Following the depth psychological principles of discarded elements living in the shadow margin, we might look at fundamentalism as a response to the post-modern concept of radical empiricism (and vice-versa). Acceptance of post-modern truth raises mystery, and ultimately doubt to the highest office. While we can hold ourselves to beliefs in transcendence, energy, reincarnation, etc., the reality of post-modernism is that no belief can exist beyond contextual doubt. The two realities are incompatible. And while the fluidity of post-modernism might seem to allow this, I'm fairly certain that they are philosophically impossible to hold in the same space. Perhaps I'm skirting too far into nihilism as the post-modern eventuality.

However, given this incompatibility, I wonder if the growing potency of post-modern thought might be casting an ideological shadow of fundamentalism. If one has a belief in an ultimate truth, the only way to safeguard that truth is to fortify it against all questioning. The greatest threat to ultimate truth does not come from certainty that there is no ultimate truth (atheism being a kind of ruling un-God) but the elevation of the pursuit of truth (doubt) beyond truth itself. In short, conscious questioning creates the psychological shadow that is fundamentalism.

Does the seeming all-inclusiveness of the depth psychological perspective then create an impossibly removed other? If all truths can exist simultaneously within the depths of soul as relative truths, then does it follow that no ultimate Truth can exist?

Is the turn to fundamentalism a response to the crushing anxiety of a questioning being?

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Replies to This Discussion

John: Thanks for this. Something resonates in me when I read it, so I feel some "truth" (of my own) in what you say.

Just this morning I was reading in Jerome Bernstein's "Living in the Borderlands" where he poses the question of whether or not the western ego is an accident or an evolutionary gesture of the collective unconscious.

He points out that the specialized ego that elevates rational process has yielded modern science and technology, democratic principles and government, and aggressive capitalism among other things (p. 18) and pinpoints that the mandate from the collective unconscious for the development of said ego is stated explicitly in the Book of Genesis in the Bible where it says man shall rule over the the fish, birds, animals and earth. Of course, we all know that revering one text as the "ultimate truth" casts the obvious shadow.

Though most of us don't take Genesis literally these days, Bernstein says we treat it "as if" it were sacred scripture (nearly half the peoples of the world observe a Judeo-Christian religion according to him). Thus, he says, for the most part, we are silent on the truth or falseness of Genesis because it is sacred. Factual truth, he says, has little if anything to do with sacred or divine truth.

Anyway, the book does a better job of explaining his theory in context, but I think what I really mean to say is perhaps we have to look at the nuances of "truth". I propose that "sacred truth" is a wide open topic and one that is dynamic, welcoming questions that allow it to transform rather than safeguarding or defending a certain static position. Of course, there we run into trouble with language...."Truth", I learned growing up, cannot be doubted...the word cannot sustain the notion of doubt.
Thanks Bonnie,

It would be interesting to look at a timeline of ego consciousness and technology. One of the crucial pieces to ego consciousness seems to be reflectivity. Studies of autism posit that it could be caused by an inability to recognize that other people have their own subjective experience, thus limiting the reflexive ability to assume that 'I' have a subjective experience.

The first part of Genesis is light, which in our pragmatic experience is reflection (save for staring at the sun or a light bulb or a flame). Just an aside, the computer monitor is also an unreflected source of light. The first way a human being could have experienced their reflection would have been a dark pool of water, perhaps relating the soul's essential underworld symbolism to our ecological reality - you'd have to literally look into the depths to see yourself. Kind of a beautiful thought. The mirror would be the next reflection, which might explain the wild value placed on shiny metal - it reflects that the ego exists. I'm wondering where mirrors fit with religious history. And to tie into Ed's vampires, they don't have a reflection!

But I've wandered from truth...I agree with your proposition that sacred truth should be a dynamic topic, perhaps part of tolerant ways of being in the world. Maybe it's a personalization of doubt: my truth exists dynamically with my doubt. It seems a healthy enough application of freedom. However, history speaks very much against this kind of uncaring respect for the other. What is the drive to proliferate "my Truth?"







Bonnie Bright said:
John: Thanks for this. Something resonates in me when I read it, so I feel some "truth" (of my own) in what you say.

Just this morning I was reading in Jerome Bernstein's "Living in the Borderlands" where he poses the question of whether or not the western ego is an accident or an evolutionary gesture of the collective unconscious.

He points out that the specialized ego that elevates rational process has yielded modern science and technology, democratic principles and government, and aggressive capitalism among other things (p. 18) and pinpoints that the mandate from the collective unconscious for the development of said ego is stated explicitly in the Book of Genesis in the Bible where it says man shall rule over the the fish, birds, animals and earth. Of course, we all know that revering one text as the "ultimate truth" casts the obvious shadow.

Though most of us don't take Genesis literally these days, Bernstein says we treat it "as if" it were sacred scripture (nearly half the peoples of the world observe a Judeo-Christian religion according to him). Thus, he says, for the most part, we are silent on the truth or falseness of Genesis because it is sacred. Factual truth, he says, has little if anything to do with sacred or divine truth.

Anyway, the book does a better job of explaining his theory in context, but I think what I really mean to say is perhaps we have to look at the nuances of "truth". I propose that "sacred truth" is a wide open topic and one that is dynamic, welcoming questions that allow it to transform rather than safeguarding or defending a certain static position. Of course, there we run into trouble with language...."Truth", I learned growing up, cannot be doubted...the word cannot sustain the notion of doubt.
Intriguing thoughts and questions, all. And to answer your last question...I still think its rooted in separation and fear of the other: a will to control my environment so I won't be vulnerable....


John Bowie said:
Thanks Bonnie,

It would be interesting to look at a timeline of ego consciousness and technology. One of the crucial pieces to ego consciousness seems to be reflectivity. Studies of autism posit that it could be caused by an inability to recognize that other people have their own subjective experience, thus limiting the reflexive ability to assume that 'I' have a subjective experience.

The first part of Genesis is light, which in our pragmatic experience is reflection (save for staring at the sun or a light bulb or a flame). Just an aside, the computer monitor is also an unreflected source of light. The first way a human being could have experienced their reflection would have been a dark pool of water, perhaps relating the soul's essential underworld symbolism to our ecological reality - you'd have to literally look into the depths to see yourself. Kind of a beautiful thought. The mirror would be the next reflection, which might explain the wild value placed on shiny metal - it reflects that the ego exists. I'm wondering where mirrors fit with religious history. And to tie into Ed's vampires, they don't have a reflection!

But I've wandered from truth...I agree with your proposition that sacred truth should be a dynamic topic, perhaps part of tolerant ways of being in the world. Maybe it's a personalization of doubt: my truth exists dynamically with my doubt. It seems a healthy enough application of freedom. However, history speaks very much against this kind of uncaring respect for the other. What is the drive to proliferate "my Truth?"







Bonnie Bright said:
John: Thanks for this. Something resonates in me when I read it, so I feel some "truth" (of my own) in what you say.

Just this morning I was reading in Jerome Bernstein's "Living in the Borderlands" where he poses the question of whether or not the western ego is an accident or an evolutionary gesture of the collective unconscious.

He points out that the specialized ego that elevates rational process has yielded modern science and technology, democratic principles and government, and aggressive capitalism among other things (p. 18) and pinpoints that the mandate from the collective unconscious for the development of said ego is stated explicitly in the Book of Genesis in the Bible where it says man shall rule over the the fish, birds, animals and earth. Of course, we all know that revering one text as the "ultimate truth" casts the obvious shadow.

Though most of us don't take Genesis literally these days, Bernstein says we treat it "as if" it were sacred scripture (nearly half the peoples of the world observe a Judeo-Christian religion according to him). Thus, he says, for the most part, we are silent on the truth or falseness of Genesis because it is sacred. Factual truth, he says, has little if anything to do with sacred or divine truth.

Anyway, the book does a better job of explaining his theory in context, but I think what I really mean to say is perhaps we have to look at the nuances of "truth". I propose that "sacred truth" is a wide open topic and one that is dynamic, welcoming questions that allow it to transform rather than safeguarding or defending a certain static position. Of course, there we run into trouble with language...."Truth", I learned growing up, cannot be doubted...the word cannot sustain the notion of doubt.
I wrote a paper bringing David Orr and Lacan into focus with one another. I takes that will to control vulnerability to another controversial level. Lemme know if you're interested in reading it...

It takes a pretty dark spin, as you might guess.

Bonnie Bright said:
Intriguing thoughts and questions, all. And to answer your last question...I still think its rooted in separation and fear of the other: a will to control my environment so I won't be vulnerable....


John Bowie said:
Thanks Bonnie,

It would be interesting to look at a timeline of ego consciousness and technology. One of the crucial pieces to ego consciousness seems to be reflectivity. Studies of autism posit that it could be caused by an inability to recognize that other people have their own subjective experience, thus limiting the reflexive ability to assume that 'I' have a subjective experience.

The first part of Genesis is light, which in our pragmatic experience is reflection (save for staring at the sun or a light bulb or a flame). Just an aside, the computer monitor is also an unreflected source of light. The first way a human being could have experienced their reflection would have been a dark pool of water, perhaps relating the soul's essential underworld symbolism to our ecological reality - you'd have to literally look into the depths to see yourself. Kind of a beautiful thought. The mirror would be the next reflection, which might explain the wild value placed on shiny metal - it reflects that the ego exists. I'm wondering where mirrors fit with religious history. And to tie into Ed's vampires, they don't have a reflection!

But I've wandered from truth...I agree with your proposition that sacred truth should be a dynamic topic, perhaps part of tolerant ways of being in the world. Maybe it's a personalization of doubt: my truth exists dynamically with my doubt. It seems a healthy enough application of freedom. However, history speaks very much against this kind of uncaring respect for the other. What is the drive to proliferate "my Truth?"







Bonnie Bright said:
John: Thanks for this. Something resonates in me when I read it, so I feel some "truth" (of my own) in what you say.

Just this morning I was reading in Jerome Bernstein's "Living in the Borderlands" where he poses the question of whether or not the western ego is an accident or an evolutionary gesture of the collective unconscious.

He points out that the specialized ego that elevates rational process has yielded modern science and technology, democratic principles and government, and aggressive capitalism among other things (p. 18) and pinpoints that the mandate from the collective unconscious for the development of said ego is stated explicitly in the Book of Genesis in the Bible where it says man shall rule over the the fish, birds, animals and earth. Of course, we all know that revering one text as the "ultimate truth" casts the obvious shadow.

Though most of us don't take Genesis literally these days, Bernstein says we treat it "as if" it were sacred scripture (nearly half the peoples of the world observe a Judeo-Christian religion according to him). Thus, he says, for the most part, we are silent on the truth or falseness of Genesis because it is sacred. Factual truth, he says, has little if anything to do with sacred or divine truth.

Anyway, the book does a better job of explaining his theory in context, but I think what I really mean to say is perhaps we have to look at the nuances of "truth". I propose that "sacred truth" is a wide open topic and one that is dynamic, welcoming questions that allow it to transform rather than safeguarding or defending a certain static position. Of course, there we run into trouble with language...."Truth", I learned growing up, cannot be doubted...the word cannot sustain the notion of doubt.
Hi John,

I agree with where you're going here. Not-knowing, staying in the tension of opposites/paradox is incredibly uncomfortable for folks. For many the anxiety can only be relieved by eliminating one of the opposites. For those who cannot contain their discomfort, fundamentalism is a secure place to hide from ambiguity. I wrote my thesis at Pacifica on Jung's theory of the transcendent function, whereby the psyche can develop in such a way that paradox can be contained. My personal history includes years of experience with conservative religion wherein truth is considered absolute. In that setting, those who question are considered dangerous and deluded and are cautioned, ostracized or even excommunicated--just for thinking, considering, asking questions or attempting open, thoughtful dialog.

Ok, gotta run, but wanted to jump in the fray. Will continue at another time. Thanks for the thought-provoking content.

Barbara
Yes it is difficult to hold the opposite!!!As an artist it is that conflict that brings forth the work, and then the conflict begins again, because there is only temporary relief from the conflict.

I wish our society would teach holding with conflict without being so obsessed with scientific truth. I am working on an idea that fractals, the numbers of nature, may be a metaphor for a more appropriate worldview. Fractal, the numbers of chaos theory they, do not have an answer, they interate forever. Anyway just my current thought experiment...
Interesting thoughts.

Yes, I do believe that Post Modernism leads to nihilism, but I also believe that its popularity is waning particularly for young artists. I find many are committed to being cultural workers, involved in ecology, biology, etc.

I am an artist and very interested in depth psychology, but don't have formal training, so perhaps...from my understanding the goal of depth psychology is individuation and to pursue that goal things that thwart that goal do not serve the path of the soul. Fundamentalism is the shadow of our society - a worldview that insists on a truth. But also a shadow is a belief on no truth.

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