“Consciousness of the Absolute is the prerogative of human intelligence, and also its
aim.” Frithjov Schuon
This is a quick note to our recent easy talk on AI.
From a traditional point of view the question of artificial intelligence doesn’t deserve much attention: it’s merely a stage in an experimental process, whereby the ideology of materialism is tested in the social, technical and scientific domains – so far with disastrous results in all areas. This ideology has destroyed organic social structures, made people sick, miserable and stupid, reduced science to a narrow-minded scientism with industry as being its only application and led to the development of technology, the only “proof” of progress, being pursued with religious fervor, or rather as a pseudo-religion, whose validity may not be questioned unless one is ready to sacrifice his social standing.
This is – roughly – what has led to the mantra of our age: AI, robots, etc. are coming and there is nothing we can do about it!
The rather absurd term Artificial Intelligence succinctly sums up the basic tenets of evolutionism, progressivism and materialism in two words. According to these:
- the superior originates from the inferior (and its analogies, like the more complex from the less complex) and
- this process happens automatically, which means that
- today we, as humans, are so advanced as we have never been: physically, psychologically and spiritually (this last factor is mostly dismissed condescendingly, or simply ignored)
As an addition to these, the current view implies, that since technological evolution is a natural law (there is nothing we can do about it), it’s quite natural that we can use technology in order to accelerate our overall evolution, which, let’s add quickly, we can only imagine in a materialistic way.
The current views of near – term evolution are expressed in trans-humanistic visions, whereby humans will enhance their cognitive capabilities with various technologies, thereby becoming gods (Homo Deus by Harari is recommended reading by tech managers, who perceive – not surprisingly – cognitive skills as the most useful for developing apps, solving problems, etc.)!
The modern view on intelligence is rather narrow and only considers the cognitive functions of the mind.
The traditionalist view is fundamentally different, as the quote from Frithjov Schuon testifies. Human intelligence, according to this view, precedes formal manifestation and is close to the realm of metaphysics. The top down hierarchy that depicts modes of existence and degrees and an order of manifestation (becoming), whereby the lower depends on the higher, is the following (very briefly):
Absolute (above existence and non-existence), or Metaphysical Absolutum – Metaphysical realm – non-manifest
Prima Materia, or Potentia Pura (absolute potential that may become absolutely anything. Note: this is the principle of matter) – Universal realm – non-formal manifestation
One (Purusa in Hindu terminology, personal God); the principle of individuation and formal manifestation, the nucleus of the self – – non-formal manifest domain
Buddhi or Intelligence. This is actual realm of intelligence, containing samskaras, everything that is knowable: potentials (samskaras that may be manifested), pre-existents (samskaras that have never been manifest), existents (manifest samskaras); Function: memory – universal, non-formal manifest domain
Character; individual, formal, manifest but non-material (subtle) domain; function: imagination
Abilities (reproductive, metabolism, movement, grasping, expressing – both in a direct and indirect sense) ; function: contact (through the sensory inputs of sense of smell, taste, seeing, touching, hearing)
Body – vegetative
This is enough to draw conclusion between the modern and the traditional view on intelligence, even after a brief reflection.
While I don’t want to insult your intelligence by dwelling on the obvious, perhaps it still makes sense to look specifically at what we mean my “mind” traditionally:
- Buddhi’s connection with the character (ahamkara) denotes the domain of the deep conscious (not exactly the same as the sub-conscious of modern psychology, although the analogies are obvious).
- Character’s connection with cognizance – innate self
- Cognizance’s connection with abilities – conscious domain
We can see that AI looks specifically at the lowest, least differentiated and most physical (material) level of the mind’s functions. The force that drives its development is the same that first reduced people to Cartesian mechanical animals and now makes them compete against machines on mechanical terms.
The absurdity of the utopia of the priests of scientism is easy to see if we understand that the order of manifestation and the hierarchy behind it can’t be reversed. For a computer program to conquer the domain of Character, not to mention Buddhi, is ridiculous – and of course just because people in their mechanical condition (with a horizon that doesn’t see beyond cognizance) can’t achieve this either, doesn’t make it any more likely for computer programs to do so.
Artificial Intelligence as a symbol of a belief system may even be considered entertaining, if it was not dangerous. Reversing organic hierarchies leads to destruction, as symbolized by the story of Babel. One may only become what one potentially is. Orientation toward the Absolute produces very different (more beautiful and intelligent) outcomes in the domains of society, science and arts than a downward orientation, whereby man rids himself of his potentials.
Driving the AI agenda is the schizophrenic efforts of man that has rid himself of his potential to bestow potential on something inferior to himself. This becomes perverse when man hopes to bestow potential and potency on himself through this indirect effort or, even worse, to make his creation more superior than he is.