Friday, 30 September 2011

How to understand how a universe or some universes can give rise to themselves

Plausibly Time is something that arises inside a universe, or inside our experience, rather than Time being a framework inside of which a universe arises (ie. not that).

Similarly Space is plausibly something that arises inside a universe, rather than being a framework inside of which universes arise.

So to understand how a universe or some universes can give rise to themselves, we may need to think about it from a perspective which does not include any of the things that plausibly only arise inside such a universe, things like Time and Space.

If we start from a perspective that is outside of Time and Space, then we may be able start to see clearly how universes could give rise to themselves... if they wanted to. ;-)

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Purpose is an ascription not an innate aspect of action

I think I agree with Erik Scothron if I understand him. Purpose seems to me to be an interpretation that is ascribed to someone by subjecting them to a "point of view" ... i.e. YOUR point of view. Or when a community does it, OUR point of view. The members of a language community use language to interpret a person and hence ascribe that person with particular intentions or purposes. We can, naturally enough, also do that to ourselves by borrowing (using, or more likely being used by) the language that the community we are a part of speaks.

The proposal that purpose is an innate part of action seems to me to be not a candidate for truth or falsity. You can of course go ahead and say things like that, but what could ever count as evidence for or against? (Rhetorical.)

The other day it came up with this: The reason that anybody does anything is that they are trying to make the world a better place for everybody. Some people don't know that this is the reason yet. This is also not a candidate for truth or falsity either, but it occurred to me that it could be a useful way to interpret people.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Authenticity, self and identity

Economist article on Ideology and "Self" - although for self read "identity"

Plausibly a "self" can be thought of as the space inside of which experiences (such as thoughts and feelings and other kinds of occurings happen) and not any of the content that occurs inside that space. A better word for the content would probably be "identity" not self. So the article above isn't really about self, rather it is about the ability to define, for your self, a consistent identity - i.e. one in which all the content is aligned and in agreement.

If you look at it from this perspective, being true to your self starts to appear as a matter of identifying as the space itself, and not ANY of the content within it. And so from this perspective authenticity is always a consequence of GIVING SOMETHING UP rather than misidentifying your self as being any one THING.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Is God beautiful or ugly?

Statements like "god exists / does not exist" and statements about "truth and falsity" probably don't really belong in the same language game. We could call putting these together a "category mistake". In the same way statements about how to swing your tennis racket don't belong in discussions about football.

There is value in an understanding and appreciating of the interior realms just as there is in the exterior realms. Knowledge of the exterior realms gives you power with respect to building bridges and buildings and iPads and nuclear reactors and living longer and etc. Knowledge of the interior realms gives you power with respect to human solidarity, love, beauty, being reconciled and consoled in the face of the sadness and suffering that we have to live with until humanity gets to the point where pain and suffering has been effectively eliminated... and so on.

I suspect that telling people that their "belief in god" is superstitious nonsense tends not to go down so well with people who consider that they do believe in god. If instead, you say to those people: "I appreciate what you call your belief in god, in the same way that I appreciate picasso", you do at least have a place to start having a conversation.

If people could start thinking of their religion as a kind of cultural performance art, instead of as a bogus alternative science, we could hope that some of the confusions might just go away. It would allow people who enjoy such practices to go on enjoying them, without needing to justify doing so to the extent that they feel they need to apply to the courts to prevent school children being taught about Darwin.

Some people like to play tennis, others like to play football. If you happen to like tennis, it is slightly bizarre to find football repulsive - boring, uninteresting yes, but repulsive? ... that seems strange to me.

I completely understand people saying something like "worshipping God... nah that's not the game for me", but the animosity to someone else's hobby when it is not causing any trouble just does not compute.

Of course if someone wants to play a game called "crashing planes into high buildings" or "disrupting the educational curriculum" that is a completely different matter.

Educated people should choose their battles carefully. Otherwise you simply end up recruiting for the other side.

There are a category of statements such as "God exists" which simply don't belong in the same vocabulary as statements like "prove or disprove".

What would or could ever count as a proof? Are we expecting God to turn up for an interview on the Tonight Show?

Such statements as "God exists" should not be judged on the basis of whether they are true or false, but on the basis of whether they are beautiful or ugly. It might be that you think they are ugly, but it is the wrong question to ask whether they are true.

I'm not expecting anyone to think that what I am saying about "belief in God" is true, but I am hoping someone might think what I am saying is beautiful or useful.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

We really don't know!

There is a mystery that lies at the heart of being and the heart of being human: We don't know. And we don't know. And we don't know... We really don't know! :-)

Thinking that we know something (when we don't) makes us stupid. The truth is that we don't know. In fact the more that we find out about the universe, the more astonishing the mystery becomes... Why is the universe so huge? (Incomprehensibly vast.) What is it all for? Where did it all come from?

I think we can be forgiven for thinking that the universe has a sense of humour to give rise in the way it has to beings such as we are who live in this predicament of mystery in which we find ourselves.

My feeling is that spiritual fulfilment lies on a path that leads to putting ourselves into a direct relationship with that mystery and the silence with which it responds to our questions about it. To the extent that we retreat from the unknowable into the merely unknown, to that extent we miss out on the ecstasy, consolation and human solidarity that is available from that place.

Alternatively we could say that such questions are meaningless and valueless. But I don't think so. I think that the value of such unanswerable questions lies in their ability to put us into a direct relationship with that mystery that lies at the heart of being.

Post scripts:

(1) Is why anything exists at all simply unknown, or is it unknowable, or is it just a stupid question?

(2) It would be very boring if there wasn't a mystery at the heart of being.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

How does sexual ever mean spiritual?

One way in which the relationship between sexuality and spirituality becomes apparent to us is when we consider our ancestors. We all have an unbroken chain of ancestors that disappear over the horizon of the past. We have ancestors in every age that humanity existed. And prior to humanity existing we had some kind of lineage even back beyond that.

If we think of spirituality as a word that refers to our connectedness, it is not hard to see how the sexual animal that each of us is provides us with a connection which roots us into the flow of life. One of our most fundamental connections to the flow of life comes to us via sex.

If we accept that one of our fundamental connections to the past of long ago, to history and even to prehistory comes to us via the sexual connection between our ancestors going back across the generations, it is not to hard to think of spirituality as being a way of referring to our CONNECTEDNESS, or our ROOTEDNESS. We have a relationship with the past, the distant past, and the very distant past. And possibly we have a relationship with the future and the distant future.

If we extend these time-lines of connectedness out even further into the past and future indefinitely we start to see that we each of us have a temporal relationship with the a-temporal. That is to say we have a temporal relationship with the eternal.

Our rootedness in the present moment lies on a timeline that is woven together through sexual intimacy, not just between each pair of parental ancestors but also as Freud pointed out between parents and their children.

And yet this rootedness on our given timeline is only one of the kinds of rootedness that has a bearing on our lives.

We are not only rooted in time, but also rooted in space. Right here and right now we each of us find ourselves in THIS PLACE and THIS MOMENT.

However our connectedness extends far beyond this. The simple awareness of our physical bodies connection to their surroundings is another point of connection, as is the intermingling of our minds with other’s minds.

Indeed the threads that go to make up our rootedness are not only spatial and temporal and sexual. The connections that we have with the people we interact with regularly, our friends and family, our neighbours, our religious groups and community groups, our work colleagues, our old friends and friends of friends, and new friends, and on and on… Even strangers. Like the stranger you met on a train and had a strangely compelling conversation with.

Everything we say to everyone we say it to. Every object in our physical world. Each piece of clothing we put on our bodies. Each action we take to move ourselves through the spatial environment we are embedded in. All of these things, all of these connections, are hinting to us moment by moment regarding the FULLNESS OF OUR CONNECTION with the great totality of everything.

It starts to become apparent how misguided is the identification of ourselves with the extents of our bodies, the extents of our skin, and even the extents of our personal history. Imagine taking the universe away and leaving only your body, or only the time that started with your birth and will end with your death. Who would you be then? Certainly not the person you are now... certainly not the fantastically embedded and connected and thoroughly integrated part of the universe that you find yourself being, moment by moment that you live your life.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Plausibly the role of conscious being in the universe is the self-realisation of "god".

Plausibly the role of conscious being in the universe is the self-realisation of "god". So our "job" in being conscious beings is to elevate our level of consciousness so as to become god, smiling back at each other. The universe wants that from us because it has a sense of humour.

All this time we have been chasing after understanding god and having a relationship with god and the irony may turn out to be that we are god. She was here all the time, waiting for us to see the obvious, smiling at us from deep within our own souls. Just a suggestion. :-)