• Wayfarer
    20.7k
    Yes, but there is also the idea that understanding requires training the mind - or maybe even reconstructing it. (I mean, by meditation, of course).Ludwig V

    :100: That was known, at one point in history, as 'metanoia', although that is now usually translated simply as 'repentance', thereby blurring the distinction between insight and belief. Originally it meant 'mental transformation' or something like a cognitive shift.
  • Ludwig V
    784
    That was known, at one point in history, as 'metanoia', although that is now usually translated simply as 'repentance', thereby blurring the distinction between insight and belief. Originally it meant 'mental transformation' or something like a cognitive shift.Wayfarer
    Yes. Christianity has a similar trope. So does Islam. My point is that in Bhuddhism the shift is not merely cognitive. It's very complicated.
  • Ludwig V
    784
    Yes. Christianity has a similar trope. So does Islam. My point is that in Bhuddhism the shift is not merely cognitive. It's very complicated.Ludwig V

    On further thought, although it is true that Western philosophy does not pay much attention to it, training is not treated as an important feature of its practice. But it is. Philosophers often speak as if the distinction between what is rational and what isn't, between what is logically true and what isn't is available to everybody instantly. But anyone who teaches introductory philosophy knows that it isn't so. There is a moment of dogma when philosophy's ideas (and practice) have to be taught and much philosophical discussion is incomprehensible without it.
    Even empiricism requires explanation and teaching. If it were not so, "naive" realism would be the final arbiter of perception and philosophy could not rise above common sense.

    But I suppose that the difference is that this initiation or induction is not thought to require a "metanoia",

    It gets more complicated. Some of what Wittgenstein says about philosophy comes to close to suggesting something like a "metanoia". Arguably, that is exactly what Berkeley is looking for - but then, he is seeking to persuade us to accept Christianity.
  • Wayfarer
    20.7k
    I listened to a dialogue today between John Vervaeke and Jules Evans about exactly this point, with reference to Pierre Hadot’s ‘Philosophy as a Way of Life’. Vervaeke said that book ‘changed his life’ because previously he had been looking to Buddhist and Taoist practices. He said Pierre Hadot helped him see there really is a ‘wisdom tradition’ in philosophy proper.
  • Count Timothy von Icarus
    2k


    Yes, but there is also the idea that understanding requires training the mind - or maybe even reconstructing it. (I mean, by meditation, of course) Christianity, it seems to me, talks a great deal about belief and so presents itself as primarily a matter of doctrine.

    This is a consequence of modern philosophical innovations and the Reformation. The idea that understanding requires training, asceticism, meditation, and contemplation, was quite well developed in the early and medieval church, as was the idea of rigorous sets of spiritual practices. In the middle ages though, these became more and more aesthetitized and formalized, so that they began to revolve more and more around specific rituals and less on abstract understanding — e.g., the very common practice, even among the peasantry, of undergoing to rigors of pilgrimage, the jam packed liturgical calendar of the medieval holidays, the various religious festivals and processions, the vast pantheon of saints and shrines venerated, guild and local support for chantries, close observance of the daily liturgy of the hours, etc.

    The Eastern churches have kept more of both the old aesthetic ritual and the ideas of internal practice alive, in part because theosis and illumination remain such a large part of their doctrine. Catholics tend to keep more of this than Protestants, but it's not prescribed for the laity, or if it is, it's at the initiative of an individual confessor.

    I am not sure how different this really is from Buddhism as practiced by the laity. It seems like a lot of the Buddhism that makes it to the West comes from monastics, not necessarily reflecting the laity. People act shocked that Buddhists are carrying out genocides against Muslims in their lands because they think of Buddhism primarily in terms of monasticism. But if we thought of Christians primarily in terms of monastics and modern monastic writings, we'd continue to find asceticism, practice, meditation, and contemplation at the very heart of the religion. E.g., I go to a Cicstercian monestary near my house and the daily schedule 365 days a year revolves around the Liturgy of the Hours (communal meditative chanting), farm work, mass, study, silence at almost all times, ministering to visitors, and contemplation.

    But this is also very far from the general culture now. The Medieval uncomfortableness with commerce and the vice of "coveting/grasping" has become essentially a virtue, which casts the old homeless, impoverished saints in a new light. I always find it ironic when conservatives are so out of sorts at the sight of homeless people in San Francisco, their very existence, given who the city is named after.
  • Ludwig V
    784

    I notice that you are not arguing that my summary is wrong and I accept that there's much complication when you start considering things in more detail.

    This is a consequence of modern philosophical innovations and the Reformation.Count Timothy von Icarus
    Yes, of course it is. And one should mention the revival of Ancient Greek Philosophy specifically as a way of thinking about one's way of life in a recognizably philosophical, as opposed to religious, way.

    It seems like a lot of the Buddhism that makes it to the West comes from monastics, not necessarily reflecting the laity.Count Timothy von Icarus
    From my observation that's true.

    I am not sure how different this really is from Buddhism as practiced by the laity. It seems like a lot of the Buddhism that makes it to the West comes from monastics, not necessarily reflecting the laity. People act shocked that Buddhists are carrying out genocides against Muslims in their lands because they think of Buddhism primarily in terms of monasticism.Count Timothy von Icarus
    There are indeed Buddhist monks coming to the West. Some of them are returnees. And it does somewhat slant the general impression. But Buddhism is no different from every other religion (so far as I can see). There are different strands at work, but there are common themes - fundamentalism and violence among them. What religions are (especially when they become embedded in a society and have to deal with the local power structures), and what they aspire to are rather different things. I realize that monasticism is still alive and well in Christianity, and I'm inclined to believe monasticism in Christianity shares a lot with monasticism in other religions. It's the surrounding conceptual structures that interest me here.

    The Medieval uncomfortableness with commerce and the vice of "coveting/grasping" has become essentially a virtue, which casts the old homeless, impoverished saints in a new light.Count Timothy von Icarus
    I assume you know about Bernard Mandeville's Fable of the Bees and the slogan "Private Vices, Public Virtues" (or at least Benefits). I think the genie is out of the bottle now. In any case, there was plenty of coveting and grasping going on even in the Middle Ages. It's the presentation and propaganda that has changed.

    I always find it ironic when conservatives are so out of sorts at the sight of homeless people in San Francisco, their very existence, given who the city is named after.Count Timothy von Icarus
    I don't hear much about San Francisco, but I see your point. The rational response of anyone who is horrified by homelessness is to ensure that sufficient help is provided to prevent it occurring and sort it out when it does. One has to conclude that what horrifies them is not the fact of homelessness, but it being visible.
  • Wayfarer
    20.7k
    It seems like a lot of the Buddhism that makes it to the West comes from monastics, not necessarily reflecting the laity.Count Timothy von Icarus

    Most Asian Buddhists Don’t Meditate, Lewis Richmond.

    One Zen monk from Japan who was visiting a Zen retreat center in America observed the enthusiasm and numbers of meditators with astonishment. "How do you get them to meditate without beating them?"

    The Japanese Buddhists I most recently had contact with were Pure Land Buddhists who sermonised against any effort to meditate as being ‘own-effort’, and incapable of producing merit.

    I go to a Cicstercian monestary near my houseCount Timothy von Icarus

    You’d be one of very few with a Cistercian monastery near your house.

    Where I’ve moved now, there is a Buddhist vihara, led by a friendly Sri Lankan expat, who has regular meditation sessions, but I’ve fallen out of the practice, at my age I can no longer assume the customary cross-legged posture that I persisted with for many years. I’m trying to find a way back into some kind of community of practice, but it’s not easy.

    The rational response of anyone who is horrified by homelessness is to ensure that sufficient help is provided to prevent it occurring and sort it out when it does.Ludwig V

    And the conservative American response to that is that it’s communism.
  • Ludwig V
    784
    The Japanese Buddhists I most recently had contact with were Pure Land Buddhists who sermonised against any effort to meditate as being ‘own-effort’, and incapable of producing merit.Wayfarer
    They've got a point. From what I've read, Zen encourages effort, while at the same time suggesting that it is beside the point. Typical.

    at my age I can no longer assume the customary cross-legged posture that I persisted with for many years.Wayfarer
    I've seen discussions of this that do not prioritize that, or any other, particular posture. Sitting in a straight-backed chair (but upright, not using the back) and lying on one's back, - and there's always walking (slowly). Thich Nat Hanh has a discussion somewhere that suggests that anything that happens in ordinary life can be a bell, calling us back to meditation.

    I’m trying to find a way back into some kind of community of practice, but it’s not easy.Wayfarer
    The crucial thing for joining a community, IMO, is turning up and trying to participate somehow - provided they will at least accept you being there.
    There are a lot of people who are inclined to take meditation/mindfulness seriously, but find it difficult to work out what suits them. (I'm one of them.)

    And the conservative American response to that is that it’s communism.Wayfarer
    The fact that they cling on to that defunct threat shows how much they need something to be afraid of.
  • Astrophel
    435
    Let's back up from metaphysics for a second. A phenomenological explanation of intelligibilities might be something like "the sum total of true things that can be elucidated about an object of discussion across the whole history of the global Human Conversation." Here, "truth" is defined in phenomenological terms, e.g. the truth of correctness, whereas a metaphysical explanation is set aside for now. An important point made by phenomenologists is that predication emerges from human phenomenology and intersubjectivity.Count Timothy von Icarus

    There is a lot in this. Husserl is a little dated and the excruciating detail that you posted is an example of why. Here is what remains that interests me, the four principles of phenomenology:

    The first—“so much appearance, so much being”—is borrowed from the Marburg School. Over against this ambiguous proposition, owing to the double signification of the term “appearance,” we prefer this strict wording: “so much appearing, so much being.”1 The second is the principle of principles. Formulated by Husserl himself in §24 of Ideen I, it sets forth intuition or, more precisely, “that every originary presentive intuition is a legitimizing source of cognition”2 and thus for any particularly rational statement. In the third principle, the claim is so vehement that it clothes itself in the allure of an exhortation, even a cry: “zu den Sachen selbst!” The fourth principle was defined considerably later by Jean-Luc Marion in his work Reduction and Givenness, but its importance hits upon the entirety of phenomenological development as a hidden presupposition that is always already at work. It is formulated thus: “so much reduction, so much givenness.”3

    This is Michel Henry. Analytics philosophers don't like this kind of talk because they essentially are following Kant, of all thinkers (they would hate me saying that as well): Kant spelled out in many pages how there is nothing to say about metaphysics in the Transcendental Dialectic and elsewhere. We know where this goes in the division today between anglo american and continental philosophies, the former being all about clarity of ideas, the latter often taking up problems about the the mysterious connection between the plainly visible world and the world unseen that Kant called noumena. This conversation has evolved. You know all this, I gather, and I bring it up just to make a brief statement about where phenomenology has taken thought. A LOT of it is post Heideggerian. Heidegger's Being and Time is something I take as the the standing paradigm for resistance for the postmodern thought, and the more I can grasp his phenomenology, the better I can see where Derrida comes from. Heidegger was the "Greek" while Derrida was the final critic of any and all perspective in ontology.

    So the four principles of phenomenology, these are the terms at the center of the discussion about Husserl that are reaffirmed in the post Heideggerian movement. The French are in the middle of this, and they are not the "scientists" Husserl was, meaning the hope Husserl had for a greater elucidation of the noematic field of phenomenal interface, which is wonderfully anticipated by Eugene Fink's Sixth Meditation, turns into a rather extravagant extension of words that take the strange threshold of our finitude into places where language barely has meaning, as with Jean luc Marion's notion of the "transpiercing" nature of the icon vs the existential opacity of the idol. If one is looking for clarification in the words that are there in the "potentiality of possiblities" that the "totality" of our history of language can provide, one will be sorely disappointed here. But then, this is the where the point is to be made, and it is a BIG point: Words can be made clear, or clearer, and we look to analytic philosophers for this, but the WORLD is not clear AT ALL! Apologies for the capital letters, but it can't be stressed enough that philosophy has reached it end with Derrida, and, well, Buddhists and Hindus knew the end was at hand long ago. What happens when language meets the world? This is the question that haunts the issue.

    Michel Henry (above quote) is emphatic on this Husserlian movement toward the pure phenomenon: put down the text, walk away from the desk (as Emerson told us, one must "to retire as much from his chamber as from society), and for the first time, if you will (think Heidegger's verfallen. Authenticity can come as a jolt of rebellion, as Kierkegaard put it, seeing that one actually exists!) behold the world as a free agency, bound to nothing but your own existence. For these theo-phenomenologists of the "French Turn" the "truth" lies in the thrusting oneself into the world, digging fingers into its soil, in "fleshy" encounters. You see, there is NO denying this. One cannot return to the armchair and reason it away. One encounter the absolute.....only one cannot speak this. For language is entirely OTHER that this.

    History and language are neutralized.
  • Count Timothy von Icarus
    2k


    I notice that you are not arguing that my summary is wrong

    Quite so, just an area that interests me so I can't help but throw my $0.02 in.

    I assume you know about Bernard Mandeville's Fable of the Bees and the slogan "Private Vices, Public Virtues" (or at least Benefits). I think the genie is out of the bottle now. In any case, there was plenty of coveting and grasping going on even in the Middle Ages. It's the presentation and propaganda that has changed.

    Yes, and I agree that social conceptions of virtue only get you so far vis-a-vis natural temptations. However, I do think there is a distinct difference between "grasping" (Aristotle's pleonexia, always wanting more) being an explicit vice and it being a virtue. Today people discuss feeling guilty about not doing more to make more money, to get raises, to work "side hustles", etc. Yes, a strong work ethic has always been a virtue, but these days it seems increasingly merged with this idea of having a sort of "big ego" and always wanting more. "Continuous innovation," and "continuous growth," are goals in and of themselves in the small business literature I read back when I was part of a start-up.

    Contrast this with the medieval ideal vis-a-vis the trades. Yes, it was good to be profitable, to grow and train others. However, "being a great tradesman" was far more likely to be defined in terms of the quality and beauty of the products, not simply growth and volume.

    I've actually read that Japanese culture still does a good job at this, and that it makes people happier. Here in the US, being "a pizza delivery driver" or "flipping burgers" is often thrown out as a sort of insult. Apparently in Japan there is more of an emphasis on the individual's display of mastery at work, even in contexts seen as more mundane. This certainly seems to come across in their entertainment to a degree, even if they poke fun at it (e.g., people being comically overcommitted to being "the best" at relatively menial jobs). I think Hegel gets at this in the Philosophy of Right as well, when discussing "corporations," his update of medieval guilds, which focus on a sort of "greatness" in a field that isn't defined by income, but rather by mastery. Some fields still have this, e.g. doctors, but most don't.

    I don't love Marx, but the part about people becoming alienated from their work seems all to true. And once that happens, income becomes the obvious measuring stick for success.
  • Astrophel
    435
    Most Asian Buddhists Don’t Meditate, Lewis Richmond.Wayfarer

    "Yes, in one sense most Buddhists don't meditate, but in a more universal sense all people, of whatever faith, are as close to meditation as the nearest cushion or chair. In that sense, everyone can meditate."

    Which is not the same as what I suspect is the real reason they don't meditate: living and breathing IS a meditation. Interesting comparison to Kierkegaard whose knight of faith is simple yet penetrating, living entirely in the confidence and light of something that overrides all mundane meaning, yet being still embedded in familiar affairs, carried through as if all things were the same, but they are not the same at all. There has been a transformation. Something not demonstrable or arguable, any more than one can "argue" pain or happiness. Kierkegaard longed for this simplicity, but it was beyond him. It is the bane of being a philosopher that the very thing that lead the world to "visibility" is thought, yet for something to be purely visible requires at its core the cancelling of this very thinking.

    I think you mentioned the boat being docked on the shore metaphor, then left behind as one walks onward. The boat, as this goes, is yoga. Hard to simply "dock" the meditation, the thinking and the curiosity. It is like docking one's very being-in-the-world (which Kierkegaard called inherited sin, though doing so entirely outside of the Christian assumptions). So radical.
  • Wayfarer
    20.7k
    living and breathing IS a meditation.Astrophel

    'blessed are the pure of heart'
  • ENOAH
    288
    living and breathing IS a meditation. Interesting comparison to Kierkegaard whose knight of faith is simple yet penetrating, living entirely in the confidence and light of something that overrides all mundane meaning, yet being still embedded in familiar affairs, carried through as if all things were the same, but they are not the same at all. There has been a transformation. Something not demonstrable or arguable, any more than one can "argue" pain or happiness. Kierkegaard longed for this simplicity, but it was beyond him. It is the bane of being a philosopher that the very thing that lead the world to "visibility" is thought, yet for something to be purely visible requires at its core the cancelling of this very thinking.Astrophel

    I am with you on this. Presumptious of me, but I will briefly detail why I think so.

    It's a bit problematic to bring SK into this because his knight of faith (kof) is tied in with Christianity, Abraham being a model--resignation, obedience and so on.

    But. I think SK had an intuition about something useful which, owing to his specific locus in History, he interpreted in his (deficient) christocentric way.

    Here's what that was, and how I think you expressed it above.

    The kof is one who "returns" (my term, not his--he said something more like, "is opened to") to its True Self, not the self who is troubled by the mundane, but the living being which is in its Truth a breathing organism; i.e. the real self displaced by attunement to the mundane.

    Hence, your "living and breathing is...meditation" fits. The kof carries on embedded in the mundane and nobody even knows it. It's not because, in the kof's newly acquired superpower the kof can fool everyone. No. The kof cannot leave the mundane. No one born into History can. But the kof simultaneously "knows" its real self is not the mundane, but rather the [eternal] "that" which is presently breathing.

    The being which is thought to be pursued in an inquiry into Human ontology is, tragically, not the true self which is breathing, but the very mundane self caught up with the mundane. That is, as you aptly noted, SK like all (most?) philosophy, at least Western, intuited that the Truth was in the breathing, but remained trapped in the mundane, the thinking.

    Some eastern approaches, particularly, (not the philosophy of Mahayana, but) the physical practice of Zazen, seems to have grasped the locus of the kof. That is, in being, not thinking.
  • Astrophel
    435
    Hence, your "living and breathing is...meditation" fits. The kof carries on embedded in the mundane and nobody even knows it. It's not because, in the kof's newly acquired superpower the kof can fool everyone. No. The kof cannot leave the mundane. No one born into History can. But the kof simultaneously "knows" its real self is not the mundane, but rather the [eternal] "that" which is presently breathing.ENOAH

    In Fear and Trembling, this is how Johannes de Silentio describes the knight of faith:

    With the freedom
    from care of a reckless good-for-nothing, he lets things take
    care of themselves, and yet every moment of his life he buys
    the opportune time at the highest price, for he does not do
    even the slightest thing except by virtue of the absurd. And
    yet, yet—yes, I could be infuriated over it if for no other
    reason than envy—and yet this man has made and at every
    moment is making the movement of infinity. He drains the
    deep sadness of life in infinite resignation, he knows the
    blessedness of infinity, he has felt the pain of renouncing
    everything, the most precious thing in the world, and yet
    the finite tastes just as good to him as to one who never
    knew anything higher, because his remaining in finitude would
    have no trace of a timorous, anxious routine, and yet he has
    this security that makes him delight in it as if finitude were
    the surest thing of all. And yet, yet the whole earthly figure
    he presents is a new creation by virtue of the absurd. He
    resigned everything infinitely, and then he grasped everything
    again by virtue of the absurd. He is continually making
    the movement of infinity, but he does it with such precision
    and assurance that he continually gets finitude out of it, and
    no one ever suspects anything else. It is supposed to be the
    most difficult feat for a ballet dancer to leap into a specific
    posture in such a way that he never once strains for the posture
    but in the very leap assumes the posture. Perhaps there
    is no ballet dancer who can do it—but this knight does it.
    Most people live completely absorbed in worldly joys and
    sorrows; they are benchwarmers who do not take part in the
    dance. The knights of infinity are ballet dancers and have
    elevation. They make the upward movement and come down
    again, and this, too, is not an unhappy diversion and is not
    unlovely to see. But every time they come down, they are
    unable to assume the posture immediately, they waver for a
    moment, and this wavering shows that they are aliens in the
    world.



    A long quote, but worth the read. This last line reveals what he means by the absurd, and it is something Heidegger lifts from Kierkegaard. Here is how H puts it:

    In anxiety one feels ‘uncanny’. Here the peculiar indefiniteness of that which Dasein finds itself alongside in anxiety, comes proximally to expression: the “nothing and nowhere”. But here “uncanniness” also means “not-being-at-home”

    Or as K put it, being an alien in the world. Heidegger, like K, sees his authentic dasein as one who lives, and does not retreat from, one's ownmost existence, which reveals one's freedom, and this makes the world's affairs "uncanny" for one is free and not possessed by the interests and values of normal living, yet ,as you say, no one born into history can leave it (save a Buddhist recluse?): normal living is all there is to be in one's finite existence. This puts a person in a threshold existence that thematically runs through existentialism, this tension between freedom and existence. A baker or a teacher IS just this. But in freedom, one is not this at all. The baker is both the baker and free of being a baker.

    The being which is thought to be pursued in an inquiry into Human ontology is, tragically, not the true self which is breathing, but the very mundane self caught up with the mundane. That is, as you aptly noted, SK like all (most?) philosophy, at least Western, intuited that the Truth was in the breathing, but remained trapped in the mundane, the thinking.ENOAH

    '"REAL" angst is rare," said Heidegger. Especially considering that one has to always already be IN the "existentiell" role, that is role that is played, when one comes to understand this onto-philosophical weirdness of our existence. So one wants to understand, and pulls away, threatening the integrity of, say, being a baker in-the-world. The original conviction weakens. Kierkegaard wants to make the move to live fully with God in faith and in-the-world. He says he never met anyone who could do this.

    Some eastern approaches, particularly, (not the philosophy of Mahayana, but) the physical practice of Zazen, seems to have grasped the locus of the kof. That is, in being, not thinking.ENOAH

    Thinking traps the philosopher, like Kierkegaard, who was too smart for his own good, I guess.

    Such a radical and onerous method, serious meditation. But it pushes one outside of philosophy. A strange matter to say the least. But I am with Kierkegaard, in that I am SURE that what is in play here is momentous. Hard to argue such a thing.
  • Wayfarer
    20.7k
    Could you elaborate a little on how you interpret 'by virtue of the absurd' in that quotation? Thanks.
  • ENOAH
    288
    normal living is all there is to be in one's finite existence. This puts a person in a threshold existence that thematically runs through existentialism, this tension between freedom and existence.Astrophel


    a radical and onerous method, serious meditation. But it pushes one outside of philosophy. A strange matter to say the leastAstrophel

    I found your entire reply very edifying, sincerely. I see the tie-in with Heidegger, and the basic struggle which similar "existentialists" addressed in modified ways. You presented that eloquently. Thank you.

    I lack your eloquence, am not always confident in my word choice or the strictly academically, most suitable terminology but, coincidentally, that fact contributes to my next query.

    On this locus of philosophy and the strangeness of, e.g. Zazen, with respect to, how can it fit in (again, I presume--and acknowledge where I mis-presumed before)

    While I recognize and respect there are strong arguments in favor of orthodox reading in philosophy, or readings which are true to authorial intent, please bear with me as I offer a modification.

    First let me preface it with a brief reasoning, also unorthodox. I would view Philosophy, as a discipline, to have as its ultimate goal, the pursuit of Truth or, if one is inclined to believe that capital T Truth is inaccessible to Philosophy, then the latter necessarily becomes the endless pursuit of Understanding. If anything resembling that definition is acceptable, in contrast to a definition like, Philosophy is the Science of properly grasping the Philosophers gone by, then there may be benefits to reading Philosophers beyond their intent, or prior to, or hidden in, their intent.

    I even dare say, misreading philosophy might bear fruit, if the misreading has results which are functional to ones locus in History.

    Now my query, which I admit, adds nothing new, but attempts to clarify my earlier post, and ride atop your quotes above.

    Regarding his constructions of the knights of infinite resignation, faith; and, the absurd, I see in those reflections, some more steps.

    The knight of infinite resignation who wavers and cannot complete the leap (emphasized in your excerpt from F&T), is an alien in the world and suffers the existential tension of knowing the mundane, to put it simply, is not ultimately true or what ultimately matters*, while at the same time incapable of faith that he Already is what ultimately matters. By contrast one who doesnt even know is happy in the mundane, ... So far, so good, right? ...

    I add, and do not think this a step further than SK, but you may tell me differently, That Knight of Infinite is what traditional philosophy is; those who pursue, like Heidegger and Hegel before him, the Infinite, because he knows it is there, but does not make the leap.


    and the knight of faith... here is where I think SK was moved by a real intuition conditioned by his locus in History, but we dont need that back story: whether he said this or not, this is my bold read: The KOF is happy in this world, knowing the mundane is not ultimate, not because of faith in the crucifixion, the absurd historical fact that god died a criminal. Thats SK's locus. The KOF is happy because he can abide in both. He knows conventional existence is mundane and empty, he also knows it is inescapable But he also knows he already is the Infinite Truth as a living breathing being. Yes, there is the painful sub-reality of the becoming; but there always has been the Ultimate Reality of the living being.

    *(I'm deliberately trying to avoid Phil. terms because I've been conditioned to expect a debate on the terms. I can explain later if needed)
  • Ludwig V
    784
    Contrast this with the medieval ideal vis-a-vis the trades. Yes, it was good to be profitable, to grow and train others. However, "being a great tradesman" was far more likely to be defined in terms of the quality and beauty of the products, not simply growth and volume.Count Timothy von Icarus
    There's no doubt that there are important - and oft-neglected values here. They struggle to be seen or heard in the world as it is.

    I don't love Marx, but the part about people becoming alienated from their work seems all to true. And once that happens, income becomes the obvious measuring stick for success.Count Timothy von Icarus
    That's right. The first question when you meet someone for the first time - politely disguised under the question what one's employment is.

    After the Black Death, there was a shortage of labour (because so many people had died). So workers tended to move to where they were better paid. The aristocracy were outraged by this, and by their demands and tried hard to prevent them (without paying them any more). It didn't work very well. It wasn't until much later (18th century) that employers realized the great advantage to themselves of employing free people for a wage, namely, that they had no responsibility for them beyond the work (e.g. welfare, health and safety) and could simply dismiss them when they weren't needed. Workers took great exception to this (rightly). (Luddites &c.)

    This may not be quite what you had in mind:-
    ‘Our Gross National Product now is over 800 billion dollars a year. But that Gross National Product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them. It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armoured cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities. It counts . . . . the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children. Yet the Gross National Product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country. It measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud to be Americans.’
    Robert F. Kennedy, Remarks at the University of Kansas, March 18, 1968

    It shows how deeply embedded the thinking in terms of money is and how damaging it is. Yet it is not just a question of compiling a happiness index. There's no getting away from the need to prioritze and allocate resources accordingly; the money measure is quite helpful as a way of doing that.

    People misunderstand what communism, as opposed to state socialism, is all about and what Marx thought was the culmination of his revolution:-
    For as soon as the distribution of labour comes into being, each man has a particular exclusive sphere of activity, which is forced upon him and from which he cannot escape. He is a hunter, a fisherman, a shepherd, or a critical critic and must remain so if he does not wish to lose his means of livelihood; while in communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, to fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticize after dinner, just as I have in mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, shepherd or critic.
    Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Die Deutsche Ideologie, Vol. 1, Part 1.

    Though this can be taken in many ways. Maybe he under-rates the value of specialization.

    Thinking traps the philosopher, like Kierkegaard, who was too smart for his own good, I guess.Astrophel

    You remind me of Wittgenstein's fly trapped in a bottle. Or this:-
    FLY
    A fat fly fuddles for an exit
    At the window-pane,
    Bluntly, stubbornly, it inspects it,
    Like a brain
    Nonplussed by a seemingly simple sentence
    In a book,
    Which the glaze of unduly protracted acquaintance
    Has turned to gobbledly-gook.

    A few inches above where the fly fizzes
    A gap of air
    Waits, but this has
    Not yet been vouchsafed to the fly.
    Only retreat and loop or swoop of despair
    will give it the sky.
    Christopher Reid, Expanded Universes,

    Hard to simply "dock" the meditation, the thinking and the curiosity. It is like docking one's very being-in-the-worldAstrophel
    Can one dock one's being-in-the-world without docking one's self, and is that possible? Philosophy often seems to me to under-rate the difficulty of such things. In philosophy, all that is needed is a flourish of words and the thing is done. That's where religion scores, because it recognizes and addresses the need for "metanoia" or conversion. Yet one can find traces of it in what is said in philosophy.

    By contrast one who doesn't even know is happy in the mundane, .ENOAH
    You remind me of the conclusion of Voltaire's Candide. What's wrong with that, if it works for you? Perhaps it's as much a matter of reconciling oneself to the actual, rather than working out something else.
  • ENOAH
    288
    where religion scores, because it recognizes and addresses the need for "metanoia" or conversion. Yet one can find traces of it in what is said in philosophy.Ludwig V

    Yah, like in Nietzsche's, Heidegger's, Sartre's et. al. call for self actualization or authenticity.

    Perhaps it's as much a matter of reconciling oneself to the actual, rather than working out something else.Ludwig V

    Yes. The actual, not the becoming (of Mind and its empty, fleeting attachments; its incccessant workings out); but the Being (of the human Organism, and its breathing etc.).
  • Astrophel
    435


    In plain language, the absurd is the experience one has when realizing that whatever stands before one in the world that might be defining as to their true nature, their essence, turns out to be contingent, ephemeral, and entirely "other" than what they are. So this question, who or what am I? never finds an answer in all of the possibilities one can conceive. One is not a teacher, a father, a business woman, lover of pizza, or anything one can think of. One stands outside all of these in the asking itself, because, as Heidegger put it, the "question," that "piety of thought" intrudes into spontaneity of just "going along"; it interposes between one's existence and the familiar affirmations that are "always already" there. In the most general sense, these are knowledge claims in a world where knowledge cannot make claims at all.

    The question takes one to the "nothingness" of the indeterminacy that one faces when realizing that there is no "being" that one is anxious about, like a lion, tiger or failing grades in school. It is a "nothing" that pervades everything, this impossible question that interposes itself between who/what one "is" and possible identities in the world. Eternity is now, no longer the vague sense of space and time having no end so familiar. Eternity, so to speak, is IN the world of normal dealings. Everything is, at this level of inquiry, indeterminate.

    And this is, I argue, where discovery begins for questions about the nature of religion.
  • Ludwig V
    784
    Yah, like in Nietzsche's, Heidegger's, Sartre's et. al. call for self actualization or authenticity.ENOAH
    Yes. But they are all philosophers with a mission. Although, thinking about it, I'm not at all sure that the distinction really stands up.

    Yes. The actual, not the becoming (of Mind and its empty, fleeting attachments; its incccessant workings out); but the Being (of the human Organism, and its breathing etc.).ENOAH
    Yes. But then I remember that some fleeting things are worth attending to and that I sometimes wish that some non-fleeting things would flee. I'm a bit of a contrarian, I'm afraid.
  • Astrophel
    435
    The knight of infinite resignation who wavers and cannot complete the leap (emphasized in your excerpt from F&T), is an alien in the world and suffers the existential tension of knowing the mundane, to put it simply, is not ultimately true or what ultimately matters*, while at the same time incapable of faith that he Already is what ultimately matters. By contrast one who doesnt even know is happy in the mundane, ... So far, so good, right? ...

    I add, and do not think this a step further than SK, but you may tell me differently, That Knight of Infinite is what traditional philosophy is; those who pursue, like Heidegger and Hegel before him, the Infinite, because he knows it is there, but does not make the leap.
    ENOAH

    By traditional philosophy you mean what is called continental philosophy. I think neither Hegel nor Heidegger fits into Kierkegaard's thinking, but yes, I think you are qualifiedly right. It was Kant who drew the line in the sand. I mean, he was the one said you can know this, but never that. Never ever! Hegel was just as adamant, certainly considering Kierkegaard's complaint that Hegel attempted "to support a reduced existence as a clever expression of the logical." Heidegger's "nothing" is a concept entirely grounded in out finitude. He has a lot to say about this in Chapter 4 of B&T: Care as the Being of Dasein, and while his language sounds as if he is talking about some mysterious great beyond, he's not. This finitude is our "not-yet" existence which is anticipatory, and we face the "nothing" of an unmade future. Nothing otherworldly about it, but to realize one's freedom to create a future does require that we stand apart from possibilities, and are no longer blindly adhering to some predetermination.

    and the knight of faith... here is where I think SK was moved by a real intuition conditioned by his locus in History, but we dont need that back story: whether he said this or not, this is my bold read: The KOF is happy in this world, knowing the mundane is not ultimate, not because of faith in the crucifixion, the absurd historical fact that god died a criminal. Thats SK's locus. The KOF is happy because he can abide in both. He knows conventional existence is mundane and empty, he also knows it is inescapable But he also knows he already is the Infinite Truth as a living breathing being. Yes, there is the painful sub-reality of the becoming; but there always has been the Ultimate Reality of the living being.ENOAH

    Well, if this is meant to be a summery, then one should dismiss the actual things he says. The Concept of Anxiety is not something to be reduced to a few general notions, for example. I think one has to remember k's nostalgia for the time when there was no "culture" to speak of. Imagine Abraham's life with goats and sheep and family. Who in such a community of "Abrahams's" was literate? Rituals were simply acts of piety. His Attack on Christendom issues from a distain for the church collapsing into culture of the church, lacking that extraordinary simplicity in which there was nothing to compromise earnest faith.

    Anyway, sure, the metaphysics of Kierkegaard seems along the lines of a faith of such implicit acceptance that it stood above the most inviolable rules of ethics. The rule against filicide, I think it is called, murder of one's son. This IS what is missing in Heidegger, Kant, Hegel, and even in Kierkegaard himself: it is one thing to reason and believe, quite another to be nailed to a cross of push the knife into your child.
  • ENOAH
    288
    This IS what is missing in Heidegger, Kant, Hegel, and even in Kierkegaard himself: it is one thing to reason and believe, quite another to be nailed to a cross of push the knife into your child.Astrophel

    Wait. Why missing in Kierk? Isn't that exactly his point? Arriving at belief through reason is "inferior" to arriving by a leap.
  • Astrophel
    435
    You remind me of Wittgenstein's fly trapped in a bottle.Ludwig V

    He stepped beyond the very line he drew explaining the way out. Russell called him a mystic. Wittgenstein then walked away, for he knew they, the positivists, had missed the point: it wasn't about the lack of meaning in the world. It was about language's inability make statements about logic wouldn't allow (in the Tractatus). This frees meaning rather than inhibits it.


    Can one dock one's being-in-the-world without docking one's self, and is that possible? Philosophy often seems to me to under-rate the difficulty of such things. In philosophy, all that is needed is a flourish of words and the thing is done. That's where religion scores, because it recognizes and addresses the need for "metanoia" or conversion. Yet one can find traces of it in what is said in philosophy.Ludwig V

    Depends on the philosophy. Philosophers differ most radically, especially considering the anglo american analytic vs the continental, the latter being European, mostly the German and the French. It is the continental tradition that continues to take metaphysics seriously, even when it's principle aim is to cancel metaphysics.

    In analytic philosophy, words and meanings and their combinatory possibilities are intensely argued about. And these, as the original idea goes, work because snow is white, iff, snow is white. This is THE way to trivialize our existence.

    Some thoughts: If you can stand the metaphor, the boat is never to be docked and abandoned, because the boat, too, is part of what unfolds. Put it this way: it is not thought that is to be discarded, but, I'll call it derivative and inhibitive meanings, these have to be put aside. Science has a lot to say, but it presupposes a lot, too. It presupposes the very structures of experience that lay the groundwork for observation. Continental philosophy goes here, to this grounding. Eastern meditation practices cut to the chase, so to speak. Where following through on Husserl's reduction ("Ideas" is a very worthy read!) is long and it wrestles with assumptions over and over, meditation simply cancels meanings, that is, as I see it, cancels the superstructure of pragmatic meaning that conceals the world. Nothing at all stops one from talking about this, but the talk will be filled with a strange uncanny problematic, because what unfolds is not, as Heidegger would put it, a being, or beings; but being as such. This pervasive "suchness" is "open" not simply to further interpretative work, but is existentially open. All concepts are interpretatively opens concepts, meaning if you track them down, you run into Derrida. This can remain in its mundanity and can stay, as you say, in a flourish of words, but this "metanoia" needs unpacking.
  • Astrophel
    435
    Wait. Why missing in Kierk? Isn't that exactly his point? Arriving at belief through reason is "inferior" to arriving by a leap.ENOAH

    Let him tell you:

    my courage is still not the courage
    of faith and is not something to be compared with it. I cannot
    make the movement of faith, I cannot shut my eyes and
    plunge confidently into the absurd;18 it is for me an impossibility,
    but I do not praise myself for that. I am convinced
    that God is love; for me this thought has a primal lyrical
    validity. When it is present to me, I am unspeakably happy;
    when it is absent, I long for it more vehemently than the
    lover for the object of his love. But I do not have faith; this
    courage I lack.


    And later:

    The dialectic of faith is the finest and the
    most extraordinary of all; it has an elevation of which I can
    certainly form a conception, but no more than that. I can
    make the mighty trampoline leap20 whereby I cross over into
    infinity; my back is like a tightrope dancer's, twisted in my
    childhood, and therefore it is easy for me. One, two, three—
    I can walk upside down in existence, but I cannot make the
    next movement


    For me, K takes this too far. He was, after all, a religious thinker. His complaint against the church was with the culture of the church, not the church as a standing historical institution. But then, his analyses are not religious. Original sin he calls a myth, though no worse than the myths of intellectuals. He didn't see that religion taken seriously, as he took it, was dangerously too disengaged to evolve ethically, which is something we see today in the narrow provincialism of the far right. Philosophy's job is negative, bringing question and doubt to basic ideas. What emerges is more pure, even if it is Derrida telling us language has no meaning outside of context. Things like Mill's "do no harm" are vague yet authoritative. "God is love" is like this. Int he simplicity lies the key, for after all, what IS the "referent" of this notion love? Once it is divested of the assumptions that fill this concept, and ground it in everydayness, what is ls after this reductive movement?

    This is where post Husserlian thought takes one. Right to the place where it is realized that the world is a staggering presence, irreducible.
  • Astrophel
    435
    FLY
    A fat fly fuddles for an exit
    At the window-pane,
    Bluntly, stubbornly, it inspects it,
    Like a brain
    Nonplussed by a seemingly simple sentence
    In a book,
    Which the glaze of unduly protracted acquaintance
    Has turned to gobbledly-gook.

    A few inches above where the fly fizzes
    A gap of air
    Waits, but this has
    Not yet been vouchsafed to the fly.
    Only retreat and loop or swoop of despair
    will give it the sky.
    Christopher Reid, Expanded Universes,
    Ludwig V

    Brilliant! But has there not been anything vouchsafed for the fly, that is, embedded IN the delimited world of fly existence. Not the sky that summons like an impossible "over there," as the fly conceives the over there from the "in here" that establishes the distance to be spanned. It depends on the details of the carry over of meaning from the metaphor to the relevance at hand, which is our metaphysical quandary. A Buddhist would say the distance between fly and exit is no distance at all. We are always already the Buddha! Wittgenstein would agree, but in his own way. We should be silent about that which cannot be spoken, but only to leave the latter unconditioned by interpretative imposition, that maligns and distorts. For Witt, he says briefly, the good is the divine. Language has no place here.
  • Astrophel
    435


    Just looking over what I wrote to make sure my failure to proofread didn't cause a calamity and found this: "Well, if this is meant to be a summery, then one should dismiss the actual things he says."

    Of course, it should read, one should NOT dismiss.
  • ENOAH
    288


    Yes, I see that he personally could not "transcend" to the leap. I meant for SK, ideally, a leap from reason, also a suspension of the ethical; all of which brings me back to seeing a subtle resemblance Zen. Not that either SK nor Zen deny reason and ethics their proper functions; but both recognize a "ultimate" truth/Reality which I'd not accessible by either means.
    But your reply is informative. Thank you
  • Wayfarer
    20.7k
    Original sin he (Kierkegaard) calls a myth, though no worse than the myths of intellectuals.Astrophel

    Odd, that. I would have thought with all his musing about sin and despair, that it would seem a self-evident truth to him. My personal belief is that it signifies something profoundly real about the human condition, albeit obviously mythological.

    the absurd is the experience one has when realizing that whatever stands before one in the world that might be defining as to their true nature, their essence, turns out to be contingent, ephemeral, and entirely "other" than what they are.Astrophel

    Also oddly, perhaps, this resonates with Buddhist attitude of no-self (anatman) and emptiness (śūnyatā), which is also precisely about the lack of any intrinsic self. But in Eastern culture, so far as I know, that is not described in terms of the absurd.
  • Astrophel
    435
    Also oddly, perhaps, this resonates with Buddhist attitude of no-self (anatman) and emptiness (śūnyatā), which is also precisely about the lack of any intrinsic self. But in Eastern culture, so far as I know, that is not described in terms of the absurd.Wayfarer

    Well, you know this is the way it leans among those I pay attention to. Camus no doubt word this differently. And Heidegger doesn't talk like this. He takes one's finitude to be the only way to construct an authentic self. Camus' Sisyphean rock pushing is nihilistic, and he argued explicitly against Kierkegaard. What binds them is realizing that freedom is our existence. Freedom is the standing apart from the lived life and affirming it from a distance. THAT kind of existence doesn't possess you anymore.

    Heidegger, later on, affirmed the value of gelassenheit, the yielding to the openness allowing the world to "speak," if you will. A very important move, I think, for even if one's thoughts are constructs of historical possibilities, there is in this openness things that are alien to this. And language may gather around this and discover a new "primordiality."

    Buddhists and Hindus (metaphysics aside) cut to the chase.

    Odd, that. I would have thought with all his musing about sin and despair, that it would seem a self-evident truth to him. My personal belief is that it signifies something profoundly real about the human condition, albeit obviously mythological.Wayfarer

    Kierkegaard thought that reason and existence were a train wreck. What can be said is qualitatively other than what IS. No wonder that Wittgenstein valued K so highly.
  • Joshs
    5.2k
    Heidegger, later on, affirmed the value of gelassenheit, the yielding to the openness allowing the world to "speak," if you will. A very important move, I think, for even if one's thoughts are constructs of historical possibilities, there is in this openness things that are alien to this. And language may gather around this and discover a new "primordialityAstrophel

    He confirmed it early on, too, but he said that people misread Being and Time. For H. , both early and late, one’s thoughts project historical possibilities from ahead of oneself. History comes from the future, not the past.
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment