Sunday, January 18, 2015

Stoicism and Philosphy


I've written before about how the ideas of Stoicism are the ideal philosophy in times of collapse and unravelling. The above image is a good summary. But a much better story is this article in Aeon Magazine:

Why Stoicism is one of the best mind hacks ever

It also makes me wonder about the difference between religion and philosophy. Most people get their philosophy of how to deal with life through their religious affiliation, which for most Americans is some form of Christianity. But the use of a series of folk tales written by Iron Age shepherds as a basis of modern daily life doesn't seem like a good idea to me. Many people look to leaders in the Christian faith to give them guidance, but often times that guidance comes with a big helping of supernatural beliefs and cultural baggage (demonization of sex, denial of scientific rationality, homophobia, shame, guilt, and so on)

In the past, however, things like Stoicism were expressly designed to help you cope with living in the world, and what the value and meaning of life was. Often times these philosophical schools would also develop scientific theories such as atomism. By contrast, religion was a separate, tribal affair, mainly designed to signal one's ethnic affiliation but with little instructions about how to live day-to-day life. Zeus and Apollo had little to say about that after all, and the extensive rules and demands of the Hebrew patriarchal desert God had no sway over them.

That's why Buddhism is so hard to categorize. It's considered a religion, but is also a philosophy dealing with how to live in the world. To some extent, it is a symbol of the fact that the line between the two is not so easily drawn. It might be said that Buddhism started as a philosophical offshoot from Hinduism that borrowed much of it's vocabulary and symbolism from it, and then developed into a religion over time due to it's cultural importance. People do pray to Buddha as a supernatural being and Buddhists do talk about angelic and demonic beings. However, this is not a requirement for acceptance of many tenets of Buddhism. For some reason, in the West, these two things remained separated by an iron wall. Maybe that's why we have the concept of separation of church and state.

7 comments:

  1. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/comment/do-not-fear-the-rise-of-the-machines-20150118-12sj1k.html
    I thought you might like this one. Propaganda so think you can cut it with an axe

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll see your propaganda and raise you:

      http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/are-economists-good-by-robert-j--shiller-2015-01

      Note the irony of the name 'Shiller.'

      Also, you'll notice that the economists that actually study automation up close come to very different conclusions that opinion writers who just toss off flippant opinions trying to sound smart (gee, we automated cloth production? Who knew?)

      Delete
    2. He totally ignores that Nouriel Roubini was warning about the housing bubble as early as 2006. And was being dismissed publicly.

      Delete
  2. I see you've been paying attention to Greer about philosophy.

    ReplyDelete
  3. > But the use of a series of folk tales written by Iron Age shepherds as a basis of modern daily life doesn't seem like a good idea to me.

    Is a series of philosophical speculations written by pre-scientific thinkers any better, really?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It probably *is* better. They didn't have all the nonsense and distractions of our modern world like jobs or the media or all the fossil fuel powered creature comforts. They lived much closer to the margins of survival, even the wealthy ones. Plus, those guys were the first proto-scientists even though they didn't have the knowledge and methods that we have today.

      Delete
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