Re: Platonism, Psychoanalysis, and Recent Philosophy
- --- In email@example.com, Robert Wallace <bob@...> wrote:
>Yes, thanks, that does. Curious, this is one area in which there was a
> Dear Dennis,
> A very appropriate question. I expanded the term as "antagonistic
> dualism," and instanced the phrase from early in the Phaedo in which
> Socrates describes the soul as "chained to" the body. So what I have
> in mind is the general view in that passage, that the soul should
> minimize its involvement with the body and concentrate on preparing
> for death. One gets the feeling that the soul would have been better
> off not being incarnated at all. So the two entities, soul and body,
> have no affinity; they seem not to belong together. There is no "third
> thing" within which they belong, that makes sense of their relationship.
> Whereas in Rep. book iv, by contrast, the "soul" appears to include
> the body, in the form of appetites. And in Plotinus, the soul goes
> forth as particular souls and their bodies, and the latter "return" to
> the soul. In each case there is a third thing, the tripartite "soul"
> in Rep. iv or the schema of procession (emanation) and return in
> Plotinus, which makes sense of the relation between soul and body.
> That's what seems to be missing in the early part of the Phaedo.
> Instead, we have two irreconcilable entities just plumped down
> together. (Much as we also find in Descartes.)
> Does that clarify what I'm driving at?
> Best, Bob
coog deal of variation among the Platonists from Plato on. Personally
I have tended to concentrate more on the ontology and epistomology of
the Neoplatonists, but lately have been trying to read more on logic
and psychology, working my way now through Iamblichus' de Anima in of
course Prof Dillon's and Finamore's admirable edition - the notes are
a short, or maybe not so short, course on their own in the history of
I would also recommend the three volume collection of Prof Sorabji,
the Sourcebook of the Philosophy of the Commentators. I was recently
reading a little collection of translated texts on universals, which
includes Porphyry's Isagoge (famous for what he didn't say - so what
did he think on the subject?), and the rest I haven't gotten to yet,
Boethius' commentary thereon and selections from Abelard, Duns Scotus
Not too far in, I asked myself what was the Neoplatonist view of this
issue, and of course my first thought turned to the Forms, but even
that left me with some questions. Sorabji has compiled an excellent
discussion and selection of Neoplatonic texts on just this subject in
the Sourcebook volume on Logic. I find this very helpful, as one thing
that struck me when I started studying the Neoplatonists was how
little mention I encountered of the Forms, despite their primary
importance in Plato. Sorabji certainly helps clear that up.
PS Can we run a survey here and ask everyone the question, are you
Universalist or Nominalist? :)
- Dear Michael,
It looks as though Peter Mutnik would have been well advised not to
mention "Babaji," who however as far as I know has done nothing (if
indeed he ever existed) to put himself in the same category as
Rajneesh and Jim Jones. I don't know what Iamblichus may have done to
encourage the cult of personality that apparently did grow up around
him. I doubt whether Jakob Boehme or William Blake can be accused of
encouraging anything like that.
Obviously I share your suspicion of cults of personality in general.
As far as "occultism" is concerned, much of it (as in Boehme) seems
quite harmless--and _may_ contain insights worth taking seriously. As
for irrationality--I follow Plato in seeking freedom through reason,
but I also agree with him (Phaedrus) that _some_ forms of apparent
"madness" are deeply beneficial and it is therefore rational not to
exclude them from one's life. They are evidence, perhaps, of a deeper
kind of reasoning or thought than the kind that we're conscious of
engaging in, in normal waking life. I have had considerable experience
of this sort of thing in my own recent life--dreams and a vision that
conveyed insights to me that my conscious mind was later able to
endorse, but wasn't able to generate on its own.
So the boundary between the truly "irrational" (the madness that is
_not_ "God-given") and the "rational" is not easy to draw, but needs
to be explored with an open mind. I have little doubt that Peter
Mutnik crossed it. But I doubt that his life would have been more
successful if he had kept away from _all_ apparent "madness."
On Mar 13, 2009, at 5:56 PM, Michael Chase wrote:
> On Mar 13, 2009, at 8:17 PM, Robert Wallace wrote:
> > Yes, indeed. What impresses me in Mutnik's writings is that many of
> > them refrain from this sort of fantasy and hone in, in a quite
> > disciplined way, on the classic texts and ideas of the founders of
> > quantum physics. I hope you found some of those texts as well.
> They, I
> > assume, were the basis of his relationship with Henry Stapp. Mutnik
> > reminds me of William Blake, whose contemporaries mostly dismissed
> > as a harmless "fruitcake." Not to mention Jakob Boehme, the Hermetic
> > writers, Jung's "channeling" experiences ... and my own dreams and
> > visions. These all require patient interpretation.
> M.C. To be sure. But I do think there's a difference, and it has to do
> with two points: rationality vs. irrationality, and the cult of
> To begin with the latter: the visions of Blake and Bohme were, I take
> it, personal: they were not at the head of any movement, nor did they
> themselves devote themselves to any contemporary guru. That is, I
> believe, a big difference them and the Bhagwan Sri Rajneesh, Babaji,
> Jim Jones, etc., etc., who, while spouting mystical philosophy - which
> may well contain some elements of truth - are nevertheless concerned
> primariily to manipulate their believers for their own benefit, often
> with calamitous results.
> As far as the conflict between rationality and irrationality is
> concerned, I believe there's a fundamental distinction in
> Neoplatonism, as the ancients recognized, between those, like Plotinus
> and Porphyry, who thought philosophy was the highest good, and
> therefore that personal salvation was possible through reason alone
> and through the individual's rational, philosophical efforts, and
> those, like Iamblichus, who believed that theurgy and the hieratic
> virtues were higher than philosophy.
> I am wholeheartedly on the side of the former group, Plotinus and
> Porphyry. The therugic/hieratic groups degenerates all too easily, it
> seems to me, into irrationalism, occultism, and the cult of
> personality: it is the domain of charlatans and hucksters, and it can
> lead, all too easily, straight to Jonestown.
> I believe it's possible to be anti-positivist and anti-reductionist,
> on the one hand - as I consider myself to be - but at the same time
> virulently anti-occultist and irrationalist. I take it - perhaps
> mistakenly - that this was the attitude of Plotinus and Porphyry, and
> I seek to imitate them in this regard. As far as Iamblichus and his
> followers are concerned, I'm afraid I can too easily conceive of him
> as the head of a commune in Oregon, complete with a harem of pregnant
> teenagers and a well-stocked bank account.
> But of course I could be wrong.
> Best, Mike.
> > Unfortunately, I'm
> > not in a position to provide such an interpretation for the piece of
> > Mutnik that you quote.
> > Best, Bob
> > On Mar 13, 2009, at 1:35 PM, Michael Chase wrote:
> > >
> > > On Mar 12, 2009, at 2:48 AM, Robert Wallace wrote:
> > >
> > > > Dear Curt and all,
> > > >
> > > > Having mentioned Henry Stapp's quasi-Whiteheadian _Mindful
> > Universe_
> > > > (2008), I should really, in justice, mention another Berkeley
> > writer
> > > > associated with Stapp whose program in physics and philosophy
> > (until
> > > > his death last year) had a lot in common with Neoplatonism:
> > > > Mutnik. See
> > > >
> > > > http://www.geocities.com/saint7peter/index.html
> > > >
> > >
> > > > Dear Bob,
> > > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > I'm afraid that when I read such extracts from Mutnik as the
> > > following:
> > >
> > > The Master Babaji, depicted there in an artist's idealized drawing
> > > based on an actual appearance and in actual photographs, as
> well, is
> > > the Guru and Father of Jesus Christ. The Naga Raj signature is
> > His. In
> > > that form, He has been alive on earth, near Badrinath, since 203
> > A.D.
> > > He is more or less the same as Maitreya (*the* Christ and coming
> > > Buddha), also depicted in an actual photograph, although that body
> > was
> > > not born of a woman but materialized by kriyashakti. Maitreya is
> > > living in London, but appearing miraculously around the world.
> > > Christ has already returned to earth as Sananda in 1961. He was
> > > responsible for the Rapture in the late 60's, when many had
> > > spiritual experiences of the White Light of the Christ, which is
> > > gateway to absolute or pure Consciousness, which is God.
> > >
> > > --- it gives me the willies. Where does one draw the line between
> > > "daring, original thinker" and just plain "fruitcake"?
> > >
> > > Best, Mike
> > >
> > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > Robert Wallace
> > website: www.robertmwallace.com (Philosophical Mysticism; The God of
> > Freedom)
> > email: bob@...
> > phone: 414-617-3914
> > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
website: www.robertmwallace.com (Philosophical Mysticism; The God of
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]