Previous Entry Share Next Entry
Responses to my recent post
lethesbootslist
"I enjoyed reading your essay, and have great regard for diverse viewpoints. Why do you address this essay "to those with less culteral filtering" while the words are painted with dogmatic rationalist, Western, homeocentric ideology? By culteral filtering, what exactly do you mean?
Just as the masses used revelation as means for knowing truth, rational methods of thinking are the prevailing methods of knowing in Western societies today. That which cannot be proven by Science's laws is not considered real. The idea of an individual ego that exists alone, seperated from its surroundings by skin from air is central to the widely held fear of death. And where would our prized branch of science, psychology, be without belief in the psyche? no ego= no fear of death of something that never existed in the first place.
Science itself used to be called Natural Philosophy, a set of ideas of how reality might be. Now it is taken as absoulute, the limitless range for human knowledge is shortened to fit within its laws. What cannot be rationally explained is devalued and eventually becomes obsolete. Living breathing humans are reduced to objects, commodities, or consuming receptacles. People leave their traditions, severing primary relationships to the land by accepting shoes and teeshirts to join the Coca-Cola tribe, because there are no other tribes allowed. All variety is destroyed in the name of bullshit."

I would like to respond more specifically to the above quoted comment from anonymous to my recent post.
There has been a tendency recently to classify science itself as another sort of "mythology", but I am referring to the ancient tradition of human rationality and skepticism (as old as the species itself) that has culminated in what we now call science, natural philosophy, or any of a number of labels. Part of my argument in the essay is that many traditional societies were more rational in the way they adapted to their environments. As I stated in my original post, much of our cultural invention makes it unnecessary for the average person to interact with the environment in an inquiring or rational manner. This ability to think rationally is not something new, but in fact has been the basis of our survival for thousands of years. I am most certainly not referring to science in any narrow sense, as a reasonably close reading of my essay reveals.
By rational thought I mean all sorts of inquiry that is falsifiable and verifiable by experiment and research and practice, not something "revealed" or handed down from some authoritative religious or charismatic leader. The insights of various traditions of mystics, drug researchers, and the like are all equally valid where they help to describe the human psyche. Someone once said ..."to have an ecstatic vision is no more or less important than getting drunk." I agree. Different states of human consciousness are important, and some researchers have argued our species is defined by its relentless urge to experience altered states of consciousness. In short, we are the ape that likes to get high. We start out getting high as children by spinning ourselves dizzy; as young adults we experiment with available drugs legal and not; we fast, do yoga, or meditate to alter our mental state. My argument, with other rationalists, is that all methods that lead to altered states are capable of leading to insights (though some are much safer than others).
So where is the disagreement? Certainly the recent experimental and theoretical work in physics (string theory and the like), and cosmology is as profound as anything the mystics have come up with.
I do not believe a society where rational thought dominates necessarily has to become a "coca cola tribe". The predominance of corporation dominated culture in much of the world is, in fact, an example of a non-rational
approach to living. A person becomes a victim of the advertising clout of the super-rich and works at a corporation job which requires merely rote repetition to procure the essentials of survival. Many other economic systems could be devised that would be more humane, desirable, and rational.
It is reasonable to experience ones connection to the earth/universe in an intense emotional manner. It is no accident that many of the great scientists are also musicians, artists, and such. The discoveries of science show us we are a constantly evolving organization of information and matter made up mostly of - nothing - light reflects off of us while other particles go zipping through. I must confess that all of my most profound insights as to the nature of my existence have come not from religion or mysticism, but from the discoveries of science, or through the revelations of art. "Imagination constrained by physics", to quote another writer, is what we are.
It does not follow that I value the ravings of religious or mystical leaders. Their kind, not the inventors and researchers, are responsible for the current state of the world. (Unfortunately, it is almost always the more irrational who gain the power to wield the technologies that scientific discovery makes possible.) Whether or not such religious systems were adaptive in the past is a separate subject, but it is obvious now that such non-rational thinking is leading mankind to the brink of extinction (perhaps a good thing for the Earth after all?) at present. When presidents base important decisions on horoscopes or the advise of preachers, and nations with nuclear capability are controlled by the ravings of Mullahs, humanity must suffer. What cannot at present be rationally explained should be set aside as unexplained for now (in a rational manner) - not to be explained by some mystical or religious mumbo-jumbo. Most of reality in fact will not ever be "explained" scientifically, but that is no excuse for accepting the authority of priests and the like. Let it be unexplained. Epistemology is best left to those with skeptical mind-sets, as the "spiritual" leaders will always try to restrict freedom of inquiry in order to increase their own power. Ecstatic vision and similar type of illumination belong to the individual, not the priest or politician. Rationally and ethically, if you have a vision of the Truth or some such blinding insight, your obligation to man is to tell how you arrived at the insight. Did you fast, starve yourself, pray for days, eat mushrooms? To tell how is your duty to mankind, not to posit your personal view of reality, or worse yet, force it upon the rest of humanity!
In any case, as I said in my essay, I would never assert that most humans are mainly or mostly rational, or even capable of applying rational and skeptical methods in a sustained and consistent manner to the problems of political, economic, or social organization. That is our great tragedy and will be our downfall as a species.
Tags:

?

Log in

No account? Create an account