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History of Consciousness: Religion and Politics

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By mysticmermaid
Words 1771
Pages 8
Aimee Arcoraci-Davies
HISC 114: Theology and Politics
Final Paper: Prompt 4/5
9 December 2013
How does the self simultaneously live within a virtual world and a physical analog world? When has being bound to religious doctrines and societal dogmas become the factor that constricts one’s potential to freedom from the binary of existing inside or outside the realms of tolerance? Through setting temporal boundaries, one establishes from the allegorical world of the kingdom of God and the rational/visible world of Man. Or are we all ultimately influenced by our digital reflection as exposed through the virtual networks of the Internet and our computer-generated selves? Where is the line between what is real and what is fantasy? As humans, we naturally experience the world analogically by recognizing infinite patterns of data throughout our mundane lives, while digitally we must submit to a finite code or password to identify ourselves to the digital community. In turn, by manipulating and possibly falsifying virtual identities, one can live an alternate, and sometimes dangerous, life through creation of an artificial self, through prosthetic vision and creation of the cyborg. The modernity of humans communicating through machines and developing a highly complex reflective system of digital information that relies on the analog world to input material knowledge suggests that seeking and attaining justice in the analog world is a virtualization exercise. This essay will discuss the connections between virtual and actual identities, the role of the monotheistic God according to Milton’s Paradise Lost and examples of how ethics are experienced within virtual and actual worlds.
The ruler of the cosmos, or a person’s God/Higher Power, has a direct influence on determining which persons are judged as fit to be a trusting friend or a doubting enemy. This already creates an invisible line; one is given access to a world/community or exiled. So we have these two areas of metaphysical space that interact, and as a result of religious doctrine, are constantly in tension. The mind consciously inhabits both the material and spiritual. My perspective comes from being second generation Italian American and being raised in the strict Roman Catholic faith. Later, this led to my giving up on organized religion altogether, which opened an entirely new world of enlightening philosophical insight. In traditional Christianity, those who are perceived as saved by Christ are considered friends and given access to the community, while those who are considered “Satan worshippers”, or persons speaking blasphemously of God, were to be doomed to suffer eternal damnation in hell, and were therefore the enemies, perpetual Others, and in consequence laughed at as fools or less than. According to Augustine, our morality is determined by the acceptance of God’s love and execution of his ethics. An outside entity can be living independent from religious principles and identified as the ‘Other’, the foreign pagan, or those who reject the monotheistic one true God’s love and question His power. The ‘Others’ can be symbolic of the Anti-Christ or those representative of lands that could not be conquered.
As we move throughout the religious and secular worlds we experience the echo of visible theology in the semiotics and creation of the web of identities that constantly circulates around us. Is religion and the belief in miracles a thing of the past? What shall we have faith in? We have faith in the anonymity of the conscious self, which operates like John Rawl’s “veil of ignorance”. The diffusion of culture disseminates the notion that the perceived self and ego relate to stimulus and response of the respective ecosystem and in identifying virtual reality and theological differences as two separate circles simultaneously functioning at the same time, further denaturalizing perception. This leads to us, as players in the global web, living and moving throughout a world already hacked into, the hacker and ruler of this world being the fallen angel Satan, constantly interfacing with mimetic desires. Advertisements are always popping up, tempting us, getting our attention and reminding us to do our part in the global economy and environment; we have relied and put our faith into the kingdom of man, the matrices of capitalism and democracy, to address our concerns and construct our desires for real change, bringing attention to current transnational topics of moral urgency, such as global warming and human rights. We ponder in the seriousness of the matter, perhaps begin to recycle our plastics and compost our waste, donate to starving children in Africa that we see on the commercials on TV, and then, relieved of our righteousness, continue enjoying the weather.
Many consider the “Matrix” of virtual reality and the Internet has brought us closer together and increased our security, but at whose expense? Our security depends on the secrecy and privacy of our virtual information, or virtual selves, as exhibited through the protection of a password. This ties into our analogical selves, perhaps our doppelgangers, by creating a relevant historical frame of time and figural understanding of the present. For example, by harming our online credit/ virtual selves, our actual life can be affected and also damaged by making it difficult for us to get approved for loans or renting a property. The differences in time and space correspond with cyclical time (as natural) and linear time (as prophetic). When discussing The End of Days or the Apocalypse, pertaining to the Abrahamic religions, identifiers are evaluated between who will be accepted into the kingdom of heaven to live in peace and those who will suffer eternal damnation.
The notion of not being in control of our predestined futures is reminiscent of the multidimensional messages presented in the film The Matrix (1999, directed by Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski), the idea of being “born into bondage” and the concept that the allegorical Matrix is a form of control similar to the societal form of control through the Church that seeks to regulate “the dynamic relation between what we are, what we know and what we desire” (28: Irony, Ambivalence, and the Birth of Modern Thought, Lecture 29, 2). But in Milton’s words, we are set free from the servitude of the regime of God in His constructed heaven and Church, through our minds, the space that we “reign secure”. Milton states we have the power in our minds to construct a heaven out of hell or a hell out of heaven, and that “Here at least [w]e shall be free”. Through analyzing the connections between virtual and actual identities, the role of the monotheistic God according to Milton’s Paradise Lost and examples of how ethics are experienced within virtual and actual worlds we better understand the relevance of the relationship between our creaturely virtual identities and our real actual selves in the analog sphere. We function and travel through a Matrix of virtual identities, the kingdom of man, and an operating system manufactured to construct a space for reflective equilibrium.
How do our environmental responsibilities affect us as believers, or nonbelievers, on the topic of global warming? People search for change to find the truth in the world, they find new knowledge that shifts ideologies and transforms the conversion to newer more sustainable methods, or conversion to a blind truth? The prophetic call for inner transformation (in seeking a change that occurs once and for all) is contradictory to Paul’s messianic belief that everything necessary for salvation has already happened, because the messianic belief is stagnant (as in not changing with the times) and the prophetic belief allows for changes to occur. Process of conversion occurs at an intertemporal level that relates to spatial conception of temporal ordering, cause in relation to effect , prediction and even the fact that we are guilty makes us cherish the present time. The concept of sacrifice entices the process of conversion, with relation to Jesus and Moses, in creation of time through conversion of thought in ordinance with moral beliefs and societal control. It is a form of pushing a politics based on creating more time to avoid the real problems in society.
The -environmental movement can be considered the after effect of what we forgot during the industrial revolution. As our needs shift, our concerns evolved and changed to better accommodate the “grace period” or the time of now. The conversion to an “inconvenient truth” occurs by process of presenting and teaching the audience a convincing equation and delivering the prophetic message of what the outcome would be (convincing us to convert) if we did not listen to the prophecy. Al Gore was the messiah of the “inconvenient truth”, as Jesus was the messiah for the prophecy of Judgement Day.
Our moral urgency is to find our personal responsibility in the temporal politics of the prophecy. A politics of conversion differs from a naturalistic or mythical belief that we evolve and adapt, as future circumstances require, from the belief that there is a natural cycle of deterioration and renewal in that it denies the thought that natural process is cyclical and will happen again, and adaptation is necessary for a sustainable future. Monotheistic-creator religions are a critique and rejection of this cyclical view of time. Eliade believed pagan religions involve reversal of time – back to mythic origin.
According to Sunstein, in dealing with moral catastrophe one must take into account the “worst case scenario” and compare theories of learning for past moral catastrophes, we must repent for our past historical atrocities to be forgiven in order to move on and accept new knowledge. Natural disasters have long since been a sign of the Christian prophecy, “Readers of Nostradamus expected the end of the world in 1886” due to “Natural catastrophes seeming to confirm his forecast” (Weber, Apocalypse, 145). We must show that we have the desire to be forgiven in order to change, we don’t necessarily need to believe and confirm first we have already been forgiven in order to begin the process of transformative consciousness. The difference between what we should do in the time we have remaining, and what happened in the past, is we did not have the event or experience occur in order for us to have learned from it. We must move towards a politics not solely based on prophecy, but on our actions and the energies in the universe. By taking a proactive managerial approach in our own daily lives, we take greater responsibility for the future without increased feelings of guilt from the past. Our politics need to stress the importance of now, and the impact on our futures, and creating sustainable time on our earth for future generations.

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