NORMISM INSTEAD OF THEOCENTRISM
comprehensive ideology like ours
which starts from the primacy of the normative is —what we have
called— 'normistic', whereas a comprehensive ideology which starts
from the primacy of the authoritative, that is, from the primacy of divine
authority, is theistic and authoritarian or
The prime notion of a normistic doctrine is the norm or
the norms (or the notions pertaining to particular principles),
whereas the prime notion of a theocentric doctrine is God or
the gods (or the notions pertaining to particular gods).
Thus, when we call our total
"the Norm" or
"the Ananorm", this emphasizes
its normistic nature (and/or the additional recognition of
the right to personhood when it
is done to distinguish it from
It is not that our Norm simply replaces the God of the
monotheists, for Norm is not the name of some (personal) authority,
if only because we speak of "the Norm". In that case we could be
blamed for merely believing in the primacy of the authority of a different
'god', but we do not believe in the primacy of any authority.
(Insofar as we 'believe in' authority it is for derivative reasons.)
We believe in the primacy of the normative, and no
doubt this position is fundamentally different from that of
Theirs is ultimately the primacy of the authoritative: if
Mono had commanded every married
father among them (without asking his wife or wives) to sacrifice all
daughters born in wedlock before the first son born in wedlock, these
fathers would have had to sacrifice each and every daughter born in wedlock
before the first son born in wedlock.
Ours, however, is the primacy of the normative: we must do what the norm
requires, and we must abstain from what would offend against the norm,
regardless of what Mono or any other personal or personified being orders
or is believed to have ordered.
While the theocentrist says "for God's sake", the normist says "for
A normist will teach that people have to realize a state of being (or that
they have to act or refrain from acting) as prescribed by the norm(s) or principle(s).
A typically normistic symbolic statement is the doctrine is your
A person possessed by a god, on the other hand, may enjoin that people
have to 'realize Mono' here and now.
Twisting the language itself, a beloved theocentric slogan is
Such phraseology reflects the fact that in theocentrist and other
authoritarian ideologies it is a particular being (the Authority)
which counts, for it is this being (God or Party) which must determine
what is good or just by what it commands, loves, and so on.
(The authoritarian commandment of commandments is thou shalt obey
orders or orders are orders.)
In normistic ideology it is ultimately the norm which counts, and it is
then a particular state of being which has to be realized (or a
particular act which has to be performed or abstained from) so that the
ideal of the norm may come true.
Theism or theocentrism primarily teaches people to love or worship a
certain god, or the gods in general, whereas normism primarily teaches
people to live in accordance with a particular norm, or the norms in
This is not to say that theists would not find it
important that people live in accordance with the rules, but if
so, then because those rules have been laid down by a god, or
because a god wills that people follow them. By the same token,
a normistic ideology does, logically speaking, not necessarily
have to deny the existence of gods or demons. The existence or
nonexistence of gods and demons is not only a contingent matter,
from a purely normistic point of view it is even irrelevant,
because the existence of the norm or norms does not depend on
them. If any god or demon exists (however it may be defined,
and whatever it may turn out to be), it will have to be judged
by the same normative standard or standards as all other beings,
and so will the belief in a god and/or demon.
Not only is the existence of a particular god or group of
gods 'relevant' and believed in in theocentrist ideology, the
name of a god is often in itself of the greatest significance.
So it is a spiritual
hallow a divine name (or 'to praise his holy name'), and to pray in the
name of a certain god.
This may even exuberate into an unceasing repetition of a
mantra, which is believed to lead to union with the divine being
of that name itself.
potential symbolic significance of names is recognized in the DNI too,
this can by no means be compared to the practise of theocentrists who
attempt to harnass certain names in order to get literally closer to a
particular personal or personified being.
Name symbols do lead to union with the natural mortals who live under the
same denomination, and symbolically
thru them to union
with the ideal they have in common; they do not lead to union with any
nonnatural god or demon.
Only supernaturalists believe that name symbols can
replace real, fundamental attempts at realizing the ideal state
of being according to the norm (or, for that matter, according
to a god). And only supernaturalists believe that the word
name itself would be a synonym of spiritual nature
In the relationship between principal beings, or sacred
books, and the normative, it is the normative, that is, the whole
of universal norms and values, which comes first. Consequently
it is the choice of norms and values which precedes the belief
in principal beings such as gods and demons, and the belief in
books which prescribe or proscribe without offering a justification
and without reflecting upon what has been said before and
elsewhere. Those for whom the attitude and conduct of a god or
other doxastic principal being contradict the most fundamental
of norms will not accept the authority of such a being, even if
it did exist; and those for whom the tales and tenor of a
sacred or other book contradict the most fundamental of principles
will not accept the authority of such a book, even if it
had been revealed in a nonnatural way. This is what the
primacy of the normative implies. It is therefore the choice of
norms and values itself which gives the life of a normist its
'Er existence has meaning
when certain norms and values have come to engage
'im, irrespective of 'er belief
in one or more gods or other principal beings.
And irrespective of 'er belief in something like immortality, because
immortal beings, whether they exist or not, are subject to the same
universal norms as mortal beings (and for a much longer time at that).
Should there be a difference, it is the very belief in immortality which
will make the life of a person with a body meaningless or less
It comes as no surprise that some social scientists have
found that there is a distinct correlation between adherence to
theist ideology founded upon the primacy of the authoritative
and a general authoritarian attitude.
It will come as no surprise either that what appeals to theocentric
believers is 'law and order', whereas what appeals to us as
adherents of a normistic
denominational doctrine is
'legitimacy and order'.
Now, those who believe in the primacy of the authoritative and in a
doxastic truth as revealed by a deity or its prophet are likely to ask a
'e knows what norm or principle
is the true or right one.
But a theocentrist who poses such a question does not understand, or
conceals the fact, that 'e has to face the same kind of question 'imself:
how does 'e know what god or divine revelation is the true or right
one (that is to say, apart from the claim that the revelation occurred in
'er own part of the world, or in that of those who colonized 'er own
A normist may as a person have to choose between different norms,
or between different contents or interpretations of one principle,
but a theist will have to choose between different gods, or
between different beliefs in, or predicates of, one god.
It is one of the extraordinary acts of theism to bypass this problem by
speaking, not of "the god" but of "God".
However, the normist can do exactly the same by introducing a proper
name, for example, by speaking of "(the) Norm", whether as an abbreviation
of "the Ananorm" or not.
Hence, this is not the kind of question which exposes a fundamental
epistemological difference between the normistic and the
Such a difference is rather that theists claim the existence of one or
more particular (immaterial) beings with a great number of
particular predicates (such as unique relationships with avatars),
whereas normists will only have to claim the existence
of one or a limited number of principles or norms (which are
immaterial as well).
Even when the theocentrist asks how it could be known whether
it is true that one should do so and so, or that something
should be such and such, 'e has already implicitly recognized
one principle, namely that of truth.
And not only has 'e thus implicitly recognized the first principle of
doctrinal principles, 'er
very question itself perfectly demonstrates that this principle needs no
god; nor, for that matter, a devil.
An outrageous example of normless theocentrism is
antinomianism. Antinomians (if still existing) hold that norms,
categorical principles or the 'moral law' are of no use or
obligation because faith alone would be necessary to salvation
(the 'saving of man from the power and effects of sin').
Characteristic of religious existentialists adhering to such
antinomianism is that they claim that the 'law of love' should
be applied directly and separately in each situation. If this
applying of a 'moral law' sounds inconsistent, then only so on
the surface, for the injunction to love, on which their
situation ethics is based, has in practise never provided any
normative directive whatsoever (at least not in addition to what
the principle of beneficence enjoins). In actual fact, also
antinomians who are not willing to dispense with the clichés of
theodemonical agapism always
have been, or still are, staunchly opposed to normistic discipline.
When a the(ocentr)ist still scornfully
calls people who do recognize principles but no god or gods, "atheists",
'e may now expect that 'er derogatory way of speaking will uncomfortably,
perhaps even relentlessly, backfire on 'im.
For if a normist who believes in the primacy of the normative is an
'atheist', then a theist who does not believe in the primacy of the
normative is an 'anormist' or —worse— an 'antinormist'!