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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

On-line version ISSN 2224-7912
Print version ISSN 0041-4751


DE BEER, Fanie. The polemology for the spirit. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2012, vol.52, n.1, pp.130-146. ISSN 2224-7912.

It was quite an exciting moment to have discovered in the beginning of the 21st century (2006) that there are really still intellectuals with a definite resolve to reinvent human spirituality, against the tremendous animosity against it, as well as mere negligence regarding it, in acknowledging and pursuing this ultimate and unique human characteristic celebrated for many centuries since the early Greek philosophers. The deflation and degradation of the value of the spirit, first by the humiliating experiences people have been submitted to during the world wars, but then also by subsequent developments in human societies called industrial populism not only cause extensive liquidation of human individuals, societies and thinking, but also the liquidation and distortion of all the knowledges human lives depend on, like know-how-to-live (or to know-how-to-be-in-the-world), know-how-to-act and know-how-to-think (including theorising and criticising). First of all, it is considered necessary to give an overview of what human spirituality may indeed entail. In this regard Valéry 's views are taken as a guideline together with the work of Bernard Stiegler and Ars Industrialis. It seems clear according to them that human spirituality constitutes the core of what it means to be human and that all human activities can be seen as manifestations of spirituality either in a negative or in a positive sense. The notion of pharmakon which may mean either poison or medication is used to describe these possible negative or positive outcomes. To work towards the positives in order to achieve a reinvention of spirituality and the re-enchantment of the world, especially in view of the strong and comprehensive impact of degrading, rationalising and deflating factors like world wars and other forms of violence, consumer culture and economic and market forces,together with technical and technological forces, constitute an immense challenge that calls for a struggle. In order to achieve this reinvention and re-enchantment the struggle is a formidable one. The reason is that a comprehensive denigration of the spirit is taking place in contemporary societies for which many powers of a political, social, economic, technical and even cognitive nature are responsible. The powers of the market and of capitalism and of consumption, under the guidance and inspiration of these powers, take over societies and individuals and destroy the love of self, and the love for others, with an effect on community and the notion of the "us" and also on human sensitivity and care. The impact touches the roots of societies to such an extent that it causes symbolic misery that also leads to spiritual misery: a misery that touches all spiritual endeavours and experiences. No wonder socio-pathology is being considered to be the deepest implication of all these and as such constitutes our single most serious problem. Extensive efforts should be mobilised to counter these developments in order to avoid catastrophic, barbaric and beastly dispositions and strategies that may lead to the downfall of the human race. Nothing less than a socio-therapy will suffice. What does such a strategy include? It is more of a process than a piece of ready made medication that has to do with the cultivation of compositional thinking, and loving, and caring of a special nature. Reinventing care, love, knowledge and a well founded society of individuals who excel in their singularity may be significant contributing factors leading towards a process of healing. It must be realised that spirit, digital technics,and technologies of the spirit are of a pharmacological nature. The pharmakon is both poison and remedy. All these matters can be either diabolical or symbolical, that is, destructive or constructive, poisonous or remedial. The embracement of the diabolical will bring about and enhance symbolic misery; the embracement of the symbolic may limit the destructive powers of the diabolical. Should we want to take up the remedy we have to move in the direction of the symbolical. The ultimate objective should be to resist industrial populism in all its manifestations of discredit, disgust, distrust and bad faith that poisons the world, in favour of the value of the spirit that will lead to the re-enchantment of the world and the rediscovery of the fullness and closeness of being. Supporting factors will be the sound foundation of society in a true communal sense and the resistance against ignorance and the illumination of true knowledge and the continuous battle for intelligence against the possibility of the degree zero of thought and the reign of ignorance, with the support of an industrial politics and technology of spirit. A kind of nootechnics or nootherapy must come into play.

Keywords : liefde; Spirit; industrial populism; symbolic and spiritual misery; sociopathology; pharmakon; polemology; sociotherapy; knowledge; care; love; compositional thought.

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