“The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.”
–Alfred North Whitehead

Alien Civilization

Why do we insist on measuring alien technology in terms of time? We say, “It is likely that advanced forms of alien life are thousands, if not millions of years ahead of us technologically.” First off, what is it we typically mean when we refer to “technology”? Do we mean something material and mechanical? Something designed and built by man out of matter in order to accomplish a specific goal? Something to harness natural power, to control and manipulate it? Or would we also say that non-material devices like language were technological? If we are to include language in our survey, does it remain by definition within the category of our other machines, which we have said are built to control and shape the world to our will? That is, does language, even though it is immaterial, still have a causal relationship with the physical world? This is not to say that just because I may think, “The couch over there will now float off the ground and hover across the room,” that it will actually do so. The causal connection between words and worlds could be far subtler than the conscious telekinetic manipulation of objects at a distance. The effect of our culturally conditioned use of language on the world occurs on a metaphysical level, carving up nature way before our conscious, socially sculpted, willful egos get a hold of it. The world as presented to our egos is characterized as “real,” “physical,” and “objective.” The ego, though, is a linguistic construction. It is an assigned role unconsciously programmed into the developing child’s mind by a boundary enforcing, competition oriented, and creativity squelching educational model. Thus programmed, we objectify the world by packaging it into categories of mind, which of course in our interconnected, electronically mediated social commons are designed and sold to the ego by a few corporatized media outlets run by a global elite. The individual psyche is skillfully manipulated into believing that owning prefabricated homes in suburban mazes and driving around in mass-produced, over-sized, over-powered vehicles on clogged roadways to shop in strip malls filled with shoddy, brand name products is actually desirable, or at least worth the 40 hours plus overtime a week put in at the office. Motivated only by money, the ego seems forever indebted to the future. What then, is the reason for the ego’s obsession with time? Always, it seems, the ego looks to the future for what it does not have now. It projects this same time-bound consciousness into the minds of hypothetical aliens. They to, the ego assumes, would be obsessed with developing ever-increasing technological skill. They, like us, would have an almost psychotic desire to control the natural world, to mold, shape, and explore the great cosmic womb that birthed them. Might they be so “advanced,” though, that the mechanistic outlook itself was improved upon? Or, is it possible that such a worldview was never even developed at all? If we look at the development of our own species, the dominator model of the world as a machine that merely needs to be mapped in order to be controlled was a recent adaptation, one now proving to be detrimental to our continued survival. If an alien species had developed a relationship to nature similar to ours, it surely would have gone extinct long ago, the victim of ecological collapse or planetary war. Contrary to our assumptions, it is far more likely that alien beings live in such a way that powerful technology is unnecessary. Unlike our drive to control and wield power over the world, aliens may be motivated by celebration and communion, organizing their societies in cooperative ways so that partnership, rather than competition, was the status quo. Instead of raising their kids to accept the “harsh realities of life,” resigning them to the obligatory duties of civilization as though they were assigned by God and simply must be obeyed without fail, such alien cultures would raise children who need not feel guilty for thinking otherwise and who were encouraged to create new game rules and more efficient ways of having fun. Even with our current technological skill, we have the ability to live virtually work-free lives with all of our basic needs provided for. We choose, though, to work and to live in societies so divided by class that the wealthiest 225 people are worth more than the poorest 2.5 billion people earn annually combined (the UN calculates that an annual 4 percent levy on the world’s 225 most well-to-do would suffice to provide the following essentials for all those in developing countries: adequate food, safe water and sanitation, basic education, basic health care and reproductive health care). If that’s isn’t bad enough, 20% of the Earth’s population consumes 90% of its resources. At this rate, the Earth will be totally eaten up and destroyed before the majority of its human inhabitants even get a taste of what civilization is supposed to be. It is no wonder that under such conditions, we spend billions annually to develop the means to explore and colonize space in search of a new home. For the utopian alien civilization, though, there may be little reason to travel into outer space at all, as they could get all the joy they could dream of out of the same planet they grew out of.







One response to “Alien Civilization”

  1. Andras Magagna Avatar
    Andras Magagna

    I think contrast of civilizations is result of framework. In framework of familiar civilization, others are seen as competition for individual benefit of recourses. In framework of alien civilization, others are seen as allies for common benefit of resources. Our framework of civilization has the potential to fulfill either realization of either framework of civilization; it is that framework of familiar civilization is favored over framework of alien civilization by organizers of our framework of civilization.

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