“Don’t Swim Upriver to that Shallow Pond, Bataille! There’s an Oceanic Lake Ahead”: A Theory of Two Oceanic Forms of Being

Jack Plimpton

MA Student, Philosophy of Religions in the Divinity School

“Don’t Swim Upriver to that Shallow Pond, Bataille! There’s an Oceanic Lake Ahead”: A Theory of Two Oceanic Forms of Being

Through a comparative study of Georges Bataille and Jean Gebser, a theory emerges suggestive of two forms of human existence wherein both hold the quality of consciousness/being as non-differentiation; one as humanity’s origin and another as humanity’s ‘endpoint’ in its mutational becoming. To use an Abrahamic traditional metaphor, the first form of existence is the state of non-differentiation while in Eden whereas the latter is a post-Fallen reunion with God. Bataille exemplifies the position that humanity must retreat into the state of existence before its archaic Fall, before its archaic break from intimate continuity; this is similarly the approach of ascetics. While Gebser recognizes through his own framework the truth in an archaic form of existence, or consciousness, he sees this method as backtracking and alternatively proposes humans integrate their various structures of consciousness to realize a Zen, satori-like, integral enlightenment which transcends differentiation. With Gebser’s method, non-differentiation is achieved again but in a deeper form of non-differentiation. Due to their essence of non-differentiation like water in water, these two forms of human existence raise many questions. Foremost, if these two states of existence can be distinguished, it must be quantitatively by depth, which suggests a new purposive explanation about humanity’s archaic Fall from continuity.

The paper may be accessed here.

Tuesday, February 16th, 12:30 PM

Hosted by the Philosophy of Religions Workshop at the University of Chicago. To RSVP and receive a Zoom link, please email Tyler Neenan (tjneenan@uchicago.edu)

The Workshop on the Philosophy of Religions is committed to being a fully accessible and inclusive workshop.  Please contact Workshop Coordinators Rebekah Rosenfeld (rrosenfeld@uchicago.edu) or Tyler Neenan (tjneenan@uchicago.edu) in order to make any arrangements necessary to facilitate your participation in workshop events.

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