Monday, November 23, 2009

Spiritual vs intellectual

"Avatar" answering the question "should one distinguish between spiritual and intellectual...?"

It seems intelligence and spirit have fundamentally the same meaning: one speaks without distinction of human intelligence and human spirit... intelligence signifying what proceeds from human intelligence, and spiritual what comes from the human spirit.

From this objective consideration, and as is often the case when there are two synonymous terms, other meanings have been superimposed. We say intellectual, for example, when we wish to say non-manual, or university professor, or abstract, or someone whose feet are not grounded in reality, or even “mind-aching” (prise de tĂȘte). The same diversity exists with the word spiritual, which sometimes means humorous, or religious (this last term is in my view a quite equivocal falsehood), or even divine (“Gods” spirit), to distinguish between divine intelligence and human intelligence, etc.

As far as the distinction made by editors in their “Spirituality” collection, we have here, I think, a mistranslation (which I pointed out) between spiritual and religious. Yet, fundamentally, there is synonymity. I see here on the one hand a type of marketing gimmick which seeks a label which does not ruffle anyones feathers; on the other hand, one must recognize that these collections include everything and its opposite: religious considerations, psychoanalysis, astrology, clairvoyance, and what have you... Therefore, they include what purports to be a rather speculative reflection, which happens to correspond to the first sense of “intellectual”.

I think the term intellectual is not used solely because the connotation is sometimes pejorative or mocking in nature; the same is true for the term “speculation”, which would turn away the clients who claim to be non-intellectual and pragmatic, concrete, with their feet solidly anchored in the ground! Hence “spiritual” is much more consensual, and in any case the term is gratifying. In short, “spiritual” signifies astute and clever, whereas “intellectual” can signify pretentious and pain-in-the-neck, which is evidently not the best pitch.

In brief, spiritual sounds “authentic” whereas intellectual has undertones of “concepts” or “ravings”. It is a bit foolish, but I think that is why it is so; a bit as why red and yellow are associated to biscuits, and why few of them are sold in a blue package. :-)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Fifth round

It’s a classic, at the fifth round of drinks, someone gets up and says “if God knows in advance what I will freely decide, that means in truth that it was planned or written in advance, and this means that I am not free.”

So someone else asks “if "he" whom you call God exists, and if "he" is as you suppose eternal, why would "he" not know in advance what you will decide freely? For that would mean that "he " is not atemporal…”

Obviously, this creates a bit of discomfort, and usually the spotlight swings immediately to “and me, why don’t I know in advance what I will freely decide?”

Which then shows the desire to not be free, putting forward the following dialectic: “If I know ahead of time what I will decide freely later on, then I will freely choose the opposite, or at least something else, just to experience what it will do. Yet I cannot decide to do differently or the contrary of what I ignore!”…

Thus the bloke answers that he would like to freely renounce his freedom, which is a sophism evidently... therefore, we find ourselves in front of the following assertion: “I am not free to not be free”, that is to say in front of two consecutive negations.

But does saying “I am free to be free” make any sense? Not really any more than the preceding double negation, for “I am free” is enough, and we don’t clearly see what “to be free” adds. In consequence, it seems that a freedom which contemplates itself should necessarily and logically lead to its suicide, bogged down in a sort of perverse effect: I request not to be free”. Just as if that was the only choice. Curious isn’t it?

This shows that freedom is not an end in itself, and also that when one seeks to make a transcendental out of it, we kill it. I wonder if that is not what we do when we carry to the rank of transcendental whatever else that is not one, like beauty for example. I mean by this that I wonder if to make a transcendental out of beauty doesn’t also, sooner or later, lead to negate beauty. Finally, instead of creating, that is when one assimilates oneself to "he" whom religious traditions call “God”, what we mostly know what to do, is destroy lol

What characterizes contemporary thought is negation. Aristotle is the friend of wisdom in as much as he starts by admiring, even that which is reputed to be self-evident. Aristotle is the philosopher of admiration. The contemporaries are for the most part the buffoons of doubt and of negation. It is Descartes who pulled the first punch: “I think, therefore I doubt, and therefore I am”… Geez!

It is because of Descartes that all of contemporary thought is a saloon-bar philosophy.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Never vanquished

Should you ask people around you what truth is, you will mostly be told that it depends on your conception of truth. If you insist and point out that what exists or not is entirely oblivious to any opinion one may have of it as far as being or not being, you will, without more ado, be singled out as sectarian. You will be told that you are trying to impose your ideas, exactly as if reality was an idea. Now then, whether or not you seek to impose what you think neither affects error nor truth, and consequently it is well and truly postulated that reality does not exist outside the idea you make of it. Not to consent to the relativity of reality constitutes in many places a form of raging intolerance. To accept that each and everyone can express his opinion is one thing, something important, for sure, but on the other hand truth also deserves to be upheld. :)