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Letters by a modern St. Ferdinand III about cults

Gab@StFerdinandIII - Plenty of cults exist - every cult has its 'religious dogma', its idols, its 'prophets', its 'science', its 'proof' and its intolerant liturgy of demands.  Cults everywhere:  Islam, the State, the cult of Gay and Queer, Marxism, Darwin and Evolution, 'Science', Globaloneywarming, Changing Climate, Abortion....a nice variety for the human-hater, amoral, anti-rationalist to choose from.  It is so much fun mocking them isn't it ?

Tempus Fugit Memento Mori - Time Flies Remember Death 

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Thursday, April 08, 2010

The discovery of individualism.

A Western and Christian invention.

by StFerdIII




It might seem absurd to us, that 'individualism' as a concept was 'invented'. But it most assuredly was. The idea of individual free-will was a Jewish and Christian innovation, which became entrenched in the culture and attitudes of Europeans during the poorly named 'Middle Ages' in Christianized and Gallo-Romanized Europe. This is the only time and place in history where the individual was held to be more important than the group and where the person was blessed with natural law rights, a soul, conscience and the capacity for individual fulfillment. No other culture, ideology or system in world history ever produced the invention of 'individualism'.

This includes the Greek and Roman empires. These are often cited as exemplars of Western culture, but in many respects both were Oriental. In both Greece and Rome philosophers and 'thinkers' never had the same approach to the 'person' as the Christianized Europeans were to possess. Plato denounced private property and elevated the rule of a wise elite over the masses. He was hardly alone in this ignorant disavowal of the individual. No Roman or Greek writers elevated the person above the group, tribe or empire. The group or the commune was the collective which conferred rights to the person. The community determined the form of worship to the state approved list of accepted 'Gods', and the collective group was in both Greece and Rome, the focus of politics, rule, education and living – not the person. It is clear that though the ancient Greeks and Romans were far freer and more individualized than the Orientals including the Arabs, Muslims, Persians or Chinese; the Romano-Greco ideal state was one based on community – not the person.

It was the Jews, and than more importantly and thoroughly the 'Christians', who created the main propositions which led to a culture espousing the worth of the person, over that of the state or communal. This is a historical black and white fact. We know this to be true because the ethos of independent free-will, personal accountability, and the culture of individual achievement was only developed, protected and extended in Western Europe from 500 AD to 1500 AD. In no other locale in history was the individual ever allowed to act on his own free will. In no other epoch or geography, other than Western Europe, was the modern world created. There therefore has to be a direct and obvious link between Christianity and individual freedom.

The derivative of focusing on the worth of the person is of course freedom. Economic, political and moral freedom to be exact. When the group or communal 'owns' or monopolizes all 'rights', the individual and personal freedom in socio-economic matters cannot and does not exist. It is only when the person is the central organizing principle of society, that economic, political and spiritual freedom can follow. Only in the Christian states after the gentle decline of Rome, do we see the ethos of individuality trumping that of state coercion and monopolistic control of socio-economic functions. Only in Christian Europe do we find in the vernacular languages the word 'freedom' [or free from domination]. In most non-European languages the word freedom did not exist. There was no need for it since the very idea was only created in Europe.

Augustine famously declared in the 4th century that, “....we do by our free will whatsoever we know and feel to be done by us only because we will it. But that all things come from fate we do not say; nay we affirm that nothing comes to pass by fate.” This is a fantastic summary of Christian free will theology. The ancient Greeks and Romans believed in the endless and rather pointless cycles of history.  The individual was fatalistically doomed by unseen powers.  Humans were toys played with by the various 'Gods'. Fate was pre-ordained. You were a slave because a God had pre-determined that fate. You died in battle because a God deemed it so. You lost an empire because the Gods were displeased and that was to be your fate anyways. The fatalistic Oracle of Delphi is an exemplar of this superstition. Only a culture mired in mysticism would deign to believe that stoned women chewing on datura leaves, high on sulphur and carbon dioxide emissions from a crack in the earth, who talked in fatalistic riddles, would be speaking some 'truth' or Mother Earth divined 'prophecy'. A society which enshrined free-will, rationality and individual purpose rejects fate and accepts that what happens to you, is in large part, a consequence of actions taken, and decisions made.  Oracles would be considered useless in such a cultural setting.

Aquinas some 800 years after Augustine reaffirmed this Christian commitment to rational freedom writing, “....A man can direct and govern his own actions also. Therefore the rational creature participates in the divine providence not only in being governed but also in governing.” I think therefore I am. I am a functional and superior being – not a rat, a cat or a chair. Descarte's rationalism comes directly out of Christian theology. So does the entire edifice of the Enlightenment. If Christianity did not exist, there would never have been a European secular scientific 'evolution'. It is as simple as that.

Christians taught that bad moral choices have consequences. They also taught that bad secular choices produce negative results. The reason and clarity of these rather simple propositions cannot be underestimated. In no other culture in man's history can we find the idealization of faith and reason mixed together. In no Oriental cultures do we find free-will. Islam is the direct anti-thesis of freedom, demanding by force, total submission to its cult. No Indian or Chinese system of belief has free-will and the consequences of choice as part of its philosophy. It only existed in Christian Europe.

In every non-Christian culture, freedom was a privilege, not a right. Aristotle summed up this Oriental fascination with slavery, “From the hour of their birth, some are marked out for subjection, others for rule.” This is a pithy description of fatalism. You are born into your station in life. You can't control your life. Your destiny is not self-made but ordained. No freedom here.

It is clear that the path to the modern world was first laid when the Oriental despotism of Rome finally and quietly collapsed. Only then could local and individual forces and culture in combination with Christian theology begin the long arduous and looping journey to establish the core ideals which created the modern world political-economy. In no other location in world history were the concepts of free-will, individualism, self-worth and moral choice enshrined. That is because no other spatial and geographical expression was Christian.

 


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