IMG_0569
Blog powered by Typepad

« The VR thing | Main | Book review: The Self Does Not Die »

Comments

Michael Vann said:

"I also became bothered by something I see time and again, both in environmental arguments and larger liberal social and cultural narratives: the idea of the Noble Savage, that indigenous/folk/non-Western knowledge is somehow superior to modern technological innovation."

Michael, glad to see somebody actually reading this stuff rather than just speculating on how deep ecology is surely a sinister Marxist plot. Since you didn't mention Marxism once in your lengthy comment, I'll assume you found little there on the subject.

As to the Noble Savage aspect, I was reading heavily in the deep ecology literature during a time when I too saw the indigenous as our superiors. Since then, my views have changed, but what I still so appreciate about those books was their helping me to understand how much we can in fact learn from cultures we might describe as "less advanced."

As I see it now, technology is neither a step forwards nor a step backwards. It's *change.* Creativity. Variations on a theme.

Art and music don't improve over the millennia, and neither does quality of life. Something's gained, and something's lost.

A vacuum cleaner may make the job easier, but as our standard for cleanliness rises, we spend more time cleaning.

One of my deep ecology books contains my single favorite quote. I may not have it exactly right, and for the life of me, I can't remember where I found it or who said it:

"Though the parts may appear flawed, the whole is beautiful."

If you mean me, that's helpful but my name isn't Chelsea. It's Rachel.

Sorry chel - autocorrect!

One thing that kind of gets me in this thread and few others is talk of Marxism. Aside from Cuba does anyone even know any of any really Marxist countries anymore? In the the same manner, it's pretty debatable whether the U.S. is even capitalist (or even a democracy or republic) anymore). All the people on the left that I know advocate a free enterprise system that's regulated (so for instance you don't die from a bad hamburger,big banks don't cause a global economic crisis, kids don't work in sweat shops, etc.).

Another things that's amusing is something that popped up the other day: a list of countries with the highest percentage of home-ownership. Surprise, but little Cuba is way at the top, followed by China and others. Guess who's way at the bottom?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_home_ownership_rate

Kathleen wrote,

||One thing that kind of gets me in this thread and few others is talk of Marxism.||

Right. For the record, I think we need a creative *new* economic system that merges the best of market forces and socialistic/communitarian methods. My interpretation of Michael's reaction, and my explanation of my own reaction, to the Deep Ecology Platform was along the lines of, "Oh come on, these pretty words are cover for another agenda."

I'm not a fan of how the political Right makes Marxism and socialism bugaboos, the mere scent of which is cause to run for the hills. "That idea was once considered a possibility by a Marxist back in the 60s, so it's eeeevil!"

I guess you could say I'm an anti-dogmatist. What works is bound to be a crazy quilt of this and that and not the Platonic ideal.

||In the the same manner, it's pretty debatable whether the U.S. is even capitalist (or even a democracy or republic) anymore).||

Right. Capitalism and Marxism are not opposites, since Marxism is an artificial, created system, and what we have is not the product of ideology alone (nor in large part) but rather of history, including much historical accident. That's why I prefer to call it the "legacy economic system," or LES.

||All the people on the left that I know advocate a free enterprise system that's regulated (so for instance you don't die from a bad hamburger,big banks don't cause a global economic crisis, kids don't work in sweat shops, etc.).||

Indeed. And though I applaud Michael Vann's cogent and intelligent comments, I am nonplussed by the, "Well you know those Liberals"-type content, which reminds of Rush going off on one of his broad-brush rants.

||Another things that's amusing is something that popped up the other day: a list of countries with the highest percentage of home-ownership. Surprise, but little Cuba is way at the top, followed by China and others. Guess who's way at the bottom?||

I'll do you one better and question whether home ownership is really a good idea in the first place. The styles of homes and ownership methods we have are also largely an accident of history and in need of modernization.

Materialism and Newtonian physics cannot be compared in this manner. Materialism or physicalism is the background supposition of what reality *is* -- namely it is the hypothesis that the world is constituted solely by that which can potentially be measured or detected in some manner.

Newtonian physics, on the other hand, via various theories describes how reality operates.

But the larger point that scientific theories are often perfectly adequate to describe a given domain, but break down when attempting to describe that which resides outside that domain, is spot on. I wrote about this last month:

http://ian-wardell.blogspot.co.uk/2016/07/sean-carroll-and-philosophy-of-mind-and.html

How do you define materialism? This question is important because there are several versions of materialism and some of them compatible with the existence of an afterlife. What's more, currently the most philosophers have abandoned that term and use the term "physicalism," which is defined as the assertion that everything is physical or supervening of physical.

Forget about a few vampires of the future, the planet is already cracking up. We are drinking more water than can be replenished, global warming is proceeding along at a cracking pace with regions of the earth becoming inhabitable whilst the populations in such areas are burgeoning.

I think we're past the point of no return and it's only going to get uglier as each year passes. I'm fearful that technological advances won't be able to stem the miserable tide. The living will indeed be jealous of the dead.

Great blog Ian - I've read it before, but glad to see you still going strong.

Note: I originally posted this comment on the wrong thread and have now moved it here.

Ian wrote, "Materialism and Newtonian physics cannot be compared in this manner."

They can, if you're drawing an analogy. Two things in different categories can be analogous if they resemble each other in at least one respect, as long as that one respect is the point of the analogy. For instance, you can say, "He had a mind like a rapier." A mind is a nonphysical state of awareness, and a rapier is a sharp sword. But they can be similar in their ability to thrust home with a decisive stab (of wit or steel).

Newton's theory is analogous to materialism in a certain way. I understand that the two theories occupy different categories.

Note: This comment by Juan was posted in response to my comment on the other thread. Since I've moved my comment here, I moved his comment also.

---

But your argument about materialism and Newtonian physics is flawed, because you claim that materialism can not explain psi and the afterlife, but that just means that classical physics can not explain psi and the afterlife. Psi and an afterlife occur, then it is very plausible that future physical theories arise that can explain these phenomena, so that we would still have a materialism that includes to psi and an afterlife. The metaphysical hypothesis can be extended. What we need is evidence of higher quality on psi and the afterlife and the predictive theories.

-- Juan

Ian, I must agree that I am enjoying your blog too. Your article "A Ridiculous Conception of God" is well done. - AOD

Juan wrote,

||Psi and an afterlife occur, then it is very plausible that future physical theories arise that can explain these phenomena, so that we would still have a materialism that includes to psi and an afterlife.||

I disagree for a couple of reasons. The first is that materialism that acknowledged psi and the afterlife would be so different from what is now called "materialism" that there would hardly be a point in using the same word.

The second reason is related but includes the political aspect of the debate. Current self-labeled materialists are so against psi and the afterlife that neither side would want to call people "materialists" who believed in these things.

I have a direct argument as well against the idea of spirit being a material substance or inhering in matter *as matter is understood today.*

We observe that any combination of matter can be destroyed and, due to entropy, will eventually be destroyed. If spirit depends on matter for existence, then it will eventually be destroyed. Yet we think of the individual spirit as being indestructible and eternal, and almost all evidence points in this direction. Thus, either spirit cannot depend on matter for its existence (QED), *or* each individual spirit can be destroyed and will eventually be destroyed.

"The first is that materialism that acknowledged psi and the afterlife would be so different from what is now called "materialism" that there would hardly be a point in using the same word."

That remains physicalism, because it is based on physical theories. If even the materialistic philosophers do not agree on the definition of materialism.

"Current self-labeled materialists are so against psi and the afterlife that neither side would want to call people "materialists" who believed in these things."

Everything about materialism is a red herring. The important thing is to obtain evidence of higher quality and develop scientific theories.

"We observe that any combination of matter can be destroyed and, due to entropy, will eventually be destroyed. If spirit depends on matter for existence, then it will eventually be destroyed. Yet we think of the individual spirit as being indestructible and eternal, and almost all evidence points in this direction."

First, the empirical evidence indicates only
that some individuals have survived after their bodily death, so we do not know if the afterlife is eternal or the spirits are indestructible, even if some sources suggesting that.

Second, it is entirely conceivable that the spirits are indestructible because they are framed in the fabric of space-time, the as a hologram,
to destroy it, would have to destroy all reality, but we can assume that the whole is indestructible, then we have relied on a physical theory to consider the indestructibility of the spirit.

And third, this is all about that modern scientific theories can not explain the psychic phenomena, then what do you want? Do not have any theory? A chemical or biological theory perhaps? No way out except the collection of evidence of higher quality and modern physics.

"I disagree for a couple of reasons. The first is that materialism that acknowledged psi and the afterlife would be so different from what is now called "materialism" that there would hardly be a point in using the same word." Matt Rouge

Agreed. Try this on for size...

There is no "material"; only awareness and focus of awareness. The focusing of awareness creates worlds. This world that we - we who are talking together right now - have created through our consensus focus *feels* material **relative** to other possible worlds we can create and have become aware exist because of NDEs, OBEs, ADCs, dreams, etc.

Let's take a step back...the more we learn about "material", the less "solid" we find out that it really is. We no longer think that material is made up of atoms; full stop. We now know that atoms are made up of smaller particles, which in turn are made up of smaller particles and that, at some point of reduction, we are basically getting to a blurring of material and energy. Kind of like the photons that make up light. They're material, but not really in the sense we think of material. And saying that there are photons doesn't ^really^ explain anything. At bottom, there is only energy and varying denseness of energy vibration - and awareness.

We think about the material world and souls that come and go from it in a very dualistic sense. But that's just habitual thinking from the point of view of our current focus.

What is really happening is that the thing we call death is a change in the focus of awareness to a different level of energy vibration. The body that appears to be left behind is, in the big scheme of things, a memory. The "dead body" decays. Yes. That is entropy. Entropy is another way of saying "forgetting". Entropy ^is^ "forgetting" in the material world. Just as memories fade in the mental world when awareness is no longer focused on them entropy occurs when awareness is no longer focused on keeping entropy at bay.

Since I can already hear the objections (like if I think hard enough about my car that doesn't stop it from rusting), a couple of clarifications need to be pointed out. First,there are forces of awareness that are dedicated to entropy. Some awareness builds. Some awareness tears down. Secondly, focus of awareness is something deeper and more powerful and more magical than thinking about things; even thinking about things really hard and often.

In deep mediation traveling OBE to other possible worlds does occur, but not because one is thinking really hard about doing that. Rather, it is because shutting down the internal dialogue that helps hold the focus in place, frees energy and permits the focus of awareness to shift. Psychedelics can do the same thing (shut down the internal structuring of the current focus while maintaining consciousness). Of course one really isn't traveling anywhere OBE. That thinking is a vestige of the symbolism of the world we current construct. There is nowhere to travel to.

Some day in the future there will be an understanding that materialism is just a possibility we have decided to create and work in via focus of our awareness and its ability to assemble worlds. Nothing more, nothing less.

"One thing I quite like about some of the Deep Ecology writings is that it seems to acknowledge something that drives me up the wall about current political debate. If one truly respects indigenous cultures and regional diversity, one cannot be a globalist, at least not to its full extent. Globalism ends in a planetary mono-culture whose triumph entails the obliteration of the very diversity liberals revere." - Michael Vann

I find myself consistently liking your comments a lot, Michael.

Yes, I have noticed this contradiction in liberal/progressive thinking myself. There are many others. This recent outpouring of love of Muslims and a desire to import them into western democracies, while still holding onto expanding privileges/freedoms for homosexuals and women is one such additional contradiction.

Anyhow, as far as the people that adhere actually think deeply about what it is they claim to want, I think that "diversity" is a first step. However, the ultimate goal is to then interbreed and intermingle cultures until there is One Global culture and race that is controlled by the same people that want to be vampires. The vampires will social engineer a utopia, of course, as wise philosopher kings and queens.

What? You didn't think they would put *you* in charge, did you?

"There is no "material"; only awareness and focus of awareness."

And you still do not have scientific theories that are accepted on psi and the afterlife. That the matter is not matter as common sense does not important, because the theories still are part of physics.

Eric,
I have recently been more inclined to watch foreign films rather than American ones. Fortunately on Netflix I can occasionally find extraordinary non-American films. Sometimes these films affect me deeply and engender in me many thoughts of human cultures and how they have evolved over time and more importantly the metaphysical value of each one. I can't help but think what a loss it would be for those different and beautiful cultures to be absorbed into a mono culture emulating the capitalist American culture.

Those of you who have access to Netflix I recommend three foreign films. 'Water', which I recommended before, is an Indian film about treatment of widows in India. An educational film really and beautifully photographed with portrayals more perfect than any done in Hollywood. I would also recommend 'Empresses in the Palace', a Chinese series about a Chinese concubine culture of long ago and perhaps for Christian Westerners difficult to understand but one perhaps perfect for that time and place. The third film I am still watching is a series of relatively short stories by poet Rabindranath Tagore, an Indian series exquisitely photographed and acted by beautiful Indian actors all worthy of acting awards but probably those performances will never be recognized, at least in the United States. (India undoubtedly has some of the most beautiful women in the world.)

Watching these films gives me cause for deep thoughts. Some of those thoughts unspeakable at this time. But all cultures have great value I think, from the most primitive to the most advanced and to blend them all into one monoculture is a loss not a gain. - AOD

"And you still do not have scientific theories that are accepted on psi and the afterlife." - Juan

Right. Thinking changes slowly. Thinking only changes slowly and when there is a profitable reason to evolve the thinking. The traditional physics model thinking is still profitable. So it remains entrenched. Psi seemed like it could be useful for spying and military applications. So it was tested (e.g Stargate). However, it was reliable enough to be useful. There is no clear way to gain from it.

It is mistaken to believe that knowledge will be pursued for its own sake. Generally, there must be a return on investment. Much of Newton's work was for military application (ballistics).

oops - psi was NOT reliable enough

Tsimitpo wrote:

global warming is proceeding along at a cracking pace with regions of the earth becoming inhabitable whilst the populations in such areas are burgeoning.

The only place where "global warming is proceeding along at a cracking pace" is the Arctic, where populations are not burgeoning. The past 18 months have seen an uptick, now fading, in global temps due to an el niño.

So the ironic thing is that the keys to longevity are more likely to arise in non-material science.

As an example, the 95 year-old Turkish yoga master and confirmed bad-ass, Kazim Gurbuz (http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/95-year-old-yoga-guru-kazm-gurbuz-shares-secrets-active-sex-life-how-everyone-can-live-130-1515682).

Materialists rarely consider the health of the mind and "spirit", because mind, spirit or consciousness doesn't really exist, after-all.

However, somebody committed to the development of the mind, spirituality, and the mind's power over the body, is a person whom I'd bet my money on living a very long, vital life far before I'd put my money on a Silicone Valley billionaire who thinks the purpose of life is to die with the most money.

Lovely cartoons illustrating the streetlight effect.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)