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In 8AD, Ovid, told the myth of Narcissus and Echo, according to which Narcissus thinks of everything in terms of "anthropisms', i.e. human ideals and views projected throughout the universe, such that when he looks into water, all he sees his his reflection, there after falling into the water mesmerized by his own human perceived beauty, and drowns. In 1809, Goethe remade this myth, to the effect that if we look into a chemical reaction beaker, and try to search around for human-based things such as life, death, beauty, and morality, we will fall into the beaker and drown in our own anthropisms. Correctly, in order to have our vision restored, we have to rid ourselves of anthropism, deanthropomorphize our thinking, and begin to "physio-chemicalize" our views of ourselves in respect to the reactions we have to each other and withing society.

In hmolscience, anthropism (TR:47) (LH:5) (TL:52), from anthrop- meaning “resembling humans” + -ism “doctrine, ideology”, refers to bias or confused practice of defining things, particularly scientific things, from a human-centric point of view, rather than from a universal physics, chemistry, physico-chemical, or thermodynamical point of view; an ingrained personal human-centric bias about phenomena.


In 1809, Goethe, in his Elective Affinities, famously hid three coded "anthropism cyphers" in the message of his story, namely the "CHEM cypher"[1], "ECHO cypher"[2], and "OTT-TOT cypher"[3], the first being done via the first letters of the names of the four main characters: Charlotte [C] + Hauptmann (Captain) [H] + Eduard [E] + Mittler [M], which form "CHEM", the root of the word chemistry.

The "ECHO cypher" is with reference to Ovid's 8AD Metamorphosis, which outlines, in poetic form, and early form of evolution or morphed form change over time, from the interaction of heat, earth, and water. In the Ovid version of the story, all Narcissus sees when he looks into the pool of water is his "own reflection", which he deems as so "beautiful", that he drowns in the water. In the Goethe version, Narcissus looks into the water seeing chemical reactions, such as oxygen O2 reacting with hydrogen H2 to form water H2O:

But, in stead of looking at these reactions and seeing them for what they are, Narcissus "anthropomorphizes" them, and imbues or applies human-based attributes to them, e.g. that they are alive, that they are on love, and things like beauty and morality, etc.

Goethe, however, employs the OTT-TOT cypher, to say that this is the wrong, namely that instead of anthropomorphizing chemical reactions, we need to "deanthropomorphize" our views of our selves, in respect to our own personal "human chemical reactions", e.g. love and sexual reproduction, with each other, such as Charlotte [C] reacting with Eduard [E] who form an ill-conceived child or baby [B]:

which eventually drowns and dies [TOT] (which means die in German) in the lake, through carelessness of Ottilie [OTT] (a reference to Saint Ottilie, the patron of vision restoration), just like Narcissus, who fell in love with his beauty and drowned while staring into his own reflection in a pool of water.

In other words, instead of applying anthropomorphizing everything, i.e. projecting our own views and models of ourselves throughout the universe and to the physico-chemical world, e.g. trying to figure out if this chemical is alive or not, knowing that we have metamorphosized over time from the interactions of chemicals and heat, we need to do the reverse, and "physio-chemicalize" our views of ourselves, and when this is achieved, we will be freed of "anthropisms", and hence have our vision restored:

Ott cypher.png

When this occurs, according to Goethe, we will come out of the dark ages, which we currently reside, or into the daylight outside of Plato's cave.


In 1899, Ernst Haeckel, after studying Goethe's Elective Affinities, began to employ the term "anthropism" as follows:

Anthropism is that powerful and world-wide group of erroneous opinions which opposes the human organism to the whole of the rest of nature, and represents it to be the preordained end of the organic creation, an entity essentially distinct from it, a godlike being.”
— Ernst Haeckel (1899), The Riddle of the Universe (pg. 11) [4]

He goes on to talk about the "false anthropism of Christianity" and the "personal anthropism of god", along with defining three types of anthropism.


In 1938, Charles Sherrington, in his Man on his Nature lecture, like Goethe, famously said that life and death are anthropisms, and that when physic and chemistry enter the scene, they disappear:

“To look at nature as he looks at it must be a special and part view. Science desires to rid itself of ‘anthropisms’ as unnecessary. It inclines to regard what we think of as ‘causation’ as an anthropism. Again, when physics and chemistry have entered on their description of the perceptible, ‘life’ disappears from the scene, and consequently ‘death’. Both are anthropisms. Absolute beginnings and absolute endings there are none. Change from one phase to another is not in fact ending or beginning. There are no beginnings de novo. Absolute time disappears and so too absolute space. Natural science thus attempts to withdraw itself from much that is ‘human’. It earlier shed the older anthropisms such as Olympus and the sky-children; but others tended to outstay them or to creep into their places.”
Charles Sherrington (1938), Man on His Nature (pg. 260) [5]

This is one of the launching points for abioism.

End matter

See also


  1. CHEM cypher – Hmolpedia 2020.
  2. ECHO – Hmolpedia 2020.
  3. OTT – Hmolpedia 2020.
  4. Haeckel, Ernst. (1899). The Riddle of the Universe: at the Close of the Nineteenth Century (translator: Joseph McCabe) (anthropism, 6+ pgs; quote, pg. 11). Harper & Brothers, 1905
  5. Sherrington, Charles. (1940). Man on His Nature (anthropism, 5+ pgs). CUP Archive.

External links

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