Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Malthusianism and Scientism

The overproduction of people may lead to an overwhelming burden upon the earth. Science will answer for this concern.

The 19th century Protestant theologian, Thomas Malthus proposed that at some point in the foreseeable future, the world would likely be overpopulated and resources would not be readily available for its inhabitants. Therefore  man's fecundity, his most creative output should be tamed and births controlled. These ideas in part led to the modern drive to limit man in the sexual, procreative arena; it limits women especially. While Malthus was a theologian, today he is primarily remembered for his ideas regarding global and personal economics. He was influential in the incubation of  Darwinian ideas, "natural selection," especially.

Malthus wrote a seminal treatise he entitled, The Essay on the Principle of Population. In this he asserted that: the population forces of earth are so great that in some shape or form, death must be visited upon;  war, sickness and forms of extermination must be permitted. If however, this proves to be insufficient, then the population must be otherwise controlled. Whom is he speaking of, what is the means of control? Who will decide? Is the human of Creation an animal, and should we struggle, to kill for the resources of the world? Is our 'carbon print' poisonous to everyone? While many other 19th century soothsayers died along with that century, Malthus persists in other forms and other names, covertly influencing and directing our actions.

Scientism may be thought of as an exaggerated trust in the absolute empiricism of reasoning. It is partner to the Enlightenment theories arising at about the same century. Scientists engage in empirical reasoning throughout all aspect of life, personal, social, faith, medical, mathematical, humanities, etc. It leads in progression to a "church of Science" or Scientism. The American writer, Robert P. Lockwood notes that Scientism is the product of "two fallacies." First, there is no truth other than that which may be scientifically verifiable, and secondly science is the only acceptable means of running a society. Lockwood notes, "we live in a world where the ethos of the times is reflected in the media."

While both of these thoughts may be in opposite extremes, and both may or may not resonate with everyday spirituality, they are 'out there.' Their influence is lasting and far reaching: into politics, economics, science, and spirituality. Maybe into your head and mine. Where did that come from-- who was Malthus? What do I or do I not support with my everyday faith and beliefs? Some answers are surprising, if you take a look.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Eros In Venus

"Sexual desire without Eros wants the thing in itself." -- The Four Loves,  C.S. Lewis

Venus, the goddess of love in Greek mythology and Eros, god of the same are often bandied about; today science and technology have made us too smart, too slick for something so imprecise as a myth. And yet author C. S. Lewis, most famously wrote about this. Lewis, who is the author of many 20th century works, is best known for Narnia.

About Eros and Venus he writes, Eros without Venus is for lack. Owing to the ancient devotion of the Romans, erotic principle well observed Eros on its own was something altogether different than when enfolded in Venus. As Lewis explains, the 'carnal element within Eros I intend to call Venus.'

"Sexuality,' he adds, ' operates without Eros, or as part of Eros."

It is not necessary to feel anything more than attraction or desire to activate that part of the equation which functions wholly by instinct. And Lewis hastens to add that he writes without moral or other notions, some such as the thought that sex 'with love' is pure while without love it is something else; nor does Lewis seek to describe the activities of Eros 'under a soaring and iridescence which reduces the role of the sense to a minor consideration.'

Eros in Venus is Lewis'; contribution to a description of what the ancients saw as estimable, worthy of a spiritual cause, a religion of degree. This experience he describes as the 'in loveness of the Beloved.' When one first beholds another, it as if he is captured, so captivated may one be by the gazing upon who has inspired this. In a simple, general delight, pre-occupied with all that the one may be, a thirst develops to simply know the creature of ones' gaze, to behold in totality. While in this state one really hasn't the leisure to thing about carnal matters; rather the thought of the person takes precedence. While filled with desire, he may be satisfied to continue in reverie and contemplate this creature whom one may call beloved.

In contemplation, the arrival of Eros, erotic love arrives as if a 'tidal wave, an invader taking over and reorganizing his sensuality. Sexual desire without Eros, wants it, the thing in itself; Eros while in Venus wants the Beloved. While one may want a woman not for herself but for the things she may provide, in Eros one wants a particular person--that person for the person them self. This is the Beloved created through some mysterious activity of Eros; in Eros at its most intense, the beloved is needed, craved even for their very self, distinct and unique from all others, admirable in itself. And it's importance is far beyond the lover's need.

While certainly hard to explain, its metaphysical aspects may be explained thus, 'I am in you, you are in me. Your heart is my heart, and my heart is part of your heart alone.' So without Eros, sexual desires, like every other desire is simply about our self. Eros makes it uniquely other focused. Now it's about the Beloved one. The distinction between giving and receiving blurs, indeed it's obliterated when Eros is in Venus.