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Showing posts from February, 2013

The Shadow Side of God: Jung and the Answer to Job

'In Jung’s interpretation, Job is completely innocent. He is a scrupulously pious man who follows all the religious conventions, and for most of his life he is blessed with good fortune. This is the expected outcome for a just man in a rationally ordered universe. But then God goes to work on him, tests him with misfortune, reduces him to misery, and finally overwhelms him with questions and images of divine majesty and power. Job is silenced, and he realizes his inferior position vis-a-vis the Almighty. But he also retains his personal integrity, and this so impresses God that He is forced to take stock of Himself. Perhaps He is not so righteous after all! [As Marc Fonda observes, God’s omniscience precludes self-awareness. Being omniscient, God has no concentrated self to speak of. Being a part of everything, God has no opportunity to distinguish self from non-self. However, as God knows the thoughts of humans, through the thoughts of his creation he can experience what self-aw…

Experiential and Volitional Nihilism

Meaning in life is generated by the realization of values. Values can be experienced, both actively and passively.
Nihilism is the position that all values are baseless. It doesn't simply declare that values do not exist, but rather that they exist only within the realm of human subjective experience, and that there is no such thing as meaning or value outside of it in the objective reality.
Based on this, I can differentiate between two strains of nihilism: 
1) Experiential Nihilism, which is an inability to experience values and thereby an inability to experience meaning. 
2) Volitional Nihilism, which is a refusal to realize values. When confronted with the possibility of meaningfulness, a volitional nihilist would respond that even if values can be experienced and meaning can be generated, why bother, it is all an illusion and a deception anyway.
Experiential Nihilism can often be the result of a pathological (for lack of a better adjective) state of mind, such as a person su…

Transference Love

This article in The American Journal of Psychiatry by James W. Lomax and Glen O. Gabbard discusses the nature of transference love with reference to a particular case of a patient Dr. A. The central theme is the analogy of transference love with an artificial rose, derived from a dream that the patient had. The patient dreamt that the therapist gave her an artificial rose, which disappointed her. She would have preferred a real rose, but also acknowledged that real roses 'don't do well in Houston' and don't last long. This is taken by the patient and the therapist as a representation of the artificial nature of transference love in comparison to the real love of other relationships.
Below are some excerpts from the article:
Dr. Gabbard: '... transference love almost always carries with it an undercurrent of aggression and hate. Inherent in the analytic frame is the notion that there is an asymmetrical expression of feelings. The patient attempts to say whatever is o…

Hell on Earth

A schizophrenic who thought we are living in hell and not on earth reminded me of a passage from the article Reincarnation and the Meaning of Life by John Hick: 
"[The] basic cosmic optimism is marred within the monotheisms by their traditional doctrine of an eternal hell.... Julian of Norwich was one of the minority of pre-modern Christian thinkers, and Jalaluldin Rumi a hundred years earlier one of the minority of Muslim thinkers, who have been hospitable to the idea of universal salvation; and it may well be significant that they were both mystics, that is to say experiencers, rather than writers of dogmatic theology. Buddhism and Hinduism, on the other hand, believing in many further lives to come, have much less need for an eternal hell. Their cosmologies do indeed include many states that are generally called hells, but these are states through which people pass, not to which they are consigned for eternity. It may even be that we are in one of these now. But the cosmic op…

Story of my life

"Our brains evolved in such a way as to render us all eager but flawed mind readers." (my emphasis)
Michael Bérubé, paraphrasing Lisa Zunshine's theory

The Skeptical Premise

A skeptical hypothesis is the possibility of a state of affairs in which our knowledge of the world is erroneous and deceptive. For example, the famous 'brain in a vat' scenario. 
Epistemological skepticism argues that we cannot have knowledge until we can rule out the skeptical hypotheses: The skeptical hypotheses cannot be ruled out, hence we do not have knowledge.
This argument however rests on a premise about the nature of knowledge, and the truth of this skeptical premise is simply being assumed without proof or demonstration.
Apart from a skeptical bias, there is no reason to assume that knowledge is impossible until the skeptical hypothesis has been ruled out.
Epistemological skepticism cannot be refuted, but the simplest way to avoid its conclusion is to not accept the skeptical premise in the first place.

Feynman

Image
Female Posing (1968), drawing by the physicist Richard Feynman (Source: Brain Pickings)

Logotherapy

Some excerpts from the Introduction of The Doctor and the Soul: From Psychotherapy to Logotherapy by Viktor E. Frankl:
* This will-to-meaning is the most human phenomenon of all, since an animal certainly never worries about the meaning of its existence. Yet psychotherapy would turn this will-to-meaning into a human frailty, a neurotic complex. A therapist who ignores man's spiritual side, and is thus forced to ignore the will-to-meaning, is giving away one of his most valuable assets. For it is to this will that a psychotherapist should appeal. Again and again we have seen that an appeal to continue life, to survive the most unfavorable circumstances, can be made only when such survival appears to have a meaning. that meaning must be specific and personal, a meaning which can be realized by this one person alone.
* I believe there is no such thing as psychotherapy unconcerned with values, only one that is blind to values.
* Men can give meaning to their lives by realizing what I…

Multiculturalism

Multiculturalism is not simply a juxtaposition of differing cultures. It is a culture in it's own right, with it's own central principles to which participant cultures agree to submit. Participant cultures are rarely by origin multicultural. Often it requires certain adaptations on part of the cultural adherents for a culture to become compatible with a multicultural society. There is a vaguely defined and arbitrary distinction between public and private, a line that may be drawn differently in different multicultural societies, which requires cultures to cede the public realm to a common neutral ground. Incompatible cultures which are reluctant to adapt, especially when the incompatibility is seen as a reflection of authenticity, and/or are reluctant to cede the public sphere, would come to see multiculturalism as a threat and they would in turn become a threat for the multicultural culture.