Re: Limited reading, have questions
- I like where the discussion is going. I will be too busy to write
or read much of anything for the next few days, but as the weekend
approaches I'll think more about this. I picked up Elaine
Pagel's "The Gnostic Gospels" yesterday. Good, critical text.
Neither advocates nor discounts the validity of Gnosticism.
I'll talk more about that when I have more time, and once I have
finished the book.
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, pmcvflag <no_reply@y...> wrote:
> Hey again Chuck
> >>>I do not understand how the "Father's" substance should become
> corrupt once separated from the original source or the "Pleroma",
> 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.
> some texts the Pleroma pours out from a source called
> Spirit", or also called the "Second Father". Is it possible that
> 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
> 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
> 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
> 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
> 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
> Sartre and Camus as, somehow, quasi-Gnostic. But don't each of
> these existentialists make a distinction that Gnosticism seems to
> You may see that in other groups, Chuck, but not here. There is
> specific philosopher, Jonas, who wrote a book long ago equating
> Gnosticism with Existentialism. He goes through his various
> 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
> 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
> >>>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,
> 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
> 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
> whether this implies Nietzche was atheist, but lets not go there.
> 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
> 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
> 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
> the Christian "spirit"... and it isn't.
- Hey David
>>>wow, your questions really sparked some thought in my head, Ineed 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?