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  • Hi

  • I'm in the dressing room at the Palace Theatre in Louisville, Kentucky on June 14th

  • 2018 and

  • I thought I'd read you an excerpt from maps of meaning the architecture of belief which is a book I published

  • in 99 with Routledge and

  • It's been the basis of my YouTube lectures and I would say also

  • Twelve rules for life a lot of the ideas and twelve rules for life were first worked out with maps of meaning

  • I just recorded an audio version of the book was released two days ago

  • June 12 2008 een and

  • It's available from Penguin Books on audible. I'll put the links in the description of the video

  • I'm hoping that the audio version with its

  • Careful intonation will be easier to understand maps of meaning is a rather difficult book

  • in any case I'm going to read you an excerpt from it today and

  • That'll serve as a bit of an introduction to the book

  • I'll make some more excerpts over the next coming weeks I think as well, but we'll start with this one. I

  • Was reading

  • Jeffrey Burton Russell's mephistopheles the devil in the modern world when I came across his discussion of

  • Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov

  • Russell discusses Ivan's argument for atheism, which is one of the most powerful ever mounted

  • Ivan is one of the brothers in The Brothers Karamazov

  • Ivan's examples of evil all taken from the daily newspapers of 1876 are unforgettable

  • The nobleman who orders his hounds to tear the peasant boy to pieces in front of his mother

  • The man who whips his struggling horse on its gentle eyes

  • The parents who locked their tiny daughter all night in the freezing privy while she knocks on the walls pleading for mercy

  • The Turk who entertains a baby with a shiny pistol before blowing its brains out

  • Ivan knows that such horrors of kur daily and can be multiplied without end

  • I took the case of children Ivan explains to make case clearer

  • Of the other tears with which the earth is soaked. I will say nothing

  • Burton Russell states

  • the relation of evil to God has in the century of Auschwitz and Hiroshima once again become center of

  • philosophical and theological discussion

  • The problem of evil can be stated simply

  • God is omnipotent

  • God is perfectly good

  • Such a God would not permit evil to exist

  • But we observe that evil exists. Therefore. God does not exist

  • Variations on this theme are nearly infinite

  • The problem is not only abstract and philosophical. Of course. It is also personal and immediate

  • Believers tend to forget that their God takes away everything that one cares about possessions comforts success

  • professional craft knowledge

  • friends family and life

  • What kind of God is this any?

  • Decent religion must face this question squarely and no answer is credible that cannot be given in the face of dying children

  • It seems to me that we use the horrors of the world to justify our own inadequacies

  • We make the presumption that human vulnerability is a sufficient cause of human cruelty

  • we blame God and God's creation for twisting and perverting our souls and claim all the time to be innocent victims of

  • circumstance

  • What do you say to a dying child

  • you say

  • You can do it. There is something in you that is strong enough to do it and

  • you don't use the terrible vulnerability of children as an excuse for the rejection of existence and the perpetration of

  • conscious evil

  • When I wrote maps of meaning I did not have much experience as a clinical psychologist

  • Two of my patients however stayed in my mind

  • The first was a woman about 35 years old

  • She looked 50 she reminded me of a medieval peasant

  • Of my conception of a medieval peasant. She was dirty clothes hair teeth

  • dirty with the kind of Filth that takes months to develop

  • She was unbearably shy

  • She approached anyone who she thought was superior in status to her, which was virtually everyone hunched over

  • With her eyes shaded by her hands both hands as if she could not tolerate the light emanating from her target

  • She had been in behavioral treatment in a Montreal

  • Hospital before as an outpatient and was in fact a sight known to the permanent staff at the clinic

  • Others had tried to help her overcome her unfortunate manner of self presentation which made people on the streets shy away from her

  • Made them regard her as crazy and unpredictable

  • She could learn to stand or sit up temporarily with eyes on garden

  • But she reverted to her old habits as soon as she left the clinic

  • She may have been intellectually impaired in consequence of some biological fault

  • It was difficult to tell because her environment was so appalling. It may have caused her ignorant

  • She was illiterate as well

  • She lived with her mother whose character. I knew nothing about and with an elderly desperately ill bedridden aunt

  • Her boyfriend was a violent alcoholic

  • schizophrenic who mistreated her

  • Psychologically and physically who was always muddling her simple mind with tirades about the devil and the worship of Satan

  • She had nothing going for her. No beauty. No intelligence. No loving family. No skills

  • No employment

  • Nothing

  • She didn't come to therapy to resolve her problems

  • However, nor to unburden her soul nor to describe her mistreatment and victimization at the hands of others

  • she came she

  • Came because she wanted to do something for someone who was worse off than her

  • Of the clinic where I was interning was associated with a large

  • psychiatric hospital all of the patients that still remained after the shift to community CAIR in the aftermath of the 60s were so

  • incapacitated that they could not survive on the streets

  • she had done some volunteer work of some limited type in that hospital and

  • Decided if she could maybe befriend a patient take him or her outside for a walk. I

  • Think she got this idea because she had a dog which he walked regularly and what she liked to take care of

  • All she wanted from me was help arranging this helped finding someone who she could take outside

  • Help finding someone in the hospital bureaucracy who would allow this to happen. I

  • Was not very successful in aiding her, but she didn't seem to hold that against me

  • it is said that one piece of evidence that runs contrary to a theory is sufficient to disprove that theory of

  • Course people do not think this way and perhaps should not in

  • General a theory is too useful to give up easily

  • Too difficult to regenerate and the evidence against should be consistent and believable before it is accepted

  • but the existence of this woman made me think she

  • Was destined for a psychopathological end from the viewpoint of biological and environmental determinism

  • fated as surely as anyone I had ever met

  • And maybe she beat her dog sometimes and was rude to her sick aunt

  • Maybe I never saw her vindictive or unpleasant even when her simple wishes were thwarted

  • I don't want to say that she was a saint because I didn't know her well enough to tell

  • But the fact was that in her misery and simplicity, she remained without self pity and able to see outside of herself

  • Why wasn't she a criminal cruel?

  • unbalanced and miserable

  • She had every reason to be

  • And yet she wasn't in her simple way. She had made the proper choices

  • She remained bloody but unbowed and she seemed to me rightly or wrongly to be a symbol of suffering humanity

  • sorely afflicted

  • Yet capable of cur and love

  • God justifies his creation in Milton's Paradise Lost

  • Such I created all the ethereal powers and spirits both them who stood and them who failed

  • Not free what proof? Could they have given sincere of true allegiance?

  • constant faith or love where only what they needs must do appeared not what they would

  • What praise could they receive what pleasure I from such obedience?

  • Paid when will and reason reason also his choice?

  • Useless and vain of freedom both de spoiled made passive both had served necessity not me

  • They therefore as to right belonged

  • so were created nor can justly accuse their maker or their making or their fate as if

  • Predestination overruled their will disposed by absolute decree or high foreknowledge

  • they themselves decreed their own revolt not I

  • If I for new foreknowledge have no influence on their fault, which had no less proved certain unfair known

  • So without least impulse or shadow of fate or ought by me immutably foreseen they trespass

  • authors to themselves in all

  • Both what they judge and what they choose

  • For so, I formed them free and free. They must remain till they enthralled themselves. I

  • Else must change their nature and revoke the high decree

  • unchangeable eternal

  • Which ordained their freedom they themselves?

  • ordained their fall

  • The other patient I wish to describe was the schizophrenic in a small inpatient ward at a different Hospital

  • He was about 29 when I met him a few

  • Years older than I was at the time and had been in and out of confinement for seven years

  • He was of course on antipsychotic medication and participated in occupational therapy Act

  • He's on the ward making coasters and pencil holders and so on but he could not maintain

  • Attention for any amount of time. It was not even much good at crafts

  • My supervisor asked me to administer an intelligence test to him

  • The standard ways are more for the sake of my experience than for any possible diagnostic. Good. I

  • Gave my patients some of the red and white blocks that made up the block design sub tests

  • He was supposed to arrange the blocks so they matched a pattern printed on some cards

  • He picked them up and started to rearrange them on the desk in front of him while I timed him stupidly with a stopwatch

  • The task was impossible for him. Even at the simplest of stages. He looked

  • Constantly distracted and frustrated. I

  • Asked what's wrong?

  • He said the battle between good and evil in heaven is going on in my head. I

  • Stopped the testing at that point. I didn't know exactly what to make of his comment

  • He was obviously suffering and the testing seemed to make it worse

  • What was he experiencing?

  • He wasn't lying. That's for sure in the face of such a statement. It seemed ridiculous to continue. I

  • spent some time with him that summer I

  • never met someone who was so blatantly mentally ill we talked on the ward and

  • Occasionally I would take him for a walk through the hospital grounds outside

  • He was the third son of first generation immigrants his firstborn brother was a lawyer the other a physician

  • His parents were obviously ambitious for their children

  • hard-working and disciplined

  • He had been a graduate student

  • working towards a degree in

  • Immunology, I don't precisely remember his brothers had sent him a daunting example, and he felt pressured to succeed

  • His experimental work had not turned out as he had expected. However, and he apparently came to believe that he might not graduate

  • not at least when he had hoped to

  • so

  • He faked his experimental results and wrote up his thesis anyway

  • He told me that the night he finished writing he woke up and saw the devil standing over him at the foot of his bed

  • This event triggered the onset of his mental illness from which he had never recovered

  • It might be said that the satanic apparition merely accompanied the expression of some pathological

  • stress induced neural development whose appearance was

  • biologically predetermined or that the devil was merely

  • Personification of his cultures conception of moral evil manifesting itself in imagination as a consequence of his guilt

  • Both of these levels of description have their merits

  • But the fact remains that he saw the devil and at the vision accompanied or even was the event that destroyed him

  • He was afraid to tell me much of his fantasy and it was only after I had paid careful attention to him that he opened

  • up

  • He was not

  • Bragging or trying to impress me. He was terrified about what he believed

  • Terrified as a consequence of the fantasies that impressed themselves upon him

  • he told me that he could not leave the hospital because someone was waiting to shoot him a

  • typical paranoid delusion

  • Why did someone want to kill him?

  • Well, he was hospitalized during the Cold War

  • Not at its height perhaps but still during a time when the threat of purposeful nuclear annihilation

  • Seemed more plausible more likely than it does now

  • many of the people I knew used the existence of this threat to justify to

  • Themselves their failure to participate fully in life a life

  • Which they thought of romantically as doomed and therefore as pointless

  • but there was some real terror in the pose and

  • The thought of the countless missiles pointed here and there around the world sapped the energy and faith of everyone

  • hypocritical or not

  • My schizophrenic patient believed that he was in fact the incarnation of the world annihilating force

  • That he was destined is released from the hospital to make his way south to a nuclear missile silo on American territory

  • That he was fated to make the decision that would launch the final war

  • The people outside the hospital knew this and that is why they were waiting to shoot him

  • He did not want to tell me this story in consequence

  • Although he did because he thought that I might then want to kill him too

  • My friends in graduate school thought of ironic that I had contact with a patient of this type

  • My peculiar interest in young and Young's ideas regarding the collective unconscious were well known to them and it seemed absurdly

  • Fitting that I would end up talking to someone with delusions of this title

  • But I didn't know what to do with his ideas

  • Of course, they were crazy and they had done in my patient

  • But it still seemed to me that they were true from the metaphorical viewpoint

  • His story in totality linked his individual choice between good and evil with the cumulative horror then facing the world

  • His story implied that because he had given in to temptation at a critical juncture

  • He was in fact responsible for the horror of the potential of nuclear war

  • But how could this be?

  • And seemed insane to me to even consider that the act of one powerless

  • Individual could be linked in some manner to the outcome of history as a whole

  • But I have no longer so sure

  • I've read much about evil and its manner of perpetration and growth and I'm no longer convinced that each of us are so innocent

  • so harmless

  • It is of course a logical to presume that one person one speck of dust among six billion motes is any sense

  • responsible for the horrible course of human events

  • But that course in itself is not logical far from it and it seems likely that it depends on

  • processes that we do not understand

  • The most powerful arguments for the non-existence of God

  • At least a good God are predicated on the idea that such a being would not allow for the resistance of evil in its classical

  • natural

  • diseases disasters or moral war

  • pogroms forms

  • Such arguments can be taken further even than atheism can be used to dispute the justice of the existent world itself

  • Dostoyevsky states, perhaps the entire cosmos is not worth a single innocent child's suffering

  • How can the universe be constructed such that pain is permitted

  • How can a good God allow for the existence of a suffering world?

  • These difficult questions can be addressed in part as a consequence of careful analysis of evil

  • First it seems reasonable to insist upon the value of the natural

  • moral distinction

  • the tragic circumstances of life should not be placed in the same category as

  • willfully undertaken harm

  • Tragedy subjugation to the mortal conditions of existence

  • Has an ennobling aspect at least in potential and has been constantly exploited to that end in great literature and mythology

  • True evil by contrast is anything but noble?

  • Participation it Out's whose sole purpose is expansion of innocent pain and suffering destroys character

  • Forthright encounter with tragedy by contrast may increase it

  • This is the meaning of the christian myth of the crucifixion

  • It is christ's full participation in and freely chosen

  • Acceptance of his fate which he shares with all mankind that enables him to manifest his full identity with god