October 26, 2005


Saturday, October 1st, 2005 6:27 pm - Wilber and Evolution
Would anybody like to explain to me why Wilber incorporates Erich Jantsch's evolutionary stages into his cosmology in Sex, Ecology and Spirituality, and then goes on to say the most ridiculous anti-Darwinist Creationist nonsense in A Brief History of Everything? How can a top academic philosopher make a mistake like that?
Friday, October 21st, 2005 4:00 pm - Richard McKeon
I've recently been informed about one of the greatest unsung intellectual giants in human history by my friend Glenn. His name is Richard McKeon. Paul, you might be interested to know that Charles Hartshorne worked with him at the University of Chicago. McKeon interests me because I'm always looking for people who have been synthesizing different knowledge systems together, and one of his main contributions has been the synthesis of many different systems of philosophy and in the working out of an approach to unify disparate views, branches of knowledge, etc. Basically, he presented us with the fundamentals of the science of epistemology as a fait accompli.
Here is what one student had to say about McKeon: He completely analyzed the limited number of possible assumptions underlying all philosophies, and showed how the range of observable phenomenae are determined, not by the universe itself, but by the lens of the philosophy used to examine it. One of his major goals was to help philosophers understand what part of their disagreemeents are simply semantic, based on different assumptions, and which are based on different truths, possibilities, or knowledge . . . so that thinkers could stop quibbling about things they can never possibly agree upon, and concentrate on the areas of possible discovery, resolution, agreement, and the advancement of knowledge.
The core of his semantic analyis of philosophy is a 17-page paper, "Philosophic Semantics and Philosophic Inquiry," which he gave out at the beginning of every basic course. It is astonishingly demanding. You need to be prepared to have your philosophical and mental lenses absolutely and painfully shattered . . . and then rebuilt as simply one of many ways of looking at the universe. Repeated, thorough, rigorous, and painstaking dissection, analysis, and reconstruction of that paper is the basis for a beginning of a comprehensive understanding of the basic fundamentals of the philosophical process.
Glenn recommended his book On Knowing: The Natural Sciences. From the Amazon description: "Well before the current age of discourse, deconstruction, and multiculturalism, Richard McKeon propounded a philosophy of pluralism showing how 'facts' and 'values' are dependent on diverse ways of reading texts. This book is a transcription of an entire course, including both lectures and student discussions, taught by McKeon. As such, it provides an introduction to McKeon's conception of pluralism, a central aspect of neo-Pragmatism, while demonstrating how pluralism works in a classroom setting."
Thursday, October 20th, 2005 9:12 am- Why I Like R. D. Laing
Ronald David Laing was one of the most controversial figures of 20th century psychology and philosophy. His writings -- a mix of psychoanalysis, mysticism, existentialism and left-wing politics -- make for powerful and often disturbing reading; disturbing because they so clearly demonstrate the extent to which the average human being is entrapped by the pressures of social conformity. His first book, The Divided Self, was an attempt to explain schizophrenia by using existentialist philosophy to vividly portray the inner world of a schizophrenic, which Laing presented as an attempt to live in an unlivable situation.
His later books, such as Self and Others and The Politics of Experience, expand upon this to show how contemporary culture conspires to rob us of our individuality. Laing remains a highly enigmatic figure. His work tends to be dismissed by most psychiatrists; however, droves of mentally ill people insist that this was a man who truly understood how they felt. Laing always insisted that psychotherapists should act as shamans, exorcising the illness through a process of mutual catharsis. This is particularly apt, since, like the archetypal shaman, Laing did not appear to so much preach a doctrine as live it.Since Laing refused to view mental illness in biomedical/clinical terms, he has often been labelled as part of the so-called 'antipsychiatry' movement, alongside figures such as David Cooper, Thomas Szasz and Michel Foucault. However, Laing vehemently rejected this label. He never tried to deny that mentally ill people are in need of help -- he simply did not believe that conventional psychiatry provided the answer. He was especially opposed to the use of lobotomies, ECT and the dehumanising effects of incarceration in psychiatric hospitals.

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