Wednesday, June 21, 2006


My Outer Nominalist: Connonsoireship and Epicurianism

While, as I have mentioned with turns of phrase stolen from Gen. J.C. Christian, my tastes may run toward the essentialist, just the act of being vaguely a connosoir of things, being, if you will, an "Epicurean" is one of, not surprisingly given the "Epicurean" label, is nominalistic and "Darwinian" in nature: to be a connosoir, you have to be aware of and appreciate, if not enjoy, the variety available in of what you are a connosoir. It's selection in action -- you select the best from the best and enjoy it. But if there were no variety, how could you select the best from the best?

It is the same with evolution -- evolution emphasizes variety. And that, more than anything, is historically what has had people worked up about evolution. Contra Coulter, it's perfectly possible to believe in evolution and believe in God. But it's difficult to be a medieval essentialist and believe in evolution -- because the "action" in evolutionary-themed biology (which is all biology nowadays: especially in this "omics" and post-"omics" world) is not in learning about the perfect specimen, but in learning about the variety from which evolution can select better specimens (evolution is a metonymy for science as a whole, FWIW -- which is why opposition to evolution is anti-scientific: it opposes not only a particular, and particularly important, scientific theory, but also the opposing theories have very anti-scientific peri-physical implications) and the relations among specimens. And people who want to restore medieval essentialism 'cause they want to, for example, bring back the feudal order, thus oppose evolution.

But perhaps the connection between epicureanism and Epicureanism goes beyond this deep thinking back to the original concern of this post: connosoirship. Do those who oppose evolution also oppose the appreciation, from an aesthetic point of view, of the material world? Do they oppose the appreciation of God's creation? Are they what is innaccurately labeled "Puritanical" (the Puritans were not quite exactly of that sort which is their reputation)? And does this fear of the material world as being one of devilish temptation also play into opposition to evolution?

Perhaps Craig was onto something deeper than any of us realized when he got me thinking of the irony of referring to my "inner essentialist" in posts regarding my "epicurean" behaviors?

I thought I would try something really peri (not meta ;) ) ... commentwhoring in my own comment section:

A comment on political dynamics that seems to be in a thread that pre-maturely deceased ... feel free, all five of you reading this, to comment on my commentwhore if you don't want to comment on this post.

your friendly DAS blogger ...
Oh yes -- this link doesn't seem to open a new window for me and it might not for you. To go back (if you are on a typical LINUX windowing system using Mozilla ... other systems and browsers should work similarly, but I'm not guaranteeing that) hold down your right mouse button (even macs have them now, IIRC) and you should see "back" as a pop-up menu option.
You've become the "Attaturk" of commentwhoring. Bravo!

My experience with and as a fundamentalist Christian leads me to believe that the drive for returning to medieval essentialism is a cry for help from the tossing current of moralism. Fundamentalists want an absolute, unambiguous morality, which requires an absolute, unambiguous source. Thus, the "One True Faith" doctrine so prevalent with that sect. This also goes a long way to explain the opposition to science, which is never absolute and often ambiguous. They crave certainty, and certainty is the death of critical thought, just as fundamentalist religions eschew critical thought as well.

As for the lack of appreciation for the natural world, I can only say that, as a former Pentacostal, we were taught that a good Christian despises the world because it's not for "us". The world is the place to which mankind has been exiled for its sin. We are to seek, literally, the "mansions in My Father's kingdom" spoken of by Jesus. That's where Christians belong. Not here. The idea is somewhat similar to asking a prisoner to enjoy the beauty of San Quentin or Riker's Island.
The world is the place to which mankind has been exiled for its sin. - Samurai Sam

Sounds almost Gnostic to me. Actually I talked at length with this one Pentacostal about such things (hey, she was hot ... ;) ) and she gave a very Gnostic sounding explanation of why Jesus had to come down to Earth to die for our sins.

Except, some of the Gnostics had the attitude that, since you're trapped here on Earth, you might as well enjoy it ... I think I like that idea better ;) , although those Gnostics were quite irresponsible about their enjoyment practices -- since the flesh was tainted anyway, the pleasures therein couldn't even be regulated by morality or moderation, so anything went with them. So their conception of enjoying this world was still different than say that of an Epicurean or a Jew.


Wow! A comparison with the great Attaturk. Can I get myself compared to Holden next?
The smallest glimmer of an insight that conservatives have a fear of change because they are so fixed on the objectification of everything. They think that the object they are disappears when it changes, they cease to exist if they change and they're afraid to see things around them change because it reminds them of the ephereral nature of their most precious self.

I don't know if that also applies to the hoarding behavior of them. The irrational desire to have more stuff than you need or could possibly use in two lifetimes.

I believe that the creation is ongoing and constant and to try to hold onto anything violates its existence. And people aren't things, they are constantly evolving. Looking at anything with a view of it as a static phenomenon distorts it to some extent.
Can I get myself compared to Holden next?

I don't know. You're more of a pure writer, such as Jeffers or Echidne, than a news aggregator like Holden. Plus, obsessions with barnyard animals, while de riguer for the Right, are really a mark of individualism among we Lefties. I can' really see someone getting pigs or goats or such as a gift for declining Bush poll numbers.

Pentacostalism does have a very Gnostic flavor. If you read some of the Gnostic books from Nag Hammadi, you'll get a more esoteric primer in what essentially constitutes Pentacostal theology. Of course, the Assembly of God churches would never admit as much...
The smallest glimmer of an insight that conservatives have a fear of change because they are so fixed on the objectification of everything.

I agree and I believe that objectification leads directly to their preference for Biblical literalism. They can own the "Word" by defining it in absolute terms. That's why Christian fundamentalists vent so much theological ire against Catholics; the fundamentalists are establishing ownership of their unique interpretation of Christianity. This holds true of any other faith that represents the Bible differently, or even represents it as something open to interpretation. There is definitely the undercurrent there for some very ugly anti-Semitism as well, mitigiated in its overtness only by the events in Europe in the last century. The underlying distrust is certainly there.
Of course, the Assembly of God churches would never admit as much... - Samurai Sam, Birthday Boy

Indeed ... but I can think of some Pentacostal churches which, in fact, would admit as much if they cared to think about it, which they generally would not, so I guess it's the same difference?

Also -- such interesting points regarding objectification ... hmmm ... I love it, too: a long thread! Maybe I need to go away for the weekend more often?
I don't know. You're more of a pure writer, such as Jeffers or Echidne, than a news aggregator like Holden. - Samurai Sam

I actually, if this wasn't obvious, shall we say, 'learned a lot about blogging and what I could do with it from reading the good Rev's blog'. People don't get compared enough to Jeffers though ... it's more often one gets compared to Holden. But people also get compared to Echidne ... so I guess I should have written, "when do I get compared to Echidne?" to which we have the answer ...

Thank you for the huge (and I do mean huge) compliment for even mentioning my name in the same sentance as those two forces of nature ...
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