Friday, December 23, 2016

Hidden Helpers from Mind at Large


The title of this post is from a chapter in a book I’ve written due to be published in the coming year.[i] There’s a curious philosophical battle going on about the nature of mind. The nub of the great controversy is the relationship between our minds and bodies. Most people – not philosophers – generally assume and act as if they were made of both, mind and body.  I’m sitting in a body at my computer and using my fingers to tap out the letters and sentences you’re reading.  So I am in a clear sense a body.  But the physical side of writing is not enough to account for the meaningful sentences that appear on the screen; that presupposes the operation of a mind.  So it’s obvious to me that I am a mind using a body.

But mainstream educated opinion would dispute what may appear as self-evident. The mainstream view is typically some  form of materialism where the role of mind is reduced to near nothing. So the items below, selected from my chapter, involve a triple heresy.  First, I stick to the account of myself as a mind using a body.  Second, I think that different kinds of evidence show that our personal minds are part of a greater mind, a “mind at large.”  And third, I’m convinced it’s possible for us to engage in meaningful and sometimes helpful dialogue with this mind at large.  Here are three examples (from the chapter in my book) of how it might work. I argue for the presence of a greater mind, a presence we can interact with.  One big idea that I pursue is that such interactions are likely to increase exponentially as the world-crisis deepens.      

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Trump's Post-Truth World

During the reoccupation of the Rhineland, Adolf Hitler said, “I follow my course with the precision of a sleepwalker.” The phrase describes Donald Trump’s rise to power.  He broke all the established rules, advanced by insult not argument, wiped out all his primary rivals with catchy phrases, and won the electoral college with a vacuous slogan, “Make America Great Again.” He captured the highest office by evoking the primal emotions of disaffected whites and mobilizing their resentment toward established power. So what’s next?

I’m sitting in a cafĂ© in Charlottesville, Virginia, aware of a change in the mental atmosphere around me. I first noticed it the morning I woke up and realized that Donald Trump was now the president-elect of the USA. On the Downtown Mall I observed what looked like groups of shell-shocked civilians, wandering about, pale and disoriented, colliding with each other, and without even saying “Sorry.”

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