written and compiled by John Lash
How the Lexicon Works
Needless to say, the purpose of the Lexicon is to
define words, but not just to do that. To serve the purposes
specific to metahistory, the Lexicon must provide more than a
mere rehash of dictionary meanings. A good many of the entries
found herein can also be found in any dictionary, of course,
but the definitions given here are designed to enhance and augment
metahistorical inquiry. They are customized for the discourse
underway, but these definitions, novel though they might be,
are merely accessory to the central purpose of the Lexicon: to
alter the syntax in which beliefs are stated and evaluated.
In Metahistory we are growing a language to describe humanity in the Gaian perspective and to foster co-evolutionary vision
Some entries present terms of technical or
academic significance such as thought insertion (from cult
psychology) and trope (an academic term referring to the way
facts are expressed in figurative language, rather than literally).
Once again, these terms come to mean in metahistory something
more and different than they do in ordinary usage. Terms drawn
from psychology and psychotherapy are frequent and subject to wide
elaboration because of the beliefs implied in them.
Metahistorical discourse runs to some extent on parallel tracks with psychological theories, especially when those theories propose beliefs concerning human potential. From the days of Freud and Jung, psychotherapy has adopted a great many belief-loaded assumptions about humanity, its relation to God and Nature, and the supernatural and superhuman dimensions of experience. The Lexicon exposes and explores these assumptions, often shifting the manner in which they can be viewed.
The five master themes of the Arch of Metahistory are all defined in the Lexicon. These entries are intended to illuminate the themes in ways not fully elaborated in the corresponding texts. Sometimes a key concept cannot be adequately developed within the text that introduces it: for instance, the three formats are mentioned several times in the Themes, but without explanatory comment. The reason is that elaboration might load down or divert the main line of discourse. The Lexicon entry is there to supplement and sometimes sharpen the textual treatment of the term.
Digressions are inevitable in metahistorical discourse, for seminal ideas are bound to be spread around in different locations. As the tree of learning grows, the language permutates.
The Lexicon contains quotations for some entries: for instance, utility. It may also use illustrations: for instance, the Tibetan icon in the entry for theogamy. Poetry may be cited where it illustrates a belief or encapsulates a well-known script: for instance, the lines from the Homeric hymn to Demeter for theophany.
In many cases, the words defined are treated in terms of the stories, scripts and scenarios that illustrate the beliefs associated with those terms: for instance, revealed religion. On its technical side, the Lexicon expands and applies the methodology of metahistory, but it does so, as often as possible, by drawing upon the rich array of myths and stories that enshrine the universal human heritage of belief.
Humor and Error
JLL, rev. July 2004