MADness, and “Luciferism”

Document Type : Original Article


Professor Emeritus, Indiana University


This paper continues applying the notion of the “Luciferian Existential” as a way of accounting for the extreme violence humans seem to be willing to perpetrate both in nuclear war and in ignoring climate change. We begin by letting humankind and Lucifer mutually reflect what initially seems to be their distinguishing attributes. This is done as a speculative attempt to shed light on the seemingly impossible sin or crime of the greatest of all creatures in relation to God and, on the side of human beings, the unimaginable horror of the actualization of the preparation for nuclear war and continued ignoring of climate change. The hope is that we may illuminate human experience as it underwrites both horrors and how possibly human experience may illuminate the mythic-theological figure of Lucifer. Although we feature human kind’s essential being out of balance, its dodging of its mortality, and its ontological restlessness, culminating in blinding “Luciferian” rage as a way of understanding the human propensity to extreme violence, it is clear that neither the build-up of nuclear armaments nor ignoring climate change seem to be rooted in ontological restlessness or sort of blindness caused by suppression of death, or its capacity for rage or even jealousy, but in something else. Antiquity singled out pride or inordinate self-love as the perennial culprit. There is doubtless inordinate self-love in play here too, but here we suggest that it is also [inseparably the dulling of a sense of what is of ultimate importance, i.e., there is a loss of interest in what used to be called wisdom.