Joined: Jan 2008 Posts: 6091 Location: Berryville, Virginia
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I haven't been able to zero in on a purpose for commenting on the systems described in the book so far. The connection between the systems and human nature has been unclear to me, so that hasn't given me a handle. It seems that views of human nature don't produce given systems, but rather that the relationship might be one of mutual influence, with beliefs about the way the world is or needs to be doubling back to alter the view of human nature. Our nature is so essentially flexible that human nature doesn't need to be such a limiting factor when systems are being created. And we really can't talk about a human nature in isolation from what we believe about the world, because believing in certain ways about the world is central to our nature (contrary to what we believe to be the case with other animals).
But, all that said, I'll try to use a suggestion of the authors, to discuss the systems in terms of validity to secular philosophers. In relation to the Upanishadic tradition, the best I could do would be to isolate the belief that diversity is an illusion, that forms of all kinds distract us from knowing the one true ground of being. I wouldn't of course follow this idea as far as believing in entities such as brahman and atman. But I can see that this can be a true claim about our lives, evident when we reflect on how much our Western individualism relies on all these forms, and how much "faith" we put into them. I suppose the most flagrant example of enslavement to forms is fashion, but there are many others. We spend an inordinate amount of energy making and defending minute distinctions, don't we? (though in our minds the distictions may loom large.) We form all sorts of categories and take them very seriously. Is this "wrong?" Not necessarily. Why not take pleasure in all this diversity? But can it go too far and become a blind end in itself? Can it cut us off from recognizing relationship and identity? Maybe.
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