Introspection and the Old Testament
Posted: Mon Sep 10, 2007 12:00 am
I'd appreciate any feedback on my article "The Minds of the Bible" on the Publications page.
Registration is FREE and separate from JJS Membership
I find this position difficult to reconcile. (As a side note, our sense of ethics has nothing to do with god or religion and seems to be, at least to a certain extent, genetically programmed. See Dawkins 2006.)However fallible our ideas may be, we can (and in my view, we most certainly should) develop personal ideas of God and afterlife and ethics. This option does not disappear simply by coming to believe that the voices of God were misinterpretations of neural activities in a primitive bicameral mind. It does not disappear by coming to believe that authoritative texts that purport to present Godâ€™s word are brilliant attempts to overcome the multiplicity of individual hallucinations and the crisis of historical trauma (or to provide a substitute in writing for the lost auditory voices).
(end Stapledon quote)Great are the stars, and man is of no account to them. But man is a
fair spirit, whom a star conceived and a star kills. He is greater
than those bright blind companies. For though in them there is
incalculable potentiality, in him there is achievement, small, but
actual. Too soon, seemingly, he comes to his end. But when he is done
he will not be nothing, not as though he had never been; for he is
eternally a beauty in the eternal form of things.
Man was winged hopefully. He had in him to go further than this short
flight, now ending. He proposed even that he should become the Flower
of All Things, and that he should learn to be the All-Knowing, the
All-Admiring. Instead, he is to be destroyed. He is only a fledgling
caught in a bush-fire. He is very small, very simple, very little
capable of insight. His knowledge of the great orb of things is but a
fledgling's knowledge. His admiration is a nestling's admiration for
the things kindly to his own small nature. He delights only in food
and the food-announcing call. The music of the spheres passes over
him, through him, and is not heard.
Yet it has used him. And now it uses his destruction. Great, and
terrible, and very beautiful is the Whole; and for man the best is
that the Whole should use him.
But does it really use him? Is the beauty of the Whole really enhanced
by our agony? And is the Whole really beautiful? And what is beauty?
Throughout all his existence man has been striving to hear the music
of the spheres, and has seemed to himself once and again to catch some
phrase of it, or even a hint of the whole form of it. Yet he can never
be sure that he has truly heard it, nor even that there is any such
perfect music at all to be heard. Inevitably so, for if it exists, it
is not for him in his littleness.
But one thing is certain. Man himself, at the very least, is music, a
brave theme that makes music also of its vast accompaniment, its
matrix of storms and stars. Man himself in his degree is eternally a
beauty in the eternal form of things. It is very good to have been
man. And so we may go forward together with laughter in our hearts,
and peace, thankful for the past, and for our own courage. For we
shall make after all a fair conclusion to this brief music that is
interjection (used to express disappointment, disbelief, weariness, frustration, annoyance, or the like): God, do we have to listen to this nonsense?
Only words have meaning -- and this is uniquely human, among all creatures and all creation. As someone once observed, we humans alone are the conservators of value in this world. That is a weighty and scary responsibility, self-chosen and, once chosen, inescapable. Beyond that, there is indeed (and only) awe."This question has no answer except in the history of how it came to be asked. There is no answer because words have meaning, not life or persons or the universe itself. Our search for certainty rests in our attempts at understanding the history of all individual selves and all civilizations. Beyond that, there is only awe."
I had a teacher who would innovate words to avoid this problem in his academic discipline, which was not consciousness, but theology. These neologisms of his were a nice effort, but only further confused the issue. Yet take a moment to think about how many possible interpretations there are of the following question, framing how a person responds:At consciousness conferences even today, speakers often don't seem to recognize the problem of the wide range of definitions of the term "consciousness."