Wednesday, August 30, 2006
- how we come to have these claims? What is the nature of it?
- What is the relation between these claims and the related world? What are the distinguishable feature of it and how it is represented?
The orientation towards "the things themselves", and "letting something show itself" is the beginning of revisionary metaphysics, if it is metaphysics, to use a Strawsonian term, and the first step in logical analysis, to avail of a Searlian critical remark.Inconsistency in the approach in question is the third point.
- An aside: See the differing notions of "intentionality" in use in varied phenomenologies. Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty all lead their people to "new [and different] land[s]", through their "concepts" of intentionality and the like.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Monday, August 28, 2006
NYTimes.com Homepage : August 28, 2006These are ideal times for the release of “Pessimism: Philosophy, Ethic, Spirit,” by Joshua Foa Dienstag, a U.C.L.A. political theorist. Mr. Dienstag aims to rescue pessimism from the philosophical sidelines, where it has been shunted by optimists of all ideologies. The book is seductive, because pessimists are generally more engaging and entertaining than optimists, and because, as the author notes, “the world keeps delivering bad news.” It is almost tempting to throw up one’s hands and sign on with Schopenhauer.Pessimism, however, is the most un-American of philosophies. This nation was built on the values of reason and progress, not to mention the “pursuit of happiness.” Pessimism as philosophy is skeptical of the idea of progress. Pursuing happiness is a fool’s errand. Pessimism is not, as is commonly thought, about being depressed or misanthropic, and it does not hold that humanity is headed for disaster. It simply doubts the most basic liberal principle: that applying human reasoning to the world’s problems will have a positive effect.The biggest difference between optimists and pessimists, Mr. Dienstag argues, is in how they view time. Optimists see the passing of time as a canvas on which to paint a better world. Pessimists see it as a burden. Time ticks off the physical decline of one’s body toward the inevitability of death, and it separates people from their loved ones. “All the tragedies which we can imagine,” said Simone Weil, the French philosopher who starved herself to death at age 34, “return in the end to the one and only tragedy: the passage of time.”Optimists see history as the story of civilization’s ascent. Pessimists believe, Mr. Dienstag notes, in the idea that any apparent progress has hidden costs, so that even when the world seems to be improving, “in fact it is getting worse (or, on the whole, no better).” Polio is cured, but AIDS arrives. Airplanes make travel easy, but they can drop bombs or be crashed into office towers. There is no point in seeking happiness. When joy “actually makes its appearance, it as a rule comes uninvited and unannounced,” insisted Schopenhauer, the dour German who was pessimism’s leading figure.As politicians, pessimists do not believe in undertaking great initiatives to ameliorate unhappiness, since they are skeptical they will work. They are inclined to accept the world’s evil and misery as inevitable. Mr. Dienstag tries to argue that pessimists can be politically engaged, and in modest ways they can be. Camus joined the French Resistance. But pessimism’s overall spirit, as Camus noted, “is not to be cured, but to live with one’s ailments.”President Clinton was often mocked for his declarations that he still believed “in a place called Hope.” But he understood that instilling hope is a critical part of leadership. Other than a few special interest programs — like cutting taxes on the wealthy and giving various incentives to business — it is hard to think of areas in which the Bush administration has raised the nation’s hopes and met them. This president has, instead, tried to focus the American people on the fear of terrorism, for which there is no cure, only bad choices or something worse.Part of Mr. Bush’s legacy may well be that he robbed America of its optimism — a force that Franklin Delano Roosevelt and other presidents, like Ronald Reagan, used to rally the country when it was deeply challenged. The next generation of leaders will have to resell discouraged Americans on the very idea of optimism, and convince them again that their goal should not be to live with their ailments, but to cure them.
Saturday, August 26, 2006
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
With the rise of the secular Enlightenment in the West, and especially current modernity, much of academic philosophy has lost its connection with the original "Wisdom Tradition" of Pythagoras and Plato and Plotinus, and hence cannot really answer these questions. Because these questions cannot be answered, proved, or disproved, by rational physical or physicalist means alone.
The word Metaphysics means literally “after” (not "beyond" or “above”) “physics", and refers to the arrangement of Aristotle's writings, in which his books on “first philosophy” were placed after the books on “physics”. This is quite distinct to the popular definition of beyond or above the physical reality...
Within the integral movement, especially its majority Wilberian branch, “Metaphysics” has become something of a dirty word. This is due solely to Wilber's repeated statements that metaphysics belongs to an outdated or pre-modern age and must be rejected if spiritual teachings (by which he means experiences abstracted from any context or meaning and hence slotted into his own AQAL system) are to be acceptable at the court of modernity and postmodernity1. In addition, as I have shown (Towards a Larger Definition of the Integral, Part Two, A Fourfold Critique sect. 2a), Wilber understands by metaphysics only the popular, non-academic philosophical meaning. Because of this, he is able to avoid acknowledging the fact that his own system is highly metaphysical (quadrants, holons, transcendent Spirit, etc) when making his self-contradictory claim that his own current teachings as "post-metaphysical".
In doing this Wilber (and hence the entire Wilberian integral movement) has bought into the scientistic and academic preference for debunking metaphysics, because it deals with things that cannot be "proved" by or to the Physical Mind (sensu Sri Aurobindo). But this rationalist physicalism itself rests on a number of unproved, irrational, and yes, metaphysical, assumptions, as has been persuasively shown by Transpersonal Psychologist Charles T. Tart. (see Charles T. Tart, “Some assumptions of orthodox, Western Psychology”. In C. Tart (Ed.), Transpersonal Psychologies. New York: Harper & Row, pp. 61-111)
My position here is that not only is metaphysics necessary, but no truly comprehensive “integral” understanding of reality is possible without it. Without metaphysics the best one could have would be a sort of agnostic postmodernist or neo-Buddhistic (on western-inspired apologetic Hinduism and Buddhism see Jorge Ferrer, Revisioning Transpersonal Theory, pp.48-51) style of approach, in which bare experiences are recognised and definied empirically, but there is no attempt at arriving at a deeper meaning, no attempt is made to show what those experiences refer to. Such agnosticism comes with its own metaphysical baggage, e.g. crypto-physicalism or crypto-materialism, the subtle conception that all these experiences, visions, etc are simply the by-product of the physical brain, but one shouldn't look to closely at that, just be satisfied with the experience taken out of its context and sanitised for a secular physicalistic bias. This may work for Wilberian physicalism, but as soon as one studies even superficially the teachings of authentic spiritual realisers it quickly becomes apparent that reality is much vaster than physicalism considers it to be.
The problem here, as mentioned, is that modern Western secular academic thought has lost its original wisdom tradition (represented by Pythagoreanism, Platonism, Neoplatonism, etc) and hence has to fall back on scientism and superficial empiricism. This is why spiritual apologetics like Wilber try so hard to present an unthreatening and secularised version of spiritual and perennialist teachings.
At the same time, no metaphysical system and no map of reality should be accepted as final. It should always be remembered that all these concepts are just suggestions and points of view, useful classification schemes and thoughtforms, which should never be used as alternatives for direct spiritual experience. posted by m alan kazlev at 4:49 PM Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Sunday, August 13, 2006
- Is it possible to imagine a “rational spirituality” of post-metaphysical, critical-empirical and positive, constructive dimensions, which could possibly create a new, more balanced paradigm for the emerging global civil society in the coming decades, departing actively from the progressive proto-spiritual achievements in the late works of those leading postmodern thinkers we talked of?
- Or must we turn back to traditional religions, if we want to find an “essential” paradigm which can give us balance in times of increasing instabilities?
- Can only a God save us, as Martin Heidegger put it in his Der Spiegel testament (1967/1976)?
- Or is a forward oriented, “rational inspiration” the way to proceed, as the “deconstructive” proto-spirituality of late postmodern philosophy (1989/91-2001) seems, even if still timidly, to indicate us?
- In other words: Can there be a rational alternative of spiritual thinking and behaving to the global turn to religion?
This is without any doubt one of the most important issues of our time in the middle and long perspective...Maybe at the current point we should not call all that, what we have so far, “postmodern spirituality” at all. Maybe we should call it a prelude to a new spiritual realism for the global civil society, coming out of postmodernism. Maybe we should call it a pre-eminent spirituality or a proto-spirituality emerging rationally under the conditions of late postmodernity. Not less, not more.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
2. However Derrida’s underlying assumption(which this essay does not explore) is that there isno God in the equation to guarantee such absolutes, and hence ideas about certainty are now ruptured. He concludes that any idea of afixed centre was only a structure of power imposed on us by our past or by institutions of society, and does not in reality exist at all.
3. Hence for Derrida there is no ultimate reality, no God outside the system to which everyone and everything relates. Instead the only relationships that we can know are within the system of the world which Derrida calls discourses. For him ultimate reality is only a series of these discourses.
4. Because there is no fixed centre, there should no longer be any limits on what it is possible to think or believe. We should literally be able to think anything. We can be playful and flexible about the way we think, when we realise that “truth”and “falsehood” are simply wrong distinctions to make. Indeed they are just a destructive and harmful manifestation of that power structure.
5. Therefore we must stop considering everything in life, culture and thought in relation to absolute truth. To not do so is, for Derrida, oppressive and immoral. A few more points if you want to think a bit further(but these aren’t vital to the argument!): 6. Derrida says that history is traditionally thought to be determined by Being. In other words God guarantees history There was a beginning and there is an end to which we are working. Most human optimism for Derrida springs from this fact. The whole of science for example is based on the fact that true things are there to be discovered and worked towards.
7. However this idea of history is what stops people thinking radical new thoughts because the assumptions we pick up from history are oppressive. But the fact that people can and do think radical new thoughts is seen to deny this oppressive version of history, and, of course, any absolute Being behind history.
8. Derrida’s ideal of play or flexibility therefore completely denies the possibility of absolutes or of God.