Saturday, August 29, 2009

evolving Utopia Part 16

Part 16: Levels Of Religion

Instinctive Level
The individual development archetype of the instinctive level is the pre-verbal infant. At this level the infant is all Id, not having found a need to speak. Thus the instinctive has no social archetype.The religious archetype is Mother Earth who fulfills all needs and makes no demands.

The Instinctive religious dimensions are:

Doctrinal: "God is Love", i.e., the universe is expected to provide all that is needful.

Mythical: Cornucopia, the horn of plenty

Social: Feeding from the mother's breast.

Ethical: "Full belly is good, pain is bad"

Ritual: Gratifying a desire

Sensual: A full belly.

Comment: These characteristics are "normal" for the pre-verbal infant. If they are exhibited by a toddler, child or adolescent the individual is said to be "spoiled". As adult behavior it would be considered sociopathic.
Compliant Level
The individual development archetype of the compliant level is the toddler. The toddler has a sense of the need for survival but not enough accumulated experience to evaluate the potential risk in new events. By being compliant to the parent the toddler applies the technique of avoiding those things that the parent is afraid of.

The social archetype for the compliant is the nuclear family where each member is attuned to the others' feelings. The religious archetype is a patriarchal, authoritarian God.

The Compliant religious dimensions are:

Doctrinal: "Father knows best", unquestioning acceptance of authority.
Mythical: "Big Daddy"

Social: The contented family.

Ethical: It is bad when people are upset.

Ritual: stroking, family gatherings

Sensual: an absence of anxiety

Comment: This can be exhibited by an overly-protected child.

Conformist Level
The individual development archetype of the conformist level is the child in a group of contemporaries. This is a survival tactic in that no individual in the group has the experience to deal with all potential dangers. By being conformist to the group centroid the child avoids anything that any significant number of members of the group avoid. In effect this pools the group's experience of dangers and makes each individual safer.

The social archetype of the conformist is the paleolithic hunter-gatherer tribe. The religious archetype is the tribe itself.

The Conformist religious dimensions are:

Doctrinal: We are the people.

Mythical: We are the only people.

Social: Being a person with us.

Ethical: What we do is good, what we don't do is bad.

Ritual: Acting with the tribe

Sensual: Togetherness.

Comment: This, as opposed to ideology, can be exhibited in small, backward rural villages.
Ideological Level
The Ideological religious archetype is worship of an Idol that represents a God with an authoritarian priesthood. This was the ordinary form of religion from the invention of agriculture to the 1500s of the common era. In the 21st century the more usual form of idolatry is total devotion to a political ideology. In either case the mark of the ideologue is having only one source for truth.

The contemporary individual development archetype of the ideologue is the adolescent. The contemporary adolescent is trying to develop a sense of self and thus needs to be able to do without the tactics of compliance or conformity. Ideology works because it is based on absolutes.

The social archetype is the agricultural city-state from the late neolithic to the middle ages.

The Ideological religious dimensions are:

Doctrinal: God's word is law.
Mythical: God is the only source of order in the universe

Social: Marching in the Army of God

Ethical: Law and Order

Ritual: Kowtowing to the Idol

Sensual: Commitment and acceptance of discipline

Comment: This is normal in small rural villages but can be exhibited in ethnic enclaves in cities.
Idiosyncratic Level
Viewed in terms of its own concepts, everything we normally recognize as a religion is an ideology. But very few members of contemporary developed (i.e., industrial) societies take post-Neolithic religions seriously on their own terms. They have discovered that no simple ideology fits every situation, so they patch up a personal ideology or group of superstitions that will not conflict too badly with their lifestyle. This personal ideology may not be selfconsistent and certainly has no overt popular following or public reinforcement so it is not as satisfying as a preindustrial ideology.

On the other hand individuals like Oral Roberts or Joseph Lieberman who do claim an orthodox ideology are regarded as embarrassing because they are not obviously hypocritical, but neither are they convincing role models. The more convincing leaders of "superchurches" or cults based on traditional terminology, are charismatic individuals whose theology is just individual enough that they give their followers a cult-credo to gather around.

The social archetype is the industrial city in which there are so many different examples of ethnicity and ideology that no one of them has the kind of support that was common in post-neolithic agricultural city states.

The religious archetype is an "Age of Anxiety". An age of anxiety is a period in which idiosyncratic ideologies are the norm. These personal belief-structures, cobbled up out of various myths by the individual to meet his or her individual needs, are the norm in industrial societies that are too technologically advanced, egalitarian or romantically individualist to be able to take a central ideology seriously. While they provide a level of ideology that allows the individual to function they do not provide the public reinforcement of the preindustrial religions.

This means that the individual is continually encountering experiences that do not reinforce his or her idiosyncratic ideology, which produces anxiety. Idiosyncratic societies are thus characterized by an average level of anxiety that is high enough to be observable by poets and sociologists.

The 1950s in the United States was particularly characterized as an age of anxiety. The effect of the Hippie movement in the 1960s was to make tranquilizers and non-legal drugs more easily accessible and thus reduce the observable level of anxiety in the US.

The Idiosyncratic religious dimensions are:

Doctrinal: The absence of an easily comprehended doctrine is what makes the anxiety hard to conceal. The conflicts between private and public interests, democracy and public health and safety, entrepreneurship and public welfare, science and religion are all examples of doctrinal inconsistency in an idiosyncratic society. Note that these conflicts are not between "good" and "evil" as seen by an ideologue, they are conflicts between two "goods" that (in their idealized or extreme form) are not consistent with one another.
Mythical: the conflict between individual freedoms and civil rights or public welfare

Social: Alienation, being "Lonely in a Crowd"

Ethical: The Social Contract (as amended by case law). Since there is no consistent set of values, "right" is determined by who has the most cogent argument in a specific case. The central ethical activity is litigation.

Ritual: politics and litigation

Sensual: Anxiety or Existential Dread

Commentary: This is the characteristic state of the mature adult in the latter part of the Industrial Age. When the idiosyncratic ideology functions, as in a CPA with a perfectionist obsession or a paranoid security officer, it is called "mental health". When the idiosyncratic ideology does not function well it is called "mental illness". "Mental illness" is most successfully treated with drugs that dull the awareness of the intrinsic conflicts of the idiosyncratic society.
Creative Specialist Level
The individual development archetype of the creative specialist is the artist or creative scientist. As a religious archetype the specialist has a "muse" that convinces him or her that the activity they are engaged in is a search for truth or beauty on a scale that is absolute compared with the local ideologies of ordinary people.

The social archetype is a "bohemia". A bohemia is an enclave named for the quarter of medieval Paris that held middle-european students at the University of Paris. It contains a population of artists-manque and pseudo-artists who may not themselves be creative in any significant sense but are nonconformist in a style that creative artists can be comfortable with.

This provides a ghetto that isolates the artist from the average members of society (i.e., philistines) and allows the artist to exhibit greater levels of nonconformity than the ordinary society would tolerate. Thus the bohemians, or, as they were called in the most recent era in which bohemians were trendy, plastic hippies, create an ambiance which fosters artistic creativity without themselves being creative.

Typical bohemias include the Latin (Student) Quarter in late medieval Paris, Montmartre at the turn of the century and the Rive Gauche in 1920s Paris, Greenwich Village in New York in the 1930s and the East Village in the 1960s, Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco in the 1970s. A teaching or research institution can serve as a bohemia for academic or scientific intellectuals.

The religious dimensions for a creative specialist are:

Doctrinal: "Beauty is truth, truth beauty" or, for the scientific specialist, "Truth is beauty, beauty truth"
Mythical: That there exists some discoverable aesthetic or scientific absolute

Social: Being with other artist/scientists when not alone with work.

Ethical: "Art (or Science) for Art's (or Science's) sake"

Ritual: creative work

Sensual: Obsession with moments of the Eureka feeling.

Commentary: The "Eureka feeling" is associated with Archimedes, who is known for his theorem on the weight of a body immersed in a liquid. A famous story, unfortunately with no foundation, relates that after Archimedes discovered the principle while in the bath, he ran naked through the streets crying, "Eureka," or "I have found it."
Those who have created some new work of art or science often experience such a feeling: an ecstatic version of a sense of accomplishment. It may be the release of the tension between the Id and the Superego over who will be the primary influence on the Ego.

Autonomous Level
The individual development archetype of the psychologically autonomous individual is the Gnostic pneumatic or Buddhist Bodhisattva who has transcended the illusions of the idolater or idiosyncrat, a Zen Master, or Maslow's individual who has transcended self actualization. Examples, in addition to those mentioned, might include Shaw's "Realist" or Caesar.

The religious archetype is God in the Gnostic sense, or The Tao of Lao Tzu's Taoism: not an anthropomorphic idol, but the representation of a subtle kind of order that is pervasive but defies encapsulation in verbal formulae.There is no known social archetype. Bodhisattvas like Gautama Buddha or Jesus tend to appear singly. Even in the prime of Zen Buddhism, as reflected in its literature, there is nothing corresponding to a social group of Zen Masters. We can guess that a psychologically autonomous society might be completely egalitarian with the only authority being ad hoc and temporary.

The religious dimensions for a psychologically autonomous person are:

Doctrinal: Know yourself and you will love yourself, your neighbor and God.

Mythical: God is in everything; everything is in God

Social: Respect everyone as an aspect of God

Ethical: Harmony

Ritual: Being

Sensual: Union with God and the universe.

Comment: The Autonomous individual is difficult to observe because so few of them are available for comparison with ordinary people. One can presume that Jesus and Gautama were autonomous because of the beliefs they inspired, and because Shaw's and Hammett's fictional characters were autonomous we can assume that they were, and Zen Masters and Gnostic pneumatics exhibited autonomous behavior patterns; but examples have not been available for scientific study.

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