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VI. The Transformation of the Modern Era
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Author:  Chris OConnor [ Mon Jan 25, 2010 12:13 am ]
Post subject:  VI. The Transformation of the Modern Era

This thread is for discussing VI. "The Transformation of the Modern Era"

Author:  geo [ Mon May 10, 2010 1:20 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: VI. The Transformation of the Modern Era

Believe it or not I'm still reading The Passion of the Western Mind though now getting very close to the end. It's a very dense and challenging book, yet in many ways highly rewarding. I've been taking my time with it.

Given that most if not all of our actions can be described as bio-chemical responses to environmental stimuli it has been speculated that humans don't really have free will. I have thought this myself and found it to be very depressing. And yet we have all heard also that maintaining a positive attitude is important and we can see that our thoughts and how we look at things can actually affect our reality. In a sense the placebo effect proves this. We also hear stories of people diagnosed with cancer or other illness who can seemingly affect their outcome simply by maintaining a positive attitude.

Anyway, this passage on pg. 406 I think shows where Tarnas is going with his book. It's a very positive message. I was reading this chapter this morning and I think it gave me a surge of endorphins.

Quote:
An especially characteristic and challenging intellectual position that has emerged out of modern and postmodern developments is one which, recognizing both an essential autonomy in the human being and a radical plasticity in the nature of reality, begins with the assertion that reality itself tends to unfold in response to the particular symbolic framework and set of assumptions that are employed by each individual and each society. The fund of data available to the human mind is of such intrinsic complexity and diversity that it provides plausible support for many different conceptions of the ultimate nature of reality. The human being must therefore choose among a multiplicity of potentially viable options, and whatever option is chosen will in turn affect both the nature of reality and the choosing subject. In this view, although there exist many defining structures in the world and in the mind that resist or compel human thought and activity in various ways, on a fundamental level the world tends to ratify, and open up according to, the character of the vision directed toward it. The world that the human being attempts to know and remake is in some sense projectively elicited by the frame of reference with which it is approached.


-Richard Tarnas, The Passion of the Western Mind Understanding the Ideas That Have Shaped Our World View p. 406

Author:  Veneer [ Mon May 10, 2010 6:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: VI. The Transformation of the Modern Era

I just started Passion and you are right it is not light reading, despite the commentary in another thread that Tarnas sloughs over Plato. How could he do anything else and keep in in one volume. If you want detail, read Will and Ariel Durant's 11 volumes on Western Civilization.

But that is not the purpose of my post. I notice that brain chemistry often takes a beating. I constantly read that it is "only brain chemistry". Yet if our minds work on brain chemistry, why would it be "only brain chemistry". Hey that's how we work. Why knock it around, as though there is a far better way for our brains to work. I personally think brain chemistry is rather fabulous.

Author:  geo [ Mon May 10, 2010 7:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: VI. The Transformation of the Modern Era

Veneer wrote:
I just started Passion and you are right it is not light reading, despite the commentary in another thread that Tarnas sloughs over Plato. How could he do anything else and keep in in one volume. If you want detail, read Will and Ariel Durant's 11 volumes on Western Civilization.

But that is not the purpose of my post. I notice that brain chemistry often takes a beating. I constantly read that it is "only brain chemistry". Yet if our minds work on brain chemistry, why would it be "only brain chemistry". Hey that's how we work. Why knock it around, as though there is a far better way for our brains to work. I personally think brain chemistry is rather fabulous.


Agreed. If love is nothing more than a chemical reaction in the brain, so what. It's still meaningful to us.

Author:  Robert Tulip [ Tue May 11, 2010 12:59 am ]
Post subject:  Re: VI. The Transformation of the Modern Era

geo wrote:
I was reading this chapter this morning and I think it gave me a surge of endorphins.
Quote:
An especially characteristic and challenging intellectual position that has emerged out of modern and postmodern developments is one which, recognizing both an essential autonomy in the human being and a radical plasticity in the nature of reality, begins with the assertion that reality itself tends to unfold in response to the particular symbolic framework and set of assumptions that are employed by each individual and each society. The fund of data available to the human mind is of such intrinsic complexity and diversity that it provides plausible support for many different conceptions of the ultimate nature of reality. The human being must therefore choose among a multiplicity of potentially viable options, and whatever option is chosen will in turn affect both the nature of reality and the choosing subject. In this view, although there exist many defining structures in the world and in the mind that resist or compel human thought and activity in various ways, on a fundamental level the world tends to ratify, and open up according to, the character of the vision directed toward it. The world that the human being attempts to know and remake is in some sense projectively elicited by the frame of reference with which it is approached.
-Richard Tarnas, The Passion of the Western Mind Understanding the Ideas That Have Shaped Our World View p. 406
Tarnas presents here an idealist philosophy that draws from existentialist philosopher Martin Heidegger, who held that ‘worldhood’ is constituted by care. By this he meant that a community of care, defined as people who agree to care about the same things, produces a theory of reality to define the nature of the world through a coherent narrative. This community narrative is self-validating, while it can resist external challenge. However, the projection of an ideal frame of reference on to the world brings the risks that our assumptions may be flawed, our narrative may be inconsistent, and our world may not be real. The ‘plasticity in the nature of reality’ cannot be so ‘radical’ as to deny established facts.

Author:  geo [ Tue May 11, 2010 9:43 am ]
Post subject:  Re: VI. The Transformation of the Modern Era

Robert Tulip wrote:
geo wrote:
I was reading this chapter this morning and I think it gave me a surge of endorphins.
Quote:
An especially characteristic and challenging intellectual position that has emerged out of modern and postmodern developments is one which, recognizing both an essential autonomy in the human being and a radical plasticity in the nature of reality, begins with the assertion that reality itself tends to unfold in response to the particular symbolic framework and set of assumptions that are employed by each individual and each society. The fund of data available to the human mind is of such intrinsic complexity and diversity that it provides plausible support for many different conceptions of the ultimate nature of reality. The human being must therefore choose among a multiplicity of potentially viable options, and whatever option is chosen will in turn affect both the nature of reality and the choosing subject. In this view, although there exist many defining structures in the world and in the mind that resist or compel human thought and activity in various ways, on a fundamental level the world tends to ratify, and open up according to, the character of the vision directed toward it. The world that the human being attempts to know and remake is in some sense projectively elicited by the frame of reference with which it is approached.
-Richard Tarnas, The Passion of the Western Mind Understanding the Ideas That Have Shaped Our World View p. 406
Tarnas presents here an idealist philosophy that draws from existentialist philosopher Martin Heidegger, who held that ‘worldhood’ is constituted by care. By this he meant that a community of care, defined as people who agree to care about the same things, produces a theory of reality to define the nature of the world through a coherent narrative. This community narrative is self-validating, while it can resist external challenge. However, the projection of an ideal frame of reference on to the world brings the risks that our assumptions may be flawed, our narrative may be inconsistent, and our world may not be real. The ‘plasticity in the nature of reality’ cannot be so ‘radical’ as to deny established facts.


Thanks, Robert.

According to Tarnas, the postmodern understanding of the world is that the true nature of the world is multidimensional and that humans have increasingly come to understand that our language is a "prison" that limits what we can understand. We can't rely entirely on science, or philosophy or religion. But that we are coming to understand the "possibility of richer interpretive vocabularies, more profound narrative coherencies" (pg. 407) with which to deconstruct and unmask our bodies of knowledge and worldviews for an eventual radical reintegration and reconciliation. He uses the example of feminism which have shown the bias and patriarchal structures inherent in our language. I got a taste of this in a post-graduate American Lit class i took a few years back. It is amazing to see how our language works as a lens (an imperfect one at that) which truly alters our reality.

I can kind of see him laying the groundwork for his next book here. Have you read it?

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