Tag Archives | Philosophy

Broken Saints – Chapter 1 – “Introitus”

Broken Saints is an award-winning, partially Flash-animated film series by Brooke Burgess, Ian Kirby, and Andrew West. First published in 2001, it is one of the earliest examples of a motion comic.

Centered on philosophical, religious, political and spiritual themes, it tells the story of four strangers from “the quiet corners of the globe” connected by a vision they all receive of a coming evil. Their search for the truth behind the vision leads them to each other and to far larger and more disturbing truths than they could have expected.… Read the rest

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Apocalyptic Imaginary: Best of Modern Mythology eBook

best-of_2011-ebook-frontThere is a limited time offer over at Modern Mythology: a free PDF of the 2011 “best of” anthology. It’s available as a direct link on the right sidebar of the site, and doesn’t require your email address (as many “free” eBooks do.)

More about the book:

This book captures and expands upon the unique commentary and analysis that has helped define the Modern Mythology project in 2011. Through the voices of many contributors, we collectively take a hard look at the blurred lines between narrative and truth, philosophy and literature, personal history and cultural memory. All of this is done with an eye towards the imagined apocalypse that is always just around the corner.

It’ll only be up there until the end of June, so nab it now. (Print edition.)… Read the rest

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Cultural Illness and the Curse of Shifting Sands, DSM V

Cultural Relativity

In evaluating dysfunction or illness, we have long followed the seemingly straightforward model of diagnose, treat, evaluate, iterate.

However, diagnosis has long been the secret — or not so secret — Achilles heel of the psychiatric establishment. Many philosophic issues arise, issues of cultural relativism, ethical issues of financial interests in pharmaceuticals, to name a few. These are issues that ‘by the book’ psychiatrists frequently dismiss as ‘merely philosophical.’ Indeed, it’s been a relatively long time since Freud or Jung were taken entirely seriously by the establishment doling out the meds. ”By the book.” What is “the book”?

Since DSM-III (American Psychiatric Association 1980), disorders have been defined in terms of syndromes—that is, clusters of symptoms that covary together (see the section following, titled “Need to Explore the Possibility of Fundamental Changes . . .”). …

The major focus of field trials for DSM-III was establishing the reliability with which multiple clinicians could come to the same diagnostic conclusions when presented with a patient’s expressed signs and symptoms.

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Two Takes On ‘New Age’

New age dolphin rainbow

Introduction

In 1928 a brilliant philosopher/logician from Vienna, Rudolf Carnap, published Der logische Aufbau der Welt, The Logical Structure of the World. Ten years before, Ludwig Wittgenstein had conceived his highly cryptic Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, “the last philosophical book.” Carnap—and other exponents of the Vienna Circle—elaborated on Wittengstein’s message. Toward the conclusion of his mentioned work (183.Rationalism?) he inserted:

REFERENCES. Wittgenstein has clearly formulated the proud thesis of omnipotence of rational science as well as the humble insight relative to its importance for practical life: “For an answer that cannot be expressed, the question too cannot be expressed. The riddle does not exist. If a question can be put at all, then it can also be answered… (…)” Wittgenstein summarizes the import of his treatise in the following words: “What can be said at all, can be said clearly, and whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.”

That famous aphorism, which concludes the treatise, ought to have been interpreted as a confession of Gnostic humility, not as a “proud thesis of omnipotence of rational science.” All it takes is heeding all the implications of the opus.… Read the rest

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Can Scientific Belief Make People More Moral?

science moralsIs science ethically neutral, or can it supplant religion in providing a moral compass? PLOS ONE on a series of studies finding that exposure to science (either in one’s personal background or merely by being asked to think about science momentarily) made college students more likely to divide up money fairly, more likely to express interest in positive behaviors such as volunteering and donating blood, and more likely to strongly condemn a date rapist in a hypothetical story:

No studies to date [had] directly investigated the links between exposure to science and moral or prosocial behaviors.

Across four studies, both naturalistic measures of science exposure and experimental primes of science led to increased adherence to moral norms and more morally normative behaviors across domains.

Thinking about science leads individuals to endorse more stringent moral norms and exhibit more morally normative behavior. These studies are the first of their kind to systematically and empirically test the relationship between science and morality.

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How Occult Ideas Infiltrate Normal Culture

Via Reality Sandwich, discussing the state of the occult in 2013, author Mitch Horowitz on how esoteric ideas saturate contemporary society:

This notion of using your mind as a causative agency colors almost every aspect of our culture. It’s spoken about from evangelical pulpits by figures like Joel Osteen and T.D. Jakes. It’s heard in political speeches, such as when Ronald Reagan used to say, “nothing is impossible”; at the heart of our business motivation philosophies; it appears in the recovery movement; and it’s a form of popular religiosity that’s spread all across the culture.

You turn on the television and one sitcom character is telling another to think positively, and they’re having a laugh about either the potential, or the dismal irony, of trying to use your mind to change a situation. It surrounds us. Americans embrace ideas and discard terms, hence you don’t hear terms like occult or New Age within mainstream culture, yet the assumptions around them are everyplace.

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Aldous Huxley Describes The Ultimate Revolution

If we were in fact drawing closer to the scenario he describes fifty years ago, what would the drug in question be?

Aldous Huxley, speaking at U.C. Berkeley in 1962, outlines his vision for the ‘ultimate revolution’, a scientific dictatorship where people will be conditioned to enjoy their servitude, and will pose little opposition to the ‘ruling oligarchy’, as he puts it. He also takes a moment to compare his book, “Brave New World,” to George Orwell’s “1984″ and considers the technique in the latter too outdated for actual implementation.

“There will be, in the next generation or so, a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude, and producing dictatorship without tears…they will be distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing, or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological methods. And this seems to be the final revolution.”

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Which Worldview Fears What?

Yale Scientific Magazine presents a fascinating Myers-Briggs-style test of what your societal fears reveal about your political and personal orientation. As a bonus, the amusingly-true chart of what people expect hierarchist communitarians, individualist egalitarians, etc., to look like:

“Cultural cognition refers to the tendency of people to fit their perceptions of risk and related facts to their group commitments,” says Dan Kahan, professor at Yale Law school and a CCP researcher. Researchers in the CCP measure people’s “worldviews” along the two dimensions of hierarchy-egalitarianism and communitarian-individualism.

This framework relates to the theory of anthropologist Mary Douglas, the originator of “the cultural theory of risk.” The theory postulates that people’s perceptions of risk should reflect and reinforce the combinations of values defined by the intersection of these two “worldview” dimensions.

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A History Of Speculation

Can the future truly be changed, or are we on a predetermined path? Chris Woebken and Sascha Pohflepp on grasping at the fabric of reality:

Hermann Minkowski’s light cones gave us a visual idea of how the possible may be situated within relations of causality. Then, in the mid-20th century, those ideas were carried into the realm of geopolitics by the threat of nuclear war.

With a flight time of 30 minutes between the Soviet Union and the United States, rocket technology shrank the future to a point where speculation became a key asset in the arsenals of the superpowers. Big think tanks like the Californian RAND Corporation, scientists, and engineers were systematically mapping out possibility spaces.

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