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Beyond the chattering mind.

 
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Peter Blumsom



Joined: 09 Mar 2007
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Location: Wembley, London, UK

PostPosted: Sun Dec 25, 2016 9:05 am    Post subject: Beyond the chattering mind. Reply with quote

Listening to the carols from King’s College Chapel last night I was reminded of something an architect friend told me many years ago: that above the fan vaulting beyond the vision of the upward looking worshippers far below was a special chamber filled with sculptures of angels, themselves looking upwards in dedication to God. Whether this is true or not it did make me wonder what it meant to dedicate an action or even part of an action, to something the world will never know about. This is particularly difficult in our modern age when access to self publication is so easy and so encouraged - although many have found that making known to the world what is hopping around on the surface of the mind often leads to embarrassment, even occasionally landing us in trouble. But this is not a new problem, it is merely amplified by contemporary technology. Here is an old Zen story that deals with the inability to dedicate to the inner life.

The pupils of the Tendai school used to study meditation before Zen entered Japan. Four of them who were intimate friends promised one another to observe seven days of silence. On the first day all were silent. Their meditation had begun auspiciously, but when night came and the oil lamps were growing dim one of the pupils could not help exclaiming to a servant: “Fix those lamps.” The second pupil was surtpised to hear the first one talk. “We are not supposed to say a word” he remarked. “You two are stupid. Why did you talk?” asked the third. “I am the only one who has not talked.” Concluded the fourth.

This is, at one level, an amusing homily which we can all identify with, but there is a philosophical significance hidden in its kernel. Socrates, in Republic tells us that Justice for the individual is ‘minding one’s own business’ – no easy task, yet how can the ideal society work when we are trying to advise everyone else what to do, yet taking no heed of what is given to us to look after.

Plato, himself, in his Seventh Letter takes this to another level entirely:

Every existing object has three things by which we can come to know it. First is its name, secondly its definition and thirdly its image. This arising knowledge then becomes the fourth. But then, above all these, is the object itself.

Plato declares that the thing itself is above all its aspects, and that includes knowledge. Yet if it is above knowledge it cannot be explained, and being self-substantial, it needs no explanation – no web of words can ever do it justice for it ‘minds its own business’, and this, I suspect, is, to the Christian mind, that to which the sculptors at Cambridge dedicated their work, God Himself.

(The Zen story is no. 71 from Zen Flesh, Zen Bones. The Plato quote os seriously simplified yet contains, I believe, the essence of its meaning. Socrates definition of Justice is from Republic, Book Four, 441d - but you have to read on a bit to get the full import of this.)
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Tim Addey



Joined: 13 Aug 2007
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Location: Dilton Marsh, Wiltshire, UK

PostPosted: Fri Dec 30, 2016 4:57 pm    Post subject: Proclus on the approach to the Ineffable Reply with quote

There is a rather beautiful passage in Proclus' Theology of Plato (Book 2, ch. 11) in which he looks to our affinity with the highest principle (beyond the first order of Gods who establish pure being as the basis for the intelligible world) and who is to be approached in silence:

"Let us now therefore, if ever, abandon multiform knowledge, exterminate from ourselves all the variety of life, and in perfect quiet approach near to the cause of all things. For this purpose, let not only opinion and phantasy be at rest, nor the passions alone which impede our anagogic impulse to the First, be at peace; but let the air be still, and the universe itself be still. And let all things extend us with a tranquil power to communion with the ineffable. Let us also, standing there, having transcended the intelligible (if we contain any thing of this kind,) and with nearly closed eyes adoring as it were the rising sun, since it is not lawful for any being whatever intently to behold him - let us survey the sun whence the light of the intelligible Gods proceeds, emerging, as the poets say, from the bosom of the ocean; and again from this divine tranquillity descending into intellect, and from intellect, employing the reasonings of the soul, let us relate to ourselves what the natures are from which, in this progression, we shall consider the first God as exempt. And let us as it were celebrate him, not as establishing the earth and the heavens, nor as giving subsistence to souls, and the generations of all animals; for he produced these indeed, but among the last of things; but, prior to these, let us celebrate him as unfolding into light the whole intelligible and intellectual genus of Gods, together with all the supermundane and mundane divinities - as the God of all Gods, the unity of all unities, and beyond the first adyta, - as more ineffable than all silence, and more unknown than all essence, - as holy among the holies, and concealed in the intelligible Gods."
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Peter Blumsom



Joined: 09 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 30, 2016 7:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It is a passage worth savouring, to be sure. I believe, Tim, you once explained, on this forum, the difference, for Proclus, between intellectual and intelligible. It might be worth rehearsing that again, when you get a chance.
Pete
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Tim Addey



Joined: 13 Aug 2007
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Location: Dilton Marsh, Wiltshire, UK

PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2017 7:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Briefly, the intelligible is that order of things which are knowable, while the intellectual is that order of things that know. Following Parmenides' doctrine of Being (his poem On Natures affirms, "It needs must be that what can be thought and spoken of is.") The Intelligible order is the order of Being as not only underlying the existence of things, but also their knowability: in the Platonic tradition this order arises first after the divine which transcends all conditions of being - including pure being itself.

The intellectual order follows after the intelligible order - it is reality considered as reflecting upon the intelligible: but everything that knows must be before it knows - therefore it is secondary where the intelligible is primary.

In the theology of the Platonic tradition, as outlined by Proclus in his masterwork The Theology of Plato, every order of reality (there are six in total from one point of view, or four from another) is brought into existence and ruled over by its own Gods. These Gods spring from the Ineffable One (see book six of the Republic where the Good is said to be beyond essence, being and intelligibility). All the Gods share in themselves the ineffable and occult nature of The One (or The Good), but because they bring into being all the orders of existence their nature is implied by the nature of their productions - and from that point of view they are knowable.

In terms of their productive powers, the Gods which are closest to the One are the Intelligible Gods and hence as Proclus urges us towards the ineffable and absolutely transcendent One, we must understand it as a Sun shedding light through these, its closest natures. For in the sixth book, Plato has used the analogy of the Sun as the best (if inadequate) means for understanding that first Principle. Hence Proclus says, "let us survey the sun whence the light of the intelligible Gods proceeds"
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Yuri Leonardas



Joined: 29 Jan 2012
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Location: Twickenham near London UK

PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2017 10:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
angels, themselves looking upwards in dedication to God. Whether this is true or not it did make me wonder what it meant to dedicate an action or even part of an action


If at all it was so that the innermost circle could enjoy a physical enactment of the occultation of the ministry of angels then that is whats called dedication. Along those sort of lines it is a very poignant way to symbolise core teaching if so if considered as a powerful statement that way. More extreme perhaps are the seemingly pointless shafts on Pyramids for example - they really baffle as very painstaking and difficult features that cost much extra time and labour and are so unlike a known design feature that even today nobody has a decent weak hypothesis on them. But there seems to be an element of going to great trouble to encapsulate belief by them being hidden within religious structures - maybe there is even a tenuous link to why very ancient people made impossible to decipher cave paintings should these have made them feel closer to something immense even without having yet evolved human skills to build - & being unable to speak or make much yet other than minor weapons of destruction.

In very early cases of cave art the beginning of the emergence of language has been considered but negated. Perhaps though this needs to be reconsidered if early humans were actually quite self aware beings or had begun to be driven by the perceptual. It should not be impossible for instance that their could have been a pre-language period where the evolving mind having begun to leave behind pure hunter gathering. Maybe could reason quite well with divine matters even - but had not organised sufficiently in order to vocally communicate. It is not unreasonable that vocal chords may have been held up by nature until the more full conscious human mind was ready to be evocative with them. But really - that is how adaptations occur in any case.

If so - this would actually be consistent with many of these artworks as they can show crude mathematics along with scenes of beasts and hunting, and perhaps this is someone saying 'i am more than this' ?. ( and i was minding my own business deep this cave ).


Quote:
Socrates, in Republic tells us that Justice for the individual is ‘minding one’s own business’ – no easy task, yet how can the ideal society work when we are trying to advise everyone else what to do, yet taking no heed of what is given to us to look after.


I feel that modern society is moving more and more away by violating thresholds. Sometimes we use very useful dissonance in order to say how surveillance will help make us safe. But that is also an establishment nosey state narrative along with its intentions to sell the copyrights to the snooping to private companies ( modern penological enterprise ). All very well - perhaps at the great human cost of incursion into Liberty.


Socrates always seems like a man who extrapolated his human morals over a very long term philosophical plan. He would calculated necessity - cause - effect then reasonably predict the cost to ideal society. His persecutors disliked this faculty greatly for they wish to appear wise through very much shorter term policy for social enterprise & simply Socratic ideals were rarely lucrative - just ethical.

Socrates might calculate what X = Affect in 300 years time, and reasonably for this kind of faculty to have flourished within socrates, it greatly suggests that he like Plotinus perhaps was talented at understanding immortality. He could 'care' about the state of the race long after he would be dead.

In fact arguably this impulse is not only a great obstacle to most it defies reason in most. For socrates though - it would defy reason in even attempting to be fluid in philosophy should the ideal be lacking.

Without attempting absolute demarcation and differentiation then, it can appear that socrates would habitually attach to the conscience in a great many of his morally & ethical linked expressions. These tend to thus occult themselves somewhat. If this is then aded to the time scale upon which he might have expected maters to descend into decadence - then again we see how the opposite end of his reasoning method is itself shrouded in mists.

As far as his initiates are concerned - The State now just as it did then always maintains a substantial body of its own scholars who will quietly advise on what it might consider sedition or dangerous sub culture ( OFC ).

He seems to have tended to use a clever bifurcation whereby he might proceed to amplify his meanings on one hand, - always making his best attempts to be understood. But simultaneously he would note who found the concepts challenging - thus supplying himself with sophisticated ladders of philosophical intelligence with regard to the mapping of his pupils He would then go off and think deeply again on how to re-aaproach the pupil - and i feel that this among other qualities made socrates special.

If so it harbingers the question as to whether quality of conscience can be learned given that socrates seems to imply that 'minding ones own business' can in instances means refrain from judging tendencies of mind. While in a state context performing actions which impugn matters of personal conscience. Possibly it can be highly influenced, and also perhaps judgement of conscience has a place in modern penology should we consider the need to realise why the psychopath committed murder so that a categorisation can be made. Socrates though would deplore the ingress of such judgement without excellent reasons like those, whilst states tend to feel such appropriate as it pleases. For he this inner sanctum had to be allowed to remain pristine otherwise corruption by the corporeal world would multiply within the conscience.

State - teaching society to venture into our most preciousnesses in order to divide and rule the inner being.

Thus within the humblest of opinions - a very great obstacles exists for all in coming to reasonable conclusions regarding the greeks should we find this type of fair in the mind irrelevant whilst it could also be true to say that should it be ( relevant ) - then there could be a large strata of inner wealth by which socrates intended the gates of reason to be protected.

Quote:
nor the passions alone which impede our anagogic impulse


Precisely - it seems socrates felt that such impulses could minimise the neuropathy into quintessential thinking compared to incorrigible ways which might simply Maximise them. In other words - where precision with philosophical logic could have facilitated good situations more like 1 strong consistent conscientious process by virtues which would enhance ones ability to make reasonable conclusion in all things. Corruption of the mind - ( as socrates would calculate it ) - instead avails too many branches and grand detours based upon non virtuous human purpose. This form of social conscience lacked respect for innate privacy - and he saw it the responsibility of the state to refrain from this - & OFC - once the state believed socrates was being too effective they arrested him. The State today is using all kinds of intrusive politics in order to divide and rule - they will even use unauthentic versions of Plato's words to this purpose, but will rarely mention Socrates.

Quote:
Intellectual & Intelligible


Virtuous comment pre-exists in most innate ways among both your previous remarks. Though i'd add that a version in the abstract broken contexts of state. For socrates may have turned it on its head for occasions where he could consider the state unintelligible by failing to adhere to the true interlectual by having little respect of societies inner substances & thought its policing of Conscience.

Quote:
affinity with the highest principle



Again precisely


Yuri
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