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Archive for September, 2012


Plato never appears in his own dialogues, does he? As if to say, “these are not my words. Put no faith in them.”



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In the search for behavioral change we have several options. One of these many is to identify the response classes exemplified by our behaviors, thereby understanding their sources and influences. Another option is simply to behave otherly. The first of these approaches makes use of what Bergson called our awareness of quantity. Quantitative heuristics teach an awareness of common attributes with which we group token events into typical classes. The second approach makes use of what he called our idea of quality, which is more simply just an awareness of change.

In the first case we are treating our experiences as what Heidegger would have called a “standing reserve,”– a theoretically inexhaustible and anonymous “stuff” that technology can shape how we will. In the second case we are engaging what he called “Gelassenheit,” or “letting go.” In the first case we try to retrieve what created us; in the second we just create and create and create.

Modern behavior therapy uses the first to get to the second. Moreover, we realize that the product of therapy is a koan: rather than producing an additional piece of knowledge, it teaches a new way of being.


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we only lose what we love. is the solution to not love? i don’t think so.



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If you think about it the Christian “Good News” (Gospel) tradition requires the everlasting presence of “bad news” to perpetuate the hierarchies of traditional Christianity. For Gospelist-Pauline-Augustinian Christianity, eternal carnal sin is a prerequisite for their particular notion of the good life. Human lives for these early Christians are nothing more than the occasion of our submission to the divine word and an ascendency towards the eternal golden light of truth. The Pauline divine is forever external to the sin-ridden human coil and is the final arbiter of universal good and evil. What Kant, a Lutheran Pietist of the 18th century, did then is reverse this traditional relationship between the divine and the ethical. For Kant, morality is properly defined not as the divine word made flesh, but rather as that particular earthly outcome of each individual’s struggle with the morality vs. prudence tension. What the Christian allegory does for Kant is to help cast this struggle in terms of our sense of the sublime (universal) implications of our actions as contingent beings. Only in such a light can we come to understand our notion of the divine – not indeed as the source of the true moral light but rather as the product of each individual’s particular way of building a contingent and imperfectly sublime moral guide out of their unique struggles. Our ends are in fact just as rough-hewn as they seem to us, and no more. Rather than being the guarantor of truth everlasting, god then becomes a rather frail and contingent being, dependent on our own fleeting ability to renew every day a sense of wisdom that is only as real as our own wise efforts. Our sacrifices are only as noble as the next being willing to make the same sacrifice.



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To be less vulnerable you have to live, vulnerably.



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I want to live in a world with no love of fear and no fear of love.



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I’ve often asked myself
what I’d say
if someone asked me
suddenly
at the point of a gun
are you a buddhist?
What would a true buddhist say?


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Sometimes I think that it is better
not to be successful. To not be burdened
by its contingencies.


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I think that avoiding mind over matter metaphors might help us see things in a more useful manner. For example, let’s see if we can conceptualize thoughts and emotions as part of a single phenomenon, neither mind nor matter but both. On this interpretation we would find it most useful to see thoughts as one aspect of an emotional response that also includes whole body responses. It’s not that the emotion causes the thought any more than liquidity causes water to flow over a table when poured out. It’s that flowing over a table and all the other phenomenological manifestations of water at room temp are the liquidity. Likewise the thoughts and all other body reactions are the emotion. If we reify liquidity or emotionality then we will be looking for things that are not necessary for effective modeling of the events being observed. I think of it this way: events occur and my body responds. Sometimes those responses include thoughts sometimes they don’t. If the thought is not being thought, i.e. if my body is not thinking right now, then the thought doesn’t exist. There is no mind over matter because matter is mind and mind is matter. Sometimes.



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There are two possible solutions to the problem of human consciousness. One solution is to assume that the phenomena that we call life and non-life are representations of two distinct properties manifesting themselves to us in our awareness. This assumption is called property dualism. The problem that comes with property dualism is that it reminds us of our mortality. For if life is something fundamentally different from non life then we are faced with the notion that when this life ends the I that life created also ends. The traditional response to the anxiety of property dualism has been to posit the immortality of the I that is attached momentarily to the physical body. This leaves us with the unfortunate sense that life as we are living it is unreal and insubstantial, because the true reality of life everlasting lies elsewhere. An alternative to property dualism is the single world assumption. The single world assumption holds that we live in exactly one world with only one set of properties, however multifarious they may appear to us in our experience. Imagine walking around an object and seeing it from various perspectives. Each aspect that you visualize is slightly different but you don’t therefore conclude that each aspect represents a distinct and separate object, do you? Likewise experience may appear to us from time to time under different aspects, but on what rational basis do we justify a conclusion that this indicates different worlds within worlds? The odd thing about the single world assumption is that I am led to embrace all objects, from the hottest supernova to the most solitary flower as my brothers and sisters. And I know that whatever happens to this body at the time that we call death, my atoms will always be a part of the universe.



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