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1431[gthomas] Re: The 'World' of the Lion.

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  • Michael Grondin
    Sep 1, 1999
      I've been trying to formulate a response to Robert Tessman's lengthy note
      under this subject, but there's so much to say, I'm gonna hafta split it
      up. In this first part, the concentration is on what was meant by "the world".

      Robert wrote:
      >Some have suggested that the lion is a symbol for the world. I can agree
      >with this but the term 'world' is too vague. And the 'World' becoming
      >Human still doesn't make much sense. There is a far better concept for the
      >lion than the 'world'.

      I agree. In my last note, I indicated that, although the world was
      certainly considered *a* "lion", it may not be identical with "the lion" in
      logion 7. The better identification, in my current view, is either the body
      itself, or what may vaguely be referred to as "the beast within us". This
      is not far from your view that #7 speaks about (the self?) identifying with
      either the body or the soul. Nevertheless, there remain some disagreements
      about the nature of the world, and the place of the body in it.

      I wrote:
      > The body was [believed to be] part of the world, the soul was not.

      Robert replied:
      >Disagreed! I believe modern day thinking is leaking into this analysis
      >here when [Mike] writes that the "body was part of the world." I have
      >seen the body as being described as 'worldly' in texts, but to say it is
      >a 'part' implies an objective sense to the concept of world.

      There is no such implication that I can see, insofar as I even understand
      what is meant by "an objective sense to the concept of 'world'". Since your
      argument (below) depends on the claim that the world was thought to be
      "subjective" in some sense, it's necessary to spell out why you believe
      that a "subjective" thing can't have parts. Otherwise, the supposed
      implication you're arguing against is just a straw horse, and the argument
      itself is a non sequitor. Why does having parts imply "an objective sense",
      and what on earth does that even mean?

      >Such objectivity I believe to be almost inherently a product of scientific
      >and rationalist thought. To the classical mind the 'world' was very much a
      >subjective experience.

      Nonsense. No one, ancient or modern, did or could seriously maintain that
      "the world" was/is a subjective experience, like a hallucination. Descartes
      considered that possibility (at least rhetorically), but rejected it.
      Neither Plato nor Hume nor any other thinker I'm familiar with came to this
      conclusion. It's just untenable, cuz the world is the very paradigm of
      objective experience; if the world isn't the source of objective
      experience, then there's no difference at all between "objective" and
      "subjective" experience - no difference at all between a waterhole and a
      hallucination of a waterhole.

      >... Sure there was probably an intuitive sense of the 'objective',
      >but to someone like an early Christian ascetic who would have been
      >extremely contemplative about his or her place in the scheme of
      >existence, the perceived world--perceived only through the PHYSICAL
      >senses--would surely come to be viewed as a quality of the BODY.

      Surely not. There's no indication that ancient (or modern) writers made the
      mistake of reasoning that because (1) everything we experience in the world
      comes thru the body, it follows that (2) the world doesn't exist apart from
      the body - which is what you seem to be suggesting here. "The world" wasn't
      thought to cease to exist when any individual (or even all humans) died, so
      how could it be thought of as a "quality" of the body? Certainly, the world
      would come to an end, but not because there were no bodies to experience
      it. So the conclusion you suggest cannot be attributed historically to
      these folks (or anyone, that I know of).

      > The Body would not only be viewed as the soul's gateway to the
      >world but the body would also be seen as that which discerns the world.
      >Furthermore, when emotions and thoughts come into the scenario, the
      >ascetic would be convinced of an invisible realm that cannot be seen,
      >touched, or heard by the body ...

      It's true that ancient writers (including Paul) contrasted "this aeon" (the
      world) with "the other aeon" (heaven), the former being transitory for the
      individual, and non-eternal overall, but this didn't lead them to the
      erroneous conclusion you suggest above. In fact, the reasoning seems to
      have been that the body was able to experience the world precisely BECAUSE
      it was part of the world. In the same way, the soul would be able to
      directly experience the "invisible realm" of which IT was a part.

      (If anything, it would be the *eternal realm* that would seem to be
      "subjective" from our point of view, because it would be immediately
      accessible to the subject of experience - i.e., the soul (or mind). But
      then again, these concepts of "subjective" and "objective" are probably
      just leading us astray, since we appear to be using them in different
      senses in different parts of the discussion, so I suggest we abandon them
      as being counter-productive to resolution of these issues.)


      The Coptic Gospel of Thomas, saying-by-saying
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