In the West, we live faster, higher in the air, farther from our workplaces, and more singly than at any time in the past. Social scientists will be struggling to understand the consequences of these transformations for decades to come, but one thing is clear: Loneliness is our baggage, a huge and largely unacknowledged cultural failing.
In Vancouver, residents recently listed social isolation as their most pressing concern. More Canadians than ever live alone, and almost one-quarter describe themselves as lonely. In the United States, two studies showed that 40 per cent of people say they’re lonely, a figure that has doubled in 30 years. Britain has a registered charity campaigning to end chronic loneliness, and last month, health secretary Jeremy Hunt gave a speech about the isolated many, calling attention to “a forgotten million who live amongst us ignored, to our national shame.”
There haven’t been any substantial surveys performed since 2006, but there have been obvious changes in technology that have made cyber stalking even easier and apparently more prevalent. And there’s little that can be done to prevent someone with whom you’re in a relationship—especially an abusive one—from using your digital devices against you.
And there’s a reason we enjoy these reflective tokens, even at the potential risk of our privacy; they act as tiny digital mirrors that reflect — and confirm — our identities and our place in the world.
“Human desires are the pitfalls of life. Wise scholars take delight in music and painting, to take the place of the different desires. Since you are of the right type, you should keep on and not give up.”—
The Chinese Theory of Art: Translations from the Masters of Chinese Art
I think I found the right book for, if not 'Buddhism for INTJs', then at least ‘Buddhist-influenced aesthetics for INTJs’.
(One might add ‘books’ to the list above, but I reckon they’re all too human…)
"The main objective of Ch’an teachers was to inculcate a basically Taoist view of the world using a Buddhist framework. Such famous Taoists as Chuang Tzū had long demonstrated the irrelevance of logical inquiry into the mind through the use of absurdist stories which confounded conventional…
The question of human nature reliably polarized political philosophers across many centuries and several oceans. One group of these thinkers viewed people as innately cooperative or potentially compassionate; another group argued for an inherently competitive human nature. This division begs the question of whether the split corresponds to a difference in left-right political orientation. In some cases, such as that of Marx, there is little doubt about where to place the thinker on the political spectrum. In other cases, however, identifying the ideological leanings of historical figures is a task better left for professional historians.
In any case, history’s great political philosophers are not the only people who disagree over the nature of human nature; the human-nature question is a perennial problem that also divides contemporary politicians and ordinary citizens. Below we’ll explore what modern political psychology has discovered about this ancient philosophical puzzle. Statistical tools and laboratory experiments can determine precisely how an individual’s perceptions of human nature can predict his or her political orientation.
What Malinowski fell prey to in his line of reasoning about homosexuality, and what many otherwise intelligent people still succumb to today, is the naturalistic fallacy—the philosophical error in which “natural” is mistakenly conflated with “good.” There are many things that are natural that are immensely harmful, and vice versa, many unnatural things that have made our lives far more pleasant and positive. Naturalness connotes no intrinsic moral value at all, and normal is only a number.
The many differences in sexuality found across human societies are impressive, as I think you’ll agree. Yet where does this leave us in our ability to discern an “objective morality” out there in the universe—in this case, sexual rights and wrongs that exist independent of our own enculturated biases? If you take God out of the picture (and there’s certainly no obvious reason to include Him, evolutionarily), does an objective morality even exist?
Quite simply, no. Through the rhetoric of righteousness, we’re bullied into subscribing to the delusion that it does—but it doesn’t. We’d also do well to abandon our strange preoccupation with the meaningless question of what is “natural” in human sexuality. Unless we wish to invoke a Creator God who preconceived our loins and prescribed our genitals for reproduction and nothing more, “natural” is a useless construct when it comes to sexual ethics. To gain any moral traction on such slippery issues, while also keeping a clear view of the sheer range of erotic diversity displayed over time and space, we’d do better to devote our efforts and intellects to defining harm in a way that applies not to us as onlookers, but to the subjective minds of those involved.
Roy and Park’s conclusion that even tool use is not a motor skill should ring alarm bells about whether the concept of a skill is what is at issue in these discussions. Martin Heidegger uses the example of hammering with a hammer as a paradigm example of a motor skill. Philosophers from Aristotle to Gilbert Ryle have held that whether or not to employ a skill is under a person’s rational control. But this seems to require knowledge — knowing how, when and with what means to do it. A skilled archer knows what to do to initiate the activity; this is in part why she can decide to do that activity. Still, we are not supposed to call LeBron James a “genius” because cultural biases have infected science without the moderating input of the humanities.
Neuroscientists and psychologists have other views that argue that motor skill does not involve knowledge. But these arguments involve false assumptions about knowledge.
We discuss and reject one such assumption, that a person must be capable of verbally explaining her knowledge. A second false assumption is that anyone who acts on knowledge must be considering that knowledge while acting upon it; for example, that the center fielder must be actively thinking about how to field the ball if he is acting on knowledge. A third false assumption is that anyone who knows something must be aware of knowing it (the following tempting argument appeals to this third assumption: it is possible to forget that one knows how to ride a bicycle, yet still retain the skill of riding a bicycle. Therefore, skill at bicycle riding does not involve knowledge). All of these assumptions have been widely rejected by philosophers who have recently considered them (see here for discussion).
Among the various totems of cool, from dark shades to dance moves, none are as essential to the whole concept as popular songs. More often than not, though, when people describe a song as cool—which, of course, they continue to do every day—they mean that the musicians who play it seem cool to them or that you would be a lot cooler if you liked it. Pop songs themselves are rarely cool. They’re hot—lustful, angry, sad, boastful, celebratory. Passionate, in one way or another. A huge proportion of pop songs are love songs, which insist on the singer’s need or desire for another person. But coolness is not about need and desire. It’s even-keeled. Unflappable.
One of the most fascinating explorations of the psychological analogues of alchemy was given to us by Jung in a lengthy essay not usually classified as one of his alchemical writings, entitled The Psychology of the Transference. In this study Jung employed the ten pictures illustrating the opus of alchemical transormation contained in a classic called Rosarium Philosophorum (Rosary of the Philosophers), where the dual powers of the “King” and “Queen” are shown to undergo a number of phases of their own mystico-erotic relationship and eventually unite in a new, androgynous being, called in the text “the noble Empress”. The term “transference is used by Jung as a psychological synonym for love, which in interpersonal relations as well as in depth-psychological analysis serves the role of the great healer of the sorrows and injuries of living.
The series of images begins with that of the mercurial fountain, symbolizing the aroused energy of transformation and continues with the meeting of the King and Queen, first fully clad and later having relinquished their garments. The lovers thus confront each other with their personae and defenses, but proceed to a meeting in “naked truth”. The partners then immerse themselves in the alchemical bath, thus allowing the force of love to engulf their conscious egos, blotting out rational and mundane considerations. While in this state of passionate engulfment the psychosexual union (coniunctio) takes place. But, contrary expectations, this union, which initially brought forth a newly formed androgynous being, results in death. The spiritual result of love is not viable and, having expired, undergoes decomposition.
It is at this point that the force of commitment to the process (though not necessarily to a particular partner) becomes all-important. By not abandoning the transformational work, the soul of the dead androgyne ascends to heaven, i.e., to a higher level of consciousness, while the body is washed in celestial dew. Soon the departed soul returns to its earthly body, and the reanimated corpse stands in its full, numinous glory for all to see. A new being is born which is the promised fruit of love, the transformed consciousness of the lovers, formed of the opposites, which are now welded into an inseparable imperishable wholeness. The alchemy of love has reached its true and triumphant culmination.
“The list is the origin of culture. It’s part of the history of art and literature. What does culture want? To make infinity comprehensible… And how, as a human being, does one face infinity? How does one attempt to grasp the incomprehensible? Through lists.”—