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Aaron
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PostSubject: Aztec Philosophy   Mon Jun 30, 2008 12:17 pm

I just came across this and thought it was interesting...

Quote :
Teotl as Ultimate Reality and Root Metaphor

At the heart of Nahua (Aztec) philosophy stands the thesis that there exists a single, dynamic, vivifying, eternally self-generating and self-regenerating sacred power, energy or force: what the Nahuas called teotl. Elizabeth Boone (1994:105) writes, "The real meaning of [teotl] is spirit -- a concentration of power as a sacred and impersonal force".

Teotl continually generates and regenerates as well as permeates, encompasses, and shapes the cosmos as part of its endless process of self-generation-and--regeneration. That which humans commonly understand as nature -- e.g. heavens, earth, rain, humans, trees, rocks, animals, etc. -- is generated by teotl, from teotl as one aspect, facet, or moment of its endless process of self-generation-and-regeneration. Yet teotl is more than the unified totality of things; teotl is identical with everything and everything is identical with teotl.

Since identical with teotl, the cosmos and its contents ultimately transcend such dichotomies as personal vs. impersonal, animate vs. inanimate, etc. As the single, all-encompassing life force of the universe, teotl vivifies the cosmos and its contents. Lastly, teotl is both metaphysically immanent and transcendent. It is immanent in that it penetrates deeply into every detail of the universe and exists within the myriad of created things; it is transcendent in that it is not exhausted by any single, existing thing.

Nahua metaphysics is processive. Process, movement, becoming and transmutation are essential attributes of teotl. Teotl is properly understood as ever-flowing and ever-changing energy-in-motion -- not as a discrete, static entity. Because doing so better reflects teotl's dynamic and processual nature, I suggest that we treat the word "teotl" as a verb denoting process and movement rather than as a noun denoting a discrete static entity. So construed, "teotl" refers to the eternal, universal process of teotlizing.

http://www.iep.utm.edu/a/aztec.htm#H2

It just amazes me how so many of these themes pop up throughout history, and trans-culturally. Either we are all sharing in the same delusion or just perhaps there is something to it. Think

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stretmediq

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PostSubject: Re: Aztec Philosophy   Mon Jun 30, 2008 11:05 pm

I think there is probably something to it.
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PostSubject: Re: Aztec Philosophy   Thu Jul 24, 2008 2:56 am

Maybe these themes pop up throughout history because the Aliens brought their religion to Earth when they visited ancient civilizations? That would also explain why there is a universal theme of gods living in and coming from the heavens.
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PostSubject: Re: Aztec Philosophy   Sat Jul 26, 2008 5:05 pm

I think all primordial beliefs are essentially the same because they are the most pure, the least cluttered by man-made ideas and cultural beliefs. Civilization, modernity, moves us steadily, and at an increasing pace, away from true human essence, therefore the more primitive a belief system, or mythology, is the closer to that true human essence it actually is.
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PostSubject: Re: Aztec Philosophy   Tue Jul 29, 2008 7:29 am

Uriah wrote:
I think all primordial beliefs are essentially the same because they are the most pure, the least cluttered by man-made ideas and cultural beliefs. Civilization, modernity, moves us steadily, and at an increasing pace, away from true human essence, therefore the more primitive a belief system, or mythology, is the closer to that true human essence it actually is.

Or these religions could of came from the original lost universal religion of Atlantis.
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PostSubject: Re: Aztec Philosophy   Wed Jul 30, 2008 12:17 am

Quote :
I think all primordial beliefs are essentially the same because they are the most pure, the least cluttered by man-made ideas and cultural beliefs. Civilization, modernity, moves us steadily, and at an increasing pace, away from true human essence, therefore the more primitive a belief system, or mythology, is the closer to that true human essence it actually is.

So, for instance, once our ancestors thought that thunder and lighting were caused by Gods in the sky being angry or whatever. Now we know it's a purely physical phenomenon.

OUr understanding of the sacred is inextricably linked with our growing understanding of the physical world. And because it is, it changes our understanding of the sacred.

But I don't think that's any drifting away from true human essence, for instance, the fact, we now know lightning comes from physical phenomenon and not the God.

If anything, its simple growing consciousness, which we hope keeps growing evermore with ever new generation. OUr concept of the sacred is bound to change with this. It's natural. It's the essence of deism, actually.
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PostSubject: Re: Aztec Philosophy   Wed Jul 30, 2008 1:06 am

Helium wrote:

So, for instance, once our ancestors thought that thunder and lighting were caused by Gods in the sky being angry or whatever. Now we know it's a purely physical phenomenon.
Yes, we have taken all the magic, the living spirit, out of nature, and reduced it to cold, dead, matter. Humans are story telling culture-dwellers. Our stories serve to create our culture, to shape it, and our culture, in turn, shapes and helps to create our stories. Just as we are culturally over-determined and biologically under-determined, it can be argued that our culture is mythologically over-determined and environmentally under-determined. Or, to be more precise, mythological memes, and how they cause us to interact with our environment, are the wellspring from which culture arises. It is easy to understand how our environment affects our culture. People from dry, arid, regions develop a markedly different attitude toward water, and the uses of it, than do indigenous peoples originating in wetter areas. Hunter-gatherers view the land differently than do settled, agrarian pastorialists. Modern man views the objects of the heavens vastly different than did an ancient Greek or Egyptian. For our ancient ancestors the heavens were alive, another part of the earth, for us they’ve been reduced to mere rock, ice, and inert gases.

Does that make Osiris any less real? The great pyramid at Giza will last another 5000 years. I wonder what great monuments, if any, of empirical science will outlast that pyramid.


Helium wrote:

OUr understanding of the sacred is inextricably linked with our growing understanding of the physical world. And because it is, it changes our understanding of the sacred.
Our understanding of the sacred is simply an evolved cultural trait. It has no real meaning, other than to those whom speak the same language and share the same cultural purpose.


Helium wrote:

But I don't think that's any drifting away from true human essence, for instance, the fact, we now know lightning comes from physical phenomenon and not the God.
Perhaps not, but I do think that we are beyond our purpose in many ways. Humans are, essentially, a simply organism. We can eat pretty much anything, travel and thrive in a myriad of environments, and have developed the ultimate tool that is civilization which now reaches beyond us, and controls us. Now, we live ensconced within this bubble of civilized life, none of our evolved behaviors and traits are really suited for this environment, and thusly many of us yearn for something more.

Helium wrote:

If anything, its simple growing consciousness, which we hope keeps growing evermore with ever new generation. OUr concept of the sacred is bound to change with this. It's natural. It's the essence of deism, actually.

Well that is the stumbling block to modernity isn't it? Many of the great existentialists believed that the way to confront the seemingly meaningless nature of life is to perceive time as moving towards that goal, and for each of us to contribute to that progressive evolution, to find our niche in the grand scheme. Atlas Shrugged was all about that central idea.

I'm just wondering if that isn't a load of bullocks. Maybe the Taoists have it right.

Either way, primitive, "non-civilized" peoples are inextricably tied to nature, and as a consequence it should be no surprise that their beliefs are also tied to nature. And maybe, just maybe, there is a simple truth which they possessed that the hubris of modernity has caused us to ignore.
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PostSubject: Re: Aztec Philosophy   Thu Jul 31, 2008 12:34 am

Quote :
we have taken all the magic, the living spirit, out of nature, and reduced it to cold, dead, matter ...
Quote :
For our ancient ancestors the heavens were alive, another part of the earth, for us they’ve been reduced to mere rock, ice, and inert gases.

You seem to projecting a mindset of a lost innocence.
Perhaps you've forgetten that sometimes societies, like individuals, are hopefully afforded the opportunity to grow up.

The loss of innocense is painful, yes. But it is absolutely essential.

I firmly believe of course that the biblical story of Adam and Eve was not in fact a morality story at all. Fundamentalists, of couse, would be of the view that had God's command been obeyed by Adam and EVe we would still be living in paradise. I'm of the view that the apple represented knowledge. Knowledge caused us to loose our animal-like innocence. It seems to me you pine for a world of lost innocense.

But in fact the problem is not our lost innocence, but that we (both as individuals and societies) do not grow up.


Quote :
Our understanding of the sacred is simply an evolved cultural trait. It has no real meaning, other than to those whom speak the same language and share the same cultural purpose.
Our understanding of the sacred is simply an evolved cultural trait. It has no real meaning, other than to those whom speak the same language and share the same cultural purpose.

That is your opinion.
I would argue that for you to prove there is no sacred, you would have to prove there is no God.

Similarly for me to prove there is a sacred, I would have to prove there is a God.

Neither of us can.

Generally for those that believe in God, there is a sacred. And one could come up with a definitin of sacred, along the lines of th myster of God or something like that.

Even atheists, I suppose, could still wonder at the mystery of life (just not one created by God) and I suppose that also fit a description of the sacred, even without a God.

Quote :
Many of the great existentialists believed that the way to confront the seemingly meaningless nature of life is to perceive time as moving towards that goal, and for each of us to contribute to that progressive evolution, to find our niche in the grand scheme. Atlas Shrugged was all about that central idea.

I don't even agree with this assessment. Look most of us would agree that the evolving universe seems to beget increasing complexity. But I'm fully aware that the seeming rise of complexity on this earth that occurred over the last billion or so years could be erased in a literal second (with an asteroid impact type calamity) or a metaphorical one (with a longer greenhouse type calamity that would turn us into Venus).

Then we could discuss whether the complexity model as whole holds up throughout the universe.

Quote :
Either way, primitive, "non-civilized" peoples are inextricably tied to nature, and as a consequence it should be no surprise that their beliefs are also tied to nature. And maybe, just maybe, there is a simple truth which they possessed that the hubris of modernity has caused us to ignore.

Again to reiterate my own metaphor, our problem, I assess, is not our loss of innocence that you so fondly pine for (and don't feel bad, longing for a golden age is a very common theme throughout literature and history), but rather quite the opposite, that is, a failure for us to grow up (both as individuals and as a society)!
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PostSubject: Re: Aztec Philosophy   Thu Jul 31, 2008 9:57 am

I'm not saying a loss of innocence, but rather a loss of purpose.

It's a cold, calculated, genetic/biological argument. Humans evolved to live in small, tribal societies, as nomadic hunter-gatherer pastorialists. Civilization, which is just an overgrown, and out-of-control, piece of technology has taken us away from our evolved purpose, it has removed us from our natural state. Primitive belief systems represent a point in the timeline where we were closer to that original human purpose. Therefore, that is why they are all similar, and contain many of the same thematic elements.
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PostSubject: Re: Aztec Philosophy   Tue Aug 12, 2008 2:06 pm

Uriah wrote:
I think all primordial beliefs are essentially the same because they are the most pure, the least cluttered by man-made ideas and cultural beliefs. Civilization, modernity, moves us steadily, and at an increasing pace, away from true human essence, therefore the more primitive a belief system, or mythology, is the closer to that true human essence it actually is.

how can you argue that it is against our human essence? is our progress the work of aliens?

what is a true human essence? is it measured by our proximity to the monkey?
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PostSubject: Re: Aztec Philosophy   Tue Aug 12, 2008 2:28 pm

"Society acquires new arts, and loses old instincts." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Yin Yang

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PostSubject: Re: Aztec Philosophy   Tue Aug 12, 2008 3:09 pm

michael1111 wrote:
Uriah wrote:
I think all primordial beliefs are essentially the same because they are the most pure, the least cluttered by man-made ideas and cultural beliefs. Civilization, modernity, moves us steadily, and at an increasing pace, away from true human essence, therefore the more primitive a belief system, or mythology, is the closer to that true human essence it actually is.

how can you argue that it is against our human essence? is our progress the work of aliens?

what is a true human essence? is it measured by our proximity to the monkey?

I can argue that because the preponderance of archaeological evidence and historical data that tells us that civilization is only a recent development of human technology, an aberration over the course of our known history.
As well, civilization breeds discontent, neuroses, and stupidity - and by nature of its own existence promotes genetic homogeneity, and cultural stagnation. Because of this, more and more refined forms of control and subjugation are needed to keep the quotidian mass interested in the machinations of the economy, of diplomacy and politics, and in the ever-unfolding drama of "pop culture".

Culture then evolves, not from the deep imagination and spiritual wellspring of the people (where from it does in those more "primitive" societies), but from the needs and devices of the self propagating entity that is Civilization, or Modernity. We no longer own our stories, our stories now own us.

We humans are prisoners of our own creation, having been severed from the true essence of what it is to be human. Duped into believing our own preeminence in the grand design.
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PostSubject: Re: Aztec Philosophy   Tue Aug 12, 2008 3:31 pm

but doesn't every animal consider itself da bomb? isn't every animal out for itself? maybe they just don't have a language to express that thinking?
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PostSubject: Re: Aztec Philosophy   Tue Aug 12, 2008 4:18 pm

That's true, but the assumption you're making - I think - is that civilization (or, more specifically, this current civilization) is the best way to promote humanity. The best way of being out for the best interest of ourselves.
I am arguing against that point. This civilization is simply one form of social-organizing technology, but by no means should we consider it the best form of that technology - it evolved without much applied thought, or conscious direction, it is just this great amalgam of different - and oftentimes conflicting and diametrically opposed - ideas and philosophies. There is no overarching driving ideal which governs the development, or character, of civilization save what is economical - what is cheapest and easiest and most profitable. I don't necessarily mean that in terms of money, and physical economies, but the same set of rules apply.

Modernity assumes its own preeminence without much reason, other than hubris, and with a growing largess of evidence that points to our fragility, temporal insignificance, and folly.
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PostSubject: Re: Aztec Philosophy   Thu Aug 21, 2008 3:14 pm

Quote :
That's true, but the assumption you're making - I think - is that civilization (or, more specifically, this current civilization) is the best way to promote humanity.

i , on the other hand, would argue that it is the only way to promote humanity. That which makes us 'human' is hardly biological (as seen by our 99% similarity to other primates) But is entirely sociological. Though, one could argue that the true for of humanity is embodied in the realization of self, however how does one confer the status of 'self' without having another, 'not-self'?

So between these two primal beings, there then is the self, and not self. These two then seek to find ways to validate their existance or their individualism through intent, and thoughtful action. For example, a certain grunt becomes a 'name'.

As this develops into a larger and larger population, it is only natural that a primal order arises, as does in wolf packs, and in other mammal societies. They have leaders, followers, outcasts, etc.

How, then, can you argue that civilization is not a vital point of our humanity. No, it is not exclusively human in the base sense, but it is a basic foundation of our existance.

I do agree that perhaps the direction we have taken has become exaggerated (most likely due to the creation of 'money', trading real for symbolic goods ). Such has created greed, corruption, etc...
but these are all superficialities. Though their impact is great, their significance is just as small as our own is.


'Modernity' , however, is not a fixed state.
The cavemen lived in a state of 'Modernity", and i am sure they had their distastes as well (especially around mealtime). We can only move forward, making it useless to argue for a state of being that has long since fallen into antiquity. Our only hope is to move forward, and forge our own paths... that is what is 'in the best interest of ourselves.'
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PostSubject: Re: Aztec Philosophy   Thu Aug 21, 2008 6:22 pm

But they are not superficialities, don't play them off that easily.

They are the very essence of who we are, what this present cultural identity truly is. That's like a drunk saying, "I'm just a social drinker".

Other cultures, in other places and times have exhibited unhealthy, unsustainable, and ultimately illogical characteristics - they didn't last long. And neither will we if we don't begin to take steer the direction of this wild gallumphing beast we inadvertently created.

My original statement was that most primordial cultures have similar belief systems because they are still connected to the earth - they still view themselves as the child, in the oft used mother/child comparison of human kind and the earth.

Modernity has killed the womb - "God is dead" as Nietzsche put it. What he meant was that modernity had killed that superstitious, primal part of the human psyche. He understood that "god" was our connection to the primordial world, the natural state. The womb from which humanity emerged as a fully thinking, reasoning, rational being, hence his ideas of the Overman/Superman.

From Carl Jung we get the insight that "God" - the womb state - is never dead, that it is an innate product of the human unconscious, and the well spring for those memes and archetypes that resonate so vitally in all cultures.

Modernity has indeed tried to quell that unconscious side of us all, even Sigmund Freud told us that civilization worked in basic contradiction to human nature, and therefore was, at all times, finding ways to cajole, coax, and outright force us into line - to keep us behaving correctly.


Less complex cultures have less complex, and hence more archetypically natural belief systems.
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PostSubject: Re: Aztec Philosophy   Thu Aug 21, 2008 10:47 pm

PANENTHEISM

I have just started a scholarly book on the history of PanenTheism as a religious/philosophical concept. When I checked a Wikipedia entry on the topic, I was surprised to see " how so many of these themes pop up throughout history, and trans-culturally."

Wiki:
North American Indians were and still are largely panentheistic, conceiving of God as both immanent in Creation and transcendent from it. (Indian writers have also translated the word for God as the Great Mystery [2] or as the Sacred Other[3]) An exception is the Cherokee who were monotheistic. [4] Most South American peoples were largely panentheistic as well (as were ancient South East Asian and African cultures).[citation needed] The Central American empires of the Mayas, Aztecs as well as the South American Incans (Tahuatinsuyu) were actually polytheistic and had very strong male deities.



The concept of an abstract creator-deity who is both immanent and transcendent is not a new idea. It has a long history of wrestling with Monotheism and Polytheism for the hearts and minds of the people. However, its appeal seems to have been primarily to individualistic intellectuals and romantic mystics, rather than to what we now think of mainstream religious bodies. According to Wikipedia, these are some of the religious/philosophical traditions that fit the basic definition of Panentheism:

NON-WESTERN

American Indians
Southeast Asian
African

WESTERN

Judaism (Hasidism & Kabbalah)
Hinduism (Bhagavad Gita)
Eastern Orthodox (Oriental)
Islam (Sufi)
Bahai
Unitarian

ESOTERIC

Gnosticism
Manichaeism
Kabbalism
New Age
Wicca

What do you think? Is PanenDeism just one more branch of the same tree, or something different altogether?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panentheism
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PostSubject: Re: Aztec Philosophy   Fri Aug 22, 2008 9:15 am

Well I think PanenDeism is as different from PanenTheism as Deism is from Theism.

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PostSubject: Re: Aztec Philosophy   Fri Aug 22, 2008 9:25 am

Uriah wrote:
Modernity has killed the womb - "God is dead" as Nietzsche put it. What he meant was that modernity had killed that superstitious, primal part of the human psyche.

In answer to Nietzsche I would say that modernity locked God up and threw him in prison, but in fact he is still alive and well. I think post-modernity has proven this to be true as "God" has re-emerged in a myriad of different forms from "New Age" spirituality, to westernized Buddhism and Daoism, to things like Panentheism and Panendeism.

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PostSubject: Re: Aztec Philosophy   Fri Aug 22, 2008 4:42 pm

Aaron wrote:
Uriah wrote:
Modernity has killed the womb - "God is dead" as Nietzsche put it. What he meant was that modernity had killed that superstitious, primal part of the human psyche.

In answer to Nietzsche I would say that modernity locked God up and threw him in prison, but in fact he is still alive and well. I think post-modernity has proven this to be true as "God" has re-emerged in a myriad of different forms from "New Age" spirituality, to westernized Buddhism and Daoism, to things like Panentheism and Panendeism.

Indeed, I agree - though my point was just that the organizational framework of modern western civilization is what Nietzsche was talking about. Even for Nietzsche there was a God-component to existence, he just believed (and rightly so) that most humans were brainless idiots who missed it entirely in favor of the myths told to them by others.
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