History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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Religion, the axial age and the eonic effect

March 24th, 2018 · No Comments

Although it is not always easy to interpret the eonic effect it does provide a basis for seeing an epochal phasing of religion: we see the effect clearly in the axial interval in proximate antiquity and then again in the strong secular transition of modern times. The point remains obscure until it suddenly becomes obvious, that the religions of antiquity are passing away, slowly but surely.

Nonetheless The eonic model makes a distinction of system action and free action and that can be a warning that the status of these ancient religions is different now. Adherents are free agents able to take the remnants inherited into a new future. But they have lost their spiritually driven character and are the objects of manipulation by adherents who already live in a different era. No matter how hard they try to perpetuate or repeat the past they precipitate further secularization. But wait, don’t we see a new future in the products of the early modern’s reformations? We should acknowledge that at least in principle we must expect a new kind of ‘modern’ religion to emerge from that wrenching transformation. It has in many forms. But a closer look shows a different future already emerging from the start. With luther and calvin we find a most peculiar ‘bourgeois capitalism’ coming to the fore while with thomas muntzer we see a dialectical complement in the first birth of modern communism. These odd clues are suddenly a deadringer and we can see ‘what’s up’ quite clearly. This is almost obscure until it suddenly shows us what is going on with the reformation (we must be wary of thinking we fully understand it). All in all the many religious experiments of the early modern (consider german pietism or the birth of the evangelical movement) seem to damp out and we see increasingly modernized xtian cults soon set to different tasks: consider the magnificent abolitionist movement.
In many ways, as hegel moted, german classical philosophy was the last phase of the reformation with selfsame hegel and his mirror image schopenhauer cloncluding a kantian revolution. But one would extend that to see that the era of emergent socialism was in many ways still another phase of the reformation transition. We discussed marx’s confrontation with weitling last week: it is completely obvious all at once that the era of strauss and feuerbach was the seedbed for a socailist projection beyond ‘religion’. But one must be wary here: the issue is not the persistence of older monotheism but the sense of a spiritual realm, however obscure to us in the context of the kantian critique of metaphysics. This point was lost on the generation of marx and engels that correctly saw secular future emerging, but their definition sank into a form of scientism of the type that kant had scotched in his critiques. The point of hegel, to the dialectical side chorus of schopenhauer, was that, well, ‘geist lives and stalks history’, and, well, hegel is its prophet, humor permitted, schopenauer stalking hegel….The outcome of marxist scientism seems to have missed the point. It may be that late hegelianism deserved the guffaws of the students of feuerbach but the reductionist fundamentalism of the ‘marxist’ ‘science’ has lost a dimension and we can see the point of the reformation: in the tide of modern science the reformation feeds the memory of the ‘spiritual’ (the term itself is wrong) until such time as a new era of science can rediscover mystery.

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