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Demonic

In Chapter 4 ("Satan—The Adversary") of Living with the Devil Stephen Batchelor suggests the source of what he (rather mystically, throughout the extended musing which comprises this book) calls "The Devil":

"For the demonic," reflects the theologian Paul Tillich, "is the elevation of something conditional to unconditional significance." Each time something contingent and impermanent is raised to the status of something necessary and permanent, a devil is created. Whether it be an ego, a nation-state, or a religious belief, the result is the same. This distortion severs such things from their embeddedness in the complexities, fluidities, and ambiguities of the world and makes them appear as simple, fixed, and unambiguous entities with the power to condemn or save us. Far from being consciously chosen by individuals, such perceptions seem wired into the structure of our psychological, social, religious, and biological make-up.

What this precisely means is unclear, to put it gently. Is "Satan" the right word for reification, the act of treating an abstract concept as if it were something real? That doesn't seem to be its usual meaning.

^z - 2013-06-27

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