A metaphor to kill anthropomorphism and save humanity

Anthropomorphism, (anthropos, man, and morphe, form). A term used in its widest sense to signify the tendency of man to conceive the activities of the external world as the counterpart of his own. In religious thought it is the ascription to the Supreme Being of the form, organs, operations, and general characteristics of human nature. The justification for anthropomorphic expression in religious writings is found in the fact that truth can be conveyed to men only through the medium of human ideas and thoughts, and is to be expressed only in language suited to their comprehension.

 

The neurologist, Ramachandran (Reith lectures 2003), makes an attempt to define the bootstrapping in the brain that the metaphor gives us, to make us intelligence. Synaesthesia, the cross-wiring of two functional aspects of the brain, so that, for example, seeing a number means that number has a certain colour, is more prevelant among arty types. And arty types are good at metaphor. Synaesthesia is genetic. If it expresses generally in the brain you get greater hyperconnectivity throughout the brain making you more prone to metaphor, links seemingly unrelated things because after all concepts are also represented in brain maps. The connections between different parts of the brain in this way could also have lead to language.

 

Yet the Great educators made it explicit that the anthropomorphic expression was only a metaphor, a way of understanding. The reality of the Supreme Being was far different. “God, the unknowable Essence, the divine Being, is immensely exalted beyond every human attribute, such as corporeal existence, ascent and descent, egress and regress. Far be it from His glory that human tongue should adequately recount His praise, or that human heart comprehend His fathomless mystery” Baha’u’llah Kitab-i-Iqan p98.

So is it time to undo anthropormorphism. Can we do away with anthropomorphism without doing away with the metaphor on which our whole system of language and understanding is based?

 

If we realise that God is the Creator, and God is nothing like us, then maybe the existence (that which is created) is also nothing like we can understand. Well we can always understand something that our brain has bootstrapped, but it would be just another type of anthropomorphism to accept that this is much at all. If we destroy anthropomorphism, then, when we say God is Great, then we know we are not great. But maybe the only way to challenge our mindset about this is to use metaphor. Let us turn ourselves inside out and upside down. We are not at the centre of the galaxy, but on the outer edge of a sparsely populated neighbourhood far from the centre. And all our existence and understanding in relation to God is like that (new metaphor). God has created thousands of other systems, each with tens of worlds, each which we cannot travel, cannot understand.

 

But all of that galaxy is part of the bigger world that we are apart. It is the true driving force of our world. Without that galaxy we are destroyed, non-existent.

And so we use this metaphor to find an understanding that we are forms at the end of a galaxy of being. We see a model of existence in which our deaths mean nothing to the greater reality. Our lives may have other importance.

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3 thoughts on “A metaphor to kill anthropomorphism and save humanity

  1. hughstan

    It is not necessarily so, though there is no necessary reason that it should not be, that anthropomorphism exists only as a useful metaphor when conceiving the activities of an external world, assuming that world to be constructively different.

    Nor is it necessarily so that any world exterior to that of humans on planet earth is different in the basics that govern its existence.

    But it may be, in which case it is useful and necessary when interchanging ideas between humans, about whatever possibilities may exist, to use known and generally accepted concepts of communication.

    In addition, it may be assumed that anything capable of such as you describe as being of an external world would also be capable of understanding the communication systems of global earth.

    I think.

  2. Yeh, I guess that would be the case. Although what I am trying to do, is say, let’s look at metaphor. If they tend to be anthropomorphic because that is all we had to use in our language development, but they tend to make it difficult for us not to take an anthropomorphic attitude about existence, then let us try to find new metaphors that come from our new knowledge of existence like that we humans and the planet we live is some 25,000 light years from the center of the galaxy. Well, then our metaphors might start putting us in our proper place in things. And then we might start thinking that God is like a black hole, drawing all the old stars in. In otherwords, a place we can’t see, but we can see the influence and infer the thing. Maybe it will even help scientists avoid anthropomorphising chemical behaviour and the like.

  3. I learned about anthropomorphic maps from the linguist Dan Moonhawk Alford (deceased) and the anthropologist Stan Knowlton. They described the maps of Napi, the creator of the Blackfoot Indians (aka The Old Man) and his wife (The Old Woman) in Alberta, Canada. I “found” similar maps of a male body (Hermes ?) in the Middle East and a female body (Aphrodite) in north Africa.

    Anthropomorphic Maps

    Anthropomorphic maps were generated by configuring the body of a god or goddess over the area to be mapped. The name of each part of that body became the name of the area or feature under that part. This produced a scale 1:1 map-without-paper on which each placename automatically indicated its approximate location and direction with respect to every other place on the same map whose name was produced in this way.

    You are cordially invited to join the BPMaps discussion group on this topic, a very quiet list that averages about 2 messages per month. The URL is:
    http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/BPMaps/

    The Challenge: To produce computer software that will find additional body-part maps elsewhere in the world. Available inputs:
    (1) geographic databases with ancient place names (e.g., the Perseus project).
    (2) body-part names on Swadesh lists. Unfortunately, the navel is not included.

    Attributes of Anthropomorphic Maps

    (1) The navel is the center of the body, the center of the map, and usually the center of the map’s language community.

    (2) Place names (toponyms) may be reversed, metathesized, misspelled or euphemized for various reasons:

    (a) The same part in the same language exists on another map of a different body. Cranium > Mo[n]rocco because Ukraine existed? Aphrodite is looking backwards over her right shoulder. She is bent at her waist (Misr/Mitzraim = MoSNaiM).

    (b) The left (sinister) part is altered in names for left-right pairs (arms, legs, eyes, ears). DoFeN = side reversed to Nafud in north Arabia. SHvK = thigh with a T-sound for the letter shin = TvK reversed to Kuwait. BeReKH = knee metathesized to Bahrain.

    (c) Names that represent taboo body parts or funcitons are reversed or euphemized:
    Semitic PoS (female pudenda) reverses to yam SooF = sea of reeds (Red Sea).
    Mare Rubrum (Latin for Red
    CaNa3an (3 = aiyin with a G-sound as in 3aZa = Gaza) is a reversal of Greek gyneco-. Sinai = “snatch” is spelled SiNi in Hebrew. The aleph=CHS is intentionally missing.
    ZaYiN = weapon (a euphemism for his male member) is in Sinai as the desert of Zin.

    (3) Names may be loan-translated due to conquest or language-change.

    (a) Roxolania (Semitic Ro[chs]SH = head) => Rus *( Ro@SH) => Ukraine (Greek
    kranion)
    * Caused by a change in the sound of the aleph from CHS to a glottal stop.

    (b) Libya (Semitic LeB = heart) => Cyrenaica (Latin cor = heart, compare coronary) => Libya

    (4) Rivers and bodies of water may be named after bodily excretions:

    (a) Milk River in Alberta.
    (b) Red Sea (Latin Mare Rubrum) is Aphrodite’s menstruation.
    (c) Gulf of Aqaba (Semitic QaVaH = digestion/defecation)

    (5) Internal body parts may represent subdivisions of external parts.

    (a) Arabic Misr / Hebrew Mitzraim (< TSaR = narrow) = waist (Hebrew MoSNaim). Egypt (< Greek hepato- = liver). Goshen (with a T-sound shin Latin Gossypium (English gossamer = cotton-like)

    (b) Atlas mountains < atlas = first cervical vertebra that supports the cranium.

    (6) Islands near a body’s hands may be named for weapons.

    (a) Trinacria = trident ( Sicily (< VL *sicila < Latin secula = sickle to harvest wheat; compare Semitic SaKiN = knife). The trident was in Neptune/Poseidon’s right hand (Italy, like Anatolia < N’TiLas yad = arm being washed by the seas).

    (b) Greece = reversal of Semitic S’RoG = (weighted) net, held in his left hand.

    (c) Crete = reversal of targe = small shield (compare English target) also in his left hand.

    Aphrodite

    The map of Aphrodite is in north Africa. Her face [PaNim] was lost during the 3rd Punic war. The rest of her is still there. She is looking backwards over her right shoulder, so her CRaniuM is reversed at Morocco. It still has a Fez. Her chin [SaNTir] is reversed at Tunisia. The Atlas (anatomy: first cervical vertebra) mountains support her head. Her hair [Sa3aRa] is the Sahara desert. Her backbone [amood SHiDRa] is the Gulf of Sidra. Her heart [LeB] is Libya. Her breast [SHaD] is Chad. Her narrow [TZaR] waist is Misr /
    Mitzraim. Her liver (Greek hepato-) is Egypt. Cotton (Arabic QuTN, Latin Gossypium) was exported from Goshen, her [QiTNit = bean]-shaped kidney. Her side [TZaD] is Sudan. Her other side [DoFeN] is Dafur. Her left [SMoL] leg is Somalia.

    [NeGeV] is a reversal of vagina and may be related to [NeKeV] = aperture. [CaNa3aN] was her Latin cunnus (and a reversal of Greek gyneco-). Its name changed to [YiSRa@eL] at the time when [Ya3aKoV] / Jacob “fought with god and men” [Gen 32:29]. This represented a change in sovereignty from Africa to Asia minor. [ YiSRa@eL] is that body part that gives [@oSHeR] = delight to [@eL] = god when it is [YaSHaR] = straight, upright. Changing Jacob’s name from [Ya3aKoV] = “ankle; curved, bent” to [YiSRa@eL] = “straight, upright + god” is a well-known Hebrew pun.

    Hermes

    The body-part map of Hermes is in Asia minor. kHermes [kHoR = hole + MoSnaim = waist] lived at Mt. kHermon before he moved Mt. Olympus (Greek omphalos = navel). Later his name was reversed to become Latin Mercury. Compare Amerigo Vespucci and America.

    His head [Ro@SH] was at Roxolania/Rus, south of Belarus. Its name changed to the Ukraine (Gk kranion = cranium, *not *Slavic u kraina = to/at the border). His throat [GaRGeret] is Georgia. His left shoulder [KaSaF] is the Caspian sea. His right shoulder [@aTZiL] was Euxinus, now the Black Sea. His right arm/hand is being washed [NaTiLat] at Anatolia. His upper arm (Sanskrit irma) at Armenia, biceps (Greek pontiki = muscle) at Pontus, elbow [KiFooF yaD] at Cappadocia, wrist [m’FaReK] at Phrygia, and thumb [BoHeN] at Bithynia were in Anatolia. His heart (Greek cardia) became Kurdistan. His narrow [TZaR] waist is Syria and his navel (Sanskrit nabhila) reverses to LeBaNon.
    South of Lebanon is the male member (Greek phallus) named Philistina. See [CaNa3aN / YiSRa@eL] above. His buttocks [YeReKH] is Iraq. His thigh [shin-vav-kuf] sounded like TvK and reversed to Kuwait. His knee [BeReKH] is partially reversed in Bahrain. His right [Y’MiN] foot is at Yemen.

    These two bodies are connected, literally, at Sinai (with an aleph that is not written in Hebrew, compare “snatch”, a reversal of [K’NiSah] = entrance), a part of her body that contains the desert of Zin, his “zaiyin”. Needless to say, I am not personally responsible for this connection that occurred over 3000 years ago.

    Aphrodite as an Anthropomorphic Map

    The goddess we call Aphrodite
    Is not just an old Grecian deity.
    The Phoenicians did make
    Her a map. It’s not fake.
    Her body is cartograffiti.

    The Punic war destroyed her face,
    The Romans left nary a trace.
    But her hair is still there,
    In Sahara, that’s where.
    And her chin’s a Tunisian place.

    Mt. Atlas is her first verTebra.
    Her backbone is now Gulf of Sidra.
    Her heart is in Libya,
    Her left leg, Somalia.
    Her breast is in Chad wearing no bra.

    The Greeks called her liver Egypt, an’
    Her kidney was Biblical Goshen.
    She’s bent at her waist,
    Now Misr-ably placed.
    The Red Sea was her menstruation.

    As a kid I did think the Red Sea
    Was an English map typo: lost E,
    From Reed Sea in Hebrew.
    But that could not be true,
    Mare Rubrum ’twas Latin, B.C.

    Aphrodite with Hermes did sin,
    We know this is true ’cause within
    Her “snatch” we call Sinai
    His “zaiyin” does still lie.
    It’s known as the desert of Zin.

    Best regards,
    Israel “izzy” Cohen, BPMaps moderator
    http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/BPMaps/

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