Cynics, Fanatics, and… Trolls?

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However, this proverb is far more profound than its attempt at cleverness. All three are actually interrelated and two of them are the dominant aspects of our modern times. The cynic is the average person, having become enlightened, but since none of her traditional beliefs or values are reliable, she sinks in a reflexive false consciousness. The fanatic is the reactionary who, in rejecting the secular wisdom of the Enlightenment, inadvertently recreates a secular version of his traditional beliefs or practices in fundamentalism. As for the troll? She merely avoids the pitfalls of either dead end by transcending the modern times in her utilization of cheeky humor and avoids the sin of seriousness in mocking either caricature. Continue reading Cynics, Fanatics, and… Trolls?

Nothing.

 

Every ‘why’ question is a subset of the ultimate question: Why is there Something and not Nothing instead? If you can think yourself and the world away, if you can say no, then you are acting in the dimension of the nothing. There is such a thing – the Nothing. We are, Heidegger says, “a placeholder of the nothing.” (What is Metaphysics, p. 38) The transcendence of human beings is therefore Nothing. Continue reading Nothing.

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

Religion of Immortals (Pantheon speculative fragments)

For the next volume in the Pantheon series, I will focus on an alien race that lives on the gas giant that orbits the star Arcturus. They acquire the Tree of Life from the Garden of Eden, which causes them to become immortal, as well as transform their entire world into a lush paradise in eternal bloom.

Tree of Life from Fountain

New religion of Immortals
Not only did the Tree of life turn the sentient species Arcturians (of the planet in the Arcturus system) into immortals, it also abolished individuality. A Christ-like figure was responsible for implanting the seed of the tree of life, and gave up his life, only to be resurrected. However, this did not turn him into the son of god, the messiah, for the tree of life actually turned the entire race into a Christ-like symbol. Continue reading Religion of Immortals (Pantheon speculative fragments)

Nietzsche & atheism

from bizarro.com

Nietzsche is often taken as a poster-boy for atheism due to his infamous phrase, “God is dead!” However, that is not a clear endorsement of atheism but rather, theothanatology. In his writings, Nietzsche did refer to atheism and oftentimes in jest. His hermeneutic-psychoanalysis of Christianity led him to be exceedingly critical of atheists, as well as scientists and skeptics. Continue reading Nietzsche & atheism

The failure of philosophy of religion

Angel’s Cry

This semester I’m taking a graduate course in the philosophy of religion. I already took one as an undergraduate, but under a different professor who was a proficient expert on Hegel. This time, the current professor seems far more culturally informed and global, which leads to an entirely different angle to assess religion philosophically. Continue reading The failure of philosophy of religion

Next stop: Durkheim & anthropology

In a previous blog All Roads Lead to Ferdinand, I discussed Saussure as an opening of a new paradigm in the human sciences. Today, up at bat is Emile Durkheim, one of the founding fathers of the French social anthropology, who had a revolutionary insight that complements Saussure’s in linguistics. Continue reading Next stop: Durkheim & anthropology

Deconversion

by Chris Madden

I don’t have a dramatic story to share: my deconversion was a slow process that began in childhood. It began when I, a bored catholic boy started to discuss religious matters with a young child of a Jehovah Witness family. We went over the differences in our religions, but even then, I could tell that his faith limited the bounds of our discussion, and that I had hardly any of my own. I remember asking Matt which bible he used, and he simply declared it to be the first one. I did not press matters there, and did some researching of my own. I asked his mother if I could borrow those short books they had around the house and I enjoyed reading the extensive explanation in their stories that expanded the bible stores. Lovely paintings. Of course my mother didn’t like this and insisted that I study our religion before I start to investigate others, and of course I readily ignored her advice. Continue reading Deconversion

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

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