Wednesday, January 26, 2011

primal roots

1. Who were the classic American thinkers? What did they come to realize about "progress"? How did they "converge" with Black Elk? What was their response to Cartesian modernism?


2. "________ is the earth, the sky, our bodily selves in the surprisingly full amplitude of their ensemble. It is the hidden centrality of the earth." (5)


3. Where do pragmatists say we must begin, in our philosophizing? What is the "American evasion of philosophy"?


4.To what esteemed indigenous figure does Wilshire compare William James? What does James "put us in touch with"?


5. James's emphasis on pure experience and rejection of truth-as-correspondence points to the future, and to what else?


6. What did John Dewey mean by "quality" in experience? What was his view of consciousness?




4 comments:

harrison said...

Phil,
Unfortunately I was unable to print the Primal Roots article and will probably will not have it all read by classtime. Nevertheless, what I was able to read is fascinating. One of the best formulations of these ideas I have ever been exposed to can be found on youtube at "Alan Watts, Conversations with Myself 1&2". I would like to request that we watch these in class if we can find the time. What sets this exposition apart is that it is Native Wisdom removed from it's Native context and put into language that the most hardened Cartesian progressive materialist would understand, and thus cannot easily dismiss as New Age hocus pocus as they are so wont to do. Also, Watts is just plain fun!
-Harrison

Phil said...

DQ-Scientists what to know what in nature is orderable, predictable, and quantifiable. We must appear to our selves as those who order, predict, quantify, manage and control."

Let's take a composite cone volcano for example. These volcano's erupt explosively and are scattered throughout the North West Cascade region. All the Geo scientists in the world cannot tell you when exactly a composite cone volcano will in fact explode. All the scientists have to go on is the Volcano's past history of active and dormant states of being. With these observations the scientists then try and 'guess" when the next explosion will occur. All of their "science" and "technology" can't even begin to predict not only when the volcano's will blow but how much devastation will occur. The scientists are forced, even with all of their fancy equipment, to sit, watch and wait for the show.

Is the need to know Nature from a modern scientists point of view rooted in the need to control Nature? -Meghan

Phil said...

Good question. Pragmatists like James and Dewey think of knowledge, even consciousness itself, as a practical response to more-or-less urgent needs foisted upon us by life and our various environmental challenges. "Control" may be problematic and illusory, but understanding and (in the late Richard Rorty's preferred terminology) "coping" seem nothing less than what we need to do in order to survive and flourish in tandem with the planet that is the only home we've ever known. To be at home here we need to "know" Mother Earth as intimately as we can.

Phil said...

Alan Watts, William James, Black Elk... they all celebrated immediacy and mistrusted the cultural filters we place between ourselves and the rest of nature. And, notice: they all contributed significantly to our cultural heritage.

Glad you mentioned the Watts conversations, Harrison. They are fun, and I was struck be the computer references back in '71. I know that would have been the last thing on my mind, then. (Of course, I was in High School. Lots was not on my mind!)

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