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Lyssa
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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Thu Dec 11, 2014 5:40 am

McEvilley's comparative reading of Plotinus, from 'Shape of Ancient Thought':


Quote :
"According to Bhaskara's successor, Yadava Prakasa, the relationship between the One and the Many is bhedabheda "difference/nondifference". The absolute by exercizing its own potential energy (sakti), transforms itself into the world, while yet remaining itself. Plotinus had it figured out similarly: By its dynamis - a term as close as Greek gets to sakti - the One spontaneously radiates the Many. Ramanuja, around 1100 A.D., synthesized the tradition: The power of the One proceeds from it without truly becoming separate from it, as moonbeams proceed from the moon, and constitutes the manifest universe, which is both different from the One and not different from it. Plotinus' own doctrine was more like those of Ramanuja or Bhaskara than like that of Sankara. "Nothing is separate", he said, "which originates from the One - but nothing is identical with it either." (Ennead, 6.3.12)"

Quote :
"Ramanuja, Madhva, and other Vedantins taught that the One transforms only a part of itself into the phenomenal world, another part remaining transcendent . Plotinus duplicates this structure of Vedantic thought, in the concept of the World Soul, which has a lower immanent aspect and a higher transcendent aspect.
In other passages both Plotinus and the Upanisadic-Vedantic authors shift from the imagery of pantheism to that of omnipresence. As the Svetasvatara Upanishad called brahman "the one embracer of everything" (4.14), so Plotinus says "everything is fully held by the divine" (Enn., 5.5.9)

"We cannot think of something of god here and something else there, nor of all god gathered at some one spot: there is an instantaneous presence everywhere. (Enn., 5.5.9)

"The divine nature is infinite. Therefore it is not limited. That means that it is never absent; it is present in all things... Conceive it as a power of an everfresh infinity, a principle unfailing, inexhaustible, at no point giving out, brimming over with its own vitality... You cannot pass onto where it is not yet; you will never halt at a dwindling point where it fails at last and can no longer give; you will always be able to move with it - better, to be in its entirety - and so seek no further. (ib., 6.6.12)"

The Upanisadic authors and Plotinus were both at pains to unite these two approaches to the One, and both did so by expressions of bipolar contradictions. "It is far and it is near; it is within all this and it is also outside all this:, says the Isa Upanishad (5). The Brahma Sutra declares "that the individual self is different... from Brahman but at the same time not different" (2.3.43), that the world of the Many is a part of brahman (2.3.43), yet the brahman has no parts (2.1.26). And Plotinus: "The One is all things and none of them" (Enn., 6.2.1). "It can be none of existing things - yet it is all" (6.7.32). "It is both present and absent" (5.5.9)."

Quote :
"The Katha Upanishad presents it as the absolute contradiction of all that is ordinarily regarded as knowledge. "When the five (sense) knowledges together with the mind cease (from their normal activities) and the intellect itself does not stir, that, they say, is the highest state (II.3.10)."
...Again, both agree that this condition cannot be willed to happen. "We must not run after it", says Plotinus, "but fit ourselves for the vision and then wait tranquilly for its appearance" (V.5.8 ). And the Katha Upanishad: "This self cannot be attained by instruction, nor by intellectual power, nor even through much hearing. He is to be attained only by the one whom the (self) chooses" (I.2.23). In a locution that shows how close are the Orphic and the Upanishadic discourses, Plotinus defines "acquiring identity with the Divine" as "awakening into myself" (IV.8.6)."

Quote :
"The type of knowledge in which subject and object are one is the "thought that thinks itself" that Aristotle attributed to the Prime Mover, and Plotinus calls such knowing "primal intellection". When the mind cognizes something external to it the act "cannot be the primally intellective since it does not possess the object as integrally its own or as itself - the condition of true intellection (VI.6.1)." He calls primal knowing "a unity in duality... being dual by the fact of intellection and single by the fact that its intellectual object is itself (VI.6.1.). This primal act of knowing, in other words, is simply an ultimate self-awareness.
...This nondual knowledge is so primal that every sentient being is regarded as already permeated with it at a level so basic and personal that one cannot even see it. "It does not have to come and so be present to you", says Plotinus, "it is you that have turned from it (VI.6.12). And Sankara: "It only removes the false notion, it does not create anything" (Commentary on the Brihad Up. I.4.10)."


Quote :
"In that you have entered into the All, no longer content with the part, you cease to think of yourself as under limit but, laying all such determination aside, you become an All. No doubt you were always that, but there has been an addition, and by the addition you are diminished; for the addition was not from the realm of Being - you can add nothing to Being - but from non-Being. It is not by some admixture of non-Being that one becomes an entire, but by putting non-Being away By the lessening of the alien in you, you increase. Cast it aside and there os the All within you; engaged in the alien, you will not find the All. Not that it has to come and so be present to you; it is you that have turned from it. And turn though you may, you have not severed yourself; it is there; you are not in some far region; still there before it, you have looked the other way." [Ennead, VI.6.12]


Quote :
"Plotinus does not call the subjective awareness of the One a noesis, or act of knowing with subject and object, but an epibole, literally a kind of hurling oneself upon the object, an immediate intuition without self-discrimination (V1.7.38-39). Sometimes he calls it a "pre-knowing" (pronoousa) (VI.3.10). He notes that he is speaking loosely when he says, "The One, as it were, made itself by an act of looking at itself. This act of looking at itself is, in effect, its being" (VI.8.16). A little later in the same passage he calls the One "a wakefulness and an eternal superknowledge. The universe is consciousness, or mental activity, at different levels of intensity, from the extremely vague and inert consciousness of stones and vegetables up to the highest contemplation, that of oneness with the One. Consciousness is being. The act of contemplation makes what it contemplates."


Quote :
"Plotinus repeatedly speaks in terms that suggest Indian and Tibetan meditation practices. The most striking passage is this:
'Let us, then, make a mental picture of our universe; each member shall remain wat is, distinctly apart; yet all is to form, as far as possible, a complete unity so that whatever comesinto view, say the outer orb of the heavens, shall bring immediately with it the vision, on the one plane, of the sun and of all the stars, with earth and sea and all living things as if exhibited upon a transparent globe.
Bring this vision actually before your sight, so that there shall be in your mind the gleaming representation of a sphere, a picture holding all the things of the universe moving or in repose or (as in reality) some at rest, some in motion. Keep this sphere before you, and from it imagine another, a sphere stripped of magnitude and of spatial differences; cast out your inborn sense of Matter, taking care not merely to attentuate it: call on God, maker of the sphere whose image you now hold, and pray Him to enter. And may He come bringing His own Universe with all the gods that dwell with in it - He who is the one God and all the gods, where each is all, blending into a unity, distinct in powers but all one god in virtue of that one divine power of many facets. (Enn. V.8.9)'
Plotinus's instruction to his students has almost exact parallels in tantric practices, where "the characteristic... method of meditation is visualization". The tantric aspirant is instructed to work on the detailed and clear visualization of a mandala, a "magic circle" which is "above all, a map of the cosmos". ...Despite the denials by some, there is evidence suggesting formal meditational practice in Plotinus's school, directed by Plotinus himself, perhaps as part of his instructions in theoria, literally "seeing"."

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

*Become clean, my friends.*
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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Thu Dec 11, 2014 5:47 am

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

*Become clean, my friends.*
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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Sun Jan 18, 2015 7:01 pm

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Sun Jan 18, 2015 7:05 pm

Drury wrote:
"In an age that is disenchanted with science and technology but is hungry for authority, we long for the towering moral authority of the Church. Without realizing it, we long for a romanticized version of the Middle Ages. We long for a world in which the Church represented a transcendent moral order to which the state was subject. We long for a day when the Church provided a moral compass that sets limits on the power and iniquity of the state. We long for a time when submitting to the authority of the Church was proof that the state is legitimate—that it is more than the incarnation of force and fraud. We dream of a Church that can curb the immorality of society. We imagine a Church that can play the role of an international umpire, upholding justice and settling disputes between secular powers.


The Christian conception of virtue as an inner disposition of soul cannot infiltrate politics without making the latter totalitarian in the literal sense of the word. Christianity is not satisfied with outward conformity; it demands heartfelt convictions; it is not limited to the public realm but pervades every aspect of life—worship, belief, educa- tion, entertainment, business, family, and intimate relations. But law and politics can only require outward conformity. They cannot demand particular sentiments. They cannot command the heart. And when they try to, they become monstrous. Unfortunately, the conception of virtue as an inner disposition of the heart is irresistible to society. Society is rarely satisfied with people who behave decently as upright and honor- able citizens. Society insists on changing attitudes—it insists on partic- ular beliefs, sentiments, and dispositions. In that sense, society is by nature totalitarian.

The Christian idea that you must believe in order to be saved is one of the problems: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36).
This conflict between human nature and morality is at the root of the Western assumption that terror––spiritual, political, and psychological––is at the heart of the civilizing process. The assumption is that to be civilized, man must be spiritually terrified, politically oppressed, or psychologically brutalized.

Wittingly or unwittingly, the ethic of love has contributed to the development of an inner state of siege—a psychology of terror—that accounts for the psychic neurosis of the West.

Christianity has bequeathed to Western civilization a conception of morality as a repressive internal policeman. Not only is this policeman concerned with monitoring our actions, but also our thoughts. The result is a pathological augmentation of guilt that Freud associates with neurosis. In other words, the Christian sensibility has created a psychic state of siege that is best described as the neurosis of the West. Far from undermining Christian morality with his signature brand of rational secularism, Freud lends it scientific authority and makes it as influential in the modern secular world as it was in the Dark Ages. Nor does he deny his intellectual debt to Christianity. On the contrary, he declares Christianity to be true—historically and psychologically speaking. Far from rejecting original sin as preposterous, chimerical, and unfounded, Freud provides it with a historical and psychological justification. Freud replaces the war between the flesh and the Spirit with the struggle between the id and the superego. Just as the Spirit is the alien voice of God, the superego is the alien voice of society. But the assumption is still the same—namely, that there is a conflict between human nature on one hand and the moral law on the other. No one articulated this thesis more clearly or more systematically than Freud.

What passes for late modernity or postmodernity is not so much a departure from fundamental Christian assumptions, but their continuation in a new guise." [Terror and Civilization]
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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Sun Jan 18, 2015 7:14 pm

Drury wrote:
"At the heart of the matter is the assumption that there is a conflict between human instincts and morality—human nature and civilization. By nature man is a wild and dangerous animal. Terror and brutality are necessary to civilize him and make him fit for society. The assumption is that the civilizing process is a process by which man is tamed, despoiled, and domesticated. In other words, terror and civilization are intimately linked because terror is the key to the civilizing process. This is the view that I intend to challenge.

The view that I am challenging is the view that conscience is an alien, hostile, and repressive force—the internalization of terror—the terror of civilization. I believe that this thesis leads to erroneous (but enduring) assumptions about the relation between human nature and civilization. Moreover, it seriously misconstrues the connection between terror and civilization.

Freud explains that the task of civilization is to render the aggressive instincts of the individual innocuous; otherwise, social life and the life of the individual are threatened. The strategy is as follows:

His aggressiveness is interjected, internalized; it is, in point of fact, sent back to where it came from—that is, it is directed towards his own ego. There it is taken over by a portion of the ego, which sets itself over against the rest of the ego as the super-ego, and which now, in the form of “conscience,” is ready to put into action against the ego the same harsh aggressiveness that the ego would have liked to satisfy upon other, extra- neous individuals. The tension between the harsh super-ego and the ego that is subjected to it is called by us the sense of guilt; it expresses itself as a need for punishment. Civilization, therefore, obtains mastery over the individual’s dangerous desire for aggression by weakening and disarming it and by setting an agency within him to watch over it, like a garrison in a conquered city.

Conscience is a garrison within—the military metaphor underscores the violence involved. For Freud, civilization is an all-out war against the instincts. This psychological form of terror is far greater and considerably more effective than any threat of physical torment. Indeed, it is so successful that it punishes the individual not only for her misdeeds but also for her thoughts and wishes:

"the distinction, . . . between doing something bad and wishing to do it disappears entirely, since nothing can be hidden from the super-ego, not even thoughts."

Conscience succeeds where punishment fails. However, the success of civilization is purchased at a price—a staggering price for the human psyche and its instincts. For conscience is not satisfied merely with the renunciation of the illicit desires, it demands that they no longer be desired. The forbidden thoughts, feelings, and desires must be banished. Con- science demands thought-control and censorship. Freud’s conception of conscience has for its model the morality of Jesus. Like Jesus, Freud does not confine sin to actions. Conscience finds us culpable not only for our wrongdoing, but also for our thoughts, impulses, dreams, and fantasies.

From Christianity to Freud, this view of civilization invites the same questions. What evidence is there that human nature and the moral law are antithetical? What evidence is there that civilization and the instincts are indeed deadly enemies?

It is my contention that the war of civilization against the instincts is the invention of Freud. But he did not invent it single-handedly; he inherited it from the Christian civilization that shaped him. In what follows, I will make arguments against the view that civilization is built on the backs of the instincts, that human nature and civilization are profoundly antithetical, and that only spiritual, political, or psychological terror can civilize humanity.

Why not abandon the negative view of civilization altogether? Why not see civilization as presenting us with something appealing that we love, and are willing to serve with devotion and even self-sacrifice. Why not affirm a genuine positivity or a true good? Conscience may not be a garrison within; it may be a self-imposed restraint that admonishes and even torments, because men and women cannot stand to live haplessly without purpose, without ideals, and without discipline. Civilization offers us a way of life that is as arduous as it is enchanting.

Far from subverting human inclinations, civilization succeeds so well because it goes with the grain—not against the grain. And that is why there is no reason to marvel at its astounding success. Civilization cannot succeed against all odds. It succeeds because it answers a deep need for discipline, a need to give life structure and meaning, a need to be admired, and to admire oneself. Civilization succeeds not because it is contrary to nature, but precisely because it appeals to certain funda- mental aspects of our nature. In particular, it allows us to indulge our penchant for grand ideals, and to pursue these ideals without mercy and without restraint. Civilization provides us with the opportunity to live large; it provides us with grand visions or grand narratives that give significance to our lives.

Civilization makes it possible to conquer and colonize in the name of our ideals. But in so doing, it makes human beings more dangerous animals than need be. When we find a grand ideal to give significance to our lives, we are eager to share it with the world; and if the world is unwilling to receive it, we are ready to impose it on a recalcitrant and ignorant multitude. And if threatened by a competing ideal, we are ready to defend our ideals to the death.

I have no intention of substituting the belief in the depravity of human nature with faith in its inherent goodness. I have no intention of denying that terror and civilization are intimately linked. My claim is that the connection between them has been seriously misconstrued. In my view, human beings are not attracted to evil; they aspire to be part of something resplendent; they need to order their lives according to some grand ideals, some difficult principles, or some arduous rules; and this is why civilization must be understood as a search for ideals. It is not for love of evil or even love of self that human beings do wrong. The worst atrocities have their source in the zealous pursuit of a sublime ideal that is believed to be so majestic, so magnificent, and so grand, that it is worthy of every sacrifice, every hardship, and every abomination.

Civilization makes it possible to do things collectively; it makes it possible to act together in concert and with conviction. Such collective action may contribute to our well-being and our development but it also allows us to indulge in abominations that transcend the abilities or incli- nations of primitive man. In particular, civilization provides the tools to fight, not just for survival, but also for the triumph of our ideals. In short, what makes us civilized is also what makes us terrible.

The problem is that Freud has misunderstood the nature of the danger involved. It is not a question of the revolt of the instincts; it is not the animal that we should fear; it is not the beast within that poses the danger; it is the civilized man. Civilization co-opts us into its schemes by allowing us to indulge our penchant for grand ideals. It allows us to colonize and conquer in the name of these ideals. Civilization arms us with weapons and with a clear conscience. Only civilized men have the technological as well as the psychological equipment to launch deadly and destructive wars of unimaginable cruelty and terror. Only the conviction that we are conquering in the name of something sublime and splendid allows us to ignore the barbarous ferocity of our conduct.

Freud naïvely allies civilization with pacifism and the savage instincts with war. In his exchange with Einstein on war, Freud interprets war as the revolt of the instincts against the repressions of civilization. But this dualism between civilization and the savage instincts is fallacious. There is nothing pacifistic about civilization.

In conclusion, the assumption that human nature and civilization are at odds, and that human beings must therefore be terrorized spiritually, politically, or psychologically in order to be civilized, has very dire consequences. It leads to a fallacious understanding of the relation of terror and civilization. It assumes that terror and civilization are opposites. It assumes that civilization represents the right, the just, and the good. It assumes that the function of civilization is to subdue nature in general and the diabolical nature of man in particular. By exaggerating the evil of human nature, it justifies the endless terrors of civilization. But worst of all, it has the effect of mistaking all self-restraint and self-government for repression. This attitude incites a Promethean revolt—not only against God but also against morality itself.

The assumption is that transgression liberates whatever it is that has been mercilessly repressed by the prohibitions of civilization.

In conclusion, biblical morality unwittingly leads to a Promethean revolt and its attendant valorization of evil. When the moral life is reduced to submissive, blind, uncomprehending obedience, evil becomes a heroic defiance. And for all its talk about liberating humanity from the yoke of the Mosaic Law, Christianity has imposed an even harsher law that is not satisfied with restraining the hand, but insists on commanding the mind. The result is that the moral life came to be understood as an inner state of siege, the war of the Spirit against the flesh, the aggressive instincts turned inward, and a garrison in a conquered city. This understanding of morality invites a Promethean revolt against God, morality, and conscience—a revolt against the forces of oppression. This triumph over conscience is naturally understood as a heroic revolt in the name of the natural, wild, original self, which has been domesticated and despoiled by civilization. This is not a romanticization of nature; this is not a rejection of the assumption that human nature is depraved. On the contrary, it is a valorization of nature in all its depravity. Human nature is not as depraved as Christianity would have it, and civilization is not as oppressive as Freud and his cohorts believe. Far from thwarting our nature, civilization offers us just what we long for—but that is precisely the trouble." [Terror and Civilization]
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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Wed May 20, 2015 6:42 pm

A very "interesting" blog:

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Wed May 20, 2015 6:53 pm

perpetualburn wrote:
A very "interesting" blog:

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If I recall accurately, he runs the Rudolf Steiner Archive:
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He's a bit chaotic and prattled, which is usually the decree among Anthroposophists.
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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Wed Oct 14, 2015 6:45 am

Grace in J.-Xt.

Quote :
"Christianity cannot sever its relationship to Judaism for the simple reason that Judaism is an integral element in the language games that comprise Christianity. If one understands that essences don’t stand beyond language, then to read Paul’s assertion that ‘Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ cruciWed, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God’ (1 Cor. 1: 20–4) is to realize that he is doing more than comparing and contrasting a distinct, monad-like essence with two others. On the contrary, through the use of contrast, he is literally creating the very essence of Christianity. As Jaroslav Pelikan put it, ‘The very boldness of Paul in attacking the authority of the Old Testament law was predicated on a continuity with the Old Testament and on the identity between the God of the law and the God preached in Christ’ (1971: 110).

Thus to examine the Hebrew roots of grace is not to ignore the novelty of the Christian concept or to denigrate its predecessor and companion in religion, but rather to give the Christian concept its full, which is to say its relational, signiWcance. For as Otto Pesch notes, ‘Even the New Testament, when it proclaims the grace of God in Jesus Christ, speaks of the grace of God to Israel’ (1983: 77).

The Hebraic roots of grace seem both straightforwardly concrete and personalist, not surprising when one remembers that Judaism begins as an indigenous religion and as such Wrst viewed the divine as that which bestows blessings in this life and not in some future, occult afterlife. In the earliest strata of the Hebrew scriptures, grace is primarily the Creator’s bestowal of life itself. It includes ‘length of days’ (Pss. 21 and 119) and ‘good days’ (Ps. 34: 13). A graced life is bound up with peace and joy, good fortune, health, descendants, the fruitfulness of the land, and especially the gift of the promised land (Auer and Ratzinger 1970: 162).

‘One Hebrew word which will clearly inXuence the Christian Scriptures is hanan. The (hnn) of hanan means to be gracious, to have mercy on someone. This good will is embodied in action. Grace (hanan) is a kindness expressed in a gift.’ Of the sixty-eight times it is used in the Hebrew scriptures, it is combined forty-one times with the expression ‘to Wnd favor in the eyes of . . .’ (Pesch 1983: 77). (Cf. Gen. 6: 8; Exod. 33: 12, 16.)

Cornelius Ernst suggests that this good will is embodied in a certain commonality of feeling between God and the human person. ‘We may take as an example here the wonderful passage, Ex. 33: 12–23, with its association of the themes of favor and mercy, God’s sovereign elective purpose, the mutual knowledge by personal name of God and his people, God’s face and presence and the hidden transcendence of his glory’ (1974: 16). The pericope so viviWes the Hebrew conception of grace that it bears quoting in its entirety;

Moses said to the Lord, ‘See, you have said to me, ‘‘Bring up this people;’’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, ‘‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.’’ Now if I have found favor in your sight, show me your ways, so that I may know you and Wnd favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.’ He said, ‘My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’ And he said to him, ‘If your presence will not go, do not carry us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people, unless you go with us? In this way, we shall be distinct, I and your people, from every people on the face of the earth.’ The Lord said to Moses, ‘I will do the very thing that you have asked; for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.’ Moses said, ‘Show me your glory, I pray.’ And he said, ‘I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you the name, ‘‘The Lord’’; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But,’ he said, ‘you cannot see my face; for no one shall see me and live.’ And the Lord continued, ‘See, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock; and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by; then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back; but my face shall not be seen.’

Note the lack of divine antinomy. ‘There is for the Hebrew no dualism between an interior disposition of benevolence and the outward gifts of grace’ (DuVy 1993: 18). We know who God is by what God does in history, within our world, which is why the evidence from the most primitive strata of Israel’s faith shows attention concentrated upon the blessings that Israel’s God oVered a nomadic people. Only much later, after sustained contact with other peoples, does Israel develop a proper theology of creation (Flick and Alszeghy 1982: 23) ‘Moreover, it is clear that creation is not the theme the Bible most frequently addresses. In the Old Testament the determinative religious experience is the cov- enant of God with his people, his special relationship with Israel’ (Ladaria 1983: 1).

Note also that grace, seen from the viewpoint of the person bestowing, is not so much an object as an act. What God gives is more than any singular object; God gives the self in the form of personal benevolence, which is itself revealed in the giving. The same is conversely true for the receiver: grace is not an entity received but rather an act of perception, the comprehension that God is present and acting benevolently.

The second Hebrew word closely associated with hanan is hesed, which the Septuagint will translate as eleos, mercy. It occurs some 250 times. ‘The experts diVer about the origin of the root, some referring it to the ‘‘kindly’’ temper of those of the same kin, and some to the Semitic root meaning ‘‘desire’’ ’ (Smith 1956: 10). Its Hebrew origins suggest ‘a love transcending duty, a love unmerited and overXowing in abundance’ (DuVy 1993: 23). When used of God, hesed typically, though not exclusively, is linked to the concept of covenant.

In his treatment of the Hebraic roots of grace, Johann Auer situates both hanan and hesed in the broader constellation of election. The Hebrew perceived God to be gracious, because God had manifested a predilection, Wrst in the call of Abraham and subsequently in the Mosaic Covenant (1970: 162). Hanan and hesed are thus intrinsically relational concepts. One only knows the self or, in this case, the people to be chosen for the graciousness and mercy of God when one juxtaposes this favor to what has not been extended beyond the object of election. Likewise, God also appears gracious when his Wdelity is juxtaposed to the sinfulness of his people (Pss. 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, 143).

Religions of revelation—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—view themselves as the result of a divine intrusion into human history. This means that the very concept of revelation is fundamentally linked to that of grace, of elective favor. It is a predilection or favoring on the part of God that distinguishes the recipients of revelation from those who have not received it. Granted that religions of revelation view them- selves as vehicles that ultimately serve the universal benevolence of God (and this is what gives impetus to the spread of the religions), they nonetheless begin with the claim, or the recognition, that God has acted preferentially in one place, and at one time, for a single, recipient group. ‘Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: ‘‘May they prosper who love you. Peace be within your walls, and security within your towers.’’ For the sake of my relatives and friends I will say, ‘‘Peace be within you.’’ For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your good’ (Ps. 122: 8–9). All revealed religions view their adherents as graced, or favored by God, even if the purpose of this favoring ultimately is a more universal election of humanity at large. ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples’ (Isa. 56: 7). (Cf. Gen. 12: 3; Isa. 42: 4, 43: 9–12, 45: 14 V., 51: 4 V., 55: 5, and 66: 18 V.)

For Judaism, the Exodus event manifests the concept of election and stands as its ultimate foundation: God has acted on behalf of the people. Indeed God’s gratuitous action literally forms them as a people. Within the Hebrew scriptures, predilection remains consti- tutive of its worldview. Moses, not Aaron, is chosen to lead his people from slavery; David, not his brothers and not Saul, is God’s choice for king. Esther alone can save her people.

In like manner, prophecy in ancient Israel Wnds its origins in an existentially experienced call, a manifestation of predilection. The election is a unique and unrepeatable experience for the individual prophet. Sometimes this is explicit in the message, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations’ (Jer. 1: 5). At all times, the prophet must acknowledge that he has been the recipient of a revelatory word, and hence a favoring, from God (Ezek. 1: 1; Isa. 1: 1).

Remember that in the Hebrew scriptures, as Gerhard von Rad insisted, the word of God, dabar, is never representational. ‘This noetic function of the word, the conception of it as bearing and conveying an intellectual idea, is . . . far from covering the meaning which language had for ancient peoples’ (1965: 80). It stands for nothing beyond itself, because it is always active, accomplishing whatever it expresses (1965: 80–98). ‘By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all their host by the breath of his mouth. He gathered the waters of the sea as in a bottle; he put the deeps in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood Wrm’ (Ps. 33: 6–9). Thus simply to have received the word of God is to be recipient of God’s active favoring. The indigenous person ‘makes no distinction between spiritual and material—the two are intertwined in the closest possible way; and in consequence he is also unable properly to diVerentiate between the word and object, idea and actuality. Such thought is thus character- ized by an inherent absence of diVerentiation between the ideal and the real, or between word and object; these coalesce as if both stood on one plane of being’ (von Rad 1965: 80–1). To have received God’s word is not simply to be the bearer of a message. Far from it! Rather, one becomes a recipient of the very life and favor of God. ‘So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it’ (Isa. 55: 11).

Islam likewise understands itself as the recipient of Allah’s Wnal, and Wnally direct, revelation to the Prophet Muhammad. Granted that this revelation comes, because of the transcendence of God, through the mediation of the Angel Gabriel, by ‘direct’ I mean that, for the believer, the revelation that is the Qur’a ̄n is the immediate word of God and not a message that must be discerned through contemplation upon the events that produced the revelation, nor is it one that must be distilled from its human elements. ‘They say: Accept the Jewish or Christian faith and you shall be rightly guided . . . Reply: We believe in God and that which was revealed to us; in what was revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob and the tribes; to Moses and Jesus and the other prophets by their Lord. We make no distinc- tion among any of them and to God we have surrendered ourselves’ (Qur’a ̄n 2: 135). A Muslim is one who submits to God, whose will has been made manifest in the Qur’a ̄n.

The Western religions of revelation share another foundational concept that must not be overlooked in any consideration of grace: creation. In these religions, the world is not co-eternal with God. It is not a primeval chaos out of which God fashions a cosmos. On the contrary, the doctrine of the creation alters the prerevelatory understanding of the world’s relationship to God. The world of the revealed religions is a free act on the part of a gracious God.1 It cannot properly be called nature, which suggests an essentially static and ordered skein that requires no explanation beyond itself.

The created world of the revealed religions reveals itself as the Weld and foundation of what would come to be known as history, the place where the divine and the human would engage in the dramas of election, call, and response. David Burrell is helpful here in contrasting the revealed revelations’ desire to question the meaning of existence with worldviews that simply presume upon it: ‘To refer to existence as an act bespeaks its intelligibility. And only a Creator can assure that what presents itself to us as mere fact enjoys a meaning, an intelligible structure’ (1973: 201). Genesis thus acts as a heuristic agent in the question for existential intelligibility.

The drama of history reveals yet another foundational feature of Western, revelatory thought. At the very least, God and humanity share fellowship, one which will play out in the course of history, because, however diVerently and distinctly, both God and the human being are persons, and to be a person is to be fundamentally ordered toward fellowship (Smith 1956: 189). We employ the very word ‘person’ to indicate those elements within the world that can dia- logue with each other, can enter into fellowship.

In his classic Freedom, Grace, and Destiny Romano Guardini identiWed the fulcrum upon which the religions of revelation move the world itself from the realm of nature, an eternal, timeless, and static cosmos, to a Weld of historical decision, the theater of truly cosmic drama.

Revelation teaches that God created the world out of nothing by His sovereign will. This implies that the world did not have to exist. That is conWrmed by the sense of obligation which a man has—as one of his basic, existential experiences—of giving thanks for what he has and what happens to him, even for his existence and life or of protesting against what man is and even against his very existence. This gratitude and protest are not directed against this or the other happy or unhappy detail but against existence in itself. Such reactions could not arise if the world were necessary. No amount of lyrical or pseudo-religious talk can obscure this. We can never give thanks for what has to happen and we can just as little protest against it, quite apart from the fact that we would be equally bound by the necessity. The whole of a man’s perception and reaction would be part of the universal necessity: an attitude of gratitude or protest would be as unthinkable on his part as on that of an animal. (1961: 119)

The world itself as grace, as an act of grace and as a place of encounter with grace, remains a crucial consideration later in this essay, when the metaphysical implications of grace are considered. For now, allow it to stand as a foundational perspective of the revealed religions. The world for these religions need not exist. That it does, reveals a fundamental attitude toward us, namely the benevolence of a creator. As we saw in Wittgenstein’s Tractarian work, contingency itself is revelatory.

Christianity understands itself as both the proclamation and the prolongation of God’s radical entrance into history in the Incarnation of the Son of God. ‘With all wisdom and insight he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth’ (Eph. 1: 8–10). The Christian proclamation of the Kingdom of God’s outbreak begins in the consciousness of the historical Jesus himself, who viewed his own person and activity as God’s uniquely unrepeatable oVer of self.

Cornelius Ernst is surely correct in arguing that other New Testa- ment notions are integrally aligned with that of grace. ‘One very obvious candidate, it seems to me, is the notion of the ‘‘kingdom of God’’. Apart from a few not very signiWcant uses in Luke, the word charis does not occur in the Synoptic gospels; on the other hand, the ‘‘kingdom’’ or, better, ‘‘reign’’ (basileia) of God is central to the preaching of Jesus’ (1974: 27). Here the oft noted paradoxical char- acter of the kingdom in the preaching of the historical Jesus is surely signiWcant. The earliest strata of preaching the kingdom speak of it as already accomplished, but not yet realized. Why is it that Jesus himself seems to have deWed the Wrst law of logic, that of non- contradiction, in preaching a kingdom that is already/but-not-yet? Here let us simply raise a question that is of foundational importance for this essay: is it possible that insight changes the world itself? As Ernst trenchantly noted,

For our purposes here it will be suYcient to try to show that our experience of ourselves and the world is not in fact adequately analyzed in terms of a distinction between ‘objective’ and ‘subjective’ understanding; and conse- quently that our experience and understanding of Jesus Christ in faith is still less adequately analyzed in such terms. And if this is accepted, then grace too is not either ‘subjective’ or ‘objective’: grace is not either ‘subjective experi- ence’ or ‘objective fact’. (1950: 66–7)

On one point, however, the New Testament is unambiguous. Grace unperceived is not yet grace eVective (Smith 1956: 56; see also 157–86). Suggesting otherwise renders the very proclamation of the gospel superfluous. This simple datum of New Testament evidence will be crucial in the construction of a contemporary metaphysics of grace, one which recognizes the world to be more than the sum total of objects within it.

Note that the Kingdom of God derives its meaning only in contrast to that which is not of God. Like other religions of revelation, Christianity cannot coherently surrender its claim to be a unique recipient of God’s favor, and this means that the existential situation of those whom God has favored must be radically distinctive from those who have not received the same. This is why Christianity presents itself as a tightening of the torque between God’s action and that which stands outside of that action.

‘[W]hile the Old Testament simply divides men into good and bad, the New Testament makes a crucial change. Normally it speaks, not of good men, but of believers in Christ’ (Smith 1956: 56). One could say that the salient factor in the relationship of God and humans shifts from ethics to epistemology.5 The question is not primarily the human person’s ability to do the good so much as the human ability to recognize the good that God has done. Christ is the great event of grace, of God’s favor, and everything turns upon the ability to recognize this manifestation. Indeed, Christianity’s foundational apperception is that humans are called to election by God precisely because of their ability to perceive that Christ is himself the elected one of God. ‘Behold my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved in whom I delight’ (Matt. 12: 18).

Consider the use of the concept ‘world’ in the Johannine writings. In the pre-Christian worldview, because the graciousness of the divine is expected to manifest itself within the world, no Jew, or any member of an indigenous religion, would ever have set up the Johannine polarity between Jesus and the world. The world is supposed to be good. In Judaism, it comes forth from a benign creator. So why does John, who wants to proclaim the incarnation of God into the world, employ a negative concept of the word? The concept of the ‘world’ in John can only be understood when one reads the word as the converse of Jesus and his activity. It is that which resists the new initiative of God. With his pneuma/sarx (spirit/Xesh) dichotomy, Paul fashions a similar duality between that which acts under the impetus of the Christ event and that which oVers resist- ance. ‘[T]he resurrection has a cosmic, universal signiWcance. It is not simply one more event to be viewed in the march of history; on the contrary, it reveals the very meaning of it’ (Ladaria 1983: 25). (See Rom. 8: 29 and 1 Cor. 15: 20, 49.)

What would have once been a foundational blessing is now cursed because of its relationship to, here its failure to acknowledge and accept, the second great initiative of God. (Cf. John 1: 10, 12: 31, 14: 19, 14: 22, 16: 18 V., 17: 9; 1 John 2: 16, 5: 16, 19.) Indeed, as Luis Ladaria notes, sin for the Christian can henceforth never be reckoned merely as moral failure, as a potency in nature culpably negated. It is always a rejection of God’s initiative in Christ and is therefore intrinsically Christological. ‘One cannot speak...of sin as though the redemption of Christ did not exist, since this is determinative of the human person in all aspects of life’ (1983: 217). Thus to sin is to do more than negate nature; it is also to shut the ear to the summons of history that is the Christ.

Likewise, the devil, who in the Hebrew and Islamic scriptures acts as a subservient and somewhat impish functionary of God, takes on the character of the Satanic adversary in Christianity. The New Testament calls Jesus the way, the truth, and the life (John 14: 6); Satan in contrast becomes ‘the Father of lies’ (John 8: 44). Goethe perfectly captured the Christian understanding of Satan when his Mephistopheles is asked his identity and answers, ‘I am the spirit that always negates.’ He continues, ‘and rightly so, since everything that comes into existence is only Wt to go out of existence and it would be better if nothing ever got started. Accordingly, what you call sin, destruction, evil in short, is my proper element’ (1971: 780). Goethe’s Satan is the implacable denial of the grace that is creation. To understand the depth of Goethe’s deeply Christian insight into evil, one need only compare the evil one’s identity, ‘the one who says no’, to the last verse of the Wrst chapter of Genesis in which God evaluates this world. ‘God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.’ Satan becomes the necessary shadow surrounding the light, which is Jesus Christ within the world. In Christ, God aYrms the goodness of creation and his acceptance of it (cf. Mark 13: 19; Matt. 11: 25, 19: 4; Acts 4: 24, 7: 49 V., 17: 24–8; Rom. 4: 17; Eph. 1: 4, 3: 9; 1 Tim. 4: 4, 6: 13; Heb. 11: 3; 1 Pet. 3: 5; Rev. 4: 11). Whatever else Satan represents to Christianity, he embodies the existential denial of that singular divine aYrmation.

Christianity understands itself as eliciting an all-encompassing re- sponse from a humanity summoned to recognize what God has done in Jesus Christ. Freedom, around which grace pivots in the constella- tion of Christian anthropology, requires the possibility of the human rejection of God’s oVer of self. Hence the darkening of the shadows at the penumbra of the gospel. As Thomas J. J. Altizer insists,

nothing is more historically distinctive of the New Testament than its continual naming of demonic power, a power that is manifest and real only in the context of an apocalyptic ending and therefore only in the context of the actual advent of the Kingdom of God. Jesus was the Wrst prophet who is recorded as having seen the fall of Satan (cf. Luke 10: 18), a Wnal fall of Satan that is an apocalyptic epiphany—an apocalyptic epiphany that is a decisive sign of the Wnal advent of the Kingdom of God. (1998: 207)

After Wittgenstein, it is hardly denigrative to view Christianity as a matrix of language games, which are always built upon dichotomies that become fecund through juxtaposition. So, for example, ‘Chris- tianity maintains two pretensions, which are not always easily rec- onciled at Wrst glance: its universality and its exclusiveness’ (Ladaria 1983: 31). The Church sees herself as constituted by election. She is favored, and therefore is herself an act of grace. Members of the ek- klesia of God are those who have been ‘called out’. Note the obvious: a call, to be eVective, which is to say, to be a call, must be heard.

The ‘New’ Testament presents itself as an axial delineation, which to ignore would be to eviscerate. ‘To quote one text among many, the perspective of the New Testament appears in the great summary, ‘‘God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life’’ (John 3:16)’ (Smith 1956: 56). Indeed the New Testament ‘uses the same expressions to designate the call of the elect to salvation (Rom. 8: 30) and the call of the world into existence. The identity of terms demonstrates that St Paul doesn’t see a structural diVerence between the divine creative will and that which confers free gifts’ (Flick and Alszeghy 1982: 44–5). Creation itself is being reread in the light of the Christ event.

In the Septuagint, the Hebrew hen is translated as charis, a Greek word meaning favor. Charis is a derivative of chairein, ‘to rejoice’, and ‘it always expresses delight, whether in secular, Septuagintal, or Christian literature’ (Ernst 1974: 13; Smith: 1956: 57). Paul Wnds it an indispensable word. ‘It occurs one hundred times in the Pauline corpus of letters, twice as frequently as in all the rest of the Christian scriptures’ (DuVy 1993: 30). Remember that Paul’s letters pre-date the gospel portraits of Jesus. Like the early preachers of the primitive kerygma, he must Wnd a way to proclaim the revolutionary turn that history has made in Jesus Christ. For Paul, that turn is a radical graciousness, an unmerited kindness on the part of God.

The most systematic treatment of his proclamation is found in his reXective letter to the Romans. There grace often appears more as adverb than as substantive, which is to say, as the manner in which God acts rather than as something God bestows. For example in Romans 3: 24 Paul writes, ‘They are now justiWed by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus . . .’ ‘As a gift’ is a translation of an adverbial phrase, amplifying the gratuitousness of God.

In view of Christ, grace seems intrinsic to human nature itself, and therefore universally ordered, but Pauline thought also lays the foundation for the clearly Christian contention that grace accom- plishes the triptych of justiWcation, sanctiWcation, and salvation through acceptance. ‘A gift is not a gift until it has been accepted.’

Paul wants to insist that something both highly selective and ultimately universal has occurred in the Christ event. The stone rejected-but-becoming the cornerstone is thus the perfect image for the Pauline economy of grace. Charis and its cognates ‘are not set in contrast to nature or creation (as the natural and the supernatural would be contrasted in later theology) but to sin and helplessness (cf. Rom. and Gal.)’ (DuVy 1993: 38). In fact, Paul shows no interest in the notion of a human nature considered apart from Christ. One might say that, given what Paul considers to have occurred in the Christ event, such a consideration would seem superXuous at best. ‘New Testament anthropology, and Pauline in particular, always contemplates the being of the human person in the light of God; it is not interested in the concept of the human person ‘‘in se,’’ perhaps because of the silent persuasion that this human being doesn’t exist’ (Ladaria 1983: 97).

A fundamental tension between Christianity and its interlocutors is thus evident in the earliest Christian use of the word ‘grace’, a fruitful tension in the search for the meaning of the word. Henri de Lubac beautifully captures early Christianity’s self-comprehension of being graced, vis-a`-vis the pagan world, when he suggests that the latter lacked the theological virtue of hope because nothing radically new was to be expected from the divine (cf. Pelikan 1971: 281). The pagan cosmos was a realm of static, timeless order not a place of encounter, and, without the concept of history, hope has no mean- ing. One can have no hope of nature. Nature will always do what nature has always done.

That the latter lacked hope was primarily because the very idea of a sursum and a superabundance, the idea of an order incommensurate with nature, the idea of something radically new, something we might call an ‘invention in being,’ the idea of a gift coming gratuitously from above to raise up that needy nature, at once satisfying its longings and transforming it—such an idea remains wholly foreign to all whose minds have not been touched by the light of revelation. (de Lubac 1967: 130)

Ladaria aptly summarizes the foundational Christian understanding of grace in writing, ‘[I]t’s clear that for the New Testament grace is not primarily something that the human person possesses, but rather the benevolent activity of God, realized and manifested in Christ, who is the font of salvation for humanity’ (1983: 276). Another way of saying the same is to insist that the Wrst thing grace must create or accomplish is a world that is fundamentally one of history rather than nature. History suggests contingency, freedom, decision, and denouement. Nature implies order, stasis, and causal determination. Christianity cannot be preached to nature; it addresses history. If grace were an object, one would naturally want to locate it either within nature, or vis-a`-vis nature. But grace is an event, and history is its milieu. The fundamental metaphorical nexus is of time, not space.

Only if one correctly understands the novum of the Christian message, the perception that humanity has been made the recipient of the most fundamental favor that God could conceivably bestow, namely God’s self, can one accurately perceive the threat to Chris- tianity’s charis that the gnosis of Gnosticism posed through the variegated, occult religious movements that surrounded the early Christian Church. Just as the concept of grace would perfectly en- capsulate Christianity’s perception of divine favor, the usage of the word gnosis (knowledge) incarnates its fundamental antithesis. The concept of grace that emerges from the New Testament is the human apperception of God’s favor. The initiative is God’s. God acts; hu- manity reacts. Gnosis, on the other hand, presents the human subject as fundamentally in control of the noetic process: God becomes the object of the human person’s search. Direction of the noetic drive passes from the divine to the human, and God becomes reduced to a pursued object of human cognition. The same dichotomy that an- thropologists note between authentic religion and magic, that of surrender to the mystery versus manipulation of it, is played out in the noetic arena between charis and gnosis.

This is quite evident from the role that ritual plays in each move- ment. Christianity viewed its adherents as a plebs sancta and threw open the previously sacrosanct (meaning ‘to cut oV the holy’) temple precincts. Basilicas, which had served as assembly halls, became architectural statements of the new faith’s essential inclusiveness. This was a gratuitous revelation, one intrinsically ordered toward proclamation (Bouyer 1967).

In contrast, the Gnostic cults met in secrecy. There the divine was an object to be hunted down, mastered. An open, public proclamation of the knowledge received through the cult would have enervated its power, which necessarily demanded secrecy. The early Christian liturgy did practice a disciplina arcana, a keeping hidden of its deepest secrets to adherents, but this was essentially a proleptic secrecy, one designed to draw others in. The fundamental movement of the early liturgy was evangelical, missionary. In contrast, Gnosti- cism obviously wanted to admit new adherents, but it never saw itself as the possessor or herald of a message addressed to the world. Gnosticism was an attempt to control the world by accessing occult, divine power. Letting the entire world in on the secret would have rendered it flaccid.

There is, however, an aYnity shared by the Platonic worldview and the Christian concept of grace in the concept of revelation. Both suggest that something not ordinarily found within the world has been made manifest, or can be made manifest, to the world. Both direct the attention of the one seeking enlightenment beyond the Xux of the surrounding world. Yet beneath these similarities lies a more fundamental division. In Plato the divine reawakens from the slum- ber of the world; it steps out from behind the world. It does not engage or love the world. The world is its occluding dross, so the divine is to be encountered by shunning the world. This world must dissolve into the reality that is the divine. In contrast, Christianity’s grace is not the sloughing of of an illusory dream; it is an awakening to the caress of a lover, one seeking engagement.
Still, Plato’s view of the sacred lying hidden, beyond the world, was similar to Christianity’s view of a sacred that was latent, and has now been made manifest, within the world. Yet conflating the two would have led to a fundamental abandonment of Christianity’s essential proclamation of God’s favor. That Christian discourse on grace could be Platonized without losing its distinctive, elective character is due to the biography and writing of a single, graced soul, Augustine of Hippo, the doctor gratiae." [Terrance Klein, Wittgenstein and the Metaphysics of Grace]

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Wed Oct 14, 2015 7:53 am

When the Jews discovered the "magic" of words, and how they could be used to invert reality, they discovered their own road to salvation.
Since then they've been selling symbols, words, with no reference to reality.
The Banking system disconnected from the gold standard, from real elemental wealth, and is now cutting abstractions into small pieces and selling them in the market - pure noetic artifices.

Jews inherit this innate quality from their mother's side, so it is intimately tied into sex and reproduction, as Freud reminds us.
They make talented snake-oil salesmen and priests, which amounts to the same thing.
r-selection at its root.
They sell what they, themselves, do not buy.
Classic omega-male tactics of feminine deception and word-games, to compensate for a genetic inferiority.
From them the christian the Muslims and then the New Agers, the Marxists, the liberals, the secular forms of this same dis-ease.
Priests wearing suits and ties, or hippie funky cool, chilled out drug dealers - their words being another mind-numbing drug, for those wanting to desperately escape and forget.

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Wed Oct 14, 2015 8:00 am

All this is not unprecedented in nature...


In this species, as the anonymous author of r/K theory mentions, the omega-males avoid the alpha/beta battle for reproductive rights by mimicking a female.
Deception instead of noble combat.
The ability to meld into their environment, to take on any color, hue and disappear.
Big-Brained, sophisticated neurological system, but spineless.
They mesmerize their preys, with "dazzling displays".
Converting this to human contexts, we find the word as the "dazzler" and "mesmerizing" light show.
The word which can help the human variant of this invertebrate to disappear into the environment.

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Wed Oct 14, 2015 8:19 am

Quote :
Revelation teaches that God created the world out of nothing by His sovereign will. This implies that the world did not have to exist. That is confirmed by the sense of obligation which a man has—as one of his basic, existential experiences—of giving thanks for what he has and what happens to him, even for his existence and life or of protesting against what man is and even against his very existence." [Klein, Metaphysics of Grace]

The idea of grace in Jewish thought originates from the view of life as an accident… "it did not have to exist"…

but, as to this signifycant point,

Nietzsche wrote:
"Let us beware! —Let us beware of thinking that the world is a living being. Where should it expand? On what should it feed? How could it grow and multiply? We have some notion of the nature of the organic; and we should not reinterpret the exceedingly derivative, late, rare, accidental, that we perceive only on the crust of the earth and make of it something essential, universal, and eternal, which is what those people do who call the universe an organism. This nauseates me.
Let us even beware of believing that the universe is a machine: it is certainly not constructed for one purpose, and calling it a "machine" does it far too much honor.
Let us beware of positing generally and everywhere anything as elegant as the cyclical movements of our neighboring stars; even a glance into the Milky Way raises doubts whether there are not far coarser and more contradictory movements there, as well as stars with eternally linear paths, etc. The astral order in which we live is an exception; this order and the relative duration that depends on it have again made possible an exception of exceptions: the formation of the organic. The total character of the world, however, is in all eternity chaos—in the sense not of a lack of necessity but a lack of order, arrangement, form, beauty, wisdom, and whatever other names there are for our aesthetic anthropomorphisms.
Judged from the point of view of our reason, unsuccessful attempts are by all odds the rule, the exceptions are not the secret aim, and the whole musical box repeats eternally its tune which may never be called a melody—and ultimately even the phrase "unsuccessful attempt" is too anthropomorphic and reproachful.
But how could we reproach or praise the universe? Let us beware of attributing to it heartlessness and unreason or their opposites: it is neither perfect nor beautiful, nor noble, nor does it wish to become any of these things; it does not by any means strive to imitate man. None of our aesthetic and moral judgments apply to it. Nor does it have any instinct for self-preservation or any other instinct; and it does not observe any laws either.
Let us beware of saying there are laws in nature. There are only necessities: there is nobody who commands, nobody who obeys, nobody who trespasses. Once you know that there are no purposes, you also know that there is no accident; for it is only beside a world of purposes that the word "accident" has meaning. Let us beware of saying death is opposed to life. The living is merely a type of what is dead, and a very rare type.—Let us beware of thinking that the world eternally creates new things. There are no eternally enduring substances: matter is as much of an error as the God of the Eleatics. But when shall we ever be done with our caution and care? When will all these shadows of God cease to darken our minds? When will we complete our de-deification of nature? When may we begin to naturalize humanity in terms of a pure, newly discovered, newly redeemed nature?" [Joyful Wisdom, 109]

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Wed Oct 14, 2015 8:23 am

The answer presupposes the question, and it offers a solution.

{Why?} is the most mystical question man can ask.
It asks for what he must create.

Some create it by studying nature, the cosmos, and finding patterns within it.
Others create it by disregarding nature, overturning the cosmos, negating it with words.

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Wed Oct 14, 2015 9:32 am

Satyr wrote:
The answer presupposes the question, and it offers a solution.

{Why?} is the most mystical question man can ask.
It asks for what he must create.

Some create it by studying nature, the cosmos, and finding patterns within it.
Others create it by disregarding nature, overturning the cosmos, negating it with words.


What makes a possibility [life] turn into a probability?

The J.-Xts. answered it as Grace. (We know it as 'just because'.)

The Hellenes continued to wonder… and plato called Thaumazein the source of all philosophy…

Quote :
"There is, however, an aYnity shared by the Platonic worldview and the Christian concept of grace in the concept of revelation. Both suggest that something not ordinarily found within the world has been made manifest, or can be made manifest, to the world. Both direct the attention of the one seeking enlightenment beyond the Xux of the surrounding world. Yet beneath these similarities lies a more fundamental division. In Plato the divine reawakens from the slum- ber of the world; it steps out from behind the world. It does not engage or love the world. The world is its occluding dross, so the divine is to be encountered by shunning the world. This world must dissolve into the reality that is the divine. In contrast, Christianity’s grace is not the sloughing of of an illusory dream; it is an awakening to the caress of a lover, one seeking engagement." [Klein, Metaphysics of Grace]

As regs. the above - the thymos of plato and the eros of Xt., Norman Brown agreed and only reworded it his way:

Norman Brown wrote:
"The Platonic Eros is the child of defect or want. Its direction is away from the insufficient self; its aim is to possess the object which completes it (there is a Platonic residue in Freud's inadequate notion of object-choice). The Christian Agape, with its self-sacrificial structure, has the same basis in the insufficiency of the self, but in it the self can be completed by no object and therefore must be extinguished. In the words of Luther, "To love is the same as to hate one-self"; in the words of St. Augustine, "Love slays what we have been that we may be what we were not."
From the psychoanalytical point of view, Platonic Eros is inseparable from an aggressive component, Christian Agape inseparable from a masochistic component." [Life Against Death]

N. gave the pagan concept of grace as the light-feet of a god that can dance: power-become-conscious, its not worn on the sleeve and looks effortless.

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Wed Oct 14, 2015 10:03 am

Lyssa wrote:
Satyr wrote:
The answer presupposes the question, and it offers a solution.

{Why?} is the most mystical question man can ask.
It asks for what he must create.

Some create it by studying nature, the cosmos, and finding patterns within it.
Others create it by disregarding nature, overturning the cosmos, negating it with words.


What makes a possibility [life] turn into a probability?

The J.-Xts. answered it as Grace. (We know it as 'just because'.)

The Hellenes continued to wonder… and plato called Thaumazein the source of all philosophy…

This is the question I've tried to answer without resorting to mysticism, or by trying to explain mysticism as chaos (that which alludes understanding because it has no pattern, and understanding is the (re)cognition of patterns).
We are mesmerized by a pattern so complex we cannot dissect it further; we cannot discern a more subtle pattern within it.
We feel like we've reached the end, the fabric, the immanent unfolding before us, from that point in space/time.

There is no {why?} in nature, there is only continuity born of (inter)acting patterns - the causal chain that can be followed back infinitely, and projected forward infinitely, because patterns are not eternal but a continuous process which is fragmenting due to its own (inter)activity.
Patterns (inter)acting with patterns produces chaos - the cosmic joke, the tragic irony man had to overcome (resentiment).
we are the "victims" of the very processes that make us possible.

If by space we mean possibility, and by order (energy/matter) we mean probability within this expanding/increasing possibility, then life emerged as the possible, once (inter)activity made it probable.
Life could not have emerged close to the Big Bang, because there possibilities decreased (singularity - collapse of space/time), and it could not have merged after a point where chaos (randomness) had increased to a level where patterns (energy/matter) was the exception, and not the rule, therefore life, as we know it, could only have emerged at the distance, from the BigBang (near-absolute order) where patterns were still present and chaos had not increased to the point where multiple pattern could not emerge and sustain themselves for the time period required for them to coalesce (stabilize, harmonize, balance) into an emergent unity.
Grace is a reference to this harmony/balance coalesce of aggregate patterns into a self-perpetuating, relating, in relation to what is outside of this relating.

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Wed Oct 14, 2015 11:47 am

Satyr wrote:
Lyssa wrote:
Satyr wrote:
The answer presupposes the question, and it offers a solution.

{Why?} is the most mystical question man can ask.
It asks for what he must create.

Some create it by studying nature, the cosmos, and finding patterns within it.
Others create it by disregarding nature, overturning the cosmos, negating it with words.


What makes a possibility [life] turn into a probability?

The J.-Xts. answered it as Grace. (We know it as 'just because'.)

The Hellenes continued to wonder… and plato called Thaumazein the source of all philosophy…

This is the question I've tried to answer without resorting to mysticism, or by trying to explain mysticism as chaos (that which alludes understanding because it has no pattern, and understanding is the (re)cognition of patterns).
We are mesmerized by a pattern so complex we cannot dissect it further; we cannot discern a more subtle pattern within it.
We feel like we've reached the end, the fabric, the immanent unfolding before us, from that point in space/time.

But the other way is also symptomatic.

If closing off possibility with Grace was then, keeping the possibility going and open forever [what if a god exists and keeping an open mind towards revelation, etc.] is what Kierkegaard and Leo Strauss championed.

The need for an Athens-contra-Jerusalem to be forever tied in a symbiotic+agonistic eternal dialogue was the other Straussian symptom.

The first spark of which life "stirred", neither purposeful nor accident is a 'something' lets say.

To speak nothing of it and not complicate it with conceptual abstractions is the school of zen and anarcho-primitivists - "living in the moment".

To impose human vanity, human measures, human abstractions on it and then experience the gulf between world-reality and self-reality is the tragic consciousness that 'intimates' through this agon and human pride, violence, satyric desire. You sense all that it takes to 'close the gap', giving way to tragic insights…

And then there are other methods too. Discovering, inventing means and methods has been the history of life… until now. Now, there's the other "spark" that is under threat, and with it, the end of all wonder…

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"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Wed Oct 14, 2015 11:59 am

The nil is bipolar...absolute order/chaos....absolute truth/error...absolute positive/negative.

The accusation of antisemitism is itself semitic; an absurdity, because one cannot blame a dis-ease, a virus for being what it is, nor wish it were not there, dreaming of a pristine paradise.
The victim rejoices when it is hated/loved, because it validates its identity.
A pagan rejoices at the quality/quantity of his enemies, because against them he discovered, sharpens, his sense of self, his own identity.

"I am, what I am not!!"
Eternal agon, conflict, war.

The mystical is what forever alludes our intuitions - it is, by its nature, counter-intuitive, like chaos is in relation to order.
The only way to become aware, by looking from the side of your eyes, is through the effects of (inter)activity.
How the ordering patterns (re)act to the chaos, exposes the chaos/randomness/mystical for what it is.



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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Fri Oct 16, 2015 7:28 am

Thomistic precursor to Whitehead's idea of grace as a process relation.

Quote :
"In suggesting that human beings require only the knowledge, which revelation oVers, but not an active interpenetration of the divine and the human, a divine coming to the aid of the human, Pelagianism, Augustine’s end-life foe, likewise threatened the core of the Christian economy of salvation by undermining its anthropology and cosmology. For Augustine, human love stands in need of a redeemer, and the world itself is a dramatic locus of encounter. In reducing the Christ event to a manifestation of knowledge, here transposed from the Gnostic realm of esoteric mystery into the Stoic sphere of moral teaching, Pelagianism remained within the pre-Christian worldview of a cosmos complete within itself.

For Pelagius, the task of human transformation, for the well- intentioned non-believer as well as for the Christian, is essentially the Platonic trek toward enlightenment. In the Neoplatonic thought of the late fourth century, what has emanated from the divine should with moral eVort make its way back to the divine. But an emanation is not an encounter; it is only a moment in what we would today call an evolution. Once again, the prerevelatory concept of nature tries to evict history. Evolution is nature unfolding. History is self- determination, and Augustine came to its defense. ‘More than any- thing else, it was the controversy with Pelagius, Julian of Eclanum, and others, in which his teaching on grace was challenged, that compelled him to diVerentiate between ‘‘the gift that is nature itself ’’ (gratia naturae) and ‘‘the grace by which we are made believers’’ (gratiae Wdelium)’ (Studer 1997: 5).

But what exactly is the gratiae Wdelium? How does it diVer from the gratiae naturae, which is another way of asking what self-understand- ing separates the Christian appropriation of the world from that of others? If the world itself is graced, if it is itself an act of grace, what is the role of grace within the world? What does it mean for Augustine to experience grace? Why is this signal experience so threatened by Pelagianism, which sees everything as having been given in a single gift, at the dawn of creation?

Augustine will reinforce the biblical apperception of divine favor, but for him, in the light of the Christ event, this favoring is nothing less than a divine–human nuptial. ‘The words of Paul about ‘‘the love of God poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit’’ (Rom. 5: 5) may well have been Augustine’s favorite passage from scripture, quoted over and over, also in the treatises against Pelagianism’ (Pelikan 1984: 252). In Augustine grace becomes personal, which is to say that it addresses the human being and awaits a response. The Church for Augustine is that response. It is constituted by lovers:

[H]e that loves the sons of God, loves the Son of God, and he that loves the Son of God, loves the Father, nor can any love the Father except he love the Son, and he that loves the sons, loves also the Son of God. What sons of God? The members of the Son of God. And by loving he becomes himself a member, and comes through love to be in the frame of the body of Christ, so there shall be one Christ, loving Himself. (Epis. Ioan. X. 3)

Love is a noetic reality, a way of being in the world. The human person does not survey the world with Cartesian objectivity. He or she is always drawn toward the world, toward some distinctive element within the world. This drawing conforms and patterns the world to itself as focal point. Anyone who has ever been in love knows that the entire world has been remade with the advent of the beloved.

For Augustine, we were made to love, to yearn. We cannot not love. The question is whether we dissipate love in the lesser, or yearn for the sursum. At every moment, desire remains a fundamental noetic reality, what Heidegger would later call an existential, a foundational way of being human within the world. Even in base loves, something of love’s truth prevails. ‘An impure, evil-loving man loves a beautiful woman. The body’s beauty moves him, but within it is the exchange of love (amoris vicissitudo) that is wanted’ (Serm. 34). If he is spurned, he loses his love. ‘But if he sees his love returned (vicissim amatur), how much more intensely will he burn? She sees him and he her; no one sees the love. Yet that very thing (love) which is not seen is loved.’ Augustine is proleptically preaching Aquinas. All human activity is dependent upon that which is pure act, love itself. Even disordered base loves (and it is precisely their dis-ordering that makes them base) still partake of the divine act of being.

Reflecting on his arrival in Carthage as a youth, Augustine wrote, ‘So I arrived in Carthage, where the din of scandalous love-aVairs raged cauldron-like around me. I was not yet in love, but I was enamored with the idea of love, and so deep within me was my need that I hated myself for the sluggishness of my desires. In love with loving, I was casting about for something to love’ (Conf. III. 1. 1). All this concerns sinful love, but in the sermon cited above he also says: ‘There is no one who does not love; the question is what are we to love. We are not urged not to love, but to choose what to love’ (Serm. 34). Love is an enrichment of being; it completes the self. It must be rediscovered, illumined, intensiWed in love of God. ‘One loves Thee less who loves something else together with Thee, which is not loved because of Thee. O Love, always burning and never quenched, set me on Wre’ (Serm. 34)! Love is the soul’s secret life begotten in the exchange of love. Love bestows being itself. It is both noetic and ontological, given the post-linguistic understanding that the two can never be adequately distilled.

In his theological masterpiece The Trinity, Augustine’s own odys- sey of love, his historical journey, and not the Greek metaphysics of nature, is used to deWne the very experience and nature of God.

Let no one say, ‘I do not know what to love.’ Let him love his brother, and love that love; after all, he knows the love he loves better than the brother he loves. There now, he can already have God better known to him than his brother, certainly better known because more present, better known because more inward to him, better known because more sure. Embrace love which is God, and embrace God with love. This is the love which unites all the good angels and all servants of God in a bond of holiness, conjoins us and them together, and subjoins us to itself. And the more we are cured of the tumor of pride, the fuller we are of love. And if a man is full of love, what is he full of but God? (De Trin. VIII. 12)15

Note that love has both a personal and a noetic character. It is an event, an encounter with a person. It is also a way of seeing, a reordering of noetic elements. This is why Augustine will speak of love as light, and why he so often uses both light and love as metaphors for God. If one understands Augustine, love is light, because love is God and participation in God is that which allows for participation in the world. In Book VII of The Trinity, Augustine will use light as the fundamental metaphor of our Christic participation in God. We are illumined in Christ, and Christ is the self-illumination of the Godhead. ‘For we too are the image of God, though not the equal one like him; we are made by the Father through the Son, not born of the Father like that image; we are image because we are illuminated with light; that one is so because it is the light that illuminates, and therefore it provides a model for us without having a model itself.’16

For Augustine, Christians were participants in an axial action of God, one so decisive as to drive theologians to bestow metaphysical status upon grace. The problem arises with the choice of meta- physical elements that the Greek tradition could oVer. In the Aris- totelian frame of reference, ‘relation’ is the weakest of the categories of being, a debellissimum ens. This remains true even if the relation in question is that uniquely human apex of relationship, love. Relationship tends to cloud the purity of the self-subsisting sub- stance in Greek thought. As David Burrell notes, ‘relation remains the most elusive of Aristotle’s categories, not properly an accident for its being is not in but ad; which is to say that it does not exist in another so much as ‘‘between’’ the relata’ (1986: 23).17 Furthermore, in the ordered and essentially static world of nature, relationship is understood as a conceptual quality which the human mind infers upon reality.

So the axial decisiveness of the Christian message suffered some when translated into Greek categories. Grace, which began its Judeo- Christian life as an apperception of a relation, that of being favored by God, necessarily began to assume the character and status of a substance for the simple reason that in Greek thought substance is a greater expression of being than relationship. However, this metaphysical ‘translation’ was not neutral and carried strong theological repercussions.

Thomas’s personalism is so predominant that it would not be incorrect to say that he sees the entire cosmos not as a continuum of substances but rather as a communion of subjects, which is to say dialogical partners.

Remember that for Thomas agere sequitur esse (to act follows upon to be). Activity is not an addendum to the act of being; it is its essential self-expression, its eVulgence. To be is to act. Clarke asserts of Thomas’s teaching: ‘Every being . . . insofar as it is in act, tends naturally to overflow into action, and this action is a self- communication, a self-giving in some way’ (1994: 47).

Thomas will maintain the Aristotelian primacy of substances over relations, because only substances can be subjects capable of entering into relationships with each other. Stress too strongly the independence of the substance, and one arrives at a monadism that cannot explicate the dynamism that we experience in the world. Stress relationship too strongly, and one cannot account for that which endures. And if nothing endures, nothing can enter into relationship. One cannot give the self over into a relationship if there is no self. As Wittgenstein put it, ‘What brings the self into philosophy is the fact that ‘‘the world is my world’’ ’(1961: 58; §5.641).

Clarke defends the Thomistic reliance upon Aristotelian substance by showing the alternative. In personalist language, the eclipse of the substance means the banishment of the subject.

The primary instance of real being is the individual existent as a ‘nature,’ i.e., as an abiding center (no matter for how long) of its own characteristic actions and the ultimate subject of which attributes are predicated, but which itself is predicated of no other subject as an attribute or part. This ability to exist in itself as an ultimate subject of action and attribution and not as part of any other being is what it means to be called a substance (from the Latin sub-stans: that which ‘stands under’ all its attributes as their ultimate subject). To stand thus ‘in itself’ does not mean that the entity thus characterized is not related to others. As we shall see, the intrinsic orientation toward self-expressive action that is also characteristic of all natures—hence of all substances—implies that all substances will be related at least to some others. But it does mean that no substance, no real being in an unqualiWed sense, can be nothing but a pure relation. A relation in the real order must relate something, making it a related, or the relation itself self-destructs. As the Buddhists have long insightfully argued, if all beings are nothing but relations, such that A is nothing but a relation to B, and B is nothing but a relation to A, then neither one has ‘own being’ and both disappear into ‘emptiness’ (sunyatta)—a point often naively overlooked, it seems to me, by many modern Western philosophers who cavalierly dismiss substance for relation as the primary mode of being. (1994: 104–5)

Despite Clarke’s brilliant retrieval of the concept of substance for a personalist philosophy of being, a contemporary Christian might still be disappointed to hear that St Thomas considers grace to be an accidental modiWcation of the substance that is the human person. ‘Accidental’ can seem to suggest both lack of necessity and ephem- erality. It’s important to note, however, that in Aristotelian categories a modiWcation stronger than accidental would mark a change of substance. In this system, if God and the human person are not to be collapsed into each other, they must remain distinct substances. God’s action cannot subsume the human subject or so fundamentally alter it as to obliterate it, in the sense that it would no longer be the same substance, the same subject as an enduring unity of action. The challenge Thomas faced was to use Aristotle in a way that indicated the profound relationship that grace establishes without obliterating one or the other related subjects.

Again, one must caution about the picture being employed. For Thomas the substance which is the human person cannot be conceived apart from its accidents. It simply is its own accidents, as their temporal and spatial source of unity. Only God can be conceived of as a substance that never undergoes modiWcation. Fully cognizant of temporality, Thomas views created substances as being always subject to modiWcation. Without it, they cannot actualize their own potency, which for Thomas means to become what they were meant to be.

Thomas will speak of grace as a form that modiWes accidents by gathering them into itself. In Thomistic thought a form is the unitive principle allowing the many of sensory experience to be considered under a single intellectual aspect, as a one. Every time the human person, through the use of the intellect, perceives a unity amidst a plurality of instances, a form has been recognized. Both accidents and substances are ultimately characterized by forms. A given Xower, or the sun, or a piece of cloth may all be instances of yellow; yellow then becomes the form that transcends these individual instances. That which can hold together a host of such accidental forms and endures is a substance.

Thomas will thus call the soul the form of the body because we perceive the body, the self which acts within the world, to be a self, a cohesive, abiding center of activity. How diVerent this is from the contemporary picture of the soul as that which steps away from the body, say at death, to reveal its own existence. For Thomas, nothing reveals the soul so much as the activity of the corporeal self that acts within the world.

In the Thomistic cosmos every substance is drawn into a dialogical union with every other substance. In this sense, one should say that, for Thomas, all of creation is transferred from the status of substance to subject. Grace is the place of union, not a dialogical partner of union. It is the unique relationship between God and humanity. To speak of grace as a substance wreaks havoc with the subtle language game being employed by Aquinas. Substances always stand in relationship; they cannot be relations. Again, the similarity to Wittgenstein’s struggle to free philosophy from an inad- equate picture of logic is helpful. If logic stood within the world, as one more object, it could not be that which uniWes the world, which makes distinct objects into a world. If grace were one more object within the world, it could not be that which draws the world together and into union with the divine." [Klein, The Metaphysics of Grace]

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Thu Oct 22, 2015 5:24 am

Klein's book elaborated on the pagan<>Xt. inversion via the concept of grace.

To the J.-Xts., it is the pagan world that was "static", "mechanical", and it is with the Xt. world, bringing the concept of a creator, of a lover<>beloved relation of "interacting" with the world that made it "dynamic"… and lent it its superiority…

The meaning of Dynamism was totally inverted (why N. had to become Dynamite):

Quote :
"Only a world ordered toward a fulfillment can define the lack of this fulfillment as harmartia (a missing of the mark), as sin.

The novelty that Judaism represents is the insistence that the world didn’t have to be. The act of creation is itself a grace, a foundational favoring on the part of God. The novelty of Christianity is the revelation of the Beloved, the one who reveals the world as essentially purposeless, rendered futile now that the Beloved has appeared, that is, if the Beloved is not attained. In other words, the world’s purpose, its Wnality, becomes a grace. Love is revealed as the world’s efficient and final cause. It was created by love, and it is created for love. In either case, we are far removed from the prerevelatory understanding of the world as simply a given." [Klein, Metaphysics of Grace]

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Wed Dec 02, 2015 11:18 am


Philosopher Stelios Ramfos presents Jesus as a diagnostician of his time, preceding Nietzsche as the diagnostician of Modern times.
Miracles as healing of the mind.

A new reading of the Biblical tales.

Legion, (I am Legion), the expression of schizophrenia.
Healing the deaf man, as a healing of vulnerability to popular opinion - closing your ears to criticism and gossip.

Saul takes the figure of Jesus, and converts him to Christ - mystifying him, translating him in a way that contradicts his teachings, just as Moderns, modern day Saul-well-ioses, self described "Nieatzscheans", transform Nietzsche into an antithesis of his diagnosis - and return Christianity back into his analysis by changing the words.

Ramfos describes the Apostles as uncertain with the nature of Jesus, who is exotic, supernatural in the sense the he diagnosis man using methods beyond the immediate, beyond their own capacities, also true of these Nieatzscheans in relation to their idolized transmutation of the corporeal figure, the man.
Incomprehensibility forces the student into a lifetime of study of what is beyond his own ability to relate to - the other, the teacher, becomes a mythological figure, after death, and exotic, while alive.  
With no internal sources to connect, to relate, they convert the man into god, or idol.

Ramfos claims that all antiphasis, out of phase, contradictory presentations of the historical figure Jesus, is an avenue for relating the believer with the story.
Jesus becomes a figure helpful in bridging the antiphasis between real/ideal, man with eternity, ordering within disordering.
He is metaphor, artistic device, insinuating the incomprehensible; translating the counter-intuitive into intuitive forms.
Spinoza's insights into biblical language teaches us that much of the wording is hyperbole, founded on the expressions of that time, later taken literally for Saul to construct the dis-ease we know as Christianity.
Linguistic hyperbole is also the method Nieatzscheans use to convert Nietzsche's words to something their Nihilism, their perspective, can use - perspectivism transformed to subjectivity through the elimination of the subject matter, the objective - converting all to a Church of believers in what is not present: faith in what is absent; in this case the objective, the world itself, the man Jesus, the man Nietzsche, the man Socrates, to use another abused iconic figure, within their particular social environments.

Parables, according to Ramfos, expose real psychological conditions of that time, which we, if we do not take them literally, but read them by relating them to our own condition, can decipher.
Dialogue is how we internalize ideas, which cannot be achieve with a monologue.

Parable of the "good" Samaritan.  
We associate with the victim, not the one coming to his aid.
Ramfos says the other is how we justify our own existence. Jesus picks the most hated, in that time among the Jews, Samaritan to construct his point, to elucidate his insight.
The story does not only teach the value of giving without expecting a return but, according the Ramfos, the even greater fact is that the saved never recovers, so that there isn't even the return of gratitude - narcissism escaped.
Complete ingratitude for a deed done.
One does it for self, not for other, not for fame, not for fortune, not to enjoy future rewards, but simply because he is what he is and can be no other.      

Parable of Lazarus, who eats of the breadcrumbs beneath his master's dinner table, comes to the Jews from Egypt, like all of their monistic, death cult, reversals of the Egyptian hierarchy pyramid, do.
Selfishness based on the absence of an "afterlife" which is no more than an internal rebirth.
Afterlife, meaning to live after the corporeal, to live as mind - after genes/memes, after real/ideal, after phenomenon/noumenon.
To suffer for your worldly deeds in the afterlife means this conscience, in relation to our noumena, our human capacity to live beyond the present, beyond immediate gratification, above pleasure motives - to hold yourself accountable before your own ideal, your own "god"; yourself idealized - the noble spirit.

Virgin birth...if taken literally it is absurd, but, as Ramfos indicates, even Plato was described as the result of a virgin birth, where Apollo fertilized his mother - Buddha, as well.
It was a metaphor the ancients used to express an exceptional individual.

John the Baptists' baptism of Jesus.
Not a Jewish tradition, but related to Pagan, Hellenic, rituals of cleansing, adopted by a Jewish sect.
John as prophet, serves as a harbinger of a shift from the exoteric to the esoteric, a coming age of subjectivity.

Jesus goes into the desert, alone, because only in loneliness can he be honest with himself.
The temptations are his internal struggles with self-doubt - demonic.
Preparation for the loneliness of the cross - isolation of self before world; a man pulls from inside himself the strength, the ideals, when there is no other to come to his aid.
Corporeality dissolved in spirit.
The body needs an external validation, the spirit comes from within, as a manifestation of our entire past/nature.  
Division between public and private man - personae and character.
Openness as the implosion of noumenon/phenomenon as self.

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Wed Dec 02, 2015 11:26 am

Is that your writing?

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Wed Dec 02, 2015 11:35 am

Lyssa wrote:
Is that your writing?
I take Ramfos and expand it within my own thinking.

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Wed Dec 02, 2015 12:20 pm


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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Wed Dec 02, 2015 12:38 pm

The only reason we obsess with the Bible is because there are billions of morons, out there, that take it literally, and nor figuratively, and the only reason morons are obsessed with Nietzsche is because they lack what is self-evident, in what he exposes, in ourselves, and so we seek it out in the other, namely him, which becomes a sort of idol, a shadow, we can never escape; we cannot escape that Platonic cave.

The world through a proxy.
We find our aletheia validated by him, this icon.
We see world through his eyes, because we have no eyes for it.

Christians cannot be good, so they find in the bible the threat/reward to help them pretend to be good.

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Wed Dec 02, 2015 12:52 pm

He's said that himself on brooding over some things so much that you become a chicken…

Nietzsche wrote:
"I approach deep problems such as I do cold baths: fast in, fast out. That this is no way to get to the depths, to get deep  enough, is the superstition of those who fear water, the enemies of cold water; they speak without experience. Oh, the great cold makes one fast! And incidentally: does a matter stay unrecognized, not understood, merely because it has been touched in flight; is only glanced at, seen in a flash? Does one absolutely have to sit firmly on it first? Have brooded on it as on an egg?  Diu noctuque incubando, as Newton said of himself? At least there are truths that are especially shy and ticklish and can't be caught except suddenly - that one must  surprise or leave alone.

Enough about brevity; things stand worse with my ignorance, which I don't try to hide from myself. There are hours when I am ashamed of it - to be sure, also hours when I am ashamed of this shame.

Maybe we philosophers are all in a bad position regarding knowledge these days: science is growing, and the most scholarly of us are close to discovering that they know too little. But it would be even worse if things were different - if we knew  too much; our task is and remains above all not to mistake ourselves for someone else. We  are different from scholars, although we are inevitably also, among other things, scholarly.

We have different needs, grow differently; have a different digestion: we need more; we also need less. There is no formula for how much a spirit needs for its nourishment; but if it has a taste for independence, for quick coming and going, for wandering, perhaps for adventures of which only the swiftest are capable, it would rather live free with little food than unfree and stuffed.

It is not fat but the greatest possible suppleness and strength that a good dancer wants from his nourishment - and I wouldn't know what the spirit of a philosopher might more want to be than a good dancer. For the dance is his ideal, also his art, and finally also his only piety, his 'service of God'." [JW, 381]

Swift and supple does for some kinds of truths...

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Wed Dec 02, 2015 12:57 pm

I don't need his words, except as support, and supplement.
I don't need him to think.

The world is all around me...constantly, inescapably.
How I, I, relate to it, deep or shallow, is my testament, an expression of my spirit.
I need no other's spirit to inflate my own, and pretend that I am more than what I am.

Take it, or leave it, this is who I am.
I will not wear Nietzsche, or Jesus, or whomever, to impress you, or anybody.
I suffice.
I need no acknowledgment, no appreciation, through it is always appreciated and enjoyed when I receive it.

These thinkers are steps on my ladder, not me.

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Wed Dec 02, 2015 1:17 pm

Satyr wrote:
I will not wear Nietzsche, or Jesus, or whomever, to impress you, or anybody.

Whether I am someone who needs to be impressed or not is of no concern and relevance here.

What is of relevance is constitutions differ.
Metabolisms differ.

There are those like you, and there are those with different conceptions of independence, which do not immediately and necessarily invalidate you.

To you N. is a thinker you grasp and move on.

To others N. is an instrument that is deployed not as one's eye, but one More eye, one More tool, one More ear, hand nose…

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Wed Dec 02, 2015 1:22 pm

J.-Xts. and pop. Buddhists are those who mumble mindlessly as they rotate their rosaries and the dharma-wheel.

But they do not own remembrance.


Remembrance is also growth.
Why Mnemosyne, the muse of memory, and money[wealth, weal, well-being] were minted together.

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Wed Dec 02, 2015 1:26 pm

Those "like me" differ from those "like you" in degree, and here is where I know you.


I need Nietzsche as I would a friend in the jungle who has knowledge, of the plants and animals, I do not have, or has words to represent intuitions I do not possess.
I learn, and then move on, having no more need of what insights he offered, and only adding to my own judgments and experiences.

If not, then you have Saul-well-ios, an effete, natural born follower, jumping from one to another, with that penis, that first one that popped his cherry, in mind - measuring all that follow to that first love, the first one that filled him with what he could not find in self.
Then some charlatan, like Jacob, can seduce him/her, with the promise of a penis comparable to that first hymen rip - the first orgasm.

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Wed Dec 02, 2015 2:42 pm

We can understand why taking a dog to Paris will not cultivate its spirit beyond the point of it experiencing a different environment in its own dog-like spirit.
It cannot understand the spirit of the place, because it is non-canine, it is human.
No art, no culture, no essence, can penetrate digishness. It knows what dogs know, and can comprehend, and everything else is invisible to it.

We take this extreme and relate it to divisions between humans, on a more subtle level, and one not burdened by modern ideals, and political-correct, leftist dogma.
Take a human and place him in Paris, in London, in Nepal, in a movie theater watching a popular film and he will be blind to all, except what is on his level of cognition. All else is invisible, beyond the visible, the tangible.
No matter how often he travels how many experiences he acquires, he remains on that level, a bit more informed, but not more enlightened.

The receptivity, the potential, of the individual, should not be mistaken for the pragmatism, his/her experiences, when it is is we who project ourselves in his/her position imagining how invigorated we would be if we had experienced what (s)he has experienced.

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Wed Dec 02, 2015 5:31 pm

One either remains a disciple for ever, or one becomes a discipline unto oneself.

The most disciplined disciple is still a disciple however.

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Wed Jan 06, 2016 5:58 am

Quote :
"In his detailed exploration of Christian burial and the cult of saints, Peter Brown’s The Cult of Saints (1981) has drawn attention to the use of burials and grave-side rituals by elites as an arena for social competition, or, in John Barrett’s terms, a field of discourse (Barrett 2000b). This competition could be through conspicuous consumption and emulation at the grave, or through interventions in the celebrations of cult rituals at the graves of saints (Brown 1981, 23-40). In this period there was an increas- ing tension between the power of local elites articulated through kinship relations, and the expanding Christian church, an artificial kin-group aiming to supplant pre-existing ties of loyalty to family and replace them with a wider sense of loyalty to the Christian community. In Brown’s words ‘... the strong sense of community preserved by Christian ritual, was only so much icing on the top of a rich and increasingly crumbly cake of well-to-do Christian families’ (ibid., 31-1). It is at the grave-side that these tensions crystallised; this contextualises the Church’s intervention into an aspects of life and death which had previously been the domain of the family. By preventing ostentatious grave-side ritual, whether at family graves or ad sanctos, the Church hoped to prevent the privatisation of this aspect of the holy, and asserted its right to dictate burial practices. The Church also acted to select and cultivate only certain holy graves to create foci of worship controlled by the church rather than lay bodies. Although the Church was starting to assert its rights to intervene in mortuary practice, it had not yet developed a sophisticate theological apparatus to deal with death and burial. In Augustine’s opinion funerals and burials were not important for the dead: ‘Therefore, all such offices, that is, the care taken with funerals, the embalming for burial, the procession of the mourners, are more for the comfort of the survivors than to assist the dead’ (De Civitate Dei 1.13) and ‘Regardless of what is spent for burying the body it is not an aid to salvation but a duty of our humanity according to that love by which no one ever hated his own flesh’ (De Cura Gerenda Pro Mortuis 18).

Here we see burial rites changing and becoming incorporated into Christian discourse not as a simple reaction to the shifting religious loyalties of the burial community. Instead, the burial rite is a context in which varying identities (religious and secular) are expressed and contested by competing interest groups. The church’s response to competition from secular elites is to extend the contexts within which expression of religious identity is deemed to be important. We are not seeing the spread of religious belief, but rather its articulation in new contexts as a response to socio-political tensions." [David Petts, Pagan and Christian]

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Fri Jan 08, 2016 1:25 pm

Mosaic Fear internalized into Xt. Faith as 'mercy', i.e. Xt. 'Grace':

Sloterdijk wrote:
"I will calmly operate on the assumption that the Sinai account and the entire construction of the exodus epic, with its odysseys, rebellions and miracles, is largely a literary fiction in the mode of a posteriori prophecy, probably written between the eighth and sixth centuries BC and reworked in the postexilic period. I cannot participate in speculations about the possible inclusion of residues of real events from earlier epochs in these tales; hence, in the present essay, the question of geographically identifying the Sinai location – there seem to be fourteen different hypotheses concerning this – is of no significance. Furthermore, it is no cause for concern that Moses could hardly have brought two stone tablets, inscribed by God’s fingers, down from the height of the mountain to the camp of his people. The Münster Old Testament specialist Erich Zenger (1939–2010) wrote the necessary things about this with touching clarity:

No unique, empirically concrete event of whatever nature becomes visible behind the Sinai accounts in the Book of Exodus: no historical covenant was made at Mount Sinai […] there was no handing over of stone tablets by God to Moses on Mount Sinai. Nor was there […] any fashioning of the Golden Calf by Moses’ people or other Sinai Bedouins.

One can conclude that, with no Golden Calf, there was likewise no mass slaughter of dancers around the calf, nor any other religiously motivated acts of terror committed by the supporters of Moses against their own people. And naturally there were no Levites who could have distinguished themselves in the butchery of the apostates. The true location of all these events is purely in the stories themselves. The stories, for their part, have their vital location in the ‘Israelogenic’ rites – that is to say, the peoplestabilizing sacrificial acts and text readings that took place between the eighth and fifth centuries BC in connection with the Jerusalem temple cult. According to recent archaeological research, the legendary temple of Solomon was built only some two hundred years after Solomon’s death, in the mid-eighth century BC, and acted as the country’s cult centre until its destruction by the troops of Nebuchadnezzar II around 586 BC. Because no real historical findings can be assigned to the Sinai stories, the observer must rate their symbolic significance for the swearing-in of the people to its religious constitution all the more highly.

In fact, the account of the breach of covenant by the people of Israel during the absence of Moses on the mountain of God, as described in chapter 32 of the Book of Exodus, provides the unsurpassable paradigm of an act of violence motivated by the singularization contract. The description of it contains one of the most terrible passages of all time in the whole of religious history. When Moses, returning from the mountain, finds the people dancing around the idol amid shouting, he casts the idol down and has it burned, then ground to powder. What remains somewhat mysterious is the religious leader’s instruction to scatter the dust of the destroyed calf on the water and force the Israelites to drink it.

This is followed by unprecedented butchery:

"So he stood at the entrance to the camp and said, ‘Whoever is for the LORD, come to me.’ And all the Levites rallied to him.

Then he said to them, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: “Each man strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbour.”’ The Levites did as Moses commanded, and that day about three thousand of the people died."

It has often been noted, and rightly so, that the outbreak of violence described there does not show an ‘extraverted’, offensive or imperial direction of impact. On the contrary, it is a case of ‘inwards-directed violence’ – one could almost speak of an auto-genocidal drama. As far as the number of three thousand dead is concerned, it is not easy to decide whether this is a pragmatic or a symbolic number. At any rate, it describes a tremendous amputation performed on the body of the Mosaic people. Indeed, the information that the Levites gathered around Moses permits the assumption that this must have been an act of extermination – always on the site of the imaginary – carried out by the minority faithful to Moses against the majority that followed Aaron. The quoted passage in fact states that the people – one can presumably read this as ‘the entire people’, except for the officious Levites – took part in the festival of idolatry. One cannot help being amazed that it was the Levites of all people, members of a priestly group, who were at the ready to carry out the divine command. The objection that there cannot yet have been any Levites at that time is of no consequence due to the fictional status of the account. It is then all the more significant that, for lack of real historical content, the tale of the extermination of the temporarily apostate members of the people takes on an outstanding symbolic character – perhaps even an exemplary dimension. The Levites’ obedience to the Mosaic instruction, however, meant that they could kill without being murderers. They were breaking the fifth commandment formally announced a short while earlier (Exodus 20), but their deadly actions were subject to a higher law, a form of religious emergency law. It seems that the sword-wielding Levites were acting as successors to the sacred executioners of prehistoric times, whose overwritten traces in several Old Testament passages have recently – however hypothetically – been deciphered.

The decisive insight into the autoplastic, popular pedagogical significance of the Levitic slaughter is offered by the overall structure of the Exodus scenes at Mount Sinai. Their form, which shapes the sequence of events in the separate episodes, corresponds to the traditional narrative triad, which regularly passes through the sequence of initial state, interference incident and restoration. The story’s centre of gravity obviously lies in the sealing of the covenant, brokered by Moses, between Yahweh and Israel, whose strength as a means of singularizing their identity amid the competing cults of the polyethnic situation in the Middle East has already been mentioned. In that context, Yahweh still appears with the traits of an invisible tribal chieftain. The relationship between him and his followers is closer to a feudally relevant swearing-in of minions to their feudal lord than a spiritually deepened correspondence between God and the people, let alone God and the individual soul.

In the fictional primal scene at the foot of the mountain of God, the motivic connection between the breach of the covenant and the summary trial was displayed with archetypal power and made available for transference to any remote context. It supplies the prototype of a ‘connection between deeds and consequences’, to recall the technical term popular among Old Testament experts. With the help of the Sinai schema – the breach of covenant results in punishment by extermination, then the journey continues with the ‘rest’ – it becomes virtually possible to read the history of Israel both forwards and backwards, especially where, as during Babylonian exile, it was experienced or interpreted as a history of misfortune. While the extermination at Mount Sinai followed the manifest breach of covenant at a brief interval and following a linear logic, later, initially inexplicable ordeals suffered by the people can be attributed only indirectly to what remained a latent breach of covenant. This latter was usually recognized only by the prophets and priests, who traced a path backwards from the manifest punitive suffering to the latent offence. The concept of sin itself, without which the course of the Jewish, Christian and Islamic history of ideas, feelings and cults is unimaginable, is coloured from the start by the ever-present danger of a breach of covenant. Essentially, every sin is a regression to life before the Sinaite conversion. Each individual sin refreshes the primary sin of betraying the covenantal duty, indeed almost of betraying God, with varying explicitness.

In summary, one can say that the admonition to preserve the covenant unconditionally always entails the strictest cultic duty. Whoever fails to celebrate Passover (unless on a journey and away from the cult community) ‘must be cut off from his people because he did not present the LORD’s offering at the appointed time.’
‘Whoever sacrifices to any god other than the LORD must be destroyed.’
‘Anyone who desecrates [the Sabbath] must be put to death.’

These expressions of severity towards unbelievers and foreigners did not survive in the text as relics of titanic crudity; one must view them as deliberate warning signs. They dramatize the connection between simple sin and breach of covenant: the danger of apostasy is always already at hand. The frequently pondered and redacted brutalisms of the Holy Scripture, which probably reached its final state around 400 BC, can only be understood through their religious grammar. For this one must become aware of the psychopolitical peculiarity that what they express is by no means a cheerful primary aggressiveness, an ingenuous expansionism or a naïve ethnocentrism. They are derivatives of the precarious prerogative of severity towards oneself that, read positively, we call chosenness.

The Sinaite singularization strategy consisted primarily of a considerable number of selfinclusion measures whose aim was to establish the most insurmountable difference between inside and outside – a difference whose pure realization is doubly endangered: from within, through the ever-present risk of apostasy, starting with an indifference to tradition, and from without, through repressions and offers of assimilation from foreign powers. A substantial part of the religious people’s life takes the form of quarrels at the fence.

Where the fence is erected around the people in ‘special existence’, not only through repeated promises but also by the means of chronic self-admonition, the ordinary political phobocracy that was essential to the formation of larger, hierarchically structured systems of domination from ancient times onwards changes into a new form of fear control with primarily inward effects. It gives the people affected a manner of autophobocratic constitution. In this constitution, the general religious aversion to numinous things and the vengeance of the gods takes a special form: the fear of a covenant breach and its consequences. Because virtually every offence can be viewed against the background of the breach of covenant in this regime because it violates holy norms, punishments took on a phobocratic character even in low-ranking matters. The Book of Deuteronomy (Devarim) in the Pentateuch discusses the case of a disobedient and drunken son who is to be dealt with in the following way: his parents must apprehend him and bring him to the court gate. ‘Then all the men of his town shall stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid.’ In the climate of generalized phobocracy, the effects of the Sinai schema advance to the level of everyday conflict.

The body of biblical sayings reflects this in the maxim:
‘The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.’

In the zone affected by the strictly applied Sinai schema, the psyche of the believers comes under the influence of a confusing twofold demand best described as a phobocratic paradox. This makes no small contribution to the development of that religiously tense inwardness that springs from constantly toiling away at unsolvable riddles. Under the impression of the Sinaite primal scene, the believers find themselves confronted with the self-contradictory command to have unconditional faith in God’s mercy because otherwise God will mercilessly exterminate them. This can only result in a habitus in which trust is reshaped by the fear of fear. After that, the bright side of faith can only be attained by suppressing all thoughts of the sinister side. This pattern is still evident in Saint Paul’s concept of faith."
[In the Shadow of Mount Sinai]

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Wed Feb 03, 2016 3:23 pm

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"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Mon Apr 04, 2016 8:14 am

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"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Mon Apr 11, 2016 4:10 am

Quote :
Sons of Odin, Warriors of Christ this is indeed your battle.



Why do many on the periphery retain Christianity? Despite seeing what it has become. Do they think they can return it, to her youth where she retained some of her father's vigor, that she wont grow and decay again and show her true nature, the very nature that put these boys where they are now.
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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Mon Apr 11, 2016 3:47 pm

Is how far their perceptiveness can go, to a more "controlled" form of nihillism.

i think satyr write something about it somewhere, cannot find the exact quote
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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Wed Aug 31, 2016 7:28 pm

Ockham.

Gillespie wrote:
"The origins of the medieval world can be traced to the synthesis of Christianity and pagan philosophy in the Hellenistic world of late antiq- uity. This began in Alexandria in the first and second centuries. Here various strains of Christian thought, eastern religious beliefs, Neoplatonism, and a variety of other ancient philosophical views were amalgamated in different and at times conflicting ways, reflecting the intellectual and spiritual ferment of the times. This process of amalgamation was clarified and institutionalized when Christianity was adopted as the official religion of the Roman Empire under Constantine. The various conflicting strains of Christianity were fused into a formalized doctrine in the series of councils beginning with the Council of Nicea (323). However, despite this doctrinal consolidation enforced by imperial authority, the tensions within Chris- tianity between revelation with its emphasis on divine omnipotence and incarnation, on one hand, and philosophy with its emphasis on rational- ism and the notion of a rational cosmos, on the other, were not so easily resolved and remained a continuing problem for Christianity throughout its long history. Indeed, much if not all of the succeeding development of Christian theology was made necessary by the continual and periodically deepening antagonism between these two elements of Christianity.

During the early medieval period, the knowledge of the impact of Greek philosophy on Christianity was largely lost in Western Europe, although Boethius provided a slim connection to this earlier intellectual tradition. The decisive event in medieval Christianity was the rediscovery of Aristotle, largely through contact with the Arab world in Spain and the Levant. This led, shortly after the millennium, to the rise of scholasticism, which was the greatest and most comprehensive theological attempt to reconcile the philosophical and scriptural elements in Christianity.

While there was considerable variety within scholasticism, its classic form was realism. Realism, as the scholastics understood it, was a belief in the extra-mental existence of universals. Drawing heavily on a Neoplatonic reading of Aristotle, scholastic realists argued that universals such as spe- cies and genera were the ultimately real things and that individual beings were merely particular instances of these universals. Moreover, these uni- versals were thought to be nothing other than divine reason made known to man either by illumination, as Augustine had suggested, or through the investigation of nature, as Aquinas and others argued. Within this realist ontology, nature and reason reflected one another. Nature could conse- quently be described by a syllogistic logic that defined the rational struc- ture of the relationships of all species to one another. Moreover, while God transcended his creation, he was reflected in it and by analogy could be understood through it. Thus, logic and natural theology could supplement or, in the minds of some, even replace revelation. For similar reasons, man did not need Scripture to inform him of his earthly moral and political duties. He was a natural being with a natural end and was governed by the laws of nature. Scripture, of course, was necessary in order to understand everything that transcended nature, including man’s supernatural destiny, but earthly life could be grasped philosophically.

For all of its magnificence, the cathedral of scholastic thought depended on the delicate counterbalancing of Christian belief and pagan rational- ism, and it was the instability of this relationship that brought it down.

This balance was threatened both by the growing influence of reason and secularism within the church, which fostered a falling away from Chris- tian practices, and by the ever recurring and ever more urgent demands for a more original Christianity, based on revelation and/or an imitation of the life of Christ. The preservation of medieval Christianity depended upon a reconciliation of these two powerful and opposing impulses. Such a synthesis, however, could only be maintained in theory by the creation of an ever more elaborate theology and in practice by the ever increasing use of papal and princely power.

The immediate cause of the dispute that shattered this synthesis was the growth of Aristotelianism both within and outside the church. The increasing interest in Aristotle was in part an inevitable consequence of the growth of scholasticism itself, but it was decisively accelerated by the reintroduction of many Aristotelian texts to Christian Europe through the commentaries of the great Islamic philosophers Avicenna and Averroës. The most visible manifestation of this new interest in Aristotle was the development of an independent system of philosophy alongside theology and a new kind of secular Christian intellectual. This phenomenon was viewed with deep suspicion by the pious defenders of a more “original” Christianity not merely because of its pagan roots but also and perhaps more importantly because of its connection to Islam. Paganism was a known and tolerable evil; Islam, by contrast, was an ominous theologi- cal and political threat. This was especially true after the failure of the Crusades. For almost two hundred years Christianity had seemed to gain ground against Islam, especially in the East, but after the loss of all the Christian colonies in the Levant in the later thirteenth century and the rise of Islamic military power, this optimism dimmed and the suspicion of Islamic influences on Christian thought became more intense. The growth of Aristotelianism in this context was often seen by suspicious defenders of the faith as the growth of Averroism.

Aristotelianism was condemned first in 1270 and then more fully in 1277 by the Bishop of Paris Etienne Tempier and by Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Kilwardby. The position staked out in this Condemnation laid great emphasis on omnipotence as the cardinal characteristic of God, and in the succeeding years, this notion of omnipotent freedom came to constitute the core of a new anti-Aristotelian notion of God. This view of God was reflected in part in the work of Duns Scotus but more clearly and decisively in the work of William of Ockham and the nominalist movement his thought engendered.

Most of Ockham’s philosophical and theological work was com- pleted between 1317 and 1324, when he was summoned to Avignon to an- swer charges of heresy. In 1326, fifty-one of his assertions were declared open to censure although none was actually condemned.

Drawing on the work of earlier proto-nominalist thinkers such as Roscelin and Abelard, and the work of Henry of Ghent and Scotus, Ockham laid out in great detail the foundations for a new metaphysics and theology that were radically at odds with scholasticism. Faith alone, Ockham argues, teaches us that God is omnipotent and that he can do everything that is possible, that is to say, everything that is not contradictory. Thus, every being exists only as a result of his willing it and it exists as it does and as long as it does only because he so wills it. Creation is thus an act of sheer grace and is comprehensible only through revelation. God creates the world and continues to act within it, bound neither by its laws nor by his previous determinations. He acts simply and solely as he pleases and, and as Ockham often repeats, he is no man’s debtor. There is thus no immutable order of nature or reason that man can understand and no knowledge of God except through revelation. Ockham thus rejected the scholastic synthesis of reason and revelation and in this way undermined the metaphysical/theological foundation of the medieval world.

This notion of divine omnipotence was responsible for the demise of realism. God, Ockham argued, could not create universals because to do so would constrain his omnipotence. If a universal did exist, God would be unable to destroy any instance of it without destroying the universal itself. Thus, for example, God could not damn any one human being without damning all of humanity. If there are no real universals, every being must be radically individual, a unique creation of God himself, called forth out of nothing by his infinite power and sustained by that power alone. To be sure, God might employ secondary causes to produce or sustain an entity, but they were not necessary and were not ultimately responsible for the creation or the continued existence of the entity in question.

The only necessary being for Ockham was God himself. All other beings were contingent creations of his will. In a technical sense, the things God chooses to bring into existence already have a nature, but these natures are not themselves universal but apply only to each individual thing.

They are neither implied by nor are they the presupposition of anything else. In this way, Ockham’s assertion of ontological individualism under- mines not only ontological realism but also syllogistic logic and science, for in the absence of real universals, names become mere signs or signs of signs. Language thus does not reveal being but in practice often conceals the truth about being by fostering a belief in the reality of universals. In fact, all so-called universals are merely second or higher order signs that we as finite beings use to aggregate individual beings into categories. These categories, however, do not denote real things. They are only useful fictions that help us make sense out of the radically individualized world. However, they also distort reality. Thus, the guiding principle of nominalist logic for Ockham was his famous razor: do not multiply universals need- lessly. While we cannot, as finite beings, make sense of the world without universals, every generalization takes us one more step away from the real. Hence, the fewer we employ the closer we remain to the truth.

Since each individual being for Ockham is contingent upon God’s free will, there can be no knowledge of created beings prior to investigation. As a result, humans cannot understand nature without an investigation of the phenomena themselves. Syllogism is thus replaced by hypothesis as the foundation of science. Moreover, human knowledge can never move beyond hypothesis, for God is free in the fullest sense, that is, free even from his previous decisions. He can thus overturn anything he has estab- lished, interrupt any chain of causes, or create the world again from the beginning if he wants to. There is therefore no absolute necessity except for God’s will. God, according to Ockham, did not even have to send his son in the form of a man; the savior might have been a donkey or a rock.

In defending such a radical notion of omnipotence, Ockham and his followers came very close to denying the truth of revelation. They sought to avoid this heretical conclusion by distinguishing between God’s poten- tia absoluta and his potentia ordinata, between his absolute and his or- dained power, between what God could do and what he determined that he would do. This distinction, however, was difficult to maintain because God was under no obligation to keep his promises or to act consistently. For nominalism God is, to use a technical term, “indifferent,” that is, he recognizes no natural or rational standards of good and evil that guide or constrain his will. What is good is good not in itself but simply because he wills it.

Most nominalists were convinced that human beings could know little about God and his intentions beyond what he reveals to them in Scripture. Natural theology, for example, can prove God’s existence, infinity, and su- premacy, according to Ockham, but it cannot even demonstrate that there is only one God. Such a radical rejection of scholastic theology clearly grew out of a deep distrust not merely of Aristotle and his Islamic inter- preters but of philosophic reason itself. In this sense, Ockham’s thought strengthened the role of revelation in Christian life.

The fact that human beings have no defined natural ends does not mean that they have no moral duties. The moral law continues to set limits on human action. However, the nominalists believe that this law is known only by revelation. Moreover, there is no natural or soteriological motive to obey the moral law. God is no man’s debtor and does not respond to man. Therefore, he does not save or damn them because of what they do or don’t do. There is no utilitarian motive to act morally; the only reason for moral action is gratitude. For nominalism, human beings owe their exis- tence solely and simply to God. He has already given them the gift of life, and for this humans should be grateful. To some few he will give a second good, eternal life, but he is neither just nor unjust in his choice since his giving is solely an act of grace. To complain about one’s fate would be ir- rational because no one deserves existence, let alone eternal existence.

As this short sketch makes clear, the God that nominalism revealed was no longer the beneficent and reasonably predictable God of scholasticism. The gap between man and God had been greatly increased. God could no longer be understood or influenced by human beings—he acted simply out of freedom and was indifferent to the consequences of his acts. He laid down rules for human conduct, but he might change them at any moment. Some were saved and some were damned, but there was only an accidental relation between salvation and saintliness, and damnation and sin. The world this God created was thus a radical chaos of utterly diverse things in which humans could find no point of certainty or security.

During the late medieval period, they were the preeminent voice calling for a more original or “primitive” Christianity that took its bearings not from the philosophical ideas of the Greeks and the corrupt political structures of the Roman state but from the example of Christ. The Christian life, they argued, was not to be found in papal palaces and curial power but in poverty and asceticism. The most radical Franciscans found even revelation insufficient and believed that one could only live a Christian life if one imitated the life of Christ and his disciples. They were not alone in their pursuit of this alternative. In fact, they were only the most famous of the “primitivist” movements within the church that included the earlier Cathari, Waldensians, and Humiliati. Francis, however, spoke for all of these radicals when he argued that to be a Christian one must walk with Christ, retracing the via dolorosa. Only in this way could one appreciate the meaning of the Incarnation and God’s love for man. Francis embodied this dedication to suffering in his own as- ceticism (and stigmata) and enshrined it in his famous Rule that imposed austerity and poverty upon his followers.

After his death in 1226, the Franciscan order split between the zealots who demanded strict obedience of the Rule and the moderates who sought a papal dispensation from its more extreme strictures. Given the broad appeal of this movement among the common people and the consequent threat that it represented to the well-heeled clerical hierarchy, Pope John XXII (1249–1334) not only granted such a dispensation, he also condemned and hunted down the most zealous Franciscans, the so-called Fraticelli. While this satisfied the more pragmatic members of the order, John did not stop there. Drawn into a dispute with the Franciscan order and their governor general Michael of Cesena over the issue of poverty (the so-called Poverty Dispute), he ultimately condemned the Franciscan belief in the moral superiority of the ascetic life in 1326, arguing that this opinion con- tradicted Scripture.

John recognized that the doctrine of poverty not only threatened his power within the church but also threatened to transform Christianity as a whole. The medieval church understood itself as the embodiment of the Holy Spirit and thus as exercising God’s dominion or kingship on earth. Churchmen thus imagined that they should live in a manner befitting their status. The Franciscan doctrine of poverty challenged this view. Man, as Francis understood him, is not by nature an exalted being. His joy comes not from his place or possessions in the world but from his nearness to God. The Kingdom of God is thus not a literal kingdom here on earth rep- resented by the church, but a spiritual kingdom in which individuals are related to one another only in and through God. Taken to its extreme, such a doctrine was thus not merely an attack on priestly wealth and power; it was also an attack on clerical hierarchy and on the church itself.

One of the leading spokesmen for the Franciscan side in this debate was William of Ockham, who was then in Avignon to defend himself against charges of heresy leveled by his Thomistic opponents. The pope based his argument against the superiority of poverty on the natural ne- cessity of property to the preservation of human life, asserting that prop- erty existed even before the Fall. The Franciscans by contrast rested their case on revelation, arguing that property existed not by nature but only as a result of sin and therefore only after the Fall. They also asserted that through God’s absolute power Christ and his disciples were able to return to this prelapsarian state, living a pious life without property. Francis in their view had opened up this possibility anew and thus had laid out the grounds for a genuine Christian practice. When John rejected this view on the grounds of the invariance of the ordained order of nature, Ockham and the Franciscans were horrified. They were convinced that God could not be bound by the “laws” of nature that he himself had previously made. Christ’s life was a demonstration of this fact. Thus, in their view the pope’s declaration was a revival of Abelard’s heretical position that God is bound to save some from all eternity by his previous will. God, they argued, is not bound by such laws and is subject only to the principle of noncontra- diction. Otherwise, he is free and sovereign. To deny this fact is to deny God. They consequently proclaimed the pope a heretic and fled Avignon, seeking the protection of the emperor. Ockham in fact became a member of the imperial court and along with Marsilius of Padua (1270–1342) was instrumental in formulating the intellectual defense for the emperor in his dispute with the papacy.

Nominalism in this sense was Franciscan theology. It destroyed the order of the world that scholasticism had imagined to mediate between God and man and replaced it with a chaos of radically individual be- ings. However, it united each of these beings directly to God. From the Franciscan point of view, life in a radically individualized world seemed chaotic only to those who did not see the unity of creation in God. For those such as Francis who shared in this mystical unity, all other beings were their brothers and sisters, since all animate and inanimate beings were equally the creatures and creations of God.

The church attempted to suppress nominalism, but these efforts had little impact. Ockham’s thought was censured in 1326 and repeatedly condemned from 1339 to 1347, but his influence continued to grow, and in the one hundred and fifty years after his death nominalism became one of the most powerful intellectual movements in Europe.  

Nominalism presented not only a new vision of God but also a new view of what it meant to be hu- man that placed much greater emphasis on the importance of human will. As Antony Levi has pointed out, scholasticism from the thirteenth cen- tury on never had at its disposal a psychology that could explain action as both rational and willful. For scholasticism the will both in God and man could therefore either do everything or nothing. Aquinas effectively argued for the latter. Scotus (building on Bonaventure’s emphasis on God’s independence of his contingent creation) and then Ockham asserted the radical freedom of divine will. In emphasizing the centrality of divine will, however, they both also gave a new prominence to and justification of the human will. Humans were made in the image of God, and like God were principally willful rather than rational beings. Such a capacity for free choice had always been imagined to play a role in mundane matters, but orthodox Christianity had denied that humans were free to accept or reject justificatory grace. Still, if humans were truly free, as many nomi- nalists believed, then it was at least conceivable that they could choose to act in ways that would increase their chances of salvation.

Nominalists were thus continually attacked as Pelagians. In part this had to do with their interpretation of man as a willing rather than a rational being, but it was also certainly due to the fact that a number of nominalists simply found it difficult to countenance a God who was so terrifying and merciless, arguing not on the basis of theology but simply as a practical matter that God would not deny salvation to anyone who gave his all or did everything that was in him to do: “Facientibus quod in se est, deus non denegat gratiam” (“If you do what is in you, God will not deny grace”). This was the so-called Facientibus principle. Such a view seemed to im- ply that there were standards for salvation, but that the standards were completely idiosyncratic to each individual. One man’s all might be quite different than that of another. The determination of sanctity and sinful- ness was thus taken out of the hands of the church. No habit of charity was necessity for salvation, for God in his absolute power could recognize any meretricious act as sufficient, and more importantly could recognize any act as meretricious. The Facientibus principle thus not only undermined the spiritual (and moral) authority of the church, it defended a notion of salvation that was perilously close to Pelagianism.

Appearances notwithstanding, this view of nominalism as thoroughly Pelagian is mistaken. While later nominalists such as Gabriel Biel did in fact promote at least a semi-Pelagian idea of salvation, Ockham and his fourteenth- and fifteenth-century followers did not. Their emphasis on di- vine omnipotence simply left too little room to attribute any efficacy to the human will. It is true that their recognition of the importance of the human will seemed to suggest that human beings could win their own sal- vation, but this was mitigated by their assertion that all events and choices were absolutely predestined by God. While their doctrine seemed to open up space for human freedom, this was negated by their commitment to a divine power that determined everything absolutely but did so in an ut- terly arbitrary and therefore unpredictable way.

With this emphasis on divine determinism, nominalism was able to avoid Pelagianism, but the price was high, for the notion of predestina- tion not only relieved humans of all moral responsibility, it also made God responsible for all evil. John of Mirecourt saw this conclusion as the un- avoidable consequence of his own nominalism, admitting that God de- termined what would count as sin and who would act sinfully. Nicholas d’Autrecourt went even further, declaring that God himself was the cause of sin. While this conclusion for good reason was not emphasized by most nominalists, it was too important to remain submerged for long, and it emerged in all of its distinctive power in the period of the Reformation.

Nominalism sought to tear the rationalistic veil from the face of God in order to found a true Christianity, but in doing so it revealed a capricious God, fearsome in his power, unknowable, unpredictable, unconstrained by nature and reason, and indifferent to good and evil. This vision of God turned the order of nature into a chaos of individual beings and the order of logic into a mere concatenation of names. Man himself was dethroned from his exalted place in the natural order of things and cast adrift in an infinite universe with no natural law to guide him and no certain path to salvation. It is thus not surprising that for all but the most extreme ascetics and mystics, this dark God of nominalism proved to be a profound source of anxiety and insecurity.

While the influence of this new vision of God derived much of its force from the power of the idea itself and from its scriptural foundation, the concrete conditions of life in the second half of the fourteenth century and early fifteenth centuries played an essential role in its success. During this period, three momentous events, the Black Death, the Great Schism, and the Hundred Years War, shook the foundations of medieval civilization that had been weakened by the failure of the Crusades, the invention of gunpowder, and the severe blow that the Little Ice Age dealt to the agrar- ian economy that was the foundation of feudal life. While such a vision of God might have been regarded as an absurdity in the twelfth and thir- teenth centuries, the catastrophes of the succeeding period helped make such a God believable.

While the Middle Ages ended with the triumph of this nominalist vision of God, the scholastic enterprise did not simply vanish. In fact, it was revived a number of times but never with the same global aspirations. Even Francisco Suarez, Aquinas’s greatest defender and the last great scholastic, was ontologically a nominalist. On one level, he supported Thomistic real- ism, arguing for the extra-mental existence of universals, but at a deeper level he twisted this argument in a nominalistic fashion, asserting that every individual being was a universal. The world in which modernity came to be was thus not the world of scholasticism but the world of scholasticism overturned." [The Theological Origins of Modernity

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Wed Aug 31, 2016 7:29 pm

Petrarch.


Gillespie wrote:
"As Ockham and the pope were fighting the final theological battle of the Middle Ages in the convents and courts of Avignon, a few blocks away the son of a Florentine exile was just beginning a lifelong project that would help to define the modern age. He was Francesco Petrarch. Like Ockham, Petrarch rejected scholasticism as overly rationalized, but he was also repulsed by the nominalists’ endless arguments about terms and what he saw as vapid speculation about divine power. Like the nominalists he too was aware of the corruption of the church and hoped for purification and renewal, but he sought such a renewal not through faith and a new scriptural theology but through an amalgamation of Christian practice and ancient moral virtue.

Petrarch believed that a Christian life required not merely faith and cer- emonies but moral practice as well, and that such morality could only be achieved by a richer understanding of what it meant to be human that drew not merely on Scripture but on the moral models of antiquity. In sharp contrast to the asceticism of late medieval Christianity, he thus sought to revivify the love of honor and beauty as preeminent human motives. While his thought remained generally Christian, he envisioned a new kind of man with new virtues, not a citizen of a city-state or a republic but an autarchic individual being who was whole and complete in himself. Petrarch recognized that such individuals might surround themselves with friends or join with others as citizens, but he was convinced that they could only do so effectively if they were autonomous individuals first. It was this ideal of human individuality that inspired the humanist movement.

Such a focus on the individual was unknown in the ancient world. The ideal for the Greek artist and citizen was not the formation of individual character or personality but assimilation to an ideal model. Petrarch and his humanist followers did not put the human per se at the center of things but the individual human being, and in this respect they owed a deeper ontological debt to nominalism than to antiquity. For humanism, the individual is not a rational animal standing at the peak of creation. Like Ockham the humanists were convinced that human beings have no natural form or end. They also thus concluded that humans are characterized by their free will. This will, as humanism understood it, however, differs in one decisive respect from the will that Ockham and nominalism attribute to humans. It is not simply a created will but also a self-creating will. God grants humans the capacity to will, and they then make themselves into what they want to be. This notion of a self-willing being has clear affinities to the model of the nominalist God. Like the God who creates him, this man is an artisan, but an artisan whose greatest work of art is himself, a poet in the literal sense of the term, able to identify with every being and make himself into any one of them.

Such an individual, however, is not God. He is limited by his own mortality and by the chaotic motions of matter or by what humanists following the Romans dubbed fortuna. Artists can give form to things, paint pic- tures, shape marble, build palaces, and even create states, but fortune will eventually bring all to ruin. Even the greatest of princes, as Machiavelli, for example, argues, will only be able to succeed half the time. While the individual for humanism is free and in some sense divine, he is not omnip- otent, for he has both a childhood and a dotage in which he is dependent on others, and a death that inevitably brings his mastery to an end.

This humanist idea of fortune reflects an underlying notion of time as degeneration. Form and purpose do not inhere in nature but are the products of an artistic will that builds dikes against the floods of fortune, dikes, however, that fortune ultimately overflows. This humanist pes- simism about the capacity of art to master nature was reflected in their understanding of their own place in time. They knew that the magnificent world of the ancients that they so admired had perished and been super- seded by a dark, Gothic age. They hoped to establish a new golden age but they never imagined it would last forever and never dreamed that it might be successively improved for all time.

Humanism grew alongside and also out of nominalism. It offered a so- lution to many of the problems posed by divine omnipotence. This solution was itself constructed on nominalist grounds, that is, on the understand- ing of man as an individual and willful being, although it is only success- ful because it vastly narrowed the ontological difference that nominalism saw separating man and God. The consequent vision of the magnificent in- dividual, towering, as Shakespeare’s Cassius puts it, “like a colossus,” was thus something distinctively new and a clear step beyond the Middle Ages. Glory not humility was this man’s goal, and to this end he employed art rather than philosophy and rhetoric rather than dialectic. Humanism thus sought to answer the problem posed by divine omnipotence by imagining a new kind of human being who could secure himself by his own powers in the chaotic world nominalism had posited.

We today imagine humanism to be antagonistic to religion or even a form of atheism. Renaissance humanism, however, was almost always Christian humanism. In formulating their particular brand of Christianity, however, humanists drew heavily on Cicero and Neoplatonism and laid out a vision of Christianity that placed much greater weight on moral practice than on faith or ceremonies. This transformation, which was evi- dent even among the more moderate northern humanists, pushed Chris- tianity in a Pelagian direction that was deeply offensive to many ardent Christians. In this respect, the humanist impact upon Christian belief and practice was very important in fomenting the second great intellectual movement in answer to the problem posed by the nominalist revolution, the Reformation." [The Theological Origins of Modernity]

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Wed Aug 31, 2016 7:31 pm

Luther - Eckhart.


Gillespie wrote:
"Luther was the father of the Reformation, and his life and thought were in many ways a reaction to the problems posed by nominalism. However, in his response to nominalism, he followed a path that was radically different than that of the humanists, not away from God to- ward man but from man back to God. The humanists had sought to re- form Christianity, but Luther’s idea of reformation was more radical and all-encompassing.

Luther’s concern with personal salvation could hardly be stilled by a God who was unstillness itself, who today might save the saints and damn the sinners but tomorrow do exactly the reverse.

Luther’s personal quest for certainty vis-à-vis this God was intertwined with his struggle against corruption in the church. The corruption of the church in Luther’s mind was bound up with the doctrine of works and the sale of indulgences in particular. Luther rejected the redemptive power of works on nominalistic grounds. If what was preeminent in God and by extension in man was the will, then sin could only be remitted through right willing, regardless of the result. But right willing depended not on man but on God. Luther’s answer to the question of indulgences was thus his answer to the problem of the nominalist God: “faith alone saves.” Luther accepted the nominalist notion of man as a willing being but trans- formed this notion by reconfiguring the relationship of divine and human will. Faith, according to Luther, is the will to union with God, but faith can come only from God through Scripture. Faith in Scripture, in other words, guarantees salvation.

At first glance, it is difficult to see how Scripture solves the problem posed by nominalism, since the reliance on Scripture seems to assume the invariance of what God has ordained, an invariance that nominalism ex- plicitly denies. Luther, however, gives Scripture a different status. In his view, it is not simply a text, but a means by which God speaks directly to man. Faith arises from hearing the voice of God. God’s power is thus not something abstract and distant but acts always in and through us. In this way, Luther was able to transform the terrifying God of nominalism into a power within individual human beings. The Christian is reborn in God because God is born in him.

Ockham proclaimed the individuality of every being as a unique cre- ation of God, but he saw the radical separation of God and man as an impenetrable barrier to human understanding and an insuperable barrier to the human will. He thus turned to Scripture, but even Scripture only re- vealed the momentary determination of a distant God’s will, which might at any moment be otherwise. Luther too saw God as a deus absconditus who could not be philosophically analyzed or understood. He too turned to Scripture as the sole source of guidance. In contrast to the nominalists, however, he recognized that the difference between God and man could be bridged by the scriptural infusion of divine will that banishes all doubts. In contrast to the humanists, however, this was not because man willed in the same way that God wills, that is, creatively, but because he willed what God willed, that is, morally and piously. Man does not become a demi- god but becomes the dwelling place of God; God becomes the interior and guiding principle of his life, or what Luther calls conscience.

Italian humanism suggested in a Promethean fashion that man could lift himself to the level of God or even in some respects become God. In this sense it was clearly Pelagian, or at least semi-Pelagian. Humanism’s vision of man was thus incompatible with divine omnipotence and with the notion that God was God. Without such a God, however, it was diffi- cult to see how man could be more than an animal. The Reformation was directed not merely against the abuses in the church but also against this Pelagian humanism. God for the Reformers was omnipotent, and man was nothing without God. The idea of a free human will was thus an illusion. This anti-Pelagian and antihumanist position, however, was equally un- satisfying, for if the human will is utterly impotent, then God and not man is the source of evil, and humans cannot be held morally responsible for their actions. While humanism thus could not sustain a notion of divine omnipotence, it also could not exist without it. Similarly, Reformation the- ology could not countenance a free human will and yet could not sustain the notion of a good God in its absence. The humanists and the Reformers were thus entwined in an antinomy from which there was no escape. They were thus inevitably brought into conflict. This disagreement appears in its clearest light in the debate between Erasmus and Luther over the freedom or bondage of the will, but also in the disastrous Wars of Religion that raged across Europe for more than a hundred years.

In the midst of this conflict, a small group of thinkers sought a new path, abandoning both God and man as the founda- tion of their investigations, turning instead to the natural world. Moder- nity proper in this way begins with the goal of developing a science that will make man master and possessor of nature. This project was deeply indebted to nominalism in many different and important ways.

Eckhart was deeply influenced by Neoplatonism, although his Neo- platonism was transfigured by his mysticism. Like Ockham, Eckhart saw an infinite distance between God and the world. From the perspective of the beings we encounter in everyday life, God thus seems to be nothing. In Eckhart’s view, however, this issue must be examined from a divine rather than a human perspective, not logically but mystically. From this perspective, it is not God but the beings of the world that are nothing, or at least they are nothing without God. Since, however, these beings in some sense “are,” they must “be” God, that is, God must be “in” beings in some way. Without him, they would be pure nothingness. However, the infinite difference between God and his creation means that God cannot be in things as their whatness or essence. God, Eckhart suggests, is in them in a different sense, as their how, the operative force that determines their becoming. In nominalistic terms, God is pure willing, pure activity, or pure power, and the world in its becoming is divine will, is this God. Or in more modern terms, the world is the ceaseless motion that is determined by divine will understood as efficient or mechanical causality. The world is the incarnation, the body of God, and he is in the world as the soul is in the body, omnipresent as the motive principle.

Creation is thus not simply disorder. God is in the world in a new and different sense than scholasticism and traditional metaphysics imagined. He is not the ultimate whatness or quiddity of all beings but their howness or becoming. To discover the divinely ordered character of the world, it is thus necessary to investigate becoming, which is to say, it is necessary to discover the laws governing the motion of all beings. Theology and natural science thereby become one and the same.

Rationalism and materialism both work within this general understand- ing of the relationship of God and his creation, but they differ considerably in their understanding of the meaning of this relationship. Rationalism, for the most part, understands this identification of God and his creation pantheistically. The motion of nature therefore is the motion of God, and nature’s laws are the forms and structures of divine will. Rationalist sci- ence thus is theologically grounded not in Scripture but in the deduction of the laws of motion from transcendental will or freedom.

Materialism, by contrast, understands the meaning of the identification of God and creation atheistically. To say that the God of nominalism as Ockham understood him is in everything in the way Eckhart (and later Nicholas of Cusa) suggested is to say that everything is willfulness, motion without purpose or end, and without any necessary regularity. Viewed in this manner, there is no effective difference between the nominalist cosmos and a godless universe of matter in motion. The existence or nonexistence of God is irrelevant for the understanding of nature, since he can neither increase nor decrease the chaos of radical individuality that characterizes existence. Science thus does not need to take this God or Scripture into account in its efforts to come to terms with the natural world and can rely instead on experience alone. “Atheistic” materialism thus has a theologi- cal origin in the nominalist revolution. Materialism, it is true, also draws upon ancient atomism and Epicureanism, but both of these are received and understood within what was already an essentially nominalist view of the world.

This new understanding of becoming or change as a manifestation of divine will is the ontological foundation for the self-consciousness of modernity. Since Plato, being had been understood as timeless, unchang- ing presence. Change was always a falling away from being, degeneration. Nominalism called this notion into question with its assertion that God himself was not only subject to change but was perhaps even change itself. The changeable cosmos was no longer seen as a falling away from perfec- tion, no longer merely “the moving image of eternity,” as Plato put it in the Timaeus. Change was not simply degeneration. While this new view of becoming was never entirely spelled out and was constantly troubling to modern thinkers who strove repeatedly to discover an unchanging “onto- logical” ground of becoming, it was a crucial step away from both ancient and medieval notions of time and change.

If change is not simply degeneration, then some change may be pro- gressive. Change guided by an enlightened humanity may produce good. Progress in this way is opened up as a human possibility. The ability of the will to master the world was already clear to the Renaissance humanists such as Machiavelli, but their reliance on individual prowess and willing made a thorough mastery of nature inconceivable to them. Human fini- tude meant that even the greatest individuals would inevitably succumb to all-conquering time. Mastering nature thus would require something more than a merely individual will. Early modern thinkers argued that this problem could be solved only if human beings came to understand that science is not an individual accomplishment but a broadly based so- cial or political enterprise. In this way, it was possible to imagine a human will of unlimited longevity that might finally master the natural world." [The Theological Origins of Modernity]

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PostSubject: Re: Christianity Wed Aug 31, 2016 7:31 pm

Bacon - Descartes.


Gillespie wrote:
"Francis Bacon (1561–1626) is often characterized as the father of mod- ern science. Like his nominalist predecessors, Bacon rejected realism both in its scholastic and in its classical form. He agreed with the nominalists that “in nature nothing really exists besides individual bodies, performing purely individual acts.” As a result, the universe is a labyrinth that is im- penetrable to unaided human reason. Previous thinkers in Bacon’s view did not make any progress through this labyrinth because they did not use the powers available to them to attain this end, relying instead on mere ob- servation and overhasty generalization. There are various reasons for such ineptitude, and Bacon describes them in great detail in The New Organon in his famous discussion of the four idols or false notions that have become rooted in the mind. Human beings have come to believe that all they need to know comes from their immediate experience. Consequently, they have been unwilling or unable to verify their generalizations by the examination of particulars. They have thus been content to guess rather than know and have put the dreams of the imagination in place of real knowledge. Even in his own time, when realism had been called into question, Bacon believed that men were still deterred from such an investigation by an undue rever- ence for antiquity and by the belief that scientific progress was impossible because of the obscurity of nature, the shortness of life, the deceitfulness of the senses, the weakness of the judgment, the difficulty of experiment, and the like. What is needed, he argued, is a total reconstruction of science, the arts, and human knowledge on a proper foundation.

He is not concerned with what nature is and what it tends toward, that is, with the formal or final cause of things, but with the particular character and motion of matter, that is, with material and efficient causal- ity. In other words, he wants to know not what nature is but how it works, and his goal is thus not theory or speculation but the practical betterment of the human condition. When nature is comprehended in this manner, it can be made to produce works that are useful for human life, for when we understand the properties of particulars we will be able to bring them together in ways that will produce the effects we desire. Bacon’s ultimate aim is to produce a model of nature not as a static system of categories but as a dynamic whole, as the interacting operation of all particulars. To understand nature in this way is to comprehend nature as power.

Bacon believed that the power that arose from the knowledge of nature could carry humanity to hitherto unimaginable heights. However, in his view such knowledge can only be gained by first lowering oneself, by sub- ordinating oneself to nature and limiting the exercise of one’s own will. To master and command nature, it is necessary first to be the servant and interpreter of nature. For Bacon, the goal of science is thus not the mere

felicity of speculation, but the real business and fortunes of the human race, and all power of operation. For man is but the servant and interpreter of nature: what he does and what he knows is only what he has observed of nature’s order in fact or in thought; beyond this he knows nothing and can do nothing. For the chain of causes cannot by any force be loosened or bro- ken, nor can nature be commanded except by being obeyed. And so these twin objects, human Knowledge and human Power, do really meet in one; and it is from ignorance of causes that operation fails.

The presupposition of such knowledge is the humiliation of the human spirit, since success depends upon abandoning our proud belief that we occupy a superior place in the order of creation. Instead of acting as lords of creation, in the way that humanism suggested, we must become ap- prentices in nature’s workshop. We do not need great wit or individual excellence, but a dogged persistence and obedience to the surest rules and demonstrations.

While humility gains us entrance to the study of nature, cruelty is the means by which we reach our end. Mere experience will take us only into nature’s outer courts. To come to nature’s inner chambers, we must tear it to pieces, constraining, vexing, dissecting, and torturing nature in order to force it to reveal the secret entrances to its treasure chambers. Only as merciless servants who bind and torture their master to learn the source of his power can we win from nature the knowledge of its hidden forces and operation. On the basis of this knowledge, we can then produce “a line and race of inventions that may in some degree subdue and overcome the necessities and miseries of humanity.”

In contrast to both Franciscan asceticism and the hu- manist notion of godlike individuality, however, Bacon imagines man to be a relatively weak and fearful being who can only succeed by consistently working with his fellow human beings over many years to learn nature’s laws and turn this knowledge to human use. It is the very democratic character of Bacon’s project that makes its success conceivable. It does not depend upon the exercise of great and thus rare genius, but upon the con- sistent application of ordinary intelligence to a series of small problems that can be easily analyzed. Bacon in this way differs considerably from his humanist predecessors. The hero of knowledge that Bacon imagines in his New Atlantis, for example, is not a sparkling “great-souled man,” but a solemn, priestlike, and unheroic scientist who is willing to investigate not merely the beautiful and noble but the low and foul, for like Bacon he knows that “whatever deserves to exist deserves also to be known.” 

While Bacon laid the first bricks of the new science on a nominalistic foundation, it was Galileo, Descartes, and Hobbes who raised its walls. Bacon’s method, in fact, was ill-suited to the comprehension of nature understood as matter in motion. Its unmitigated nominalistic focus on individual beings and its inductive method rendered it incapable of grasp- ing motion as such. Galileo’s transposition of motion into the abstract world of geometry and his new understanding of inertia were crucial steps that made modern mathematical science possible. On this foundation, Descartes and Hobbes developed alternative visions of the modern scientific enterprise.

The differences between Descartes and Hobbes are crucial and central to the bifurcation of modernity. There is one strain of modern thought that begins with Descartes and includes Leibniz, Malebranche, Spinoza, Kant, Fichte, Hegel, Schopenhauer, and most contemporary continental philosophers. There is a second beginning with Hobbes, Locke, Hume, and Mill, and that includes many contemporary Anglo-American think- ers. These two strains of thought represent alternative answers to the fun- damental problem posed by the nominalist God within the framework of modern science. The differences between them turn on a number of issues, but the question of the nature and relationship of man and God is of cen- tral importance.

Man for Bacon is a part of nature. He thus “can do so much and so much only as he has observed in fact or in thought of the course of nature. Beyond this he neither knows anything nor can do anything.” Man is a natural being subject to all of the constraints of nature. While he can ameliorate his condition and in a limited sense master the natural world, he remains a part of nature and is not its creator.

Descartes offers us a different vision of the modern project.

In his early thought, Descartes was convinced that he could construct an apodictic science on the basis of mathematics. Such a science, he believed, could produce a mathemati- cal representation of all motion that would allow human beings to truly master nature, make them able not merely to ameliorate human misery as Bacon had hoped but actually to make man the immortal lord of all creation. This initial project was called into question by Descartes’ real- ization that the idea of a truly omnipotent God undermined the certainty of mathematics. This realization led to the spiritual quest that ended with Descartes’ articulation of his famous principle, cogito ergo sum, as the foundation for all human knowledge. The scientific project as Descartes lays it out in his mature thought is thus a clear response to the problem posed by nominalism.

What distinguishes the Cartesian solution to this problem from that of Bacon is evident in his fundamental principle, for it grounds all of modern science on an autonomous subject who not only transcends nature but is also able to resist and ultimately challenge (or even replace) God himself. Man for Descartes becomes master and possessor of nature by dispossess- ing its current owner, that is, by taking it away from God. This is possible because man in some sense already is God, or at least is the same infinite will that constitutes God.

The Cartesian notion of science thus rests upon a new notion of man as a willing being, modeled on the omnipotent God of nominalism and able like him to master nature through the exercise of his infinite will. Descartes draws here not merely upon nominalism but upon the human- ist ideal of a self-creating and self-sufficient individual, and upon Luther’s idea of the conjunction of the human and divine will. It is this potent com- bination that gives rise to the notion of subjectivity that plays a central role in rationalism, idealism, and later continental thought as well.

Insofar as Descartes both leaves man within nature as a body in motion and elevates him above it into a quasi-omnipotence, he lays the ground- work for an inevitable and irremediable dissatisfaction that poses tremen- dous moral and political dangers for modernity. The infinite human will constantly strives to master and transcend the body but is itself at the same time always bodily. In its striving to realize its infinite essence, it must always negate the finite. Such a negation, however, is impossible. As ideal- istic and noble as its aspirations may be, idealism in its practical form thus constantly faces a millenarian temptation to use ever more extreme means of control to achieve its unachievable ends.

Hobbes has a more limited view of human capacities than Descartes. Man for Hobbes is a piece of nature, a body in motion. Like the nominal- ists, Hobbes believes that this motion is not teleologically determined, but in contrast to them he sees it not as random but as mechanical. It neither realizes its essence in Aristotelian fashion, nor is it attracted to a natural end by love or beauty, but is pushed ever onward by collisions with other individual objects. Man is therefore moved not by his intrinsic natural im- pulses, nor by divine inspiration or free will, but by a succession of causal motions. In contrast to Descartes, Hobbes does not see human beings ris- ing above nature. Humans are rather thoroughly natural objects that obey the laws of nature. According to these laws that govern all matter, each of these (human) objects will remain in its given motion unless this motion is contravened by collision with another body. Such a collision of human objects is conflict, since it limits the continuous (and therefore in Hobbes’ view free) motion of the individual. In a densely packed world, the natural state of man is thus the state of war. The purpose of science, as Hobbes understands it, is to organize the motion of both human and non-human bodies to maximize the unimpeded (and therefore free) motion of human beings.

The importance of free will is vastly diminished in Hobbes’ thought. In fact, Hobbes denies that human beings have a free will, characterizing the will as simply the last appetite before action. For Hobbes, human life is lived within nature and is always constrained by the natural world. Man is more a creature than a creator, more governed by laws than law-giving.

Most human beings in Hobbes’ view fear death and consent to be ruled in a state to achieve peace and maximize their free motion. The chief dan- gers to such rule and the peace it makes possible are the desire for glory (that characterized humanism) and the belief that our actions in this life can affect the life to come (that was central to the Reformation). The impact of the desire for glory is mitigated by the Leviathan, who Hobbes charac- terizes as a “mortal god,” since no one can compete with him for honor. The impact of religious passion is reduced by a correct understanding of predestination. Hobbes agrees with Luther and Calvin that everything is predestined but argues that it is precisely this fact that demonstrates that the things we do in this world have no impact on our salvation. If every- thing is already determined, then there is nothing anyone can do to either gain or lose salvation.

With the elimination of glory and beatitude as motives for human ac- tion, Hobbes believes human beings will be naturally inclined to pursue preservation and prosperity. These are lesser goods than earthy or super- natural glory, but they are also less likely to be the source of violent con- flict. Hobbes thus seeks to make man master and possessor of nature not in order to achieve his apotheosis but in order to satisfy his natural, bodily desires.

Modernity has two goals—to make man master and possessor of na- ture and to make human freedom possible. The question that remains is whether these two are compatible with one another. The debate between Hobbes and Descartes in the Objections and Replies to the Meditations would suggest that they are not. Indeed, what we see in this debate is the reemergence of the issues at the heart of the debate between Luther and Erasmus. For Descartes as for Erasmus, there is human freedom in addi- tion to the causality through nature. For Hobbes as for Luther there is only the absolute power of God as the ultimate cause behind the motion of all matter. In this way we see the reemergence at the very heart of modernity of the problematic relationship of the human and the divine that bedeviled Christianity from its beginning. The modern ontic turn away from man and God to nature thus in the end still assumes a continuing metaphysical and structural importance for the very categories it seeks to transcend. The successors to Hobbes and Descartes in the modern tradition struggle with this question. The Enlightenment in particular is characterized by a series of unsuccessful attempts to solve this problem. The centrality of this problem to the modern enterprise becomes apparent in Kant’s antinomy doctrine and in the French Revolution.

Plato’s Parmenides argues there that the attempt to explain the world either through the one without reference to the many or through the many without reference to the one is doomed to failure. Nominalism rejects real- ism because it goes too far in the direction of the one, positing an identity between God and his creation. Nominalism by contrast draws a sharp distinction between the two and as a result puts great emphasis on manyness and particularity." [The Theological Origins of Modernity]

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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