PHILOSOPHY PATHWAYS ISSN 2043-0728
Issue number 58 18th May 2003
I. 'Metaphysics and the Problem of Existence' by Richard Schain
II. 'Enlightenment: Paradigm that Lasted Three Ages' by Henk Tuten
III. 'The Truths of the Soul' by Michael Levy
I. 'METAPHYSICS AND THE PROBLEM OF EXISTENCE' BY RICHARD SCHAIN
The first question to be faced is whether there is such a thing as a specific problem of human existence. There are problems of survival, of security, of procreation and of power, These are challenges of living that humans share with all other creatures. Homo sapiens, however, has always exhibited a distinctive aspect to his life, conceived by Aristotle as a metaphysical need to know that is of a different order from the problems he shares with the rest of the animal kingdom. This need or problem was formulated by the painter Gauguin in three questions placed on one of his large paintings of Tahitian life. Gauguin was a remarkable writer of philosophy as well as a painter, and his letters, journals and unpublished articles deserve wider attention than confinement to scholars of art history. Freely translated (in accord with his spirit), they convey the following: Why am I here? What must I do? What can I hope for? These questions encompass the specific problem of human existence; they may be fused into the single question, "What is the meaning of my life?"
Immediately, it must be acknowledged that not all individuals are troubled with this problem to the same degree. In fact, it may be confidently asserted that it is a pressing problem for only a small minority. The vast majority of individuals only dimly recognize a problem of existence that distinguishes them from other types of living creatures. The distinctive metaphysical problem of human existence has always been the concern of the few. The semi-mythical Heraclitus is said to have referred to them as 'hoi oligoi', superior beings were few in number. This type of intellectualism elitism has often been adopted by philosophically-minded thinkers seeking to comprehend their isolation in the world.
The many who do not feel this problem can be separated into three categories: utilitarian materialists, religious believers and those committed to scientific values. The materialists are by far the largest group of those who are largely oblivious to the metaphysical problem of existence. These are the practical members of society who are responsive to the material problems of daily living. They are the stalwarts of civilized life who provide for themselves, their families and their communities. They judge their success in life by their accomplishments in the here-and-now of social existence. Intimations of mortality may be troublesome at times but, by and large, they are not transformed into awareness of the specifically human problem of existence.
Religious believers are those for whom the problem of existence has been answered by a religious faith. For Christians, the adherence to traditional Christian beliefs and practices answers the question of the meaning of their life. Religious believers may be materialists as well in the sense that this term is defined above but with the additional dimension of a metaphysical element expressed as a relationship to God or some surrogate figure. The nineteenth century conviction that the age of science would do away with religious dogma has not turned out to be correct. Religious institutions are flourishing at the dawn of the twenty-first century.
Finally, we come to those who do not recognize a metaphysical problem of existence because they espouse a scientific or scholarly way of thought. These are the scientific specialists, scholars, 'Gelehrten', and all like-minded types who have dominated philosophy for the past two centuries. For them, the problem of existence has become a matter of cognitive science to be answered through analysis of the brain-mind problem, using techniques borrowed from neurophysiology, linguistics and computer science. The problem itself is not recognized as such because all mental processes are believed -- as an act of faith -- to be a matter of biology. The placement of the problem of human existence on a metaphysical level is dismissed out of hand because science does not accept the metaphysical as a valid category of knowledge. These types may be labelled as "materialists of the mind" since their one article of faith is that all phenomena, mental or otherwise, are ultimately material in nature and subject to analytic investigation.
The difficulty with the approach to the problem of human existence through cognitive science is that it is never elaborated in a meaningful manner. The principal requirement necessary is to recognize its metaphysical nature. The history of civilization has shown that there is a metaphysical need running through humanity like a recurrent symphonic chord. There exists a state of mind, more precisely, a state of consciousness in which this need is embedded. No satisfaction is to be found in materialist explanations, no matter how much they may be padded with ethical theories. Yet the question of consciousness today is dominated by cognitive scientists whose only concern is to analyze it and explain how it is possible. Laborious dissections of thought, analogous to producing a Gray's Anatomy of the mind, are put forth as advances in its understanding. Cognitive scientists would like to show how consciousness is exclusively a phenomenon of the brain, thus establishing it within the framework of the materialist world view. But by now, it is evident that this will never happen -- as William James predicted over a century ago in his Principles of Psychology. While consciousness is being recently more regarded as a phenomenon in its own right (e.g. John Searle), the approach to it is still analytic and value-free.
The "solution" to the metaphysical problem of existence is to be found in the values arising within the conscious mind, not in the analysis of the latter's nature. The antique Greeks are still our models in philosophy because they were concerned with values, not with analysis of the structure of the mind, which was always a secondary consideration with them. The human condition requires a value-rich metaphysics, without which human beings are merely an out-of-control animal species, on the verge of destroying the milieu in which they live. If Homo sapiens does not respond to the problem of his existence through creating a metaphysical consciousness, he becomes an abortive entity that has missed its purpose. It is not enough for him to survive in the midst of family, offices, honors or possessions, he must develop his mind as something more than a tool for dominating his social and material milieu. This reality transcends all other realities for him. However, nature has always been profligate of individuals in achieving its goals and the human species is no exception.
The process of mental maturation is dependent on experiences that make possible the deepening of consciousness, although they do not guarantee it. Experiences can be had at every level of existence, ranging from climbing Mount Everest to reading Plato. The common denominator is increasing depth of consciousness. The oracles of antiquity: "know yourself," "become what you are," "living according to one's physis," [nature] all were concerned with deepening of consciousness. A genuine philosophy concerns itself with these questions, not with the futile effort at reductionist analyses of the mind.
Two indicators of the metaphysical need of individuals are the popular appeal of religious sectarianism and "New Age" spirituality. By and large, however, one must look to his own self for metaphysical development. Experiencing a writing or a teaching is one thing, subordinating one's mind to them is another. If Christ is permitted to enter one's interior life, he should not be permitted to monopolize it. A still valid criterion for judging the value of contemporary movements is the one Socrates used in judging the Sophists -- do they make money from their teaching? Philosophy and commerce are incompatible activities
Glorification of the unconscious mind, a concept first expressed by Schopenhauer and brought onto the stage of public awareness by Freud, has undermined the values of philosophy. But the unconscious mind is a contradiction in terms; if a thought is unconscious, it is not part of the mind, which necessarily implies consciousness. The emergence of a thought or idea into consciousness is a creative act of the first order that marks the nature of the human condition. To say that one is "unconsciously" aware of something is like saying a fertilized ovum qualifies as Homo sapiens. The metaphysical fact of human development is the emergence of a being possessed of consciousness. If awareness is not present in the conscious state, it forever remains in the void of metaphysical non-being.
Philosophy has to do with probing the problem of existence for those individuals who feel it to be central to their lives. What it decidedly is not is a scholarly discipline analogous to chemistry, physics or mathematics. The imprisonment of philosophy within academic structures has resulted in its disfiguration so that its nature has been radically changed. Philosophy today has been transformed into two distinct subjects; a) a subdivision of history concentrating on the study of philosophers or philosophic movements and b) a branch of theoretical psychology analyzing the nature of cognition. Both of these are topics deserving of a certain amount of study but they are not philosophy. Philosophy is the love of wisdom, it is a desire for metaphysical knowledge that is meaningless in the context of objective scientific methodology. Scholars are not philosophers and philosophers not scholars, although there may be some overlap as, for example, a neurologist having some knowledge of the electrician's craft. But as one does not look to electricians for models of what it is to be a neurologist, so one cannot look to scholars for models in philosophy.
Philosophical activity can be regarded as a sign of nature transcending its biological limits. If this be mysticism, to paraphrase the American revolutionary hero Patrick Henry, then opponents are free to make the most of it. The hallmarks of the philosopher are metaphysical intelligence, strength of mind and independence of the societal milieu. There are many such figures from the antique world but perhaps the most interesting is the semi-mythical figure of Heraclitus of Ephesus. Virtually nothing is known of his life, but his writings reveal a personality who meets the criteria given above. "I searched out myself" may be taken as the guiding principle of philosophy and the password to the philosophic life. The polar opposite of the philosopher is the scholar who searches out the paraphernalia of history in order to arrange them according to his inclinations. The antique world had its models in this area also but they were clearly distinguished from philosophy.
The problem of existence arises from the self and its solution comes from the same source -- the enlargement of consciousness that is the outcome of searching into it. However...there is a painful aspect to this search. The self that is the key to a metaphysical universe is also a function of physical being and is dependent on physical processes for its development. There is no escaping the physical world or the mortality that is its consequence. One cannot develop without the five senses and a functional brain, all of which are subject to decay and death. The moving finger writes and then writes no more. The metaphysically developed ancients regarded reconciliation with death as an essential element of philosophy. The problem of existence has to reconcile metaphysics with the fact of one's mortality
From the time of the Pharoahs, powerful individuals have tried to erect monuments and create entities that were meant to perpetuate their existence. Christianity invented the idea of resurrection to evade the perceived finality of death. On a more modest scale, there is the idea that generational continuity continues one's existence or, even more modestly, that this is accomplished through influences and memories initiated during life. Nevertheless, the tragedy of the disappearance of every vital self from the extant world remains a reality to be faced by all, especially philosophers. The miracle of the creation of a living mind reaches its end. Biological death has to be directly faced and apprehended.
But there is a metaphysical way of apprehending individual existence; It is a shame to think and feel as if Kant never revealed the relativity of time and space. The latter are pseudo-dimensions erected by the mind as a practical affair in order to orient oneself amidst the chaotic quality of being. An individual's existence is a permanent fact that cannot be abolished because it seems to be terminated by the passage of time. One exists in eternity, Development of this awareness is a joyous feeling as was poetically recorded by Nietzsche. Although it is impossible to escape entirely the instinctual demand to perceive life as existing in a space-time continuum, it is possible to become aware of the relativity of these dimensions and come to a more profound appraisal of one's place in the universe. What has been created cannot become uncreated. The only possible reason for the incredible complexity of life processes is the meaningful creation of an individual. Meaning implies existence in eternity. Otherwise. "it is just a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."
St. Augustine wrote that the only two problems of philosophy were God and the soul, but it is quite appropriate to remove God from this list. The unique phenomenon of metaphysics is the development of an individual consciousness. The problem of human existence is to make this development occur. Analytic thought is a movement away from this process, albeit it may be necessary for controlling the physical elements of one's existence. It is a loss to abdicate direction of this development to institutions of any type as spontaneity of thought is the sine qua non of metaphysical knowledge. The opposite of this knowledge is not error but ignorance, obtuseness, cowardice or shallow materialist thinking.
The creation of values is the special sign of a metaphysical consciousness. Every person is guided by values, the question is whether they are created or obtained second hand. The best way of judging an individual is to ascertain the nature of his values. There is no reason to shrink from this judgement, it is far better than judgements based on race, ethnicity, religion or even behavior. It is impossible to live without values, but to live fully one must create his own. Otherwise one is a puppet of society or an animal left to his primitive instincts.
The concept of metaphysics has been held in bad repute throughout the age of science. Paul Tillich, who is one of the most important of twentieth century metaphysical philosophers, felt constrained to abandon the word entirely in favor of ontology. However, its meaning in his writings is the same. Nietzsche, whose entire life and works were dedicated to metaphysical values, refused to accept the term, preferring to think of himself as a psychologist and devotee of "Wissenschaft' (science in its broadest sense). For him, metaphysics meant belief in God, heaven, hell, immortality, and mendacious religious dogmas. But he understood the importance of the soul even if he criticized the Christian concept of it. The idea "reverence for the soul" comes from Nietzsche, not Albert Schweitzer. The inescapable fact is that the idea of a metaphysical self or soul is more in accord with the phenomena of Homo sapiens than are the dogmas of a scientific neurology.
We who live in the shadow of the overpowering forces of scientific technology can hardly be capable of assessing their impact upon ourselves. Sartre was correct in his thought that there is no escape of the individual from the situation in which he finds himself. Our qualities and values are enormously determined by it. But the image and the ideal of the metaphysical self can still be brought into consciousness and valued more highly than they are today. The metaphysical need can be acknowledged without violating one's intellectual conscience and can be rigorously pursued in full accord with the facts of existence. Philosophy is the name given to the effort to live up to this high aspiration.
(c) Richard Schain 2003
E-mail: email@example.com Web site: http:---
II. 'ENLIGHTENMENT: PARADIGM THAT LASTED THREE AGES' BY HENK TUTEN
Away with feelings, the paradigm of Continental Rationalism
The 20th century philosopher Marcuse wrote in 'One Dimensional Man' that the philosopher's job is "to understand [the world in which we live] in terms of what it has done to man, and what it can do to man."
I asked myself the question: what if Enlightenment wasn't really enlightening? This was based on the observation that skills improved tremendously since the end of the 17th century, but wisdom grew only a little. Improvement is mainly seen in technical detail (skill), and as a consequence of that even the exploration of space. But principally that knowledge was already implied in Cartesian mathematics. It only needed thorough and tedious refining (computers proved to be excellent in this work). Later I found out that partly Nietzsche already tried to warn us with all his might about the same mistake. It need not be that bad, many of my insights I'm sure can be found as well in Zen Buddhism. My doubt proved to lead to remarkable insights. I convinced myself, now I'll set out to convince you.
One hint: Think of how Mandelbrot pictures can take enormous skill (like all fractal presentations), but don't take very special knowledge. The skill part came within reach through computers and inkjet color printers. Not because IBM, Microsoft, HP and other multinationals have a direct telephone connection to truth.
In my opinion the inheritance of Enlightenment is twofold:
(1) neglecting the difference between 'religion' and belief (god-belief or secular belief) (and as consequence mistaking skill for knowledge or wisdom)
(2) neglecting the difference between absolute and relative truth (ignoring feeling)
In this article I'll try to follow the words of Marcuse, and defend my view. I'll use the following steps:
The New Science
Rationalism takes personal views as absolute facts
Skill versus Knowledge
1. The New Science
At present without thinking one uses the notion 'rational'. But this word in the present meaning exists only since "the Enlightenment" end 17th century. This stream of thought was triggered by the 'New Science' of thinkers like Newton, Galileo and Boyle. Newton gave the start for space travel (gravity), Galileo invented the bricks of the universe (atoms), and without Boyle no 'boiling' (gas-pressure laws). It heavily diminished the role of the until then very important feelings. Leading philosophers of the time like Leibniz regarded feelings as nothing more than an expression of logic (that influence is still felt at present and surely not in a positive way). Largely the essentials of rationalism haven't changed since then. Nowadays the meaning of the word 'rational' came to point at logical behavior but then it stressed the rock hard belief that the view of the world rested on unchangeable laws of nature. Empirically to observe signs of this nature gave through 'logic' a la Descartes a clue about these laws.
As a consequence of the new science, philosophy was split in two disciplines: empiricism and rationalism on one side and metaphysics or pure rationalism on the other. Empiricism and rationalism differed only in the importance given to experience, metaphysics didn't use experience at all. The new science was undermining the validity of metaphysics. People in an age of strong absolutism and god-belief don't throw away all their certainties. So they constructed a knowledge that was both absolute and like a religion. Absolute truth (or human knowledge) became a replacement for god-belief. It is no coincidence that Kant in case of pure reason speaks about "theological knowledge". The resulting system of thought, however liberating, was unwillingly a source of dogmatism. Feelings more and more were forced to lead a dormant life, and hided in art, children's literature, street culture and anarchism.
Rationalism delivered amazing technical feats, resulting in flying to the moon. Rationalism unrestrained by feelings gave us nazism, communism, capitalism and 2 world-wars. It gave rise to the typical arrogant human view that sharks were killing machines (just an example). But Capitalism changed the majority of people in leading circles into economic sharks. In the 21st century feelings are rediscovered. Science finds amongst others that sharks are amazing largely un-understood intelligent creatures. Certainly not aiming for economic exploitation of the universe. It's in the line of expectation to see a return of the almost lost value 'respect', as replacement for the value of money or wealth.
2. Rationalism takes personal views as absolute facts.
Discussions often mistakenly focus on normal facts. These are not essential, and neither is the truth or falsity of the way in which they were derived. This common trick only creates a fog around the view. Any knowledge system consists of basic facts or basic presumptions as a point of departure of a view. All other facts are derived from the basic facts using that view.
In mathematical functions nobody sees the position of the axis-system as essential. It is the shape of the curve that matters. In the same way basic presumptions are nothing more than the fixation-point of a view. They add nothing to the shape of that view. The statement that something 'is a fact' only has meaning if the view used in this case is known. Using a rational view has become so common, that facts are presumed to be rational. But rationalism only is the plane formed by the following view: "IF a=b AND b=c THEN a=c."
That works well if a,b and c are data, because then a, b and c are all members of, for instance, rational numbers (the hidden presumption).But what if a, b and c are feelings, and if feelings cannot be reduced to rational numbers? Because that's what one of the early rationalists presumed (Leibniz). Only he didn't prove it, or derive it using rational view (logic) from basic presumptions. He believed in absolute truth, or the truth that everything is rational (only he never said so).
a=GOOD combined with knowing that a is a feeling raises the question: for whom? What is GOOD for A might be BAD for B. So what does a=GOOD mean in the case of feelings? Only that something raises feeling a in A. It might raise feeling a in B as well, but not the same one as for A. In this case the link (a,A) and (a,B) seems essential., (a,A) is GOOD and (a,B) is BAD. So if something is a member of A THEN the resulting feeling is GOOD, and if that something is a member of B then in case of a it feels BAD. Then feelings are not simple absolute data, but are relative.
That's common knowledge, but difficult in straightforward rationalism. Otherwise everybody would love the same person. Very good for his or her sex life, but also very unpractical. Accepting feelings is believing in relative truth. Why is it then that so many dogma's are found around religion? Because religion is the formal part of belief, it says nothing about believing itself. Only the word 'religion' became almost similar to god-belief.
(There at least is one certainty, everything becomes history.)
The Frenchman Descartes got world famous as the founder of rationalism by extracting indications about such absolute laws from nature in his typical method (analysis). That's why this stream of thought in America is sometimes called the French Enlightenment. Under the assumption of continuity of the laws of nature, he cut natural objects into ever smaller pieces. Jigsaw puzzles of those pieces became his truth. Try to cut a human in small pieces, and then to construct the living being again. But Descartes attended surgical sessions (see the painting by Rembrandt), purely with the aim of discovering the building method. Present surgery mainly still uses this method. This method lead to great accomplishments, but at the same time is rather limited. It is based on a technical way of insight (way of understanding), and causes people to work according to methods that they don't fully understand (i.e. surgical operations).
The technical side of 'rational' research fitted men better than women (that's why since then temporarily this sex got into second place. The man who wrote in the mid 20th century the song "It's a man's world" was more right than he thought.).
Descartes believed that mathematics transcended the senses, contributing to an overall mathematical order to the universe that is independent of senses. He said that humans are somehow able doubt. Thus, the famous logical statement "cogito ergo sum" (I think therefore I am). However, the I is not a physical "I", it is an immaterial mind that is identified by "I". Cartesian Dualism is the theory that there are two fundamental types of entity: mind and matter. Physical bodies can be expressed in the dimensions breadth, width and depth. Minds however are entirely immaterial and non-spatial; they are the "I" Descartes refers to. In his view the mind is the only entity that can think (stones can't), and his cogito argument is used by him to prove the existence this mind.
In short, the method of Descartes was based on 4 steps:
(1) accepting as "truth" only clear and distinct ideas
(2) breaking a problem down into parts
(3) building a systematic synthesis from the parts
(4) deduction as a means to derive new conclusions
Truth was based on so called prescriptive 'innate' ideas, a kind of theoretical axioms. I.e. based on human-made concepts. Descartes doesn't seem arrogant to me, so this in essence arrogant assumption (humans deciding what is truth or not) must have been the spirit of the time.
Thus, (5) The existence of a non-physical mind.
Looking at this Descartes proved himself to be a rationalist, but not a pure rationalist (metaphysician). Not like Hume believing in analysis based only on praxis only, but still giving it a strong role. In fact seen through 21st century eyes Descartes uses a spreadsheet-like approach. This works as long as the researched phenomena are 'smooth', and can be expressed in a neat mathematical function. But but not if they can't be expressed in mathematical functions or if these are not differential or not integrable. So Descartes' truth was in fact a mathematical one. Simple phenomena fit without problem in integrable mathematical functions, and fitted his idea of clear and distinct. More complex phenomena were simply ignored. This simplifying of reality is the biggest threat of rationalism.
Nietzsche was the first important philosopher who really saw the dangerous consequences of only absolute thinking. But through his (not deliberate) misleading use of the word "religion", one generally thought that he only meant the Christian church. He attacked the church as the main source of dogmatism, but without real reason he became known as enemy of the church. His 'Superman' combined absolute and relative thinking. The concept meant things like independence and use of own creativity.
The term 'Continental Rationalism' traditionally refers to a 17th century philosophical movement starting with Descartes. It soon got the name Enlightenment, and started with famous names like Descartes, Kant and Hume. After Descartes, several dozen scientists and philosophers continued his teachings throughout continental Europe, and accordingly were titled Cartesians.
Some of them strayed little from the scientific and metaphysical theories of Descartes. Others used his theories in Calvinistic theology, making this more...rational.
A few philosophers influenced by Descartes were more original and these people are included under the more general title rationalists. These principal rationalists include the Dutch philosopher Spinoza, the Frenchman Malebranche, the German Leibniz, and the German Christian Wolff. Maybe Wolff was responsible for the neglect of feeling in rationalism, for along with Leibniz this influential philosopher in his 'Wolffian theory of reality' saw feeling as purely logical.
Rationalists believed in a truth deduced by mathematical reasoning from innate ideas (a kind of theoretical axioms as opposed to experience). I.e. infinite perfection.
Empiricism in the 17th century was a rival movement, it was said to be founded by the Englishman John Locke and therefore is often named British Empiricism. On two key points principal Empiricism differs from real Rationalism.
(1) Empiricists rejected proof by only mathematical methods, and also believed in perceptions and emotions.
(2) Empiricists also used deductive reasoning, but they more often used the inductive method promoted by the British writer Francis Bacon.
Kant tried to take a position between empiricism and rationalism. This way he constructed a weird empiricism (experimental observation based on a priori knowledge), as well a a weird rationalism (because his hero was Hume, experience was given an important position).
Rationalism as initiated by Descartes is at present generally seen by philosophers as being a revolution in science, or a paradigm shift. But in evolutionary eyes it is far too early to say that this phenomenon will stick. Amongst others this way of thinking replaced the use of Aristotelian ideas in Western Europe. Especially it replaced the idea of 'imagination' as representing consciousness.
In the world of mathematics, Descartes is known as founder of analysis (think of notions like differentiating and integrating). In fact he was the godfather of computer math, because he showed that continuous functions can without problem be divided in minute parts. And that afterwards the same function can be constructed from those tiny subfunctions. Analysis of objects in tiny subparts as was done in rationalism doesn't easily lead to overview. Even worse, in practice this method was applied on most discontinuous functions too. Mathematical functions are artificial, and discontinuity in real life generally asks for other methods. Empiricism had the same weakness, but contrary to rationalism it accepted emotions (though as subjective). In rationalism pure thought was considered objective ( because of intuition of absolute truth) and experience as subjective. Empiricism took exactly the counter position. In the middle was Kant, who tried to prove that both views were objective (that's why he invented the dubious idea 'a priori').
At present philosophers generally consider both pure thoughts as thought triggered by experiences as subjective. But 'absolutists' (like Popper) believe in the existence of only one basic set of laws of nature. Relativists (like Kuhn) hold a different view and presume laws to be dependent of the used system of thought. So Popper with his Critical Rationalism stayed closer to his in principle dogmatic 17th century colleagues. Despite his sympathetic side he chose in essence to believe in an absolute truth behind the manifold subjective interpreted phenomenons.
In the 18th century the christian church too came to embrace rationalism. Amongst others that is recognized in the fanaticism to convert others to this belief, because of belief in one truth. The trust in one's own beliefs is not typically rational, but is caused by its dogmatic traits. This trait fitted church perfectly (church seen as religion, not as belief). In the 16th century in this way the Spanish without thinking destroyed a whole system of thought in South-America. Many wars were initiated by two conflicting truths.
At present rationalism as initiated by Descartes is generally seen by philosophers as a revolution in thought or a paradigm shift). But seen through evolutionary eyes it's much too soon to conclude that this way of thinking will stay. Amongst others this view replaced in Western Europe the Aristotelian way of thinking. Especially it replaced the notion 'imagination' (the ability to fantasize) as a way to present consciousness. Destroying statues may have been a way to destroy remaining consciousness.
5. Skill versus Knowledge
Without doubt human knowledge improved since the end of the 17th century. But not that much as generally thought. What improved tremendously are particular skills. The methods of Descartes were perfected and showed amazing results in almost every science. Sure, sharks are still superior in a man-to-man fight, but no match for nuclear bombs. Knowledge however mainly improved through Darwin and the resulting discovery of DNA. Even the relativity theory of Einstein could be seen as a general application of Cartesian math. So seen from space, not much has happened on earth.
Try to see the road to wisdom as forever widening, and improving skills as detailing on a narrowing road. Airplanes reach new destinations, while bicycling mainly is sympathetic. Both are infinite processes, only one ends in every time in a bigger space, and the other in a point.
This new era, a new scientific paradigm, was called 'Enlightenment'. That indicates the dawning of a bright future after the spiritually dark Middle Ages. When asked in a newspaper what this word exactly meant even Kant could only speculate. Anyway it is far too early too conclude that this was a successful new direction in evolution. Humans count the days, but evolution works with ages.
What is evident is that in leading circles 'ratio' became much more important than feeling, and that technology progressed much faster than knowledge. The 17th century in Europe is also called "Age of Absolutism". The 21st century applies for the name "Age of Terrorism". At present philosophers are still debating the difference between the absolute and relative view. Indeed, just like at the start of Enlightenment.
All my articles are on the Internet. I use referential sources only to check my points of view, never to copy pieces of it. Anyway I hate articles with miles of references. In case you have a question just send me an e-mail.
(c) Henk Tuten 2003
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Web site: http:---
III. 'THE TRUTHS OF THE SOUL' BY MICHAEL LEVY
Many folks have asked me "what is your philosophy and how has it guided you through your life." Rather than give examples of actions I have taken by living my philosophy, I feel it is far better to describe the philosophy so that everyone can understand, they too can live an authentic, productive and creative life on earth.
There can be no philosophy that does not include our true identity and that is our soul. It is our life force and the source of our intelligence. Our personality/ ego is governed by our intellect and thus can get very lost in dark shadows of dogma and man made doctrines.
The truths of the soul may be difficult to locate for many people, however I will open up the meaning and philosophy of the soul and spark our conscious minds attention in a mode no other dimension can extend.
On September 11th 2001, the world was shaken by an act of terror that killed many thousands of innocent people. It was an act of insanity perpetrated by humans who had lost total control of their true identity and their meaning of life. Where extreme dogmas reign, devastation will surely follow. This highlights an absolute lack of spirit's wisdom. It relies on feeble-minded doctrines that only a mis-conditioned Ego can consume. This is indicative of a society that has not found sound philosophy to guide their lives.
With increasing certainty the world in which we live is becoming more negative in all aspects of everyday life. Many of the world's religions have ministered to humankind's needs for the past few thousand years. They are now being abandoned as science makes new discoveries and more scandals in religious leadership hit the headlines. The folks who preach sin and damnation seem to be saying "Do as I say, not as I do." The education system only wants to feed students with knowledge of past text books and finds it very difficult to accept anything other than an attitude that projects, "That is the way we do things around here." So what are we to think and who are we to believe?
The financial markets are also plagued with villainy and corruption. Many investors have been hoodwinked by the greedy few. Now fear reigns supreme as many pensions funds have been flushed down the drain with the likes WorldCom, Enron and on and on. Other outrages are waiting in the wings and will no doubt follow.
On top of all this numerous wars are being fought in many points on our small globe and terrorist continues to plague society.
People seem to be more miserable now than at any time in human history and yet most folks in the West have all the modern gadgets and "things" at their disposal. It seems more means less. More materialistic gains ... less serene happiness. More "tasty" foods ... less healthy lives. More information technology ... less of spirit's wisdom More stressful thoughts that lead to heart attacks and cancer. Less meditation and serene relaxation that heals and protects. This translates into more wealth and less health. More money to buy pills that will camouflage our sickness, but will seldom cure. More greedy corporate companies, less compassionate caring people.
Until humankind can understand the true meaning of life, more and more grief will be heaped on a world population confused and dismayed by its own self inflicted Be_lie_f systems. Only by comprehending true universal laws can humans exist in peace and harmony and no amount of debate can overcome duality thinking.
Good and bad do not exist. There is only the blueprint of a human race that is meant to live in peace and harmony without personal perceptions that contain falsehoods and illusions. Negativity can never be reasoned away in a dualistic world, hell bent on its own destruction. Humanity can only survive this onslaught of deceits and lies by accepting universal wisdom that transmits a truthful message. We are just a strand in the web of life. What harm we inflict on our plant and other life forms, we certainly inflict on ourselves.
Just where do humans get their information from? Who gave Einstein his theories? How did humans discover the electromagnetic force field? How did mortal beings find ways of sending pictures though space and into our homes? Could it be the same intelligence that built the pyramids thousands of years ago? Is it the same intelligence that gave us the Ten Commandments? Did it cultivate Jesus, Buddha and Mohammed? Just what is a human? Let's become an archeologist, dig a little deeper and explore our universal body.
The human body is a mass of trillions of particles. Each particle has it's own intelligence and energy source. When we see a particle under a microscope we find most of it is empty space and all the parts are linked by strands and threads. Each particle bonds to its neighbor and together they make a human body.
All the solid things we see around us are all made in the same way as a human. Particles of matter bonded together to make a shape or form. The different mix of matter particles makes each component different to the touch and sight. It is the invisible intelligence within the emptiness of each "thing" that gives it substance and a solid appearance. A rock looks and feel solid but most of it is empty space containing intelligence. If it was not smart it would fall apart. Trees, grass, flowers, mountains, soil, everything contains intelligent energy.
When that intelligent energy can move and think, we refer to it as an animal, bird or an insect, etc. But everything we see, touch, smell, feel and taste contains strands of intelligent energy.
Now the big question is, what is this invisible energy and how can we benefit from it to improve our existence here on earth? Our brains are made up of the same stuff as everything else that has been described here. The distinction of a human brain seems to be the fact that we can access fresh intelligent energy in the gaps between our thoughts.
Throughout the universe, dark matter glues together all the planets, stars and other particles, floating around in space. The electromagnetic forces are part of that glue. It assembles matter and helps to bond the particles into shapes and solids. The intelligence that produced electromagnetism is the same intelligence that created our minds. Just as we have billions of particles bonded together in our bodies, our minds are a multifaceted dimension of intelligent energy. During our evolvement, we have been able to harvest vast crops of thought. As we develop our wisdom, our capacity to learn additional information continues to increase.
To describe the imponderable is no easy task and yet it really is so simple. For sure the human being is a complex entity and the more sophisticated we become, the more complex we make our lives. We are now at the point of transmitting information at the speed of light and running faster and faster to a destination with no name. Mankind's curiosity will always lead it on a merry dance, but our dance is losing it's merriment.
We all have the ability to find the answers to the imponderable. We may not understand how it is all put together and we may never be able to read the mind of the creator that engineered our existence, but we can tune into the intelligent energy that is all around us. Once we start to understand this energy exists, we begin to realize that the intelligent energy is actually who we are. This is our true identity. It is this intelligence that keeps our bodies functioning and it performs millions upon millions of actions in our bodies every second. If we don't grasp this knowledge then we just end up living with the intellect of learning, dominated by an out of tune society and culture.
To rely solely on intellect will cause us to swim isolated in a Quantum aquarium of darkness. It will not be long before a large wave of negative energy consumes our existence. Oh yes, there is also a negative energy. Everything has a positive and negative charge. The opposite to intelligent energy is ignorant energy. When humans behave in a chaotic manner they are tuned into ignorance. It could start out as just a simple lie or unfeeling word. Many times it could and usually does end up as a crisis of one sort or another.
On a larger scale propaganda by ignorant governments extends to wars. This primitive action transpires because we cut off the true source of intelligent energy from the part of our being that needs it the most; The conscious part of our brain.
Wisdom for the mind comes from the gaps in our thoughts. We need to be fed intelligence continually or we expire out of ignorance. That is the reason humans have destroyed many of there own species for thousands of years. That is the reason mankind has been wrecking mother earth for the past few centuries. We are unacquainted with our true identity and if we do not acknowledge who we are, then how can we function properly on a day to day basis? We become lost sheep who have gone astray.
If we could read the intelligence inside a rock we would be amazed. It would tell us we need a solid foundation in our lives. We need to keep ourselves grounded to mother earth. For if we should lose our connection, then we would become a rolling stone that would cause an avalanche of useless actions to crash into the face of oblivion.
If we could hear a tree talk it would tell us we need to be able to sway with nature's forces. We need to bend a little or else we will snap in half with all the pressure of modern living.
If we could listen to a flower it would tell of all the beauty there is in this world and if we let it pass unnoticed then we would have lived a wasted existence.
If we could pay attention to a fruit or vegetable's information, we would understand that it tells each molecule and cell in our bodies how to retain good health. We would hear them whisper to our cells that they need wholeness to achieve goodness.
It would tell of other foods that are refined and have all their intelligence taken out of them, so we are eating dumb, ignorant foods. Foods which have no real meaning to our bodies other than distorting it's well being.
Oh! there is so much intelligence around us to tune into. So much information and so little willingness to take time out to listen. If we could listen into the voice of time itself it would tell us we have such a short season. That to waste a second in worry is foolish behavior fed by our ignorance of not knowing the genius that lives within us ALL.
Intelligence and Ignorance are both seeking the same home in our minds. Both wish to fill the same space. Which one are we going to allow to enter?
(c) Michael Levy 2003
E-mail: MIKMIKL@aol.com Web site: http:---