Thursday, October 28, 2010

About This Blog (under construction)

This blog is about experiencing ourselves as fully alive--and more importantly--fully human

Toward this end, we're about developing a new context to better envision the living of our lives together; a context that doesn't rely on our contraptions, but instead, relies on the very genius which  makes us human in the first place: our Mind and Heart. 

Contraption:  "Originally a western English dialectical word, probably made from the words, contrive and trap."  (Wiktionary.) 

Clocks rely on traps to change mechanical motion into readable time.  And since Newton, we've been contriving our life together in terms of  machines like clocks.  Which isn't all bad, especially when it replaces a world contrived by superstition and unseen spookiness. Yet despite our success in growing beyond a spooky world, how come our time is marked by malaise, frustration, anger, fear, and "ideology-ism"?  Could it be that the very source of our complaint flows from not feeling ourselves truly alive and truly human? And if this is the case, where is our source stopped? How does a life lived in contraption differ from a life lived from mind and heart?

In other words, we can live our lives via contraption, but 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Considering Intellectual Integrity: A Domain as Real as Biology?

Part two in an experimental series with PJ who writes about mind at: 

We're not just biological, we're intellectual.  In fact, I wonder if we're not  more intellectual than biological.  Maybe, we could say that when ever any species  predominately experiences their living through intellect rather than biology, that species,  potentially speaking, is human in its being.

What is it to be human then?  Is our exploration leading us to assert simply, that Human Being is the one who's connection to its environment is primarily intellectual rather than biological?

I think I stalled in discussing Saul's ideas, because as I set out to actually write about them, I began to realize just how much we lack an ability to see this intellectual domain that we are. We somehow can't yet give it the force of reality we attribute to biology- or physicality:  Physics is a hard science; Psychology is a soft one.  And, what's become so strange to me, is how  we'll go all ga ga over the weirdness of quantum domains, but when it comes to the existence of an Intellectual domain, the best we muster, is to say something like "wow"- our brains are like really cool computers...

But intellectual life is not computing life.  It's something a whole lot more-  both in ability and kind isn't it?

Another question:  which is more real, Brain or Mind?

I was reading some Alfred North Whitehead a couple of evenings ago before going to sleep.  The problem however came when I read this thought and the ensuing excitement revived me for another hour.  His thought was timely and pertains to our questions.  Let me show you:

Whitehead talked about physical reality in terms of its primary and secondary attributes.  So,  for instance, take the color "teal".  Teal's primary existence is some kind of energy wave with a particular frequency (imagine stretching out a long cooked spaghetti noodle on a table, and with your finger make it into a series of "s" shapes from left to right; this is a model of a thing's primary existence as an energy wave).  As such, there's nothing about it to suggest "greenish blue".  The greenish-blue occurs as a secondary attribute.  However--and this is what aroused me-- that secondary attribute doesn't exist unless there is some kind of receiver that can interpret that wave into our color teal!  Objective reality, the way we typically construe it as something that exists regardless of human observation, is in reality, a bland colorless tangle of spaghetti noodle-like waves that doesn't take on color unless there's an "interpretive" interaction.  (So now I'm wondering which is indeed primary in the color teal- its underlying wave? or a meaningful interaction?  But that's another post.)

"Reality as Interpretive Interaction".  This is the first time that I've uttered this phrase, so it's still a bit over my head- but I'm liking it;  I think my new phrase points to the idea that brains do more than compute in a physical environment,  which in reality, is something that exists through a process of interpretive interaction, rather than the Standard Objective Model we've been employing for the last few centuries.

Here's an interesting twist I'll use to tie things up here:  I have no idea what it's like to see the color teal from a purely biological perspective.  My interaction with the environment is intellectual- not biological.  This also means, that I don't know how my brain experiences the wave length of teal, but I do know how my Mind does....   I'm beginning to see why and how PJ is all ga ga about Mind. 


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Considering Intellectual Integrity

My favorite part in being involved with blogging has been meeting and engaging with people whom I would never had met otherwise.  In fact, the favorite part of my own blog is reading all the thought provoking things you guys write.  I bring this up because with this post, I want to connect with a writer I've gotten to know from 13.7 who calls himself PJ here.  PJ is degreed in aeronautical engineering, business, medicine and psychology; he cites the gravitational center in all this as Mind.  It was his sense of Mind that drew me to him, and it was something he recently wrote which serves as the diving board into my thinking here.

So I'm gonna try something new  and link to his essay on intellectual integrity for you to read. And then I'm gonna write through the ideas I encountered as I worked with his thinking.  And if any of you get inspired to write a piece beyond commentary on your own blog, we'll link that into the pile and see where all our commenting with each other goes!

(Oh- and I think this discussion will get me closer to actually discussing J.R. Saul's ideas...) here's the link:

When I first read PJ's piece, I read it I think with the intentions he meant.  However, something else for me opened up in my encounter: I saw how this thing we call intellectual is the means, or the basis, or the environment, of our being human.  I know we customarily use the word intellectual to denote something like cognitive activity in contrast to emotional activity, but in this moment, I saw the concept intellectual stand for the whole place where we encounter our ability to consider in all its forms- whether they originate from feeling or thinking.  In either case, we ultimately encounter reality through our ideas, and ideas whether simple or complex, red neck or elitist, are things which formulate in something that can't be reduced to brain;  In that moment I saw that domain as our intellect.

Seeing this led me into two other thoughts.  First, being intellectual is not the same as being a brainiac.  I'm saying that any person who has the experience of conversation within themselves--whether that conversation bounces around the ideas of beer preferences, or the ideas of possible sources of gravity--such a being is an intellectual being.

Second, I saw new meaning when my different way of seeing intellectual was coupled with integrity:  Biologically speaking, when our bodies encounter a challenge to their integrity, they communicate through a means we've learned to call symptoms.  What if we learned to see this domain of our existence--which here I'm calling intellectual--with the same force of reality we attribute our biology?  What would the symptoms look like when the integrity of our intellectual domain was challenged?

So there's my diving board.  I don't mean to make this into an argument about definitions;  I'm interested in considering the real human dynamics beneath the language we use to explore them with-- which of course  involves words; we're intellectual being after all.  I'm just saying that I'm not necessarily married to any of them.

Some of my questions include

Can Mind or its subset(?) "intellectual domain" be considered as real as biological bodies?

What would this look like if we did?

What if truth or intellectual integrity was something more than moral? what if it was something structural or ontological to the human life?

Finally, let me add that between our two posts on Intellectual Integrity, the questions and threads might run different courses, which I think would be a great thing.  The point in this is to see where the exploration leads us.  I'm really excited to see where everyone's thinking goes!