Dr. Eric Steinhart draws on his philosophical background to create a naturalistic foundation for the Pagan Wheel of the Year. To better understand axiarchism, the philosophy on which Dr. Steinhart draws to create a Naturalistic Pagan theology, see Part 1 and Part 2 of his essay “Axiarchism and Paganism”.
At Mabon, light and darkness come into balance again; but this balance trends downwards, so that the darkness triumphs over the light. But the light was life. Mabon thus marks the second harvest, which is the biological harvest. At Mabon, all life on earth has gone extinct. The sun has incinerated our planet. Much worse, all life in the universe has gone extinct. Every suffering organism, including every organism on any planet in our entire universe, has made its prayers, and the species of every organism has made it prayers; and the answers to all these prayers have been gathered together into a set of possible universes, a set of utopian worlds, radiated by our universe.
Our universe is now surrounded by a vast plurality of biological utopias, alternative ways our universe might have gone, in which the axiological demands of all living things are satisfied. Within some biological utopia, every dysfunctional organism has a functional counterpart; every wretched sentience has a happy counterpart; every unjust society has a just counterpart; every sick ecosystem has a healthy counterpart. Since humans live, the set of biological utopias includes the set of anthropic utopias. Nevertheless, at Mabon, all these biological utopias lie in the shadow of unreality. They are merely empty prophecies, axiological* hallucinations. Our universe does not need to have a mind to have these dreams; it merely needs to run as a software process on some divine computational substrate whose calculations, embodying the logics of value and possibility, generate these biological utopias like an arithmetical engine solves its optimization problems.
*Axiarchism is a philosophical theory which states that reality is ultimately defined by some kind of value. The demands made by value are axiological demands. An axiological demand is a proposition whose truth follows from the nature of the thing which makes it.
Eric Steinhart is a professor of philosophy at William Paterson University. He is the author of four books, including Your Digital Afterlives: Computational Theories of Life after Death. He is currently working on naturalistic foundations for Paganism, linking Paganism to traditional Western philosophy. He grew up on a farm in Pennsylvania. He loves New England and the American West, and enjoys all types of hiking and biking, chess, microscopy, and photography.