I originally commented this over on Mike Hind’s blog, but I thought it was worth reproducing and expanding upon here.
Most of the problems with religion materialism has are due to either the explicitly supernatural nature of the actors or the idea that those actors occupy nonphysical realms that cannot be accessed by humans and thus cannot be proven to even exist.
But if you take the idea of corporate personhood as your basis for a modern civic god, a god of the polis, suddenly neither of those problems exist. It's a distributed intelligence that occupies the people and physical belongings of the corporation. It's entirely physical, simultaneously entirely metaphorical, and simultaneously a creature with will and desires and agency.
All egregores can be understood a similar way. The Wolf, my favorite egregorical hobbyhorse, is at baseline both a manifestation of man's wild nature, and an entirely real, living creature that exists in a distributed form in all who believe in the stories men tell about wolves. That's what a god is.
Magic that concerns gods, which is a substantial chunk of magic's corpus (but by no means the entirety of it), can be understood on the basis of the stories told about those gods. Taking away people's stories is how you kill their gods. Some gods are harder to kill than others; the older and more primal a god, the wider the variety of stories told about him and the more places those stories are told. I’m not worried about The Wolf. But I am worried about other gods of manhood and masculinity, whose stories are more complex and culturally specific, and thus more fragile.
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In light of your analysis, it's interesting to note the similarities between institutions and biological organisms, in that both seem to follow (almost intentionally) the imperatives of self-preservation and reproduction; no matter what an organization's stated mission is, if it survives long enough (which it will do unless it is starved in its infancy or killed by outside agents), those imperatives of self-preservation and reproduction will inevitably trump its purported mission. It almost never happens that an organization succeeds in accomplishing its mission and thereby becoming irrelevant and then winds its own operations down voluntarily; usually it persists until it becomes a sad parody of its former self and dies of old age or is killed by a younger or more vibrant competitor.
I've been writing a piece that touches on egregores, distributed will, non-human consciousnesses and... well...
(*Cue SNL Church Lady echo effect)
Anyway, just wanted to say this piece and several others have helped me tremendously. I've been trying to kick off my substack for almost a year now, and it's been inspirational to engage with bold, prolific thoughts like these.