The Pride Paradox I – Foreword

A Foreword for All and None

The pride connected with knowing and sensing lies like a blinding fog over the eyes and senses of men, thus deceiving them concerning the value of existence. For this pride contains within itself the most flattering estimation of the value of knowing.[1]

            How to understand the words of one of history’s greatest thinkers, one proud enough to criticize daringly all of philosophy, when he condemns pride and knowing itself for deceiving Man about his existence? Considering the events that unfolded during the twentieth century since Nietzsche wrote, and which led to the so called New Millennium, Man perhaps should deem Nietzsche’s claim not as a condemnation but rather as a warning call that seems more appropriate today, for Man has the same knowledge of the idea of “man” that he had a hundred years ago, while proactively expanding his knowledge about the rest of the universe. In other words, Man set out in the past century to renew his grasp of the world, of his surroundings, assuming that a new form of humanism would arise after overcoming traditional humanism (the type inherited from the Renaissance) with knowing, which would show Man his nature and his place in the world. Yet knowing has not changed Man or his understanding of himself—only the context has changed, from metaphysical certainties to scientific truths.

            In the post-humanist era, Man still ponders the goods and evils of religion, sometimes warring in the name of God and others plotting the divine demise. Man now has scientific explanations for his cognitive skills and behavior, debunking with neuroscience and biochemistry the myths and theories about human nature derived from the Enlightenment.[2] Man has also discovered, thanks to genetics, that he has more in common with animals than he ever assumed, and that individuality might be a biological matter of genetic percentages instead of a human right.[3] With his advanced techné (Greek: technology), Man has become capable of impersonal mass-production in all of his domains: industry (which has been perfected since the late nineteenth century), war (which could now turn millions of people into a casualty statistic with the press of a button), and communication (which can reach millions of people instantly through mass media and the Internet). Man himself has become a product of mass-production, overpopulating, like a plague, our home planet with more than six billion inhabitants. Even the natural world itself has changed because of Man’s intervention, depleting resources and possibly causing the advent of environmental catastrophes.[4]

            Yet, the importance and value of all that knowledge depends on how Man relates to it—his relationship to religion, to animals, to medicine, to science, to economy, to ecology, and to mankind itself rules his understanding of things. Because of that, Man needs a new understanding of his existence, a new ethos (Greek: abode) within the world that acknowledges what Nietzsche warned: that ultimately, everything that Man knows, old and new, returns to its origin—Man and his pride in knowing.

[1] Friedrich Nietzsche, On Truth and Lies in a Non-moral Sense, Ed. Keith Ansell Pearson and Duncan Large, The Nietzsche Reader, United Kingdom: Blackwell Publishing, 2006.

[2] Steven Pinker, The Blank Slate, p. 1-102, New York: Penguin: 2002.

[3] Ibid., Ch. 8.

[4] Art Bell and Whitley Strieber, The Coming Global Superstorm, New York: Pocket Star, 2004.

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