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Well, “Another Story” started celebrating Columbus-Day-In-Reverse over the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend:


photo taken on the eve of — Oct. 9, 2016 Sunday

Canada and the US share the same history with the same implications of celebrating, “being grateful for last year’s harvest” (the official meaning of our Thanksgiving in October, their in November). The connection to land, therefore “settlement” on it when it was neither “discovered” per se, nor terra nullius (Lat. “empty land”) as such.

BUT, history does remember occasions when Indigenous people were invited to celebrate with the newcomers, and there’s also the Indigenous tradition of thanksgiving and renewing relationships with land and every (both “living” and “non-living”) thing on it.

so, indeed:     Happy Indigenous Land! — Every Holy Day

It may be an oldie for some, but Dr Devra Davis’s 2010 book & audio recording is worth the read-listen. Its longish title is its annotation

Disconnect:

The Truth about Cell Phone Radiation and Your Health,

what the Industry has Done to Hide it, and

What You Can Do to Protect your Family, Line

If not the whole book, give a listen/watch to YouTube 1h vid of June 30 212 talk @ National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS):

Or check out the transcript of a public talk in 2012

http://ehtrust.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/transcriptdrdevradavis04apr12NIEHS-talk.pdf

So, the keywords:

  • “replenish” — term sums up human-human relationship as per Jean Vanier’s book Becoming Human
  • “heartmindfully” — term translates citta = heart + mind + not forgetting the body
  • “to the 7th generation” — metaphorizes the long-term Indigenous responsibility for thought and action

Replenishing One Another

Heartmindfully, to the Seventh Generation

To explore the question of how cross-cultural knowledges can inform the directions and modes in which the human potential of individuals and their communities could unfold, the present paper samples paradigms within the Buddhist and Native North American traditions, and further expands the “difference” taxonomy with the philosophy behind Jean Vanier’s L’Arche network of homes for the disabled. The comparative exploration of such purposefully chosen disparate epistemic-experiential spaces shows that they in fact have in common relatedness to Self, Other, and broader ecosystems. What is more, their overlap matches aspects of Western paradigmatic rebellions such as feminism, ecological and systems thinking models, critical (race/equity) theorizations, a.o., and harkens to the pragmatism of Peirce, James, and Dewey.

The noted overlap is proposed as what can make a difference in education (institutional and life-long) by orienting it toward a world-wide consciousness shift for mutually beneficial thinking-feeling-acting. This is in tune with scholarly efforts that have yielded approaches/models such as Claudia Eppert’s (2010 & elsewhere) “intercultural healing ethic”, Daniel Vokey’s (2001) “moral discourse in a pluralistic world”, Scott Pratt’s (2002) “rethinking of the roots of American philosophy”, James Tully’s (2009, 2014) Indigenous-knowledges informed “public philosophy”, or Jean Vanier’s (1998/2008) tao of “becoming human”.

Starting with Buddhism, its multiple streams (the earlier Theravada Buddhism, the later Tibetan Buddhism, or Zen Buddhism), generated over a period of more than 2,500 years, has a relatively long tradition of exchanges with the West. As far as current insights about concrete applications in educational settings, a number of scholars have engaged key notions like “mindfulness” (in Pali: sati), “heartmind” (Pali and Sanskrit: citta), or the four “divine abodes” (brahmavihāras), commonly rendered as “compassion”, “equanimity”, “lovingkindness”, “sympathetic joy” (in Pali: karunā, upekkhā, mettā, muditā, respectively).

While mindfulness, with its relatively Buddhism-independent status in e.g. current neuropsychology and psychiatry, may not even qualify as cross-cultural translation (of sati) because it misses its content (see Don Nelson, 2010, for the “scientific approach” relying on brain state neurophysiological assessments in D.J. Siegel, 2007, a.o.), there are other notions which seem to exemplify that. A good illustration is the nondualistic “heartmind [and body]” (citta, as in bodhicitta), which, being a single word in Pali, lends an extra leverage to Claudia Eppert’s (2010) de-dichotomization project, and by extension to her argument for citta-informed “heartmind literacy” that, compared to the well exercised “emotional literacy”, is, one might say, a few steps ahead on the way to restoring humans to wholeness, and education to a matching mode.  In a similar vein, Mary Jo Hinsdale (2012) proposes an “ethic of love” to guide the interactions of a professor with her students (and vice versa, I’d add), whereby she replenishes Kelly Oliver’s “theory of witnessing” with the divine abodes, foregrounding “lovingkindness”. Just as Eppert, gaining conceptual-affective traction from Buddhism, argues for a revisioned “heartmind literacy” and also opens up the understanding (Nussbaum’s, a.o.) of the closely related notion of “compassion”, so does Hinsdale enrich Oliver’s argument, and her own, for a view of Self-formation that entails “mutual subjectivity” rather than being bound by the standard, descended from Hegel, of identity-building by way of “recognition” predicated on strife/confrontation.

In a cross-cultural dialogue, the Buddhism scholars discussed above are building bridges to ultural traditions from the “third world”, whether at its original geographical location, or transposed to any other point around the globe by migrants. By giving dignity to culturally distinct knowledges, and thereby to the Others that embody them and to the embedding cultures, the authors can be thought of as contributing substantially to Eppert’s “intercultural healing ethic” project.

Similarly valuated flows can be tracked in Scott Pratt’s argument for a pre-contact “Native pragmatism”, which foreshadowed the classical pragmatism of Peirce, James, and Dewey. He conceptualizes four foundational principles that drive it, namely, interaction, pluralism, community, and growth. By closely following the historical record of exchanges between Indigenous peoples of the American North-East and European settlers, he projects a connection, however indirect, to the founders of American pragmatism, in whose later philosophies he sees the four principles resurfacing. Thus, in a radical move, he puts Indigenous knowledges and their embodying humans, not just on a par with (post-)settler America. In effect, he aligns them with the original colonizer, Europe, whose cultural elites treated the New World as an intellectual clone at best, and first peoples as epistemologically (and even bodily) invisible, only giving grudging (if any) recognition to pragmatism as the first properly American philosophical approach. Taking a look at the West Coast, Richard Atleo, among a growing number of Indigenous scholars, has shown that the Nuu-chah-nulth worldview of tsawalk, or “ontological unity” (a.k.a. interconnectedness), can go far in suggesting an ecologically oriented way of being in the world, informing public activism and state policy (cf. Tully’s public philosophy). As is well known, a number of Indigenous nations pledge responsibility for the world, as the idiom goes, “to the seventh generation”.

Switching situatednesses from the ethnic-political to the embodied, through his work with L’Arche homes for the disabled, Jean Vanier develops a philosophy that is very much in line with the deeper relatedness message of the previous theorizations. “Becoming human” shapes up as the process that teaches one to love difference and its presumed uncanniness/inferiority as well as, and, conversely, to believe in oneself and in the possibility and reality of being loved despite one’s difference.  Far from surprisingly, Vanier shares that the able-bodied and privileged can learn how to give love to the least attractive, in what can aptly be described as the “to and fro” of relationship that is mutually replenishing.

To conclude, in establishing a common denominator the juxtaposition of concordant “old” and “(re)new(ed)” knowledges of relatedness to Self, Other, and the rest of (a)biotic Nature may be downplayed as a cliché (cf. the so-called Golden Rule of loving one’s neighbour that is cross-culturally pervasive). However, I propose to treat the established convergence as an affirmation of a “real would-be” (in Peircean terms) and an opportunity for a turning point in human history. By this token it becomes a promising, edifying (in Rorty’s 1979 terms), formal and public education agenda for the directions and modes in which to think, feel, intuit, act,… and ultimately live-with, and live on.

 

References

Atleo, E. Richard a.k.a. Umeek (2004) Tsawalk: A Nuu-chah-nulth Worldview. Vancouver and Toronto: University of British Columbia Press.

———- (2011) Principles of Tsawalk: An Indigenous Approach to World Crisis. Vancouver and Toronto: University of British Columbia Press.

Eppert, Claudia (2010) “Heartmind Literacy: Compassionate Imaging and the Four Brahmavihäras”, Paideusis 19, no 1 (2010), pp. 17-28.

Eppert, Claudia and Hongyu Wang, eds. (2008) Cross-cultural Studies in Curriculum: Eastern Thought, Educational Insights. Mahweh, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum/Routledge, Taylor & Francis.

Hinsdale, Mary Jo (2012) “Choosing to Love”, Paideusis 20, no 2 (2012), pp.  36-45.

Nelson, Donald (2010) “Implementing Mindfulness: Practice as the Home of Understanding”. Paideusis 19, no 1 (2010), pp.  4-14.

Nhat Hanh, Titch (1998) Interbeing: Fourteen Guidelines for Engaged Buddhism. Berkeley: Parallax Press.

Oliver, Kelly (2001) Witnessing: Beyond Recognition. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Pratt, Scott L. (2002) Native Pragmatism: Rethinking the Roots of American Philosophy. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.

Rorty, Richard (1979) Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1979).

Tully, James (2009) Public Philosophy in a New Key. Volume I: Democracy and Civic Freedom, Volume I I: Imperialism and Civic Freedom. Cambridge University Press.

———- (2014) On global citizenship: James Tully in dialogue. London: Bloomsbury Academic.

Vanier, Jean (1998/2008) Becoming Human. CBC Massey Lectures Series. Toronto, ON: House of Anansi Press.

Vokey, Daniel (2001) Moral Discourse in a Pluralistic World. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.

If you’d recall, my 1-page Ecosonance thesis (versions 2010-2012) was furnished with a 1-line abstract earlier this year, in the shape of a reinterpreted E=mc^2 (3MT talk, March 19, 2014).

Elaborating on the semiotic reassignment in operation, I repurpose the E (energy) to stand for “Ecosonance”, which, as you’d recall, stands for ecological attunement. Indeed for “Existence”, whereby

  • E-cology maps interrelatedness at any point in time (invoking spatial configuration)
  • E-volution projects the historical unfolding of ecological relationships (invoking temporal progression)

So an overlap of Ecosonance – Ecology – Evolution … Existence

The corresponding reinterpretations of the “m” (mass) and the “c squared” (speed of light, assumed to be a constant) on the right-hand side of the “equation” are as follows:

  • m(embers) of an ecosystem, or of any divisible (in some sense) entity,
  • “multiplied” by (subject to)
    1) the c(ombinability) a.k.a. relations obtaining among them, “squared” for emphasis, you might say,
    or,
    recalling the “constant of change” to capture Gregory Bateson’s idea, e.g. in Nora Bateson’s documentary about him, An Ecology of Mind (see my presentation of it),
    2a) the c doubled in the two (at first look mutually exclusive) senses of “c-onstant” (harkening to the constant-status of the speed of light) and “c-hange” (bringing in the Time factor, contained in physical Velocity).
    or
    2b) the c doubled in the senses of combination of entities/relations/events undergoing change (which happens to be a consonant of Existence)

The above semiotic reassignment involves, on some level, reversing of the equation’s broader cultural symbolism. That is, what stands for advanced, and largely inaccessible to the lay person science. It has moreover come to invoke nuclear reaction , hence the horrific destructive power of technoscience. SO there is a reversal in at least two senses — by the ES-reassignment,

  1. on one level, what is a mathematical formula loses its quantificational status — gets De-quantified — as a statement of redress of (one could say) the mythical power of Reason – Science – Numbers…
  2. on another, the equation is invested with an ecological interpretation, and message, for an oh-so-needed Human Consciousness Shift.
    (NB! In the interest of history, the breakdown of the atom was not a “scientific fact” at the time Einstein derived the formula, and radiation, although empirically detectable, had no “scientific explanation”)

In sum, the intent is to subvert the scientization drive that has dominated the “Western” imaginary for quite some time now, and to bring it around to reading the philsophy of Ubiquitous Interrelatedness that, by the way, underlies the mathematics of Quantum Physics as well as the Special and the General Theory of Relativity.

For, after all, shouldn’t it be possible for a few philosophically loaded terms
to manifest the Truth-power of a few mathematical symbols,
and to impact society commensurately?

YouTube credit: uploaded by laurent puechguirbal August 2013

Read the rest of this entry »

…to which I owe the links for Peirce’s terms synechism (conceptualization of {absolute} chance) and tychism (conceptualization of {universal} continuity) in my previous post. Peirce alternated the latter concept with agapism (cosmic love).

What’s really rewarding for the web-browsing eye/mind is that some of the papers presented at Club meetings/conferences are accessible through their website here. They have been able to attract “names” in semiotics/related fields of exploration.

As to the online dictionary of Peircean terms, I’d consider it a special strength that it comprises original Peirce quotes to illustrate each entry. Kudos to its editors, Mats Bergman & Sami Paavola and its contributors:

The COMMENS Dictionary of Peirce’s Terms. Peirce’s Terminology in His Own Words (If u want to contribute quotes: use the form)

Starting with the term “commens” itself as an especially apt name for the website:

“…that mind into which the minds of utterer and interpreter have to be fused in order that any communication should take place … may be called the commens. It consists of all that is, and must be, well understood between utterer and interpreter, at the outset, in order that the sign in question should fulfill its function.” (Charles S. Peirce, 1906, emphases by Ecosonance)

Following a blogging break, I’m as happy as I’m relieved to say that, after multiple versions since over a year ago, the modest 8 pages + Refs are out in the webo-sphere:  CJC Vol 37, No 3 (2012)

The issue is titled “Digital Life,” which–ironically–is very true of the possibility of biotechnological virtualization of our species, and of all the rest, naturally.

The gist of it all is that, leveraging off Becoming Biosubjects: Bodies. Systems. Technologies by Neil Gerlach, Sheryl N. Hamilton, Rebecca Sullivan, & Priscilla L. Walton (Toronto Uni Press, 2011), I visualize an existential continuum of all “known” levels of (non)bio-morphological complexity, mapping onto it macro-biological subjectivity, micro-biological and genetic subjectivity, and geosubjectivity.

If the first two kinds can be subsumed under the “biosubjectivity” represented in the book, the third corresponds, for example, to the hydroelectric plant on the Rhine river being subject to “Enframing” (per Heidegger’s classic “The Question Concerning Technology” [Die Frage nach der Technik] ) or the planet’s climate being pushed out of balance, at least in part, due to earlier as well as more recent artefactual technologies.

The necessity for an ecological-evolutionary ethics becomes clear, since it could (and should, like a vast number of other human thought media) provide guidance to human thought and action in relating more wisely, and in fact fairly, to ourselves as well as any other co-member of our shared ecosystem–biotic and abiotic alike.

*     *     *

I have to thank the editors for including in the opening paragraph of the essay the news that the book has been awarded the 2012 Gertrude J. Robinson Book Award of the Canadian Communication Association–I couldn’t agree more with the choice.

*     *     *

new terms:

biosubjectivity – per the book relates to subjectivity that comes specifically with genetic technologies, in the latter part of the 20th century; to my mind, staying with the meaning of the lexical components, the term can encompass any kind of biological subjectivity, from the macrobiological to the gene/submolecular level.

geosubjectivity – applies to the abiotic component of the planet (and beyond, if we have to be thorough) and seems like a fit coinage to complement my broader use of biosubjectivity, so that the submolecular – planetary stretch of the existential continuum gets “covered.”

eco(logical)-evolutionary ethics – the composite qualifier foregrounds the organic entanglement of ecological interdependencies and evolutionary consequences, which ethics can be recruited to keep healthy, or at least healthier.

update: March 31, 2012

Well, since no one has the time to really read into what is written, as closely as a literary critic might, I thought I’d serve something really compressed. A lot goes on in the tweetosphere, brevity is becoming the prevalent email and conference presentations ethics, there are already tweet-length novels being published… For a couple of years now I do not think I have come up with anything more essential and far-reaching, which hardly needs more words. What I find especially significant, it has always been “old knowledge” to the species, very obvious, too, even if we have somehow consistently failed to actually implement it.


working on it 🙂  … the (rationale for the tweet-size) doctoral thesis, that is.

considered calling this post “An Apology for…,” but decided to keep the title the same as the official version, to avoid any mistaken readings of a defensive stance on a point that dos not need “defending,” just exposition and appreciation.


I cannot believe, what a good conversation I am having with WP! Consider the comment on this post:

Sometimes when I think how good my book can be, I can hardly breathe. — Truman Capote

update Jan 26, 2012:
In addition to the renewed HBC store master card the other day, a National bank manager called today to say that the bank’s mistake has been corrected, and the limit restored to what I had before the “incident.”

As you can imagine, I am doing the ecosonance tune-up routine, developed in my doctoral thesis of January, 2012. 🙂 That aside, the principles on which the credit machine operates pose a lot of ethical-philosophical questions, for financiers and for us customers.


Case Study I

Today, Zellers restored the strore MC that had been cancelled.

That happened basically because I had not been using it “enough.” [undefinable quantity] A while back, when I made a purchase at a high price relative to income, and Zellers had a promo through the MC, I decided to put the purchase on the card. I could not. The card had not been extended after a date by which I had had to call them, confirm, or something. As I talked to progressively more senior supervisors, I finally heard that “yes, I see this-and-that, I see you made purchase, but you paid off right away (!!!)”

Case Study II

A couple of years ago my regular master card lost credit limit. I had neglected to pay the annual fee of $20.00 for 90 days+ (!), so my limit was brought down to a hundred and fifty dollars. [shock!!!] It did not matter that I had had a good balance pay-off record. It did not matter that the amount was only $20.00. It did not matter that that was an “annual fee,” and since I had not made a purchase, I would not have been expecting to have to clear balance at all. It did not matter that some credit card accounts waive annual fees altogether. What mattered, an instructive, short-tempered voice at the other end said, was BEHAVIOR.

I was careful not to use the card for perhaps over a year. When I called to have my limit restored, for “good behavior,” you understand, I was told that I had no proof I am a …[disciplined???]… customer. I had not made ANY purchases. I had no record to judge buy [kinda like this typo, so leaving it as is] if I am “reliable” or not.

I understood I have to make purchases and pay them off within deadlines for awhile, to earn “reliability points.” It was not clear how long and how many points. Of course, the credit bureaux still had a black point for me.

Development to Case Suty II

Now that I got back my store card, I decided to call the National Bank again. I asked to speak to the most senior person I cold possibly speak to, related the “case” yet again. It was acknowledged that I had made purchases and paid off on time. However, since I called at a time when a supervisor was not available, I was asked about a “convenient time to call.”

For the record, I stated that I have “philosophical, if you like” objections:
1. If I had been apprised about the rule of credit record creation, instead of NOT using the card I would have used it.
2. I can accept suspension based on tardiness.
3. However, irrespective of whether the rules of the bank consider “behavior” and not literal amount, for a regular person the amount of $20.00 IS minimal. AND, annual fees are “waive-able” (one might guess, if there is good behavior on record, and similar)
4. I have been a customer for about 15 years. Went at some point in the past through a rough student period* but cleared that up. (Learned about the “7 years” rule.) I cannot accept that I would be “punished” for the “wrong” kind of good behaviour. If there is penalty for a rule you were not apprised of, so that you can observe it, that has the taste of UNFAIR. For the regular person, and common sense.
5. This is a principled issue, since there would be others in the position of guilty-and-punished-without-being-given-any-notice. Imagine someone very young, who does not know ANY of the “rules” above, and thus totally defenceless. They may not even be able to phrase what it is that feels SO unfair.

Should it be the (credit card) case that the more one needs money, the more one needs to pay?! Of which system the banks are ONLY a link, not THE system.

So, awaiting conversation with supervisor. If they cannot “resolve,” the next step is “mediation,” I was told. Will there come a time for SYNTHESIS after the multiple rounds of THESIS and ANTITHESIS?

* That was when—being “overqualified” with 2 MAs AND guilty of “pursuing a PhD”—I could not find an entry-level job, and was practically ineligible for jobs “with qualifications” in the absence of an “employment record.” [that word AGAIN] The local bakery had a job sign for over a year, got from me several resumes. Never called back. Resorted to evasive tactics when I was asking to speak to the manager/owner, and explaining to a potential colleague how I love decorating cakes. I DO, actually.

WP’s comment on this one:

My ideas usually come not at my desk writing but in the midst of living. — Anais Nin

ES: but of course 🙂

Jan 32, 2012 update: a few edits

Below is what Charles Sanders Peirce wrote shortly after William James died in 1910. James, 3 years his junior, whom Peirce survived by 4 years, was the one who gave him more support than anyone else (Josiah Royce being in the picture, though much less robustly), including generously giving him full credit for the founding of pragmatism, as well as literally making the movement count, in a big way, by the turn of the twentieth century.

His comprehension of men to the very core was most wonderful. Who, for example, could be of a nature so different from his than I? He so concrete, so living; I a mere table of contents, so abstract, a very snarl of twine. Yet in all my life I found scarce any soul that seemed to comprehend, naturally, [not] my concepts, but the mainspring of my life better than he did. He was even greater [in the] practice than in the theory of psychology. [6.184] (cited after Burks 1996, p. 341, edits in source)

I am citing the above after Arthur Burks, who is one of three editors of the impressive 8-volume Collected Papers of Peirce. The notation [6.184] refers to volume number and paragraph (I think), which can be looked up in volume 8 containing the bibliography.

Taking this opportunity to quote a self-reflective Peirce, who by the way, shared James’s belief that psychic phenomena can provide (the hallowed) empirical evidence of the reality of the Divine/a deity:

I say to people–imaginary interlocutors, for I have nobody to talk to,–you think that the proposition that truth and justice are the greatest powers in the world, is metaphorical. Well, I, for my part, hold it to be true. No doubt Truth has to have defenders to uphold it. But truth creates its defenders and gives them strength. The mode in which the idea of truth influences the world is esentially the same as that in which my desire to have the fire poked causes me to get up and poke it. There is efficient causation and there is final, or ideal, causation. If either of them is to be set down as a metaphor, it is rather the former. [8.272] (from a letter to James, cited after Burks 1996, p. 346, italics in source)

I say to people–imaginary interlocutors, for I have nobody to talk to–is the part that really GOT me. Especially in view of the context. James, a highly regarded academic at Harvard, Peirce–for all the credit James, Royce, a.o., gave his genius–never held an academic position after the relatively brief contract at John Hopkins. Most of what he wrote failed to attract the favor of publishers, until the resurgence of interest in pragmatism toward the end of the twentieth century. Both Peirce and James had to handle serious ailments for the duration of their lives. Peirce trigeminal neuralgia since his late teens, an extremely painful condition caused by a facial nerve, which pushed him to counteract it with tobacco, alcohol, morphine… James was fighting neurasthenia. In the case of Peirce, personal suffering combined with “a very snarl of twine” of a personality (per quote at top), in James’s case, apparently, with understanding and compassion.

Yet, judging by their respective writings, Peirce was James’s equal in his understanding of how interdependent humans are on one another, even if from his more of a logical-cosmic perspective. Regarding the (epistemological human-cosmos) realm that he cared about the most, he multiply stressed that Truth/Reality cannot possibly be achieved by an individual, but can only be the outcome of an enterprise of an “infinite community” of human knowers. Likely of scientifically minded, inquiry-motivated ones, given Peirce’s penchant for the discipline and beauty of logic and the natural sciences.

to be continued…


WP’s last 2 acknowledgements:
Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.
— Isaac Asimov
That isn’t writing at all, it’s typing. [it was copy-paste-deleting, actually, i.e, current post re-posted with edits; LOL at the thematically attuned random choice]
— Truman Capote

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