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PostSubject: Polytheism and Monotheism Polytheism and Monotheism EmptyThu Mar 15, 2012 7:43 am

Since I never lived in a polytheistic culture it's not really possible for me to get first hand experience of a polytheistic world-view. Though, I have heard of ideas about how Catholics and Orthodox Christians are somehow crypto-polytheistic because there is a great deal of worshiping of Saints, in contrast with Protestant Christianity.  

After reading Straw Dogs, by John N. Gray, where he affirms that in a world of polytheism there would not be religious wars like these we have had in monotheistic world, I have been a bit curious about the reality of his statement.

We all know the polytheists persecuted the christians of course. But in a world where there would be only polytheistic religions would there still be religious wars - Crusades, Jihads, Faith Based War, Sectarian violence like Irish Protestants versus Irish Catholics, Protestant versus Catholic Wars at the times of the Reformation?

There is no denying the fact that there were persecutions even in polytheistic societies of some cults, I remember someone showing me how the Romans conquering Gaulia, banned Druids.

But let us see how these religious persecutions caused by polytheism can even compare to the large scale mass violence of monotheistic religions...


Another thing about polytheism I also read in Gray's book is that it does not provide a meaning to life or a belief in progress like we see in CHristianity or Islam.
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PostSubject: Re: Polytheism and Monotheism Polytheism and Monotheism EmptyThu Mar 15, 2012 1:34 pm

When will you tards learn, guns don't kill people, captitalism doesn't kill people, religion doesn't kill people, people kill people, it is quite natural for me to want to kill you, it is government that prevents from acting on my aggressive impulses, this artificial environment makes all this cooperation possible. People find a reason to not like someone, they always do, then there's gold, silver, territory, slaves, resources, religion is just an excuse to take peoples shit.


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PostSubject: Re: Polytheism and Monotheism Polytheism and Monotheism EmptyThu Mar 15, 2012 1:36 pm

And we do have polytheism, we have cult of celebrity, angelina jolie, arnold schwarzenegger, brad pitt, etc.
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PostSubject: Re: Polytheism and Monotheism Polytheism and Monotheism EmptyThu Mar 15, 2012 1:48 pm

You ever walk down the road, and see another, particularly a man your age, and get the sudden urge to beat the shit out of him, but you don't right, but you stare at the motherfucker, and if he stares back at you, you get affraid, but yet you stare back anyway, you don't want to be the one to look away 1st, but normally we don't act on these urges, unless we're in a bar, and theres a lot of pussy and alcohol around. This ain't religion man, it is called testosterone, and it is responsible for 95% of the murders and violence that have ever happened, not Jesus, Buddha or Mohammed, testosterone on a mass scale, monotheism was invented to pacify us, but even a thing used to pacify us, can have a reverse effect, because of how violent we are.
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PostSubject: Re: Polytheism and Monotheism Polytheism and Monotheism EmptyThu Mar 15, 2012 1:52 pm

There are some tribes in africa, where the murder rate is 30, 40, 50 %, and they're killing their own people, not because of religion, but because of lack of modern institutions like monotheism and government that keeps men from killing other men.
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PostSubject: Re: Polytheism and Monotheism Polytheism and Monotheism EmptyThu Mar 15, 2012 7:40 pm

eyesinthedark wrote:
There are some tribes in africa, where the murder rate is 30, 40, 50 %, and they're killing their own people, not because of religion, but because of lack of modern institutions like monotheism and government that keeps men from killing other men.
More evidence that humans, particularly the most primitive and simple, revert back to their natural behaviors when there are no restricting powers; when fear is somewhat decreased.

Look around you, all those animals walking no two legs and acting civil and humane and "normal" are really acting, for within their minds lie thoughts that would make your pussy shrivel.
Can you spot them?
Can you see that manimal peeking beneath a smile or a gaze?

This is why I've always said that not all are salvageable. The spirit of nobility is something one is born with not something one can learn.
One can only learn how to imitate it, act it out, learn the gestures and the etiquette....one can even act it out for so long that he is convinced that this is what he always was...but......BUT....tear down the laws and take away the fear and the restrictive elements, and see how they return to what comes naturally to them.

A true human is the one that can be nothing else; that is what he is despite the consequences or if he is being watched.
A noble spirit is the one that is noble even if there is a penalty, a cost, and no reward for being so...why?
Because he can be no other way.

Now your homework is to teach yourself two things:

1- Are you truly a noble spirit, a free-spirit, or are you simply acting it out, convinced that you are so because you wish to be considered so or because you've acted it out so long that it has become second-nature?

2- Can you psot these masked fiends, behind the pretenses? Can you see them even if they cannot see themselves?

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PostSubject: Re: Polytheism and Monotheism Polytheism and Monotheism EmptyThu Mar 15, 2012 10:16 pm

1. Define noble

2. Some of the time, I think.
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PostSubject: Re: Polytheism and Monotheism Polytheism and Monotheism EmptyThu Mar 15, 2012 10:29 pm

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PostSubject: Re: Polytheism and Monotheism Polytheism and Monotheism EmptyThu Mar 15, 2012 10:50 pm

1. I am not an animal, I am not totally engrossed in the pleasures of the flesh, though I am not an antihedonist, either, I try to be mindful of the consequences of my indulgences, I try to accept myself as I am, and the world as it is, and I don't blame others for my own ignorance and stupidity, in many ways 1. can be summed up as being rational and responsible for ones self.
To be honest though, I have limitations, for example I am lazy, and sometimes this causes me to steal or borrow money from friends and family, and sometimes I don't pay it back, and I seek jobs well under my skill level, because I don't like to work very hard, and I hate being a slave. Sometimes I get frustrated with myself and with society, and I wish to change it to make it more suitable to me, rather than make me more suitable to it, to society.
I don't have problems with drugs, alcohol, women, food, gambling, my problem is laziness, but perhaps this is no problem, and it is society that is the problem. I'm not greedy, I don't require many things from this world, but I do need the basics, and I simply ask that I don't have to work my ass off just for the basics, but because of lawful and unlawful practices by capitalists and bankers, the price of things has substatially risen over the last few decades, and there has been no corresponding increase in wages, and I refuse to be a nigger. I'm starting to think about ways around the system, again, rather than being subservient to it, more and more, so I don't know if I qualify for your number 1.
I don't think society owes me anything, however I don't owe it anything either, in survival there are winners and losers, and there are many ways to compete, beyond economics, employee, employer, etc. I never did well in school, either, not for want of ability, but because I have trouble with authority, and serving others, and doing what others command of me, and working my ass off doing something I'd rather not being doing. So I've always had this problem with society, you see, it's not going away, either.
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PostSubject: Re: Polytheism and Monotheism Polytheism and Monotheism EmptyThu Mar 15, 2012 11:08 pm

In many ways number 2 sounds like number 1, knowing thyself, not choosing to live in a fantasy world, and having unreal expectations of yourself and others, just because it may make you happier in the short term to do so. There seems to be a thread running through number 1 and 2, perhaps 3 as well, I'll have to read it. Basically, I would sum it up as living as rationally as one can, not letting their emotions, instincts, passions, chance, other people, etc, usurp your control over yourself, being in charge of ones destiny, and not a victim of cirumstance, as much as this is possible. I think this is a path that we can all attain, to a degree, though some significantly more than others, I wouldn't say it is black and white. In a sense, what you are calling for here is maturity, blaming yourself and your own ignorance and stupidity, rather than the world, or God, being responsible, competent, in control, aware, I don't think you deny the passions, but you want to maximize their control and their direction via reason. You're not an altruist, as far as I can tell, you have no ideals like that, I don't think you want to deny nature, like some rationalists do, but control it, direct it, shape it, give it focus, direction, this is what you mean by controlling the feminine with in, and, I suppose, this is mans advantage, his reasoning faculty, to not live in ignorance, superstition, to be swayed by crowds and popular opinion, but to live in accordance with his own experience primarily, and his own interpretation of it, rather than in accord with emotions, instincts, and perhaps even tradition, authority, popular opinion, etc, God. To live in accordance with reason, is basically what you're calling for.

I don't know, there are times when I follow your number 2, but then there are times when I question science, for example, as a form of authority, you know this about me, and I seek my own, philosophical interpretation of reality, not so I can live in flights of fancy among pink unicorns and rainbows, but so I can stay true and authentic to myself, and live in line with what I know, and interpret reality in a way that serves me, my personality, my experience, rather than be bound by someone elses, and I would see that as living in accord with 2.
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PostSubject: Re: Polytheism and Monotheism Polytheism and Monotheism EmptyThu Mar 15, 2012 11:22 pm

3. Right, number 3, isn't all that different than number 2 and 1, a mitigated rationalism and aceticism is what you're calling for, what you admire in a person. Is that me? Well, I have no idea who you are, you could be an alcoholic reject, retard for all I know, although you write very well, but if the content of your writing is any indication of who you are, then I would say you are a little more advanced than I am, perhaps. These are very, very lofty standards, which explains why you keep most people at bay. It is not a Judeochristian or Buddhist morality at work here, but nonetheless it is equally strinct, actually, Christianity can be fairly lenient when you consider what it is carefully, it is a free pass, a get out of hell free card, but I digress.

Yes, a different kind of morality, more earthy, egoistic, and less world renouncing, yet equally hard on the self, your morality burns flesh, it is very tough. To be honest no, I have weaknesses, hangups, your morality is too harsh for me, yet I am working on myself, and perhaps one day, maybe, I will be that diciplined, or perhaps not.
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PostSubject: Re: Polytheism and Monotheism Polytheism and Monotheism EmptyThu Mar 15, 2012 11:25 pm

It seems in a 'round about way, your ethic is very antiflesh, anticorporeal, I'm really not sure if such a life could be lead, only in degrees, you are an idealist in your own way, I believe instincts and emotions play more of role in our lives, but maybe that i just because I have not yet or cannot overcome them the way you have. I'm not a very emotional person, for the most part, but like I say, one thing that rules me is lack of drive, and motivation, and this is something I shall have to work on, or maybe I won't have to...
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PostSubject: Re: Polytheism and Monotheism Polytheism and Monotheism EmptyThu Mar 15, 2012 11:34 pm

4. Yes, what do we have here, a mitigate egoistic asceticism, and elitism. How do I treat others? I'd say I'm generally fairly good, but then, I prefer to be alone most of the time, or at least I have, I don't oftent interact with others, so it is difficult for me to judge. I'd say I'm a fairly honest person, I usually treat others the way they treat me, but I'd say I'm more kind to friends and family than strangers, but this is in line with your ethic, as you're an elitist, and you do no dole out your compassion readily, so you have to get to know someone, before you do, and the relationship has to be mutually beneficial, rather than one sided. This sounds like a fine ethic to me, I don't know if I'd be quite as harsh with people as you, but then I think I'd be even harsher with strangers than you perhaps would be, if I desperately wanted something from them.
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PostSubject: Re: Polytheism and Monotheism Polytheism and Monotheism EmptyThu Mar 15, 2012 11:37 pm

Male = Spirit - mind, reason, imagination, abstraction, ordering, past, conscious...
Female = Flesh - body, emotion, sensation, pragmatism, disordering, future, intuitive...

To be masculine in spirit is not to deny flesh, to reject the feminine, but to dominate it...to control it....to use it a as passion, as a libidinal energy to procreate and create....and Become.

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PostSubject: Re: Polytheism and Monotheism Polytheism and Monotheism EmptyThu Mar 15, 2012 11:40 pm

5. Here we see your mitigated egoism, you treat friends and family above others, race, culture, creed, etc. Sure, why not.

Well, overall I'd say I'm a bit too weak and pathetic to be a part of your club unfortunately, and I'm thinking of taking my weakness out on society, rather than myself, because it's easier, or maybe I'll work on myself, or maybe both.
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PostSubject: Re: Polytheism and Monotheism Polytheism and Monotheism EmptyThu Mar 15, 2012 11:47 pm

That a little bit like saying, male = left brain, female = right brain. you could also add, male = dominant, competative, strong, courageous, responsible, diciplined, leader, and female = submisive, cooperative, weak, cowardly, irresponsible, undiciplined, follower. One is a more internal, personal dichotomy, the other is a more external, social dichotomy. I suppose there could also be combinations of the two, like a rational, diciplined, conscious person, but who is also submissive, egalitarian, serving, etc.
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PostSubject: Re: Polytheism and Monotheism Polytheism and Monotheism EmptyFri Mar 16, 2012 7:51 am

Disappointed you guys are off-topic here. I'd really wish to see thoughts on the ideas about polytheism being more tolerant than monotheism.
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PostSubject: Re: Polytheism and Monotheism Polytheism and Monotheism EmptyFri Mar 16, 2012 5:57 pm

Rome wasn't very tolerant of Judaism, Christianity and Manichaeism, to say the least, probably more for political reasons than theological reasons, though.

Zoroastrianism, an ancient Persian monotheistic religion, was tolerant of polytheism and other monotheisms, so long as they were 'benevolent', or 'moral' polytheisms and monotheisms.
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PostSubject: Re: Polytheism and Monotheism Polytheism and Monotheism EmptyFri Mar 16, 2012 6:25 pm

Jester wrote:
Disappointed you guys are off-topic here. I'd really wish to see thoughts on the ideas about polytheism being more tolerant than monotheism.
Monotheism is a belief in an authoritarian who monopolizes power.
He is a King, as in King of kings.

Polytheism allows for a multiplicity of beliefs and gods and only believes that one or some are more powerful than others.

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PostSubject: Re: Polytheism and Monotheism Polytheism and Monotheism EmptySat Mar 17, 2012 9:36 am

Jester> I'd really wish to see thoughts on the ideas about polytheism being more tolerant than monotheism.

Roman Polytheistic "tolerance" of other Gods for example can be seen in state-sanctioned military rituals like 'Evacatio', where the enemies' gods were invoked to assist Roman victory!:
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Roman Polytheistic "intolerance" of other Gods [including pagan ones] can be seen in state-sanctioned banning of the Bacchanalia:
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The difference between Polytheistic Intolerance and Monotheistic Intolerance is one between Crime and Sin. In Crime, the dignity of the criminal for upsetting a "social order" still rests with him; in Sin, the sinner has to seek deliverance from God for upsetting a "moral order". The sinner is an infidel and has to be punished because only God can give him his dignity, his "goodness"/his "divinity" back.
The Criminal confers honour on the crime he commits with his dignity and therefore because he has dignity, he is "worthy" of being punished. Punishment was not meant to degrade him; it acknowledged him.

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PostSubject: Re: Polytheism and Monotheism Polytheism and Monotheism EmptySun Mar 18, 2012 3:10 pm

Monotheism tends to be more moralistic. Moralism, judging and condemning behaviors, is synonomous with intolerance. The question is, why does monotheism tend to be more moralistic? The answer may lie in the fact polytheism is inherently more conducive to diversity, and plurality, monotheism to uniformity. Polytheism also works well with multiplicity of governments, conservatism, individualism, localism and nature, monotheism with the respective antonyms. Civilization, contrary to what some motherfuckers like Rand think, is inherently opposed to individualism, the individualism and libertarianism of Americas founding fathers, is only possible in an agrarian civilisation. What stands for individualism now? Coke or pepsi, mcdonalds or bugerking, republican or democrat. The world, as it is progressing, globalising, is moving towards, the one, or, the two.
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PostSubject: Re: Polytheism and Monotheism Polytheism and Monotheism EmptySun Mar 18, 2012 3:35 pm

One or two car companies, one or two governments, one or two political parties, one or two Gods, etc. In a heavily industrialised, "free" or partiality free market economy, you get 2 choices, maybe 3, in a controlled market economy, you get just 1, but either way, there is little choice, and often the 2 or 3 choices available, are actually 1 choice, masquerading as 2 or 3. What it boils down to is, monopoly, a monopolisation of political, economic and religious spheres. The goal has always been the big, fat, bloated. monstrous one, the octopus. Eventually, all corporations will be merged, all religions will be merged, all states will be merged, and the corporation and the religion will be merged with the state. This is the big idea, the new world order. In this utopia, there will be no male, no female, no back, no white, no individuals or liberty. The world will be divided into two, a small group of people, who own everything, and big group of people, who own nothing.
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PostSubject: Re: Polytheism and Monotheism Polytheism and Monotheism EmptySun Mar 18, 2012 3:46 pm

The big group of people shall worship and work for the small group of people, who in turn, shall worship and work for the one, otherwise known as God, embodied in Prince William, or some other representative of the institution. We will be genetically altered and cybernated and domesticated and eugenicized by and for the one, making us even more docile, passive, unable to fight or flee than we already are. Eventually, we'll be exterminated, after the robots have been built to replace us. They'll keep a few of us alive in zoos and as pets, in case the robots don't work out. This, my friends, is monotheism and monarchy, and what it entails. Somehow I didn't fit in with their plans, I don't know why, I'm not a hard working, obedient consumer like everyone else, I'm defective, the programming didn't work, I'm not producy many of their luxuries for the sake of my necessities.
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PostSubject: Re: Polytheism and Monotheism Polytheism and Monotheism EmptyTue May 28, 2013 3:26 pm

Jan Assman: The Price of Monotheism.

Quote :
"That is why i prefer to speak of “translatability” rather than tolerance, by which i allude to the practice, documented since sumerian times, of translating divine names—first from one language into another, then from one religion into another as well. other peoples’ religions were felt to be basically compatible with one’s own.
When the Assyrians, for example, referred to the god Assur in justifying the cruel punishment they inflicted on their apostate vassals, they did so not because these renegades persisted in worshipping their own false gods, but because they had become Assur’s enemies by breaking the oaths of loyalty they had sworn in his name. indeed, the very fact that foreigners could be taken under oath presupposed that their religion and gods could be made to harmonize with the Assyrian deities. The practice of translating deities had already become well established in Mesopotamia by the third millennium, facilitated by the diverse forms of communication between individual city-states that developed within this polycentrically organized space. contracts with other states had to be sealed by oath, and the gods to whom this oath was sworn had to be compatible. Tables of divine equivalences were thus drawn up that eventually correlated up to six different pantheons.

This would have been impossible had it been assumed that the gods worshipped by other peoples were false and fictitious. All contracts were concluded in the name of the gods of both contractual parties. religion functioned as a medium of commu- nication, not elimination and exclusion. The principle of the translatability of divine names helped to overcome the primitive ethnocentrism of the tribal religions, to establish relations between cultures, and to make these cultures more transparent to each other. That these relations sometimes involved violence and bloodshed is another matter altogether.

It is important to note that the principle of the Mosaic distinction blocked such translatability. Under monotheism, the “peoples” are still free to profess their faith in the one true god at the end of time, but the present forms in which they worship the supreme Being are not recognized as being equally true. Jupiter cannot be translated into Yahweh. on the basis of this distinction, the Jews would have found it impossible to forge a pact with the Assyrians, since the conclusion of the pact under oath would have implied the equivalence and mutual translatability of Assur and Yahweh. The Mosaic distinction therefore has real and far-reaching political consequences, and i think it likely that these played a crucial role in its in- troduction. for the Jews, Yahweh could not be translated into “Assur,” “Amun” or “Zeus.” This was something the “pagans” never understood.

The cultural system of polytheism is one such translational technique. By disarticulating the sphere of the numinous into distinct roles and functions, it converts the divine world of a particular group into a format that makes it compatible with the divine worlds of other groups and cultures. Tribal religions are not mutually translatable in this way. in this respect, polytheism represents a major cultural achievement. As alien to each other as the groups may be in other respects, they can still see eye to eye on their gods. A significant change takes place with the Mosaic distinction, since here it is a matter of “counter”-identification, or, in the terminology of Georges Devereux, “antagonistic acculturation.”


Quote :
"The Psalm confronts the invisibility of the biblical god with the visibility of pagan images, which are revealed as fictitious, ineffectual and illusionary precisely in their flashy materiality:

"Therefore should the heathen say, Where is now their God?
But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.
Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands.
They have mouths, but they speak not; eyes have they, but they see not;
They have ears, but they hear not; noses have they, but they smell not;
They have hands, but they handle not; feet have they, but they walk not; neither
speak they through their throat." (Ps. 115:2–7)

- here the target is no longer “other gods” who arouse Yahweh’s jealousy, but mere “idols” (‘atzavim), false, fictitious gods created by the pagans themselves in their benighted state.

Let me stress once again that the original meaning of this idea is not that there is one god and no other, but that alongside the one True God, there are only false gods, whom it is strictly forbidden to worship. These are two different things. Asserting that there is only one god may be quite compatible with accepting, and even worshipping, other gods, so long as the relationship between god and gods is understood to be one of subordination, not exclusion. exclusion is the decisive point, not oneness."


Quote :
"Akhenaten did not command: “Thou shalt worship no other gods besides the one light- and sun-god Aton.” he simply abolished the other gods and did not consider them worth
mentioning after that, not even for polemical purposes. Their exclusion took place on a practical rather than on a discursive and theoretical level. That is why we quite justifiably speak of a Mosaic distinction, not “Akhenaten’s distinction.” The distinction made by Akhenaten never became a fully articulated, codified, and canonic figure of historical remembrance; it became associated as such with the name of Moses instead.
The monotheism of Akhenaten of Armana was a monotheism of knowledge. Behind it stands a new worldview that makes everything that exists, the sum total of all reality, depend on the effects of the sun, which produces light and heat through its rays and time through its motion.
From the discovery that the sun generates time as well as light, Akhenaten concluded that the other gods had no role to play in creating and upholding the universe. They are therefore nonexistent, nothing but lies and deception. That is why he ordered their temples to be shut down, their cults and festivals abolished, their images destroyed, and their names expunged.

This is something completely different from the Mosaic project. Moses set out to establish a new political order, not a new cosmology. he spoke the language of law-giving, constitutions, covenants, and contractual obligations. his concern is with a political monotheism, a
monotheism that binds people together. its motto is not: “There are no other gods but me,” but rather: “For you there are no other gods,” that is, you shall have no other gods. The difference to Akhenaten is that here, the existence of other gods is recognized. otherwise the requirement of loyalty would be meaningless. These other gods are not denied, they are expressly forbidden. Whoever falls down before them is not simply deluded, but guilty of committing the worst possible sin, a breach of contract. one is a cognitive category, a matter of knowledge, the other a political category, a matter of mutual obligation. Biblical monotheism is political at its core..."


Quote :
"The difference is that in egypt, the state frees the people from oppression by the natural order, whereas in israel, the law frees them from oppression by the state.
The egyptian idea of Ma’at, by contrast, designates a justice from below, a salvational justice that comes to the aid of the poor and the weak, the proverbial widows and orphans. This justice is not imposed from above, but pushed through from below. According to the egyptian view of things, it is not an organ of the state. Quite the contrary: the state exists so that justice may be realized on earth.
By theologizing the law and elevating it to the status of divine law, monotheism freed people from the illusion that without a king to dispense them justice, they would be at one another’s throats."


Quote :
"This much more far-reaching meaning of the ban on graven images, which forbids every figural representation, is directed against the symbiotic relationship to the world of cosmotheism; it repudiates images as a form of innerworldly captivity. Man has been placed above creation, not seamlessly integrated into it. he ought not to worship it in consciousness of his frailty and dependence but rule over it freely and independently. even the dominium terrae, the commandment to subdue the earth, juxtaposes the concept of the image with a list of life-forms:
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. (Gen. 1:26)

Similar terms are used in the covenant which god later concludes with noah:

. . . Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.
And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth,
and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and
upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered.
every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have
i given you all things. (Gen. 9:1–3)

in his freedom, independence, and responsibility, man is an image of god. Like the dominium terrae, the ban on graven images is intended to with- draw the world from the sphere of the divine, the sphere inaccessible to human control. it is man’s duty to take charge of the world in his own right. in doing so, he acknowledges its godlessness, or rather the exclusive divine claim of the extramundane god. Dominion is the opposite of veneration. The same holds true of images. Matter should be controlled and not worshipped. images ought not to be worshipped because that would mean worshipping the world."

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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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Lyssa
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Lyssa

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Polytheism and Monotheism Empty
PostSubject: Re: Polytheism and Monotheism Polytheism and Monotheism EmptyWed Jan 06, 2016 5:50 pm

Only Sloterdijk can be this poker-faced funny writing on a serious subject as the three monotheisms:

Sloterdijk wrote:
"I shall begin with a genetic observation intended to show how those religions developed in sequence from one another, or from older sources – in a manner comparable to a threephase explosion (or a series of enemy takeovers). It is only logical to begin the nomination of candidates in the monotheistic field of theses by determining the position of Judaism. The question that will concern us here was given its quintessential expression by Thomas Mann in an inspired chapter of Joseph and his Brothers under the heading ‘How Abraham discovered God’. In the literarily reconstructed primal scene of the Abrahamic tradition, we observe the forefather of monotheism struggling with the question of whom humanity should serve: ‘… and his strange answer had been: “The highest alone” ’.

In a strenuous meditation, Abraham reaches the conclusion that Mother Earth, as admirably diverse as her fruits may be, surely cannot be the first and highest authority, as she is obviously dependent on the rain that falls from the sky. Led to the sky by his thoughts, he concludes after a while that, in spite of its sublime constellations and all the terrifying meteorological phenomena, it too cannot quite embody what he is looking for, as those phenomena constantly change and negate one another – the moonlight, for example, fades when the morning star rises. ‘No, they too are not worthy to be my gods.’ Finally, through his sheer ‘urge for the highest’, Abraham arrives at the concept of an absolutely sublime, powerful and otherworldly God who rules over the stars and thus transpires as the foremost, mightiest, only god. From this point on, Abraham, having himself become the ‘father of God’, so to speak, through his investigations, knew to whom all should now rightfully pray: ‘There had only ever been He, the most high, who alone could be the rightful God of men and the one and only object of their cries for help and songs of praise.’

In his poetic exploration of the psychodynamic source of monotheistic belief in the soul of the progenitor of the Jewish people, Thomas Mann placed a highly fitting emphasis on an impulse that has been referred to as the summotheistic affect. Long before there was such a thing as theoretical theology, it was this feeling that provided the template for authentic monotheistic belief. It creates a resonance between a God who is serious about his dominion over the earth and a human who is serious about his desire to belong to such a sovereign deity. Thomas Mann does not omit to mention that a quest for God of this kind is inseparable from the striving for human significance: so there can be no monotheism without a certain self-importance. ‘In order to make some kind of impression and achieve a certain significance before God and men, it was necessary to take things – or at least one thing – very seriously. Father Abraham had taken the question of whom man should serve absolutely seriously …’

Strangely enough, Abraham's momentous elevation of God (as shown by his portrait in the books of the Yahwist) did not immediately remove him to a completely superhuman realm. Certainly he is described as a god above, but there is no doubt that he is in touch with earthly reality. He retains all the attributes of a human who is no stranger to anything all too human, ranging from the wild temper he displays in his dealings with his subjects to the unpredictable explosiveness of his early utterances. His despotic irony and constant fluctuation between presence and absence make him appear more like an insufferable father than a principle of divine justice. A god who loves gardens and basks in their cool evening air, who fights bloody battles and imposes sadistic tests of subordination on his believers, could be almost anything – but not a discarnate spirit, let alone some neuter otherworldly being. His affective life vacillates between joviality and tumult, and nothing could be more absurd than the claim that his intention is to love the human race in its entirety. If there was ever a figure that could be said to be wholly god and wholly human, it was Yahweh as represented in the Yahwist. Harold Bloom rightly characterized him as the most untameable figure in religious history – the King Lear of the heavenly rulers, one could say. The notion that a charismatic dreamer like Jesus, of all people, could have been his ‘beloved son’ – even one and the same being, as the Nicene theologians claimed – is theopsychologically unthinkable.7 No one can be homoousios with such a paragon of wilfulness, least of all a ‘son’ like Jesus. What the Christian theologians called God the Father was actually a late reinvention for trinitypolitical purposes; at that time it was necessary to introduce a benevolent father to match, at least to a degree, the amazing son. The Christian redescription of God naturally had very little to do with the Yahweh of Jewish scripture.

At the start of the monotheistic chain of reaction we find a form of contract between a great, serious psyche and a great, serious God. There is no need to dwell on his other qualities – his choleric temperament, his irony and his taste for thunderous hyperbole – in this context. This alliance creates a major symbol-producing relationship without which most of what have, since the nineteenth century, been termed ‘advanced civilizations’ (since Karl Jaspers, also known as ‘axial age civilizations’) would be inconceivable. One of the secrets of the summotheistic alliance certainly lies in the satisfaction of believers that, by submitting to the highest, they can share in some part, however modest, of his sovereignty. Hence the pronounced joy at submission that can be observed among partisans of the strict idea of God. No one can take the step towards such a God without being intoxicated by the desire to serve and belong. Quite often, resolute servants of the One are enraptured by pride at their own humility. When the faithful bloom in their zealous roles, this is partly also because nothing dispels the ghosts of existential disorientation as effectively as participation in a sacred enterprise that creates jobs and promises advancement. In this sense, the system known as ‘God’ can be viewed as the most important employer in the Holy Land – in which case atheism constitutes a form of employment destruction that is, understandably, fought bitterly by those affected.

The liaison of seriousness and greatness corresponds to the growing pressure to which the religious sensibility is subjected as soon as the requirements for the status of divinity increase. And their evolutionary increase is inevitable when, as in the Middle East of the first and second millennia BC, several ambitious religions begin to come into conflict with one another – until the phase of diplomatic niceties is over and the question of final priority and absolute supremacy becomes unavoidable. Under these conditions, the connections between the psyche and the world take on a new dynamic: the expanded scene of the world and God demands greater powers of comprehension among the faithful souls – and, vice versa, the increasing demands for meaning directed at God and the world by those souls call for increasingly interesting roles in the general dramas. The monotheistic zealots of all periods testify to this development with their entire existence: if they had their way, their subservient passion would not simply be their private contribution to the glory of God. It would be the zeal of God himself reaching through them and into the world. This zeal, correctly understood, is an aspect of God's regret at having created the world. In its milder form, it shows his benevolent will to salvage what he still can of a creation that has got out of control.

Abraham's choice of religion, then, is extremely thymotically determined – if it is indeed legitimate to bring the Greek concept denoting the activity centre of the psyche's ambition- and pride-based impulses, the thymós, into play in the interpretation of the Middle Eastern theodramas.8 In demanding that his God should be the absolute highest, so high as to be above the world, Abraham ruled out – to the great advantage of his selfconfidence – all lesser alliances in his search for a sovereign lord and partner. The price of this singular alliance was monolatry: honouring a single God, raised above a wealth of rivals whose existence and effect could not, for the time being, be denied. Friedrich Max Müller (1823–1900), the great linguistic and theological researcher influenced by Schelling, to whom contemporary Indology still owes a great deal today, suggested the term henotheism for this position devoted to the cult of the One and Only, and identified it as the evolutionary forerunner of monotheism. In so far as this One takes on the preeminence of the only significant one, the remaining gods are naturally relegated to the lower ranks. In time they come to be seen as no more than obsolete forces, or at most helpful celestial functionaries, but more often as rebellious parasites – points of departure for the tracts on demons and devils whose blossoming was to become so typical of the later, more developed monotheistic doctrines. One can understand, therefore, why there can never be monotheism without ranking-based jealousy. As the figure of the One and Only could be guaranteed exclusively through the subordination of other candidates, keeping the rejected ones under control was to remain a perennial task. The earliest monotheistic matrix already contains the outlines of the areas that would later be filled by the One and Only's adversaries on duty. This new opposition showed its polemic tendencies early on: the transcendent, true One against the inner-worldly, false many.

Looking at the establishment of Jewish monotheism, one must also take into account two psycho-political complications of no little consequence. Firstly, a suspicion was voiced that it was based on an exported idea that the Jews had taken with them on their semimythological exodus from Egypt under the leadership of Moses – a suspicion that Sigmund Freud expanded into the daredevil theory that Moses himself, as his name suggests, was an Egyptian, possibly from a noble family, who was continuing the largescale religio-political experiment of the Amarna period, the solar monotheism of Akhenaten, among the Jews. Then the Jews of the post-Mosaic period would, in spite of their anti-Egyptian self-image, have remained a hetero-Egyptian collective10 with which – semi-consciously at first, then unconsciously – a chapter of experimental High God theology was enacted with all its consequences – consequences of which the internal genocide carried out by the faithful followers of Moses against the worshippers of the golden calf at the foot of Mount Sinai (assuming this incident is not simply a concoction to edify and terrify) would perhaps have been an extreme, but not entirely ineffective, example.

Moses' command ‘let every man kill his brother, his friend and his neighbour’ (Exodus 32:27) marks the first appearance of the motto of that zeal for the One and Only that makes long stretches of the history of monotheism (specifically in its Christian and Islamic edits) read like an account of righteous ruthlessness. A new moral quality for killing was invented at Mount Sinai: it no longer served the survival of a tribe, but rather the triumph of a principle. Once God becomes an idea … This innovation was connected to a change in the nature of the victim that led from the offering of a gift to the extermination of an opponent. One can only speak of Israel's breakthrough to the founding of a ‘voluntary community of belief’ if one passes over the faction that was exterminated.11 The system of denunciation set up by the Jacobins after 1793 shows just what ‘communities of belief’ are capable of under stress: it commanded the virtuous among the French populace to report not only their closest neighbours but even their own family members to the organs of revolutionary justice for the slightest of critical remarks.

The myth of the exodus remains constitutive for Judaism as, through its dramatic circumstances that are invoked time and again, it creates a strong psychic engram – not least through the admonitory reminder of the deeds of the angel of death, who passed over the Jewish doorways that had been marked with lamb's blood (Hebrew pessach: leave out, pass over, spare) while entering the houses of the Egyptians and murdering their firstborn. The exodus story is unmistakably embedded within a maximum stress ritual which, because of its powerful memoactivity, guarantees the practising community the greatest possible internalization of laws.12 Anyone looking for the secret of how Judaism was able to survive for over three millennia should begin here. It is nothing other than the high degree of memoactive fitness inherent in this religion because of its primary myth: it combines the joy at having escaped with the memory of that most terrible of nights. Numerous secondary forms of rehearsal sup-port these first influences, especially ones centred around scriptural study. The proud painfulness of circumcision may have had a similar effect. Whoever lives under the myth of the exodus shares a stable stigma that distresses, elevates, obliges, bonds and excludes. Its eminent duplicability enables its carriers to pass on their passion and wander through the ages as living transporters of spiritual content.

The second complicating precondition of the monotheistic establishment of biblical Israel stems from its experiences in exile during the sixth century BC. There is a wide-ranging consensus among scholars that Jewish theology entered its critical phase in the time of Babylonian captivity (586–538 BC), when it developed the characteristics that can still be recognized today. Following earlier zealotic preludes and rigorist episodes, these were the years of monotheistic decision. This escalation was triggered by the semantic clinch between the God of the Israelites and the imperial Gods of Babylon. The earlier Yahweh monolatry now brought forth a speculative superstructure that developed into a monotheism that was both theoretically and politically advanced.13 The point of these radicalizations is not difficult to identify. It lies in the emergence of a political concept of God with meta-political overtones that testifies to the resolve to grant the God of the enslaved people – weeping at the waters of Babylon – absolute superiority, albeit one concealed and for the meantime only capable of being asserted symbolically, over the gods of the despotic empire.

This turning point constitutes one of the most significant moments in the intellectual history of the later West. It marks the first separation of spirit and power, previously a diffuse unity, into polar opposites. While the rulers in power, like all happy tyrants before them, paid unwavering tribute to worldly success and accumulated reports of victories like holy trophies, the spirit of the defeated withdrew to a sanctuary in which it dreamt of justice and dictated the conditions for its imminent satisfaction. In this context, the concept of truth took on a futuristic tinge and opened itself up for reversal fantasies of a partly therapeutic, partly retributionist nature. Post-Babylonian theology discovered the counterfactual and utopian mode of thinking. Truth and reality parted ways, presenting the option of propagating values at odds with reality in the name of truth, which was henceforth treated as the sharpest weapon of the weak; these values were doomed to failure on the stage of real events, yet they could not, and did not want to, stop anticipating their hour of triumph.

The theological reaction of post-Babylonian Judaism to the experience of slavery crystallized into a cult of exhilaration in defeat. The first real monotheism, which grew from this situation, can therefore be understood first and foremost as a protest theology. It could only be what it was by representing not the ruling religion, but rather the religion of resistance against the ruling power. The purpose of Jewish theocracy was to exalt its own hidden, transcendental kind above the manifest kings of the others. It was only now that Abraham's summotheistic striving for the Highest and Moses' monolatric zeal for the One merged – in an anti-Babylonian and anti-imperial context – to produce a subversive form of devotion critical of, but inevitably also nostalgic for, power. From that point on, it expressed itself as a yearning for superiority over the superior.

The second position in the field of monotheistic conflict has been clearly marked since the appearance of the Christian antithesis to the Jewish thesis. Although the God proclaimed by Paul and the other apostles retains a number of attributes connecting him to his Jewish predecessor, the subversively new Christological emphases lend his image entirely unexpected, even provocative and scandalous aspects.

The crucified God will forever remain a challenge to the worldly understanding of victory and defeat. From a historical perspective, it is decisive that the universalist elements of post-Babylonian Jewish theology were only focused on and invested in an ambitious proselytistic movement as a result of Paul's intervention. The dual event evoked by the names of Jesus of Nazareth and Paul of Tarsus constituted no less than the escape of the One God from the provincial Middle East: it resulted in the alteration of the religious impulse from an ethnically restricted cult to an empire-wide form of telecommunication.

The people's apostle could no longer content himself with local Jewish conversations about holy matters. Following a clear strategic instinct, Paul identified the entire Roman Empire, which at the time meant the whole world, as the field of operation for his mission – enough of a reason for Paul to be an idol for lovers of abstract militancy to this day: one could almost call him the first Puritan, the first Jacobin and the first Leninist all rolled into one. Perhaps it is no coincidence that Paul's work is documented primarily in the form of epistles, as that genre testifies to his long-distance apostolic effect more than any other. Even today, the reader can observe in them the gradual formulation of Christianity in the very act of writing.

This shift to the global scale dissolved the conventional folk basis of the faith in a single god. Israel, the first covenant people, could no longer be the sole carrier of the specifically new, Christologically inverted monotheism. Paul's stroke of genius transferred the covenant with God to a new people ‘called out’ from among the believers of all peoples – this new collective was hence to call itself ekklesia or New Israel, and embody the historically unprecedented model of a pneumatic people. It formed the prototype of the communio: a large spiritual body joined through baptism. In this collective, following the same Lord now took precedence over tribal lineage and gender. With a grand gesture, the differences between Jews and Greeks, free men and slaves or men and women were declared meaningless among the ‘children of God’ (Romans 10:12 and Galatians 3:28). A new associative model, the ‘holy community’, pushed back the ethnocentrism that, until then, had been the only conceivable option – people were first of all disciples of Christ; their identities as clan members and national comrades were secondary. The underlying belief in the imminent return of the Lord in glory, furthermore, led to a shift of emphasis in which futuristic motives restricted genealogical ones and superseded them de jure. God had promised Abraham descendants ‘as numerous as the stars in the heavens’ after Isaac had been freed; for Paul, however, the model of friendship took precedence over that of succession. Spiritual adoption replaced physical descent.

It was Paul who originated the enthusiastic universalism taken up by later generations of apostles as the motor for their eternally incomplete missionary work. One could use the term ‘apostolic integrism’ to describe the existential model used by Christ's successors, where the bearer of the message allowed himself to be consumed by his evangelical work. It was not without reason that some claimed one could only call oneself a Christian if one had made a Christian out of at least one other person; through the mission, the way of life became its content. Profane subjectivity had to be exchanged for holy personhood: ‘it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me’ (Galatians 2:20). What looks from the outside like idealistic overexertion is, viewed from the inside, actually the privilege of being allowed to wear oneself out for a great cause, thanks to the most intimate of convictions. Like revenge, the missionary faith approaches the ‘utopia of a motivated life’.14 The believer, it is said, could never develop his zeal for God of his own accord if God's own zeal for his coming kingdom were not working within him. With the Pentecost event, Christianity entered the realm of high mediality. Subsequently the church became a place of exchange where one could hand over one's old identity and receive a spirited new self.

Only with the advent of Christianity did the zealous form and the universal content of the message grow together into an effective unity – due especially to the irresistible psychodynamic synthesis that was found with the apostolic form of life; the motif of the Holy War, prefigured by devout Jews, was now lifted onto a universal stage.

Consequently, the new telematic monotheism had to develop a permanent state of taking the bull by the horns as its own peculiar modus vivendi. Externally it conceived of the world as the reception area for the message it sought to disseminate, while internally it consolidated itself as an employer for kerygmatic and diaconal work – today one would speak of public relations work and therapeutic professions; in this respect the early church anticipated the postmodern service society, whose most important ‘product’ is the social relations themselves. Finally, as a result of its encounters with the philosophical theology of the Greeks, Christian doctrine also incorporated the provocations of theoretical monotheism, drawing on this fusion to develop an intellectual strength that was to spawn ever-new syntheses of biblical and philosophical ideas over a period of almost eighty generations.

The most important victory of the new religion, however, was in the field of ritual. It was achieved through the transformation of the Jewish Passover feast into the Christian communion – a piratical operation that must be understood as the most worldhistorically significant example of ‘refunctionalization’, in the sense propagated by the dramatic artist Brecht. Communion does not simply constitute a strong ‘misreading’ of the Jewish pattern. It is more than that: its tragic parody. The consequences of this appropriation cannot be stressed enough: it was only through this blasphemous counter-Passover, in which the Son of Man placed himself in the position of the lamb that would normally have been sacrificed (as if he wanted to reveal the secret of that terrible night in Egypt), that Christianity came into possession of an unmistakable maximum stress ritual that guaranteed its participants the most lively form of memoactive empathy – and has by this point been doing so over a period of two millennia.15 In every mass it is not simply the commemorative meal that is quoted, but rather the intimate memorability of faith itself. Analogously, the feast of Whitsun parodies the handing over of laws at Mount Sinai, which the Jews celebrated fifty days after Passover – as if to prove that the preservation of the law is itself the law.

As far as the question of the ‘price of monotheism’ in the case of Christianity is concerned, a question often discussed in recent times, we consider it sufficient here to point to two well-known complications. The first relates to the ambivalence of Christianity towards the Jewish mother religion – Paul supplied the formula for this in his letter to the Romans, where he defined the Jews as enemies in terms of the gospel, but as ‘beloved for our fathers' sakes’ (Romans 11:28) in terms of their chosen status.
Even as late as the twentieth century, Paul's thesis was renewed by Pope Pius X, who died in 1914; like many theologians before him, he declared that Judaism had been ‘replaced’ by Christianity, and that one could consequently no longer ‘grant it any continued existence’ – which did not form any obstacle to his canonization through Pius XII in 1954. In addition, Christians dealt with Jewish sources in the manner of a hostile take-over – in particular through the appropriation of the Tanach, which, now known as the Old Testament, was annexed, canonized and reinterpreted in the light of Christian needs.

The second indication concerns the fact that Christianity, which saw itself in principle as a religion of love, freedom and warm-hearted inclusion, in fact also practised ruthlessness, rigorism and terror on a large scale. The liaison between the Western world of faith and the spirit of Roman law spawned a legally thoroughly regulated church system that was not infrequently attacked, including by critics among its own ranks, as an anti-Christian monstrosity.16 From the perspective of Eastern Christianity, the Roman power apparatus sometimes seemed like the incarnation of the Antichrist in the shape of a perversely showy corporation. In his late works, Ivan Illich went as far as identifying the estrangement of the church from the gospel as the source of all the estrangements, reifications and dispossessions that had been twisting the lives of modern people for centuries.

It is thus all the more understandable that, from the eighteenth century onwards, a post-Christian scepticism spread throughout Europe, which sought to distance itself from the extremes of zealous faith, often even from faith as a whole. The alienation from the church prevalent on the continent today does not, therefore, merely show the hallmarks of institutional criticism and anti-dogmatism; the proponents of a purely secular way of life frequently launch open attacks. Some resolute heirs of the Enlightenment hold the conviction that Christianity still deserves to be showered with the most vicious blasphemies for centuries to come. Did Robespierre not declare in his speech before the assembly in 1794 that priests are to morality what charlatans are to medicine?19 The churches and their dogmas have had to put up with caricatures and malice for 200 years – without being able, as they still were in the Middle Ages, to escape from ‘this world’ through a fundamental withdrawal. On critical days, this anti-clerical sentiment is released in such satirical statements as this one: ‘The existence of Christians proves the non-existence of God.’20 The fact that some Christians today can even laugh at such jokes shows that they are capable of learning.

With the advent of Islam, the third exclusive monotheism appeared on the scene. Its establishment was defined by the fact that it viewed itself emphatically as the latest and most perfect manifestation of the Abrahamic one god complex. Islam took its late arrival as its most precious spiritual chance, as it claimed the advantage of seeing and correcting the errors, both alleged and real, of the two preceding monotheisms. This is why Muslim clerics refer to the founder of their religion as the ‘seal of the prophet’. The idea of correction in the process of monotheistic revelations is constitutive for Islam, as it permits it to make a virtue out of necessity by converting the deficit of non-originality into the advantage of a later clarification. Just as the Christian message before it could only come about through a partial abrogation, a corrective revocation of Jewish teachings (literary critics would add: through a severe misreading), the Islamic revelation presupposes the partial abrogation of the two older versions of monotheism.

Consequently the religion of the Qur'an, like that of the New Testament, was substantially characterized by a position of theological contrast; its first front stood in the tradition of the Jewish and Christian zealots who waged war against the gods and idols of their polytheistic surroundings, while the second opposed the Jews and Christians directly. The former were accused of being frivolous and hypocritical, as they did not even take their own prophets seriously, while the latter were presented with the charge of falsely declaring the prophet Jesus ‘the Son of God’ in their deludedness, whereas all true knowledge of God, according to Islam, begins with the realization that the Highest is alone for all eternity and has no child. The pathos of the Islamic thesis of God's solitary position is based primarily on the polemic against the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, which was regarded with suspicion as a form of tritheism.

As a corrective of Christology, and simultaneously its functional equivalent, Islam developed a prophetology intended to lend the new religion the vigour of legitimacy. It would not only be the Arab recipients who would find the idea that God had sent a human ambassador to those willing to embrace this faith more convincing than the suggestion that this ambassador was God himself, albeit in a second mode. In that case, admittedly, the prophet would have to be given an incomparably elevated status that would soon reach dizzying heights. This demanded no less than a doctrine of inlibration, God's embodiment in book form, which in turn called for the dogma of the dictation of that book by the angel of God. Obviously, such a directive could only be received by a single pure, devoted medium – from a Catholic perspective, this suggests an analogy between Mohammed and Mary. Devotees of the virgin will have an idea what Muslims might mean if they occasionally speak of a ‘virgin birth of the Qur'an’.

Islam was also dependent on the creation of a maximum stress myth. It produced this in the form of the duty for all Muslims to go on a pilgrimage to Mecca: the climaxes of this gruelling undertaking lie in the pilgrim's personal participation in the stoning of the devil and the slaughter of a sacrificial animal. Thanks to these forms of ‘deep play’ (as one sometimes calls deeply involving ritual acts), Islamic doctrines are connected to a heavily emotional memoactive engram.22 Needless to say, Islam could never have survived through one and a half millennia if the dramatizations of its teachings had not made such a lasting impression.

While the monotheistic escalation in Paul's case had triggered the shift from a defensive to an offensive universalism, the Islamic escalation led to the further development of offensive universalism from the missionary to the military-political form of expansion. The beginning of Islam was already triumphant; it managed to hurdle the phase of ecclesia oppressa23 at the first attempt. In the case of Christianity, the metaphysics of the strong sender developed further by Paul had resulted in the belief that the crucified one was God's divine envoy and equal; the apostles could follow on from him as second degree messengers. The same sender formula was used by the Muslims in order to honour a prophet who combined the roles of spiritual spokesman and military commander in a single person. In both cases, the strong sender on the other side was tied to a privileged mediator on this side, whose path was to be followed and made useful by countless later mediators of faith – the systemic point of departure for all those phenomena placed in such categories as clergy and clerical rule. While Paul had occasionally referred to the faithful as the athletes of Christ (1 Corinthians 17:24f.) – a metaphor that manifested itself in Christian monastic life with the fury of the literal – the militant followers of Allah viewed themselves as voluntary recruits in a holy expansion campaign. From a distance, they remind one of the Puritan cavalry of Oliver Cromwell, an army for whom praying and fighting were as close together as they were for the religiously aroused warriors of the early Caliphate. The social form of the new movement was the ummah, the non-tribal commune to which one was admitted not by birth, but through the recitation of the creed of allegiance (shahadah) to Allah and his prophet before witnesses. The explosive expansion of Islam in the two centuries following the death of the prophet shows what powers were unleashed through the unexpected alliance between the clan system and universalism.

Islam in its original form owes its dynamics to the circumstance that in its case – in contrast to the initially oppositional, state-critical stance of Christianity – religious and politico-military impulses were practically acting in unison from the outset. This did not prevent Islam from developing a surrealism of its own kind – unlike Augustinian Christianity, however, it never managed to formulate a doctrine of the two kingdoms. It sought to project the opposition between religious space and worldliness outwards, so to speak, and distinguish between the ‘house of Islam’ and the ‘house of war’. Rousseau still praised the close complicity of religion and state policy in Mohammed's legacy, attempting to imitate it in his own plans for a ‘bourgeois revolution’. Going on these indications, the religion of the revolutionaries of 1794 was intended to establish a post-Christian non-differentiation between state and ‘church’ in order to force – in France, the cradle of totalitarian temptations – a comprehensive identification of citizens with their community. This endeavour was foiled not only by the liberalism of the enlightened bourgeoisie, but also by the resistance of deep-seated Catholic traditions. The author of the Contrat social showed foresight and logical consistency in attacking Christianity as a hotbed of political disloyalty and social divisions. Whoever speaks of totalitarianism today should never forget that it acted out its dress rehearsal as a revolutionary civil religion. Rousseau had been its prophet, and his faithful disciple Robespierre followed in his footprints in presenting himself as the first caliph of a modern republic of conviction.

Each of the monotheisms has its own specific quality of ‘world-taking’, to use a term coined by Carl Schmitt in a different context. The truth is that the One and Only, though first discovered in the regional cult, inevitably ends up being promoted as a god with imposing worldly representation and increasing claims to sovereignty. Because of its predication on a concept of God that emphasizes the uniqueness and omnipotence of the Highest, religious universalism produces surpluses of meaning that erupt in encroachments of monotheistic communes on their political and cultic environments. I shall distinguish between three main forms of expansion that are evident in the historical development of monotheistic campaigns. The first, that of theocratic sovereignism, which came to exert a defining influence on Judaism throughout its many times and spaces, has predominantly defensive and separatist characteristics, while the second and third forms, namely expansion through missionary activity and through the Holy War, show a clearly offensive approach, one that also encompassed such means as persuasion, coercion and subjugation, even open blackmail (‘Baptism or death!’, ‘Qur'an or death!’). I do not think any formal proof is required that the latter two forms are not atypical of the two more extroverted monotheisms." [God's Zeal]

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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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Lyssa
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Polytheism and Monotheism Empty
PostSubject: Re: Polytheism and Monotheism Polytheism and Monotheism EmptyFri Jan 08, 2016 4:39 am

Three kinds of Monotheistic Extremisms: Service, Substance, and Spiritualization

Sloterdijk wrote:
"One of the points of departure in gaining an understanding of the laws that determine the construction of the exclusive monotheisms has already been touched on in the references to Abraham's quest for a god worthy of his adoration. The typical summotheistic climb to the final, the highest and the utmost contains the logical implication that one must move from the plural to the singular, from the many gods to the one God. A deity that was the Highest but not the One would be inconceivable at this level of reflection. Religious supremacism, the ascent to the Highest and the Only, is necessarily tied to ontological monarchism – the principle that a single being can and should rule over everyone and everything. This monarchism is joined by a dynamism which ensures that nothing can resist the overlord, in keeping with the theorem omnia apud deum facilia – ‘naturally everything is easy for God’. From this dynamism follows optimism (or perfectionism, to put it more precisely in idea-historical terms), which states that the dominant one is the perfect and the best, and always acts in accordance with his perfect nature. The best is the one who is better than everything good – or more than that: better than everything that is merely better than good.

This supremacist thought climbs numerous steps to reach the peak of the hyper-best, which ultimately subjugates all things and beings both de facto and de jure. It culminates in a figure known in the language of faith as God, the eternal and almighty. It is to him and only to him that the rule applies: the elevation to the Highest must consistently follow the trail of a personal transcendence. In this scheme, God alone can be placed as a person above all other persons, as the author, the creator, the lawmaker, the ruler and the director of the world's theatre, the one without whose command not a single hair falls from a human head – and without whose support no household appliance works.3 A conspicuous feature of this God is a strong preponderance of you qualities – accompanied by underdeveloped id elements. His invitation is more to a relationship than to insight. Once the believer, like Dostoyevsky's Prince Myshkin, has become wholly childlike and wholly idiotic in relation to the almighty other, the last traces of God's cognitive determinacy dissolve.

As long as we are dealing with Abrahamites, then, we are operating within the sphere of the subjective highest, whose condensate appears in the idea of a transcendent kingship. This is expressed as much in the Jewish idea of the theocracy of Yahweh as in the doctrine of Christ's royal reign (see the encyclical Quas primas published by Pius XI in 1925) and the idea, ubiquitous in Islam, of Allah's omnipotence, which is supposed to apply in both the political and everyday pragmatic spheres. The monarch of personal supremacism is not only the creator, ruler and preserver of the world, but also its archivist, saviour, judge and – in extremis – its avenger and destroyer.

It is easy to understand now why the relationship between humans and a highest being of the personal type is subject to completely different laws from those in the case of an impersonal supreme power. It is part and parcel of this form of personal supremacism that those who think and believe cannot be any more than mere vassals or employees of the divine sovereign – the only other option being the despicable role of infidels and disobedients. Whether they like it or not, the supremacization of the personal God inevitably assigns humans an inferior status. The most important asymmetry between servant and master manifests itself in the fact that God remains unfathomable to humans, even once he is revealed, whereas humans cannot keep any secrets from him.

The cosmological and moral asymmetries are equally overwhelming: God's dominion encompasses the entire universe, while humans are often not even able to keep their own lives in order. Islamic preachers still like to invoke the following edifying image: before the throne of God, the seventh heaven is no larger than a grain of sand; compared to the seventh, the sixth heaven is only as large as a ring in the desert; compared to the sixth, the fifth is also no larger than a ring in the desert and so on, until the first heaven, which the earthlings believe to be all-encompassing when they look up at it – in these humbling sermons for Muslims, the Aristotelian worldview is kept alive poetically and therapeutically. Then one normally asks the individual believer: so how big are you compared to all those things? The correct answer can only be one like the exclamation of Lessing's Saladin: ‘I, dust? I, nothing? O God!’ Nonetheless, the exegetes do not tire of insisting that God is profoundly close to us and cares for each human being like his own child; and he carries most of the load for the members of his flock, whom he looks after with love and compassion. For the willing, all that is left in this scenario is the role of the servant who, trembling with requited love, places himself at his lord's disposal. This kind of relationship has been referred to in Christian contexts as a ‘patriarchy of love’, but this expression is more or less applicable to all situations that bear the hallmarks of patriarchy.

The more the believer is taken over by this supremacization of the lord, the more radically he will be inclined to make his own will subject to instructions from above. An intense form of personal supremacism leads to an extremism of the will to obedience that is typical of zealotic movements. The obedience that embraces this intensification extends so far that a servant prepared to go to any lengths will prefer the most rigid laws and the most unpleasant commands, these offering the necessary material to carry out the work of radical subordination. One still finds traces of this servant syndrome everywhere in the world of today: in malign forms, as exemplified most currently by the suicide attack; in intermediate manifestations as observed in worthy zealous systems such as Opus Dei; and in curious variations, for example the rumour among Vaticanists that, under Pope Paul VI, some Vatican City employees even knelt during telephone conversations with their highest superior.

One should note that the disposition referred to does initially make room for nonneurotic intensifications of the idea of service, though the pathological escalations are usually not long in waiting. A product of this type of supremacization that is initially psychologically inconspicuous is an affinity for majesty and splendour, in both moralpolitical and aesthetic areas. But the irrationalist tendency is also part of the structure: for if God demands sacrifices, why not sacrifice reason too? This is manifest in the willingness to believe that even the deepest darkness contains holy meaning and to obey the instructions from above against all doubts, even – and especially – when the command remains unfathomable, as it was for Abraham when God demanded the sacrifice of his son Isaac. In the realm of the personal supreme power, everything hinges on trust in the integrity of the commander. No one is granted the right to obstinacy. In such a universe, it must sound like an incitement to anarchy when Hannah Arendt, following on from Kant, states: ‘No one has the right to obey.’" [God's Zeal]



Sloterdijk wrote:
"The history of resorting to the highest also displays an impersonal variant that I will refer to as objective or ontological supremacism. Here, ascent to the pinnacle – as Plato described in his reflections on the stages of rapture, from a single beautiful body to disembodied beauty and goodness ‘itself’ – brings the believer to a supreme power that does not have the properties of a personal being, but rather those of a principle or an idea. This supremacy, which culminates in a nameless highest being, can only be spoken about in terms of first and final justifications of an object-like, suprapersonal and structural nature. Concisely put: the ascent to the objective highest leads to the god of the philosophers. Even its crudest portraits show that it has little or nothing in common with the Abrahamic versions of God (El, Yahweh, God the Father, Allah). It is neither creator nor monarch nor judge; it is a source of that which is, and from its unsurpassable bestness radiates a derived best, the cosmos. It does not have the power to command; it has the power of self-revelation through superabundance. Its creative potency realizes itself according to the scheme of a causality through goodness.

The position of human beings in an ontologically and cosmologically supremacized world context therefore can not be interpreted as bondage or willingness to serve. Rather, true being-in-the-world demands an awareness of one's participation in universal systems of order. Now it is a matter of understanding in an advanced sense: an adaptation of the understander to the superior exigencies of being. The ascent takes place on the ladder of general concepts. Therefore God can bear conceptual names such as the unum, the verum, the bonum, the maximum, the simplicissimum or the actualissimum. Even such titles are sufficient to inspire believers – Hegel, Hölderlin and Schelling still swore on the hen kai pan [One and All] in their youthful ardour, like revolutionaries on their watchword.

[This supremacism] also draws believers towards extremes – not in the form of blazing servility, nor a yearning for death in flames as mentioned by Goethe in the subtlest of his Islamically inclined poems, but rather as the willingness to push oneself back to the objective level in order to let things glow of their own accord. This presupposes that the reproduction of these things in the clouded mirror of subjectivity, the interested will and biased sensuality is replaced by an objective, desensualized thinking cleansed of all wilfulness. The ontological supremacism that characterizes Greek – and, even more, Indian – metaphysics releases a passion for depersonalization that can grow into the ambition to merge the human subject with the anonymous origin of the world. While the striving for the personal highest follows the super-you in order to be absorbed fully by its will, the First Philosophy seeks to lose itself in the super-id. Objective supremacism – which, since Heidegger, is often labelled as onto-theology and viewed with suspicion like a subtle form of idolatry – is ultimately concerned with dissolving the subject into a substance." [God's Zeal]



Sloterdijk wrote:
"In order to complete the picture, we should speak of a third supremacism in the old European culture of reason whose point of departure lies in the experience of thought and inner speech – and later also of writing. Here we become acquainted with a second face of philosophy, in so far as the latter can begin with the self-exploration of thinking instead of taking the world as its focus. Since Heraclitus' discovery of the logos and the introduction of the concept of nous by Anaxagoras, logical or noetic supremacism has been working towards an alternative ascent that leads, in its own way, to the god of the philosophers; but this time not through the north face of substance, but rather along the fine line of spiritual articulations. This line also leads to the One and Ultimate – this time, however, the supreme being is not interpreted from the perspective of substantiality, let alone in terms of majesty and omnipotence. Here it is the all-pervading intelligibility and constructive force of the spiritual principle that lies at the centre. One must be careful to avoid the mistake of equating this non-theologically highest power too readily with the divine attribute of omniscience found in religion. For in terms of its dynamist origin, God's knowledge within the system of personal supremacism possesses, as well as the quality of creation wisdom, the more significant quasi-political function of universal supervision and total bookkeeping of all deeds done and undone by believers and non-believers alike – its decisive application will therefore be on Judgement Day, when God himself opens the files for public viewing. The ascent to the highest, on the other hand, in accordance with noetic supremacism, leads to theoretical perceptions that accompany the divine intellect on its innermost folding into itself and its unfolding into the world. It is not uncommon for mathematics to be brought into play in this sublime endoscopy, as it depicts structures as they are before any sensuality and hence before any subjectively determined ambiguity.

The theory of the highest intellect, like that of being, strives to present itself as strictly supra-personal and beyond the profane human sphere. The extremism that lies in the nature of this matter too manifests itself in a striving for the final formula. It does not let up until the human spirit is granted a connection to the higher intellects, and ultimately even a knowledge of God's procedures in the creation of the world. Even Hegel's seemingly hubristic statement that his logic contained the thoughts God entertained before the creation does not go any further than what is customary in the supremacism of the spirit. Furthermore, Hegel's programme of developing substance as subject perfectly expressed the aim of noetic supremacism. It is part of the long history of Christian receptions of Yahweh's self-assertion: ‘I am that I am’ (Exodus 3:14). With this, theologians add a divine ego character to the being of the ontologists and allow the human ego to take part in it epicentrically – an operation in which the German Idealists attained mastery. A part of the image of the corresponding extremism is the radicality of the will to a logical penetration of all circumstances that has always characterized pneumatic thinkers. It has often been interpreted as arrogance – though one could equally view it as a higher form of irony. For the partisans of the spirit, most of what issues from the mouths of humans is nothing but inane air movement in any case – just as they almost always consider everyday life a mere rolling around in gravity. To them, the ordinary descendants of Adam are no more than upright worms. What is a human being before it is transformed by the spirit? A decorated intestine with God knows what delusions about its own substance. Little wonder that the advocates of such views rarely lack a tendency to logical flights of fancy.

When supremacists of this kind explain themselves, one hears the postulation that where matter was, spirit shall be – or that a planned order of reason must replace the chaos that has grown over time. The third disappearance of humans (following their eradication in the service of the Lord and their dissolution into the anonymous substance) is supposed to be achieved by their spiritual evaporation on the way to the divine omega point. The fact that noetic supremacism has occasionally resembled its substance-ontological partner does not negate its autonomy. In effect it formed a community of tradition with it in which it risked misunderstanding itself substantialistically. This was only brought to a halt by the transcendental shift following Descartes and Kant, that is to say through the depotentization of the theory of intellect to the critique of reason. This approach, as Kurt Flasch has shown in critical interventions, reached one of its most sublime manifestations in the intellect-theoretical speculations of Dietrich von Freiberg and Meister Eckhart, who were inspired by Arab Aristotelianism – in particular Averroes – and are often misinterpreted by the life-philosophically stimulated public in their own country as ‘German mystics’. Naturally, the secularization of the intellect inevitably changed the premises of the third supremacism in the wake of the Enlightenment; but the fate of such ideas as the dialectical thinking made current by Hegel has shown that the battle over the interpretation of the cognitively highest still continues in modern times. The tensions between the three leading noetic supremacisms of the twentieth century – the dialectical, the phenomenological and the grammatological – would require an examination of their own.

In the light of what has been said so far, the matrix of logical operations that result in zealotic monotheisms can be shown without much additional effort. I have already hinted that the three supremacisms correspond to three extremisms that should be understood as three ways of overcoming resistance to a union with the One and Only. The methods, praised as ‘realizations’, of eliminating the human will in service, substance and spiritualization share a positivization of death, in so far as death offers the most direct route to the Lord, to being and to the spirit. The question of whether an affirmation of death should be assigned symbolic or literal meaning may remain unanswered. None of the resolute have ever contradicted the statement that some form of self-elimination is a prerequisite for reaching higher regions. Albert Camus's thesis that suicide is the central philosophical problem shows that its originator was one of the dying breed of metaphysically talented authors in the twentieth century, and the sneering of some philosophically unmusical thinkers only served to underline this." [God's Zeal]

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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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PostSubject: Re: Polytheism and Monotheism Polytheism and Monotheism EmptyFri Jan 08, 2016 4:41 am

Monotheistic Extremisms rely on self-referential Tautologies:

Sloerdijk wrote:
"The extremisms, for their part, are especially consistent applications of high cultural grammar, which was based on the rigid combination of a monovalent ontology and a bivalent logic. Monovalence of speech about that which is means: the things of which it is said that they are actually are, and are not not; nor are they anything other than what they are. Hence they share in being, both in the fact that and the fact of what and how. Hence they can best be expressed in tautologies. In this area one cannot aspire to originality, and if one is asked what being is, one should – referring to Heidegger – simply answer that it is itself. In the realm of monovalence a rose is a rose, and it lies in its nature that it flowers without any reason or consideration for its observer. The only other things that meet such strict standards of identity are the choirs of angels when they exalt the Highest in a monovalent language. This language forms a medium that neither requires nor permits contradictions, nor does it show any weak spots that could allow an infiltration by error, false statements or unstable structures. Thus the angels can speak eternal truth about eternal being. Unlike human ontologists, they never risk missing the point when they praise God." [God's Zeal]

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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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PostSubject: Re: Polytheism and Monotheism Polytheism and Monotheism EmptyFri Jan 08, 2016 5:07 am

The Nihilism of "either/or", that Satyr has written about at length.

Recall Baudrillard's notes on simulation of "freedom of choice" when options are pre-set and boxed into the duality of Yes or No options…


Sloterdijk wrote:
"When strictness coincides with lack of complexity, zealotry is in its element. Thinking becomes strict as soon as it insists that only one of two options can be right for us. Then it guards its cause jealously to make sure that the side of being is taken, not of nothingness; of the essential, not of the inessential; of the Lord, not of the lordless and lawless. The logical origin of zealotry lies in bringing everything down to the number one, which tolerates no one and nothing beside itself. This number one is the mother of intolerance. It demands the radical either in which the or is ruled out. Whoever says ‘two’ is saying one too many. Secundum non datur.

These reflections take us into the deep structure of the iconoclastic syndrome. If the rigid monotheisms frown upon the use of images, this is not simply because they embody the danger of idolatry. More importantly, the unacceptable nature of images stems from the observation that they never serve purely to reproduce that which is represented, but always assert their own significance in addition. The autonomous value of the second aspect as such becomes visible in them – and the iconoclasts will go to any lengths to destroy this. They empathize with a God who has regretted his creation ever since his creatures began to have minds of their own. They come to his aid by exterminating whatever distracts the creatures from an exclusive bond to the One. As humans ‘misuse’ their freedom to craft images, the iconoclasts wish to put an end to this misuse by restricting the creatures' freedom by force. This is supposedly done to show humans the way back to the true God. In reality, however, iconoclasm seeks to attack the autonomy of the world, in so far as ‘world’ represents the epitome of the emancipated second aspect. In iconoclasm, which is actually a cosmoclasm, one finds the articulation of a resentment of any human freedom that is not prepared to accept immediate self-denial and obedience.

The zealotic monotheisms (like the zealotic Enlightenment and zealotic scientism in later times) draw their momentum from the fantastic notion that they could succeed, in the face of all the delusions and confusions of our controversially lingualized and multiply pictorialized reality, in ‘reinstating’ a monovalent primal language. They want to make audible the monologue of things as they are, and reproduce the unconcealed facts, the first structures, the purest instructions of being, without having to address the intermediate world of languages, images and projections with its independent logic. The followers of the revelational religions even seek to make the monologue of God himself reverberate in the human ear, the listener being a mere recipient who does not involve his own ego – and hence does not acquire any share in the author's rights.

Now one can also understand why there need to be several varieties of zealotry. Depending on the type of supremacization they tend towards, their agents choose typical procedures for returning from ambiguity to certainty, from the fallibility of idle talk to the infallibility of the original text. At any rate, the aim of this motto of ‘back to a time before reflection!’ is to block out human language as it was spoken after the Fall. Its replacement is a code still untarnished by the negations, contradictions and capacity for error inherent in bivalent speech. Hence the interest of logical, moral and religious extremists in a language beyond human speech. In striving for the extrahuman and superhuman, the religious zealots join hands with the mathematical rigorists, and the advocates of selfdissolution within being also follow along.

The oldest and most enduring examples of how to return from the post-Adamite position to the humanly impossible monovalent language can be found in early monotheistic prophethood. This is no surprise, as the prophets claimed to express nothing more than God's view of the world, not their own personal opinions. The prophetic word begins interventionistically and ends absolutistically: it contradicts what specific people do or say in specific situations – yet it cannot be contradicted by anything, as it claims to come from a sphere devoid of reflection or second opinions. The word borrowed from the Highest, then conveyed by the speaker to the unjust prince or the misguided people, is no mere village gossip. It brings every debate to an end by saying what is and what should be. It appears to be critique – some modern theologians like to exalt prophecy as the source of social critique – but, as monovalence does not allow the critical word, any egalitarian debate or expression of opinion, it becomes the last word on the matter – not dramaturgically, before an audience, but rather eschatologically, before the Highest." [God's Zeal]

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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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PostSubject: Re: Polytheism and Monotheism Polytheism and Monotheism EmptyFri Jan 08, 2016 5:09 am

Taking the place-holder literally;

Oriental 0 and Xt.:

Sloterdijk wrote:
"It is telling that India has not only provided a home for the most radical holy fools, but also been a fertile environment for the most extreme ontologies since time immemorial. The ones found in Greece were only ever the shallower varieties, as the Greeks – like Mediterraneans in general, if such blanket statements are permitted – have little talent for extremism. Only Empedocles, the yogi among the Hellenes, strove for an enlightened suicide – not without making sure, in an act of effect-aesthetic alertness, that his sandal, left behind in the crater of Mount Etna, would provide evidence of the all-signifying leap into being. The European sceptics did not fail to note that piece of footwear left behind at the moment of the holy marriage of subject and substance – and this doubt was still alive centuries later, when Brecht glossed the account of the sandal trick with suspicion; even later, Bazon Brock suggested re-enacting it by means of a disclosive performance. What is being if it leaves such a blatant remainder? It would take aeons to find an adequate answer – it can be calculated by adding the remainder to the whole. This operation deprives being of its supposed simplicity – it now transpires as the non-one, cleft by nothingness, a more-than-whole and simultaneously less-than-whole. From this moment on, its primitive monovalence is a thing of the past. Such concepts were to be reserved for late periods, however – times in which people would say of God that he was not even one with himself, and had thus given up his transcendental reserve and opted for finitude and the capacity for suffering. It was only with the Christologists of the twentieth century that such thoughts could be uttered – by scholars who made no secret of their conviction that God, being entirely of the world beyond, could only profit from becoming human. From the fifth century BC, however, the philosophers in the Hellenic hemisphere pursued careers as educators, orators and moral trainers in the name of the well-ordered essential cosmos. Despite Plato's melancholy and Aristotle's sourness, none were ever allowed to question their status as worldlings.

The Indian ontologies, by contrast, branched out early on into highly divergent schools, each of which produced its own self-effacement artists. It became apparent that Greek thinking too was not without extremist potential when non-Greeks intervened – such as the African Plotinus and his followers. These were followed by the post-Greek zealots, especially Christian theologians and Arab metaphysicians, whose reception of the supremacism of being and spirit served its fusion with the religiously established supremacism of service to a personal god. This constellation has been referred to as the encounter of Athens and Jerusalem or the gradual Hellenization of Christianity – often without taking into account that, for centuries, the encounter of Athens and Mecca, or, more generally speaking, an urbanization of Islam through Greek theory, had been no less of an issue. Combining different procedures of effacement was the order of the day for the cultivated zealots of the time – they searched for ways to co-ordinate selfdissolution in being or spirit with self-consumption in service to the Lord. It should be noted that these dialogues between cities are among the most influential in earlier intellectual history. The summit meetings of the self-effacers spawned hybrid extremists who combined several supreme authorities. They led to waves of new recruits – first for the monastic orders of Egypt, Syria and Old Europe, then for the crusaders who renounced their selves for Jerusalem, and finally for the early modern partisans of the imitatio Christi, who have been described as mystics. Their contemporary descendants have been satirized by Bazon Brock as ‘God-seeker gangs’ in his critique of art religion. They embody the organized form of an unwillingness to count to three." [God's Zeal]

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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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PostSubject: Re: Polytheism and Monotheism Polytheism and Monotheism EmptyFri Jan 08, 2016 5:17 am

"Flat-hierarchies" of Deleuzian Monotheisms

Sloterdijk wrote:
"Thinking in steps, which had already combined the doctrine of being with spirit metaphysical supremacism in antiquity, caused a beneficial increase in the difficulty of ascending to the highest through its attention to tests, ranks and bullying. It convinced people that the step they were on could not be a very high one, let alone the highest – through the mere fact that they were on it. In addition, the divine hierarchies offer considerable scope for ranks beyond human comprehension, which is why humans always have a motive to look upwards. They flourish only in the uncertainty of their admission to higher circles. Let us not forget that this mentality still informed Nietzsche's thinking when he sought to show his friends ‘all the steps of the Übermensch’. Rainer Maria Rilke also showed his familiarity with the traditions of the upward glance when he invoked the ‘pollen of the blossoming godhead, joints of light, hallways, stairs, thrones’.
It was only when the ‘God-seeker gangs’ of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries burst into this universe, built entirely on discretions, that the pathos of graded distance disappeared. The efforts of a world consisting of ranks, scales and ascents have since become incomprehensible to most people. Deregulated desire wants a ‘flat hierarchy’ – or even completely level ground. It no longer accepts any reason why it should not have everything on its own level immediately. Status and stasis evaporate here too – not, however, to force individuals to view their relationships with others through sober eyes, but rather to leave them behind in a previously unknown state of defencelessness. In this condition they succumb first to the temptations of the extreme, then to those of a vulgarity without limits." [God's Zeal]

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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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