Enlightenment vs Romanticism and the Philosophy of Neon Genesis Evangelion

Neon Genesis Evangelion has villainous examples from both sides of the [Romanticism versus Enlightenment] spectrum. The artificial evolution committee Seele is Enlightenment Utilitarianism to the extreme, with their TransHumanist ideology of using science to destroy the Angels, ascend the Evolutionary Levels, and assimilate humanity into The Singularity to abolish the physical/biological/existential selfishness that exists in every individual. Seele is obsessed with the Future of Humanity, and thus they believe in a philosophy of Utopia Justifies the Means. They don’t care about the present-day harm done to the people they manipulate, as long as Utopia arrives. On the other hand, Gendō is an extreme Romanticist Anti-Hero, who only cares about his dead wife and messiah Yui; he doesn’t care if the world is destroyed, as long as he can see Yui again. Gendō symbolizes an obsession with the Past, an obsession with Yui. He lives in the Past and makes monuments to the Past, the Reis. He doesn’t care about the Present, about living with his own son, Shinji. This obsession with the past reaches its logical extreme when Rei, his monument to the Past, turns everybody into primordial DNA soup that was life four billion years ago. Whatever their philosophies are, both of them don’t appreciate the Present, and thus their obsessions reach their selfish and villainous extremes when they start ruthlessly manipulating other people, and thus in the end they are both Not So Different.

Shinji, who used to be in the extreme Romantic end of the spectrum, develops an Existentialist philosophy in The End of Evangelion. In the end he appreciates his depressing individual life in the Present despite his full knowledge that it’s a Crapsack World and individuality is painful, culminating in him deciding to reject Instrumentality, a False Utopia made of the extreme combination of both Enlightenment (as a utopian Singularity) and Romanticism (as mankind reverted to primordial soup and forcefully assimilated back into the Mother of All Mankind).”

TV Tropes, “Romanticism Versus Enlightenment”

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Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Self-Reliance” – Society Never Advances

“… All men plume themselves on the improvement of society, and no man improves.

Society never advances. It recedes as fast on one side as it gains on the other. It undergoes continual changes; it is barbarous, it is civilized, it is christianized, it is rich, it is scientific; but this change is not amelioration. For every thing that is given, something is taken. Society acquires new arts, and loses old instincts. What a contrast between the well-clad, reading, writing, thinking American, with a watch, a pencil, and a bill of exchange in his pocket, and the naked New Zealander, whose property is a club, a spear, a mat, and an undivided twentieth of a shed to sleep under! But compare the health of the two men, and you shall see that the white man has lost his aboriginal strength. If the traveller tell us truly, strike the savage with a broad axe, and in a day or two the flesh shall unite and heal as if you struck the blow into soft pitch, and the same blow shall send the white to his grave.

The civilized man has built a coach, but has lost the use of his feet. He is supported on crutches, but lacks so much support of muscle. Continue reading

Scott Adams, God’s Debris – The Five Levels of Human Awareness

«“People exist at different levels of awareness. An Avatar is one who lives at the fifth level.”

“Is awareness like intelligence?” I asked.

“No. Intelligence is a measure of how well you function within your level of awareness. Your intelligence will stay about the same over your life. Awareness is entirely different from intelligence; awareness involves recognizing your delusions for what they are. Most people’s awareness will advance one or two levels in their lifetime.”

“What does it mean to recognize your delusions?”

“When you were a child, did your parents tell you that Santa Claus brought presents on Christmas Day?”

“Yeah,” I said, “I believed in Santa until kindergarten, when the other kids started talking. Then I realized Santa couldn’t get to all those homes in one night.”

“Your intelligence did not change at the moment you realized that Santa Claus was a harmless fantasy. Your math and verbal skills stayed the same, but your awareness increased. You were suddenly aware that stories from credible sources—in this case your parents—could be completely made up. And from the moment of that realization, you could never see the world the same way because your awareness of reality changed.”

“I guess it did.”

“And in school, did you learn that the Native Americans and the Pilgrims got together to celebrate what became Thanksgiving in the United States?”

“Yeah.”

“You figured it must be true because it was written in a book and because your teachers said it happened. You were in school for the specific purpose of learning truth; it was reasonable to believe you were getting it. But scholars now tell us that a first Thanksgiving with Pilgrims and Native Americans never happened. Like Santa Claus, much of what we regard as history is simply made up.”

“In your examples, there’s always learning. That seems like intelligence to me, not awareness.”

Awareness is about unlearning. It is the recognition that you don’t know as much as you thought you knew.”

He described what he called the five levels of awareness Continue reading

All Language about Everything Is Metaphorical; We Think in Metaphors

“All language about God must, as St. Thomas Aquinas pointed out, necessarily be analogical [i.e. metaphorical]. We need not be surprised at this, still less suppose that because it is analogical it is therefore valueless or without any relation to the truth. The fact is, that all language about everything is analogical; we think in a series of metaphors. We can explain nothing in terms of itself, but only in terms of other things. … [W]hen we speak about something of which we have no direct experience, we must think by analogy or refrain from thought. It may be perilous, as it must be inadequate, to interpret God by analogy with ourselves, but we are compelled to do so; we have no other means of interpreting anything. Sceptics frequently complain that man has made God in his own image; they should in reason go further (as many of them do) and acknowledge that man has made all existence in his own image. Continue reading