Why do we need a sense of continuum?

Skip to bottom for relevant questions if you like [or tldr]
Back in the early 1990s, on a much younger Internet, after some “religious questing”, became fascinated by monasticism via the new group I became a part of – the Eastern Orthodox (Christian).
 
Mid-20s, totally absorbed. One publication I started getting in the mail was a ‘zine called “Death To The World”. It was black and white, lots of images of death, skulls, talk about how the world sucks, consumerism and an alternative that seemed older than time, or certainly older than me and anywhere from my American history lessons.
 
Sure, I knew about ancient Egypt and Greece and Rome, but my history lessons seemed to skip through the middle ages on the backs of diseased rats and knights that were not-so-bright ’til we get to the marvelous humanist eras, the rise of Science and the inevitable progression towards The Future.
 
So, I had huge gaps in my knowledge. The world-as-I-understood it more or less began a few centuries ago and anything before was barbaric…. til you get back to the Ancient Greeks of course, who seemed magically perfect in their philosophies and wisdoms and such.
 
Such was the narrative.
 
But then I started getting these things. Ancient culture, a call to action to turn away from The World towards more noble things. I had a strong case of convertitis.
 
Every church I’d go to, they were doing it wrong. I had the secret knowledge you see, I knew how to do it right and I’d tell them, priests and their wives and parishioners too: I was the new guy that knew just what they needed to do.
 
Well, they tolerated me. I guess they’ve seen it before.
 
Never did make it to Alaska to join these guys. They were out of communion at the time anyway, which is what stopped me. That was important at the time to me.
 
I did do a short stay at a monastery – a few weeks or so – which I enjoyed and knew I could do for longer without much issue.
 
Life moved on, didn’t join. Got some Osho books that grabbed me for a couple of years and then I was Mr. Science for about 10 years and the last few years tying stuff together, even picking up Philosophy in the process a little.
 
Now, I tell people “I’m agnostic” without hesitation. Not atheist – I never had much reason for that. Not a ‘believer’ – I just “don’t know” and I’m fine with that.
 
I checked out of curiousity – I was sure the ‘zine was no longer being published – I mean, who does ‘zines anymore? and I was right. [I still have my copies from the mid ’90s in a box, like treasures from a younger me]
 
But they did relaunch as a blog and it retains the same feel, the same call to action to renounce the world.
 
And here is my question as related to Philosophy:
 
What draws us (humans – and not all mind you) to seek “solid ground”?
 
Here in Philosophy, many find standing on the rocks of the great Philosophers of ancient times (and new) as foundational. For me, in my mid-20s, it was the Desert Monks, the cave ascetics who renounced the world in pursuit of Truth and self-knowledge and greater and greater things.
 
Wasn’t really much belief there for me then, or didn’t seem to be. I really haven’t changed a whole lot.
 
But what had attracted me was this historical solidity combined with a sense of rebellion against all the things intelligent people tend to complain about.
 
So:
 
Why do we do that? I’m not talking about the “search for answers” or “search for truth” but why this need for “Doing It Right”? Why this need to have a continuum of participants (in whatever it is that seems to speak to us) throughout the course of time that we can look to and say, “See, they did it! I can do it”.
 
Why do we refer to the works and efforts of those in the past to build our philosophies with, even if we use them to justify breaking from the very past we’re using to justify breaking from the past with?
 
Why do we need a sense of continuum?

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


six × 5 =

Leave a Reply