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AMCrenshaw
02-17-2009, 10:49 PM
Following are a list of quotes from a semi-new book, Cosmos and Psyche by Richard Tarnas (professor of Philosophy, cultural history, psychology and has founded a graduate program in "Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness").

Basically, in this work, he sets out to depart from what he considers the traps of postmodernism, using of course pomo-procured knowledge which is actually creative or progressive. He compares our point in time with that of the Copernican Revolution; we face a time, now, in which a grand scale cosmological death and birth must take place. But in order for that to take place, what he seems to push for in his book is a reintegration or reconciliation between "Romance and Enlightenment," i.e. the humanities and science.

So right now I'm looking for responses to any of these following quotes in light of his vision of reintegrating two disparate (to some) epistemologies. I'd share my own opinion to start off, but I don't want to shape, even more, the direction of the discussion. Remember that I like tangents, so long as they are educative and challenging. Bring the links, too. I got a lot of time on my hands.

1
"Because of science's sovereignty over the external aspect of the modern world view, these noble spiritual journeys are pursued in a universe whose essential nature is recognized-- whether consciously or subconsciously-- to be supremely indifferent to those very quests" (31)

"For quite literally, in a disenchanted cosmos, nothing is sacred. The soul of the world has been extinguished: Ancient trees and forests can then be seen as nothing but potential lumber; mountains nothing but mineral deposits..." (32)

2
"That any meaning and purpose the human mind perceives in the universe does not exist intrinsically in the universe but is constructed and projected onto it by the human mind...Might not this be the final, most global anthropocentric delusion of all? For is it not an extraordinary act of human hubris to assume that the exclusive source of all meaning and purpose in the universe is ultimately centered in the human mind, which is therefore absolutely unique and special and in this sense superior to the entire cosmos? [...] To base our entire world view on the a priori principle that whenever human beings perceive any patterns of psychological or spiritual significance in the nonhuman world, any signs of interiority and mind, any suggestion of purposefully coherent order and intelligible meaning, these must be understood as no more than human constructions and projections, as ultimately rooted in the human mind and never in the world" (35).

3
"The ambition to emancipate ourselves as autonomous subjects by objectifying the world has in a sense come full circle, returned to haunt us, by turning the human self into an object as well" (33).



AMC

Higgins
02-17-2009, 11:32 PM
Following are a list of quotes from a semi-new book, Cosmos and Psyche by Richard Tarnas (professor of Philosophy, cultural history, psychology and has founded a graduate program in "Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness").

Basically, in this work, he sets out to depart from what he considers the traps of postmodernism, using of course pomo-procured knowledge which is actually creative or progressive. He compares our point in time with that of the Copernican Revolution; we face a time, now, in which a grand scale cosmological death and birth must take place. But in order for that to take place, what he seems to push for in his book is a reintegration or reconciliation between "Romance and Enlightenment," i.e. the humanities and science.

So right now I'm looking for responses to any of these following quotes in light of his vision of reintegrating two disparate (to some) epistemologies. I'd share my own opinion to start off, but I don't want to shape, even more, the direction of the discussion. Remember that I like tangents, so long as they are educative and challenging. Bring the links, too. I got a lot of time on my hands.

1
"Because of science's sovereignty over the external aspect of the modern world view, these noble spiritual journeys are pursued in a universe whose essential nature is recognized-- whether consciously or subconsciously-- to be supremely indifferent to those very quests" (31)

"For quite literally, in a disenchanted cosmos, nothing is sacred. The soul of the world has been extinguished: Ancient trees and forests can then be seen as nothing but potential lumber; mountains nothing but mineral deposits..." (32)

2
"That any meaning and purpose the human mind perceives in the universe does not exist intrinsically in the universe but is constructed and projected onto it by the human mind...Might not this be the final, most global anthropocentric delusion of all? For is it not an extraordinary act of human hubris to assume that the exclusive source of all meaning and purpose in the universe is ultimately centered in the human mind, which is therefore absolutely unique and special and in this sense superior to the entire cosmos? [...] To base our entire world view on the a priori principle that whenever human beings perceive any patterns of psychological or spiritual significance in the nonhuman world, any signs of interiority and mind, any suggestion of purposefully coherent order and intelligible meaning, these must be understood as no more than human constructions and projections, as ultimately rooted in the human mind and never in the world" (35).

3
"The ambition to emancipate ourselves as autonomous subjects by objectifying the world has in a sense come full circle, returned to haunt us, by turning the human self into an object as well" (33).

AMC

This seems post-Medieval rather than Pomo. Surely this was all obvious by 1590....as Marlowe's Tragical History of Dr. Faustus suggests.

Though I guess the demons are still Medieval (if we can trust Wikipedia our demonic servant):

Another well-known quote comes after Faustus asks Mephistopheles how he is out of Hell, to which Mephistopheles replies:
"Why this is hell, nor am I out of it.
Think'st thou that I, who saw the face of God,
And tasted the eternal joys of heaven,
Am not tormented with ten thousand hells
In being deprived of everlasting bliss?"
This quote comes from a translation of Saint John Chrysostom (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Chrysostom), and implies that Mephistopheles has both a deep knowledge of God and a desire to return to heaven.

Higgins
02-17-2009, 11:34 PM
This seems post-Medieval rather than Pomo. Surely this was all obvious by 1590....as Marlowe's Tragical History of Dr. Faustus suggests.

Though I guess the demons are still Medieval (if we can trust Wikipedia our demonic servant):

Another well-known quote comes after Faustus asks Mephistopheles how he is out of Hell, to which Mephistopheles replies:
"Why this is hell, nor am I out of it.
Think'st thou that I, who saw the face of God,
And tasted the eternal joys of heaven,
Am not tormented with ten thousand hells
In being deprived of everlasting bliss?"
This quote comes from a translation of Saint John Chrysostom (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Chrysostom), and implies that Mephistopheles has both a deep knowledge of God and a desire to return to heaven.

HA! My helpful demon is back:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Tragical_History_of_Doctor_Faustus

AMCrenshaw
02-17-2009, 11:38 PM
This seems post-Medieval rather than Pomo



He compares our point in time with that of the Copernican Revolution

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copernican_Revolution [Year 1543]


...

Is science really the cosmological cutting of the cord? Are "the heavens" and "God" really the warm embrace of the womb?

A question that comes up, most clearly, now, is whether or not science must remain (if it ever was) divorced from significance, meaning, or purpose, i.e., what we typically the think of as the focus of the humanities.

ETA: A further question, Tarnas' question is: do we need a new cosmology that reconciles/reintegrates science and humanities to overcome the paradox of Hubris and its consequence, self-alienation?

AMC

Higgins
02-18-2009, 12:09 AM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copernican_Revolution [Year 1543]


...

Is science really the cosmological cutting of the cord? Are "the heavens" and "God" really the warm embrace of the womb?

A question that comes up, most clearly, now, is whether or not science must remain (if it ever was) divorced from significance, meaning, or purpose, i.e., what we typically the think of as the focus of the humanities.

ETA: A further question, Tarnas' question is: do we need a new cosmology that reconciles/reintegrates science and humanities to overcome the paradox of Hubris and its consequence, self-alienation?

AMC

Perhaps our faults are in ourselves and not our cosmologies (as Shakespeare seems to have thought as well as I do):

Hamlet:
Let us go in together,
And still your fingers on your lips, I pray.
The time is out of joint—O cursèd spite,
That ever I was born to set it right!
Nay, come, let's go together.


Hamlet Act 1, scene 5, 186–190 (http://www.enotes.com/hamlet-text/act-i-scene-v?start=2#ham-1-5-209)

AMCrenshaw
02-18-2009, 12:38 AM
Perhaps our faults are in ourselves and not our cosmologies

I'd like you to unpack your Shakespeare quote; provide its context, for one thing, which may itself need some explication (particularly the "welcome it as a stranger" etc).

My response is: of course it's our fault. Aren't our cosmologies of our creation, though? And isn't it in those cosmologies that we find a divorce between the internal and external? Isn't it our fault that's the case? The question still stands: as it is our fault, is it not our responsibility to create new or revise older cosmological systems that reconcile inner and outer truths? Or are they really mutually exclusive?

AMC

Higgins
02-18-2009, 01:18 AM
I'd like you to unpack your Shakespeare quote; provide its context, for one thing, which may itself need some explication (particularly the "welcome it as a stranger" etc).

My response is: of course it's our fault. Aren't our cosmologies of our creation, though? And isn't it in those cosmologies that we find a divorce between the internal and external? Isn't it our fault that's the case? The question still stands: as it is our fault, is it not our responsibility to create new or revise older cosmological systems that reconcile inner and outer truths? Or are they really mutually exclusive?

AMC

Hmmm...I just don't see cosmology as the issue. People are fretful because a relatively advanced society (or even Elizabethan London) offers them lots of goodies, but doesn't socialize them adequately to enjoy them properly. So that's my take.

Moreover, Me, Marlowe and Shakespeare have sociologically similar reasons for our diagnosis of mankind's ills...as outsiders to the metropolitan scene and hailing from artisan parents, autodidacts and scroungers in the streets of academic discourse yet not foreign to the Church Fathers or Calvin or Rome.

Why is the Prince or lucky alchemist (Faustus) our image of a man trying to set things right? Because we don't believe in the alienation of the middle class is genuine...its the man from the provinces or the Prince of a world gone wrong or an alchemist who has the real story and the problem is how to deal with human desire once it gets rolling...not cosmologies.

AMCrenshaw
02-18-2009, 01:45 AM
Hmmm...I just don't see cosmology as the issue.

You don't see it as an issue? You don't see cosmology as a reflection of one of humankind's concerns? As a desire?

More, you don't see the gap between science and humanities? Is there a gap? If so, should it be filled?



People are fretful because a relatively advanced society (or even Elizabethan London) offers them lots of goodies, but doesn't socialize them adequately to enjoy them properly.

That's the issue. What you've just described is cosmology on a small scale. Instead of "universe", you write "society".

Well great. And using which evidence might we "really" socialize them adequately? Is understanding one's own part in the universe integral to individuation directly and to socialization indirectly?

What Tarnas is saying is that while many, many fields have progressed greatly since the 16th century, the cosmology is essentially the same. That is, at one point, humans were the center of the universe; now they are dots in a silent universe. He writes that one benefit of postmodernism is that it re-sheds light on the diversity, depth, and complexity of the universe-- and thus our place in it is not as simple as center or not-center. While I would agree that cosmology is not the issue, I would have to contend that we should seek to see the whole picture relative to smaller (more specific) frameworks-- by which I mean the varied disciplines we have now, from quantum physics to anthropology to narrative theory and, why not, painting.

AMC

Medievalist
02-18-2009, 07:07 AM
This seems post-Medieval rather than Pomo. Surely this was all obvious by 1590....as Marlowe's Tragical History of Dr. Faustus suggests.

Dude, Pomo is medieval, and early sixteenth century, in terms of drama.

There is nothing new under the sun.

It's still just academic wankery in pursuit of merit pay.

Higgins
02-18-2009, 05:46 PM
That's the issue. What you've just described is cosmology on a small scale. Instead of "universe", you write "society".



It seems I'm giving the standard humanist answer -- which has been the standard humanist answer since the 16th century: Faustus goes down the proverbial tubes because he has bad study habits and is a poor scholar in any case. Or to put this in another humanist way: each person has to come to terms with himself and the cosmos in their own way. Education and socialization can help give them the tools and space for coming to terms with things, but ultimately, you're on your own. You can screw up like Faustus or rise to the occasion like Hamlet and rising to the occasion is not always going to be easy. Again, see Hamlet.

AMCrenshaw
02-18-2009, 09:36 PM
Education and socialization can help give them the tools and space for coming to terms with things, but ultimately, you're on your own.

Is this accurate? Are people really...on their own in terms of these things, even now? Given that, it would almost seem like (cosmology) is the thing one might "pray" or "meditate" about, in an effort to come to terms "with things," as you say. I find all this OK on an individual level. Does the collective matter in this case? That is, by giving the appropriate education and tools to each individual, does a society expect all or many of its people to "come to terms with things" without a solid cosmology in the education? Very interesting answers, Higgins. Thank you.


AMC

AMCrenshaw
02-18-2009, 09:43 PM
I should add the converse to the question, which might actually get more to the point:

Can we have an educative system and sociology that actually allows people to ....

not-be strangers in a strange land, so to speak?


AMC

Higgins
02-18-2009, 10:10 PM
I should add the converse to the question, which might actually get more to the point:

Can we have an educative system and sociology that actually allows people to ....

not-be strangers in a strange land, so to speak?


AMC


How about a non-cosmological context? For example, in the US armed forces, a soldier is obligated to obey the lawful orders of a superior. So orders are not orders, only lawful orders are orders. But the lawfullness of an order (such as evacuate all persons from X within three hours) are conditioned by context. There may be such conditions at X that make the order unlawful. The idea of "lawful" presupposes some autonomy and with that some responsibility. So a soldier is expected, under certain circumstances, to make up his own mind and take the consequences. This, in a micro-cosm, is the situation of the self in general, for when we propose the idea of a person (not a child) we are supposing that they are autonomous and can make up their own minds and take responsibility for the consequences.
The real catch here is not being autonomous or having responsibility, the catch is "making up your own mind" and this making up is supposed to be rational, I think and this internal realm of reasoning autonomously in the face of responsibility is the whole point of judging whether a person's actions are rational and/or reasonable. In a humanist approach to education or socialization, this internal realm of reason is made as all-encompassing as possible so that the autonomous reasoner can come to the most rational judgements possible both by having a lot of practice and by having many examples and contexts of reasonable action.

MacAllister
02-21-2009, 09:17 AM
If I give you two your very own forum, do you promise to play nice with newbies? And what shall we call it?

robeiae
02-21-2009, 06:12 PM
The fireplace pokers and other tools of the trade forum?

AMCrenshaw
02-22-2009, 10:31 PM
If I give you two your very own forum, do you promise to play nice with newbies?

Well, what else would we do there?

AMC

Ruv Draba
02-23-2009, 02:51 AM
'Hubris' originally meant 'insolence to the gods'. Phrase the question that way and you've handed yourself the answer.

But more constructively, is there a reason that sciences and humanities need to reconcile? Aren't we benefitting more from them arguing than not? Do we really want a neo-mediaeval society where aesthetic ideals dictate curiosity, or a totalitarian one where the arts are just propaganda?

I'm not saying anything new, but surely the issue here isn't reconciliation of disciplines but education of their practitioners. Art that's ignorant of science ranges from whimsical to misleading; science that's ignorant of the humanities ranges from abstruse to irrelevant.

Ruv Draba
02-23-2009, 03:08 AM
If I give you two your very own forum, do you promise to play nice with newbies? And what shall we call it?To my admittedly skewed eye, it seems to fall under the category of mystical vs secular humanism. It doesn't quite fit under 'Non-theistic spirituality', and it's a stretch to tuck it under 'Critical Theory', though it touches on both.

And while you're making free with the forum-wand, Mac, where's the one for discussions about Islamic writing? Heck, where are our Islamic writers, even?

AMCrenshaw
02-23-2009, 03:09 AM
is there a reason that sciences and humanities need to reconcile?

That is the question.



Aren't we benefitting more from them arguing than not?

I argue with my best of friends. We are at once perfectly reconciled and different and continue to argue. It's the lack of arguing that bugs me personally. I know so many artists who feel modern science has absolutely nothing to say to them (which is valid, to be sure) and many scientists who dismiss most aesthetic meaning as being merely a construct, anthropocentric, etc. Reconciliation is understanding that there is real significance and meaning in pushing outward in our material sciences. Reconciliation is understanding that-- for local example, Ruv-- that the teachings of the Buddha have psychological merit. Reconciliation is saying "not all" and here's those that are unreasonable and perhaps harmful to society. But you seem to understand that.



the issue here isn't reconciliation of disciplines but education of their practitioners.

Reconciliation doesn't mean agreement. So I agree with you on this very point except that I think "the education of practitioners" involves reconciliation for the points you yourself make:


Art that's ignorant of science ranges from whimsical to misleading; science that's ignorant of the humanities ranges from abstruse to irrelevant.



AMC

Ruv Draba
02-23-2009, 03:39 AM
I think "the education of practitioners" involves reconciliation for the points you yourself makeSurely though, understanding precedes respect?

Especially today, there's no lack of information about the humanities or the sciences. Thanks to the Internet and related ICT daemons the idea of human lore belonging to an isolated elite is receding behind us. But many people don't bother to enquire, or don't know to enquire, or don't know how to digest what they find.

It doesn't help that we have differing mental architectures. What use is abstract philosophy to someone who's only interested in concrete problems? What use are discussions about potentiality to those whose comfort is bound in tradition? Or how can one discuss objective, impersonal truths with one for whom all truths are personal?

(Those aren't rhetorical questions, by the way. I think they offer some interesting, writerish answers.)

AMCrenshaw
02-23-2009, 04:37 AM
What use is abstract philosophy to someone who's only interested in concrete problems?

BTW These are questions of reconciliation, in my opinion. Without the reconciliation, these questions are strictly moot. But to answer this question how I can: Abstract philosophy is, for one thing, an exercise of reason. Concrete problems are answered in part by reason. You'd know better with what else. But reason governs the formulation of the answers, I'm assuming. Beyond exercise, abstract philosophy has its place in trying to observe what is typically seen as unobservable. It is part of the lore (as you call it). Abstract philosophy-- as part of lore-- can set groundwork for what is actually reasonable. That groundwork can be, often is, broken by veritable scientific fact. Since I'm a student of the philosophy of "time" I can tell you much quantum physics has altered "reason" in these regards. Likewise, abstract philosophy can point to places that science has not yet reached or tried to examine physically. Narrative theory and time is a good example here. It's only been really studied in conjunction in the last 40 years (although its foundations are in Plato and Augustine, narratology is a relatively new discipline).


What use are discussions about potentiality to those whose comfort is bound in tradition?




Or how can one discuss objective, impersonal truths with one for whom all truths are personal?

Well. This is perhaps naive of me to think, but people have reason. Objective, impersonal truths may seem sometimes unreasonable, but assuredly, many are not. When faced with enough impersonal evidence, it might become personal. I think of sociology in these moments: 90% of murders in the U.S. are committed by men. 95% of those are domestic. What is the problem? Well, of course it's not the aggressive music videos, the alcoholism (a problem with more men than women), advertisements, etc. I can't tell you the number of men who blame their behavior on their partners-- personal truths which have no real bearing in objective reality. But, but, but... a significant percentage of men who go through counseling to deal with their hyper-masculinity learn rather to recognize the "woman" in themselves and to cherish the difference of "the other". This is basic psychology! So if anything personal truths may remain wonderfully entertaining in the arts or on Jerry Springer, but people confronted with certain objective truths can't reasonably hold their own. The implications are of an ethical nature.

AMC

Medievalist
02-23-2009, 05:27 AM
The sciences and humanities don't need to reconcile because we're on the same damned team.

To wit: paleographers working with geneticists, biologists, and computer programmers to date and trace manuscript creation practices based on sheep and cow DNA

AMCrenshaw
02-23-2009, 07:28 AM
The sciences and humanities don't need to reconcile because we're on the same damned team.

Right, and Tarnas thinks otherwise, I suppose. But the weakness of his argument, as I understand it now, is that it relies solely upon the cosmology-- that is, merely because cosmology was the Western civilization's epoch-disruption at one point (Copernican Revolution 1529-- nearly 500 years ago) because our cosmology hasn't since changed in any earth-shattering way, and because all of the other disciplines have progressed, albeit gradually, that an updated cosmology (one which would further reintegrate romanticism and enlightenment) would be the missing link that would hasten the new "epoch", something beyond pomo, something beyond meager ideas of post-pomo, but something a step ahead of each. He, of course, argues that the shift would be based in scientific inquiry and subsequent discovery, but given meaning by an advanced aesthetic and spiritual sensibility, one that is not contrary to science, but complements it in a way not quite comprehended before-- certainly not in its entirety.

AMC

Gray Rose
03-02-2009, 02:19 AM
I think that if you want to present Tarnas's ideas as a part of current academic discourse, you might want to find out how his scholarship, produced at the California Institute of Integral Studies' program in Consciousness and Transformation, fits into the larger map of academic discourse today. Who quotes him? Where are his books published? Hint: not in academic presses.

It is fine to discuss Tarnas's ideas for what they are. But there's also context.