The following definitions of terms will become important to understand during the anti-intellectual and anti-progressive reign of Trump: a racist and sexist bigot, an authoritarian demagogic, an angry, vindictive, arrogant, thin-skinned, fact-free fabricator of lies, a petulant, erratic, and self-inflated egotist with a simplistic black and white worldview and fifth grade vocabulary, a narcissistic sociopath who admires autocratic authoritarians and who prefers “subjects” to “citizens.”
It is a profound error of judgment to “normalize” Donald Trump or assume that he is going to “pivot” to becoming tempered, wise, balanced and presidential now that he has been elected. He intends to continue appealing rhetorically to hate and fear among the working class white populace and the corrupt plutocratic libertarian GOP fully institute his radical “alt right” agenda.
In electing Trump under our Electoral College system our great American Democratic Republic may have committed suicide. For at least the next four years we can expect to witness a vast accumulation of wealth, privilege, influence, coercion and power that concentrates itself around the “Trump Empire” in both its political and economic forms. Donald Trump is and has always be for Donald Trump. Ready or not, the rest of us are going along for the ride.
DEFINITION OF NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY DISORDER
Inflates talents and success and expects to be noticed as better than others.
Is absorbed with notions of his or her own great and endless success, power, genius, beauty, or ideal love
Believes he or she is “special” and unique, and can only be known by or relate to other special or high-status people.
Requires others to admire him or her on a constant basis.
Believes he or she deserves or is owed special treatment or that others should comply quickly with his or her demands.
Exploits or takes advantage of others to achieve his or her goals.
Lacks concern or does not notice others’ feelings or needs.
Envies others’ success or rewards, or believes that others envy him or her.
Shows an arrogant, haughty, snobbish behavior and/or attitudes.
Source: Understanding Mental Disorders: Your Guide to DSM-5, published by the American Psychiatric Association
DEFINITION OF SOCIOPATH
“Sociopath” was a term used in the past for a patient with antisocial personality disorder, according to MedicineNet. A person with this disorder shows a strong pattern of systemically violating and disregarding the rights of others, and he normally does not feel guilty when his actions hurt other people
DEFINITION OF WHITE NATIONALISM
White nationalism is an ideology that advocates a racial definition of national identity. These individuals identify and are attached to the perceived white nation. It ranges from a preference for one’s ethnic group, to feelings of superiority and forms of white supremacism, including calls for national citizenship to be reserved for white people
DEFINITION OF PLUTOCRACY
DEFINITION OF DEMAGOGUE
A demagogue /ˈdɛməɡɒɡ/ (from Greek δημαγωγός, a popular leader, a leader of a mob, from δῆμος, people, populace, the commons + ἀγωγός leading, leader) or rabble-rouser is a leader in a democracy who gains popularity by exploiting prejudice and ignorance among the common people, whipping up the passions of the crowd and shutting down reasoned deliberation. Demagogues have usually advocated immediate, violent action to address a national crisis while accusing moderate and thoughtful opponents of weakness or disloyalty. Demagogues overturn established customs of political conduct, or promise or threaten to do so. Most who were elected to high office changed their democracy into some form of dictatorship.
Demagogues have appeared in democracies since ancient Athens. They exploit a fundamental weakness in democracy: because ultimate power is held by the people, nothing stops the people from giving that power to someone who appeals to the lowest common denominator of a large segment of the population
DEFINITION OF NEPOTISM
Nepotism is favoritism granted to relatives. The term originated with the assignment of nephews to important positions by Catholic popes and bishops. Nepotism can occur in various fields including: politics, entertainment, business, sports, and religion
DEFINITION OF KLEPTOCRACY
Kleptocracy (literally “rule by thieves”)[ is a government with corrupt rulers (kleptocrats) who use their power to exploit the people and natural resources of their own territory. They do this in order to extend their personal wealth and political power. Typically this system involves the embezzlement of state funds at the expense of the wider population, sometimes without even the pretense of honest service.
Let’s not kid ourselves, friends. Dark days lie ahead for those of us who cherish the first amendment rights and responsibilities in a pluralistic and inclusive democracy. Conservatives and Liberals, Traditionalists and Progressives may need to join forces to resist the increasingly autocratic and authoritarian rule of a narcissist sociopath who would become America’s Strong Man, the Putin of the Western World.
Attached is the extensive power point presentation to the Osher Life Long Learning Institute ten week course on “The Human Quest in an Age of Confusion.”the-human-quest-in-an-age-of-confusion-copy
We live in the technological age of digital information and entertainment. We also live in an amused and distracted society of “bread and circuses,” of show business and media spectacle. These two statements are not unrelated to each other. The result of living in a show business and media spectacle society is the dumbing down and coarsening of personal reflection and social discourse. A society of thoughtfully reflective and liberally educated persons who value the serious life of the mind and the disciplined practice of civil discourse will produce a very different kind of society.
Perhaps nothing represents both the dumbing down of personal reflection and the coarsening of social discourse than the ravings of Donald Trump. He largely depends on creating endless controversy and feuds through Twitter and through calling in to the major media outlets to spread his ignorant, arrogant narcissistic and demagogic message of racism, resentment, fear and hate.
As the Huffington Post puts it, “Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to pan all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.”
My point is not to adopt a luddite view or to demonize our digital revolution. I welcome it and put it to use in my own life all the time. Rather, it is to point out that for those who lack respect for humanistic values, liberal education, cultural pluralism, civil discourse and democratic institutions, the digital revolution has made it astonishingly easy for those with the most hateful, violent, cruel and crazy views to use the loud-speaker of twitter and fabricated pseudo news stories to “control the narrative” and drown out all other voices than their own.
We live in a society that increasingly lives in the “shallows” of radio, TV and internet noise, trivia, sensationalism and chatter. We are forgetting out to think slowly and deeply about the great issues of life, about what it means to be a whole human being, to build a civil and just society, and to foster a verdant and sustainable world. We need to recover our ability to sustain our powers of attention and concentration. Both the habit of serious book reading, including the literary classics, and the art of critically reflective constructive dialogue serve to reinforce the rigorous life of the mind and the generous empathy of the heart. Attention to great music and the fine arts also serve to cultivate the finer qualities of enrich our common humanity.
Living in an information and entertainment digital technology society it not enough to nurture the life of the mind, the care of the soul, the opening of the heart and the awakening of the spirit. We need to recover the neglected wisdom of past generations. We need to learn how to slow down, to listen deeply, to calm the chatter and to see beneath the surface of things. This can be achieved through the habits of solitary sauntering, quiet meditation, broad reading , journal-writing, and conversational circles, as well as through exploring the vital domains of general knowledge such as history, myth, philosophy, religion, language, literature, music, art, science, technology, sociology, psychology, economics, politics, health and education, energy and ecology. A “great people” who are committed to cultivating the well-rounded life of the body, soul, heart, mind and spirit, and to working together with others in an open democratic society that celebrates both unity and diversity will not be seduced when an ignorant, arrogant, hateful and xenophobic demagogue comes knocking at their door.
The first ancient Greece philosophers thought that Fundamental Reality is one of the basic physical elements, like air, fire, water and earth, or all of them together.
Their offspring, the atomists, thought it is “matter” or “atoms”
Others have thought that it’s “energy” or “forces.”
Or maybe its a combination of matter and energy working together. Maybe matter and energy are just two aspects of the same reality, so that we get the hyphenated word “matter-energy.” When we think of prime reality as particles we call it matter. When we think of prime reality as energy we call it waves. So maybe it’s both-and, not either-or.
At the opposite end of the spectrum from the atomists are the idealists who think Fundamental Reality is, well, Thought, various called Idea, Form, Mind or Consciousness. Some have envisioned a single, universal transcendent Mind, whether personal (God) or impersonal (Godhead), or both. Others have envisioned many finite gods. Still others have imagined that there are many subsidiary and differentiated Minds or Monads, centers of sentience and/or conscience, even hundreds of billions of them throughout the galaxies, but that all of them are ultimate absorbed into the One Universal Mind.
Still others have thought that Matter and Mind are two different realities that have little or nothing to do with each other. Matter is the realm of immanent physical quantities. Mind is the realm of transcendent spiritual qualities. This view is known as metaphysical dualism. Descartes held this view..
And then there are those who think that Fundamental Reality is a synthesis of Matter and Mind, again two aspects of a single entity. So both sides are right, but there is one reality, not two. This view is called Neutral Monism.
Aristotle thought that Fundamental Reality is Being, and that Being is composed of Matter and Form, not either one separate from the other. This view is called hylomorphism.
In more recent times some have suggested that Fundamental Reality is Matter-Energy + Form-Process + Body-Mind + Identity-Relationships. Obviously this group is trying to have it all, to say “Yes, you’re all partly right” to many difference theories concerning the nature of Fundamental Reality. Both-And thinkers like it. Either-Or thinkers hate it. Both sides believe that reason and the evidence support their view and contradict the other.
It is not likely that this ancient and ageless philosophical question will go away any time soon. And it is equally unlikely that there will ever be anything like “universal consensus” when it comes to answering the question. It will remain a Mystery we continue to live with, even while there will be strong partisans who hold their views, some provisionally and others with evangelistic zeal. Materialists, Idealists, Dualists, Panpsychists and others will continue to probe the Mystery as if it were a philosophical or scientific problem that can be solved by our finite and conditioned but promethean and inquisitive human minds. Whether it can or will be “solved” remains an open question. I have my doubts.
In the “values clarification” tradition it is recommended that values (and beliefs) “be chosen freely, after thoughtful consideration, and among alternatives.” In that spirit I would like to offer an alternative worldview to scientific materialism and reductionism for your consideration. Rupert Sheldrake articulates such an alternative view in such books as Morphic Resonance: The Nature of Formative Causation, and Science Set Free . Here’s some biographical information followed by several reviews of “Science Set Free.” This book and the worldview it represents is at counterpoint to the two books referenced to Peter Watson in my previous blog. It’s important to offer “equal time” for different worldviews. This information is gathered from Amazon Books.
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“We all have assumptions that frame how and what we know; without them we couldn’t think at all much less discover a cure for Alzheimer’s. But assumptions can take on a life of their own and choke off the pursuit of knowledge; especially vulnerable are those who sit atop powerful hierarchies for long periods of time. The medieval Church required astronomers to assume that the earth was at the center of the solar system. Science overthrew such groundless imperatives but today seems unable to disenthrall itself from its own long and tautly held assumptions. In “Science Set Free,” Rupert Sheldrake names ten of these assumptions and explains, without raising his voice, why science needs to have another look at each one.
“His arguments make sense to me. For example, the first assumption Sheldrake takes on is the hypothesis of materialism: the idea that only matter and energy exist and that the cosmos is a machine with no original purpose and a bleak entropic future. Under this assumption, held as an unassailable dogma by science, existence is purposeless, consciousness is an illusion, we have no free will, and God is out of the question. These are not small issues.”
“Science Set Free takes us through the history of materialist theory, showing how it emerged in the Renaissance in a religious context, acquired self-confidence in the deism of the Enlightenment, and in the 19th and 20th centuries attained megalomania, leading to the notions of reality mentioned above. Sheldrake rejects materialism and depicts nature as an organic whole with boundless evolutionary potential. His arguments are based on the sound science in which he is grounded as a Cambridge and Harvard-trained biologist; but what I admire especially is that he is also a man of “scientia sacra,” which reveres the poetry and beauty of life and knows that there is more to knowledge than measurement.
By Pete Sargasso on October 3, 2012
1. Good writing. The sine-qua-non of all good books… and the test is that once started it is hard to put down.
2. Personal. One can feel the engagement of the writer in the prose. He is there in light touches of humour: but more importantly, he is there in his conviction, in his willingness to share data and in his reporting of the way his work has been marginalized – not because it is wrong- but because it challenges some of the current assumptions of Science.
3. Coherent Structure. All the chapters follow the same pattern, and this gives the book a special kind of unity. Each chapter begins with a question followed by a historical analysis of how that question has been answered in different epochs, and leading to an up-to-date analysis of the available data.
4. Superb bibliography. Enough reading here for a lifetime.
5. Breaks new ground. No one can tell where research will lead, but an openness to fresh ideas is necessary for progress.
6. Educational. Whether one agrees with Sheldrake or not, SCIENCE SET FREE serves as an introduction to many areas of scientific research. Where the jargon of science is necessary to avoid confusion, he explains not only the meaning of a given term, but its etymology. That is a courtesy to the reader and greatly facilitates understanding.
7. Interdisciplinary. The text moves easily from scientific research to conclusions from ancient and modern philosophy. Also, it is not restricted to one science but ranges from physics to botany, to the experiences of shamans, to telepathy, and yes, to religion somewhat…. Hence we gain a comprehensive picture.
“His arguments make sense to me. For example, the first assumption Sheldrake takes on is the hypothesis of materialism: the idea that only matter and energy exist and that the cosmos is a machine with no original purpose and a bleak entropic future. Under this assumption, held as an unassailable dogma by science, existence is purposeless, consciousness is an illusion, we have no free will, and God is out of the question. These are not small issues.“Science Set Free” takes us through the history of materialist theory, showing how it emerged in the Renaissance in a religious context, acquired self-confidence in the deism of the Enlightenment, and in the 19th and 20th centuries attained megalomania, leading to the notions of reality mentioned above. Sheldrake rejects materialism and depicts nature as an organic whole with boundless evolutionary potential. His arguments are based on the sound science in which he is grounded as a Cambridge and Harvard-trained biologist; but what I admire especially is that he is also a man of “scientia sacra,” which reveres the poetry and beauty of life and knows that there is more to knowledge than measurement.
“For those of us who are suspicious of the claims of materialism it’s astonishing, and also heartening, to hear a scientist agree that it’s a hidebound ideology, dismiss the belief in determinism as a ‘delusion’ and call on the ‘high priests’ of science to abandon their ‘fantasy of omniscience’.
“This all sounds rather rhetorical, but this is as polemical as his language gets; the book certainly has little about religion. For the most part it’s a dispassionate expose of materialism’s failures, and a plea for scientists to open up to new thinking. Despite his reputation as a heretic, gained from his controversial theory of morphic resonance and his psychic research, Sheldrake has impeccable credentials as a biochemist – Cambridge, Harvard, ground-breaking research and a stint in India helping to develop high-yield crops – that demand respect.
“Sheldrake identifies ten core beliefs that scientists take for granted:
“Each is the basis of a chapter, in which he draws attention to unresolved tensions, problems and dilemmas. Most scientists think these will eventually be ironed out. However Sheldrake argues they are symptoms of a deeper malaise, and that the failure of the materialist model to make good on its predictions will eventually lead to its demise.
A key idea for Sheldrake is the existence of information fields that act as a kind of universal memory.
The Modern Mind, by Peter Watson (2000)
The Age of Atheists, by Peter Watson (2015)
“As humanity (limited here to Western humanity) was losing the sense of certainty that came with a belief in God, with Nietzsche famously pronouncing His death, what was to fill that spiritual void? This is the enormous question tackled by English intellectual historian Watson. How have thinkers, artists, and others in a secular age sought to anchor humanity in relation to the universe? Watson’s breathtakingly vast coverage ranges chronologically from the immediate post-Nietzschean generation to the present, and culturally across an immense canvas, an encyclopedic who’s who in twentieth-century arts and sciences (and more) somehow confronting a spiritual vacuum in a period marked by two world wars, the Holocaust, a multitude of other horrors, and the atomic age. American poet Wallace Stevens thought that “in an age when God is dead, the arts in general, and poetry in particular, must take over.” What was created were not only lasting works of art but also, in aggregate, an anti-theology theology. Watson’s theme seems to be that an astonishingly broad spectrum of manifestations of the human spirit, in a human community, ground us in a less-certain world. His style, like many of those he discusses, can be recondite, but Watson’s encompassing treatment of a difficult subject, in a world growing no less uncertain, is impressive and, ultimately, reassuring.”
“Peter Watson’s hindsight, foresight and insight into the role atheists play in creating our cultures makes The Age of Atheists a must read. Readers will gain a deeper appreciation of the rich world in which we live.” (Charles de Groot, co-chair of The de Groot Foundation)
“Peter Watson’s book has made the extraordinary leap of assessing each of the 20th century’s important secular philosophic traditions. Along the way, as an ultimate reference, he has also given us the intuitive methods and insights of that century’s leading poets, painters, musicians and choreographers. Perhaps no one else at this moment has the background for such an adventure. Whether as a guide to the last century’s thinkers or as a reference to the insights of its artists, The Age of Atheists is an indispensable map to locate our present.” (William Kistler, poet and essayist)
“Watson’s encompassing treatment of a difficult subject, in a world growing no less uncertain, is impressive and, ultimately, reassuring.” (Booklist (starred))
“The beauty of this book is Watson’s ability to impose order on a riot of ideas…even the casual reader will find much to delight and enlighten as Watson elegantly connects the dots from Nietzsche and William James to Bob Dylan and jazz.” (Publishers Weekly)
“Highly readable and immensely wide-ranging….Peter Watson has produced what is, in every way, a big book, one that bears reading thoughtfully, with a pencil in hand. For anybody who has wondered about the meaning of life, and that pretty much covers everyone past the age of 12, discovering “The Age of Atheists” will be an enthralling and mind-expanding experience.” (Michael Dirda The Washington Post)
“A vividly engaging conspectus of the formative ideas of the past century, The Age of Atheists shows how Nietzsche’s diagnosis evoked responses in many areas of cultural life, including some surprising parts of the political spectrum.” (The New Statesman)
“An exhilarating ride through the cerebra of disparate men…who have tried to fashion a Godless yet nonetheless ordered and sustaining worldview. It is a topical book, to be sure, but also one that will stand the test of time as a masterful account of its subject.”