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MADNESS AND CIVILIZATION
by Hanzi Freinacht and Martin Å tÄpÃ¡n
It seems there’s an intimate relationship between madness and civilization.
In recent years, it has become abundantly clear that there is a rising problem of mental health issues among adolescents and young adults in the most advanced economies of the world.
We become civilized, and we subtly go batshit crazy.
What is it that puts more and more of us, and increasingly often, face to face with madness? On a more general level of analysis, I would argue, it is not so much âcivilizationâ or âmodernityâ, as many classic scholars have suggested, nor âthe postmodern conditionâ or a variety thereof, as the analysts of today suggest. Rather, it is the staggering increase of complexity itself.
As society becomes so much more complex, so quickly, it simply becomes more difficult for the mind to reach a somewhat stable âlocal maximumâ or âequilibriumâ. Itâs just more difficult to know who I am, whatâs right and wrong, and whatâs really real in the first place. Even as we are richer and safer than earlier generations, there are also countless social and psychological adaptations that have to be made and the problems we do have are less tangible and direct.
Iâve said it before, and Iâll say it again: Weâre not built for this kind of complexity. The rewards are too great, the immediate gratifications too readily available, the threats too nebulous, the world and its horizons too vast. The mysterious relationship between madness and civilization has a name: increasing complexity. Late at night we wake up and face the creeping horror: that life itself as we know it is a social construction, one that ultimately cannot be real, only a fragment on top of an infinite abyss.
And handling greater complexity in the world requires not only new ideas; it requires a kind of spiritual development of the average person. Hence, it should be a societal goal to develop not only higher subjective states in each of us, but also to help more of us develop and integrate greater inner depths, andâif possibleâto develop our ability to think more abstract thoughts, to cognitively grasp and relate to more complex realities.
by Martin Å tÄpÃ¡n
It’s a part of it. Lack of selection pressures is another. We let all sorts of people live here and reproduce, often even incentivize it, regardless of the effect on the superorganism. Thus you get more and more people with various disorders that would under most conditions be selected out. Worse, adapting the same strategy as cancer starts increasing one’s chance of reproductive success.
It turns out you can’t stop selection, you can only push it up a level. If an organism is unable to select out its unfit cells, nature deems the whole organism unfit. If a nation fails to select out its unfit members, nature deems the whole nation unfit.