Mental Order: A Right for this Century

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You have the right to your own mental order.  You need not be ashamed of anything you think or any way you think.

Performing, advocating or threatening harm to others are the only crimes.

Harm is deliberate inequality.

In the last few days I became strongly concerned about a political issue.  I cared so strongly about that issue that I contacted the leaders of Canada’s federal political parties, including the Canadian Prime Minister and my provincial political parties, including the Premier of my province.  I cared so much about this issue I revealed personal information regarding something that is not understood by society, those entrusted with its care or the leaders I contacted.

There is a large community that does understand what I revealed.  I spoke out to protect them.  I spoke out for a group that was executed by the Nazis to no one’s protest.  No movies are made about their disappearance.  They were among the first to die.

I want the rights of these people protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms–the Canadian Constitution.  Nothing less.

I don’t think there is a leader among us up to it.

We have to help ourselves.

I take comfort in the words of Aristotle: “Evil destroys even itself” and “All virtue is summed up in dealing justly.”

Zen: Don’t Think Good or Evil

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If you think good and evil,

You become a person of good and evil.

I recently chanced upon a book sale and was able to purchase a book of Zen koans and a book of Haiku poetry for a fair price.  I had read about Zen in the past, but I had not read actual works by Zen masters.

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I have completed reading Zen Inspirations: Essential Meditations and Text, by Dr. Miram Levering for the first time.  It includes the complete text of The Gateless Gate a thirteenth century collection of koans, commentary and poetry by Ekai, known as Mumon.  The book also includes The Ten Ox-herding Pictures accompanied by ten poems by the twelfth century Chinese monk K’uo-an Shih-yuan It is definitely not something you read only once.  I enjoyed the Zen masters’ admonitions to read the koan and permit yourself to solve it quickly and without hesitation to discover the enlightenment that comes from honesty.  As I read the koans, I let myself be honest about my inner response and the wisdom of the Zen masters became increasingly amusing.  I think I came to be enlightened many times by their frank honesty about the human condition, the Buddha and the Tao.  I think one admonition by Zen master Mumon, that if you encounter someone filled with the Tao, strike him in the face with all the strength you have, sums up what I have learned.

The Zen koans and Taoism I find agree with the philosophy of science, the philosophy of Karl Popper, skepticism, the evolutionary biology of Charles Darwin, the physics of Werner Heisenberg and the mathematics of Kurt Goedel seamlessly.  Uncertainty remains the only certainty.

There is origin without origin, direction without direction, destination without destination.  Any sense of order is localized and transient.  That is the Tao Te and not the Tao Te, and that is what the adherents to Zen struggle with daily.

I don’t claim understanding or overstanding of this paradox.

Jared Diamond: Societal Collapse

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more about “Jared Diamond: System Collapse“, posted with vodpod

If you listen carefully to what Jared Diamond is saying in the TED video above, he is describing not a five part, but a six part power curve into a systemic singularity. This has been one of the core themes of discussion of this blog.  We all seem to be too close to our problems to see the commonality.  The interrogatives come into play here:

  1. Goals
  2. People
  3. Functions
  4. Forms
  5. Times
  6. Distances

Times and Distances being the basis on which the higher orders are built.

When we look at the recent economic “crisis” we see 300 trillion in currency circulating and roughly 1 trillion to 2 trillion shifting suddenly and unexpectedly.  We witnessed a systemic collapse, a singularity, a tipping point, a power curve, an exponential change, a phase transition or whatever label you want to call it.  These have been happening everywhere since Time and Distance began in different contexts and orders both in human and non-human systems.

What Jared Diamond and other alarmists are implying is that human society is now a system approaching its final singularity in this century on this planet.  We are implying that today we are experiencing a less than one percent crisis on a power curve into a singularity.  How many more iterations will the global system withstand?  Will humanity make the step into space successfully before we experience a global dark age?  How will the six or more factors in the power curve play out?

The truth to me appears to be that power curves whether they play out or not result in either a systemic climax or anti-climax followed by a systemic collapse.  Would it not be better if we experienced a systemic climax that led to us expanding into the solar system?

Systemic collapse seems to be the fashion of this generation.  Every generation looks with fascination at its own youth, maturition, reproduction and acceleration into mortality.  Some die early, some die late, but all die.  It is an irrevocable law of nature.  It is not about self-interest.  It is about what self-interest is defined as.

Related Posts:

Beyond the Singularity

Servitas and Libertas

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Satire: Good and Yahoo

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I have completed my reading of the fourth part of Gulliver’s Travels, “Journey to the Houyhnhnms”, and with it completed Jonathan Swift’s book. In this part Gulliver encounters a species of horses calling themselves “Houyhnhnms”, who are guided in their lives by reason and virtue, as well as a species of humans called “Yahoos”, who are guided by illogic and vice. As Gulliver comes to acquaint himself with these two species he realizes that he himself is a Yahoo, as are all humans, and finds himself not wanting to leave the company of the Houyhnhnms. However, reason dictates that he return to the Yahoos of England and the Houyhnhnms exhort him to do so.

This part is not only a satire of humanity, it is a satire of nature. No one in Jonathan’s time or our own with any knowledge of nature, of which humanity is part, would for a moment declare nature a slave to reason and virtue or free of illogic and vice.

Stepping back for the broader view, Jonathan’s book is interesting in that it criticizes all aspects of society, however he never directly criticizes religion. He instead talks of reason and virtue; of friendship and benevolence; never of god and god’s will; never of faith and obedience. In fact, the only reference to European religion is architecture and the inquisition. And perhaps that is all that needs mention.

Of course reading the work that coins the word Yahoo and directly associates it with the word “evil” makes for an interesting contemporary interpretation of our search engine landscape. If we used the term Yahoo in the same way as used by Jonathan Swift, “Don’t be Yahoo”, would be grammatically correct.

related post: Cogitators, Academics, Necromancers and Immortals

Social Psychology: The Milgram Occupation

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Every encounter with authority is a Milgram experiment. You are subject to influence which is either congruent with your principles or incongruent. If it is incongruent, how much incongruity are you willing to bear?

In my last post I shared a speech I had written for Toastmasters regarding an exchange between a figure who claimed authority through seniority with a figure who claimed authority through democracy. The latter reached a point where the seniority figure could no longer be tolerated and refused to surrender any further authority. Through Machiavellian machinations the democratic figure was robbed of his post.

The story of the Toastmaster’s speech happens every day. Businesses are not democracies and employees are directed to perform unethical actions in many of them daily. Is delivering fatal carcinogens through cigarettes any different than delivering fatal electrical shocks by the flipping of a switch? Not at all.

Authority figures use a broad array of tactics to divorce us of our free will well beyond the simple scope of the Milgram experiment. But the fundamental instrument is fear as wielded by the authority figure in one hand and comfort as wielded by the authority figure in the other. “Don’t be evil” takes on more onerous tones in this context. “Evil” according to whom?