December 16, 2015

Challenging basic assumptions about who we are

What Kind of Creatures Are We? by Noam Chomsky - Columbia University Press (December 15, 2015)
Noam Chomsky is widely known and deeply admired for being the founder of modern linguistics, one of the founders of the field of cognitive science, and perhaps the most avidly read political theorist and commentator of our time. In these lectures, he presents a lifetime of philosophical reflection on all three of these areas of research to which he has contributed for over half a century.

In clear, precise, and non-technical language, Chomsky elaborates on fifty years of scientific development in the study of language, sketching how his own work has implications for the origins of language, the close relations that language bears to thought, and its eventual biological basis. He expounds and criticizes many alternative theories, such as those that emphasize the social, the communicative, and the referential aspects of language. Chomsky reviews how new discoveries about language overcome what seemed to be highly problematic assumptions in the past. He also investigates the apparent scope and limits of human cognitive capacities and what the human mind can seriously investigate, in the light of history of science and philosophical reflection and current understanding. Moving from language and mind to society and politics, he concludes with a searching exploration and philosophical defense of a position he describes as "libertarian socialism," tracing its links to anarchism and the ideas of John Dewey, and even briefly to the ideas of Marx and Mill, demonstrating its conceptual growth out of our historical past and urgent relation to matters of the present.

Noam Chomsky is professor emeritus of linguistics and philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has written and lectured widely on linguistics, philosophy, intellectual history, contemporary issues, international affairs, and U.S. foreign policy. He is the author of more than one hundred books.

by Marjorie Hines Woollacott and Pim van Lommel
Marjorie Woollacott has written an intellectual adventure story of the highest order. Drawing on her own experience as a highly regarded neuroscientist and a long-term meditator, she skillfully and engagingly invites readers to reassess the common scholarly prejudice against parapsychology. In doing so, she brings us to the threshold of a genuine paradigm shift in thinking about the mind and the brain. (Thomas B. Coburn, visiting scholar, Brown University; president emeritus, Naropa University)

Marjorie Woollacott takes us on a voyage of discovery as she integrates her neuroscientific expertise and meditative insight. A candid, lively exploration in which scientific curiosity and spiritual seeking nourish each other, and in which mind is revealed to be much more than brain. (Paul Marshall, scholar of religion, and author of Mystical Encounters with the Natural World)

Marjorie Woollacott has written a gripping account of her evolution after an unexpected experience forced her to question her neurophysiological training and explore the scientific research on expanded consciousness. What she learned challenged her basic assumptions about who we are, and it may permanently change yours as well. (Bruce Greyson, Carlson Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry & Neurobehavioral Sciences Division of Perceptual Studies, University of Virginia Health System)

Marjorie Woollacott provides an admirably lucid survey of the challenges various phenomena pose to the materialist paradigm, leading persuasively to a new worldview in which consciousness is primary. It is a wonderful introduction to this material, one filled not just with important information, but also with heart and considerable wisdom. (Jim B. Tucker, Bonner-Lowry Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences and director of the Division of Perceptual Studies, University of Virginia Health System)

Marjorie Hines Woollacott, PhD, has been a neuroscience professor at the University of Oregon for more than three decades and a meditator for almost four. Her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, and she coauthored a popular textbook for health professionals and has written more than 180 peer-reviewed research articles—several of which were on meditation, the topic that motivated her to write Infinite Awareness.

Drawing upon his expertise in interdisciplinary working and Wittgenstein-influenced approaches, Mikel Burley examines several interrelated phenomena, including purported past-life memories, the relationship between metaphysics and ethics, efforts to 'demythologize' rebirth, and moral critiques of the doctrine of karma. This range of topics, with rebirth as a unifying theme, makes the book of value to anyone interested in philosophy, the study of religions, and what it means to believe that we undergo multiple lives.

Deep Pantheism: Toward a New Transcendentalism Dec 15, 2015 by Robert S. Corrington
This book is a study in a new form of religious naturalism called “Deep Pantheism,” which has roots in American Transcendentalism, but also in phenomenology and Asian thought. It argues that the great divide within nature is that between nature naturing and nature natured, the former term defined as “Nature creating itself out of itself alone,” while the latter term defined as “The innumerable orders of the World.” Explorations are made of the connections among the unconscious of nature, the archetypes, and the various layers of the human psyche. The Selving process is analyzed using the work of C.G. Jung and Otto Rank. Evolution and involution are compared as they relate to the Encompassing, and the priority of art over most forms of religion is argued for.

Creatively expanding and integrating the ideas of Schopenhauer, Peirce, Jung, Jaspers and numerous others, Robert Corrington has fashioned a spiritual vision as powerful as it is inclusive. Outlining a pantheism which is nonetheless a dynamic and relational pluralism in the manner of William James, Corrington’s latest work culminates in a postscript in which his new Transcendentalism is compared with that of Emerson. This is a daring and rich contribution to contemporary theology. (Jonathan Weidenbaum, Berkeley College, New York City)

Robert Corrington has brought his evolving vision of “ecstatic naturalism” or “deep pantheism” to an impressive new level of insightful exposition and development in the pages of this book. Appreciatively, critically, and innovatively, he draws on diverse thinkers such as the continental philosophers Schopenhauer, Schelling, Husserl, Heidegger, and Jaspers, the American philosophers Peirce, James, Santayana, and Dewey, the post-Freudian psychoanalytic theorists Jung, Rank, Reich, and Kohut, and the Indian philosopher Aurobindo. 

His vision is complex and many-sided, and its principal focus is on sources of inspiration and empowerment—as well as of staggering sublimity—that lie fully and finally within nature itself in its twofold character of nature naturing and nature natured. Corrington is not satisfied with the surface manifestations of splendor and beauty in the outward face of nature, important as these are. He plumbs nature’s unruly depths of ongoing creation and destruction and finds within these depths, and especially at the roiling fissure between nature naturing and nature natured, a revelatory and transformative power that transcends the tendency to tribal antagonisms so often typical of past and present religious outlooks and practices. (Donald A. Crosby, Colorado State University)

Constructivism is a theory of knowledge[1] that argues that humans generate knowledge and meaning from an interaction between their experiences and their ideas. It has influenced a number of disciplines, including psychology, sociology, education and the history of science.[2] During its infancy, constructivism examined the interaction between human experiences and their reflexes or behavior-patterns. Jean Piaget called these systems of knowledge schemata. 

Earlier educational philosophies did not place much value on what would become constructivist ideas; children's play and exploration was seen as aimless and of little importance. Jean Piaget did not agree with these traditional views, however. He saw play as an important and necessary part of the student's cognitive development and provided scientific evidence for his views. Today, constructivist theories are influential throughout the formal and informal learning sectors. In museum education, constructivist theories inform exhibit design. One good example of constructivist learning in a non-formal setting is the Investigate Centre at The Natural History Museum, London.[citation needed] Here visitors are encouraged to explore a collection of real natural history specimens, to practice some scientific skills and make discoveries for themselves. Writers who influenced constructivism include:
John Dewey (1859–1952)
Maria Montessori (1870–1952)
Jean Piaget (1896–1980)
Lev Vygotsky (1896–1934)
Heinz von Foerster (1911–2002)
George Kelly (1905–1967)

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