Concepts and perceptions of betterment

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Burning ghost
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Concepts and perceptions of betterment

Post by Burning ghost » September 5th, 2018, 3:51 am

We all understand that things can be “better”, yet it is a rare occasion in which a large proportion of a people agree upon how to achieve “betterment” and what a “better” future would look like - be it for the individual or for society/humanity at large. We may agree on the goal, but not the path toward it.

To cut past the initial fluff jump straight in at [A]. No need to read the next two paragraphs if you just want to get to the meat!

Here I will look at certain foundations upon which our perspectives lies, how these foundations both inhibit and advance our understanding whilst remaining absolutely essential as an anchor from which to venture forth in a meaningful way.

I have purposefully posted this in “General Philosophy” even though it may seem like it should be in the religion forum as I am going to take a look at one paricular concept; the concept of “god”. The reason for this is I want to explore the non-religious equivalent, and will be referring to Mircea Eliade’s The Sacred and The Profane which has helped me express and better form a way to express my view of a concept of “god” that neither requires any particular theistic or atheistic inclination. The challange I have is bring the staunch minded on each end to come to a common concept (so you needn’t refer to this concept as “god” but it is part of a broader human requirement as far as I can tell - no need for metaphysics though.)

[A]

We all have a sense of existence. We may not spend much time contemplating our existence or even think about what “existence” means or whether such a questions about “existence” even make sense. What is clear - I hope - is that when things in our lives don’t go according to plan, or certain expectations are not met, we experience a certain void creeping around us in the form of uncertainty. Some shun uncertainty more than others, and each of us regardless of our fortitude cannot cope with the complete destruction of our plans and expectations: to be more concise I am talking about our understanding of the world (including people and all other natural phenomenon) when I say “plans” and “expectations”. Take a tribesman out of their world and bring them into an alien city-scape then you’ll see how an individual’s knowledge and expectations can be shaken up.

For the more profane of us I could also say imagine waking up tomorrow to hear on the news that Saturn or Mars had simply disappeared. No doubt the scientific community would assume some kind of optical illusion brought about by some previously unknown phenomenon had taken place and not that a whole planet had simply vanished. Don’t worry I am not suggesting that this could happen and it is precisely the seemingly vast improbability of such an occurance that shows the foundations of embedded human expectation and plans - yet such a physically remote phenomenon is not masssively impactful upon human living in any immediate sense (much like the intial investigations into atomic structure until they brought forth technological leaps that directly affected huamn life - importantly both negatively and positively)

The positive aspects of human experience are like a drug of confirmation. We reinforce our current understanding so our world view is not shattered (no one can cope with a shattered world view.) As an extreme instance if the foundation of the physical sciences became impractical, if basic mechanical laws and our ability to measure simple physical interactions didn’t meet certain standards (margins of error) then all scientists would be thrown into complete turmoil because their understanding of the world would no longer mirror the actual phenomenon even though the day previously it did.

This little scenario (ridiculous as it is) shows what many have referred to as the “axis mundi”, the pole upon which we anchor our position in the world. If you remove the “axis mundi” you effectively remove the anchor of human understanding. If we have nothing to work from to compare perspectives everything is thrown open to interpretation with no given explanation holding more weigt than any other simply because what you thought you knew as foundational has just been shattered before your eyes.

Another subtler example of this obviousness would be to talk about routine. I am sure we all have certain routines in our lives and, if you’re old enough and you’ve lived long enough, you’ve no doubt found yourself having to adjust to circumstances you’d previously have deemed “unlivable”. We can adjust to a degree and adaptability is a great boo of the human intellect. Regardless there is a limit to the amount and intensity of change we can handle.

Back the concept of “betterment” as “god” and “progression.” I am not saying that the “axis mundi” is “god”, that our foundations are “god”. I am just pointing out that if you wish to speak to someone with drastically different views then understand that what you’re saying may be too threating to them, and even that your reactions to such alien views may even be too threatening to yourself. We cannot reconstruct our world view over night and to do so would be deeply unwise imo.

The concept of “god” as use to limitation and exploration. This is something very much from Eliade and I was happy to find his articulation of my ow thoughts. Basically this is a reference to sendentary life. Here humans capture part of the world and create their own sense of “godhood” (or if you prefer, create their own field of play.) With the selective partition of space we come to gain mastery over our “home” (literally or in the broader sense of our world.) When we walk across the threshold of our homes we enter our domain, a place where we are masters and surveyors of all before us. Our expertise within this limited space enforces our sense of influence which we can then take out of our limited experimental workshop and apply to the world at large. All limited space is essentially an experimental area for us to practice and act out ideas and see what happens. What works we keep doing and by repetition certain habits of life (in the home, in the forest, among the tribe, in the city, within school, etc.,.) becoe more refined toward this or that actions and within each habit an area of exploration and possible expertise exposes itself to us as a challenge to take up. We effectively take on the role of “god” to some degree. We aspire to know more and work toward “betrerment” by applying our foundational experiences beyond their immediate understood limitation (hence the overwhelmingly obvious success of the scientific method.)

In area of human activity whee we can make accurate measurements and deeper investigations we take up a sense of certitude almost comparable to theistic ides of “god”, although our certitude is forever and knowingly limited within a certain scope. As the field of science broadens its horizons - as it must necessarily do with vigor - its reach beyond physics encounters phenomenon not seen within the “homestead” and at this level discrepancies emerge (science because “wetter” as they say.) This does not under value the importance of the foundation merely expresses, as it does in nature, a certain limit of one aspect - that being our need for a way to “domesticate” these less measureable areas of investigation (not that for a second I would suggest that physics is absolutely understood anymore than any of us would say we have complete rule and lordship - to a godlike degree - over our own homes.)

If you’re open enough none of this should be particularly new yet I hope seeing reiterated does some good to someone and is of some use to them.

From here it should be easy enough to appeciate that someone may refer to another as having “science” as a “god”. In the above sense that is precisely the case. The main difference seen in science is the objectivity the requirement to steer clear of assumptions as best as possible. If we look at the social sciences we can easily see VERY wet conditions in terms of scientific methodology and accuracy. It is deep within the subjectivity of human life that theistic ideas focus too. There is a strange constrast between psychological principles both through a scientific lens and through a more “religious” lens. The quality of “existing” is the primary function of humans and within this “existing” an idea of “betterment” moves us to act out certain ideas and make progress. To what end?

We are born, we live life and see things we admire. We try to attain something of this “admired” quality in life. We have many different things we admire in life from the apparent personal aspects of people - our perceptions may fool us - the joy of attaining a degree of understanding, and the learning/refinement of skill/s. Exploration is the key factor and it appears to me however the concept of “betterment” is framed (be it as an ideal being, a far reaching and adaptable method of investigation) the underlying principle is that from where ever it is we’re anchored by our “axis mundi” we’re always attempting to set out a healthier way (individually/socially) to explore beyond our comfortable understanding whilst retaining enough grounding so as not to be set adrift in a nihilistic meaningless abyss AND, counter to this, not set enough if our ideas to remain unmoving whilst the world morphs around us.

As modern shamans in the world we need not plant of sacred staff on land where good hunting has take place, or where the birth of a child happens. We need not always adhere to the positive moods we experience as the be all and end all and found our homes on sacred grounds where all these happy memory are embedded. It takes a certain mindset to strive out to the site of death, murder or rape and make our homes their. To build on the bad memories and make “better” memories to show we need not live with a sense of foreboding just because the current situation looks dire. It is better to face a problem than avoid it, yet we all know we cannot face every problem immediately. We need to be equipped and ready knowing that failure doesn’t mean we’re losing or that we’re winning, only that we must try to find out our personal limits and how much we’re willing to risk for “betterment”.

To tell a story written by a budding anthropologist ... A tribe wandering after the destruction of their home follow their shaman. He plants his staff in the ground and from this they set to build a new home. The next day the staff is broken. The tribe falls into a paralysis. The shaman leaves and then returns with a new staff and a story of how the staff was cursed and a new one had to be forged. He tells of his journey and fills the tribe with awe and the people feel the dispair of their situation and are brought to understand why such calamities have befallen them. With new found fortitude the shaman tells them that they must inhabit this cursed land in order to bring positive spirits back. Their struggles in life are now explained. The misfortunes suffered by them are soldified and transmogrified into a positive outlook. It is put to them to do “better” to face up to the task of battling against the apparent misfortunes they’ve suffered. They’re told by the shaman that he is to blame, that he misread the signs of the spirits and that mistakes will be made again and again, yet they must stand and fight. They must together work out a “better” way together and makes this fearful land a safe one so that their tribe and other tribes can walk here too without beig plagued by evil spirits.

As a parallel to this story a certain scientific study may reveal results that were completely unexpected. They may even refute exactly what the scientists originally thought and provide evidence to back up theories they’d previously dismissed. It is no different to the story above only that a community of scientists don’t live in the world as a tribe of people. The greatest advance humanity has made is the progressive annulment of a tribal mentality. What we’ve yet to understand i sthe complexity of such social dynamics and ways to refine social cohesion. It is in the grounding psychology of “existence” the possession of meaningful recourse in the world that we seem unable to agree upon.

A meaningful path to “betterment” is what seems most lacking in the world; at least within large scale society. Science is a tool and god is a tool. They are both ways to appropriate toward an overrding force of human nature that we’re required to discover or die trying. Our zest for exploration needn’t be founded on anything other than pure curiosity and interest in what lies beyond the threshold of each of our mental homesteads. I don’t think being a prisoner in our own homes nor being a vagrant roaming like a mindless beast are good options. It is sometimes difficult to even tell which one we believe we’re doing - I know myself that I’ve met people who think they’re open to new things yet really whilst they proclaim such a personal philosophy they are acting out a different story and fortifying their already sturdy walls against some imgained threat (and do I do the same? Do you? Or is our caution too subtle?)

The overriding concept of “god” is not something other, or unlimited. It is no more than a representation of our known limits enmeshed with what we could be beyond those known limits.

If you’ve gotten all the way through thanks for reading. All comments welcome. I set out to write something quite different yet this is the way it went.
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Eduk
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Re: Concepts and perceptions of betterment

Post by Eduk » September 7th, 2018, 3:48 am

I heard an interesting story the other day. Columbus found himself stranded because he was low on provisions. So he asked the locals to give him some. They refused. So he said my God is more powerful than your God and to prove it he will make the moon dark and then blood red. Of course Christopher had the eclipse charts and the locals did not. He ended up with the provisions. I assume some of the locals starved, although that's unknown.
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Re: Concepts and perceptions of betterment

Post by Steve3007 » September 7th, 2018, 3:58 am

...Of course Christopher had the eclipse charts and the locals did not. He ended up with the provisions. I assume some of the locals starved, although that's unknown.
I've heard other similar stories like that about other people putting the fear of God into people by predicting eclipses. Nice idea, but they always seem a bit apocryphal to me. I travelled to the US (Wyoming) last year to see the solar eclipse there. It takes a hell of a lot of time and effort to get yourself into precisely the right point in time and space to be able to tell people that your god is going to eat the Sun unless they give you what you want. Probably easier just to nick stuff. Although I suppose lunar eclipses are more common.

Burning ghost
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Re: Concepts and perceptions of betterment

Post by Burning ghost » September 7th, 2018, 4:21 am

Eduk wrote:
September 7th, 2018, 3:48 am
I heard an interesting story the other day. Columbus found himself stranded because he was low on provisions. So he asked the locals to give him some. They refused. So he said my God is more powerful than your God and to prove it he will make the moon dark and then blood red. Of course Christopher had the eclipse charts and the locals did not. He ended up with the provisions. I assume some of the locals starved, although that's unknown.
I wonder if he’d simply made a bet about this whether it would’ve paid off? No doubt his arrival was quite shocking in and of itself with his strange attire and alien ship.

They probably died of disease more likely, not famine. The effect on the population of americas aborigines is unknown. A whole amazon kingdom in Soth America was thriving before the arrival of Europeans. It is only within the past few decades that people have been able to recover some inkling of what there was before.

Anyway, do you think my little attempt above is reasonable enough? Is there anything that seems misplaced or obtuse?
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Re: Concepts and perceptions of betterment

Post by Eduk » September 7th, 2018, 5:10 am

My intended point was that I don't think religions conception of God and the scientific method are the same thing.
I mean I totally agree there are a lot of parallels and areas which seem to overlap (a bit like intelligence and wisdom). And I agree with a lot of what you are saying about the uses of the scientific method and the uses of religion, that both are tools.
Religion to me is a form of philosophy. A way to live your life. To ground your life. To apportion value.
The scientific method is a methodology. If it is a philosophy then it is an epistemological philosophy (which I have called it before, but that is slightly stretching the meaning of the word). However the scientific method does not apportion value, it does not replace wisdom. Philosophy is still one hundred percent required in order to apply the scientific method to areas of interest.
To give an example. QM is a popular scientific theory which makes many predictions on our natural world. It is of massive practical use. But what does QM tell us about the nature of reality? Basically absolutely nothing. Although people will claim that QM supports almost anything you can imagine.
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Burning ghost
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Re: Concepts and perceptions of betterment

Post by Burning ghost » September 7th, 2018, 5:57 am

Eduk -
My intended point was that I don't think religions conception of God and the scientific method are the same thing.
I don’t either. I was not making that comparison in what I wrote. I was specifically looking at the ground level of people’s views of the world - be it mystical, religious or scientific, it is in every case a reflection of a set way of being - the “anchor” the “axis mundi” or however else you wish to express it (the base psychological condition of being; whatever it may be?)

I guess my view of the theistic view is that it is precisely this “axis mundi” that is beig expressed through some symbolic form or another. Regardless we all have it and all have certain “unfounded” (meaning sub/unconscious - matter of fact/“brute fact” - foundation upon which conscious being lies.)

Eliade’s The Sacred and The Profane is not about, in any way whatsoever, a comparison ad constrast between religious and scientific attitudes. It is the preconditioning of the modern age to almost constantly frame any discussion in this area into an all or nothing battle. I find it an extreme distraction from a careful and considered look into human nature and how we establish any basis of understanding - that is through movement between different concepts, which are extended through time and space (eg. “There is a book on the table,” is not expressed with a singular concept, yet experientially we don’t have to comprehend each item as atomized - I went into this further in another thread I believe it is titled “An Attempt at Philosophical Writing” or somethign like that.)

In the above respect the term “god” and “betterment” are quite similiar. They are not to be attained nor understood, lnly striven for. In a way I am sayign something that many would perhaps (if they were so inclined in certain religious circles) call “blasphemy”, because I am saying we’re trying to oust the idea of “god” acting it out - something here I can relate to with Geertz at a later date and/or Piaget’s work on child development.

In this abstract sense “god” would be the best way to marry our social capacity with the world about us. The major factor for me is the polar ends of this in regards to the “individual” and “society.” This is where Jung’s investigations become really interesting when you come to understand about his theory of the process of “individuation” - how “better”/“worse” nature is played out in our own heads and personified, thus reflecting common themes in all cultures about “good” and “evil”, “heaven” and “hell”; of course the common pattern in the west is the Christian version.

It is this that I feel splits us in two directions. The “betterment” of self and the “betterment” of others. One plays into the other and within each the pattern goes on like a fractal; only with subtle variations between indivduals that translate into groups, and I’d argue within too, with vying components of ourselves - here I playfully think of “I am legion, for we are many” haha! ;)

Anyway, tangents are an issue for me! I’ll get to Geertz and his definition of “religion” within the next few weeks I hope. It’s an attempt to define “religion” without using spiritual terms. What he came up with is very much in line with what I’ve laid out here.
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Re: Concepts and perceptions of betterment

Post by Eduk » September 7th, 2018, 2:06 pm

I'm not sure there is a scientific outlook, or a religious outlook or a mystical outlook.
There is a rational outlook and there is an irrational outlook, on a spectrum.
There is also the unconscious outlook. What the unconscious outlook does is not deliberate (by definition). For example let us imagine you are somewhat open to believing anything which doesn't contradict a current belief and your belief comes without meta belief. In this scenario you will simply be religious if your parents are and not if they aren't. As is the case with the vast majority. Personally I seem to have been born with meta belief in that I can act as if I believe something without needing to actually believe it, you could call this proportional belief but it's not so simple it's just a recognition that belief shouldn't be absolute.
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Re: Concepts and perceptions of betterment

Post by Burning ghost » September 7th, 2018, 2:38 pm

Of course there are not really different “outlooks” in that sense. There is a human outlook. Nothing more, nothing less. I wouldn’t even go so far as to say “rational” and “irrational” because that is a whole other story.
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Re: Concepts and perceptions of betterment

Post by Eduk » September 7th, 2018, 2:49 pm

That is interesting actually. Obviously people will massively disagree what is and isn't rational. But is rationality more like formal logic or maths which is objective? Of course the value of being rational is subjective.
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Re: Concepts and perceptions of betterment

Post by Eduk » September 7th, 2018, 2:51 pm

BG. I seem to be missing your point in all this. Could you give an example which demonstrates what you mean. I'm not even sure you are asking a question?
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Burning ghost
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Re: Concepts and perceptions of betterment

Post by Burning ghost » September 7th, 2018, 2:59 pm

About what? Rationality? I agree with you. It’s subjective when it comes to day-to-day life because day-to-day life involves ethical/moral problems.

Or did you mean question in the OP? No question, just wanted to express more thoroughly the concept of “god” I referred to fleetingly in another thread and exactly what it was I was getting at.
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Re: Concepts and perceptions of betterment

Post by Being_1925 » September 30th, 2018, 5:15 pm

For an all-mighty and all-knowing god it makes no sense, to create animals and foolish people, not even for the fun of it. So it must be matter itself that has an interest in creating animals and foolish people. As matter equals energy and as energy is invisible, it had to come out of this invisibility, with creating the elements, out of subatomic particles. With the ideal condition for organic life on the surface of the earth, first came the plants and then with enough organic matter, we have hundreds of millions of years, where animals evolved. The only way a greater organic mass could come to be, was first plant and then animal.


Now we have man and it depends on the human mind to find ways for the betterment of the human condition. Jesus was for the betterment of the human condition.

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Re: Concepts and perceptions of betterment

Post by Greta » September 30th, 2018, 9:10 pm

Many people are loathe to abandon the familiar, as you note. Over history religions have played a major role in societies that progressed from the caves to skyscrapers. Many figure that it works, also on a personal level for many, so why not keep up with a good thing?

Others look at the fantastical claims of religions and simply cannot believe that anyone in the 21st century could believe such things. Then came the homeopaths, tinfoils and the flat Earthers to render Sagan's famous prediction about future America surprisingly accurate.

After all these years I still cannot understand how an adult could truly believe in virgin births, miracles (eg. loaves and fish) and resurrections. We don't believe in Zeus, Odin or Apollo either. I can understand people claiming to believe those things so as to gain acceptance from the crowd, but not to truly believe them as historical fact.

It seems to be that religious people are usually just as fearful of death as the non religious, which tells me that many are actually agnostic but publicly choose the religious side for the clear(ish) boundaries and stability, along with social and networking opportunities. One would expect those people to have a more insecure response than their more devout peers when challenged on matters of faith.

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Re: Concepts and perceptions of betterment

Post by Burning ghost » September 30th, 2018, 9:32 pm

Guys, come on! Address the OP please.
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Re: Concepts and perceptions of betterment

Post by Greta » October 1st, 2018, 12:22 am

Some give and take might keep the crew keen.

The notion of God is clearly just a reflection of our perception of potentials. It's an ideal that must vary from place to place and time to time. It's unreasonable to expect some objective measure of "betterment" in large complex societies where people have variant wants and needs; the best that can be managed is a majority vote.

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