Antinatalism & Gnosticism in Cioran

THE GREAT ARCHITECT

The Great Architect, by William Blake

This blog focuses on the relationship between Gnosticism and antinatalism, and whether the philosopher E.M. Cioran endorses either one in his works. Thanks to ControversialPhilosophy from the Anti-Natalist and Anti-Antinatalist Debate blog, I was motivated to present a case that looked beyond cherry-picking quotes and guilt of association rhetoric, towards the historical and theological context of the writings. Continue reading Antinatalism & Gnosticism in Cioran

Creation, by Gore Vidal

In the beginning…

A historical novel by Gore Vidal, Creation is an Odysseus styled dialectic on religious dogma. The main character, Cyrus Spitama, is the grandson of Zarathustra, and his encounters with other 5th century sages are clearly the highlights of the novel. Cyrus is fixated on the question of creation, or the origin of the universe or human existence. Initially he was indoctrinated by Zarathustra, specifically the dualistic ontology of Zoroastrianism. Convinced with this religious truth, he sets out to test the alternative answers or non-answers of other wise men, such as those from the East: the Buddha, Confucius, Lao-Tze, and the West: Pythagoras, Anaxagoras, and etc. However, the book demonstrates how much of a fatal flaw the question of creation was for Western philosophy, because it always was the wrong question. Continue reading Creation, by Gore Vidal

Pantheon and Christ

I have been thinking about the best or most appropriate way to tackle the relationship between Christ and the gods of Pantheon, and recently I came across a potential approach in Sloterdijk’s “Cabinet of Cynics” chapter from Critique of Cynical Reason where he goes through the five embodiment of cynicism through history. The first suspect is none other than Diogenes, who embodied the low theory version in his decided opposition to the all-too serious discourse of Socrates & Plato. Kynicism was based on the animal nature of man, where the gestures of the body were framed as arguments (farting or shitting or whacking off in public). In other words Diogenes poked fun at his grave opponents, but instead of talking against such idealism, he lived in opposition in an anti-theoretical, anti-dogmatic and anti-scholastic way. Continue reading Pantheon and Christ

the Book of Truth

The Book of Truth

(a classic from my heydays on IIDB, 6 years ago)

One day in heaven, the philosopher was walking with God, waxing philosophical.
God: Everything you ever wanted is here.
Philosopher: Everything? Do you mean the Truth, too?
God: Why, yes. If its true, its in the Book of the Truth.
Philosopher: What’s that?
God: Come follow me.

They walk towards the Official Library of Heaven, where all the books that have ever existed, or will exist, are located. In the center there’s a tall podium with the biggest book ever lying atop of it, and open. The golden letters are printed in type 6 font, new roman times style, on the finest paper.

God: Every single truth is in this book.
Philosopher: Indeed? All true sentences?
God: But of course. I am essentially omniscient and I also know this to be true. That’s also in there!
Philosopher: Au contraire, mon deux.
God: What?
Philosopher: I can think of at least one true sentence that cannot be in there.
God: Surely thou jest!
Philosopher: Not at all, your eminence.
God: Alright, what is this sentence? I warn you it cannot be meaningless. I am wise to the art of sophistry!

The philosopher takes a piece of a paper and writes “This statement is not in the Book of Truth.” God’s eyes bulge, and He begins to stammer.

Philosopher: Is this sentence in there? If so the book contains a falsehood. If not, then the book does not have all true sentences. Therefore it is not the Book of Truth.
God: Oh, dear. I hadn’t thought of that. I should have never made that Cretean….

Truth? Pshaw!

by Stephen Doyle

While vacationing in Italy, I had the opportunity to flex a couple of neurons. My family is full of devout Catholics, and my youngest aunt Costanza (Costu) has the “gift” of speaking in tongues. That means the hardcore Catholics pray with her, and sometimes that sets her off in a indecipherable tongue-speaking frenzy. My uncle Michael can interpret her, so the message isn’t lost.

Moreover, Costu is also intelligent, having graduated from MST in Rolla. So she wanted to discuss philosophy with me, and she wanted to know what was my “truth.” It was early in the week, and I thought it would be a good idea to get this over with so we all can enjoy our fantastic resort.

As somebody well read in post-modernism, asking the very question “truth” sets off alarms. Such questions like “what is X” are classic questions of philosophy, but after Nietzsche, they no longer have any place in our society – all and any answer has no credibility – but I couldn’t answer like this to my Aunt. So I had to speak in the right language, and speak about the game of philosophy. Continue reading Truth? Pshaw!

Do you praise or condemn the dead?

Deader than a doornail

In passing, I made the argument that because an individual’s life project was closed, we no longer have any right to vilify him for his shortcomings – that we should be honoring his contributions of society instead, especially if we (media and public) have been vilifying him the entire time until his death.

Before death, an individual’s life is an open book, a project to be completed. That’s when we have free reign to disparage and criticize for the wrongdoings or failures. After death, the meaning of the individual’s life is complete, a closed book, and finished.

Michael Jackson’s death has closed off all his possibilities, and puts him at the mercy of others – us. As long as he was alive, he could, through his actions, change the meaning of his future, and his past as well. Continue reading Do you praise or condemn the dead?

Mythos and Logos

Eye of Ra

There are two forms of knowledge: logos and mythos. From an old post of mine, based on Karen Armstrong’s division of knowledge:

Mythos: “myth”, from greek musteion – to close eyes or mouth. Myth as a mode of Knowledge was rooted in silence and intuitive insight, and gave meaning to life, human existence, but cannot be explained in rational terms. In the premodern world, mythical knowledge was complementary to logos.

Logos: “word” or rational, logical, scientific discourse

Both were essential and complementary ways of arriving at the truth for each had its area of competence. Myth was regarded as primary, for it dealt with the timeless or constant elements of human existence. Myth was about the origins of life, the very foundations of culture and the most essential nature of human mind. However, myth has little to do with practical stuff, or anything other than the meaning of life. If people cannot or do not find significance in their lives, despair is the result. The mythos of a society is the context that makes sense of the daily life, and points at the eternal and universal. Moreover, myth is rooted in unconscious. The various stories of myth, which were not meant to be taken literally, was ancient psychology. All these stories of heroes in the underworld, in labyrinths, and fighting monsters, was the premodern way of dealing with the obscure realm of unconscious, which is completely inaccessible to rational investigation, but had profound effects on experience and behavior. Since myth is absent in modern society we instead developed the science of psychoanalysis to deal with our inner world. Continue reading Mythos and Logos

Belief

Typically, a person does not believe that her belief is a belief. If she does come to believe that a belief is a belief, she will recognize it for what it is, a mere belief, and no longer wholeheartedly believe in it. “To believe is to know that one believes, and to know that one believes is no longer to believe… every belief is a belief that falls short, one never wholly believes what one believes.” (Being and Nothingness, p. 69) A person is able to suspend disbelief in a belief because she fails to spell out to herself the fact that a belief is merely a belief. Spelling out the policy of not spelling out undermines the policy. Coming to believe that a belief is merely a belief undermines the belief. If a person comes to believe that a belief is a belief, then she ceases to be convinced by it and loses faith in it, because by its very nature, belief implies doubt. Continue reading Belief

The Gospels are not Historical

Christians are prone to overstatements such as the simple claim that the New Testament is a historical document. However, this is incorrect, since they are religious works, not historical documents. There is a reason why your public or university library has the Gospels classified as religion, not history. Your public university does not include the Gospels in Ancient History 100 courses. Continue reading The Gospels are not Historical