The progress of modern science has done much to enrich the material life of the relatively few. It has also done much to destroy the idea of the soul and any belief in hopeful transcendence for the many. The rise of modern science has in some ways been coeval with moral progress; for example, slavery is no longer official in America, but racism is hardly a dead issue. We may not burn witches anymore but it’s a fact that about 100 thousand runaway young women in America have been sold into sexual slavery. Along these lines much more could be said: clearly, the “scientific” expulsion of the soul has not improved the moral temper of modern times. There is, however, one branch of science with a special interest in the soul or (to use the Greek word) psyche.
Thursday, June 15, 2017
Monday, June 5, 2017
The good news is that a movement to decriminalize cannabis for medical and for private purposes is sweeping the country. However, the weed is still classified as a schedule 1 drug by the federal government, and is therefore illegal. That means that the state assumes the right to punish you, if in any way you break the weed laws, and there are still people serving life sentences for their infractions.
A schedule 1 drug like marijuana is defined as having a high potential for abuse and has no known medical use. The ominous Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, has directed a task force to re-examine the policies for sentencing and incarcerating pot criminals. This is about privileging federal over state law, and as the directive states, is part of preparing to deal with violent crime. Sessions conception of cannabis seems to derive from the 1936 camp classic, Reefer Madness.
Saturday, May 27, 2017
The house of our consciousness is made of words. The place we live and the windows we look through are language-woven artifacts. Living in tense times, as we are, words nowadays especially count. A tweet can reverberate with unsettling waves across the planet. Words, magnified wildly on the Internet, can drive one to suicide, cause a riot, inspire murder, even trigger a civil war.
Friday, May 19, 2017
In my last post, I spoke to the concept of human singularities, and used the astonishing case of the Brazilian healer, Arigo, to illustrate. My plan is to report on related cases that qualify as human singularities. My model for this is Joseph of Copertino, a case of voluntary possession producing a spectrum of psychophysical marvels. Giuseppe definitely scores as a singularity—in the strong, paradigm-smashing sense.