The New Vulcan
“Against logic there is no armor like ignorance.” Laurence J. Peter
Everyone’s going to hate this post but I’m going to write it anyway. In the popular science fiction space sagas of Star Trek, there’s a race of people steeped in logic called Vulcans. I don’t know why they were called Vulcans because Vulcan wasn’t a “they” he was a “he,” the Greek god of the underworld who made the armor of Achilles.
There really isn’t a connection between Vulcan the Greek god and Vulcans the extraterrestrials other than the name. What’s interesting about these fictional Vulcans is their conversion to pure logic in order to prevent their passions and emotions from destroying them. That also makes the name choice interesting, as Vulcan was a mythical creature coming from a time when the world was a lot more superstitious than it is now. There’s nothing logical about Greek gods.
The Vulcans all got together at some point and accepted the beliefs of a renegade sect who were seeking pure logic to supplant their ancient religion and state mandated dogma. Now they didn’t really abandon it all together so they really aren’t completely free of their mysticism. They do seem to be moving along a better path than we are. The fellow who dreamed this up was Gene Roddenberry and in the stories, he would have emotionalism step in and save the day. Gene wasn’t all that keen on reason and logic. He used it as a foil for his sappy secular humanism.
Roddenberry also didn’t understand logic. I know this because he left the mysticism of the Vulcans in place and such a contradiction with logic would have been clear to the Vulcans. I know this is fiction. I’m aware it’s the result of someone’s imagination. The Vulcan past bears a striking resemblance to the dogmas we blindly follow. The fact that it is fiction and Roddenberry is ignorant does not change the validity of what they decided to do. They were highly intelligent but their passions were threatening to lead them down the path to self-destruction through civil wars.
The Vulcans did something humans have been incapable of doing. It’s fiction for a reason. They realized that their approach to culture must change and then they acted in their own best interest. We’re lucky if three of us can agree on lunch.
I think humans realize our current path is keeping us factionalized and threatens the future of our species. However, we don’t have the capacity or will for action. With our history of collectivist dogmas constricting our cognitive ability, any decision we might reach collectively could and probably would make matters worse.
What would definitely make things worse, is for all the factions of humans to come together and hammer out a new collective. I don’t see much hope on the horizon. The solution needs to be at an individual level and at a philosophical level. Each of us has to come to an agreement within ourselves to embrace reason, logic and individualism. We also have to embrace the notion that others are free to pursue their lives as they see fit. Only then can we get together with others to hammer out the specific solutions that will help our economic and political relationships, though freedom in the marketplace would go a long way towards fixing the economic part.
Logic is the absence of contradiction. It all boils down to the simplicity put forth by Ayn Rand that “A is A.” This means everything is what it is and each thing has a nature that can be described and doesn’t change based on perception. Regardless of what you think of Ms. Rand’s ideology, it is hard to argue with her view of an objective reality. It means reality exists in and of itself. Mankind can’t wish, think or close our eyes and dissolve it away. It’s the stuff that remains in place when we die and are no longer here to perceive it. It’s the starting place of all valid thinking. Yes, thinking can be viewed as valid and invalid. This is the foundation where we must begin when discussing or conceptualizing about anything. It is axiomatic.
There are people who believe perception creates reality. This is utter nonsense and is at the very core of dogmas and superstitions. This one philosophical misnomer drives all the misery in the world. It’s the cornerstone of mysticism and collectivism. From this flawed view, flows everything from faith healing to the direct causation of abject poverty around the world.
The concept that gods or governments will provide needs to go. Our current thinking allows that when one or the other doesn’t provide it must be because we aren’t begging properly or sacrificing enough. This thinking leads to centralized authority. The controllers of this authority are the self-proclaimed arbitrators of the proper begging techniques. For a cut of your life’s work or total obedience to the deity, they are more than happy to teach it to you.
Like cancer, it grows, becoming ingrained in the society and the culture. At some point, the lines between religion and the collective begin to blur and whole segments of the population are blinded to any other possible explanation of how the universe should work. It becomes settled faith, settled philosophy, or settled science. The only thing settled is reality. Everything else is conceptual, debatable and changeable.
We live in a time and place where some of the old faiths are dying only to be replaced by new ones. These are the “secular” religions. Environmentalism is one, government dependency another, fairness another and social justice yet another. They are as intolerant of dissent as the old religions. They have replaced Jesus and Mohammad with mother Earth and the state. “Fairness” is the new “repent!”
I don’t think we have it in us to take the Vulcan path. Though fictional, they were depicted as highly intelligent. Intelligence often leads people to recognize things that are illogical or unknowable. Half the battle is to realize that what you’re looking at is real. The other half is to understand that when you look at something you can’t explain…you don’t have to make anything up.
I hope that once this realization is in place, you can stumble onto actual truth. Once you have the truth, realize that you are under no obligation to force your neighbor to believe it. I think I know the truth but I have no interest in your acceptance. It’s for you to decide. It’s the essence of personal freedom. This is something with which man has difficultly. We have traded our desire to be free for the security of our cultural constructions. Freedom is a scary state of being. It requires you to stop considering the approval of others in your decision-making process.
It doesn’t stop with freedom and personal decision making either. It also requires you switch to reason and logic as the basis of your decision-making process. If you start making your decisions based on the belief that the world is flat or unicorns rule New York City, then you won’t be running your own affairs for long. The same is true if you believe that the world needs a single central authority or the actual rulers of New York have the right to dictate the condiments on your French Fries.
Our species is a long way from the ideal. I would venture to guess less than 1% of the population adhere to reason and logic. I know people who believe they are owned by the state or that the first duty of man is to their fellow man yet still claim that people who don’t believe as they do are being illogical and need to be controlled. As soon as you believe you have the right to control others you lose the mantle of reason.
“Live long and prosper.” Spock.
Phillip J Hubbell is a writer, project manager and job seeker living in the American Midwest.