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12th April 2014

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The brutes and the vegetables

If you put God outside and set him vis-à-vis his creation and if you have the idea that you are created in his image, you will logically and naturally see yourself as outside and against the things around you. And as you arrogate all mind to yourself, you will see the world around you as mindless and therefore not entitled to moral or ethical consideration. The environment will seem to be yours to exploit. Your survival unit will be you and your folks or conspecifics against the environment of other social units, other races and the brutes and the vegetables.

If this is your estimate of your relation to nature and you have an advanced technology, your chances of survival will be that of a snowball in hell. You will die either of the toxic by-products of your own hate, or simply, of over population and overgrazing. The raw materials of the world are finite.

If I am right, the whole of our thinking about what we are and what other people are has got to be restructured. This is not funny, and I do not know how long we have to do it in.

Gregory Bateson, Steps to an Ecology of Mind, 1972

Tagged: booksecologynaturesurvivalfuturismphilosophyGregory Batesonenvironment

6th April 2014

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In politics obedience and support are the same.
— Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem

Tagged: politicsbooksphilosophyobediencepolitical philosophyHannah Arendt

30th March 2014

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Life is tragic simply because the earth turns

Life is tragic simply because the earth turns and the sun inexorably rises and sets, and one day, for each of us, the sun will go down for the last, last time. Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, which is the only fact we have. It seems to me that one ought to rejoice in the fact of death — ought to decide, indeed, to earn one’s death by confronting with passion the conundrum of life.

James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time (1963)

Tagged: bookswritinglifedeathreligionphilosophymysteryJames Baldwin

25th March 2014

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In love is hidden an infinity of egoism, vanity and selfishness. Love is the potent force that tears off all masks, and men who run away from love do so in order that they may preserve their masks.
— P. D. Ouspensky, Tertium Organum (1922)

Tagged: lovepsychologyphilosophyouspensky

3rd February 2014

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You can’t have your use and mention it too.
— Douglas Hofstadter, Metamagical Themas

Tagged: paradoxrecursionself-referencelinguisticsphilosophyDouglas Hofstadter

3rd February 2014

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The mystery of life is not a problem to be solved but a reality to be experienced.
— Gerardus Van Der Leeuw

Tagged: philosophyphenomenologymystery

25th January 2014

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Only saints have diabolical visions

[T]here is no position without its negation. Where there is faith, there is doubt; where there is doubt, there is credulity; where there is morality, there is temptation. Only saints have diabolical visions, and tyrants are the slaves of their own valets de chambre. If we carefully scrutinize our own character we shall inevitably find that, as Lao-tzu says, “high stands on low,” which means that the opposites condition one another, that they are really one and the same thing. This can easily be seen in persons with an inferiority complex: they foment a little megalomania somewhere. The fact that the opposites appear as gods comes from the simple recognition that they are exceedingly powerful. Chinese philosophy therefore declared them to be cosmic principles, and named them yang and yin. Their power increases the more one tries to separate them. “When a tree grows up to heaven its roots reach down to hell,” says Nietzsche. Yet, above as below, it is the same tree. It is characteristic of our Western mentality that we should separate the two aspects into antagonistic personifications: God and the Devil.

Carl Jung, Psychology and the East

Tagged: psychologyphilosophybooksCarl JungNietzscheLao-tzuEastern philosophyyin and yangreligion

15th January 2014

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Art is frozen Zen
— R. H. Blyth

Tagged: ZenartphilosophyR. H. Blyth

9th January 2014

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Alan Watts on the speed of travel

A world which increasingly consists of destinations without journeys between them, a world which values only ‘getting somewhere’ as fast as possible, becomes a world without substance. One can get anywhere and everywhere, and yet the more this is possible, the less is anywhere and everywhere worth getting to. For points of arrival are too abstract, too Euclidean to be enjoyed, and it is all very much like eating the precise ends of a banana without getting what lies in between.

Alan Watts, The Way of Zen (1957)

Tagged: travelbooksphilosophyhappinessZenAlan Wattsjourneysmetaphor

8th September 2013

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The real dilemma is how to build a compassionate human civilization. If we betray our humanness in the pursuit of civilization, then the dialog has become mad.
— Terence McKenna, quoted in Nomad Codes by Erik Davis

Tagged: philosophycompassionbookscivilizationfuturologyTerence McKenna