Gorging Ouroboros

Anaximander’s maxim:

Whence things have their origin,
Thence also their destruction happens,
According to necessity;
For they give to each other justice and recompense
For their injustice
In conformity with the ordinance of Time.


The Greek word for “whence things have their origin” is the apeiron — primordial chaos. The world without form, void, with blindness upon its face — that over which the spirit moves… the element in which when we are perplexed we drown: this is apeiron.

I am vitally interested in the experience of grappling with apeiron. The apeiron in all its dreadfulness is what we encounter when we actually transcend ourselves. (And it is ourselves we transcend when we transcend — not the natural world, like magic-mongers claim!) Bliss might follow transcendence, but it is strictly what follows — and it happens after transcendence has happened, not during it. If you “follow your bliss” you flee transcendence back into your most finite (most conceptually infinity-containing) self: that who you are, not that who you are not but who simultaneously exceeds and involves you.

Nowhere is “no pain, no gain” it truer than in religious activity.


If I have a positive metaphysical conviction it is in the existence of apeiron.

But if the ultimate reality is apeiron, and apeiron is not an essential wholeness but an infinite profusion of particular views of the whole — a flood of incommensurate meanings — we are morally free to find our own commensurations. Not “everything is permitted” but myriad things are…¬† But as a liberal, I’m most interested in what we humans permit: and I want to permit what permits. According to Richard Rorty, this makes me an ironist.


So, metaphysically, I am Taoist. However, I do not think metaphysical beliefs are a suitable foundation for religion. Equating religions and belief systems (ideologies), faiths and factual convictions causes us to make category mistakes that block religious life. My preference for radical pragmatism resembles the religious attitude of a Buddhist. (I agree with Buddhism on what religions do/are.) But ultimately my passionate Judeo-Christian moral commitment to human dignity makes me not only resemble a liberal Christian — it makes me identify as a Judeochristian.

By the way, starting today, I’m removing the hyphen from Judeo-Christian, because¬†Judeochristianity is not a hybrid of two separate things, but a refusal to separate them in the first place.


This morning I registered apeirony.com and apeironism.com.

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