Vaniver

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[Prediction] What war between the USA and China would look like in 2050

I'm thinking about Weimar Germany to Nazi Germany, or (the reverse) Imperial Japan to Solid-State Electronics Japan.

Consider this claim from a recent SSC book review contest entrant, describing the Bretton Woods arrangement:

The deal offered benefits not only to England, France, and the Allies, but also to Japan and Germany that they couldn’t have even hoped to achieve had they won the war. 6

6 Apparently Germany and Japan would have found it to be unbelievable. “The primary reason Germany and Japan had launched World War II in the first place was to gain greater access to resources and markets. Germany wanted the agricultural output of Poland, the capital of the Low Countries, the coal of Central Europe, and the markets of France. Japan coveted the manpower and markets of China and the resources of Southeast Asia. Now that they had been thoroughly defeated, the Americans were offering them economic access far beyond their wildest prewar longings: risk-free access to ample resources and bottomless markets a half a world away. And “all” it would cost them was accepting a security guarantee that was better than anything they could ever have achieved by themselves.” 

It seems to me there are positional status questions--is China just a participant in America's world, or is it the Middle Kingdom?--but I think it's hard to see a situation where China is better off annexing countries to be recalcitrant provinces rather than just trading with them while they're American allies and protectorates. (Like, it's really not obvious that China is better off with a conquered Korea than it is with a neighboring Korea.)

The Argument For Spoilers

I think it's pretty easy to separate things I've recommended to people as "better spoiled" or "better unspoiled"; so long as my threshold / reason for thinking this is sufficiently similar to abramdemski's, then I should be able to freely spoil for him the art that I think can be spoiled with only minor costs (compared to freely spoiling all art).

[Lecture Club] Awakening from the Meaning Crisis

Episode 50: Tillich and Barfield

Then I pointed to somebody whose work, also deriving from Heidegger, integrates aspects of all of these together in kind of a profound way. Tillich is deeply influenced and aware of what he calls 'depth psychology', the kind of psychology in Jung, he of course is deeply aware of Heidegger. I don't think that Tillich was aware of Corbin, but he is deeply aware of the symbol in an imaginal instead of a merely imaginary way.

Tillich takes the meaning crisis seriously, he writes perhaps his most well-known (and I think it's a masterpiece) book, The Courage to Be, as a response to the meaning crisis. Like Jung and Corbin, and for very related reasons, he's deeply critical of literalism and fundamentalism throughout, but he takes it deeper. As I mentioned, he really deepens it in terms of Heidegger's critique of ontotheology and he comes critical of literalism and fundamentalism as forms of idolatry in which we are attempting to have rather than become.

So there's some excellent books on the relationship between Jung and Tillich, a series of ongoing work by John Dourley; I recommend two books to you, The Psyche as Sacrament which I tweeted about in my book recommendations, I would also recommend his later book, Paul Tillich, Carl Jung, and the Recovery of Religion, but make no mistake, Dourley is not talking about a recovery in a nostalgic sense. He writes another book called A Strategy for a Loss of Faith where he is trying to get beyond classical theism. So I recommend Dourley's work as a comprehensive way of bringing about a deep dialog and a kind of integration between Jung and Tillich.

Tillich sees the main response to the meaning crisis, and here's how Tillich is not just theorizing: he is trying to give us guidance on how to live. Let's remember that this really matters, because you know, the way Tillich resisted the Nazis. What Tillich talks about in The Courage to Be is *courage*, now he's careful to note that this is a kind of existential courage that ultimately allows us to confront and overcome meaninglessness in its depth, but also to more practically respond to perverted response to the meaning crisis itself, like Nazism and its gnostic nightmare.

This process of encouragement--now, he is like Aristotle, he's not talking about something as simple as just bravery (facing danger) or fortitude (the ability to endure), no, for Tillich courage is a virture. There's something of wisdom in courage. Courage involves within it that central feature of wisdom, which is seeing through illusion into reality. The brave person face danger, but that's all we can say about them. The person with fortitude endures difficulty, but that's all we can say about them. The courageous person sees through the illusion and the distortion of fear or distress to what is truly good and acts accordingly.

[Lecture Club] Awakening from the Meaning Crisis

Episode 49: Corbin and Jung

So last time we looked in depth at Corbin and Jung and tried to draw very deeply the notion of the relationship to the sacred second self. I launched into a sort of mutual criticism between Corbin and Jung and brought in some Buber along the way.

The summary at the beginning of the next episode pretty quickly shifts to new material, so here's the key quote according to me:

Freud has a Newtonian machine hydraulic model of the psyche. Jung ultimately rejects that; Jung replaces the hydraulic metaphor with an organic metaphor. He sees the psyche as a self-organizing dynamical system, ultimately as an autopoetic being, so he sees the psyche as going through a complex process of self-organization, and that you have to understand individuation as this kind of organic self-organizing process that you neither make nor receive but you participate in.

[Lecture Club] Awakening from the Meaning Crisis

Episode 48: Corbin and the Divine Double

So last time we followed Heidegger into the depths, where we encountered Eckhart and this non-teleological relatiosnhip to the play of being. That led us very directly into Corbin, and Corbin's core argument that gnosis (as we've been using it), the ability to engage in this serious play, relates centrally to the imagination. 

But Corbin is making use of this term in a new way; he makes a distinction between the imaginary (which is how we typically use the word "the imagination" and mental images in my head that are only subjection and have no objective reality) and the imaginal (which mediates between the abstract intelligible world and the concrete sensible world, and transjects between the subjective and the objective). All this mediation is not done statically, but a mutual affordance is done, and an ongoing transformative transframing, and that the symbol captures all of this.

Then I wanted to bring out Corbin's core symbol, and it's a core symbol that relates directly to gnosis. Because in gnosis (transformative participatory knowing), and this goes to the heart of Heidegger's notion of design, the being whose being is in question. We have to see self-knowledge and knowledge of the world as inextricably bound up together in order to do that; we are purusing Corbin's central symbol, the angel.

Which, of course, is immediately off-putting to many people including myself. But I've been trying to get a way of articulating how Corbin is incorporating both Heidegger and Persian Sufism, Neoplatonic Sufism into this understanding of the symbol, and I recommend that we take a look at the historical work showing how throughout the ancient Mediterranean world, and up and through the Hellenistic period and beyond, up until about the 5th century of the common era, there's the pursuit of the divine double. The idea is one that is deeply transgressive of our cultural cognitive grammar of decadent Romanticism, where we are born with our true self that merely needs to express itself (a la Rousseau), and that the core virtue is authenticity, which is being true to the true self that you have, that you possess. Rather than, for example, a Socratic model in which the true self is something towards which you are constantly aspiring.

The transgressive mythology is that the self that I have now is not my true self. My true self is my divine double; this is something that is superlative to me, it is bound to me, it is my double. It is bound to me but is is superlative to me; it is both me and not me. It's me as I'm meant to be, as I should be, and that the existential project is not one of expressing a self that you have but of transcending to become a self that is ecstatically ahead of you in an important way.

Then I pointed out that for many of you this would still be "okay, I get the transgression, but I still find this notion of a divine double unpalatable." Maybe for some of you you don't, but nevertheless I think there's something important to asking the question "why did so many people for so long believe in this aspirational process?". This takes us back into work that was core to the discussion I made about gnosis, and it has a resounding impact at various places throughout this series, which is L.A. Paul's work on transformative experience, and then somebody who's from the same school, influenced by Paul while having a different view as Paul, her transformations are more like insight: Agnes Callard's notion of aspiration is much more developmental, but I argue they can be (I think) readily reconciled together if you see development as a linked sequence of insights to bring about qualitative change in your competence.

[Lecture Club] Awakening from the Meaning Crisis

Episode 47: Heidegger

So last time we were trying to understand Heidegger's work as a prophet (in the Old Testament sense) of the meaning crisis. We took a look at this notion of "the thing beyond itself" and "realness" as simultaneously the shining into our framing and the withdrawing beyond our framing in a deeply interpenetrating manner. We took a look at this deeper notion of truth--not truth as correctness, but truth as aletheia, that which grounds the agent-arena relationship in attunement and allows us the potential to remember being by getting into an attunement with its simultaneous disclosure and withdrawal.

But we can forget that; we can get into a profound kind of modal confusion and this is the history of metaphysics as the emergence of nihilism. We can forget the being mode, we can get trapped into the having mode in which the metaphysics is a propositional project of trying to just use truth as correctness, and we misunderstand being as a particular being. We try to capture the unlimitedness aspect of being, but we only do it at the limit (which Heidegger is deeply critical of). So we understand being in terms of a Supreme Being, a being at the limit, and beyond the limit. This is ontotheology; we understand God as the Supreme Being and this is deeply enmeshed (for Heidegger) with nihilism, because this ontotheology, this version of theology from classical traditional theism, this way of understanding being gets us into the deep forgetfulness and modal confusion that is the hallmark of nihilism.

Of course, we could perhaps remember the being mode, and this is what Corbin (following Heidegger) talks about as gnosis.

[Lecture Club] Awakening from the Meaning Crisis

Episode 46: Conclusion and the Prophets of the Meaning Crisis

Last time I finished the discussion of wisdom and connected it to enlightenment and argued for the wise cultivation of enlightenment as our deepest kind of existential response to the meaning crisis, a way in which we can awaken from the meaning crisis. I then wanted to put that scientific model of spirituality (for lack of a better phrase) into discourse with some of the central prophets of the meaning crisis. I'm using the word prophet as it's used in the Old Testament; I'm talking about individuals who were crucial for articulating the advent and helping to propose or promise a response to the meaning crisis. I put a diagram on the board in which Heidegger played a central role; there's many connections in there that I'll point out that I will not be able to fully address, because the people are there insofar as they help us articulate the response, not to be examined for their own sake.

I mentioned the work of Nishida and Nishitani in the Kyoto School; I will talk briefly about Nishitani here but I won't be able to go into that in depth. I do intend to pursue this later in another series I'm putting together (I'm putting together a couple of series to follow this one) and I would like to do a series that will include work on the Kyoto School that I've entitled The God Beyond God, in which we look at all of these great non-theistic thinkers within both Eastern and Western traditions, and things like the Kyoto School that tried to bridge between them. So I will have to neglect (to some degree) the Kyoto School in this series but I promise to follow it up more deeply in another series.

The first 45 lectures have been, to some extent, "how did we get here, and where is here anyway?", and these remaining five lectures are something like "what do other people think about being here?" This episode mostly touches on Husserl (who doesn't really make it into the summary at the beginning of the next episode).

MIRI location optimization (and related topics) discussion

I think Singapore is very high on my "city to do finance in" list and not very high on my "naturey place to do thinking in" list, and as pointed out the LGBTQ acceptance is probably low enough to dissuade some people from going there.

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