We can leave as an exercise finding the ‘last and first men’ ‘instant meme’ interpretation in terms of the legacy of Xtian historicism. As relevant to the current time-frame the discussion in LFM shows how the emergence of democracy/socialism/communism are in ‘Axial Age format’, modernist version, and with communism we see the same idling proto-religion (this time no religion at all, but…) in the sense of an ‘oikoumene integrator’ emerging in seed form from a transition. The excessive emphasis on materialist interpretation is almost an exact reversal of the over-spiritualized aura of emergent monotheism.
The counterpoint is resolved in the idea of evolution, if the latter can resolve the mystery of ‘design’ arguments. And in the end the mystery of human psychology, at its climax in the ‘phenomenon'(?) of ‘enlightenment’, requires a mystery left like the ‘thing on the doorstep’ (from Lovecraft) of a somewho in a state that is ‘beyond enlightenment’, a question mark indeed for homo sapiens darthvaderensis still lost in the ‘dark side of the force’.
Despite a very different view of tragedy, and a different take on its history, this is an interesting discussion: will cite for later comment…
One of the ironies of secular humanist critiques of religion, Xtianity especially, is the inability to explain what’s going on with their manifest histories. Declaring a stance of atheism is all well and good, but god or no god no humanist critiques have yet been able to really figure out what is going on with the religions we know: the Judeo-Xtian stream, the Persian, the Indic, the slightly different yet ultimately analogous cases of Confucianism and Taoism, and the curveball in the lot: the Greek archaic/classical period, which seems more secular than anything else.
The format of Xtianity, especially, defies easy sociological reduction, even as its content is seen to suffer a strange brand of mythological interpretation. In fact, a close look at the ‘macro’ effect, which highlights the Axial Age correlation of religious emergence is completely neutral on the categories we would use to distinguish ‘sacred’ and ‘secular’.
In any case the issue of futurism is built into the macro effect, we suspect, because the relationship between historical directionality and the ‘virtual future’ is intrinsic in some fashion.
The question of monotheism is subject to a very strong set of critiques in the passage through modernity, but the issue of divinity is not likely to end up replaced by atheism, despite the strong showing of that perspective in the wake of the modern transition. History here in such cases shows a ratchet effect, and probably will not end in a total reversal of emergent monotheism. The resolution of the paradox is already visible in figures such as Hegel, and others, who so easily transpose the question into a new key (and Hegel is often criticized for being a closet atheist).
The language of Xtian theology is a set of puzzles, one of them the endless citations re: the ‘son of man’ and the ‘son of god’. This language and its literature, including the apocrypha, is hard to assess, and is apparently corrupted by its own exemplars who ended in a muddle of crypto-polytheistic literalism that thought in terms of a family of divine entities, the case of a ‘son’ being one of the curious fumbles. The larger meaning was an attempt, perhaps, to express something not unlike the Indic conception of the ‘avatar’, or in general some manifestation of the higher (what is that?) in the lower. Much of this thought suffers the same ‘scrambling’ we find in the legacy of proximate antiquity, but sourcing further back in the Sumerian nexus.
In any case, the biblical legacy of Xtianity is a completely obscure puzzle and seems at times to show a populist version of the avatar/godman lore, so common in India. There is an additional parallel current in the emergence of Buddhist Mahayana, with its symbology of saviors.
In any case the question of the demiurgic realm broached by J.G. Bennett foots the bill here for a coherent sub or superstrate to the emerging monotheism which was hardpressed to produce a coherent version of its core concept. The confusion over existence and the supernatural was never resolved in the theological realm and suffered the inevitable reversal of atheism, equal and opposite in its incoherence.
The idea of realm of demiurgic powers was an important shift in the discussion, one hardpressed to really advance, but one that can much more coherently reconcile questions of metaphysical divinity by putting the realm of spiritual powers directly in the space-time framework, with a possible twist in the collation of the ‘eternal’ to space-time cosmology. This one can stop atheists in their tracks.
In any case, the issues of the monotheistic and ‘dharmic’ religions (i.e. buddhism), discussed here somewhat superficially in terms of paths of will and the paths of being, make better sense if seen as the subcosmic labors of the ‘sons of god’, i.e. really existing spiritual identities unknown to us, and still in the realm of existence. The closest approximation is the scifi idea of ‘beings of light’, we are at step one in our incomprehension of this mode of existence, including the possibility it is our imagination, but one that bypasses the perplexities correctly posed by scientific skepticism.
We are confronted in the Axial period with a ‘process’ that is equally the source of monotheistic, dharmic, and proto-secular mindsets. Clearly in retrospect there is something is our mentation level that falls short of real understadning.
The Selfless Gene
It’s easy to see how evolution can account for the dark streaks in human nature—the violence, treachery, and cruelty. But how does it produce kindness, generosity, and heroism?
October 1, 2007
– See more at: http://portside.org/2014-11-22/selfless-gene#sthash.BuwO7ORa.dpuf
A review of this week’s coverage plus a few articles from our archives.
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The B u l l e t • Socialist Project • E-Bulletin No. 1058 • November 21, 2014
Partners in Crime: The Continental Capitalist Offensive and the Killing Fields of Mexico
Part I: State Terror and the Murder of 43 Students
Richard Roman and Edur Velasco Arregui
The Mexican government, welcomed as a partner of the Canadian and U.S. governments in continental economic development (North American Free Trade Agreement – NAFTA) and continental security also happens to partner in crime and the slaughter of its own people. The murders and disappearances of the students from the Rural Normal “Raúl Isidro Burgos,” of Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, Mexico on September 26, 2014 in Iguala, was a crime of the State, as hundreds of thousands of Mexicans have claimed in their protests. The governmental investigation that followed the September 2014 attack on these students has been deliberately incompetent and not aimed at getting to the roots of the crime as these roots, in fact, are the tangled web of state-drug gang corruption and the state’s dirty war in defense of the neoliberal transformation of Mexico. The investigation has been staged, quite ineffectively, as a public relations operation to calm foreign investors and to cool out protest, efforts that have completely failed within Mexico. By claiming that the blame was at the local level, the corrupt collusion of a local mayor and his avaricious wife with a brutal cartel, it seeks to present itself, the national government, as the defender of justice.
Deep-Earth carbon offers clues on origin of life: New organic carbon species linked to formation of diamonds — and life itself
November 20, 2014
Johns Hopkins University
Scientists reveal details about carbon deep beneath Earth’s surface and suggest ways it might have influenced the history of life on the planet.
Who Will Confront the Real Cause of Environmental Exploitation?
The Climate Crisis is Capitalism
by ROB URIE
Much Western discourse around environmental crisis reiterates the self-serving frame that ‘the world,’ rich and poor, global North and South, capitalist and communist, produced global warming. The assertion is posed as pragmatic, as avoiding the Cold War oppositions that tend to shut down discussion of important issues. If ‘we all’ are responsible for this or that catastrophe then we all have a responsibility to solve it. But what if, in terms of facts and history, a very specific and well defined form of political economy contains the guiding principles, modes of social organization, necessary technocratic skills, motive and two hundred years of easily assignable history of environmental destruction, can be blamed?
The Driving Force Behind America’s Warp Speed Decline into an Unequal Society
Corporate power is bad, but the financial industry is behind the atrocious wealth divide.