The High of Monotheism: A Detox (Part I)



It is unlikely we can undo the damage we have done to our world - be it the toxins spewed into the Earth or those currently frothing out of people and nations. And any shame/ing or guilt/ing over them has proven, time and again, to only escalate that deeper-seated problem of western ethical thought (in the context of what we call today, 'western democracy').

If there is a chance for change - and real change is always both unlikely and not unheard-of - it will follow on the heels of something other than these moral games of accusation; it will demand our responsibility. An ethical responsibility, which is both ancient, and yet to-come. We are all, in my mind, the dupes of western/Christian morality. (Yes, even those that make it into an outright 'evil,' an enemy, calling to move to its "opposite" in the name of "the truth" (cough) that morality lies about.)

'Responsibility' is a term I stole from Emmanuel Levinas, trying to promote what he envisioned as an 'Ethics as first philosophy'. This approach is Judaic in origin, but it requires a risky, unprecedented endeavor that Levinas termed "translating Hebrew [ethics] into Greek [philosophy]". Therein lay the rub, as well as the flimsy hope of any change.

The problem I see with Levinas is that he did not (or could not) directly engage with how the communication between these two languages or mindsets is mediated by the "evil genius" of Saint Paul (and its resulting 'Christianity')...

...and it has been like this for Centuries on end. What today we call "secularism" - be it "freedom of religion/expression" or "Scientific Truth" - is simply the manner with which the Christian world kept from open war - against itself, against other "religions" (foremost here is Islam) - as it's been during the Middle Ages.

The Nation-State idea and its resulting system, as the idea of "free" commerce (underwritten by 'private property'), are all dripping with the blood of believers and heathens, respectively.

The Enlightenment had infected scientific inquiry with a Christian concept of 'Truth' that liked to think of itself as approximating a Divine, all-encompassing, absolute Truth.

A similar mutation was introduced into another Greek import, namely 'democracy'; specifically its ideas of equality (between the powerful and the wealthy in a small city-state) and freedom of expression (limited to the agora, where the former congregated to discuss political matters).

That these might seem like outrageous statements is only proof of that dirtiest of the Devil's tricks; convincing the world that he didn't exist. Western 'political science' has, for the most part, treated 'community' as a kind of contract, a game (theory), between rational, self-interested actors, with some universal moral grace - like the idea of "human rights" - sprinkled throughout by [INTENTIONALLY LEFT BLANK].

It is this BLANK that mined both Truth and Freedom hollow; for it was a requirement of (something the Treaty of Westphalia called a) "Christian peace."


Or did you think combining 'Demokratia' and 'Nation' was a Greek idea, or that 'Wars of religion' were a Pagan issue in any way..?

These are the chains we are in, our "new flesh."


But they are all we have (to work with).

"Freedom" - in the sense Christianity gave it - is just another chain. So is modern Scientific 'Truth' - 'Historical' and 'Natural' - which was born dripping with Anti-Catholic ressentiment of various (mostly Protestant) philosophers of Science. Imputing the transcendent to the earthly was a source of incredible power - which these "modern philosophers" also used and abused, after usurping the priests; whom they hated and accused of the same "crimes" (against BLANK).

All we can hope for now is some wiggle-room. For now, these ideas are far from neutral, even if decades of motivating forgetting did render them innocent; as innocent as a heroin-addict who's been injected with this poison from childhood. This is why making them the enemy is self-defeating. We need to ween them off of the toxins 'Christianity' has been pouring into them, as it has been for longer than we (and even it) can remember.

The ascetic response to this "sinful state" (which is also Christian) of making them go "cold turkey" off of Christian toxin, will likewise kill them altogether. The rampant rise in authoritarianism, as well as our age of "post Truth," already show the damage done by this poison.

We need to get to know these chains. This is why it is important to start at the beginning, with where they came from, to know what they're made of. And to do it for a different reason, a different 'Why', than the one Christian metaphysics has pumped into both "freedom," and "Truth". Citing either as the 'Why' - a call to action "in the name of freedom" or "in the name of Truth" - only aggravates both being mined hollow of their meaning and value.

 

"Translating Hebrew into Greek" is something that Christian theology has millennia of a head-start in distorting, not to say thwarting. This translation, as any translation, demands, first and foremost, an affirmation -- and, I daresay, respect -- for the difference between the two languages and worlds, between Monotheism's Ethics of the Singular and Greek Philosophy of the Universal.

Translation is never innocent, and behind every such endeavor lies the fundamental ethical issue, not concerning its Truth, or the translator's "freedom" from bias (that motivated "neutrality" of the white-man-of-science), but of its 'Why'.

The Judaic 'Why,' which I see in Levinas, has an advantage here; because it always sought to keep Jewish integrity, always insisting on its Pride. Over and against their pagan enemies, Judaism spoke to, and insisted on, the aforementioned difference. The Christian 'Why,' by contrast, sought to eliminate this difference (implicitly in Paul, explicitly in Aquinas, dangerously in Luther and Calvin). You can rebrand "eliminate" as "sublate" if you like; the violence of the latter is simply more insidious for leaving no traces (not even to itself).

Christian theology did, progressively, everything in its power to "reconcile" 'Athens' and 'Jerusalem;' a reconciliation which was a new, indirectly aggressive way of ridding Monotheism of its Jews.

The more this indirect aggression came to be institutionalized, sedimented in moral and ontological frameworks - that are supposedly 'human' or 'universal' - the more this indirect aggression became 'passive'. A kind of "muscle memory" that claims "instinct" (in Academic philosophy this gloss is called "the western tradition").

And many, many Greek (and other Heathen) differences are buried under this naturalized aggression; many a-tortured Prides are still screaming from its White-man basements, if only you have ears to hear. Nietzsche heard it - and tried to tell us - while still engaged in classical Greek philology (e.g. the Christian/moral distortion of 'Eris' in Homers Wettkampf); though these works of his are far less-known ("the western tradition" seems to have preferred him as the hateful madman that screams 'God is dead!' because he had Syphilis).

It is in order to - not rehabilitate or restore, but - be responsible for this, that I pursue this project of translation. The only step of AA I have no beef with: the addict must first affirm that they have an addiction.

This responsibility is the 'Why' that I propose for engaging with freedom and Truth; my point of Pride.


[In Part II I analyze the toxin itself; its danger and its allure. Both Judaism and Christianity will be held responsible for it -- Monotheism's unique approach to violence/justice.]


<Photo Credits: Painting by Renaissance painter Raphael, called 'The School of Athens';

picture taken by jwyg, downloaded from Flickr;

...modified by yours truly>

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