I’ve been thinking a lot recently about gnosticism. Not really in a strictly deep sense, because I’ve been just sort of mulling over one of the ideas of gnosticism as it relates to more modern movements.
Namely, the question that I’ve been dwelling on is the question of pneuma and kenoma. More generally, I’ve been thinking of gnosticism’s division of the domain and spirit of God and the domain and spirit of evil. Of course, to a certain degree this is not an immediately obvious heresy, as God is an antithesis of evil, but there is a danger in the sense that it separates God and creation, making all that is physical bad and all that is spiritual good (with great room for falsehood).
What that led me to is a reflection on the problem of postmodernism. I know that may sound like a rather direct statement, but I do consider postmodernism something of an existential threat (no pun intended). The denial of truth strikes me as the opposite of the pursuit of the pneuma in gnosticism.
The reason for this is somewhat simple: gnosticism denies the flesh, the kenoma, and deifies the pneuma and the Logos, God which is the font of the pneuma. Postmodernism worships the flesh, the kenoma, the essence of physical and material being, and denies the pneuma and the Logos.
The particular point which I concern myself with and view as the dangerous seed of postmodernism is the denial of universal truth. The gnostics worship knowledge itself, as an emanation of the Logos. They focus on the numinosity of abstracts, ignoring the potential flaw in such an idea: that the abstract is incomprehensible and that reality may exist as a way to come to a partial, flawed understanding of God.
The postmoderns, on the other hand, believe in the opposite. To them, truth is folly because of the fact that no greater reality exists. To hold a schema which integrates the notion of universals is itself incorrect in the postmodern perspective, because universals are themselves products of individuals and do not pertain beyond the individual. Of course, this is something of an oxymoronic concept (an absolute argument against absolutes), but it is not in and of itself so flawed as one might initially suspect.
However, the danger of the postmoderns is that they preach the doctrine of falsehood. I rarely find myself on common ground with the likes of Hitchens and Dawkins, but in this case I agree with their fundamental analysis: postmodernism denies the fundamental nature of being as something which can be empirically understood. This denial, an untestable hypothesis (which is why postmodernism has survived despite its intrinsic inconsistencies), fosters harm more than good by stripping away the fundamental ability to respond, analyze, assess, and objectively act within the world.
As something of an orthodox, I find myself at a point where I do not draw such a firm distinction between things as the gnostics and the postmoderns. I suppose one could call me broadly an empiricist, in the sense that I believe that things are falsifiable (something postmodernism rejects by its rejection of absolute truth, though it would not perhaps admit this lightly), a skeptic in the sense that I generally consider myself to be certain rather than correct in my assumptions, and a humanist in the sense that I believe in the value and worth of humans as individuals and a collective. I do not feel myself bound by a particular school of thought, but I can say with certainty that any school of thought is superior to the drivel of posthumanism.
And, with that rant aside, let’s talk about my day.
I got plenty of steps. It wasn’t a particularly productive day, but I did some reading (for fun), and I got some writing done for a couple different things.
I really need to get up right when my alarm rings in the morning instead of snoozing it. Having an entirely flexible schedule is nice, but it works best when I’ve got enough self-discipline not to nickel and dime myself with a bunch of little wastes of time.