Jesus the ritual sacrifice

Discussion in 'Christianity' started by exile, Jan 27, 2013.

  1. radarmark

    radarmark Quaker-in-the-Making

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    Okay. The universe is not only composed of matter and energy, but thought and the product of thought as well (call them mental experiences or entities). Chief among these is what is usually called “Philosophy”, the reflexion on fundamental notions like reality, existence, knowledge, and values. The most fundamental form of philosophy is “first philosophy” or “speculative philosophy” or “metaphysics” (in the classical, not modern sense). As A.N. Whitehead put it "Speculative Philosophy is the endeavor to frame a coherent, logical, necessary system of ideas in terms of which every element of our experience can be interpreted." I think I have established my basis (metaphysics) in the last lengthy post plus this introductory paragraph.

    In philosophy (what used to be the Western Canon, but now pretty much a World-Wide Canon) the reflexion on the matter of “values” (what we should seek, what is beautiful, what is meaningful, what is just, what is right) is more properly called axiology, roughly the philosophical study or reflexion on notions of value.

    In turn, ethics is the axiology of the values (or ethical properties) of “just”, “right”, “good”. I consider both meta-ethics (the reflexion on the nature of these ethical properties) and value theory (the reflexion on why individuals hold one ethical theory or another) the first two components of ethics; the other three being descriptive, normative, and applied ethics.

    Of all of these five sub-categories, normative ethics (what “one should do” or how “one should behave”) is, in my opinion, the most basic. Why? Values are what we decide on or choose in normative ethics, and values are really what are basic to ethics and axiology.

    Values are what drive ethical choices and actions. They are to ethics what Speculative Philosophy is to philosophy; the foundation, the root. Values denote the ethical importance (in terms of “just”, “right”, “good”) of a notion (be it how to live justly or how to do good) with the goal of determining what action or way of living is “the best” (a kind of deontology, a value of judgment of what is the most valuable way to live).

    Yes, this is a very old fashioned and pre-modernist notion of what ethics is and what it should be. But for me, it is a middle way between the Scylla of subjective selfishness and self-promotion and the Charybdis of troubling tribalism and exclusivity. I do not believe that psychology or cultural studies add anything of real importance to ethics. They merely confuse the issue or muddy the waters or justify mob actions.

    This is the realm of morals; the study of religious and cultural norms that substitute for ethics. A moral code has built in limitations (this set of morals apply to “primitive folk”, this moral code applies to “civilized people”, this code only applies to “the post-modern era”). No, I think that by individuals focusing on and discovering their ethics, the moral code can be uplifted. But that is a secondary, temporal link, not a sufficient cause.

    In the end it is a given in my value theory, in my ethical code that behavior and action should be judged (in the deontological sense if you need to do that) by a developing, revealed, discoverable standard and not by the whims of the marketplace. Again, I am sorry if this upsets you, Jane Q.
     
  2. Jane-Q

    Jane-Q ...pain...

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    Hi, radarmark.

    . . . it is a given in my value theory, in my ethical code that behavior and action should be judged . . . by a developing, revealed, discoverable standard . . .
    I am sorry if this upsets you, Jane Q.

    Why should I be upset?
    It is a good theory.
    It is just wrong. (Well . . . archaic.)

    To me, morality is not a "head thing" (as it appears to be with you). Nor is morality a "heart thing" (matters of "honor" as in primitive societies).
    Both rely on "standards," on a "code of conduct." On group-think.

    Actual morality is like the scientific method.
    It does not have readymade answers.
    (There is no "group-think" involved. Each moment of "moral" behavior is tabula rasa. Just as is any scientific lab experiment.)

    Each moment of moral behavior is a "tryst." An encounter, isolated from all other considerations. A kind of a laboratory, within the conjoined psyche of two individuals.

    After my previous post, I began to have doubts about my "definition of morality." Over and against yours.

    So I dug up an old textbook of mine. Developmental Psychology: Theory, Research, and Applications (1985) by David R. Shaffer. Chapter 14 deals with "Moral Development and Self-Control," focusing upon three different streams of 20th-century research regarding the moral development of children. (Lot of statistics.)

    Psychological research has focused on three basic components of morality: the affective, or emotional, component, the cognitive component, and the behavioral component.

    Psychoanalytic theorists emphasize the emotional aspects of moral development. According to Freud, the kind of emotional relationship a child has with his or her parents will determine the child's willingness to internalize parental standards of right and wrong. Freud also believed that a child who successfully internalizes the morality of his parents will experience negative emotions such as shame or guilt -- that is, moral affect -- if he then violates these ethical guidelines.

    Cognitive-developmental theorists have concentrated on the cognitive aspects of morality, or moral reasoning, and have found that the ways children think about right and wrong may change dramatically as they mature.

    Finally, the research of social-learning theorists has helped us understand how children learn to resist temptation and to practice moral behavior, inhibiting actions such as lying, stealing, and cheating that violate moral norms.

    a. Moral affect (Freud, Erickson, other psychoanalysts). "Superego" theory.
    b. Moral reasoning (Piaget, Kolberg, other cognitive-development psychologists). Moral stages, or "moral reasoning" or changing-rationale theory.
    c. Moral behavior (Aronfreed, Bandura, Hartshorne & May, other social-learning behavioralists). "Theory of Specificity," or morally responsible or "self-reinforcing" behavior.

    All three theoretic approaches are discussed at length (pages 557-578), and are fully critiqued. Each are good theories. But each reveal problems when tested, and each carries varying degrees of cultural baggage.

    The key to all three is not the actual (objectified) "code of conduct" itself.
    But the internalization process within the developing child (how existing codes are subjectified).

    Internalization.
    The psychological internalization of social codes.

    Does "morality" become a "stable and unitary" attribute within a mature individual? (Page 578.)
    a. Psychoanalysts? . . . Yes.
    b. Cognitive-development theorists? . . . Yes, pretty much.
    c. Social-learning behavioralists? . . . No.

    So we see that morality is neither a unified whole, as envisioned by the psychoanalytic and the cognitive-developmental theorists, nor totally specific to the situation, as social-learning theorists argue. It is possible that moral affect, moral reasoning, and moral behavior emerge as three separate "moralities" that older children eventually integrate to some extent as they reach that point in their intellectual development when they are able to recognize the basic commonalities among these three moral components. However, it is unlikely that the "moral character" of even the most mature of adults is perfectly consistent across all settings and situations.

    radarmark.
    Your definition of "morality," in the real world, is two-thirds correct, it turns out. My definition is one-third correct.
    So, technically, you win this point.

    But if you apply my three-level "thought experiment" model, it is entirely consistent with these findings:

    a. Primitive "swampdesert" people exist via internalized family or clan or tribal "values." What anthropologists call "honor and shame" behavior. Values are acquired (and internalized) from the words and deeds of daddy or mommy or the clan headman or the tribal chieftain. Values are emotionally held (i.e. are "affective"), and are (externally) reinforced by the community via shunning (or worse). "Transgressions" are perceived as going against the family's or the tribe's value dictates. A breach of "closed-group" values.

    b. Civilized "platform" people exist by internalizing the prevailing civic "ethics." This is a public world which, to stay "peaceful and orderly," must apply fairly to everyone, whether others are genetically related to you or unrelated. Ethics is ruled by basic fairness or "justice." Ethical precepts are acquired (and internalized) from words and deeds by a teacher-figure, a parent acting as teacher or by an actual teacher, or by a civic leader (or a king or president or philosopher). This code of ethics is usually (externally) reinforced by laws and by threat of social ostracism. But at its core, it is a "reasoned" code (i.e. is cognitive). "Do not do unto others what you would prefer to not be done unto yourself." It provides an intelligent "rationale" for good conduct (e.g. peaceful society, everyone prospers). An "open-group" set of ethics. Basic fairness.

    c. Modern "forcefield" people exist through internalizing all social standards from wherever they might come. When facing an actual moral dilemma, basically these competing "standards" cancel each other out (just consumer options, Victorian-style soft "norms" which have seen stricter days). All moral standards are, de facto, ignored . . . when an actual decision needs to be made. Morality (as "behavior," i.e. the way morality is actually practiced) is "situational." Always. There is no (external) "group reinforcement." Behavior decisions are entirely internal, i.e. "self-reinforcing." The rationale for the moral decision, here, comes not from the parental voice lingering inside the person's head (tribal values) nor from the teacher's voice lingering inside the person's head (public ethics). No. It comes entirely from voices of the "self" inside the person's own head. (Self, but also the voices and actions of the other person involved in this specific situation.) No "group-think" plays any part in the moral decision, neither externally nor internally. There is not (nor can it be otherwise) any unifying code undergirding "situational morality." No rulebook. (Which I consider to be the genuine state of morality.)

    There is a box on page 571:

    doctrine of specificity:
    a viewpoint shared by many social-learning theorists which holds that moral reasoning and moral behavior depend more on the situation one faces than on an internalized set of moral principles.

    And their data backs it up.
    (More recent studies may have overturned this viewpoint. But I would bet against it.)

    radarmark.
    It seems to me that your "ethical" position is largely Part "b" (with a little bit of Part "a"). Something which came into existence pre-Axial Age, and which is still a powerful "civilizing" agent today. But antiquated. Something ("moral reasoning," sense of fairness) which children fully "get" somewhere between age seven and age eleven. (Voice of a "teacher" inside their head.)

    But children do not begin to "get" the "doctrine of specificity" (i.e. don't begin to get that the parental and teacherly voices inside their head are just arbitrary norms), not until they are about age eleven or twelve. Maybe not fully "get" till age fifteen or sixteen. And I don't see any evidence of people anywhere on the planet adopting this viewpoint until after the Axial Age (e.g. Socrates, Zhuangzi, St. Paul). And on a socially wide-spread basis, not till 17th century Europe and beyond.

    Today, people still make decisions like their parents taught them (like hunter-gatherer peoples did).
    Today, people still make decisions like their teachers taught them (like temple-polytheists did).
    But today, what makes us modern (and not swampdesert nor platform, not merely tribal nor merely civil) is the ability to cast off established "codes of conduct" and make one's decisions entirely independent of those two rulebooks inside our head.

    The (psychologically) "modern" situation really is a kind of "forcefield" disengaged from internalized-sociological constraints.

    There are no value verities. (In any eternal sense.)
    There are no ethical verities. (In any eternal sense.)
    They helped humanity get to the modern world. But now that we are here . . .

    (Push come to shove) . . .

    There are no moral norms in decision-making.
    Each situation is unique.


    Jane.


    {I hope this doesn't upset you too much, either, radarmark.}

     
  3. radarmark

    radarmark Quaker-in-the-Making

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    No, I merely disagree with you.
     
  4. stranger

    stranger wolfwing, a feral angel

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    Jane, I hope you don't mind if I comment on a few of your thoughts in some of these recent posts.

    This hesed/chesed/mercy/steadfast love catches my eye because I consider it to be, in whatever form it comes to me, my lifeline.

    Without getting too much into defintions of morality (which can be confusing), I would describe the type of morality you present here as a living, breathing, vital morality which could exist between God and a person or between two persons, dependent upon the presence of hesed alone. The numbers could be greater but I'll stop with the one on one relationships because I can scarcely think of anything more personal than that. This hesed, because it is love, has a dynamic but effortless existence. It is good without trying to be good. Good flows from it because it is good. This includes doing what is best for the loved one because of love alone; not using or harming that person in any way, seeking the good of the other without thought of good for self. This is my view of hesed.

    Contrast that with the morality (if you will allow me to call it that) of law, even at it's best, which does not live and breathe in the moment and does not have an effortless existence. Rather, it demands effort on the part of the creature: you must do this in order to be good, you must do that in order to be good. The creature must produce. One cannot say this is not a good thing; it is men and women all over the world striving to be good people which holds the fabric of the world together. Without some good standards the result would be total chaos. As I believe you pointed out in one of your posts, you want to live in a society with good civil laws. So do I. But these things, though good, are not necessarily hesed.

    These things do happen, and people come away from such experiences changed. I will say, this has been rare for me and has only happened one time in a big way. The circumstances were dire but the love was strong. I was moved to do my very best but I still made lots of mistakes. A mistake, a moral failure in this type of relationship means you have stepped out of love and taken matters into your own hands. (Trying to impose your will on the other, etc., rather than just letting things flow.)

    For me, it's a platonic relationship, but platonic in the generic sense is too tame a word. It's blood and guts love, the divine mixing with the human. It's gritty and tough but gentle too. Upon entering such a relationship, there is no plan, only a sense of weakness and inadequacy. The love will flow through weakness much better than strength. What else could I call it? It's a leap of faith, it's sacrificial, it's sacred, it's ordinary. Only expect the unexpected.

    This is how I see it anyway. Am I anywhere in the ballpark of what you are talking about?
     
  5. radarmark

    radarmark Quaker-in-the-Making

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    Stranger, I like that, but.... I choose to use the term "ethical code" instead of "morality". Why? Group behaviour may inform us (give us data), the final choice is individual.
     
  6. stranger

    stranger wolfwing, a feral angel

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    Radarmark, understood. I have no problem with the words you choose to use to describe those things.
     
  7. Jane-Q

    Jane-Q ...pain...

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    Stranger. Hi.

    Thank you for your comments.
    You have cut very close to the bone . . . regarding what I am getting it.
    It is immensely gratifying to hear my actual ideas repeated back to me. And with new insights added.

    A living, breathing, vital morality which could exist between God and a person or between two persons, dependent upon the presence of hesed alone . . .

    Law, even at its best, . . . does not live and breathe in the moment and does not have an effortless existence. Rather, it demands effort on the part of the creature: you must do this in order to be good, you must do that in order to be good. The creature must produce . . .

    As I believe you pointed out in one of your posts, you want to live in a society with good civil laws. So do I. But these things, though good, are not necessarily hesed . . .

    It's a leap of faith, it's sacrificial, it's sacred, it's ordinary. Only expect the unexpected.

    Radarmark is a smart guy. And his formulations are not exactly wrong. Just badly contextualized.
    But words and definitions do matter. Actual context matters.
    Radarmark sees two persons interacting . . . as being a "group" activity.
    He sees one person and the Divine interacting . . . as being either a "group" activity or being the pursuit of "unity."

    Face-to-face deep-level interactions are far trickier.
    (Practically speaking, both a "code of conduct" and a sense of "unity" between the parties would "get in the way" of the transaction going forward.)

    "Ethics" is a form of self-improvement, in its internalized form. A person working on their self.
    But in the end, it is the working out of a "code."
    A "universal code." A transpersonal code.

    But this is only a "public" code. It is directed at individuals one is literally or figuratively in a "contractual" relationship with, already. Or is directed at theoretical "fellow citizens" one could be bound to, in the future. It is very patriarchal, that way. This "public world" used to encompass almost exclusively a "man's world" (women and children kept largely back inside the home).
    But a man's home is a man's castle. Behind castle walls, the man of the house is boss. The most ethical individual in the commercial or public-affairs arena might well be a monster at home. Inside his own "castle" walls. What went on inside there was "nobody's business but his." Hammurabi or Rome in their law-making cared little about this. Not their problem, unless it affected the public peace and good order. In his home, a man is seen as king. But the Torah and the Quran, by contrast, did care. They tried to extend ethics indoors, right into the man's bedroom if necessary. Make solid and sacred laws out of this massively extended ethics. Tried to write enough rules to cover every conceivable situation where humans interact.

    Can't do it. Won't work. Two reasons:
    1. Good ethics for one era may be bad ethics for another era. Codes of ethics evolve.
    2. Ethics is one person working on himself (or "herself," but it is generally a patriarchal set of rules). There is no genuine interaction going on between the parties.

    This is the problem with Leviticus:
    No hesed.

    The priests (like radarmark) didn't get it.
    The prophets did.

    The Sadducees were very ethical rule-followers. But they didn't get it.
    The Pharisees (and Jesus, who was likely a charismatic Pharisee) did get it.

    Sure, Jesus spouted a lot Pharisaic ethical truths (much of it Bronze Age "wisdom literature" dating from Hammurabi's and Egyptian Second Kingdom times). But Jesus went further. Much much further. And this is key. He encountered people face-to-face. No group. One person to one person. Hesed.

    This was not about Jesus' own ethical self-improvement. This was moving far beyond the "public" self into a zone of intense empathy that the ethics of self-improvement cannot begin to conceive of. Jesus walked deep inside of other people's psyches. One person at a time. Just one person at a time. And something happened there. Each time. And each transaction was entirely unique.

    This was genuinely revolutionary.
    Not the "love" per se (which is what a person might afterwards name as "what" they experienced). But the deep-level commitment to the person one is interacting with. That was the real deal.
    When Jesus died on the cross for insurrection, this left a huge hole in many many people's lives (i.e. those he interacted with on this deep level). It is no wonder they each sought, psychologically, to keep Jesus alive. To see him resurrected.
    I do not personally believe in the ex-post-facto supernatural nonsense, embellishing this need. But it is easy for me to see why people then (and now) do.

    Hesed.
    This is powerful stuff!
    Jesus took a person into a new human terrain, far far beyond personal/group ethics.
    And most brain-centered people still, today, don't get it.

    Stranger,
    I am glad that you, in fact, do!

    (And am pleased that you are posting.
    Good stuff to come!)


    Jane.

     
  8. stranger

    stranger wolfwing, a feral angel

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    Jane, thank you for your reply. I was actually quite relieved to receive it. One worries about being misunderstood with regard to these things, since they are seemingly outside our usual experience. To borrow from one of your posts to Dream, there is kind of a "nutcake" factor associated with these things: "Did I really say/do that? What will they think of me? Perhaps I missed it"... etc. This, even when our gut says we are right on the money.



    We are in agreement that the law (wherever it is found) will neither produce hesed nor foster meaningful transformation. Sadly, though, it has been my experience that to know what hesed is, I first must know, through my experience, what it is not. This is what the legal struggle is to me. The thing most holy or most dear to me, I will strive to keep and build on through my best efforts -- this is my ethical code, this is where my heart is, this is what I strive for, this is my law. And this is where I will meet heartbreaking failure, if I am to come to know, in experience, what hesed is. For this deep mercy and empathy will come to me only after I have exhausted my sincere efforts to produce it. It's as if one must walk through his/her own personal book of Leviticus first in order to get to the prophets and to Jesus.

    Otherwise, I must make an uneasy truce with law and maintain a certain illusion with regard to my own goodness. I might be a great contributor to society in this capacity, I might even receive accolades and awards from those in power at the time, but I could miss the hesed that comes from seeing myself as I really am (not always a pretty picture) and becoming as one who needs mercy and deep empathy, that sick one who has need of a physician.

    To me, hesed is like a cup of cold water for one who has been long in the desert. He comes to see his need for it through it's absence. No one appreciates it's life giving properties like that one who is very, very thirsty. That cup of cold water becomes the most important thing in his life.

    I really like this a lot:

    I find this possibility very inspiring, Jane, really beyond words. Thank you.
    We may differ a bit with regard to the divinity of Jesus but I'm just not seeing this as a barrier, at all. Looking forward to hearing more from you.
     
  9. radarmark

    radarmark Quaker-in-the-Making

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    Ah, Jane-Q, please do not presume to speak for me. I am merely pointing out that what you are calling "a code of conduct" is not universal nor is it public. It is radically interior. One does not need "other" to be good or just or loving.

    However, those (hopefully for you also) notions of character or virtue cannot be defined without reference to the Kosmos (everything not self).

    The seed-soul or over soul or creativity is an area I never mentioned in my replies. But one grows in virtue with and into others ("that which is g!d within"), in that you are correct. But the "code" is entirely internal even if exemplars of behavior (extending to public displays of empathy or sympathy) are not.

    Like our relationship with the d!vine, one risks too much by making virtue (the internal state of being good, just, fair, loving... ad infinitum) merely public behavior.

    JMHO, of course.
     

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