02 January 2008

The gnoxic orientation

I got a note from someone who read the latest chapter of my book draft and asked, ‘is your main stance theist? religious? christian? catholic?’ The writer also asked about the Gospel of Thomas, which is quoted in that chapter without explanation (because it's introduced in Chapter 1 of the book). Here's my reply, revised a bit for a broader audience, and with some links to resources on my home site. I'll also have more to say tomorrow about the Gospel of Thomas.

The stance of my work in progress (Turning Words) and the gnoxic stance more generally, is pragmatic in the Peircean sense, and not theist or religious. The book does focus quite a lot on the reading of (what i call) scriptures, but on the role of the reader rather than on the scripture's role with respect to religious institutions. The Gospel of Thomas is the one scripture most frequently quoted and mentioned in the book. You can find out more about it, and a list of the resources i've used for studying this and other gospels, on my Sourcenet page.

However, Turning Words also employs the Buddhist idiom as much as the Christian—in fact the title is a Zen term. It draws upon several other religious discourses as well, especially when they are (in my reading) semiotically equivalent. I guess you could call my stance ‘catholic’ (small c) in that sense! Basically i treat them all as signs and challenge the reader to take responsibility for their meaning, and to reflect on the semiotic process as well. (And the same for the various scientific discourses also found in the book.)

That's the gnoxic stance, which is philosophical by nature. The philosopher's role, as i see it, is to promote critical thinking and reflection rather than anyone's claim to spiritual authority. I haven't gone into my personal religious orientation here because i don't think that's what the question called for; anyone curious about that can find out more about me from my blogger profile or the home page of my website.

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