Philosophy – Perspectives & Possibilities

Tag: Philosophy

Artwork by Do-Ho Suh | Photographer: Carol M. Highsmith | Source: Library of Congress

The Masses and the Margins

“And the soul is like the eye: when resting upon that on which truth and being shine, the soul perceives and understands and is radiant with intelligence; but when turned towards the twilight of becoming and perishing, then she has opinion only, and goes blinking about, and is first of one opinion and then of another, and seems to have no intelligence.” —Plato, Republic, VI, 508 I worked in inmate rehabilitation for eight years in Read More

Featured Author: George Yancy

On June 19th in the New York Times, George Yancy published a Stone article entitled “Is Your God Dead?” I was so inspired by the power and prose of his piece that I am turning the microphone over today to this brilliant scholar will not only give you a break from my endless ranting, but will hopefully rekindle your outrage and stoke your passion for justice. After I read this piece for the third time (yes, Read More

Title: _MG_3044 | Author: Hugh Letheren | Source: Flickr | License: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Courage and Creativity

It’s scary to be outside the margins of “normality.”

As any person (whether they they think of themselves as creative or not) knows, introducing newness goes hand-in-hand with disruption of established rules and expectations. But if we can find the courage to break out of rigid structures, we may be rewarded with finding a clearer path to joy, meaning, and purpose.

Illustration for the ‘Mansion. Mizgir.’ fairy tales (1910), by Heorhiy Narbut

Experience and Expression

Spending 8 years in juvies and jails certainly changed my perspective on what it feels like to have all your values violated. Fortunately, I was serving time as a counselor for incarcerated inmates in county jails and juvenile delinquency “homes” — not as a convicted felon in a federal prison. I had no trouble responding to inmates’ experiences and helping them find more constructive ways to express themselves. These days I’m wondering if we are really jailing the right people.

Animal Locomotion; Eadweard J. Muybridge (American, born England, 1830 - 1904); 1887; Collotype; 17.8 x 39.4 cm (7 x 15 1/2 in.); 84.XM.628.49. Courtesy of The Getty Museum

Thinking about Thinking

My wife often asks me, “What were you thinking?!!!” My response is usually, “I have no idea!”

But thinking about the way we think is a crucial part of making our lives, and the world around us, better.

"014b," by Elton Eerkens, www.eltoneerkens.tumblr.com

P and E Trump I and S

When I was a kid growing up in the 50s, my whole life revolved around kickball, basketball, running, climbing and hanging out with a neighborhood full of friends. My community consisted entirely of white, Christian, straight (as far as I knew) people. My world was physical and emotional. I measured success by goals scored and games won, and by how many friends I had in the In-Group.

Michigan fall landscape, by Rick Bellingham

Emptiness

I remember the knock on the door. It was 1982, and we were living in Basking Ridge, NJ. A fresh-faced and earnest 10 year-old wanted to know if he could mow our lawn. He said he was saving up to buy a car. Even though I was perfectly capable of mowing the lawn myself, I said, “Fantastic, you’re hired.” Today, 34 years later, we are still friends. Richard is now a 5th degree black belt Read More

www.thezendiary.com

Observation

When I look in the mirror these days I’m shocked that the old and withered face I see doesn’t reflect the way I think or feel. The image makes me acutely aware of how differently I’m viewed by people with whom I come into contact. Strangers see me as an old and irrelevant man – three steps from the nursing home. My friends know differently. And I feel more vital than I ever have in Read More

My grandchildren, Annie and Ezra, on their first day of Pre-K

Imperfect Friends

No friend is perfect. Some let you down. Some disappear in a crisis. Some say the wrong words in their attempts to be helpful. Some just move on. And yet, as individuals, we need friends to survive and grow; and, as a society we need more civility, respect, and acceptance of differences if we are going to resolve the divide that plagues us. In a recent column, David Brooks said: “The great challenge of our Read More

Title: Fox at Malone Bay Campground -2 | Credit: Ray Dumas | License: CC BY-SA 2.0

The Tao of Money

I just spent a few days on Isle Royale, one of the best kept, National Park secrets in the United States. I walked ten miles a day on rugged trails on this spectacular island in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The views were stunning: pristine lakes, lush forests, breathtaking views, and occasional sightings of fox, moose, and wolves. These walks filled me with renewed appreciation for Teddy Roosevelt for founding and funding the National Parks Read More

Title: Patterns of your past | Author: Aristocats-hat | Source: Flickr | License: CC BY-NC 2.0

Wishing and Willing

I am. I can. I wish. “I am” is being. “I can” is becoming. “I wish” is aspiring. Gurdjieff suggested that using these words could motivate us to tune into our higher selves. In his book, Life is Real Only Then, When “I Am”, Gurdjieff said these three impulses must arise and manifest themselves in an evolving person. These words are essential for “the entire sensing of the whole of oneself.” These words reflect the genuine “I” of a person who has reached responsible age.

One Year Crew Returns to Earth | Credit: NASA

Reckless and Righteous

Nicholas Kristof, the New York Times columnist, is a real hero to me. He goes where few journalists dare venture to report on atrocity and abuse. He raises uncomfortable subjects we would prefer to keep hidden or out of our consciousness. He confronts his fellow progressives on our blind spots. He challenges us not to be reckless in our language or righteous in our beliefs. In a recent NYT article, Peter Baker discusses how carelessly Read More

“Modernism 2.0,” by Nick Stathopoulos http://www.nickstath.com

Timelessness and Transcendence

“This trip had dimension and tone. It was a thing whose boundaries seeped through itself and beyond into some time and space that was more than all the Gulf and more than all our lives.” -John Steinbeck, The Log from the Sea of Cortez We just returned from the Sea of Cortez on a trip with National Geographic to watch the whales migrate from the tip of Mexico to the Bering Strait. The beauty of Read More

20101230-dontvnctoyourself by Flickr user ClintJCL https://www.flickr.com/photos/clintjcl/

The Wisdom of Walls

In response to public charges against his high school principle for soliciting sex from a 13 year old, Liam O’Brien, a 16-year-old student at the school, said: “I guess it’s unnerving, but at the same time I almost feel bad because it seems like the Internet creates this wall where people are separated from the reality of their decisions and so they explore things that they normally would never be OK with – that sort Read More

Photo by Sérgio Rola, http://unsplash.com/sergio_rola

Wonder and Wondering

In 1968, I met Stephen Williams at Fort Holabird, Maryland, where we were both enrolled in Army Spy School.

Title: Friedrich Nietzsche | Author: Antonio Marín Segovia

Predators, Panderers, and Peacemakers

I’m a bit of a movie nut. I try to see at least one movie per week. Of the dozens I saw in 2015, there were four films that graphically illustrated the prevalence of plunderers and predators and reinforced my movie habit because they were so powerful, poignant, and provocative. Since I’m posting this article on Christmas Day, I thought it would be appropriate to balance the dark views of society portrayed in these films Read More

"Moon Chest," from Ai Weiwei's exhibition "According To What" | Photographer: CarrieLu

Nietzsche, Nazis, and Now

“A fascist is one whose lust for money or power is combined with such an intensity of intolerance toward those of other races, parties, classes, religions, cultures, regions or nations as to make him ruthless in his use of deceit or violence to attain his ends.” ―Henry A. Wallace When I ride the subway, I often take out my kindle and open up Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil. It transports me immediately from the hustle, Read More

"Stools," by Ai Weiwei | Photo Credit: Daniel Silliman

Stages and States

I just completed an on-line course through MindValley Institute entitled “Beyond Seeking” taught by Ken Wilber, whom I mentioned in my last post. The course triggered so many ideas that I wanted to filter them through my lens and write a post. So here it is. As the title of this post indicates, throughout our lives, we can experience many stages and many states. In my last post, Spiritual Awakening, I constructed scales for Wilber’s Read More

Grass | Author: Johan Blomström

Holism

Holism is the theory that parts of a whole are in intimate interconnection, such that they cannot exist independently of the whole or cannot be understood without reference to the whole, i.e. the whole is more than the sum of its parts. If you believe in the power of synergy, then 2+2 may equal 5. While it is sometimes very useful from a scientific point of view to break things down into smaller and smaller Read More

Transcendental Possibilities

My hunch is that we are all searching for transcendental possibilities, but what in hell does that mean? I have been on a long journey trying to figure out what those possibilities might look like and how I can have any real degree of assurance that what people claim can be true. Thirty-two years ago I co-founded Possibilities, Inc. with Barry Cohen, a PhD philosopher, as a discovery vehicle for this journey. I’ve covered a Read More

Title: The $1.50 Roll | Author: ffunyman | Source: Flickr | License: CC BY-NC 2.0 https://www.flickr.com/photos/ffunyman/3414045884/

Freedom

It’s a terrible feeling and a freeing experience to have your illusions destroyed. As I walked down the streets of Saigon and watched the army trucks full of terrified, tough kids purposely drive through mud puddles so that they could laugh gleefully as the brown, polluted water splashed randomly on the elegant, white, long dresses of the beautiful Vietnamese women I knew my view of the world had been irrevocably shaken.  In the name of Read More

Bell Systems Technical Journal

Getting Distance on Our Problems

Everyone has issues.  They could be physical.  They could be mental.  They could be emotional.  Or they could be a mix of all three.  Some are minor annoyances.  Some are major trauma.  The challenge is to get enough distance on them, so we don’t get lost in them or identify with them.  Our bodies may not work the way we would like them to work…but we are not our bodies.  Our minds might not function Read More

Credit: John Robert Marasigan

Finding Meaning

“The human race is a monotonous affair. Most people spend the greatest part of their time working in order to live, and what little freedom remains so fills them with fear that they seek out any and every means to be rid of it.”
—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Goethe describes well the experience of people who are trying to find meaning while living in the middle.

Author: Elizabeth Lies

Conscious Dualism

Dualism means the tendency of humans to perceive and understand the world as being divided into two discrete categories. Dualism exists in many belief systems including Zoroastrianism, Christianity, Taoism and Confucianism. In these beliefs the universe is divided into the complementary oppositions, e.g. good and evil. In traditions such as classical Hinduism, Zen Buddhism or Sufism, a key to enlightenment is “transcending” this sort of dualistic thinking.