Rev. Father A. Maximiadis
19th-Century Phenomenon of Systematic Selfishness.
We ought to recognize the curious phenomenon of most people, in the West, who prioritize ‘wealth’ and ‘achievement’ above all else. This phenomenon appears to have an analogy with the ‘individualism’ that evolved from 19th-century industrial capitalism. Moreover, the theories of Adam Smith (1723 – 1790), Jeremy Bentham (1748 – 1832) (et al). They argue for politico-economic principles of congruent free determination, the laissez-faire and the hedonic concept of ‘utilitarianism’.These are an extreme asocial form of ‘individualism’, and has all the earmarks characteristic of self-indulgence, recusancy, and total disregard to social coherence, and mores. In a nutshell: systematic selfishness. This form of ‘individualism’ found expression in the ethics of the 19-century American Protestant bourgeoisie. The traditional Churches were attempting to address the impact of large business corporations. Who were (and continue to do so to this present day) prioritizing profit growth of returns for their shareholders above the interests of those in their employ, and the community. This phenomenon is quite apart from the form of ‘individualism’ of one, who perceives themselves as inexpungible from the organized society in which they live. Moreover, who has an authentic concern for others while remaining uninfluenced by undesirable pressures, opinions, and attitudes of others within the society. This model of ‘individualism’ contributes to the advancement of both the individual and society. It is in harmony with the Judaeo-Christian understanding. Moreover, is quite apart from the extreme ‘individualism’ of selfishness, and tyrannical ‘collectivism’. That gave rise to Nationalism in France (1789), Communism in Russia (1917); and Nazism in Germany (1939).
14th-Century ‘Individualist’ and “Monotheist”: Pharaoh Akhnaton ( Amenophis IV ); 1379-62 BC.
The Egyptologist, James Breasted (1865-1935), described the 14th-centuryBC Egyptian Pharaoh Akhnaton (or Ikhnaton) as “… the world’s first individual” (A History of Egypt, p. 356). Others have suggested that he was the first “monotheist” to appear in recorded history. This may have been deduced from his, or his Pharaonic poet’s Hymn to Aton. “O thou sole god, whose powers no other possesseth…” (Velikovsky, I. Oedipus and Akhnaton. p.63, 1960). But Geoffrey Parrinder (1910-2005), Professor of Comparative Study of Religions at the University of London, suggested that Akhnaton:
“…favoured the worship of Aton the sun, and its disk with rays shining out. While the names of some other gods were chiselled out, they were not all denied, the name of Rë was usually untouched, and it was Amün who was particularly attacked. Ikhnaton would thus rather be a henotheist”.
Dictionary of Non-Christian Religions, p.132 – 3. 1971.
Akhnaton may have perceived himself as the catalyst, for the ‘monotheistic’ religious movement. “…There is no other that knoweth thee, Save thy son Akhnaton”. The notion of ‘monotheism’ was historically akin to its seminal stages 21-centuries prior to Akhnaton appearance in history. Akhnaton was in appearance asthenic, had a malformed cranium and lower limbs. He was an aesthetic, pacifist, a “revelations” social semi-naturist (nudist), and abolitionist of capital punishment and appears not to have engaged in blood sports. Akhnaton was a beautiful and fragile soul, but ‘monotheism’ demanded a different type of catalyst to translate the ‘monotheistic’ concept from metaphysical poetics to the mundane practicalities of human life. It took the awesome figure of Moses (c. 1445-05) the monotheistic supremo. Moses was the culmination of a revolutionist, fugitive, shepherd, leader, judge, prophet, priest, and pragmatist. To indelibly impress into the Jewish heart and mind the highest conception of the ‘monotheistic’ God.
Jeremiah and Ezekiel, 627-571 BC.
Eight centuries later between 627-580 BC Jeremiah wrote:
“οὐκ ἐκάθισα ἐν συνεδρίῳ αὐτῶν παιζόντων, ἀλλὰ εὐλαβούμην ἀπὸ προσώπου χειρός σου κατὰ μόνας ἐκαθήμην, ὅτι πικρίας ἐνεπλήσθην.”
(Ιερεμιας xv:17. LXX)
“I did not sit in the assembly of the mockers, Nor did I rejoice; I sat alone because of Your hand, For You have filled me with indignation.”
(Jeremiah, xv:17. NKJV )
From this passage, can be clearly deduced the theme of the individual, of one who is disengaged from the group. Ezekiel, in either 593 or 571 BC, had advanced the same motif further by identifying both the community corpus delicti, by parents for their children.
“καὶ εἶπα πρὸς τὰ τέκνα αὐτῶν ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ ̓Εν τοῖς νομίμοις τῶν πατέρων ὐμῶν μὴ πορεύεσθε καὶ τὰ δικαιώματα αὐτῶν μὴ φυλάσσεσθε καὶ ἐν τοῖς ἐπιτηδεύμασιν αὐτῶν μὴ συναναμίσγεσθε καὶ μὴ μιαίνεσθε.
(Ιεζέκινλ xx:18. LXX)
“But I said to their children in the wilderness, ‘Do not walk in the statutes of your fathers, nor observe their judgments, nor defile yourselves with their idols.
(Ezekiel, xx:18. NKJV)
Moreover, the injurious effects of the individual.
“καὶ μνησθήσονταί μου οἱ ἀνασῳζόμενοι ἐξ ὐμῶν ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν, οὗ ᾐχμαλωτεύθησαν ἐκεῖ ὀμώμοκα τῇ καρδίᾳ αὐτῶν τῇ ἐκπορνευούσῃ ἀπ ̓ ἐμοῦ καὶ τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς αὐτῶν τοῖς πορνεύουσιν ὀπίσω τῶν ἐπιτηδευμάτων αὐτῶν, καὶ κόψονται πρόσωπα αὐτῶν ἐν πᾶσι βδελύγμασιν αὐτῶν.
(Ιεζέκινλ vi:9. LXX)
“Then those of you who escape will remember Me among the nations where they are carried captive, because I was crushed by their adulterous heart which has departed from Me, and by their eyes which play the harlot after their idols; they will loathe themselves for the evils which they committed in all their abominations.
(Ezekiel, vi: 9. NKJV )
A person becomes human in his interpersonal relationships with others. Personhood, in toto, depends on growth from the individual: conscience, family ties, and religion. ‘Individualism’ and ‘collectivism’ stagnates the atmosphere of freedom (with accountability) quod est the prerequisite of the spiritual, psychological, physical growth of the human person in the community.