Book Review: Zulhaqem Zulkifli on ‘Spiritual Titanism’

Titanism is an extreme form of humanism in which human beings take on divine attributes and prerogatives. The author surveys and evaluates explicit forms of Spiritual Titanism in major world traditions – the Jaina, Samkhya, Yoga traditions, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Daoism, and does some comparative references to a Nietzschean framework, which foregrounds the comparative endeavour. These philosophies often entail a liberation that involves a complete transcendence of the body, society, and nature, and I have to admit that the idea of the “super-human” in the various traditions was the primary pull factor for me. It is alway interesting to see how different traditions promote the notion of an ideal person, who is primus inter pares, because of certain cultivation activities and ways of living. This was not an easy read, partly because it requires the reader to be acquainted with philosophical concepts which are often either in sanskrit or chinese (brahman, jiva-atman, tejas, nirguna, shakti, prakirti, the 5 skandas, the trikaya, dao, de, wuwei, ziran, junzi etc.), as well as references to various religious divinities, figures, motifs and texts. It is an arduous process but a really enjoyable one, and I highly encourage others to pick it up.

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