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The Evolutionary Perspective
Category Archives: Pantheism
Posted: February 25, 2017 at 3:04 pm
2017 marks the 100th anniversary of Our Lady’s visits to the three shepherd children at Fatima, Portugal. 2017 also marks the 300th anniversary of the foundation of Freemasonry with the establishment of the Grand Lodge in London in 1717. From the perspective of the Catholic Church the two anniversaries couldn’t be further apart in their significance for humanity.
The Marian apparitions at Fatima signify the supernatural intervention of God to call a lost humanity to repent from the evil of apostasy and war through the motherly solicitude of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Queen of Heaven. The foundation of the first Lodge, and the subsequent history of Freemasonry, signifies the idolatrous adulation of man, the luciferian rejection of God and an implacable hostility towards Our Lord Jesus Christ and his Church.
The year of the Marian apparitions at Fatima, 1917, was also the 200th anniversary of the foundation of Freemasonry. It was marked by violent Masonic attacks against Our Lady at Fatima and the Pope at Rome.
Father John de Marchi’s account of the miraculous events at Fatima, personally verified by Sr. Lucia, recounts the hostility of local freemasons towards Our Lady and the three visionaries at Fatima. Arthur Santos, the mayor of Vila Nova de Ourem, who persecuted and psychologically tortured the three children, was a member of the Masonic Lodge of Leiria, and founded a new lodge in his native Vila Nova de Ourem.
The Masonic Lodge at Santarem, a neighboring town to Fatima, became the rallying point to atheistic opposition to Our Lady of Fatima. In September 1917, men from Santarem joined up with men from Vila Nova de Ourem and marched to the site of the apparitions at the Cova da Iria. They proceeded to attack the make-shift shrine with axes. A local newspaper gave the following account:
With an axe they cut the tree under which the three shepherd children stood during the famous phenomenon of the 13th of this month. They took away the tree, together with a table on which a modest altar had been arranged, and on which a religious image (of Our Lady) had been placed. They also took a wooden arch, two tin lanterns, and two crosses, one made of wood and the other of bamboo-cane wrapped in tissue paper. These prize exhibits, including, as a footnote explains, a bogus version of the tree, were placed on exhibit in a house not far from the Seminary at Santarem, and an entrance fee exacted from those who wished to enter and be entertained at the widely advertised religious farce. One disappointment to the sponsors was the fact that not everyone, even among the Church’s active critics, agreed it was amusing. The profits from the exhibit were to be turned over to a local charity, but the beneficiaries said very politely, “Thank you; no.”
Later, in the evening, a blasphemous procession was held. The parade was headed by two men thumping on drums (a newspaper account reveals), while just behind it came the famous tree on which the Lady is said to have appeared. Next came the wooden arch, with its lanterns alight, then the altar table and other objects which the faithful had placed upon it at the Cova da Iria. To the sound of blasphemous litanies, the procession passed through the principal streets of the city, returning to the Sa da Band Eira Square, at which point it broke up.
Lucia, one of the child visionaries, later expressed relief that the Masons attacked and destroyed the wrong tree.
1917 Masonic Attacks Against the Pope
One month after the final apparition of Our Lady at Fatima in October 1917, Freemasonry openly declared war on the Catholic Church through a series of protests in Rome. The freemasons littered Rome with posters showing the Archangel Michael defeated on the ground trampled beneatha triumphant Lucifer. In their protests against the Catholic Church, the freemasons also displayed the black flag of the heretic Giordano Bruno, a Dominican friar who promotedmaterialistic pantheism, a central belief of Freemasonry. Bruno also denied fundamental doctrines of the Faith, including the Most Holy Trinity, the Incarnation and the perpetual virginity of Our Lady. As a student in Rome at the time, St. Maximilian Kolbe witnessed the violently anti-Catholic celebrations of Freemasonry’s 200th anniversary. The first of his accounts was published in the November 1935 issue of the JapaneseMilitiaof the Immaculate magazine:
Years later, the freemasons in Rome began to demonstrate openly and belligerently against the Church. They placed the black standard of the “Giordano Brunisti” under the windows of the Vatican. On this standard the archangel, St. Michael, was depicted lying under the feet of the triumphant Lucifer. At the same time, countless pamphlets were distributed to the people in which the Holy Father was attacked shamefully. Right then I conceived the idea of organizing an active society to counteract Freemasonry and other slaves of Lucifer.
Saint Maximilian Kolbe’s second account was published in 1939:
In the years leading up to the war, the masonic “clique,” disapproved of on several occasions by the Sovereign Pontiffs, governed in Rome, the capital of Christianity, with ever greater impudence. It did not even hesitate to brandish in the streets of the City during the festivities in honor of Giordano Bruno, a black flag showing the Archangel St. Michael beneath the feet of Lucifer; still less did they hesitate to brandish masonic insignia beneath the windows of the Vatican. A reckless hand felt no repugnance in writing: Satan will rule in the Vatican and the Pope will serve him in the uniform of a Swiss Guard, and other things of that kind. This mortal hatred for the Church of Jesus Christ and for His Vicar was not just a prank on the part of deranged individuals, but a systematic action proceeding from the principle of Freemasonry: Destroy all religion, whatever it may be, especially the Catholic religion.
As a consequence of witnessing the freemasons’ hostility towards the Church in 1917, St. Maximilian Kolbe decided to found theMilitia Immaculatae [The Knights of the Immaculate] to counteract the actions of Lucifer.
Timothy Tindal-Robertson, an expert on Fatima, is certain that the Marian apparitions in 1917 were a manifestation of the conflict between Our Lady and the forces of evil at work in the world. In a recent correspondence he told me:
Our Lady’s apparitions were heaven’s answer to the furious attack on the Church in Portugal unleashed after the Masons murdered the king in Lisbon in 1906, and then a totally secular anti-Catholic Republican government was installed in 1908, which seriously persecuted the Church. A few years later, a government minister declared in their assembly that in two generations they would have eliminated Catholicism in Portugal.
However, word spread all over Portugal and Our Lady’s apparitions at Fatima, and despite the efforts of the government to prevent it, 70,000 people came to the Cova in October 1917. Overjoyed at the stupendous Miracle of the Sun, the people went home and complied with our Lady’s request for the Rosary to such an extent that it brought about the resurrection of the Church, while the republican party simply withered away. The same thing happened in Austria in 1955, and again in Portugal when there was a threat of a Communist uprising in 1975.
In the second part of this article we’ll examine the reasons why Freemasonry is violently hostile against Our Lady and the Catholic Church, the warnings against Freemasonry from various popes, and current concerns about the infiltration of the Catholic Church by freemasons.
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Posted: February 24, 2017 at 6:09 pm
Osher Lifelong Learning Institute will host a meeting, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 8 at the Chico Masonic Family Center, 1110 W. East Ave. Socializing precedes the program at noon.
OLLI is Chico State Universitys learning-in-retirement program. The educational program is centered on classes developed and taught by volunteers who share their time and knowledge. There are no grades or tests.
For more, call 898-6679 or visit http://tinyurl.com/jcs4no9.
Chico >> James Karman has studied literature, religion and humanities extensively. In fact, he is a professor emeritus at Chico State University who was coordinator of the Humanities Program there.
Years ago, one poet caught his attention and his respect. Karman will discuss the life of Robinson Jeffers during the general meeting March 8 of Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, Chico States learning-in-retirement program.
Jeffers became Karmans topic for his Ph.D. dissertation at Syracuse University in the 1970s.
Robinson Jeffers was the perfect candidate for my research, he said of the poet who lived from 1887 to 1962. His poetry is deeply spiritual but had a vision of life as essentially religious. His orientation might be called pantheism: that God is in everything.
Karman has written nine books about the poet, including five published by Stanford University Press. The latest, Robinson Jeffers: Poet and Prophet, was published in August.
Jeffers did much more than write poetry, and Karman explained the prophet in the books title.
Jeffers had a wide open vision of life. He could see far into the past and future, as well as very precisely into the present moment. Profits are described that way. A profit looks at the present moment, can see distant past, how we got to where we are and see future implications of present behavior.
Karman is considered a world renowned expert on Jeffers.
In the 1920s and 30s, Jeffers was very aware of what humans are doing to themselves and to planet Earth. Specifically, he was worried about over-population and pollution, about the exploitation of resources.
He was also concerned with human cruelty, and condemned war. When World II was coming which he predicted and condemned before, during and after people reacted to him with anger. He showed in no uncertain terms what people were doing to themselves.
Karman said Jeffers was ahead of his time. He is considered one of the founders of the modern environmental movement. He was raised by parents who were highly educated and he was given an education in Europe. By the time he was a teenager, he was in complete command of French, German, English, Greek and Latin.
As an adult, Jeffers moved to Los Angeles. He fell in love with a married woman and after being publicly disgraced about it, they married in 1913 and moved to Carmel.
The coastal area was barely developed then. They built a stone house and lived in the wilderness, which forced him to reconsider everything he brought with him. Studies of science, literature and language, combined with the raw, wild natural world.
At the time, Jeffers was a maverick. He brought all his own wisdom to literature and languages, augmented by his research in the medical sciences.
In all his years of teaching at Chico State 1977 to 2003 Karman said he never taught a class about the poet. Never in my entire career, he said. I always taught about world religions, western literature. He is the object of my scholarship and research.
Karman also has a perspective about Jeffers. There was a time when he hit his stride. In 1932, he was on the cover of Time magazine. But once he condemned the U.S. for wartime behavior and humanity for the environment, people turned against him.
He said Jeffers is really very fascinating and timely. He is a poet for our own times. The half of the American population today who does not believe in climate change, who are trying to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency, wouldnt like Jeffers. Anybody who is for peace on Earth and protecting the environment, will love Jeffers. It is a definite divide.
Last year, Karman was awarded the Robinson Jeffers Associations Lawrence Clark Powell Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Carmel. Last year he also won the Oscar Lewis Award for Western History. Karman and Stanford University Press were honored last year at the 85th annual California Book Awards for Karmans book, The Collected Letters of Robinson Jeffers.
Contact reporter Mary Nugent at 896-7764.
‘Evilution:’ The Secret Luciferian, Spiritual Origin To One of The Biggest Hoaxes in History Evolution – The Christian Truther
Posted: February 20, 2017 at 7:02 pm
Science and evolution, evilution, are continually carried as fact and theory in regards to how things got started around here. But in reality, its where those facts and theories got started that explains why Christian creationism should be the dominant teaching.
Since the beginning of time, a war has raged, and while the details have remained similar, the methodology has changed. The Bible dictates this war in perfect detail, and clearly states that God has won. It also clearly states that we as Christians are to be opposed to the ways of the world. The Bible, written over the course of creation and history, has dictated the events of today with such incredible accuracy, that it could not have been authored by man alone.
The purpose of this post is to further arm the Christian in dealing with the ways of this world.
Evolutionary theory is largely derived from Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallaces theories of evolution explained in detail in Darwins On the Origin of Species (1859) book. Although, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (1 August 1744 18 December 1829) was the first to develop a coherent evolutionary theory. However, evolutionary thought can be traced back to the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Chinese as well as medieval Islamic science.
A significant portion of evolution was derived from Charles Darwin and his book Origin of Species. Darwin, himself was an agnostic influenced by spiritualists. However, the co-author of the book, Alfred Russel Wallace, was not agnostic at all; in fact, he was a was a devotee of spiritualism that included pantheism, paganism, occult ideas, and practices. Wallaces beliefs directly coincide with the New Age Movement, and within the New Age ideology lies an alarming coalition between spiritualism and science. Even further, there is an alarming correlation between Hindu occultism, the New Age movement, and evolution.
Within Darwin and Wallaces theory of evolution or natural selection is the belief in a tree of life or a universal tree of life. Although Darwin propagated the theory, it was also discovered in Jean-Baptiste Lamarcks writings as well, Lamarck produced the first branching tree of animals. The tree of life is often prescribed to New Age Philosophy, and can be traced back to the mysticism of the Kabbalah, as well as can be discovered in Hindu teachings, ancient Iranian teachings, and even in ancient Egyptian teachings.
There is significant evidence that evolution is based on occult mysticism rather than science, which can be further understood by William W. Wassynger, M.D., who authored a report for the New York Times on Nov. 27, 1989; in regards to the California Curriculum battle, William claimed
The process of general evolution could theoretically be reproduced through experimentation, but it never has been. Though speciation has been demonstrated in laboratories, no event beyond speciation has ever been demonstrated. Charles Darwin clearly delineated the differences between speciation and general evolution, and noted that the support for general evolution would have to come from the fossil record.
In The Origin of Species, Darwin noted that without the appropriate fossil evidence (which did not exist in his day) his general theory would hold no weight. He and others tenaciously clung to the hope that the unfolding of the fossil record would show all of the intermediate forms necessary to support his claims. Today, however, with more than 100,000 species represented in fossils, the lack of intermediate forms is even greater than it was in Darwins day.
Not only has the fossil record failed, but findings of modern scientists have made general evolutionary theory even less tenable. In Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, for example, Michael Denton methodically analyzes a wealth of evidence that challenges this theory. His subjects include the failure of homology (homologous structures not being represented by homologous genes nor embryonic development); the typological nature of microbiology, and problems associated with chance as a directive force, in addition to the lack of a supportive fossil record.
Contrary to popular belief, many people disagree with the theory of general evolution, and the idea that all opponents base their views on religious belief is groundless. Michael Denton is neither a creationist nor an evangelical Christian, and his book is one of several to challenge evolution in scientific terms. Moreover, having religious beliefs does not preclude the ability to reason scientifically. Many great scientists Isaac Newton, Carolus Linnaeus, Georges Cuvier and Louis Pasteur, to name a few -were devoutly religious.
Even in Darwins day, scientists who opposed evolution were charged with irrationality and religiosity. But they did not attack evolution on religious grounds; rather, they protested its lack of scientific proof and pointed to the evidence that supported a typological nature. The creationists were attacked as scientific heretics, while supporters of evolution refusing to admit the lack of evidence became the true heretics, replacing scientific foundations with metaphysics. See More
What William describes is that those who propagated evolution were in fact scientists fascinated with metaphysics rather than actual science. Interestingly enough, after one glance at who propagated evolution, it is no wonder it is so popular today. The infamous Huxley bloodline is in large part responsible for the distribution of evolution. The Huxley family was a large part of creating the league of nations, and who happened to also be eugenicists. Thomas Henry Huxley was the grandfather to Aldous Huxley, author of The Brave New World, Julian Huxley, evolutionist and first director of UNESCO, and Nobel laureate physiologist, Andrew Huxley.
Thomas Huxley was the first to apply the theory of natural selection to humanity to explain the course of human evolution. Before Darwin, even he was opposed to the earlier ideologies of evolution put forth by Lamarck and Robert Chambers, Huxley claimed that progressionist evolution was based in metaphysics rather than actual science. Although, Darwins bulldog, Huxley, altered his beliefs based on the book written by Darwin and Wallace, which is evident in the letter below;
I finished your book yesterday. . . Since I read Von Baers Essays nine years ago no work on Natural History Science I have met with has made so great an impression on me & I do most heartily thank you for the great store of new views you have given me. . . As for your doctrines, I am prepared to go to the Stake if requisite. . . I trust you will not allow yourself to be in any way disgusted or annoyed by the considerable abuse & misrepresentation which unless I greatly mistake is in store for you. . . And as to the curs which will bark and yelp you must recollect that some of your friends at any rate are endowed with an amount of combativeness which (though you have often & justly rebuked it) may stand you in good stead I am sharpening up my claws and beak in readiness Letter of T. H. Huxley to Charles Darwin, November 23, 1859, regarding the Origin of Species See More
Huxley again was one of the first adherents to Darwins theory of evolution by natural selection and did more than anyone else to advance its acceptance among scientists and the public alike. Thomass grandsons, Aldous and Julius, both saturated with the ideology of their grandfather on evolution, began their own studies which lead them to become proponent eugenists. Julius Huxley, however, was by far more influential than Aldous, being that he was the first director of UNESCO.
UNESCO, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, is one of the largest organizations for education in the world, most of which was founded and directed by Eugenicists and Evolutionists. It is no wonder, that evolution is such a prominent theory today.
Darwins origin of species book also granted Karl Marx the enthusiasm he needed to create the Communist Manifesto. Karl Marx called the book; the book which contains the basis in natural history for our view. Meaning that Darwins ideology of evolution is the basis of Marxism and Communism. However, Karl Marx did not generate his ideology alone, in fact, Thomas Huxley greatly helped;
In 1862 Marx made a point of attending the public lectures on evolution given by Darwins supporter Thomas Huxley, and encouraged his political associates to join him. Wilhelm Liebknecht, a friend and comrade who often visited the Marx family in London, later recalled, when Darwin drew the conclusions from his research work and brought them to the knowledge of the public, we spoke of nothing else for months but Darwin and the enormous significance of his scientific discoveries. See More
It is incredibly evident that the theory of evolution was the basis for Marxism. In other words, Darwins theories have created the belief that humans are not a special species. Instead, it has created the belief that humans are merely animals, which gives rise to the idea that life is not sacred at all, but rather it is disposable. Below is video evidence of that narrative, and is a clip from the documentary film; Evolution vs. God.
Darwins theories on evolution and the origin of life, are mainly based on single cell ideology. According to the single cell theory, everything on earth, and,earth formed from a single cell some 3.5 to 4.1 Billion years ago. Interestingly enough the single cell ideology can also be traced to spiritualism and mystical occult teachings. In Hinduism, the second oldest religion, it is widely supported that everything formed from a golden womb or golden egg. Which has been poetically translated into the universal germ.
Hindu belief: literally the golden womb or golden egg, poetically translated as universal germ) is the source of the creation of universe or the manifested cosmos in Vedic philosophy, as well as an avatar of Vishnu in the Bhagavata Purana.  It finds mention in one hymn of the Rigveda (RV 10.121), known as the Hirayagarbha Skta, suggesting a single creator deity (verse 8: yo devev dhi dev eka st, Griffith: He is the God of gods, and none beside him.), identified in the hymn as Prajpati. The concept of the golden womb is again mentioned in the Vishvakarman Skta (RV 10.82). Wiki
The striking similarities between evolution and spiritualist ideologies, should raise stark questions about just why evolution came about, and who is exactly behind the push to prove evolution over creation from the Biblical narrative.
It can be easily summed up that proponents of the elitist occult societies of the world have pushed Darwins theories to the limelight and further fomented the ideology of evolution for one simple reason, control.
When humanity is not viewed in a sacred light, it becomes easier to mass murder individuals, Karl Marx proved that. When humanity is not viewed in a sacred light, humans become no more than animals, and it could easily be justified to enslave humanity. Understanding the motives behind evolution, and the modern metaphysical science, again brings into question the reality that yet again, the Bible spoke of these times, and they are called the End Times. In these days, according to scripture, science will increase. But wait, doesnt the Bible say knowledge, not science?
Science is derived from the word scientia, in Latin meaning knowledge; the Bible again describes that knowledge will increase in those days according to Daniel 12:4. Mans desire for knowledge is what began all of this, in the garden of Eden, according to Genesis 2:16-17 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Thou shalt eat freely of every tree of the garden, 17 But of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt die the death.
According to the Bible, deception comes from the serpent. According to Hinduism and the New Age Movement, knowledge is imparted to an individual after the awakening of the kundalini serpent spirit that lives at the base of the spine and expands to the top of the head. To learn more about the deception of Hinduism, how its woven into the New Age Movement, and how it is subverting the Church; see more here.
Peking University . Evolutionism Combined with Spiritualism: A. R. Wallaces Approach . Peking University . . (NA): . .
Dr. Jerry Bergman. The Darwinian Foundation of Communism. Answers in Genesis. . (2001): . .
WILLIAM W. WASSYNGER. Theory of Evolution Has Never Been Proved. NY Times. . (1989): . .
ISR. Marx and Engels…and Darwin? ISR. . (NA): . .
Berkely. Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895). Berkeley. . (NA): . .
Posted: February 19, 2017 at 11:01 am
E. D. Hirsch, Jr., who will turn 89 years of age in March, is one of the true intellectual heroes of our time, and his work, on two levels, deserves the widest dissemination and discussion. His new book, Why Knowledge Matters: Rescuing Our Children from Failed Educational Theories, is both a summation and an extension of his lifes work as both a K12 educational reformer (creator of the K6 Core Knowledge elementary-school curriculum, now in use in over 1,200 schools in the U.S. and abroad) and a literary theorist of the highest distinction. In the former category, Sol Stern of the Manhattan Institute is surely right in calling Hirsch the most important educational reformer of the past half-century. (See my article on Hirsch from 2013.)
Unlike several other distinguished critics of the romantic-progressive tradition of Rousseau, Emerson, Whitman, John Dewey, and Deweys now millions of educational disciples (in the U.S. and abroad), Hirsch has not just doggedly and lucidly critiqued the contradictions and ineffectiveness of pantheistic romantic naturalism as applied to elementary education (though he has done this profoundly and superlatively well). He has also inspired a grass-roots movement involving thousands of school administrators, teachers, parents, and other individuals of good will in shaping the Core Knowledge curriculum over the last 30 years as a realistic alternative and antidote to the dominance of the ideas, methods, and curricular disorganization and ineffectuality of the existing American elementary-education establishment, which is still universally and exclusively dominant in the nations schools of education. In Why Knowledge Matters Hirsch predicts the downfall of this regime, which it has been his lifes Herculean labor to expose and critique an outcome devoutly to be wished, but still a struggle against long odds of institutional and intellectual self-interest, close-mindedness, and momentum. The replacement in New York City of Schools Chancellor Joel Klein (a late but influential convert to Core Knowledge) by demagogic mayor Bill de Blasios appointment of Carmen Faria, for example, is a serious defeat for educational reform that shows that this war has many a battle yet to come. (See Robert Pondiscios comments in The Education Gadfly.)
At the level of literary theory, 50 years ago Hirsch established himself as one of the major world voices in the theoretical investigation and illumination of the nature and uses of language with an outstanding scholarly book entitled Validity in Interpretation. In this brilliant, patient, deeply learned, now-classic book Hirsch explained and defended the very possibility and procedures of objectivity in literary interpretation, vindicating while reformulating and updating the central civilizing Western tradition of rationality and language from Plato and Aristotle through St. Augustine to Samuel Johnson and Schleiermacher and the 20th century. Hirschs earliest efforts in this program earned the approval of C. S. Lewis, whose own The Abolition of Man (1943) is one of the classic defenses of the same essential Western (and world) tradition.
It may seem to anyone outside of a university both incredible and absurd that intellectuals would deny or dispute the very possibility of objective interpretations of oral and written language, as the possibility of such objectivity is the very foundation of our social, political, and legal order and our sanity as human beings with an irreducible stake in normative ideas of rationality and ethics. Hirschs friend and sometime colleague Roger Shattuck (19232005) noted while doing jury duty in Boston toward the end of his life that the very operating assumptions of our justice system were utterly dependent upon the possibilities of rational-ethical communication, of truth, and of fairness, but that these possibilities were implicitly or explicitly denied by our dominant academic theories of language (as I discussed here). The learned foolishness that great orthodox satirists such as Pascal, Swift, Orwell, and C. S. Lewis so brilliantly mocked is at flood tide in our universities today.
Hirschs high-level theoretical work in Validity in Interpretation is thus not ultimately remote from the concerns he has expressed and the arguments he has made in his books on K12 education since the publication of the ground-breaking Cultural Literacy 30 years ago. Like the great Cambridge critic F. R. Leavis (18941978), Hirsch insists on the communal and creative character of language and on the essential continuity of human civilization as mediated through its greatest tool language itself. But unlike Leavis, Hirsch brings to bear profound linguistic and philosophical learning that has enabled him to battle and expose the various seductive intellectual schools, structures, and voices that would obfuscate or obliterate the central rational-linguistic reality, trajectory, and momentum of the quest for objectivity. By means of decent human-linguistic tradition, every human person is implicitly disposed to seek the true and good reality and justice. Hirschs learned dialogue with and critique of Anglophone, German, French, and Italian theorists their own texts in their own languages is an enormously impressive scholarly achievement, conducted with extraordinary precision, modesty, and an unfailing personal but disinterested disposition to the trans-personal realms of epistemology and ethics, of the true and the good.
Nor is Hirsch easy to pigeonhole politically as an ideological partisan, despite the dogged efforts of the romantic-progressive K12 establishment (e.g. Howard Gardner of Harvard Graduate School of Education) to paint him as a conservative. Like his 1996 The Schools We Need and Why We Dont Have Them, the new Why Knowledge Matters contains an epigraph from the Prison Notebooks of the Italian anti-Fascist Communist Antonio Gramsci, who spent the last eleven years of his life (192637) in one of Mussolinis prisons. Criticizing the new progressive education in Italy in the first decades of the 20th century, Gramsci wrote in 1929:
The new education created a kind of church that paralyzed pedagogical research. It produced curious aberrations like spontaneity, which supposed that the childs brain is like a ball of string that the teacher should help unwind. In reality, each generation educates and forms each new generation. Education opposes the elemental biological instincts of nature; it is a struggle against nature, to dominate it…
Two of the great themes of Hirschs profound critique are present here: the romantic-progressive establishment (John Dewey was at the height of his power at Columbia in 1929) as a new religion or religion-replacement (a kind of church), and Nature as its God-term, an allegedly obvious, perspicacious criterion for the true and the good. Hirsch could as easily have found this critique in conservatives such as Irving Babbitt, T. E. Hulme (whom he has quoted), Russell Kirk, or the renegade Protestant thinker R. J. Rushdoony (The Messianic Character of American Education (1963), a classic book that deserves a new edition), or in the writings of dissenting centrists such as William Chandler Bagley of Columbia Teachers College (whom he has praised and quoted). But he has clearly not wished to allow simplistic, binary, premature polarization to typecast him as a mere defender of things-as-they-are (or things-as-they-were: laudator acti temporis). He really believes in the possibilities of modern education to improve individuals (and nations) and to transcend gender, race, and class, in the real prospect of equal educational opportunity in having access to the aggregated public goods of a civilization, mediated by the K12 schools.
Why Knowledge Matters reiterates several of the arguments that Hirsch has been making in one form or another in his books since the 1960s, including his early study of romantic pantheism, Wordsworth and Schelling (1960). Its appendix The Origins of Natural-Development Theories of Education is a very useful overview of this theme of intellectual-literary-educational history that is indispensable for understanding the present incoherence and ineffectuality of our public elementary schools and their ideological basis.
But the most notable, revealing feature of Hirschs new book is his discussion, and documentation, of the truly shocking, catastrophic recent decline of public education in France. Although Jean-Jacques Rousseau (171278) was the fountain of romantic progressivism in education (Emile, 1762), and his descendants have been numerous in the literary and educational fields, this radicalism in literature, linguistics, philosophy, and education did not deeply affect or mar the delivery of very-high-quality education at the early levels in France (the radicalism of French universities and Paris-based culture is another story) until quite recently. The older tradition of high French rationalism Pascal and Descartes are major figures retained great force in the authoritative creation and maintenance of a very high standard of public education in the 19th and 20th centuries. (Noam Chomskys Cartesian linguistics pays tribute to this older, non-reductive, high rationalism.)
What Hirsch shows beyond any doubt is that this great, enviable French public achievement, from preschool through high school, has been grievously, perhaps irreparably, damaged by the 1989 Socialist educational reforms under the leadership of Socialist education minister (later prime minister) Lionel Jospin a truly new, catastrophic French Revolution, 200 years after the ambiguous political one. (See my own Saint Socrates, Pray for Us, on the continuing cultural fecklessness of the French Left.) Based on a wealth of longitudinal, statistical data on the effects of the so-called Jospin Law (loi Jospin) of 1989, it has been apparent since at least 2007 that the enviably effective pre-1989 French public-education system has suffered a profound decline in effectiveness, plausibly due to the importation of banal but bacterial romantic-progressive bromides lamricaine.
Ironically, though it can be argued that these ideas originated with Rousseaus Emile, France itself had successfully resisted them for 225 years: The school as a naturalistic-pantheistic church (Tocqueville thought democracies were prone to this); the childs brain [conceived as] a ball of string that the teacher should help unwind; curriculum as child-centered, and instruction individualized and differentiated; whole-class instruction derided and neglected; early reading and writing mistrusted and delayed. The results of the attack of the Jospin reforms on Frances long-effective public-education system have now been described in a series of important books (see also Rachel Donadios recent piece on French cultural anxiety, despite its neglect of the educational issues). From one of them, Marc LeBriss 2004 Et vos enfants ne sauront pas lire…ni compter (And your children will neither know how to read…nor to count), Hirsch quotes one of his epigraphs: One sees immediately that this kind of system will diminish acquisition of specific knowledge by taking refuge in vague evocations of vague general skills. Voil! A 2007 book edited by the distinguished French mathematician Laurent Lafforgue and a colleague is entitled La Dbcle de lcole: Une Tragdie Incomprise (The Debacle of the School: An Uncomprehended Tragedy). As Hirsch points out, Dbcle is the term the French apply to their countrys military defeat [rapidly by the Germans] in 1940, and Lafforgue develops that historical analogy in his introduction to the essays. His view…is that top French intellectuals made big avoidable mistakes in 1989, just as higher-ups had made serious, avoidable military mistakes in 1940.
Hirsch refers his readers to the astonishing 2007 data compiled by the French Ministry of Education and recently made available on the Web. In doing so, he extends his own insistence on using large-scale, valid empirical evidence for the evaluation of educational programs, not only or mainly the undependable, small-scale, even intra-district or intra-school research that so many teachers colleges and education schools have used in imprudent, invalid, and bamboozling ways over the last hundred years. Hirsch himself had helped document statistically the major decline in American secondary-school outcomes under the progressive regime in Cultural Literacy (1987) and then, in more detail, in The Schools We Need and Why We Dont Have Them and The Knowledge Deficit (2006), where he wrote: Verbal SAT scores in the United States took a nosedive in the 1960s, and since then they have remained flat. In The Schools We Need he quoted a usefully brief assessment by David Barulich: In 1972 over 116,000 students scored above 600 on the verbal S.A.T. In 1982 fewer than 71,000 scored that high even though a similar number took the exam. Progress it is not: rather, decapitation.
In the case of the French development, we may hypothesize or surmise that the great French traditions of rationalism, including scientific rationality but not restricted to it, successfully resisted the various seductive heresies of Romantic naturalism pioneered in the Francophone world by Rousseau and his disciples. But the anarchic influence of restless, quicksilver, novelty-obsessed, radical French intellectuals (68ers: soixante-huitards), whose writings have done so much to eviscerate and undermine the Anglo-American universities since the 1960s, finally penetrated the public-school system of which they were the clever, voluble beneficiaries. The left-wing intellectuals Pierre Bourdieu and Jacques Derrida were both on the educational committee whose report inspired Lionel Jospins disastrous major reform initiative of 1989. As Hirsch points out, in 1989, the Left in the [French] National Assembly (Socialists plus Communists) had an absolute majority; they could pass any law they wished. The vote was 280 in favor, 266 against. The conservatives were not persuaded. But the guillotine was nevertheless used on an excellent educational system.
In passing the loi Jospin, the French Left betrayed the traditions of the moderate Enlightenment and classical rationalism to which great French intellectuals such as Tocqueville, Jacques Maritain, tienne Gilson, Denis de Rougemont, and Raymond Aron had remained faithful. Hirsch himself has been one of the chief articulators of a centrist Anglo-American tradition, which his own education at Cornell and Yale by scholars such as M. H. Abrams, Ren Wellek, and William K. Wimsatt had conveyed. His own career is a vital contribution to the reality of that tradition and its applicability, both at the popular, democratic-republican level of schooling and at the erudite intellectual level of worldview and theory. In this regard he is a worthy inheritor of long and deep civilizing traditions, starting with Plato and the Bible (in the current book he quotes the Bible against the elementary-school overvaluing of imagination, a word tarnished by promiscuous overuse in educational matters) and including thousands of decent intellectuals (and many millions of decent people) in what Charles L. Glenn Jr., another great contemporary educational thinker, has called the radical middle.
Among these educational thinkers of great influence in the Anglo-American world in and since the 19th century was Matthew Arnold (182288), one of whose greatest curricular insights (about teaching the knowledge of the best that has been thought, said, and created in the world to everyone) lies behind Hirschs Core Knowledge curriculum. In the introduction to a 1906 Everyman edition of Arnolds Essays in Criticism, G. K. Chesterton wrote:
Our actual obligations to Matthew Arnold are almost beyond expression….The chief of his services may be perhaps stated thus, that he discovered (for the modern English) the purely intellectual importance of humility. He had none of that hot humility which is the fascination of saints and good men. But he had a cold humility which he had discovered to be a mere essential of the intelligence. To see things clearly, he said, you must get yourself out of the way….He realized that the saints had even understated the case for humility. They had always said that without humility we should never see the better world to come. He realized that without humility we could not even see this world.
Our actual obligations to the heroic E. D. Hirsch are very great.
M. D. Aeschliman is a professor of Anglophone culture at the University of Italian Switzerland (Lugano), a professor emeritus of education at Boston University, where he taught from 1996 to 2011, and the author of The Restitution of Man: C. S. Lewis and the Case Against Scientism (1983, 1998). He first wrote about E. D. Hirsch in 1988.
Posted: February 13, 2017 at 9:03 am
Veljo Tormis achieved a breakthrough with the release of a double CD, Forgotten Peoples. Photograph: Eve Tarm/AP
The Estonian composer Veljo Tormis, who has died aged 86, wrote choral works based on the folksong and poetry of languages that are now disappearing or extinct. Those from the Finno-Ugric family that have established themselves in modern nations Estonian, Finnish and Hungarian have flourished, but several related tongues used to be heard on the shores of the Gulf of Finland. The rites, poetry and music of the people who spoke them never attracted attention at a national level: in taking them as the creative basis for his music, Tormis created a personal sound museum of a lost world.
Other composers from the region most notably Sibelius have often used folklore from the viewpoint of western musical ideals. Tormis was a pioneer in letting the folklore dictate the course of the music, rather than trying to coerce it into the established frameworks of western music. His work is free in narrative fantasy, incorporating such features as the sounds of village life or birdsong, sparse in development and lavish in theatricality. The usual life of a composer, with its symphonies and operas, would have been too limiting for him. As he put it: I dont use folk melody it is folk melody that uses me.
He achieved a breakthrough with the release of a double CD on the ECM label, Forgotten Peoples (1992), on which the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir was conducted by Tnu Kaljuste. The opening track of the first choral cycle, Livonian Heritage, depicts birds waking in a dense forest; Livonians lived on the coast of what is now Latvia. Another cycle, Ingrian Evenings, recreates a festive evening of songs and dances in a village, and so is often presented as a staged work; Ingrians were Lutheran Finns speaking a south-eastern dialect of Finnish, who by the 17th century had moved to the St Petersburg region, at the eastern end of the gulf.
A further ECM recording, Litany to Thunder (1999), contains Curse Upon Iron, a work of symbolic importance for Estonians. It features the shamans drum of the Koryak people, living in the northern part of Kamchatka, on Russias far east coast, and denounces the destructive military uses of the metal.
Tormis was born the eldest son of a Lutheran parish clerk, Riho Tormis, and his wife, Johanna, in Kuusalu, east of the capital city of Tallinn. He was nine when Estonia was annexed by the Soviet Union, and after organ and choral conducting studies in Tallinn (1942-51) went to the Moscow Conservatoire to study composition with Vissarion Shebalin (1951-56). When he returned to Tallinn, he quickly rose to prominence as a composer, initially producing works in a traditional vein, including symphonies and an opera, The Swans Flight (1966). His Overture No 2 (1959) was the first work by an Estonian composer to be performed at the Warsaw Autumn festival, in 1961. Two of the countrys other leading composers, Arvo Prt and Kuldar Sink, studied with him during his time as a teacher at the Tallinn Music high school (1956-60).
From the Khrushchev thaw of the late 1950s, when national music became a secret tool of anti-Sovietism, Tormis explored Estonian folklore, and then in the 1970s and 80s that of other Finno-Ugric and Baltic peoples. He produced more than 60 choral cycles, often including the names of native peoples in the titles, as with his Votic Wedding Songs, Vepsian Paths and Izhorian Epic, all also to be heard on Forgotten Peoples.
His music was taken up not only in Estonia, but in Latvia, Lithuania and other Soviet-bloc countries. Singing in general was a significant factor in public demonstrations in the years leading up to Estonias independence from Soviet rule in 1991, and Tormis drew on its power to express the forest pantheism that remains at least as strong in the national psyche as the Christianity that followed it. At the Estonian Song festival, held every five years in Tallinn most recently in 2014 thousands of people in amateur choirs sang Tormiss works, and he was an avid visitor to schools, keen to reconnect children with their ancient heritage.
Other parts of the world with a strong choral tradition started taking up Tormiss music, not least as a result of the global tours of the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir. During the Gorbachev glasnost period of the 1980s it found a particular following in the US and Germany, and the ECM releases brought it an audience throughout western Europe.
Tormiss political concerns extended beyond national independence to environmental issues, social exclusion, and the emptiness of modern politics. In 2000 he retired from composition. A very gracious man, he was revered by a nation that loves to sing.
In 1951, he married Lea Rummo, a theatre historian. She survives him, along with their son, Tnu, a photographer whose work appears on the cover of Forgotten Peoples and on many subsequent recordings of his fathers music.
Veljo Tormis, composer, born 7 August 1930; died 21 January 2017
Posted: February 11, 2017 at 8:02 am
By Sonny Bunch By Sonny Bunch February 8
I was excited to see that one of my favorite writers, James Poulos, had a book coming out and doubly so when I saw that it was about the way Alexis de Tocqueville can help us understand our crazy, tumultuous time. So excited, in fact, that I emailed him to ask if he wanted to take part in a brief Q-and-A over email to discuss The Art of Being Free: How Alexis de Tocqueville Can Save Us From Ourselves. (The exchange below has been edited for style and clarity.)
Part self-help, part political philosophy, Poulos who is a contributing editor at American Affairs and was a doctoral fellow at the Tocqueville Forum at Georgetown University seamlessly weaves together references to Britney Spears and Plato, Marilyn Manson and Nietzsche. I dont think anyone has better mixed gifs and maxims. Its the perfect book for all of us who have been addled by Twitter and are looking to reorient our perspective on life and love.
Sonny Bunch:This feels like a book that is influenced by Los Angeles its sensibilities and its preoccupations almost as much as it is by Tocqueville. What do you think hed have made of La La Land? Or, as it were,La La Land? (If you havent seen the movie, you can just ignore that last part.)
James Poulos: The Art of Being Free is a very Californian book, and not of the NorCal variety. I think thats by necessity. Theres no talking about the American soul without talking about Los Angeles. What goes on here is, with varying degrees of self-awareness, a sort of terminal or ultimate Americanness. Tocqueville would have expected that. When I read his line about reading Shakespeares Henry V for the first timein an American log cabin, I looked at my half-finished Tocqueville in Los Angeles book and thought, I can do this. I have his blessing.
Plus,talking about L.A. is a great way to talk about myself without giving too much away. Thats also by necessity. Tocqueville saw that the American imagination only really sang for ourselves, our heroic exertions in being how we are. Neither polytheism, centered on permanently warring gods whocapture the reactionary imagination, nor pantheism, with its radical disappearance into natural harmony, could hold our attention for long. Yet heres Hollywood cranking out apocalypse fantasies with one hand and anti-speciesist fairy tales with the other. La La Land rejects both. Its a fantasy for the humans, by the humans, and of the humans. Of course its a hit.
Yet its not really make-believe. La La Land isa typically deeply personal American sales pitch for the earnest heroism of the commercial imagination. At its height, that heroism cant help but become, and produce, art. (Sing makes this point in a different key.) The reward for our crazy but disciplined effort to be marketable yet authentic is a reconciliation between our cash value, which we want ASAP, and the infinite, eternal longings we know we can never satisfy in our evanescent times on Earth.
SB: I love the fact that you can discuss La La Land and Sing or, say, Britney Spears and Marilyn Manson in the same breath as Tocqueville and the idea of America. Is this merely a rhetorical strategy to help connect with the audience, or do you think theres something fundamentally, well,Americanabout the democratic nature of our popular culture?
JP: Theres a reason America dominates popular culture wherever the equality of tastes, habits, mores, and conditions spreads. We got a head start on living into that equality in a place in the sun, outside the long shadow of history, devoid of ancient hang-ups. We didnt need or seek or suffer the kind of egalitarian revolution that had to rely on abstract ideas in the absence of any experience of equality. Despite our crazy dysfunction, we know nothing of the profound, crippling impasses plaguing the social psychology of the Old World.
I just dont think theres a way to talk about Tocqueville and the idea of America in a way that many people can care about without talking about what they docare about not necessarily Zoolander or Midnite Vultures, but contemporary stuff that lays bare how we are the way we are right this very instant. I knew from the beginning The Art of Being Free could never be the most learned book about Tocqueville. But it could end up being the only R-rated book ever written about Tocqueville, and that seemed important in a way the book could only really unpack by example, by going about things as it did.
SB: It is, perhaps, telling that one of the things we love reality TV has in many very real ways heightened the craziness that you write about by helping make President Trump a fact of life. Do you think that the Great Transition and the way it sorts winners and losers almost necessarily by finances meant that a Trump-like figure was more or less inevitable? Are we in for a run of fabulously famous and obscenely wealthy folks dominating national (if not necessarily state or local) politics?
JP: The paradox of reality TV needs attention, but, paradoxically, not too much. We love it, and hate it, because of how real it is, yet isnt. The same goes for reality stars, who are and arent stars famous for being famous, meaning loved yet hated for being famous. One definition of obsession is to be trapped at a single impasse with your love and your hate. What happens to the experience of freedom when obsession colors so much of life, individually and together? When were obsessed with obsession, as I put it in the book? Todaywere in danger of defining freedom as how little you have to care about how many haters you have, but, paradoxically, that also means we jealously admire those who have attracted the most haters. Nietzsche said society might reach such a consciousness of power that it could allow itself the noblest luxury possible to it letting those who harm it go unpunished. What are my parasites to me? it might say. May they live and prosper: I am strong enough for that! This self-overcoming of justice: one knows the beautiful name it has given itself mercy. Heres Trump wishing a Merry Christmas even to the losers and haters. But that attitude is hardly a Trump innovation. Its more a hallmark of ours than of his. The dominance of reality TV is inevitable in a culture centered around celebrating those who can put on the best performances despite because of being hagridden with parasites. Go listen to Queen by Perfume Genius, and you will understand, through experience and not abstract ideas, that to the degree money flows into decadence, decadence must eventually flow into power. The big question today is whether any super-rich people with low parasite counts are willing to put their superabundant but still precious life force into politics.
SB:Does the answer to todays big question come with the initials P.T.? Or perhaps M.Z.?What do you think Tocqueville would have made of our reliance on, reverence for, and distaste with our super-wealthy cyberspace overlords? Is there even really an equivalent in early American history to draw a comparison to?
JP: Tocqueville warned of an industrial aristocracy, but knew it could only be a fleeting climax in the great transition between aristocratic and democratic ages. But its a hallmark of our age that most of us get sucked into competitive conformity. Only a few have the talent, ambition, and timing to punch through the ceiling of collective interchangeable insignificance. And when they do, they often find there are almost no limits to how fast and how high they can advance, if only for a hot minute. Result: they pull up the ladders, acting like a species apart, and we resent them for it, no matter how much they try to buy favorability. On the flip side, Tocqueville notes, we love even the super-rich if they convince us they genuinely believe their similarity to the rest of us is even more important than their difference. Hi, Mark Zuckerberg. But technology now has a postindustrial problem. Our scramble to edge out those otherwise almost identical to us has exacerbated a deadly imbalance in our political economy toward bits and away from atoms, as Peter Thiel puts it. This is new. It urgently needs correction. And aside from the likes of Thiel and Elon Musk, I dont really see anyone with the economic, intellectual, and social heft to yank the rudder without capsizing the boat.
Go here to read the rest:
How Alexis de Tocqueville can help us stay sane – The Washington … – Washington Post
Posted: February 9, 2017 at 5:58 am
Pantheism is the perception that spirit and divinity dwell within the world rather than apart from it. As the Roman historian Tacitus said of the Germanic tribes, Their holy places are the woods and groves, and they apply the names of deities to that hidden presence which is seen only by the eye of reverence. The invisible, spiritual world is not somehow separate from the visible, tangible world, but instead exists in its heart, to borrow the words of the French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty. To put it another way: the visible world is the flesh of the invisible gods.
Nowadays, the Norse gods and goddesses are often described as being the god of this or that, but this easily leads to the misinterpretation that the gods exist outside of these things and merely control them from a distance. A more accurate way of speaking about them would be to say that, for example, Thor is not the god of thunder, but rather the god thunder. This is not merely symbolism, nor is it an attempt to explain natural phenomena in a pre-scientific idiom. Its an account of the direct experience of the storm as a personal and divine force.
This can probably be best understood through contrasting it with the dominant strains of Christian theology. In most varieties of Christianity, as we all know, God lives in a remote Heaven and teaches his followers to scorn earthly cares. The world is an artifact that he created rather than a part of his being. As 1 Kings 19 says,
And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
Here, God is totally incorporeal, and addresses the prophet Elijah only as a disembodied voice that speaks in a human language just like the words of the Bible itself. For a pantheist, by contrast, the whole world is a revelation, a scripture that anyone can read to understand the divine.
More than that: the whole miracle of Jesuss descent to earth, death, and resurrection is dependent on this absolute split between the material and the spiritual. A pantheist would find nothing miraculous or even out-of-the-ordinary in a god assuming bodily form, because all bodily forms are manifestations of divinity. From such a perspective, the idea of salvation is unnecessary and even ridiculous; we are already wholly divine and wholly immersed in divinity. Whereas Christians commune with Jesus in a particular ritual where specially consecrated bread and wine become his body, a pantheist communes with his or her gods all the time, with every breath, every piece of food, and every mosquito bite.
Looking for more great information on Norse mythology and religion? While this site provides the ultimate online introduction to the topic, my book The Viking Spirit provides the ultimate introduction to Norse mythology and religion period. Ive also written a popular list of The 10 Best Norse Mythology Books, which youll probably find helpful in your pursuit.
 Tacitus, Cornelius. 1948. The Agricola and Germania. Translated by Harold Mattingly. p. 109.
 Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. 1968. The Visible and the Invisible. Edited by John Wild, translated by Alphonso Lingis. p. 150.
Posted: February 6, 2017 at 3:02 pm
In population biology a refugium, or simply fuge, is a protective place for a relict population that has become threatened in its native habitat. Paradoxically, refugiums often make things worse for individuals and populations remaining in nature.
The vast royal greenhouses at Laeken, near Brussels, are such a refugium. Built as a pirate showcase for the extraordinary biodiversity of the Congo rainforest that Leopold II had so brutally colonised, they now preserve these fast-disappearing species. Yet the paradox: the 800,000 litres of fuel oil burnt each year to keep these plants alive help drive the climate change that is destroying what natural populations remain.
Another refugium is the evangelical rapture. Relying on expected end times, as seen by many in the “Trumpocalypse”, it yields such gems as the “rapture index”, reported in the Daily Mail this week, which lists anti-semitism, droughts, false prophets and civil rights as signs of imminent end. When the excrement really hits the whizzer the idea goes the faithful elite will be airlifted bodily, rapturously, to heaven, leaving the rest of us to our miserable fate.
The paradox?Given the number of evangelical Christians in Sydney leadershipand that a 2011 survey that found “six of ten evangelical leaders believe in the rapturea few wouldactually believe this arrogant nonsense. That way – naturally counting themselves amongst theliftees – it’ssuddenly easy to treat climate change as no big thing.
This tussle between “I” and “we” underpins everything humans do on Earth. Clearly, our fight to the death with nature is not one we can win, because if we win, we die. Yet we continue to act on the delusion of wasteless, costless abundance, designing our arrant theologies to ignore the evident oneness of economy and ecology. For me, two recent Sydney events Melissa and Mary brought all this ineluctably to mind.
Melissa and Mary. These innocuous-sounding names could be the most significant you’ll hear this century. Melissa, properly written MELiSSA (Micro-Ecological Life Support System Alternative) cropped up in a Sydney Festival art event by extraordinary scent artist Cat Jones. MELiSSA is the European Space Agency’s bare-minimum ecosystem for indefinite human existence in deep space.
Mary is, well Mary, Mother of, as voiced by Colm Toibin’s Testament of Mary, currently at Sydney Theatre. Toibin’s Mary is overwhelmingly a mother: harrowed, heartbroken, doubtful of her son’s divinity, insisting he just got in with the wrong crowd.
At first, MELiSSA and Mary seem to occupy opposite extremes of the existential spectrum abstract, hyper-sterile reductionism versus stoic, earthy humanism. Each represents a future, a power relationship with nature: which (assuming we still have a choice) will we choose?
But perhaps, under the surface, Mary and MELiSSA are singing the same anthropocentric tune.
To be honest, the words European Space Agency seem almost a contradiction in terms, so far does old textured Europe (and especially Barcelona, where MELiSSA is based) seem from the abstract nothingness of space. But MELiSSA takes abstract nothingness totally on board which is why it’s terrifying.
The yearning for space is deep, but still morally ambiguous. There’s the brave and noble urge to explore, self against Big Universe, chasing the final frontier. And there’s the less noble more brutal and territorial urge to colonise.
The colonial drive has always been dodgy both because it generally involves stealing other peoples’ lands and lives, and because it offers the illusion of something for nothing: free resources, costless plunder and, as UTS social scientist Dr Jeremy Walker notes, escape from the moral and environmental responsibilities of home.
Walker has studied MELiSSA, parsing the eco-political ramifications of “guiltless abundance”. MELiSSA, he writes (with colleague Celine Granjou), “emboldens the utopian anticipation of a synthetic biosphere within which the privileged may continue to elude the earthly consequences of their history”.
MELiSSA is more exploratory than colonial, aiming to garner the fewest, smallest, most transportable species necessary to sustain human life with no input except sunlight.
But anyone who saw Matt Damon in The Martian knows that, ship or planet, it’s the same deal. You’re in space, you need water, oxygen, food. How do you make it? How do you treat waste?
The inverse relationship between respiration and photosynthesis is clearly key. That each process absorbs the other’s waste and excretes the other’s raw material seems one of evolution’s little gifts to space travel. Certainly, it lets MELiSSA whittle the “necessary” species to a few photosynthetic bacteria and algae, 30 or 40 needed food crops and the billion-odd microbes that, extracted from the human gut, compost the waste back into nutrients. As Walker notes, MELiSSA demands “a claustrophobic proximity between the crew and its wastes”.
Forget Noah. This is an ark sans trees, elephants, gibbons and grasshoppers. Multicells unnecessary. If Earth dies (we decide), they die with it while in cold loveless space, humans live on in their hyper-sterile pharma-factory, feeding forever on hydroponic, shit-fed veges without gravity, mystery or chance
For me, it has strictly limited appeal. If Trump presses the button, I’ll probably head for the epicentre and be done with it.
But MELiSSA’s founding premises also need scrutiny. One is that storming off to new planets is legitimate as a response to having wrecked this one. The other is that “necessary” species are definable in strictly anthropocentric terms.
Enter Mary. Although Toibin’s Mary grudgingly acknowledges one or two of her son’s miracles, she denies the immaculate conception (“I was there”) and insists the resurrection story is a dream repeated in error. She herself worships Artemis, goddess of animals and the hunt.
Many see this as the play’s strength. Tracing our planetary exploitation to our shift, way back, from embedded pantheism to transcendent monotheism, they regard Mary’s stoic humanity as one for the planet.
I’m less sure. Transcendence is not arrogance. It doesn’t mean remaking yourself as some space-based jet-propelled sky god. What you’re meant to transcend is not Earth, but ego. Exploitation should become impossible.
Neither space nor rapture will save us; not heaven, not Mars, not the Starship Enterprise. The gods, one or many, have no interest in slithering us from our deeds. Earth is our refugium. Fade to black.
Posted: January 7, 2017 at 12:53 pm
Monism is the view that attributes oneness or singleness (Greek:) to a concept (e.g., existence). Substance monism is the philosophical view that a variety of existing things can be explained in terms of a single reality or substance. Another definition states that all existing things go back to a source that is distinct from them (e.g., in Neoplatonism everything is derived from The One). This is often termed priority monism, and is the view that only one thing is ontologically basic or prior to everything else.
Another distinction is the difference between substance and existence monism, or stuff monism and thing monism. Substance monism posits that only one kind of stuff (e.g., matter or mind) exists, although many things may be made out of this stuff. Existence monism posits that, strictly speaking, there exists only a single thing (e.g., the universe), which can only be artificially and arbitrarily divided into many things.
There are two sorts of definitions for monism:
Although the term “monism” is derived from Western philosophy to typify positions in the mindbody problem, it has also been used to typify religious traditions. In modern Hinduism, the term “absolute monism” is being used for Advaita Vedanta.
The term “monism” was introduced in the 18th century by Christian von Wolff in his work Logic (1728), to designate types of philosophical thought in which the attempt was made to eliminate the dichotomy of body and mind and explain all phenomena by one unifying principle, or as manifestations of a single substance.
The mindbody problem in philosophy examines the relationship between mind and matter, and in particular the relationship between consciousness and the brain. The problem was addressed by Ren Descartes in the 17th century, resulting in Cartesian dualism, and by pre-Aristotelian philosophers, in Avicennian philosophy, and in earlier Asian and more specifically Indian traditions.
It was later also applied to the theory of absolute identity set forth by Hegel and Schelling. Thereafter the term was more broadly used, for any theory postulating a unifying principle. The opponent thesis of dualism also was broadened, to include pluralism. According to Urmson, as a result of this extended use, the term is “systematically ambiguous”.
According to Jonathan Schaffer, monism lost popularity due to the emergence of Analytic philosophy in the early twentieth century, which revolted against the neo-Hegelians. Carnap and Ayer, who were strong proponents of positivism, “ridiculed the whole question as incoherent mysticism”.
The mindbody problem has reemerged in social psychology and related fields, with the interest in mindbody interaction and the rejection of Cartesian mindbody dualism in the identity thesis, a modern form of monism. Monism is also still relevant to the philosophy of mind, where various positions are defended.
Different types of monism include:
Views contrasting with monism are:
Monism in modern philosophy of mind can be divided into three broad categories:
Certain positions do not fit easily into the above categories, such as functionalism, anomalous monism, and reflexive monism. Moreover, they do not define the meaning of “real”.
While the lack of information makes it difficult in some cases to be sure of the details, the following pre-Socratic philosophers thought in monistic terms:
Pantheism is the belief that everything composes an all-encompassing, immanent God, or that the universe (or nature) is identical with divinity. Pantheists thus do not believe in a personal or anthropomorphic god, but believe that interpretations of the term differ.
Pantheism was popularized in the modern era as both a theology and philosophy based on the work of the 17th century philosopher Baruch Spinoza, whose Ethics was an answer to Descartes’ famous dualist theory that the body and spirit are separate. Spinoza held that the two are the same, and this monism is a fundamental quality of his philosophy. He was described as a “God-intoxicated man,” and used the word God to describe the unity of all substance. Although the term pantheism was not coined until after his death, Spinoza is regarded as its most celebrated advocate.
H.P. Owen (1971: 65) claimed that
Pantheists are monists…they believe that there is only one Being, and that all other forms of reality are either modes (or appearances) of it or identical with it.
Pantheism is closely related to monism, as pantheists too believe all of reality is one substance, called Universe, God or Nature. Panentheism, a slightly different concept (explained below), however is dualistic. Some of the most famous pantheists are the Stoics, Giordano Bruno and Spinoza.
Panentheism (from Greek (pn) “all”; (en) “in”; and (thes) “God”; “all-in-God”) is a belief system that posits that the divine (be it a monotheistic God, polytheistic gods, or an eternal cosmic animating force) interpenetrates every part of nature, but is not one with nature. Panentheism differentiates itself from pantheism, which holds that the divine is synonymous with the universe.
In panentheism, there are two types of substance, “pan” the universe and God. The universe and the divine are not ontologically equivalent. God is viewed as the eternal animating force within the universe. In some forms of panentheism, the cosmos exists within God, who in turn “transcends”, “pervades” or is “in” the cosmos.
While pantheism asserts that ‘All is God’, panentheism claims that God animates all of the universe, and also transcends the universe. In addition, some forms indicate that the universe is contained within God, like in the concept of Tzimtzum. Much Hindu thought is highly characterized by panentheism and pantheism.Hasidic Judaism merges the elite ideal of nullification to paradoxical transcendent Divine Panentheism, through intellectual articulation of inner dimensions of Kabbalah, with the populist emphasis on the panentheistic Divine immanence in everything and deeds of kindness.
Paul Tillich has argued for such a concept within Christian theology, as has liberal biblical scholar Marcus Borg and mystical theologian Matthew Fox, an Episcopal priest.[note 2]
Pandeism or pan-deism (from AncientGreek: pan”all” and Latin: deus meaning “god” in the sense of deism), is a term describing beliefs coherently incorporating or mixing logically reconcilable elements of pantheism (that “God”, or a metaphysically equivalent creator deity, is identical to Nature) and classical deism (that the creator-god who designed the universe no longer exists in a status where it can be reached, and can instead be confirmed only by reason). It is therefore most particularly the belief that the creator of the universe actually became the universe, and so ceased to exist as a separate entity.
Through this synergy pandeism claims to answer primary objections to deism (why would God create and then not interact with the universe?) and to pantheism (how did the universe originate and what is its purpose?).
The central problem in Asian (religious) philosophy is not the body-mind problem, but the search for an unchanging Real or Absolute beyond the world of appearances and changing phenomena, and the search for liberation from dukkha and the liberation from the cycle of rebirth. In Hinduism, substance-ontology prevails, seeing Brahman as the unchanging real beyond the world of appearances. In Buddhism process ontology is prevalent, seeing reality as empty of an unchanging essence.
Characteristic for various Asian religions is the discernment of levels of truth, an emphasis on intuitive-experiential understanding of the Absolute such as jnana, bodhi and kensho, and an emphasis on the integration of these levels of truth and its understanding.
The Vedas are a large body of texts originating in ancient India. The texts constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism.
According to Sehgal, “the Vedas and the Upanishads preach and propagate neither pantheism nor polytheism but monotheism and monism”. There are many Gods, but they represent different aspects of the same Reality. Monism and monotheism are found intertwined. In many passages ultimate Reality is represented as immanent, while in other passages ultimate Reality is represented as transcendent. Monism sees Brahma as the ultimate Reality, while monotheism represents the personal form Brahman.[need quotation to verify]
Jeaneane D. Fowler too discerns a “metaphysical monotheism” in the Vedas. The Vedas contain sparse monism. The Nasadiya Sukta of the Rigveda speaks of the One being-non-being that ‘breathed without breath’. The manifest cosmos cannot be equated with it, “for “That” is a limitless, indescribable, absolute principle that can exist independently of it – otherwise it cannot be the Source of it.” It is the closest the Vedas come to monism, but Fowler argues that this cannot be called a “superpersonal monism”, nor “the quintessence of monistic thought”, because it is “more expressive of a panentheistic, totally transcendent entity that can become manifest by its own power. It exists in itself, unmanifest, but with the potential for all manifestations of the cosmos”.
Vedanta is the inquiry into and systematisation of the Vedas and Upanishads, to harmonise the various and contrasting ideas that can be found in those texts. Within Vedanta, different schools exist:
Monism is most clearly identified in Advaita Vedanta, though Renard points out that this may be a western interpretation, bypassing the intuitive understanding of a nondual reality.
In Advaita Vedanta, Brahman is the eternal, unchanging, infinite, immanent, and transcendent reality which is the Divine Ground of all matter, energy, time, space, being, and everything beyond in this Universe. The nature of Brahman is described as transpersonal, personal and impersonal by different philosophical schools.
Advaita Vedanta gives an elaborate path to attain moksha. It entails more than self-inquiry or bare insight into one’s real nature. Practice, especially Jnana Yoga, is needed to “destroy ones tendencies (vAasanA-s)” before real insight can be attained.
Advaita took over from the Madhyamika the idea of levels of reality. Usually two levels are being mentioned, but Shankara uses sublation as the criterion to postulate an ontological hierarchy of three levels:
All Vaishnava schools are panentheistic and view the universe as part of Krishna or Narayana, but see a plurality of souls and substances within Brahman. Monistic theism, which includes the concept of a personal god as a universal, omnipotent Supreme Being who is both immanent and transcendent, is prevalent within many other schools of Hinduism as well.
Tantra sees the Divine as both immanent and transcendent. The Divine can be found in the concrete world. Practices are aimed at transforming the passions, instead of transcending them.
The colonisation of India by the British had a major impact on Hindu society. In response, leading Hindu intellectuals started to study western culture and philosophy, integrating several western notions into Hinduism. This modernised Hinduism, at its turn, has gained popularity in the west.
A major role was played in the 19th century by Swami Vivekananda in the revival of Hinduism, and the spread of Advaita Vedanta to the west via the Ramakrishna Mission. His interpretation of Advaita Vedanta has been called Neo-Vedanta. In Advaita, Shankara suggests meditation and Nirvikalpa Samadhi are means to gain knowledge of the already existing unity of Brahman and Atman, not the highest goal itself:
[Y]oga is a meditative exercise of withdrawal from the particular and identification with the universal, leading to contemplation of oneself as the most universal, namely, Consciousness. This approach is different from the classical Yoga of complete thought suppression.
Vivekananda, according to Gavin Flood, was “a figure of great importance in the development of a modern Hindu self-understanding and in formulating the West’s view of Hinduism.” Central to his philosophy is the idea that the divine exists in all beings, that all human beings can achieve union with this “innate divinity”, and that seeing this divine as the essence of others will further love and social harmony. According to Vivekananda, there is an essential unity to Hinduism, which underlies the diversity of its many forms. According to Flood, Vivekananda’s view of Hinduism is the most common among Hindus today. This monism, according to Flood, is at the foundation of earlier Upanishads, to theosophy in the later Vedanta tradition and in modern Neo-Hinduism.
According to the Pli Canon, both pluralism (nnatta) and monism (katta) are speculative views. A Theravada commentary notes that the former is similar to or associated with nihilism (ucchdavda), and the latter is similar to or associated with eternalism (sassatavada). See middle way.
In the Madhyamaka school of Mahayana Buddhism, the ultimate nature of the world is described as nyat or “emptiness”, which is inseparable from sensorial objects or anything else. That appears to be a monist position, but the Madhyamaka views – including variations like rangtong and shentong – will refrain from asserting any ultimately existent entity. They instead deconstruct any detailed or conceptual assertions about ultimate existence as resulting in absurd consequences. The Yogacara view, a minority school now only found among the Mahayana, also rejects monism.
Within Buddhism, a rich variety of philosophical and pedagogical models can be found. Various schools of Buddhism discern levels of truth:
The Prajnaparamita-sutras and Madhyamaka emphasize the non-duality of form and emptiness: “form is emptiness, emptiness is form”, as the heart sutra says. In Chinese Buddhism this was understood to mean that ultimate reality is not a transcendental realm, but equal to the daily world of relative reality. This idea fitted into the Chinese culture, which emphasized the mundane world and society. But this does not tell how the absolute is present in the relative world:
To deny the duality of samsara and nirvana, as the Perfection of Wisdom does, or to demonstrate logically the error of dichotomizing conceptualization, as Nagarjuna does, is not to address the question of the relationship between samsara and nirvana -or, in more philosophical terms, between phenomenal and ultimate reality […] What, then, is the relationship between these two realms?
This question is answered in such schemata as the Five Ranks of Tozan, the Oxherding Pictures, and Hakuin’s Four ways of knowing.
Jewish thought considers God as separate from all physical, created things (transcendent) and as existing outside of time (eternal).[note 3][note 4]
According to Chasidic Thought (particularly as propounded by the 18th century, early 19th century founder of Chabad, Shneur Zalman of Liadi), God is held to be immanent within creation for two interrelated reasons:
The Vilna Gaon was very much against this philosophy, for he felt that it would lead to pantheism and heresy. According to some this is the main reason for the Gaon’s ban on Chasidism.
According to Maimonides, God is an incorporeal being that caused all other existence. In fact, God is defined as the necessary existent that caused all other existence. According to Maimonides, to admit corporeality to God is tantamount to admitting complexity to God, which is a contradiction to God as the First Cause and constitutes heresy. While Hasidic mystics considered the existence of the physical world a contradiction to God’s simpleness, Maimonides saw no contradiction.[note 5]
Christianity strongly maintains the Creator-creature distinction as fundamental. Christians maintain that God created the universe ex nihilo and not from His own substance, so that the creator is not to be confused with creation, but rather transcends it (metaphysical dualism) (cf. Genesis). Even the more immanent concepts and theologies are to be defined together with God’s omnipotence, omnipresence and omniscience, due to God’s desire for intimate contact with his own creation (cf. Acts 17:27). Another use of the term “monism” is in Christian anthropology to refer to the innate nature of humankind as being holistic, as usually opposed to bipartite and tripartite views.
In On Free Choice of the Will, Augustine argued, in the context of the problem of evil, that evil is not the opposite of good, but rather merely the absence of good, something that does not have existence in itself. Likewise, C. S. Lewis described evil as a “parasite” in Mere Christianity, as he viewed evil as something that cannot exist without good to provide it with existence. Lewis went on to argue against dualism from the basis of moral absolutism, and rejected the dualistic notion that God and Satan are opposites, arguing instead that God has no equal, hence no opposite. Lewis rather viewed Satan as the opposite of Michael the archangel. Due to this, Lewis instead argued for a more limited type of dualism. Other theologians, such as Greg Boyd, have argued in more depth that the Biblical authors held a “limited dualism”, meaning that God and Satan do engage in real battle, but only due to free will given by God, for the duration God allows.
In Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy, while human beings are not ontologically identical with the Creator, they are nonetheless capable with uniting with his Divine Nature via theosis, and especially, through the devout reception of the Holy Eucharist. This is a supernatural union, over and above that natural union, of which St. John of the Cross says, “it must be known that God dwells and is present substantially in every soul, even in that of the greatest sinner in the world, and this union is natural.” Julian of Norwich, while maintaining the orthodox duality of Creator and creature, nonetheless speaks of God as “the true Father and true Mother” of all natures; thus, he indwells them substantially and thus preserves them from annihilation, as without this sustaining indwelling everything would cease to exist.
Some Christian theologians are avowed monists, such as Paul Tillich. Since God is he “in whom we live and move and have our being” (Book of Acts 17.28), it follows that everything that has being partakes in God.
Although Vincent J. Cornell argue that the Quran also provides a monist image of God by describing the reality as a unified whole, with God being a single concept that would describe or ascribe all existing things. But most argue that Semitic religious scriptures especially Quran see Creation and God as two separate existence. It explains everything been created by God and under his control, but at the same time distinguishes God and creation as having independent existence from each other.
Sufi mystics advocate monism. One of the most notable being the 13th-century Persian poet Rumi (120773) in his didactic poem Masnavi espoused monism. Rumi says in the Masnavi,
In the shop for Unity (wahdat); anything that you see there except the One is an idol.
The most influential of the Islamic monists was the Sufi philosopher Ibn Arabi (11651240). He developed the concept of ‘unity of being’ (Arabic: wadat al-wujd), a pantheistic monoist philosophy. Born in al-Andalus, he made an enormous impact on the Muslim world, where he was crowned “the great Master”. In the centuries following his death, his ideas became increasingly controversial.
Although the Bah’ teachings have a strong emphasis on social and ethical issues, there exist a number of foundational texts that have been described as mystical. Some of these include statements of a monist nature (e.g., The Seven Valleys and the Hidden Words). The differences between dualist and monist views are reconciled by the teaching that these opposing viewpoints are caused by differences in the observers themselves, not in that which is observed. This is not a ‘higher truth/lower truth’ position. God is unknowable. For man it is impossible to acquire any direct knowledge of God or the Absolute, because any knowledge that one has, is relative.
According to nondualism, many forms of religion are based on an experiential or intuitive understanding of “the Real”. Nondualism, a modern reinterpretation of these religions, prefers the term “nondualism”, instead of monism, because this understanding is “nonconceptual”, “not graspable in an idea”.[note 6][note 7]
To these nondual traditions belong Hinduism (including Vedanta, some forms of Yoga, and certain schools of Shaivism), Taoism, Pantheism, Rastafari and similar systems of thought.
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