Neque enim quaero intelligere ut credam, sed credo ut intelligam
Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)
My journey here:
At Easter time in 2014, the decision was made to provide individual ongoing support to the most gifted natural scientists. Our organization strives to find efficient solutions and has helped me to realize that the deus ex machina we're looking for can mainly be found in “good science.” “Good intentions” alone don’t get us anywhere – except further down the road to disaster. But science is only “good” to the extent that it serves the common good in real life, although every teaching practice, every research approach and assignment, every discipline and especially doctrine that places self-interest above common interest turns this on its head. This led me to look around at our thoroughly lavish education market and realize with some consternation that a lot, in fact too much, is taken into account – with the apparent exception of the ongoing individual funding of highly intelligent people. Consequently, my first step was to undertake a (sometimes quite) complex analysis of the market needs in Central Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and Eastern Asia (as well as some in and for the United States and Russia). Soon afterwards, I designed the concept for workable research projects – complete with viable funding programs – a dozen of which took shape and could be commercialized within the first three years of the foundation’s founding on May 20th, 2016. In the spirit of Lucius Annaeus Seneca’s words, “Fortuna est momentum quo occasionem convenit talentum,” my lonely yet unswerving path of dedication to the common good ultimately lead me here!
The FEAT foundation wears its name with carefully chosen meaning. Not only for its initials, “Foundation for Exceptional Abilities and Talents,” but because it also postulates our foundation's mission: the word "feat” is defined as “a noteworthy or extraordinary act or achievement.” With this noble aspiration, I also embarked on a particularly challenging and unpopular path, on which a worrying sense of being monitored prompted me to assign priority levels based on purely humanist science to our foundation as a gage for making decisions. You will agree, when I attest that surreal events in our long-since indisputably broken world order did not allow me to come to any other conclusion but that this confusion must be classed as the cause and the root of both the pathological estrangement from reality and its corresponding psychoses of despair. Add to this the all too obvious paradox of our excess supply of options for technical entertainment on the one hand, and – it seems – nearly limitless intercommunication on the other, resulting in a virtually omnipotent image of ourselves, while at the same time, on the other side of the globe, striking scaremongering runs rampant so that the resulting disorientation and lack of restraint, paired with apathy and hubris, brew together to form a highly explosive concoction of societies; why science is complicit in this, and why it can create the only remedy, I will illustrate in the three following brief chapters:
I. Science in a new position of responsibility
Contrary to popular belief, science and research are essentially the guarantors of society’s ability to coexist. As the latter has long since ceased to be a guarantee, it can be concluded that the former have forfeited their claim on a fundamental level. I will address this point further, but first allow me to present the three cornerstones that have fallen away from our ability to exist as a society:
∙ Security: the material foundations of the human right to exist are being threatened on an ongoing basis.
∙ Equity: many people are used and exploited by/for a few as the means to an end.
∙ Liberty: many lack the opportunity to be active and conscientious members of society!
That last pillar is especially important insofar as (even if the first two were both to exist, purely hypothetically) a worthy social life would only be possible if the individual’s creative self-activity (as opposed to technical automation) were encouraged. The result is that “science” becomes the vital core of a functioning social order! It is for this reason that the crucial question of free will can invariably be answered by science. I’ll illuminate why I’ve placed the question of free will, of all things, before our foundation, with the following explanation: First of all, it must be said that we do not by any means experience true freedom, only the freedom to choose between A and B. To choose means to decide, and implies that differentiation is the result of discernment. This idea runs counter to two major fallacies: our notion of determinism and indeterminism.
Determinism: it is absurd to believe that our freewill is merely the interpretation of its enslavement by determinism. A great number of (un)wise people have proclaimed for centuries that, like all things in nature, humans are determined by causes, much as a stone thrown into the air will prove incapable of notfalling back down. Similarly, humans will choose accordingly between A and B based on their superficial strengths and predetermined motives. What nonsense!
Indeterminism: it is at best juvenile – if not outright childish – to believe that God has granted every person the eternal freedom to choose between good and evil. This would presuppose that firstly, all people believe in God, and that secondly, they would be aware of God’s plans concerning humanity. The first is generally determined by the Church; the second is presumed by those who enforce their beliefs, whereby the free will of every person can be interpreted as nothing more than cynicism.
Similar and other indeterminists claim that humans are inherently free, especially considering that otherwise we could not be held responsible for our faults. Such obvious penalization concepts are found in virtually every social system, past and present. They are primarily intended to provide a certain level of protection for the wealth-owning minority from the have-nots of the majority. The original proclamation of freedom has thus become a disguised synonym for the punitive arbitrariness of authority. (Those who seek to punish, or in other words, suppress, require someone who can be held accountable or penalized if they challenge the will of the authority.)
Add to this the vocal group that interprets humans as subjectively free, solely in that humanity’s awareness of their freedom is proof in itself of the existence of this freedom. Such absurdity has already been thoroughly picked apart by Spinoza and Leibniz. (Spinoza: our illusion of freedom is based on our desires, although we barely know the actual motives underlying them. Leibniz: our will is governed by compulsions to make decisions (vs. free will), as these are mainly motivated by our unconscious/subconscious tendencies.)
The fact that alongside the brilliant yet tragic exceptional case of Baruch Spinoza, a polymath like Gottfriend Wilhelm Leibniz, of all things (mathematical genius, biologist, political theorist, historian, diplomat, philosopher), opposed virtually every doctrine of the clergy and as a result, declared religion without science to be a deadly enemy (this being at a time when the world was under the dominion and subjugation of the Church), has given even more cause today to hold up science as the yardstick for making essential decisions.
II. Science versus religion
The historical manifesto of the Roman Catholic Church can most clearly serve as a parallel to the alienation to the world mentioned at the beginning: this Church has subsisted on its one true doctrine of universalism ever since. This pretension includes the idea of personal humility (transcended into perpetrated humiliation), feeding on its rightly justified belief in only one God, which was originally intended to lead to the rejection of all idolatry. As a result, it has been established that no human can ever be godlike, i.e. all-knowing and/or almighty, whereby any narcissistic self-idolatry would be cast away. However, no institution in the history of the world has epitomized narcissism with greater blasphemy than the Roman Curia. The universal church religious doctrine that they have patented as the only path to salvation, and their Pope's claims to be the sole representative of God for all people – and this being defended at times with the bloodiest of means – has revealed the sort of brutal narcissism for which their own definition with God’s omniscience and omnipotence is an unprecedented example of the pathological estrangement from reality mentioned at the beginning.
This narcissism has long been found in every other world religion in some form or another: Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, Protestantism, Hinduism! But none has created such an intensive breeding ground for violent, religious fanatical narcissism and pure Christian humanism alike as Catholicism has in the two centuries in which the Old World was developing into an entirely new one. Humanists – especially those in the Church – proclaimed a new that Christianity was a source of affirmation of life, after Jan Hus was betrayed, convicted, and burned alive for publicly denouncing the incestuous narcissism in the church of the emperor, the king, and the Pope alike.
Vincentius Siculus took over and, after the shocking death of Pico della Mirandola, expanded his insistent plea to the inviolability of human dignity, human reason instead of blind obedience, virtues, and the human capacity for self-awareness, self-responsibility, and self-improvement; Erasmus of Rotterdam demanded mutual tolerance and democratization of the Church(es) and was essentially only able to save face – and his life – by having the foresight to “switch sides” between reformers and their opponents; Nikolaus von Kues preached religious tolerance towards all people (de pace fidei) and, despite his meteoric career in the Church, managed to incur the wrath of the clergy. Guillaume Postel expanded on the teachings of Kues and Erasmus, postulating for the first time that the path to world peace could be found amid a coexistential world order (de orbis terrae concordia), which earned him banishment and a lonely death; Marsilio Ficino recognized love as the underlying force of all creation (de amore) and only evaded public burning by exercising some tactical restraint; Thomas More advocated for the principle of universalism and human solidarity, which saw him sent to the gallows.
These men grew from the fruitful soil of humanism and fought in the name of dignity, reason, and universality for tolerance, humanity, and peace – and spared no effort in trying to avert the impending catastrophe – to no avail! In the end, the narcissism of religious fanatics, schemers in power politics, and egomaniacs and ignoramuses in business won out. The grisly bloodbaths finally culminated in the devastating events of the Thirty Years’ War, which struck such a brutal blow to humanism that the world still has not recovered from it today. Even the socialist humanism that Karl Marx wrote of was unraveled less than 100 years later by the obsession bordering on necrophilia in Stalin’s Soviet Union. But however much pathological estrangement from reality owes to true narcissism, it is proven by the fact that all the parties waging war against one another always march into battle in the name of the very same causes: love and justice, God and honor, freedom, equality and humanity – hardly ever varying from one another!
The legacy of humanistic religion with progressive radicalism that prominent figures were able to teach archaic regressive civilizations as far back as between 1500 and 500 BC was nowhere to be found in the Church less than 1000 years later. In 1350 BC, Akhenaten introduced a single god in the symbolic form of a benevolent sun for all the creatures of the earth, while Moses brought him to the Hebrew nation in the form of YHWH, the Redeemer God; circa 600-500 BC, Lao-Tse declared the Tao (the way) to be the redeeming path to enlightenment; Buddha symbolized him in nirvana in India; Zarathustra taught about him in Persia; the Greek philosophers described him as a motionless mover; the prophets of the Bible pronounced him the Messiah in Israel.
In spite of that, the humanism of the New Testament that has been embodied since day zero in “Jesus Christ of Nazareth” – despite all attempts at suppression and perversion by false representatives of Christ and his vassals – cannot be held back any longer. In the 18th and 19th centuries, this torch of enlightened awareness was passed along by men like Rousseau, Spinoza, Leibniz, Schiller, Herder, Hegel, Kant, Nietzsche, Goethe, Friedrich II, and Voltaire, Humboldt, Dunant, Marx, et al: namely, that every human is part of humanity without exception, and there can be no privileged groups within it, much less those that would assert their claim to privilege based on natural superiority.
III. Science as a gage for decision-making
Similar to the humanists who proclaimed Christianity the source of affirmation of all life, education, research, and science are the equivalent to religious development and cognitive process. While the Church preaches belief without questioning, true science is based on belief and questioning. A scientist who did not believe in the necessity and usefulness of their research goals would hardly be able to work by means of observation, experimentation, and providing evidence, let alone have any success!
While modern scientists generally learn scientific methods at schools and universities, they never actually encounter the method of scientific critical thinking in practice.
In fact, the majority of professional natural scientists are mere technicians! Thus science has deteriorated into the worship of an object: technology.This sort of estrangement from reality has long been reflected in our newly created virtual parallel world (cf. homo consumens and homo technicus). Started by what were once brilliant initial inventions, the narcissistic pride of humans today has culminated in becoming creators ourselves of a self-contained world of lifeless things, which has been breeding more destruction than it has progress for a long time. Incidentally, these human creators of their own high-tech parallel worlds are evolving into the potential destroyers of the entire planet. The solution to the problem in this process theoretically lies in correctly distinguishing between cause and effect. Opinions have always differed on this point.
Even one of the most brilliant master thinkers of the 20th century, Austin M. Farrer, falters on this question, positing: "The choice (of each person) is by definition between alternatives. ... That they (people) occasionally fail to make their choice is not evidence that such a choice is not (always) open to them." Yet for all his brilliance, even Austin Marsden Farrer missed one crucial point: the moment in which the decision is made! He neglects to provide a contextual definition for the moment at which the decision is made within the overall structure of influencing motives, in order to consequently, realistically be able to do what is good and refrain in good time from doing what is harmful.
No one has the ability to make the right choice at any time. Anyone who presumes that they do is at best neurotic, and anyone who passes judgmenton others is narcissistic at the very least. Take the example of an alcoholic who resolves to break his alcohol habit. However, he will either prevail or fail in this choice by conducting an unflinchingly realistic self-assessment of whether he is truly capable of taking this step alone -yet-, or if his addiction is already so severe that he will have to expose himself to clinical withdrawal; and whether he really WANTS to! Making decisions without implementing these immediately in specific and logical terms will lead to self-deception, regression, and breakdown. (Cf. the previous Art. I Scientific question of free will).
This is also the case with science, whenever we discern (or have discerned) that we are no longer the masters of our own creation and can barely steer it, let alone control it. Researcher obsession then veers into panic (see the sample problem nuclear risk technology). Our civilization is standing at this last point right now! Consequently, the challenge facing our foundation represents just as great an obstacle as it does a need to declare radical, purely constructive funding based on intelligence à la FEAT for the purpose of social duty.
Nihil tam difficile est, quin quaerendo investigari possit.
In truth, how difficult it seems, especially to progressive intellectuals who extract liberating truths from the educational landscape enslaved by the techno-feudal yoke, has been attested for centuries by the documented statements of renowned humanists. Contrary to popular belief, we currently live in a far more regressive era than that of, say, the Middle Ages. Even the ever-so-open-minded King of Prussia, Frederick II, suffered his entire life from the notion that the Middle Ages were completely devoid of all due reason. We still – to this day! – speak of the Middle Ages that blossomed beyond comparison under this Prussian king’s namesake, Emperor Friedrich II. During that time, a well-known man other than our progressive ruler who was already a polymath stumbled upon the idea as a “doctor universalis”: Albertus Magnus (*1200–†1280; although according to my research, he was born in *1193 in Swabian Lauingen on the Danube; this may be intentional back-dating to make the genius seem younger, and therefore greater – as was not unusual in his time). However, this doctor universalis was the one responsible for splendidly reviving the “Aristotelian scholasticism” passed down by Andalusian Arabs.
That the moralist Kant, of all people, discredited the genius Magnus, is hopefully more due to his ignorance than to his scorn for progressive heroes: “During this time, however, religion, along with science and morals, was corrupted by wretched grimaces [such as A. Magnus] ... until human genius was all but destroyed.” Even Schiller sniffed that these Middle Ages had been dominated by the low minds of Nordic barbarians. But the otherwise judicious idealist Georg Friedrich Wilhelm Hegel took the cake: “Scholasticism [the Staufian Middle Ages] is the utter confusion of reason amid the gnarls of Nordic-Germanic nature.” And yet the doctor universalis of the Staufian Middle Ages had much in common with his critics over 500 years in the future – only he was far ahead of them!
For example, Magnus (with great foresight) introduced methodological doubt as the basis for systematic observation for the purpose of experimental testing in western science. He conducted empirical research on new laws of nature, switching between experience and neutral critical thinking, and made use of dynamic-creative rationale that was borderline revolutionary, leading him to become the first/only to secularize our way of thinking and as a result, pave the (consequently demonized by the clergy) way to the modern age. How the Church managed the great task of obscuring this work afterwards can be observed solely by the fact that progressive scholastics such as the Swabian Albertus Magnus, or his French predecessor Peter Abelard (1079-1142), had powerful Church dignitaries for advocates in the course of their achievements, which Rome later helped people “forget.” The Middle Ages seem even more remarkable when you come to realize that there were no scholastics who were also enemies of the Church, or even atheists. On the contrary: Abelard, for example, believed that “to be Christ = to be a logician,” as he worded it. "By doubting we come to examine, and by examining we reach the truth... and in this way find God with awe and understanding..."
Even the influential Roman Catholic archbishop Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109) was a professed scholastic, if not one of its new founders; his wording evoked true humanism for the first time in the history of the Church: “Credo ut intelligam” (I believe so that I may understand) and “fides quaerens intellectum” (faith seeking understanding), radical alternatives to “credo quia absurdum” (I believe because it is absurd) written by the earlier theologian Tertullian, who referred to the Pauline Bible quote in this text and apparently completely misunderstood it: “The peace of God transcends all our understanding and can therefore guard all our minds and hearts in Christ’s love.” (NT, Philippians 4:7, own translation from the original text). The complementarity of observation, experimentation, and logically controllable deduction, thus redefined, proved to be an extensive concept of reality more than 300 years before René Descartes.
This Aristotelian scholasticism, preserved in the Staufian Middle Ages by Andalusian Arabs and revived by Magnus & Co., did not seek a war with the clergy (that would have gone against their nature, by definition). Rather, the scholastic humanists felt that it was their imperative calling to illustrate how the teachings of the Church were consistent with philosophical reason. But with their attempt, by means of systematic teaching methods (in addition to the Church’s fundamental teachings of cathegesis and exegesis) on interpreting and questioning the text – with subsequent debate of the arguments for and against – they demonstrated the narcissism of the Church insofar as this foray into the divinely ordained “intellectum” of "God’s representative in Rome” met a bloody end in the absence of logic and reason, or on the strength of delusion and despotism.
Our society still has yet to recover from the destructive work of the Church since Albertus Magnus, mentor to Thomas Aquinas. The Thirty Years’ War, mentioned previously, was consequently especially responsible for the massacre of all those who believed in the affirmation of life, so that under their ashes – despite all the efforts and sacrifices – only one thing changed: the inflated collective religious narcissism had shifted dangerously and taken on a life of its own. In addition to the astonishing warping of religion (Christianity, anti/Semitism, Islam, etc.), a quasi-religious-seeming mixture of incestuous disinhibition and regressive bigotry has recently rolled out, lead by global collection and elimination of borders, although the most alarming part of it is the shaming of science – our healthy, critical common sense – that has deteriorated into narcissistic mystification as a poisonous “neo-religion.”
Science, of all things, the strengths, principles, and struggles of which were brought into the courageous service of humanistic research and development so that logical thinking might bloom and be nurtured in order to tame the world-destroying forces of global narcissism, has become a highly dangerous force for the latter. Every scientific method, by definition, presupposes realism and objectivity in order to see and perceive the world exactly as it really is, without the distortion of fear and one’s own desires.
Science requires both intelligence and, above all, humility towards divine truths. It also demands the courage to delve into what is unknown and unrecognized – while also having the courage to err and to fail. It implicitly expects us to declare our renunciation, to forsake any hope of obtaining omniscience or omnipotence (cf. the FEAT motto):
“Brilliance and audacity nourish one another
they are the seed for each other's progeny,
yet their true essence can only be found
with wisdom – by teaching reverence.”