Archive | June 2017

The Archaic One and Individuation

Reflecting further on Albert Schweitzer’s ethos of “reverence for life” has led me round to the contemplation of Jean Gebser’s “archaic consciousness structure” as the “ever-present origin” — the archaic One or Wholeness, which may also be named “the Primal One”. It is appropriate to visual the archaic One in terms of Nicholas of Cusa’s famous description of God as “a circle whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere”, a root principle of the Hermetic Philosophy and which is basically an attempt to give a sense of form or structure to the Infinite and the Eternal (or the spaceless and timeless Presence), for such is the nature of the archaic One as “ever-present origin”, which has never ceased to be presence.

And it is, furthermore, appropriate to reflect on the archaic One as the singular Origin (or Ursprung) which is ever-present as also being identical with Jill Bolte-Taylor’s experience of “the Life Force Power of the Universe”, which she tried to describe in her very moving TED talk on her “Stroke of Insight”. This “Life Force Power of the Universe”, which Schweitzer also senses as underlying his own “reverence for life” ethos, and which Nietzsche sensed as the “Dionysian” power of his own “Life Philosophy”, is the same “archaic structure of consciousness” addressed by Jean Gebser in The Ever-Present Origin. The expansive “oceanic feeling” that psychologists often attribute to the infant or the mystic is an intimation of Origin and the archaic One.

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Albert Schweitzer and The Teaching of Reverence for Life

Albert Schweitzer (1875 – 1965) — an antithetical type to the merely mean-spirited and petty-minded of the “New Normal”. I recall hearing his name as a very young boy as being someone who had done something quite extraordinary (or perhaps aberrant in some people’s judgment). I was too young then to appreciate what that was. Then, later on in university, his name came up again in the context of controversies and debates over self-interest and altruism as a characteristic feature of “human nature”, with some cynically-minded arguing that what is called “altruism” is merely, and always is, some form of digusie or masquerade for self-interest.

You don’t hear Schweitzer’s name mentioned much any more (likewise the name Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who was useful to power as a critic of the spiritual desolation of the Soviet Union but became persona non grata when he became a critic of the West and of the spiritual desolation of consumer capitalism as well).

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The Logos and the Tao

The theme of today’s posting was suggested by the commentary to the earlier post on “Too Much of a Good Thing”, in which C.S. Lewis’s use of the term “Tao” was raised. I wondered why Lewis, a devout Christian as we know, would have preferred the name “Tao” over “Logos“, since they are equivalent in meaning. A comparison of some of the fragments of Heraclitus (who first used the term “Logos”) with the writings of Lao Tse on the Tao pretty much confirms that the Logos, the Tao, and (in some contexts) the “Dharma” of Buddhism are the same. In the passages cited from Lewis in the comments, you could substitute “Logos” or “Dharma” for “Tao” without any loss of meaning.

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