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The New-Age Movement and the Sacred:  A Universal Pan-Religion, or a mere Reinvention of the Wheel? The New-Age Movement and the Sacred: A Universal Pan-Religion, or a mere Reinvention of the Wheel?
by Dr. Emanuel Paparella
2012-09-01 11:54:50
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"He who hears not me but the Logos will say: All is one."

                                            --Heraclitus

“Knowledge is virtue”

                                       --Socrates

"Whatsoever is, is in God, and without God nothing can be, or be conceived."

                                                                                           --Baruch Spinoza  

At the end of the millennium, in the year 2000, a yearning for an age of freedom from the evils afflicting the world, the spirit of millenarianism, has returned as indeed it has so many times before. It is not a sect, a religion, a single organization, a science or a philosophy, it is not even a “conspiracy of hope,” as Ignazio Silone has aptly defined millennialism.

Paradoxically, while it claims to be new and original, it is far from being new as we will endeavor to demonstrate in this article. It is called a movement to indicate that it is a network of individuals and groups who share a world-view and a common desire to change the world. This so-called New Age movement is a cultural current that is by now global.

Christianity at its inception must have appeared the same kind of global movement among the religions tolerated within the  Roman Empire. As G.K. Chesterton points out in his famous book The Everlasting Man, new movements and heresies declaring Christianity moribund and an anachronism have repeatedly sprung up during the two thousand year old history of Christianity. Indeed, to many Jews of the first and second century Christianity itself must have appeared a sort of heretical movement, a sort of betrayal of one’s cultural identity. In the first years of Christianity most of its devotees were in fact designated by gentiles as “Christian Jews” practicing a sect of Judaism. Therefore, the latest of these break away movements is hardly something new. If one takes a careful look at the various heresies that arose within Christianity from its very beginning, it is logical and plausible to arrive at the conclusion that far from being original and unique, the New Age movement may well be a reinvention of the wheel.

When one in fact breaks apart and analyzes New Age thought and practices one realizes that it is  somewhat similar to second and third century Gnosticism. Astrologists today believe that what they call the Age of Pisces, 0 – 2000 A.D., has ended and that the Age of Aquarius, 2000 – 4000 A.D. is at hand. This is the age of Aquarius, sings the chorus in the famous musical “Jesus Christ Superstar.” In the historical wake of the events of the Renaissance and the Reformation, many are less inclined nowadays to obey external authority; they think of religion in a way that leads to the notion that the self is sacred and to an exaggerated idea of freedom, self-reliance, and authenticity. Organized religion is frowned upon as a source of corruption, if not the very root of all evil and faith in God is quite often abandoned, except perhaps as a tool for the self’s advancement. Voltaire with its vehement “enlightened” attacks on religion defined as superstition and ignorance is the perfect icon for this mind-set. One wonders if it ever occurs to those “enlightened” people declaring religion retrograde and superstition to be ostracized from the the public discourse in the agora, that the enlightenment may still have to enlighten itself.

Indeed, a society which has undergone a breakdown of faith in the Christian tradition and has substituted it with scientific Positivism, with what it considers the unlimited process and progress of science and technology, finds itself with the task of confronting this surprising return of Gnosticism, a compendium of cosmic religiosity, rituals, and beliefs which has never really disappeared since the third century A.D. This is especially surprising to the positivistic atheistic philosophers, with a positivistic mind-set, who don’t like fuzzy distinctions between religious language which they despise, belief in God, materialism, spirituality, science and religion. They like clear and distinct demarcation a la Descartes with no ambiguities and  gray areas in between.

Ancient Gnosticism has its origin in the pagan religions of Asia, Phoenicia, Egypt, Greece, and Babylon, as well as in astrology and Greek Platonism. Its basic tenet is the doctrine of salvation through knowledge. As Socrates put it: “knowledge is virtue,” to know the good is to do the good.  The New Age movement claims to be able to acquire this knowledge in an esoteric way through such methods as dream analysis, the medium of a “spiritual master,” or via contemplation of nature and the cosmos, just to mention three such methods.

The Christian interpretations is slightly different and based on the theology of St. Paul who informs us that he knows the good but he discerns in his members a tendency toward evil  and so ends up doing its contrary. Nevertheless man remains free to choose his ultimate destiny. This is the existential dread mentioned by Kierkegard. Human nature, within Christian doctrine, is good but it is flawed at its origins, and this flaw was not intended by God but willed by man who was created in God’s image with a free will.

The central question about the New Age movement is how it defines spirituality, a concept that more often than not is a substitution for the concept of religion (etymologically the word religion means to bind together), or, as Protestant German theologian Dietrich Bonheoffer put it, it is a reformulation of religion as a “religion-less religion.” For the New Age devotee, spirituality means the use of the powers of nature and of an imaginary cosmic “energy” to communicate with another world and to discover the fate of an individual, or to help to make the most of oneself. One’s self is key here since, unlike Judaism that believes that salvation is a collective enterprise in which all the people are engaged, New Age puts emphasis on the individual self where it locates even good or evil, if indeed good and evil are even postulated and conceived of.

New Age is certainly not an ecclesia or an assembly of the people of God journeying toward a transcendent destination; it is rather a Church or an assembly of one and its temple is nature or the cosmos. It is the preferred religion-less religion practiced by all those who have left the orthodoxy of the great global religions or have indignantly stormed out of  temples, synagogues or mosques, in protest of perceived injustices and to forcibly assert their individual freedom and independence. They find in New Age an umbrella under which it is possible to gather all the religions of the world, now considered an anachronistic cultural encrustation and simply call the whole “spirituality.” But this pan spirituality and  assertion of freedom is not so new either; it is as old as “if you eat of the tree of good and evil you shall be gods.” These rebellious break away “heretics” are usually in their teens tired of being forced by their parents and other authority figures to attend church on Sunday. They have never internalized what they were compelled to observe exteriorly and so they have mistaken the brick church or even the Vatican as the Church as the body of Christ. Sometimes they are older and more mature individuals, if not much wiser than teen-agers. They end up worshipping the idea of God rather than the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, which is clearly what the Scriptures call idolatry.

And there is after all a good logical reason for the substitution, given that Christianity, even more so than the other religions, invites its followers to look outwards and beyond, to the “new Advent” of the God who calls us to live in the dialogue of love. The New Age, on the contrary does not believe in a providential God who transcends His creation. If there is a dialogue it takes place within the self almost solipsistically, subjectively, in contemplation of the cosmos. It is a sort of cultish idolatry that fails to distinguish between God who created the universe and the universe He has created, thus ending up in pantheism or panentheism. It does not even believe in the objective reality of good or evil, has no room for judgment or blame, and holds that belief in evil is negative and causes only fear. This too is not as new as New Agers tend to claim: one may find it in ancient Epicurean atomistic philosophy and in Stoicism.

The movement has several characteristics or phenomenological expressions by which it can be easily identified. Let us briefly explore three of those characteristics. In the first place there are dreams or the dream world. For the past thirty years the works of psychologist Carl Jung have been used as a spiritual guide in the Catholic Church and other Churches throughout the United States and Europe. Sister Pat Brockman O.S.U., who trained at the Jung Institute in Zurich, explains that dreams act as our “personal scriptures.” She suggests “Dream Play” as a substitute for Catholic devotional practices such as the morning offering, acts of faith, hope, and charity, examination of conscience, and prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. The “Dream Play” that she recommends consists in naming, describing, interpreting, and dialoguing with the dream. She also holds that “Some think that the Church is the center of the world but we are really the center, the abode of God.” This resembles the Hindu belief that life is a dream and when we come out of this dream (at our death) we shall come face to face with reality, what Kant calls the “neumenon,” beyond time and space and beyond reason, as distinguished from the “phenomenon” which remains accessible to reason and science.

Secondly, there is the so called eco-spirituality. The theory behind this spirituality is that the divine is present in all creation (dubbed panentheism) and that we are to expand our love of “neighbor” to include the entire cosmos. It is somewhat related to the philosophy of Teilhard de Chardin and to evolutionary theology, one of whose advocates is John Haughey, S.J. and Thomas Berry. Eco-theologians hold that because humans are so intimately interconnected with the organic cosmos, they cannot come to completion without the cosmos, and that the universe is a single dynamic whole into which humans are imbedded.

All this may sound uncanningly similar to St. Francis’ love of nature and its creatures (brother sun and sister moon and brother wolf) but there is a crucial difference; St. Francis’ approach to the creatures and the cosmos brings one back to their Creator who may be immanent within them bur at the same time remains transcendent to it. On the contrary, New Age believes that the earth is self-organizing and self-transcending. Humans are a tool for the earth to explore itself; it is the cosmos becoming conscious of itself. This too is idolatry. Here Darwin’s evolution may come into play understood theistically or atheistically. We are told to abandon “value assignments and blind judgments” and choose actions which are “effective and appropriate” for the consciousness of the cosmos to come about. It is not man who needs God but vice versa it is the Cosmos, substituted for God, that needs man to arrive at full consciousness of itself.

Thirdly, one discerns what is called “Creation Centered Spirituality” which has great affinities with panentheism or eco-spirituality. Matthew Fox is its foremost advocate. He was a Dominican priest who in 1993 left in protest both the Dominican order and the Church; but he did not found his own heretical church or join the New Age movement, he simply moved into the Episcopal Church. What the official Catholic Church, or better, the Vatican’s Congregation of the Faith (at the time headed by Cardinal Ratzinger) objected to was Fox’s refusal to deny belief in panentheism (God is all and all is God), identifying humans as “mothers of God,” and calling God “our Mother.” Eventually this refusal put him outside the communion of Catholic doctrine and orthodoxy, which is the definition of heresy or apostacy.

Be that as it may, Fox simply disregards the harm done to creation by the sin of disobedience, borrows from Teilhard de Chardin and Jung substituting the more positive “original blessing” (“and He saw that everything he made was very good”) to the more negative “original sin.” To make this substitution he must simply disregard the problem of sin and must reject the very idea of personal sin and responsibility which is also a rejection of free will. He also fails to distinguish Creator from creature and good from evil, or to realize that the spiritual world is a battleground between God and the fallen angels. For him, God is interdependent with the cosmos for both His experience and His very being, an idea which is similar to that held by the proponents of evolutionary theology: as already mentioned, it is not man that needs God but god that needs man. Ultimately Fox substitutes a “Cosmic Christ” kind of Christianity, for a “personal Savior” kind of Christianity.

It worth mentioning here that many North American Native Peoples were and still are largely panentheistic but theirs is a peculiar kind of panentheism. Unlike the Western rationalistic approach they make no duality and are able to encompass the highest of paradoxes, that is to say, they conceive of God as both confined in God's existence in Creation but also transcendent from it. In other words, transcendence and immanence need not be mutually exclusive as we also learn from the concept of providence in Vico’s New Science.  North American Native writers have also translated the word for God as the “Great Mystery” or as the “Sacred Other,” a concept is referred to by many Native Americans  as the “Great Spirit.” Their religious beliefs have been thoroughly studied by the Christian Catholic theologian of the earth spirit Fr. Thomas Berry (see his The Dream of the Earth), who bases his theology on the philosophy of both Vico and De Chardin.

Also worth mentioning here is the historical philosophical fact that in ancient philosophy Plotinus taught that there was an ineffable transcendent "God" (The One) of which subsequent realities were emanations. From the One emanates the Divine Mind (Nous) and the Cosmic Soul (Psyche or in Junghian terms “the collective unconscious”). In Neoplatonism the world itself is God. This concept of divinity is associated with that of the logos, which had originated centuries earlier with Heraclitus (ca. 535–475 BC). The Logos pervades the cosmos, whereby all thoughts and all things originate, or as Heraclitus said: "He who hears not me but the Logos will say: All is one." The logos is the Word of the prologue to the gospel of St. John: in the beginning was the Word…essential to the doctrine of the Incarnation and the very identity of a Christian.

Baruch Spinoza later claimed that "Whatsoever is, is in God, and without God nothing can be, or be conceived."  "Individual things are nothing but modifications of the attributes of God, or modes by which the attributes of God are expressed in a fixed and definite manner." Though Spinoza has been called the "prophet" and "prince" of pantheism, in a letter to Henry Oldenburg Spinoza states that: "as to the view of certain people that I identify god with nature (taken as a kind of mass or corporeal matter), they are quite mistaken" For Spinoza, our universe (cosmos) is a mode under two attributes of Thought and Extension. God has infinitely many other attributes which are not present in our world. According to German philosopher Karl Jaspers, when Spinoza wrote "Deus sive Natura" (God or Nature) Spinoza did not mean to say that God and Nature are interchangeable terms, but rather that God's transcendence was attested by his infinitely many attributes, and that two attributes known by humans, namely Thought and Extension, signified God's immanence.

There are several other, more esoteric, expressions of the New Age movement. The few that we have briefly examined are representatives of the more classical types of heresies from the orthodoxy and commonly held doctrines of Christianity, the Incarnation being the most important. By classical types of heresies I mean the ones that have recurred time and again since the birth of the Church on Pentecost day. Chesterton points them out thoroughly in the above mentioned book.

Indeed, as Chesterton persuasively renders it, what ought to be surprising to any objective observer, even one just arrived on earth from outer space, is not that Christianity and the Church, with its all-too-human failings and its recurrent heresies is about to crumble and die, that is not new and has in fact been predicted, prophesized and announced several times before, contrary to what those who have lost their faith and wish to justify their apostasy would like to believe; but rather the fact that despite it all this religion called Christianity and this Church called Catholic (that is, universal) is still around two thousand years later and, like a phoenix, it has always  resurrected from the ashes.

If history is any guide, those misguided new-agers with an ax to grind against religion and the Church mistaken for an institution rather than the body of Christ, who go around declaring “gothic” Christianity moribund and loudly prophesying its imminent dissolution are likely to be greatly disappointed. Voltaire would have been, had he lived in the 21st century. They may in fact have a very long wait ahead of them, given the opposite claim by the same Church that it will hang around for quite a while more, in one form or other, (“upon this stone I shall build my Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”) as the Pilgrim Church here on earth journeying toward its final destination till the end times and history, only disappearing when it finally joins the saints of the Church triumphant beyond time and space.

The Jews had it right all along: salvation belongs to all the people and it is obtainable only with the people, not solipistically in the contemplation of a deterministic nature and cosmos and the escape from the self. That way lies the misguided delusion that one has somehow escaped history and the human condition here on earth. In truth, all that one has managed to escape is freedom and grace.

 

 


    
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Murray Hunter2012-09-01 12:31:42
Dear Prof.Emanuel L. Paparella
Thank you for your effort in writing this interesting chronology. Very interesting and informative.


Martin LeFevre 2012-09-01 13:00:48
The underlying belief of the theist is that God is a separate being, ‘the creative source of man and the world who transcends and yet is immanent in the world.’ The underlying belief of the atheist is that there is no God; there are only projections that humans invent in cultural contexts.

Both theism and atheism share the same core view that chaos is the essential nature of the universe, and that either God in the form of man, or man in the form of God, bring order to chaos.

In actuality, it’s exactly the opposite of ancient and modern man’s projections and fears: the world is chaos, while nature is order.

But if God is neither an objectified being, nor what each culture (or individual) makes of it, then what is God? Is the universe conscious? That is, does awareness exist independently (but not separately) of complex brains that have evolved on this and presumably other planets in the universe?

Such questions are heresy to both theists and atheists, to the conventionally religious and the conventionally secular. They’re also senseless to most scientists, who dogmatically insist that the human brain is the happenchance center of creation, and that awareness could not possibly exist in nature beyond the mind of man.

Few scientists would argue that a dynamic order infuses and suffuses the universe, and is inseparable from it. But even fewer philosophers would suggest that beyond knowledge and knowing, there is an inseparable God inextricably related to this order.

A human is a creature of thought; a human being is a being of awareness. Whether blueprints for a suspension bridge, or belief systems of organized religions, there is nothing sacred in thought’s fabrications.

Disposing of the childishness of organized religion by denying the possibility of sacredness beyond the mind of man is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. The idolatry of belief systems, including the concept of a monotheistic God, is being replaced by the idolatry of thought, venerating reason and science above all else. So theism/atheism are mirror images of the each other, flip sides of the same coin.

The irredeemable flaw of theism is that it projects the separateness and control of the human mind (the essential principles of symbolic thought) onto a ‘Supreme Being’ that created everything and stands apart from it.

The irredeemable flaw of atheism is that it assumes there is no greater intelligence than thought and reason, and that the mind of man is the maker of all meaning.

Thus theists and atheists work together in a perverse and unconscious way to promote the darkness and enslavement of the human mind.
-------
[Readers of this site should know that after repeatedly telling me to ignore this person's attacks, as well as his tripe, "like most people do," with the editor also saying, "I don’t write anything to Paparella because there is no reason. He will never get it," my column was censored and cut without explanation.

An avowed atheist editor cutting a contemplative column because it questions theism is too rich. Was it because this "advisor to the pope," as I was told, was able to pull some strings at Ovi? Was it because my last column gave new insights into the nature and operation of evil?

Readers who wish to continue to read my column can find it at: www.costaricantimes.com/.]


Martin LeFevre 2012-09-01 13:41:09
censored column:

The Language of Being

It was a very windy day, with gusts approaching 75 kilometers per hour. You would think the hummingbirds would be hunkered down somewhere. But a small fleet of them put on an incredible show for me around the feeder in the backyard.

As the wind whipped the trees and buffeted my face, six or eight of the tiny aerial acrobats at a time swooped, hovered, and dove with astounding agility on the swirling currents of air. They often buzzed within inches of my head, hovering for a few seconds at a time in front of my face.

And though my back was only a foot from the wall, they even did numerous high-speed loops around me, two or three at a time, as if I was a pylon in an air race. How are they able to fly with such precision in such high winds?

I sensed they appreciated my admiration of them. Despite their tiny brains, hummingbirds are obviously much more intelligent than I’d realized. Clearly they were responding to awareness and affection, though they weren’t consciously aware themselves.

All the while they took turns feeding on the sugar water at the feeder about a meter away. At one point, six landed at the same time, their miniscule claws clinging to the bar as the wind swayed the feeder back and forth. I’ve never seen more than two perch and drink simultaneously, so that too was quite a sight, and delight.

The show went on for a full 40 minutes, with each timeless minute bringing a deeper feeling of the hummingbirds’ inexhaustible joy. Indeed, as undivided, passive observation of the outer and inner movement grew into meditation, one realized that they embodied joy.

Self-knowing is the door to the infinite sublimity of life. However self-knowing is not a function of knowledge or accumulation, but of keen awareness of what one is actually thinking, feeling, and doing in the present moment. Most people think they know themselves, but few are self-knowing. We can never know ourselves; we can only be self-knowing, because we’re changing all the time.

The hummingbird’s antics were so fast and there were so many of them that at times my eyes couldn’t follow. Humans must seem like lumbering giants to them in their tiny, high-speed existence. They struck me like children free to frolic to their hearts content in a pool on a perfect summer’s day. Through them there was a feeling them of a deeper, intrinsic intelligence in nature. Their joy was inexhaustible—what is its source?

Stubbornly viewing the sacredness within nature in terms of the brutal categories of the intellect, and derisively categorizing, diminishing, and demeaning true experiencing of being as 'simply part of the cosmos' (as if there is such a thing), is an act of intellectual violence.

With the encounter with the hummingbirds fresh in mind, I went outside to greet the day early the next morning, as is my custom after waking. To my utter dismay, a hummingbird was caught in the feeder.

It was thrashing around trying to free itself, its tiny foot caught in one of the feeding holes. How long it had been ensnared I don’t know, but, pinned between the circular landing bar and the container, a considerable number of its little feathers were smeared onto the base.

For a moment I wished I’d never put up the feeder, but the non-fact instantly gave way to the fact at hand. I took the diminutive bird firmly but gently in hand and extricated it from the inadvertent man-made trap. It had lost a lot of feathers on one wing. I brought it inside, as if that would help, wondering what to do. Should I take it to the nearby nature center? I felt certain its chances of survival were as small as the bird itself.

My concern for its welfare gave way to the rare experience of holding a living bird, much less a hummingbird in my hand. Setting aside my concern for its loss of feathers and trauma, I studied it.

The hummingbird had a rakish strip of bright blue on its wings, but lacked the fluorescent throat coloration that many of its kind have in this clime. I could feel its wee heart beating incredibly fast. But it didn’t struggle, and was clearly exhausted by its ordeal.

The sun was shining, and I decided to set the wounded creature on a cross section of the fence, and go get some breakfast. To my astonishment, when I returned 20 minutes later, the bird was preening on the grass next to the fence. When I returned another 20 minutes later, it was gone.

Not having seen any cats in the vicinity of late, and with no signs of struggle, the likeliest explanation was that it somehow managed to fly away.

It struck me viscerally how life and death are part of the seamless dance of life. And how only humans, when we kill and eat animals needlessly, separate themselves from the natural world out of which we evolved along with all other life.

Different languages divide people, but there's a language of being that all creatures share, which human beings can hear and speak when our separative tongues are silent.

Martin LeFevre




Thanos2012-09-01 15:11:39
I would have appreciated if you had send me a note that you stop writing for Ovi!


Thanos2012-09-01 15:13:11
For the rest ...you are entitled an opinion, you express it and I'm not going to censor it like I have never censored anybody's opinion!


Thanos2012-09-01 15:18:38
And by the way I NEVER cut or censored any of your columns, I never got it, check your mails!!! But is up to you to believe it or not! The readers of Ovi know that would have never done that.


Thanos2012-09-01 15:28:00
BTW courtesy says that you should have checked first with me if I got your mail – it has happened in the past with your mail that never came if you remember – and that before making personal accusations without reason. But here it is my word and your word and in your case is up to you what you want to believe. The only thing I thought for your delay was that you wanted a break which is fine since Ovi is totally volunteer and there is no obligation to write every week. And I think that’s enough from me just remember one thing a Greek said a few centuries ago; listen to me before you start beating me!


Emanuel Paparella2012-09-01 16:46:09
Readers of this forum already know that what makes Ovi a special kind of on-line magazine is that it respects free speech and a diverse variety of opinions and interpretations and it desists from espousing an ideology through which contributions are filtered, independent of the beliefs and the principles of its editors. Therefore I, and I suspect other readers too, cannot possibly believe that Mr. LeFevre’s column was in any way censored or suppressed as he alleges in his paranoia...; there must be some other explanation.

The fact that the column now appears in its entirety hints at the fact that there was no suppression or censorship in the first place or it too could have easily been eliminated. An editor can do that and should do when a contributor goes over the top with the commonly accepted norms of politeness and decency.

I suspect that even the acerbic quote of the editor (there are two, which one) implying that I am an obtuse charlatan writing “tripe” and that "nobody listens to him" is out of context or simply fabricated. I had decided not to write comments any longer under Mr. LeFevre articles because I got the distinct impression that he did not welcome them, neither did I get the impression that he wished to engage in a genuine dialogue, but since this obvious personal attack is placed under my article, it requires a reply.

In my five years of contribution to the magazine (and not as an advisor to it or to the Pope and not even as a professor, but simply as Emanuel Paparella) I have expressed views that have angered some and perplexed others but I dare say they have always been found interesting or at least informative by both editors and readers. In fact, those views have never been censored or repressed and that is what has kept me contributing to the magazine.

Those few contributors who have left in anger slamming the door behind them because they disagreed with my contributions, as Mr. Lefre seems to have done here, have been invariably those with an ideological agenda at work, whatever it was, that they wished to forcibly impose on the magazine and the readers; the anger was directed not only at me but at the magazine for accepting certain opinions and statements which to their mind-set appear “tripe” while their precious insights were not being properly recognized. In other words they wished to attach inside strings to pull on. I commend the editors for resisting that kind of temptation. Could it be that my comments were found “unenlightened” and “unorthodox” by those who left in protest? One wonders.

As I tell my philosophy students at the beginning of introductory courses, if Socrates had taught us nothing else but the fact that truth is not found in ideology and propaganda and not even in contemplation (as useful as that is for theory) but in dialogue and constant search for truth in the agora, he would have taught us plenty. It is indeed a great disservice to philosophy to declare oneself a philosopher and present oneself as such to interlocutors and readers (even if a self-declared one) and then proceed to reprehensible ad hominem attacks and intellectual bullying with an it’s my way or the highway methodology construed as “asking questions together” as long as you agree with me, that is. Indeed some people, especially those who think themselves enlightened, will never get it.


Eva2012-09-01 16:59:08
Martin, I have enjoyed reading your articles, and I think it's a shame if they stop appearing in Ovi.
I have also enjoyed reading Paparella's articles, and I don't understand why this disagreement between the two of you has to be blown completely out of proportion?
In my mind, disagreements are a normal part of life and everybody is entitled to their opinion - I have read Ovi for a number of years and this is what it is all about, after all the magazine profiles itself as being "opinionated"!
From my point of view, both you and Paparella have been equally free to share your opinions on all matters - no one more than the other.
So I don't get the problem here? Maybe I have missed something, but nowhere have I noticed any kind of personal "attacks".
So I just think it's a bit unfair to bite back at Ovi just because you're angry and frustrated with Paparella. Nowhere have I noticed Ovi taking any "sides"? So why not just settle for the fact that you disagree with Paparella on a lot of matters and that's the end of that?
That's all I wanted to say. Like I said, I have enjoyed your articles and hope to read more - even the arguing afterwards can be fun :)
All the best


Emanuel Paparella2012-09-01 17:07:15
For those readers who are more interested in a reply to Mr. LeFevre take on the issue of the concept of God throughout the history of philosophy, as expressed above, and so that we don’t reinvent the wheel, you may wish to look at my regular philosophical columns in Metanexus: an academic renowned philosophy institute and think tank headquartered in Philadelphia. Pay particular attention to my contributions on Vico’s concept of Providence; there must be a couple of dozens. Some of them can also be found in Ovi, by the way.

Here is the link to metanexus:

http://www.metanexus.net/profile/emanuel-l-paparella


Emanuel Paparella2012-09-01 17:17:22
http://www.metanexus.net/profile/emanuel-l-paparella

The above is a more direct link to the articles mentioned above.


Emanuel Paparella2012-09-01 19:32:56
Eva,
This is “Paparella” replying to your reconciling efforts between myself (Paparella) and “Martin.” Those comments make perfect sense to me. Am I wrong in assuming that you are writing in your role as a reader of the magazine, or is there some other role at work? I am still wondering as who might have supplied the quotes which Martin alleges are from an editor at Ovi. I don;t believe they came from Thanos.

Be that as it may, you are quite right, free speech requires that we listen respectfully to our interlocutors’s argument, even when we vehemently disagree with it, and then it requires that we reply respectfully and with civility, thus carrying on a dialogue in the interests of the search for truth.

One of the functions of an editor is to discourage incivility and ad hominem attacks which contribute precious little to the furthering of an argument and even less to the search for truth. As you probably know by now, one of my constant rants in Ovi has been that within a secular society the voice of religion, or the sacred, or of piety, as you may wish to call it, ought to have equal access in the agora of public opinion. I think we are in agreements that Ovi fulfills that function admirably.

Admittedly, some may be tired of hearing the same message and may have given up on the idea that I can be persuaded to assume their contrary position which they believe is the correct one. In reality I remain open to be persuaded as long as it is done philosophically by the use or reason and not by revelation or faith, or ideology or even contemplation outside of time and space and the suppression of the self and the denyal of the objectivity of evil in the world, independent of reason. Kant was correct: all that a philosopher can do within the limitations of reason is describe the phenomenon. When he describes the neumenon, outside of time and space, he is no longer a philosopher. That is the basic disagreement between “Paparella” and Martin and of course we can agree to continue to disagree which does not mean that the truth is an agreement to disagree. It is still out there to be discovered, especially by those who consider themselves “enlightened” as modern New Agers.

I am afraid I have never been an advisor to any Pope, since even what the Pope says needs to be placed under the light of reason, if one wished to be considered a philosopher and not an ideologue or a sycophant. In a magazine of opinion one remains free of course to decide to stop paying attention to me or anybody else, that is their privilege, you may have stopped paying attention on the first line of this message, just as it is my right to stop paying attention to those whom I deem are reinventing the wheel while misguidedly believing that they have made a great unique discovery for which they should be acclaimed as a great philosopher.

Going back to Plato’s famous cave, what you have in the cave is not the truth but the shadow world of appearance and mere opinion. To get to the truth one needs first to cut the chains and then go to the light of the sun and realize that truth does not dwell in the fire in the cave…We know what happened to Socrates when he went back and told his fellow prisoners of the cave that they were not looking at the truth but at shadows. Much food for thought in that strange myth which one may call a children’s fairy tale and yet it continues to allure and fascinate us modern relativists and opinion makers convinced that all opinions are equally important. Not so, would say Socrates and Plato and Aristotle, and most other philosophers worthy of that name.


Emanuel Paparella2012-09-01 23:20:43
http://www.metanexus.net/authors

Errata: please ignore the above link on how to get to the Metanexus Institute which does not seem to work, and click on the link here provided. A list of authors will appear; click on my name and the publications on Vico will appear.


Emanuel Paparella2012-09-01 23:35:17
Dear Prof. Murray Hunter,

thank you for your comment. Let the dialogue continue; it's the only way I know for the search for truth. If it's ok with you, perhaps it would be better to be more collegial and convivial and address each other by first names.


Martin LeFevre 2012-09-02 00:49:02
I sent my last column, posted above, six different times to both you Thanos and the submissions address. Given your repeated admonitions to "ignore Paparella," and featuring another one of his thinly veiled diatribes today against the straw man of 'New Age movements throughout history,' not to mention the odious 'reinventing the wheel' crap, I don't believe you. My column was expendable, for some ungodly reason, his is not in Ovi.


Thanos2012-09-02 01:38:10
Martin I'm not going to argue with you, I never got your mail and that's it. If you want to believe something else as I said before is up to you!


Thanos2012-09-02 02:42:12
BTW the best prove that I don’t censor anything is this conversation. If you give yourself the time to think you will understand what I mean. The last eight years I haven’t censored anything however serious and personal they might get and if you go back you will find that there have been some very insulting things, used unbelievable words and I have found a couple of times some of those insults the most racist and prejudice I have ever read including some against me and my articles. still I never deleted them, they are there and you can find them. So if I have done that for comments why should I do it for a member of the team?

Like many others I think the conversations between you and Emanuel were very interesting even though occasionally heated and this is part of a forum where we all exchange and exhibit ideas and we invite others to do the same. My role is not the one of the referee and take sides, I think you both can share your opinions and defend your ideas without any interference from me or anybody else.

And I would ask you to reconsider your decision and continue with your column which is always welcome. From my side at least I would gladly consider the whole thing as never happened.



Martin LeFevre2012-09-02 03:25:11
That's dark Thanos, and you just confirmed everything I said about you and the site.


Martin LeFevre2012-09-02 03:27:41
Obviously it doesn't count that Paparella has called me a narcissist, megalomaniac, paranoid, 'navel gaze in California.' You do censor! What is the hold he has on you?


Martin LeFevre2012-09-02 04:00:36
Readers: check the time sequences of the last exchanges.


Thanos 2012-09-02 03:18:13
Martin you just don't listen. Thank you for the cooperation for as long it lasted and good luck with your future. I'm not going to continue this surreal conversation.


Thanos2012-09-02 03:23:22
and because you started insulting people I'm going to delete your comment and ask you kindly not to participate any more


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