2011.01.20 01:00 - Spirituality and Pragmatism

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    The Guardian for this meeting was Zen Arado. The comments are by Zen Arado. Present were Eggsalad Ormstein, Calvino Rabeni, Observerm Resident and myself

    Introductory news:

    Zen Arado: Hi Cal :)
    Calvino Rabeni: Good day, Zen :)
    Zen Arado: anything new with you?
    Calvino Rabeni: That's a good question...
    Calvino Rabeni: I've been working on my area here in this second life sim ... I'm starting to like it again.
    Zen Arado: what are you doing?
    Calvino Rabeni: Working on my social networks a little.
    Zen Arado: Hi Eggsalad
    eggsalad Ormstein: hi zen
    eggsalad Ormstein: is there a topic?
    Zen Arado: not yet
    Zen Arado: just started
    Calvino Rabeni: I'm seeing the need to make my user page on our wiki, a spot for people not familiar with playasbeing to jump into
    Zen Arado: have you one in mind?
    Calvino Rabeni: Thinking it needs a little context on that page.
    Zen Arado: the Pab Wiki?
    Calvino Rabeni: Looking at some articles on rhetoric and philosophy
    Calvino Rabeni: Yes that wiki.
    Calvino Rabeni: Introducing playasbeing to some other social nets - I guess that's cross-networking.
    Zen Arado: yes - it's quite complicated - that Wiki
    Calvino Rabeni: Following up on some common interests with other people who have come through this area as visitors.
    Zen Arado: yes - that's a good idea
    Zen Arado: lost eggsalad again :(
    Calvino Rabeni: Started reading a book on natural entrepreneurship.
    Calvino Rabeni: Maybe his connection is unstable.
    Calvino Rabeni: http://www.amazon.com/Finding-Sweet-.../dp/1933392908
    Calvino Rabeni: Speculative Realism ... http://www.cosmosandhistory.org/inde.../view/118/272#
    Zen Arado: the second one looks more interesting to me
    Zen Arado: I went to a philosophy meeting last night
    Calvino Rabeni: It's more abstractly philosophical
    Zen Arado: one of Rhi's
    Calvino Rabeni: the first is strictly practical
    Zen Arado: yes

    Philosophy study:

    Zen Arado: I haven't studied any philosophy for a while
    Calvino Rabeni smiles
    Zen Arado: forgotten most of it
    Zen Arado: I came to it too late I guess
    Calvino Rabeni: That sounds like a good thing ... you may find it fresh later
    Zen Arado: I prefer to do philosophy rather than quote it from the past
    Zen Arado: use what it taught me I mean
    Zen Arado: there is just so much of it anyway
    Calvino Rabeni: I try to keep up with pop philosophy and spiritual capitalism, which takes some time too, although there's not much I find notable.
    Zen Arado: I thought it would show me the amswers to the meaning of life
    Zen Arado: but it just gives more and more questions
    Zen Arado: what would pop philosophy be?
    Zen Arado: most of it gets pretty deep very quickly
    Calvino Rabeni: Maybe better called pop spirituality
    Zen Arado: yes - I'm getting tired of that too

    Steven Harrison appraisal:

    Zen Arado: was reading a guy called Steven Harrison lately
    Calvino Rabeni: I never got into it enough to be tired of it.
    Zen Arado: you heard of him?
    Calvino Rabeni: Yes
    Zen Arado: I read his book 'Doing Nothing'
    Zen Arado: he has a website
    Zen Arado: http://doingnothing.com/talks.php
    Zen Arado: he is pretty negative about the whole spiritual search idea
    Calvino Rabeni: A reviewers quote:
    Calvino Rabeni: Many reviewers sound frustrated by Harrison's book. Most of the bad reviews complain that he didn't explain clearly enough HOW to do nothing. Harrison's point is that you can never figure out how, and yet the goal is certainly accessible. Those who attempt to approach it through a strategy or through understanding will fail because strategy and understanding are techniques only used by the mind. The mind is a tool that can copy and mimic, but is incapable of transcendent experience, after all what do you think is being transcended?
    Calvino Rabeni: (end)
    Zen Arado: yes
    Zen Arado: the book left me a bit frustrated
    Calvino Rabeni: I'm also doing some historical reading in somatic psychology - http://www.amazon.com/Way-Awaken-Exe.../dp/0835607542
    Zen Arado: don't like what he says about meditation
    Calvino Rabeni: I say historical because the book is dated, originally written in 1978
    Zen Arado: that it is a kind of self hypnosis
    Calvino Rabeni: but I like to follow the history of ideas
    Zen Arado: yes it's quite old

    Is meditation 'self-hypnosis?'

    Calvino Rabeni: I find the concept of self-hypnosis problematical however
    Calvino Rabeni: I was talking to someone recently
    Calvino Rabeni: about what we do at playasbeing
    Zen Arado: yes?
    Calvino Rabeni: This person was a "seeker" type in my estimation, or perhaps WAS.
    Calvino Rabeni: I asked if he had experience with group meditation
    Calvino Rabeni: and he said - oh, that's *self hypnosis* - I regard it as a type of "drug"
    Zen Arado: it depends how you do it I think
    Zen Arado: too much concentration type meditation could be like that
    Calvino Rabeni: More specifically, it depends on the effect it has on the whole self in context
    Zen Arado: thats what you do in hypnosis isn't it
    Zen Arado: ?
    Zen Arado: you focus on something first
    Calvino Rabeni: Oh, we do that all the time .. driving, reading a book, trying to understand what someone is saying, listening to music, whatever ... perhaps the distinction is, doing it for the indirect effect on consciousness,
    Zen Arado: I think concentration is useful at the start to fucus the mind but you then use that focus to investigate the content of the thoughts
    Zen Arado: I don't see much point to concentration if you don't use it for something
    Calvino Rabeni: That's interesting
    Calvino Rabeni: where did the idea come from, that thoughts have contents?
    Zen Arado: some teachers talk about just saying 'thinking' and coming back to concentration object
    Calvino Rabeni: And secondly, in what way could we "use it for something"?
    Zen Arado: which can be misleading I think
    Calvino Rabeni: That is misleading!
    Zen Arado: kinde of noticing what the thoughts are about without getting drawn into them
    Zen Arado: but not putting up an iron wall against them
    Zen Arado: by suppressing them
    Calvino Rabeni: That would be adding more structure, wouldn't it?
    Zen Arado: and also noticing bodily sensations
    Zen Arado: seesm to me to be what vipassana meditation is about
    Zen Arado: getting insights into our mind, body and emotional reactions
    Zen Arado: not adding really
    Calvino Rabeni: Insights into, or awareness OF?
    Zen Arado: same thing really but insight is more single events
    Zen Arado: awareness a more diffused state
    Calvino Rabeni: Or is it an awareness that can meta-cognize?
    Calvino Rabeni: I suppose that's ambiguous actually
    Zen Arado: maybe like particle/waves in light?
    Zen Arado: I'm trying to undestand quantum physics atm
    Zen Arado: awareness is a difficult concept
    Zen Arado: very fuzzy I think
    Zen Arado: awareness a kind of background state?

    Quantum physics and spirituality:

    Calvino Rabeni: What's the interest in quantum phyics?
    Calvino Rabeni: Other than that, as a metaphor
    Calvino Rabeni: which destabilizes the fixation on objects
    Zen Arado: it keeps coming up in spirituality nowadays
    Calvino Rabeni: as givens in ontology
    Calvino Rabeni: Yes but I think that connection is unfounded
    Zen Arado: they talk about how we still use Newtonian ideas to grasp the world
    Calvino Rabeni: Oh, well it is common to have added some kind of Kantian ideas too, but those seem like warmed-over Cartesian
    Calvino Rabeni: It's taken the status of magic
    Zen Arado: yes - because no one really undestands it
    Calvino Rabeni: I meant neo-kantianism, not quantum physics
    Zen Arado: but it seems to fit better with ideas of impermanence than the old models
    Calvino Rabeni: what are "ideas of impermance"
    Zen Arado: just a less solid view of the world
    Calvino Rabeni: perhaps just pointing to the dynamic and fluctuating nature of reality
    Zen Arado: that it isn't as easily quantified as we thought
    Calvino Rabeni: just a kind of vibrating fluid
    Zen Arado: cause and effect not so clear
    Zen Arado: yes
    Calvino Rabeni: of course not ... anything quantifiable on the macro level is an emergent property

    Pragmatic philosophy and impermanence:

    Zen Arado: and old philosophical theories are static
    Calvino Rabeni: That suggests non-static philosophical theories?
    Zen Arado: from what I remember of Kant he tried to establish moral laws that would be universal and applicable for all times and places
    Zen Arado: categorical imperatives and suchlike
    Zen Arado: yes
    Zen Arado: they are only theories that should be lightly held
    Zen Arado: if Kant were still alive he would have changed them himself I think
    Zen Arado: same with the Buddha
    Calvino Rabeni: In a way, the idea of holding philosophical theories lightly seems like a form of pragmatism
    Zen Arado: he told people not to cling to views even his own
    Zen Arado: yes - maybe I am a pragmatist at heart
    Calvino Rabeni: well sure, but they went ahead and did it anyway ...
    Zen Arado: I liked the pragmatic philosophers
    Calvino Rabeni: I saw a temple in Laos - The Temple of 10,000 Buddhas"
    Calvino Rabeni: which existed without irony
    Calvino Rabeni: :)
    Zen Arado: :)
    Calvino Rabeni: It had at least that number of statues
    Zen Arado: who knows what the Buddha actually said?
    Zen Arado: these teachers get so overlaid with interpretations and additions through the ages
    Calvino Rabeni: That seems possible to me, even with such a figure as Plato
    Zen Arado: I remember writing about pragmatism one time
    Calvino Rabeni: yes?
    Zen Arado: as I remember one snag is that it accepts the status quo too readily
    Zen Arado: you just make piecemeal changes as you go along
    Zen Arado: which is ok but sometimes you might need radical reform
    Calvino Rabeni: That's a pragmatic assessment of pragmatism
    Zen Arado: like they might have just kept improving conditions for slaves instead of throwing out the whole system
    Zen Arado: ha yes
    Zen Arado: maybe you can't escape your nature
    Zen Arado: Hi Observerm
    observerm Resident: hi Zen
    Zen Arado: but I am suspicious of grand ideologies
    Calvino Rabeni: A statement "maybe you can't escape your nature" is an invitation to consider which variety of the construct "nature" can and can't be escaped by the construct of "you"
    Zen Arado: my tendencies to think and behave in certain ways whether from innate tendencies or conditioning
    Calvino Rabeni: However its also a pragmatic question of, what is the appropriate use of deconstruction
    Calvino Rabeni: there would seem to be some innate-ness going on
    Calvino Rabeni: Conditioning suggests non-innateness though
    Zen Arado: I think I grew up ina quite pragmatic environment
    Calvino Rabeni: Buddha could be considered a pragmatist
    Calvino Rabeni: when he suggests not making "final theories"
    Zen Arado: yes
    Zen Arado: I think Buddhism is very pragmatic
    Zen Arado: no interest in ontology
    Zen Arado: just relieving suffering
    Zen Arado: maybe that's why I like it
    Calvino Rabeni: You said "suspicious of grand ideologies" ... what would qualify an ideology for "grandness"?
    Zen Arado: being dreamt up by an individual philosopher
    Zen Arado: not taking account of all the ramifications in practice
    Zen Arado: and worst of all - forcing it on a populace
    Calvino Rabeni: populaces eat up philosophies to serve their needs
    Calvino Rabeni: its not purely a matter of propaganda
    Zen Arado: something in that
    Calvino Rabeni: Look at the way the West assimilated buddhist ideas and took them into their own context ... no one forced that on the people
    Zen Arado: but governments use ideas of political philosophers
    Zen Arado: unless they are totally pragmatic
    Zen Arado: yes - that's more of a spiritual movement though
    Zen Arado: a response to meaningless of life
    Zen Arado: maybe brought about by materialism not bring the happiness people thought it would?
    Calvino Rabeni: An example of that is the United States of America, which was a political design based on philosophical principles and then adapted to pragmatic social conditions
    Zen Arado: yes
    Calvino Rabeni: it is actually a secularization of christian religious ideas
    Calvino Rabeni: adapting them to de-fuse sectarian conflict

    Michael Sandel and his philosophy:

    Zen Arado: I heard Michael Sandel talk about that the other morning too
    Zen Arado: the Americam Constitution enshrined Christian values and actually mathematical, Newtonian ideas of the universe of the time
    Calvino Rabeni: Yes, I remember being fascinated by George Washington's Library, which is in a room at a private library in Boston
    Zen Arado: I like M. Sandel
    Calvino Rabeni: Looking at the titles he had, showed the currency of interests he was immersed in
    Zen Arado: he is an American political philosopher who comes over here and gives talks on the BBC from time to time
    Calvino Rabeni: Any chance you have a media link to one of his talks?
    Zen Arado: his ideas are largely communitarian
    Zen Arado: I'll look it up Cal
    Zen Arado: but sometimes the BBC doesn't allow reproduction
    Calvino Rabeni: Thanks
    Zen Arado: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/features...ichael-sandel/
    Zen Arado: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00xhb23
    Calvino Rabeni: Thanks for those, Zen :)
    Zen Arado: that was the program I heard the other week
    Zen Arado: he was introducing a new series he will be doing on justice soon
    Zen Arado: "What is justice and how do we decide what actions are morally right in the modern world? The Harvard Professor of Government, Michael Sandel, examines how three of the most influential schools of thought have contributed to our understanding of justice and citizenship. In a television documentary, Sandel explores the thinking of the great philosophers Aristotle, Jeremy Bentham and Immanuel Kant. He asks what they have to say about the moral dilemmas facing today’s society, including whether torture is ever acceptable, bankers' bonuses and inequality."
    Zen Arado: he is a very clear speaker
    Calvino Rabeni: I feel dubious, maybe, if he doesn't suggest going beyond those philosophers
    Zen Arado: can you get those Cal?
    Zen Arado: well - he probably doesn't have time to cover any more
    Calvino Rabeni: Yes ..
    Calvino Rabeni: we can get to that next time, I hope Zen... let's earmark it for a continuation
    Zen Arado: sure
    Calvino Rabeni: I have to run, though
    Zen Arado: me too
    Calvino Rabeni: thanks for the great chat :)
    Zen Arado: thanks for talking
    Zen Arado: yes
    Zen Arado: :)
    Calvino Rabeni: Welcome, as always
    Calvino Rabeni: See you in the sequel
    Calvino Rabeni: :)
    Zen Arado: bye for now

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