumanised biological entities so that not only are we unable to develop and be as human beings but also become incapable of seeing it.
This zero ground of humanity can be seen in every country of the world. In a generalised sense the east of the planet maintained that zero point longer than the west. Even now at the stage of overwhelming globalised capitalist world civilisation still some cultures in the east and some tribal nations in the west, which the civilisation tried and is trying its best to murder, show signs of efforts of maintaining those values.
Still now in countries and communities where capitalism entered late with its overwhelming power of manipulation and destruction we see better humanity than in the advanced capitalist societies. That is because humanity still has not yet been dehumanised.
(c) Munayem Mayenin, London, 2002
III. IN MEMORY OF ROGERS ALBRITTON
Date: Tue, 11 Jun 2002 02:10:18 -0300 Sender: Philosophy in Europe <PHILOS-L@LISTSERV.LIV.AC.UK> From: J L Speranza <jls@NETVERK.COM.AR> Subject: Rogers Albritton
From the San Francisco Chronicle:
"Los Angeles -- Rogers Albritton, a charismatic philosopher who rarely published his work yet dazzled colleagues of diverse persuasions with his lucid analyses of fundamental human dilemmas, has died. He was 78. The former UCLA and Harvard University professor died May 21 of pneumonia at UCLA Medical Center. A heavy smoker for most of his life, he had emphysema and had been in declining health.
"Called a philosopher's philosopher, he was considered one of the most formidable intellects in his field. His respected stature, however, stemmed not from his writings but from what philosopher and film critic Stanley Cavell called 'the charisma of conversation alone.' He was famous for marathon conversations about philosophy. A discussion lasting six or eight hours was not unusual. A former graduate student once reported talking with Mr. Albritton for 11 hours. In such encounters, the lean and stylish Princeton-trained thinker loved nothing more than to explore such vexing matters as the nature of evil, free will or reality. Conversing with him was not like sitting downstream of a flood; he did not lecture. Rather, he probed gently, asking many questions in Socratic fashion to illuminate hidden dimensions of a philosophical problem.
"Famously nondoctrinaire, even though he was an expert on the Greeks and Ludwig Wittgenstein, he was averse to ever declaring that a problem was solved. He could argue that a person had no way of knowing whether he was asleep or awake, then conclude the opposite after more hours of laughter-filled discussion. 'He was a kind of philosophical conscience,' said philosopher Thomas Nagel, an Albritton student who now teaches at New York University. 'Almost all of the rest of us fall back on the stuff we think we've established. Rogers was a reminder that you can never dispense with the obligation to actively think whatever you're thinking and be prepared to think it through from the beginning.'
"Over four decades of teaching, Mr. Albritton published about four papers, none considered definitive. Most appeared before he left a tenured position at Harvard to join the philosophy faculty at UCLA in 1972. Mr. Albritton was born in Columbus, Ohio, on Aug. 15, 1923. When he was 3, his father Errett, a physiologist, and mother Rietta, a chemist, moved the family to Bangkok, where the father founded a medical school with a Rockefeller foundation grant. Mr. Albritton completed his elementary and secondary schooling in Maryland and Washington, D.C. At 15, he enrolled at Swarthmore College, transferring two years later to St. John's College, the Annapolis, Maryland school famous for its emphasis on the Great Books. There Mr. Albritton began his formal training in philosophy, focusing on Plato and the Greeks. After two years with the Army Air Corp in Hawaii after the attack on Pearl Harbor, he earned his bachelor's degree from St. John's and his doctorate, in 1955, from Princeton. He taught briefly at Cornell University, then joined the Harvard faculty in 1956. He chaired Harvard's philosophy department from 1963 to 1970. He came to UCLA for a year in 1972 and stayed."
An Albritton bibliography:
'Present truth & future contingency' Philosophical Review vol. 66.
'Forms of particular substances in Aristotle's Metaphysics' Journal of Philosophy vol. 54
'On Wittgenstein's use of the term "criterion"' Journal of Philosophy vol. 56. Repr. with a postscript in G. Pitcher, 'Wittgenstein: The Philosophical Investigations' (Macmillan)
'Freedom of will & freedom of action' Proceedings/ Addresses American Philosophical Association. vol. 58