Friday, October 12, 2012

can philosophy debate theology? you bet

our discussion on theology was intense but, a couple of points:

in case i was too overpowering (my apologies). i failed to defend a larger point about what this class is about.  

1- philosophy is a discipline about critique & analysis of ideas
2- religion is a practice & a collection of beliefs (ideas)
3- theology is a branch of religion
so, given 1 & 2 & 3, theology is up for philosophical discussion

the discussion of theology is a legitimate philosophical concern. no need for apologies now. by discussing ideas, philosophy is not stepping into anybody's turf or property.

I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.--Isaiah xiv, 7.

the quote above is from isaiah. the question is how is god so lenient with satan? he can destroy him, instead, keeps him at arms length. why? hint: what is the book of job without satan?

the devil represents evil, but why evil?there are several ways to look at this:

*ontological: good & evil are ontologically together. one cannot be thought without the other.  
*cosmological: history begins with goodness. evil is a "perversion" of things in time. some, not all good, becomes evil. after the end of history, evil disappears and we return to the original state of bliss.
*instrumental: (defended by spinoza): goodness is what is useful to us, evil the opposite.
*there is a beyond good and evil of nietzsche's transvaluation of all values which aims at erasing traditional christian theological borders.  
*mythological: good & evil are needed opposites: in egypt there's ra, osiris & isis against apep the serpent and set, the ravager, father of deceit and of lies. the phoenicians opposed baal to moloch and astarte, in india indra is opposed to vritra and the asuras. in persia ormuzd has to contend with ahriman for the lordship of the world, etc. so, there is a deeper mythological prototype that brands this good/evil association.

now my thought experiment. can satan be forgiven? well, it's conceivable (here we count with god's omnibenevolence).

1. to be forgiven, satan would have to repent. repentance implies change, which is implicit in the notion of being. being is not what one is and it is what one is not (more of this sartrean lemma later). satan hasn't changed, presumably because he's chosen not to. his "fall" rests on this premise. one cannot invoke satan's "nature" causing satan's becoming, since the being of satan has a prehistory, i.e., lucifer. this prehistory of satan would have to be rejected to rule out this possibility for this prehistory is what causes satan.

2. satan's being cannot be self-ruled since "being" is what one finds as one exists. being is not self-presence to itself. being is time and time is not ecstatic. in fact, satan's being is related to the very exclusion of goodness from satan's nature in order to avoid thinking, reasoning the good (i.e., even in the heart of evil there must be a space for guilt). satan's evil (what we call "satanic") responds to perpetuating his own "nature" by restricting himself to thinking the good (or guilt, which is thinking one's erring). in order to be satan, he has to constantly defer goodness. so, in a sense, satan is not what he is. that is to say, there is always more or less to being than itself. this more or less is time, the unpredictable future. satan's "being," as stereotyped and beleaguered as it is, is no exception.

3. satan's repentance takes a reversal of that primeval rebellious act in his prehistory.  though he cannot become lucifer (since time & history cannot be undone), one can only speculate that he takes a more subdued role.

this reformed angel-who-was-satan wishes no more of his past. now he's content with god's forgiveness in oblivion. will it be time for another proud & inexperienced angel to take his place?  but then, could there be a universe of goodness without evil?

below, the list for the midterm and this week's post.

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