• Jack Cummins
    3.6k
    Baudrillard explored the idea that the end of history in the 1990s, in a time when there were fears associated with the end of the millennium. 2000 passed and there were some fears and expectations of some grand drama in association with the Mayan calendar end date of 2012. However. I would argue that while fears about the end of history have often arisen, especially in connection with religious beliefs, the threat is different at this stage in history because there is a major threat of mass destruction through nuclear warfare. Also, with climate change there is so much concern about the way humans have destroyed the planet and the view that the planet may be uninhabitable for future generations.

    Baudrillard spoke of the idea of the end in the following way:
    'The end of history is, alas also the dustbin of history. There are no longer any dustbins even for disposing of old ideologies, old regimes, old values ...Conclusion: if there are no more dustbins of history this is because history has become its own dustbin.'

    He is emphasising an underlying thought about a potential end as understood as a cultural idea. He argued that it was bound up with a linear conception of history and assumptions about history as something which may finish. How does this connect with real threats in the world. But, to what extent is it the end of history, as the end of civilisation. Or, is the idea of the 'end' a myth?
  • T Clark
    6.6k
    I would argue that while fears about the end of history have often arisen, especially in connection with religious beliefs, the threat is different at this stage in history because there is a major threat of mass destruction through nuclear warfare. Also, with climate change there is so much concern about the way humans have destroyed the planet and the view that the planet may be uninhabitable for future generations.Jack Cummins

    You seem to be equating the end of history and the end of the world. I thought they were different. To me the end of history has meant the end of the linear nature of life, i.e. progress. It makes me think of physicists in 1900 who thought that all the important questions had been answered and that all that remained to do was clean up the loose ends. Then came 1905, and physics started over.

    Politically and socially, I thought it meant there wouldn't be many more milestones. All the major countries have finished their consolidation and are relatively stable. Smaller countries have mostly been released from colonial control. There won't be any more major wars. The world will become more homogenized.

    Was I wrong in my understanding?
  • 180 Proof
    6k
    But, to what extent is it the end of history, as the end of civilisation. Or, is the idea of the 'end' a myth?Jack Cummins
    It's a myth (i.e. fashionable fad).

    You seem to be equating the end of history and the end of the world. I thought they were different. 
    [ ... ]
    Was I wrong in my understanding?
    T Clark
    No.
  • Manuel
    1.6k
    He is emphasising an underlying thought about a potential end as understood as a cultural idea. He argued that it was bound up with a linear conception of history and assumptions about history as something which may finish. How does this connect with real threats in the world. But, to what extent is it the end of history, as the end of civilisation. Or, is the idea of the 'end' a myth?Jack Cummins

    Sure. History will finish eventually. Even if climate change, nuclear weapons or pandemics don't end us all in a few decades (at best), we have the solar system to consider, specifically the sun, which will eventually bloat to a red supergiant and burn the whole planet to dust. That's just a fact of the universe.

    Unless there are some radically super-extreme discoveries in physics, that allow us to move to another habitable planet very, very, very far away, we are finished. And while I don't think physics is close to being finished, I suspect that such radical technology just won't happen, given time constraints and capabilities.

    It's true that the end of the world has been proclaimed many times. But only once does it suffice for the wolf to appear for all of us to perish (or most of us, anyway). The wolf will come someday. We cannot control nature as much as we think we do.
  • Valentinus
    1.6k

    Baudrillard is speaking of history in the Hegelian register and so should be seen together with Baudrillard's statement that the 'real' is dead in respect to the way Hegel talked about it. As a consequence, the ground typically associated with the 'real' has been given over to the virtual as its only available replacement.
    Baudrillard speaks of the death as a crime not an accomplishment (even of evil intent). So the pursuit of the evidence for it is always being removed. The view is distinctly not interested in promises of progress. But it oddly is not a surrender to a fate.
  • TheMadFool
    12.6k
    The kind of civilization that humans have built all around the world is amazing no doubt but it, for better or worse, isn't one of those that's designed for a lasting, healthy relationship with what we call nature. Not only is it that dominant worldviews - materialism, consumerism, capitalism, etc. - are, on the whole, negative as in totally misaligned with how nature works (equilibrium-oriented) they also seem to be snowballing into something much bigger, more dangerous, something we lack the skills and brains to handle. We can, if we don't make the right decisions, only watch, utterly helpless, this runaway train, this so-called civilization of ours, zoom by towards what we all know is global catastrophe at a scale matching the destructive force of the asteroid that wiped out the dinos. :joke:
  • darthbarracuda
    3.4k


    If there is an end to history, it would be when there isn't anything else to do. When a civilization exhausts its possibilities, when there is nothing left that is new.

    Just speculating here: in a few centuries, science fiction will cease to be a genre; all of the possibilities explored in these books will either have been accomplished, or found to be impossible. And then what? Humans will endlessly live out their lives from year to year, decade to decade, century to century, without originality or spontaneity, generation upon generation of tepid languishing.
  • Tom Storm
    2.2k
    Just speculating here: in a few centuries, science fiction will cease to be a genre; all of the possibilities explored in these books will either have been accomplished, or found to be impossible.darthbarracuda

    As you say, speculation. I would imagine the more we achieve, the bigger the fantasy life.



    Nicely contextualized. :up: It's important not to read 'end of history' in literal or apocalyptical terms.
  • Michael Zwingli
    258
    . To me the end of history has meant the end of the linear nature of life, i.e. progress.T Clark

    This is the meaning that Francis Fukuyama gave to his "end of history" thesis in his book "The End of History and the Last Man", which posits that the "liberally democratic state" is the apotheosis and the natural terminus of political evolution. Frankly, I find Fukuyama's thesis both more serious and more challenging than Baudrillard's. After reading "The End of History, etc.", I found myself, as an anarchist...uh...Libertarian, dismayed by the force of Fukuyama's reasoning, wondering if any serious challenge could ever be made to the democratic nation-state, or if any eventuality might break what I view as the soul-crushing monotonous security provided thereby. A discussion of Fukuyama might, indeed, make a good thread. As for Baudrillard, his thesis seems a bit far-fetched. I fully expect that one late night during a bout with insomnia, I will turn on Coast to Coast AM, and hear George Noory interviewing Baudrillard about his latest book.
  • T Clark
    6.6k
    I found myself, as an anarchist...uh...Libertarian, dismayed by the force of Fukuyama's reasoning, wondering if any serious challenge could ever be made to the democratic nation-state, or if any eventuality might break what I view as the soul-crushing monotonous security provided thereby.Michael Zwingli

    I think the end of history claim is likely to go the way of the belief in the end of physics at the end of the 19th century. People are not very good making these kinds of judgements. They generally represent a lack of perspective and an inability to see beyond prejudices. We'll see. Probably not me, I'm 69, but maybe you.
  • Jack Cummins
    3.6k

    It is useful that you have mentioned Fukuyama's writing about the the idea of 'the last man'. I have not read his writing, but Baudrillard's idea grew from that particular perspective of political thinking, including utopianism.
  • Jack Cummins
    3.6k

    Baudrillard was speaking of 'history' in a Hegelian sense. This can get lost in the interpretation of his writings, and the way in which he speaks of cycles rather than linear aspects. So, an underlying issue would be whether the end, or would give way to a new beginning at some point in time.
  • Jack Cummins
    3.6k

    There is a big difference in the idea of the end of the world and the idea of the end of history. However, it is possible to see a fair amount of ambiguity in Baudrillard' s writing, and I am referring to his book, 'The illusion of the End'. This is because he does point to the possibility of the end of civilisation. In particular, he speaks of remnants of history continuing beyond the end of civilisation as we know it in the form of artificial intelligence.
  • Josh Alfred
    139
    Man, we don't know when our "world" will come to an end. I doubt any mythology really is problematic for fore-seeing such. Science offers us all sorts of end of the world scenarios. If you look it up you would see that the world as :the universe: will not die out (hypothetically, See: Heat Death) for trillions times trillions of "years." Some people that I've known are so set on eschatology that have no scientific backing. I hope those will enter the dust-bin so people can be more realistic about the future of themselves and reality, in a future.
  • Jack Cummins
    3.6k

    I am definitely making a connection between Baudrillard's idea of the 'end' of history and the civilisation that has developed in many nations. How can civilisation go on in the way it has done? Climate change seems to be a warning sign, and the question is whether it is too late or not to avert it. Perhaps we are coming to the end of consumer materialism. I wonder if the pandemic and the scale to which so many lives were turned upside down will bring a wake up call for some big changes, but it is hard to know...
  • TheMadFool
    12.6k
    I am definitely making a connection between Baudrillard's idea of the 'end' of history and the civilisation that has developed in many nations. How can civilisation go on in the way it has done? Climate change seems to be a warning sign, and the question is whether it is too late or not to avert it. Perhaps we are coming to the end of consumer materialism. I wonder if the pandemic and the scale to which so many lives were turned upside down will bring a wake up call for some big changes, but it is hard to know...Jack Cummins

    Wake up and smell the roses is what I'd like to tell everyone. If there ever was an opportunity to demonstrate international cooperation at a scale that could bring about climate action it was the COVID-19 pandemic and just look at the mess we're in - 3 or so million dead and counting. We don't have a good track record, any admirable precedent when it comes to working together as a team. Factional mentality will spell our doom. Why not let's just all sit down somewhere comfortable, grab popcoron and pepsi/coke, your choice, and just watch the world burn.
  • Valentinus
    1.6k

    It should be observed that Baudrillard does not consider himself bound to a particular lexicon and uses "real" in other senses than as an opposite to the virtual. Here are two passages where two different senses are placed side by side:

    We are in a society of icy intolerance, where the slightest diversion from, the mildest breach of, the reality principle is violently repressed. Realist Philistinism and Pharisaism are triumphant on all sides. All ideas are immediately cast in concrete. The anathema level is the equal of any religious or Stalinist society. Nothing has changed. The conspiracy of imbeciles is total.

    These fashionable spots where everyone recognizes everyone else without ever having known them. The voracity of faces, each lit up by the anticipated mutual recognition. Yet perhaps they did know each other in another world. This is the impression you get from Left Bank cocktail parties. Everyone has an air of déjà vu about them, and they float like shadows over the waters of the Styx. Moreover, hell must be just this: compulsive remembrance of all you've been through without ever being able to put a name to a face.
    — Baudrillard, Fragments, pg 25, translated by Emily Agar
  • 180 Proof
    6k
    Baudrillard explored the idea that the end of history in the 1990s, in a time when there were fears associated with the end of the millennium. 2000 passed and there were some fears and expectations of some grand drama in association with the Mayan calendar end date of 2012.Jack Cummins
    :roll: :smirk:

    (Žižek's quip): "It is easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine an end to capitalism".180 Proof
    "One must imagine Sisyphus happy."
    ~Also Sprach Zarathustra
    180 Proof
    Since we're only speculating here, consider this aural allusion (link above) to a transition from terrestrial history to extraterrestrial posthumanity, from ancestral 2-d heuristic intellect to descendant 4-d hyper-intelligence ... Anyway, I prefer my fairytale (re: politico-epistemic decentering) to Baudrillard's (Hegel's, Marx's ... millenarianist's) "end of history" utopian myth (i.e. nostalgia ~Camus).
  • Jack Cummins
    3.6k

    There was some kind of thought about humanity moving into space at one point, but I am unclear if this is still on the agenda. Baudrillard does speak of technological 'resurrection' but I think that he means prolonging life beyond the 'normal' lifespan and this idea is being worked on by the movement of transhumanism. It is likely that possibilities of combining human and machine are being worked upon, but it is hard to know how much is the realm of science fiction and what could really happen. David Pearce spoke of head transplants becoming a likely event, but if It became possible in my life time I would certainly not wish for it.

    But, of course if the majority of civilisation was wiped out somehow, it is likely that there would be some survivors, even if they were in remote places. If some computers 'survived', it is possible that the survivors would be able to use information at some point to rebuild civilisation.
  • Jack Cummins
    3.6k

    I found a lot of ambiguity in his use of many terms in, 'The Illusion of the End'. In some ways it makes it hard to interpret his ideas clearly, but it may be that he was writing ambiguously as an intentional way of leaving a lot of scope for readers' imaginations.
  • Jack Cummins
    3.6k

    I have to admit that I rarely ever smell the roses and often don't pay much attention to gardens at all. However, it is probably good to appreciate nature. I spent more time in parks in lockdown because venues were shut down and it does seem that many people did begin to appreciate outdoors, when in usual circumstances people often prefer being indoors. Children love being outdoors and some adults do, but many like myself are more inclined to wander around shopping centres and coffee shops. I will try to remember to smell the roses. One of my female friends made me laugh when she told me that she is not looking for a relationship with anyone and that she sometimes falls in love with trees.
  • TheMadFool
    12.6k
    In my office and other places too, I know, at least think I do, whether a male colleague has a woman in his life - potted plants are a dead giveaway. See :point: Adam, Eve & The Tree Of Knowledge. Were you, by any chance, hinting at that? :chin:
  • Jack Cummins
    3.6k

    I looked at your link and I can see what you mean, but I wasn't thinking about it consciously. Also, it is interesting to think of the garden of Eden and the end of the world, or history, because they are the start and end of the Biblical account. I have read the beginning and end of the Bible more than any other part. My initial concern about the end of civilisation came in the context of the Biblical idea of the end of the world, before I came across Baudrillard's idea while studying sociology.

    It may be that the Biblical idea and Nostradamus's ideas had some kind of self- fulfilling prophecy. Humans may have viewed themselves as the last inhabitants of the planet, and treated resources carelessly, without regard for future generations and other lifeforms.
  • TheArchitectOfTheGods
    60
    Hi Jack

    one way to look at the notion of end of history is to look at the likely end of competing political systems at some stage in human history. In the best case as a stable world democracy, in the worst case as a technology-supported world tyranny.

    Why a world state is inevitable
    https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.322.9672&rep=rep1&type=pdf

    Another way of course is to look at an impending technological singularity, at which point human history as we know it would stop

    Technological Singularity and the End of Human History
    https://interestingengineering.com/technological-singularity-an-impending-intelligence-explosion

    Best wishes for the future :)
  • fdrake
    4.9k
    Mark Fisher cuts through the crap surrounding the idea:

    Fukuyama’s position is in some ways a mirror image of Fredric Jameson’s. Jameson famously claimed that postmodernism is the ‘cultural logic of late capitalism’. He argued that the failure of the future was constitutive of a postmodern cultural scene which, as he correctly prophesied, would become dominated by pastiche and revivalism. Given that Jameson has made a convincing case for the relationship between postmodern culture and certain tendencies in consumer (or post-Fordist) capitalism, it could appear that there is no need for the concept of capitalist realism at all. In some ways, this is true. What I’m calling capitalist realism can be subsumed under the rubric of postmodernism as theorized by Jameson. Yet, despite Jameson’s heroic work of clarification, postmodernism remains a hugely contested term, its meanings, appropriately but unhelpfully, unsettled and multiple. More importantly, I would want to argue that some of the processes which Jameson described and analyzed have now become so aggravated and chronic that they have gone through a change in kind.

    Ultimately, there are three reasons that I prefer the term capitalist realism to postmodernism. In the 1980s, when Jameson first advanced his thesis about postmodernism, there were still, in name at least“pervasive, sense of exhaustion, of cultural and political sterility. In the 80s, ‘Really Existing Socialism’ still persisted, albeit in its final phase of collapse. In Britain, the fault lines of class antagonism were fully exposed in an event like the Miners’ Strike of 1984-1985, and the defeat of the miners was an important moment in the development of capitalist realism, at least as significant in its symbolic dimension as in its practical effects. The closure of pits was defended precisely on the grounds that keeping them open was not ‘economically realistic’, and the miners were cast in the role of the last actors in a doomed proletarian romance. The 80s were the period when capitalist realism was fought for and established, when Margaret Thatcher’s doctrine that ‘there is no alternative’ – as succinct a slogan of capitalist realism as you could hope for – became a brutally self-fulfilling prophecy.

    Secondly, postmodernism involved some relationship to modernism. Jameson’s work on postmodernism began with an interrogation of the idea, cherished by the likes of Adorno, that modernism possessed revolutionary potentials by virtue of its formal innovations alone. What Jameson saw happening instead was the incorporation of modernist motifs into popular culture“(suddenly, for example, Surrealist techniques would appear in advertising). At the same time as particular modernist forms were absorbed and commodified, modernism’s credos – its supposed belief in elitism and its monological, top-down model of culture – were challenged and rejected in the name of ‘difference’, ‘diversity’ and ‘multiplicity’. Capitalist realism no longer stages this kind of confrontation with modernism. On the contrary, it takes the vanquishing of modernism for granted: modernism is now something that can periodically return, but only as a frozen aesthetic style, never as an ideal for living.

    Thirdly, a whole generation has passed since the collapse of the Berlin Wall. In the 1960s and 1970s, capitalism had to face the problem of how to contain and absorb energies from outside. It now, in fact, has the opposite problem; having all-too successfully incorporated externality, how can it function without an outside it can colonize and appropriate? For most people under twenty in Europe and North America, the lack of alternatives to capitalism is no longer even an issue. Capitalism seamlessly occupies the horizons of the thinkable. Jameson used to report in horror about the ways that capitalism had seeped into the very unconscious; now, the fact that capitalism has colonized the dreaming life of the population is so taken for granted that it is no longer worthy of comment. It would be dangerous and misleading to imagine that the near past was some prelapsarian state rife with political potentials, so it’s as well to remember the role that commodification played in the production of culture throughout the twentieth century. Yet the old struggle between detournement and recuperation, between subversion and incorporation, seems to have been played out. What we are dealing with now is not the incorporation of materials that previously seemed to possess subversive potentials, but instead, their precorporation: the pre-emptive formatting and shaping of desires, aspirations and hopes by capitalist culture.
    — Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative? - Mark Fisher

    ( 1 ) Omnipresent cultural nostalgia treadmill.
    ( 2 ) Death of the political imaginary.
    ( 3 ) Listening to "Build Me Up Buttercup" in the queue in Asda for the 52nd consecutive year while buying New And Improved frozen pizza.

    So it's less a death or end of the world, it's a period of self reproducing stasis in how the political north appears and feels like to inhabit. Maybe the political south has a different "same shit different day" but with different shit.
  • Jack Cummins
    3.6k

    Thanks for the discussion on the ideas of Fukuyami as I was having a little difficulty connecting the idea of the end of history with politics. What your post has lead me to wonder about is whether on a global pandemic humanity may be at the point where it may need to go beyond the politics of both capitalism and socialism, in order to go beyond fundamental divisions, if this is possible in any real and practical way.
  • Jack Cummins
    3.6k

    I have just looked at the two articles which you included in your link. They are very interesting, so I thank you for sharing them. The idea of a world state is an aspect which I have wondered about for some time, and how it would work in relation to anarchy, division and pluralism. Or, could it pave the way towards totalitarianism? So much may come down to the nature of leadership and hierarchy. It would require such a degree of responsibility by those in positions of power in leading the way forward in sustainability and allocations of resources in a fair and equal way. The question may be whether humanity, especially the leaders have reached the level of consciousness to oversee this, or would collapse under the sway of the worst aspects of human nature, like many previous political movements?
  • fdrake
    4.9k


    We find ourselves at the notorious ‘end of history’ trumpeted by Francis Fukuyama after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Fukuyama’s thesis that history has climaxed with liberal capitalism may have been widely derided, but it is accepted, even assumed, at the level of the cultural unconscious. It should be remembered, though, that even when Fukuyama advanced it, the “idea that history had reached a ‘terminal beach’ was not merely triumphalist. Fukuyama warned that his radiant city would be haunted, but he thought its specters would be Nietzschean rather than Marxian. Some of Nietzsche’s most prescient pages are those in which he describes the ‘oversaturation of an age with history’. ‘It leads an age into a dangerous mood of irony in regard to itself, he wrote in Untimely Meditations, ‘and subsequently into the even more dangerous mood of cynicism’, in which ‘cosmopolitan fingering’, a detached spectatorialism, replaces engagement and involvement. This is the condition of Nietzsche’s Last Man, who has seen everything, but is decadently enfeebled precisely by this excess of (self) awareness.

    I forgot that bit.
  • 180 Proof
    6k
    If some computers 'survived', it is possible that the survivors would be able to use information at some point to rebuild civilisation.Jack Cummins
    If those computers are not intelligent enough to autonomously teach / govern the human survivors, then global civilization is done, and probably human extinction will take place amid the ruins of a prolonged collapse from disrepair. 'Our survival' as a species, I suspect, may depend on engineering synthetic thinking agents 'capable of saving' our genetic and (some of) our cultural remnants before we, in effect, take ourselves out for good (e.g. within 1-2 centuries (optimistically) from today of irreversible, runaway climate change).
  • Jack Cummins
    3.6k

    I don't think that we can in any way rely on computers for the rebuilding of civilisation if the current one collapses. It would be an aspect of the past, like ancient Egypt or Rome, and it would be so hard to know what might ever happen in the distant and remote future. It may be worth human beings focusing on the stage at the present time, to try to ensure the possible continuation of the current one, rather than giving up...
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment

Welcome to The Philosophy Forum!

Get involved in philosophical discussions about knowledge, truth, language, consciousness, science, politics, religion, logic and mathematics, art, history, and lots more. No ads, no clutter, and very little agreement — just fascinating conversations.