A Brief History of Post-Truth Society

In today’s Guardian there is a review of the book The Making of the President (that is, Trump) by the notorious “ratfuckerRoger Stone, who I’ve had occasion to mention in the past in connection with the” creepy clown” or Trickster archetype. There is a kind of fraternity of such types — the dirty tricksters — in contemporary politics, including the Australian “political operative” Lynton Crosby.  Mr. Stone insists, like Kellyanne Conway’s justification of “alternative facts”, that people today have “a choice of truths“. So, Ms Conway’s “alternative facts” wasn’t a momentary aberration or a transient lapse of reason. It’s deliberate and in the nature of post-modern politics. It’s one of the chief features of the “New Normal” (or Adam Curtis’s “Hypernormalisation“).

Here, I want to explore how this situation reflects the fragmentation and disintegration of the personality and consciousness structure of modern man in duplicity, as examined also by Jean Gebser also in The Ever-Present Origin.

I have an anecdote of my own about that. I once attended a political meeting where a man started espousing opinions that were clearly fascistic and untruthful, which I duly pointed out. He was somewhat offended that I would contradict his counter-factual ravings with the reasonable facts. Instead of countering with any facts at all, he simply stated: “Don’t you understand that it’s my opinion!” It’s what we call “opinionated”, I suppose. But I was somewhat taken aback by that indifference to reason or fact, for he was basically stating that “truth is what I believe to be true and nothing otherwise”.

In point of fact, his “opinions” weren’t even his own. He had assimilated them as a kind of package deal from what we now call “alt-right news sites” of the kind Mr. Stone lauds as sources of “alternative truths”. And since then, I’ve encountered many more like him who demonstrate what I’ve called “the arrogance of ignorance” but which might also be described as “the monological mind”.

By “monological mind” I mean, in part, the certitude that there is but “one best way” of thinking or doing anything — as Jacques Ellul once described it in his critique of the technological system, which is fairly typical of the authoritarian or totalitarian personality. Monological is to be contrasted with the dialogical. But more to the point, the monological mentality is one that is, as it were, auto-entranced and tautological. It arises in the morning telling itself who it is and what its world is like, and it goes to bed at night telling itself who it is and what its world is like. Nothing contradictory is allowed to enter into this charmed narrative cycle of auto-suggestion that makes “opinion” synonymous with “truth” because one’s very identity, and even sense of reality, is bound up with this internal monologue that functions much like a computer programme — an analogy that is rather apt in describing Lewis Yablonski’s notion of “robopathy” as noted in the last post.

In other words, the monological mind and the bubble of perception are two aspects of the same process.

Now, we tend to hold that “post-truth society” is a suddenly emergent aberration, but its origins lay largely in the First World War and the development of propaganda as an organised social and psychological technology, along with the emergence of “mass society” in and through mass warfare and the subsequent development of the idea of “total war” or that politics is war by other means. The history is rather clear that propaganda for war subsequently morphed into post-war “public relations”, “public diplomacy”, “perception management”, “branding” and so on, largely through the work of Edward Bernays, whose 1928 book Propaganda justified and rationalised the uses of propaganda for peace-time and for the reorganisation of post-war society (Bernays is also one of the chief subjects of Adam Curtis’s lengthy but excellent documentary The Century of the Self). This entire period from 1914 to 1945 marks the disillusionment of the intelligentsia and loss of confidence in the optimism of the Enlightenment. And it’s really after the First World War that what we call “post-modernism” (or “post-Enlightenment”) begins along with grave doubts about the value of democracy. Although there was no shortage of those who wrote extensively about an emerging problem during the interwar years — critics such as Stuart Chase — alarm bells started ringing mainly in the 50s, during which decade a very extensive literature of concern and alarm about the fate of democracy and of the human condition started to emerge along with a lot of dystopian projections for the future — works like Riesman’s The Lonely Crowd (1950), Roderick Seidenberg’s Post-Historic Man (1957), William Whyte’s The Organization Man (1956), Joseph Seldin’s The Golden Fleece (1963). and, of course, the many works of Vance Packard which already anticipate what we now call “post-truth society”. Those are just some that I’m familiar with. But then by 1973, Arthur Herzog published The B.S. Factor in which he argued that “faking it” had already become a way of life, followed by Christopher Lasch’s The Culture of Narcissism (1979), then Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind (who also got it wrong, in my view, and not just because it had nothing specifically to do with the “American” mind).

You could say, of course (and with some justification) that “post-truth society” and the closure of the mind within a bubble of monological tautology is nothing new. William Blake had earlier spoken to this closure of the mind in upon itself: “for man has clos’d himself up till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern” (that is to say, the fall into mere sensate consciousness). And what we call here “monological mind”, or bubble of perception, was already known to Blake as “Single Vision” and “the mind-forg’d manacles”. In Blakean terms, what we call “the truth that sets free” and “the facts of the matter” had already become inconsonant and widely divergent which is, I would say, the fundamental aspect of the modern mind’s dis-integration (and one very much at the root also of Iain McGilchrist’s analysis of the “divided brain” and its two rather distinct modes of perception in The Master and His Emissary).

One can also argue the case that the whole parable of the journeys of the Prodigal Son into self-alienation is a parable about the divergence between “the truth that sets free” and the mundane “facts of the matter” that mirrors the neurodynamics described by McGilchrist in the divided brain — the Master and the Emissary which are, in contemporary terms, the distinction made in psychological theory between the “Self” and the “Ego” (or the Soul and the Ego Nature, the “soul” being that which Gebser calls “the vital centre” or “the Itself”).

It’s McGilchrist’s “Emissary” (who is the Prodigal Son) who is also the representative of “monological mind” of Blake’s “Single Vision”.

Nonetheless, the immediate precursor to what we now call “post-truth” (or “fake news”, “alternative facts”, and so forth) was what was described as “symbolic belief” in an earlier article in The Guardian. “Symbolic belief” was the immediate precursor to “post-truth”, and this issue of “symbolic belief” really does highlight a kind of Jekyll and Hyde disintegration of the mind, where what one knows to be true, and what one chooses rather to merely believe is true, are completely isolated and segregated (what Gebser calls “sectoralisation” or “compartmentalisation” of the mind). This, more than anything, illustrates the gruesome nature of a consciousness structure in the throes of its own splintering and dissolution. This matter of “symbolic belief” is not just an issue of the “uneducated” or of popular culture either, but afflicts even the arts and sciences (and especially economics) for which there are plenty of examples. This “symbolic belief” is also what has been called “zombie logic” which is only the clinging to already obsolete patterns of thought and models of reality that have been proven deficient in the face of reality. So, “zombie logic” is just another term for “monological mind” which is tautological in structure. That tautology is what McGilchrist calls the Emissary’s “usurpation” of the primary consciousness of “the Master” (or that which knows rather than that which merely believes that it knows).

There is a book, written by Jane Roberts, whose title I find particularly appropriate: “Dialogs of the Soul and Mortal Self in Time“, and which speaks to the proper relationship between “Master” and “Emissary” modes of consciousness of the divided brain, and the primary distinction between the dialogical imagination and the merely monological mind (or what Buddhists call “Monkey Mind”). It’s not difficult to see this dialogue between the “soul and mortal self in time” in play in Jill Bolte-Taylor’s TED talk on her “stroke of insight” either. Of course, for that dialogue to function effectively, the “Emissary” has to shut up long enough to listen (which is called “letting go” or “inner silence”) and that means interrupting that flow of monologue that the Emissary (or ego-nature) incessantly conducts with itself that tells itself who it is and what its world is like from dawn to dusk, which upholds and sustains its self-image and identity and its corresponding world picture even in defiance of the truth, and does so ultimately to its own harm, self-mutilation, and disintegration into irredeemable duplicity, which was the gruesome fate of Jekyll and Hyde where duplicity ended in the mutual destruction of both.

29 responses to “A Brief History of Post-Truth Society”

  1. Scott Preston says :

    I might add to the above that a popular culture of “symbolic belief” (which we also refer to as “post-rational” or “post-truth”) also finds as its counterpart a politics and a government of symbolic gestures as surrogate for substantive policy, resulting in one great big “self-organising” or self-reinforcing bubble, which is the “echo chamber” effect frequently mentioned today. No such bubble is sustainable, so I think those who see a disaster in the making are quite correct about that — the apocalyptic scenario.

  2. Scott Preston says :

    I see Mr. Yiannapoulos’s star has sunk, apparently over his comments on paedophilia, and that he has been disowned by conservatives, and even his controversial book has been cancelled by its publisher


    Hubris claims another victim around Trump, it seems (and eventually it will claim Trump, too). Perhaps this will serve as a wake-up call to other followers of the “alt-right” that they might perhaps be following the wrong path.

    (But, I wouldn’t count on it. A case of the blind leading the blind).

  3. donsalmon says :

    This just in from the Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/20/opinion/trump-and-the-society-of-the-spectacle.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-right-region&region=opinion-c-col-right-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-right-region

    Nearly 50 years ago, Guy Debord’s “The Society of the Spectacle” reached bookshelves in France. It was a thin book in a plain white cover, with an obscure publisher and an author who shunned interviews, but its impact was immediate and far-reaching, delivering a social critique that helped shape France’s student protests and disruptions of 1968.

    “The Society of the Spectacle” is still relevant today. With its descriptions of human social life subsumed by technology and images, it is often cited as a prophecy of the dangers of the internet age now upon us. And perhaps more than any other 20th-century philosophical work, it captures the profoundly odd moment we are now living through, under the presidential reign of Donald Trump.

    As with the first lines from Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s “The Social Contract” (“Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”) and Karl Marx’s “Communist Manifesto” (“The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles”), Debord, an intellectual descendant of both of these thinkers, opens with political praxis couched in high drama: “The whole life of those societies in which modern conditions of production prevail presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles. All that once was directly lived has become mere representation.”


  4. mikemackd says :

    Once, there was a time when an intelligent person could put together the terms “truth, justice, and the American way” and not guffaw. I remember those days; in fact, as a young boy growing up in Australia I fervently embraced the myth.

    Then came the assassinations of JFK, RFK, and MLK – three knocks on the door, harbingers of that myth’s death. Then we got the nightmarish, murderous quagmire of Vietnam, and now we have America’s destruction of the Middle East, the American perpetrators of criminal acts therein being praised in America as patriots. That myth is a zombie now, made so by the Americans themselves – or, more specifically, their robopaths – and more’s the pity. The great pity. I really miss that myth.

    So Scott, I like your comment – “which upholds and sustains its self-image and identity and its corresponding world picture even in defiance of the truth, and does so ultimately to its own harm, self-mutilation, and disintegration into irredeemable duplicity, which was the gruesome fate of Jekyll and Hyde where duplicity ended in the mutual destruction of both” – and I liken it to that process.

    And when I say “robopaths”, I don’t only mean “those people over there, those (sniff) others”, in the USA or anywhere else. I mainly mean the robopaths that are part of our own internal communities, including in me. We can do more about our own ones than we can those of others: can’t we?

    I have just read what was for me a new essay of Mumford’s called “The Corruption of Liberalism”. He wrote it in early 1940, in an attempt to get the USA to join the war against Hitler’s Germany. It’s available online at: https://newrepublic.com/article/119690/lewis-mumfords-corruption-liberalism.

    In that essay, he said, “Liberals no longer act as if justice mattered, as if truth mattered, as if right mattered, as if humanity as a whole were any concern of theirs: the truth is they no longer dare to act … At present, the liberals are so completely deflated and debunked, they have unconsciously swallowed so many of the systematic lies and beliefs of barbarism, that they lack the will to struggle for the essential principles of ideal liberalism: justice, freedom, truth. By clinging to the myth of isolationism, they are helping to create that insane national pride and that moral callousness out of which fascism so easily flowers” (pp. 568 & 572). *

    He made some other criticisms in there that apply to me today. I submit that they may be just as true of many today, like me, as they were at the time.

    As we mentioned before, we are all have communities in our minds, integrated at Gebser’s higher levels, but not at the lower ones. Depending on who is the Master and who is the Emissary, such “sectoralisation” or “compartmentalisation” of the mind may be a step towards Gebser’s mental integration, or a step further away from it.

    Those communities include our own robopaths, which I take from Lewis Yablonski to mean Mumford’s combined birth of our Gorgonic gazers placed at the service of that primitive part of ourselves screaming its voracious hunger for dominance. So they aren’t just “out there”; they’re “in here”.

    There is nothing wrong with machines, or the monological mind that makes them, as such. In fact, most of us simply could not live without them both: almost all the lives of our species are on machine support of some kind or another, and mine is amongst them. So, Scott, I submit it’s the combination of the power they supply and our innate incapacity to use that power wisely. No, more than that: it’s our innate capacity to abuse that power selfishly, that needs our attention in the context of your essay.

    So, if each of us said to our inner robopaths’ hogging of our central stages, ‘No, go’, what’s left of us to show?


    * Mumford’s son, Geddes, answered his father’s call. He went off to the war that Mumford was so passionate to prosecute, and was killed, at age 20, just a few days before World War II ended.

    • Scott Preston says :

      The cure for robopathy is mindfulness. Steiner also proposed a few simple exercises for curing what we would call “robopathy” — disruptive exercises such as deliberately using your left hand where you would normally use your right, or putting your belt on the opposite way you would normally do. Anything will work, it’s just another form of mindfulness or what Castaneda’s don Juan would call “living deliberately”. The idea, of course, is to disrupt the routine “programming” of the mind — that inner monologue — that constitutes robopathy. Almost anything done deliberately or mindfully is disruptive.

      • donsalmon says :

        One of the best piano lessons I ever had was with Joseph Prostakoff, a disciple of a master at disrupting habits, Abby Whiteside.

        I was learning a devilishly hard Bach Fugue, with all kinds of winding passages and finger twisting. I could “play” the notes correctly but it sounded tense and stiff. He had me switch hands – playing the bass with my right hand and treble with the left.

        Wow! The first thing you notice is you have to be stunningly conscious of each finger movement because the tendency is to try to continue playing the treble with the right hand. After sweating this for a few minutes, he shouted, “NOW!” and I switched hands and played the fugue with more grace and elegance than I ever could have imagined.

        Gurdjieff was excellent at coming up with on the spot exercises for challenging people. He even saw to it that there was always at least one completely obnoxious, difficult person in the group. One guy used to curse at everyone, hang out reading Playboy or whatever other porn materials were available at the time, and mocked Gurdjieff’s teaching whenever he had the chance.

        The rest of the students finally got up the nerve to go to Gurdjieff and demand this upstart, this rapscallion, be removed.

        “What!?” Gurdjieff replied. “You’d all be fast asleep without him.”

        • donsalmon says :

          Perhaps Trump is serving as our “wake up” person: (posted originally by Susan Keller)

          > Copied and pasted from a friend of a friend, with permission…
          >> “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it looks like Trump is actually making America great again. Just look at the progress made since the election:
          >> 1. Unprecedented levels of ongoing civic engagement.
          >> 2. Millions of Americans now know who their state and federal representatives are without having to google.
          >> 3. Millions of Americans are exercising more. They’re holding signs and marching every week.
          >> 4. Alec Baldwin is great again. Everyone’s forgotten he’s kind of a jerk.
          >> 5. The Postal Service is enjoying the influx cash due to stamps purchased by millions of people for letter and postcard campaigns.
          >> 6. Likewise, the pharmaceutical industry is enjoying record growth in sales of anti-depressants.
          >> 7. Millions of Americans now know how to call their elected officials and know exactly what to say to be effective.
          >> 8. Footage of town hall meetings is now entertaining.
          >> 9. Tens of millions of people are now correctly spelling words like emoluments, narcissist, fascist, misogynist, holocaust and cognitive dissonance.
          >> 10. Everyone knows more about the rise of Hitler than they did last year.
          >> 11. Everyone knows more about legislation, branches of power and how checks and balances work.
          >> 12. Marginalized groups are experiencing a surge in white allies.
          >> 13. White people in record numbers have just learned that racism is not dead. (See #6)
          >> 14. White people in record numbers also finally understand that Obamacare IS the Affordable Care Act.
          >> 15. Stephen Colbert’s “Late Night” finally gained the elusive #1 spot in late night talk shows, and Seth Meyers is finding his footing as today’s Jon Stewart.
          >> 16. “Mike Pence” has donated millions of dollars to Planned Parenthood since Nov. 9th.
          >> 17. Melissa FREAKING McCarthy.
          >> 18. Travel ban protesters put $24 million into ACLU coffers in just 48 hours, enabling them to hire 200 more attorneys. Lawyers are now heroes.
          >> 19. As people seek veracity in their news sources, respected news outlets are happily reporting a substantial increase in subscriptions, a boon to a struggling industry vital to our democracy.
          >> 20. Live streaming court cases and congressional sessions are now as popular as the Kardashians.
          >> 21. Massive cleanup of facebook friend lists.
          >> 22. People are reading classic literature again. Sales of George Orwell’s “1984” increased by 10,000% after the inauguration. (Yes, that is true. 10,000%. 9th grade Lit teachers all over the country are now rock stars.)
          >> 23. More than ever before, Americans are aware that education is important. Like, super important.
          >> 24. Now, more than anytime in history, everyone believes that anyone can be President. Seriously, anyone.” – Susan Keller (Copy and paste to share.)

        • Scott Preston says :

          I’ve also noticed something quite interesting in relation to my work with organic farmers — most of them are left-handed.

    • Scott Preston says :

      “As Alan Carmona Gutíerrez eloquently stated in a recent newsletter from his organization, the goal is to neither abandon nor idealize our history, but to “listen, observe and understand the past in order to construct a future full of life and dignity.”

      Yes, excellent article. And excellent quote from Gutierrez. The exact contrary to Seidenberg’s “post-historic man”.

      • mikemackd says :

        I agree with the above comments of you both, Scott and Don. As Blake put it, “without contraries there is no progression”, and as an anonymous American soldier put it in a Truth Out article I discovered through chasing up that Gutierrez quote (http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/39559-the-misuse-of-us-power-and-the-middle-east-in-chaos), we must “dare to be discomfited”.

        However, if, as another article I found the same way says (http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/39538-the-us-military-like-ancient-rome-s-is-trying-to-secure-a-dying-empire), Americans have been turned via the Machine into “a violent people, addicted to war”, then who is this “we”? Our inner robopaths, or the “we” of Blake’s comment, ““God only acts and is through existing beings and men”?

        If the latter, then is awareness of that a portal to this “we”, as differentiated from the robopathic “we”? Again as Blake put it, “the letter killeth, the spirit gives life”.

        So I’m not sure Dostoevsky (or perhaps his translator), got it quite right in “The Brothers Karamazov” when he wrote, “a loving humility is a terrible power, the most powerful of all, nothing compares with it. Keep company with yourself and look to yourself every day and hour, every minute, that your image be forever gracious”.

        Scott’s hair’s breadth again. Rather, should it not read, “Keep company with yourself and look to yourself every day and hour, every minute, that you be forever gracious”?

    • Scott Preston says :

      While browsing further in the Truthout website, I noticed this article about an undocumented mother in sanctuary in Denver: “I’ve paid taxes for 20 years, Why hasn’t Trump?”


      The perfect irony is it not? And hardly anyone takes note of the absurdity.

  5. donsalmon says :

    If anyone here would like to offer input, Jan (my wife) and I have a meeting today at 2 (about 3 hours from now) with a Methodist pastor who is a board member of the “Missional Wisdom” foundation, based in Texas with a center here in Asheville as well.

    The “Haw Creek Commons,” (HCC) in East Asheville, is a building associated with the Bethesda Methodist church. They had a meeting last week in which they stated they wanted to create a commons – a community center – based in a contemplative consciousness (in Christian terms, carrying out all actions in the Presence of God).

    I became involved because I attended a centering prayer group for a few months this past fall. It seemed to be going nowhere – the woman leading it had gone to a Wisdom school taught by Cynthia Bourgeault and Richard Rohr for two years, but did not have extensive contemplative experience; rather, her background was in progressive activism.

    For some reason, i was moved to write her and the church pastor a letter in late december suggesting a way to restart the centering prayer group, which by that time had stopped altogether. They invited Jan and me to talk about it at the HCC planning group.

    So in mid march, we’re going to be leading a weekly “contemplative activism” group (they all seemed to love that somewhat paradoxical phrase). the first aim is creating community, opening up HCC to everyone (self identified Christian or not – and given Asheville, that “not” means Wiccans, Buddhists, Sufis, atheists, pagan-LGBTQEIFSOE’s, and whatever). Ultimately, we’d like to connect to mental health centers, schools, wellness clinics, businesses, city council members, basically, the whole Haw Creek Neighborhood, and maybe liaison with other neighborhoods throughout Asheville, but always with this aspiration for a contemplative presencing as the foundation.

    I’m going to talk with the pastor about the need to ground their aspiration in actual contemplative practice, and suggest also that a brain-based psychology could offer a bridge for non-contemplatives to understand the connection with contemplative consciousness.

    Any other suggestions would be most welcome. There will be other meetings between now and mid-March when the contemplative activism group starts, so no time-limits on suggestions!

    • InfiniteWarrior says :

      maybe liaison with other neighborhoods throughout Asheville

      No idea how long you and your wife have been in the region and how familiar you might be with it, but it’s changed drastically in the half-century I’ve known it. The whole Haw Creek neighborhood is probably ambitious enough for a start, but once on a solid footing, putting out feelers in the towns of Marshall, Hot Springs and Montreat to expand the noble effort of contemplative presencing may prove fruitful. (Can I assume “contemplative presencing” includes interfaith and interdisciplinary dialogues?)

      The Southern Dharma Retreat Center in Hot Springs plays host to retreats led by renowned teachers from around the globe (and wisdom traditions). Marshall is a town that holds a very soft spot in my heart as it is from the area my maternal lineage springs. It is now primarily a enclave of artists and artisans who may be able to respond with better suggestions for deepening and expanding the practice throughout the region. I’m hearing good things about Hendersonville as well.

      All my best in the endeavor.

      • donsalmon says :

        Thanks IW. Your comments about changes here fit quite well with Scott’s main post. The world is changing fast.

        Even when we got to Greenville, SC in 2002, people were telling us how dazed they were by the radical changes in just the past 10 years. I lived 20 miles from Alabama, in Southwestern Georgia, in 1990 and 1991, and I could tell in just 12 years how dramatic the changes were over the whole south.

        We arrived in Asheville in 2010, and friends who have been here since the 1970s are stunned, particularly since the 1990s (I had the feeling in 1992 that the retrograde Reagan years were already being overturned – people were talking then about a “return of the 1960s” but it was 25 years too soon – I believe we’re seeing something infinitely more radical than anything that happened a half century ago).


        I have some good friends from Southern Dharma, so yes we’ll be making a connection there – we might even offer a retreat on contemplative neuroscience. (I just got a note from the local Jungian group, they’re retooling and expanding- and we may offer a contemplative neuroscience workshop there too)

        Since posting the note above yours, Jan and I met with a Methodist minister who is one of the main “Missional Wisdom” folks (based in Dallas, Texas, Portland Oregon and Atlanta) and we’re feeling even more positive about it than previously. There’s quite a bit of grant money involved, and they’ve been planning this for over a year, and have made a lot of connections to various institutions in the Haw Creek area, so we’re just a tiny part of it. I’m not aware of anyone else in the project who has extensive contemplative experience, so part of our aspiration is to keep gently whispering “remember to be” (or remember to breathe:>)). Maybe we’ll steal some of that beautiful language form Abdulmonem – turns out the Methodists and Episcopalians who are spearheading this are completely open to Buddhist, Sufi, Hindu, Taoist, Jewish and whatever contemplative influences (I even mentioned the words “Wicca” and Paganism” and they didn’t flinch!).

        And yes, we’ve spent time out in Marshall and Hot Springs but hadn’t thought of a connection – great idea. And Montreat??!! I thought that was overly Billy Grahamish but since you suggest it we’ll look into it. The nature trails and hills there are certainly beautiful and inspiring. Jan and I did a “Qigong/mindfulness” walk in Montreat last year and it was quite lovely.

        Transitioning from caterpillar into butterfly – who knows what will emerge from day to day – I just saw a new financial planner and mentioned our project and she was all excited about it – a financial planner nonetheless!! Truly revolutionary!!!

        • InfiniteWarrior says :

          I thought that was overly Billy Grahamish

          Actually, it’s overly Franklin Grahamish, but that brings up the point I almost left out: not all Evangelicals are created equal. ; )

          • donsalmon says :

            Wow, Franklin! (major trump supporter). Well, i still was impressed with Montreat, and the Christian students I met there, so, all preconceptions be damned!:>))

        • InfiniteWarrior says :

          Afore I go…. I thought to mention the neuroscientific connection, but wasn’t sure how it might be received. Some interesting developments there as well. I wouldn’t be too sure consciousness can be “measured,” but there’s obviously a dialogue bridge there to be explored.

          • donsalmon says :

            hi again IW: interesting Tricycle article on Koch and panpsychism you linked to.

            I had been having doubts about panpsychism from my conversations with idealist philosopher Bernardo Kastrup, who is quite a bit over the top in his antipathy to panpsychism. A bunch of us made a distinction between “top down panpsychism” (matter emerges from consciousness) and “bottom up panpsychism (consciousness emerging from matter) and he calmed down a bit.

            Meanwhile my friend Rod Hemsell, one of the wisest philosophers I know, is working with a neuroscientist from Spain and together they’re doing a wild integration of Sri Aurobindo, Whitehead, Hegel, Bergson, Gebser and others (I’m sure he’d love Blake, Bolte-Taylor, McGilchrist, Rosenstock-Huessy and others who congregate here at Chrysalis:>). Rod thinks panpsychism is a crucial turning point for science and philosophy, and actually may represent a crucial axis or fulcrum of that transition that Scott speaks so much of (assuming one can even speak of axes and fulcrums on the way to apperspectival consciousness – or even speak of “on the way to”!!!

  6. abdulmonem says :

    God asks me to bear witness for him, I am the weak creature, and when the listener respond negatively he directs me to tell him that god will be the witness between us. It is a strange game, meaning that we are not throwing the energies of words in vain. It means also not to hesitate to throw the words and think like a farmer who puts his seeds in the ground and wait. It means we are not responsible to change others but to change ourselves They say we are living in a world that the incidents of the unseen outnumber the incidents of the seen by a limitless margin. They also say that some harmful incidents according to our limited thinking may carry in them good benefits as the different comments and posts show. If what I read about the cooperatives in America is correct the world is moving to a safe landing if the spirit of cooperation spreads. Empathetic cooperative activism. I think the contemplative activism can play a great role in the 30000 cooperatives n the country, so also in the other cooperatives in the world. The similar ethos expressed By Mike and James Gordon to work on the self is a good omen. There is a verse in the quran which says that god will not change the conditions of a society unless they change themselves. In that context we should not continue to look on the dark aspect of others and forget to address the dark aspect of ourselves, the only road to change others, that is by example. All talks in open space will not produce result without a communal cell, an individual cell to initiate the change we are after. I say that because I know if my will does not coincide with his will nothing happen and his will is nothing but truth.

    • mikemackd says :

      Brilliant article: thank you for posting it, Leo. So r=wm: robopathy = wetiko multiplied by the machine.

    • mikemackd says :

      BTW Leo, this is the quote from Mumford that prompted my little formula above (I have posted at least part of it prior, but that was some months ago):


      – So [machine minds] never learned from either their own experience or from history the fact that unqualified power is inimical to life: that their methods were self-defeating, their military victories were ephemeral, and their exalted claims were fraudulent and absurd … Psychologically healthy people have no need to indulge fantasies of absolute power; nor do they need to come to terms with reality by inflicting self-mutilation and prematurely courting death.

      … power cannot long prevail unless those on whom it is imposed have reason to respect it and conform to it … The spinal principle of democracy is the perception that the traits and needs and interests that all men share have a superior claim to those put forward by any special organization, institution, or group [without it] man himself will become equally denatured, that is to say, dehumanized. He will become passive, purposeless and machine-controlled.

      For mark this: the [machine] was not born alone. The [machine] has been accompanied, we can see now, by a twin, a dark shadow-self: defiant, not docile: disorderly, not organized or controlled: above all, aggressively destructive, even homicidal, reasserting the dammed-up forces of life in crazy or criminal acts. In the emerging figure of man … a reversed hierarchy … lowers the authority of the brain and puts the reflexes and blind instincts in command. The aim … is to destroy those higher attributes of man whose gifts of love, mutuality, rationality, imagination, and constructive aptitude have enlarged all the possibilities of life. It is in the light of these impending negations and destructions that the whole concept of subjugating nature and replacing man’s own functions with collectively fabricated, automatically operated, completely depersonalized equivalents must at last be reappraised.

      With every increase of effective power, extravagantly sadistic and murderous impulses erupted out of the unconscious. This is the trauma that has distorted the subsequent development of all ‘civilized’ societies. And it is this fact that punctuates the entire history of mankind with outbursts of collective paranoia and tribal delusions of grandeur, mingled with malevolent suspicions, murderous hatreds, and atrociously inhumane acts.


      • mikemackd says :

        (From The Pentagon of Power 1970, p. 197 & others)

      • Scott Preston says :

        A rather appropriate quote from Mumford given my most recent post on the self-immolation of the modern mind which, I suppose, corresponds to his meaning of “self-mutilation”

      • mikemackd says :

        Given and that we are looking at neologisms (robopath, retrotopias [I like it, Don] etc.), I was thinking that the first paragraph of the Mumford quote above raised the need for a word for our tendency to indulge in fantasies of absolute power etc.

        My first word was “plutopath”, but that’s only the wealth aspect of the pathology Mumford mentions – but one manifestation. Along those lines, I then thought of “tyrannopaths”, for those pathologically obsessed with dominating others – a word I had coined and put in the urban dictionary a couple of years ago, well before I had come to grips with Mumford: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Tyrannopath).

        I then thought of “pluto-saur”, but that’s already taken by an artist who depicts that creature au naturel at:

        and in working clothes at:

        They seemed somewhere between a tad and a smidgeon condemnatory, which ruled them out as well.

        I didn’t want that. I wanted a word with a more clinical potential, the psychological equivalent of “measles”, or “hepatitis”. I think current affairs requires suites new words to enable one to adequately differentiate, articulate and integrate our understandings of these phenomena within us.

        So, I think a word for what Mumford described is “kratopath”. It is closely aligned with wetiko, but possibly more acceptable to some westerners as being from within their own acculturation.

        As described in Aeschylus, the main binder of Prometheus was the god of power and might, Kratos, whom Hephaistos called “ever pitiless and steeped in insolence” http://www.theoi.com/Daimon/Kratos.html. Further, as another classical author, Tacitus, put it, “It is human nature to hate the man whom you have hurt”: that I would diagnose as another manifestation of kratopathy.

        Armed with such a word, perhaps, we may become warier of the dangers of such pathologies. Just as we were unaware of the means of transmission of so many organic diseases for so long, perhaps such words may help us avoid the transmission of such mental diseases. Our internal rapid reaction forces naturally and rationally reacts that way with long-recognised dangers such as spiders, heights, snakes etc, but there are far greater dangers that we have created by our behaviours: we need to learn about those, and we need a vocabulary for that.

        As Mumford also says in that same essay on the corruption of liberal values, in a world as this one now, such corruptions:

        “may easily lead to death. If one meets a poisonous snake in one’s path it is important, for a rational reaction, to have a prompt emotion of fear; for fear releases the flow of adrenalin into the bloodstream, and that will not merely put the organism on alert but will give it the extra strength either to run away or to attack. Merely to look at the snake abstractedly, without sensing danger and experiencing fear, may lead to the highly irrational step of permitting the snake to draw near without being on guard against the reptile’s bite. The liberal’s lack of a sense of danger when confronted by the avowed programs and the devastating achievements of the totalitarian regimes is one cause of society’s rapid disintegration (pp. 571-572).

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