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I've a doctor's appointment at the Montreal General Hospital on this Thursday, which will at least provide me with some small amusement outside of the walls of my apartement (assuming that they don't want to admit me for surgery). In the meantime, I'll continue to try to unravel the thoughts of Eric Voegelin - the most recent in a long line of nearly incomprehensible German philosophers. Seriously, what warped prion infected the minds of the Vienna Circle, that forces its members to write texts that assume the reader has read & memorized every modernist tome published since the Renaissance? 'Shoddy writing is all it is.

At any rate, I've a bit of digging to do if I'm to unravel his phenomena of "gnosticism", and his viewpoint on Revelation v. Contemplation v. Discovery. Simply put, Voegelin defines as "gnosticism" many of the modernist & postmodernist movements to create an immanent "paradise on Earth" (Utopia), along with a degradation of the material world which is defined as evil, corrupted, meaningless, chaotic, or all of the above. Gnosticism, in the sense used by Voegelin, would thus encompass Manichean-esuqe religious movements, Marxism, fascism, and existentialism - all of which find no inherent Good in material existance.

In short, you're all nuts - every last one of 'yea. But hey, I already knew that...! ;-P


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 21st, 2006 09:59 pm (UTC)
no inherent Good in material existance.
You're a bit off base in placing Fascism in this list. Fascism is materialism personified. Also, there are Marxists who would disagree with the inclusion of Marxism.

The gnostic complaint about the Christian god is that it is a material god. It created a flat and immobile Earth out of nothing. It is also a supreme being. This is why Christianity tends to be a cult of materialism and supremacism.

Matter, although necessary for existence, is not the "end" or the "goal" of existence. People who focus on accumulating a pile of matter behave like rats. Hence the rat race existence of the Christian world.
Feb. 21st, 2006 11:04 pm (UTC)
Re: no inherent Good in material existance.
Note that the discussion is regarding Voegelin's term of "gnosticism" - which is a bit of a neologism - rather than the actual practices of Gnostic sects of Christianity per-se.

Generally speaking Voegelin's term encompasses both beliefs that seperate reality along Manichean lines (a corrupted, material existance vs. a perfect spiritual one), and those that completely disavow the existance of a seperate spiritual world.

Thus, Voegelin speaks of both materialist and dualist beliefs in the same breath, and sees the former as a simple off-shoot of the latter.

Feb. 23rd, 2006 10:09 pm (UTC)
Re: Voegelin's view.
I read some of the material on Voegelin that you point to. It appears that he has fallen into the same misunderstanding of Plato as Nietzsche and others. Ralph W. Emerson observed that at any given time, there are only a dozen people who truly understand Plato.

It's hard to believe, but even in this day and age, there are people who deny the existence of void.
Mar. 3rd, 2006 12:50 am (UTC)
Re: Voegelin's view.
Voegelin can be rather difficult to pin-down at times, but he does strike me as being a Neo-Platonist; his "take" on Plato is one that seems to be rather filtered, though I've yet to determine whether the effect is intentional or not. In any event, he does have some interesting ideas, though he sometimes overstretches his argument vis-a-vis "gnosticism".
Mar. 3rd, 2006 09:49 pm (UTC)
Re: Voegelin's view.
The label "neoplatonism" has been bandied about as broadly as the label "gnosticism." After studying Plato, I read Plotinus, a "neoplatonist." He didn't seem to get the same thing out of Plato that I did. In fact, he treated the writings of Plato the way that fundamentalists treat the bible.

Plato provides us with keys to understanding other works. His writings were not to be taken literally. Unfortunately, many have done just that. The most common misinterpretation is that he supports totalitarianism. I picked up the opposite vibe. The satire is too subtle for stuffy academics to pick up on it.
Mar. 3rd, 2006 10:00 pm (UTC)
Re: Voegelin's view.
Heh, well, in the defense of stuffy academics everywhere, I also made the mistake of equating Plato with totalitarianism when I first read "The Republic". Of course, I was sixteen at the time; it would have been a 'mite more embarassing in retrospect if I'd had a PhD and was on the tenure track. :-)
Mar. 3rd, 2006 11:17 pm (UTC)
Re: Voegelin's view.
It wouldn't be all that embarrassing. Most of that ivory tower stuff is flawed to begin with. Things in academe today aren't much different from the old days of the Sorbonne when theologians would argue over the most ridiculous things.

Today, a doctoral candidate would have a more difficult time arguing against totalitarianism in Plato. Likewise, a divinity school candidate would have a difficult time arguing that gnosticism is a valid spiritual path. Or even more embarrassing, to argue that Christ was a gnostic and that the anti-gnostic Church is the embodiment of Antichrist.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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