Archive | August 2019

Sins of the Fathers: The Karmic Law and the Chain of Historical Causation

The LORD is long-suffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the sons to the third and fourth generation.

Numbers 14

This particular formula for the chain of historical causation occurs in a few passages of the Bible. It bothers some people who don’t see why the offspring should be made to suffer for the errors of their forebears. But it does reveal how the sense of historical time and the sense of eras was not so much measured in years but in generations. Among the indigenous people of North America, it is the seven generations before and the seven generations after that constitute the sense of historical time — an Era would be fourteen generations, and certain people in the tribe are the designated keepers of tribal memory, and their memory is indeed quite prodigious.

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The Root Paradox: The One and the Many

So, I have written in the previous post that many of our contemporary crises and the pathologies of the “New Normal” can be overcome by simply rising to the level of the paradox, which is basically what many people mean by insisting that we must shift from an “either/or” type logic to a “both/and” type logic. And the root paradox — the Mother of All Paradoxes — is the paradox of the One and the Many — how the One can be Many and the Many, One. But that’s what the problematic issue of “Living On Oxford Time” is about, as discussed in the previous couple of posts.

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“The New Normal”: Delusional Narcissism and Bad Faith

For today’s Guardian, columnist John Grace has written up a quite sarcastic account of today’s New Normal in Boris Johnson’s UK. But as sarcastic though it might be, it does touch upon some essential aspects of the New Normal – bad faith and delusional narcissism. In fact, “narcissism” is a term that often continuously recurs in many references to “the New Normal”.

I’ve expended a considerable amount of time trying to understand the meaning of this “New Normal”, as well as when and why we’ve entered into this state. It was Fukuyama’s “end of history” thesis that first twigged me to something strange going on. But in many respects, the seed-germ of the “New Normal” lay in Nietzsche’s announcement of the “death of God”. In other words, this “New Normal” coincides with Nietzsche’s forecast of “two centuries of nihilism” during which “all higher values devalue themselves”. That’s actually a description of what is called “the kaliyuga“.

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Morphic Fields and the Edifice of Thought, II

I’ve been reading through a few essays about Morphic Fields posted by Rupert Sheldrake on his website. My curiosity about his Morphic Field theory is connected with Jean Gebser’s ideas about “structures of consciousness”. One of Sheldrake’s book titles — The Presence of the Past — even suggests such a connection or affinity between morphic fields and structures of consciousness.

Far from being the “pseudo-science” (apparently the judgement of Cartesian minds against everything post-Cartesian that they don’t grok), the idea of morphic fields has merit, and is closely connected with the field of epigenetics — the idea that formative factors (information) external to the genes also play a role in how genes express themselves, and which represents something of a challenge to Dawkin’s “selfish gene” theory. It also seems quite compatible with physicist David Bohm’s ideas of the holomovement and the “implicate order” as described in his book Wholeness and the Implicate Order.

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Morphic Fields and the Edifice of Thought

Recently, Antonio Dias employed a phrase that I quite like: “the Edifice of Thought”. The painstakingly constructed modern edifice of thought now rests upon some pretty wobbly foundations — the metaphysical assumptions of the Newtonian-Cartesian paradigm that have now become very dubious and uncertain. Chief among these dubious assumptions is metaphysical dualism, or what is called “the mind-body problem”, which has become a major impediment to our resolving many of the crises of Late Modernity.

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The River of Time and the Return of the Repressed

Heraclitus is especially notable for his paradox that you can’t put your foot in the same river twice (and perhaps even once). The river is time, and it is a very common metaphor for the flow and flux of time. Nietzsche uses it on occasion — rivers rushing to the sea as a return to origin. This is very common in mysticism as well. It’s another one of Nietzsche’s many, many ironies. And since time is irrupting into consciousness and beginning to overtake and even subsume our hitherto exaggerated spatialised consciousness (called perspectivism) we should spend some time understanding what’s involved in this reversal of foreground and background effects (for time was the background to perspective consciousness).

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A Johannine Age

Benjamin David Steele posted a very stimulating comment this morning to the previous post summarising some of the principle tenets of what is called “primitive Christianity” as it was prior to the Pauline canon and the Pauline interpretation, which more or less set the tone for the Age of the Church. That is to say, Christianity wasn’t a “religion” as such until Paul made it so.

The actual kicker is that Paul did not know Jesus personally, while John did. In fact, John among all the disciples was the personal friend of Jesus. So there has been a tendency with the Christian tradition to distinguish between the Pauline and the Johannine interpretations, and in many respects Nietzsche belongs in the Johannine stream of Christianity, which accounts for many of the ironies and paradoxes of Nietzsche’s philosophy and his hatred of “religion” (as it did Blake’s). In many respects, what Blake calls “the Bible of Hell” is what Nietzsche brought into the light (so that may be why Aurobindo thought Nietzsche “strangely inspired”).

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