Marcuse claims that if we as a race were able to understand the principle that governs and develops the technology in our world, it would change the way we are as a global society, or better a universal society. He argues that ‘’all joy’’ comes from the ability to master nature and move past it to create a truly free and peaceful existence.
I agree that nature is neither peaceful nor free. Science has shown that before our sun burns out, the very sun that made it possible for us to spawn and exist, it will engulf our plant and destroy everything we know. This is most definitely a natural process and most definitely not desirable for our race. We need to produce technics and use reason to overcome this obstacle if we plan to live through it. As Marcuse says we must transcend nature, “a transcendence in which the mastery of Nature is itself subordinated to liberation and pacification of existence.” Clearly we must master nature if its course is to destroy us.
Marcuse talks about the mastery of nature to the point where it is subordinated to liberation and pacification of existence. By this he means we must truly stand above nature, which is a very long way from the technology we have today. If this is done we as a race will be freed into a peaceful worry free existence. We will not have to worry about our own sun burning us, let alone dinner. However it seems impossible to overcome the end, death.
Death is a natural part of existence. In primitive times, especially before farming and domestication, to merely exist was a brutal and violent life style. The option most living things were left with was to kill or die. I believe it is natural to look out for one’s self so when faced with this decision most would choose to kill. They would prey on weak, injured or sleeping animals so they would be able to feed and continue life. This being the case all beings need to worry about their personal safety. Before going to sleep they must wonder whether they will wake up the next morning, or become the hunted while they rest. To me this is as far from true freedom as society can get; the inability to have a safe place rest.
I feel when Marcuse says that “All joy and happiness derive form the ability to transcend Nature.” He is making a claim that is too general. To say that there is no joy anywhere else is not true, I feel the quote would be better if it were not so definite, maybe lasting joy and happiness derive from the ability to transcend nature. For example, in nature when a man hunts an antelope, when he has made the kill and is feeding his young, there surely must be some joy felt by the parent. However, clearly the same joy is not felt by the antelope and this hunt is not free or peaceful.
Marcuse states it is natural for big fish to eat little fish, no matter how much the little fish disagrees. He points out that “Civilization produces the means for freeing nature form its own brutality, it’s on insufficiency, its own business.” This is a very powerful and true statement, and becomes clear with examples. Before civilization people would have to produce everything for themselves and would have no access to objects beyond their geographical reach. As society and technology progress all people posses the same, all encompassing, geographical reach. This is civilization freeing nature from insufficiency. Furthermore the brutal hunt which was described above would not need to take place in a civilization with domestic animals. However; a slaughterhouse, while being less brutal, is definitely still brutal. This is an example of a place where civilization still must progress, there is no obvious solution but with new technics one may become clear.
Technological humanity is on the way to transcending nature in many ways. Although some decide to fight it, as Marcuse puts it “Glorification of the natural is part of the ideology which protects an unnatural society in its struggle against liberation.” By this he means that individuals place too much value in happenings, just because they are natural. Value comes from the result of something, not the reason that it happened. A flower can be bred in a greenhouse and have the same value as an identical wildflower in a field. The only reason certain people hold more value for the one in the field is possibly the surroundings are more beautiful. An example Marcuse uses is child birth, which is most certainly a beautiful thing. However at this point in time if nature were to run its course and humans, with their desires, were able to continue uncontrolled. There would be serious population problems. Marcuse points out “The defamation of birth control” as an example of what a natural society does to stop itself from being free. Just because birth control is unnatural does not mean that it is best. If people are going to have sex, unprotected, would it be better to conceive every time or to only conceive when it is desired. The answer seems clear; people should be brought into this world with their parents will.
This reason is what we need to move forward. In the attempt to stand above nature our reason is what we have that nature does not. We are able to study and understand trends, then apply reason to decide on a course of action. Technology has a far way to go to get to this point, for example we must fully understand ourselves before attempting to move past nature. The human body is a glorious development of nature and is our tool to move on. As Marcuse puts it “Reason can fulfill this function only as post-technological rationality.” The function he speaks of is civilization freeing nature from itself. Some of the things we are still yet to understand fully that seem important to me are the human mind, the universe and even nature. To move past nature we must fully comprehend it as a whole. The goal of these advancements, the end, is when reason (fueled by science) and art merge. “The function of reason then converges with the function of art.”