Sunday, April 29, 2007

I have a curious impression of a kind of web

Inner-Outer Correspondence Author: Winston Smith Date: Apr 24, 2007 10:16 Inner-Outer Correspondenceby Roy Posner The Web of Life
And yet if everything is inextricably related, there must be somemechanism that allows for this harmonic association. There must be acoordinating system that connects individuals and objects to otherspecific individuals and objects across space and time.
We can imagine that all individuals, objects, and energies areconnected in an organized pattern across a vast "web" of life. Along this web of life, corresponding and associated physical, vital, mental, and spiritual energies interrelate and interact. E.g. when life presses on me and I make the choice to make a decisive change inmy attitude, I set in motion a force, a vibration, a disturbance, along one or more of the strands or pathways of this web that I am related to. When that occurs, related elements or individuals alongthat particular strand respond to the incoming force. These associate entities then formulate their own force and energy in response, whichthen track back along that same strand of the web to the related source object or individual; in this case, myself.
Just as a telecommunication system moves currents of force veryquickly, if not instantaneously, affecting related points on its gridor web, so to our changes in consciousness
(a) engage and amplifyforces and powers of our being that then move out to related elementsalong the strands of the grid or web, and
(b) attract correspondingforces and energies back to us, often appearing to us very quickly oreven instantaneously as responses from life.
In this ultra-subtleorganized field, time, space, finiteness, and limitation of thepossible are replaced by no-time, spacelessness, and a limitlessinfinity.
Mira Alfassa, a woman known to her followers as "The Mother", and a partner of the Indian sage and seer Sri Aurobindo commented on this apparent web of life in the early 1970s:
"I have a curious impression of a kind of web -- a web with ... likevery loose threads, I mean not tightly meshed, connecting all events, and if you have power over one of these webs, there's a whole field of circumstances that apparently have nothing to do with each other but which are linked together there in such a way that one necessarily implies the existence of the other ... And I have the impression it's something that envelops the earth. And it's not mental. They are circumstances that depend on one another, in a completely invisible way outwardly, without any mental logic, and yet as though connected to one another. If you are conscious, really conscious of that, that's how you can change circumstances. "
Again one wonders why such a web of life would ultimately exist in the first place. What could account for such a profound organizingmechanism, with the capacity to channel, coordinate, and associate all of life's energies and all of life's elements and beings acrossthe vast span of the cosmos?
Our own view is that behind all existence there is a spiritual element that enables and supports this ultra organized intelligence. Every part of our being, as well as every aspect, element, object,and being in the universe contains, and is supported by a hidden spiritual essence. From out of this essence has emerged a vast subtle system of organization, reflecting the essential integral Knowledge, Wisdom, and Consciousness of the spirit.
And this spiritual essence exists in the first place because everything in creation is based on, is a reflection of the one original and still-unfolding Spiritual Reality. That Reality and its permeating spiritual essence is the power behind the profound intelligent system that binds related objects across a vast subtle web of existence. That Spiritual Reality and Source, including its expression through a subtle web of existence, enables the fundamental Oneness by which life on the outside reflects our inner status and consciousness.

Monday, April 23, 2007

An architect should function as a blend of a craftsman and an artiste

Architecture of the future Something i wrote for a topic - "Architecture of the future" ... Jan 2007.
Architecture is to make us know and remember who we are. Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe
The past is never obsolete. Neither is it dead. It always lives on albeit changing in form to suit the context. There is a constant metamorphosis of what was, to what is and what will be.For instance, sky gardens, or terrace gardens are no new invention. They have been a feature since the “hanging gardens of Babylon.’ When abundant land was available, there was no need for such a feature. Now, when there is so much pressure on the land, high-rises becoming the order of the day, terrace gardens have become inevitable, to get a whiff of fresh air in the concrete jungles of today.
Heredity is a strong factor, even in architecture. Necessity first mothered invention. Now invention has little ones of her own, and they look just like grandma. E.B.White
The Industrial revolution brought with it mass productions, large scale standardization and new building types. It changed the way spaces were perceived and the way buildings were built.The new industries required large span structures that led to innovation in the building techniques. Building sensibilities in terms of human values and scale were modified in accordance with the building type. There was a virtual coup in building and construction.
Modern Architecture has its validity in terms of technology and industry in the West. However, when the same theme was indiscriminately applied in the regions where no such conditions existed, especially in the colonies of non-industrialized regions whose expected and forced role was to provide raw materials, and at the same time provide a market for the industrial products of the colonial masters, the confusion and misunderstanding caused by the new products was considerable.
Modern Architecture was handed down to and accepted as advanced by the non-West. There was no reflection of the vernacular, although many of the pre-modern colonial styles paid due respect to local climatic conditions and resulted in interesting hybrid, technically sound solutions.Global and Local, informationalization, economic and financial systems, science and technology, consumer-oriented life style etc. are basically challenging masses of waves which will only grow with characters of inevitability. This requires conscious, strong-willed and persistent efforts on the part of the local community and individuals. Otherwise the local paradigm will not survive, community may disappear, and individuals may be engulfed as mere molecules in the global picture. However, the tension between global and local, the challenge and response between them is a potentially creative process, which could open a new horizon towards the future – the GLOCAL approach.
THE VERNACULAR SKYSCRAPER: The 'vernacular' is a localised phenomenon, growing organically out of the soil, whereas the modern high-rise is emerging as a 'global-tradition'. Human aspirations as well as the myriad variety of building materials available today have transcended political boundaries and assumed a 'global' form. Even if it is possible to design a 'vernacular' skyscraper, it is necessary to consider the aspirations, needs and concerns of the 'global' citizen. If a rash of skyscrapers in its present form were allowed to grow uncontrolled in urban soils around the globe, it would lead to a homogenization of the urban landscape, killing the cities and their glorious cultural history..
A vernacular skyscraper is the absolute need of the hour, where local sentimentalities and aspirations have been accounted for, while catering to the ‘global’ citizen.Until Modern Architecture conquered the world, architecture was mostly rational, functional, hence resource conserving and energy saving in the local climatic context. Architecture embodied the local characteristics or a place. It was a fruit selected through the long process of trial and error, of evaluation by the eyes of aesthetic value judgment existing in the local culture. Hence, vernacular architecture, buy its nature, had built-in sustainability, both physical and cultural.
In other words, architecture is not a simplistic product of physical engineering, but also it should have beauty and something metaphysical which could work on human soul. An architect should function as a blend of a craftsman and an artiste, not as a mere craftsman. Significant advancement in the field of Information Technology has also brought about a change similar to the one caused by the Industrial Revolution. The world has shrunk. People spend more time with their computers than with other people. With the click of the mouse, one can now pay bills, shop, learn, play, bank, book tickets and do much more – something that was unfathomable until ten years ago. It has reduced human interaction to a minimum.
Technology has indeed made the world a smaller place, but by bringing continents closer, but pushing neighbours further apart. It is now easier to see a person half-way across the world than have a face-to-face conversation with your next door neighbour. What significance do the “public spaces” have today? What used to be parks and markets have today become multiplexes and malls. Architecture has to keep re-inventing itself and taking on new forms to keep up. New development brings with it new materials, new building types to make these materials and newer buildings to use these materials. But basic human values and functions will never change. As long as man continues to eat, breathe and sleep, architecture, as we know it today, will retain these characteristics.
Merely Vitruvian theories will not help constitute the ideal virtual world. It must be complemented by certain more aspects of human and social values and the immeasurable functional aspects. The virtual is only an extension of the real. The virtual exists where the real does. Designing of multi-functional spaces will become the order of the day, where each person will be a cocoon and human interaction will be reduced to a minimum. With a reduction in space requirements with technology, multi-functional devices, burgeoning population, escalating land value and near-total breakdown of infrastructure in all major towns in our country, the future is left to what we imagine………or choose to imagine. The choice is ours. Posted by Jyotsna at 11:07 AM 0 comments Labels: Sunday, April 15, 2007

What he shared in The Mind of the Cells lives in my own cells

Life Without Death Posted on Apr 22nd, 2007 by Sandra
I'm a bit stunned as I write this. I'm not an obituary writer, but here I am, for the third time in the past month-and-a-bit, writing about someone who died recently. I was just looking online for a link to Satprem 's book The Mind of the Cells for a girlfriend of mine who I chatted with today in the sunny garden here in Bonn. Another friend overheard us, and told us about his experience of being with Satprem in 1973, just after the death of Mirra Alfassa, The Mother.
And now, a few hours later, I read that Satprem died on the 9th of April this year. I know virtually nothing about Satprem, other than he wrote The Mind of the Cells and other books (e.g. Life Without Death, on my 'to read' list…) and that he was one of the few people who understood what The Mother was doing. What he shared in The Mind of the Cells lives in my own cells…. in my heart and mind and soul and body, always there, reminding me of so something rare and often forgotten – unseen or unknown even – & not only forgotten in my own consciousness, but in the thoughts and consciousness and life of so many of those around me.

The Mind of the Cells is about The Mother's extraordinary 'experiments' in transformation and evolution through the body. What Satprem and the Mother explored has stayed with me like a light in the darkest tunnels of my own journey. I believe I 'left' my body (as much as was possible without actually going insane or dying) when I was seven, - and that my life from that point onwards has been a path of reconnecting to this body. I deeply sense and experience that this reconnection is not simply a 'getting back in'- it's wider than that, part of my own evolution – and because I'm in the middle of this journey ( or somewhere along a spectrum that may not be vertical), I can't quite express what is actually happening.
I've always felt that I am here in a 'body' for a reason, that the wild and often extremely uncomfortable physical ride this body is on is not a 'mistake' or a problem. I believe that the evolution of consciousness, of being human - of becoming - is through this body; I believe that 'enlightenment' is not a process of disconnecting from the physical into some 'higher' more ethereal realm, rather it is a fully physical and felt experience (I have to say that this is more than a belief, it's a kind of knowing that is not about being 'right'). Reading The Mind of the Cells washed over me like a wave of warm ocean, curling me into its heart, saying Yes, what you experience is absolutely precise and on track.
Thank you Satprem, thank you Mirra. I had the same thoughts about Satprem that I had about U.G. Krishnamurti - I hoped that 'one day' I would meet him. Both lived quite reclusively, out of the public eye, and I'm sad that I did not make a greater effort to sit with them in this life. I'm reminded to never take for granted what is here, and to reach out to all who have touched me, supported me, encouraged me, and tell them how grateful I am.
And, I loved what Barindranath Chaki wrote on his Satprem blog: “Satprem cannot die…He will be there, till the Work he has undertaken is done”. Perhaps this is why I'm writing this - so that the flame of Sri Aurobindo, The Mother and Satprem can be passed along - to anyone who is touched by anything I've written, to anyone who feels that the physical experience is absolutely integral to consciousness, then please, read these extraordinary people's books, share the flame. Let's live in the fire of life, exploring all its corridors and pathways, let us – hand-in-hand – walk where there are no roads, no maps, on and into this great adventure of the unknown.
Added 23rd April 2007:
“It happened in the deserted canyons near Pondicherry. I was sitting there quietly, when out of a hollow came three men. Instantly I knew: “They're coming to kill me.” I stayed where I was, without moving. And strangely without any effort or concentration, I suddenly felt as if emptied of myself, without any reaction, without fear, without anything, like a stone, but a conscious stone looking unconcerned at some kind of show, just as one can be both witness and actor in a dream. Except for its neutrality, the feeling was not really that of a rock, but rather that of a body, my body, as something utterly transparent and null, and a little indistinct. Nothing moved, there was not a quiver or a throb - and I had nothing to do with it, there was no “self-control” involved, no effort.
Something had taken hold of me in a transparent immobility The three men were there: two in front, one behind. I didn't move. they talked amongst themselves. Then a kind of voice in me said, “Get up.” I rose, with my back to the canyon. One of them took off my watch, no doubt to simulate a robbery. The man behind came in front of me. I saw the killer raise his arm to push me into the canyon. I followed the movement of that arm, my eyes met the gold-coloured eyed of the killer. he lowered his arm, hesitated a moment as if he was not sure what to do , or exactly why he was there. It seemed that he too now watched the scene as if it did not make any sense, or as if he had forgotten what he had come for. He turned around, the others turned, around, and they left. Then they started to run as if panic stricken. And my heart suddenly remembered that it should have been frightened, that they had wanted to kill me.. and it started pounding like mad.
The only thing I know is that had there been the slightest effort on my part, the slightest contraction or reaction to push those men back, even an inner refusal, a mere “no” inside, they would have killed me instantly: the opposition thus raised would have met and challenged their vibration and the reaction would have touched off the whole process. But there was nothing, not even a breath of reaction; I was like thin air, as it wore: the others vibration passed through me like a breeze, unobstructed. Can you kill a breeze? Some kind of contact is necessary in order to kill, you have to have a handle - here, there was no handle, for the was nothing, and since there was nothing, there was nothing!” Satprem: The mind of the cells

Science and democracy and technology and industry

HUBBARD: Well, it came after my planetary birth experience, and then my becoming a futurist, and I began to see that Homo sapiens is evolving, and that the power of science and technology will either radically destroy or transform us -- not only our consciousness, but our technology. And I wondered, what could be a human type that could handle this power? Because we see that we mainly misuse power, so the more powerful we get the worse we become. And I was asking another question of the universe: "What is the future human like?" I was in Santa Barbara to write a book on it, and had a writer's block. One day I got lost, and I was driving through the Santa Barbara hills. I saw a little sign that said Mount Calvary Monastery, and I had actually an experience of light. I went up the mountain, followed the sign, went to a little Episcopal monastery, and there was a hang gliders' club jumping off a higher mountain, about 50 people in butterfly wings above Mount Calvary, and I had an image of human metamorphosis, that we would all be changed. And I had an inner experience of the Christ not as Jesus of Nazareth, but as an omniscient, omnipresent field that was actually pulling us forward toward the total and radical fulfillment of our divine human potential. And I heard the words, "My resurrection was real. It is a forecast of what the human race will do collectively when you love God above all else, your neighbor as yourself, your self as a Godlike being, combined with science and technology. You will all be changed." And I suddenly thought, "Oh my goodness, Western civilization was built on a story of the radical transformation of the person to life everlasting, and through science and democracy and technology and industry we're hitting up against the limits of the biosphere. We are learning to extend our life span. We're learning to build new parts. We're learning to go live in outer space. And I made a quantum jump which I think nobody else has really made, between the high technology of Western civilization and the promise of Jesus.
MISHLOVE: That is unusual.
HUBBARD: I mean, it's never done. And I saw that part of the mystery is the science of matter, whereby the physical world is being transformed. And then I went back to people like Aurobindo and the Mother, who were working on cellular immortality.
HUBBARD: In India; and people who were studying the aging process, and people who were looking at regeneration and cryonics, and even these far-out things like cloning and taking DNA and resurrecting a whole being. Those are very weird for a biosphere; but what if the human race is to be a cosmic species, and what if Jesus is a template of the cosmic human, and what if our new powers are actually to transform and transcend creature human conditions? And so I was guided to the New Testament, and I opened up on my favorite passage: "Behold I show you a mystery. We shall not all sleep. We shall all be changed." And I started to write, and I feel I was inspired by a kind of whole-system consciousness -- not to interpret the New Testament, because I'm not a scholar or a theologian, but as a futurist, to unpack it for our generation, as a guide to universal life.
MISHLOVE: In other words, to take a look at the coding of the ancient myths and the deep vision of the prophets and apostles and mystics, and to interpret it in the light of what is possible today with our science.
HUBBARD: Exactly.
MISHLOVE: And what is our greatest possible hope for ourselves as a species.
HUBBARD: And you know, many scholars are going back to try to get the historical Jesus, and they're saying, "This didn't happen, that, and all the myths are probably untrue." My thesis is we will never know what really happened back there, but whether or not, Jesus' life may be coming true, through us being able to do what he did. In other words, if the human race advances to the point of being able to do it -- and I had a wonderful conversation with an Indian guru, Yogi Amrit Desai of Kripalu. I was telling him about my Christ experience, and I said, "You know about the Resurrection." Well, he said, "Our guru's guru, Babaji's guru, was able to do this." Like Yogananda, and Sai Baba.
MISHLOVE: Sure, these things are known in mystical traditions throughout the world.
HUBBARD: And Michael Murphy's book, The Future of the Body. He uses scientific language like extrasomatic capabilities. But is it possible that actually we are not having to be bound to this physical body, but that through our advanced consciousness, and possibly extended technologies, that thought can create bodies more sensitive to thought?
MISHLOVE: Barbara, we're out of time, but you've certainly laid out an incredible vision for us, and I can see from the gleam in your eye and the smile on your face that it is a living truth for you, and a radiant, joyful truth, and that you offer promise to everyone who hears you. Thanks so much for being with me.
HUBBARD: Thank you, Jeffrey. posted by Dr. Joe at 4:49 AM

Friday, April 13, 2007

Return to roots

Of Syntheses and Surprises: Toward a Critical Integral Theory
Daniel Gustav Anderson INTEGRAL REVIEW 3, 2006
Aurobindo’s literary criticism is historical in nature; as Peter Heehs (2003) observes, Aurobindo’s The Future Poetry is effectively an elaboration of Matthew Arnold’s 1880 Study of Poetry (p. 122). From Arnold and the generation of critics that followed him, the notion of synthesis as an evolutionary process comes into Aurobindo’s thinking, and with it the Victorian ideology of race, of "bloods." The details of this ideology yield much insight into the history of the how and why of integral theory—the means and ends of Meaningful Wholes. Specifically, integration-as-synthesis can be regarded as a product of fin de siecle culture,20 including a specific debt to its race theory and other ideological impulses, and also as a response to said culture.
The Future Poetry is at once a primer on the history of English literature for an Anglophone Indian readership, and a prescription for a spiritualized aesthesis, positing the possibility of a future spiritual and aesthetic renaissance legitimized by an idealistic and ideological reading of this history. The speculations on English poetry included in this volume arose from a matrix of influences Aurobindo could not have avoided in his private tutorship in England or at King’s College, Cambridge. Among the most significant of these must have been the literary criticism of Matthew Arnold, England’s poet laureate and dominant man-of-letters during much of Aurobindo’s formative stay. In Arnold, the reader sees writ large the "return to roots" Zizek identifies as a symptom of ideology at work.

This reason was built upon the observer model. The non-dialogical nature of the discourse

Back to point 1 then, the word postmodernism is too vague to mean anything.
In 1784 Immanuel Kant wrote the famous essay "What is [the] Enlightenment?" Text here. Wherein Kant states: Nothing is required for this enlightenment, however, except freedom; and the freedom in question is the least harmful of all, namely, the freedom to use reason publicly in all matters.
Kant is reckoned by many (myself included) as a genius of the modern era. This era was, for all the manifold and wonderful divisions and differences within, marked by
--1. An idea in progress. Auguste de Comte (the movement from adolescent to adulthood paralleled by movement from myth to reason). Hegel, Marx, 19th century capitalist utopias.
--2. Progress achieved through the public deployment of reason. (Kant).
In 1789 when the French Revolution was igniting, the icon of Mary in Notre Dame Cathedral was thrown down and replaced with an image of Goddess Reason. It was the perfect image to express what was taking place. Humans moving to a worship (that is de facto assumption) of Reason.
Postmodernism as a distinct philosophical movement (as opposed to postmodernity which is more of a cultural mood) arose in light especially of the horrors of WWII, rising understanding of human destruction of planet earth, de-colonialization, etc. was that within reason lied at its heart (elements of) irrationality. Depicted by the Icon of Goddess Reason.
I would argue this is the key central insight of postmodernity. [Others would disagree, those self-described as postmodernists, those not].
--Lyotard: end of meta-narratives
--Derrida: division at heart of being; diference
--Foucault: knowledge gained through reason as infused with power schemes
--Heidegger: being-in-the-world, time, historicity over Eternal Being; techne
--Marcusse: one-dimensional capitalist and communist man.
--Nietzsche: existenz over essence; genealogy of ethics.
In other words it questions Kant's dictum that the public use of reason is the least harmful of all. Given the history of factory worker children (see Dickens), urban crime and suicide-sense of meaninglessness, genocides, is the public use of reason the least harmful of all?
Postmodernity only exists in a culture that has experienced modernity. Hence its rise in post war Europe. For the moment recognize such a narrative does not inherently imply better than or a developmental scheme. I would add that these follow in line from Freud, an otherwise characteristically bourgeoisie man. Freud noted the ego-I exists amidst the battle between a superego and the irrational impulsive id/it. As well as of course Hegel who noted the embodiment in time of all ideas and Marx who pointed out the social-technical-economic history of all ideas.
I stress strongly the modern/postmodern tie. Before the modern world (17-18th century roughly) many deep thinkers, visionaries, artists pondered ideas like truth, liberty, freedom, meaning.
The modern world is characterized by a sharp sense of progress. The ancient Greek view was cyclical. The medieval Western view was the universe was a graded chain of being static reflected in the hierarchies of social existence on earth. It is an entirely different feel. An entirely different way to organize life, society, meaning around individuals growing up to reason than adhering to myths-dogmas from the top-down.
Reason certainly existed prior to thinkers like Descartes, but society was never on the whole organized according to Reason. One could argue that certain of the Greek polis and Roman urbs were pointing in that direction, not to mention The idea that history is moving through stages to a pinnacle is of course found from the Gospel of Luke/The Book of Acts, The Revelation, and the writings of St. Augustine (City of God). It is the apocalyptic view of Judaism and Christianity. In other words it is a myth and therefore not rationally proven. Postmodernism makes no sense without that foundation. If postmodernism makes no sense, then so I would argue does modernism. Yet we talk of modernist art, architecture, the modern novel, I took a courses in early and late modern philosophy. I see no real difference with postmodernism.
As a contrast, there are many movements in the world today that are anti-modern while not being what I consider postmodern. e.g. Islamic sharia which is anti-modern in many ways but appeals to a revealed scripture/tradition to base all of society upon. Sharia advocates can (and do) co-opt postmodernist critiques of modernity but not for postmodern ends. For dogmatic, call them pre-modern, ends.
Postmodernity is characterized by a feeling of loss, of living in exhaustion after the program for progress was shown to have failed and led to incredible violence.These are not too vague to have meaning. These are specific statements, though for sure broad in nature. There are two ways to go once irrationality is accepted within (western) reason.
1. Reason is irrational to the core. --This is the deconstructive, nihilistic train of postmodernism. It ends up in self-contradiction all over the place.
2. Elements of modern reason are irrational. --These elements then must be fought.
Postmodern in this context is only criticizing the way in which Reason operated during the 17-20th centuries in the West. Namely that this reason was built upon the observer model. The non-dialogical nature of the discourse. If a person prefers late modern over postmodern that could work as well.
Two then is reason criticizing itself. Which is why #1 is such a failure. It is highly reasoned thinking that does not admit reason, which is why it ends up in whirls of madness (e.g. Deleuze, Bataille).
I'm in the latter camp. I defend and still promote the idea of reason and progress, but it must be dialogical (not monological) reason and a dialectic of progress. It for me must exist in an evolutionary context. These both from Habermas. For example, modern technology and weaponry can be used for less than rational ends. [If the reader does not like premodern]. That helps explain in part, though not all, the horrors of the 20th century. posted by CJ Smith @ 3:42 PM <<> Name: Chris Dierkes View my complete profile

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Classical approaches tend to have greater respect for order and carefully pruned thoughts and the elimination of weeds

Joe Perez said...MD: The weed metaphor. I use it to describe my HIV (weeds) in a garden of flowers. See my guided visualization here:
I'm mostly content to just lurk and see how CJ or others reply to this post, but a quick word or two on your metaphor...I wanted to say that as I see it the term "postmodernism" must have a meaning, otherwise it would not incite the sort of deep disdain you and I share for weeds. So it will not surprise you that I feel CJ made his case in the dialogue by providing an ample reference of philosophical learning to clarify postmodernism. As a term which refers to a current or movement, it's obviously very inclusive (much like the terms classical and modern, terms which I've noticed you continue to use).
  • The postmodern current, as I see it, isn't so much like a wide with roots more than 10 feet deep. It's too new, and it has taken hold mostly in an academic enclave among intellectuals. It's more like a style of gardening in which shrubbery is not pruned, trees are left to "go wild", weeds are considered acceptable and desirable. It's a fondness for jungle-like gardens.
  • In contrast, your classical perspective is more like a traditional approach to gardening. I hesitate to say anything more without putting words into your mouth, but generally classical approaches to anything tend to have greater respect for order and carefully pruned thoughts and the elimination of weeds, and perhaps these phrases characterize your view of the postmodern curret.
I don't agree with your view of pomo as "a pathological riff under the heading of Opinion," but I'm afraid it would involve a more significant exchange to come to anything resembling understanding/agreement.
I'll still to the gardening/weeding metaphor, even as I insinuate that the pomo current in relationship to the Great Ideas is like the attitude of a collector of Great Books who reads them carefully but scattershot, in no particular order, and in a continual dialogue with himself and the books, decides that they do not form a coherent Order. Therefore the collector decides to cut up the books and use the pages for different purposes. Some pages he frames and places high on an altar. Other pages he uses to line a bird cage. Others he sails into paper airplanes, others he gives to friends who he thinks will find the pages useful. He's a postmodern collector of the Great Books. His attitude may or may not be pathological, but it is not Opinion he is concerned with, it is the very essence (or lack thereof) of All the Great Ideas themselves.
I'm actually very appreciative of your reference to poetry. There are other ways out of postmodernity and I highly recommend the neo-Thomist, neo-Aristotelian philospher Alasdair MacIntyre to you, esp. After Virtue or Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry, which is referenced in your encyclopedia article link. MacIntyre begins a neo-Aristotelian view of postmodernity that may indeed succeed in providing a way *beyond* postmodernity. For example, he argues with Thomas that modernity and postmodernity alike are guilty of the sin of pride, and that their distorted worldviews are symptoms of this spiritual malaise. But if like MacIntyre or Ewa Thompson you are battling postmodernism, then you must first recognize that something which may be called postmodernism exists, right?
That seemed to me the issue where CJ backed you into a corner. It was hard to tell whether you were debating that postmodernism is too vague to exist or if postmodernism needs to be shot down because it's a pathology of Opinion. I'm not siding with you or CJ on the debate on this point, only saying that I shared CJ's confusion and would invite you to be more clear. You sound a bit like a prosecuting attorney who says, "There may or may not have been a homocide, but if there was a homocide, then the defendant must be the guilty party." best wishes, and apologies if I'm not a really active participant in this exchange. mostly I wanted to comment on the weeding metaphor and the comment went on a bit longer. joe 2:27 AM

If all of the religious loans made to science were called in at once, there would be no science left standing

One Cosmos Under God Robert W. Godwin
Cicero wrote that to not know what happened before you were born is to remain a child forever. Likewise, the ubiquitous problem with these clever atheists is that they haven't read the minutes of the last philosophical meeting -- or any meetings, for that matter. They actually believe that they are starting their inquiry into existence afresh, with no preconceptions borrowed -- or stolen is more like it -- from religion and metaphysics. They might look clever, but they are actually what I call "factsimians," that is, humans who reduce truth to fact and therefore sink beneath their humanness and want to pull you down with them...
There are empirical questions for which adequation is not particularly problematic, although there are obviously areas where our senses do deceive us -- for example, the sun does not circle the earth. Then again, perhaps it does. Our naked sense impressions tell us that the earth is the center of the universe and that the sun does indeed circle it. However, rational scientific knowledge tells us that our senses deceive us, and that the earth actually revolves around the sun. However, if we adopt a post-Einsteinian view, it would be equally accurate to say that both views are correct -- just as it is equally correct to say that the earth "falls" to the apple, or that when we drive someplace, our destination arrives at us.
The rational view of the solar system tells us that our senses deceive us and that the earth is not the center of the universe. However, if we transcend mere 19th century scientific rationalism and consider the "post-rational" metaphysics of quantum cosmology, then we understand that the mystics are correct in their unanimous view that the center of the cosmos is both everywhere and nowhere -- or, to paraphrase St. Augustine, the cosmos is a circle whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference nowhere. Philosophically, this is an instance of "returning to the beginning and knowing the joint for the first time," for the premodern Augustine is perfectly in accord with postmodern quantum theory.
I am hardly anti-Science, but if we want to know God, we can just as well "cut out the middle man" of all of the intervening "-isms" down through the centuries -- empiricism, rationalism, positivism, materialism, Darwinism, what have you -- and, like Augustine, use pure metaphysics to arrive at universal theological truths that cannot not be. This is why no discovery of science will ever disprove the existence of God. To the contrary, to the extent that science converges on truth, then it is converging on Truth, which is to say, God. God does not embrace falsehood, whether scientific or religious. Therefore, whether they care to hear it or not, the scientist's passionate quest for truth is a religious one...
To paraphrase George Steiner, if all of the religious loans made to science were called in at once, there would be no science left standing. Most notably, science cannot operate without the principles of transcendent truth and the objective mind capable of knowing -- and loving -- it, for truth is not pursued for its own sake, but because it partakes of the beautiful and the good.
Atheism is not just "ignorance of God," but it inevitably redounds to ignorance of everything, since God is the seal of truth. To cite several obvious example, scientific materialism cannot tell us anything about what energy, or life, or consciousness actually are -- but this does not mean that they do not exist or that humans cannot know what they are by other means, for we have reliable testimony that they are three aspects that converge upon the same entity, sat-chit-ananda, or being-consciousness-bliss. You could proclaim this to a scientific audience, but it would have no meaning within the constraints of the abstract paradigm they superimpose upon reality in order to reduce it to scientific understanding -- which is to say, measurable quantities. You could also say that life is to matter as mind is to brain as God is to existence, but it wouldn't mean much to a scientistic atheist.
In his Ideas Have Consequences, Richard Weaver summarizes the situation; I am paraphrasing from memory, but he wrote that without imagination the world is simply a brute fact -- there is nothing to spiritualize it. In the scientistic flight from the center to the periphery, one becomes lost in details which cannot be integrated in a holistic way...posted by Gagdad Bob at 4/09/2007 07:34:00 AM 36 comments links to this post

Emerson denied the unique divinity of Christ

From Emerson to Esalen: America's Religion of No Religion Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription) - USA Murphy returned from a 16-month trip to India, where he had lived in the ashram of Sri Aurobindo, a psychically gifted metaphysical writer and guru. ... Home Search From Emerson to Esalen: America's Religion of No Religion By JEFFREY J. KRIPAL
I once had the pleasure of teaching for a year at Harvard Divinity School. My office was on the same floor and just three doors down from the little chapel where the American Transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson delivered his famous Divinity School Address on July 15, 1838. In this sermon, originally read to just six graduating students, their families, and faculty members, Emerson denied the unique divinity of Christ, affirmed the divinity of the "infinite Soul," and celebrated the inspiration, indeed revelation, of contemporary religious experience. He called on his listeners to "live with the privilege of the immeasurable mind" and to refuse the temptation of traditional authority: "Let me admonish you, first of all," he exhorted the graduates, "to go alone; to refuse the good models, even those which are sacred in the imagination of men, and dare to love God without mediator or veil."

Sunday, April 08, 2007

With carrots, sticks and ceaseless surveillance

In Wilson’s view, Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection has the beauty of being both simple and profound. Unlike quantum mechanics or the general theory of relativity, the basic concepts behind evolutionary theory are easy to grasp; and once grasped, he argues, they can be broadly applied to better understand ourselves and the world — the world both as it is and as it might be, with the right bit of well-informed coaxing. Wilson has long been interested in the evolution of cooperative and altruistic behavior, and much of the book is devoted to the premise that “goodness can evolve, at least when the appropriate conditions are met.”
As he sees it, all of life is characterized by a “cosmic” struggle between good and evil, the high-strung terms we apply to behaviors that are either cooperative or selfish, civic or anomic. The constant give-and-take between me versus we extends down to the tiniest and most primal elements of life. Short biochemical sequences may want to replicate themselves ad infinitum, their neighboring sequences be damned; yet genes get together under the aegis of cells and reproduce in orderly fashion as genomes, as collectives of sequences, setting aside some of their immediate selfish urges for the sake of long-term genomic survival. Cells further collude as organs, and organs pool their talents and become bodies.
The conflict between being well behaved, being good, not gulping down more than your share, and being selfish enough to get your fair share, “is eternal and encompasses virtually all species on earth,” he writes, and it likely occurs on any other planet that supports life, too, “because it is predicted at such a fundamental level by evolutionary theory.” How do higher patterns of cooperative behavior emerge from aggregates of small, selfish units? With carrots, sticks and ceaseless surveillance. In the human body, for example, nascent tumor cells arise on a shockingly regular basis, each determined to replicate without bound; again and again, immune cells attack the malignancies, destroying the outlaw cells and themselves in the process. The larger body survives to breed, and hence spawn a legacy far sturdier than any tumor mass could manage. 2 Natalie Angier is a science columnist for The Times. Her latest book, “The Canon: A Whirligig Tour Through the Beautiful Basics of Science,” will be published in May. Next Article in Books (3 of 17) »

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

I adore them all like a child

One Cosmos Under God Robert W. Godwin
For in the final analysis, there are only the Believers and the unbelievers; one is the upword way of faith leading to real knowledge and salvolution; the other is the downward path of manmode pignorance and superstition leading to bestial seenihility and cynicism.
I am a believer. That is all you need know of what or who I am: a sincere believer -- even a fervent one, if you like, for I am madly in love with O, with the Absolute, with the Eternal, with the Good, the True, and the Beautiful, with Satchitananda, with the Supramental plane, with Shankara, with St. Theophan, with my Unknown Friend, with Pope John Paul II, with America's founding avatars, with The Shaykh, with the Meister, with the Mother, with Father Rose, with Rabbi Moses, with the Bible, with the Upanishads, with the Tao -- I adore them all like a child loves his Father. Because, like a father, they instruct, they elevate, and they protect one from the dangerous illusions and snares of the world. And for this we cannot be anything but eternally grateful. posted by Gagdad Bob at 4/02/2007 07:19:00 AM 37 comments links to this post