Sunday, April 26, 2015

Whose row bought

In today's New York Times we read:

Some visionaries — Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk and Steve Wozniak — warn that humans will be superseded by robots, who will soon be smart enough to redesign themselves to become exponentially smarter.

This is a common theme in the media chatter. I assume we all get the point. What is missing is the perspective someone like Jan Cox provides.  This 20th century mystico-philosopher sought to point out that humanity is composed of robotic people. The goal is to realize this in oneself.  The moment of seeing is a gap that may reveal the possibilities of the only freedom man can claim.

Jan laughed at the picture of robots taking over. Not because people already were, that, but because this popular fantasy reveals ignorance about man himself, and his potential. Creativity is what can never be programmed, real creativity. What men call the creative, is mostly rearranging known parts --- pigs and wings, for instance. That is not the creativity to which some few, throughout history, have pointed, while calling it different things.  

Take heart, the row doesn't have to be bought. 



Monday, April 6, 2015

Proofs of the existence of a god

Proofs of the existence of a god do not convey anything about god's (gods's) existing or not. These logical steps point to the dimensions of man's imagination.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Is that the Easter Bunny on the Cross

It just occurred to me that the meaning and end of the Christian
religion might well be this: there is always hope. We can see the
evolutionary advantage of that message. Still that suggests the import
of Christianity is an emotional growth, functionality.

Which thought gave rise to a playful summary of history on my part.
Let us suppose that the glorious triumph of the classical world was
Marcus Aurelius (d.180 AD) Not a hard case to make at all. Time-wise
then Christianity was on the rise about the time the classical world
flowered, and died. That's what flowers do.

Christianity itself may be said to have blossomed with Nicholas of
Cusa. (d. 1464). During that period of more than a millenium then, we
see an emotional growth in segments of humanity -- and my evidence for
this would be the attitudes toward women changing, this whole idea of
love between individuals, and appreciation of the maternal. All very
emotional themes. Arguably new in history.

And we consider ourselves part of a different era, now. One which
seems to have discarded much of the progress of humanity, but that
perhaps was necessary to procure a clean slate for further growth,
just the typical patricide characteristic of progress. I have no idea
what the flowering of this era will be.

We have an intellect engaged since 180, and capable of including
emotional realities since 1464. (to speak abstractly.) The emphasis on
emotions certainly played a part in this third vegetation -- since our
own seems to be characterized by, among other things, an emphasis on
human individuality -- the person as a center of knowing, of change,
of reality. All dubious propositions, but useful. It is hard to
imagine Humanity could come to value the individual so, without this
emotional component from the so-called medieval era. And of course we
need not emphasize the importance of the intellect which we owe to
antiquity. So it all weaves together.

But this individuality is useful for what? I do not know.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The mundane essence of most of it.

We wonder at the people doing dreadful things, how could this happen. We only ask 'how' of course, if we have a glimmer that the world is not, black and white. In fact, that may be the only generalization that holds most of the time: Reality cannot be divided into two things.

And, skipping the binary nature of rational thought itself, which we address frequently in other posts, let me suggest now, that this tendency to divide everything into two, is basic to the human ego (hence its prevalence) and specifically, can shed light on how, 'people can do dreadful things.' It may turn out that horribleness is just an extension of that which is ordinary, ordinary, because it defines us all. 

The human ego must separate itself from the world when people grow up. Whether of not this division of self from world is a coherent stance, it in fact happens to us all, and so, must be healthy on various levels.

For example liberals often mouth off about how selfish rich people are, and seem to think the rich are the source of all evil, that a flattening of wealth will produce human progress. Any real progress must include questioning such simplistic analyses. We use it here as an example of this division of self and the rest, the world, and how such a division into two, is a sign something has been very confused in the analyzing. My example of the self and an alternate world of wealthy selfish people is meant to illustrate the inadequacy of binary approaches. But by way of a segue to our last example, let me mention that among other things, the rich provide a variety in the world and variety is critical to growth, although, of course, there are varieties of variety.

Another ordinary approach is that where the self is the judge of the evil of the rest of the world. This I hope I have explained already, is a basis of everyday psychology. The division into two; the self as defined as separate from the rest of the world; and that otherness, the rest of the world, as the source of the problems faced.

When we criticize people who do horrible things, we reveal our own ignorance, for these people are acting on the same psychological function as that which helps define us all. The evil is 'out there'; the evil (problems) could not be WITHIN ourselves: for such division is a necessary aspect of creating a human ego---- separating yourself out from the world. The people we criticize are puppets themselves and so how can someone with insight call "THEM" evil? Dividing the world into us and them is one of the oldest, and certainly one of the most illusory, motivations in human history. Motivations which may be necessary, but that does not mean everyone has to believe in the division. Not everyone has to believe in these motivations, just most.

This division certainly seems to be obvious in stuff happening now in the middle east. I am not saying we do not wage war against them. I am saying we do not assume they are different from us. For we all fall into, indeed are defined by, this mental proclivity for dividing the world into two. And if we assume the world falls into us versus them, then we are just imitating those people we dislike. For how 'they can do terrible things' is because all the problems in their world are "out there," and therefore personal, internal alteration or growth in thinking is not even called for. That, and yeah, they're pissed off. 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Aquinas Anyone?

The writings of St. Thomas Aquinas have a lot in common with those of modern scientists.

Both were concerned to diagram, to connect, to define, every aspect of experience, with a kind of imperialistic ambition. The result for both sets of writings is that of a load of cartons piled up. Moving house, or embarking on a voyage.

Except that Aquinas left room to move, in the world he diagrammed. His flow chart allowed for flow. Or let's say the cartons have holes in them, like for a pet carrier. 

His modern counterparts cannot move because they cannot step back and get a sense of what has been accomplished. Their world is defined by exclusionary principles with no basis in science, and so their procrustean sleeping bag in fact is more binding than restful. 

Aquinas's concern to include Aristotle, which is a kind of intellectual binding, is actually liberating because it inspires growth, original thinking. The comparable rule binding modern scientists, variations of the principle of verification, results in excisions of reality that in fact, are blinding. 

There is room in the world Aquinas sketches, for questions about the content of the cardboard itself.  Modern science, insisting they can answer that kind of question, wind up with babbling on subjects like free will, or nothingness. Their rejection of metaphysics is at the cost of espousing a metafizzle.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Just some questions

How come is there no word for not believing in evil. About god, who is really competent to say? But an existence of evil seems to be one thing everyone can agree on. 

No one challenges this concept, no one wonders the word cannot be discarded. No one hesitates to use the word "evil" for fear of being misunderstood. Who wonders there are no synonyms, for a word universally apparently --- needed. Lots of words for that clown called a devil, satan, the tempter.Just like words for some god. But evil itself, seems to be an incontrovertible axis of the world, so obviously extant that no verbal glosses are critical. Some define it differently, but who is ready to toss the concept.  

Not everybody's got a god, but everybody's got an evil. Whether you call it that word or not, you know there is "evil." There seems to be something the matter with the world. And imagine the counter-examples that would be thrown at you if you dared suggest, there is no evil. 

The faith of people that there is such a thing as evil must be functional, based on the above observations. And functional is the next question and we can address it soon in this forum.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Seeing is NOT believing, anymore

Seeing is NOT believing in a world where all images are manipulated. I am not talking about the unreliability of eye-witness testimony, so much in the news recently. My reference is to the ubiquity of photo manipulation. 

In our world all photographs are manipulated, processed, photoshopped. This is an intelligent assumption to make when you gaze at any photo that comes to your attention. Your first reaction should be, this is fake. I have noticed however, when mentioning this to sophisticated people, a reaction of shock. 

There are a number of unpleasant results from this widespread alternation of photographs. Here I do not mean people presented with unrealistic body images they try to imitate. That has been going on for millenia. I may elaborate on this in another post. 

There are pleasant results from this common tinkering with the images that flow across the web, and our consciousness. The sky is brighter, human sympathy may in fact be becoming enlarged. 

And in fact, this development of widespread tinkering is part of larger changes, ultimately, for the good, though the results are typically seen by one's children. I just say--- assume a picture is fake, the first time you see it.