Tag Archives: René Descartes

Looking at a conservative review of Shop Class As Soul Craft

Some might think we are

“constantly striving to develop lives of meaning without any outside recourse. The soul is increasingly insulated from the world outside our heads.” {Against Kant and Consumerism}

but today lots of people strive to enrich themselves with material wealth and consider their live worthwhile when they can be more wealthier and better showing off than others. Lots of people think they miss enough money or enough gadgets to enjoy fully life. For many everything seems to turn around the gathering of as much money as possible.

Lots of people do not look for the depth of meaning of life and are not so much interested in the others around them and the influence or necessity of them for them.

thisissueappearsThe American Conservative in the May/June 2015 article speaks about Matthew Crawford his books “Shop Class As Soul Craft” plus “The World Beyond Your Head” and looks at ‘the subtitle to his latest book which promises a look at our “age of distraction“.

The article says:

The premise of Crawford’s book is that our distractedness is merely symptomatic of a deeper cultural defect, a misrepresentation of the self that has permeated our society. He traces this back to Enlightenment philosophy, especially the thought of Immanuel Kant. Enlightenment thinkers of the late 17th and 18th centuries presented a view of the person that contrasted drastically with medieval and ancient thought: they put unprecedented emphasis on the rational individual as separate from society or community. They posited new theories about freedom founded upon reason and self-determination, with epistemological roots in ideas such as Descartes’s famous claim that “I think therefore I am.” Kant believed that knowledge and ethics must necessarily be situated within the mind—that existence must be interpreted through the autonomy of the individual.

The writer thinks

The soul is increasingly insulated from the world outside our heads.

Whereas in the real world, Crawford writes,

“we are subject to the heteronomy of things; the hazards of material reality,”

and continues

what Kant has given us is our modern identification of freedom with choice, in which choice is a “pure flashing forth” of the individual will.

that identification of freedom with choice has been there already from the period of the beginning in the Garden of Eden. Man had the choice either to follow his Creator His Will or to go his own way. Man choose the latter.

Thousand of years later, many think the world around them limits them and nature is to  block  their leg.

dumb nature is understood to be threatening to our freedom as rational beings, it becomes attractive to construct a virtual reality that will be less so, a benignly nice [reality] where there is no conflict between self and world

How many people do not want to be on their own and have the world turning around themselves. For many it is most important that everything turns around their own “I” so that they can say with proud: “I am“.

The associate editor of  The American Conservative Gracy Olmstead writes:

Consumer culture tries to destroy the discomforts and imperfections that are necessarily part of life.

Is not there one of the greatest problems of our present society, which has put most of its hopes on the material things it can require to make its own. It is not that they want to hoard things, but they love to gather all the newest things so that they can show off against others who have to do with older things.

Though the writer of the article finds that modern cars are designed in an insulating and distracting way, we more see them as copies of each other not having any more the specific personality or difference as the cars had in the 1950ies, when each car looked so specific and really could get its fans for one or another model and each model with its own flashy personal colours. to us it looks like that car owners lost the interest to have a car or any other object (clothes, houses) that look very personal and have their won story to tell. People do want all the same and are willing to cue for the latest gadget. Everybody else has to be able to see that they have this or that brand and can afford this or that mobile or i-pad, which has to be of the latest and newest ‘invention’.

Concerning the cars we could agree with the idea the  critic has

Everything within a car is constructed to give a sense of isolation and ease.

When the author would mean that the person who is driving the car would like to have the feeling to being his own world, having his own little world where nobody else around is being part of it. When the music can play loud it does not matter that others can hear it in their bathroom or are whipped out of bed. It is there music and everybody else should have to hear that is the best music to listen to.

Naturally the cultivation of “me-worlds” extends beyond auto-mobile design, but form men this might still be the thing to make their ‘me’, though the i-pad has taken a lot of that place.

Olmstead finds that Crawford spends a good deal of the book arguing that an Enlightenment approach to epistemology leads to narcissism: an understanding of the world that revolves entirely around the self and writes

The narcissist “treats objects as props” and struggles to comprehend them as objects with a reality of their own. The fantasy of autonomy, when full-grown, results in a “project of open-ended, ultimately groundless self-making.” {Against Kant and Consumerism}

Interestingly, Crawford identifies our treatment of others as the root of online narcissism in the age of Facebook:

“We increasingly deal with others through representations of them that we have,” he writes. “This results in interactions that are more contained, less open-ended, than a face-to-face encounter or a telephone call, giving us more control.”

Automobiles, the reviewer says

“can foster circumspection—literally, looking around for others and regarding oneself as an object for others in turn—or a collection of atomized me-worlds.” Our experience becomes ever more “mediated by representations, which remove us from whatever situation we inhabit directly, as embodied beings who do things.”

Throughout the ages the world has received its many distractions. The tools may have changed but the aim and way has stayed the same. Today “virtual reality” allows many to find back lost friends or schoolmates and gives the opportunity to interact with more, and more diverse, people, not fewer and not more homogeneous.

For American society to emerge from the distractions of consumer culture and virtual existence

Ms Olmstead finds

we must look beyond the symptoms and consider the disease: the shroud of individualism that prevents us from fully embracing the real world.

The individuals looking for themselves to acquire as much material wealth as possible have to come to see that they would be better to work at their social contacts spending more time to be with each other in real life than in chat sessions, never going deep in a conversation. For sure we we must

cultivate an awareness of—and love for—the world beyond ourselves.

The Edge Foundation / Flickr

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Preceding articles:

Material wealth, Submission and Heaven on earth

Why “Selfishness” Doesn’t Properly Mean Being Shortsighted and Harmful to Others

The I Am to explore

little i

Path/Walk/Sink

Comic: The Last Time I Felt Accepted For Who I Am

Be realistic, do not pretend

The world starts with yourself

Believe in yourself!

Believe in your greatness

Find Inspiration and Follow Your Dreams

Wishy-Washy…

There can only be hope when there is a will to be and say “I am”

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Additional reading:

  1. Souls and Religions with Nirvana and light
  2. For those who make other choices
  3. Being Religious and Spiritual 1 Immateriality and Spiritual experience
  4. Detroit, A city not to be understood

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The I Am to explore

When looking at the world man and animal can be seen moving around, sometimes men going about more than wild beasts.

In that universe where everybody in his worldly life is so busy with working and with earning money to be able to buy as many gadgets as they would like and to make their material dreams realised, lots of people consider those who have faith in a Supreme Being to be loosers or people who live in fantasy worlds. Lots of them do believe that when in faith you just have to accept everything blindly. For them and many faith is a mystery, where you need to ask any questions.

It is true that we mortals can not understand everything. We could even say that we should not even try to understand everything. Question is if you may look at faith on a rational way. Can you believe in a Higher Being Which or Who created everything. And do you have to approach all the saying about It/Him rationally?

Portrait of René Descartes, dubbed the "F...

Portrait of René Descartes, dubbed the “Father of Modern Philosophy”, after Frans Hals c. 1648 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The last few years focus has been on the rationale. René Descartes with many followers could say “I think, therefore, I am”, and we can only agree because when you are not in existence you can not “be“. When born and not able to think the being of that person is also like as if without life and can not do anything. To be able to do something a creature (animal or man) has to think or to use its/his/her brains. Without the use of the brain, without letting the ‘electricity’ go through the nerves, creature shall not be able to do much. It has to receive something, analyse it, act and react to it. But before it can go into action and reaction it has to have knowledge of the self. It has to have a working ‘I am‘ and has to feel as an ‘I am‘.

Though man faces some problems.
First there is the “I am”, the “Self” which it has to come to face and has to try to understand.
Secondly it has to come to see that the “I am” is only part of a bigger part of “I Am”. When it comes to know that it can go searching for that Bigger “I Am” and hopefully shall come to recognise the “I Am Who Is” without nothing can exist.
Thirdly each little “I am” has to recognise that manifesting the “I am” demands interaction, but that such interaction is never ending. One word only points to another word and never to reality itself. Having brains thinking, receiving interpretations and having to make interpretations itself, it shall have to come to the conclusion that no one interpretation can ever be regarded as final.

As in interpretation, so in life: everything becomes undecidable.

Now there is a difference between all who want to understand and try to approach the many “I ams” in this world. Into this decidedly undecided world, there are people who have opened their eyes and have come to see what is behind the ordinary “I am”. They have found The Bigger “I Am.” They might have found it by listening to their inner voice or by coming to read, see and hear the Word of God. For them the curtains have gone open and the biblical message as reasonable thinking person has come to them with common sense. They have come to see and understand that Faith and logic are not really opposites.

Genesis 1 tells us that man was created in God’s image (Genesis 1: 26-27).

“26  Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:26-27 NAS)

Diagram from one of René Descartes' works.

Diagram from one of René Descartes’ works. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Being created in the image of God, means also each person we see around us has something which might be found also in God. Each person we do encounter can carry something from God with him or her and can share it with others. The person who has come into the faith, believing there is a Creator Deity, and who has seen the Works of that God (Source of knowledge) shall also come to the understanding of the importance of sharing the knowledge of that “I am” with others. For the one with faith it is like being with child, incredible exiting and giving lots of energy. It is as an extra breath given to you.

In the past many man of all sorts of professions have already felt the special awareness and consequences for them of having faith in the Elohim, Divine Creator of heaven and earth. The “I Am Who Is” or the “I Am that I am” is the Most Almighty God of gods, Who overshadows any other god or “I am”. He is also One God Who demands recognition for His important Pole Position. He does not like to see that His creatures do love other gods more than Him. Believers, man of faith, should recognise that and take it into account, worshipping only that One and Only One True God.

To help us to understand that Bigger “I Am” and our own “I am” This Eternal Being has given His Words and let it hem be notated by the many faithful men. All those writings about the “I Am” are bundled in the Book of books, the Bible, the infallible Word of God.

In the several books of the Bible we can find a.o. the Book of Psalms in which we can find the answers:

  1. God gave us the Psalms and other Books of the Bible
  2. as a prayer book for our lives.
  3. to show the friends of God.
  4. to learn through poetry and song.
  5. to experience the transcendence and the imminence of God at once
  6. to affirm the mystery of life
  7. to educate and to exhort ourselves
  8. to show us our sins
  9. to remind us of the brevity of life
  10. to remind us of the necessity to live the right way
  11. to show us the way to a better and easier life
  12. to express our heartfelt longings
  13. to discover God His Character
  14. to discover God His Will for our lives
  15. to learn to direct ourselves to the utmost important things in life
  16. to learn how to behave
  17. to learn to pray aright
  18. to reveal His sovereign grace to us
  19. to show us the Way to Salvation
  20. to show us and give comfort in finding the Way to the Kingdom of God

Created in the image of God, the image of the Big “I Am” this is not just an outward likeness, for God is Spirit, and is only for our understanding presented in a description which is derived from that of a human. Upon further reading in the Book of books, the Bible, we can see that God’s Word reveals that humans, unlike animals, are provided with rational. Man can think and reason logically, but above all he is able to know God; and the latter goes. An animal has no sense of higher values, let alone God, a man does. But that is also exactly what sets him apart. A man who does not have these capabilities, or does not use them, is indeed no more than an animal:

“Man in [his] pomp, yet without understanding, Is like the beasts that perish.” (Psalms 49:20 NAS)

In fact, it is precisely this ability to abstract reasoning that,

according to the apostle Paul, makes the infidel shall not go unpunished because when he looks around himself he should be able to see the many things God provided. It might be true that the invisible things of God can not be seen, but even his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived since the creation of the world are working with the mind, so that they are without excuse.

“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20 NAS)
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Preceding articles:

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Additional readings:

  1. What is life?
  2. Looking at three “I am” s
  3. Creator and Blogger God 2 Image and likeness
  4. Self-development, self-control, meditation, beliefs and spirituality
  5. Philosophy hand in hand with spirituality
  6. Looking for True Spirituality 2 Not restricted to an elite
  7. Being Religious and Spiritual 1 Immateriality and Spiritual experience
  8. Being Religious and Spiritual 2 Religiosity and spiritual life
  9. Being Religious and Spiritual 4 Philosophical, religious and spiritual people
  10. Being Religious and Spiritual 5 Gnostic influences
  11. Being Religious and Spiritual 6 Romantici, utopists and transcendentalists
  12. Improving the world by improving the Faith
  13. Are you religious, spiritual, or do you belong to a religion, having a faith or interfaith
  14. Faith because of the questions
  15. A Living Faith #9 Our Manner of Life
  16. Fear of failure, and fear of the unknown
  17. Looking for something or for the Truth and what it might be and self-awareness
  18. Leaving behind the lives we have touched.
  19. Only the contrite self, sick of its pretensions, can find salvation
  20. God won’t ask
  21. Pieces
  22. There is no true and constant gentleness without humility
  23. For those who make other choices
  24. Do you believe in One god?
  25. Revelation 1:8 – Who is Speaking?
  26. Use of /Gebruik van Jehovah or/of Yahweh in Bible Translations/Bijbel vertalingen
  27. Without God no purpose, no goal, no hope
  28. Only worhsip Creator of all things
  29. A great man does not lose his self-possession when he is afflicted

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  • Love: Reuniting the objective and subjective… (thosecatholicmen.com)
    The modern world has fallen into a dualism of body and soul in many ways. Descartes, a founding father of modern philosophy described the soul as a “ghost in a machine.” It is only too easy to focus on the body in an animalistic fashion, focused on pleasure and gratification. The opposite extreme is to fall into emotionalism or even a spiritualism that sees no compelling connection to the body.
  • Descartes and the Begining of Modern Philosophy (joshpcb.wordpress.com)

    n the 17th and 18th century Western philosophy was in strife – split between British empiricism (figures such as Locke and Bacon) and continental rationalism (such proponents as Leibniz and Spinoza), both camps disagreed with one another on the topic of epistemology and metaphysics.

    Important to add to the context is that in this time, scholasticism was the most prestigious method of education; it entailed Aristotelian values with a significant religion input. Scholasticism used logical methodology to deduce and then resolve contradictions. It was also qualitative, looking at objects and people and how they worked behaved, i.e., their qualities, and it was this manner in which Descartes was educated

  • Last lecture of the semester: Foucault and Derrida on Madness (foucaultnews.com)
    We need a history of that other trick that madness plays—that other trick through which men, in the gesture of sovereign reason that locks up their neighbor, communicate and recognize each other in the merciless language of non-madness; we need to identify this moment of that expulsion before it was definitely established in the reign of truth, before it was brought back to life by the lyricism of protestation. To try to recapture, in history, this degree zero of the history of madness, when it was undifferentiated experience, the still undivided experience of the division [of madness and reason] itself. To describe…[what] allows Reason and Madness to fall away, like things henceforth foreign to each other, deaf to any exchange, almost dead to each other. (my emphases)

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