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What makes a philosopher?
Posted: 28 July 2008 10:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 46 ]  
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Salt Creek - 28 July 2008 07:39 PM

This is why I counsel people to keep their own counsel. If you’re stupid, your own counsel won’t be sufficient, but if you’re stupid, you won’t be capable of choosing a very good teacher, either. If you are clever enough to choose a good teacher, you don’t need one in the first place.

Me thinks this is very true.
It pains me to admit this but my younger self was a great fan of Tom Robbins’ novels, especially “Even Cowgirls get the Blues”.
I tried to re-read it a while ago and I was horrified that I was ever interested in this metaphysical horse shit but there remain two parts of the book that I still find very profound.
One, of course, was the hot lesbian encounters between big-thumbed, white-trash Sissy and that oh-so lickable Bonanza Jellybean and the other was the part where the Japanese ‘zen master’ called ‘the Chink’ waived his dick at anyone who tried to visit him to seek enlightenment as he knew that theirs was a pointless quest to begin with and that he could teach them nothing.

Mr. Creek and The Chink seem to have something in common, although one is, of course, a fictional character and the other a Japanese, oversexed recluse.

On a more philosophical note ( and I hope Unsmoked will not be too bent out of shape by this ) I can’t stand fucking ‘Zen masters’. What have these wanking monks ever done for the world ?

Nada, zip, rien.

Yo. Zen-boy (picture a New Yorker from Italian descent complete with flashy jewelry and crotch grabbing) I got your inner-peace right here.

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“You know I’m born to lose, and gambling is for fools.
But that’s the way I like it baby, I don’t want to live forever.”

From the autobiography of A.A.Mills, ‘The passage of time, according to an estranged, casual tyrant.’

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Posted: 29 July 2008 07:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 47 ]  
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Salt Creek - 28 July 2008 08:45 PM

I do not know enough about “hate” to practice it. What I do know about is science, and I can become impatient with those who do not quite have the hang of it. Doing science experiments helps one to become familiar with it.

I’ll return to your first question later.  In the meanwhile:  Did quarks and gluons exist before science discovered them?  Was oxygen ever phlogeston?

My point is that until science discovers hate to the degree that will satisfy you, it remains what it is just as oxygen, quarks and gluons remained what they are.

In the meanwhile, a science that you do not recognize (i.e. psychology) does have some names for hate and non-hate: For hate it uses the construct Ego boundaries.  As you have said “that is where I have been all along”. For non-hate it talks about permeable ego boundaries

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Posted: 29 July 2008 07:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 48 ]  
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Bruce B, do you still have the lyrics to the Edie Brickell & New Bohemians song, “What I Am”? Do you care to post them here?

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Real honesty is accepting the theories that best explain the actual data even if those explanations contradict our cherished beliefs.-Scotty

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Posted: 29 July 2008 08:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 49 ]  
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Beam_Me_Up - 29 July 2008 11:49 AM

Bruce B, do you still have the lyrics to the Edie Brickell & New Bohemians song, “What I Am”? Do you care to post them here?

But of course - I don’t still have them, but Google does:

I’m not aware of too many things
I know what I know, if you know what I mean
Philosophy is the talk on a cereal box
Religion is the smile on a dog
I’m not aware of too many things
I know what I know, if you know what I mean, d-doo yeah


Choke me in the shallow waters
Before I get too deep

What I am is what I am
Are you what you are or what?
What I am is what I am
Are you what you are or

Oh, I’m not aware of too many things
I know what I know, if you know what I mean
Philosophy is a walk on the slippery rocks
Religion is a light in the fog
I’m not aware of too many things
I know what I know, if you know what I mean, d-doo yeah

Choke me in the shallow water
Before I get too deep

What I am is what I am
Are you what you are or what?
What I am is what I am
Are you what you are or what?

What I am is what I am
Are you what you are or what?
What I am is what I am
Are you what you are or what you are and

What I am is what I am
Are you what you are or what?

Don’t let me get too deep
Don’t let me get too deep
Don’t let me get too deep
Don’t let me get too deep

Choke me in the shallow water
Before I get too deep
Choke me in the shallow water
Before I get too deep

Choke me in the shallow water
Before I get too deep
Choke me in the shallow water
Before I get too deep

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Posted: 29 July 2008 10:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 50 ]  
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“You say that I am ignoring the time-honored traditions of the Royal Navy?  And what might they be?  I shall tell you in three words.  Rum, buggery, and the lash!  Good morning, sirs.”

—Winston Churchill addressing the Sea Lords, 1912

More words worth pondering.

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  (Dryden, St. Euremont’s Essays, 1692.)

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Posted: 29 July 2008 10:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 51 ]  
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Bruce Burleson - 28 July 2008 09:26 PM
John Brand - 28 July 2008 07:47 PM

That’s my view of the matter and why I disagree with your dismissal of the Buddha’s teaching.

But remember what the quote said: “If you have any views at all, cut them right off and don’t let them continue.”  So, you should cut your “view” right off and not let it continue. Again, this goes in a circle. The logos at least has some content, some definition, which, from a Christian perspective, we find excellently portrayed in John 1:1-18. It is embodied in a person, and a person is something we can grasp. I John 1:1-5.

The quote from unsmoked has you jumping off a cliff without any goal in mind and not even know why you are jumping. That sounds insane.

“Choke me in the shallow waters before I get too deep” sounds like giving up because of fear of the unknown but for someone who knows how to swim, the deep waters are no boundary.  There is a balance between cowardice and heedlessness which the Greeks called the mean of courage. CanZen has said that the scientistic framework needs to protect “the epistemic structure we are building”.  And, I agree with him:  My two compromises ... cannot be let through the doors in their present form (reminded of [my] Trojan Horse comment to [CanZen] earlier) without destroying (compromising) the epistemic structure [they] are building.

However, I don’t think that the process of building an epistemic structure is compromised by learning to see how matters are fairing within the epistemic structures of others.  But to understand these structures requires what M. Scott Peck (The Road Less Travelled) calls bracketing or putting our ideas on hold while we jump over a cliff wink .  The epistemic structure we have been building won’t go away in the meanwhile.

Alan Watts has compared Zen to water and has said that one must let oneself go in order to float in the water “indeed in essence you become the water” (Watts).  “We are not an organism in an environment.  We are an organism/environment.”

All of this sounds very strange (and the doubts are good indicators of why it would not be wise to leap ... although jumping off a cliff with a bungee cord attached can be a lot of fun!).  But let’s look at the epistemic structure you are tapping into when you quote from John 1:1ff.  John is developing what has been called Logos Theology which was the result of Philo’s melding of Greek philosophy with the Jewish Wisdom tradition.  His writings provide us with a generic link between Greek thought and Jewish thought which helps us to understand what John is doing in his prologue.  Christ is a person (according to John) but he is also the appearance of the logos which is much wider in its scope than the bodily person of Christ.  This is important to understand first of all for interpretting John and, also, for understanding Zen.

From the writings of Justin Martyr we see one branch of thought in the early christian theology (the eastern view): 

“We have been taught that Christ is the first-born of God, and we have declared above that He is the Word of whom every race of men were partakers; and those who lived reasonably are Christians, even though they have been thought atheists; as, among the Greeks, Socrates and Heraclitus, and men like them”(First Apology.XLVI).

Another indicator of the direction of the eastern view is from Clement of Alexandria’s Stromata (Chapter V)

Accordingly, before the advent of the Lord, philosophy was necessary to the Greeks for righteousness. And now it becomes conducive to piety; being a kind of preparatory training to those who attain to faith through demonstration. “For thy foot,” it is said, “will not stumble, if thou refer what is good, whether belonging to the Greeks or to us, to Providence.” For God is the cause of all good things; but of some primarily, as of the Old and the New Testament; and of others by consequence, as philosophy. Perchance, too, philosophy was given to the Greeks directly and primarily, till the Lord should call the Greeks. For this was a schoolmaster to bring “the Hellenic mind,” as the law, the Hebrews, “to Christ.” Philosophy, therefore, was a preparation, paving the way for him who is perfected in Christ.

btw note the affinity between philosophy as schoolmaster and torah as schoolmaster (Galatians)

The other direction that early christian theology took was the western view aptly summarized by Tertullian “What indeed has Athens to do with Jerusalem” (Prescriptions against the Heretics.

Of course, history shows that the western view became the official view of the church under the imperial protection of Constantine.  But the decision meant the drafting of a canon and the exile, murder, etc. of all nonChristian views (among them the Logos view of Christ).  Consider the first clause of the Athanasian Creed:  “Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith; which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.

The church returns to the same kind of dogmatic fear mongering that had been common in the era before the axial age as represented in the west by Orpheus (which I mentioned in an earlier post to Homunculus).

What I draw from all of this is that Christ, like oxygen, is a person among whom everyone of us ‘live and move and have our being” (Acts 17).  There is no difference among any of us (atheist or non-atheist) except that some benefit from knowing certain things more particularly about the nature of, for example, oxygen (that you should not leave your ignition on in closed space, for example).  The other side of this coin is that oxygen can be discovered by anyone though they may call it by different names.  So Buddha called it dharma and Lao-Tzu called it tao. Alan Watts called it Zen.  It has the same properties no matter what you call it and access to it will always have the same conditions (i.e. non-hate or moving out from behind the epistemic structures we are building).

There is a great quote on the tao from C.S. Lewis The Abolition of Man:

In the older systems both the kind of man the teachers wished to produce and their motives for producing him were prescribed by the Tao—a norm to which the teachers themselves were subject and from which they claimed no liberty to depart. They did not cut men to some pattern they had chosen. They handed on what they had received: they initiated the young neophyte into the mystery of humanity which over-arched him and them alike. It was but old birds teaching young birds to fly.

So, my experience is that we should jump off the cliff with bungee cord thoroughly checked.  And, rather than being choked in the shallow water, we should learn to swim and what fun it can be to give oneself to the water.

For what its worth,

John

[ Edited: 29 July 2008 10:53 AM by John Brand]
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Posted: 29 July 2008 11:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 52 ]  
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Bruce Burleson - 28 July 2008 06:08 PM
unsmoked - 28 July 2008 05:23 PM

“To learn to be a Zen philosopher, first you should break through the seeds of habit with great determination, and then be aware of cause and effect so that you fear to do wrong.  Transcend all mental objects, stop all rumination.  Don’t let either good or bad thoughts enter into your thinking, forget about both philosophy and things of the world.  Let go of body and mind, like letting go over a cliff.  Be like space, not producing subjective thoughts of life and death, or any signs of discrimination.  If you have any views at all, cut them right off and don’t let them continue.”

If the writer followed his own advice and cut off any views that he had, how would he have ever written this paragraph, which constitutes “a view” about something? If he became aware of cause and effect, he would have “a view” about it, which he would then have to “cut right off,” at which point he would no longer have a view about it. How can he follow his own advice and still have any advice to give? This is why Zen Buddhism is BS - it travels in never-ending circles and goes nowhere.  At least Christianity has a particular view and direction, whether you agree with it or not.

Bruce:  At least Christianity has a particular view and direction.

Zen Master:  Put it down.

Bruce:  Put what down?

Zen Master:  I see you can’t put it down.

Jesus:  You must become like a little child to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

Zen Master:  Put it down.

Salt Creek:  Oh for Christ’s sake!

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“The simple fables of the religious of the world have come to seem like tales told to children.”  - Nobel Prize recipient - Francis Crick

“It is time we recognized the boundless narcissism and self-deceit of the saved.” - Sam Harris

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Posted: 29 July 2008 02:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 53 ]  
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Salt Creek - 28 July 2008 05:08 PM

You cannot name any problem that philosophy has solved.

Your request that I name a problem that philosphy has ever solved is puzzling.  It indicates the degree to which I am aiding you in becoming studiously ignorant.  Further, by turning the tables and asking me to validate philosophy, you give yourself the opportunity to deny, deny, deny as you have so often done in our conversations.

Asking what problem philosophy has solved is like asking what has a hammer and a nail ever done to help in the civilized world.  The Pythagoreans developed the idea of number (probably an influence from Pythagoras’ travels in Egypt and their use of planometric geometry in estimating arable land quantities) into a mystical system where number became a unit of the divine essence in which all things participate and to which all things are returning.  In our present day we use terms like quarks and gluons and atoms and neutrons and protons to describe the basic building blocks of the universe (Democritis and the Epicureans also used the atom as the basic unit).  However, quarks and gluons are invisible and only demonstrable through mathematical equations which puts us at the same level as the Pythagoreans except that we don’t call the basic building blocks divine.

That being said, what has number ever done to solve any problem?  Number is a contribution of philosophy. 

The root of epistemology is the Greek Episteme.  It means science and is so translated in Aristotle’s writings (i.e. the science of ship building, etc.).  What does episteme have to do with anything?  The science of Aristotle is foundational to the naturalistic worldview (in contrast to the Pythagoreans on this point who were transcendentalists).

The Stoics took the transcendental ideas of the Pythagoreans (via Plato) and developed the idea of natural law which became foundational for Roman Law. 

It was Islam with its emphasis on the contemplative life who returned Aristotle to the West (by taking western theologian on in constructive debate) and enabled Thomas Aquinas to make a distinction between science and theology. Science was viewed as the handmaiden of theology but both were thought to be moving in the same direction.

Copernicus took ideas from the legend of hermes and from Plato’s metaphor of the sun as the ultimate ground of being and challenged Ptolmaic geocentricism giving us (via mathematical proofs) a better understanding of how the universe operates.

Early in philosophical development the west was freed from the tyranny of the care and feeding of the gods.  It was questioning the nature of the gods that gave rise to the idea of the nature of man and the nature of the polis (conduct and goverance).

Roger Bacon and Francis Bacon as well as Karl Popper developed the experimental method (inductive as well as deductive).

But Philosophy is as Philosophy does:  It is only valuable in so far as it is practiced.  You are practicing philosophically developed principles everyday in your scientific inquiries:  How helpful is mathematics and the methods of observation to your profession?

Salt Creek - 22 July 2008 11:51 PM

Must one write at great length? Not at all. One must, however, be willing to polish one’s dick with jeweler’s rouge until the sparkle can be seen for miles. Not to mention the length.

So: No progress in nearly a week. Philosophers travel in their own circles. C = 2?r.

I expect that you will maintain your initial opinion throughout the debate.  It doesn’t seem to be in your nature to back down from these kinds of challenges.

Salt Creek - 28 July 2008 04:50 PM

We can see that there is somebody here being considered a “fuckwit” (and it ain’t Socrates, though some consider Socrates to be a fuckwit, as well). Oddly enough, that same somebody is trying desperately to persuade somebody else that happiness can be enhanced by trying to understand fuckwits, when it is only the fuckwits who will be happier upon seeing others attempt to simulate an understanding of the aforementioned fuckwits.

You are not interested in going behind the knowledge system that you are using everyday and that is your affair.  You don’t seem to realize (and this is where my input only makes you more studiously ignorant) that the west is a product of philosophy.

Salt Creek - 28 July 2008 04:50 PM

The great boon that philosophy has bestowed on me today is that my argument comes ex cathedra. Yes, indeed, in the house that science built are many mentions. Philosophy, on the other hand, has a long list of names for fallacies which take place in philosophical arguments, but no list of conjectures known to be incorrect.

Note the confusion:  Philosophy gives science its basis for knowledge claims and the scientistic think that Philosophy is of no value.

Another day ... another opportunity for SC to converge on [studious ignorance] rather than [knowledge]”. Inevitably.

All the asymptotically best in your convergence,

John

[ Edited: 29 July 2008 02:47 PM by John Brand]
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