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Everything posted by OldDog

  1. What We Think We Know

    It is not often that I initiate a thread but in light of recent discussions I thought it would be worthwhile exploring what we think we know. My hope ... and my request ... is that in his thread is that we limit discussion to how we know what we know ... rather than the content of what we know. Let this be an exploration ... a personal introspection ... of sources of knowledge, validation of truth and reality and mechanisms at work in shaping what we know. For some time now, I have been thinking about these things, as part of my own personal introspection, believing that a better understanding of such things will better equip me to deal with the world out there. One of the writings that helps set a launch point for of such introspection comes from Zhuangzi on The Futility of Argument. Granting that you and I argue. If you get the better of me, and not I of you, are you necessarily right and I wrong? Or if I get the better of you and not you of me, am I necessarily right and you wrong? Or are we both partly right and partly wrong? Or are we both wholly right and wholly wrong? Since you and I cannot know, we all live in darkness. Whom shall I ask to judge between us? If I ask someone who takes your view, he will side with you. How can such a one arbitrate between us? If I ask someone who takes my view, he will side with me. How can such a one arbitrate between us? If I ask someone who differs from both of us, he will be equally unable to decide between us, since he differs from both of us. And if I ask someone who agrees with both of us, he will be equally unable to decide between us, since he agrees with both of us. Since you and I and other men cannot decide, how can we depend upon another? The words of arguments are all relative; if we wish to reach the absolute, we must harmonise them by means of the unity of God, and follow their natural evolution to the end of our days. - trans. Lin Yutang Zhuangzi presents a fairly straight forward simple analysis, really quite basic, that we can all find some agreement in. But the world we live in is not so simple. It is highly complex for any number of reasons. Even relying on provable facts and well reasoned knowledge does not always serve us well. Very much leaves us feeling like we live in darkness ... and for good reason. So, how are we to know? How are we to find our way? I think we need to raise our level of sophistication in terms of understanding the dynamics involved in seeking and obtaining knowledge. This is where I think social philosophy or social psychology can be helpful. I don't usually tend to cross post from other sources (slap me back if I am violating a rule) but today I ran into an article that provided a framework for understanding the kind of dynamics we (TDBs) have been experiencing lately. I hope you will take time to read it. In spite of the title, it contains ideas that are universally applicable. https://aeon.co/essays/why-its-as-hard-to-escape-an-echo-chamber-as-it-is-to-flee-a-cult I look forward to hearing from y'all on these kinds of ideas. Kind regards.
  2. Politics as Alchemical Transformation

    I can certainly empathize with that. If find it very difficult to not become agitated and over emotional on certain topics. That is the pernicious part of some forms of discourse. In an agitated state one cannot see clearly. So, I must often let certain kinds of discussions pass. btw ... I grew up in part in western Washington state and remember the cold. Very vivid imagery for me. Lord, I hope not! (Initial reaction) I would like to think spirituality is somehow above what I see on the political landscape. But your assertion makes me stop and think ... do I have an appropriate view of spiritual? That's something I will have to ruminate on a bit. These are social values ... But I begin to see your point regarding spiritualism ... It or lack of it being expressed in society. Perhaps this goes back to the question of the inherent goodness of humankind. This seems to be the gist of Daoist thinking ... at least to the extent that naturalism can be seen as inherently good. One of the great leaps ... one that I struggle with a lot ... is the leap from individual development/enlightenment to social development/!enlightenment.
  3. Politics as Alchemical Transformation

    I find this an apt historical analogy. I greatly fear ... for the sake of coming generations ... that some great cataclysmic chain of events will follow that will lead to a lot of uncertainty, unpredictability and suffering. The world, as we know it, will certainly change but how fast and at what cost. This is a great observation. I think ... at least in part ... what we are seeing now is a result of this ... or something very near to it. We marvel at the progress of technology and celebrate great scientific breakthroughs and achievement. But many are under or unaffectively employed. They lack direction on how to gain meaning to their lives. We are not finding meaning in achievement. I think a lot of the self centered nastiness that we see on the internet is the result of that ... a lot of the concentration of wealth shows that we do not know what to do with what we are able to produce. What we might be seeing here may be a widening gap between technological ability and it's apparent benefit to an ever growing population. We lack a social sophistication that is comparable to our technological development. If such is the case continued technological development may not save us. My mind continually comes back to the ancient notion of the Mandate of Heaven. It is often thought of as applicable to the relationship of the governing to the governed. But I wonder if there might be broader more mystical imperative meaning to the phrase. Something more akin to the concept of reversion found in Daoist thought.
  4. No more right-wing bullshit.

    Your words reflect only the outer appearance of things. I fear it runs deeper still. It is not a case of left or right. If it were only that, then there could be a way to reconcile and find a way forward, as other countries with liberal and conservative elements have done. I fear that in American it is not position on social policy that drives politics but rather it is monied and power seeking interests which have their own agenda.
  5. No more right-wing bullshit.

    I just re-read my earlier comment and while I stand behind what I wrote, I think it needs qualification. It should not be taken as an endorsement of a left view. I very carefully worded the comment without direct reference left/right politics. I leave it to the reader to draw his/her own conclusions. And so I think it should be with any political discussion ... void of direct reference, nameless ... as neutral as possible. We should be discussing ideas and processes ... Looking deeper than the surface issues. How else will we be able to understand what is happening to us?
  6. No more right-wing bullshit.

    This is a very delicate subject. On the surface Steve's assertion is shocking, outrageous ... And probably gets a lot of people's backs up. But I think it bears a little deeper discussion. It is telling that the statement is qualified by ... in the US. I would expect that Chistians outside of US might take exception to the assertion. But I think there is a bit of truth in the assertion. Let me suggest a way to think about this. The current situation in the US began its rise in the early 1980s with the political coalescing of the Moral Majority. Christian communities had fairly strong sense of direction surrounding issues of morality ... public prayer, abortion, sexuality. This sense of Christian morality had served the country relatively well in terms of social behavioral guidelines and order. In many ways it was the US morality. So, what happened? Some very astute politicians realized that Christians represented a voting block that was already consolidated around a set of values. They needed no convincing. All that was necessary was that a political party, regardless of its agenda, adopt these moral values, at least superficially, and a large block of voters would swing their way. Ever since then, that political party has only had to agitate the moral block ... by way of threatening their core values ... in order to gain support each political cycle ... And their real agenda can ride the wave. So, every election cycle, the same "issues" arise ... prayer, religious imagery in public places, abortion, sexuality (now in the form of LGBT issues). Align these issues with American core values ... mom, Apple pie and the American flag ... And you have a very potent mixture indeed. In this way, Christian moral authority has been usurped. As long as the political party is able to identify with morality ... It has the high ground. This is because it is sacreligious to question an established religion. This is a very powerful position. Seen from this vantage point ... Steve's assertion makes sense. But where to place the fault. Is it Chistians that are at fault ... not from the point of view of a life guiding morality ... perhaps, though, by allowing themselves to be manipulated. Generally, as a country we (the US) share the blame for having allowed this situation to go unchallenged. And certainly, there are those master manipulators, who saw the potential and seized upon it. Small wonder our founding fathers took steps to try and keep religion and governing separate. They just didn't figure on political parties being so ... Machiavellian. Just sayin.
  7. No more right-wing bullshit.

    Down where I come from there an expression... You ain't justa woofin' ! ... that seems to apply.
  8. What We Think We Know

    Which always must be because in one sense we all operate within our own frameworks. It is important to develop the skill of being able to at least temporarily suspend our own belief system ... categorical framework ... paradigm ... in order to be able to see another. I think psychologists call this skill empathy. So, having exercised this skill, a common ground for discourse may be found ... And, more importantly, an agreed upon direction might be set that satisfies most of the values that are inherent in our individual frameworks. I think we are saying very similar things.
  9. No more right-wing bullshit.

    Wow! That tells a tale!
  10. What We Think We Know

    Not so much .. pramāńa or Proof ... which I can't argue with, but more of a call to the Bums to return to self as an original source ... And to put less stock in alternative sources whose authority may be questionable. One really has to test each idea against their own reality to see what fits. Won't be so naive as to assume there is only one reality ... common experience, maybe ... but not one reality. Had to look up Agama, as it is a term I am not familiar with. For a moment there I thought ... He can't be talking about lizards! Levity aside, I agree that we should be guided by the scriptures of whichever school we find meaning in. I think this is worthy to take note of. From a Daoist perspective, a meditative practice of quieting the discrimating mind might prove helpful in experiencing the truth of some things. Glad you said that. This is actually one of the points I wanted to see emerge from this discussion. If we do not see what are the truths that others adhere to, then not progress can be made. But truth is a hard notion to deal with. Everyone believes they have the truth ... And it is exclusive. If you don't accept my truth ... you are clearly wrong. This is polarizing and only ensures continued discord. Suppose, though, that instead of talking about whose truth is right, we side step that and talk about what is valued. It seems easier to acknowledge that the other may value certain things than to wrestle with whether their truth is valid or not. There's a lot less risk of provoking an existential crisis when dealing with what we value than with what is true. Much easier for me to acknowledge your values than your truths. I really think this is key in keeping the heat content of discourse down.
  11. Mostly agree with the direction you are setting. Only one thought lingers in my mind ... wish I had said it earlier ... may be already incorporated in your design. The notion of letting form follow function. It's not so much what the different subs that have existed were intended to contain, but what they evolved to contain. Some subs having developed into a richness beyond original intent. Others devolved into quite something else. The wisdom of the site creator can certainly tip the scales in one direction or another. Kinda like This Floating World ... though I am a bit leery of combing Rabbit Hole and Off Grid. Seems to me Off Grid is where volitility occured, where as, Rabbit Hole was more a collection of benign eclectic lines of thought, not always serious. Time will tell where this consolidation leads. Meta Converse or maybe Meta Matters has a good ring to it ... Meta being the key word. Personal Practice might alternatively be called Reflecting Pool ... leaning a bit towards the whimsical, as some found desireable. Perhaps you might publish a bit of a road map, all on one single page to orient newcomers as to what the various subs are intended for. Keep up the good work.
  12. What are you listening to?

    I know its not Sunday but ... RIP, Jim
  13. Whimsical names can be problematic ... interpretation might vary according to the individual understanding. For example, I , as a philosophically oriented Daoist might read Realm of the Immortals as leaning to the more lineage or religious end of the Daoist spectrum. Conversely, I, as a religious lineage holder might find a lot of philosophical discussion disappointing. Either way a rose by any other name... Such whimsicality might underscore the need for better navigation.
  14. What We Think We Know

    Yes, I believe you are right ... But possibly for different reasons. One, if as individuals we are over invested in one set of values, then a reboot represents an existential threat. We risk putting ourselves into a place where we lack direction and are overwhelmed by a sense of vulnerability. In that condition we are likely to grasp at the next thing to come along. Also, if there are multiple overlapping spheres of influence, we might not be able to distinguish between them ... especially if they contain a lot of false information. So, yeah, piecework. You have to start somewhere when dismantling complex structures. When I look back into my youth to my earliest recollection of questioning something I had been told, I may not be able to recall the exact details but will never forget the feeling. It was one of being on the inside looking out. Pretty uncanny. The point being though that was not a reasoned response ... It was visceral ... intuitive. It was like an alarm that was saying ... Hold on, this is something that needs to be looked at more closely. It focused the intellect. Since my youth, this has happened countless times ... and still does. Once felt, anything that is related to the thing thst triggers the feeling become subject to scrutiny ... critical review. And the fog of confusion begins to lift.
  15. What We Think We Know

    It's not .... as long as you are not accepting those ideas blindly ... without some degree of critical analysis ... which can/should include using non-reasoned intuitve response ... gut feeling, if you will ... and most especially suspension of current beliefs. One of the points of the linked article is that the world abounds with false information thst sounds perfectly legit on the surface ... But we have either lost ... or never had developed ... our ability to be critical at any level .... rational, intuitive or emotional. At any rate ... what we think we know ... regardless of source needs to be examined critically. I reached exactly the point you did. What about what my parents taught me ... my formal education ... my cultural beliefs ... my religious training. That's when I realized that we are ... from birth, without choice ... absorbed into what the linked article calls echo chambers ... and that their are multiple overlapping echo chambers at work in our lives all the time. At what point do we begin to question what we think we know and subject it to critical scrutiny.
  16. What We Think We Know

    Ok, here's a thought ... Perhaps what we need to do is to seek the truth, wherever it may be .... rather than wait for the truth to be presented to us on our own terms. Just sayin.
  17. Mindfulness and meditation apps! Are you kidding me!? Who wrote those apps ... and for what purpose ... and am I going to turnover the nature of my meditations sessions to another party? Hmmmm.
  18. What We Think We Know

    So, whose criteria will we use ... ?
  19. What are you listening to?

    Sunday morning jazz...
  20. What We Think We Know

    ... Ah, but there's the rub ... As I was reading last night (Smullyan, The Tao Is Silent) I came across a lesson that I think pertains to the question of what we think we know. There (Ch 35) he speaks about there being different schools of philosphy being roughly dviided into two camps. One being a absolutely serious, analytical, rational ... a sensible camp. The other being a less serious, free wheeling fun loving, spontaneous ... crazy camp. He subscribes to the later, claiming it to be closer to the truth. When asked by the other camp whether he an prove that, he exclaims ... "Yes, quite easily, provided I am allowed to give a crazy proof rather than a sensible one." Therein is the rub. When we are encamped, we will only accept proofs that are based in the context of our camp ... we won't hear arguments from the other camps ... even if they contain some truth.
  21. Does the soul know the difference?

    Wow, just had a flashback! Back in my game playing days ... i.e. pre-computerization ... I cut my teeth on board games such as Panzerblitz and Panzer Leader ... and eventually spent a whole long summer playing the massive War in Europe once or twice a week for 4 or 5 hrs a session. Caused me to think about the migration from such games to ... reenactment groups and scenarios to ... reality gaming, paintballing and such. Each progression a step further into fantasy and alternate reality ... leading to what? How much of that mentality transfers to conspiracy theorists and right wing paramilitary groups ... even as far as neo-Nazi groups. But that's another thread. Although I look back on my board game playing days fondly, I did learn something from them. I don't play them anymore.
  22. Does the soul know the difference?

    Ha! In my day it was Knights of the Roundtable and Viking invasions. Don't forget to grab a trashcan lid to use as shield.
  23. What We Think We Know

    Perhaps the don't need to be categorized. Guess the real question is whether you derived anything meaningful from them. But don't attach to them just let them go. Personally, I think life is its own purpose. I don't hold much with the point of view that all is an illusion, that there is no reality, that sll is empty. I'm with you. I just know that I am. Have my hands full just working with that. Btw ... out my back window are birds, deer, foxes, coyotes... and the neighbor's cat. Sounds like you are in a pretty good state of mind these days.
  24. What We Think We Know

    I like what you have to say here. It is a notion that is probably worthy of a whole discussion thread of its own. As we discuss how to deal with the vagaries of life ... social, political, etc ... I am always looking for how the understanding that I have developed on body, mind and spirit can inform my actions in life. I see that as an essential part of becoming a developed, enlightened person. Hence, my interest in your ideas on spirit and intelligence. But there are two lines of investigation possible. One being how we develop as individuals and then other how we develop collectively. Individual development is the context that TDB is usually involved in ... and has considerable insight with. Where we begin to have difficulty is when we try to talk about collective behaviour. It would seem that when social and political topics come up, we are no better off than the average non-Bum. If we are going to have those kind of discussions, we should undertake to understand how we behave collectively.
  25. What We Think We Know

    Fair enough. So let's talk a little about it ... even at risk of drifting off topic a bit. No doubt the part of the country you describe has been hit very hard and the result is almost a complete social collapse into a drug culture. Where to look for blame. Who to look to hold responsible? Certainly one could look to big business ... industry ... for accountability. They produced the jobs to begin with ... then brought in the technology to do the work more efficiently (think cost/benefit) ... and where technology could not acheive just the right ratio, moved the business off shore where labor was cheaper. So, what role government. I would posit that government has not been affective in addressing these situations ... neither before the fact or after the fact. Yes, before the fact. Could a more enlightened government have foreseen some of these things and acted to mitigate. What do we expect of government? But it would appear our government has not had the desire to act preemptively. Why is that? Who have we placed in government and what have we mandated of them? An interesting thought occurs to me at this point ... the ancient notion of the mandate of heaven. Hmmm? I may have carried this exploration a bit far. To bring it back around to the topic of knowledge ... Who do we listen to when we talk about government and policy? The discussion ... conversation ... space is taken up by heated rhetoric full of emotional content that addresses issues superficially ... shallowly. The conversation shifts away from how best to address an issue to who to hold accountable ... either individually or collectively ... and who is better suited to be in control. At this point meaningful content is lacking. I think the linked article is trying to make a case for how this comes about and gives clues as to how to break out of this mindset. It trys to get us to ask ... How do we know what we know? Where does our knowledge (about society and governing) come from? How sure are we that what we think we know is reasonable? But coming out of a space where dialog is driven by name calling, demonization of others, hate speech, accusation, ad nausea ... you cannot begin to answer these questions.