by Don Webb
High Priest of Set
The question of human origins and Setian cosmology is (I think) a threefold one: What evidence is there for viewing humans as a product of something other then random chance? Why would this be done by anyone/anything? and lastly what difference does such notion make in the Subjective universe of magician? -- in other words do Setians "get anything" from having this idea.
I strongly recomend the popular and theoretical work of Terrence W. Deacon -- particular his The Symbolic Species and his papers in Intelligence and Evolutionary Biology for good background on the "Language impulse."
1. Humans did not evolve a special organ for language (and its derivative magic), they do not posses an instinct for it -- nor did it simply show up with a more complex brain. Mankind began using/burying objects of a religious and/or magical nature at the same time that current evolutionary thought suggests a reorganization of the brain for language. Now this reorganization of the brain brought -- as any magical working will bring -- indirect and serendipitous consequences -- such as the tendency to assign symbolic import to almost every aspect of the physical world. The coming of language gave one access to the thoughts and feelings of another -- leading to ethical dimensions in social behavior -- it likewise enabled future planning, treaty making, and other ideas that Necessitated the creation of Subjective Universes.
Most importantly the coming of language created a sense of Self. "This is me, that is you."
All of these things may exist dimly in animals, but it was the Word, the medium of magic, that makes them vast, active forces that have reshaped in the world with an astonishing speed.
2. It could be argued that yes, two million years of coevolutionary exchange between brains and language is no more than a rebater interesting chance process. This arguments is as sound as the argument that the Creation of Self out of the forces of Life and Language reflects something's desire. It can be argued that the random forces of the universe produce in my an illusion of free will as I type the these words. However as a magician I choose to see the words appearing on my screen as a product of my will, and not causal forces beyond my control. Likewise I choose to view the strong influence that magic has had on shaping humans to have a sense of Self, as an action of another magician. This is NOT a scientific choice, it is a magical one, from which I Create my model of the Cosmos.
3. Why do I, a rather pragmatic person, bother myself with such questions? Does it make me find the black eyed peas quicker in the grocery store? Does it help my investments in the stock exchange? The usefulness in Setian cosmology is (at least) threefold:
A. It suggests that part of us may be free from the mechanistic order. Man may act as a machine, but is capable of more. We have a toehold in a state of affairs different than what we know from the world of three dimensions and five senses.
B. It suggests that while magic may be good for getting a parking space this afternoon, it is capable of being used for things that take eons to Play out -- and that we may have the capacity to act in such scale, if we change ourselves.
C. It suggests -- as Pico della Mirandola pointed out -- that human nature is volatile and not fixed -- and thus not only can we be filled with joy of possible success we must every moment Balance that with the terror of failure. It is only in knowing these Poles, can a Setian become free, and the actions of free man or woman can take on a special powerlessness that our fellow humans lack.
Given my notion that Set causes our species to have language/magic why do I not preach this on the street corner?
Mainly because this idea is too empowering for some -- and too easy to misinterpret for others. Some would not see it as a species-wide cosmic process, belonging to no group. Others would become overexcited at the idea that simply Being and Speaking shows that the Prince of Darkness has touched them.
It is the very rare person who responds to a Gift, with a desire to show off for the Giver rather than thank him, beg for more, or sullenly wish that they had been Given something else.
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