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Re: Limited reading, have questions

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  • pmcvflag
    Hey again Chuck ... corrupt once separated from the original source or the Pleroma , et cetera. Surely, such is the mark of a being which does not transcend,
    Message 1 of 82 , Oct 9, 2005
      Hey again Chuck

      >>>I do not understand how the "Father's" substance should become
      corrupt once separated from the original source or the "Pleroma", et
      cetera. Surely, such is the mark of a being which does not
      transcend, as you say, all qualities, but rather one who is subject
      to change. The Gnostic's unknown "Father" seems to me to be just as
      mutable as anything.<<<

      First, the Unknown Father is not necessarily part of the Pleroma. In
      some texts the Pleroma pours out from a source called the "Invisible
      Spirit", or also called the "Second Father". Is it possible that you
      have confused the two "Fathers" as one?

      >>>This all seems to me like violence against life, bad conscience
      against the Earth, and hatred of the body. All decadent virtues.<<<

      That is, of course, exactly what the heresiologists of old accused
      the Gnostics of. It is a questionable observation, but one that many
      hold. In fact, I think you will find that even some modern self
      styled "Gnostics" take that notion and run with it. Some modern
      philosophers who believed themselves to be historians have
      unfortunately added to the view. More recent scholorship has brought
      the supposed nihilism of the historical Gnostics into question.

      >>>1) Let us use the metaphor of a "spider" to represent all pain,
      agony, and suffering on the Earth. Why, then, should a spider's
      bite be considered evil; why should it be said to represent
      imperfection in the design of the Earth and the Universe, simply
      because it causes us to feel pain? What is the relation between
      pain, suffering, and imperfection? What, for that matter, is evil?<<

      In the Gnostic texts, "evil" is generally equated with ignorance.
      The question concerning the spider is not as straightforward as it
      may appear, since there are a host of concepts and contexts that
      lead up to it. For instance, the spider can't be faulted for living
      out it's nature.. and obviously it can't be compared with a
      melevolence with intent. On the other hand, why must it's nature be
      dependant on the death of others?

      Gnostics understood that language was problematic, and they very
      specifically meant various passages to be understood in their own
      context. We do have to be careful that we understand that the
      concept of "evil" can mean different things in different contexts.

      >>>2) This one is less a question than a comment intended to
      stimulate discussion and clarification of the Gnostic ideaology. I
      have noticed that a lot of those who call themselves Gnostics discuss
      Sartre and Camus as, somehow, quasi-Gnostic. But don't each of
      these existentialists make a distinction that Gnosticism seems to
      ignore?<<<

      You may see that in other groups, Chuck, but not here. There is one
      specific philosopher, Jonas, who wrote a book long ago equating
      Gnosticism with Existentialism. He goes through his various reasons
      for doing so, but modern historians generally discount this
      entirely. Yes, Jonas had some good things to offer the growing
      academic treatment of the subject, but some of his theories have not
      seemed to hold up to more critical academic scrutiny (and he
      questions them himself later on so this is not an attack).

      This group does not deal with existentialism, only traditional
      Gnosticism.

      >>>Both idealogoies agree, to be sure, that life is absurd,
      but the Gnostics seem to believe that the Universe or those behind
      it is/are actively cruel or imcompetent with regard to humanity,
      while the existentialists seem to think the Universe, as Camus has
      put it, has a "gentle indifference" towards humanity and "defies
      explanation" -- an explanation which the Gnostics believe is not
      denied us. There seem to be, then, two different definitions of
      the "absurd" working here, the one belonging to the existentialists
      and the other to the Gnostics.<<<

      Actually, Chuck, there is a range of historical Gnostic ideas
      concerning this subject. The Tripartite Tractate has the world
      created by the Logos... who is Good. Some Sethian texts, in stark
      contrast, seem to view the world and it's creator as outright
      idiotic. Even then, there are some who would argue that this is a
      literary divice more than a literal truth intended in the texts...
      but that is open to debate. In either case, you can't forward the
      idea you present as definitively "Gnostic".

      >>>Here is a link to a site which reproduces a section of
      Nietzche's "Thus Spoke Zarathustra." While it does not directly
      refer to Gnoticism, it clearly shows that, at one point, Zarathustra
      almost became a Gnostic, of sorts, but considered otherwise. Do
      know that I am not trying to convert any of you. Rather, I simply
      believe that such arguments must be dealt with before a mature
      conversion to Gnosticism, such as the one I am toying with. How
      would a Gnostic, typically, refute them? I ask because I cannot
      think of any valid arguments against them, though it would be nice
      to do so. The translation on this site is not the best (Kaufmann's
      translation is much better), but it will do<<<

      Nietzsche's point is about creating god in our image, and then
      looking to it for salvation. His Zarathustra does not come close to
      being a Gnostic... unless we reduce Gnosticism to a single shallow
      and inacurate attribute. Rather he admonishes us to develope the
      critical "ego" in it's place. I know there has been much debate over
      whether this implies Nietzche was atheist, but lets not go there. In
      the end, one of the main points is to avoid anthropomorphism, and
      with this the Gnostics certainly agreed.

      Of course, the materialism Nietzsche expresses in the end is not
      something Gnostics would have agreed with. Not to say they wouldn't
      have wanted to be healthy, they just would not have agreed that it
      is the point of life. I think they would have said a healthy mind is
      a higher goal, and still higher than that is a healthy spirit. Let
      me point out now that most people who become interested in
      Gnosticism assume it is the same as the common meaning of the word,
      the Christian "spirit"... and it isn't.

      PMCV
    • pmcvflag
      Hey David ... need to ask ya first. Did Early Gnostics really think and speak in allegorical terms? Cause if so that may answer a lot but only open more
      Message 82 of 82 , Oct 27, 2005
        Hey David

        >>>wow, your questions really sparked some thought in my head, I
        need to ask ya first. Did Early "Gnostics" really think and speak in
        allegorical terms? Cause if so that may answer a lot but only open
        more questions to debate. very good questions at that.<<<

        Thanks, glad you liked the questions :) As Lady Cari states, there
        is evidence in the original Gnostic writings for allegorical
        hermeneutic. Part of the point I was trying to bring up was exactly
        where this should be applied. In other words... Philip, the
        Tripartite Tractate, and other texts state directly that there is
        allegory (so there is no question on that front), but exactly where
        and how it is applied is very open to discussion.

        In this particular case, I was asking if you think that that
        allegory extends to the notion of the Demiurge or not. Let me also
        point out that the idea that something may literally be true does
        not exclude the notion that it may have also been allegorical in
        meaning. So.... where do you think this all fit in the original
        intent of the Gnostic texts?

        PMCV
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