terça-feira, junho 13, 2006

No Man is an Island

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Click to Enlarge / Click para AumentarListening to CBC Radio this morning. Rare that you hear men's voices there, even if they are all tooo plummy and adenoidal - I suspect the glottal challenge is some kind of metrosexual defence mechanism, they must certainly need something to be able to work among the assembled femi-nazis. They were going on, congratulating each other on being soooo 'spiritual', quoting such indisputable texts as Desiderata, blah blah blah.

Click to Enlarge / Click para AumentarAll that said, it is sunny in St. John's this morning and I was in a rare good mood driving up Signal Hill; and listening to them, some thoughts shifted around and fell into a pattern that has been coming along in my head for a few months and more.

Click to Enlarge / Click para AumentarClick to Enlarge / Click para AumentarJohn Donne: Meditation XVII, Now, this Bell tolling softly ...

"No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; ... And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee."

Click to Enlarge / Click para AumentarClick to Enlarge / Click para AumentarImmanuel Kant: Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals.

"Nothing can possibly be conceived in the world, or even out of it, which can be called good, without qualification, except a good will."

"So there is only one categorical imperative, and this is it: Act only on that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law."

"So here is the practical imperative: Act in such a way as to treat humanity, whether in your own person or in that of anyone else, always as an end and never merely as a means."

Click to Enlarge / Click para AumentarClick to Enlarge / Click para AumentarCharles Taylor: The Malaise of Modernity, aka The Ethics of Authenticity - I cannot find this anywhere on-line, I will have to get my hardcopy and type in the bits I want. Some of what follows is paraphrasing, I am lazy too - I admit it. It is all taken from Chapter 1:

The three worries I will be talking about are very familiar. That sounds like a reason not to talk about them further. But I believe that this great familiarity hides bewilderment, that we don't really understand these changes that worry us, that the usual run of debate about them in fact misrepresents them.

(1) Individualism. Of course, individualism also names what many people consider the finest achievement of modern civilization. But the dark side of individualism is a centering on the self, which both flattens and narrows our lives, makes them poorer in meaning, and less concerned with others or society.

(2) The primacy of 'instrumental reason' - the kind of rationality we draw on when we calculate the most economical application of means to a given end. Maximum efficiency, the best cost-output ratio, is its measure of success. This is evident in the prestige and aura that surround technology, and makes us believe that we should seek technological solutions even when something very different is called for. A manager in spite of her own orientation may be forced by the conditions of the market to adopt a maximizing strategy she feels is destructive. A bureaucrat, in spite of his personal insight, may be forced by the rules under which he operates to make a decision he knows to be against humanity and good sense.

(3) The consequences for political life of individualism and instrumental reason. The individual citizen is left alone in the face of the vast bureaucratic state and feels, correctly, powerless. This demotivates the citizen even further, and the vicious cycle of soft despotism is joined.

[Back to me now] That we are individuals who somehow subscribe to a collective is a myth, nonsense. There are some ways to know this. Humming a few bars of 'I'm a rambler I'm a gambler, I'm a long way from home ...' should do it. If not, consider the language you speak. Which came first, you or the language? Show me your 'social contract'.

It matters not how straight the gate, how charged with penalty the scroll,
I am the master of my fate, the captain of my soul. Bullshit! (sorry mom)
[It should be: It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll. I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul. Sorry about that, learned it by rote at my mother's knee y'unnerstan'.]
The myth is useful to politicians and captains of industry as a means of control and manipulation. It may even be useful to individuals as long as they are comfortably well off and not having to actually think about anything.

The etymology of the word 'consciousness' itself shows this clearly. It derives from the Latin 'conscientia', the literal sense of which is knowledge-with, that is, shared knowledge.

... to be continued ? ...

Wholism vs Atomization; think globally but act locally? all but impossible.
Divine vs Daemonic language; meaning is mutual; what 'divine' communication between humans looks like; how to recognize it.
Identity; what it means mathematically (1=1); where it comes from; how it is threatened.
Mental 'Illness' and Depression; false categories; uninteresting and unattractive behaviors; the vicious cycle of alienation through un-answered questions, incomplete and incompleted relationship; increasing inability to know what you know nevermind act on it.
Un-worthiness and Self-Destruction; the seemingly inevitable 'acting in' (as opposed to 'acting out'); the logic of cynicism (finally! a use for ideology); effects of social and intellectual isolation; feral cats yeowling for food at my back door; suicide and other bad habits.

Sorry, I do not have the energy to go any farther with this just now, the sketch will have to do.

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