Friday 1 September 2023

How Modern Man's desire for self-annihilation at death has led (via inverted values) to the societal self-destruction of The West

It seems that the ultimate desire of "evil" is that Men should desire their own annihilation

In "Medieval" times, the main conceptual understanding of "what Satan wants" was to rule a kind of parallel-but-evil world; broadly of the kind more depicted in Dante's Inferno or CS Lewis's The Screwtape Letters. Instead of God there is Satan; instead of angels, there are demons; instead of a divine hierarchy, there is a "lowerarchy"; instead of the happy resurrected, there are souls-in-torment etc.  

But such a Hell retains much of God's creation about it: there is form, structure, order, obedience, diligence etc - therefore such a Hell has potentially a long way to go in increasing its evil. 

It is possible to look at the "Medieval Hell" as a consequence of what damned souls desired for themselves at that time. People then still wanted eternal life - but not a life in Heaven, instead they wanted to continue to indulge their favoured lusts and sadisms;  which, presumably, is why depictions of Hell showed different fates for different types or classes of unrepentant sinner. 

Perhaps for similar reasons; Christian Medieval Man saw both Heaven and Hell as having broadly the same characteristics as the societies he dwelt-in: ruled by a Monarch and the Catholic Church (each similarly organized) - whether Eastern or Western Catholic ("Throne and Altar", as more recent Roman Catholics call it). 

What I am suggesting here is that the sameness between "real life" and the pictures of Heaven and Hell was derived from Man's consciousness; from what Men understood and wanted.

But Modern Man's understanding and desires are very different from Medieval Man. In particular, Modern Man desires that his death be a complete annihilation - such that nothing be left of body or soul. 

Indeed, Modern Man does not believe that there is any such a thing as a soul - in principle separable from the body; but instead he believes that there is a mind, which is merely an abstraction of ongoing observable brain functioning - and such an 'epiphenomenal' mind must therefore cease with bodily death and dissolution. 

Such matters are usually regarded the other way around than I have stated here; with expectation (if not desire) as a consequence of what Men believe. But I am saying instead that belief is a consequence of what Men want

I am saying that the ultimate reason that Modern Men do not believe in life beyond death, is that Men do not want life after death: Modern Men instead want annihilation at death.  

I am saying that in this situation; desire causes belief, not the other way around. 

If we assume that desire causes belief, and belief causes Men's values; and if Men's values cause Men's behaviour; then we may infer that the fundamental nature of Modern Society is ultimately a consequence of Modern Men's desires

To put it the other way around: Men's desires shapes society - via Men's values.

Therefore - given that Modern Men desire annihilation, it should not be surprising that Modern Society seeks its own annihilation; nor should it be surprising that this operates via increasingly-explicit value-inversion

What is truly astonishing about Modern Society (especially in the West, and where Western values dominate) - and what is apparently unprecedented in world history - is that the fundamentals of human biological life have become officially and systematically denied, destroyed, and inverted. 

Something as biologically natural and spontaneous as eating and drinking are under continual assault, top-down; to dissociate them from anything natural, to delete whatever is instinctive, to reshape and invert preferences. We often get 'idealistic' depictions of a future in which grossly unnatural and distorted foods and drinks are regarded as progress: in which such a situation is regarded as moral progress.

(The globalist totalitarian support and incentives for 'veganism' is a mainstream example; its morphing into propaganda for Westerners eating/ subsisting-on artificial-meat and factory-processed insects/ grubs, is a further inversion.)

Something as biologically natural and spontaneous as sex and reproduction have, of course, long since been atomized into components, and inverted. 

Sex is now dissociated from reproduction; both natural sex and reproduction are regarded negatively and it has become illegal, punishable to advocate them. 

Whatever is non-biological and sterile is aggrandized, propagandized, subsidized - de facto mandatory in particular circles. 

Something as biologically natural and spontaneous as family, is likewise subjected to inversion following decades of successful destruction. Natural and biological family is increasingly depicted as innately evil, oppressive, exploitative; and "anything-else" is deliberately (with upfront financial and status rewards) mass-presented in idealized ways, with an inbuilt assumption of their superiority.  

I regard these mainstream, official, totalitarian-imposed social-aspects of Modern Life; as distal consequences of the proximate desire for self-annihilation that characterizes Modern Man. 

Put differently: the ultimate cause of the inverted values which are destroying Western Society (and probably, to some large extent, the whole world) - is the positive wish of so many individual Western Men to be utterly annihilated (body and mind/ soul/ spirit) when they die. 

Because... When so many people desire their own self-annihilation, of course society will come to reflect and to fulfill those desires! 


william arthurs said...

Various theorists of death have argued that cremation, especially if followed by the scattering rather than interment of ashes, is symbolic of this desire for self-annihilation.

Philippe Aries in L'Homme devant La Mort (Eng. tr. The Hour of Our Death) suggests that cremation is part of the "most radical version of the invisible death". The invisible death being a death regarded as an embarrassment, rather than as a natural, inevitable event for which one lives one's life in preparation.

Bruce Charlton said...

@William a - It is not cremation *as such*, because cremation was a feature of some ancient British neolithic societies which certainly believed in a life after death - others left the bodies exposed for animals and birds to pick clean. In these instances it can be inferred that these practices were related to beliefs about liberating the spirit from the dead body.

But I agree it may be that for *modern* Men cremation is regarded as part of the understanding of total annihilation.

Mia said...

Crimes of the Future depicts our next level of Hell. Don't torture yourself by looking it up- short version is it shows future people wanting to eat literal plastic (also arbitrary surgery replaces sex entirely).

Francis Berger said...

I imagine that most Westerners today accept the idea of man desiring self-annihilation at death (what else is there?) but dismiss the idea of man desiring self-annihilation while still alive, unless it is to end suffering or misery -- and therein lies the crux of the matter.

whiteknight32be said...

"is the positive wish of so many individual Western Men to be utterly annihilated (body and mind/ soul/ spirit) when they die."

Personally I would write "the active wish" instead of "the positive wish". Desiring self-annihilation is exactly what a Sorathic society (in the making) would aim for. Knowing that one is an "ensouled Spirit" which has the very opposite (of self-annihilation) as Its destiny is only a first step (I think) towards Self-Knowledge and so much More.

In Tibet it was in ancient history common to opt for one of four ways to deal with a dead person. Either a "sky burial" (body cut to pieces and eaten by carrion birds; air element), cut into pieces and thrown in a river to be eaten by fish (water element), buried in the soil (to be consumed by worms etc; earth element) or cremation (fire element). This was based on Tibetan astrology.

Maybe we ought to take it upon us, as a kind of Divine Mission, to counter-act any-thing that is of a Sorathic nature?

Bruce Charlton said...

"Maybe we ought to take it upon us, as a kind of Divine Mission, to counter-act any-thing that is of a Sorathic nature?"

In principle, yes - I agree. But the totalitarian establishment have taken sufficient care that - often - those who oppose (Sorathic) destruction are channeled into defending The (Ahrimanic) System.

Indeed, it is difficult, when dealing with actual power, to avoid defending one or more aspects of The System, since all organizations and institutions (including Christian churches) are heavily-linked to The System via a multitude of laws, rules, taxes, and regulations (only by compliance with-which the churches are allowed to function) - plus a further control by means of granting or withholding subsidies and tax breaks.

Sometimes there is no Good option but only a lesser of evils to support, yet we should not forget that by doing this we are indeed supporting evil. Maybe support-with-repentance is in-order.

So, I would say that we should counteract all destruction of The Good, where possible; but preferably Not by shoring-up net-evil (e.g. 'converged') institutions, and certainly not by defending (or praising) that which is merely a lesser evil.

whiteknight32be said...

"Counteract all destruction of The Good, where possible".

I agree, yes. In a thread I once created on a forum, I called this "Persist to resist", which means not to go along with "What is Evil" (Sorathic), wherever, whenever or in whatever form. It's true that to go against The System is incredibly challenging, it always has been but now it is even more so.

Deciphering what is Luciferian or Ahrimanic or Sorathic is a challenge in and by itself. And so very few people are even interested in figuring this out.

Maybe you are right there is (today) no Good option, yet I am not so sure about this. No matter how "large" Evil gets, there can/could/should always be a way to defend The Good.

What I call "the 4 I's" may help us: Imagination, Intuition, Inspiration and Idealisation. But how one fills in these four, is up to the individual I think.

This is part of what I call "the Road Least Traveled", which is probably the Loneliest Path ever.

whitney said...

The inversion. Blessed are the barren and those that seek death.
I used to see this passage differently than I do today.

Luke 23:28-30
[28]But Jesus turning to them, said: Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not over me; but weep for yourselves and for your children.
[29]For behold, the days shall come, wherein they will say: Blessed are the barren and the wombs that have not borne and the paps that have not given suck.
[30]Then shall they begin to say to the mountains: Fall upon us. And to the hills: Cover us.

Avro G said...

Maybe it’s not just death western/modern men crave but also a broader destruction. Christopher Hitchens once said of death something like, “the worst thing about it is not that the party is over, but that the party goes on without you.” There is an element of “if I can’t have it no one can.” The man who currently styles himself “pope” routinely urges young people to “make a mess!” An only slightly cleaned up version of the cretinous rock n roll cry of “f*** s*** up!” As if to say, “apres moi, le deluge,” not as prophecy but as an aspiration.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Avro - That's pretty much what I mean by Sorathic evil - a spiteful desire for others to suffer (even at the cost of 'myself' suffering). It has always been common (one sees it all over the internet, all the time), and often its extremity of evil is not fully appreciated, or is not believed - maybe because it seems so petty.

People easily recognize evil rooted in self-interest, but have a blind spot when evil is rooted in resentment. Yet such spiteful evil may be pursued over long periods, involving much effort, and for no personal gain - but simply from the satisfaction at harm inflicted.

It must be recognized as a motivation, or else we fail to understand the reality of this world; and the nature of the spiritual war.

Howard Ramsey Sutherland said...

Modern Man's faults, according to this calculation, are heavy indeed!
But it's true; in most ways that matter, Mediaeval Man is a far healthier creature than Modern Man. Inability to conceive of an afterlife as anything more than annihilation is a desperate failure of imagination and inspiration. C.S. Lewis's The Discarded Image is a good introduction to the mind of Mediaeval Man and a reminder of all that we've lost since, despite our scientific advances.
There is a lot of speculation, much very learned, about how Man moved from the understandings of Mediaeval Man to the largely thoughtless nihilism of Modern Man, and just when Western Man (for that's really whom we're talking about) crossed that threshold. But what I haven't been able to identify is what set in motion the train of events that leads to where we are now, whatever date one selects for its beginning. Or, more precisely, who set the downward slide in motion; we can name many of the human villains, but some extra-human force is behind them.
Surely a belief that this mortal life is all we'll ever have is a great spur to earthly resentments, and a great temptation to damnation.
It cannot be coincidental that Christian priests and ministers in every church and denomination no longer preach about Heaven and Hell.
When my time comes, I hope I shall welcome it as timely - and I'm explicit that I do not want my body cremated: bury my earthly remains whole and intact! Just be very sure I truly am dead first...

Bruce Charlton said...

@Howard - I don't know if it was the same in your day; but in WWI even the most courageous the fighter ("scout") pilots feared, above all, being burned to death in the aircraft.

I wonder whether this was entirely due to the expectation of pain (spending several minutes helplessly descending from 15,000 feet to smash into the ground seems even worse to me), or whether there is something particularly feared about death by fire?

Howard Ramsey Sutherland said...

We did not fear that specifically, but we had the luxury of flying around sitting on ejection seats, which would shoot us free of the aircraft if things got too bad and let us float down under a parachute. Unlike their WWII successors and my generation, almost all WWI fighter pilots had to fly without even a parachute.
Death by fire is a horrible thing to contemplate. Remember the people who chose to leap to certain death from the World Trade Center on 9/11/2001 rather than burn. I read a biography of Joan of Arc when I was about ten, which left me with a life-long horror of burning at the stake.
Solid hits on a WWI fighter would almost certainly set fire to the fuel tank and engine, with no way to put it out. To be shot down often meant burning on the way down, unless already dead from enemy rounds. There are accounts that claim that some pilots jumped from burning aircraft rather than burn all the way down. But I don't know if those are true; I do know the 9/11 accounts are.

Bruce Charlton said...

@HRS - Which makes Archbishop Cranmer's (Protestant!) martyrdom all the more impressive; he deliberately put his right hand into the flames first, because it had previously signed a false recantation.

I have tended to assume that any *quick* death is much more bearable than the days (or weeks) long, escalating painful deaths that one sometimes sees in medicine. I think that - usually - in acute and extreme pain, consciousness shuts-off, and the mind dissociates from the body so that pain is felt somewhat remotely.

Bruce Charlton said...

@HRS "what set in motion the train of events"

That's where I have found Barfield so helpful; he describes how innate developments in human consciousness (reacted-to wrongly) were the primary cause of this train of events.

Howard Ramsey Sutherland said...

I need to study Barfield more closely; I'm more familiar with him from you than from the man himself.
As for Cranmer, this Catholic hopes he found mercy. He was very brave at the end.
As to whether we can dissociate from pain at the end, I hope so. The very few people I've been with then they died seemed to be in a state of that kind. And it is true that with severe wounds, we don't feel the pain right away (once that led me to injure myself further, walking on a badly wounded leg when shock had not yet subsided and pain had not yet warned me not to).