Belindi wrote: ↑
December 14th, 2018, 11:33 am
Firstly, I can't discuss Neoplatonism or Iamblicus as I don't know.I guess from what you wrote there is that those sources discuss the power of the eternal version of God.
I wouldn't say both, I'd contrast the two. Neoplatonism was the peak of the Greek pantheistic monist current, something that got its first kickoff at least as early as Pythagoras. It could be that Philo Judaeus might have had a significant impact on the Platonization of Judaism, it seems like the roots of Kabbalah, ie. Sephir Yetzirah, are from late antiquity and tend to date to 2nd or 3rd century AD. OTOH Iamblicus wrote on topics of high magic and theurgy and the book I read by him was his dialog with Porphyry - he describes a vast biome of different beings living in sort of multi-tiered higher state of nature and tried to defend Egyptian theurgy against Porphyry's skepticism by describing what the operations were intended to do (ie. rising on the planes, things like that).
My big experience with the bible was 2013 when I read it probably 4 or 5 times (for better or worse I had a really dead end job and was able to read the King James in five weeks on my first run). The historical understanding of Judaisms evolution from polytheism to henotheism to true monism seems to walk itself out through the course of the Old Testament and by the time you read the Gospel of John it feels like a philosophy that had no relation to the older Judaism made its way in. I remember the times I went to hear a really fiery evangelical give sermons at his congregation, I mean the guy was so fiery that when he did my friend's wedding he chased all the guests around and just about cleared the place. In his sermons, in the David Pawson sermons I'd listen to on Youtube, I started to notice that when the stuff really seemed to 'work' or aim at a transcendent reality it seemed to point at a different object than what one would commonly think of as the bible. Similarly Revelations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Zechariah, etc. will filled to the brim with local cosmological analogies that pretty directly proved to me that the bible didn't drop like the 2001 Space Odyssey monolith, that it was a cultural development. Around that time I was looking for a way to dive deeper into what I was seeing and that's also about the time I decided to pick up Manly P Hall's Secret Teachings of All Ages. A lot of people would say that MP might have been a bit driven in that he was in a sense something of a Rosicrucian minister for most of his life, might not have been the absolute best historian, but he definitely did the thing Focault wanted to see which was breathing life and significance into history. Also TBH his stuff on perhaps his favorite time of history to study, antiquity, seems like he his head well wrapped around the needs of the times, what people were hoping to achieve with the various mystery schools and religion, and he also explains the practical reasons well as to why Christianity triumphed while Neoplatonism, Gnosticism, and Hermeticism, took something of a 1000 year nap until the DiMedici's started grabbing scripts from monasteries. In antiquity it seems like Alexandria Egypt was a melting pot where most of the major philosophic, theological, and mystical ideas had it out and that may have had a lot of influence of Judaism's jump from a local henotheism (ie. a powerful local Jovian/Jupiterian deity battling it out with other gods and demanding absolute loyalty of his followers) to the more vast and infinite approach which is to claim that God is all things, all time, all space, and thus omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent.
My sense of the bible is it's a book people read, have very different reactions to, and it has its own way of throwing people out in different directions who aren't quite built for it. For me I was trying to find the core essence of what the best ideas in it were and I found a lot of that was intertwined with the Hermetic tradition - so I started reading books like Mediatations on the Tarot - A Journey into Christian Hermeticism as well as a lot of the Hermetic Golden Dawn diaspora like Fortune, Knight, and Butler, I got real interested in Martinism was for a while, I also checked out Crowley because I figured I had a sense of what he was doing and it turned out to be correct (essentially just sticking punk and emo patches on Kabbalah and personifying the four elements in angsty ways). As of right now I feel like I'm taking a step back to try and figure out where all of these traditions sit in the scheme of things or what their core deliverables actually are. At a minimum it seems like it was a way to keep nerds quiet and out of trouble, it's also fascinating how much the sort of unspoken heritage of the esoteric currents shaped things like the days of the week, our architecture, that odd pre-Victorian period where putting occult geometric symbols in city planning as a blessing was all the rage, so it's one of those things that as interesting an epiphany as one's first time dropping acid when they realize how much of what they see around them in the way of art and design has fingerprints of that state of mind.
As for the metaphysics of it all - I don't know what I necessarily believe these days. In the areas I've looked I think there's pretty strong evidence that there's some sort of living/sentient data beyond neurons but here's the trouble, I don't know that what it is in and of itself would give us much relief and this is sort of where I'd have to say I started out more like a Neoplatonist and found myself closer to Iamblicus in my interpretation of what all of this amounts to. There are also plenty of people who, fair enough, would claim that even if such things do exist as deities it's no proof that we don't cease to exist at death. That's challenging to fully refute because in a way unless you've had some sort of out of body experience that you yourself can corroborate evidence for there's little that would truly enough and even if a person has such experiences, with enough hard living you can start second-guessing them for lack of context in short order.
Belindi wrote: ↑
December 14th, 2018, 11:33 am
God as process such as you describe seems to me to get rid of God as deistic determinism; I presume that there is no ontic end point of the processes that you mention.The sensation of freedom conferred by process theology although heady is not any more scary than atheism. I may have missed something but process theology shows me no open door between is and ought.
Technically while we have a sense of how big our universe is we still have no idea how vast old, or even infinite the superset of all such universes might be. If it's truly eternity that's a long time for a lot of things to happen. There's also the idea, may be true or may be false (for example would be somewhat false if conscious dualism were true) that conscious awareness is the intrinsic side of matter or, if it happened to be dualissm, we're in a situation where consciousness still seems to leapfrog from physical form to physical form.
As for the scariness of process theology - yes, it's quite frightening because it seems a lot like Darwin on a broader scale and there's no guarantee that being eternal brings gradual progress. A lot of human lives are deeply miserable, it only gets worse if you look back across history, so the thought that you might keep getting welcomed into Bardo for a time and then shot back here to get beaten and abused for another 80 to 90 year and do that ad infinitum - it's not comforting.
While in studying Hermeticism I became aware of the concept of the Great Work I'm still not sure where I sit with it. It reminds me a lot of secular humanism with some mysticism thrown in. That's not a bad thing necessarily but, like any system of hope, I have to scratch my head and ask myself whether it's real or whether it's just what's hoped for. There might be some suggestion that systems try to reach equilibrium, gain greater efficiency, and maybe just that process might offer some hope. Other than that though it looks quite a bit like what we may have on our hands is akin to a mystic or animistic existentialist nihilism. Lots of fascinating and beautiful things to look at, very few of them bring peace and it seems like the only peace you really can somewhat guarantee is the peace you're able to establish by setting your own inward equilibrium and tuning down one's own unneeded battles.
Belindi wrote: ↑
December 14th, 2018, 11:33 am
Your discussion of superbeings and suchlike is interesting . For me, it runs into my fixed idea that such paranormal experiences must run counter to individuals' surviving until they can reproduce themselves i.e. the base of natural selection. And yet humans are possibly unique in our evolution through the cultural not the genetic channel. I guess that a society has to be affluent and organised enough to support individuals who contribute little or nothing for food production or defence.That's not uncommon; we know of shamans and so on who wield authority in their societies.In support of shamans and other mystical evidences of an ontic superpower it's true that the more mystical varieties of the Abrahamic religions are also the liberal, less authoritarian, ones.
Out of curiosity, did you see Bret Weinstein's talk with Richard Dawkins? He said some really fascinating things and I think of the best arguments he made was that so much of what we've done that seems directly counter-intuitive had more to do with lineage selection and that religion in so many ways was not only a memetic curation channel but that those who chose not to have children and instead served as clergy were acting as vanguards of the lineage. I think he also just about buried the idea that memes have a life of their own and use us, perhaps our genes can and will use us and exploit our blindspots regularly for more basal goals but I think his devil's advocate bit about beaver ponds evolving on their own was brilliant.
As for what you said in that first sentence I've often pondered that particularly about NDE's. One would think that a proper NDE in the truly Darwinian and reductive materialist sense would lead a guy to start going to the sperm bank every day he can or buy a fast car, climb the top of the corporate ladder as fast as he can, and get as many panties off as possible. Similarly you'd expect women having such an NDE who are with average guys to either divorce them right then and there and find something more alpha because they just had a powerful reminder of how short their time is to procreate with the highest quality genes possible. In that context, at least assuming reductive materialism, it's quite strange that what people get is much the opposite. Then again, thinking of it in a dualistic frame - maybe the only things that can stand not embodying are things that are well enough equilibrated internally that they be in their own company for thousands of years without any buffer, and that would probably yield a certain kind of order with respect to the 'heavenly' seeming to be full of bliss and love.
Belindi wrote: ↑
December 14th, 2018, 11:33 am
Modern neuroscience is I guess
well capable of naturalising paranormal experiences, would you agree? I wonder what you think is the big problem about public perception.
Mostly politics I think. A lot of people seem like they can't think with nuance about these things, and when it comes down to it it's their concern over what the rival ideological tribe would do with any concessions, even concessions to where evidence tends to point. For example if we're still in a culture where the loudest poles are the dogmatically skeptic and the Christian, Jewish, or Islamic right, then you either believe that the bible is the perfect word of God, written by 20th century scholars with a time machine and written from a 20th century way of thinking, or you're a prim and proper naive materislist who believes that consciousness is either illusory or something just sort of comes out of dead matter based on complexity. If I've noticed one thing about a lot of the people I do like even in the Skeptic community it's that they tend to be very focused on certain things and pay very little attention to other things. it's almost comedic to watch Massimo Pigliucci have a debate with Rupert Sheldrake because they're perfectly equipped to talk past each other for an hour. Sam Harris is probably the most well rounded, I've loved his Waking Up podcast for several years not but I also appreciate the he's on board with me on what I think is the most important takeaway of all this stuff (whether Buddhism, Gnosticism, Hermeticism, etc.) and that's the ultimate value of things like meditation, contemplation, and mystical experiences regardless of whether or not they're strictly material phenomena happening on human brains. I think that's a critical step because it's one thing for us to have deep and interesting cultural debates about the possibilities of what consciousness is or isn't and how that ties back to the universe, but you can't even get that far when people are so bereft of self-inquiry and self-reflection that they even think that meditation or 'subconscious' must be BS.
I think the most salient thing of all of this perhaps is this - regardless of what's out there, whether cognition continues and in what forms, we're clearly stuck dealing with a physical world and handling physical world problems that tend to require the same kind of internal development that they would regardless and there's really no escaping that aspect of it. What I'm probably the most interested in is seeing concilience of moral philosophy between all the different camps, and I think Sam has a good way of putting it - that we should all be on the human side and use that allegiance to make the quality of human life, and it's impact on nature, better .