Monday, April 21, 2014

What Happens

"Lament for Icarus"  Herbert James Draper (1898)
"A myth does not describe what happened in some obscure period before human reckoning, but what happens always and repeatedly."  ~Roger Scruton

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Mystical Experience

I am always amazed by those rare writers who manage to describe what in truth is indescribable.
 "In that moment of remote immediacy to things--of intimate strangeness--there may be some element of unreflective innocence, even something childlike [...] That sudden instant of existential surprise is [...] one of wakefulness of attentiveness to reality as such, rather than to the impulses of the ego or of desire or of ambition; and it opens up upon the limitless beauty of being, which is to say, upon the beauty of being seen as a gift that comes from beyond all possible beings. This wakefulness can, moreover, become habitual, a kind of sustained awareness of the surfeit of being over the beings it sustains, though this may be truly possible only for saints. For anyone who experiences only fleeting intimations of that kind of vision, however, those shining instants are reminders that the encounter with the mystery of being as such occurs within every encounter with the things of the world; one knows the extraordinary within the ordinary, the supernatural within the natural. The highest vocation of reason and of the will is to seek to know the ultimate source of that mystery.  Above all, one should wish to know whether our consciousness of that mystery directs us toward a reality that is, in its turn, conscious of us."
~from THE EXPERIENCE OF GOD:  Being, Consciousness, Bliss, by David Bentley Hart. Professor Hart is an Eastern Orthodox theologian and philosopher who draws much of his inspiration from the classical theology of non-Christian religious traditions, including Sufism, Hinduism, and Buddhism. The subtitle of his book, in fact, is derived from the Sanskrit description of Brahman in Vedantic philosophy: Sat-Chit-Ananda (Being, Consciousness, Bliss). 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Sacrifice at Ft. Hood

Sgt. First Class Danny Ferguson died keeping Lopez out of a room full of fellow soldiers — holding doors closed that wouldn’t lock, says fiancĂ©e Kristen Haley.

"The tragic hero is both self-sacrificed and a sacrificial victim; and the awe that we feel at his death is in some way redemptive, a proof that his life was worthwhile. Love and affection between people is real only to the extent that it prepares the way for sacrifice [...] Sacrifice is the core of virtue, the origin of meaning and the true theme of high art."  ~Roger Scruton, Beauty

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Science and the Myth of Objectivity

"There's this myth in wide circulation: rational, emotionless Vulcans in white coats, plumbing the secrets of the universe, their Scientific Methods unsullied by bias or emotionalism. Most people know it's a myth, of course; they subscribe to a more nuanced view in which scientists are as petty and vain and human as anyone (and as egotistical as any therapist or financier), people who use scientific methodology to tamp down their human imperfections and manage some approximation of objectivity.
"But that's a myth too. The fact is, we are all humans; and humans come with dogma as standard equipment. We can no more shake off our biases than Liz Cheney could pay a compliment to Barack Obama. The best we can do-- the best science can do-- is make sure that at least, we get to choose among competing biases."  ~ biologist and author Peter Watts

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Mind More Than Matter

"After all, consciousness is the fundamental ground of all that we know or ever will know. It is the ground of all of the sciences, all of the arts, all of the social sciences, all of the humanities, indeed all human knowledge and experience. Moreover, as far as we can tell, this presence is sui generis. It is its own thing. We know of nothing else like it in the universe, and anything we might know later we will know only through this same consciousness. Many want to claim the exact opposite, that consciousness is not its own thing, is reducible to warm, wet tissue and brainhood. But no one has come close to showing how that might work. Probably because it doesn’t."
~Jeffrey J. Kripal, "Visions of the Impossible: How 'fantastic' stories unlock the nature of consciousness"