Text

ἀθάνατοι θνητοί, θνητοὶ ἀθάνατοι, ζῶντες τὸν ἐκεί­νων θάνατον, τὸν δὲ ἐκείνων βίον τεθνεῶτες. (Fragment 62, Diels-Krantz)

Translation

The deathless are deathful, the deathful deathless, with one living the other’s dying with the other dying in that other’s life.

Notes

° deathless…deathful. For these in respect of ἀθάνατος and θνητὸς qv. my commentary [1] on Poemandres 14, tractate VIII:1, and tractate XI:7ff.  As noted in the commentary on Poemandres 14, the English terms are taken from Chapman’s poetic translation of the Hymn to Venus from the Homeric Hymns: “That with a deathless goddess lay a deathful man.”

° There is some similarity between this fragment and what the Ἀγαθὸς Δαίμων says in the first section of tractate XII of the Corpus Hermeticum:

καὶ γὰρ ὁ Ἀγαθὸς Δαίμων τοὺς μὲν θεοὺς εἶπεν ἀθανάτους, τοὺς δὲ ἀνθρώπους θεοὺς θνητούς

For the noble daimon spoke of deities as deathless mortals and of mortals as deathful deities.

David Myatt
2017

°°°
[1] Myatt, David. Corpus Hermeticum I, III, IV, VIII, XI. 2017. ISBN-13: 978-1545020142

Related:
Translations of Some Fragments Attributed to Heraclitus
Corpus Hermeticum I, III, IV, VIII, XI.

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heraclitus-1a

 

On Translating Ancient Greek
(pdf)

Concerning ἀγαθός and νοῦς in the Corpus Hermeticum
(pdf)

Greek Terms In The Philosophy Of Pathei-Mathos
(pdf)

°°°
Related:
Greek Translations

A pdf version is available here – exegesis-translation-part-one.pdf

Glasgow University library: MS Hunter 374 fol.4r

Exegesis and Translation
Some Personal Reflexions
(Part One)

Since I first studied the Greek text of the Septuagint as a Christian monk, more than thirty five years ago, I have often reflected on matters pertaining to exegesis and translation. Four issues in particular have interested me during those decades.

1. How revealed religions, such as Christianity and Islam, and how certain spiritual ways [1], such as Buddhism and even Hinduism [2], are reliant on or have developed to become reliant upon certain texts, and how such dependant texts either by their nature require interpretation [3] or (more often) how interpretation is considered as necessary in order for the religion or spiritual way to gain support, influence, and adherents.

2. How many of those of faith – especially in revealed religions and almost certainly the majority of the faithful – have to rely on, and often quote, the translations of others; even if such people of faith are engaged in proselytizing.

3. How certain English words, used to interpret a particular Hebrew or Greek or Arabic word, suggest, represent, or have acquired, a particular meaning to English readers/listeners but which particular meaning may not necessary accurately reflect the meaning of the non-English word as that non-English word was possibly understood at the time it was included in a particular text.

4. How there seems to be, in revealed religions and most conventional spiritual ways, a rejection of pathei-mathos in favour of the wisdom said to be contained in the texts and thus in the teachings of the founder(s) of the religion/spiritual way, and – in the case of revealed religions – in the writings/edicts of those who have been vested with or who have acquired a certain religious authority, and – also in the case of revealed religions – how such pathei-mathos, to be accepted at all, has to be judged by criteria developed from such texts and/or developed from interpretations of such texts.


Interpretation and The Question of Sin

It is my view that in translations into English it is often be best to avoid words that impose or seem to impose a meaning on an ancient text especially if the sense that an English word now imputes is the result of centuries of assumptions or opinions or influences and thus has acquired a modern meaning somewhat at variance with the culture, the milieu, of the time when the text that is being translated was written. Especially so in the matter of religious or spiritual texts where so many people rely or seem to rely on the translations, the interpretations, of others and where certain interpretations seem to have become fixed. [4]

Thus, it may be helpful if one can suggest, however controversial they may seem in their time, reasoned alternatives for certain words important for a specific and a general understanding of a particular text, and helpful because such alternatives might enable a new appreciation of such a text, as if for instance one is reading it for the first time with the joy of discovery.

One of the prevalent English words used in translations of the New Testament, and one of the words now commonly associated with revealed religions such as Christianity and Islam, is sin. A word which now imputes and for centuries has imputed a particular and at times somewhat strident if not harsh moral attitude, with sinners starkly contrasted with the righteous, the saved, and with sin, what is evil, what is perverse, to be shunned and shudderingly avoided.

One of the oldest usages of the word sin – so far discovered – is in the c. 880 CE translation of the c. 525 CE text Consolatio Philosophiae, a translation attributed to King Ælfred. Here, the Old English spelling of syn is used:

Þæt is swiðe dyslic & swiðe micel syn þæt mon þæs wenan scyle be Gode

The context of the original Latin of Boethius [5] is cogitare, in relation to a dialogue about goodness and God, so that the sense of the Latin is that it is incorrect – an error, wrong – to postulate/claim/believe certain things about God. There is thus here, in Boethius, as in early English texts such as Beowulf [6], the sense of doing what was wrong, of committing an error, of making a mistake, of being at fault; at most of overstepping the bounds, of transgressing limits imposed by others, and thus being ‘guilty’ of such an infraction, a sense which the suggested etymology of the word syn implies: from the Latin sons, sontis.

Thus, this early usage of the English word syn seems to impart a sense somewhat different from what we now associate with the word sin, which is why in my translation of John, 8.7 [7] I eschewed that much overused and pejorative word in order to try and convey something of the numinous original:

So, as they continued to ask [for an answer] he straightened himself, saying to them: Let he who has never made a mistake [ Αναμαρτητος ] throw the first stone at her.

ὡς δὲ ἐπέμενον ἐρωτῶντες αὐτόν, ἀνέκυψεν καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· ὁ ἀναμάρτητος ὑμῶν πρῶτος ἐπ’ αὐτὴν βαλέτω λίθον.

Jesus here is not, in my view, sermonizing about sin, as a puritan preacher might, and as if he is morally superior to and has judged the sinners. Instead, he is rather gently and as a human pointing out an obvious truth about our human nature; explaining, in v.11, that he has not judged her conduct:

ἡ δὲ εἶπεν· οὐδείς, κύριε. εἶπεν δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς· οὐδὲ ἐγώ σε κατακρίνω· πορεύου, ἀπὸ τοῦ νῦν μηκέτι ἁμάρτανε

[And] she answered, No one, my Lord. Whereupon Jesus replied Neither do I judge [κατακρίνω] you, therefore go, and avoid errors such as those. [8]

Such a translation avoids the rather contradictory nature of most other translations which have Jesus clearly stating that he also does not judge her but then have him go on to say that she should ‘sin no more’ with the obvious implication that he has indeed judged her in that in his judgement she had indeed sinned before.

Understood and appreciated thus, sans the now culturally-biased word sin, these passages from the gospel according to John – together with passages such as Luke 19.10 and Romans 13.10 [9] – perhaps usefully summarize the evangel of Jesus of Nazareth; the (in my view) rather human message of avoiding judging others because we ourselves are prone to error, the message of love, and the message of redemption (forgiveness) for those who in the past have made mistakes but who have thereafter tried to avoid making such mistakes again, those hitherto perhaps damaged or lost.

In respect of ἁμαρτάνω [10] consider, for example, Matthew 18.21:

Τότε προσελθὼν ὁ Πέτρος εἶπεν [αὐτῷ] Κύριε, ποσάκις ἁμαρτήσει εἰς ἐμὲ ὁ ἀδελφός μου καὶ ἀφήσω αὐτῷ; ἕως ἑπτάκις

Peter then approached [προσέρχομαι] him saying My Lord, how often [ποσάκις] may my brother fail [ἁμαρτάνω] me and be ignored [ἀφίημι]? Up to seven times?

Which is somewhat different from the usual “how many times shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him.”

Ontology, Exegesis, and Pathei-Mathos

All religions and spiritual ways, because they are spiritual/metaphysical, either posit, or are interpreted as positing, an ontology. That is, they all offer an explanation, or an analysis, of the nature of our being as humans and of the nature of, and our relation to, Being, whether Being is understood as God/Allah/gods/Nature/Fate or in terms of axioms such as karma and nirvana. There thus exists, or there developes, an explanation or explanations concerning the meaning and the purpose of our mortal lives; of how that purpose may be attained; and thus of what wisdom is and why there is and continues to be suffering.

However, as I mentioned in Questions of Good, Evil, Honour, and God, citing several examples, the original message of a revelation or of a spiritual way often seems to become obscured or somehow gets lost over centuries. A loss or obscuration party due to the reliance on revealed or given texts; partly due to divergent interpretations of such texts, with some interpretations accepted or rejected by those assuming or vested with a religious authority; and partly due to a reliance, by many of the faithful, on translations of such texts.

Furthermore, the interpretation of such religious texts – and/or the emergence or the writing of new texts concerning a particular spiritual way – has often led to schism or schisms, and to harsh interpretations of religions; schisms and a harshness that have sometimes led to sects, to violence between believers and sects, to accusations of heresy, and to the persecution of those said to be heretics. All of which have thus caused or been the genesis of suffering.

Thus, in respect of Christianity,

“…it is tempting therefore to suggest that it was later, and theological, interpretations and interpolations which led to a harsh dichotomy, an apocalyptic eschatology, a ‘war’ between an abstract ‘good’ and ‘evil’, and that with such interpretations and interpolations – much in evidence in the persecution of alleged heretics – the simple gospel message of the health of love was somehow lost for a while, to be, later on, re-expressed by people such as William Penn, who wrote, in his Some Fruits of Solitude, “Let us then try what love can do.” [11]

In effect, the humility that I have found by experience that all or most religions and spiritual ways manifest – and an essential part of their revelation, their message, their presencing of the numinous – is obscured or ignored in favour of arrogant human presumptions and assumptions and a personal pride: that ‘we’ know better, or believe we know better; that ‘we’ have somehow found or been given the ‘right’ answer(s) or the ‘right’ interpretation(s), and that therefore ‘the others’ are wrong, and ‘we’ are better or more ‘pure’/devout than them. And so on.

Yet there is, it seems to me, after many years of reflexion, something else which accounts for why this loss of a necessary humility occurs, other than the aforementioned reliance on revealed or given texts, the divergent interpretations of such texts, and the reliance, by many of the faithful, on translations of such texts. This is the reality of religions and many spiritual ways either rejecting pathei-mathos as a source of wisdom or favouring specific texts and their interpretation(s) over and above the pathei-mathos of individuals.

For pathei-mathos – the personal learning from grief, suffering, pain, adversity, and experience – directly connects us to and thus enables us to personally experience and appreciate the numinous, sans words, ideations, ideology, theology, and dogma. An experience and an appreciation outwardly and inwardly manifest in a personal humility; in the knowledge of ourselves as but one fallible, mortal, fragile, human emanation of and connexion to Being; and in an empathic understanding of how all religions and spiritual ways, in their genesis and in their original emanations, express – or try to express – the same wisdom: manifest in an appreciation of the numinous, and in our human necessity for the natural balance that is humility and a very personal honour. And, because of this spiritual and religious equivalence, it does not matter if the individual of pathei-mathos, having so touched and felt the numinous, developes their own weltanschauung or none, or leaves or finds an existing spiritual or religious one, although it is and often has been such pathei-mathos which reveals to individuals, or which enables them to rediscover, the essence of a particular religion or a particular spiritual way: that simple and similar numinous essence which schisms, harsh interpretations, dogma, and ideology, have so often and for so long obscured.

For what pathei-mathos reveals does matter, beyond such outward and such supra-personal manifestations, are the personal, the individual, virtues of love, empathy, gentleness, and compassion.

 

David Myatt
2013

Notes

[1] As outlined in Appendix II (Glossary of Terms and Greek Words) of The Numinous Way of Pathei-Mathos (2013) I make a distinction between a religion and a spiritual Way of Life.

One of the differences being that a religion requires and manifests a codified ritual and doctrine and a certain expectation of conformity in terms of doctrine and ritual, as well as a certain organization beyond the local community level resulting in particular individuals assuming or being appointed to positions of authority in matters relating to that religion. In contrast, Ways are more diverse and more an expression of a spiritual ethos, of a customary, and often localized, way of doing certain spiritual things, with there generally being little or no organization beyond the community level and no individuals assuming – or being appointed by some organization – to positions of authority in matters relating to that ethos.

Religions thus tend to develope an organized regulatory and supra-local hierarchy which oversees and appoints those, such as priests or religious teachers, regarded as proficient in spiritual matters and in matters of doctrine and ritual, whereas adherents of Ways tend to locally and informally and communally, and out of respect and a personal knowing, accept certain individuals as having a detailed knowledge and an understanding of the ethos and the practices of that Way.Many spiritual Ways have evolved into religions.

[2] In Buddhism, the primary texts are regarded as: (i) for Theravada Buddhism, the collections referred to as Tipitaka/Tripitaka; (ii) for Mahāyāna Buddhism, the Tipitaka (in some cases, depending on interpretation) and the various Sutras, including the collection often referred to as The Perfection of Wisdom; (iii) for Tibetan Buddhism, the various Tantric texts, plus some of the Tipitaka (in some cases, depending on interpretation) and some the Mahāyāna sutras (in some cases, depending on interpretation).

In Hinduism, there is the Bhagavad Gītā and the literature of the Vedas.

[3] By interpretation here is meant (i) commentaries (academic, theological, and otherwise); (ii) explanations (critical, and otherwise); (iii) translations; and – most importantly – (iv) a seeking of the meaning of (a) both the text (in whole and in parts) and (b) of the words and terms used.

[4] One misused English word is ‘terror’, often used to translate الرُّعْبَ in Ayah 151 of Surah Al ‘Imran. See Part Two, Translation and Al-Quran.

As I noted there:

My, admittedly fallible, view now – after some years of reflexion and study – is that, in an English interpretation of the meaning of a work as revered, and misunderstood, as the Quran, English words in common usage must be carefully chosen, with many common words avoided, and that it would sometimes be better to choose an unusual or even archaic word in order to try and convey something of the sense of the Arabic. Thus, with a careful interpretation common misunderstandings of the text – by non-Muslims unversed in Arabic – can possibly be avoided, especially if – as might be the case with unusual words – the reader has to pause to consider the meaning or make the effort to find the meaning, if only in a glossary appended to the interpretation. A pause and/or an effort that is suited to reading a work revered by millions of people around the world.

[5] Quare quod a summo bono diversum est sui natura, id summum bonum non est; quod nefas est de eo cogitare, quo nihil constat esse praestantius. Consolatio Philosophiae, Liber Tertius, pr. x

[6] Beowulf, 2470f, where the spelling synn is used:

eaferum læfde, swa deð eadig mon,
lond ond leodbyrig, þa he of life gewat.
þa wæs synn ond sacu Sweona ond Geata
ofer wid wæter, wroht gemæne,
herenið hearda, syððan Hreðel swealt

[7] qv. Myatt, Fifty Years of Diverse Peregrinations. 2013 [pdf]

[8] The conventional interpretation of ἀπὸ τοῦ νῦν μηκέτι ἁμάρτανε is “from now on sin no more”.

[9] Luke 19.10:

ἦλθεν γὰρ ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ζητῆσαι καὶ σῶσαι τὸ ἀπολωλός

The arrivance [ἔρχομαι] of the Son of Man was to seek and to save what was lost

However, a more interesting interpretation is:

The arrivance of the Son of Man was to seek and to repair [σῴζω] what had been damaged [ἀπόλλυμι]

and which interpretation is suggested by (i) the sense of σῴζω: keep safe, preserve, maintain – whence repair, and (ii) the sense of ἀπόλλυμι: destroy, ruin, kill, demolish, and – metaphorically – damaged, lost, and die.

Romans 13.10:

ἡ ἀγάπη τῷ πλησίον κακὸν οὐκ ἐργάζεται· πλήρωμα οὖν νόμου ἡ ἀγάπη

love brings no harm to the neighbour; love is the completion of the law

[11] ἁμαρτάνω implies a failure, mistake, an error, deprivation, loss, to miss/fail. qv (i) Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannus:

ὅταν ταχύς τις οὑπιβουλεύων λάθρᾳ
χωρῇ, ταχὺν δεῖ κἀμὲ βουλεύειν πάλιν:
εἰ δ᾽ ἡσυχάζων προσμενῶ, τὰ τοῦδε μὲν
πεπραγμέν᾽ ἔσται, τἀμὰ δ᾽ ἡμαρτημένα 621

But when there is a plot against me which is swiftly and furtively
Moving forward, then I must be swift in opposing that plot
Since if I remain at rest, then indeed
What is about to be done, will be – because of my mistake.

and (ii) Aeschylus, Agamemnon:

ὀφλὼν γὰρ ἁρπαγῆς τε καὶ κλοπῆς δίκην
τοῦ ῥυσίου θ᾽ ἥμαρτε καὶ πανώλεθρον 535
αὐτόχθονον πατρῷον ἔθρισεν δόμον.

The penalty for the pillage and theft was fair –
He lost his booty and completely ruined
His own land with his father’s family cut down

[11] Myatt. Questions of Good, Evil, Honour, and God. 2013 [pdf]


cc David Myatt 2013
This work is issued under the Creative Commons
(Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0) License
and can be freely copied and distributed, according to the terms of that license.
All translations: DW Myatt

Image credit:
Illumination from the MS Anicii Manlii Torqvati Severini Boetii,
De Consolatione Philosophiae cvm Commento,
dated c. 1385 ce, in Glasgow University library: MS Hunter 374 fol.4r

Botticelli - Madonna del Magnificat

Prefatory Note

The following essay is taken from the pdf compilation Pathei-Mathos: A Path to Humility (c. 405 kB). The compilation contains four essays of mine about or which substantially refer to humility [1]. Two of the essays were written in 2012, one in 2010, and the other in 2011. Since humility and hubris form an important part of the philosophy of pathei-mathos – what I previously (pre-Spring-2012) called the numinous way – this compilation may therefore be useful and of some interest to those interested in or studying that philosophy, a philosophy I endeavoured to outline in my pdf compilation Recuyle Of The Philosophy Of Pathei-Mathos.


   

Toward Humility – A Brief Personal View

The more I reflect on religion – and on my experience of various religions and those who believe in them – the more I incline toward the view that most if not all of what have sometimes been referred to as ‘the major religions’ – Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism – manifest (each in their own particular way) and enhance (or can enhance) our humanity, and thus enshrine a means for us to be compassionate and tolerant and receptive to humility. For it seems to me there is, to paraphrase an expression of George Fox used by The Religious Society of Friends, ‘that of the numinous’ in every person, and that answering to ‘that of the numinous’ can and has taken various manifestations over millennia with all such manifestations deserving of respect since there is an underlying unity, a similar spiritual essence – a similar discovery and knowing and appreciation of the numinous, a similar understanding of the error of hubris – beyond those different outer manifestations and the different terms and expressions and allegories used to elucidate ‘that of the numinous’.

Thus it would be improper and erroneous of me to conclude that a particular religion has influenced more people in a good way – is ‘better’ – than another religion or all other religions. Especially as – and again in my admittedly fallible view – the bad done, the suffering caused, by those ‘in the name of’ some religion or by adherents of some religion, most probably are caused by or are a consequence of our errors, our faults, our propensity as human beings to be hubriatic, to sometimes or often do or sanction what is dishonourable, inhuman, or just plain selfish.

As for Buddhism, I tend to view it – like Taoism – as a Way of Life rather than as a religion [2] and even if considered a religion then most probably it is a noble exception considering how, unlike many religions, it has seldom if ever been associated with people and tyrants who followed it doing dishonourable, inhuman, extremist, deeds in its name. Certainly Buddhism – and Taoism and many others Ways – have not (so far as I know) been used by fallible hubriatic humans to try to justify wars, invasions, persecution, killing, intolerance, and the mistreatment of those deemed to be heretics and apostates.

The discovery and knowing and thus the appreciation of the numinous by individuals, in a life-changing and thus often reformatory way, is frequently the result of pathei-mathos, and which pathei-mathos can incline individuals toward their own uncertitude of knowing and thus toward a certain personal humility. A personal humility which I personally believe manifests – which is – the essence of the numinous and thus the essence of our humanity, of our nature as human beings capable of reason, compassion, love, honour, and gentleness; human beings who have the ability to choose not to commit the error of hubris; the ability not to do what is harsh, dishonourable, hateful, violent; the ability to refrain from inflicting suffering on other humans and other living beings; the ability to be empathic and thus appreciate the connexion we are to all Life, to ψυχή.

In my own case, as I mentioned in Just My Fallible Views, Again:

“Being with – living with – Muslims (both Sunni and Shia) taught me humility [3], the ignorance of my past political beliefs, and how the Muslim way of life can be and certainly has been (on balance) an influence for good, just as Christianity (on balance) is and has been, and just as Judaism is and has been […]

Hence I find myself in the curious position of now possibly understanding and appreciating the wordless raison d’etat of Catholic monasticism, manifest as this is in a personal humility; a humility that during my time as a monk my then still hubriatic self could not endure for long. Which recent understanding and appreciation led me for a short while at least, and only a few years ago, to wistfully if unrealistically yearn to return to that particular secluded way of life. And unrealistic because for all that understanding, appreciation, and yearning, I no longer had the type of faith that was required, the type of Christian faith I did have when I had lived that monastic way of life. A lack of faith I really discovered and felt when I went, during that not-too-long-ago period of yearning, to stay once again and for a while in a monastery […]

Also, although I no longer consider myself a Muslim, I retain a great respect for that particular Way of Life, as I do for several other Ways I have personal experience of, such as Christianity, Buddhism, and Taoism. And a respect for two basic reasons. First, because I feel that those (and many other Ways and religions, for example Judaism and Hinduism) have been and are a means to remind us of the numinous, of the error of hubris, of the need for a certain personal humility. For they all, diverse as they appear to be, can enable us to glimpse or feel or know that supra-personal perspective which inclines us or can incline us toward living a more moral life, expressed as such a life often is in personal virtues such as compassion, self-restraint, honesty, modesty. Second, because I am acutely aware of how fallible I am, that I could be wrong, that I have been wrong in the past, and that my answers to certain philosophical, theological, and moral questions (as evident for example in my philosophy of pathei-mathos) are only my own often tentative and certainly fallible answers.”

For me personally, humility is also an acknowledgement of a particular and important intuition regarding the self, regarding our perception of ourselves. Of how – when as individuals via pathei-mathos or otherwise we experience and then appreciate the numinous – we are not (as we often like to believe) in control of our lives, but instead are subject to supra-personal forces that have often, in the past as now, been variously termed or described as God, the gods, Fate, karma, Allah, wyrd, the cosmic perspective, the acausal, destiny, Μοῖραι τρίμορφοι μνήμονές τ᾽ Ἐρινύες, and so on. Of how such a belief of personally being in control, or of being capable of so being in control, of our lives, is mere egoism at best and, at worst, hubris; an egoism and a hubris that, whether we know or not – and mostly we with our egoism and our hubris do not know – are both the genesis of suffering and the raison d’etat behind our perpetuation of suffering.

David Myatt
September 2012

Notes

[1] Humility is used here, in a spiritual context, to refer to that gentleness, that modest demeanour, that understanding, which derives from an appreciation of the numinous and also from one’s own admitted uncertainty of knowing and one’s acknowledgement of past mistakes. An uncertainty of knowing, an acknowledgement of mistakes, that often derive from πάθει μάθος.

Humility is thus the natural human balance that offsets the unbalance of hubris (ὕβρις) – the balance that offsets the unbalance of pride and arrogance, and the balance that offsets the unbalance of that certainty of knowing which is one basis for extremism, for extremist beliefs, for fanaticism and intolerance. That is, humility is a manifestation of the natural balance of Life; a restoration of ἁρμονίη, of δίκη, of σωφρονεῖν – of those qualities and virtues – that hubris and extremism, that ἔρις and πόλεμος, undermine, distance us from, and replace.

[2] My experience of various religions – and of other elucidations of ‘that of the numinous’ – has led me to conclude that it is possible to make a distinction between a religion and a Way of Life. One of the differences being that a religion requires and manifests a codified ritual and doctrine and a certain expectation of conformity in terms of doctrine and ritual, as well as a certain organization beyond the local community level resulting in particular individuals assuming or being appointed to positions of authority in matters relating to that religion. In contrast, Ways are more diverse and more an expression of a spiritual ethos, of a customary, and often localized, way of doing certain spiritual things, with there generally being little or no organization beyond the community level and no individuals assuming – or being appointed by some organization – to positions of authority in matters relating to that ethos.

Religions thus tend to develope an organized regulatory and supra-local hierarchy which oversees and appoints those, such as priests or religious teachers, regarded as proficient in spiritual matters and in matters of doctrine and ritual, whereas adherents of Ways tend to locally and informally and communally, and out of respect and a personal knowing, accept certain individuals as having a detailed knowledge and an understanding of the ethos and the practices of that Way.

[3] In terms of my own pathei-mathos, the culture of Islam – manifest in Adab, in Namaz, and in a reliance on only Allah, and a culture lived, experienced, by me over a period of some nine years – was not only a new revelation of the numinous but also a grounding in practical humility. The very performance of Namaz requires and cultivates an attitude of personal humility, most obvious in Sajdah, the prostration to and in the presence of Allah, Ar-Rahman, Ar-Raheem; a personal humility encouraged by Adab, and shared in Jummah Namaz in a Masjid and during Ramadan.


Image credit: Botticelli – Madonna del Magnificat

NASA - Earth and Moon from Voyager

Enantiodromia and The Reformation of The Individual


The Muliebral and the Masculous

The third axiom of The Way of Pathei-Mathos is:

That because of or following πάθει μάθος there is or there can be a change in, a development of, the nature, the character – the φύσις – of the person because of that revealing and that appreciation (or re-appreciation) of the numinous whose genesis is this πάθει μάθος, and which appreciation of the numinous includes an awareness of why ὕβρις is an error (often the error) of unbalance, of disrespect or ignorance (of the numinous), of a going beyond the due limits, and which ὕβρις itself is the genesis both of the τύραννος and of the modern error of extremism. For the tyrannos and the modern extremist (and their extremisms) embody and give rise to and perpetuate ἔρις and thus are a cause of, or contribute to and aid, suffering.

This change, this development of the individual, is or can be the result of a process termed enantiodromia, which is the process of perceiving, feeling, knowing, beyond causal appearance and the separation-of-otherness and thus when what has become separated – or has been incorrectly perceived as separated – returns to the wholeness, the unity, from whence it came forth. When beings are understood in their correct relation to Being, beyond the causal abstraction of different/conflicting ideated opposites, a relation manifest in the cosmic perspective and thus a knowing of ourselves as but one fallible, microcosmic, fragile, mortal, biological nexion connected to and not separate from all other Life.

An important and a necessary part of enantiodromia involves a discovery, a knowing, an acceptance, and – as prelude – an interior balancing within themselves, of what has hitherto been perceived and designated as the apparent opposites described by terms such as ‘muliebral’ and ‘masculous’ [1]. A perception of opposites manifested in ideations such as those concerning assumed traits of character, and assumed or ‘ideal’ rôles, behaviour, and occupations, assigned to each person, and especially historically in the prejudice of how the rôle – the duty – of men is or should be to lead, to control, to govern, to possess authority, to dominate, to be master.

The discovery of enantiodromia is of how such a designated and perceived dichotomy is but illusive, unnecessary, unhealthy, appearance, and does not therefore express either the natural, the real, nature (φύσις) of our personal character, our being, or the real nature, the Φύσις, of Being itself. In essence, this is the discovery, mentioned by Heraclitus [2], concerning Πόλεμος and γινόμενα πάντα κατ΄ ἔριν καὶ χρεώμενα; that all beings are naturally born – become perceived as separate beings – because of ἔρις, and their genesis (their ‘father’) is Πόλεμος.

Thus the strife, the discord, often engendered by an external and by the internal (within the individual) clash between such apparent opposites as the ‘muliebral’ and ‘masculous’ is one that has naturally arisen due to misperception, due to the separation-of-otherness, as a result of a purely causal, egoist, apprehension of ourselves and of others; an error of perception that, as previously mentioned, empathy and πάθει μάθος can correct, and which correction reveals the truth of ψυχή and a knowing of the cosmic perspective.

One practical consequence of this misapprehension, this error of ὕβρις, concerning ‘muliebral’ and ‘masculous’ has been the distaste – even the hatred – of certain ideologies and religions and individuals for those whose personal love is for someone of the same gender. Another practical consequence is and has been the error of extremism, where what is masculous is emphasized to the detriment (internal, and external) of what is muliebral, and where, for example, as in many harsh ideologies, men and women are expected, encouraged – often forced, as for example in fascism – to assume some rôle based on or deriving from some manufactured abstraction, some ideation, concerning what is assumed to be or has been posited as ‘the ideal man’ or the ‘ideal woman’ in some idealized society or in some idealized ‘nation’.

Furthermore, given that these attributes of personal character that have been termed ‘muliebral’ and ‘masculous’ are founded on an illusive apprehension of beings and Being – and on ideations (such as rôles, occupations, and so on) posited as a result of this misapprehension – they not symbolic, or mythological, or unconscious, or even archetypal in the sense of anima and animus.

A Natural Reformation

The balance attained by – which is – enantiodromia is that of simply feeling, accepting, discovering, the empathic, the human, the personal, scale of things and thus understanding our own fallibility-of-knowing, our limitations as a human being; that, in essence, αἰὼν παῖς ἐστι παίζων πεσσεύων· παιδὸς ἡ βασιληίη [3], that τὰ δὲ πάντα οἰακίζει Κεραυνός [4] and that Φύσις κρύπτεσθαι φιλεῖ [5].

Which in practical terms simply amounts to understanding, knowing, Being and the genesis, the φύσις, of beings. Or, expressed in terms of the philosophy of pathei-mathos, it amounts to wu-wei, and to the understanding that ‘what and who’ are out of range of our empathy and what and who we have no personal knowledge of, is and are of no concern, of no passionate relevance, for us, because ‘beyond the control, the influence’ of our own fallible, error-prone, nature, and should thus be regarded ‘without prejudice’, as ‘innocent’, and the subject of no opinion, no ideations, by us. That is, we accept empathy and pathei-mathos as our guide, and (i) we do not speculate about, do not manufacture our own ideations about, those whom and that which are beyond the purveu of our empathy; and (ii) we do not accept the ideations/abstractions of others concerning those whom and that which are beyond the purveu of our empathy, and who and which we have no direct personal experience of.

Thus the process, the discovery, the reformation, is a natural one that does not involve any theory, or dogma, or praxis, or require any faith or belief of any kind. There is the personal cultivation of empathy and wu-wei, and that is all. How then – for those not having endured a personal πάθει μάθος – might empathy and wu-wei be cultivated, and thus how might the natural balance be found/restored, thus allowing ψυχή to flourish, bringing ἁρμονίη and σωφρονεῖν?

We might let go of ideations, of causal abstractions, many or most of which only serve to try and distinguish us from them, from other living-beings, human or otherwise, and thus increase our illusion of separation. We might consider, ponder on, the cosmic perspective and learn to value tolerance and humility. We might muse on innocence and the nature of the good, for the good is simply what is fair; what is compassionate, what inclines us to appreciate the numinous and understand why ὕβρις is an error of unbalance. We might consider why, for example, the bad is just bad φύσις. Or a natural consequence of undeveloped, unformed, not-mature, unreformed φύσις. Of a lack of empathy, of a lack of εὐταξία, of little or no appreciation of, of no personal experience of, the numinous, leading thus to individuals doing what is unfair; what is harsh and unfeeling; what intentionally causes or contributes to suffering.

We could, for example, and perhaps importantly, learn from the culture of our society and that of others, for correctly appreciated such culture – as manifest, for example, in literature, music, memoirs, poetry, history, Art, and sometimes in myths and legends and religious allegories – is but the recorded/aural pathei-mathos and empathic understanding of others over decades, centuries, millennia.

David Myatt
April 2012 ce

This essay forms Part Three of the text Recuyle Of The Philosophy Of Pathei-Mathos

Notes:

[1] The term muliebral derives from the classical Latin word muliebris, and in the context The Numinous Way/The Way of Pathei-Mathos refers to those positive traits, abilities, and qualities that are conventionally and historically associated with women, such as empathy, sensitivity, gentleness, compassion, and a desire to love and be loved over and above a desire for conflict/adventure/war.

The counterpart to muliebral is masculous, which is used to refer to certain traits, abilities, and qualities that are conventionally and historically associated with men, such as competitiveness, aggression, a certain harshness, the desire to organize/control, and a desire for adventure and/or for conflict/war/violence/competition over and above personal love and culture.

Extremist ideologies manifest an unbalanced, an excessive, masculous nature.

Masculous is from the Latin masculus and occurs, for example, in some seventeenth century works such as one by William Struther: ” This is not only the language of Canaan, but also the masculous Schiboleth.” True Happines, or, King Davids Choice: Begunne In Sermons, And Now Digested Into A Treatise. Edinbvrgh, 1633

[2] Fragments 53 and 80

53: Πόλεμος πάντων μὲν πατήρ ἐστι, πάντων δὲ βασιλεύς, καὶ τοὺς μὲν θεοὺς ἔδειξε τοὺς δὲ ἀνθρώπους, τοὺς μὲν δούλους ἐποίησε τοὺς δὲ ἐλευθέρους.

Polemos our genesis, governing us all to bring forth some gods, some mortal beings with some unfettered yet others kept bound.

80: εἰδέναι δὲ χρὴ τὸν πόλεμον ἐόντα ξυνόν, καὶ δίκην ἔριν, καὶ γινόμενα πάντα κατ΄ ἔριν καὶ χρεώμενα [χρεών]

One should be aware that Polemos pervades, with discord δίκη, and that beings are naturally born by discord.

[3] Fragment 52: For Aeon, we are a game, pieces moved on some board: since, in this world of ours, we are but children.

[4] Fragment 64: All beings are guided by Lightning

[5] Fragment 123: Concealment accompanies Physis

 


Image credit:
NASA – Earth and Moon as seen from the departing Voyager interplanetary spacecraft


David Myatt
Recuyle Of The Philosophy Of Pathei-Mathos

θάνατος δὲ τότ᾽ ἔσσεται ὁππότε κεν δὴ Μοῖραι ἐπικλώσωσ᾽ [*]

 

The following pdf file (c. 355 kB) contains all of my writings concerning the philosophy of pathei-mathos, plus an older (2011) essay – The Abstraction of Change as Opposites and Dialectic – which has some relevance to that philosophy.

The Philosophy of Pathei-Mathos
(pdf)


Contents

  • Conspectus
  • The Way of Pathei-Mathos – A Philosophical Compendium
  • Some Personal Musings On Empathy
  • Enantiodromia and The Reformation of The Individual
  • Society, Politics, Social Reform, and Pathei-Mathos
  • The Change of Enantiodromia
  • The Abstraction of Change
  • Appendix I – The Principle of Δίκα
  • Appendix II – Glossary of Terms and Greek Words

[*] “Our ending arrives whenever wherever the Moirai decide.” Attributed to Καλλίνου, as recorded by Ἰωάννης Στοβαῖος in Ἀνθολόγιον (c. 5th century CE)



Some Personal Musings On Empathy
In relation to the philosophy of πάθει μάθος


Empathy and The Individual

The first axiom of the philosophy of pathei-mathos is:

That human beings possess a mostly latent perceptive faculty, the faculty of empathy – ἐμπάθεια – which when used, or when developed and used, can provide us with a particular type of knowing, a particular type of knowledge, and especially a certain knowledge concerning the φύσις (the physis, the nature or character) of human beings and other living beings. [1]

Being a natural faculty – like sight and hearing – empathy is personal, individual, and thus depends on and relates to what-is, and/or who-is, nearby: in range of our empathy. Thus the knowing we acquire or can acquire by empathy is a personal knowing just as seeing and listening to a person speaking is a personal knowing acquired directly in the immediacy-of-the-moment. If, however, a person be out of range of our empathy, and we have no previous empathic or personal encounters with them, they are empathically and personally unknown to us and therefore, since we have no knowledge or intimation of their physis, their character, we cannot fairly assess them and should accord them ‘the benefit of the doubt’ since this presumption of the innocence of others – until direct personal experience, and individual and empathic knowing of them, prove otherwise – is the fair, the reasoned, the moral, the empathic, thing to do.

For empathy, according to the philosophy of pathei-mathos, is considered the primary means whereby we can fairly asses [2] – that is, fairly judge – a person and thus know them (their physis) as they are, with this knowing, by the nature of our as yet undeveloped and underused faculty of empathy, of necessity requiring a personal and a direct experience of them extending over a period of time. In effect, our initial intuitions are either confirmed or modified by such direct contact, rather as most humans may require several periods of reading or of the hearing of some lengthy text in order to commit it to memory and be able to reproduce it, aurally or in writing.

There is thus what may be described as the empathic scale: that which or those who are reachable, knowable, by means of, in range of, our empathy; and it is this scale which, in essence, may be said to be a measure, a function and expression, of our humanity; which reveals, discovers, physis and thus what is important about ourselves, about other human beings, and about the other life with which we share this planet. Beyond the reach of empathy is the physis of beings we do not (as yet) personally know and we have to admit we do not know, and so cannot and should not be sure about or make claims about or formulate some theory or opinion about.

Everything others associate with an individual, or ascribe to an individual, or use to describe or to denote an individual, or even how an individual denotes or describes themselves, are not relevant, and have no bearing on our understanding, our knowledge, of that individual and thus – morally – should be ignored, for it is our personal knowing of them which is necessary, important, valid, fair.  For assessment of another – by the nature of assessment and the nature of empathy – can only be personal, direct, individual. Anything else is biased prejudgement or prejudice or unproven assumption.

This means that we approach them – we view them –  without any prejudice, without any expectations, and without having made any assumptions concerning them, and as a unique, still unknown, still undiscovered, individual person: as ‘innocent’ until proven, until revealed by their actions and behaviour to be, otherwise. Furthermore, empathy – the acausal perception/knowing and revealing of physis – knows nothing of temporal things and human manufactured abstractions/categories such as assumed or assigned ethnicity; nothing of gender; nothing of what is now often termed ‘sexual preference/orientation’. Nothing of politics, or religion. Nothing of some disability someone may suffer from; nothing of social status or wealth; nothing regarding occupation (or lack of one). Nothing regarding the views, the opinions, of others concerning someone.  For empathy is just empathy, a perception different from our other senses such as sight and hearing, and a perception which provides us, or which can provide us, with a unique perspective, a unique type of knowing, a unique (acausal) connexion to the external world and especially to other human beings.

Empathy – and the knowing that derives from it – thus transcends ‘race’, politics, religion, gender, sexual orientation, occupation, wealth (or lack of it), ‘status’, and all the other things and concepts often used to describe, to denote, to prejudge, to classify, a person; so that to judge someone – for example – by and because of their political views (real or assumed) or by their religion or by their sexual orientation is an act of hubris [ ὕβρις ].

In practice, therefore, in the revealing of the physis of a person, the political views, the religion, the gender, the perceived ethnicity, of someone are irrelevant. It is a personal knowing of them, the perception of their physis by empathy, and an acceptance of them as – and getting to know them as – a unique individual which are important and considered moral; for they are one emanation of the Life of which we ourselves are but one other finite and fallible part.

Concerning The Error of Extremism

Extremism – as defined and understood by the philosophy of pathei-mathos – is a modern example of the error of hubris. An outward expression – codified in an ideology – of a bad individual physis (of a bad or faulty or misguided or underdeveloped/unmatured individual nature); of a lack of inner balance in individuals; of a lack of empathy and of pathei-mathos.

There is thus, in extremists, an ignorance of the true nature of Being and beings, and a lack of appreciation of or a wilful rejection of the numinous, as well as a distinct lack of or an aversion to personal humility, for it is the nature of the extremist that they are convinced and believe that ‘they know’ that the ideology/party/movement/group/faith that they accept or adhere to – or the leader that they follow – have/has the right answers, the correct solutions, to certain problems which they faithfully assert exist in society and often in human beings.

This conviction, this arrogance of belief, or this reliance on the assessment of someone else (some leader), combined with a lack of empathy and a lack of the insight and the self-knowing wrought by pathei-mathos, causes or greatly enhances an existing inner/interior dissatisfaction (an unbalance, a lack of harmony) within them in regard to what-is, so that some vision, some ideal, of the future – of society – becomes more important to them, more real, more meaningful, than people, than life, as people and life are now. Thus, they with their ideology, their faith, with and because of their dissatisfaction, possess or develope an urge to harshly interfere, continually finding fault with people, with society, with life itself, and so strive – mostly violently, hatefully, unethically, and with prejudice and often with anger – to undermine, to violently change, to ‘revolutionize’, or to destroy, what-is.

In simple terms, extremists fail to understand, to appreciate, to know, to apprehend, what is important about human beings and human living; what the simple reality, the simple nature, the real physis, of the majority of human beings and of society is and are, and thus what innocence means and implies. That is, there is a failure to know, to appreciate, what is good, and natural and numinous and innocent, in respect of human beings and of society. A failure to know, a failure to appreciate, a failure to feel what it is that empathy and pathei-mathos provide: the wisdom of our personal nature and personal needs; of our physis as rational – as balanced – human beings possessed of certain qualities, certain virtues, or capable of developing balance, capable of developing certain qualities, certain virtues, and thus having or of developing the ability to live in a certain manner: with fairness, with love, and without hatred and prejudice.

What is good, and natural – what should thus be appreciated, and respected, and not profaned by the arrogance (the hubris) of the extremist, and what empathy and pathei-mathos reveal – are the desire for personal love and the need to be loyally loved; the need for a family and the bonds of love within a family that lead to the desire to protect, care for, work for, and if necessary defend one’s loved ones. The desire for a certain security and stability and peace, manifest in a home, in sufficiency of food, in playfulness, in friends, in tolerance, in a lack of danger. The need for the dignity, the self-respect, that work, that giving love and being loved, provide.

Our societies have evolved, painfully slowly, to try and provide such simple, such human, such natural, such ineluctably personal, things; to allow opportunities for such things; and have so evolved often because of individuals naturally gifted with empathy or who were inspired by their own pathei-mathos or that of others, and often and thus also so evolved because of the culture that such societies encouraged and sometimes developed, being as such culture was – via, for example, literature, music, memoirs, poetry, Art – the recorded/aural pathei-mathos and empathic understanding of others often combined with the recorded/aural pathei-mathos and the empathic understanding of others in other societies. A pathei-mathos and an understanding that may form or in some manner express the ethos of a society, and thence become an inspiration for certain laws intended to express, in a society, what is considered to be moral and thus provide and maintain or at least aid valued human and personal qualities such as the desire for stability, peace, a loving home, sufficiency of food, and the need for the dignity of work.

But as I mentioned in some other musings regarding my own lamentable extremist past:

” Instead of love we, our selfish, our obsessed, our extremist kind, engendered hate. Instead of peace, we engendered struggle, conflict, killing. Instead of tolerance we engendered intolerance. Instead fairness and equality we engendered dishonour and discrimination. Instead of security we produced, we encouraged, revolution, violence, change.

The problem, the problems, lay inside us, in our kind, not in ‘the world’, not in others. We, our kind – we the pursuers of, the inventors of, abstractions, of ideals, of ideologies; we the selfish, the arrogant, the hubriatic, the fanatics, the obsessed – were and are the main causes of hate, of conflict, of suffering, of inhumanity, of violence. Century after century, millennia after millennia.” Letter To My Undiscovered Self

For perhaps one of the worst consequences of the extremism of extremists – of modern hubris in general – is, or seems to me to be, the loss of what is personal, and thus what is human; the loss of the empathic, the human, scale of things; with what is personal, human, empathic, being or becoming displaced, scorned, forgotten, obscured, or a target for destruction and (often violent) replacement by something supra-personal such as some abstract political/religious notion or concept, or some ideal, or by some prejudice and some often violent intolerance regarding human beings we do not personally know because beyond the range of our empathy.

That is, the human, the personal, the empathic, the natural, the immediate, scale of things – a tolerant and a fair acceptance of what-is – is lost and replaced by an artificial scale posited by some ideology or manufactured by some τύραννος (tyrannos); a scale in which the suffering of individuals, and strife, are regarded as inevitable, even necessary, in order for ‘victory to be achieved’ or for some ideal or plan or agenda or manifesto to be implemented. Thus the good, the stability, that exists within society is ignored, with the problems of society – real, imagined, or manufactured by propaganda – trumpeted. There is then incitement to disaffection, with harshness and violent change of and within society regarded as desirable or necessary in order to achieve preset, predetermined, and always ‘urgent’ goals and aims, since slow personal reform and change in society – that which appreciates and accepts the good in an existing society and in people over and above the problems and the bad – is anathema to extremists, anathema to their harsh intolerant empathy-lacking nature and to their hubriatic striving:

” [The truth] in respect of the societies of the West, and especially of societies such as those currently existing in America and Britain – is that for all their problems and all their flaws they seem to be much better than those elsewhere, and certainly better than what existed in the past. That is, that there is, within them, a certain tolerance; a certain respect for the individual; a certain duty of care; and certainly still a freedom of life, of expression, as well as a standard of living which, for perhaps the majority, is better than elsewhere in the world and most certainly better than existed there and elsewhere in the past.

In addition, there are within their structures – such as their police forces, their governments, their social and governmental institutions – people of good will, of humanity, of fairness, who strive to do what is good, right. Indeed, far more good people in such places than bad people, so that a certain balance, the balance of goodness, is maintained even though occasionally (but not for long) that balance may seem to waver somewhat.

Furthermore, many or most of the flaws, the problems, within such societies are recognized and openly discussed, with a multitude of people of good will, of humanity, of fairness, dedicating themselves to helping those affected by such flaws, such problems. In addition, there are many others trying to improve those societies, and to trying find or implement solutions to such problems, in tolerant ways which do not cause conflict or involve the harshness, the violence, the hatred, of extremism.” Notes on The Politics and Ideology of Hate (Part Two) 

Yet it is just such societies, societies painfully and slowly crafted by the sacrifice and the goodness of multitudes of people of good will, of humanity, of fairness, that extremists – with their harsh intolerant empathy-lacking nature, their hubriatic striving, their arrogant certainty of belief, their anger and their need to harshly interfere – seek to undermine, overthrow, and destroy.

No Hubriatic Striving, No Impersonal Interference

Since the range of empathy is limited to the immediacy-of-the-moment and to personal interactions, and, together with pathei-mathos, is a primary means to reveal the nature of Being and beings –  and since the learning wrought by pathei-mathos and pathei-mathos itself is and are direct and personal – then part of the knowledge, the understanding, that empathy and pathei-mathos reveal and provide is the wisdom of physis and of humility. That is, of the empathic scale of things and of acceptance of our limitations of personal knowing and personal understanding. Of (i) the unwisdom, the hubris, of arrogantly making assumptions about who and what are beyond the range of our empathy and outside of our personal experience, and (ii) of the unwisdom, the hubris, of adhering to some ideology or some belief or to some tyrannos and allowing that ideology or that belief or that tyrannos to usurp the personal judgement, the personal assessment, that empathy and pathei-mathos reveal and provide.

This acceptance of the empathic – of the human, the personal – scale of things and of our limitations as human beings is part of wu-wei. Of not-striving, and of not-interfering, beyond the purveu of our empathy and our pathei-mathos. Of personally and for ourselves discovering the nature, the physis, of beings; of personally working with and not against that physis, and of personally accepting that certain matters or many matters, because of our lack of personal knowledge and lack of personal experience of them, are unknown to us and therefore it is unwise, unbalanced, for us to have and express views or opinions concerning them, and hubris for us to adhere to and strive to implement some ideology which harshly deals with and manifests harsh views and harsh opinions concerning such personally unknown matters.

Thus what and who are beyond the purveu of empathy and beyond pathei-mathos is or should be of no urgent concern, of no passionate relevance, to the individual seeking balance, harmony, and wisdom, and in truth can be detrimental to finding wisdom and living in accord with the knowledge and understanding so discovered.

For wisdom, it seems to me, is simply a personal appreciation of the numinous, of innocence, of balance, of εὐταξία [3], of enantiodromia, and the personal knowing, the understanding, that empathy and pathei-mathos provide. An appreciation, a knowing, that is the genesis of a balanced personal judgement – of discernment – and evident in our perception of Being and beings: of how all living beings are emanations of ψυχή and of how the way of non-suffering causing moral change and reform both personal and social is the way of wu-wei. The way of personal, interior, change; of aiding, helping, assisting other individuals in a direct, a personal manner, and in practical ways, because our seeing is that of the human, the empathic, the muliebral, scale of things and not the scale of hubris, which is the scale either (i) of the isolated, egoist, striveful, unharmonious human being in thrall to their selfish masculous desires or (ii) of the human being unbalanced because in thrall to some tyrannos or to some harsh, extremist, ideology, and which harsh ideologies always manifest an unbalanced masculous, unempathic, nature redolent of that hubriatic certainty-of-knowing and that intolerant desire to interfere which mark and which have marked, and are and were the genesis of, the tyrannos.

David Myatt
April 2012


Notes

[1] The Way of Pathei-Mathos – A Philosophical Compendiary (Second edition, 2012)

[2]  To assess is to reasonably consider and thus arrive at a balanced, a reasonable, a fair, judgement/assessment.

[3] qv. ‘An Appreciation of The Numinous’ in The Way of Pathei-Mathos – A Philosophical Compendiary (Second edition, 2012)


Usage of Terms and Explanations

In order to avoid confusion, I outline here how I understand and use certain terms. My usage may thus sometimes differ from how such terms are commonly used or how they have been previously defined and/or used in some academic and other works relating to society, politics, extremism, philosophy, and so on. Some of the explanations are taken from, or are based upon or expand upon those given in, my The Politics and Ideology of Hate and the second edition of my The Way of Pathei-Mathos.

For terms not explained here – such as ψυχή, hubris, εὐταξία, and τύραννος (tyrannos) – refer to The Way of Pathei-Mathos.


Enantiodromia


A term used to refer to, to name, to describe, the process – the natural moral change, the reformation – that occurs or which can occur in a human being because of or following πάθει μάθος. Part of this process is a knowing, an acceptance, and an interior balancing within the individual, of the muliebral and of the masculous.


Extremist/Extremism

By extreme I mean to be harsh, so that my understanding of an extremist is a person who tends toward harshness, or who is harsh, or who supports/incites harshness, in pursuit of some objective, usually of a political or a religious nature. Here, harsh is: rough, severe, a tendency to be unfeeling, unempathic.

Hence extremism is considered to be: (1) the result of such harshness, and (2) the principles, the causes, the characteristics, that promote, incite, or describe the harsh action of extremists. In addition, a fanatic is considered to be someone with a surfeit of zeal or whose enthusiasm for some objective, or for some cause, is intemperate.

In the philosophical terms of my weltanschauung, an extremist is someone who commits the error of hubris; and error which enantiodromia can sometimes correct or forestall.

Ideology

By the term ideology is meant a coherent, organized, and distinctive set of beliefs and/or ideas or ideals, and which beliefs and/or ideas and/or ideals pertain to governance, and/or to society, and/or to matters of a philosophical or a spiritual nature.


Innocence

Innocence is regarded as an attribute of those who, being personally unknown to us, are therefore unjudged us by and who thus are given the benefit of the doubt. For this presumption of innocence of others – until direct personal experience, and individual and empathic knowing of them, prove otherwise – is the fair, the reasoned, the moral thing to do.

Empathy and πάθει μάθος incline us toward treating other human beings as we ourselves would wish to be treated; that is they incline us toward fairness, toward self-restraint, toward being well-mannered, and toward an appreciation and understanding of innocence.


Muliebral/Masculous

The term muliebral derives from the classical Latin word muliebris, and in the context The Numinous Way/The Way of Pathei-Mathos refers to those positive traits, abilities, and qualities that are conventionally and historically associated with women, such as empathy, sensitivity, gentleness, compassion, and a desire to love and be loved over and above a desire for conflict/adventure/war.

The counterpart to muliebral is masculous, and is used to refer to certain traits, abilities, and qualities that are conventionally and historically associated with men, such as competitiveness, aggression, a certain harshness, the desire to organize/control, and a desire for adventure and/or for conflict/war/violence/competition over and above personal love and culture.

Extremist ideologies manifest an unbalanced, an excessive, masculous nature.

Masculous is from the Latin masculus, and, for example, occurs in some seventeenth century works such as one by William Struther: “This is not only the language of Canaan, but also the masculous Schiboleth.” True Happines, or, King Davids Choice: Begunne In Sermons, And Now Digested Into A Treatise. Edinbvrgh, 1633

Physis

By physis – φύσις – is usually meant either the nature, or character, of individuals, or the natural nature of all beings, beyond their outer appearance, and which natural nature we, as human beings, have a natural [an unconscious] inclination to conceal; either because of ὕβρις or through an ignorance, an unknowing, of ourselves as an emanation of ψυχή.


Politics

By the term politics is meant both of the following, according to context. (i) The theory and practice of governance, with governance itself founded on two fundamental assumptions; that of some minority – a government (elected or unelected), some military authority, some oligarchy, some ruling elite, some tyrannos, or some leader – having or assuming authority (and thus power and influence) over others, and with that authority being exercised over a specific geographic area or territory. (ii) The activities of those individuals or groups whose aim or whose intent is to obtain and exercise some authority or some control over – or to influence – a society or sections of a society by means which are organized and directed toward changing/reforming that society or sections of a society in accordance with a particular ideology.

Religion

By religion is meant organized worship, devotion, and faith, where there is: (i) a belief in some deity/deities, or in some supreme Being or in some supra-personal power who/which can reward or punish the individual, and (ii) a distinction made between the realm of the sacred/the-gods/God/the-revered and the realm of the ordinary or the human.

The term organized here implies an established institution, body or group – or a plurality of these – who or which has at least to some degree codified the faith and/or the acts of worship and devotion, and which is accepted as having some authority or has established some authority among the adherents. This codification can relate to accepting as authoritative certain writings and/or a certain book or books.

Society

By the term society is meant a collection of people who live in a specific geographic area or areas and whose association or interaction is mostly determined by a shared set of guidelines or principles or beliefs, irrespective of whether these are written or unwritten, and irrespective of whether such guidelines/principles/beliefs are willingly accepted or accepted on the basis of acquiescence. These shared guidelines or principles or beliefs often tend to form an ethos and a culture and become the basis for what is considered moral (and good) and thence become the inspiration for laws and/or constitutions.

As used here, the term refers to ‘modern societies’ (especially those of the modern West).

State

By the term The State is meant:

The concept of both (1) organizing and controlling – over a particular and large geographical area – land (and resources); and (2) organizing and controlling individuals over that same geographical particular and large geographical area by: (a) the use of physical force or the threat of force and/or by influencing or persuading or manipulating a sufficient number of people to accept some leader/clique/minority/representatives as the legitimate authority; (b) by means of the central administration and centralization of resources (especially fiscal and military); and (c) by the mandatory taxation of personal income.

My personal (fallible) view is that by their nature States often tend to be masculous (hence the desire for wars, invasions, conquest, competition, and the posturing often associated with ‘patriotism’), although in my view they can become balanced, within, by acceptance of certain muliebral qualities, qualities most obviously manifest in certain aspects of culture, in caring professions, in pursuing personal love and the virtue of wu-wei, and in and by the empowerment and equality of, and respect for, women and those whose personal love is for someone of the same gender.


The Good

The good is considered to be what is fair; what alleviates or does not cause suffering; what is compassionate; what empathy by its revealing inclines us to do.

Thus the bad – what is wrong, immoral – is what is unfair; what is harsh and unfeeling; what intentionally causes or contributes to suffering.

Way

By the term Way – or Way of Life – is meant a weltanschauung shared among or accepted by a number of people where there is distinction made between the realm of the sacred/the-revered/the-numinous and the realm of the ordinary or the human, but which: (i) is not codified in writings or books but which is often or mostly transmitted aurally; (ii) has no organization beyond – and does not require any organization beyond – the communal/local level; and (iii) whose ethos and rites and customs are inclined toward maintaining the natural balance – the natural healthy harmonious relation between humans, life, and ‘the sacred’ – and not toward avoiding the punishment of some powerful deity/gods or some supra-personal power(s).

One essential difference thus between a religion and a Way is that a religion requires faith and belief (and thus words, concepts, and dogma and organization and conformity), whereas a Way tends to be empathic/intuitive and more a customary, unspoken, way of doing things and which way of doing things – not being organized and by its ethos neither requiring organization nor conformity – varies or can vary from place to place.

Thus, religions tend to be or tend to manifest what is masculous whereas Ways in the past tended to be or tended to manifest what is muliebral.


Image credit:
Apulian red-figure vase c. 450 BCE – Λυκοῦργος and the Ἐρινύες (Antikensammlungen, Munich)