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Points of Discussion

Points of discussion of the General Lecture of SPQR2Gang Birmingham, Friday 27th January, 2023

Presented by Grand Otek Durndzi of Birmingham and the West Midlands.

Original lecture given in the Tongue.

The Thousand Schools of Thought

The Thousand Schools of Thought: a period of time in the Gang's history, during the Second Gang, in which all kinds of theological theories flourished. The beginning of the Thousand Schools of Thought era was after the disbandment of the Brethren of Purity in 1041; its height in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, a golden age of philosophy. It came to an end in 1258 with the Sack of Baghdad by the Worldly Chaan, but its ideas ultimately resulted in the Era of Consolidation, just before the Great Mission and establishment of the Third Gang. The ideas formed during the Thousand Schools of Thought Era continue to profoundly influence the culture and theology of the Gang as we know it today.

The Thousand Schools of Thought did not arise suddenly out of nowhere, but rather were a gradual development from the divergence of thought associated with the end of the Brethren of Purity, and is one of the reasons why this period is given its name. Our fore-Gs postulated many different theories about the future path of the Gang and the interpretation of our scripture, resulting in the founding of a multitude of Schools of Thought—of course not literally one thousand, as this would violate the principle of numerological imbalance. Speaking of principles, the School of Principles was one of the earliest, yet shortest-lived schools of thought, but was highly inspirational to future, longer-established Schools, such as the School of Interpretation, the School of Naturalism, the School of the Accounting, the School of Acronymics, and of course the School of Thought.

I will not go into much detail about many of the individual Schools of Thought themselves, rather give some food for thought about the concept as a whole. The Thousand Schools of Thought Era was suddenly disrupted in its height by the Sack of Baghdad, and led into the Fracturing of the Gang, the divisions created amongst the Schools exacerbating the Fracturing, which we will talk about next lecture.

Acronymics and the Art of Analogy

Let me start a small diversion into a topic I've mentioned—one of the more important Schools of Thought—the School of Acronymics. When taking your EKG exam, you might have been tested on your knowledge of acronymics, at least if you studied in our centre, but honestly, who remembers what they did for their eckers—I know I don't.

Technically founded by the Brethren of Purity themselves, the School of Acronymics was variously heavily influential on and extremely contentious with the other Nine-Hundred And Ninety-Nine Schools of Thought.

The School of Acronymics derives their beliefs from studying the higher layers of the Divine Tongue, accessed through the theolinguistic analysis of dialogues with the Chaan. These include the Chaanic acronymics themselves, which, in order to be understood in writing, were translated into Arabic letters, and later those of the Latin alphabet. Although this is too much to go into this lecture, this school of thought has been and still are one of the most prominent. As the Chaan said, "do what thou must to enlighten the people". Something you might be more familiar with is the Sin of Expansion: dishonouring the Sacred Acronyms of the Chaan by extraneously expanding their internal components.

The School of Opening, whose first defenders appeared early in the sixteenth century, was embittered for centuries in their fundamental disputes with the School of Closing. Eventually they resolved their disputes and merged into the School of Gaps-That-Are-Neither-To-Be-Opened-Nor-Closed, before collapsing due to rapidly leaking members in the late eighteenth century. The School of Bribery also appeared as a group claiming to solve the political issues of the gang, and also still has influence to this day.

One technique that was discovered during the Consolidation was the Art of Analogy. By comparing many of the schools once thought to have conflicting ideas, it was later understood that many of those distinctions were not distinctions at all, but analogous in their own way. Take the prior example of the Schools of Opening and Closing. What is something that is opened if it is not also closed? And what is something that cannot be opened if it cannot also be closed? This False Dichotomism, known to theological Gs as Phillip's Conundrum, turned out actually to be reflections of the same thing.

The Inimical Friend

Now, my Gs, let me remind you of the Parable of the Inimical Friend. Reading from the Ledger of the Gang. The Chaan and his followers fell onto the rockier land, and so with no place to remain put, they were forced to continue moving throughout the night. And on their journey, the Chaan told them, despair ye not, my friends. The Chaan spake unto them, Friends, there lived a pious young man, Naveed, who did harm no man and spake not of evil. And yet, he toiled under a harsh man, Jafar, who, in the summer, though supplies were plenty, reserved them from his men, and made them toil harder than ever in the year. Jahan, another worker, one day asked unto Jafar, why do ye torment us thus? The harvest is bountiful, yet ye cut us off from it. We toil hard, yet it is not enough for you. Jafar answered him, Jahan, seest thou me as an Enemy? And Jahan spake unto him, Jafar, ye are cruel to us. I see ye not as a friend. And so, Jafar let Jahan go, to work in another man's stead. And Jafar asked Naveed, Naveed, thou workest well, yet as Jahan sayeth, I am cruel to each of you. Seest thou me as an Enemy of thine? And Naveed answered, Nay, ye are a Friend. Jafar asked unto Naveed, Why seest thou me as a Friend? And Naveed told him, Jafar, thou makest me toil hardest when we are at our best: thus, when we are at our worst we shall be ready to work better. And Jafar told him, very well, I, thine Inimical Friend, shall give thou rest, thou hast demonstrated thy virtue. And the Chaan spake until his people, my friends, the ground beneath our feet beeth our Inimical Friend, and all was clear.

The Thousand Schools of Thought Era posed a sort of problem of the Inimical Friend. Similarly to the Consensus of the Two Realms, it was one that could only be solved by the meeting of many minds of extraordinarily different backgrounds. The Provisionalists, being a particularly eccentric wing of minds of this kind, understood it as being the Chaan's law, a sacred doctrine, that all human governments ought to be short-lived. This is similar to—although prior to—the Middletonian concept of the Baking of Man. Furthermore, the Provisionalists are in favour of most forms of provision, but that's a story for another time.

Other Schools of Thought

Also within this time, during the Late period of the Thousand Schools of Thought, developed Meta-School of Thought, who advocated for Schools of Thought regarding the Schools of Thought, and it all got a little bit complicated. Grand Otek 'Every Man A School' Tirkagtanz was a pioneer of the Meta-School, and prayed every day for the Chaan to bring about a Billion Schools of Thought Era. His prayers were to some extent answered—the Continuum Era of the seventeeth and eighteenth centuries could be thought of an Era of Infinite Schools of Thought—however it would not occur until long after his lifetime.

The merging and removal of several Schools of Thought did lead to the establishment of rebellious False Gangs: especially once the Era of Consolidation had ended and the Third Gang was officially established by Gonoo Chaan after the end of the Great Mission. But that's also really a discussion for another time.

In the rest of this week's lectures, we'll be continuing our discussions of historiography with the Fracturing era and Third Gang Era, and next week, we'll go into some of the founding principles of SPQR2 ethics, including the Twelve Currencies of Heaven, and the Five Debts of Hell.