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Re: Ch. 9 - Logos: The Divine Algorithm
Wright wasn't through with Philo in Chapter 8. In 9, he makes the thought of this first Century BCE thinker perhaps the centerpiece of the book. He certainly talks about no other religious thinker as extensively. I recommend the chapter to anyone, even if they haven't been reading with us. Wright's presentation of Philo gives us a theology that is compatible with modern science and with a small twist can be rendered an idealistic philosophy as an alternative to theology. Philo also moves in the direction that Wright assumes is the progressive one for religion, towards including all of humanity within the moral circle.
I don't want to summarize Philo's theology/philosophy here, though I hope we might talk about it. I was struck by how quickly the evolution of the God concept is completed in Wright's survey. Although he implies that the evolution continues in some way into the present day, it appears that with Philo, who lived before Jesus, the concept itself reaches a culmination. Then it is not exactly the idea of God that must evolve in order for us to realize a brotherhood of man. Is it the spread or penetration of the evolved concept that needs to continue? Maybe that is the wrong way to look at it. If it is indeed facts on the ground that bring people around to seeing that nonzero-sum relationships are in their enlightened self-interest, it could be just the continually closer relationships that globalization forces upon people that changes attitudes. Religion then reflects these changes, but it doesn't appear that religion is a necessary ingredient. It's just that most people in the world are religious, so a barrier in their view of God needs to be removed before things move ahead.
The above might be according to Wright's own thinking. Also somewhere in his thinking, I believe, is the necessity of people realizing the benefits that can be had through nonzero-sum relationships. How this is to happen, though, I don't think he specifies. It obviously doesn't happen by itself from people rubbing against each other; we can think of many areas in the world in which the trouble seems to stem from precisely the closeness of groups. Getting them to see nonzero-sum relationships might not be the big problem; rather, the problem might be creating conditions in which nonzero-sum relationships are possible. This involves political leveraging and concessions, and probably interventions from other parties. Here, religion does have a role to play, simply because it is a player of influence on the world stage. The role of secular players appears to be greater, though, in my view.
The Chinese philosopher is one who dreams with one eye open, who views life with love and sweet irony, who mixes his cynicism with a kindly tolerance, and who alternately wakes up from life's dream and then nods again, feeling more alive when he is dreaming than when he is awake.
Lin Yutang (1895-1976), The Importance of Living