Thursday 8 June 2023

Increased self-consciousness *should* imply a move from externally- to internally-motivated - but culture (and 'reaction') is doing the opposite

The development of human consciousness over the past several hundred years (the "modern" era, from c1500) has been towards great self-consciousness - often experienced negatively as cut-off-ness, alienation, isolation, solipsism, despair...

But, in a positive sense; this change has been towards greater freedom or "agency"; and it sustained (during its earlier generations) a great burst of individual geniuses who deployed this new agency in great works of literature, art, science, ideas etc. 

Yet the major developments of modern culture - especially over the past century or so) have been towards a more complete - "totalitarian" control of the human mind.

This, by means of ever-larger and more cross-linked bureaucracies; covering ever-more of life; integrated with a vast apparatus of propaganda and manipulation we term the Mass Media; and these systems have moved from national to multi-national ("global") control, over recent decades.  

In other words; the social trends have been in the opposite direction than the development of consciousness. 

This opposition of social and personal can be understood in terms of the perceived-need for rulers to monitor and control their - more potentially-autonomous - citizens more thoroughly. And this entailed getting them to respond to external motivations rather than to their (increasingly powerful) inner motivations. 

In other words; external society has fought-against the inner trend towards greater freedom, agency, creativity

And, so far; external and social control has been winning - hands-down! - against the individual and inward developments of consciousness; especially since the massive spread of Mass, then Social, media from the 1990s. 

But this expanding external control System (of bureaucracy and media) has been overwhelmingly and increasingly evil in its motivations; and this has triggered resistance to this evil among those who were less thoroughly and less-deeply mind-controlled. 

In other words; there have been reactionary movements, opposing the mainstream; and some of these "reactionaries" are Christian. 

Yet, (overwhelmingly) Christian reactionaries have not opposed the social trend towards increased external control - but instead have sought to replace evil-motivated external control with various forms of (putative, because they have not happened) Good-motivated external-control. 

Christian reactionaries are just as opposed to the modern-era developments of human consciousness as are the globalist leftists. 

The difference is that Christian reactionaries are, or aspire to be, totalitarians on-behalf-of-God

Thus we can observe all kinds of proposals for what is believed to be a "restoration" of Christianity as an external system of monitoring and control; but replacing the secualr-leftist global leadership with "The" Church... with the the specific identity of this church varying among the advocates. 

The scale of proposed change may be international - for those who adhere to an actual international church - by means of changing the leadership and enforcing the practices of that church. Or the proposed change may be local and piecemeal e.g. setting-up a small personal dictatorship, purporting to be "on behalf of" the real international church - whether institutional or spiritual. 

What Romantic Christianity does, in contrast, is to accept and embrace the inner development towards greater self-consciousness - for its enhancements in agency and creativity; and argue that inner-motivation should become the core of Christianity. 

This implies a move away from, in opposition to, all forms of external control; whatever ideal they serve, or purport to serve. 

It entails each individual accepting ultimate responsibility for his spiritual situation and choices; and moving towards an attitude that evaluates and discerns all forms of external control, and attempts at external motivation. 

Society cannot be eluded, nor opted-out-from; society is necessary and inevitable - and contains much good. 

But the Romantic Christian faces all societies with an attitude of inner-evaluation towards all external influences - including all actual churches, and all possible churches. 

He seeks ultimate motivations from within - and direct from the divine; to clarify and strengthen such motivations; and, insofar as his faith is rooted in the promises of Jesus Christ of resurrected life eternal - then external social influences cannot prevent him achieving what he most desires.  


Loïc Simond said...

I was kind of puzzled by trying to conciliate the evolutionary-development of human consciousness with these times seeing the incarnation of more evil oriented souls. I would have initially thought the opposite: that such a privilege would be reserved for the "best" ones. However, as you have explained, that is not the case. And thinking of it again, an increased self-consciousness in a world ruled by entropy where cutt-of-ness from the spiritual world can only be overcome briefly at the expense of great efforts appear to me as a translation of the Fall in metaphysical terms. Experiencing this mortal life more immersed in the spiritual world and then developing self-consciousness in Heaven seems to be a "smoother" way to grow.

My hypothesis is that an increased self-consciousness in this world is required for more evil orientated souls in order to overcome their evil orientation and become prodigal sons. While an overall good orientated child just needs to grow according to its innate orientation and further develop in Heaven; the more evil oriented one needs an increased self-consciousness in this world in order to be able to learn and not reject Heaven.

Would you see this as a motive behind the evolutionary-development of human consciousness?

Bruce Charlton said...

@LC - Your hypothesis sounds reasonable.

I need to keep reminding myself that God does not work on groups and masses of people but on individual souls - so that the general statements are (mostly) summations of many individual situations.

Nonetheless; the value-inversions of today (in The West, and among the globalist leadership class everywhere) are so extreme and extraordinary, that the situation does seem to require some kind of explanation.

I would add to your explanation that I think the Mormons are correct to emphasize that we seem to need incarnation (bodies) in order to progress towards higher divinity. I take it that this was why Jesus had a mortal life, before resurrection and ascension.

But Mormon theology does not (Or, I haven't seen it) seem to have an explanation for why these need first to be temporary mortal bodies, which must die before resurrection to eternal incarnation. A two-step process.

But - for many souls - presumably those that either do not need or would not benefit from the experiences of a long life - it seems that a very brief incarnation (into the womb, or for a short period of childhood) will suffice; since early death in utero or around birth has been normal, the commonest life, through most of human history.

Francis Berger said...

The point about substituting one totalitarianism for another is crucial. The desire to return to a totalitarianism on behalf of God seems to stem partly from disillusionment. When totalitarianism for God faded, we became more free, but where has that brought us?

It's a valid point to a certain extent, but it ignores the essence and necessity of greater freedom, agency, and creativity, without which real spiritual growth becomes difficult, if not impossible.

We really have reached the point we must ask ourselves what Christianity is and what is meant to do. Is it primarily an externally imposed sociopolitical model formed around a church? Or does it have the potential to be something more?

The Anti-Gnostic said...

A distinction should be drawn between "totalitarian" and "authoritarian." E.g. the distinction between Mao Tse Tung and Xi Jaoping, or Stalin and Putin. The reactionaries Franco and Pinochet were authoritarian, God rest their souls.

Bruce Charlton said...

@AG - Totalitarian is a 20th century onwards thing and intrinsically evil; authoritarian is essentially a meaningless term: a kind of boo-word against any government in the past, or one in the present that one happens to dislike.