Got to go, got to get
get some new stuff,
new stuff to go
beside the other things!
Got to buy some things,
some new, new things to talk about.
Otherwise what will I say to you!
Got to do something big,
doesn't matter what it is,
as long as it's really big,
and bigger than what you talk about!
[ triplespeak ]
What is the relationship between biology and politics? This question emerged even before biology and politics were well-defined fields, as political leaders and natural philosophers ruminated on the nature of knowledge, and the connection between human society and the universe. The question came into sharper relief during the nineteenth-century, and in particular after the publication of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species in 1859. Darwin's theory provoked reactions and developments in a number of fields far removed from biology, and in connection to politics, the most conspicuous development was social Darwinism.
The phrase "social Darwinism" was first used by Joseph Fisher in 1877, and referred to the application of biological theories in the political sphere, and specifically the idea that political struggles could be illuminated through the concept of the struggle for existence. Per social Darwinism, the biological struggle for existence manifests itself socially, and those who are politically powerful are those who are most powerful in biological and social terms. Most generally, early social Darwinism encompassed biological justifications for laissez-faire economics and imperialism. In this way, social Darwinists claimed, the relationship between biology and politics was direct and easily observable. However, rather than solving the question of how biology and politics were related, social Darwinism merely sparked new questions.
There were many responses that speculated on the biology of politics, and two of the most prominent responses came from T.H. Huxley and Peter Kropotkin. Both were biologists, and both accepted biological evolution and the struggle for existence as facts of life. Furthermore, both were politically active, and both were highly respected as political commentators. Huxley served as scientific consultant on a number of Royal Commissions, and directly influenced government policy in England. Kropotkin spearheaded the philosophy of anarcho-communism, and influenced many tens-of-thousands of supporters, across tens of countries.
However, though both were eminent biologists and political actors, and though they agreed on the facts of evolution and the struggle for existence, they strongly disagreed on the implications of biology for politics. Based on his biological studies and social experiences, Huxley rejected social Darwinist ideas per se, but concluded social inequality is a fact of life because of biological conditions; "The doctrine that all men are, in any sense, or have been, at any time, free and equal, is an utterly baseless fiction." Contrary to this, Kropotkin rejected both social Darwinism and the inescapability of social inequality, and concluded biological conditions produced in humans a "sense of justice, or equity, which brings the individual to consider the rights of every other individual as equal to his own."
Both Kropotkin and Huxley had extensive biological knowledge and political experience, both renounced social Darwinist ideas, and both expounded on the implications of evolution for the possibilities of human politics. Here the question arises: how was it that these two men, who agreed in much of their biology, could arrive at diametrically opposing political conclusions, having both started from the fact of evolution and the renunciation of social Darwinism?
Here we shall endeavour to unpack the relationship between Huxley's and Kropotkin's biological and political beliefs. We shall not evaluate the truth of their political claims, but rather, we will study the method of their argumentation, what use they made of biological facts, and the process of reasoning by which they argued from biological premises to arrive at political conclusions. We will begin first with an examination of Huxley's appeals to biology in his political statements. We will then consider Kropotkin's statements, and his responses to Huxley's claims. Following this, we will investigate the form and content of Kropotkin's and Huxley's arguments, and attempt to uncover how they arrived at opposing politics, though they started from similar foundations. In closing, we will observe the relevance of our results to modern relations between biology and politics.
Observing Huxley's career as a whole, we find his political ideas developed alongside his biological beliefs, over many decades. Although Huxley's primary focus remained biology and science, he consistently showed concern for political issues, and accepted consulting positions on a number of Royal Commissions formed to discuss government policy. These Commissions covered issues ranging from fishing regulations to education and the advancement of science, and here Huxley drew on many different aspects of his expertise, including biology and politics.
Over time, Huxley found it increasingly necessary to exposit his views on the relationship between biology and politics, because the political climate of a country impacted its scientific advancement, and vice-versa. In this connection he stated: the "political problem of problems is how to deal with over-population, and it faces us on all sides." For Huxley, this problem was intimately tied to England's "internecine struggle for existence" in the economic sphere. In caching out his economic ideas, Huxley appealed to the theories of Malthus and Darwin, and he cast the survival ability of a society in terms of the biological struggle for resources. Resources were key, because Huxley believed England and other nations were facing over-population, and "One of the most essential conditions, if not the chief cause, of the struggle for existence, is the tendency to multiply without limit, which man shares with all living things."
In Huxley's eyes, the biologically motivated tendency to multiply without limit is a historical fact, and contributed to the downfall of many great civilizations:
Historians point to the greed and ambition of rulers, to the reckless turbulence of the ruled, to the debasing effects of wealth and luxury, and to the devastating wars which have formed a great part of the occupation of mankind, as the causes of the decay of states and the foundering of old civilizations, and thereby point their story with a moral. No doubt immoral motives of all sorts have figured largely among the minor causes of these events. But beneath all this superficial turmoil lay the deep-seated impulse given by unlimited multiplication. In the swarms of colonies thrown out by Phoenicia and by old Greece; in the ver sacrum of the Latin races; in the floods of Gauls and of Teutons which burst over the frontiers of tile old civilization of Europe; in the swaying to and fro of the vast Mongolian hordes in late times, the population problem comes to the front in a very visible shape.
For this reason, if England hoped to achieve stability at both the national and international levels, it had to overcome its own population problem. This meant the biologically induced struggle for existence had to be taken into account when forming both internal (national) policy and foreign policy.
Furthermore, it was important that policy makers understand that the struggle for existence arose from the biologically based "inequality of man." By humankind's inherently "natural inequality," humans were divided into two main categories: "the ethical man -- the member of society or citizen," and "the non-ethical man -- the primitive savage, or man as a mere member of the animal kingdom." Crucial here was that the "primitive savage" occurred not only in wild environs. On the contrary, because of the natural inequality of man, and the inability of society to prompt all citizens to move beyond a life "in which the pleasures within reach are reduced to bestiality and drunkenness," it is inevitable that some citizens retain or bend towards the mentality of the primitive savage. In every nation, no matter how great, "a certain proportion ... constantly tend to establish and populate ... a Slough of Despond."
For Huxley, such a Slough is inescapable, because it is a necessary by-product of evolution. The biological struggle for existence expresses itself socially, politically, and economically, and in economic terms the "inequality of individual ownership has grown out of the relative equality of communal ownership in virtue of those natural inequalities of men, which, if unimpeded by circumstances, cannot fail to give rise quietly and peaceably to corresponding political inequalities." Thus political and economic inequalities were the consequence of biological inequalities, and insofar as inequality arose "only from such [biological] causes, its existence may and must be patiently borne," because one could not escape the conditions of nature.
However, though Huxley believed inequality was a permanent feature of politics because it was a fact of biology, he believed it was also important that societies ensure inequality never reach such a level that the "animal man ... resumes his ancient sovereignty" over the mentality of the poor. If the resurgence of animal man was permitted, and occurred on too large a scale, then natural man (that is, "primitive" man) qua poor "animal" citizens would forget the rules of sociability, and plunge all of society into "the brute struggle for existence once again." This risk remained "so long as the natural man increases and multiplies without restraint" -- hence: the biologically born "political problem of problems is how to deal with over-population."
Huxley's answer to this problem of problems lay in the study of biology and prehistory. Per Huxley, the relics of prehistory provide clear evidence that "for thousands and thousands of years, before the origin of the oldest known civilizations, men were savages of a very low type." These savages struggled against each other, and other animals; "they preyed upon things weaker or less cunning than themselves; they were born, multiplied without stint, and died, for thousands of generations alongside the mammoth, the urus, the lion, and the hyaena." "Life was a continual free fight" and "the Hobbesian war of each against all was the normal state of existence. The human species, like others ... floundered amid the general stream of evolution," which was awash in blood. Under these conditions "those who were best fitted to cope with their circumstances" survived. Such was the biologically regulated history of natural man. However, the "history of civilization -- that is, of society -- on the other hand, is the record of the attempts which the human race has made to escape from this position." But it was not simply that the "civilized man has reached this point," such an "assertion is perhaps too broad and general." To be specific, the "ethical man has attained thereto."
Huxley then combined this assertion (that ethical men enabled all humanity to rise above the war of each against all) with the claim that humanity was divided into two main categories ("ethical man" and "natural man") and his belief that natural man could not restrain his impulse to multiply, and arrived at a political solution to manage the biological problem of over-population: placing those who are "ethically the best" in control of society. Only the ethical man could devote "his best energies to the object of setting limits to the struggle" for existence. The key issue here was that the Slough of Despond is unavoidable, and limits on the struggle for existence can only be maintained so long as the Slough does not grow too large.
Luckily, "the power of natural history was illustrated by examples of recent applications of that science in opening up sources of industrial wealth." Which is to say, England's industrial wealth has been improved by the application of scientific knowledge. Accepting this, science should be taught to everyone, and industry should be managed by those most proficient in science -- the exemplary ethical men. With those who are ethically best at the helm, national industries can apply the most advanced production techniques, and sell the best possible products at the lowest possible costs. This form of political economy was later dubbed "technocracy," and Huxley believed a hierarchically organized technocracy would enable England to sell its goods at lower prices than other nations and dominate in the realm of international exchange, and thus succeed in the international struggle for existence.
But because the "political problem of problems is ... over-population," England's ethical man leadership must keep an eye on the Slough of Despond, and maintain the proper balance between wages, product prices, profits, and population size. The need for profit meant the "rate of wages must be restricted within certain limits." That limit could not be too low, because workers must be "sufficiently remunerated" to remain "physically and morally healthy and socially stable." With this balance achieved, England could produce cheap products, while ensuring not too many of its workers gave into their animal man (because the animal man would "multiply without limit," enlarge the Slough of Despond, and plunge England into internal wars of struggling for existence), and the problem of over-population would be solved.
Thus we observe the role of biology in Huxley's politics. For Huxley, the biological imperative to multiply and the struggle for existence are facts of life, and both are evident in human prehistory and contemporary societies. Furthermore, biological processes produce natural inequalities in humans, and while most remain brutish, those who are well endowed can advance beyond their own brutishness, and also improve conditions for those who cannot. Those who are well endowed are the biologically select ethical men, who must be placed in control of politics and economics, in order that they can create a technocratic society. Such a society will succeed in the international struggle for existence by helping less well-endowed "natural" men sustain a mode of life that staves off their basal impulses, which natural man cannot do on his own.
With this overview of Huxley's biologically infused political claims in hand, let us now turn to an examination of Kropotkin's biologically imbued political claims, per his Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution.
Like Huxley, Kropotkin began with the struggle for existence, and he agreed with Huxley that individuals that developed the most profitable adaptations would be most likely to survive in the struggle for existence. However for Kropotkin, the most advantageous adaptations were not simply those that enhanced combative ability;
As soon as we study animals -- not in laboratories and museums only, but in the forest and the prairie, in the steppe and the mountains -- we at once perceive that though there is an immense amount of warfare and extermination going on amidst various species, and especially amidst various classes of animals, there is, at the same time, as much, or perhaps even more, of mutual support, mutual aid, and mutual defence amidst animals belonging to the same species or, at least, to the same society.
Kropotkin conceded "it would be extremely difficult to estimate, however roughly, the relative numerical importance of both these series of facts," but he stuck to his main line, "that those animals which acquire habits of mutual aid are undoubtedly the fittest." This is because animals that engage in mutual support, mutual aid, and mutual defence "have more chances to survive, and they attain, in their respective classes, the highest development of intelligence and bodily organization."
Contrary to Huxley's claim that the "war of each against all" was the norm in pre-civilized societies, Kropotkin claims when he studied nature he was unable to find "that bitter struggle for the means of existence, among animals belonging to the same species, which was considered ... the dominant characteristic of struggle for life, and the main factor of evolution." This biological observation is politically important, because Huxley claims the main factor of evolution is "the struggle for existence to the bitter end," and human "society differs from nature in having a definite moral object": overcoming the biological war of each against all.
In direct opposition to this, Kropotkin claims society is not somehow different from nature, because it is a part of nature. "Sociability is ... a law of nature," and the biological drive for "mutual aid is as much a law of animal life as mutual struggle." Moreover,
as a factor of evolution, it most probably has a far greater importance, inasmuch as it favours the development of such habits and characters as insure the maintenance and further development of the species, together with the greatest amount of welfare and enjoyment of life for the individual.
It is true the struggle for existence is biologically impelled, but this struggle is not a war of each against all. Instead, "the vast majority of species live in societies," and "they find in association the best arms for the struggle for life: understood, of course, in its wide Darwinian sense -- not as a struggle for the sheer means of existence, but as a struggle against all natural conditions unfavourable to the species." Although biology does drive animals to struggle against each other, it also drives them to combine with each other and struggle against the hardships of nature. Therefore, for Kropotkin, society and sociability are not uniquely human phenomena "in which man plays the part of immediate cause," as Huxley claims. Instead, they are general features of animal life.
In one respect, Kropotkin's claims regarding society and sociability jell with Huxley's, for both hold that "unsociable species ... are doomed to decay." However, while Huxley claims non-human animals could be sociable, he states it was the only with the arrival of the ethical man that mutual aid began. As discussed, Huxley's evidence for this claim is prehistoric relics, which he believes proves that "before the origin of the oldest known civilizations, men were savages of a very low type," and that "Life was a continual free fight." Kropotkin responds: "Of course, we have no direct evidence as to the modes of life of the first man-like beings. We are not yet settled even as to the time of their first appearance." But irrespective of this, prehistoric relics are unnecessary to the debate, because the observation of known history disproves Huxley's claims. If mutual struggle was the rule, then mutual destruction could have been the only outcome. Only "the practice of mutual aid and its successive developments" could "have created the very conditions of society life in which man was enabled to develop his arts, knowledge, and intelligence."
For Kropotkin, this is proven historically, because "the periods when institutions based on the mutual-aid tendency took their greatest development were also the periods of the greatest progress in arts, industry, and science." Furthermore,
the study of the inner life of the medieval city and of the ancient Greek cities reveals the fact that the combination of mutual aid, as it was practised within the guild and the Greek clan, with a large initiative which was left to the individual and the group by means of the federative principle, gave to mankind the two greatest periods of its history -- the ancient Greek city and the medieval city periods; while the ruin of the above institutions during the State periods of history, which followed, corresponded in both cases to a rapid decay.
So, not only does human history exhibit mutual aid as a primary factor in the advancement of human knowledge, human history also disproves the claim that human civilization was always a boon to human advancement. Civilizations and cultures struggled against each other, and this resulted in the destruction of the achievements of prior societies. This point is crucial in the formulation of Kropotkin's politics, and here it is worth quoting Kropotkin at length;
When the Mutual Aid institutions -- the tribe, the village community, the guilds, the medieval city -- began, in the course of history, to lose their primitive character, to be invaded by parasitic growths, and thus to become hindrances to progress, the revolt of individuals against these institutions took always two different aspects. Part of those who rose up strove to purify the old institutions, or to work out a higher form of commonwealth, based upon the same Mutual Aid principles; they tried, for instance, to introduce the principle of "compensation," instead of the lex talionis, and later on, the pardon of offences, or a still higher ideal of equality before the human conscience, in lieu of "compensation," according to class-value. But at the very same time, another portion of the same individual rebels endeavoured to break down the protective institutions of mutual support, with no other intention but to increase their own wealth and their own powers. In this three-cornered contest, between the two classes of revolted individuals and the supporters of what existed, lies the real tragedy of history.
Thus, for Kropotkin, the observation of wild animals and also human history proves it is not mutual struggle but mutual aid that is the primary biological factor that spurs the beneficial advancement of a species. Furthermore, with respect to human societies, it is critical to observe that the "Mutual Aid institutions" of bygone times were "invaded by parasitic growths" that broke the Mutual Aid institutions down, and turned them into nascent statist institutions. These institutions aggrandized themselves, and eventually society entered "State periods of history" that corresponded to a "rapid decay" in terms of sociability.
For this reason, Kropotkin claims the primary lesson history teaches is that society should eschew statism (state-based political structures), and organize into a decentralized federation of autonomous communities. Each community should be independent, and fully managed by local residents, who offer each other mutual aid. Although individual communities should be independent, they should not be isolated but embrace interdependence, and engage in mutual economic and political exchange and support.
At the level of politics then, Kropotkin's conclusions run exactly counter to Huxley's, and seeing now the remarkable divergence between the politics of these two biologists, the question remains: how did they arrive at opposing conclusions, though both started from the basic biological facts of evolution and the struggle for existence?
As the above outlines of Huxley and Kropotkin's biological-political arguments show, the key to their diverging conclusions lies in their methodology. Where Kropotkin approached both biology and human society empirically and scientifically, Huxley approached biology empirically and scientifically, but believed ethical men created society and it was necessary "to distinguish those parts of nature in which man plays the part of immediate cause, as some thing apart; and, therefore, society ... is usefully to be considered as distinct from nature." For Huxley, there is a discontinuity between nature and society, and it is not possible to study human society using the same mode of investigation we apply to nature. The question then becomes: was Huxley right?
Here it is instructive to consider Huxley's own statements on the nature of reasoning and knowledge, and deduction and argumentation. At the highest level of generality, Huxley proclaims that "For the successful carrying on of the business of life, no less than for the pursuit of science, it is essential that the mind should easily and accurately perform the four great intellectual processes of observation, experiment, induction, and deduction." These four processes constitute the method of scientific investigation, and, per Huxley "The man of science has learned to believe in justification, not by faith, but by verification," regardless of the subject being studied. He emphasizes this repeatedly; "from the dawn of exact knowledge to the present day, observation, experiment, and speculation have gone hand in hand." Again: all laws that humans can discover can only be "obtained ... by a process of induction from observed facts."
With respect to induction and knowledge, Huxley's definition of the scientific method is in line with modern definitions. Additionally, modern epistemology theory agrees with Huxley that natural laws can only be uncovered by way of observation and induction. Hence, by Huxley' own lights, we must ask: do Huxley's biological-political claims meet his own criteria for arriving at justified beliefs and conclusions?
When considering Huxley's biological-political claims, we find they all fail at the first of his four steps: observation. Huxley's biological claims are backed by a wealth of observations, however his political claims include little or no observations, and this is problematic. If the empirical basis of biological knowledge is the close observation of biological organisms and processes over time, then the empirical basis of political knowledge is the close observation of humans and social interactions and processes over time -- that is, the study of history. This is not to say that some set of historical facts will always give rise to the same political conclusions, but rather, when constructing a political argument, it is crucial that the argument present and analyze relevant historical and social interactions and processes.
It is necessary to note that Huxley's biological-political arguments do include historical claims, but here it is important to distinguish speculation from observation. Huxley claims, for example, that prehistoric relics prove pre-civilized humans were savages, and that civilization is the force that drives social progress and cultural advancement. As Kropotkin notes however, it is impossible to deduce definite conclusions about society and sociability from relics alone, and we cannot prove the assertion Huxley makes about pre-civilized human cultures. Further, contrary to Huxley's assertion, it is an accepted historical fact that less-cultured civilizations have toppled and replaced highly cultured civilizations, imposing great suffering on the citizens of the civilization being toppled, and causing humanity writ large to suffer the loss of artistic and intellectual works. Thus, civilization has not always been the force that drives social progress and cultural advancement, and Huxley's claim is a demonstrably false speculation, rather than a historically grounded observation. Ultimately, Huxley's combination of biological observations with historical speculations leads him to deduce untenable political conclusions. Huxley's biological-political arguments are overly speculative and unscientific, because they are historically non-empirical.
Additionally, Huxley's speculations are incomplete. If, as Huxley claims, pre-civilized life "was a continual free fight," and "those who were best fitted to cope with their circumstances, but not the best in any other sense, survived," how could the "ethical" man ever arise? Huxley discusses this question, but does not present a conclusive response. Nowhere does he present a cogent biological or historical explanation for the arrival or superiority of ethical man, as compared to the natural man. This is significant, because Huxley's entire political program rests on the advent of the ethical man, and the natural man's acceptance of his rule.
Further to this, Huxley repeatedly claims an ethically advanced subset of humans created society, and "society differs from nature in having a definite moral object." As Kropotkin notes however, society is not simply a product of human will, but a result of natural and biological conditions; "Society has not been created by man; it is anterior to man." This is critical, because Huxley effectively argues the first human societies were intelligently designed by ethical men, and in this way he commits the fallacy of (what we shall refer to as) political creationism. This aspect of Huxley's argument is particularly deleterious, because Huxley was well aware the scientific method is apposite to all physical knowledge, including history, and he was personally involved in a debate with creationists, precisely because he hoped to overturn unscientific claims.
There are many parallels between Huxley's political creationism and theological creationism, and perhaps the most significant is theodicy, explaining the problem of suffering. Where theology explains human suffering is an esoteric feature of God's plan, Huxley explains that socioeconomic suffering is the consequence of biological inequality (expressed bodily in terms of physical and psychical fitness), and this means the suffering manifest in human societies "must be patiently borne." Huxley is certainly in the right when noting we have no choice other than to bear the structures of nature. He does not however prove the structures of society must be patiently borne. Instead, he asserts his own political theodicy; just as all humans must bear the mysteries of God's plans, so must lesser humans bear the plans of ethical humans.
Further, the issue of Huxley's political creationism is germane to Kropotkin's political program, because Kropotkin argues for an anti-statist organization of society: much as Huxley struggled to overturn the received wisdom of creationism, Kropotkin faced the Herculean task of overturning the received wisdom of statism. Like the arguments in support of creationism, the arguments in support of statism evolved over many centuries, and came to possess a strong hold on the minds of billions of people whose lives are defined by the relationships and institutions of state societies. This yields a powerful unconscious bias towards statism, and gives statist ideologies a powerful predominance over non-statism.
This is not to claim Kropotkin's political claims were correct or unassailable (as noted, we are not evaluating the truth of Kropotkin's and Huxley's political conclusions), or that political norms can easily be derived from empirical observations or biological facts. One may dispute both Kropotkin's and Huxley's conclusions, however what is important is that Kropotkin's method is scientific and historical while Huxley's is neither. Although Huxley includes appeals to biology in his political arguments, his appeals are not empirically connected to his political conclusions. Huxley does not include historical facts, and makes historical claims that have no empirical basis. Unlike Huxley, Kropotkin makes close studies of biology and history that are firmly rooted in observation and empirical study, after which he presents political conclusions. The point here is that method and rigour are important, and just as Darwin showed there is another option to creationism -- natural selection -- Kropotkin showed there is another option to political statism -- anarcho-communism. Additionally, Kropotkin noted that something like anarcho-communism actually existed prior to statism, and it bore great cultural fruits.
The debate between Huxley and Kropotkin remains relevant because modern commentators continue to construct political arguments that reference biological theories, and because the relationship between biology and politics remains fraught with epistemological and logical questions. Still today we find biological-political arguments that mirror the methodologies of Huxley and Kropotkin -- and what is more, we continue to find a plethora of appeals to social Darwinism. By examining Huxley's and Kropotkin's responses to social Darwinism, and by studying the unscientific reasoning of Huxley's argumentation and the scientific reasoning of Kropotkin, modern commentators might avoid some of the problems Huxley could not.
Although we remain unable to fully elaborate the relationship between biology and politics, there are at least two conclusions about their relationship we can be reasonably certain in. First, human history and politics are inextricably bound to human biology and thus evolution. Second, even though political knowledge is more tenuous than biological knowledge, both biology and politics are based on physical realities, and political argumentation is no less subject to the strictures of evidence and right thinking than biological argumentation, and therefore both must appeal to the scientific method in order to obtain justified beliefs.
What force the words of
with tribute gone, and
Still, petty lords aim trash
and ply the beast with
Then filled with spite, all turn
Theirs not to love, but feast
What are the foundations of mathematics? Early answers to this question were closely related to geometry, and historically, the philosophy of mathematics and the mathematics of geometry maintained a unique connection for more than two thousand years. During this period absolute certainty reigned, and here we shall survey major developments in the evolution of geometry and metamathematics in relation to certitude. We will begin with the origins of the belief in mathematical certainty in Classical Greece, then survey its connection to science through to the seventeenth-century. In closing, we will examine the decline of certainty in the early nineteenth-century, when the discovery of non-Euclidean geometry forced uncertainty on to mathematics and philosophy.
Perhaps the first inquiry in to mathematical foundations was by the Greek philosopher Thales (c. 624 - 547 BCE). Thales saw that in counting and measuring, the practices of unconnected regions coincided, and the practices of one region applied to others. This coincidence enabled different groups to make calculations in the same way, for example when working with physical spaces that approximated elementary mathematical shapes, such as rectangular grain fields. Observing that geographically diverse peoples treated numbers and numeric operations similarly, Thales asked: why?
The practices Thales observed had developed independently, but appeared to share the same general form, and to be generally applicable and accurate, and this was a remarkable fact when compared to the non-generality of other regional practices, for example in politics and religion. In attempting to account for his observations, Thales approached his explanation empirically and universally, and his mode of explanation differed dramatically from the prevalent mode of explanation, which was pre-deductive (and which we refer to as pre-deductive precisely because of the power and prevalence of deduction, after Thales).
Pre-deductive discourse, as seen for example in the religious texts of Thales' era, presented claims in a de facto manner, and presented idealized assertions and idealized consequences, while Thales attempted to arrive at conclusions about observations, and also inquired about the very basis of his observations. Thales was therefore grasping towards a new mode of discourse that we might describe as proto-deductive.
Owing to the nature of his investigations, Thales introduced the term "geometry," meaning "earth measurement," in reference to land plotting and similar activities. The term "mathematics" meaning "knowledge," was introduced after Thales by his mathematical successors, the Pythagoreans. With respect to metamathematics, the origin of these terms is important, being an indicator of the reason geometry and mathematics came to be well-defined fields of inquiry. Geometry arose to organize regionally diverse but conceptually united practices, and approached the real world in terms of magnitudes, and elementary operations that related those magnitudes; and mathematics arose to treat of magnitudes and operations more generally.
Enthralled by the incredible utility and uniformity of mathematics, the Pythagoreans developed a mystical belief system based on the idea that mathematical associations were the framework within which the physical world unfolded. In their framework the concept of number was central, and the Pythagoreans equated math and numbers with metaphysical genesis, as can be seen from one of their oaths; "Bless us, divine number, thou who generates gods and men!"
The Pythagoreans made a number of discoveries that correlated nature closely with mathematics, such as the discovery that musical harmonies may be represented in terms of whole number ratios. This provided fodder for the idea that mathematics was not merely the prism through which nature could be understood, but that nature was mathematics; that "all things are numbers." This metamathematical idea led the Pythagoreans to categorize nature hierarchically, such that math was the source of the universe, and expressed itself in terms of the discrete and the continuous, where the discrete gave rise to the absolute (arithmetic) and the relative (music), and the continuous gave rise to the static (geometry) and the moving (astronomy). Mathematics was the fountainhead, prior to both "gods and men," and generated and organized all of nature; an important claim, because it made mathematics more basic than gods, and was therefore connected to Thales' reasoning process, in that both reassessed religious thinking.
In sum, Thales considered the practices of mathematics generally, and approached math in a way that prefigured deduction, and the Pythagoreans took the universality of mathematics to indicate that the universe was identifiable with mathematics. Thus, mathematical practices had directly spurred metaphysical reflections, and those reflections yielded metamathematical conclusions that led to realignments in existing philosophies. Although claims that appealed to God in pre-deductive modes of explanation still dominated, by the era of the Pythagoreans they were increasingly challenged by mathematical considerations.
Like the Pythagoreans, the Greek philosopher Plato (c. 424 - 347 BCE) believed mathematics was fundamental to being, however, unlike the Pythagoreans, Plato did not believe a hierarchy of categories such as the discrete and continuous captured the foundations of mathematics. For Plato, mathematics existed in the eternal world of Forms, while humans lived in the temporal world, in an ever-changing process of becoming. The Forms effected the universe, and the universe's physical forms were constantly undergoing change, and because of this the real world presented only a shadow of the Forms to humans, meaning humans had limited access to the perfect Forms of mathematics. Mathematics did underpin nature, but natural sensations presented nature and math to humans incompletely.
Because mathematical Forms existed independently of human experience and could not be properly perceived via the senses, Plato eschewed the incompleteness of sensation, turned inwards, and concluded true knowledge of the Forms was to be achieved through cogitation. Because mathematics transcended human experience, it was a natural truth that could be established by transcendent thought. Thus, Plato accepted the Pythagorean belief in mathematics as a basic reality that exists independently of humans, and combined it with Thales' concern for understanding the connections between ideas in a universally consistent manner.
Responding to Plato's metamathematical deliberations, his student Aristotle (384-322 BCE) took up the project of formalizing Thales' reasoning procedure, and elaborated on the relationship between claims and conclusions, and denied that mathematical truth corresponded to the contemplation of ideal mathematical Forms. For Aristotle, Forms inhered within physical existence, and the foundation of mathematics was forms inhering in the world. True mathematics were indeed arrived at by reasoning, however reasoning was to be based on observations of the Forms in nature, rather than arguing from purely intellective premises about the Forms. Physical experience was the foundation for arriving at accurate mathematics: observing the world, analyzing those observations generally, and categorizing those analyses produced truth. Only thus could humans draw objective and accurate conclusions about the mathematical Forms.
Building on the work of Thales, the Pythagoreans, Plato, and Aristotle (and others), the Greek expositor Euclid (c. 300 BCE) set forth in his Elements a series of mathematical proofs using the recently developed logico-deductive format, beginning with mathematical axioms and postulates, combining these with mathematical rules, and setting out the conclusions that followed from these combinations.
In the Elements, Euclid exhibited the mathematics of his era, which were primarily concerned with geometrical results, by taking mathematical truths that were seemingly self-evident, and using precise, repeatable procedures, that any reader could reapply to develop the exact same theorems. Metamathematically, the Elements is important philosophically and historically, because if its reader accepted the mathematical axioms and operations as defined within -- as they apparently had to -- they were also forced to accept its conclusions. For this reason, the Elements possessed a finished quality; there was no room for further development of the theorems laid out, because none found a reason to disagree with them. Hence, in a sense, the Elements completed the project Thales' started, in its development and presentation of an apparently universally applicable and accurate mathematics.
Mathematics, then, was not seen like other subjects such as politics and religion, which permitted contention and ceaseless disputation and were therefore a collection of claims that were in at least some degree vague or indefinite. It seemed that in mathematics, one observed reality as it was, by universally proving the validity of a theorem. All observers could reproduce a theorem, and thus be certain they shared in the knowable reality of that theorem in exactly the same way as all other observers.
Therefore, as the end of Classical Greek civilization approached, mathematics was regarded as a domain that advanced certain knowledge, because of the metamathematical belief that math's foundations were perfectly natural, and that math's theorems were equivalent to natural relations, as revealed through systematic observation and testable manipulation.
The enduring power of this metamathematical certitude was captured in the results of the Greek mathematician Archimedes (c. 287 - 212 BCE), who combined physical motion with mathematics in such an innovative and lasting manner that many regard his proper intellectual successor to be Isaac Newton (1642 - 1727 CE). Addressing the ancient problem of squaring the circle, Archimedes provided an extraordinary geometric solution that synthesized circular and linear motions. Although these motions were acceptable in Euclidean geometry their synthesis was unprecedented, and though Archimedes' results were not strictly Euclidean, they were rigorous and had all the certainty of a Euclidean result.
This was of singular importance in the history of metamathematics, for after Euclid and Archimedes, the development of geometry, and advances in the investigation of metamathematical certainty languished, for nearly two millennia. Looking forward, we find it was not until the seventeenth-century that new and significant progress occurred in the study of geometry; and, pursuant to the progress of geometry, it was only in the eighteenth-century that significant progress occurred in the study of the foundations of mathematics.
With respect to geometry, the objective of Galileo Galilei (1564 - 1642 CE) was to apprehend the algebra of objects moving in space. In Particular, Galileo's goal was to determine which properties of natural objects and motion could be measured and related to each other mathematically. Accordingly, he came to focus on physical features such as weight, velocity, acceleration, and force. Investigating the foundations of mathematics was not one of Galileo's direct concerns, as he noted in his Discourses and Mathematical Demonstrations Concerning Two New Sciences (1638); "The cause of the acceleration of the motion of falling bodies is not a necessary part of the investigation."
Nonetheless, though Galileo aimed at practical explanations and not foundational ones, he did comment on natural philosophers that developed systems based on mere argumentation, rather than systems based on physical experimentation. Importantly, though Galileo was catholic, and his metamathematics reflected his metaphysics -- God was the basis of existence, and therefore math -- Galileo felt God had no immediate place in physical explanations of the world, because "the universe ... is written in the language of mathematics, and its characters are triangles, circles, and other geometric figures." Proportionately, nature was revealed to humanity by direct study of the world, rather than otherworldly speculation.
This practical bent was shaped by Galileo's metamathematical belief that there was a fundamental difference between idealizing on the one hand, and measuring and then idealizing on the other. In terms of historical continuity, the importance of Galileo was that he took up the methods of Aristotle and Euclid, and picked up the physically oriented studies of Archimedes, in order to develop mathematical equations that correlated natural properties to natural regularities.
In connection to foundations, René Descartes (1596 - 1650 CE) agreed that God was the source of reality and the designer of mathematics, and that God was the reason humanity was able to perceive truths about reality. For Descartes, the fact that God had designed reality mathematically was evident in the patterns we observed, and, as a perfect being, God presented patterns to humans only if they represented truth, and therefore we could be sure of our observations.
Like Plato, Descartes posited a world of perfection that was partially accessible via the senses, and like Aristotle and Galileo, Descartes believed sense datum should be analyzed to arrive at true mathematical theorems. Combining natural patterns with intellective analysis, Descartes associated the properties of lines and points with the symbolic mode of representation, and revolutionized the study of nature by introducing the concepts of variable magnitude and coordinate geometry -- the latter having also been developed by Pierre de Fermat (c. 1607 - 1665 CE), independently of Descartes.
Using Euclidean theorems as a basis, coordinate geometry correlated geometric properties to general algebraic statements that related those properties, and defined curves using symbolic relations. Like the equations of Galileo, coordinate geometry tied physical phenomena to quantitative relations, and, when taken altogether, the works of Galileo, Descartes, and Fermat redefined both the purpose and content of natural philosophy, by grounding it in mathematics. This was a new science imbued with a new type of certainty, based on the authority of God through the certainty of his mathematics.
Adopting both the foundations and practices of the new science, Isaac Newton (1642 - 1727 CE) also maintained that God was the foundation of the universe, and therefore mathematics. In contrast to Galileo and Descartes however, Newton's religion was primary, and was a personal motivation for his mathematical work.
Like Galileo and Descartes, Newton regarded his mathematical intuitions and discoveries as confirmation of his religious ideals, and like Galileo, Newton's emphasis was practical. Building on coordinate geometry, Galileo's studies of motion, and Descartes' conception of variable magnitude, Newton developed the calculus, which approached a curve as a flowing quantity that moved across time, thus defining a close relationship between time and motion. The calculus was a sort of procedural algebra that could be used to manage and understand relations between changing variables, per real world examples such as planetary orbits. For Newton, the harmony of his algebraic mechanics with real world mechanics demonstrated that the universe proceeded along its course mathematically, and the calculus was a testament to its supernatural designer.
Motivated by religion and drawing religious conclusions from his science, Newton's mentality was reminiscent of the Pythagoreans, and his esoteric declarations and studies mark him as somewhat of a mathematical mystic. This fact is easily understandable, in reference to the historical milieu he lived in, but salient metamathematically, because for Newton, Galileo, Descartes, Fermat, and a preponderance of their contemporaries, there was an essential accord between the qualities of God and the quantitative relations of mathematics.
Considering the transformation of natural philosophy from the period beginning immediately before Galileo, and ending with Newton, we observe that science underwent a mathematical reformulation. Before Galileo, natural philosophers concerned themselves with testing ideas against other ideas. By the time of Newton, scientific investigations were concerned with scrutinizing experience, and collating results mathematically. This was crucial in the history of metamathematics, because with the advent of Galileo's equations of motion, Descartes' and Fermat's coordinate geometry, the calculus, and Newtonian mechanics, the goal of science became aligned with the early mathematical goal of defining axioms that were self-evident. Much like Euclid's Elements, if one accepted the physical axioms and postulates of science as well as the rules and equations that related them -- as they apparently had to -- they were also forced to accept the conclusions of science. Unlike the controversies permitted by natural philosophy before Galileo, the experiments and conclusions of science were now repeatable and testable, and there was an air of inevitability and certainty about the new science, because it presented a universally applicable physics based on a universally applicable mathematics. With respect to its algebraic and geometric foundations, there appeared to be no room for disagreement, whether mathematical or metamathematical, because through science mathematics clearly represented nature.
The new science (specifically the calculus), was in fact attacked, on religious grounds, by the influential philosopher George Berkeley (1685 - 1753 CE), the Bishop of Cloyne, in Ireland. However, Berkeley's attack yielded no immediate metamathematical consequences, and this is relevant because the incredible practical utility of algebra and geometry in science continued to be interpreted as proof positive of the correctness of mathematics, and its foundation, God.
The next major development that concerned the relationship between geometry and the foundations of mathematics was the philosophy of Immanuel Kant (1724 - 1804 CE), whose epistemology maintained the content of mathematics, but radically altered its foundations. For Kant, the essence of mathematics was not simply nature as it is, because nature as it is, is unknowable for humans. Human minds possess an architecture that systematizes observations and perceptions by its own internal rules, rather than apprehending the foundations of the universe, and we can never know a thing in itself, independent of our mental architecture. That architecture is natural, but it is does not capture nature, and the well-ordered certainty of math and mathematical science arises from the prescripts of the mind, which include a non-empirical form of knowledge about temporality and spatiality, which we express in the form of our self-evident axioms of mathematics. Geometry and therefore mathematical science were not valid because they were built on proper observation and reflection, but because they rested atop valid spatio-temporal intuitions.
Here, Kant vouchsafed the soundness of Euclidean geometry in a new way, and united his philosophy of mind with Euclid's axioms, postulates, and theorems. Not long after Kant passed away however, this aspect of Kantian philosophy and the long-standing certainty of Euclidean geometry were invalidated by the discovery of non-Euclidean geometries, when it was realized the Euclidean system was not the one system, but only one system among many.
In the first half of the nineteenth-century, János Bolyai (1802 - 1860 CE) and Nikolay Lobachevsky (1792 - 1856 CE) independently demonstrated geometries that were consistent, and did not respect Euclid's fifth postulate, that;
"If a straight line incident to two straight lines has interior angles on the same side of less than two right angles, then the extension of these two lines meets on that side where the angles are less than two right angles."
Contary to the fifth postulate, Bolyai's and Lobachevsky's geometries permitted the construction of multiple "parallel" lines for any given line through a given point. This can be seen, for example, by considering a plane in the shape of a circle, thus enabling one to draw an arc line across the diameter of the circle, and then selecting a point inside the circle that is not on the diameter line, such that numerous lines pass through that point, on angles such that these lines never meet the diameter, because all lines are terminated by the boundary of the circle.
The existence and features of non-Euclidean geometries completely undermined metamathematical certainty, and foisted uncertainty on all scientific and metaphysical suppositions that rested on mathematics. This sparked vigorous attempts to retrieve certainty, including many non-geometric programs such as logicism and formalism, all aimed at rigorously explicating and certifying the foundations of mathematics. Ultimately however, the long-term result of these efforts was only to further separate mathematics from certainty in unexpected ways, and this gave rise to the post-modern perception of mathematics as rooted in reality and internally cohesive, but not certain in any absolute physical or metaphysical sense.
Reflecting on the rise and fall of certainty in geometry and metamathematics from Thales to Lobachevsky, we see that when mathematics first arose it was taken straightforwardly, as a practical device that solved problems in the real world. In prehistory and Classical history, mathematics was approached as a device that simply was and simply worked, much like a door or field plough. When Thales took up mathematics however, he latched on the fact that mathematics was not quite like other devices, and he observed its physical manifestations, and speculated on it supra-physically. This mode of speculation was instrumental in generating Classical Greek metaphysics, and culminated in the logico-deductive method, and the incredibly powerful Euclidean system.
The Euclidean system reigned with certainty for millennia, and though mathematics continued to evolve, and explanations for its certainty changed, the fact of certainty remained. Attempts to explain the basis and correctness of mathematics ranged from Forms and God, to nature and mental architectonics, but even though metamathematical claims varied, mathematical claims did not. Whatever its metamathematics, mathematics itself was absolutely accurate.
The discovery of non-Euclidean geometries instantly destroyed the possibility of absolute mathematical certainty, and this is an extraordinary fact, because for millennia brilliant mathematicians were exactly wrong in their metamathematical certitude. Looking back to the end of certainty, it appears certainty was as much a goal as a hypothesized feature of mathematics; that mathematicians undertook mathematics because they wanted to work with something that was guaranteed.
At a fundamental level, the rise and subsequent fall of mathematical certainty was central to the philosophical and scientific recognition of human fallibility. Today it is believed that nature exists, but because of the peculiarities of our experience of it, there always remains the possibility that our metamathematical and metaphysical claims are inaccurate and perhaps entirely false. Thus, the end of mathematical certainty has given rise to a new kind of certainty, that regardless of its foundations, mathematics remains the most powerful tool humans possess for mediating between themselves and nature, and that the development of mathematics enables us to expose falsities -- such as the absolute certainty of mathematics -- and thus allows us to work towards the refinement and extension of better justified, if not certain beliefs.
What is Facebook, and what are its implications for the authenticity of Dasein? Here, Facebook itself replies, declaring; "Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life," in pursuit of its "mission ... to give people the power to ... make the world more open and connected." (Hereafter, Facebook is referenced as FB.) Thus FB describes its relation to Dasein using the characteristics: "helps"; "connect"; "share"; "open"; and "power." Structurally speaking therefore, FB believes it "helps" facilitate "open" relationships between people, and positions itself as "the power" that "helps" "connect" "life" on "the world."
With respect to physical extent, FB's claims are accurate, as its digital community involves over 800 million users, and those users span the entire planet. However, these details are not ontologically illuminating, and we observe that FB's response to our question is decidedly ontical, and offers little more than a categorical enumeration. Furthermore, additional investigation of the FB web site reveals no deeper answer, but yields only an expanded feature list. Therefore, the self-descriptions of FB do not open a path towards the answer we seek.
Hence, we reformulate: ontologically speaking, what is the nature of the relation between FB and Dasein? Formulated thus, we see that to uncover the relationship of FB to Dasein, we must investigate existentially; and, comporting ourselves towards investigation in the mode of phenomenological inquiry, we will here apply the concepts and approaches of Martin Heidegger's existential analytic, as outlined in his philosophical opus Being and Time. Using Heidegger's existential analytic, we shall develop a phenomenological perspective on FB, and apply this towards acquiring an appreciation for the potential implications of FB with regards to the authenticity of its users.
In existential terms, FB is computer software, and is therefore equipment. As equipment, FB has equipmental Being, and is ready-to-hand in its everydayness, as something in-order-to, be it something-in-order-to process images, or something-in-order-to communicate with friends. These examples of FB's in-order-to are specific, and here the question arises: what is FB's everyday in-order-to in its generality?
FB has been designed to represent people, social structures, and social interactions, digitally. Within the equipment that is FB, people and interactions are based on user profiles and their relationships. Because FB has equipmental Being, an individual FB user profile ontically determines that user's FB-based equipmental Being, and permits that user to participate in FB activities, including: posting personal data, such as age and address; joining FB groups; posting FB pictures; and, sending FB messages. In this way, the particular equipment whose being is FB takes the notion of an individual Dasein, then expands on that notion to include the concept of inter-Dasein relations, and builds up a digital system of inter-Dasein structures, intended to mirror the social structures that attend Dasein's Being-in-the-world.
In its attempt to mirror the social structures attending Being-in-the-world, it is inarguable that FB has succeeded remarkably in presenting users with a comprehensive digital representation of Being and their own being, and offers remarkably diverse digital forms of social connections, by recreating a world-like experience of the "they," and FB thus has its being as an impressive imitation of social relations in-the-world. However, though FB presents a convincing technological approximation of those aspects it reproduces, what are the limits of this approximation?
What defines FB is its existence: its being is existentiell. Existentially, Dasein has its Being as Being-in-the-world, while FB has its Being as equipment in-the-world. Thus, we immediately perceive that FB can never recreate Being-in-the-world, because the Being of FB is grounded within and limited by its existentiell facticity. FB enables the individual Dasein to study its characteristics ontically and identify the apparently discrete elements of its Being, and then prioritize those elements in-order-to recombine them categorically in the form of an FB profile. But it can never be the case that an FB profile corresponds fully to Dasein's Being-in-the-world. This is because ontology is always prior to the ontical, and "Subjecting the manifold to tabulation does not ensure any actual understanding of what lies there before us as thus set in order." Irrespective of the depth and scope of factical features given digital expression on FB; "We shall not get a genuine knowledge of essences simply by the syncretic activity of universal comparison and classification." This is because Dasein exists outside of and beyond FB, and it is precisely Dasein's existence and the totality of existential Being-in-the-world that FB cuts out, and that FB can never capture because it is digital and equipmental. Quite simply, FB aspires to worldhood but is ontical, and the worldhood-of-the-world is realized only ontologically. Existentially then, we appreciate that when FB "helps you connect and share with the people in your life," the connections it offers are restricted by its Being, which is existentiell.
Thus, we exhibit FB in its generality, and answer the first half of our opening question: phenomenologically, what is Facebook? FB is equipment taken up for-the-sake-of socializing, and its users are involved with the "they" not in the Being of existence, but via the Being of equipment. Through its software, FB permits Dasein to interact only with the digital "they" existentielly, and never existentially.
Appreciating the existentiell nature of FB and FB profiles, we may now address the remainder of our opening question: what are FB's implications for the authenticity of Dasein?
To answer this, we begin with Dasein. Per Heidegger; "The 'essence' of Dasein lies in its existence" -- which is existential. Further to this, we know the 'essence' of FB lies in its existence, which is existentiell and never existential. Accordingly, the existence of FB's characteristics is existentiell, and all of its software features have equipmental Being, and never existential Being. Therefore, an FB user's profile and its FB-relationships with the-FB-"they" have equipmental Being. However, the equipmental Being of FB and FB user profiles is markedly different from the equipmental Being of, for example, a hammer, and this must be addressed.
In existentiell terms, a direct comparison makes the point: a hammer is taken up for-the-sake-of something that precedes our picking it up, for example hammering a nail in-the-world. In contrast, FB is taken up in-the-world for-the-sake-of taking up social interactions within FB's digital FB-world (which presents its own engaging digital representation of people, social structures, and social interactions). In phenomenological terms, the study of a hammer brings out its relationship to Dasein with regards to existential and existentiell structures and elements in-the-world, while the study of FB brings out its relationship to Dasein with regards to existential and existentiell structures and elements in-the-world, as well as existentiell structures and elements in the digital FB-world. So while Dasein comports itself towards a hammer in terms of Dasein's Being and the hammer's equipmental Being, what we must ask is: does Dasein comport itself towards FB in the same way as Dasein comports itself towards a hammer? Does Dasein comport itself to FB primarily in terms of Dasein's Being and FB's equipmental Being?
Here we must examine Dasein's interactions with FB. An individual Dasein takes up FB in its ready-to-handness, creates an FB profile using some subset of their personal characteristics as perceived and prioritized by that Dasein in-the-world, and creates for itself an FB-Dasein in an FB-world. As noted, the FB-world is a software reconstruction of aspects of the worldhood-of-the-world, taken up by hundreds of millions of users around the-world, and these hundreds of millions of users each generate an FB-Dasein to interact with other FB-Dasein via the relations and elements of the FB-world, where that FB-world possesses an ever-increasing number of FB-Dasein and FB-based relations (friends, pictures, notes, conversations, forum messages, et al), and this results in the perpetual occurrence of FB-social-events, amidst the-FB-"they", and propels the evolution of the FB-society. Thusly, the being of FB is endowed with an absorbing FB-social totality; for, even though FB is digital and therefore finite, its finite characteristics appear infinite from the perspective of the individual user, because no single user could ever explore or exhaust all available FB-relations, regardless of the time available. In this way, the-FB-world is an interminable system for the individual Dasein, a fact that obtains regardless of the manner in which FB's factical features are reduced (whether in terms of statistics, or any other ontical quantification). Just as the full totality of experiences and ideation of Being-in-the-world are inaccessible to Dasein, the full FB-totality of FB-experiences and FB-elements are inaccessible to FB-Dasein in-the-FB-world, and Dasein in-the-world.
Therefore, the general nature of Dasein's interaction with FB is such that Dasein takes up FB as the "they" does, immerses itself concernfully inside the seemingly infinite FB-totality, and occupies its FB-Dasein as the-FB-"they" does, in-order-to upload the pictures Dasein feels it is important to upload, post comments and join groups important to Dasein's FB-"they"-self, and judge FB-society as the-FB-"they" does. By such activities, the-FB-"they"-self as the-FB-"they" sustains "itself factically in the averageness of that which belongs to it, of that which it regards as valid and that which it does not, and of that to which it grants success and that to which it denies it," and success has been granted to FB by the "they" and FB-"they", for FB involves over 800 million users, who collectively "spend more than 700 billion minutes per month" in-the-FB-world.
The relevance of this to Dasein proceeds as follows: (i) in its everydayness, Dasein is falling among the "they"; (ii) fallen in the publicness of the "they", the "they"-self of Dasein is consumed by the shared equipment of a common, public world; (iii) today, FB is among the most widely shared public equipment; (iv) hundreds of millions of Dasein spend billions of minutes per month sustaining FB-life and FB-society, and have augmented social-life-in-the-world with social-life-in-the-FB-world; and therefore, (v) the "they" clearly (pre)supposes FB-life is part of "leading and sustaining a full and genuine 'life'," and this brings Dasein's falling "they"-self to unreflectively suppose FB-life is indispensable in its own 'life.'
With this we observe how the being of FB differs from the being of a hammer: in phenomenological terms, Dasein does not comport itself to FB simply in terms of Dasein's Being and FB's equipmental Being. Rather, because "everyday Dasein draws its pre-ontological way of interpreting its Being" from "the kind of Being which belongs to the 'they'," and because FB users possess an FB-Dasein with FB-social-relations amongst the-FB-"they" in a highly developed FB-life that millions of Dasein attend to and aggrandize on a daily and even hourly basis, Dasein may easily -- and, this is the point: often does -- become involved with FB not in a mode of awareness that discerns its equipmental Being, but in terms it has confused with the structures and experiences of Being-in-the-world. Even though FB-Dasein and FB-life have existentiell Being(-in-the-world) and never existential Being(-in-the-world), Dasein today comports itself towards FB as an actual replacement for at least some aspects of social interaction in-the-world, by considering FB an indispensable feature of 'life' -- a conclusion further supported by the fact that the "they" and Dasein's "they"-self currently suppose FB-life is a component of a "full and genuine 'life'," even though prior to 2004 a "full and genuine 'life' " was to be had without FB, because FB did not exist. What are the implications of this for authenticity?
As outlined earlier, Dasein exists outside of and beyond FB, and it is existence that FB cuts out, and that FB can never capture because it is digital and equipmental. However, regardless of the fact that FB can never replace social interaction in-the-world (and can therefore never be a necessary part of 'life'), Dasein today acts as though it can, and is. Accordingly, the impact of FB on Dasein's authenticity is explicated by questioning the most basic FB activity: what happens when Dasein creates and maintains an FB user profile?
In filling out its FB profile, Dasein undertakes a semi-reflective process of concernful selection, and the direction this selection takes is guided by the details FB permits the user to enter, and by the standards of the "they"-self and the-FB-"they"-self in fallenness. This selection adheres to the manner in which the "they" selects, and in this "the real dictatorship of the 'they' is unfolded," for on every FB page and in the representation and presentation of every FB element, the selections of the-FB-"they" intrude visually and structurally. The "they" qua the-FB-"they" select those factical realities that present "them" and FB-"them" in the best possible light. "Everyone is the other, and no one is himself"; and the-FB-"they" uploads pictures in which they and their privileged companions are at their most appealing, and others are not; the-FB-"they" join groups that are exclusive, and embellish what is fashionable; and the-FB-"they" works to post more popular and not more meaningful content than others. Here, all FB-Dasein are involved, and reflect each other, and thus the concernful selection of FB-Dasein amounts to an eternal struggle to "one up" the-FB-other -- an impossibility, because every FB-Dasein is the-FB-other.
Falsity arises as Dasein works to present FB-Dasein in the best of all possible ways, for it selectively and willfully excludes all factical realities that do not contribute to FB-Dasein's superiority in-the-FB-world. This results in an inaccurate and fanciful (digital) representation of Dasein's Being-in-the-world, based on the delusive toiling of Dasein in-the-world, as it works to shore up its own falsity. This falsity inflicts the preclusion of authentic being, because "the being of Dasein is care," where care is a unity of falling, facticity, and existence -- hence the falsity of FB-Dasein negates Dasein's facticity, while at the same time the equipmental Being of FB cuts out existence, and only falling remains. Having concernfully selected only those facts of existence that bring Dasein a malicious and unsustainable contentment, Dasein is delivered unto "a tranquility, for which everything is 'in the best of order' and all doors are open"; and this "Falling ... which tempts itself, is at the same time tranquillizing." By this tranquillizing all moods that diminish contentment are suppressed, and because "Understanding always has its mood," the tranquillizing contentment that arises from selectively constructing an FB-Dasein radically reduces the range of possible understanding to the range of what is understood in contentment. Anxiety, guilt, and conscience are buried and become unrecognizable, and the entire project of Being-in-the-world is obstructed by the comfortable FB-relationships of a comfortable FB-Dasein, whose Dasein in-the-world is narrowed in to comfortable thoughts.
Ultimately, FB is therefore manifest as a technological system that offers a simulacra of worldness in its being, and by this simulacra Dasein's ownmost being is selectively differentiated in to a digitalized FB-being, by way of a process that promotes inauthentic structures and datum, thus inducing users to accept inauthenticity as an axiomatic starting point for self-reflection, and resulting in the equipmentalization of Dasein, and the reduction of opportunities for authenticity to arise in-the-world.
However, though FB encourages inauthenticity and discourages probity, the situation is not irresolvable, for; "inauthenticity is based on the possibility of authenticity" -- and here we observe a route away from FB's tranquillizing fallenness. FB can never reproduce the worldness-of-the-world, and by taking it apart and seeing what it is not, Dasein can move from engaging FB as ready-to-hand to engaging it as present-at-hand, thus opening Dasein to "a clearing-away of concealments and obscurities, as a breaking up of the disguises with which Dasein bars its own way." In a word: untranquillized care remains possible, and there always remains the potential for an FB user to recomport themselves to FB in a manner that befits its equipmentality.