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Information > Origins of Prometheanism


Prometheanism was first formulated as a distinct body of philosophy in 1998, in the early versions of the first part of The Promethean Trilogy called The Promethean Manifesto, created by Colin Patrick Barth who goes by the Promethean name Phoenix. It continues to be expanded, developed and refined as a collaborative effort among Prometheans.

Although Prometheanism is a unique philosophy as a synthesis (and in many specifics), it has grown from many roots in a great many other bodies of thought, some of which are very old:

"I can trace the first inspiration of Prometheanism as a philosophy at least as far back as Socrates (not Plato), 2500 years ago. The Promethean myth I chose to use as a primary symbol dates back to prehistory. More detailed and substantive inspiration for the philosophy and the way it is expressed dates back at least to Medieval Islamic intellectuals. Quite a bit came via intermediaries from various thinkers from the western renaissance up to the 18th century. The most pronounced inspiration, and that which is most consistent with Prometheanism as a whole, came from Nietzsche in the 19th century who was unique in standing apart from both previous philosophy and religiosity (deities of any kind), to begin a revaluation of all values in light of individual humanity as an independent interest."

- Phoenix, in 2000

The essence of Prometheanism might be called Nietzschean, and Phoenix acknowledges that Prometheanism owes a large amount to Friedrich Nietzsche in both spirit and methodology:

"The basic task as I see it, to further 'what is life-advancing', has been recognized clearly and in depth only in the 19th century (by Nietzsche)."

- Phoenix, in 2000

Despite a significant association with Nietzsche, the influences which contributed to the development of Prometheanism are intentionally not limited to any one thinker, one tradition, or any one culture. In fact, influences on the development of Prometheanism have intentionally not been limited to conventional philosophy or theory either, and have included such diverse sources as poetry, music, studio arts, film (even a few television series), and most of all, careful attention to life experience from an instructive or praxeological standpoint.

The formulation of Prometheanism since the beginning has demonstrated this inclusiveness. Strategy from Sun Tzu and the west helped to put the philosophy's strategic effectiveness in perspective. Scientific testament has proven valuable, while traditional religious or mystical wisdom from many places has not been discounted either. Jungian personality theory has been an influence on recognizing the diversity of the human mind, while archaeological, anthropological, and historical evidence have been explored as witnesses to a diversity of human society and culture. Influences from Eastern and South Asian arts and philosophies, directly or indirectly, have played significant roles. Some Austrian school economists, especially the anarchists such as Rothbard and Hoppe but also classical liberal Ludwig von Mises, should be credited with some substantial importance, although Promethean capitalism does not entirely match with them. (However the technically 'anarchistic' anti-political philosophy within Prometheanism, which was never specifically developed by Nietzsche, was not actually borrowed from the school of individualist anarchism going back to 19th century theorists Tucker, Spooner, et al. and continuing with Rothbard et al., but was independently derived by Phoenix as part of the cohesive Promethean society concept, simply because it made sense with the rest of the philosophy.) Sources more recently contributing to the ongoing development of Prometheanism include Alfred Korzybski's semantics, Robert Anton Wilson, Joseph Campbell, dystopian writers (Orwell, Zamyatin, Huxley, Bradbury), and Rudolf Steiner.

A special thing about Prometheanism which goes well beyond any roots is that it is meant as a practical philosophy of relevant action, and an invitation to join in that application of ideas in the here and now, like joining a great crusade without precedent.


page updated October 12, 2003 12:55


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