The Mytho-empiricism of Gnosticism: Triumph of the Vanquished

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Sussex Academic Press, 2003 - History - 318 pages
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This book traces the influence of Gnosis in European culture. Gnostic roots can be traced to the paintings of Hieronymous Bosch and Willkiam Blake, the romanticism of Novalis, the symbolic poetry of Gerard de Nerval, the dualistic writings of Herman Hesse, and to Heideggerean existentialism. Gnostic alternations between grace and damnation permeate the work of Luis Bunuel, and many others. The idea that the body is the prison of the soul was expounded by Pythagoras, Plato, and the Orphics. Yet with the Gnostics the dualism of soul-spirit/body-matter became complete. Objects and life forms were created by an evil diety whereas the souls embedded in them are particles chipped from an alien, boundless and eternal divinity. This extreme dualism corresponds to the abrupt transition from nonbeing IN UTERO to the conflictive existence outside the womb; it is investigated in terms of a theory of personality based on the existence of two opposing vectors- participation and separation - which are discussed in terms of their attitudes toward spatio-temporality and psycho-sexual development phases. The mytho-empiric value of the Gnostic WELTANSCHAUUNG Is not confined to the early centuries of the Christian era. It is ever contemporary. The Faustian myth is Gnostic insofar as it depicts the infernal nature of the manipulation of space-time and the demonic source of the knowledge governing the universe. In Hesse's MAGISTER LUDI, Gnostic undercurrents are manifest by its hero, Joseph Knecht, who conceives of a dualistic world of routine existence and a quest for revealed knowledge; Ivan Karamozov is a Gnostic when he refuses to reject God, but condemns the created world; as is Samuel Beckett, when he expresses his feeling of being immersed up to his neck in a universal heap of excrement. The book is truly interdisciplimary, combining personality theory, mythology and theology. This is the first book to integrate ontological/ideological philosophy in bio-psycho-sociology. The claim is that Gnosis Kabbala and Existentialism are the specific disciplines linking the dualities of human existence. Finally, an anthroponcentric theory of religion is presented, which links history and transcendence through the mediation of the human.

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About the author (2003)

SHLOMO GIORA SHOHAM is a world-renowned criminologist. He is a widely published author on crime, deviance, philosophy, religion, psychology, and the interdisciplinarity of the human personality. He lectures world-wide, and recently has been resident at the universities of Harvard, Oxford, and at The Sorbonne.

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