A researcher discovers Schopenhauer and The Black Pill in an essay about Systems Theory:
Systems Theory is a formalisation of the usual view of science – for example that we know about the world via senses which detect signals. The things ‘out there’ are detected by light, sound (etc.) communications; and in response to these communications our minds make ‘representations’ of the things.
Systems theory clarifies that communications cannot actually communicate – and our ‘knowledge’ of things is actually a representation which arises in the mind – and which indirectly interacts with the environment. By this account, we never actually know things, but only our models of things; and these ‘internal’ models are never more than un-disproven in our interactions with (what we cannot help but regard as) the outside world.
We might instead call Systems Theory by a rightful name, such as Upanishadic or Schopenhauerian information science. Schopenhauer after all wrote extensively about how humans interact with the world only through a “representation,” as he expressed in his monumental The World as Will and Representation. It seems a hard concept for most, but the world we know of as solid and real is in fact in our heads, a mental model based on data from our five senses (as William Blake reminded us: â€œHow do you know but evâ€™ry Bird that cuts the airy way, Is an immense world of delight, closâ€™d by your senses five?â€).
This was a revolution in thought which ultimately brought about relativity, which Einstein found in Schopenhauer and amplified with some clever mathematics. What upsets people about this line of thought is that it is pure Black Pill; it refutes the idea of a single, innate and knowable world and replaces it with a massive ambiguity which can only be deciphered by those who are diligent, and only then partially. In Schopenhauer’s view, there is an objective world, but humans will never know it. This leads back to the impossibility of communication.
Let us read together an insightful definition of nihilism, which is the root of The Black Pill:
Nihilism is the belief that (1) all values are baseless and that (2) nothing can be known or communicated. It is often associated with extreme pessimism and a radical skepticism that condemns existence.
…In the 20th century, nihilistic themes–epistemological failure, value destruction, and cosmic purposelessness–have preoccupied artists, social critics, and philosophers.
Under the Red Pill and Blue Pill, an illusion still holds sway: that the world is how we perceive it. Under the Black Pill, we see that the world is not as it appears, and that choices cannot be made on anything but a semi-arbitrary basis. At the end of the day, we choose our paths, in the hermetic sense. This then leads to the second point: nothing can be known or communicated, because knowledge is specific to the individual, and language is deceptive.
This reveals to us the Black Pill world: humans have no “writing on the wall” which they must obey or be cast out from the sight of God, but endless choices and options which reveal who we are by our goals and what we hope to achieve. This seems counter-intuitive, but that is only the human intellect being placed in its proper role, as the brain of an animal and not a supernatural world that is more real than reality itself.
Tags: bruce charlton, communication, nihilism, the black pill, truth, values