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3960Re: [neoplatonism] Book Recommendation

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  • Robert Wallace
    Dec 3, 2010
      Dear Kathryn,

      Yes, I think we are carrying on a sort of intellectual Yoga here. God
      knows, we (I, at any rate) need it.

      Best, Bob

      On Dec 3, 2010, at 3:02 PM, Kathryn Evans wrote:

      >
      > Dear All,
      >
      > Yes, it's interesting how there is always a human need to tell
      > ourselves
      > these stories over again in a new contemporary voice, hopefully one
      > that
      > makes the "practice" of writing, reading, and "ascending to the Good"
      > through these stories/intellectual exercises more accessible to the
      > contemporary reader.
      >
      > In our Prologues then, how are we to declare the contemporary
      > relevance of
      > practicing Brahman (as Thomas described it), or soul-making, through
      > poetry,
      > myth, philosophy, and other forms of intellectual "play"? The
      > violent rift
      > occurring now in the Academy--between the Sciences and the
      > Humanities--can
      > be seen as an expression of our collective "fall" into gross
      > materiality
      > (read stula-sarira or mutual predatory sheath). People who practice
      > the
      > Humanities naturally want to reassert the value of our work: for us
      > it's a
      > matter of experiencing what some categorize as "play" or "fantasy"
      > instead
      > as a valuable "work" essential to humankind.
      >
      > Humanities rely heavily on words to work their magic, to translate
      > ineffable
      > thoughts and ideas into meaningful contemporary written works that
      > can be
      > shared among humankind as a living wisdom. So instead of describing
      > Neoplatonism for instance as "lacking a practice," we can take another
      > look--as is happening on this list--in order to discern that the
      > written
      > works are the path to the practice and are themselves the practice.
      > Sometimes people receive a practice through the material
      > transmission, via a
      > living Master, of a word/mantra to repeat with eyes closed.
      > Sometimes people
      > receive a practice through the material transmission of receiving a
      > physical
      > book to read. Sometimes people receive a gnosis of that same wisdom
      > without
      > the vehicle of a physical Master or a physical book: through having
      > the idea
      > of a form for instance. The middle scenario of transmitting wisdom
      > through
      > the words of a book (in some physical form) is where the Academic
      > teacher's
      > power resides.
      >
      > My point is that in an Academic setting, the student practices the
      > study of
      > Neoplatonism through receiving words from a physical book in some
      > form:
      > whether textbook, computer screen, or teacher's spoken words. So the
      > function of the Humanities in Academic education is precisely that
      > it makes
      > even the most inexpressible, ineffable, interpenetrating wisdom of
      > humanity
      > accessible to the contemporary generation through physical, effable
      > words.
      > The most practical Academic knowledge is in fact taught through the
      > Humanities, because it teaches that knowledge which interpenetrates
      > all
      > levels of human existence, and through the vehicle of words becomes
      > the
      > wisdom carried forward by the next generation.
      >
      > Poetry, myth, and philosophy (the practice of Brahman) have a long
      > history
      > of engendering delight through the instruction of their
      > interpenetrating
      > wisdom. What is necessary perhaps is to literally write and speak
      > the words
      > which describe how Neoplatonism, for instance, expands the students'
      > joy of
      > being through intellectual exercise--a real skill/work that requires
      > practice, and one that empowers them to go out and contribute other
      > good
      > works to humankind. Perhaps people who teach in the Humanities need to
      > continually practice in the textbooks and in the classroom the
      > "Prologue,"
      > literally explaining the "so what?" "who cares?" "what does it mean"
      > and
      > "why does it matter?" Of course wisdom is available to students
      > through
      > transmissions outside the Academic classroom setting, but without the
      > delight part of formal education through Humanities you might as
      > well drop
      > the term University and call it Trade School.
      >
      > Thomas, you've most likely read a translation of Patanjali's Yoga-
      > sutras,
      > but the translation by James Houghton Woods for The Harvard Oriental
      > Series
      > is a particularly scholarly and detailed one I'd recommend. The Yoga-
      > System
      > of Patanjali: Or the Ancient Hindu Doctrine of Concentration of
      > Mind. Delhi:
      > Motilal Banarsidass, 1977 (and it's probably been reprinted since
      > then).
      > "Now, by the yogin who has recognized the power of the word to
      > express the
      > thing,
      > 28. Repetition of it and reflection upon its meaning [should be made].
      > The repetition of the Mystic Syllable, and reflection upon the
      > Icvara who is
      > signified by the Mystic Syllable. Then in the case of this yogin who
      > thus
      > repeats the Mystic syllable and reflects upon its meaning, mind-stuff
      > attains to singleness-of-intent, and so it hath been said,
      > 'Through study let him practice yoga;
      > Through yoga let him meditate on study.
      > By perfectness in study and in yoga
      > Supreme Soul shines forth clearly.' [. . .]" (Book I: Concentration or
      > Samadhi, Verse 28 and Commentary)
      >
      > It seems evident from this thread that Academics who study
      > Neoplatonism are
      > continuing to "retranslate" Neoplatonic texts in terms of practice
      > as well
      > as theory, even to the extent of describing how to intellectually
      > practice
      > specific passages (sutras if you will) for spiritual gnosis. This is
      > not
      > outside of Academic purvue, but is part-and-parcel of it.
      >
      > Kathryn
      >
      > Kathryn LaFevers Evans
      > Independent Researcher
      >
      > ----- Original Message -----
      > From: "Robert Wallace" <bob@...>
      > To: <neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com>
      > Sent: Friday, December 03, 2010 10:44 AM
      > Subject: Re: [neoplatonism] Book Recommendation
      >
      > Dear all,
      >
      > Thomas, thanks for your fascinating exposition of Brahman etc.
      >
      > You contrast "bottom-up" to "top-down" strategies:
      >
      > >> In contemporary terms, the acuteness of the explanatory problem
      > >> seems to depend upon whether one takes a "bottom-up" approach or a
      > >> "top-down" approach. In terms of the "bottom-up" approach, is it
      > >> seems impossible to account for mind in terms of body (as conceived
      > >> now) making the explanation problem more acute than if it is
      > >> flipped around; it seems much easier to develop an explanation of,
      > >> given the self-evident qualities of first-person subjectivity, the
      > >> origins and constitution of the body from the mind, and thus, the
      > >> explanation problem less acute.
      >
      > However, who explains (in detail) "the origins and constitution of the
      > body from the mind"? Plato does this, as Prof. Dillon suggests, in the
      > Timaeus. Hegel does it in his Encyclopedia. Maybe Whitehead does it. I
      > hope that someone is at work on a readable version for modern
      > audiences!!
      >
      > Plus there needs to be a Prologue that shows why the
      > "teleology" (appeal to the Good) involved in such projects is
      > rationally unavoidable, rather than just a pre-Darwinian fantasy. See
      > Republic books iv-vii; Hegel's Science of Logic. A more readable
      > version of these would also be very helpful!
      >
      > Best, Bob
      >
      > On Dec 3, 2010, at 8:57 AM, Thomas Mether wrote:
      >
      > > Hello John,
      > >
      > > You write:
      > >
      > > How about this? The physical universe is perhaps best regarded as a
      > > vast
      > > hologram, and we are holograms within it. One hologram can
      > > presumably shake
      > > hands with another hologram, without wither feeling there is
      > anything
      > > strange going on. It occurs to me that the reason why for Plato
      > > there is
      > > virtually no Omind-body� problem is that he ragred the body somewhat
      > > in this
      > > way < a combination of basic triangles, or geometrical bodues,
      > > stacked end
      > > to end, as in the Timaeus. JMD
      > >
      > > I suggest that another factor is teleological concepts, formal and
      > > final causes, were part of the "natural" and "presupposed"
      > > conceptual equipment and experience of people before Descartes. The
      > > mind-body problem became acute when the body became conceived of as
      > > a mechanism and the relation of mind to body was an extrinsic one of
      > > mutual externality related by efficient cause or God's coordination.
      > > Given Descartes framework, materialists
      > > changed the Cartesian view where it is body as a mechanism of a
      > > certain organization that
      > > produces mind. A live and dead body are still "body".
      > >
      > > Before Descartes, under teleological views, apart from its principle
      > > and formal cause -- the soul -- the body is just potency with the
      > > possibility of being actualized and substantial by a soul. In
      > > effect, the body depends on the soul to be real as body. In effect,
      > > only animated bodies are really bodies.
      > >
      > > In contemporary terms, the acuteness of the explanatory problem
      > > seems to depend upon whether one takes a "bottom-up" approach or a
      > > "top-down" approach. In terms of the "bottom-up" approach, is it
      > > seems impossible to account for mind in terms of body (as conceived
      > > now) making the explanation problem more acute than if it is flipped
      > > around; it seems much easier to develop an explanation of, given the
      > > self-evident qualities of first-person subjectivity, the origins and
      > > constitution of the body from the mind, and thus, the explanation
      > > problem less acute.
      > >
      > > Several years ago, Manfred Frings suggested that the
      > > phenomenological concept of lived body that philosophers such as
      > > Merleau Ponty and Paul Ricoeur derived from Max Scheler's concept of
      > > lived body (der Leib) in contrast to the physical body (der Korper)
      > > might have come partly to Scheler, maybe via Eucken, from Rudoph
      > > Steiner's concept of spiritual bodies that acquire a "chemical-
      > > physical crust" or externalized "crystalline crust".
      > > In any respect, he noted they probably didn't realize that for
      > > Scheler the physical body (der Korper) only exists as such in
      > > dependence on the lived body (der Leib). Anyway, if this is true,
      > > what came to mind when you spoke of Plato's geometric shapes/volumes
      > > was Steiner's "crystalline crust" and Scheler's view that the
      > > physical body (der Korper) only becomes such animated by the lived
      > > bodiliness (Leiblichkeit) of the lived body (der Leib).
      > > Both Merleau Ponty and Ricoeur picked up on Scheler's anti-
      > > physicalist argument that the lived body cannot be explained in
      > > terms of the physical body, but I think Frings was saying, they
      > > didn't bite the Scheeler bullet that the physical body is only such
      > > due to the lived body animating it. A whirlwind stirs up the
      > > geometric crystalline dust and becomes coated by it while animating
      > > it into a body.
      > >
      > > Thomas
      > >
      > > --- On Fri, 12/3/10, John Dillon <jmdillon@...> wrote:
      > >
      > > From: John Dillon <jmdillon@...>
      > > Subject: Re: [neoplatonism] Book Recommendation
      > > To: neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com
      > > Date: Friday, December 3, 2010, 5:16 AM
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > > Hi Kathryn,
      > > >
      > > > The direction I'm thinking of reading up on is Henry More and
      > Myers.
      > > >
      > > > I'm thinking of digging out my Henry More. Myers is credited with
      > > saying that
      > > > reading More inspired his "aha" moment for his mind-brain theory
      > > when More was
      > > > discussing subtle bodies.
      > > >
      > > > Basically, what I remember is that, for More, a body is by
      > > definition simply a
      > > > volume. A volume does not have to be solid. Also, a body can be
      > > organic (have
      > > > functional parts - organs) without being a solid body. So, More
      > > argued, there
      > > > can be a spiritual organic body. In some criticism of Descartes
      > > where the
      > > > issue of how an unextended substance interacted with an extended
      > > substance,
      > > > apparently More said that a fundamental animation as the immediate
      > > feeling of
      > > > aliveness had extension in its term and subject at its source
      > > (spirit body as
      > > > animated extended term and soul as subjective source). I have
      > > Myers book.
      > > > Guess I will have to read it alongside More to see if I can find
      > > what might be
      > > > the "aha" passage. Thomas
      > > >
      > > >
      > > > --- On Wed, 12/1/10, Kathryn Evans <kathryn-e@...
      > > > <mailto:kathryn-e%40sbcglobal.net> > wrote:
      > > >
      > > > From: Kathryn Evans <kathryn-e@...
      > > > <mailto:kathryn-e%40sbcglobal.net> >
      > > > Subject: Re: [neoplatonism] Book Recommendation
      > > > To: neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com <mailto:neoplatonism%40yahoogroups.com
      > > >
      > > > Date: Wednesday, December 1, 2010, 12:47 PM
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > > Excellent; thank you Thomas!
      > > >
      > > > Co-creative agency, yes indeed,
      > > >
      > > > Kathryn
      > > >
      > > > ----- Original Message -----
      > > > From: Thomas Mether
      > > > To: neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com <mailto:neoplatonism%40yahoogroups.com
      > > >
      > > > Sent: Tuesday, November 30, 2010 12:46 PM
      > > > Subject: [neoplatonism] Book Recommendation
      > > >
      > > > List,
      > > >
      > > > I've mentioned in the past that there are a growing number of
      > > defenders of a
      > > > "substance dualist" philosophy of mind against the dominant
      > > physicalist
      > > > paradigm. Some of these books include John Foster's The Immaterial
      > > Self
      > > > (Oxford), Swinburne's The Evolution of the Soul (Oxford), and
      > > Moreland's Body
      > > > and Soul (which, btw, is a defense not of Cartesian dualism but of
      > > what is
      > > > variously described as classical Thomist-Bonaventurean-Neoplatonic
      > > dualism).
      > > >
      > > > The book I am now recommending I was referred to by a
      > > neuroscientist friend
      > > > and colleague. It is by a group of neuroscientists and
      > > psychologists. It
      > > > defends the "F.W.H Myers- W. James" model with the latest research
      > > evidence
      > > > supporting the model.
      > > >
      > > > Here is the info with publisher's blurb.
      > > >
      > > > Irreducible Mind: Toward a Psychology for the 21st Century, With
      > > CD containing
      > > > F. W. H. Myers's hard-to-find classic 2-volume Human Personality
      > > (1903) and
      > > > selected contemporary reviews. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers,
      > > Inc. ( 2009).
      > > > Edward F. Kelly (Editor), Edward F. Kelly (Author) , Emily
      > > Williams Kelly
      > > > (Author), Adam Crabtree (Author), Alan Gauld (Author), Michael
      > > Grosso
      > > > (Author), Bruce Greyson (Author)
      > > > Publisher Description
      > > > Current mainstream opinion in psychology, neuroscience, and
      > > philosophy of mind
      > > > holds that all aspects of human mind and consciousness are
      > > generated by
      > > > physical processes occurring in brains. Views of this sort have
      > > dominated
      > > > recent scholarly publication. The present volume, however,
      > > > demonstrates--empirically--that this reductive materialism is not
      > > only
      > > > incomplete but false. The authors systematically marshal evidence
      > > for a
      > > > variety of psychological phenomena that are extremely difficult,
      > > and in some
      > > > cases clearly impossible, to account for in conventional
      > > physicalist terms.
      > > > Topics addressed include phenomena of extreme psychophysical
      > > influence,
      > > > memory, psychological automatisms and secondary personality, near-
      > > death
      > > > experiences and allied phenomena, genius-level creativity, and
      > > 'mystical'
      > > > states of consciousness both spontaneous and drug-induced. The
      > > authors further
      > > > show that these rogue phenomena are more readily accommodated by
      > an
      > > > alternative
      > > > 'transmission' or 'filter' theory of mind/brain relations advanced
      > > over a
      > > > century ago by a largely forgotten genius, F. W. H. Myers, and
      > > developed
      > > > further by his friend and colleague William James. This theory,
      > > moreover,
      > > > ratifies the commonsense conception of human beings as causally
      > > effective
      > > > conscious agents, and is fully compatible with leading-edge
      > > physics and
      > > > neuroscience. The book should command the attention of all open-
      > > minded persons
      > > > concerned with the still-unsolved mysteries of the mind.
      > > >
      > > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      > > >
      > > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      > > >
      > > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > >
      > > How about this? The physical universe is perhaps best regarded as a
      > > vast
      > > hologram, and we are holograms within it. One hologram can
      > > presumably shake
      > > hands with another hologram, without wither feeling there is
      > anything
      > > strange going on. It occurs to me that the reason why for Plato
      > > there is
      > > virtually no Omind-body� problem is that he ragred the body somewhat
      > > in this
      > > way < a combination of basic triangles, or geometrical bodues,
      > > stacked end
      > > to end, as in the Timaeus. JMD
      > >
      > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      > >
      > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      > >
      > >
      > >
      >
      > Robert Wallace
      > website: www.robertmwallace.com (The God Within Us)
      > email: bob@...
      > phone: 414-617-3914
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >
      > ------------------------------------
      >
      > Yahoo! Groups Links
      >
      >
      >

      Robert Wallace
      website: www.robertmwallace.com (The God Within Us)
      email: bob@...
      phone: 414-617-3914










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