God, the Other, and the Self; Or, The Emergent Concept of God; Or, The Re-Creation of the Self Through the Discovery and Conceptualization of God; Or, The God Without and the God Within

Where does the basic idea of God emerge from? And why?

First, let's look at God without.

Philosopher George Herbert Mead came up with the idea of the generalized other. It's the idea that humans develop a unified concept about what other people expect of them. It's the feeling that you are being watched and judged by the values in your social system.

Psychologist Lev Vygotsky came up with the idea of the more knowing other. The basic idea is that another person knows more than you and can therefore help you to learn more than you would be able to learn without their help. This area of learning is called the zone of proximal development.

Psychologist Harry Stack Sullivan came up with the idea of the significant other. The basic idea is that the people that are most important to you are necessary for your survival. Therefore, their approval or disapproval is extremely important, and you are sensitive to it.

What would happen if we combined these into a generalized, more knowing, significant other? We have a unique entity. An Other that is watching and judging you based on a value system, one that is more knowing and can help you to learn and develop, and one that is significant to you and who you need approval from and should fear disapproval from because it greatly affects your life. This Other could be called God.

This God is an impersonal God. If we combine it with the unique human ability to personify, that is to give something that is not human human-like characteristics, then we have a personal God that we can interact with.

We have discovered a framework that shows how the concept of God naturally arises as an emergent property of human life. We have seen how God can be impersonal or personal. How does this affect the person?

To a large extent our self is built out of the appraisals of other people. How they judge us and treat us helps to make us who we become. This line of reasoning comes from Cooley's looking glass self, Mead's concept of I and Me, and especially from Sullivan's developmental theory. If there is a change in how others view us there will be a corresponding change in us. That's why moving to a new place with new people will sometimes significantly cause changes not only in a person's life, but also in their personality.

What is the concept of God doing? It is changing our environment. This change in our environment is changing us. The concept of God works to re-create the self.

Second, let's look at God within.

Consciousness is divided. It is divided without and it is divided within. This division can be many, like in Jung's archetypes, or it can be two. This idea of the duality of consciousness is ancient. The Ancient Chinese called it Hun and Po. The Ancient Egyptians called it Ka and Ba. The Ancient Greeks called it Daemon and Eidolon.

Ernest Hilgard found that even in deep hypnosis there are certain things that people would not do, often harming the self or harming others. What is this part of the self that cannot be tricked, deceived, manipulated, or turned off? Hilgard called it the hidden observer. I think it could be called the innermost part of conscience.

It could be called God within. This part of us that watches and judges, that knows more than we consciously do and can help to guide us so that we may learn, and that we need the approval of and should fear the disapproval of because it is significant to our lives.

These concepts of God without and God within are real experiences that correspond with how the world works and how we act within it. They reflect and reinforce each other. They are emergent from the complexities of living a human life. They will exist as long as humans are human.


You can find more of what I'm doing at http://www.JeffreyAlexanderMartin.com


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