Monotheism & Polytheism


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We like it when a thing is only one thing. But society is always two things: it’s the thing that alienates you, and its the benevolent father; always.

[Jordan B. Peterson]
'Joe Rogan Experience #958 - Jordan Peterson'


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It's not Christian love that's conquered the world; it's not its sophisticated interpretations, sophisticated theology. It's successful because it mobilizes the will, and the will needs fundamentalism or it doesn't know what to do.

Fundamentalism serves the hero myth. It gives you fundamental principles - words, truths, directions. It builds a strong ego. It is American psychology. No Hermes, no Dionysus, no Aphrodite in it at all.

Utterly monotheistic because there is only one meaning, one reading of the text - like, for instance, the one meaning of Christ's suffering.

[...] anything that doesn't fit within that unity is split, or schizoid, a hysterical complex or autonomous or whatever else, and you have lost the fact that you are a bundle of many levels, people, noises, impulses, trends, personalities, possibilities and no two days are the same and no two voices are the same and one is a loose structure of many beings - Jung called them complexes.

But as long as one lives in the myth of unity one is forced into commanding the psyche to obey the principle of unity and the unifier, the ego, creating this monstrous Western ego, which then has to be subdued by all kinds of Christian virtues: tolerance, self-control, patience, humility, charity, obedience, poverty ... all this huge ascetic structure to deal with the Monster which is created by its own dogma!

So that the repression which Freud placed at the basis of our relation with the unconscious is nothing more than the Christian myth at work in us each, cutting us off from our innate polytheistic imagination and renaming it, the unconscious.

[James Hillman]
Inter Views, p.81-2

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It is conventionally held that ancient polytheistic humanism collapsed because it was unrealistic, a highly artificial system.

But there is a sense in which it was realistic, as we should expect in any religion springing from Greek origins.

The gods on Olympus at least represented actual human attributes, or varying and often conflicting archetypal human tendencies; while the Hebraic system - the uniting of desirable (moralistic) human attributes into one god - was a highly artificial procedure.

In many ways the Greek system is the more rational and intelligent; which perhaps explains why it has been the less appealing.

The Hebrew god is a creation of man; and the Greek gods are a reflection of him.

Nonetheless, periods of history come when it seems clear which serves the general need best. Monotheism saw man through the dark ages that followed the collapse of the Roman empire; but today the benevolent scepticism of humanism seems better suited to our situation.

[John Fowles]
The Aristos, p.114-15

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Whether something is monolithic, binary, dialectical, or meaninglessly plural is a function of your distance from it.

When you're very close to something, all you can see is oneness, pure dominance by the thing of all others. For a baby, Mother's breast is the entire universe. For a fundamentalist, it's God.

When you're a bit further away, a tidy binary replaces oneness. There are men and there are women. There's East and there's West. This is the distance journalists live at. The world of journalism is always seeing small fluctuations in the relative positions of big, established binaries like these.

[Momus]
'Binary hopping'

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 Related posts:-
I'm in Control
Small Mind/Large Mind
Living with Roughness
Cultivating Friendship
Active Imagination 
Infinite Doorways 
Walk a Straight Line
This, Not That
The Colour Wheel
Pressure Valve
Project a Shadow
Assuming a position
Still Waters

2 comments:

  1. Polytheism appears the more mature view because it represses less. Monotheism involves a denial of certain elements of the psyche; it is an aspirational, ego-oriented view.

    And yet, just as certain individuals will not have the maturity to live with the polytheistic view, certain societies will likewise not be ready to adopt it.

    Monotheism becomes a means to an end; a view that provides an aspirational boost to a person or society that may be in need of it.

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  2. If each individual within a collectivity is potentially at a different stage of "maturity" - and if some individuals may never progress beyond certain stages - then we cannot possibly prescribe a single method or view for all.

    We cannot say, "everyone should see this way"; perhaps some are not ready to see that way, and forcing them to may only end up causing more dysfunction within the larger system, the collectivity.

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