Valentinus the learner? LO27295

From: AM de Lange (
Date: 09/26/01

Replying to LO27258 --

Dear Organlearners,

Mark Feenstra <> writes:

>I'm also curious about your references to Gnostics
>in relation to Valentinus, and Gnostics in relation to
>religion. I presume that you are aware that many
>Gnostic's would claim Valentinus as their own.

Greetings dear Mark,

I am sorry about the refernces which I cannot give. I have to work so fast
that I do not have time to take notes, not even of the sources which I
have studied. I know that it is a bad habit. I studied many books in the
theological section of our university's library. We have a major
theological faculty here at our university.

There were several flavours of Gnosticism just as there were several
flavours of, for example, Platonism. The Gnostics to which I refered to in
the context of my essay was the Gnostics of Rome (Italy). The Romans were
quite insensitive to the spirituality of, for example, the Greeks. This
can been "seen" by comparing their architecture and art. It was one of the
things which struck Goethe as a young man in his visit to Italy.

Gnosticism was a philisophical system based on the claim that knowledge
(Greek: "gnostikos") and only knowledge was the way to salvation.

>I'm interested to hear about your sources of
>information about Gnosticism, particularly with
>respect to your view that Gnosticism is a reductionist
>rationalisation of faith. I have found that all religions
>(eg Sufism with Islam, Shamanism within Indigenous
>Traditions), seem to have an equivalent to Gnosticism
>(and similar) within Christianity in the sense of a
>spiritual path that values direct knowing of the views
>otherwise promoted to religious adherents on the basis
>of faith or belief. Typically this group operates in a
>somewhat hidden or covert way as it is cyclically
>subjected to persecution. I think this is only marginally
>relevant to a conversation with a learning orientation,
>apart from the claim that I might make that those paths
>that value and promote direct experience seem to me
>to be more aligned with a learning orientation, but still
>within prescribed views about what has value and validity,
>that themselves are not open to question.

The fundamental claim of Gnosticism makes it a rationalistic reduction.

This is my own opinion which I have learned self since I have no sources
to back it up with.

Gnosticism impairs the wholeness of the spirit by fragmenting knowledge
from all other levels of spirituality, including the level of believing.
As such I am convinced that it is not marginally relevant to a learning
orientation. Wholeness is for me in the learning individual and in the
Learning Organisation a key to their survival. I have often stressed that
questioning itself is the best tool for authentic learning.

I have written several essays for our LO-dialogue in the past so that
fellow learners can question the validity of wholeness in authentic
learning. I also have written several essays for our LO-dialogue so that
fellow learners can question validity/measurement itself. I also have
written several essays for our LO-dialogue so that fellow learners can
question the interaction between faith and knowledge. I have written a
couple of essays showing that faith (personal believing) was a major
factor in many of the most foremost scientists' accomplishments. Since I
have often stressed that questioning itself is the best tool for authentic
learning, none of my essays should ever be taken as expounding a new
doctrine which should not be questioned.

>One of the weaknesses I have experienced in
>relation to religion in general and spiritual (or
>mystical) paths in particular (as I have more
>experience of these) is that they tend to provide
>very limited support or encouragement for the
>development of what I have come to understand
>as a learning orientation.

Yes, astonishly many people have this perception. That is why I have
questioned it carefully. As I now understand it, the public/collective
("mitsein") dimension of religion is open to be misused by rote learning.
The effects of this on the personal/individual ("dassein") dimension of
believing is disastrous. It destroys the guiding capacity of the higher
ordered level of believing on the lower order level of learning. As a
consequence the guiding capacity of learning on the even lower level of
creativity is destroyed. Humans with unguided creativity can then easily
become criminals, terrorists, etc.

Valentinus the learner? Yes, after my studies I came to the conclusion
that he is an admirable example to explore for any learner. The ESC
(Elementary Sustainer of Creativity) "exemplar-exploring" can even involve
humans. In these days when millions of people focus on Osama bin Ladin for
their "exemplar-exploring", I have set an example of focussing on somebody
who every few people know about. Until a week ago I knew nothing about

I believe it is crucially important that humankind has to shift its focus
from destructive creativity to constructive creativity. The essay
"Valentinus -- a man with vision or a heretic" is merely one coin in this
purse with so little in it.

With care and best wishes


At de Lange <> Snailmail: A M de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre Faculty of Science - University of Pretoria Pretoria 0001 - Rep of South Africa

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