Facing Down Idolatry — from “Open Source Individuals”
Under the influence of Charles Sanders Peirce, I launched an idea called Triadic Philosophy. It is summarized in the Kindle book Triadic Philosophy 100 Aphorisms . A free sample can be accessed by clicking Look Inside. Triadic Philosophy grew into several more books outlining specific methods of triadic meditation and thinking. “Open Source Individuals” is among several follow-up texts that examine expressions of, and propose actions related to, triadic thought. Quotes from Pierce are included as appendices.
To face down idolatry it is helpful to know what it is.
It is, very simply, your choice of the values by which you live. This means that idolatry, which is literally what you worship, relates to the 20 values listed in the chart below. I think it is impossible to read this chart without being convinced that it accurately names those things that harm and those things that keep harm at bay.
Idolatry is nothing more than forms of worship, choices of values, that make for harm.
Cast your eye on the bottom ten values, the ones that make for harm in descending order.
Idolatry begins with thoughtlessness. The open source individual is alert to the power of thought, of critical thought. Thoughtlessness is the condition that exists when critical thinking is turned down.
The open source person is alert to the dangers of selfishness, the condition of wanting to possess what could and should be shared.
How does the mindless, selfish choice result in idolatry? It is the choice of a false and destructive mode of living, it is a potentiality in us all. When it becomes habitual, it inclines to further choices, down the list, and these morph into specific idolatries.
Judging others, ganging up and excluding is a constellation and expressions and actions that say:
A closed-source person may be unable to see the good in others, may associate with those who speak and mean harm, may see things in binary terms — everything two-sided.
Reality is all.
An openness to the signs that are there in the now describes the open source person.
Intolerance, being undemocratic, denying help to those who need it — these values seed the killing fields of the world. They give rise to the worst of harmful expressions and actions: the inflicting of injury and the taking of life.
The person who performs these acts is worshipping a false idol, such as nation or ideology or is bowing down to a stunted religious belief. Or is prostrate before a mindless, selfish oblivion, a worship of the destructive self that is neither open nor keyed to the good.
Our culture can be understood when we grasp the inner workings of idolatry. Its loudness, its in-your-faceness softens us up for rituals of oblivion, a sort of degraded Dionysianism, an environment of incipient violence and default rejection of the positive values in the chart above.
Abandon, the motions of dance and even ecstatic play are completely in harmony with the higher levels on the chart. It is the mentality of those who are doing the dancing and making noise that determines whether what one sees bodes well or ill.
Remember critical thinking!
The most serious idolatries are:
Nation minus universality
Self minus openness
Culture minus critical capacity
Celebrity minus iconoclasm
The open source individual faces down idolatry
Open source individuals embody and affirm the values which roll back harm and create progress.
Open source individuals think and meditate mainly in private.
They do not trumpet.
They are universal beings.
They are triadic iconoclasts.
6. The works of Duns Scotus have strongly influenced me. If his logic and metaphysics, not slavishly worshipped, but torn away from its medievalism, be adapted to modern culture, under continual wholesome reminders of nominalistic criticisms, I am convinced that it will go far toward supplying the philosophy which is best to harmonize with physical science. But other conceptions have to be drawn from the history of science and from mathematics. (Peirce: CP 1.7)
“Among vitally important truths there is one which I verily believe –- and which men of infinitely deeper insight than mine have believed –- to be solely supremely important. It is that vitally important facts are of all truths the veriest trifles. . . . To pursue ‘topics of vital importance’ as the first and best [occupation] can lead only to one or other of two terminations -– either on the one hand what is called, I hope not justly, Americanism, the worship of business, the life in which the fertilizing stream of genial sentiment dries up or shrinks to a rill of comic tit-bits, or else on the other hand, to monasticism, sleepwalking in this world with no eye or heart except for the other.” (Charles S. Peirce, Collected Papers 1.673 )