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The Merits of Discordianism

  1. Oct 16, 2005 #1
    Background info

    Discordianism is a modern, Chaos-based religion founded in either 1958 or 1959. It has been described as both an elaborate joke disguised as a religion, and as a religion disguised as an elaborate joke. Some of its followers make the claim that it is "a religion disguised as a joke disguised as a religion." It can be viewed as a simple rejection of reductionism and dualism, even falsifiability — not in concept different from postmodernism or certain trends in the philosophy of mathematics. It has also been described as "Zen for roundeyes," and converges with some of the more absurdist interpretations of the Rinzai school.

    Webpage: http://www.fnord.org/

    I saw the word fnord on a friend's away message and I tracked it to this "religion disguised as a joke disguised as a religion." Despite it's tongue-in-cheek look, I think it's got some valid points:

    Although most religions revere the principles of harmony and order in the Universe, Discordianism can be interpreted as a recognition that disharmony and chaos are equally valid aspects of reality. The Principia Discordia often hints that Discordianism was founded as a dialectic antithesis to more popular religions based on order, although the rhetoric throughout the book describes chaos as a much more underlying impulse of the universe. This may have been done with the intention of merely "balancing out" the creative forces of order and disorder, but the focus is certainly on the more disorderly aspects of the world – at times the forces of order are even vilified.

    Obviously we need some amount of order to live, but what about the aspects of disorder? We can even measure this through entropy. Doesn't it seem, logically, that at some point it's less efficient to work for order? What would the possible benefits be for disorder?

    Here's a summary of Discordian philosophy:


    A summary of part of the Discordian philosophy appears on pages 00049 and 00050 of the Principia Discordia. The following is a quote extracted from Principia Discordia (All Rites Reversed):

    If you are not hot for philosophy, best just to skip it.
    The Aneristic Principle is that of APPARENT ORDER; the Eristic Principle is that of APPARENT DISORDER. Both order and disorder are man made concepts and are artificial divisions of PURE CHAOS, which is a level deeper than is the level of distinction making.

    With our concept making apparatus called "mind" we look at reality through the ideas-about-reality which our cultures give us.
    The ideas-about-reality are mistakenly labeled "reality" and unenlightened people are forever perplexed by the fact that other people, especially other cultures, see "reality" differently.
    It is only the ideas-about-reality which differ. Real (capital-T True) reality is a level deeper than is the level of concept.

    We look at the world through windows on which have been drawn grids (concepts). Different philosophies use different grids. A culture is a group of people with rather similar grids. Through a window we view chaos, and relate it to the points on our grid, and thereby understand it. The ORDER is in the GRID. That is the Aneristic Principle.

    Western philosophy is traditionally concerned with contrasting one grid with another grid, and amending grids in hopes of finding a perfect one that will account for all reality and will, hence, (say unenlightened westerners) be True. This is illusory; it is what we Erisians call the ANERISTIC ILLUSION. Some grids can be more useful than others, some more beautiful than others, some more pleasant than others, etc., but none can be more True than any other.

    DISORDER is simply unrelated information viewed through some particular grid. But, like "relation", no-relation is a concept. Male, like female, is an idea about sex. To say that male-ness is "absence of female-ness", or vice versa, is a matter of definition and metaphysically arbitrary. The artificial concept of no-relation is the Eristic Principle.

    The belief that "order is true" and disorder is false or somehow wrong, is the Aneristic Illusion. To say the same of disorder, is the Eristic Illusion.

    The point is that (little-t) truth is a matter of definition relative to the grid one is using at the moment, and that (capital-T) Truth, metaphysical reality, is irrelevant to grids entirely. Pick a grid, and through it some chaos appears ordered and some appears disordered. Pick another grid, and the same chaos will appear differently ordered and disordered.

    Reality is the original Rorschach.
    Verily! So much for all that.

    And this from the Principia Discordia's very beginning, a Discordian koan:

    GREATER POOP: Is Eris true?
    MALACLYPSE THE YOUNGER: Everything is true.
    GP: Even false things?
    M2: Even false things are true.
    GP: How can that be?
    M2: I don't know man, I didn't do it.

    Do you find any parts valid? Which parts do you disagree with and why?

    Here's the perspective that I agree with:

    Order/disorder and constructive/destructive

    By accepting that life is a serious, orderly matter, the followers of Greyface end up viewing things as either orderly or disorderly. In this system, order is preferred to disorder at all costs. This preference results in both constructive order and destructive order.

    The alternative is to view things as either constructive or destructive. In this system, construction is preferred to destruction. Selecting construction results in both constructive order and constructive disorder.

    There isn't any reason disorder has to be destructive, but we seem (often unconsciously) to believe this (at least in Western culture). Scientific understandings are welcome too, I recall some but not enough to explain them. I remember hearing about a few religions in which chaos and disorder are accepted as part of the cycle of life, eg Hinduism and some Native American cosmologies.
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2005
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 16, 2005 #2
    An example of the concern for order:

    The answer begins by considering why the state first arose toward the end of the 15th century. Medieval Europe was a highly ordered, cultured, and successful society. It was brought down primarily by the plague, a point of more than historical interest in a world where many non-state forces may be able to carry out biological attacks. After the medieval order fell, it was succeeded by disorder, which led naturally to a strong desire for order, which in time was supplied by the state.

    As we already see in those parts of the world such as West Africa where the state is disappearing, the state, like the medieval world, is followed by disorder. A Fourth Generation world will be one where disorder spreads like mold in a damp bathroom.

    What does Colonel Boyd’s definition of grand strategy mean in such a world? It means America’s grand strategy should seek to connect our country with as many centers and sources of order as possible while isolating us from as many centers and sources of disorder as possible. This is the only reasonable chance of preserving something called the “United States” in a 21st century dominated by Fourth Generation war. And, as we will see, it leads toward a defensive, not offensive, military strategy.
  4. Oct 19, 2005 #3
    My Ramblings

    Hi Swerve...
    In one way of thinking, chaos is the "filter" for the various possibilities of order, ensuring that ineffective order eventually fails. Effective order will better handle chaos, and succeed at "evolving" into more effective "states".
    I like to think of chaos and order as the two "extremes" on the "continuum of state". Combining these negative and positive extremes can produce a neutral "extreme", and I see three ways of doing this. (This is all "home-grown" philosophy, FYI) Intersection results in the presence of both extremes, producing "entropy". Tangency results in an infinitesimal border between both extremes, producing "randomness". Exclusion results in a "void" between the extremes, producing "anarchy".
    Order is ultimately "simple". It can be observed, analyzed, deconstructed and reconstructed with accuracy, via a finite number of steps. Chaos is ultimately "complex" - it is very difficult to observe and analyze, and nearly impossible to deconstruct and reconstruct with accuracy. Many possibilities must be simulated to produce a "best" approximation when chaos is the dominant state.
    Looking at order that comes about from previous, lesser order, I would say that disorder is only "directly" destructive. The lasting effects, are often "indirect" though, and to that effect disorder is "constructive". The idea that anything created was created from other things that were destroyed in the process. Regardless of any "which came first" conundrum, chaos is just as "creative" as order. Though I agree, many people see disorder as "bad". In certain contexts, disorder is indeed counterproductive.
    I think that the "sequence" in which order and chaos are combined is important, too. For example, some states seem to be "chaotic order" whereas others seem to be "ordered chaos". Don't know if I can describe that better, but I'll try a super-quick metaphor. The former could be seen at the Louisiana Superdome on Feb. 3, 2002. The latter could be seen at the Louisiana Superdome on Sep. 1, 2005. Another metaphor is that "chaotic order" is like taking the limit of a function from the right side, whereas "ordered chaos" is like talking the limit of a function from the left side.
    While there are worthwhile statements made in Lind's article, but the lot of it is a "cover" for how things "really" work. He doesn't even have to be aware that he's being "disingenuous". Lest I digress, take another look at the quoted statement by Lind. It seems to me that what he describes applies far more to the United States itself, than to any other human organization. While the U.S. keeps its citizens preoccupied on external threats, the internal conflicts concerning economy, constitutionality, and society at-large have been dangerously minimized. At some point, such a dynamic must fail. Order and chaos can only coexist for so long before one becomes dominant; when the order is "fabricated", chaos has the long-term advantage.
    I have more points to make, but I gotta run.
  5. Oct 19, 2005 #4
    A friend of mine still has my copy of the principia. I've been known to refer to myself as a discordian, I even asked my last girlfriend whom I was serious about if she would mind having a daughter named Eris. She said that she didn't like the classical conotation of the name.

    I think that, like any good satire, there are definitely elements of discordianism worth taking seriously. Though as a good discordian you need to make sure not to take it too seriously.:wink:
    You seem to be on a good track.
  6. Oct 25, 2005 #5
    Thanks for the responses! Lot to chew on too. I'll be back later since it's too daunting to properly address everything now (though as far as far as I have understood, I think I agree with everything you both said).
  7. Oct 25, 2005 #6
    ps I think your gf had a point, no need to jinx a kid:wink: I like Clio, Terpsichore, Calliope. Better to give your kid the name of a muse:smile: Tho I like the sound of Eurydice, too.
  8. Oct 27, 2005 #7
    i fail to see the joke, can someone help me out? everything that i read seems to be fairly logical. i have been thinking most of the same things about perspectives and it being like a "grid", but to me a better metaphor would be a looking at choas with multipule smudged looking glass. one thing that i wasnt able to understand is the allusion in the "Discordian koan" to " MALACLYPSE THE YOUNGER and Greater p00p, is that another joke that i am missing out on? also why must you not take it too seriously?
    --as always grateful for the help, 3mpathy
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