Thursday, November 28, 2019

Stoics and the Divine

In the 16th and 17th Centuries more humanist thinkers blended the Christian tenets with Stoicism. And the principle reason for this had to do with the Stoic idea of a natural order, or what they sometimes called Divine Reason. My own argument would be that the natural order or Divine Reason are expressions that simply attempt to explain those parts of our world over which we as individuals have less, or no control and where we feel most unsafe. Take for example the more ancient idea of The Fates. On the one hand they were three Goddesses who weaved our individual destiny, and to give a narrative of hope, each Goddess had different personalities ranging from nice to nasty. Each Goddess had a name and no doubt far too often the nicer Goddess got lots and lots of presents on her special day, which really pissed off the nastier Goddess who only very rarely got a present for being particularly unpleasant to someone every one hated. On the other hand The Fates in mythology were much less motivated, they were three angry blind men, dour as aging gardeners in the shorter days, randomly hacking away at the invisible strands that determine our destiny, a brutal but necessary business. In this respect for Stoics it was Knowledge that supplied us with the necessary armor to protect us from reacting poorly to the shears of the blind men or the moods of the weavers. Then, when Divine Reason becomes an Almighty Creator, an all knowing entity, and often he or she passeth our understanding, a problem arises. Is Nature fundamentally good or fundamentally evil. Difficult to tell. One answer has always been an iteration of good battling evil which reaches a zenith of absurdity with "Good Guys with Guns, Bad Guys with Guns." From other branches of understanding there's Survival of the Fittest.

By the end of the 20th Century, in what's called Modern Stoicism, the Ancient idea of Divine Reason was modified so as to better fit the templates of thinking, or the conceptual frameworks, of recent times. In terms of Knowledge, a great deal has happened in the last 2500 odd years, just look around, yet how to maintain emotional balance when confronted by that over which we have no control remains a singular preoccupation in just the same way as it always has. Modern Stoicism seeks a clearer understanding of the nature of Divine Reason in scientific areas such as cognition, psychology and so on. These are areas where the language used is the language of science. In other words The Fates as weavers of destinies, or The Fates as bad tempered blind men, might well be up there somewhere, but they are interpreted not through the Knowledge of myth, but through a Knowledge built around how our minds physically interact with our daily life. It's also the case that very often from these recent explorations of mind it emerges that we people are motivated to find a meaning in life, without which we are more prone to an unhappiness, frustration or whatever. Worth noting it's not The Meaning, it's A Meaning. And here you can never really get away from that ancient prophet who fortunate enough to find himself in conversation with his God, asked "What are you. what shall I call you?" Clearly not a question God had ever been asked before. On that occasion God was a Stoic, his most unsatisfactory reply was, "I am THAT I am." And you can kind of see in the Divine answer a Being in Progress, a going somewhere, who knows where, trust me, even though I'm eternal, I'm as adrift as everyone else, so just get over yourself.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Stoics

There's an increased interest in the Schools of Stoicism. Interesting also is the extent to which Rand's version of Objectivism is using this new interest in Stoicism to promote their own incredibly depressing ideas, and as a rule with Rand's objectivists they basically spend more time attempting to monetize their almost Satanist template of thinking than they do actually thinking about their understanding with any degree of objectivity. Stoicism is about how a person manages his or her relationship with the world in conjunction with a declaration about Good and Bad. For Stoics Knowledge was the ultimate virtue, as opposed to something like self centeredness, or wealth, or health, or festive spirit. And with this virtue of Knowledge in mind, a Stoic was in a position to react wisely in his or her development of a relationship with nature, which 2500 years ago was thought of in terms of the order of things and was sometimes called Divine Reason.

Back then too, the Natural Order, or Divine Reason, were Fate, Providence, circumstance of birth and such. The sorts of things we people in our daily lives have less control over and get very stressed about. Invariably the more evangelistic in out midst see Stoicism as a more deterministic set of beliefs that result in a kind of fatalism. This criticism is in my view way off the mark, and I say this because a person's relationship with the world is an entirely personal relationship, and furthermore a person's relationship with the world is unique to each individual. In short, a Stoic is one who wisely adapts their will to the world, as opposed to endeavoring to adapt the world to their will, and they do this on the understanding that Knowledge in all its manifestation is the ultimate good. This, their argument goes, produces a balance in the passions that Stoics reckon results in a lasting happiness well worth pursuing. In all the categories and theories of Knowledge one theme remains constant. This theme is,  understandings based on Facts gleaned from experience and learning.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Iscariot

 It was the man from Iscariot who betrayed the embodiment of his meaning in life. Secure in their oath, they all said they never would.

Wonder if Stone will falter or feel betrayed by the understanding that the purpose of his meaning is no longer. When that happens we search for new meaning.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Not Bad for Once

Have to think the Founding Fathers are thinking seriously about celebrating, inviting a few friends, bring a bottle type thing. A bunch of old soldiers now, they'll grunt approvingly or jeer at the mention of this or that elected representative. Franklin, my own favorite, visiting London England he didn't drink the beer, instead for liquids, he wander up the Thames River to where London City's effluent had yet to contaminate the drinking water. Today the great man might even by flying a celebratory kite.

And your correspondent is also more positive in his appraisal of his fellow citizens. His own celebratory kite is a release from the mind of a shackle that's prevented him from contemplating The Rabbit of Usk ever since you know when. Mind you whether the Jordan River has been crossed still remains to be seen. But it's the little things that count, as Dewi Sant was fond of telling his parishioners. He was a short man, unassuming, gentle of heart, a definite nerd in many respects, and poof he became Patron Saint of Wales.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Public Trials

Big day for our struggling Republic. Wind chill, technical issues and snow blindness, so not sure what might be happening in the Halls of Power. Possible of course there'll be the beginnings of an orderly and sensible discussion around whether our president has behaved in a disgraceful and disgusting manner and should be removed from high office, marched to the scaffold, make it a TV Spectacular, have little boys throw rotten eggs at him, sell tee-shirts and beaky hats. The scene reminds me a little of the 12 formative years I spent within the boundaries of English Boarding schools, which were about as far from a Republic as you can get, inspired as they were by the Spartan's treatment of their own youth, who at the age of seven were forced from their homes, out into the world, where they were to fend for themselves through brigandage and theft. A character building exercise apparently, a sorting of the political chaff, I guess. Speaking of which, kind of hoping to again witness a little chaff sorting, but you kind of need your own backbone to do that, none of this what do the polls say nonsense.

Back in the formative years we too had our factions and we had a few totally inadequate high office holders, Head of House they were called, horribly obnoxious spotty faced, entitled delinquents, one of whom wore a cravat at the supper table. We on the lower tables had a visceral reaction to this particular Head of House, his every word and movement, and the prime object of our lives was through acts of aggravation that made his life a living hell, he was big on what was called Dumb Insolence, not saying anything but looking at him funny, the punishment for which was three days calling. You got up, you had cold bath, you dressed, you reported your presence for inspection to him as he lay in bed and you had to do that three times. Tie out of place, and whoop another days calling, your correspondent has seven days straight in his permanent record. The Head of House was found one early day light savings morning beating his own bloody head against the bathroom mirror, it was self centered and very thoughtless of him to get so worked up about his exams, make such a mess of the bathroom just before breakfast. He disappeared from our midst, and much grumbling as it took around two weeks for our House Master to get our mirror replaced. The Assistant Head Boy was promoted and for the rest of that year you could smoke in the toilets whenever you damn well wanted to and some of us, to test the new boundaries, started walking around with our hands in our pockets.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The Tapestry

In every possible configuration of a society there are flaws, many of them unseen, unpredicted and invariably those flaws set the scene for a societal change of some sort. What might be called Modernists reckoned it was possible to do something about those flaws, and when you're talking Modernists you're really talking from the Age of Reason to not so long ago. Modernists have an understanding of truth, it's got a capital T and it's out there even if it might be just beyond grasping in an absolute and certain way.

Post Modernists agree with this, but for Post Modernists one of the flaws in society was the capacity of powerful interests to control how truth was perceived. Indeed it wasn't the Post Modernists that caused the current conundrums, rather, from Tobacco is Good for You all the way to Climate Hoax their suspicion around the motivations of sources of information is demonstrably justified. Short term, the whole thing's a sort of basic hedonistic idiocracy stumbling toward extinction, but long term we learn our painful lessons. Small comfort it's all part of the tapestry.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Winter

Your correspondent will not be waxing on about the the many flaws in the design of our species, certainly won't mention the tragedy of not having been blessed with a capacity to hibernate through the shorter and more pointless days.

And the reason he won't be suggesting that a couple of months of total absence from consciousness might benefit us all in unimaginably wonderful ways, everyone gone for a bit, "Have a Happy Hibernation" cards, balloons and so on, is because, apparently, it's a boring subject.