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Veggie dancer

Is there a point?

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Moonsmith

There are so many questions that I have about multiple personality disorder.

I'm not discounting hive mind but I can't see how information is shared, stored and retrieved between the components whether or not there is a queen.

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Ellinas

How can it be shown that hardware and software (in computer terms) do not represent consciousness?  I do not believe that they do so, personally, but I recall seeing it argued that a smartphone is, at least to some extent, conscious.  If consciousness is nothing more than a sophisticated organisation of information exchange, why not?

Whether consciousness is seen as local and emergent seems to me very much a matter of assumption based on how a person sees his own universe.

The point about how some ultimate consciousness, of whatever form, "transmits" (which I take to mean interacts, with or gives rise  to, discrete consciousness) is indeed a question that needs answering.  But, whilst the inability to answer it is the traditional stick with which to beat Cartesian dualism, it seems to me no more susceptible to an answer than the question of how something as conscious as a mind can emerge from something as unconscious as a wet sponge.  The question "who is the observer?" seems to me to be equally applicable in both instances.

The question as to why no more convincing priests seems to me to assume that an ultimate consciousness also has personality and the inclination to talk to us mere mortals.  Neither is a "given".

So - what is the point...?

The more I think of that question, the more I am driven to conclude that we each frame our own purpose regardless of belief system.   Mind is emergent and dependent on matter?  It has a point as the sense organ of the universe.  It has no point as the universe itself has no discernible will or aim, but only blind mechanism.  There is an ultimate consciousness, call it god or whatever else?  Mind has a point as whatever is framed by that ultimate consciousness.  It has no point as the ultimate consciousness has no right to assert purpose - at least none other than a rather feudal "I can so I will".  Any belief system, if questioned to its' foundations, ends in nihilism.  Purpose depends on setting boundaries as to where the questions should end.

The point?  Perhaps the question is: where do you want to find it?

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Moonsmith
13 hours ago, Ellinas said:

it is the traditional stick with which to beat Cartesian dualism,

I didn't know that.  How useful.  A philosophical bludgeon.  Problem is that it still needs an answer.  There does not yet exist even a pointer as to where such an answer might be found.

13 hours ago, Ellinas said:

it seems to me no more susceptible to an answer than the question of how something as conscious as a mind can emerge from something as unconscious as a wet sponge.

Perhaps I am looking down the other end of the telescope.  Whether it is real or illusionary we experience consciousness.  This experience is common to human beings as far as we can determine from discussion and observation.  Consciousness clearly involves information and information flow much of it but definitely not all, inbound from awareness.  The rest [that which has provenance] is instinctive and/or hard wired into development.  When that information flow is interrupted consciousness ceases.  I am not talking about input-storage-retrieval - process and response as in a computer but a total, constantly fluctuating, flowing mass if information flowing around my neural system. It is the halt in this information flux that halts consciousness not the wet sponge or the wiring, the individual elements of which can be persuaded to "function" after I'm dead.  Each to their own but I prefer to look at this in the way nature has been demonstrated to work its systems, rather that force myself to have faith in something for which I can find no evidence at all.

So - and once again this is just me - I don't pay my money and I don't make a choice.   I prefer to build on what has been observed as typical of nature and project, albeit quite a long way,  from that.  For me [and only me!]  an alternative for which no mechanism has ever been even partially observed isn't an option.  If I have to make choices it will be as to which mechanisms, maybe yet to be discovered,  stand robust inspection.  If consciousness is ever shown to be a wi-fi programme or a cloud app. I shall bow and concede, far far greater people than I have done so.  However I doubt that I shall live that long.

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Earthdragon
23 hours ago, Ellinas said:

Mind is emergent and dependent on matter?  It has a point as the sense organ of the universe.  It has no point as the universe itself has no discernible will or aim, but only blind mechanism.

Or one could view the peopling (a lá A. Watts) of this planet as an example of the universe fulfilling a developmental purpose. Given our faculties one could see the purpose being to give rise to a being who is able to care about existence and growth...

 

23 hours ago, Ellinas said:

There is an ultimate consciousness, call it god or whatever else?  Mind has a point as whatever is framed by that ultimate consciousness.  It has no point as the ultimate consciousness has no right to assert purpose - at least none other than a rather feudal "I can so I will"

I can see some people thinking along those lines but most Pagans will surely assert freedom of their will as being primary. And surely the concept of "rights" is a cultural one. I suppose one might ask what is the culture belonging to a supreme consciousness...?

23 hours ago, Ellinas said:

Any belief system, if questioned to its' foundations, ends in nihilism.  Purpose depends on setting boundaries as to where the questions should end.

I'm intrigued by this assertion. Moonsmith states that all he has are his beliefs whereas you say that all beliefs are ultimatley nihilistic. 

I think developing ones beliefs can be most valuable and in addition belief is for some a small part of the picture.   Alot of paganism is not about belief but rather action and relationship...orthopraxy rather than orthodoxy

And there are other categories of purpose which come more from non rational frames of reference based more on the intuition and knowledge through direct experience...

Ask a Gnostics for example...

8 hours ago, Moonsmith said:

I prefer to build on what has been observed as typical of nature and project, albeit quite a long way,  from that.  For me [and only me!]  an alternative for which no mechanism has ever been even partially observed isn't an option.

But of course many mechanisms are elusive and we are left with the outcomes which are observeable rather than their cause. What we direct our attention at is very often the result of what culture we are immersed in...

And then of course there's the Dunning Kruger effect. So its a good idea I think to see oneself as perpetually capable of this. Whatever I look at I try to see the blank areas amongst what seems coherant. 

Edited by Earthdragon

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Ellinas

Earthdragon:

My point was heading in the direction of a reductio ad absurdam.  The examples of what would or would not represent a "point" are not meant to be exhaustive of all possible  alternatives.  I merely sought to point out that there is no assertion of "point" that cannot be questioned, and, unless checked (presumably with reference to where you believe the check should be) that questioning leads to no purpose being accepted.  I am not claiming nihilism, only that we cannot find "purpose" without some self-imposed boundary as to where purpose has meaning.

MS:

It comes back to what makes sense to the individual.  Building from observation is perfectly valid - but from my end of that telescope no observation has explained my conscious mind and I find myself at a loss as to how it could.  The flow of information remains electrochemical impulse.  As I asked rhetorically in a previous post - "where's the observer?".  I can see no reason to believe that those impulses can be "aware".  In your universe, that may be a viable proposition.  It is not in mine.

I find illusory consciousness a contradictory concept.

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Earthdragon
12 hours ago, Ellinas said:

I merely sought to point out that there is no assertion of "point" that cannot be questioned, and, unless checked (presumably with reference to where you believe the check should be) that questioning leads to no purpose being accepted

What is the basis of that statement? Just wondering how you came to this conclusion? Is it a philosophical assertion or based on observation or true for your own self only?

To put things into a context would you agree that questioning implies a kind of rational analysis whereas purpose deriving from knowledge can cover many areas of human experience which aren't encompassed by rationalism. Belief and purpose aren't just a product of the mind...

If I consider how it feels to love something or somebody ( alot of people would identify purpose with such a feeling) - I don't see it that questioning a purpose ( or belief in that purpose) that derives from such an experience need end in nihilism?

 

 

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Earthdragon
On 9/24/2018 at 10:11 PM, Ellinas said:

The point about how some ultimate consciousness, of whatever form, "transmits" (which I take to mean interacts, with or gives rise  to, discrete consciousness) is indeed a question that needs answering.  But, whilst the inability to answer it is the traditional stick with which to beat Cartesian dualism

Interested in this as well , Ellinas. Could you just explain this part for me?

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Ellinas

To deal with your second question first - that is simply my having seen reference to Cartesian dualism (i.e: mind/consciousness/spirit/whatever you want to call it is separate to matter) on a number of occasions, every time in the context of a materialist riposte asking "how does a no physical mind possibly interact with a physical body?"  I took that to be what MS was getting at in his comment about transmission.  It's nothing more than the argument that, if we can't observe a mechanism, then it doesn't exist.

Regarding your first set of questions:

Is it a philosophical assertion?

Only in the sense that I thought about it.  I'm not aware of this being the basis of any philosophical school or argument, though I can't say it isn't.

Is it based on observation?

Not really.  I thought about it whilst thinking about this thread and the ideas coalesced whilst typing.

Is it true for your own self only?

No idea.  Maybe someone out there has thought the same thing.

Would you agree that questioning implies a kind of rational analysis?

Yes.  Also non acceptance of the thing questioned, at least until the questioner receives an answer he finds sufficient.

Would you agree that purpose deriving from knowledge can cover many areas of human experience which aren't encompassed by rationalism?

Not sure precisely what this means.  I accept that people find purpose through their assumptions providing a framework within which the answer to "what's the point?" is found sufficient.  Question those assumptions, however, and the purpose, at least, needs redefining.

Would you agree that belief and purpose aren't just a product of the mind?

No.  What else would they be?  I find my beliefs and any appreciation or sense of purpose in my mind, and would not know where else to look for them.

Regarding your final paragraph - depends.  The question is how far to take that questioning.  If I were determined to continue to ask "what's the point of that, then?" every time that self same question is given an answer, I suspect I would very quickly get to the issue of "what's the point of life", or even, "what's the point of the universe" - i.e. would it matter if it all ceased to exist tomorrow.  I also find it very difficult to formulate an answer to that other than in the negative - and if I did formulate one, there would be some element of it of which I could then ask: "so what's the point of that, then?"  Hence I think purpose is found in relation to limited issues - where we set the boundaries of how far we consider (instinctively, I suspect) it appropriate to enquire.  In other words, we tend to hold certain ideas as intrinsically valuable, and as giving value to all that pertains to them.  Take away that assumption of intrinsic value, and we are in a wasteland of enquiry with no ultimate answers, and no discernable purpose.

I think...

 

Edited by Ellinas
A missing definite article.

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Moonsmith
On 9/25/2018 at 9:22 PM, Earthdragon said:

orthopraxy rather than orthodoxy

I take orthopraxy to mean "correct action" which doesn't fit at all well with my Paganism. 

If I were to read this quotation as - What Pagans do is more significant than what they  - think? say? debate?  - then I could not say one rather than the other.  Given my very loose interpretation of the quotation [ to which I do not hold you ED 🙂 ] I would say that the very flexible and idiosyncratic orthopraxy found in many differing Paganisms is illuminated by very local orthodoxy which is further informed by personal experience and immediate circumstance which then modifies orthopraxy and round you go again.

On 9/25/2018 at 9:22 PM, Earthdragon said:

many mechanisms are elusive and we are left with the outcomes which are observeable rather than their cause.

Indeed and there's the rub.  Our species has always been very reluctant to say "I dunno".  In the past, nature's effects were thought to be reasoned in the same way that humans reason.  Cause has therefore been attributed to one or more superminds build in the image of our own.  In the beginning man made god and in his image made he him.  This legacy persists very strongly to today. 

One of my favourite philosophical tools is Occams Razor    Do I really cut away all explanations but the simplest?  Well yes but it also has to be credible and consistent with other thinking that I have found to be robust in my universe.  Occam's Razor isn't a law. Simplest isn't always the easiest to understand either.

Most, if not all my understanding comes from a personal interpretation of reported information - that is why I say that all I have is belief - I believe sources that are credible to me, further believing that at the end of the credulity chain there is evidence.  As Hume said, "A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence"  and so wrote off metaphysics!

So

Thus far I am not aware of any form of transmission received from beyond my body other than those available to my senses.  I see no reason to look beyond my body for my mind or my consciousness. 

 

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Veggie dancer
9 hours ago, Ellinas said:

Regarding your final paragraph - depends.  The question is how far to take that questioning.  If I were determined to continue to ask "what's the point of that, then?" every time that self same question is given an answer, I suspect I would very quickly get to the issue of "what's the point of life", or even, "what's the point of the universe" - i.e. would it matter if it all ceased to exist tomorrow.  I also find it very difficult to formulate an answer to that other than in the negative - and if I did formulate one, there would be some element of it of which I could then ask: "so what's the point of that, then?"  Hence I think purpose is found in relation to limited issues - where we set the boundaries of how far we consider (instinctively, I suspect) it appropriate to enquire.  In other words, we tend to hold certain ideas as intrinsically valuable, and as giving value to all that pertains to them.  Take away that assumption of intrinsic value, and we are in a wasteland of enquiry with no ultimate answers, and no discernable purpose.

I think...

 

That seems a bit of a negative perspective Ellinas. Just because you can't put a definite answer on the question what is the point doesn't mean you have to conclude there is no point.

 Just because you don't know why doesn't mean there is no why.

It's like asking how does the universe exist then getting to a point you can't answer and concluding that it doesn't exist because how could it?

9 hours ago, Ellinas said:

 

Would you agree that belief and purpose aren't just a product of the mind?

No.  What else would they be?  I find my beliefs and any appreciation or sense of purpose in my mind, and would not know where else to look for them.

 

Of course purpose is not just a product of the mind: for example the purpose of my lungs is to breath air: the existence of that purpose has nothing to do with my mind. There could still be a purpose even if no one ever thought to wonder what it might be.

Belief, you could argue is all about what you think in your mind but what I think #Earthdragon might have been getting at is that belief is also about what you feel not just analysis. There is so much we cannot understand we don't have to limit our experience of the world and our beliefs to only include what we can completely explain.

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Earthdragon
7 hours ago, Moonsmith said:
On 9/25/2018 at 9:22 PM, Earthdragon said:

orthopraxy rather than orthodoxy

I take orthopraxy to mean "correct action" which doesn't fit at all well with my Paganism

I don't think outside stipulation of correct practice that is relevant for most of person-centred paganism. Put is this way I take it you don't set out to practice Druidry incorrectly. That is according to your own formulation or interpretation of its practice..

 

7 hours ago, Moonsmith said:

As Hume said, "A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence"  and so wrote off metaphysics!

And a rather sweeping conclusion that is. Of course we all live and theorise according to our own judgment and credibility of sources itself is a matter of judgment. 

But should one not have any sort of experience which could be due to the possibility of a non mechanistic , non-reductionist explanation (A possibility that isn't ruled out by observations one can make ) then dismissing that possibility is also dismissing the relevance of all the evidence and sources available that show otherwise. 

The value attached to certain methodology and information above others ends up in a philosophical debate and that fact itself tends to suggest that philosophical and psychological sciences are primary rather than physics for example. 

All science depends on postulates and I propose that it is the area that these postulates inhabit  that determines the domain of operation of said sciences.

I have become aware of a branch of philosophy called phenomenology. This looks at the subjectivity of all information coming in from the outside and views the content of the world  principly as events within consciousness rather than objects and ends up emphasising the senses and the body in terms of relating to the outside world. This is in keeping with how my thinking  has developed in the last few years as a result of spiritual practice.  It also cultivates sensitivity and an avoidance of seeing sentient beings as objects!

I think starting from an approach of paying attention to the body and the senses, even if the mental map that gets us to that point is different, can give a similar potential for expanding our experience of life which most of us would aspire to. 

My interpretation of that is that it fits in with the  capacity of the soul to reach towards growth, and perhaps it is the " "universal soul" which has instigated or postulated existence in such a way that this is the case!!

See I was a mathematician but I realise that not being happy doing mathematics ( even though I found it elegant and fascinating) was partly due to feeling too contained by its scope. I have no problem not dismissing something because I has no direct mechanistic evidence of it. That is aside from the mass of evidence that there is a non mechanistic aspect to existence. 

I keep mindful of what is concrete physically and what is coherent but "mechanistically unproven" in a spiritual sense. The two don't contradict each other for me and I do feel there is a bridge of evidence that crosses the two areas in some places, sufficiently to give even more solidity to that spiritual coherence than my own experience of it gives me. 

 

 

Edited by Earthdragon
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Earthdragon
10 hours ago, Ellinas said:

how does a no physical mind possibly interact with a physical body?"  I took that to be what MS was getting at in his comment about transmission.  It's nothing more than the argument that, if we can't observe a mechanism, then it doesn't exist.

What credence do you give to that? Isn't it more accurate to say if I cannot observe a mechanistic then I can't describe it or explain it? It possibly does exist...

Looking at it scientifically it is clear that events are primary -they are directly observable. There is consciousness. Until it is explained fully in a mechanistic way including the anomalies which are known to exist separate to the usual data then non mechanistic and alternative theories are on the table as possibilities.

 

10 hours ago, Ellinas said:

Would you agree that belief and purpose aren't just a product of the mind?

No.  What else would they be?  I find my beliefs and any appreciation or sense of purpose in my mind, and would not know where else to look for them.

 

The Cartesian split of mind and bodyb beingseparate brings the problem that you highlight. But if we look at the content of our consciousness and see it as an event in its own right perhaps we don't need to be anchored to the mechanism of consciousness/matter debate. Maybe it is a bit of a red herring!

If I sit and meditate or pay attention to my senses I can become aware of my body more fully. The experience of my body is an event within my consciousness. Why then should I need to ascertain how my consciousness exists within my body?

We are familiar with the notions of conscious and subconscious and unconscious minds. But there are many events within consciousness that I see as purposeful as a primary impulse as opposed to an event within the content of the mind. The fact that we are discussing purpose at all must come from an impulse or an event that stimulated our minds to focus on it. Ok need we have developed our mental faculty so that we can choose  what to focus upon. But where is self inquiry coming from? Maybe it is one purpose of having a mind...

One could say that random mental patterns have developed into philosophical inquiry or that there is no such thing as choice as everything we do is the result of prior causes which existed before our decision was made but I don't buy these ideas as they sort of render life absurd. The absurdity of life to me  is more on the surface rather than fundemental (just seen that word differently for the first time in this context!). 

For example I can say that I have a purpose to avoid being ill. I go about it using the mind, my instinct, paying attention to my body and the sensations I get from it ( or rather the events in my consciousness that involve my body!). I don't see this purpose as inhabiting the mind before it is comes into being or even actioned. It simply is. 

Another example would be to relate or commune with other sentience. I might have the idea in my mind to initiate a conversation but when another sentient being is in my vicinity I would say there is a movement in myself to necome aware of the flow of information to and from that sentience and that this exists instantaneously. It initiates itself by itself and my mind ends up as a tool in the possible outcomes of that. That these interactions are relied upon for the growth and development of my being (as I perceive it) leads me to view that such interaction is a purpose that my existence has. Of course I have  repeated observation of these events. I didn't think it into actuality...

I guess I am looking at purpose as an event rather than a belief. If we do what is involved in that purpose? What are the parts that are present in purpose as an event? And where are they present?

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Moonsmith
4 hours ago, Earthdragon said:
12 hours ago, Moonsmith said:

As Hume said, "A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence"  and so wrote off metaphysics!

And a rather sweeping conclusion that is.

Indeed it is.  Hume's argument was so powerful that Kant saw the justice of it and was dismayed by this annihilation of metaphysics.  He spent the rest of his life trying to build a more robust metaphysics as set out in "Critique of Pure Reason" and subsequent work.

3 hours ago, Earthdragon said:

It's nothing more than the argument that, if we can't observe a mechanism, then it doesn't exist.

No you didn't say this ED - Ellinas said it 🙂

You disappoint me Ellinas.

.....rather:-

If I cannot observe a mechanism and can not even find a pointer indicating where I might begin a search for  evidence then I am capable of saying "I dunno."  What I shall not do is to imagine [or adopt another person's] imagined cause/mechanism for which I have no basis.  Of course the moment an element of evidence emerges then the hunt is on.  I have long seen research as a very real Wild Hunt.  In saying this I am mindful of the old saw: "Evidence is not the plural of anecdote" even when the anecdote is shared by a congregation of millions.

ED I am subject to the same emotions as are you, I think that I react to my universe and to people in much the same way as do you - or at least in a way that you wouldn't disapprove.  I see the beauties and the harshness of nature and recognise myself as part of that, as I think you do.  I just don't need, as fundamental to my existence, an entity which to my mind originates and persists only in imagination.

As to consciousness:  I am unable to detect evidence  for consciousness beyond DNA.  None whatsoever.   Tegmark conjectures that it is possible but does not suggest areas of search.  Should he produce a hypothesis in my lifetime I may return to this issue with other eyes. Right now I have no need of a super consciousness which I am unable to discover.  It doesn't further or illuminate my experience of now.

As to purpose:  It may be that existence is sufficient purpose in itself but I am unable to escape the thought that existence without awareness isn't existence at all.  It's an irritating thought and I wish I hadn't had it.

Edited by Moonsmith

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Earthdragon
20 hours ago, Moonsmith said:

Indeed it is.  Hume's argument was so powerful that Kant saw the justice of it and was dismayed by this annihilation of metaphysics.  He spent the rest of his life trying to build a more robust metaphysics as set out in "Critique of Pure Reason" and subsequent work

Indeed a major staging post in Western philosophy. Showing that rationalism dominated not only Scientism but metaphysics in the academic and religious edifices of the time as well. Basically if you think it and believe it then it's true.

Hume was in keeping with the "unholy Trinity" that Blake railed against it in his great works in his own inimitable way (yes he was Christian but more of a Gnostic than anything and a few centuries earlier would probably have been burned by the Catholic Church).

Seeing these patterns in history does help us to understand the cultures ,historically,  that have led to the paradigm that we live in today. As with all perspectives if we inhabit just one place in our thinking then we have a restricted view. In the Traditional Druidism that I practice it is encouraged to explore different paradigms and perspectives within them. That involves suspending judgment and looking to understand. By doing so we enter into what Bohm refers to as a true dialogue. Coming out the other side of that we can return to our original paradigm and perspective and be more informed through the process. This works not just on our thinking bit has an emotional aspect too. (It means we are more likely to meet others with parity rather than a feeling of superiority or inferiority for example).

This kind of approach can lead to the interpretation of the world as having no one definitive interpretation but rather that reality is made up of different perspectives non superior to the other. We might even conclude that we can draw from different paradigms to inform an approach to different spheres  of life. Regarding technology for example I'm not about to abandon all technology beyond smelting big ore and living in an Iron-age style dwelling. (Might be good for a while though! 🙂 ) On the other hand I am certainly not forgoing my spirituality and the power of the imaginatio because it isn't in keeping with Hume or Kant for that matter.

A conclusion we may reach though is that the outcomes of a particular paradigm may hold greater influence over the collective course of society than others. In our world the technological and scientific basis of our world view tends to encourage seeing the world as made up of objects that can be arranged according to our benefit and that unfortunately, in my view has been extended into how people are viewed by say corporations. 

Paganism is mostly nature-based and most Pagans I have spoken to don't see the content of the world as mechanistic objects but having a value beyond objectification.

Going back to paradigms, you're a storyteller, MS, how about a paradigm that sees the world as a narrative? How would that narrative use history to inspire it and create meaning that way? What would the point of the story be, ultimately?

 

Edited by Earthdragon
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Ellinas

Hmm.

That's a lot to tease out and I have limited time.  So, in brief:

Veggie Dancer: I don't agree that it is "negative", though my dislike of the terms "positive" and "negative" may colour that view.  As far as I am concerned, it's just where my logic has taken me.  I agree that not knowing why does not mean there is no "why" - but I also maintain that every "why" is then subject to further investigation unless the individual decides (for whatever reason) that the identified purpose is sufficient.  This seems to me a process capable of going on practically ad infinitum.

That your lungs breathe air is, I suspect, better described as their function than their purpose.  Even if we see their existence as purposive, however, you remain in the position of identifying that purpose in a relativistic way regarding a limited enquiry.  I can see that idea as being around  two steps from the enquiry "so what's the point of life?" if you decide to refuse to accept that there is any real purpose in breathing to maintain life.

Please note, I have not (as far as I recall) indicated that this is my personal approach - I set my limits for day to day enquiries, as do most of us.  But, as an intellectual exercise, I've seen nothing to dissuade me that the idea I've put forward is valid.

Earthdragon: I give little credence to the idea that Cartesian dualism is destroyed by an inability to explain it.  Neither, however, is it confirmed.  We are very much in the realms of speculation, and we are all free to speculate as we find consistent with our view of life, the universe and everything.

I might be persuaded to some sympathy with your idea that consciousness is an event.  However, the appreciation of that, belief in or adoption of it as a viewpoint, remains a product of the mind.  I have yet to be satisfied one way or another as to whether mind and consciousness are truly synonymous, though I tend to use them interchangeably.

Your "purpose" of avoiding illness is probably instinctual.  By I don't see how you can avoid the conclusion that your instinct is merely a biologically hard wired inclination that acts upon your mind.  The source of your purpose may be biological necessity - but it manifests via the operation of your mind as just another influence upon it.  In fact, I have difficulty in seeing how anything that any of us have posted here in a desire to converse with sentience is anything other than a product of mind.

Moonsmith: you may be disappointed, but that formulation seems to sum up quite a few versions of the argument that I recall seeing over the years.  That you have a more nuanced approach is to your credit.

That existence without awareness is not existence seems to me to be, as an immediate reaction, a likely statement of the bleeding obvious.  Are our universes colliding?

 

Edited by Ellinas
Consistent underlining
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Capricorn
On 9/22/2018 at 4:49 PM, Veggie dancer said:

I'm confused what you mean by the numbered 'levels' is that like dimensions?.

No, rather like consecutive stages of consolidation of Consciousness/Being. An analogy would be water - where you have ice, liquid and steam - the stages being different yet all are water.

In the monistic/non-dual traditions these stages/elements are all part of One Essence/Being/Reality. In dualistic tradiitons (for example the classical Yoga tradition of Shamkhya) these are elements that make up the material universe. 

Systems differ between numbers of principles/tattvas. Usually there are either 25 (Yoga tradition) or 36 (Tanta tradition). The Tantric Goddess Tradiiton has a final 37th Tattva.

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Earthdragon
12 hours ago, Ellinas said:

I give little credence to the idea that Cartesian dualism is destroyed by an inability to explain it.  Neither, however, is it confirmed.  We are very much in the realms of speculation, and we are all free to speculate as we find consistent with our view of life, the universe and everything.

Just looking at the terms we are using , Ellinas, I think might help to spread out the content of our discussion to be able to view the ideas in relation to one another: 

When I look at the choice of words I and others use I sometimes see and feel resonances within myself with other ideas/events/memory which are clues to how I relate to what those terms represent. This process takes time and reflection but helps me to feel less as though I am inside my abstraction of reality and more viewing how those abstractions interact with reality. Can you see what I mean?

Indeed we are free to speculate and furthermore hopefully  free to follow the life's path which enables the growth of our consciousness however that happens for us. For some consciousness will seen as or chosen to be static no doubt.

As regards Cartesian dualism itself I see it as a very limited concept in the context of the levels of human experience. It seems to be  a clinging on to a last vestige of older and more encompassing traditions of philosophy that acknowledged different realms within existence and knowledge as arising within those different realms. Descartes himself experienced paranormal events but chose to omit any implications of those from his philosophical works. I suspect that the societal spitting off  of anything spiritual beyond abstraction into the domain of religion is the principal cause of this trend in Western philosophy. The influence and inherited fear instilled by the Church is no doubt largely the cause of that. 

12 hours ago, Ellinas said:

 I might be persuaded to some sympathy with your idea that consciousness is an event.  However, the appreciation of that, belief in or adoption of it as a viewpoint, remains a product of the mind.  I have yet to be satisfied one way or another as to whether mind and consciousness are truly synonymous, though I tend to use them interchangeably.

Bridging from "influence" and looking at "persuasion" - I know it is probably a simple turn of phrase as you use it but I do think that the way we use that type of word implies what sort of process our discussion is entailing (WRT my reference  to Bohm in my other post).

There is a view that the intellect has evolved in order to prevail in arguments more than uncover the truth of a subject. As such we can't rely on the intellect without unclamping it from that tendancy. If we are to be persuaded by anything it is hopefully without the power or satisfaction of being seen to be "correct" coming to bear..we are all human though lol.

"Viewpoint" I see as a possible description of an action of my mind in creating a concept or theory but for me it brings relates more to experiential knowledge - more like a subtle sensation spread within the ability to move around something as I look at it.

A bit like having a 3D picture on a card in front of me. The looking at it isn't with my mind it is inclusive of my eyes and is an event within my consciousness separate to abstract concepts. This is enhanced by moving my head slightly so that the three dimensionality becomes more pronounced as the image shifts on the card. Your question about the observer relates to this perhap?

If in our "minds eye" one tries to sense an idea and look at its relationship with what it represents then that may open the door for an appreciation of knowledge as being experiential as opposed to a product of the concepts within the mind only. 

12 hours ago, Ellinas said:

Your "purpose" of avoiding illness is probably instinctual.  By I don't see how you can avoid the conclusion that your instinct is merely a biologically hard wired inclination that acts upon your mind.  The source of your purpose may be biological necessity - but it manifests via the operation of your mind as just another influence upon it.  In fact, I have difficulty in seeing how anything that any of us have posted here in a desire to converse with sentience is anything other than a product of mind.

Conversely I could say that, in a spiritual sense, purpose would have to link to hard-wired biological instincts otherwise we simply wouldnt have made as a species. That physical and spiritual health can affect each other is without doubt.

Of course we do use the mind to analyse our health and develop thinking and behaviour around that. But the predominance of this use of the mind is due to our mechanistic paradigm.

As I regard it now the  purpose within being healthy is something that can be viewed. It doesn't exist as a concept in my mind. Yes it affects my thinking and of course I use my mind to enable future events which will hopefully enhance my health. I'm not sure that I use my mind to action events in the present. I think that is more of a movement of my will which seems a distinct thing to me. 

My mind formulates abstractions based on the past but pertaining to the  future whereas my will  can act in the present and actually interfaces with reality. 

I agree that language is a formulation of the mind. But it is also true that the majority of face to face communication (as opposed to "tinternetal" - not a typo it's a term I just invented for virtual) communication is non verbal and furthermore alot of the content of that is communication  we are not necessarily aware of. This is a measure of how little we are aware of the content of our own mind. 

How about seeing the mind like a huge pond. The pondlife is mostly out of sight ( in the subconscious ) . Larvae rise to the surface and rise above the pond ( thoughts are expressed).

Exploring the content of the subconscious is , for me an essential part of uncovering a sense of meaning and purpose. I feel that my sense of purpose has a symbiotic relationship with my concepts relating to it. I don't see it therefore are being a product of the mind. 

The pond analogy might useful to explore: gases dissolved in the water and are like a primordial element, events in the world  impact on the pond in the same way as light, rain, wind etc on the pond. Animals/insects/organisms can enter the pond like persuasions, coerced ideas, subliminal messages, conditionings, culture etc. The terrain the pond sits in pretty much affects the shape of the pond and where its content is restricted to. The terrain represents the current paradigm and the collective unconscious. 

 

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Ellinas

Cartesian dualism is, I suspect, at best a springboard from which to launch into other ways of viewing the concept of mind or spirit.  It has its' place, but is not the last word in such considerations.

I'm not entirely sure what it you mean by viewing how abstractions inter-relate with reality.  It's an idea that seems to make sense to me only if I equate it with a position of "oneness with the observer" and postulate ultimate consciousness as outside of whatever passes for reality.  Otherwise, I have to come back the thought that we are all inside and incapable of an overview of reality.

The observer would be the point, if any, at which I see mind and consciousness diverging.  The best I could explain that would be to say that consciousness is pure awareness and tends to passivity, where as mind is an active component entailing the day to day receipt of sensory input, the generation and manipulation of thought.  However, this is by no means a settled conclusion for me.  I cannot readily and consistently formulate an interaction of mind and consciousness on this basis, and I have no idea currently of where to fit in "will" to this structure.  I may well abandon it altogether in favour of saying that mind and consciousness are the same.  Certainly, I get the impression that this is playing with categories at a level that may prove unrealistic.  Then again...

Generally, I have the same issue with saying that knowledge is experiential rather than a product of concepts within the mind.  My mind is what experiences, or at least is where the experiences surface into awareness.  Therefore, I have no experience outside of my mind.  But then we come back to whether mind and consciousness are separate.

You seem to favour a compartmentalisation of these ideas - seeing mind as the thinking intellect.  Part of the issue here may be linguistic.  I tend to see "mind" as anything that goes on in my head of which I am aware or which influences that awareness (which would include the subconscious), with the proviso that I find it difficult to split mind from that awareness at all.

None of which readily helps me decide the OP question- what's the point...???

 

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Earthdragon
On 9/30/2018 at 4:51 PM, Ellinas said:

Cartesian dualism is, I suspect, at best a springboard from which to launch into other ways of viewing the concept of mind or spirit.

Agreed. Philosophical theories deal with the concepts rather than the reality. The challenge is to have the concepts reflect represent reality in a way that helps rather than hinders ( and that's always down to a matter of perspective).

 

On 9/30/2018 at 4:51 PM, Ellinas said:

It's an idea that seems to make sense to me only if I equate it with a position of "oneness with the observer" and postulate ultimate consciousness as outside of whatever passes for reality. 

Well this type of observation is present for me as a mode of the perception that involves stilling the rational mind. Easier said than done but I don't think it is an all or nothing event so to speak. I don't see what you mean by ultimate consciousness outside of reality? I think I am simply referring to an "unthinking observation from beneath the rational mind" rather than merging with the Godhead if that's what ultimate consciousness is?

 

On 9/30/2018 at 4:51 PM, Ellinas said:

The best I could explain that would be to say that consciousness is pure awareness and tends to passivity, where as mind is an active component entailing the day to day receipt of sensory input, the generation and manipulation of thought.  

This is somewhat consistent with some of my experience of certain types of meditation. The passivity in the moment belying a sustained effect in the days following a deep meditation. From this type of reaction I can't help but suspect that the passivity as it might be perceived is a result of observation being outward rather than towards its point of origin. Like if you have a camera mounted inside a light bulb which can point in any direction that is outward from the bulb. It won't ever capture footage of itself. But it will see the world differently as the light gets brighter and there is less stuff blurring the picture ( cleansing the doors of perception and all that).

On 9/30/2018 at 4:51 PM, Ellinas said:

I may well abandon it altogether in favour of saying that mind and consciousness are the same.  

I looked up the standard definition of "mind" as a result of this conversation...you know I seem to remember always seeing mind as synonymous with rationality. I think I noticed the theory of multiple intelligences in the late eighties because it fitted with this view I had. I don't know where this line of thinking of mine originated.

There are so many aspects to the inner working of the human being on a subjective basis that to lump it all together into one seems to be dumbing down what we all experience as reality. Perceiving the way the sunlight is reflecting off a cloud is very very different from trying to formulate a proof of Green's Theorem. 

In actuality I think there are multiple facets of what we might call mind in the most general sense that are operating or passive all the time. Whether we can shine a light on these facets depends not on formulating a concept of them but rather through observing them or at least their effects.

Going for simplification I can look at life and being in a way that says there is only consciousness and that is the observer. The rest of what we call "ourself" is illusory as regards our real identity ( which is the observer ) and consists of forms, patterns and capacities which have emerged from my heredity, life experience and conditionings. 

On 9/30/2018 at 4:51 PM, Ellinas said:

You seem to favour a compartmentalisation of these ideas - seeing mind as the thinking intellect.

Yes in my rationality I seem to have a tendancy to label things that appear disparate as different things rather than try to lump it together under one term. It seems clearer to me

 

On 9/30/2018 at 4:51 PM, Ellinas said:

None of which readily helps me decide the OP question- what's the point...???

The thread has touched on creating our own purpose. I think you contrasted purpose with function earlier. If we adopt a purpose mentally by relating to history and our anticipation of or plan for the future and we then share that purpose we are creating something outside of our own mind are we not? Just one strand of thinking on it....

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Earthdragon
On 9/9/2018 at 7:41 AM, Veggie dancer said:

On a personal level I think we decide our own purpose.

Hi VDancer, do you think you can express conclusions on your own purpose? 

 

On 9/9/2018 at 7:41 AM, Veggie dancer said:

And we can make ourselves more or less useful to the purpose of the species too

What do you think the purpose of our species is/might be? 

A few ideas that cross my mind today.

I can see the macro and the micro sort of reflecting each other. Just as we as individuals have "rogue" thoughts and tendancies so society has rogue individuals, just as we can be creative as an individual so groups (sometimes huge groups) can be creative, as we can become depressed and/or destructive so a society can become demoralised and/or destructive. If our interactions carry the capacity to ripple out then we all can affect the whole to some degree. 

Personal/Species overlap of purpose for me this morning:

Growing in conscience/ refining our framework for respecting boundaries and health.

Growing in intellect/intuition-meeting and exchanging with others to aid understanding. 

Growing in and practicing creativity.

Remaining rooted in the soil of the earth and to some degree in the intelligent maturity of past traditions of knowledge. 

Enhancing our sense of what is balanced in the world and in our own lives.

They sounds lofty aims perhaps but I think they can play out in simple but effective ways to whatever degree we work it.

Overall purpose: facilitate and empower people's inner spiritual work which is whatever they formulate as a best course of practice or state of being for them in this life. It is this work which most empowers individuals to be able to  contribute into the furthering of our purpose of the species.

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Earthdragon
On 9/13/2018 at 12:31 PM, Capricorn said:

taught by my tradition of non-dual Sanatan Dharma

Hi Capricorn, just thinking of the narrative theme as a paradigm; is there a cosmology to your tradition so to speak. Is there a conception of time being cyclical eg There are ages and a long time ago there was a golden age and we are currently in a time of darkness but things will return eventually to an age of enlightenment?

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1 hour ago, Earthdragon said:

Hi Capricorn, just thinking of the narrative theme as a paradigm; is there a cosmology to your tradition so to speak. Is there a conception of time being cyclical eg There are ages and a long time ago there was a golden age and we are currently in a time of darkness but things will return eventually to an age of enlightenment?

In my tradition (Advaita Shaktam) there is not per se a narrative cosmology, (as is for example present in the Norse Pagan lore). The natural science theories of the unfoldment of the universe from the Big Bang and the laws of physics are confirmed but not "embellished" with stories. Physics are part of metaphysics. 

(As a side note, I love how in Norse Paganism the manifestation of the universe and world/s is poetically described. Illustrating cosmological events in a way which does not contradict science, yet gives it meaning beyond the purely material.)

Yes, there are so-called 'yugas', i.e. ages. And yes, we currently live in the Kali Yuga ('kali' here meaning darkness, not to be directly equated with the same name of the Goddess in her role as 'She who takes away the Darkness of Ignorance'). Unfortunately, this yuga is the longest of all and is said to be going on for many thousand years to come. Fortunately, there are cycles within cycles, so if we are [very likely] in a dark age within a dark age, we can hope for a new golden age ('satya yuga', lit. age of truth) to emerge from the rubble we are reducing our world to by our greed and ignorance.

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Earthdragon

Thanks Capricorn .

Could you clarify whether this is a cyclical series of ages. That is dark followed by light followed by dark etc.

Either way what is the driving force behind these ages? 

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Moonsmith

Hmmmm.  While I've been away the debate has moved on so if I pick out a few points from what I have been missing I do not anticipate response.  Please do not break the current flow.  I'm also going to work backwards for no other reason than it is easier and I can see replies first.

3 hours ago, Capricorn said:

Unfortunately, this yuga [ Kali] is the longest of all and is said to be going on for many thousand years to come.

Interesting.  Who decided this Capricorn?  It seems to indicate some measure of prescience/predestination in your tradition.  Is that so? In another debate I am opposed to any attempt to rename the current period according to the geological sequence.  In my view that is for others who shall have some perspective on our times to decide. 

On 9/29/2018 at 10:08 PM, Ellinas said:

That existence without awareness is not existence seems to me to be, as an immediate reaction, a likely statement of the bleeding obvious.  Are our universes colliding?

That depends upon how you read my statement 🙂 .  Did the GN-z11 galaxy exist before we observed it via Hubble.  If it was our awareness that created it then we also created its 13.5 billion year history.  I am reminded of a conversation in Terry Pratchett's "Soul Music".

Was that shop there yesterday?    Its always been there.   I know that but had it always been there yesterday?

On 9/28/2018 at 8:36 AM, Earthdragon said:

Going back to paradigms, you're a storyteller, MS, how about a paradigm that sees the world as a narrative? How would that narrative use history to inspire it and create meaning that way? What would the point of the story be, ultimately.

Of course the universe is a story.  It probably has a beginning.  It certainly has a sequence, a structure and I suspect, a plot.  It is this story that we are trying to unravel as we repeat the bits of it that we believe we understand.  It is retold and revised to fit the understanding of the times just as were the old stories.

What's the piont of our story?  For most of us - entertainment - what else?   Neither Pythagoras nor Donna Strickland affect my love of family nor my rates demand.

I have a tendency to share AJP Taylor's view of history.  Asked what we might gain from it he replied: cynicism.  History is full of ideas and stories but it is just a few threads of narrative snatched from a huge tapestry of people getting on with their lives. It is written with all sorts of subjectivities and politics.  Spanish children are taught about the Armada differently than are British children.  In German and American history, D-day is not a British event but an American one.  Those subjectivities and politics will change over time as will the story.  We who live in Now have a huge advantage when interpreting history.  Our descendants will have a still greater advantage.  Communication means that there are a vast number of views on a much wider range of narratives and almost universal.communication makes them available.

On 9/28/2018 at 8:36 AM, Earthdragon said:

In our world the technological and scientific basis of our world view tends to encourage seeing the world as made up of objects

I have to disagree.  It is people who objectify  as did Roman society, feudal barons and Georgian sugar growers.  Science illuminates in ways that no other lens can [for me].  Magic is no less magic because someone knows how it works.  We know how the wind arises but that does not detract from the feel of wind in my hair or watching a forest sway like a wheat field.  I have just attended a wedding.  We watched a table magician.  I know perfectly well how she performed the trick but was just as dumbfounded as anyone by her dexterity and the outcome.

I have not posted this link for a few months, time that I did again.

 

 

 

Edited by Moonsmith
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Capricorn

Unfortunately I have only very little time now; won't have any time the next two days due to work; and virtually none for some time after as we are packing up to move house. Therefore I can only give very short answers for now, I apologise:

3 hours ago, Earthdragon said:

Thanks Capricorn .

Could you clarify whether this is a cyclical series of ages. That is dark followed by light followed by dark etc.

Either way what is the driving force behind these ages? 

Earthdragon, there are four ages, starting with a golden one, with the successive ages being of a decline in human virtue. After the dark age (kali yuga) a new circle starts (again, cycles within cycles). The driving force/s behind it are Maya (The Beautiful Lie of Illusion of Separation), Karma (Cause and Effect) and Prakriti (the 'Creating Principle'). (Again, sorry, I know this isn't full enough an explanation.)

2 hours ago, Moonsmith said:

...

Interesting.  Who decided this Capricorn?  It seems to indicate some measure of prescience/predestination in your tradition.  Is that so? In another debate I am opposed to any attempt to rename the current period according to the geological sequence.  In my view that is for others who shall have some perspective on our times to decide. 

...

 

 

Moonsmith,  while some [Vaishnava] Puranas (mythology) puts some exact numbers on this, I personally take this to be a poetic expression, i.e. a thousand years = a long time 😉 The nature of the yugas and the decline through the ages is said to be seen by sages, respectively anybody who is acutely attuned to observation. 

I'll be back to engage in further discussion as soon as possible. (Hopefully Saturday.)

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Ellinas

Earthdragon:

My comment as to oneness with the observer and ultimate consciousness was based on your seeing an inter-relationship with reality, and comes from my doubt that it is possible to have more than a very limited appreciation of the reality we live in because we cannot see it from the outside.  Of course, you may be referring to a limited appreciation of such an inter-relationship.

Regarding whether mind and consciousness are one, that is a point on which I am unconvinced either way.  Yes, we should not over simplify.  But neither should we over-complicate.  To me, mind tends to be the whole framework of appreciation.  I can only have feelings in my mind,  Emotions are in my mind.  So is logic.  This may be a semantic issue rather than anything any deeper.

When you say: "The thread has touched on creating our own purpose.  I think you contrasted purpose with function earlier.  If we adopt a purpose mentally by relating to history and our anticipation of or plan for the future and we then share that purpose we are creating something outside of our own mind are we not?  Just one strand of thinking on it...", whatever w are creating (which may actually be nothing more than an idea which can be copied, and amended, in the minds of others), the fact remains that it is a "purpose" only in the context of the assumptions and the limited circumstances found acceptable in each mind that receives it without further questioning.  Some minds might find it utterly pointless in the quest for something ever deeper.

Moonsmith:

That all rather depends on whether it's all part of some cosmic dream, I suppose.

 

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4 hours ago, Capricorn said:

Unfortunately I have only very little time now; won't have any time the next two days due to work; and virtually none for some time after as we are packing up to move house. Therefore I can only give very short answers for now, I apologise:

Moonsmith,  while some [Vaishnava] Puranas (mythology) puts some exact numbers on this, I personally take this to be a poetic expression, i.e. a thousand years = a long time 😉 The nature of the yugas and the decline through the ages is said to be seen by sages, respectively anybody who is acutely attuned to observation. 

I'll be back to engage in further discussion as soon as possible. (Hopefully Saturday.)

Best of luck with the move  Capricorn.

Thank you for taking the little time that you had to answer my question.  Please never feel pressure to indulge my curiosity 🙂

If and when you get time I would be interested if those who follow this sequence perceive an actual decline over the history of the yugas to date.

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Earthdragon
16 hours ago, Capricorn said:

The driving force/s behind it are Maya (The Beautiful Lie of Illusion of Separation), Karma (Cause and Effect) and Prakriti (the 'Creating Principle'). (Again, sorry, I know this isn't full enough an explanation.)

I'm very interested to understand a little more about these drivers of this cyclic structure to time. I already have more questions but in the meantime I'll read up on it 🙂

Hope the move goes smoothly. 

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18 hours ago, Moonsmith said:

I have to disagree.  It is people who objectify  as did Roman society, feudal barons and Georgian sugar growers.  Science illuminates in ways that no other lens can [for me].  Magic is no less magic because someone knows how it works.  We know how the wind arises but that does not detract from the feel of wind in my hair or watching a forest sway like a wheat field.  I have just attended a wedding.  We watched a table magician.  I know perfectly well how she performed the trick but was just as dumbfounded as anyone by her dexterity and the outcome.

Having disagreed with what I said, Moonsmith you may be interested that I agree with everything else that you have said ( or at least am in accord with my estimation of the basis of why you have said it )

In past epochs science and spirituality and religion were much more mingled together as I understand it. Just look at Pythagoras for example. A mathematician and an initiate of mystery schools (and importantly of not just his own culture! He had the benefit of comparing paradigms through experiencing them not just conceptualising them )

18 hours ago, Moonsmith said:

What's the piont of our story?  For most of us - entertainment - what else?   Neither Pythagoras nor Donna Strickland affect my love of family nor my rates demand.

This touches upon my view on thing in a most dynamic way! What is the point of a philosophy that doesn't affect one's experience of those aspects of life which we see and feel are the most important! Of course the way we bring ourselves to any particular practice or system of thought is as important as what we are studying... I'm sure there are certain adepts of all sorts who are dull and jaded by their experience 

 

18 hours ago, Moonsmith said:

Asked what we might gain from it he replied: cynicism

Well maybe cynicism is another aspect which plays out in tandem with the objectification that I spoke of earlier. ( I'm not accusing you or Taylor of this personally  of course!) .  I am making generalisations but gaining just cynicism from a study of history is a rather restricted or shall we say constricted outcome. I would propose the challenge in looking to history is partly in discerning the agendas which have degraded human freedoms and health. The rest comprises of many aspects that can be found to be inspirational. Or to use another term monumental. Monumental outcomes tap into the subconscious in powerful ways I feel. 

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6 hours ago, Earthdragon said:

discerning the agendas which have degraded human freedoms and health.

 

22 hours ago, Capricorn said:

The nature of the yugas and the decline through the ages is said to be seen by sages, respectively anybody who is acutely attuned to observation.

Both these statements puzzle me.  Presupposing that we are on the leading edge of the time curve so that the future is not available to you; which era would you prefer to live in to the current one 🙂  [New thread?]

Edited by Moonsmith
to control time!

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