It's so difficult to stop and say...

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Antifascist's picture

It's so difficult to stop and say, "Thank you" as Thom once said quoting the mystic Meister Eckhart, “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.” It's not that I am thankless. I am thankful all the time and just feel that I don't have to express it--even to myself. I have an aversion to expressing deep personal feelings, especially spiritual feelings. Such outward expression seems so artificial even when I know they are genuine. At first, I feel so silly and embarrassed to express my thanks. Yet, I always get a lot out of it. And, therefore, I wonder if there is a mistake in my thinking. Not being able to stop and reflect is a symptom of lack of control over oneself. Lack of spiritual ritual is as bad as empty meaningless ritual.  There has to be a point of contact between Thought and the World.   

I only recently read The Prophet’s Way and learned more about Herr Muller. I have known persons similar to Herr Muller when I was a teenager so his story isn’t a total surprise to me. Both of my parents are American Indian. My mother was half Cherokee Indian and educated in a Cherokee Indian School for young girls during the 1930s. She was a mystic by nature, and believed in Prayer, Dreams, Angels, and Demons. And there is one point in the book Herr Muller said, “See G-d everywhere, keep a Sabbath, send light, eat vegetarian foods as much as possible, mediate and pray, build an alter both in the world and in your heart, commit random acts of mercy, and share your insights with others.”

And so to address this disorder of expression, I placed in a private area of my backyard a four foot statue of an angel with spread wings, with her head bowed while holding her hands cupped in front of her. Whenever it gets dark, I place in the angel’s hands small lights wrapped in clear carnival paper so that it glows and looks like a flame. My wife thinks I totally lost my mind.

Just the other night it was warm, and I walked out to the Angel holding the glowing bundle--her face illuminated with a meditative smile and the light made it appear she only had one wing.  Maybe she is an injured angel, or an undeveloped angel, or both. And it was so relaxing and peaceful and beautiful with the darkness blocking out my surroundings to remove any context of place so that everything has a kind of personal presence standing there showing itself to you. And then easy thoughts came falling down about Wittgenstein, those dull-witted Robot Pigeons from Xenon, and those fascinating self referencing logical spheres that never stop spinning...and I realized that this little tiny warm spot that I once called my spiritual self  spontaneously became a little warmer....and then a tiny little feeble spark bounced long, and then accidentally turned into a barely frail flame, and then that embarrassment of a flame got a little hotter and now the whole thing is all ablaze.

Thank you.


Mantra of Manjusri Bodhisattva (God of Wisdom).

This mantra is believed to enhance wisdom and improve one's skills in debating, memory, writing, and other literary abilities.

Mañjusri is depicted as a male bodhisattva wielding a flaming sword in his right hand, representing the realization of transcendent wisdom which cuts down ignorance and duality. The scripture supported by the lotus held in his left hand is a Prajñaparamita sutra, representing his attainment of ultimate realization from the blossoming of wisdom. Mañjusri is often depicted as riding on a blue lion, or sitting on the skin of a lion. This represents the use of wisdom to tame the mind, which is compared to riding or subduing a ferocious lion.


Antifascist's picture
G_d's speed, Thom Hartmann!

G_d's speed, Thom Hartmann! May you be strong in His Hands!

Antifascist's picture
All Is Full of Love You'll be

All Is Full of Love

You'll be given love
You'll be taken care of
You'll be given love
You have to trust it

Maybe not from the sources
You have poured your life
Maybe not from the directions
You are staring at

Twist your head around
It's all around you
All is full of love
All around you

All is full of love
You just ain't receiving
All is full of love
Your phone is off the hook
All is full of love
Your doors are all shut
All is full of love!
be the little angel

All is full of love, all is full of love
All is full of love, all is full of love ...

collecticon's picture
This is very beautiful.  When

This is very beautiful.  When we can find a place and time to turn off our "monkey mind" we can escape and get in touch with the cosmos.  We have to trust that the natural order of the universe is to grow and that growth is due to love.  Our brains spend far too much time taking in our surroundings and interpreting information based on primitive likes and dislikes.  We tend to get bogged down in negitivity which retards mindfull awareness. Republicans depend on this.  But the brains ability to expand and tap into unforseen areas of the cosmos is almost limitless.  Remember what happens on earth stays on earth.

Antifascist's picture
So I was walking in a nice

So I was walking in a nice commercial area that had many privately owned Boutique and Specialty stores. There are amazingly still small private bookstores. I came on to one store that I am familiar with, an Indian gift store that has clothing, and spiritual paraphernalia—no law against it yet. I walked in and asked spontaneously,  “Where are the g-ds?” I should be more mindful of my comments to strangers. An older woman in her fifties stood up and pointed immediately to her left to a wall where various symbols sat of the many Hindu and Buddhist G-ds as portrayed in Nepal culture. I really like looking in these shops.  I said looking at the wall away from her, “Oh...”

I discovered one g-ddess that I never heard of before. The female principle or sakti, represents the union of wisdom and method--a very impressive ability indeed.  She was half female and was sculpted in brass in the shape of a door handle. But her lower body looked like a mermaid. But back to the upper body--this Naga Kanya had spectacular breasts. I told the lady that I liked the breasts, “But what does it mean?” The lady immediately brought her daughter to explain. The lady’s daughter was unbelievably beautiful: she looked like Sheila Chandra—that beautiful. I forgot to ask her name. Paradigms will do that to you.  She said that this door handle represented a daughter of Nagas known as Naga Kanyas. The Nagas control the rain.  They are rain-givers and are guardians of the Water. They are also called the guardians of the riches of the deep and are supposed to have a jewel in their foreheads. I almost fell down. I keep running into coincidences.

She then gave me a booklet entitled, “Short Description of Gods, Goddesses And Ritual Objects of Buddhism and Hinduism in Nepal.” I showed her a photo that I created of the G-d Shiva. She seemed impressed but didn’t say anything.  Her mother said the brass door handle was forty dollars. I gladly paid. I have a pond that I collect rain water to irrigated my wife’s garden which I help build. So I fastened  the Naga Kanya to a beautifully crafted gate leading to the pond. I interpret the booklet as a lexis given to me by a Indian girl somehow connected with the Water Goddess Naga. I was looking for a new lexis as a tool for discussing Heidegger.

Later, in that pamphlet, I discovered yet another deity which is really a wrathful form of Manjushree (God of Wisdom) in full expression of his powers named “Megh Sambara.” He is the g-d of protection against enemies and thought of as the Buddhist Guardian g-d. It seems where ever there is a g-d, there is a paradigm.

I believe there is a natural affinity between some versions of Hinduism and some versions of Christianity, just as there is a natrual affinity between some versions of Christianity and some versions of Marxism. The unifying power between all of these philosophies has been in front of our noses all along--the Great Christian Theologian, Georg Wilhelm Hegel.

Antifascist's picture
Varuna: G-d of the Sphere of

Varuna: G-d of the Sphere of Space and Life

She said that this door handle represented a daughter of Nagas known as Naga Kanyas. The Nagas control the rain.  They are rain-givers and are guardians of the Water. They are also called the guardians of the riches of the deep and have a jewel in their foreheads. I almost fell down. I keep running into coincidences.

I continued my research because I was very curious about the Naga Kanyas. It turns out that the Nagas, or serpent gods, are subjects of Varuna who is a divinity of the middle sphere, or the space between the earth and sky. He is called the Lord-of-the-Waters, Lord-of-Rivers, and Lord-of-all-that-flows. Varuna represents “Rudras” which are “the principles of life, intermediary between unconscious physical elements and intellect, between the earthly sphere and the sphere of the sun.” The Myths and Gods of India: The Classic Work on Hindu Polytheism, Alain Danielou,(1964) page, 103. He is one of the deities of all intermediate stages of life after creation, that is, as life evolves in the material world and develops patterns in the four spheres of existence: the earth, space, sky, and the constellations. He also rules over the antigods (anything that is an obstacle to self conscious realization) and lives in a golden palace. The Rudras are “the working class of heaven.”

Varuna is the lord of the rain, waters, sea, and oceans—particularly the Western Oceans of the Earth. A fish symbolizes him.

I read that the night before and it was on my mind at various times during the day. After finishing a business trip and driving home near the time of sunset, I stopped at a secluded beach to watch the sun drop below the horizon. While walking along the beach, I began thinking of the great injury to the oceans. The image of oil on the ocean surface as far as the eye can see was too disturbing to visualize and immediately purged it from my mind. This is in addition to the millions of tons of nerve gas and nuclear waste already dumped into the oceans decades ago. This is another debt not counted.  At this very moment--only months after the Gulf of Mexico oil deluge--the nuclear fires of Japan are being cooled with water from the Pacific Oceans: poisonous water is running off tons of nuclear ash into this vast underwater engine of Life. If this sore continues oozing radioactivity into the Pacific Ocean, the only things left alive on planet earth will be cockroaches and Donald Trump—a terrible fate for the roaches.

I caught myself picking up plastic and other trash off the beach as I walked...a seemingly meaningless effort. And being half sick I said apologetically to Varuna, “I will respect water from this day forward. I will not waste water. I will use it to promote life and not death. Please, if it is consistent with Justice, spare me and those close to me the consequences of this great injury to the oceans.” Also, I remembered in the “Short Description of Gods, Goddesses and Ritual Objects of Buddhism and Hinduism in Nepal,” that the Naga Kanyas have a precious jewel in their forehead. The sun began to set and I was getting tired walking in the soft sand. There was a very big block of cement partly submerged in the sand; it might have been part of a stair foundation. It must have weighed about a ton and a half. I sat on the hard cold flat concrete surface with my feet touching the sand. I watched the sun drop slowly toward the horizon. The sun was red and orange and its bottom edge moved below the horizon. The glowing disk became smaller and smaller until it was under the horizon but still there was an orange spot on the water surface as light reflected off the clouds and water. The orange reflecting disk on the water’s surface got smaller and smaller until it vanished. The sky turned purple and even with the entire sun two or three degree below the horizon, its light still filled the sky. Looking closely, the red orange glow would pulsate in brightness as if the sky was alive and blushing behind the clouds. This day will be forgotten and then lost forever. This day can never be repeated. I can replace the energy put into a day of labor, but the time is lost forever and cannot ever be duplicated.

I thought of the water vow I am made to Varuna. Who would know if I did not keep my promise?  I leaned forward to stand up from my sitting position and noticed in the sand-- in front of my feet-- a tiny hill of sand, a dip, a hill, a dip, a half hill, a dip, a half hill, a dip.... “What is that?” After widening my field of vision, a full pattern then appeared at my feet. A person, a child maybe, had drawn in the sand a three-foot wide eye complete with iris and eyelashes. The bottom lashes touched my feet. I picked my trash and quickly left frightened. 

Later, I read further about Varuna.

Varuna governs over the mysterious relationship of humans with the g_ds and is thought to be dangerous because of the mysterious laws and unpredictable favor of the g-ds toward humans. Varuna is omnipresent (The Coverer) and has a royal character which is represented by the color purple. His responsibility includes governing all natural and moral laws. He is the justice-giver (“to restrain”) and punishes the guilty and so is called the “Binder” because he captures the guilty and ties them with his serpent noose. He enforces contracts. He governs the unexpected. However, he is known to let those go free that repent. He knows secret remedies and prolongs the life of his followers--or shorten it.

Varuna did have his sinister aspects and was known to punish mortals who did not keep their word. He was the cosmic hangman and his usual method of punishment was to capture the offender with his noose. He was also a lord of the dead, a position he shared with Yama, and could confer immortality if he so chose.

I made a vow with a G-d known to punish those who do not keep their word. Great. I put grounded pyrite crystals on the Naga Kanyas’ forehead to make sure I did not overlook any ritual rules.

Antifascist's picture
Quote:“Our current name for

“Our current name for the sight and appearance of something is ‘image.’ The nature of the image is to let something be seen....let’s the invisible be seen and so imagines the invisible in something alien to it....The poetic saying of images gathers the brightness and sound of the heavenly appearances into one with the darkness and silence of what is alien. By such sights the god surprises us.” Martin Heidigger.

The Singing Bowl

 ..and I was explaining to him why I couldn’t stand mediating for one second: it is like putting my head in a bucket—exaggeratingly is said, “It’s claustrophobic!”

I found one of those bohemian coffee shops were students buy coffee and study all day. The atmosphere is especially nice at night; a dark wood interior, almost like a living room. There is something about being a student which sat well with me: a certain simplicity of life style—the simplicity of being broke all the time. Nevertheless, it was a great existence learning and having some expectation that the future would be bright, yet there was also a sense of rootlessness being a student.

Somehow the topic of spiritual meditation came up in a conversation with a retired engineer named Roy who lived an apartment above the cafe—a short walk to get coffee and deserts...and other sights. I was envious of Roy because he completed a professional career which he loved, and now was comfortably enjoying his last years. Sometimes you have to take the job that’s available. A decade ago and after many years working at the same dead end job,  I literally could not get out of bed one morning even though there was nothing physically wrong with me. Gravity’s force seemed to be three times stronger, pinning me down—just dead weight. There was only enough strength to stand after resolving to do some other kind of work.

Of course, any discussion about meditation usually includes a joke, even by practitioners themselves—especially if they happened to be born in the 1960s. Today’s media culture seems to still treat that generation’s spiritually as second rate, irrational, and humorous since it is different from the mainstream American religious practices. Henri Bergson once said that the source of humor is themechanical encrusted upon the living.” In this case, the mechanical is encrusted on the spiritual. What practical purpose is there being in silent meditation--thinking of nothing? Does one dial before making contact? Meditation is absurdly humorous from a mechanistic-materialist point of view.

After hearing my complaint about meditation, Roy politely gave me a business card of an acquaintance of his that just returned from Tibet with a...bowl.

“Did you say ‘bowl’ as in ‘A bowl of soup?'"

Roy said, “It is a special ceremonial bowl used in the Tibet region. It’s made of metal and the priest taps it with a wooden stick making it rings. You should ask Dr. Hauman about its ritual and history.”

The business card had a picture of Dr. Hauman, and he looked just like a professor; in fact, he was a professor of English Literature and Eastern Religion. I was intrigued...and then promptly forgot about it. Then one day while reading the philosopher Martin Heidegger, I came across a strange lecture about the making of a silver sacrificial bowl in “The Question Concerning Technology" to explain the Aristotelian concept of cause. Then after that, this passage, “But the poet calls all the brightness of the sights of the sky and every sound of its courses and breezes into the singing word and there makes them shine and ring.” “Ring, ” I remembered the ceremonial bowl and decided to try it, then changed my mind, then psyched up my courage and called to make an appointment--committed! And now it didn’t seem like a good idea.

I showed up in the general area of Dr. Hauman’s residence and discovered that my printer failed to clearly print the home address. I didn’t have a cell phone on me. So I had to find a phone and to my surprise there are no public pay phones anymore. The neighborhood businesses wouldn’t even consider the idea of letting even a patron use their phone. I was stranded, and only knew the address hundred block. This particular block had hundreds of subdivided apartments. My only option now was to call in and miss the appointment window. This was very frustrating and my positive frame of mind—actually spiritual frame of mind--all evaporated. This is a familiar experience. As I walked back toward my car there was a mother and her teenage son coming toward me. I asked the lady if she knew Dr. Hauman and she said, “Sorry, no,” but the son recognized the business card picture and excitedly said, “That’s Robert!” then pointed to a windowless door directly to my left.

After pressing the doorbell, I stood experiencing both the residual frustration for being lost and euphoria for my good luck. After Dr. Hauman opened the gate he immediately sensed something was amiss.Dr. Hauman looked just like a professor; he was in his fifties, had a beard, and was very soft spoken—well spoken--and pleasant. I apologized for being late and confessed to getting lost, but he passed over it as unimportant and directed me down a covered pathway into a garden, and a gate, another garden, a bend to the left and another gate to the steps of his home. I walked in to a charming cottage like room with many pieces of art works on the walls and tables with spiritual themes. Dr. Hauman guided my to his study and as I stepped in the room my eyes immediately focused on an image, a statue, of a deity holding a sword with his right hand and scripture with his left hand while riding a blue lion. Dr. Hauman said, “This is Mañjuśrī, The G-d of Wisdom.”

I never would of found it on my own.

Dr. Hauman explained , “There are many deities in Napal and Tibet. A town, or village may have its own version with other symbols meaningful to a group’s particular history and experience. Deities symbols that represent patterns in human experience.” Strange that he would use the word, “pattern.”I saw the bowl on a table next to a chair.

Dr. Hauman said proudly, “This is a Himalayan Singing Bowl.” I saw that it was made of silver and had to laugh. Dr. Hauman explained that the bowls today are mostly bronze alloy. The bowls are sometime called “Seven-metal bowls because they once where made up of seven metals: gold, silver, mercury, copper, iron, tin and lead and each metal is paired with a planet respectively as Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.”

So I simply sat in the chair and Dr. Hauman placed the silver bowl above my head. There where a few distractions--the chair creaked, my foot tingled, my nose itched, my heart thumped, there was very distant traffic sounds, a bird was chirping right outside the window! But worst, there were thousands and thousands of pink elephants to distract me. It was really very busy just sitting in that chair. I tried to focus on....nothing?

Then he tapped the bowl above my head and I heard the sound. And it rang and rang and rang and that in itself was distracting. How the heck can it keep ringing? The ringing drowned out all the ambient annoyances. I could focus on the pleasant sound of the bowl and then ignored the bowls vibration itself, and so there was a sort of silence. It was nice. The pink elephants disappeared. Hey. It’s...clear. No chatter. There is me sitting in the chair, and there is another me inside observing as always, but somehow the Observer was more separate—not a hand in a glove--but two hands. And then a mantra. And it’s all legal. Don’t tell anyone.

And I was quick and asked for something that maybe I shouldn’t have.

I invoke the most beautiful,
the most desirable of all the Divas,
who gave birth to the Vedas, Art, and Music.
The Flowing one, The Alluring One:
Saraswati, the goddess of Knowledge
that flows like an eloquent river.
I can see, but cannot speak.
And so modestly dressed,
Your words are jewels.
Feminine energy,
Show me.

Sometime during that day dream the bowl’s vibration stopped, and I really didn’t think of this moment again until the next day. Dr. Hauman was making tea. Telling more than one deity that they are the most desirable in alright. They don’t seem to mind.

Whenever you ask for something, the deity usually has already given it to you. The asking is a kind of essential epiphenomenon following some act of the gods have already committed, but courageous human choice must be involved. When Antigone went to bury her brother on the battlefield in defiance of Theban King, Creon, the guards had already saw the burial field had no tracks leading to Polyneices’ body nor any evidence of digging, yet a ceremony had been preformed for Polyneices. The chorus sings, “My lord, the thought has risen in my mind: Do we not see in this the hand of G-d?” When Antigone appears to bury her brother, the gods had already buried him and Antigone’s action caused her to be arrested. I thought of that famous Greek myth and how all knowledge is metaphorical when thought tries to transpose the transcendent.

As I was leaving Dr. Hauman said, “It’s not about the bowl.” While walking back to my car there was a lightness, or weightlessness felt in my body as if an heavy weight was lifted from me—a weight unnoticed until it was removed. At first, my thought was that this is just a placebo affect, but the effect has lasted to this very day. I thought this experiment, and experience would just be an exercise in open mindedness and since then my physical health and mental well-being has dramatically improved in every way.

Antifascist's picture
Shiva, the Lord of the

Shiva, the Lord of the Dance

One of the most eloquent and expository of Shiva's manifestations depicts him as Nataraja, Dance-King or the Lord of the Dance, whose cosmic lila, or "play," forms the very nature and reason of reality. Shiva fills the whole cosmos with his joyful dance called tandava, which represents his five activities: shrishti, or creation; sthiti, or preservation; samhara, or destruction; tirobhava, or illusion; and anugraha, or salvation. In one hand he beats his drum, the primordial heartbeat of creation, while in another hand he holds the fire of all emcompassing destruction. Yet Shiva as Lord of Dance also offers an alternative to the cycles of life and death, for his third hand, with palm facing outwards, performs the mudra or gesture of abhaya ("fear not" or "hope") which relieves us from despair, while his fourth hand points to a raised foot indicating liberation from the demon of ignorance upon which his other foot firmly stands. He dances and dances until the cosmos is brought to the point of annihilation; it has to be destroyed in order to be reintegrated into the Absolute. Shiva's intoxicating and revelatory dance was often the cause of conversion of heretics and enemies. It is finally creative, for it expresses the otherwise inexpressible.
Shiva has always had a wide and popular following and many stories are attached to him. According to Hindu mythology, when the demons and deities churned the Sea of Milk, 14 jewels surfaced. One of them was a poison, which neither the deities nor the demons would accept. Since the poisonous fumes threatened to devastate the world, Shiva drank the poison. The poison was so deadly that his throat became blue, which is why Shiva also earned the epithet Nilakantha, the blue-throated. To relieve Shiva from the burning sensation of the poison, he was given the moon, which had also come out from the ocean, to cool him down. Thus he wears the crescent moon today.
Drinking of this gross poison was a small matter for Shiva. He is supposed to have said in the Linga Purana that there is still much poison in this world and those who could drink that poison are the real heroes. Indeed, both poison and nectar reside in the hearts of man and only when human souls are free from poison can they experience the joys of nectar.

This nectar is the illumined awareness of consciousness. However, when we try to churn this nectar of immorality, or Life Energy out of the Sea of Milk, a kind of virulent spiritual toxic waste is produced. Only Shiva is powerful enough to handle this poison. Shiva swallowed the poison to hold it for eternity in his throat with a yoga movement so as to keep it from entering her body—He/She is very disciplined. The moral of the story: when awareness is achieved, a poison from the unconscious also appears so, “Give it to G-d.”

LeMoyne's picture
Thanks for this thread

Thanks for this thread Antifascist.   I  didn't want to interrupt ... then I realized I was just finding a reason  to make it difficult to say "Thank you."  - lol -  Blessed Be!

You help us remember we are spirit and intelligence with clarity.  



Antifascist's picture
Lay Your Hands On Me Sat in

Lay Your Hands On Me

Sat in the corner of the Garden Grill, with plastic flowers on the window sill
No more miracles, loaves and fishes, been so busy with the
washing of the dishes
Reaction level's much too high - I can do without the stimuli

I'm living way beyond my ways and means, living in the
zone of the inbetweens
I can see the flashes on the frozen ocean, static charge of
the cold emotion
Watched on by the distant eyes - watched on by the silent
hidden spies

But still the warmth flows through me
And I sense you know me well
No luck, no golden chances
No mitigating circumstances now
It's only common sense
There are no accidents around here

I am willing - lay your hands on me
I am ready - lay your hands on me
I believe - lay your hands on me, over me

Working in gardens, thornless roses, fat men play with their garden hoses
Poolside laughter has a cynical bite, sausage speared by the cocktail satellite
I walk away from from light and sound, down stairways
leading underground

But still the warmth flows through me
And I sense you know me well
It's only common sense
There are no accidents around here

I am willing - lay your hands on me
I am ready - lay your hands on me
I believe - lay your hands on me, over me
over me

Lay your hands on me
Lay your hands on me
Lay your hands on me, over me

bamboo's picture
LeMoyne, you are so "spot

LeMoyne, you are so "spot on".

My thanks to you LeMoyne, Antifacist, Thom, Louise and all who nurture the mind that keeps us Human!

"The spirit fire is transformed into an empty form. The light of the original nature radiates within to return to its true origin.

 The mind's seal hangs high in the sky like the shadow of the pure moon.The raft reaches the shore in the glow of the light of the sun."

When there is no birth there is no death. Nothing leaves and nothing comes.

When the clouds scatter, the sky is blue and the mountian scapes are clear. Returning to life in ch'an stillness, the full moon stands alone.

An old one from Peter Gabriel. I still have the original "LP" Selling England by the Pound


Antifascist's picture
LeMoyne and Bamboo, you made

LeMoyne and Bamboo, you made my day! That John Trudell is way ahead of us all.

ymhotep's picture
My question, Antifascist, is

My question, Antifascist, is why are so many Zionists fascists?    Was Nietzsche correct when he said "The Jews are the most remarkable nation of world history because, faced with the question of being or not being, they preferred, with a perfectly uncanny conviction, being at any price.......they inverted religion, religious worship, morality, history, psychology, one after the other, in an irreparable way into the contridiction of their natural values?"    Peace 

Antifascist's picture
The Angel of History: Walter

The Angel of History: Walter Benjamin’s Vision of Hope and Despair.

A Klee drawing named “Angelus Novus” shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating.  His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are spread.  This is how one pictures the angel of history.  His face is turned toward the past.  Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe that keeps piling ruin upon ruin and hurls it in front of his feet.  The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed.  But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them.  The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress.                                                         

 — Walter Benjamin,

  Ninth Thesis on the Philosophy of History

.ren's picture
From my all time favorite

From my all time favorite Laurie Anderson album, 'Strange Angels' (I think they were still called albums in 1989)  This was startlingly visual for me the first time I heard it, more than twenty years ago now.   Only later did I even know about the Klee drawing.  And I only just now discovered it's considered "an icon of the left".  Art -- music, drawing, painting, sculpture, literatue, poetry, etc. -- can do so much more for our humanity than our mere rational interpretation.  Yet the idea of progress has so many modern humans placing homo economicus at the top of our little homo erectus food chain that homo sapiens has nearly gone extinct.

The Dream Before (For Walter Benjaman)

Hansel and Gretel are alive and well
And they're living in Berlin
She is a cocktail waitress
He had a part in a Fassbinder film
And they sit around at night now drinking schnapps and gin
And she says: Hansel, you're really bringing me down
And he says: Gretel, you can really be a bitch
He says: I've wasted my life on our stupid legend When my one and only love was the wicked witch.

She said: What is His-story?
And he said: His-story is an angel being blown backwards into the future
He said: His-story is a pile of debris
And the angel wants to go back and fix things
To repair the things that have been broken
But there is a storm   blowing    from Paradise
And the storm keeps blowing the angel backwards into the future
And this storm, this storm    is called      Pro---gress


Her best version for me is still the one she does on her album.  I love the way she does Hansel and Gretel's voices.

The Dream Before

Antifascist's picture
I am amazed, and

I am amazed, and discovered the drawing and song in reverse order from you.

I completed reading both Adorno: The Recovery of Experience (Roger Foster), and Adorno's Negative Dialectic: Philosophy and the Possibility of Critical Rationality (Brian O'Connor). Both are wonderful books on Adorno. O'Connor's book is extremely theoretical-- comparing and critiquing Kant, Hegel, Husserl, Bergson, and even Heidegger's anti-epistemology. And then O'Connor critiques Adorno.

However, Foster's book on Adorno and The Recovery of Experience is more relevant to forming a theory of spiritual experience and the dominance of senory experience. Foster has an amazing chapter on "Matter and the Concept in Matter and Memory" by Heri Bergson. And what a great writer Foster proves to be breaking down the arguments and interpretation and misinterpretations.

It is of the essence of reasoning to enclose us in the circle of the  given. But action breaks open the circle. If you had never seen a man swim, you would perhaps say that swimming is something that is impossible, given that, in order to learn to swim, one has to start by  entering the water, and in consequence one must already know how  to swim. Reasoning always effectively fixes me to solid ground. But  if, quite simply, I throw myself into the water without being afraid ...I shall learn to swim. (1941, 193-94)
Bergson is saying that because the intelligence is constructed so as specifically to be able to comprehend matter, or discrete solids arranged in empty space, it is fruitless to try to reason one's way out of the circle. Because the intelligence necessarily solidifies what it touches, all that one succeeds in doing is to push the boundaries of the circle outward; there is no breakout.

Adorno: The Recovery of Experience (Roger Foster)
- page 129, Loc. 1989-94.

A lot of these epistemological issues we already dealt with in our critique of positivism, but via Wittgenstein's method. Adorno approaches the same issues of paradigm circularity using his Subject-Object epistemological model and does a devestating critique of natural-scientific reductionism. Here is Roger's rendition of Wittgenstein.

Wittgenstein's claim that philosophy "means the unsayable, in that it  clearly presents (darstellt) the sayable" (1989a, §4.115) and "what expresses itself in language, we cannot express through it" (§4.121), is evidently comparable with the basic outline of Benjamin's mystical theory of language: the distinction between what language communicates and the spiritual contents it expresses though that communication. What is unique about Wittgenstein's formulation is its exhortation to silence-"that whereof one cannot speak"-as   the response to the instrumental character of language, the eclipse of the  expression of things by the transmission of contents. When words inevitably  corrupt an experience, transforming it into a manipulable content rather than  something that decenters the self, refraining from words is the first prerequisite for expressing the experience.13 What is "sayable," according to the Tractatus, is simply and solely the world of disenchantment.14 What Wittgenstein  characterizes as mystical experience can only show itself in language. We cannot   talk about it, since the attempt to do so transforms it into a factual assertion, the registering of an occurrence by a subject wholly detached from that  occurrence; to talk about such an experience is to place it under the logic of  diremption. This is registered in Wittgenstein's assertion that most philosophical statements are not false but nonsensical (unsinnig) (§4.003). They rest on a misunderstanding of the "logic of language," not because (as the  Viennese positivists claimed) they transgress against the rules of logic, but  because they distort the very nature of the experience that they try to put into  words. The meaning of the world, Wittgenstein claims, must lie outside of it. There is "no value in it, and if there were, it would not have value" (§6.41). Adorno: The Recovery of Experience (Roger Foster)
- page 42, Loc. 675-84.

But Adorno sees a way, a fringe, or edge of reaching the nonconceptual:

Bergson's most "dualist" book, he returns to this metaphor of a "fringe" around the representations of the intelligence. Here, Bergson is tantalizingly close to uncovering something like a dialectic of the concept in  Adorno's sense, that is, a type of writing that would use concepts to bring to the surface the experiential conditions that cannot be said within those con- cepts.15 This would be, for Adorno, a way of reaching the nonconceptual while staying rigorously within the concept.

Adorno: The Recovery of Experience (Roger Foster)
- page 127, Loc. 1960-63.

I need to review, "The Prophet's Way" again. Thanks for the video Ren!

.ren's picture
I think perhaps that long

I think perhaps that long discussion has moved to here.  This topic is more appropriate to the new areas you are exploring.  I feel that Thom's The Prophet's Way is an approriate backdrop.  So many of the people that made this board magical when I first found it in 2004 were here because of that book.  And they've left as the topics seem to have turned to focus on homo economicus, or what I think of as the epitiomized conclusion of the same hyper rationalism that resulted in logical positivism.  And of course there is no discussing it with any of them.

Still working on Foster's Adorno work.  Slowly.  I am having a very busy but also very satisfying summer.

douglaslee's picture
You might like Pico Iyer, he

You might like Pico Iyer, he writes for NYRB [the reviews are listed in the link, some are free],

I gave away my copy of his "Video Night in Kathmandu", but I remeber enjoying it when it was written.

[as an aside, after waiting in line at my local post office outlet, I told the clerk I thought  she and her colleagues do a good job and I appreciate it. She appeared taken aback, then a smile came and a sort of double-take. It may've been a smile of disbelief, but I meant it when I said it. Can't remember if I looked over my shoulder first or sort of whispered it, 'cause it's kind of unamerican]

 One of his essays a-hell-on-earth/


I happened to see the Dalai Lama later that month, at the Aspen Institute, and there he startled many of us by saying, for the first time that anyone could remember, “My trust in the Chinese leadership is this thin now” (he held his fingers a tenth of a centimeter apart). “I really don’t know what I can do.” In the meantime, as he often freely acknowledged in Japan, his “Middle Way” policy—of not seeking full independence from China for Tibet, but only a “genuine and meaningful autonomy,” whereby China could control Tibet’s defense policy and foreign affairs, while Tibetans might enjoy the freedom to take care of their culture, their religion, and their special environment—was coming under more and more criticism. So, he said, he would step aside and allow others to come up with a “new, wiser, realistic” approach.

He might almost, with his candor and frank self-criticism, have been reminding the Chinese of what they lack. Democracy has always been a particular passion of this Dalai Lama, as both one of the secular practices of the wider world that Tibetans can now usefully learn from and an idea perfectly consonant with the Buddha’s own belief that all beings are equal, and each person should rule himself. Within his first year in exile, in India, he was beginning to draft a constitution for Tibetans to allow them democracy for the first time in their history (and to allow for the impeachment of the Dalai Lama). In the years since, he has systematically extended the possibility from a democratically elected parliament to a democratically elected cabinet to, in 2001, a democratically elected prime minister in exile (currently the scholarly monk Professor Samdhong Rinpoche). Even as the king of Bhutan, educated by some of the same Buddhist teachers as the Dalai Lama, more or less imposed democracy on his reluctant people last year, and Nepal next door edges a little away from monarchy, the Dalai Lama continues to hope, sometimes in vain, that his people will take responsibility themselves for shaping their own futures.

Antifascist's picture
The Prophet's Way: A Shining

The Prophet's Way: A Shining Star in a Constellation of Shining Phenomena.

"Over there, across the sea, is a golden, shining isle. It’s a place of safety and salvation, the home of our Lord. Some of the people sense its presence, most are totally unaware of it." 

The Prophet's Way: A Guide to Living in the Now, by Thom Hartmann, (2004), loc. 5656.

"Adorno argues that we must understand the appearance within habitual classification schemes of what is inassimilable by these schemes as a "blind spot"-a shimmer, or a flash that, in an instant, stops the classificatory cogs from turning. In this moment, the experience of the uncanny, habitude is pulled up short and, for a brief moment, sees itself as if from the outside."

 Roger Foster. Adorno: The Recovery of Experience, Suny Series in Contemporary Continental Philosophy, (2008), p. 133. Kindle Edition.

 "All things are not shining, but all the shining things are."

 All Things Shining: Reading the Western Classics to Find Meaning in a Secular Age, by Hubert Dreyfus and Sean Dorrance Kelly (2011), p. 224.

The Prophet's Way (TPW) is the way of spiritual and rational coherence by self-reflection against the tide of modern nihilism. The demand by consciousness for rationality--a coherent world of meaning-- is at the same time a demand for Justice. The Prophet's Way is about an existential seeking of the Logos by critically questioning both the experiencing human and the natural attitude of the thinking subject within an "elegant science." (TPW, loc. 802). There is an urgent existential self-examination, honest receptive openness, and risk taking for self-actualization. In this same spirit Socrates once said,"The unexamined life is not worth living." (Apology 38a). It is the story of The Unhappy Consciousness seeking to be fully human in an inhuman world and discovering in awe the boundless shining things along the way which are the appearances of the sacred. And yet TPW doesn't postulate some supera-intuition above and beyond rationality, but instead attempts to critically induce new perceptions by recovering what is lost in a modern technical society of hyper-conceptualization of nature and hyper-objectification of human beings. Many of these themes are encapsulated in non-technical seminal concepts like "edges," "Name of G-d," and "pictures."

TPW presents us with a Negative Theology of G-d by default that attempts to show spiritual experience that also happens to parallel the philosophical paradigms of Heideggerian Phenomenological Existentialism and Heraclitian Religious Existential Mysticism. The problem with philosophers and mystics like Heraclitus is they often give the answer, but do not always say explicitly what the question is. The question of being is urgently present in all of these paradigms. The religious language mysticism and Benjaminian theomythology found in The Prophet's Way is what makes it shine. And then it gets better. There are many wonderful parallels with the Pythagorean mystics who had both love and respect for science, mathematics, and spirituality.

"The word paradigm has been used in science to describe distinct concepts. It comes from Greek"παράδειγμα" (paradeigma), "pattern, example, sample"”- from the verb "παραδείκνυμι" (paradeiknumi), "exhibit, represent, expose,"and that from "παρά" (para), "beside, by" + "δείκνυμι" (deiknumi), "to show, to point out". 

Phenomenology is the science of φαινόμενον, phenomenon, meaning, (the word "photon" is related), bring to light, make to appear, to show. Anything that shows, or shines is a phenomenon.

By what principle should we interpret this written work? As Philosophy? Science? Biography? Of course all these theme elements can be found. Walter Benjamin's concept of "Constellation" as a form of writing will be of use for finding a hermeneutical principle of interpretation. TPW can be read on both the theoretical and practical level. It is difficult to write on both levels at the same time. Pythagoras didn't write down this thoughts so the historical information we have is from other ancient philosophers. And the Pythagoreans faced the problem of being highly theoretical on the one hand and wanting to convey their philosophy so others not having the ability, desire, or leisure to be theoretical philosophers. The school split to reflect this difference in attitude, and purpose.

According to tradition, Pythagoreanism developed at some point into two separate schools of thought, the mathēmatikoi Μαθηματικοι ("learners") and the akousmatikoi Ακουσματικοι, ("listeners"). The mathēmatikoi were supposed to have extended and developed the more mathematical and scientific work begun by Pythagoras, while the akousmatikoi focused on the more religious and ritualistic aspects of his teachings. The akousmatikoi claimed that the mathēmatikoi were not genuinely Pythagorean, but followers of the "renegade" Pythagorean Hippasus. The mathēmatikoi, on the other hand, allowed that the akousmatikoi were Pythagorean, but felt that their own group was more representative of Pythagoras.

We can see this mixture of the theoretical and the practical. The listeners: ἀκου-σματικόi(akousmatikoi) represented the more mystical side of the Pythagoreans. The learners" μᾶθημᾶτικοι (mathēmatikoi) were the Pythagorean logicians, but were mystics also. One can go underground to explore the unconscious with this text. There are actual phenomenological experiments in the form of meditation exercises. This distinction between the theoretical and practical is important. A philosophical system must have theoretical consistency and meaning without losing sight of the objective material world. As Kant wrote, "...thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind."

Adorno engages in the same kind of writing to show what has been is lost in experience. With the help of Foster’s interpretation of Adorno we can explore and analyze some of the very same philosophical themes, questions, and answers that we find in The Prophet’s Way. We sense something is there, but we are not totally aware of it.

The goal of philosophical writing (stated in the baldest terms) is to arrange words around a concept, so that the experiential substance of that concept becomes visible in it. When this process succeeds, the result is what Adorno calls spiritual experience. Roger Foster. Adorno: The Recovery of Experience, Suny Series in Contemporary Continental Philosophy, p. 4. Kindle Edition.

DRC's picture
Our fascination with the

Our fascination with the reflection on experience and the nuances and subtleties of thought can make it into the point of meaning and focus.  But the meaning is still in the doing rather than in thinking about doing.  The recovery of experience is the recovery of its primacy to thinking.  Keeping the two connected is like having consciousness about being.  But it is about being consciously rather than being so aware of being as not be be able to be.

This idea is central to what I have discovered about "Belief" in relation to Faith.  We have treated faith as if it were a decision made rationally or super-rationally to "believe in something."  That is followed by a committed life of moral endeavor in the light of Belief.  But, to "believe in Jesus Christ as one's personal Lord and Savior" is hardly an intellectual decision or "way of life."  It is more about entering into a religious community of believers and becoming "one of them."  In other words, "believing" is about belonging more than ideas.

In the pattern of faith development, "belief" belongs to childhood and dependency.  It is about the trust developed in early childhood and the affection of bonds of caring in family and community.  One becomes "somebody" in belonging to family and community, and the confidence in oneself grows as others affirm and support you.  Your identity becomes formed in the identity of family, ethnicity, religion, region and country.  When you reach adolescence, you get to question your beliefs and what it means to belong.

Doubt, the best friend of Truth, takes beliefs out for a ride.  Faith without doubt is dogmatism.  It is just beliefs made into icons and idols.  Doubt is not the end of the road.  It leads to Imagination and identity beyond inherited beliefs and badges.  The discovery of authentic Self, well-processed, leads to the affirmation of other Selves in a Mutuality of Diversity.  Thinking becomes more interactive and relational than interior as what we believe informs our meaning and purpose.  Our vocation is what we enjoy and find meaningful, not what pays the most unless that is who "we" are.

Again, it is the doing that gives the thinking meaning. 

Antifascist's picture
The Flame Skimmer I believe

The Flame Skimmer

I believe that both numbers and coincidence—bound together by the laws of mathematics and probability—are somehow an “edge” between the physical and the spiritual. (To be sure, it’s an edge that we don’t understand.) It was the total discarding of the spiritual, of virtually all edges, which led to the destruction of Russia, as I was soon to discover---The Prophet's Way: A Guide to Living in the Now (Loc. 4678-4681).


The sound of the singing bowl is so peaceful and uplifting that I play it on the stereo sometimes in the morning. The speakers are both inside the house and outside near a pond so the harmonic omni-directional ringing fills the air.

One morning while looking out over the pond and the long harmonic tone continued its long endless ringing, I wondered how the mystic Pythagoreans lived thousands of years ago. I suspect there is something we can learn from their attitude toward Life.  The Pythagoreans believed that the cosmos is determined and caused by numbers so to discover a thing's number is to truly know it. The last generation of Pythagoreans used pebbles to determine a thing's number. The last Pythagorean philosopher Eurytus (born around 450 and 440  B.C.) developed a method of discovering an object's number, "...he simply drew a picture or an outline drawing of a man or a horse and then counted the number of pebbles required to make the outline (Riedweg 2005, 86) or fill in the picture, since the number would vary with the size of the drawing and the size of the pebbles. A large picture of a man would require many more pebbles than a small one, so that it would seem arbitrary which number to associate with man." The Pythagoreans had a heuristic vision of the relationship between the cosmos and numbers: they had faith that knowledge of numbers would break through appearances to reality.

One morning as the bowl was ringing, I blinked and sensed there was movement to my left. And it appeared again as a red blur...then I saw him. Unlike the time I saw the eye drawn in the sand at the beach one summer sunset, this time I had a camera and took his picture--an very alien looking being.

He stayed many hours at a time for the next three weeks and I got to know him well. I discovered he was a male Flame Skimmer Dragon Fly. The females are brownish. Of course it is only a dragon fly, but one should be alert. In the Hindu polytheism any entity can potentially represent a god.

What we picture as the aspects of divinity are essentially the abstract prototypes of the forms of the manifest world. These must, by their very nature have equivalents in all the aspects of the perceptible universe. Each divine aspect thus may appear to us as having affinities with some particular form, number, color, plant, animal, part of the body, vital energy, particular moments of the cycles of the day, of the year, of aeons, particular constellations, sounds, and rhythms, etc.

The Myths and Gods of India: The Classic Work on Hindu Polytheism, "I. The Theory of Polytheism,"  Alain Danielou,(1964) page 4.

These divinities are not real beings or entities but forms, or patterns found in experience. If we were to look at the Flame Skimmer's wing pattern  we can see the geometric form of a hexagon (hexa, "five" + γωνία, "angle"). The hexagon is a pattern found in nature that can be essentialized from the following mathematical formula called the Fibonacci Sequence: (See Video)

Fn = Fn-1 + Fn-2, seed values F0 = 0 and F1 = 1

There are some difficult epistemological and ontological questions. The answers accepted as sound will determine the shape of science and technology. Does the pattern exist objectively, or only exists in subjective imagination? What is the foundation of mathematical certainty and logical necessity that we base all thinking and science?  What is the relation between thought and being?

Wittgenstein dealt with this question and developed a theory of logical necessity (A is not non-A) that can be called, "ratification."  The truth of  7+ 3 = 10 is only based on human symbolic linguistic behavior. We as a human community simply ratify the necessary rules of logic.

"For this theory is an application of the same anthropocentric treatment to the truths of logic and mathematics The idea is that they too are simply based on certain linguistic practices and any suggestion that they have an independent objective backing is an illusion." Ludwig Wittgenstein by David Pears, Penguin,(1970), p.140 Pears.

The rules of logic are consistent, but free floating from any grounding in the world. To think that logic or mathematics have reality beyond our symbolic linguistic usage is reifying, or giving them a false concreteness. Wittgenstein,

"...was trying to demonstrate not that logic and mathematics do not rest on a realistic basis, but only that that basis cannot provide any independent support for them...the sources of the necessities of logic and mathematics lie within those areas of discourse, in actual linguistic practices, and when those necessities seem to point to some independent backing outside the practices, the pointing is deceptive and the idea that the backing is independent is an illusion....His point is only that it is a contingent fact that human beings agree in their ratifications, however hopeless the situation would be if they did not agree, and that this agreement is the foundation of logic and mathematics. Ludwig Wittgenstein by David Pears, Penguin,(1970), p.146. "

In other words, there is a socio-historical dimension to what seems to be an independent and perfect objective world of logic and mathematics. Here are the four points Wittgenstein argues to show logical necessity is linguistic anthropologically relative.

First, automatic and unhesitating ratification is still ratification. Secondly, the non-viability of the alternative is solely a matter of its consequences, and has nothing to do with incorrectness. But thirdly, when we judge deviant systems of non-ratification by our standards of correctness, and reach the inevitable verdict that they are mistaken, we must realize that this judgment can be reciprocated, and that it does nothing to show that our system has any independent backing. So, fourthly, it is only a contingent fact that there is as much agreement in these ratifications as there is, and it is on this fact alone that logic and mathematics depend. Ludwig Wittgenstein by David Pears, Penguin,(1970), p.147.

Adorno and Wittgenstein mostly agree on this question of logical necessity as only being valid as linguistic usage. We can understand Adorno's position on logical necessity by his critique of Husserlian Logical Absolutism which holds to an absolute separation between logical validity and subjective thought processes, and that logical principles such as logical necessity are completely independent of anything existing in reality.

This kind of anthropomorphic critique had been the trend in Western Christian theology during the 19th century. Christian Neo-Platonism conceived G-d as a necessarily existing perfect supra-entity independent of History and Nature. Feuerbach instead proclaimed that "All Theology is Anthropology," in other words, God is not a eternal supra being, but merely the projection of human ideas amplified and reified into an abstract ideal state. Feuerbach argues that in every aspect God corresponds to some feature, or need of human nature. God is nothing else other than man: he is the outward projection of man's inward nature. "If man is to find contentment in God," he claims, "he must find himself in God."

Adorno's goal is to de-fetishize, or demythologize logic as somehow having objective reality independent of the subject. Adorno found the same Platonism in Husserl's reified conception of mathematics. Husserl called the mathematical laws "spires" of thought as if they objectively existed independent of the thinking subject.

Husserl refers to these mathematical disciplines as ones in which true "spires" of thought are created. The explicit function of this illustration is to underline the fact that the achievements contained in mathematics cannot be replicated in each operation that makes use of them; there must therefore be a certain independence of mathematical procedures in relation to subjective thinking. But again, Adorno claims, the illustration reveals more than it says about the entwinement of epistemological thinking with reification. Those "spires" are artefacts that present themselves as though they were natural. Similarly, to stay in the image, old stonework, the social origin and purpose of which has been forgotten, is perceived as a part of the landscape. But the spire is not a rock, although shaped out of the stone that gives the landscape its color. Husserl acknowledges [erkennt] the reification of logic in order to "appropriate" [hin- nehmen] it, as is distinctive of his method overall, that is, to intentionally forget once more what has been forgotten by logic. (p. 72) What is "forgotten" here is that logical laws are traceable, finally, to a thought process, an interaction of subject and object that undermines their projection as pure beings in themselves independent of the subject. Because epistemology must treat its object as an other to thought, its very structure "forgets" or is unconscious of this founding moment. But Husserl's image-the spires that were originally products of human subjects but are now perceived as inert parts of the landscape, no different from an escarpment or ridge-reveals this forgotten history, but only for a brief moment. Roger Foster. Adorno: The Recovery of Experience (Suny Series in Contemporary Continental Philosophy) (p. 109). Kindle Edition.

 ...continue Adorno’s critique of Logical Absolutism, Positivistic Science, and Language Theory.

.ren's picture
Anti, I just wanted to at

Anti, I just wanted to at least let you know I appreciate the scholarly work you are doing here, and I'm following it.  If I don't have much to add it's because you are doing it so well.  I'm still getting a lot out of reading Roger Foster's book on Adorno, so I have that to complement what you are bringing to this discussion on Thom's Prophet's Way work.

To acknowledge douglaslee's post and to add my own sort of take off on that one article he linked, I'll post something that may not seem to follow this "Recovery of Experience" line of thought, but for me it's the heart of it.  Here's a paragraph from doug's linked article: 'A Hell on Earth':

Pico Iyer wrote:

Accepting reality—first investigating it clearly, and then seeing what can be done with it—is for him a central principle, and now he was about to convene a meeting of Tibetans in his exile home, in Dharamsala, India, and then another, in Delhi, of foreign supporters of Tibet, to discuss alternative approaches to relieving the ever more brutal fifty-year-long suppression of Tibet by Beijing. “This ancient nation with its own unique cultural heritage is dying,” he said later the same day. “The situation inside Tibet is almost something like a death sentence.”

"Accepting reality" as he describes it, and as he translates it from the Dalai Lama, is what I think of as the very first step in a recovery of one's own experience.  In that article he describes the horrors taking place in Tibet that are driven by a neighbor nation rife with ideology and far removed from an experience-based reality.  The same can be said of the adventures of the late republic we thought we grew up in, now one of the world's most powerful ideologically-based empires, working out the principles of advanced financial capitalism as it moves inevitably towards a reality-ignorant collapse.

I discovered an article on a site I go to that talks about how we can guide ourselves through this evolving reality and it expresses my own philosophy of simplicity that has become my life now. With this simplicity comes the time to transform empty concrete swimming pools into rainwater collection ponds with living fish swimming below the surface and flourishing plants in backyard gardens, and then to observe those Flame Skimmers that now come by, and allow our imaginations the time and space to make reality-based connections between them and ourselves:

8 Expressions of Simplicity For Healthy Living, By Duane Elgin

Duane Elgin wrote:

To portray the richness of simplicity as a theme for healthy living, here are eight different flowerings that I see growing consciously in the “garden of simplicity.” Although there is overlap among them, each expression of simplicity seems sufficiently distinct to warrant a separate category. These are presented in no particular order, as all are important.

  1. 1. Uncluttered Simplicity. Simplicity means taking charge of lives that are too busy, too stressed and too fragmented. Simplicity means cutting back on clutter, complications and trivial distractions, both material and non-material, and focusing on the essentials — whatever those may be for each of our unique lives. As Thoreau said, “Our life is frittered away by detail … Simplify, simplify.” Or, as Plato wrote, “In order to seek one’s own direction, one must simplify the mechanics of ordinary, everyday life.”
  2. Ecological Simplicity. Simplicity means choosing ways of living that touch the Earth more lightly and reduce our ecological impact on the web of life. This life-path remembers our deep roots with the soil, air and water. It encourages us to connect with nature, the seasons and the cosmos. An ecological simplicity feels a deep reverence for the community of life on Earth and accepts that the non-human realms of plants and animals have their dignity and rights as well as the human.
  3. Family Simplicity. Simplicity means to place the well-being of one’s family ahead of materialism and the acquisition of things. This expression of green living puts an emphasis on giving children healthy role models of a balanced life that are not distorted by consumerism. Family simplicity affirms that what matters most in life is often invisible — the quality and integrity of our relationships with one another and the rest of life. Family simplicity is also intergenerational — it looks ahead and seeks to live with restraint so as to leave a healthy earth for future generations.
  4. Compassionate Simplicity. Simplicity means to feel such a strong sense of kinship with others that, as Gandhi said, we “choose to live simply so that others may simply live.” A compassionate simplicity means feeling a bond with the community of life and being drawn toward a path of cooperation and fairness that seeks a future of mutually assured development in all areas of life for everyone.
  5. Soulful Simplicity. Simplicity means to approach life as a meditation and to cultivate our experience of direct connection with all that exists. By living simply, we can more easily awaken to the living universe that surrounds and sustains us, moment by moment. Soulful simplicity consciously tastes life in its unadorned richness rather than being concerned with a particular standard or manner of material living. In cultivating a soulful connection with life, we tend to look beyond surface appearances and bring our interior aliveness into relationships of all kinds.
  6. Business Simplicity. Simplicity means a new kind of economy is growing in the world, with healthy and sustainable products and services of all kinds (such as home-building materials, energy systems, food production and transportation systems). As the need for a sustainable infrastructure in developing nations is combined with the need to retrofit and redesign the homes, cities, workplaces and transportation systems of developed nations, it is generating an enormous wave of green business innovation and employment.
  7. Civic Simplicity. Simplicity means living more lightly and sustainably on the earth, and this requires, in turn, changes in many areas of public life — from public transportation and education to the design of our cities and workplaces. To develop policies of civic simplicity involves giving close and sustained attention to media politics, as the mass media are the primary vehicle for reinforcing — or transforming — the social norms of consumerism. To realize the magnitude of changes required in such a brief time requires new approaches to communicating with ourselves as different communities of citizens.
  8. Frugal Simplicity. Simplicity means that, by cutting back on spending that is not truly serving our lives, and by practicing skillful management of our personal finances we can achieve greater financial independence. Frugality and careful financial management bring increased financial freedom and the opportunity to more consciously choose our path through life. Living with less also decreases the impact of our consumption upon the earth and frees resources for others.

As these eight approaches illustrate, the growing culture of simplicity contains a flourishing garden of expressions whose great diversity — and intertwined unity — are creating a resilient and hardy ecology of learning about how to live more sustainable and meaningful lives. As with other ecosystems, it is the diversity of expressions that fosters flexibility, adaptability and resilience. Because there are so many pathways into the garden of simplicity, this self-organizing movement has enormous potential to grow.

Antifascist's picture
"However, my experience has

"However, my experience has been that a willingness to approach edges, to live on the edge, will increase the probability that a person will approach a spiritual edge—the intersection point between the world of matter and the world of spirit where extraordinary breakthroughs in consciousness can occur."

-The Prophet's Way (Thom Hartmann) Loc. 4236.

The moon straining through the screen of the tub-room windows showed the hunched, heavy shape of the control panel, glinted off the chrome fixtures and glass gauges so cold I could almost hear the click of the striking. I took a deep breath and bent over and took the levers. I heaved my legs under me and felt the grind of weight at my feet. I lurched it up to my knees and was able to get an arm around it and my other hand under it. The chrome was cold against my neck and the side of my head. I put my back toward the screen, then spun and let the momentum carry the panel throught the screen and window with a ripping crash. The glass splashed out in the moon, like a bright cold water baptizing the sleeping earth...I ran across the grounds...I'd just like to look over the country around the gorge again, just to bring some of it clear in my mind again. I have been away a long time.

- Chief Bromden's escape in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." (scene)

Hello, douglaslee DRC, and Ren! A simple life can be difficult in an asylum because of obstacles. Chief Bromden pulled out the marble sink from it's foundation. The marble sink represented a immoveable object in the world of the asylum. An immovable object is also an unchangable object from the patient's perspective. Chief's Bromden's escape from the asylum is at the end of the novel, "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," but the earlier narrative is about Chief Bromden's change of heart and mind. The transformational process of Chief Bromden was internal, subjective, philosophical, and then actual. The change had not occurred in the Subject beforehand because of some preceived immoveable object.

I view our culture's emphasis on instrumental reason as one of those immoveable objects because the power and authority given to scientism, and technology is what defines above all other human concerns of what is real in our society. Wittgenstein, Adorno, Heidegger, and Husserl where all 'disenchanted" with the reductivism of natural-scientific method when addressing the problems of human beings. Both the early Wittgenstein and Husserl tried to anchor scientific certainty in logic and mathematics, but found no independent foundation of validity for mathematical necessity on which the natural sciences are based. Phenomenology is a "First Philosophy," for which all other sciences need certainty grounded in an irrefutable foundation, or Apodictic certainty.(Greek: "ἀποδεικτικός," "capable of demonstration"). As it is no science can account for its own validity--they are only partial sciences and need a First Philosophy, or ontology, to make them complete.

The later Husserl wrote about the "Life World" and seemed to drift toward Wittgenstein's anthropological position on logical necessity--that pure categorical abstractions originate, or has it's genesis in the interaction between thought and being of actual real subjects. Brian O'Connor points out this shift in Husserl's view.

In Husserl's late project The Crisis of European Sciences (1934-1937) it is argued that the scientific project since Galileo has created idealizations of nature-hypostatized entities-by forgetting that these entities have their origins in our intuitive engagement with the world. Geometry, for instance, was initially developed as technology for land surveying, and in that original context it has an immediate relevance: "Immediately with Galileo, then, begins the surreptitious substitution of idealized nature for pre-scientifically intuited nature.""' Geometry and the science of idealities, as a science without genesis, loses its relation to life. The task of philosophy, Husserl claims, is to reintegrate the activities of science into the realm of human values. It is (lifeworld). Insofar as the Lebenszoelt pertains to human values and their everyday practices-such as surveying, to give Husserl's instance-it inevitably appears to contain some notion of historicality. A recent commentator expresses the general view in this way: "[in] The Crisis of European Sciences Husserl shows a much greater appreciation of historical, or what he called `historico-genetic' explanation. Husserl became more urgently aware that the conditions of the natural attitude and indeed the scientific attitude were not merely static universal states of humankind but were historically constituted."" If so then Husserl himself seemed to think that the Lebenszoelt might be the mediating point between genesis and validity.

Brian O'Connor. Adorno's Negative Dialectic: Philosophy and the Possibility of Critical Rationality (Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought) (p. 146). Kindle Edition.

The Cartesian “truth as giveness” epistemological model is still a problem. Science and technology seem to work with authority automatically and independently to organize society using an inadequate paradigm--an excluding paradigm--of materialist atomism. We know that this exclusion is done by thought itself because paradigms suppress elements that do not fit into the whole pattern. We see all this by going to the "edge" of the concept (the Logical rule of non-contradiction) as Adorno urges and discover that logic's reality and truthfulness is at least as "real" as the Flame Skimmer god. In the end, it is a question of faith for both the objective scientist and the spiritual mystic.

So I had a paradigm shift of my own. I confess to leaning a little too heavily on the idealist side of all things philosophical... sometimes. I always thought the early Platonic Husserl had the strongest position. But I cannot find any counter arguments to Wittgenstein's four points of linguistic ratification. Adorno really has no counter argument to Husserl's Logical Absolutism as a rebuff to Psychologism (that the rule of non-contradiction-- or all logical validity--is merely a contingent fact of how the brain is structured), but in the end takes a weaker position in this sense:

Husserl is right that validity is not reducible to psychological processes; however, its priority over the individual is borrowed from the normative force of social practice. It is this normative force that Husserl transfigures into an inexplicable validity "in itself."' Adorno's intention here is not to construct a sociologism that would merely replace psychologism with another reductive account of logical validity. What is really at stake here is that Adorno wants to call into question the absolute separation between validity and genesis, by making clear that that separation itself has a social-historical genesis, and hence cannot constitute a claim about the timeless essence of logic.'

Roger Foster. Adorno: The Recovery of Experience (Suny Series in Contemporary Continental Philosophy) (p. 99). Kindle Edition.

Adorno was aware that he existed in the age "after Auschwitz."

"Adorno's is an ethics and metaphysics "after Auschwitz." Ethically, he says, Hitler's barbarism imposes a "new categorical imperative" on human beings in their condition of unfreedom: so to arrange their thought and action that "Auschwitz would not repeat itself, [that] nothing similar would happen" (ND 365). Metaphysically, philosophers must find historically appropriate ways to speak about meaning and truth and suffering that neither deny nor affirm the existence of a world transcendent to the one we know. Whereas denying it would suppress the suffering that calls out for fundamental change, straightforwardly affirming the existence of utopia would cut off the critique of contemporary society and the struggle to change it. The basis for Adorno's double strategy is not a hidden ontology, as some have suggested, but rather a "speculative" or "metaphysical" experience. Adorno appeals to the experience that thought which "does not decapitate itself" flows into the idea of a world where "not only extant suffering would be abolished but also suffering that is irrevocably past would be revoked" (403). Neither logical positivist antimetaphysics nor Heideggerian hypermetaphysics can do justice to this experience.

There is a rhythm in "being" and "doing." In that video “The Quantum Activist” by Amit Goswami, Ph.D. (58 minutes) Dr. Amit Goswami said, "It is neither 'do, do, do,' nor 'be, be, be,' but 'do,be,do,be,do.' " Thank you Ren for the eight "do's."

This discussion is about the political and epistemological subject. The epistemological transcendental subject is constitutive of a myrid of intentionalities the are self referential and that makes distinctions: pictures and naming, preceiving and remembering, measuring and predication. However, these category intentionalities, memory intentionality, pictorial intentionality, and time intentionality become abstracted and reified as a distant disembodied alien cogito. The Husserlian Transcendental Subject only exists in thought. Likewise, the sovergin modern State is "decontextualized rule," a pattern of ruling that needs no reference to context as opposed to the πόλις  (polis, or city) context. The sovergin modern State also is constituted and only exists in thought. In both cases we create them from imagination. Husserl is trying to put free Mind, νόος, back into the πόλις.

Once the commitment to an idea of truth as givenness is accepted, Adorno believes, the elimination of the experiencing subject has already been incorporated into the understanding of cognition. It is because of its commitment to the epistemologically crucial notion of givenness that Husserlian phenomenology finds itself unable to execute the outbreak other than through a reification of the spiritual capacities of the subject. Husserl's logical absolutism brings to expression, faithfully and accurately, the self-alienation of the subject resulting from the process of disenchantment. The mutilation of the subject that occurs within this process, its reduction to a passive observer of regularities in nature, here finds its way to expression in Husserl's depiction of the laws of thinking as alien to the subject. The subject no longer recognizes itself, its own essence, in the rigidified structures that now wholly determine its interaction with objects. Cognitive structures, then, have now become wholly severed from the experiencing subject. The consequence of Husserl's commitment to the epistemological notion of givenness, Adorno claims, is a residual concept of truth. The approach toward the object proceeds by way of the removal of subjective experience.

Roger Foster. Adorno: The Recovery of Experience (Suny Series in Contemporary Continental Philosophy) (p. 96). Kindle Edition.

The Prophet's Way, directly challenges the "Cartesian culture" (TPW, Loc. 6418) and the missing Subject. There are also the topics of Disenchantment, Critical Self-Reflection, Paradigm Shift, The Name, and Critical Picture Theory.

.ren's picture
  Hi, Anti.  One Flew Over


Hi, Anti.  One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is one of those books that approaches mythic proportions when looked at from this internal transformative perspective.  Like Joseph Heller and his marvelous Catch 22, Ken Kesey wrote other books but never one to match that epic story of Chief Bromden's awakening and breakout.  The movie with never humble Jack Nicholson as the Chief's catalytic teacher-in-action, struggling against the institution and the chemical technology employed by Nurse Rached and her goons, was good at capturing the visual power of awakening in that moment you linked, but I really missed that important intimate internal dialog you also quoted where Kesey drew the moment with words, showing what power words can actually have in sharing the narrative moment of experience, transformation, and breakout. 

In terms of that moment of insight, there may only be that one moment of awakening, all else after that is a reverberating echo.  The mind is now in a different place about itself.  It has shifted. It is always on the edge, as your first quote from The Prophet's Way implies. Catch 22 was the moment of awakening in a book that parallels Eastern philosophy where the master teaches by use of koans.  When asked why he never wrote another book to equal Catch 22, Joseph Heller is said to have replied in his irreverent style: "Has anyone?"

In his Steps to an Ecology of Mind (which I became immersed in shortly after reading Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest) Gregory Bateson develops a theory of learning (he calls it learning to learn, or deutero learning) where he identifies stages of habitual thinking and breaking through.  This theory came out of his original exploration into the double bind as a causative factor in some forms of schizophrenia.  Very briefly, and I caution this cannot do the theory justice, in this theory a schizophrenic faces learned contradictions and is unable to resolve them by self learning at what Bateson identifies as Learning Level III.  I think this learning theory relates to what you are referring to when you write:

Antifascist wrote:

I view our culture's emphasis on instrumental reason as one of those immoveable objects because the power and authority given to scientism, and technology is what defines above all other human concerns of what is real in our society. Wittgenstein, Adorno, Heidegger, and Husserl where all 'disenchanted" with the reductivism of natural-scientific method when addressing the problems of human beings. Both the early Wittgenstein and Husserl tried to anchor scientific certainty in logic and mathematics, but found no independent foundation of validity for mathematical necessity on which the natural sciences are based.

To make my correlation with Bateson, I'd suggest associating the instrumental reductivism of the natural scientific method with Bateson's Learning Level II, and the effort you've described that Wittgenstein, Husserl and Adorno make is to provide a different order of thinking to break out of that defining and very limiting way of thinking with Bateson's Learning Level III.  You'd have to read his works to understand how he sees that, but that's the overview association I'd make.

There are lots of learning habits we all create as we engage the world, one is the habit of self certainty.  Breaking free of that is the challenge that we supposedly engage at Bateson's Learning Level III.  Here are a few brief thoughts about it from pages 303-304 in Steps to an Ecology of Mind

Gregory Bateson wrote:

The therapist must certainly so support or hedge the contraries by which the patient is driven that loopholes of this and other kinds are blocked. The Zen candidate who has been assigned a paradox (koan) must labor at his task "like a mosquito biting on an iron bar."

I have argued elsewhere ("Style, Grace, and Information in Primitive Art," see p. 128) that an essential and necessary function of all habit formation and Learning II is an economy of the thought processes (or neural pathways) which are used for problem-solving or Learning I. The premises of what is commonly called "character"—the definitions of the "self" —save the individual from having to examine the abstract, philosophical, aesthetic, and ethical aspects of many sequences of life. "I don't know whether it's good music; I only know whether I like it."

But Learning III will throw these unexamined premises open to question and change.

Let us, as was done above for Learning I and II, list some of the changes which we shall be willing to call Learning III.

(a)The individual might learn to form more readily those habits the forming of which we call Learning II.
(b)He might learn to close for himself the "loopholes" which would allow him to avoid Learning III.
(c)He might learn to change the habits acquired by Learning II.
(d)He might learn that he is a creature which can and does unconsciously achieve Learning II.
(e)He might learn to limit or direct his Learning II.
(f)If Learning II is a learning of the contexts of Learning I, then Learning III should be a learning of the contexts of those contexts.

But the above list proposes a paradox. Learning III (i.e., learning about Learning II) may lead either to an increase in Learning II or to a limitation and perhaps a reduction of that phenomenon. Certainly it must lead to a greater flexibility in the premises acquired by the process of Learning II —a freedom from their bondage.

I once heard a Zen master state categorically: "To become accustomed to anything is a terrible thing."

But any freedom from the bondage of habit must also denote a profound redefinition of the self. If I stop at the level of Learning II, "I" am the aggregate of those characteristics which I call my "character." "I" am my habits of acting in context and shaping and perceiving the contexts in which I act. Selfhood is a product or aggregate of Learning II. To the degree that a man achieves Learning III, and learns to perceive and act in terms of the contexts of contexts, his "self" will take on a sort of irrelevance. The concept of "self" will no longer function as a nodal argument in the punctuation of experience.


Antifascist's picture
You have an interesting

You have an interesting library Ren,

I took a look at a very short summary of Gregory Bateson's work and was surprised to discover his wife was Margaret Mead.

"like a mosquito biting on an iron bar."

I never thought of a koan in that way. Yes, I see lots of parallels and insights consistent with our discussion of Adorno and meta-critique. There is no Kindle version of Steps to an Ecology of Mind, but I am sure there will be one someday.

.ren's picture
There is a downloadable pdf

There is a downloadable pdf version which I believe can be converted to your Kindle format and read on Kindle.  Steps To An Ecology of Mind by Gregory Bateson.

Yes, Margaret Mead and he were married, had a daughter, divorced and remained good friends thereafter for the rest of their lives.

One of my pet opinions is people who claim to be looking for those peak experiences, sometimes called "enlightenment", are often people who've had something happen to that effect, something that blew their doors off, and then they spend time looking for someone or some language, maybe painting, maybe poetry, maybe philosophers like Wittgenstein, Adorno and all, to make sense of it.  I think that was happening to me when I stumbled onto Gregory's work.  Especially his effort to formalize what he was calling Learning Level III.  It had a form and sense to it that helped me to put something that had happened to me while I was in the military into a Level III form.  It's one of those things where one feels one is discovering and unpacking what one already knows.  And then when other people read it and can't make sense of it, that too makes some sort of sense.

I don't know if you read this explanation at the Wiki site, but I think it is fairly succinct and a reasonably accurate interpretation of Bateson's work in this area, though I'm not sure he would use the term "control" as the writer did.  I've read the essay he cites in Steps To an Ecology of Mind and that wasn't exactly my interpretation, and, it just doesn't fit with all I've read of his.  Also the 1971 penned preface written by a student who helped Bateson choose the essays gives a very different overall interpretation of Bateson's efforts, it seems to me.  I offer the Wiki blurb because I believe you'll find sections that are intriguingly in line with our critique of logical positivism:


Bateson also viewed that all three systems of the individual, society and ecosystem were all together a part of one supreme cybernetic system that controls everything instead of just interacting systems.[15] This supreme cybernetic system is beyond the self of the individual and could be equated to what many people refer to as God, though Bateson referred to it as the Mind.[15] While the Mind is a cybernetic system, it can only be distinguished as a whole and not parts. Bateson felt the Mind was immanent in the messages and pathways of the supreme cybernetic system. He saw the root of system collapses as a result of Occidental or Western epistemology. According to Bateson consciousness is the bridge between the cybernetic networks of individual, society and ecology and that the mismatch between the systems due to improper understanding will be result in the degradation of the entire supreme cybernetic system or Mind. Bateson saw consciousness as developed through Occidental epistemology was at direct odds with the Mind.[15]

At the heart of the matter is scientific hubris. Bateson argues that Occidental epistemology perpetuates a system of understanding which is purpose or means-to-an-end driven.[15] Purpose controls attention and narrows perception, thus limiting what comes into consciousness and therefore limiting the amount of wisdom that can be generated from the perception. Additionally Occidental epistemology propagates the false notion of that man exists outside the Mind and this leads man to believe in what Bateson calls the philosophy of control based upon false knowledge.[15]

Bateson presents Occidental epistemology as a method of thinking that leads to a mindset in which man exerts an autocratic rule over all cybernetic systems.[15] In exerting his autocratic rule man changes the environment to suit him and in doing so he unbalances the natural cybernetic system of controlled competition and mutual dependency. The purpose driven accumulation of knowledge ignores the supreme cybernetic system and leads to the eventual breakdown of the entire system. Bateson claims that man will never be able to control the whole system because it does not operate in a linear fashion and if man creates his own rules for the system, he opens himself up to becoming a slave to the self-made system due to cybernetics non-linear nature. Lastly man’s technological prowess combined with his scientific hubris gives him to potential to irrevocably damage and destroy the supreme cybernetic system instead of just disrupting the system temporally until the system can self-correct.[15]

Bateson argues for a position of humility and acceptance of the natural cybernetic system instead of scientific arrogance as a solution.[15] He believes that humility can come about by abandoning the view of operating through consciousness alone. Consciousness is but only one way in which to obtain knowledge and without complete knowledge of the entire cybernetic system disaster is inevitable. The limited conscious must be combined with the unconscious in complete synthesis. Only when thought and emotion are combined in whole is man able to obtain complete knowledge. He believed that religion and art are some of the few areas in which a man is acting as a whole individual in complete consciousness. By acting with this greater wisdom of the supreme cybernetic system as a whole man can change his relationship to the Mind from one of symmetry, in which he is endlessly tied up in constant competition, to one of complementary. Bateson argues for a culture that promotes the most general wisdom and is able to flexibly change within the supreme cybernetic system.[15]

Antifascist's picture
Thank you Ren for that link

Thank you Ren for that link to  Steps To An Ecology of Mind by Gregory Bateson. The summary is excellent and covers most of all the topics we have touched on. The first time reading the overview I saw the passage, " Additionally Occidental epistemology propagates the false notion of that man exists outside the Mind and this leads man to believe in what Bateson calls the philosophy of control based upon false knowledge." I like the neutral cybernetics terminology that avoids some of the difficulty of re-using historical philosophical and political terms.

"This supreme cybernetic system is beyond the self of the individual and could be equated to what many people refer to as God, though Bateson referred to it as the Mind."  The German word "Geist" means both "Mind" and "Spirit."

.ren's picture
You're welcome.  This

You're welcome.  This exposure I got through Bateson nearly forty years ago now has been an underlying understanding that I have been using to read into these philosophical and political terms from the philosophers you've connected to this discussion.  I felt this might be a good time to bring Bateson into it


"This supreme cybernetic system is beyond the self of the individual and could be equated to what many people refer to as God, though Bateson referred to it as the Mind."  The German word "Geist" means both "Mind" and "Spirit."

I'll go with Bateson and the Germans on this, though I wouldn't be surprised if DRC can bring in some theological scholarship to show how the "God" term has been misconstrued.   This just reflects the difficulties we've covered on using language to express the inexpressible.

Antifascist's picture
 "In our dreams, we’re both

 "In our dreams, we’re both the observer and the observed: it’s “unreal.” In daily life, we’re the observer and the things around us, separate from us, are the observed: they’re “real.”"

-The Prophet's Way: A Guide to Living in the Now (Loc.1503-1505).

"Science believed (and Aristotle, Descartes and others taught) that if the subjective observer could rid himself of his personal and instrumentational subjectivity and identify all the relevant factors, then a truly objective “truth” about the world and reality could be seen, measured, or determined."

-The Prophet's Way: A Guide to Living in the Now (Loc.1507).

"Our mission is to let go of our entanglements to the world and to re-connect our “consciousness” to that of the “I Am That I Am,” the uncreated before creation, the source of all."

-The Prophet's Way: A Guide to Living in the Now (Loc.627-628).


The Disenchanted

Disenchantment originates from losing apriori mystical awareness. Disenchantment (German: Entzauberung) was a term coined by Max Weber to describe the debasement of spirituality, or the mystical, by dominance of instrumental reason. Human beings and nature are objectified through scientific and mathematical abstraction. This is the very ontology that Wittgenstein and Heidegger questioned to make room for the mystical and the personal. Wittgenstein came to understand language as doing more than conveying meaning with synthetic or analytic propositions, but instead has multiple uses in life. We read Heidegger's warning of τέχνη (techne), or calculative thinking overpowering meditative thinking

"...what lies behind the constituting subject is a process of cognitive subtraction. That is to say, the subject becomes the constituting subject through that process in which it learns to eliminate from its cognitive engagement with the world all features that depend on its own role as a situated subjectivity. This is why disenchantment, for Adorno, is describable in terms of the subject's own self-mutilation in the course of its history.' Now while it is clear that the type of cognitive engagement with the world made possible through the constituting subject increases the extent of human control over nature, because it is organized primarily in terms of its regularity and predictability, Adorno wants to argue that it comes at the cost of a fateful cognitive deficit." (Adorno: The Recovery of Experience, by Roger Foster (p. 11).

Hyper-rationalization abstracts from all life then subtracts subjectivity (the subjective observer) resulting in the modern phenomena of existential disconnection and homelessness. After World War II ended there was a massive housing shortage in Europe causing widespread homelessness. Heidegger saw a parallel homelessness, or rootlessness of the spirit: [italic from original text]:

Building and thinking are, each in its own way, inescapable for dwelling. The two, are also insufficient for dwelling so long as each busies itself with its own affairs in separation instead on listening to one another...However hard and bitter, however hampering and threatening the lack of houses remains, the real plight of dwelling does not lie merely in a lack of houses. The real plight of dwelling is indeed older that the world wars with their destruction, older also that the increase of the earth's population and the condition of the industrial workers. The real plight lies in this, that mortals ever search anew for the nature of dwelling, that they must ever learn to dwell..”( Poetry, Language, Thought, in Chapter IV. Building Dwelling Thinking, by Martin Heidegger, translated by Albert Hofstadter ,1971, p. 161. Harper and Row).

“Dwelling” for Heidegger was authentic human existence, not just an anthropological object for a naturalist-scientific paradigm in which all existence is “framed.” Heidegger described the essence of modern technology as Gestell, or "enframing." The essence of modern technology is the conversion of the whole universe of beings into an undifferentiated "standing reserve" (Bestand) of energy available for any use to which humans choose to put it.”

The very act of rationalization apriori stereotypes and distorts experience for practical ends. All other experiences are interpreted as "unreal," or irrelevant: calculative and instrumental reason projects a conceptual mask on lived experience.  Adorno doesn’t just make this generalization, but rather goes into great detail describing the role of habitual memory, pure memory, and involuntary memory in categorization (borrowing from Henri Bergson’s work “Matter And Memory.”). For Adorno,

Disenchantment is essentially describable in terms of a specific type of distortion within reason produced by a process of rationalization. Kontos describes this quite succinctly.

The force behind disenchantment is rationality, or, more precisely, rationalization. Rationality, unlike reason, is concerned with means, not ends; it is the human ability to calculate, to effectively reach desired goals. It emanates from purposive practical human activity. It is this-worldly in origin. It has infinite applicability and an extraordinary expansiveness under certain circumstances. Indeed, it can be quite imperial. It transforms what it touches and,finally, it destroys the means-ends nexus. (1994, 230) What lies behind this, as Weber puts it, is the notion that "one could in principle master everything through calculation" (1989, 13).

 It is important to see here (and it is something I shall continually emphasize) that there is nothing malign in itself about the purposive-practical attitude that is affiliated with disenchantment. Following from the way that Adorno reads the disenchantment thesis, the distortion that leads to the harmful consequences of disenchantment occurs when the calculative thinking associated with the purposive-practical attitude begins exclusively to usurp the authority to determine when experience can count as cognitively significant. This is when the practical human interest in control over nature takes on the encompassing form of instrumental reason. The disenchantment thesis is therefore guided by a sense that rationalization pushed to the limit has as a consequence the dissolution of the cognitive worth of forms of experience that do not fit the typical means-end schema of calculative thinking. Roger Foster. Adorno: The Recovery of Experience (Suny Series in Contemporary Continental Philosophy) (pp. 9-10). Kindle Edition.

Adorno's viewed his project to reconnect with the world of human experience for re-newed insights and to critically examine some fundamental assumptions of epistemology. The goal is to reclaim the subject in a conceptualization scheme that only acknowledges a mechanistic-materialist-empiricist universe. This critique is necessary for science because, "if it is to be successful, natural-scientific cognition must be able to reveal genuine (not illusory) characteristics of its objects...Hence, for Adorno, starting from the historical project of epistemology, one can reach the truth about the disenchantment of the world. But this requires a changed view of the subject, one that is not a passive observer of facts, but rather a subject that is able to use its own locus within the social-historical whole to probe the different dimensions of the object, filling in what was subtracted by the natural-scientific reduction. (The Recovery of Experience, p. 99-100).

Antifascist's picture
False Memories of Reified

False Memories of Reified Worlds

"...all reification is a form of forgetting." -Adorno, Dialectic of the Enlightenment.

Adorno critiqued Henri Bergson's representational epistemology, but also borrowed from Bergson especially those themes and ideas consistent with his own thinking. Adorno was greatly impressed by Bergson's epistemological work, "Matter And Memory." Some scholars can trace this theoretical treatment of perception originally to Schopenhauer and Nietzsche so Bergson is continuing his analysis using an established paradigm. Bergson understood memory as three closely related types: habitual memory, pure memory, and involuntary memory.  

"Habitual memory" is physical motor memory based on repetitious, automatic, unreflective mechanical tasks like closing a door when leaving a room. It is a kind of cognition that is instrumental and selective in experience to the specifications of some criteria of action. However, the past also exists for us as "pure memory" that is severed, or detached, from its motor functions and exists out of context abstractly as a pattern--reciting a story, for example. Pure memory gravitates to resemblance of situations and attempts to recover past memories that match the current situation.  Foster writes, "The generality of thinking is derivative of this process in which habitual memory isolates certain elements in perception that repeat themselves, calling for a common response from the motor system. In contrast, Bergson suggests, memoire pure is a contemplation that apprehends what is singular and nonrepeatable." (Recovery of Experience, Roger Foster, Kindle Edition. p. 123).

Pure memory is based on spontaneity and creativity, "...'pure' memory is the capacity to detach oneself from the immediate context of action. To be able to evoke an image of the past in the form of pure memory, Bergson argues, 'one must be able to abstract oneself from the present action, one must know how to attach a price to the non-useful, one must be able to dream.'" (The Recovery of Experience, Roger Foster, Kindle, p. 121).

The process of reification has four aspects: abstraction, objectification, stereotyping, and forgetting. Thought abstracts from experience. Pure memory becomes habitual classification of experience with repetition until the "non-useful" vanishes to be "cannot be said" within the confines of this means-ends paradigm. In addition, language has a propensity to objectify and ontologize abstract concepts into objective entities independent of their subjective human origin. Reification is the "thing-i-fication" of concepts which are not things. For example, the proposition, "The class of all teacups is not itself a teacup," seems obvious, but language and logic has the tendency to reify, or make into an objective entity what was originally existing only in thought. Adorno says, "...language and the process of reification are interlocked. The very form of the copula, the `is,' pursues the aim of pinpointing its object,..." (The Recovery of Experience, Roger Foster, Kindle, p. 162).

Reification relies on the selective similarities of repeatable past experiences to subdue phenomena by placing it on a Procrustean (Προκρούστης) bed of conventionality and familiar recognition. But, in the process of remembering reified past experiences, there is also a forgetting of experience. The recovery of this experience is by rememberance. Adorno argues, "the thesis of the priority of the objects which holds that objects are irreducible to concepts, that they cannot be made identical with the concepts."(Adorno's Negative Dialectic, by O'Connor, Kindle, p. 9.). As we noted before, Adorno holds to a non-identity theory of knowledge. Thought and Being are never identical, because practical, or political concerns suppress the differences. In Adorno's subject/object epistemology, "the object is not exhausted by the categories of the subject."

...reification has objective and subjective dimensions (HCC 87). Objectively, the world appears to be governed naturally by these reifying laws to the extent that they are apparently merely discovered by the individual and also unalterable...Subjectively, the individual is deformed by reification to the extent that she now perceives her proper activities in terms of a society governed by quantitative laws. (Adorno's Negative Dialectic, by O'Connor, Kindle, p. 45.).

Reified concepts come back at us as unalterable principles of reality with our forgetting their historical and subjective origin. We can see this process in theology, economics, and scientism. A good example of a reified concept is that of "debt." Dr. David Graeber, professor of anthropology at Goldsmiths College, University of London, traces the concept of debt back to a "promise" that has been mathematized and exported out of its original context. Adorno most frequent example of reification is that of the "commodity" illusion. In all these cases a critique of the concept leads back to a forgotten historical-social context. Ironically, knowledge is recollection as Socrates said to Meno.  Socrates speaking of a slave that will do geometry using guided innate reasoning, "...if he keeps a stout heart and does not grow weary of the search, for seeking and learning are in fact nothing but recollection. (Meno, 81d). The early Socrates held to a Theory of the Remimiscence to explain Meno's Paradox and is, of course, different from Adorno's use of remmimiscence. But then one could argue..., but I don't want to digress.

So experience is not merely awareness, but a complex process of abstraction, conceptualization, remembering, and selecting from experience unconsciously as habitude is unconscious. This is the natural state of naive realism.

...naive realism entails the assumption that there is necessarily in experience a noncritical subject whose role is that of passively receiving objects. Critical theory, however, requires a theory of experience that can support the idea that the subject is capable of engaging its environment in a process of reciprocal transformation. Through that theory, grounds are given to the idea that the reification of the individual in society and the static relations that have developed between the individual and society are not necessary states of affairs. Naive realism, by contrast, gives epistemological validation to the reified world....Naive realism holds that the object is independent of subjectivity and is apprehended as it is in-itself. It presents the order of knowing as a fully given object being passively received by a subject. (Adorno's Negative Dialectic, by O'Connor, Kindle, p. 45, 50.).

I know someone who thinks like that. This is the function of academic logical positivism today: to give validation to a false reified world--to validate an "ontology of a false situation." Adorno's project is to bring back to re-cognition experience without reification's mask placed on appearance by the unreflective subject. He is attempting to recover from the governed subject authentic spiritual experience of a Heraclitian flow of consciousness. Heraclitus does not weep out of sorrow, but from seeing the beauty of the Logos.

"Donkeys prefer chaff to gold." -Heraclitus (On Nature [c.500 BCE], B009), quoted by Aristotle - Nichomachean Ethics

.ren's picture
"Naive realism" is what is

"Naive realism" is what is generally passed off in discussion as "fact". 

Back to Bateson. 

Your above discussion, Anti, is a reflection of a character of thought Bateson refers to as "Level Three Learning".  Read Bateson's Steps to an Ecology of Mind where he describes Level Three Learning (it's in the essay "Logical Categories of Learning, which I've linked above, for a fuller explanation.  Naive realism as described appears to me to be a result of Level Two Learning without the added awareness that will come by moving to Level Three process, which involves considering and coming to an understanding of the Level Two process and what takes place at that level.  So... If a Level Three Learner is recognizing that reification of a false fact reality being created in a discussion with someone, points it out, gets any of a variety of reactionary tantrum-like results, the likelihood of further developed discussion may be minimal, because the potential for developing any further shared active, experiential awareness at Level Three about thinking itself that's taking place is minimal.  If discussion is always being brought back to this rigid adherence to these reified facts, well, that speaks for the rigidity of thought paradigm of logical positivism and all its sibling versions of thinking.

The Level Two Learner is stuck in a flawed, conceptualized version of the world and to further engage with that Learner will necessitate remaining in that world with that person's conceptual order.  Which, as far as they can go, is perfectly logical and tautalogically true at all times. 

Is this truly the state of neoliberal globalism as a process?  The patterns of thinking involved, especially with the experts like the economists, those who think in the scientism framework this implies, and such, are difficult to ignore.  Bateson, as far back as these essays which were written before published as the book Steps to an Ecology of Mind in 1972, where 'Mind' is capitalized so that it can be seen at a societal level, puts together a suggestive argument to that effect.  In the last section he begins to talk about the ecological crisis, and this crisis is both of Mind and Nature, which as it happened, turned out to be the title of his last book, barely completed before he died.

.ren's picture
Looks like you spent some

Looks like you spent some time thinking through this post, Anti.  Good one.  And I'll keep moving this comment down as you edit as you continue to "clean it up", which I'm sure you will.

 One of the problems I was running through my thoughts as I read this post was the problem you've illustrated in the following paragraph especially, which I would call maybe the problem of purpose, objective and ultimately the assumption of authortiy.:


Antifascist wrote:

Adorno wrote that "Heidegger wants to break out of the immanence of consciousness. But his outbreak is an outbreak into the mirror." (ND, Adorno, p. 84, Seabury Press, 1979). Heidegger, Adorno claims, theologizes all language and assumes a reified epistemology (phenomenology). Heidegger is a mystic believing, "that the broken language of philosophy can un-problematically recover its aura by saying the unsayable." (Adorno, by Roger Foster, Kindle, p. 80 and refer to as AROE).  We can summarize Adorno's critique of all these philosophers as the failure to see how reified language distorts the very epistemology used in their analysis. Husserl, Heidegger, and Bergson assume  "truth as givenness" --that is to say, truth is "immediacy," and that the object, is "uncontaminated by the pre-theoretical reactions and conceptions of the subject." (Adorno, by Roger Foster, Kindle, p. 95). But the object is always contaminated. In the end, the experiencing subject is eliminated. All these philosophers in their own way "...succeed only in reaching an objectivity that is simply a mirror effect of the very subjectivity that it wants to transcend. (AROE, p. 129). 

If language is being used as a source of positive and definitive truth, the language tends to become the facts themselves in the mind as it seeks to break out of the reflective mirror.  Another way language could be used is more as a guide, or as Korzybski suggests, a map.  I just ran into an incidence of how this can be misconstrued when I put forth someone's map of the machinery of institutional structure, which I personally use more as a guide to seeing the structure of the broken machinery of our modern day society, and I was accused of using it as an "authority."  When a machine breaks down in real life, and I don't know how it is built, I may either take it apart myself, or if that's not working too well, I sometimes will look for a manual.  But the manual is never the fact of the machinery that's broken, it's a sometimes horrible representative, and I'm still faced with the actual problem and the existential fact of having to deal with it.

Now, if Adorno is seeing these philosophers he's critiquing as attempting to be voices of authority rather than providing maps to their own efforts to break the egg of contradiction that he himself sees as his "objective", then his critique will take on one cant, or perspective.  If he sees them providing a map of their own efforts to break out, it would take another.  And this is a problem I find in the critical stance itself.  If a writer is actually breaking through something in the writing process and emerges from that "something" leaving behind the writing, then where is the evidence in the writing itself that the writer has actually done that?

One can merely use the writing left behind as a guide, much like a repair manual for a machine that the manual writer had to learn to take apart and reconstruct and leaves behind in words that process, but with that perspective, it's noted that the repair must be something one does oneself. What one actually find when one reads is the cocoon (the "philosophical riddle"), not the butterfly.   The butterfly is gone.  But if you look at language as if it's a fact, as the positivists do, then you mistake the language for the representative of some thing, rather than the representative of an active process.  One is imagined as a fundamental truth, the other merely the result of a process, which is what the human mind does when it works on something it considers a problem, like reified (or would that more accurately be "deified" thinking?).  And to look at those words as attempts by the butterfly to create a body of objective facts would very well be the critique based on the cant of reasoned positivism.  And to create a reasoned positivism that is a solid, evidentiary critique is only to remain within the confines of the reflective mirror of tautological reasoning.

In this case that we have been looking at for some time now, the "thing" that is broken gets a kind of verbal gesture pointing to it as Adorno's "recovery of experience".  And we get, through Roger Foster's AROE, a guide to reading Adorno's cocoon.  But what we do not have are "facts" or "voices of authority" because if we do we are reading it from that perspective.  Nor do we know if any of these "butterflies" got out of their cocoons and flew away.  And if someone insists we are reading from the perspective of "reading voices of authority", then, unless we submit to their will of remaining in that perspective, we would be unable to communicate with that person, inevitably.  They would be seeing everything from that perspective while we are seeing differently.  And that's one of the reasons Chomsky argues that language has no inherent structure of meaning, only an inherent structure of grammar.    It's up to us to make up the meaning as we go along based on the context of now.  But when we organize into large societies, there's a tendency to create language as if it were fact, and so you get this urge to look for a fundamentalist meaning in the written, codified law, thus the positive law philosophy appealing to a textualist, or originalist reading of same.

Antifascist wrote:

Adorno views these philosophical "riddles" as both a symptom and a clue for understanding the objective conditions of life that precede the questions. For Adorno, this is a self-reflective epistemological process and not an act of the will since the acting subject would just duplicate the same reified assumptions unreflectively.

Antifascist's picture
The Outbreak Attempt: Escape

The Outbreak Attempt: Escape into the Antinomies Mirror.

"The key to it is to be awake in the present. “The average person cannot walk even ten steps without falling out of this awakeness,” Herr Müller once said. “It is so easy to forget G-d and to forget to be awake and alive here and now."  The Prophet's Way: A Guide to Living in the Now, by Thom Hartmann ,Kindle Locations , 3176-3178).

"I have come to conclude that the natural way of being, for any alert sentient creature, is to sense its surroundings, act, and directly experience the result. Consistently, around the world, this is the way of older cultures. Wherever this process is disrupted, the spirit goes out of being and people’s natural power degenerates in atrophy or destruction of harmony."

The Prophet's Way (Kindle Locations 4692-4695).

"They run on automatic so much of the day, thinking of the past or the future, that they spend little time in the now. Often we’re only thinking of a past or future that’s minutes away—judging or evaluating something that just happened or thinking about what we’re going to say or do next—but whether we’re thinking of what happened two minutes ago or twenty years ago, the effect is the same: we’re not awake."

The Prophet's Way (Kindle Locations 3147-3150).

Living by false memories is not living in the now. There is a bureaucracy of the mind that takes over to impair perceptions and experience. The problem is for the subject to break out of this conceptualizing and reifying "magic circle" and get back to immediate experience. The "constituting subject" is not the "experiencing subject" because "rigidified structures" and classificatory thinking "mutilates" and "withers" experience. The operational logic of reductionist empiricist naturalism is institutionalized reified thinking from which the subject must break out. Adorno seeks to "undermine the reifying consciousness" by removing the "obfuscations" to experience. It is important to note that Adorno is not trying to transcend perception, but to remove the distortion of the perception of the particular. What is non-conceptual is primordial to conceptualization.

For Kant there is no breakout: the categories of reason only apply to experience. Likewise, for Wittgenstein, there is no break out: analysis of language finds only bivalent factual propositions, or logical tautologies.

“…only certain things exist, but that they exist is something that cannot be said. It can only be shown, and the solipsist’s mistake is to express it in a factual proposition…. [The Subject, or observer] is only a metaphysical subject, which is a kind of focal vanishing point behind the mirror and what the mirror reflects. So the only thing that he [Wittgenstein] can legitimately say is that what is reflected in the mirror is reflected in the mirror…but this is…only a tautology. It means only that whatever objects exist, exist. So when solipsism is worked out, it becomes clear that there is no difference between it and realism." Ludwig Wittgenstein by David Pears, (Penguin),(1970), pp.74-75.

Adorno wrote that "Heidegger wants to break out of the immanence of consciousness. But his outbreak is an outbreak into the mirror." (ND, Adorno, p. 84, Seabury Press, 1979). Heidegger, Adorno claims, theologizes all language and assumes a reified epistemology (phenomenology). Heidegger is a mystic believing, "that the broken language of philosophy can un-problematically recover its aura by saying the unsayable." (Adorno, by Roger Foster, Kindle, p. 80 and refer to as AROE).  We can summarize Adorno's critique of all these philosophers as the failure to see how reified language distorts the very epistemology used in their analysis. Husserl, Heidegger, and Bergson assume  "truth as givenness" --that is to say, truth is "immediacy," and that the object, is "uncontaminated by the pre-theoretical reactions and conceptions of the subject." (Adorno, by Roger Foster, Kindle, p. 95). But the object is always contaminated. In the end, the experiencing subject is eliminated. All these philosophers in their own way "...succeed only in reaching an objectivity that is simply a mirror effect of the very subjectivity that it wants to transcend. (AROE, p. 129). 

Once the commitment to an idea of truth as givenness is accepted, Adorno believes, the elimination of the experiencing subject has already been incorporated into the understanding of cognition. It is because of its commitment to the epistemologically crucial notion of givenness that Husserlian phenomenology finds itself unable to execute the outbreak other than through a reification of the spiritual capacities of the subject. Husserl's logical absolutism brings to expression, faithfully and accurately, the self-alienation of the subject resulting from the process of disenchantment. The mutilation of the subject that occurs within this process, its reduction to a passive observer of regularities in nature, here finds its way to expression in Husserl's depiction of the laws of thinking as alien to the subject. The subject no longer recognizes itself, its own essence, in the rigidified structures that now wholly determine its interaction with objects. Cognitive structures, then, have now become wholly severed from the experiencing subject.(AROE, p. 96).

I am quoting from both Foster's (Adorno: The Recovery of Experience, 1971) and O'Connor's (Adorno's Negative Dialectic: Philosophy and the Possibility of Critical Rationality) books because they are concise and clearly bring together many epistemological debates found in the history of philosophy. They are independent resources that directly and indirectly reinforce many of the observations in our discussion of Kant, Wittgenstein, and Heidegger. Also, I can draw thematic parallels with these works and "The Prophet's Way." There is much more to consider than what we have explored. Adorno's criticism of certain philosophical positions of these thinkers are not immune to counter arguments and misinterpretations on Adorno's part.

Adorno's negative dialectical critique is meant to break open the reified concepts of epistemology by driving them to contradiction ( borrowing from Kant, Adorno's calls these contradictions "antinomies") which can be unraveled to discover embedded assumptions. For Adorno, the break out is achieved by a break down. But a break down to what? Adorno urges us not to forget the objective--that the genesis of disenchantment can be found by tracing back the reified concept to the historical experience from which they began. This method is usually interpreted as Adorno's Neo-Marxist materialist influence; however, it can be argued that Adorno is reaching back to his Neo-Kantian influence which holds, "...although all our knowledge begins with experience, it does not follow that it arises from experience." (Critique of Pure Reason, Kant, A:2.). The conflicts in thought emerged from the conflicts of Life. Adorno is providing a "corrective" to a distorted epistemology. Adorno views these philosophical "riddles" as both a symptom and a clue for understanding the objective conditions of life that precede these questions. For Adorno, this is a self-reflective epistemological process and not an act of the will since the acting subject would just duplicate the same reified assumptions unreflectively.

Adorno's Selbstbesinnung [self awareness] wants to show that what is "outside" is always already inside, hence there is no such thing as the "coincidence of our self with itself." Rather than moving outward to show that there is nothing that cannot be assimilated by the subject, self-reflection demonstrates the extent of the subject's dependence on what is outside it. The putative autonomy of the subject is itself, as a side effect of diremption, an illusion fabricated by this dependence. Put in terms of the outbreak attempt this means that the move toward the non-conceptual must begin by deflating the subject's claim to autonomy and self-subsistence. Because it rests on the demonstration of the dependence of the concept on conditions it does not control....(AROE, p. 130).

Antifascist's picture
Sorry for the

Sorry for the editing...again.

Thanks Ren for taking time to read my posts. I appreciate your comments. Much of this material about Adorno is new to me so it takes longer to write and compare positions to other philosophers of our interests. I selected some key quotes from your last post.

You wrote, "But the manual is never the fact of the machinery that's broken, it's a sometimes horrible representative...." This is one meaning of the Wittgensteinian phrase, "Say the unsayable"  that Adorno used writing about the non-conceptual: the written manual only can say how to operate the machine (Technique), and does not explain the principles by which it works (to stay consistent with our causal-mechanical analogy). This meaning is based on the purpose of instrumental reasoning to "govern." Cybernetics is from the Greek, κυβερνάω (kybernētēs, steersman, governor, pilot, or rudder--the same root as government).

The other meaning of "Say the unsayable" concerning the non-conceptual is that the object cannot in principle be exhausted by the concept. These two meanings of "non-conceptual" are not explicitly mentioned in any of the resources I have quoted. So there is a meaning of the non-conceptual that is relative to systems of instrumental reasoning themselves and an absolute meaning-- the inability of thought in principle to capture being (Boundless). Apeiron (ἄπειρον) a Greek word meaning unlimited, infinite or indefinite from ἀ- a-, "without" and πεῖραρ peirar, "end, limit," the Ionic Greek form of πέρας peras, "end, limit, boundary".”

You asked, "If a writer is actually breaking through something in the writing process and emerges from that "something" leaving behind the writing, then where is the evidence in the writing itself that the writer has actually done that?"

The writer uncovers internal contradictions within the paradigm itself, to break it down, and reveal the illusion of reification which really is over time, as you said, "deification." We know the problem of circularity of paradigms  if we enter that positivistic circle: " create a reasoned positivism that is a solid, evidentiary critique is only to remain within the confines of the reflective mirror of tautological reasoning."  Independence, and objectivity of thought systems are reifications of social activity.

...certain intellectual capacities that allow for the classification of the object in terms that further the human interest in the control and instrumental application of nature, gradually get split off from their embeddedness within the cognitive experience of the subject as a whole, and get taken up into the operational logic of metasubjective (i.e., social) institutions. Over time, the growth of these institutions and their instrumental logic begins to react back on the subject, circumscribing the sense of what counts as cognitively significant experience. The experiencing subject now gets transformed, reduced, to the constituting subject. (AROE, p. 93).

Adorno makes the distinction between external and internal antinomies. We can use the paradigm model of epistemology to see this difference. External antinomies are contradictions between different paradigms: materialist, contra, the theist view of cosmology for example (When discussing Kuhn we used the historical scientific hydraulic paradigm (of electricity flowing like water) failing to explain other attributes of electricity like the mechanical attraction and repelling of magnetic.). But then there are internal antinomies in which the contradiction is within the paradigm itself, or self contradictory. Kant urged the epistemologist to,

...recognize the necessary limitations of experience as identified by critical philosophy itself. The critical philosophy therefore shows us that we can know only what is experienced and what the conditions of that experience are. We cannot know any phenomenon outside those limitations. That is to say, in Kant's language, we cannot know anything unconditionally or absolutely....[O'Connor writes further]...Adorno sees antinomy as internal to particular philosophical positions. What this means is that a position is internally antinomical in so far as it contains conflicting tendencies, tendencies that actually undermine the coherence of the position itself. ( Adorno's Negative Dialectic by Brian O'Connor, p. 26).

This kind of philosophical writing is non-systematic, but coherent and as you said, "One can merely use the writing left behind as a guide..." Adorno believed, "what philosophy can to employ concepts in such a way that they are able to express something that cannot be said with them." (AROE, p. 59). Adorno acquires Walter Benjamin's idea of the Constellation of meaning which " not system. Everything does not become resolved, everything does not come out even; rather, one moment sheds light on the other, and the figures that the individual moments form together are specific signs and a legible script. (1993b, 109)."(AROE, p. 126). I will write more about this later.

Ren wrote, "And if someone insists we are reading from the perspective of "reading voices of authority", then, unless we submit to their will of remaining in that perspective, we would be unable to communicate with that person, inevitably...." I understand part of the question. Again, the paradigm model of epistemology is helpful to me. There is the authority of the paradigm to explain its coherence with appearance, or givenness. That is a paradigm authority. Adorno steps into a paradigm (Husserl's logical Absolutism for example) to show a contradiction by pushing its concepts to internal contradiction. One has to contingently accept the rule of non-contradiction and from that, Adorno believes, a concept can be unraveled to show unexpressed internal assumptions. From these contradictions we discover a pattern of meanings that is express-ive and express-es more than what the paradigmatic concept can itself. On what "authority" does he know this? Adorno assumes Hegelian dialectical reasoning.

Adorno follows Hegel in claiming that the dialectic of reason will lead to metaphysical insight into the nature of the concept. But, contra Hegel, the insight concerns the dependence of the concept on conditions outside it, not the enfolding of the object into subjectivity. (AROE, p. 132).

And what is the origin of this idea of dialectic reasoning? Dialectical reasoning can be traced to Heraclitian doctrine of opposites and unity of opposites.

If we enter a coherent thought paradigm, one necessarily steps into a circle—this can’t be avoided. Habitually we join the circle unreflectively, and that can be avoided.

The theological concepts of both idealists and naturalists are rooted in a "mystical apriori," an awareness of something that transcends the cleavage between subject and object. And if in the course of "scientific" procedure this a priori, is discovered, its discovery is possible only because it was present from the very beginning. This is the circle which no religious philosopher can escape. And it is by no means a vicious one. Every understanding of spiritual things (Geisteswissenschaft) is circular.

(Tillich, Paul. Systematic Theology Vol. I. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1951, 1957 & 1963. page 9.).

.ren's picture
Thanks for making those

Thanks for making those connections to my points, Anti.

What keeps coming to mind in all this is that we are talking about a different way of using language than is taken as common today in modern Western societies.  Especially where the language of mass media predominates with sound bites and images.

I think there's a kind of chasm that must be leaped by the speakers, or more accurately, the communicators. Maybe it's more appropriate to make a comparison of going from speaking to communicating to cross that gap.  There are a lot of leaps of faith involved in communicating at a metaphorical level rather than a definitional one.  There are mysterious issues involved, like the use of empathy and consideration of what might be going on in another person's mind.  And the reliance on grounding communication in the technicalities of definition would relate to the positivists sense of facts, where facts are defined.  And with that you get this elevation of fact above other humane factors.

Language probably did not evolve under the same circumstances that we find it being used today.  That is, I'm referring to where it is used today in a predominantly technical sense, with definitions being the fundamental (and I don't use that term lightly here) driver of meaning and not the sense of reaching for understanding, often a shared sense of understanding that people who are intimate with each other can have.  The effort to bridge that gap through comparative explanation can be a cumbersome, convoluted one.  But if one remains visionary through the effort, it can be worth the effort.  Maybe that's what made our philosophical ancestors thoughtful, literate and eloquent where today we find so many who have no interest in becoming literate barely speaking in clichés.

Some anthropologists have taken some trouble to try to compare and contrast our experience with the world in modern technological societies from birth with other cultures (generally described in the literature as pre-conquest cultures) who are observed to be more immediate, intimate and tactile with each other, where language is not a primary medium of interchange of "ideas", and I think the things they have noticed might be worth taking in consideration when looking at these -- again -- fundamental differences in using language, that is as a form of bridging gaps while trying to communicate as human beings or as defining the world of facts to each other in a technical way in order to make sense of the technical order of the world we find ourselves immersed in from birth now.

Jean Liedloff (who recently passed I just discovered) attempted to bring these observed differences into into a theory that would help us to understand how profoundly we can be effected in our abilities to appreciate the moment (as you quoted Herr Muller talking about in The Prophet's Way in your above quote, which keeps moving when you edit so I won't try to say which one anymore).  So I offer it here for consideration as a contextual feature of who we are and what we can achieve with language, not to make an argumentative point.

Jean Liedloff wrote:

According to Jean Liedloff, the continuum concept is the idea that in order to achieve optimal physical, mental and emotional development, human beings — especially babies — require the kind of experience to which our species adapted during the long process of our evolution. For an infant, these include such experiences as...

  • constant physical contact with his mother (or another familiar caregiver as needed) from birth;
  • sleeping in his parents' bed, in constant physical contact, until he leaves of his own volition;
  • breastfeeding "on cue" — nursing in response to his own body's signals;
  • being constantly carried in arms or otherwise in contact with someone, usually his mother, and allowed to observe (or nurse, or sleep) while the person carrying him goes about his or her business — until the infant begins creeping, then crawling on his own impulse, usually at six to eight months;
  • having caregivers immediately respond to his signals (squirming, crying, etc.), without judgment, displeasure, or invalidation of his needs, yet showing no undue concern nor making him the constant center of attention;
  • sensing (and fulfilling) his elders' expectations that he is innately social and cooperative and has strong self-preservation instincts, and that he is welcome and worthy.

In contrast, a baby subjected to modern Western childbirth and child-care practices often experiences...

  • traumatic separation from his mother at birth due to medical intervention and placement in maternity wards, in physical isolation except for the sound of other crying newborns, with the majority of male babies further traumatized by medically unnecessary circumcision surgery;
  • at home, sleeping alone and isolated, often after "crying himself to sleep";
  • scheduled feeding, with his natural nursing impulses often ignored or "pacified";
  • being excluded and separated from normal adult activities, relegated for hours on end to a nursery, crib or playpen where he is inadequately stimulated by toys and other inanimate objects;
  • caregivers often ignoring, discouraging, belittling or even punishing him when he cries or otherwise signals his needs; or else responding with excessive concern and anxiety, making him the center of attention;
  • sensing (and conforming to) his caregivers' expectations that he is incapable of self-preservation, is innately antisocial, and cannot learn correct behavior without strict controls, threats and a variety of manipulative "parenting techniques" that undermine his exquisitely evolved learning process.

Evolution has not prepared the human infant for this kind of experience. He cannot comprehend why his desperate cries for the fulfillment of his innate expectations go unanswered, and he develops a sense of wrongness and shame about himself and his desires. If, however, his continuum expectations are fulfilled — precisely at first, with more variation possible as he matures — he will exhibit a natural state of self-assuredness, well-being and joy. Infants whose continuum needs are fulfilled during the early, in-arms phase grow up to have greater self-esteem and become more independent than those whose cries go unanswered for fear of "spoiling" them or making them too dependent.

And, as Dr. Graeboff described in his efforts to characterize a different form of debt as relationship in society, rather than debt as a mathematical definition, in those societies where people are intimately connected and not connected through a commodity orientation, the people appear to be relaxed and happy with one another, even when by a commodity orientation they would be considered poor.  Maybe it's just the relief of not having to count and calculate everything about their lives, or maybe it goes deeper, to a sense of self esteem they don't even question because it was established so early in life.  And like the sociopath who does not experience empathy, so he does not "know" it, thus can't belief in its possibility, those of us who've been raised in a very common Western mode described above cannot experience that sense of self-esteem, thus have no ability to "know" it experientially.  And that brings my thoughts back to Adorno's attempt to "recover" experience that we've been trying to approach through this Westernized language process...

Dr. Graeber from another thread:

Antifascist wrote:

Conversations with Great Minds - Dr. David Graeber Debt: The 1st 5000 years P1

Interesting interview of Dr. David Graeber, professor of anthropology at Goldsmiths College, University of London.

In another interview Dr. Graeber rhetorically asked the question, "Is economics an empirical science?"

Against the Grain (Audio at 16:45 minutes)


Antifascist's picture
Critical Picture Theory And

Critical Picture Theory And The Logic of Conceptual Domination

“Pictures are frozen in time, while reality flows in time. When you look at something living for a few minutes, it makes millions of little time-moment pictures. But when you see a frozen picture, all those time-moments become filled with the same image. And so it will destroy the other, more fragile, but real images you have in your memory.” The Prophet's Way: A Guide to Living in the Now (p. 94).

Pictures are the ultimate reifying vehicle of the mind. We have discussed Wittgenstein's picture theory in detail, and speculated on its implications with “Picture and Imagination and Pattern,” or PIP as a explanatory paradigm for understanding the formulation of language.

We find in The Prophet's Way a similar understanding of pictures, and a warning of its reifying effect on consciousness. At the Salem world headquarters there were no pictures of living things. Some religious prohibitions at first seem irrational, but such customs are often based on submerged ontological concepts which can be drawn out explicitly just as Adorno does with epistemological assumptions. By the reification process in modern industrial society the mystical a priori is gradually substituted by a constructed technological a priori. Sociologists and Anthropologist know well how reification compose cultural institutions, knowledge, and reality.

Quote: soon as an objective social world is established, the possibility of reification is never far away. The objectivity of the social world means that it confronts man as something outside himself. The decisive question is whether he still retains the awareness that, however objectivated, the social world was made by men-and, therefore can be remade by them....reification can be described as an extreme step in the process of objectification, whereby the objectivated world loses its comprehensibility as a human enterprise and becomes fixated as a non-human, non-humanizable, inert facticity...Even while apprehending the world in reified terms, man continues to produce it. That is, man is capable paradoxically of producing a reality that denies him. The Social Construction of Reality. A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge. By Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann. (1966), Double Day, pp.89.

The process of reification begins with the normal conceptual classification of particulars in experience with predefined static meanings. The preconstructed classifying concept captures all things assumed to share some universal property of things belonging to a categorical type. The act of classifying is simply grouping things together in an order by pure abstraction. Abstraction is biased toward homogeneity of the object and methodological regularity of applying classifying schemes. The subject is theoretically excluded from the natural-scientific classification process even though the objective phenomena of "events," "relations," "projections," and "possibilities" only have meaning for an observing subject (One Dimensional Man, Marcuse, Beacon Press, p.169). Marcuse understands the process of reification as the driving force behind dominating instrumental reason.

Quote: has become the great vehicleof reification-reification in its most mature and effective form. The social position of the individual and his relation to others appear not only to be determined by objective qualities and laws, but these qualities and laws seem to lose their mysterious and uncontrollable character; they appear as calculable manifestations of (scientific) rationality. The world tends to become the stuff of total administration, which absorbs even the administrators. The web of domination has become the web of Reason itself, and this society is fatally entangled in it. And the transcending modes of thought seem to transcend Reason itself. (ODM, Marcuse, p. 169.).

How can the forces of domination-or any ideological force for that matter- become integrated into the web of Reason itself? The critical theorist's theme of distorted reason relies on a Neo-Kantian understanding of the difference between absolute a priori categories, and relative a priori epistemological categories.

The absolute category is the original Kantian concept used to describe how consciousness shapes, or organizes sense data from perception to create experience. Consciousness uses the transcendental ideals of space and time to comprehend the world of experience. But space and time actually are not conceptual, but rather "pure intuition" in that any referent object is known in advance of experience and not because of experience (remember Socrates teaching geometry to the slave). We cannot even think of an object not in time, or space because they are universal forms of sensibility which are the necessary conditions for the possibility of experience. But what the understanding cannot intuit a priori, it judges and synthesizes by logical types and constructs an a priori structure of unifying logical concepts. Kant called these "Analytic of Concepts" which are made up of Judgments and Categories:

The Kantian school understands these categories as “absolute,” or the necessary conditions for the possible of experience. The Neo-Kantians hold that these necessary a priori concepts are functionally indistinguishable from a priori "relative" categories. Relative categories are unnecessary for experience, but they change the way perception is organized. Relative categories are not just formal static logical concepts, but are changing historical-anthropological concepts by which cultures are organized. Conceptualizations can become "symbolized" to represent the relationship between concept and the particular in experience. Symbolization connects a perceptual sign with meaning. So uniting a sign and its meaning allows for distinctions in thought that are not found in fact: for example, thinking can distinguish the color and extension of an object, but the separation in not possible in fact. The epistemological distortion of instrumental reason is not only a question of possible false empirical facts, but a false ordering of facts.

Pictures can instantly implant into the mind complex assumptions by categorizing, or mis-categorizing, particulars. These arbitrary artificial signs (anything can be used as a sign to represent some meaning) which can determine the boundary of meanings can be manipulated to impose a pattern in thinking. These patterns do not describe an pure objective world, but a symbolic reified universe. The constructed picture trumps the pictured by habitude. Through standardized thinking this symbolic universe takes over pre-existing integrated meanings to form a second level of objectified a priori meanings that legitimate the entire order of knowledge. Andrew Feenberg wrote of these boundaries of meaning, "All the pictures in the museum have frames but they are not in the museum for that reason. Frames are boundaries and holders for what lies within." 

Ellul's analysis of "sociological propaganda" can be accurately described as integration propaganda since it attempts to persuade persons to think in a desired pattern. Its goal is conformity of individuals and uniformity of society by establishing shared streamlined stereotypes, familiar concepts, and unquestionable beliefs of order. Integration of persons ensure stable behavior, reshapes thought and action. This type of propaganda is complex and requires long term planning, but has a permanent effect. Rationalization and legitimation is another function of integrating propaganda. Whereas agitation propaganda only requires leaflets, posters, and rumor to urge mob violence, integration propaganda must have a communication infrastructure. The technological a priori, is also a latent socio-political a priori.

Systematic conceptualization seems natural, but self-reflection de-mystifies such habitual cognitive schemes and liberates us from illusions of a false world. This can be interpreted in a spiritual way. Reification is a kind of idolarty.  In Christian orthodoxy, to mistake the sign for the signified is idolitous for the finite cannot bear the infinite without reducing it to the finite. However, when we understand the real relationship between the symbol and symbolized there is a liberation from the reifying symbol. Surmising the reason for there being no pictures of living things at Salem in Germany, Thom Hartmann said to Herr Muller "...we shouldn’t worship idols?” And Herr Muller replied, “It is much more specific than that. And you must know that there are many levels on which one must understand the Bible, not just the literal words.”(The Prophet's Way, p. 94).

I think this is what Herr Muller could of meant.

If one who lives in the midst of Christendom goes up to the house of God, the house of the true God, with the true conception of God in his knowlege, and prays, but prays in a false spirit; and one who lives in an idolatrous community prays with the entire passon of the infinite, although his eyes rest upon the image of an idol: where is there most truth? The one prays in truth to God though he worships an idol; the other prays falsely to the true God, and hence worhips in fact an idol. (Concluding Unscientific Postscript, Soren Kierkegaard, trans., D.F. Swenson and W. Lowrie, 1941, Princeton, Chapter II, Truth is Subjectivity, p. 180.).

.ren's picture
Good writing there, Anti.  I

Good writing there, Anti.  I don't have anything to add, mainly because I'd only be repeating myself and doing little more than repeating what you've written.  I did, however, feel like pointing out when I read your description of the "picture" and it's confining characteristics (I believe you used the concept "reification"" to point to that) when compared to the living thing its supposed to represent (even in memory) that it's worth noting the distinction between looking at a picture as a frozen definition of what it represents and the art of seeing.  While the former may be definitive in nature, the latter is open ended and processual, and therefore is defiant of definition.  The former lends itself to the notion of fact, the latter is more in the order of life itself.  And to be aware of that while we are going about our lives, or even trying to discuss issues with people also can put us in very different perspectives about these things we try to put into words.  One of the most difficult efforts I find is to put the life I'm seeing into the words I'm writing.  I keep finding there is not set, definitive way to do that.

I also found myself reflecting on the Lascaux Cave Paintings I once spent time imagining about.  What might have been going on in the minds of those ancestors of ours 20,000 years ago?

Antifascist's picture
The Teleological Suspension

The Teleological Suspension of the Paradigmatic: A Theory of Spiritual Experience

"The way to the spirit is the round about way...." Hegel.

"I was leaning heavily toward the conclusion that everything I’d assumed about reality up to that moment might, in fact, just be a thin shaving, peeled from the trunk of the tree of life." --The Prophet's Way: A Guide to Living in the Now (p. 10).

 Adorno studied under the Christian Theologian, Paul Tillich, while he completed his Habilitationsschrift on Kierkegaard's aesthetics in 1931. Kierkegaard's influence can be seen throughout Adorno's life writings and we can see a familiar pattern found in both philosopher's method. Adorno's Negative Dialectic seeks to formulate a contradiction in a paradigm (as in the case of Husserl's Logical Absolutism, or Kant's Transcendental Philosophy) in order to trace back its reified origins in the world. As much as he railed against Hegel's Dialectical System of Universals, Kierkegaard incorporates dialectical "contradiction" into his description of the stages of human existence, but going in the opposite direction! This is an anti-Hegelian dialectic which moves not toward Universal world-history, but the subjective individual existent; not to Absolute Knowledge, but to Uncertainty and Faith; not theoretical integration, but fragmentary disintegration of truth. The individual human existent is "Unscientific," "Unconcluding," or dynamically ongoing; and a "Postscript," or unsystematic remainder of any philosophical system.

 Kierkegaard has described in his writings ( Either/Or, and Fear And Trembling, and The Sickness Unto Death ) three closely interacting moods, or attitudes of the self as it passes through life. The stages, or spheres of human existence are the aesthetic, ethical, and religious. The non-static self develops internal tensions and contradictions as it moves to development. These contradictions come to a moment of decision (Either/Or) when the self attempts to define itself in static reified terms.

 The aesthetic life is often, but not necessarily the stance of a young person that lives by the senses and emotions in pursuit of pleasure and enjoyment as the sole goal of the self. Sense experience is penultimate and all situations are judged for their value in generating hedonistic pleasure. The aesthetic attitude can have many disguises from the cynical antisocial rebel to the sophisticated businessperson. The aesthetic existence has deep emotional conflict for there is a limit to hedonism--satiation mixed with boredom that is a kind of mithridatization to pleasure. The single-minded hedonistic search results in pain, dissatisfaction, and frustration. The Epicureans where philosophically hedonists, but would monastically fast before meals in order to maximize the pleasure of eating food. The self becomes fractured and dispersed over a wide range of possible objects of momentary pleasure. As in Kurt Cobaine's song, "Smells Like Teen Spirit" this form of consciousness says, "I taste; therefore...nevermind." This sense of unhappiness and dissatisfaction is a symptom of the meaninglessness of all finite objects. Despair brings the self to a point of existential decision. Kierkegaard wrote of the aesthetic, "He has not chosen himself; like Narcissus he has fallen in love with himself. Such a situation has certainly ended not infrequently in suicide."

 The ethical life is again often, but not in every case, the philosophical attitude of the older person.  Obedience, and Duty are the universal categories by which the self lives in this sphere of human existence. Moral obligation and ethical principles of societal institutions like marriage, work, and military service subordinate the self, and its hedonistic pursuit. Kierkegaard wrote of the ethical consciousness, "...the chief thing is, not whether one can count on one's fingers how many duties one has, but that a man has once felt the intensity of duty in such a way that the consciousness of it is for him the assurance of the eternal validity of his being." (Either/Or, II, p. 223). However, the ethical consciousness runs into the same familiar despair because law, like Old Testament Law, is insufficient for human existence. The stone tablet of the Decalogue cannot substitute for the Bread of Life.

 Franz Kafka scholar, Jeff Fort, is interviewed about the novella, "The Metamorphosis" in which the contradiction of the ethical sphere is examined in the life of the miserable traveling salesman Gregor Samsa. The universal rules in Samsa's life is the work ethic, and to pay off the debts of his exploitive father's failed business. One morning Gregor overslept making him late to work for the first time in fifteen years resulting in his utter demise.  His employer sends the chief clerk to check on him, but Gregor will not open his bedroom's door because he has inexplicably turned into an insect type creature. Gregor is unable to work in his alien condition to support his extended family. However, his bodily transformation into an insect is only an metaphor of his inner condition. He was always in this inhuman condition so the transformation is really a shift in consciousness accidentally triggered by a minor event in his mundane life. Because he no longer fits in the ends-means context of the universal work ethic, Gregor is simply forgotten and one day "its" reified insect shell is thrown out with the trash by a house cleaner.

 For Kierkegaard, the human is the synthesis of the finite and the infinite. Despair drives the self to existential decision again, but toward religious consciousness. This is not a constructive progression to the higher religious stage so much as a stripping away of the masks the self uses to falsely define itself. This internal conflict, or contradiction is symptomatic of the inadequacy of rule-following and the need for spiritual self-realization. The self is both repelled and attracted to the religious sphere, which involves risk, self-commitment to uncertainty, and continuous leaps of faith. This aversion to the religious sphere is not the disappointment of emptiness like despair, but rather Dread (Angst) of the possibilities that freedom may actualize.

 The shift from the ethical to the religious is described by Kierkegaard in Fear and Trembling, as "the teleological suspension of the ethical" and recounts the biblical story of Abraham ordered by G-d to sacrifice his son Isaac. Is Abraham to follow G-d's command to kill, or obey the commandment, "Thou shalt not kill?" Kierkegaard's purpose of retelling this story is to show the difference between the two spheres of the ethical and the religious. In addition, the story of Abraham is used biographically by Kierkegaard to explain his own sacrifice of not marrying Regina Olsen and instead obeying a higher calling for a religious life. The shift from ethical to the religion is not an intellectual exercise because intellectual reflection is never ending, or only an approximation at best. Kierkegaard argues that even if we assume the scriptures to be true...

...Has anyone who previously did not have faith been brought a single step nearer to its acquisition? No, not a single step. Faith does not result simply from a scientific inquiry: it does not come directly at all. On the contrary, in this objectivity one tends to lose that infinite personal interestedness in passion which is the condition of faith, the ubique et nusquam [everywhere and nowhere] in which faith can come into being....Rather is it the case that in this voluminous knowledge, this certainty that lurks at the door of faith and threatens to devour it, he is in so dangerous a situation that he will need to put forth much effort in great fear and trembling, lest he fall a victim to the temptation to confuse knowledge with faith. While faith has hitherto had a profitable schoolmaster in the existing uncertainty, it would have in the new certainty its most dangerous enemy....If all the angels in heaven were to put their heads together, they could still bring to pass only an approximation, because an approximation is the only certainty attainable for historical knowledge--but also an inadequate basis for an eternal happiness.  (Concluding Unscientific Postscript, Kierkegaard, p. 30-31.)

 Kierkegaard, like some mystics, negates the conceptual for the non-conceptual. Kierkegaard embraces Fideism (Latin for fides, or faith) meaning that faith in matters of religion is antithetical to, and independent of, Reason. Wittgenstein has been accused of Fideism. He is not arguing for or against faith, but how religious language in used in the forms of life. Here Wittgenstein's method is closer to Adorno's demystification of reified concepts.

 The phrase "teleological suspension of the ethical" was used by Kierkegaard to describe the difference between the aesthetic, ethical, and religious stages of the self since these existential categories are the most general of human existence. With these distinction in mind, I want adopt the phrase "teleological suspension of the paradigmatic" since existential paradigms relating to the self sometimes fail to explain all of human experience and even contradict experience. "Teleological" is meant as "end" of an internal dialectical process. "Suspension" means that the self refuses to existentially commit to a governing paradigmatic principle. So, what would bring about suspension of an existential paradigm? Existential paradigm atrophy is a paradigm that no longer is able to give coherent meaning to experience resulting in a contradiction between thought and life. Symptomatic of existential paradigm anthropy is despairing doubt of the self for its place in existence. The resolution for the self is to find a new existential paradigm, yet this cannot be achieved by reason--but by choice, and ultimately, by faith.

What the philosopher say about Reality is often as disappointing as a sign you see in a shop window, which reads: Pressing Done Here. If you brought your clothes to be pressed, you would be fooled; for only the sign is for sale. Either/Or, by Kierkegaard, vol I, p. 29.

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Bjorks, Biophilia

Bjorks, Biophilia "Crystalline."

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Walter Benjamin's

Walter Benjamin's Constellations: The Search for Patterns in the Ruins of Language.

-“The Word” or the Name of G-d, which has led to a millennia-old debate over its correct pronunciation that continues to this day among biblical scholars. Moses, Jesus, and others in the Bible refer to or use the “power” of the Name, which implies that being able to correctly pronounce it may confer on a person the ability to perform miracles (and may destroy a person who tries to use that power in “vain” or for ill purposes).-The Prophet's Way: A Guide to Living in the Now, by Thom Hartmann, p. 319)

-“....the knowledge of things, after the Fall, now becomes mediated by knowledge of their value, or usefulness, for human beings. In the judging word, things only become known through the mediation of what they are not, namely, their value in relation to human purposes.” (Adorno: The Recovery of Experience, by Roger Foster, p. 65).

  Kierkegaard is just one influence on Adorno's philosophical development. The same is true of the young Wittgenstein whose sister give him Kierkegaard's philosophical works. Walter Benjamin is another important philosopher that shaped Adorno's own understanding of language, of reaching the non-conceptual, and of creating a theory of philosophical interpretation.

What is the driving force behind the dialectical processes that Hegel, Kierkegaard, and Adorno speak? Rationality itself demands the resolution of contradictions to establish rational coherence. For philosophers, desire for coherence is the epistemological "normativity of correctness."

There are at least two senses of this epistemological normativity....First, there is a normativity of correctness, such as Frege proposed in his claim that logic is the discipline of how we ought to think. Second, there is a kind of goal-directed normativity in which a philosophy envisages a goal or desired outcome: hence philosophy contributes to the way things ought to be. (Adorno's Negative Dialectic: Philosophy and the Possibility of Critical Rationality, by O'Connor, p.1).

However, this principle of rational coherence is interpreted in all spheres of life as the desire for "Rightness," or "Justice."

...the compulsion to achieve greater accuracy in our knowledge is not merely a matter of logic or formal reasoning: it is compelled by the ideal of reason that we do justice to the object. However, it is not that the object as such makes an "ethical call to us," as Levinas might put it, but rather the object has qualities that will not cohere with our presuppositions. And the lack of coherence demands a rational response. (ibid.,p. 38).

For Adorno, Benjamin, (and even Heidegger) our presuppositions are the suppositions of a fallen post-lapsarian language. Adorno joins his critique of disenchantment with Benjamin's notion of the Name in sacred language to describe the ruined condition of language and its failure to say the unsayable. Ultimately, language in this disenchanted existence is corrupted by the "impulse" for the control of nature. Roger writes,

...language becomes a means for judging things rather than genuinely knowing them...Language no longer names things, rather, it speaks about them; in Wittgenstein's terms, it says how they are rather than what they are...It is the fall of mankind in the eating of the tree of knowledge that inaugurates the diremption of subject and object, the division of subject (as the possessor of knowledge) and (mute) object. The root of this transformation is the eclipse of the name (as the translation of the language of things) through the judging word (1977a, 153). The judging word, Benjamin suggests, rests on the knowledge of good and evil. (AROE., p. 65)

Idealist systems fail to coherently account of experience and end in disenchantment. "Idealism" is considered by Adorno as any philosophy that affirms an identity between subject and object (this would include phenomenology and empiricism). We are only left with a corrupted "decayed language," "ruins of words," and the arbitrary nature of symbolic linguistic designation. Semiotics is the  study of signs, symbols, and signification. Adorno writes, "It is a sign of all reification through idealistic consciousness that things can be arbitrarily named." (AROE., p. 79-80). The negative role of philosophy is to interpret and arrange these fragments in "...the hope of achieving an equitable and just world in the "traces and ruins [Trummern]" that lie before it as material for interpretation. (ibid., p. 79)." The failures and ruins are the internal contradictions of epistemological systems. Adorno claims philosophy can reach the nonconceptual while staying within the sphere of "alienated" concepts and using  the notion of constellation as an interpretive principle. Philosophy can only say the Name negatively.

Every idea, Benjamin claims, "contains the image of the world" (1974b, 228). The goal of Darstel- lung or presentation is to rearrange the elements of a text, using concepts, so that this image is revealed in what Benjamin calls an "objective interpretation" (p. 214).12 The idea, Benjamin argues, does not stand to the phenomena in the same way that the concept of genus comprehends different species within it. Rather ideas "relate to the things as constellations relate to the stars." This means that the only way of getting access to the idea is through the interpretation of phenomena. But not in the form of a general concept arrived at through abstraction. Benjamin wants to claim that the idea appears in the arrangement of the phenomena, although it does not serve their conceptual cognition.(ibid., p. 70).

The constellation expresses the truth unsystematically, and indirectly in which, " moment sheds light on the other, and the figures that the individual moments form together are specific signs and a legible script. (1993b, 109))ibid., p. 126)." The semiotic function of language only conveys "verbal contents" where as the "mimetic" function of language is expressive of spiritual experience. Communicable knowledge depends on the classification of particulars whereas an interpretive constellation arrange ideas into a configuration of concepts that express something the concepts themselves cannot say.  Henri Bergson has a very similar understanding of conceiving the nonconceptual.

The nonconceptual is conceived, on Bergson's view, as one dimension of the concept, but it is a dimension that is ordinarily hidden by the focused working of the habitual scheme of action. Hence those "amorphous images" cannot find their way into experience. Through dilation, however, these images may find an entry point, as the nebulous mass dissolves into a "growing number of stars." It is useful to compare this metaphor with Adorno's example of dialectic in terms of "looking through a microscope at a drop of water that begins to teem with life" (1993b, 133). This is supposed to describe the moment in which the concept "breaks up" in the dialectical movement "that makes it immanently other than itself." (ibid., p. 125).

Adorno believes this is the way to conceive the non-conceptual without turning it into another reified conceptual content.  Philosopher Walter Kaufmann stated that the constellation, "is the only representation that will not traduce the idea, that will convey the Name without desecrating it (2000, 68).” (ibid., p. 213).

leighmf's picture
My episiotomylogical

My episiotomylogical experience was a real mind-blower.

Antifascist's picture
Caroline welcomes the return

Caroline welcomes the return of astro-mythological colleague Daniel Giamario-
that we may align with the dance of Venus and Mars as they spiral into balance at this exhilarating time of Dire Beauty.

...developing concepts for the next topic (τόπος , topos, place) "The Power of Mythos."

Antifascist's picture
The Power of

The Power of Mythos

"The prevalent story of Western culture is that all those things happened “back then,” but can’t happen “now.”" The Prophet's Way, Thom Hartmann, p. 13.

"The farmer (Cain) killed the Earth-respecting herder brother, and so his future agricultural efforts were cursed by G-d. Surely this was the story of an older culture peoples, and a warning to those who would follow."The Prophet's Way, Thom Hartmann, p. 200.

"I been silent so long now it's gonna roar out of me like floodwaters and you think the guy telling this is ranting and raving my G-d; you think this is too horrible to have really happened, this is too awful to be the truth! But, please. It's still hard for me to have a clear mind thinking on it. But it's the truth even if it didn't happen." One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nets, by Ken Kesey, Signet, 1962, p.13 -Chief Broom explaining the truth status of his story of Nurse Ratched and McMurphy.

The Greek word for "myth" is λόγος (λέγω, lego) meaning tale, or story. Myth is a primordial symbolic form of expression declaring the human condition in its totality and the human desire to live in harmony with the cosmos. Mythical intelligence continuously interpret and reinterpret the shapes and patterns of mythico-religious symbolic forms. Myth provides a symbolic universe. Vanderburg wrote of this emergence of symbolism and culture, "Naming everything in this symbolic universe signified the place and importance of everything relative to everything else in an individual life--a life lived as a member of the group by means of a way of life in a world endowed with these meanings and values." (Perspectives On Our Age: Jacques Ellul Speaks On His Life and Work." Edited by Willem H. Vanderburg ,2004, page 94.) Myth is both the preconditon and reflection of collective cultural meanings by establishing the foundation of not only the definite, but also the indefinite: the complete and incomplete-the known and the unknowable. Micro subsystems, algorithms, scripts, and frames collapse at the boundaries of the mythic horizons of meanings. Systematic conceptualization attempts to encapulate the particular into the universal. However, mythic explaination, in a reverse movement, encodes the universal into a particular by predication ( S is p entials that S belongs to class p ) on all levels of life in a story form. Adam and Eve in the story of the Fall are the particulars interpreted to represent the universal condition and significance of all human beings. 

Myth circumscribes ontological regions of meaning such as the two levels of reality-essence and existence. Essence is the perfect ideal world of thought; existence is standing out of non-being (οὐκ᾽ὀν). Essence is the pre-lapsarian state of pure "potentiality" and "fulfillment": existence is the post-lapsarian state of humanity of which there are different views (Hegel, Plato, Pascal, and Existentialist):

The common point in all existentialist attacks is the man's existential situation is a state of estrangement from his essential nature. Hegel is aware of this estrangement, but he believes that it has been overcome and that man has been reconciled with his true being. According to all the existentialists, the belief is Hegel's basic error. Reconciliation is a matter of anticipation and expectation, but not of reality. The world is not reconciled either in the individual--as Kierkegaard shows--or in society--as Marx shows--or in life as such--as Schopenhauer and Nietzche show. Existence is estrangement and not reconciliation; it is dehumanization and not the expression of essential humanity. It is the process in which man becomes a thing and ceases to be a person. History is not the divine self-manifestation but a series of unreconciled conflicts, threatening man with self-destruction. The existence of the individual is fulled with anxiety and threatened by meaninglessness. With this description of man's predicament all existentialists agree and are therefore opposed to Hegel's essentialism. They feel that it is an attempt to hide the truth about man's actual state. Tillich, Paul. Systematic Theology Vol. II. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1951, 1957 & 1963. page 29-30.

This is the very essentialism that Chris Hedges warns about:

Joyce, like Samuel Beckett, excoriated the Western belief in historical teleology—the notion that history has a purpose or is moving toward a goal. The absurdity of this belief, they wrote, always feeds fanatics and undermines the possibility of human community. These writers warned us about all those—religious and secular—who call for salvation through history...Our faith in the inevitability of human progress constitutes an inability to grasp the tragic nature of history... They are fired by utopian visions of inevitable human progress.” Fundamentalism Kills, by Chris Hedges, 6/26/2011.

The great Western Theologian, Paul Tillich, offers an interpretation of the Fall that avoids this hazard of essentialism.

"When Plato described the transition from essence to existence, he used a mythological form of expression -in speaking of the "Fall of the soul." He knew that existence is not a matter of essential necessity but that it is a fact and that therefore the "Fall of the soul" is a story of be told in mythical symbols. If he had understood existence to be a logical implicatioin of essence, existence itself would have appeared as essential. Symbolically speaking, sin would be seen as created, as a necessary consequence of man's essential nature. But sin is not created, and the transition from essence to existence is a fact, a story to be told and not a derived dialectical step. Therefore, it cannot be completely demythologized.

At this point idealism as well as natrualism stand against the Christian (and Platonic) symbolic of the Fall. Essentialism in Hegel's system was a fulfilled in idealistic terms. In it, as in all idealism, the Fall is reduced to the difference between ideality and reality, and reality is then seen as pointing toward the ideal. The Fall is not a break, but an imperfect fulfillment." Tillich, Paul. Systematic Theology Vol. II. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1951, 1957 & 1963. page 29-30.

Demythologization traces symbolic meanings back to human historical experience. However, literalization of mythic symbols (i.e., Adam and Eve are erronously actual historical persons in an actual garden) results from mistakenly applying calculative means-ends  discursive use of language to myths rather than the mimetic, or the expressive use of language. Deliteralization of myths attempts to correct a misunderstanding of the relationship between language and myth. continue with Language and Myth.

leighmf's picture
As it was in the Beginning it

As it was in the Beginning it is Now and Ever Shall Be, World without end, Ah, men.

You may also like in the

Indiana Magazine of History By Indiana Historical Society, Indiana State Library, Indiana University. Dept. of History 1949 p.173 Historical Fiction vs Fictitious History by Augustus R. Markle

.ren's picture
Antifascist wrote: Quote: The

Antifascist wrote:


The common point in all existentialist attacks is the man's existential situation is a state of estrangement from his essential nature. Hegel is aware of this estrangement, but he believes that it has been overcome and that man has been reconciled with his true being. According to all the existentialists, the belief is Hegel's basic error. Reconciliation is a matter of anticipation and expectation, but not of reality. The world is not reconciled either in the individual--as Kierkegaard shows--or in society--as Marx shows--or in life as such--as Schopenhauer and Nietzche show. Existence is estrangement and not reconciliation; it is dehumanization and not the expression of essential humanity. It is the process in which man becomes a thing and ceases to be a person. History is not the divine self-manifestation but a series of unreconciled conflicts, threatening man with self-destruction. The existence of the individual is fulled with anxiety and threatened by meaninglessness. With this description of man's predicament all existentialists agree and are therefore opposed to Hegel's essentialism. They feel that it is an attempt to hide the truth about man's actual state. Tillich, Paul. Systematic Theology Vol. II. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1951, 1957 & 1963. page 29-30.

This is the very essentialism that Chris Hedges warns about:


Joyce, like Samuel Beckett, excoriated the Western belief in historical teleology—the notion that history has a purpose or is moving toward a goal. The absurdity of this belief, they wrote, always feeds fanatics and undermines the possibility of human community. These writers warned us about all those—religious and secular—who call for salvation through history...Our faith in the inevitability of human progress constitutes an inability to grasp the tragic nature of history... They are fired by utopian visions of inevitable human progress.” Fundamentalism Kills, by Chris Hedges, 6/26/2011.

And this is its result, a prevailing institutionalized social nihilism:

Chris Hedges wrote:


Those who resist—the doubters, outcasts, renegades, skeptics and rebels—rarely come from the elite. They ask different questions. They seek something else—a life of meaning. They have grasped Immanuel Kant’s dictum, “If justice perishes, human life on Earth has lost its meaning.” And in their search they come to the conclusion that, as Socrates said, it is better to suffer wrong than to do wrong. This conclusion is rational, yet cannot be rationally defended. It makes a leap into the moral, which is beyond rational thought. It refuses to place a monetary value on human life. It acknowledges human life, indeed all life, as sacred. And this is why, as Arendt points out, the only morally reliable people when the chips are down are not those who say “this is wrong,” or “this should not be done,” but those who say “I can’t.”


“The greatest evildoers are those who don’t remember because they have never given thought to the matter, and, without remembrance, nothing can hold them back,” Arendt writes. “For human beings, thinking of past matters means moving in the dimension of depth, striking roots and thus stabilizing ourselves, so as not to be swept away by whatever may occur—the Zeitgeist or History or simple temptation. The greatest evil is not radical, it has no roots, and because it has no roots it has no limitations, it can go to unthinkable extremes and sweep over the whole world.”



You can't force people to care.


If people don't want to care for their children, laws won't change that. You might be able to force them to go through the motions of raising a child, but that essential caring that needs to go with it won't be there unless they actually do care.


If you create a society of institutional automatons who respond to the laws of the institutions, and that includes the state as institution, nothing in that creation will force people to care. It can only force them to behave, and then you can apply those behavioristic principles that result form a nihilistic rational positivism that intentionally ignores our subjective intelligence. And you will have your essentialist society, beyond freedom, beyond dignity.



"This conclusion is rational, yet cannot be rationally defended. It makes a leap into the moral, which is beyond rational thought. It refuses to place a monetary value on human life. It acknowledges human life, indeed all life, as sacred. And this is why, as Arendt points out, the only morally reliable people when the chips are down are not those who say “this is wrong,” or “this should not be done,” but those who say “I can’t.”" --C. Hedges

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...edited. " A war is not won


" A war is not won if the defeated enemy has not been turned into a friend." -Eric Hoffer

...and give the money back! Understanding clearly any populous movement's foundation of moral autonomy and developing rebellion consciousness are more important than any single act of civil disobedience, or occupying any plaza. The division between law and ethics can only be separated academically, not in life. Law and Ethics are the two spheres a district attorney would consider. Intent is a concept that is considered in both areas of human behavior. Justice is the mediating concept between Law and ethical conscience. The question of political resistance has the classic markers of a linguistic-ideological ambiguity. Force is not equal to violence: acts of omission and commission can be defined as violent. Defining the meaning of violent is the prerogative of authority.

Take for example the hypothetical situation of an utility union that agreed to not maintain a power grid system. Testing principles of behavior with hypothetical situations is a perfectly legitimate way to analyze ethical principles for consistency.  And let us say this act of omission caused injury to a medical patient on a life sustaining medical machine: would that inaction be considered violent? If it is then how is it different than Enron shutting off the California power grid in a Death Star market manipulation attack? How is that act of omission any different from the Bear Sterns exemption?  Legal authority defines the scope of lawful action, or inaction. Justice is supposed to be the goal of the legal system.

Another ambiguous term, "Group." All group labels are based on reified concepts. Collective definition precedes collective punishment--so the need for clear statement of intent and self definition--otherwise totalartarian interests will define the activists.

After generations of personal setbacks even a traffic ticket could have devastating consequences. If one is only up to their ankles in quicksand, escape is possible, but if you are up to your waist in quicksand....The existence of class privilege is not only unknown in any real sense, but forgotten even after it is learned.

Antifascist's picture
Just some interesting

Just some interesting historical background...

...Hegel's philosophy is in a large sense a re-interpretation of Aristotle's ontology, rescued from the distortion of metaphysical dogma and linked to the pervasive demand of modern rationalism that the world be transformed into a medium for the freely developing subject, that the world become, in short, the reality of reason. Hegel was the first to rediscover the extremely dynamic character of the Aristotelian metaphysic, which treats all being as process and movement a dynamic that had got entirely lost in the formalistic tradition of Aristotelianism.

Aristotle's conception that reason is the veritable being is carried through by sundering this being from the rest of the world. The νοῦς-θεός [Mind of G-d] is neither the cause nor creator of the world, and is its prime mover only through a complicated system of intermediaries. Human reason is but a weak copy of this νοῦς-θεός. Nevertheless, the life of reason is the highest life and highest good on earth....

The elevation of the realm of mind to the position of the sole domain of freedom and reason was conditioned by a world of anarchy and bondage. The historical conditions still prevailed in Hegel's time; the visible potentialities were actualized in neither society nor nature, and men were not free subjects of their lives. And since ontology is the doctrine of the most general forms of being and as such reflects human insight into the most general structure of reality, there can be little wonder that the basic concepts of Aristotelian and Hegelian ontology were the same." (Reason and Revolution by Herbert Marcuse, Beacon Press, 1960 p. 42.).

Antifascist's picture
Is atheism a

Is atheism a religion?

The philosopher, like the theologian, "exists," and he cannot jump over the concreteness of his existence and his implicit theology. He is conditioned by his psychological, sociological, and historical situation. And like every human being, he exists in the power of an ultimate concern, whether or not he is fully conscious of it, whether or not he admits it to himself and to others. There is no reason why even the most scientific philosopher should not admit it, for without an ultimate concern his philosophy would be lacking in passion, seriousness, and creativity....Every creative philosopher is a hidden theologian (sometimes even a declared theologian). He is a theologian in the degree to which his existential situation and his ultimate concern shape his philosophical vision. He is a theologian in the degree to which his existential situation, and his ultimate concern shape his intuition of the universal logos of the structure of reality as a whole is formed by a particular logos which appears to him on his particular place and reveals to him the meaning of the whole. And he is a theologian in the degree to which the particular logos is a matter of active commitment within a special community. There is hardly a historically significant philosopher who does not show the marks of a theologian. He wants to serve the universal logos. He tries to turn away from his existential situation, including his ultimate concern, toward a place above all particular places, toward pure reality. The conflict between the intention of becoming universal and the destiny of remaining particular characterizes every philosophical existence. It is its burden and its greatness. (Tillich, Paul. Systematic Theology Vol. I. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1951, 1957 & 1963. page 24-25.).

leighmf's picture
Such as they might be a sect

Such as they might be a sect of Christian
Bible-thumping hick,
disguised as sophists into stoneware
oysters on a pick.
From CEOs, and Big Bozos
whose books were never thick,
I caught myoclonus-
it's them who make me tick.

Antifascist's picture
Thank you Leighmf for that

Thank you Leighmf for that wonderful poem. Greek terms: mys muscle; + klonos, contraction.