A Solely Human Aspect of Existence: The Experience of Beauty

Philosophy 12

Another reading on Aesthetics for those looking into Kant, and the nature of beauty:

In the history of thought there is probably no philosophy that has posited the question about man with the intensity, extensiveness and centrality equal to those present in Kant’s philosophy. It is well-known that in his last work, Logik, which appeared as edited by his student Jaesche, but reviewed by Kant himself, he sums up the three fundamental questions which guided him throughout the elaboration of his own thought (‘What can I know?’, ‘What ought I do?’, ‘What can I hope for?’), in the one, fundamental question, into which every other question flows: ‘What is man?’. In each of his works there come to light aspects of the humanity in man which circumscribe to man, in an ever more precise and essential way, a proper and irreducible character. In this way of approximation to the…

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Doubt, Nihilism, and the Circular Trap

Grand Unified Crazy

Underlying philosophy is a tangled nest of peculiar questions that don’t seem to have satisfactory answers. These include apparent stumpers like:

  • Does anything exist?
  • What is reality?
  • Why is there something instead of nothing?

In some sense it seems that anything can be doubted or questioned. Of course, applying this principle to doubt and question itself immediately results in a paradox of sorts: if everything can be doubted, can we doubt that everything can be doubted? But despite this problem it still seems that “why?” can be asked of any statement. It is part of the nature of statements to be doubtable.

While it is part of the nature of statements that they can be questioned, it is part of the nature of most questions to include statements. In fact two of the three “stumpers” I listed above implicitly involve some sort of premise which must be true for the question…

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There Are Only Desires


soul-copy1In the Book IV of Plato’s The Republic, Plato has Socrates make a series of arguments that attempt to establish that soul has three parts. Plato’s theory of soul is one of the earliest discussions on human psychology in the history of Western philosophy. This piece discusses and investigates the plausibility of Plato’s argument for the tripartite soul, i.e. that human soul has reason, spirit and appetite as three separate entities with different functions to perform for a just soul. It won’t discuss the question of justice in soul or the city, nor it will address the whole series of arguments for the tripartite soul in the Book IV. It only scrutinizes Plato’s argument for how ‘desiring and being averse are opposites’ in making the statement that there is a rational as well as an appetitive part in soul. It attempts to contend that Plato’s argument for the tripartite…

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Zen, Yoga, Gurdjieff- perspectives on inner work: The Quantum Mind of God

The Quantum Mind of God

The realm of quantum physics was my grandfather’s first love; he was a prominent quantum physicist. He used to shut himself up in his study for hours at a time and fill it with thick wreaths of pipe smoke.
It was absolutely forbidden to disturb him in there; when I was sent up to call him down for dinner, it was always an intimidating experience. I approached the door on tiptoe. And perhaps that’s the best way to approach all matters of gravity, mathematical or otherwise. If so, I started the practice very early.
Those of you who read the interview from yesterday’s post will note the description of how a quantum computer might operate.
Problem-solving, that is, identifying a realm of knowledge that may (I emphasize the word) lead to understanding, is nearly instantaneous in the quantum world, and takes place across an entire range of information, rather than narrowly specified sets and results. This may be because of quantum tunneling and entanglement; no one knows for sure. What has become reasonably certain, however, is that what we call reality is perpetually emerging from a realm and a set of properties that present apparent impossibilities, such as the ability to travel faster than the speed of light.
I mentioned some time ago that it is possible for the mind to completely comprehend all things in one instant — that is, the real mind, not the intellectual fragment which we work with under ordinary circumstances. Continue reading

Seek Experiences That Positively Reshape Your Brain | Mindful

New research looks at how experiences can positively shift our self-perception.

By Daniel Goleman via mindful.org

I often hear people say, \”I\’m the kind of person who…\” or, \”I\’m not a people person.” These seemingly off-the-cuff comments suggest they’re resigned to not changing their self-perception—regardless if it’s inaccurate or self-defeating. My longtime colleague, Dr. Richard Davidson, founder and chair of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds, at the Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, has studied neuroplasticity, the ability of the mind to change throughout life.

In his interview with Mirabai Bush for the Working with Mindfulness webinar series with More Than Sound, Dr. Davidson touches upon the possibilities of using our experiences to positively shift our self-perception—and retrain our brains. Here’s what he had to say.

“What we often refer to when we speak in that way are differences that we perceive in ourselves, in our emotional reactions, the way we respond to adversity, and the kinds of moods that we often inhabit. And these are differences that do exist among people. They are part of an umbrella that we call ‘emotional styles’. It\’s one of the things that gives life a lot of color. Continue reading

It’s surprisingly difficult to prove that you’re awake

It’s surprisingly difficult to prove that you’re awake

It's surprisingly difficult to prove that you're awakeSEXPAND

You may know when you’re awake, but you can’t prove it scientifically. That’s because there’s no objective way to distinguish between a “conscious” and “unconscious” brain. But now, scientists may have discovered the telltale neurological signature of a mind that’s awake.

Over at the New York TimesMaggie Koerth-Baker has a great essay on the scientific quest to discover what consciousness looks like in the brain. Interestingly, our greatest insights have come from studying what unconsciousness looks like. She begins:

More than a decade ago, a 43-year-old woman went to a surgeon for a hysterectomy. She was put under, and everything seemed to be going according to plan, until, for a horrible interval, her anesthesia stopped working. She couldn’t open her eyes or move her fingers. She tried to breathe, but even that most basic reflex didn’t seem to work; a tube was lodged in her throat. She was awake and aware on the operating table, but frozen and unable to tell anyone what was happening.

Studies of anesthesia awareness are full of such horror stories, because administering anesthesia is a tightrope walk. Too much can kill. But too little can leave a patient aware of the procedure and unable to communicate that awareness. Continue reading

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