Christian Relaunch

The Major Cogniframes

Under "Creation" I explained that a self's disposition tends to be manifested through an Attitude.

Under "Defection" I explained that if that self is a wrongdoer the attitude will be an Idolatry, and that such simple idolatries tend to combine into more complex cogniframes.

Here I list the cogniframes that have been most influential in world history.

My analysis of Western attitudes is based on Dooyeweerd's. That of Eastern attitudes is my own, and is sketchy; I hope at some point to add more details.

Each date is that of the earliest known relevant creed, which is when the cogniframe is known to have taken definite shape. However, the cogniframe may be relevant to the analysis of events earlier than that.

In the table, each cogniframe's name links to a page that gives more details.

[Attitudinal Structure]
Time / Place
of Origin
Key Documents
[Creation, Defection, Covenant]
(Hebrew bara', khet, brit)
800 BC
* The Tanakh (especially Amos and Psalm 51)
[Duty vs Escape]
(Sanscrit dharma, moksha)
600 BC
* The Vedas
* The Upanishads
* Sutta Nikaya 56:11
* The Vishnu Purana
* The Shiva Purana
* The Bhagavadgita
* Schopenhauer's World as Will and Representation
[Form vs Matter]
(Greek morphe, hule)
400 BC
* Aeschylus' Oresteia
* Aristotle's Metaphysics
[Propriety vs Quietness]
(Chinese li, wu wei)
300 BC
* The Analects of Confucius
* The DaoDeJing
[Creation, Defection, Restoration]
(Gk. ktisis, hamartia, anakainosis)
50 CE
* The New Testament (especially Romans)
[to be analysed]
800 CE
* Ibn Sina's Kitab al-Shifa
* al-Ghazali's Munqidh
[{Form vs Matter}-Grace, Defection, Restoration]
(Latin {forma vs materia}-gratia, peccatus, restoratio)
1100 CE
* Aquinas' Summa Theologiae
[Causality vs Personhood]
1600 CE
* Descartes' Discourse on Method
* Hume's Treatise of Human Nature
* The U.S. Declaration of Independence
* The French Declaration of the Rights of Man

Each of the following topics concerns several cogniframes.

Apollo and Dionysus. All the cogniframes arising from wicked attitudes (Hellenism, Taiji and Yoga) display a striking resemblance in that in each case the idol-pair can be characterised as outward-orderly (morphe, ru, dharma) versus inward-spontaneous (hule, dao, moksha). Generalising from Hellenism, these may be called "Apollonian" and "Dionysian" respectively. Two could be coincidence but three suggests a pattern, though as yet I lack a theory about why this pattern arises. Some kind of functional differentiation is probably involved; think of Parsons' AGIL schema with its binary basis in the alternation of activity-repose, summer-winter, inhale-exhale, etc, but gone wild.

Each of the following topics concerns the history of attitudes as a whole.

Tepidity. History tells us of much unreflecting self-indulgence and ad hoc self-justification. If that is the most usual consequence of our defection, it is also the least worthy of study. The kind of attitude described here arises when a self "raises its sights" to form a conscious (albeit sometimes inarticulate) view of its duties, overall task, and ultimate goal. In that sense, this is the history of the thinking of the best selves; and to the reader suspicious of such "grand ideas" I say, one road to Hell may be paved with good intent, but all roads paved with ill intent or indifference also lead there, and the only road that leads anywhere else is also paved with good intent. There are many quacks, but we still need doctors.

Gaps. I hope I have at least mentioned, and in most cases offered some analysis of, all the cogniframes that seem most influential from the point of view of our present time. For other influential cogniframes we might look to the ancient Egypt of the Book of the Dead and the ancient Akkadia (Mesopotamia) of Gilgamesh, but I have not as yet reached any conclusions about how to characterise these; I think this is because the scarcity of primary sources makes it harder to analyse these cultures, but maybe I am a bad workman blaming his materials. I suppose that the dualism of ancient Persian Zoroastrianism (Mazdaism) also merits some attention. Japan may deserve separate treatment, but at present I am treating it as an adjunct to China; Zen is of course Chan with a Nipponese accent, and if Shinto differs enormously from Ruism in principle (the details of course are different) I will gladly learn about it. Christian-era Judaism, as far as I can see, has defined itself negatively, so for all the achievements of its practitioners I see no stable distinct cogniframe in it. And to adherents of any cogniframe I have overlooked altogether, I apologise and hope you will correct me.

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