The Egyptian Ka, objectivity, and preserving the future


In ancient Egyptian religion the ka is, generally speaking, the life force that animates human beings.

Google Images (oldsearch.creativecommons.org)

S. G. F. Brandon says it is difficult to define, variously described, and could be regarded as a kind of “protecting genius.”¹

According to Wikipedia (circa 2011), the ka is one of the soul’s five elements:

The Ancient Egyptians believed that a human soul was made up of five parts: the Ren, the Ba, the Ka, the Sheut, and the Ib. In addition to these components of the soul there was the human body (called the ha, occasionally a plural haw, meaning approximately sum of bodily parts). The other souls were aakhu, khaibut, and khat.²

Since then Wikipedia rewrote that entry and now says:

The ancient Egyptians believed that a soul (kꜣ/bꜣEgypt. pron. ka/ba) was made up of many parts. In addition to these components of the soul, there was the human body.³

“Earthpages.ca – Think Free before moving to Earthpages.org

This makes me feel better. Some have criticized or perhaps dismissed Think Free because the info is incomplete or at times in error.

However, anyone who has attempted to write about vast stretches of intellectual history will find that error and incompleteness are unavoidable.

That’s why I have never said that Think Free is objective and have always encouraged readers to “do your homework.”

In fact, the concept of objectivity could be seen as one of the great modern myths of out time, one vigorously promulgated by science, medicine, law, and education, to name just a few areas.

An early promotional graphic

I wonder if those critics who dissed my humble blog leveled the same amount of antipathy toward Wikipedia, which often gets it wrong.

True, many professors and publishers disliked Wikipedia from the start because it challenged their grip on so-called “legitimate and reliable knowledge” and by implication their financial security.

In fact, one professor apparently once said (so I heard through the grapevine):

“A university is a place where a professor gets a paycheck.”

Cynical? Realistic?

Spies, Lies and Serious Bad Guys! – via Google Images

I guess it depends on what side of the fence you’re sitting on.

Professors genuinely concerned with the advancement of knowledge and cultivating talent would likely see this as a cold, insulting statement.

Sadly, however, some creepy ‘outsiders’ do exist. And these bleak and conflicted souls try to clone their cynical outlook by hiring equally flawed assistants and replacements.

It’s not a rosy picture for the future of academia or by implication for society as a whole.

But I still believe we have the power to change our world or at least constrain the proverbial ‘virus’ that arguably does far more collective damage than any biological outbreak.

¹ A Dictionary of Comparative Religion, S. G. F. Brandon ed., New York: Scribner, 1970, p. 388.

² See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egyptian_soul (entry dated 2011/02/12) [Emphasis in bold added.]

³ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Egyptian_conception_of_the_soul [Emphasis in bold added]. Even experts admit the Egyptian view of the soul is complicated and dynamic, with beliefs and practices evolving through different historical periods.

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