I would be wary indeed of using aesthetics in evaluating theories, the issue remains significant. Even as an incomplete ‘not yet a theory’ the eonic model shows a kind of elegance in the way nature ‘evolves’ civilizations and the path to reconciling the contradictions of freedom and and determination. And the evolutionary (in the sense of the eonic model) injection of creativity as potential in the stupendous display of art in civilizational emergence remains almost unnerving when compared with the stolid idiocy of most historical sociology…
Rewrite/repost from 2018
The left needs its marxist groups but they all need to reorient their thinking beyond the stale and counterproductive limits of older paradigms. If anything, the older left is the best safeguard against revolutionary change.
To start, marxism has a bad theory of history. This theory is demonstrably limited, indeed fallacious. No praxis can be based on a flawed theory, therefore any praxis that does isn’t going to work for a new social transformation. The bolsheviks used this theory and failed, they were so harebrained that they hardly count. Current marxists persist in all the details of this theory, and are not likely therefore to have a real opportunity. Why? Because marxism has a bad theory of history, and no praxis can be based on a flawed theory. If they get another chance they will end in the same hare-brained mess as before. Why? Because you can’t base a praxis on a false theory. Continue reading “Does socialism really need a science of history? the trap of theory”
In the final analysis Hegel offers a mystical view of history: we need to arrive at the category of (quite postdarwinian) evolution (the ‘eonic’ evolution of civilization) and there indeed we can posit a conceptual format of the ‘evolution of freedom’…
Since the marxist left both condemns teleology and yet tacitly adopts a teleological historicism it might be helpful to consider the advice offered in this post at Darwiniana, and approach the issue of historical teleology with the method, and caution, of the study of the eonic model.
The question of the ‘evolution of freedom’, a slippery subject, enters directly into socialist historical thinking.
It is unclear what is going to happen re: the abortion debate and the possible end of Roe versus Wade.
We could end up in a madhouse of intractable confusion.
It might help to critique the soul question as taken by christians and their now nearly defunct theology.
But before doing that we should critique the secular/medical/scientific and/or leftist views of such questions which are equally confused.
We have discussed many leftist issues related to marxism but we have been critical of marxist historical materialism which is almost more confused on soul questions as the christian (moslem, the jewish stance is unique and doesn’t concern us here). To say that in terms of historical materialism or any such similar view of reductionist scientism is to provoke religious believers with an equally false (we strongly suspect) view.
Christian theology is however almost pernicious and doesn’t give is believers correct information on the subject. The idea that every pregnancy is connected with a soul is almost certainly incorrect. As is the immensely hyped ‘salvation’ racket with ‘jesus as your personal savior’. Christian theology is a lost cause of disinformation but it at least did register some sense of the human soul. But science is not better and simply eliminates the soul aspect, if any.
From a Kantian stance the subject is metaphysical and we can have no knowledge of the soul in ordinary terms. But the reverse is true: we have no knowledge of its claimed non-existence. It is therefore a field of chronic errors and delusions. Kant’s transcendental deduction which is hopelessly difficult but use a crib of several failed attempts to explain it suggests clearly enough its own version of a soul question: space/time are constructs of the ‘mind’…that’s a ‘hey wait a minute, what are you talking about…Perhaps the key is here: space/time is one thing, the mind seems to stand in some fashion, in part, beyond space/time, a sort of spooky physics issue. Physics may be close to the answer but it simply hasn’t sunk in yet with physics types, however nerdy. I haven’t the foggiest, this is guess work.
We have no knowledge of the early christians and their views here next to a suspicion that there was a now lost theology of the soul such as we find still but rarely among sufis: that is the long lost totally obscure question of the completed man and that as a related but different issue of soul. The basic soul brand is a homined innovation in homo sapiens, and its relationship to spooky physics explains everything and nothing.
Here’s what we, or I suspect: the human soul entered into early man and became a distinct question from body evolution grafted onto the spooky physics beyond space time questions. How this happened exactly is not clear but we might have some suspicions given the related though distinct knowledge of the sufis, such as it is in its lost lore. But that is not really the same soul being talked about.
Therefore the question of soul is a species characteristic but not the same as body evolution: we end with two domains, souls and homo sapiens bodies. Such a duality is dangerous thinking we should not inflict on an already confused subject save as an exercise or gedanken experiment or approximation since the real issue is the way the ‘body’ impinges on the boundaries of space/time. We can’t complete the argument but we can judiciously suspect the answer.
The issue can be clarified by comparing ‘soul’ and ‘mind’. Early man acquired versions of both: perhaps they are one and the same, but with mind as a more external factor with a carrot’s root called the soul. Then at death the mind is stripped away as the soul factor remains beyond space/time.
Here we must recommend slipping away from christian disinfo or esoteric deceptions for the realm of buddhism or the related hinduism which despite its confusing teaching of ‘anatta’ (no soul) pointed to the ‘reincarnation’ of the individual or ‘soul’ in a set of bodies. That might suggest the answer: man as homo sapiens already has a ‘soul’ which appears in a succession of bodies and given the teaching of enlightenment,…well take it from there.
This buddhist approach seems closer to the answer despite its own confusions (the related hindu version speaks of atman as brahman). There are problems here, e.g. we tend to separate into two questions something likely to be a unity, as the hindu version seems to suggest, but at least we get a sense of the answer.
From this perspective the christian version has sent its adherents on a needless wild goose chase: the soul question simply isn’t relevant in the context of abortion. The foetus and the soul are different questions. The point at which the ‘soul’ enters a new body is therefore not known, but we have suggestive cases hinting that the process can occur at any point, even after birth. It doesn’t quite add up, but this picture clarifies the issues somewhat.
The division of spiritual and material causes a lot of confusion. In the end however the soul would prove as material as anything else, but in an unknown sense.
The sufi J.G.Bennett picks up a tradition that distinguishes the individuality, so called, and this is related to if distinct from the question of soul. That’s different from our simplied account: the body, soul, and individuality…?? In his samkhya scheme there are the seven levels of 96, 48, 24, 12, 6 and 3 ‘laws’ or triads, in the attempt to connect questions of spirit/matter into one scheme of universal materialism. Human consciousness and mind are thus extremely complex with our ordinary conscious in the realm of the ’48’, a a very crude state of affairs: as you gaze out at the world you are in level 48. The soul or the ‘heart’ in another sense not quite the above is in the realm of the 24, the individuality in the realm of the twelve and the six and three, well someone tried to explain it to the christians and they made such a mess of it that I dare not try to untangle what turned into the doctrine of the trinity, god forbid. I don’t think anyone has quite figured this out. But the legacy of ancient samkhya lurks here, but says little about the soul. Buddhism points beyond soul to the realm of enlightenment, whatever that means.
But the basic point is that in a rough sense man already has a soul, a kind of discounted chevrolet version, but that leads to reincarnation but not to ‘immortality’: the crude soul granted by evolution is temporary and historical. Man has to start over in every life, as far we know, not a very good state of affairs. To go further than that is a potential for man. the cadillac version of the sufi completed man is the object of almost total obfuscation. And don’t be going to afghanistan for the faq.
I think that scientists, despite being thorough idiots on all questions of religion, are converging on some answers here, but not by tomorrow morning…
I suspect the whole christian scheme is disinfo, so you may as well flip the bird at jesus, he won’t mind. Whether he will save you seems doubtful to me. You will probably just reincarnate as a dumb christian all over again.
The only responsibly intelligible versions here are the buddhist/hindu, themselves no doubt the source of their own confusions. And beware of the gurus who wish to explain it.
There is some information on this at the Gurdjieff Con blog.
In Kantian terms it would be better for secularists to be careful how they communicate with believers. Historical materialism won’t work here (and socialism is fine without it).
The left can no longer proceed with unexamined views of evolution based on Darwinism. It has been outflanked by the Intelligent Design movement whose critiques may show confusion over the issue of ‘design’ but which has picked up and developed the classic underground critiques of the Darwin paradigm: selectionist evolution. It is almost impossible for leftists to speak critically on the subject without getting blackballed by the general conformity on the issue. But times are changing rapidly. More and more mainstream biologists are falling away from the false consensus.
It should have been the job of leftist/marxists to have exposed a theory that has a troublesome legacy of ‘social darwinist’ ideology. Some have done so from the perspective of the critique of sociobiology, trotting our Spencer but absolving Darwin. But the problem is with the claims for natural selection. And it is desperately easy to see the key flaw in selectionist evolutionism: the issue of statistics. Beyond that there is a subtle difference, and confusion, between saying that natural operates in the natural world and saying that natural selection operates in the culture of intelligent agents: those agents can consciously apply such a theory to culture as a ‘should’: instant ideology. And the confusion of all this with class warfare as natural selection has a grim historical legacy, mostly suppressed.
Beyond that, one of the best ways to see the problems with Darwinism is to study the eonic effect, so-called, as developed in World History and the Eonic Effect. This book/material is about world history but it has a useful way to debrief oneself as to evolution in deep time. The reason is that ‘evolution’ and ‘history’ are linked as the historical emerges from the evolutionary. The historical is about free agents and evolution is about their emergence. The issue arises with the onset of the ‘animal’ who makes history, so to speak, but becomes very explicit in the evolution of primates to man, and especially man, whose ‘evolution’ is the ‘evolution of freedom’. Although such abstractions can be hard to analyze they do show that the question of history and evolution is a janus-faced unity. But in the process conventional science suffers from the inherent contradiction or antinomy involved in such declarations about the evolution of free agents. The latter is not as such any assumption about free will: free agency is a more generalized variant.
Thus, in studying the eonic efect, the question of a causal theory or science of history is exposed as the new type of model looks beyond historical laws to a kind of historical potential in motion as history resolves to a series of transitions showing directionality and the realizations (of men) that arise in their wake. The point here is that we can track evolution, but we never really see its mechanism, itself perhaps a misnomer since the process is not causal in the linear/temporal sense. We don’t see the teleological Kibitzer that periodically intervenes to reset the unfolding process, a deliberate ‘design’ argument manque: we see design, but not designer . The situation resembles ‘fine tuning’, to the degree we know anything about that, and suggests that both life and the resulting emergence into mind primates/man is part of a so far non-existent cosmological theory of life and evolution. Something primordial on the surface of a planet and in the cosmological background generates the emergence of life in a sort of Gaian metaphor, or no metaphor at all.
The eonic effect shows the way this appears to us: a series of epochal intervals starting with transitions filled with innovations and then the open future of those transitions in the play of free agency. While this is open to conjecture it generates its own validations as we zoom in to see what’s going on. And that requires a lot of study. In fact we begin to see that to the extent we see ‘evolution’ or ‘history’ at all, it is with very limited data sets, and very geographically restricted ones.
Study of the eonic effect offers no certainties but it does kick the problem upstairs and gives the larger perspective on the hypercomplexity of evolution entirely lost to the cretin theories like natural selection.
You may argue that evolution in deep time and historical development are distinct. And you may certainly start that way, but slowly but surely the analog in both sets of process becomes clear along with the unity of ‘evolution/history’.