Karl Jaspers Applied to Graeme Wood’s “ISIS” Analysis (A practicing protestant’s rejoinder to a non-practicing Catholic) (March 10, 2015)



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Approach, technique and method--There are implications in Graeme’s views linking terrorism to individuality and/or small-sect protestant thinking. These views are implied in his 02/2015 articles, and explicit thereafter in other Internet postings. As a protesting independent without a group force, though applying and seemingly exploiting the psychopathologist, Karl Jaspers, I focus on Graeme’s view that  “ISIS” is no mere collection of psychopaths. (Parenthetical references are for my use and those familiar with Jaspers’ works.)

Reading below the lines--Graeme Wood’s “isis” analysis is informative though already publicly subjected to some general criticism, that he himself acknowledges--easily found through some Internet searching. But there’s a substantial problem in the substratum of his reasoning, which will here be addressed by applying Jaspers’ basic psychopathology principles.

Paradigmatic not seminal—Graeme’s report manifests a position that Mohammed is the progenitor of psychopathic progeny. Using such logic, and historical factors being similar, one could blame a messiah-concept for crucifixions and also Jesus for burnings at the stake. With more enlightened reason Jaspers categorizes Jesus--and considered Mohammed--with paradigmatic rather than seminal “individuals”.

Paradigmatic individuals can’t be blamed for long standing prior and post negative circumstances. We can’t DNA trace undeveloped brain areas through non-existing extant writings or artifacts from a “tomb” to Jesus and make conclusive judgments. Even if under the hypnotic influence of “evolutionary biologists” some might be convinced that genetic connections were possible, other types of facts exists: One born genetically deficient having no eyes can see by making the best and not the worse of it.

Seminal individuals have a connectible creative systemic influence within a long period, like through the study of extant direct accounts. There’s enough direct information to see clear deviations from the intent of the creative thinker.

Graeme doesn’t hold a candle—Graeme admits to being a non-practicing Catholic (which simply means he does not light candles routinely in a local or at-large geographic sanctuary). Admitting he was reared a Catholic, he thereby identifies with a force. He holds that the emergence of organized traditions, whether as with a Holy Roman Empire Catholicism, or an Islamic Theocracy have inherent prohibiting or inhibiting seeds in the former case, but inherent exhibiting seeds of terrorism in the latter. The bias is that the expression not the suppression is inherent in the non-institutional followers of Jesus and all followers of Mohammed.

Institutional codifying of forbearer-ideas can, of course, keep check on but can also check for the terrorist-germ’s accessibility for sprouting under certain conditions. That’s seen most prominently in Catholicism’s history for administering excruciating pain. Graeme’s position is that Catholic tradition and the “Vatican” keeps a more sophisticated “check” than Islam’s “Hadith” and “Sunna”.

It’s questionable that the colorful-consensus coming through Rome is more culturally advanced than that coming from Mecca and Medina or from scholars like Hamza Yusuf’s theology and jurisprudence. But there’s not enough hermeneutical data to make Mohammed into a seminal rather than a paradigmatic individual, as Jaspers did so classify him parenthetically.

Ridiculousness of Graeme’s pathography--From that metaphysical substratum, that mythical foundation of Graeme’s fundamentalism, we go immediately to Jaspers’ view of the abnormal psyche in society and history. As regards “pathographies concerning Jesus and Mohammed” this is where pathography becomes ridiculous because  “there is insufficient material” (GP 729). There might be inspirational and eyewitness (apostolic) testimony or dictation-like presumptuousness contributing to biography, but to create a seminal pathography from an empirical void is ridiculous—according to Jaspers. 

Differentiating biography from pathography—Jaspers: “In ordinary speech the ‘life’ of a person is customarily called his biography”. Pathography applies to deviations, thus extraordinary pathos. Jaspers’ pathography of Nietzsche, who wrote extensively, is an example of having grounds sufficient to do a pathography. There’s also enough evidence for Jaspers to do a pathography of Gogh. But, even so, the misuse of Nietzsche not only takes him out of context but also out of his personal historicity.

Graeme makes small-sects and individuals accomplices to terrorism--The substratum of questionable causal connections sprouts and blooms clearly in Scarborough’s interview with Graeme. He does not disagree with the view that the psychopathic behavior of “isis” “is as stripped down and pure Islam as it gets”(Scarborough). “Its…a view of what Islam looks like” (Graeme).

Mohammed incarnated in Islam?--Now it’s clear what Graeme means by “isis” being no mere collection of psychopaths: Islam is a force deeper in proneness than shallow “isis” psychopaths. That’s a view that terrorism is systemic in Islam but not in Catholicism (the latter being a pop-cultural synonym for Christian). It’s the view that there’s an incarnation of Mohammed into a conscious vatic mind with an empowering psychopathological covert-tenet ready to exploit overt psychopaths. That’s like having a pathetic view that burnings at the stake reflects the spirit of Christ because the incarnation of Jesus into the body of believers is taken to be real rather than nominal (not real but symbolic, i.e., ciphers with meaning requiring reason not blind doctrinal obedience).

Blooming inquisitional flower--There are implications involved in the protestant “fundamentalist”-context of his “…holy texts of Islam mention…the second coming of Jesus Christ…They say he will break the Cross…” Although I can’t find any meaning in the second coming of Jesus when Christ’s presence can hardly supercede titles like “The Holy Father”—without disregarding one witness’s testimony that Jesus said there’s none holy but the father in heaven.

To reasonable Catholics that title is not real, but those non-practicing nominalists that use it are contributing to the force of the delusion. One reason for not using titles like that is that the realism involved in the return of Jesus might prevent or postpone Catholicism from becoming a theocracy. Christ is not now really present in the papacy or any other exclusive denomination. (That’s said with some comprehension about the distinction and similarity between Jesus and the messiah-concept.)

Fully bloomed small-sect bashing--Catholic priest Lucvie-Smith (Feb. 17 2015, Internet) says that Isis “like all fundamentalists are short-circuiting any true historical hermeneutic” (internet search). It’s obvious that he’s encouraged by “Graeme Wood’s excellent analysis”. Now, as regarding this visceral authoritative edict, this belief in dormant terrorism residing in fundamental Biblical standards (the alternative to “papal” allegiance) we turn to Jaspers. Regarding the comparative limits of this catholic/sect exclusivity stands Jaspers’ deeper grasp of the dynamics:

[Regarding the exclusive claim to truth]…although the energy of this claim lent added vigor to men, the claim was at the same time held within bounds by the cleavages into the numerous Biblical religions and also by the dissensions between State and Church. The claim to a single paramountcy, by impinging upon the same claim in other guises, brought not only fanaticism, but also the irresistible movement of unceasing questioning. (OG 64)

Unceasing questioning is more an essence of the protestant search for hermeneutic soundness than simply yielding to a centralized force of men. Hermeneutics is a protestant effort void of any fear that the faith can be hurt. Catholicism’s involvement in hermeneutics, i.e., the study of contemporary situations, was more the search for ways to show Rome is more reliable as a rule than the Bible.

For now, I end where begun, that I am a non-practicing high case “P” protestant a bit like Graeme is a non-practicing high case “C” Catholic, except my position has no bullying “Magisterium” force, and no Medina or Mecca force either. I’m an individual apologetically exploiting Jaspers spirit, agreeing with his words, “I prefer to speak of biblical rather than Christian religion” (PFR 40). 


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