- WHAT DO I KNOW?
- Wisdom in the Twenty-first Century
- Jack Remick
The Arrogance of the Princely Mind
The princely mind is lost and at war with the common good. Stripped of its connections, the self enters into a time of pure selfish existence.
Without bounds on its greed, without regard for the other, the princely mind takes itself to be divine. All others exist so the princely mind can achieve its goal of total possession of everything in existence.
In the last few decades of the 20th century, we saw the self-elevated to princely status where only the “I” mattered. All existence is filtered through the lens of the “I”. This tendency flattened out the culture of the others.
In the culture of the others, in the culture of the past, it was incumbent upon each of us to think of the other while gathering for ourselves. In the past, we were encouraged and taught to think about the pain of the other, to see the anguish of loss, to understand what stamina of mind and being it took to stand on a corner in America, palm out, begging .
Elevated to princely status through inheritance of wealth and assumptive greed, the princely mind does not see the ruin of civilization in the outstretched palm but sees only the worthlessness of that other. The princely mind imagines itself at the pinnacle of the world. And in this insanity, there is destruction.
In extremis, the princely mind has no redeemer, has no hope, has no recourse because in death as in life the essence of existence is the self, and so the princely mind, in extremis, laments itself, poor me, I must live forever. The mirror of time reflects on his or her own anguish as if divorced from the entire spectrum of humanity.
Yet, we all came out of Africa.
In this time, we need to look not to philosophy, not to religion, but to biology to understand who and what we are. We must look to science for knowledge of how we came to be and for the tools to understand how it is possible for the princely mind to distance itself from its own science of being.
What is the princely mind in this second decade of the 21st century? What is it if not the self-exalting itself at the expense of all others, at the cost of endless pain and the damage of greed. The princely mind’s arrogance sets itself apart from the ebb and flow of evolution to find in its self-love, not the peace of no desire but the anguish of endless and insatiable and infinite greed.
The princely mind in its arrogance never asks how much is enough, but asks instead how much more can I acquire?
The princely mind then, is the apotheosis of greed and exemplifies the death of democracy in a flood of gold and silver and possessions and jewels. The princely mind is a desert of its own making, not the result of millennia of natural and sexual selection. It is an aberration, a distortion, a fraud, a fake.
In the Paleolithic era, women chose males for breeding based on three traits—speed, size, aggression.
In this, the end of the Anthropocene, women choose males for breeding based on wealth, power, and position.
In the evolution of the princely mind, women are a reward, but the princely mind, ignorant of its own origins, believes that it, the arrogant mind, is the one choosing. In this, the princely mind is a complete desert of ignorance, a field of emptiness surrounded by monuments to itself—all at the expense of the commons.
Eric Kandel writes in The Age of Insight that artists must learn to pay attention to the neurosciences. Writers, it seems, must also learn to pay attention to the biology of desire.
Sigmund Freud knew that he did not know enough biology to understand the human mind and its workings in its totality. He understood that all brains are the same, all driven by the same evolutionary energy, but he did not know why. He did not know the mechanisms. In his humility, Freud achieved a certain arrogance for which we can forgive him because he knew the truth lay in the body as it had evolved and he knew that he did not know the truth but anticipated it when he said that we are nothing but chemistry.
In this science, the princely mind is lost in a Paleolithic swamp of selfishness, never seeing or understanding who or what it is. It lives only in the first of the selective triads—wealth. Wealth to the princely mind buys position. Wealth buys power. But forgiveness? Does wealth forgive all sin? All crime? All transgression? Hiding behind riches, the princely mind is not accountable to anyone or anything. The glorified self it worships is a sham.
Thomas gray writes in Elegy in a Country Churchyard—
- The boast of heraldry, the pomp of pow’r,
- And all that beauty, all that wealth e’er gave,
- Awaits alike th’ inevitable hour.
- The paths of glory lead but to the grave.
The princely mind lives in its universe of ignorance and dies in a splurge of nothingness because the arrogant prince does not see himself as human evolved from others who brought forward the container of life but sees himself as a great and powerful being, sui generis, the self-made man who owes nothing to the rest of humanity. Here the arrogance reaches its pinnacle of shame, shame where the arrogant prince lives in a darkness of mind without light except the light that fires his own eyes.
The princely mind has become an impoverished island stripped of compassion, empathy, sympathy, and unity. To be human is to understand that we share not just the same brain but the same constructs of mind. We are, each of us, the center of a universe. The good among us, however, go beyond ego to feel the lives around us, to feel with each breath the anguish of being human.
The princely mind, then, is a projection of a future replete with insanity, pain, terror, destruction, and the filth of unfettered ego.
In the words of a poet, we are more than flesh and bone.
I ask the question—is the arrogant prince even human? Is the brain of the arrogant prince unique among us? Do wealth, position, and power define the future? Without victims there are no strongmen. Strongmen depend on the weak for their wealth, for their power, for their position. Without the others, there is no pinnacle upon which the arrogant prince can stand to proclaim his perfection. Is there anything left in the princely mind of the pain of ancestors? Is there anything left in the princely mind of the concept of the Commons?
Garrett Hardin writes in The Tragedy of the Commons, that the arrogant princes have extended the range of the commons from that small patch of pasture that defined the village to the seas and today to space.
In short, the arrogant Princes in their arrogant mania, have despoiled the planet and now they are in process of despoiling the space around the planet. The princely mind is a paleolithic extension into the biblical dictum—go forth and multiply.
That dictum is the life breath of an ever-expanding capitalism. Capitalism says we need more consumers to feed the coffers of the princes. So we must abhor abortion, we must control women’s bodies, we must abolish birth control because each baby is a mouth, a consumer, possessed of an infinite hunger for things and that hunger feeds the arrogant mind its riches. But it is our own greed, our own proliferation of self, that is the agent of destruction. If we say No, No the most powerful word in any language, the princely mind will shrivel back into its meager slime and cease to exist. In the unfettered princely mind knells the end of humanity.
The princely mind tells us that death is our due. In this there is no end but extinction. As the princes deplete the commons there will be nothing left for us. We must say No.