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20th September 2014

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The problem lies not in the nature of man but in the nature of power.
— Mark Kurlansky, Nonviolence: The History of a Dangerous Idea

Tagged: bookspoliticspowerphilosophyethicshistorynonviolenceactivism

7th September 2014

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On intentionality in natural systems

[S]ystems, and especially a system as vast as Gaia, are all but impossible to discuss without employing purposive language. One asks why something behaves as it does within a system, and the answer automatically comes out “in order to.” The parts within a system act as if they had a sense of the whole. We have no other intelligible way to discuss such matters. Critics might argue that we are committing the empathic fallacy by reading intentionality into nature. They overlook the possibility that, first of all, nature has read intentionality into us. We see what it was given to us to see.

Theodore Roszak, The Voice of the Earth: An Exploration of Ecopsychology (1992)

Tagged: booksnatureecologysystemssystems theoryGaiaphilosophyecophilosophyTheodore Roszak

22nd August 2014

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Tagged: dogsethicshumourphilosophy

9th June 2014

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You have a right to experiment with your life. You will make mistakes. And they are right too.
— Anaïs Nin, A Woman Speaks

Tagged: lifefreedomphilosophyAnaïs Ninbooks

7th June 2014

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Self-consciousness of the causes and limits of one’s own culture seems to threaten the ego structure and is, therefore, avoided.
— Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media

Tagged: philosophypsychologycultureanthropologysociologyMarshall McLuhan

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