Anarchy of the Heart

I am still struggling to understand what motivates the black bloc vandalism of the anarchists. I gather that they believe the big banks of the world have lost the ability to communicate with anything but monetary ammunition. It’s true, the bank’s way of transacting with the world is inherently violent, since their modus operandi is always to seek the most self-profiting relationship they can with their “customers” (though it is not immediately clear who is serving who).

It could be that the only effective way of communicating with a bank, or corporation more generally, is to break the windows of its storefronts.

But I don’t want to communicate with corporations. They are not real people. They have no face. Corporate storefronts, like their souls, are mere idols. When the anarchist throws a hammer through a window, he feels as though he’s wounded and defaced the corporation. But he is worshipping (by hating) a false idol. He hasn’t touched the true substance of corporate ideology, since it lives not in buildings or billboards, but in the hearts of the people who wake up every morning to go to work inside a corporation for a living.

A corporation has no life outside its workers (of course, nor do the worker-citizens of our democracy™ have much of a life outside corporations). We are not fighting a war against corporations. We couldn’t possibly be. They do not speak our language and so remain unfazed by even our most biting slurs. We are fighting an alien ideology that has taken up root right amongst us. If our goal is to awaken ourselves from our roles as worker and consumer, it makes no sense to throw things at the businesses where we make our daily living. Inevitably, within a few business days, “workers” (i.e., us) will dutifully replace the windows and repaint the walls. The food factories, banks, etc., will soon be back in commission and we will soon be shoppers once again. If we want to have a deep effect on the continuity of the system, we must attack it at the level of dreamtime, where play reigns and the only wage earned is measured in wonder.

The true challenge is to awaken the imagination slumbering in the human heart so that we have the faith and the creativity to bring forth a new world. Until we can do that, we will still be praying to walls, stimulating the growth of the same capitalist economy we despise by breaking replaceable windows. If you stop and look before you throw that hammer, you may see your own reflection in the unbroken pane.

Nature as Spirit’s Symbol

Emerson believed that Nature was emblematic of Spirit, that Her productivity and instinctuality were symbolic expressions of Its creative intelligence. If this be true, then the philosopher’s desire for a romantic partner is analgous to his or her desire for wisdom. The two are both erotic desires, though the one be for flesh and blood, the other for divinity.

This analogical perspective on the Nature/Spirit relation helps us avoid duality, but a difference still manifests itself.

The mind wants to know what is true and what is false, while the heart wants to know who is to be loved and who is to be hated. The mind impersonally reflects the light of phenomena, but the heart feels the warmth of faces and intuits the source of light behind them. The mind tends to observe, but the heart tends to get involved.

How is the philosopher to reconcile his spiritual longing for truth with his bodily desire for union? Perhaps it is the ideal of Goodness that mediates between the truth of the mind and the beauty of the heart. Attention to the Good prevents ideology from distorting ethical relationships by keeping the mind’s eye open to the voice of the heart.

It is the beauty of Nature that leads the philosopher to the truths of Spirit, and it is the Good which serves as the fulcrum balancing each desire (for Love and for Knowlege).

messages about the purpose of philosophizing…

Here is a message and my response that I’ve exchanged over on YouTube as 0ThouArtThat0.

 

From YouTube user drchaffee:

 

Thanks for understanding that I wasn’t trying to demean you with my length-constrained message to your video.

I’ve had a question rolling around in my head for a couple of days, and I just realized that you’d be a good candidate for someone with an answer. You see, I’ve been interested in philosophy and science for as long as I can remember. I find ontology to be very interesting, and I’m drawn to a naturalism in every field of endeavor. But, philosophers haven’t seemed to decide upon anything. There are people wandering around with Platonic forms in their heads, and there are people who think that, if those exist at all, they are derivative. Etc. Has philosophy had any big success? Is there some wholly philosophical arrangement that has won the allegiance of, say 95%, of the thinkers and has had demonstrable relevance? Because I look at science, and I see evidence for its utility, and I am just not seeing it within philosophy. Seemingly every book I get starts with “Plato said X, Aristotle said Y, Hume this, Kant that, Hegel something else, etc” I will enjoy philosophy either way, but if one were to ponder the nature of physical reality, it seems that physics might be a better route to take. (Or, in different areas of interest, the field(s) of science that address it.) So, what do you think – what can philosophers point to as a big intellectual accomplishment? The best answer I can come up with is “Know thyself”, the Golden Rule, and “Be Skeptical”.

Thanks,
Dave

While I’m at it, let me say that I’d really like to talk with you one of these days. I’ve come away with such a different worldview, that I think it would be an interesting conversation. I think our rationality is largely an activity in hindsight – making sense to ourselves out of what has already happened. I think our morality is subjective, and typically better called moralistic behavior. And, as I said earlier, I’m good at finding things which are mysterious, but have had no experience of spirituality, mysticism, the numinous, the divine, etc. When it comes to ontology, my preference is for a single category – no fundamental (properly basic) dualism.

 

 

My response:

drchaffee,

I wouldn’t have posted thousands of videos of speculative philosophizing online if I was worried about being demeaned by commenters. At least half of the comments I get on some videos are insults. You’re comment is among the most polite I can remember. YouTube is not a very friendly place for intuitive speculation. People seem far more entertained by intellectual and religious dogmatists.

As for philosophy’s lack of utility, my first thought is to agree, that it is absolutely useless in the technological and economic senses. Of course, Leibnitz did invent the computer and Pythagorus inaugurated the mathematical mysticism that currently holds sway among theoretical physicists. But each of them was more concerned with the ideas themselves than with implementing them in the world, or with changing history by realizing their implications.

Every philosopher in history was an individual human being, or at least strove to be. I think the philosophic task is always first and foremost autobiographical. Philosophy is exactly what you answered: it is a response to the call in our conscience to “know thyself.” You won’t find any general answers in philosophy that everyone agrees to, because philosophy is primarily concerned with YOU, with the unique opening in the causal world-process represented by your consciousness.

By the way, Plato’s ideas were not in his head. At least if you take him for his word and begin to participate in the universe that he knew. Plato’s ideas were MORE real than the bones forming your skull. Plato saw ideas at work in the cosmos itself (some of today’s physicists, like S. Hawking, call them “laws of nature,” which is more Roman than Greek… Plato’s nature was a transitory image). He saw nature as the activity of an only barely hidden intelligence. He was not a vitalist, nor was Aristotle. He simply recognized in the songs of the spheres and the moods of the seasons a certain harmony in nature that pointed toward divinity, toward the Good which makes all things. The pattern is plainly evident in the things themselves, if only one has the heart and the mind to see it.

Faith is often construed as a movement of the heart, rather than the mind, which supposedly would make it a religious, rather than a philosophical issue. But I am unable to philosophize without my heart, because my thoughts don’t seem to have any direction without a moral impulse at their root. I am not sure what you mean when you say our morality is subjective. I think I agree, but then I’d say damn near everything is subjective. What is objective, exactly? Natural science? How is that? Science is a cultural activity that gives the human organism a seemingly endless supply (depending on economic investment) of technological paradigms out of which we (that is, the lay public/consumer) bring forth perceptuobehavioral worlds. It doesn’t give us knowledge of a mind-independent reality. It enacts realities for us, usually (or at least historically) of the technoindustrial variety. What role does the human heart play in natural science? What role does it play in philosophy? Can the human heart evaluate the nature of reality in a disinterested, purely intellectual way? Is the truth entirely lacking any moral significance?

Naturalism, or materialism, or physicalism, or whatever sort of entirely de-spirited and disenchanted cosmology all leave me unable to answer most of the important questions I have about life.

I also do not think duality is fundamental. But what is the One True Substance? Matter? What is matter, anyway? Where did it come from? How did it organize itself?

I don’t know what God is, exactly. But I think if we are going to be Monists, whether we call the stuff divine or call it dirt, it has become personalized. We living breathing talking thinking human beings are the One Substance coming to know and love itself as itself.

I do not believe you when you say you have no experience of spirituality or the numinous. It is present with you all the time. Who are you? You are a spirit.

Be skeptical.

and be blessed,
Matt