A problematics of belief structures and the creation of the concept of the self


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The development of religion and belief structures within the pre-classical Greek period 800-759 BCE and how it developed with the care of the self into montheism

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A problematics of belief structures and the creation of the concept of the self

  1. 1. Martin Hogan A Problematics of Belief Structures and the Creation of the Concept of the Self A Problematics of Belief Structures and the Creation of the Concept of the Self Author: Martin Hogan 1
  3. 3. Martin Hogan Concept of the Self A Problematics of Belief Structures and the Creation of the GLOSSARY Belief Structure ( also Harmony): Why a structure and not a system? A sytem implies for a given input there is a predicatble output; that by living in a certain way, we will achive a known result. This is not the case with religion, one's behaviour will not of itself grant access to heaven or any rewards (heaven, rain, a child, a prosperous and contented life &c), which are in the end at the choice of God. Whilst one can believe ‘in’ something, it is not a thing in isolation and as such is an incorrect statement, lacking as it does details of the referents. Humans work with structures and it is naïve to think that, or to claim that any one part of human life exists apart from and not connected to other aspects of life. Belief itself is a very complex and involved notion, such that many books have and will be written on it, as any cursory survey of a library will show; hundreds of books pertaining to developments of the referent of belief but little attempting to create an ontology. The term ‘Belief Structure’ is not a definition of a thing but the acceptance that a definition of a thing that, inne ipse does not exist; rather, that is, belief is a concept of (belief in…; belief of…). To enter into a discourse is to create a referential dynamics and, as such, this cannot be considered as simply a consideration of an ontological and epistemological dichotomy. Instead, we have a matrix of involvement that does not defy definition but rather leads us to multiple and complex definitions, definitions of things that lead us to further examination of topics and away from our starting point. A Belief Structure then is not an edifice, within which a particular branch of human knowledge resides, it is not some embracing concept that holds specific and defined pieces of a complex jigsaw, it is an admittance that there is a question of relationships that has not been explained because it lies buried within other branches of knowledge, or perhaps hidden in a prehistory and certainly obscured by the works of philosophers, psychiatrists and politicians of the past thousands of years. As with Foucault in this ‘Archaeology of Knowledge’1, it is easier here to define what is not being said than what is. 1 Foucault, M, Archaeology of Knowledge, Tavistock, 1972 i
  4. 4. Martin Hogan Concept of the Self A Problematics of Belief Structures and the Creation of the There is not point at which I can claim definitively that ‘A caused or resulted in B’, only that there is some connection between the two events. Nor can I claim that ‘a nation believes or believed’, any more than I can claim that ‘my family believe’, for all such statements are general but it is only by making such general statements that one can then place it within a context and move on to that which is more specific. The Belief Structure is dynamic and to paraphrase Heraclitus, one cannot expect to step into the same place twice and have an identical occurrence. The purpose of this work is to identify the relationship between belief and the self, from its beginnings in early Greek literature, not to re-analyse a definition of either belief or of the self; as such a belief structure is a definition of human perspective and interpretation. It is a description of a thing in flux and as such it is up to the reader to interpret and question the relationships within a ‘Belief structure’ and to identify its constituent referents. When the question is raised ‘what about…’; one must come back to the Belief Structure’ and place the missing pieces as part of the structure still to be explored and developed. References to two types of Belief Structure will be made: hominem interallum reder (Man in the process of reverting) and hominem reputare (Man reflecting back [to its self]). i) Hominem Interallum reder (or Vedanta) is a Belief Structure that is referential to external events and factors. Man is aware that all actions have affects upon and are affected by external events and its Belief Structures are formulated in such a way as to attempt to articulate the connections between events (that which is Human, Natural, Animal, etc.). That which is referential to the external incorporates its interpretation within its Self, rationalising a circular continuity of thought and action, creating a striving to maintain a status quo. ii) Hominem reputare (Karma) is a Belief Structure that is referential to the Self in the first instance. Man acts upon the world through its Self. Its motive relies upon its personal requirements and the satisfaction of its own needs and desires; its primary motive is Self fulfilment. Its interpretation of events lies within the temporal, exploring contextualities that exist within the domains of the human experience and can be referenced back through that which is ii
  5. 5. Martin Hogan Concept of the Self A Problematics of Belief Structures and the Creation of the primarily human before that which is divine. It is this second group to which modern man belongs and the creation of this group is defined within the first part of the work. The implications of this development is explored in the later sections. Deity: The Oxford English Dictionary definition is: pl. deities) a god or goddess (in a polytheistic religion): a deity of ancient Greece. • [mass noun] divine status, quality, or nature: a ruler driven by delusions of deity. • ( usu. the Deity ) the creator and supreme being (in a monotheistic religion such as Christianity). - ORIGIN Middle English (denoting the divine nature of God): from Old French deite, from ecclesiastical Latin deitas (translating Greek theot s), from deus ‘god’.2 That which is other than temporal (that is, not merely or only temporal but also a stage removed from the temporal); the longevity (even if persisting within a plant or other animal, it will possess some existence before or after [or both] of that entity that it occupies) of a deity is considerably greater than that of the human, it belongs to that which is other, beyond the temporal human existence and form. It is that in which humans believe but it is not all that is believed and it is for this reason that a Deity does not comprise a Belief Structure but only a part of it. To this we must add social, political, environmental and other factors and understand the relationships of the various referents if we are to begin to understand the structure. The definitions contained within the OED are sufficient for this Glossary and for an understanding of this dissertation. Harmony ( also see Belief Structure): There is an etymological link between harmony and structure, but if we use the word ‘harmony’, or the interpretation of ‘world-view’, we will miss the difference – that a structure does not of necessity possess a specific and unalterable form, and what has been defined in a specific way and accepted, need not necessarily be so now or 2 Oxford English Dictionary Online: http://www.oxfordreference.com/views/ENTRY.html? subview=Main&entry=t140.e19797 iii
  6. 6. Martin Hogan Concept of the Self A Problematics of Belief Structures and the Creation of the previously. The form remains formless, the understanding linked to each component but still not dependent upon the shape or form of any particular one, although dependent upon their presence in some form or other. Referent: That to which one refers when expounding or explaining a stance; unlike the reflexive, the referent is not a binary relationship, nor one of equals. The referent makes up the complex of links and relationships that comprise a Belief Structure and can be different for different individuals or indeed, can be different for the same individual at different times. From the position of us – from the standpoint of that which is human – there is no certainty for the future or for the past, only of possibilities and ‘the likely hood of…’ and the degree of certainty lies within our understanding of the relevant referents and of their complexities. Self: The OED sociological definition is perhaps more suitable to this work: self, the self In sociology, the concept of self is most frequently held to derive from the philosophies of Charles Horton Cooley, William James, and George Herbert Mead, and is the foundation of symbolic interactionism. It highlights the reflective and reflexive ability of human beings to take themselves as objects of their own thought. For Mead, ‘it is the self that makes the distinctively human society possible’ (see Mind, Self and Society, 1934). In this work, a distinction is usually drawn between two phases of the self process: the ‘I’, which is spontaneous, inner, creative, and subjective; and the ‘Me’, which is the organized attitudes of others, connects to the wider society, is more social and determined. The ‘Me’ is often called the selfconcept—how people see themselves through the eyes of others—and is much more amenable to study. The self evolves through communication and symbols, the child becoming increasingly capable of taking the role of others. Mead's discussion highlights this growth through the ‘play’, ‘game’, ‘and generalized other’ stages. The generalized other refers to the organized attitudes of the whole community, enabling people thereby to incorporate a sense of the overarching community values into their iv
  7. 7. Martin Hogan Concept of the Self A Problematics of Belief Structures and the Creation of the conception of self.3 The self can be a noun or an adjective, here it is better to think of it as a collective noun, even as an adverb, a critical internal referent to a Belief Structure. The self identifies a relationship between one human and another, it identifies that which is human; it identifies that which belongs to a group. More specifically here, it is used to delineate the difficult to define and understand ground between that which is modern (The Self) and the creation of a concept of the self, centred around that which is human, all that which is too human, within the Greek consciousness. The self is not taken as something a priori, as it has been in the works that deal specifically with the Greek Tragedies, or Roman and Middle Eastern history. This begins with a suggestion of a definition for the self, which precedes the philosophical and historical definitions of the Greek and Roman care of the self outlined in Michel Foucault’s work on that period of history. The creation of a concept of the self, or the articulation of a care of the self, as we find in Greek and Roman literature is of great significance and it is also significant that there is an absence of an analysis of the creation or imposition of the radically different referent that was their understanding of the self. Whilst we often consider the self as the individual, it must be borne in mind that it can mean the one or the many. To quote from Genesis: You whose names is Jacob, You shall be called Jacob no more, But Israel shall be your name.4 It itself, this can be seen as the renaming of an individual but as any knowledge of the Bible and of history will remind us, the term ‘Israel’ is used for an individual, for a group, for a nation. This context should be borne in mind throughout this work. 3 Oxford English Dictionary Online: http://www.oxfordreference.com/views/ENTRY.html? subview=Main&entry=t88.e2031 4 Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures, JPS, 1985, pg. 55 v
  8. 8. Martin Hogan Concept of the Self A Problematics of Belief Structures and the Creation of the A Problematics of Belief Structures and the Creation of the Concept of the Self An Introductory Note Ideally, one would begin an investigation into the relation of belief and the self with an analysis of the relation within a known Christian/European context. To do this would be to compare developments that showed a divergence (as for example between Catholicism and Protestantism) and at a later stage this will be discussed. Initially however, I wish to explain the origins of the European understanding of belief and the self, to map out some ground-rules and to define the area under discussion – belief, structure and self are all topics potentially worthy of their own discussions even now. For these reasons, this work will come under the heading of theological philosophy and politics, whilst still utilising tools from anthropology and sociology, as well as history and other areas of the social sciences. It is difficult to define the tools used within a project when the definitions currently being used make no sense to the period and conditions under consideration. To create a concept of a belief structure within the early Greek period, it is not possible to divide their behaviour into post-Enlightenment discussions, rather we must re-visit ideas of what was being done and what was achieved, without direct reference to currently utilitarianism – direct references to Christianity, for example, cloud the issues raised within a culture that did not have a monotheistic culture, which did not directly argue about religion, which did not have a form of social government that would be acceptable now, and so forth. The origins of the modern European and Christian ideas of the self can be traced back to the Greek era, from which the European culture charts its rise. Whilst the Christian Belief’ itself belongs to the Levant, the associated structure has links with the Roman and, through that, the Greek world-view. Whilst the theology of the Judaeo-Christian Bible is of Levant origin, the earliest texts (for both the Christian and Hebrew texts) are in Greek, the traditional political home of the Christian Church is Rome (although finally settled upon at a late date, the argument was between Roman cities – Rome itself and Constantinople)5. I begin with an outline of different approaches to the 5 1
  9. 9. Martin Hogan Concept of the Self A Problematics of Belief Structures and the Creation of the origins of belief and the purposes of belief for the human condition. Whatever model is followed, it will inevitably be defined as ‘belonging to’ a specific school but this is an outline of models that can be contained within structures, not a rigid definition – even a rigid structure has flexibility within its confines – to overuse the required metaphor. Politics, time and geography remain variables throughout and in this sense; the concept of a belief structure is dynamic. Any definition of the term will hence remain not complete because it will change over time. Here I will concentrate upon some main themes. The definition must of necessity contain references to what is not included as this is, as it were, the outer perimeter of the definition and it is more sensible to explain what is not there because of the variability of some terms that are there but are not clearly delineated at this stage. God and Gods? Here we are concerned with the relation of belief. That there is a thing(s) in which one believes, for which one has a belief or a thing(s) which incorporate a belief is taken as given. Belief is a palpable part of existence, something that everyone has and everyone can speak on. At the outset then, we must refrain from adding any descriptions to the noun. Belief sits at the centre of this work, what is being investigated is the relation of the human and the Deity to belief. These questions will not be asked in any form because within the context of a problematics, the existence or otherwise of a deity is not relevant, in that it is already take as intrinsic to the subject. There are a variety of things that cannot be seen but are discerned through their affects; gravity, sound, magnetism, motion, a painting or other representation of… and so on. Without actually seeing something, we know it is there by the affect it produces. So too there is the concept of belief. A belief requires a root or a definition, which lies beyond the scope of this introduction, so this is an attempt to outline the basic structures used to articulate a belief. The question of God(s) cannot be ignored however because as soon as one speaks of belief, it is common to enter into a discourse upon a Deity, even for those who profess to not believe. Already, there is a conflict of definition as we find ourselves instantly The use of the Greek language to record these texts was at the instigation of the library at Alexandria, under the control of the Ptolemy’s, thereby completing the embracement of the Greek presence, even during the waning days of their power. 2
  10. 10. Martin Hogan Concept of the Self A Problematics of Belief Structures and the Creation of the entering into a debate of what does or does not exist, instead of concentrating upon the interaction of elements of human existence that constitute belief and it is this conflict and interaction of events that has led me to use the term ‘Belief Structure’, not simply ‘belief’. In many parts of the world, the question of one’s religion is as much a subject of political interference as is one’s ethnicity and to such a degree that questions relating to sex, religion, nationality, colour and sexual orientation are gathered by many organisations attempting to monitor their employment policies or usage of their services within a community. In England, to not have a religion was impossible until the 1980’s, where the options of ‘atheist’ or ‘none’ were not included on the data collection forms. Even though there has been a long standing political and social problematisation of religion, not least concerning the division of church and state, English institutions such as the police, military and health services, have by default labelled their members as Church of England and as such are by default sectarian; presupposing a belief and imposing the same through their own structures; here again, belief is centred around a Deity and again we must move back from this and incorporate the notion of Deity within the socio-political and communal context of belief. In order to understand something deeply rooted in the European way of life (indeed, all human), we must constantly bear in mind what we are not saying and what we are not talking about as much as what we are saying – the separation of types of belief structure are is what is identified in the first section and to identify this, we must go back beyond Christianity; using references to more recent times to help identify events but not to make direct comparisons. To not believe in God does not end the debate however. One does not believe in God ‘because…’ or one does not believe in God ‘but in …’ Debate is not precluded but exacerbated by the claim that one does not believe in God, for there is still a feeling of a need to define a belief in something. This is to confuse cause and effect however. The pejorative ‘you must believe in something…?’ often imputes a causal ontology, with the relationship between Man6 and its belief poorly defined; does a belief comfort Man giving succour a posteriori, helping to justify whatever decisions have 6 Man is used as a proper noun throughout to denote the species genera and is described with the pronoun of third person singular. 3
  11. 11. Martin Hogan Concept of the Self A Problematics of Belief Structures and the Creation of the been made and actions taken? The question of belief remains central then. There is a clear socio-political disjunction of definition that lies beyond the scientific dictionary definitions of ‘belief’ and ‘faith’ and it is in defining this that the term ‘Belief Structure’ is used. The definition of a concept lies within other concepts and a thorough understanding of the interrelation of the subject matter, it is not a singular event or idea7. Whether one is discussing religious, political, social, economic, sporting or other issues, the question of ethics and one’s personal commitment to a cause will be raised – how should one conduct one’s self – and beneath this lies the question of belief: The structures by which one is justified or with which one seeks to justify8. The question of the existence of one or more deities is disputed (even if this concept is as difficult to conceive as the concepts of theoretical astrophysics), what is not disputed is that Man has a concept of Deity and, if lacking a belief in what can be defined as a Deity, a belief in something other, something else. The comment ‘Neither history nor anthropology knows of societies from which religion has been totally absent’9 has been repeated since the earliest writings and is still true, begging the question of why and how a (Belief Structure rather than something complex or advanced as a religion) such a thing would com about. All investigations into a reality, into that which is will seem causal, determinative or creationist without this being the case. Once a series of events begins, it can be described but not halted and whilst there are a number of sentient decision and choices, it is not possible to guess at or explore them all. 7 As well as the dictionary definitions of belief that are given in Appendix A, a religious definition must include the experience of belief, of the transcendence of the ‘otherness’ and beyond the mundane, Belief acts as a mental fulcrum to attain a state / condition of acceptance. 8 The relationship analysed here is that between Man, its Self and God. The relationship from God to Man is one of omnipotent creation and as such it is not subject to alteration or change. Whilst God has free will in having created the world, the continued existence of Man can only be understood through a reference beginning with Man; to begin otherwise would be to presume the Will of God. 9 Rappaport, R A – The Sacred in Human Evolution (Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 2:2344) (1971). http://www.jstor.org/journals/00664162.html. The full sentence reads: ‘Neither history nor anthropology knows of societies from which religion has been totally absent, and even those modern states that have attempted to abolish religion have replaced it with beliefs and practices which themselves seem religious.’ The piece goes on to quote Romer’s Rule from Hockett, C F and Ascher, R (‘The Human Evolution’ Current Anthropology, 1964. 5:135-68): ‘The initial survival value of a favourable innovation is conservative, in that it renders possible the maintenance of a traditional way of life in the face of changed circumstances.’ Whilst the arguments put forward are in line with the definitions of this introduction, the conclusions drawn from them are not, as will become clear in due course. 4
  12. 12. Martin Hogan Concept of the Self A Problematics of Belief Structures and the Creation of the Here then will follow definitions of terms and ideas used to identify what a Belief Structure is within the parameters of the thesis. In anthropological terms, the point can be shown by what is not said in the introduction of ‘In Pursuit of Gender’, where the difficulty of defining gender amongst the contributors was discussed at length because whilst in some cultures the idea of two genders and clearly differentiated gender roles was accepted, in others (see also Hidden from History and other works), it is not. A further point within the question of sexual orientation concerns tolerance and how and if a society with a monofuctional sexuality can exist within or create a multi-faceted society; aspects of the use and functions of power and control will be considered later.10 The Purpose of God / The Purpose of Gods / The Purpose of Man11 The existence or non-existence of God/s is not a part of the argument outlined here but the relationships between them has significant repercussions. To deal with the question of which created which: Again, this leads to an enquiry upon the existence or non-existence of Deity/ies and as such is not relevant. The question being posited here is: As Man has a concept of Deity, where could this have come from and what purpose could such a concept serve – either for the Deity or for Nature? It must be stressed that although an evolutionary approach (which has become a normal mode of scientific investigation) is adopted within this section, it in no way negates the possibility of the existence of a Deity/ies to be discussed later; this is merely a section of definitions of tools to be used later. An argument that Man does not have a past outside of the Judeo-Christian or other text is not rejected. Put simply: there is a stratum of knowledge available to Man and some have chosen to use it, others have not. To help define the terms used, I have decided to approach these 10 Having questioned the definition and concept of gender, a discourse around the problematics has been created. The absence of such a discourse for the codification and political assimilation of Belief Structures within the social construct of an age of understanding of the functions that lead on to redefinitions of religion and that shift the points of reference and self reference indicate that the set of epistemological, metaphysical, historiographical and historiological questions posited of sexuality (politics, sport and so on) have not been applied to the ontological concept of Belief Structures. 11 Purpose should not be taken in a dogmatic sense but as a pejorative, as a question dealing with the relationship between those concerned. There is no necessary derivative or any necessary deterministic, ‘Darwinian’ interpolation intended to be drawn. 5
  13. 13. Martin Hogan Concept of the Self A Problematics of Belief Structures and the Creation of the arguments at the more fruitful starting point, then to extrapolate and interpret these terms upon Greek and early Christian Belief Structures. If we are not to cast aside all other religions than our own as ‘overtly wrong and pointless’, we must attempt to find suitable ontological grounds and terms with which to define a genealogy of Belief Structures. As has been hinted at, the Belief Structure for Man lies at the root, it is a structurally ontological reference point by which Man establishes a link between that which is Man and that which is not Man, a point through which the thought processes of Man must pass if it is to manipulate its environment. On Nature Why Darwin? The name of Darwin is synonymous with the thoughts of the twentieth century. Whenever we speak of ‘development’ or ‘progress’, we become involved in a debate that includes Darwin and, even though he contributed very little to the debate on religion and society, his name is still very much associated with the subjects because of the usurpation of his ideas into ‘Social Darwinism’ and the very notion of the ‘progress’ and the ‘evolution of ideas’. To use the name of Darwin here is not to simply quote him but to use his name within a context in which it has come to be readily used even if not correctly understood. This then is a discussion of the relevance of ‘interpretations of Darwin within the context of belief’ and how that relates to this thesis. As soon as we begin to speak of the Greeks, we also begin to speak of the ‘development’ of ideas, of progress, of the ‘evolution’ of concepts of philosophy, history, art, politics; we begin to trace the ‘progress’ of these topics through from the pre-Socratic to the post-Alexandrian world that was Greece, tracing hundreds of years and thousands of square kilometres as though it were a single entity. These concepts cannot be ignored, so here is an outline of what the implications of ‘Darwinianism’ is within the context of this thesis. From a Darwinian perspective, the concept of God in itself does not seem to serve any specific function (the article by Rappaport cited above describes religion as a 6
  14. 14. Martin Hogan Concept of the Self A Problematics of Belief Structures and the Creation of the ‘cybernetic’ or ‘information’ function.). In ‘The Descent of Man’ (pg. 612), Darwin states that ‘…a belief in all pervading spiritual agencies seems to be universal…The idea of a universal and beneficent Creator does not seem to arise in the mind of man, until he has been altered by long-conditioned culture.’ Darwin attributes a belief structure to Man as an all but universal attribute but then subjectifies the statement by codifying monotheism as a cultural improvement. As with the existence or otherwise of a Deity, the quantity is also not relevant to this inquiry, what is significant is that there seems to be ‘a belief in all pervading spiritual agencies’. The decision to worship a multiplicity or a singularity of Deities seems more a socio-political choice than a strictly biological-Darwinian evolution and hence deliberative. Whilst Nature might imbue Man with the capacity to have a Belief Structure, the utilisation of that capacity is left to Man in exactly the same way as was the thumb; existence of a thing does not define its use. On social constructs, Darwin (Descent, pg. 119) states ‘ We have now seen that actions are regarded…as good or bad…as they affect the welfare of the tribe…’ and that ‘with man we can see no definite limit to the continued development of the brain and mental faculties, as far as advantage is concerned’ (pg. 149). Having applied his observations of plant and other life forms to Man, Darwin has promptly abandoned his analysis of transformation and selection and instead opted for a definition of Man that is an offshoot of the principles of natural selection, by definition, where mental and social developments of any kind are justified because natural selection, by definition, only permits advancement according to defined principles. What is missing from the Darwinian supposition is an analysis of what a Belief Structure might be and what could be its purpose for Man; why would a Belief Structure have been developed as a ubiquitous mental facility for man? Either such a phenomenon is accidental, or it is derived as a response to circumstances. The ‘belief in…’ commences with creation, so some attempt must be made to place the origins of belief and the concomitant structures within the context of early human history – either as creations of Nature or of Deity/ies. The Creation of the Capability to Believe 7
  15. 15. Martin Hogan Concept of the Self A Problematics of Belief Structures and the Creation of the Belief is a central attribute of Man. Indirectly and directly it shapes much of the behaviour of the species and so a sketch of the assumptions is necessary to anchor the later arguments. Does God exist? For most, in one life upon Earth, the question remains moot – not provable or unanswered, for some it is beyond doubt. Is life pre-ordained or does Man have free will? In either case, for most of Man the next event remains an unknown and so each must ‘strut and fret his hour upon the stage’ 12 as best they might. Whatever are the positions adopted, the following is an attempt to synthesise the concept of a Belief Structure within a Darwinian / Deistic conjunction. There is a difference between Man and those things around it and it is the use to which Man puts the world and, assuming that there is merit in the Darwinian assumption of evolution, this begs the question of why and how Man developed as it did (the question remains important precisely because of the absence of a clear genealogy back through the apes; if Man was simply a slow natural development, traces of such would be evident).13 Darwin states (Origin, pg. 263) ‘…it may not be a logical deduction, but to my imagination…’ (that life is as it is) ’…not as specially endowed or created instincts, but as consequences of one general law…multiply, very, let the strongest live and the weakest die.’ (and this is known in modern terminology as reduced instruction protocol) Clearly, there is an indication from Darwin that Man is a descent of the apes but the evidence for the move is lacking. It is possible however that such a change was more sudden than evolutionary and it is here, I hypothesise, that the Darwinist can place the origin of the Belief Structure. For reasons lost within the past of the Rift Valley, or the end of the last Ice Age, there evolved a creature from the ape family that was able to adapt its environment because it faced extinction. Whereas Zenning (Timeless Rock Art, pg. 68-9) claimed early painting ‘…reflected their simple, innocent desire to control nature.’ I argue that the art is a representation of a human conjunction with Nature and that the purpose of a 12 Shakespeare, Macbeth V, 5 although of course, there is no need for menace or gloom in its actions. The strutting and fretting is simply the act of one who does not know how to be certain of what will happen next. There are many instances of Man living in ignorance of the future and here the action is just as much a strutting and a fretting but is here the strutting and fretting of someone ‘ad-libbing’, not someone in despair at not knowing the outcome. 13 The Darwinian evolutionary concept is primarily passive and reactive, the question to be borne in mind throughout is what aspects of Man are not reactive and how could it come about that Man would or could develop an outlook or approach that strove to alter and to change? 8
  16. 16. Martin Hogan Concept of the Self A Problematics of Belief Structures and the Creation of the Belief Structure within early homo sapien was to construct a relationship between Man and its environment. Evolutionary theory suggests not that creature (as cited in the Darwin quotation, see above) multiply and vary in order to survive but there is a subtle balance between excess and moderation and that variation is brought about of necessity and by external forces. Whatever the conditions that gave rise to the creation of Man, the conditions were not such as to require an ‘advanced culture’ that would be seen as such by Darwin. The modern (European) world is where this introduction will end and there are numerous recorded civilisations all over the Earth that clearly did not take a route to Darwin’s higher ‘culture’; Darwin himself encountered instances of social and economic stasis (Descent, pg. 187) ‘… Mr Coan … remarks that the natives have undergone a greater change in their habits of life in the course of fifty years than Englishmen during a thousand.’ But regarded this as an aspect of the primitive and not of any advanced nature of the indigenous Belief Structure. A Belief Structure then is that which is defined through a set of rituals and (individual) beliefs that come together to create a socially and politically cohesive group. It might be, as Mauss 14 described, that ‘Taking into account the monotony of its actions, the limited vanity of its representation, the sameness which is found throughout the history of civilisation, we might assume magic to be a practical idea of utmost simplicity.’ but this is to already remove the expression from its cause. What Mauss described as monotonous and simple (-istic?) are in fact actions of precise repetition with all of the complexity required. Here then is a relationship between Man and Nature, the meeting place of theology and philosophy. It is through distancing itself from an event that Man comes to any understanding from Socratic15 inquisitorial education to Kantian reason to phenomenology. The conceptualisation of a Belief Structure as an evolutionary function is an aid in the ability to create and maintain abstract uses for parts off its environment – the creation and use of tools, fire and so on. Without an outside reference point (that is, a reference to an ‘other’), the articles would be abandoned, 14 15 Mauss, M, General Theory of Magic, Routledge, 1972. (pg. 91) Plato, Republic, Book I, & c. 9
  17. 17. Martin Hogan Concept of the Self A Problematics of Belief Structures and the Creation of the returned from whence they came. This is not to say that Man must use, alter and change its environment, only that it retains the ability so to in some circumstances. As its root then, a Belief Structure could have a Darwinian function and from this both through selection and outside impetuses to change – it will vary, multiply and survive. To put this in more theological terms; God would give Man the capacity to comprehend a Deity for similar reasons (that is, to enable Man to grasp a reason outside of itself to which it could reference its actions, thus maintaining a temporal and creative perspective for its actions and behaviours). Divine knowledge being preserved for the divine would leave Man without a concept of that which was Divine. Here again Man has interpreted the nature and purpose of the relation with the Divine and, as has already been noted, in the absence of affirmative ubiquitous Knowledge of the existence of the Divine, man must do as best it can within the confines of its existence, with its Faith of and in a Deity as a point of reference – Man has a knowledge of but no empirical proof of Deity/ies. This is the nascence of a Belief Structure, which can be described as embracing (the reference points are Man, Deity, Nature, all returning to all). It is a link between Man and Nature that permits man to place its actions and behaviours within the context of the world around it, out of this Belief Structure grew those that can be described as cyclical. That is, where the point of reference lies beyond the human, where the reference point lies within the cycles of the seasons and planets and the Greater and Lesser Cycles pertaining to the social groups, to the more esoteric relations of Gods and Man and within such a context, the number (or multiplicities) of Deity is hardly significant as the kernel of the referent remains in the concept of the cycle, or to be more specific, at an understanding of the Embracing. This is not to follow Nietzsche’s argument in Twilight of the Idols, 16 that it is better to worship one god than many. I am concerned here with defining a relationship between the human and the Diving, not with social and political arguments regarding multiplicity. 16 Nietzsche, F Twilight of the Idols, Penguin, 1984. Bearing in mind Nietzsche’s comments on other multi-deistic faiths, his comments were most probably an attack upon Christianity rather than upon the concept of multiplicity itself. 10
  18. 18. Martin Hogan Concept of the Self A Problematics of Belief Structures and the Creation of the Precisely as there is a known basic symbolism for air, fire, water and so on, so too there is a composite symbolism for Belief Structures and it is this that is represented in early art through the world on both rocks and pottery. This is not to impute a common language; two physicists can happily exchange data and number sequences without knowledge of another language. Classicists can write to each other in Latin or Greek but with accents that defy audible understanding. The root, if there is one, can only lead to a point, not a common language; the understanding is of a concept, not of a swathe of knowledge. The symbolism is an expression of a core, similarities between geographically diverse regions can be traced back to this core but it does not imply a continued communication between them over the period. What is seen as the dominant position of Man on the Earth is defined here as an adjunct, one belonging primarily to the Industrial Age (but this is a topic that lies outside of this definition). Within the Judeo-Christian tradition, the role of Man is that of exercising ‘dominion’ (Gen Ch. I, v. 28) and a notable section of the Books of Moses are given up to animal husbandry, of managing the bounty of God upon the Earth; that is, for the care of livestock and the future supply of food; the Egyptian Book of Days is also primarily concerned with farming, as is much of the archive from Mesopotamia. Far from being a dominant position, in all but a minority of instances, the role of Man can be viewed as that of an ‘overseer’ or ‘caretaker’. Comparisons between the longevity of Man and the longevity of ‘The Land’ (a euphemism for land, animals, water and other resources) are common for most Belief Structures and thus place Man within a functional constraint. Within agricultural societies, the relation between Man, Nature and God as a triumvirate of co-operation has persisted. As a creation of Nature or of God, the social-biological construct that is Man is not perfect and is in a constant state of flux. For Nature, flux seems to be a necessary function of life in that it requires a sharing of resources, with different plants and creatures (in the food chain) providing sustenance for others and all maintaining some underlying idea of ‘balance’. As a creation of God, Man still remains in flux to carry out its role / task upon the Earth17. 17 God has placed Man in a state of flux, or Man has placed itself in a state of flux through its relationship with God. There is no temporal certainty for Man and the absence of certainty places Man in a state of flux. Only if Man was absolutely certain of the Will of God would it be able to remove itself from a state of flux. 11
  19. 19. Martin Hogan Concept of the Self A Problematics of Belief Structures and the Creation of the Power and Control To speak technically and also scientifically, control is a key term that must be considered and understood; it is the hermeneutical connection between definitions of Belief Structure, Religion and Theology; the linking together of Man and its surroundings. Control is a subjunctive of a Belief Structure, with utilisation as the goal. Without the concept of a Belief Structure and the correlative capacity to control, Man would not be able to find a continuing and repetitive use for its environment, it would be unable to ask: ‘what can this be used for?’; ‘can it be used beyond the Now?’ Standard evolutionary theories explain how a creature will adapt to suit its environment (owls can see at nigh, racing pidgins were detailed by Darwin, moles have claws for digging), some make minor changes to their environment, (beavers), some seem to survive anywhere (cockroach, mice). Unlike other creatures, Man does not move to a more hospitable environment, rather it attempts to exercise control over it and despite claims to the contrary from the industrialised cultures of Man, it remains barely a harvest from barbarism. Control then is a deliberative function for Man. Once an action is taken, the reference to the Belief Structure is a part of that process and must of necessity and by definition be deliberative such that the requirement, or goal; the activity, or methodology of control can, through the ritual of referencing to the Deity/ies, complete the cycle of the Belief Structure. Control is not a willed thing, it is the deliberative aspect of a Belief Structure and cannot exist on its own. Some things are not possible without an other thing but there is a connection between abstract reasoning, justification and the concept of Deity/ies both linguistically and neurologically and so without making a step into causalism or into creationism, the argument that a Belief Structure consists of facets of control remains; it is true that ‘Darwinian Chance’ could have been responsible but that is to enter upon a speculative discussion of what Man might have been, not what Man is; such could be a sub species of as homo erectus but this lies outside of the preliminary sketch. As Darwin says ‘In man, as in the lower animals, many structures are so intimately related, that when one part varies, so does another, without our being able, 12
  20. 20. Martin Hogan Concept of the Self A Problematics of Belief Structures and the Creation of the in most cases to assign any reason.’18 In other words: what capacities of Man might be used within a Belief Structure? A Sentiment echoed by Foucault: ‘Mathematical statements are not added to one another in the same way as religious texts or laws (they each have their own ways of merging together, annulling one another, excluding one another, complementing one another, forming groups that are in varying degrees indissociable and endowed with unique properties).’19 ‘What process does a culture put in place to release a self that gets stuck (dries out, turn heavy or opaque, goes mad, becomes monotonal, stops transforming)?’ asks the introduction of Self and Self Transformation. 20 More to the point: Why should there be a dynamics of such a construct? transform? Does a Self or a Belief Structure need to There is evidence of cultures and the associated religious structures remaining all but unchanged for millennia and there is evidence of the continuation of some religious practices after the fall of specific civilisations but the need to transform is a modern socio-political construct for the anthropologist to investigate, it is not one relevant for an understanding of the ontology of Belief Structures, where the internal dogmatics required for transformations have not be constructed; this is a definition to identify a furcation, a forced splitting, not the alterations and changes that are within the domain of the scientific anthropologist. A nascent Belief Structure is interallum redere (in the process of reverting) 21 – that which is referential to an external cause – but it is also cyclical in that such references return back to Man and how it and they interact, such a concept can also be described as embracing, creating its own dynamics of return and self referral which negates the need for transformation, the requirement to change and modify for its own sake. The 18 Darwin Descent of Man, Square Peg 2003 pg. 43 Foucault, M Archaeology of Knowledge, Tavistock, 1972. pg. 124 20 Shulman, D; Stroumsa, G, Self and Self-transformation in the History of Religions. Pg. 14 21 References to two types of Belief Structure will be made: hominis interallum reder (Man in the process of reverting) and hominis reputare (Man reflecting back [to its self]) i) Hominis Interallum reder is a Belief Structure that is referential to external events and factors. Man is aware that all actions have affects upon and are affected by external events and its Belief Structures are formulated in such a way as to attempt to articulate the connections between events. That which is referential to the external incorporates its interpretation within its Self, rationalising a circular continuity of thought and action, creating a striving to maintain a status quo. ii) Hominis reputare is a Belief Structure that is referential to the Self in the first instance. Man acts upon the world through its Self. Its motive relies upon its personal requirements and the satisfaction of its own needs and desires; its primary motive is Self fulfilment. 19 13
  21. 21. Martin Hogan Concept of the Self A Problematics of Belief Structures and the Creation of the transformations that do exist within a culture should be viewed as internal referential (interallum reder) rights not as a methodology to ‘release a self that gets stuck’ but to define and codify specific aspects of a Belief Structure within an economic geography. For the anthropologist, society already has an internal dynamics, able to ‘move (itsself) on’ and as such it has already transformed itself from that which lives within its own (or the) world, to that which lives within its own dynamics, within its own created self referential framework and the question then begs: Why does a requirement to volition (and the associated power discourses) seem to exist within Man and how can it be compatible with the concept of evolution, where there is the implication of change through modification and adaptation? More precisely: What could be the origins of an internally constructed aversion to the monotonal? The existence of a fluid (anthropologically specified) dynamics within a Belief Structure, one that is defined as a system that will maintain a state of flux and hence to force (to maintain a rate of) change – to create a climate of adaptation (both interior (to the self) and exterior, directed towards that which is other) – is to beg the questions off ontological inquiry where we must explore the how and the why of the prehistoric through an analysis of the historic. The pre-historic offers us only conjecture, based upon the remains of a shadow; we must dismantle that which constitutes our history (and our understanding of events within a history) and through that come to some understanding of the mechanics of its construction and through the exposed dynamics of the paths of the known past we might glimpse the tools that formed the unknown pre-historic of a Belief Structure. That which lies in the past, in the time before it was considered necessary or useful to ‘write it all down’, to explain it all or to justify, lies beyond the reaches of history and, as with Eichhorn quoted by Wolf,22 we must search through the layers of the known to define the layers of the contextually sound; to commit ourselves to ‘A true, continuous and systematic recension.’ 22 Wolf, F A. Prologomena to Homer (PUP) 1988 pg. 44 14
  22. 22. Martin Hogan Concept of the Self A Problematics of Belief Structures and the Creation of the Not all cultures have Belief Structures that contain the Judeo-Christian imposition of Guilt23 (Gen. 3; 4; 6; 11; etc.) and of a Fall from Grace or Perfection (this is not the same as a legend of the decline in the abilities of Man); such an idea has a specific temporal and geographic home. Whilst the Egyptians believed that they were already in Heaven and that no world could be better and death was no more than a moving to another Nile Valley (the Egyptians were, in effect, by their own admission, custodians of Heaven and this helps to explain the longevity of their geographic Belief Structure and their civilisation. It is an exemplary area to investigate as a case study of an Embracing Belief Structure – interallum redere), most cultures created Belief Structures, Man is then able to appeal to whatever rules are deemed necessary to create and maintain a socio-politico-economic continuum. Provided that the structure within itself is able to retain its interallum redere, any laws, proscriptions and prescriptions, will be accepted. The internal power structure of a society is not strictly governed by or related to its Belief Structure, bearing in mind that an internal (political) power structure will normally only last as long as the ruler, where that rule is imposed by the ruler, rather than a rule exercised as an extension of the beliefs of the people. Generally however, rule through fear or by force require surplus manpower and so tend to be ineffective in small or agricultural communities where labour would either be fully utilised during planting and harvest periods, or primarily surplus when crop or farm labour was less intensive (when the Europeans asked the North Americans what they did when they had planted the crops, they were told that they waited for them to grow; thus showing that the idea of continuous labour is itself a specifically temporal and geographic construct. A Belief Structure that considers crops to be the property of all and a gift from the Gods would not require continuous labour and in these circumstances, once a task has been completed, the labour can devote itself to activities in the service of the Deity/ies (in Egypt and Maya, this was the construction of pyramids, in Peru, it was the construction of gigantic rock carvings). There is no specific mechanism within a Belief Structure that can control the type of power Bottero, J, Everyday Life in Ancient Mesopotamia (Nevill), Edinburgh, 2001. Of course, the idea of The Fall is specific to a type of Theology and not as geographic as Bottero attempts to define it. None the less, it has come to have a significant social and political affect upon European culture. The relation of guilt and god will be discussed later with reference to the Iliad and the Pre Socratic philosophers. 23 15
  23. 23. Martin Hogan Concept of the Self A Problematics of Belief Structures and the Creation of the structure utilised by a society because the Belief Structure helps to define a relationship between Man and its environment and providing that a cycle from Man to the external to the Deity to Man can be explained and more specifically justified, there is no requirement for a geographic culture to be egalitarian, pacific, military, dictatorial or anything else. Belief Structures and politics combine to create power systems, the former on its own defines a mechanics of reference, it is the anchor upon which Man ties its motives and motivations. It is the absence of any moral codices that shows, anthropologically, that a Belief Structure precedes the political utility imbibed from ‘Divine Law’, or ‘Commandments’ and such like; it is only after there is a grasping of the context of the relationships within interallum reder that a structure of conduct could be understood - could be passed on. Only when there is a socially cohesive group, already behaving in a particular way, can it be possible for a Prophet to come with the Words of Deistic Wisdom (Lao Tzu, Confucius, Zoroaster, Mohammad, Moses, Heraclitus). Unlike other hermeneutical inquiries, this specifically eschews the dogmatics off morality and is, as Nietzsche described, approaching from another side, beyond good and evil. The internal dynamics of an interallum redere Belief Structure do not prohibit acts of violence, either random and solitary or organised and protracted; nor do they prohibit geographic expansion or social change but they do encourage a tendency to ‘…use only that part of their potential of ideas and abilities which enable them to lead a habitual way of life.’24 In other words, whilst Man has the potential to achieve more through the adoption of other modes of application, it (consciously or unconsciously) opts to use its abilities and its potential for technical adaptation in such a way as to restrict its innovation and confine itself to that which it knows and understands. Whilst Rudgley is interested in technical matters and Shulman is speaking anthropologically, their statements appear to run counter (the former highlighting a stasis, the latter change within the human condition) but this can be understood in the different points of reference of hominis interallum redere and hominis reputare, as will become apparent. Interallum Redere and the Self 24 L B Vishnyansky, quoted in R Rudgley Lost Civilizations pg. 239 16
  24. 24. Martin Hogan Concept of the Self A Problematics of Belief Structures and the Creation of the St Augustine described three types of theology in his criticism of Varro 25 - the mystical, the fabulous and the natural. For Augustine, there was only one theology and that was the theology of God, not of Man. He quotes Varro: ‘they call that kind mythical which the poets chiefly use; physical, that which the philosophers use; civil, that which the people use’. Augustine criticises this and seeks to define a ‘City of God’, of a single and unified church and belief system. Structurally however, there is a similarity in that both Varro and St Augustine seek to define a God for their own ends, excluding all others. In his final destruction of Varro’s description of the three gods used by a society, St Augustine wrote: What can human learning, though manifold, avail thee in this perplexity? Thou desirest to worship the natural gods; thou art compelled to worship the civil. Thou hast found some of the gods to be fabulous, on whom thou vomitest forth very freely what thou thinkest, and, whether thou wiliest or not, thou wettest therewith even the civil gods. Thou sayest, forsooth, that the fabulous are adapted to the theatre, the natural to the world, and the civil to the city; though the world is a divine work, but cities and theatres are the works of men, and though the gods who are laughed at in the theatre are not other than those who are adored in the temples; and ye do not exhibit games in honor of other gods than those to whom ye immolate victims. How much more freely and more subtly wouldst thou have decided these hadst thou said that some gods are natural, others established by men; and concerning those who have been so established, the literature of the poets gives one account, and that of the priests another,--both of which are, nevertheless, so friendly the one to the other, through fellowship in falsehood, that they are both pleasing to the demons, to whom the doctrine of the truth is hostile. That theology, therefore, which they call natural, being put aside for a moment, as it is afterwards to be discussed, we ask if any one is really content to seek a hope for eternal life from poetical, theatrical, scenic gods? Perish the thought! The true God avert so wild and sacrilegious a madness! What, is eternal life to be asked from those gods whom these things pleased, and whom these things propitiate, in which their own crimes are represented? 26 Religion is not a thing in which people are communally or incidentally involved, it is a thing for their betterment, for the improvement of their lot. The discourse upon religion has entered into the political realm. Compare this to the religions and beliefs of the Pharaohs, or the West Asian and East Asian areas, where there was a mode of 25 26 Augustine, City of God, Ch 5 – 6. St Augustine, op. cit Ch 6. 17
  25. 25. Martin Hogan Concept of the Self A Problematics of Belief Structures and the Creation of the behaviour that was required, a social and political requirement to be a part of a society and the concomitant socio-political structure but not necessarily the need to be a part of a named religious grouping per se. There is not a ‘politicisation’ of religion, not even an ‘incorporation’ of religion. The relevance of theology has shifted, it has become a part of the ‘care of the self’, a part of the particular form of the human that defines what it is to be human. To misunderstand, or to not worship the God of choice not only condemns the individual to a miserable afterlife, it gives Man the right to judge Man for its behaviour, more significantly, for its beliefs, for what is being thought within its mind, for how it wishes to relate and strives to relate to its surroundings. To understand this relationship, we will need to explore the development of the elf and religion from the Greek perspective; its incorporation into Roman philosophy and its dissemination into the Roman Empire and into early Christianity. From the Enlightenment, thought could be defined through three stages of progress (and here again begins the shadow of what became ‘Darwinianism’); the theological, when neutral phenomena are seen as the product of the supernatural; the metaphysical when they are the result of abstract forces; the positive, when observable phenomena are described as the exclusion of all else. Right of otherwise, these distinctions clearly show that they had created an ephemeral, a temporal world and that they believed that they had already achieved (or were very close to achieving) the final stage of progress – of being in a world that described what it saw to the exclusion of all else – that is, to describe what is to the exclusion of what is. There are questions thrown up by the Enlightenments definition of the ideal end of progress; not least that there is an end and the question of what would happen to the human imagination and creating if it was unable to move beyond a description of the observed. The main point here though is that it is not hominis interallum redere but hominis reputare that is defining its ‘relation to the world’. Augustine expresses himself more clearly as an example between the references used by the two types of Belief Structure. Unlike the Greeks of the Classical period, upon which Europe has come to base most of its structures, Augustine had a concept of progress, although 18
  26. 26. Martin Hogan Concept of the Self A Problematics of Belief Structures and the Creation of the they would on the whole here have agreed with his interpretation; 27 the Greek state was able to act and loosely articulate its dynamics, later civilizations would complete the lexicon, but this is for a later discussion. The Enlightenment broke down the structure of human belief to analyse it as a progression, as a logical series of such that first A then B then C; but also, if C then B must have been, then A must have been and if C exists and is in a state of being then B and A must have ceased to exist; if A and B do exist at the same time as C, do those in the condition of (have the right – or is it a duty?) to stop the practices associated with A and B? Enlightenment politico-theological arguments can be seen to lead down the road of justifying attacks on other groups and genocide because they have not progressed and as such can be deemed ‘redundant’ or ‘backwards’ and such actions have been documented but such conclusions are to presume that the philosophers and theologians of their time actually intended such a course to develop. The consequences of a direct confrontation between hominis reputare and hominis interallum redere will be considered in detail toward the end of this introductory set of definitions. Here we see a returning to the reasoning of Aristotle and away from that of the church fathers, from the Ante-Nicenes. Progression can only be possible for a Self Referential Belief Structure (hominis reputare), where the comparison of what it is that constitutes the concept (if not that which constitutes the conceptual understanding) of the self is conducted within the Self, where any judgement is specific to that individual and its perceived temporal significance. That is, an incremental inevitable development; that is, to move and to progress form ‘now’ to ‘then’ and compare the ‘now’ to the ‘before’. Hominis interallum redere, like the Greeks (see Dodds op cit.) did not have a word for progress, only for change – the need for endless dynamic change would not be understood; the concept of change, can perhaps be best defined as having come of age when the Ptolemy’s found such a necessity to collect manuscripts, to update what had gone before and to preserve it. Prior to this, the fear of the past being forgotten was 27 Dodds, E R. Ancient Concept of Progress. Also, to return to the comment so of Vishnyansky ‘…To change substantially and rapidly, a culture must already have a great potential, a reserve of ideas and abilities which are known but not put into practice…’ I believe this holds true for physical and philosophic changes. 19
  27. 27. Martin Hogan Concept of the Self A Problematics of Belief Structures and the Creation of the not crucial and the relation to the Self is projected on to a need for the past; the Deity is not the point of recognition of the Self, but one’s own past and historical relevance. After Alexander, the Greeks set out not simply to collect woks of art and literature but to compile definitive editions; there was now a definition of something that could be called Truth. The reference points for self or social group advancement, for its own sake, are lacking and changes occur primarily by reference to Deistic requirements. The atavistic structure is completely different, with all references, stories and memories of ancestors related through death rituals, life after death and familial genealogy (such a genealogy should not be confused with the European action of ancestry. Here the ‘atavistic truth’ of ancestry is subverted to create a lineage that befits the occasion and that reflects current social status). There is a subverting of the atavistic truth and its empirically definable behaviours; a rigid epistemological source is denied in favour of a plastic history that enables past present and future to merge an shift to create a cohesive whole about the Belief Structure and its Deity/ies. The dyad of Belief Structure and the subject / object of Belief defines and clarifies the differences; it is that which places Man outside its surroundings whilst allowing it to remain a part, it is a ‘Theological Cartesian Cogito’. What is the ‘self’, what does it mean to ‘have’ a self? A relationship with the first person singular? For hominis interallum redere the relationship is not significant and the questions lack relevance. They have an understanding of what it is to be ‘an’ individual but the individual is a component of a group and whilst its attachment to that group does not constitute a formal duty or any legal obligation, it does constitute a biological affiliative bond that at least modifies behaviour although not control it; to break a bond would not be considered. If asked to define its own relation within such a group, Man would respond by saying ‘we are one’, describing a homogeneity of temperament and spirit rather than one of dogmatism and action. Within this definition, action to change that that is, is not a primary mover; it is survival – and if survival is not difficult, or under threat, then action (and reaction) are even less important as more time is devoted to conformity with and expressions of Deistic ceremony, ritual and referencing. 20
  28. 28. Martin Hogan Concept of the Self A Problematics of Belief Structures and the Creation of the Summary This is a basic outline of a Belief Structure. The existence of Deity/ies remains unprovable and the associated questions should now have been sufficiently distanced from this text. One Believes or one does not and in any case, there remains a residual Belief, an unshakable cogito of some ‘otherness’ and it is this Belief that governs Man’s relationship with the World. One of the dictionary definitions of belief, which is the ‘mental acceptance of a proposition’, is a useful start but unless the importance of the state of mind is fully explored, the theological definition will be missed. Indeed, in some respects, the theological understanding of belief has returned to its Germanic root of ‘lub’ - to hold dear, to love – where there is an implied emotional commitment to and unconditional trust of the other 28. There is of course the additional commitment (certainly for hominis redere) that the love (lub – esteem, value) need not be returned; existence is a continuum, not a return of good deeds. A Belief Structure is that set of abilities which enable Man to carry out and to justify its behaviour of control either of God’s chosen people (eo ipso, it is so that God created Man and imbued in it the Knowledge of God), or as an evolutionary event that the archaeological anthropologists have yet to resolve. It is the ubiquity of the Belief Structure that gives it the appearance of being an innate characteristic and if it is denied that it is itself innate, then it cannot be denied that its teaching and inculcation is a human imperative such that the need to educate is all but innate (political, social and cultural conditions not withstanding); a belief Structure returns to us as the first manifestation of a joining of the abstract with the temporal. This is not abstract reasoning, this is Belief and as such it does not rely upon any form of synthetically arranged logic or reasoning to verify it claims. There are various interpretations of Deism (that is, the objectified perception of the ‘other’), each developing its own economics and politics relevant to its own society and geography but there is little purpose in attempting to create a genealogy back to some primeval noise which is best known as ‘OM’. That they develop is the point under investigation and instead of sculpting a tree, my intention is to look back to a 28 Whilst ‘love’ and ‘believe’ are words dating back to the earliest records in the English language (see Appendix A), they have no relevance to the pre-Christian religious discourses because the hominis/Deistic relationship was not based upon any notion of reciprocity, it was a cyclical , or, after the Greeks, a linear structure, as explained above. 21
  29. 29. Martin Hogan Concept of the Self A Problematics of Belief Structures and the Creation of the point when a sudden change in Belief Structures can be identified; to dig down into its historiography for a schism that expresses a self referential politics within theology, that is, to identify the self referential as opposed to interallum redere that has so far been identified. From time to time Man has confronted itself with the idea of apocalyptical events but it took deepest root in the Semitic religions 29 (at least, there has been a significant political exploitation of the concept from this root), where it seems to be linked with the concept of Guilt, most famously in the Hebrew Testament. Whilst Guilt might seem to be an interesting diversion from the norm, it acts more as an explanation for a given position than any specific change in perspective or points of reference of other religions (ass such it is a political and economic tool more than a theological tract and much too deals with the genealogy of a people, relating them to themselves and to their Deity). Baines argued that the Egyptians also had a concept of guilt but this is not as strong as the Hebrew sense (which is again not as strong as modern European senses): ‘I made every man like his fellow. I did not ordain that they do wrong (izfer, ‘disorder’). It was their desires that damaged what I had said.’ The instruction for Merikore (the creator) reads: ‘he has built himself a shrine around them (the people); when they week, he hears’ (line135)30 Here, the God is giving Man free will. Whilst everything is relational to the Deity/ies, there is still the ability for the individual to choose their own course, to be responsible for what they do and not to put all of the onus upon God to ensure their survival and well being. Man does not have domain over God but is able to misinterpret the words, here it is Man’s responsibility to exercise temperance and ensure that the Laws of God are followed. That the creator hears the weeping of the people is a sign that it is a caring creator, not wrathful or malicious, aware of the hardships of life and of the need to offer succour to them. 29 Bottero, J Everyday Life in Mesopotamia, Ch 15: How Sin Was Born Edinburgh 2001. See also Lichteim, M: Ancient Egyptian Literature, California, 1975: ‘I made every man like his fellow. I did not ordain that they do wrong (izfet, disorder). It was their desires that damaged what I had said.’ 30 Baines, J Society, Morality and Religious Practice, in Shafer, B (ed) Religion in Ancient Egypt, Routledge, 1991. 22
  30. 30. Martin Hogan Concept of the Self A Problematics of Belief Structures and the Creation of the What is the relation of Man to its Belief Structure? As Thomas discovered in his research, it has been difficult within Christian Europe to maintain church attendances and even when people do attend a Christian service, it has not stopped them from worshipping other deities at other times 31. Different geographies have achieved very different results with respect to Christianity and this is one of the more clear distinctions between hominis interallum redere and hominis reputare. For the former, the Deity/ies form a part of a structure that encompasses everything Man is it embraces their actions and everything refers back and through it; there is no notion of giving in order to receive, or behaving in a manner that will win more than a small advantage; the failure to have a wish granted is nothing other than that, future wishes and offerings might prove a different result. For the latter, dealings with the Deity/ies are viewed as that. Favours are asked and granted or lost because of a personal relationship with the Deity/ies; Man seeks a level of control (even power) over its Deity. Religion takes on a reduced function, is of much less significance having or finding its own role usurped by other interests of the individual as it looks to its Self, attempting to secure something beyond its present condition rather than within it and by so doing, it relegates its Deistic practices to satisfying the requirements of the dogmatis theologia instead of the Deity/ies. Again, in its drive to reference through itself, hominis reputare will constantly compare, seek for a justification through a movement of the Self from where it was; interallum redere is justified through the continuation of existence (not life per se), the placation of distress and the self fulfilling justification of an embracing Belief Structure. Belief Structures will begin to diverge and become distinct as groups become physically separated and as the prevailing theology is adapted to explain a current condition as well as to define, proscribe and prescribe modes of behaviour and conduct but none of this need lead to a specifically radical change in the references of the structure. Indeed, bearing in mind the human proclivity of stasis, radical changes in Belief Structures seem unlikely. A belief Structure manifests itself through Man’s interaction with the world; this includes physical activities, the pictorial, the written and the oral. Physical and oral activities are wholly ephemeral; it has been noted that oral tradition can be passed on 31 Thomas, K Religion and the Decline of Magic, Penguin, 1991 23
  31. 31. Martin Hogan Concept of the Self A Problematics of Belief Structures and the Creation of the with a very high degree of accuracy. Groups sit down and listen to one or more recite a story and correct them if they change anything (e.g. Rink, H; Tales and Traditions of the Eskimo, Dover, 1997); this is both a way to learn stories and a game to spot when a change has been made. So too, oral meetings can seem over as soon as they begin and if they are remembered, it is in tradition and interpretation, leaving the future generations wondering if anything has changed or stayed the same. Written activities are more accurately recorded but every iteration is subject to mistakes or deliberate alteration32. The examples of forgotten languages (Egyptian hieroglyphs, Linear A, Linear B, Sumerian, etc.), are useful in understanding a culture as it is at any time but this will not chart or identify changes; only articulate the present, rarely with any criticism. This leaves us with the medium of the graphic – that which is drawn and painted. That which has a specific meaning at the time of its creation and of its use is the most reliable way of understanding a change several generations later precisely because we can identify symbols used ostensibly for the same purpose, ostensibly by the same people (or their direct descendants) in a specific geography. Much of the art is taken as having some religious significance, so it would appear that if there is a change in the art, there will also be a change in the religious practices. It is also possible that there will be a change in the perception of the relationship between Man and Deity/ies (particularly so if there has not been any apparent change in the rituals and practices adopted at a site). Within the Catholic Church, the use of local languages in place of Latin could be viewed as a change in the relationship to the Deity because it expresses a changed role for the participants – a modification of their ‘mental acceptance’ to quote and transcend the dictionary definition and the same can be said for the incorporation of women within the offices of the Protestant Church. That this change within the Catholic Church is so significant is the point – it has created an enormous discourse and yet the changes within the Greek tradition, as will be explained below, does not seem to have created any discourse. In this respect, the Greek philosophers remained silent upon religion, speaking not of changes but of how a thing could be used. 32 See Cambridge History of Mediaeval Philosophy, which describes the differences and inconsistencies in the works of various European scribes. Some alterations were accidental, some resulting from poor writing, others were attempts at improving a manuscript. 24
  32. 32. Martin Hogan Concept of the Self A Problematics of Belief Structures and the Creation of the CHAPTER 2 – GODS AND THE SELF IN HOMERIC LITERATURE Greek Literature is a difficult concept to define. As has already been said, the Homeric legends as they relate to the Iliad and to the Odyssey are without a date, being written about events that occurred around 1400 BCE, first committed to writing around 800 BCE and turned into a finally approved document in the libraries of Alexandria by Ptolemy. Did Homer exist? Did the Pre-Socratics exist? Did Socrates exist? All these people exist within our beliefs of the Greeks – all these people exist within our perception of a historico-geographic framework that stretches over a thousand years and a collection of island and city states from Asia Minor to central Italy. What is identified here is the spread of an interpretation of the self as a human form, as a direct and clearly defined representation of the human it-self, hence the specific geography is less important than knowing that there is a chronologic-political development that links those areas known as Greece. Within this geo-political context, it is known that various versions of texts were circulated and such differences show that the referent to the deity varied certainly within different regions, although our inability to date texts means that we do not know if there is a significant difference in the time when the texts were being circulated; the difference is in the naming of Zeus as being responsible for the war against Troy; was it at the Will of Zeus, or at the willing of Zeus, or at the counsel of Zeus? This is not a pedantic exercise; if Zeus Willed the war against Troy, as a means of reducing the population, He also Willed the abduction of Helen and influenced the minds of men to drive them to such a destruction for the sake of a woman. If Zeus was responsible for willing a war, then it remains within the realms of Man to determine at least some of the destruction wrought and at some stage to call a halt. The different possible openings within line 5 of the Iliad make the story palpable to those within the Greek sphere but leave open to debate and question the role of the Gods – the cruelty of the Gods, the knowledge of the Gods. Greek Gods did not act alone though; they did not have full and sole responsibility for their actions but acted as a ‘committee’. Having ‘willed’ a war in Chapter I, Zeus then becomes embroiled in a bitter dispute with the other gods, mirroring the dispute between the humans in Chapter II. 25
  33. 33. Martin Hogan Concept of the Self A Problematics of Belief Structures and the Creation of the From where we stand, we know only that there was a text (oral then written) that has come down and has been interpreted that has become known to us at The Iliad. Even the more recent works of Shakespeare suffers from numerous texts and from the works of F A Wolf (Prolegomena), R Lattimore and many others, it is clear that there are many possible readings of Homer. In his essay, The Kypria and its Early Reception, Classical Antiquity 1995, pg. 164-197), R. Scaife points out that there are different versions of the Iliad, with particular geo-political implications. Further, concerning the early extant manuscripts: ‘No papyrus fragments have ever been identified, and the brief sketch I present here depends mainly on the summary produced by a grammarian named Proklas, itself only partially preserved in the Bibliothek of the ninth-century Byzantine scholar Photios.’33 Here, we already removed from Homer. Not only removed from the story of the Iliad through the six hundred years between the event and the first writing down, or for another three hundred years for the comments by Plato but a total of more than two thousand years from the initial telling of the story (surely an event talked of during its own time) to the fragments available in the work of Photios. Aristotle gives us the earliest and most detailed references to Homer in detail in the Poetics (1459a19-b8) and whilst this might mean that Aristotle ‘restored’ Homer to the public, it is also likely that his is the first extant work on the subject. Aristotle does not introduce Homer as a subject for which he believes detailed explanation is needed, he simply includes Homer as the example of a literary genre. Homer was not unknown, there was no problematisation of the author or of the subject matter; simply a statement of eulogy ‘…in addition to what has been said about him previously, one can hardly avoid feeling that Homer showed godlike genius…’ – comments that Aristotle could not have made if Homer was not both known and respected, not least because Aristotle was a respected teacher and would not stake his reputation on Homer if he was a failed poet. Aristotle is concerned with the role of Homer as a poet and a dramatist, not with the nature of the story contained within the Iliad; either to discuss it as an articulation of a theological quandary, or as a political treaties on the behaviour of Greeks – or of the Gods. What should the articulation of theology and politics have been from the Iliad, 33 Scaife, R. The Kypria and its Early Reception, Classical Antiquity. 1995, pg. 164-197 26
  34. 34. Martin Hogan Concept of the Self A Problematics of Belief Structures and the Creation of the at a time when the Greeks were discussing forms of government and the roles of men and gods? There was no referent through the Gods in Homer because the Iliad was written by and about men; the references to the Gods mirrored the behaviours of the human participants and as such were not beyond the realm of the human. That the story was about men and this behaviour was reflected in the behaviour of the Gods is shown in the ordering of the narratives: the story opens at Troy, then moves to Olympus. The problematisation of Greek theatre was not considered by the Platonists; only whether or not such poets and artists should have a role in society, there is no real criticism (constructive or destructive), concerning the content, no comments upon the creation and development of a mode of discourse within Greek theatre and poetry. Plato is concerned with Homer as a poet and theologian, with the concept of religion within Homer. The discussion in Plato is primarily of types, he is not concerned with the actual development of a theology as a problematics; the only development within Plato is a linear module, through from what is believed to be the earlier to the later works of his ouvre.34 In contrast to the plastic arts, where the human form was eulogised and the separation between Man and God all but vanished, within literature, the position of the human was unquestioned, with the deity (as opposed to theology) being supplemental, referred through the human (as in the case of the comparison between Chapter I and Chapter II of the Iliad). For Homer, Zeus gave the Greeks the ability to appreciate politics by means of aidos and dike; that is, through (an awareness of) shame and a respect for others35. This is one of the first descriptions of the human as Homnis reputare – a being that is referential to the Self in the first instance. The apportioning of such a knowledge upon the Greeks distanced the human from God in that it made it responsible for its own actions and also made it the self-referential judge of its own actions. This is illustrated in the refusal of Achilles to fight, Agamemnon’s disparaging and insulting 34 35 Murcoch, I, Fire and the Sun, Plato, Protagoras, b-d 27
  35. 35. Martin Hogan Concept of the Self A Problematics of Belief Structures and the Creation of the of a prophet in Book I; the treatment of prisoners later in the story and the mirrored arguments and disputes between Gods and, elsewhere, between men. 28
  36. 36. Martin Hogan Concept of the Self A Problematics of Belief Structures and the Creation of the CHAPTER 3 – SELF GOD AND OTHER IN EARLY CHRISTIAN LITERATURE Did Moses exist? Did Jeremiah exist? Did Jeremiah exist? Did Ezekiel exist? Did the minor prophets of the Hebrew text exist? Did Jesus exist? Did the disciples of Jesus exist? Again and again and for the third exegesis the questions are not relevant. Not only will these questions not be answered but they must not be answered within a Belief Structure that is homnis interallum redere, within which Belief is based wholly upon the external, upon the ‘otherness’ of that which is a being within itself; the referent lies beyond and remains beyond that which is human. The repetitions and mantras of the referent creates the essence of the structure, not a default to ‘some form’ of a scientifically defined reality or truth (cogito veritas). For homnis reputare, the confirmation of the physical existence of the once removed literary referents (that is, the existence of those who wrote texts about what homnis reputare seeks to prove to be factual historical events), serves to further remove God from the realm of men; increasing the separation through the affirmation of the linear subjectivity of the temporal. Having shown the point of divergence of the referents within the two modes of belief identified and explored the changed referent to the self within early Greek plastic arts and literature; having looked at the changes in subject matter in the works of Hesiod (Theogony, Works and Days - theistic), Aesop (zoomorphic); Homer (theomorphic); identifying areas of change in pre-Socratic thought, from the Eliatic discourse on cause and effect to Zeno’s paradoxes of separation; the final section can now deal with the later effects of the Greek concept of belief and the references to the self contained within it. Within this section, I will explore how the manifestation of the self referential nature in Greek literature (Homnis reputare) and the otherwise referential, theistic cultures (Homnis Interallum Redere) have resulted in self-referential structures such as Christianity and explain why polytheistic Christianity, particularly icon worship, is 29
  37. 37. Martin Hogan Concept of the Self A Problematics of Belief Structures and the Creation of the better suited to this model than other theistic cultures as the predominant Belief Structure. If Christianity is not described as ‘inevitable, but rather as the most successful of a number of possibilities, then this work outlines the early development of a route to the development of the relation of the self and a of a sole deity to Christianity. There are many books that describe the self, explaining which part of the history of man is responsible for a particular understanding but here we are concerned not with any set of definitions of the term, nor specifically with its nature, rather it is with the use of the adjective of self as a referent for human behaviour and the modifications of structures of belief. Most, as with Charles Taylor in The Sources of the Self36, seek to ‘…write a history of the modern identity. With this term I want to designate the assembly of (largely unarticulated) understandings of what it is to be a human agent … the modern West.’ The questions of ‘dos the self exist’; ‘How?’; ‘What are the sources of its interaction – its ontology.’ Are not considered, being long lost in the prehistory of the sources of the self. There remains however, the possibility of surmising an origin from the early articulation of the ‘Western Self’ and an analysis of how this interacts with the other cultures and beliefs. It is normal to speak of a ‘self’ or ‘an awareness of self’ when discussing any socio-geographic ethnography and this is usually discussed in terms of an awareness of or an understanding of ‘The Self’. Here however, the self is not a central point from which to construct a world-view; it is a referent than can be either strong or weak and helps formulate the contextual relationship in which human activities take place The questions here becomes ‘how does a particular religion or form of belief fit into the Belief Structures defined? Is Ether one Or an other? What are the relationships that are formed between different parts of a belief if we view it as belonging to either Homnis reputare or Homnis Interallum Redere? How does Christianity affect (or interact, or is interacted from) other Belief Structures? Is ‘Christianity’, ‘Christianity’ in an altered form, or is ‘Christianity’ another belief under the guise of ‘Christianity’? Is the difference between geographies more significant than differences in religion? 36 Taylor, C, The Sources of the Self, Cambridge, 1992, pg. ix 30
  38. 38. Martin Hogan Concept of the Self A Problematics of Belief Structures and the Creation of the What is the effect upon the literature and the plastic arts of a changed in the referents of belief and how was a changed discourse articulated? 31