KT Answers, pt.1: Cosmic Ego and the Devil in Psychoanalysis

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  1. Avatar Han Fei says:

    Some people might be put off by the rather abstruse expression of ideas in this podcast to ignore the essential point addressed in it, which is the nature of sin as well as its underlying role in the world as we perceive it today.

    When we talk about sin, what is it that we mean by it? Why should people who do not subscribe to the Christian world view care about its meaning? Sin is commonly seen as something that popular culture deems that you should feel guilty about. Eating a box of cream puffs is a sin. Splurging to buy a video game at full price on its release day before reading the reviews is a sin. Jerking it to a picture of your anime “waifu” is a sin. Contributing to global warming by the act of breathing is a sin. Not wearing a mask, not vaccinating yourself to keep nearby boomers from falling to the doom flu, is a sin. Being racist is of course seen as the greatest sin of all, one which deserves no redemption whatsoever. Well, from that extensive list above, it seems sin appears to be the underlying cause behind single problem we face in our lives and yet the world doesn’t seem to give the least hoot to give a working definition of what it actually entails.

    To gain an understanding of what we mean by sin, we can follow the previous examples featured on this site of delving into the world of dreams. You ever wonder why is it that in a dream, one tends to say or do things, or cross lines that you would never ever do in real life? Why is it that in a dream, every emotional sleight is perceived like a stab from the tip of a daggers? Why every felt desire or emotion, be it terror or rage, or fascination or lust are bereft from whatever limits imposed by moral restraints (or fears of consequences) of our waking consciousness and given free rein to unfurl in the fullest extent of their turmoil, until of course the waking to reality puts an abrupt end to their ephemeral existence, only to leave an unpleasant mark in the form of an uncomfortable bodily sensation that tends to follow the person throughout the rest of the day?

    Just like our body and mind lives in a world of physical sensations and substances, the soul lives in a world of emotions. When the soul interacts with what we term as physical reality, it does so in the form of images, which are in fact its desires given abstract idea projection onto the realm of the senses. Since the soul is a conduit of raw emotion, desire is the natural expression of its function and purpose. From this it follows that the soul seeks to to present itself in the attire of causal being, that is to say to partake in the physical unfolding of events.

    It should be made clear that the soul is not what we would deem as the “inner being” or some sort of center of existence the way we perceive consciousness to be, rather the soul could be understood as the experience of the world particular to each individual person, in both physical and emotional states. It is a state of being in conjunction with the external world, as opposed to a being in itself. The mind and body are thus a part of the soul and are contained within it rather than the other way around as is commonly believed. But remember – human beings do not have the ability to create anything. The world does not belong to us, nor was it created for our sake. We can only co-create and therein lies of course the crux of the issue. Even our ideas are in fact not ours, because we require some sort of reference to the truth which is independent of the workings of our mind. Which is why the belief system of most people today, a variant of some sort of naive positivism, is false in its underpinning assumptions, as it presupposes the inherent meaningless of any given statement.

    Given the essentially broken state of man, sin can thus be seen as the “hardening” of the soul. As the soul attempts to achieve presence in the perceived realm of the senses, it does so in a way which, instead of integrating man’s existence in the realm of the spirit, does the exact opposite, in fact achieving a separation from the intended function and purpose ensconced in all things and subjecting their ends to desires, which are in fact impossible to realize since they do not have their origin and outlet in the physical world to begin with. The soul can’t of course, “presence” itself in any substantial way – this is simply impossible, as it would imply creation, but what it can do is compel the organism to rearrange the physical environment in a manner that suits its purposes. Now what do we mean by “hardening”? This means that as the soul, through various actions of the conscious organism, manifests in a way which separates both it and its associated organism, from created being, an ultimately from God, because we can’t meaningfully talk about these things in a purely abstract metaphysical way of philosophy without invoking the “elephant in the room”, so to speak.

    That is to say, the soul becomes something akin to a thing in itself, disjointed, abstract, ungrounded, diabolical. It still interacts with reality, and even leads the subject to perceive itself as entirely partaking in it, but in essence becomes increasingly separated from it. From here we have the ego, which as a concept I think is inseparable from modernity (understood in its technological/industrial/organizational aspects), despite the fact that it seems to have followed humanity every step of its existence. Perhaps a very relatable way to explain this would be to liken it to a mental disorder where a person believes reality to be something other what it actually is, in a way that is harmful to both himself and to others. Extreme examples of behaviors associated with this state could be observed in the cases of psychopaths and schizophrenics. In fact I would go as far to say that this pathological aspect of the ego seems to underlie almost everything that modernity stands for, and the fact that was always manifest throughout every time period demonstrates the non-linear nature of time, but that’s a troublesome subject best left for a later discussion.

    Given the raw nature of the conduct of emotions, there is a strong tendency for it to fall under satanic influences in the sense that it becomes opposed to creation and desiring to impose its will upon it. Technology offers an immense potential for the soul to divide itself from reality, especially today with the prevalence of so called “virtual reality” which is entirely the product of willed desire, whichever it might be (if you analyze it closely most virtual entertainment boils down to extremes of violence and sexuality). To the extent which this separation proceeds, it can be described that man is fallen into a state of sin.

    Keep in mind that not all workings of the soul are necessarily bad. Since in reality, ALL of our actions are self-referential, they can be seen in a raw sense as sinful, which is the Orthodox Christian position. However it doesn’t necessarily follow from that everything we do needs to be necessarily considered to be sin, rather that from a Christian perspective, our very being requires salvation from an external source independent from our own willful capabilities. That is why so very few people, Christians even, can accept, let alone attempt to live the lifestyle of an ascetic or an anchorite. But that’s OK because Christ knows the state we are in, and the nature of human tragedy, so He in a sense suffers us to be in a certain sense “imperfect”. Which is why the Sacraments and the Eucharist are so central in Catholic-Orthodox Christian belief.

    I wanted to conclude on this matter with a discussion of psychoanalysis, but I refrain myself to a few short words. Psychoanalysis appears to be a study of sin, from the perspective of sin itself. Because of this, it and associated ideologies like liberalism and Marxism, need to be considered in conjunction with bourgeois urban and industrial civilization as well as the specific world views which emerged from and are associated with it. But that’s a story for another time.

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