"This is what we should live for, Danlo: the heightening of our sensibilities, the rarefying of our desire, the deepening of our purpose, the fastening of our selves. The power to overcome ourselves. To be more. Or rather, to become more. Who hasn't dreamed of such becoming? "The Broken God", David Zindell
Pico della Mirandolla's proud vision of the human is a source of everlasting inspiration. Pico saw man as a creature of indeterminate nature, and it was told to him:
"Adam, we give you no fixed place to live, no form that is peculiar to you, nor any function that is yours alone. According to your desires and judgment, you will have and possess whatever place to live, whatever form, and whatever functions you yourself choose. All other things have a limited and fixed nature prescribed and bounded by our laws. You, with no limit or no bound, may choose for yourself the limits and bounds of your nature. We have placed you at the world's center so that you may survey everything else in the world. We have made you neither of heavenly nor of earthly stuff, neither mortal nor immortal, so that with free choice and dignity, you may fashion yourself into whatever form you choose."
This is not a theoretical statement at all, but a fascinating project! Only recently, thanks to modern technology, we can fully understand what Pico meant. Today we indeed can shape ourselves as we want, to a certain degree, and our freedom is growing. Yet, in which way we will do it? Which direction is the best one? How to avoid risks and increase the benefits? In Aletheia we work to put this amazing Pico's project into practice. Here and now.
Transcend your limits
Have you ever thought that it is weird to be human? One wonders what is the human role in this universe. Are we just a phenomenon among others, tiny and passing, or are we as eternal and inexhaustible as we often feel inside? Is it possible to free our inner infinity, to allow the ocean of our potentials to pour out, to remove all possible obstacles? Is it possible to bring together the internal and the external world?
There is no final answer to this question, yet it is worth trying. One wonders what the human role is in this universe. I see among the tasks of philosophical consultancy and philosophical art of living designing practical ways of developing human beings in this direction.
This is possible because we are given no fixed boundaries, we are but a project, a throw of nature into the unknown. As an example, in contemporary culture we witness shifting and blurring the boundaries between humans and technology in a form of cyborg.Our minds intervene with the web, and ears with mobiles. We find ourselves in a dynamic process of continuous change and self-creation extending our boundaries – of learning new ways, of enhancing our capacities, of realizing our potentials.
In the process of self-creation – human life – the underlying motivation is happiness. Ancient Greeks have already called it eudemonia. Happiness can be understood via the search for meaningful life. And this implies realizing human potential, and overcoming our limitations, i.e. – enhancement. This can be achieved by acquiring new skills, getting experiences, by blurring with new technological developments, deepening our experiences, finding new meanings of life and, reinforcing one’s agency and taking more and more control of own goals, priorities, time, skills, plans, lifestyle and future.
The keys to understanding today’s globalizing world and individual are the search for meaning and enhancement. It is enhancement that moves contemporary individual and civilization. What inspires us is overcoming the limitations of the human condition towards positive realization of our potential.
What inspires us is overcoming the limitations of the human condition towards positive realization of our potential. Correspondingly Jos de Mul, Peter Paul Verbeek and Peter Sloterdijk and are contemporary thinkers that I refer to and associate with.
Enhancement comes in various sorts: from soft skills, like self-management or phenomenological epoché, or psychological skills, like autogenic training, to technological means as psychopharmacology, neurotechnology, genomics, and digital technology. Yet, I want to emphasize that the development of self and person as agent forms the foundation for all other types of enhancement. Purely technological enhancement would be incomplete and useless without the accompaniment of personal growth and increase in depth and authenticity. This development of self and authenticity is what philoso-phical practices aim at and they are crucial for Eudemonia. Among the soft, consciousness based enhancement skills are philosophical practices that we here focus at.
Examples of such practices are various: Foucault's art of living, analysis of myths in daily life, active imagination or existential-biographic analysis.
In this amazing adventure of self-transcendence, we will be inspired by Nietzsche's call to live dangerously, to search all depths and overcome all boundaries. Because enhancement is "only for thouse without vertigo".