freedom: deep participation with others

I wonder what is the ratio – in the world of politics and culture etc – of diagnosis to prescription. I would guess it is heavily weighted toward diagnosis: everyone and his dog is talking and writing about how bad everything is and I’m not convinced there are as many who are coming up with viable solutions.  One exception to this rule could be our self help culture of talk shows and books but they’re more about personal fulfillment than geo politics.

We’re in a post solution world, so that doesn’t help.  Statesmanship is all but extinct; we’re a country of editors and responders.  Stick your neck out and risk losing it along with your head.

Here is an unusually prescriptive set of ideas taken from an essay by Jeremy Rifkin who writes on empathy among other things.  In it he describes two worlds, the first called the old geopolitics and the second the new biosphere science.   Continue reading


Immanuel Kant in three minutes
October 25, 2011, 8:10 pm
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Gandhi’s talisman
October 20, 2011, 10:18 pm
Filed under: the sweet life | Tags: , ,

In giving advice about how to make a decision, Gandhi recommends assessing first how it will affect the abjectly poor.  I’m confident this is no longer taught in business schools – and never was.

But look at the results of gauging the advisability of your great works by consideration for the poorest among us:  you and your doubts will melt away.  You will become nothing and concurrently very confident!

What a strange mix:  one wouldn’t normally associate self annihilation with confidence.   Self assurance makes sense, but today’s real men (and women) must, by their decisions, become grander not diminished.

This is Gandhi speaking, not some hack self help guru.  His life was a manifestation of this strange conflation of loss of doubt and self immolation.  His extraordinary power came through ideas, non violence, and ultimately self denial.   The proof, and the object, of course, is people being set free which happened on an unimaginable scale when the British quit India in 1947.

Gandhi’s talisman:

I will give you a talisman. Recall the face of the poorest and weakest man whom you may have seen, and ask yourself if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him. Will he gain anything by it? Will it restore him to a control over his own life and destiny? Will it lead to swaraj [freedom] for the hungry and spiritually starving millions? Then you will find your doubts and yourself melting away.

M. K. Gandhi

in the name of imagination
October 20, 2011, 9:12 pm
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Kodai lake
October 20, 2011, 8:57 pm
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a loving and interesting life
October 18, 2011, 6:23 pm
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The philosopher Erich Fromm postulated EIGHT basic needs listed below.  In his view, there is a strong sense that you must know yourself, and that from this knowledge base there must be a fruitful outlet for work in – and engagement with – the world.

Beyond the self which comprise two or three of the eight needs, all of the others have to do with relationships: to the world, and to other people, mainly.  To editorialize:  the individual is there and important to Fromm – know yourself! – but fulfillment comes from outside ourselves.

Here is the list:

Relatedness Relationships with others, care, respect, knowledge.

Transcendence Creativity, developing a loving and interesting life. Continue reading

how to be a bohemian

“Now is the winter of our discontent, made glorious summer by this son of York, ” said Richard III.  Things were looking up for Richard as his brother had just been made king.

Was the collapse of our banks the winter of our discontent, now being made glorious by people around the world – starting with the Arab spring and spreading some months later to America – to walk the streets, to camp in parks, to make demands, to express their dissatisfaction with a world that has become unequal?

The analogy isn’t quite right:  Shakespeare’s peerless words perfectly describe a thawing; but Richard’s glorious summer was decidedly murderous, and the one flowering for us appears to be much more hopeful.

The peaceful occupiers in America don’t have murder on their minds.  But all of the elements found in the bard’s phrase: discontent, flowering summer, and even the scheming and murderous intent of the protagonist Richard III, are evident in the protests that are happening across America.

Continue reading

October 15, 2011, 6:28 pm
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the fundamental reconstitution of the position of people in the world
October 15, 2011, 6:08 pm
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Not traditional ideas but just how people fit in the world will usher in change, says Czech ex president Vaclav Havel in the quotation below.  Traditional ideas could include ideologies, parties, manifestos etc.  But what does Havel’s phrase ‘reconstitution of the position of people’ mean?

Tradition has been described as having two forms:  sedimented and reactivated (Ricoeur).  In sedimented tradition the ideas that were originally seen as beneficial to society have become encrusted and hidden and rendered more or less useless.  In reactivated tradition, the originating forms are made vital and useful again. Continue reading

the world we live in Megan Cope
October 8, 2011, 10:37 pm
Filed under: brave new world | Tags: ,