Secular Spirituality

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Greta
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Re: Secular Spirituality

Post by Greta » Mon Jan 15, 2018 12:10 am

Belinda wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 10:59 am
Greta, regarding your post above. Could you extend your thesis to include the arts/ sciences split? Or not?
I ask because scientists and mathematicians rhapsodise (nice word Greta) about those specialisms.
For sure!

You will recognise this in my earlier posts but I consider any philosophising that starts with humanity rather than nature to be a specialist enterprise, and thus a distorted anthropocentric lens if applied to greater reality.

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Greta
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Re: Secular Spirituality

Post by Greta » Mon Jan 15, 2018 12:45 am

Oops, I did rabbit on a lot last time. This seems to be more pet subject matter to me than I realised.
marjoram_blues wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 3:06 pm
Anyway, the word 'rhapsody' caught my attention. And yes, I admit to a feeling of discomfort.
It sounded over the top. And I can understand why some more logic- oriented, less emotional sorts might be uncomfortable with thinking of themselves as 'spiritual' beings. Indeed, you don't need to self-describe as such - just as nobody goes around describing themselves as 'material' or 'mental'.
Exactly. Rhapsodising could be characterised as "dancing as if no one is watching". Lack of self consciousness does not always lead to spiritual rhapsody but it's an essential ingredient. There is a "letting go". Some people cannot let go. Some cannot reign in :)

There is a balance - with reigned-in desire as needed but without taking social strictures seriously enough to internalise - to take off the public face like a coat. We do this routinely in sleep and in extreme situations but otherwise those social controls extend deep into the psyche. Only twice have I truly let go, and each was a fluke. On reflection, along with the good feelings that preceded/triggered those internal releases was a quiet (and unconscious) fearlessness. With the second, and strongest, peak experience, at first my usual skepticism was starting to dissipate the state when I suddenly thought, "Why not?". Why not just go with the budding experience and let it happen? I truly stopped caring if I was engaging in esoteric activity that some would consider silly.
marjoram_blues wrote:However, it is worthwhile trying to see humans as holistic: body, mind and spirit. One of our objectives being to try to keep a sense of, if not actual, well-being.
I think it's worthwhile to see all things as holistic and all of the details too - the more angles and perspectives with which we can observe reality, the better we get to know it. For some reason this appears to be to crux of everything - working out what seems to be going on. This has been the task of life before it could even think - their bodies would automatically detect things in the environment and adapt. Reality is wonderfully weird :)

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Greta
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Re: Secular Spirituality

Post by Greta » Mon Jan 15, 2018 12:57 am

Conde Lucanor wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 11:52 pm
Whether it was tone, style or whatever that did not allow me to embrace the content of the article, I don't put in doubt that the content does reflect what "secular spirituality"is all about. I guess that means that as a secularist, humanist and atheist, I cannot endorse this "secular spirituality" thing.
Do you not endorse secular spirituality for yourself or for everyone? Have you thoughts on this?
Some people are so attached to logic, sensibleness and practicality that they find it distasteful to "let go", aside from accepted conventional areas of release like sex and thrillseeking. So they contain their own capacity to rhapsodise, to become carried away - and then they scoff at believers for rhapsodising (because what feels right on the inside can appear silly from the outside) ...

In a eusocial society, you need both types - and any other types too. We need hard-headed gatekeepers and cynics who try to keep everyone grounded and honest. We also need maniacs to inspire and amuse.

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Re: Secular Spirituality

Post by Dubious » Mon Jan 15, 2018 4:26 am

There is an insurmountable chasm between a eusocial society institutionalized by instinct and one gradually transformed into a caste system of mere functionaries who, unlike the Pavlovian kind, refuse to remain circumscribed within it. "Specializing" in itself should not create the frictions of a eusocial society where there is always a top tier deciding everything. We don't need or desire what would amount to a helot society as seen so often in history and still existing especially in the East. Specialization is what it is but it's not the same as eusocialism with its potential political agendas.

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Re: Secular Spirituality

Post by Conde Lucanor » Mon Jan 15, 2018 5:21 am

Greta wrote:
Mon Jan 15, 2018 12:57 am
Conde Lucanor wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 11:52 pm
Whether it was tone, style or whatever that did not allow me to embrace the content of the article, I don't put in doubt that the content does reflect what "secular spirituality"is all about. I guess that means that as a secularist, humanist and atheist, I cannot endorse this "secular spirituality" thing.
Do you not endorse secular spirituality for yourself or for everyone? Have you thoughts on this?
Some people are so attached to logic, sensibleness and practicality that they find it distasteful to "let go", aside from accepted conventional areas of release like sex and thrillseeking. So they contain their own capacity to rhapsodise, to become carried away - and then they scoff at believers for rhapsodising (because what feels right on the inside can appear silly from the outside) ...

In a eusocial society, you need both types - and any other types too. We need hard-headed gatekeepers and cynics who try to keep everyone grounded and honest. We also need maniacs to inspire and amuse.
I don't endorse it for myself and I would hope that most people decided to endorse a different type of secularism, free of the romantic anticapitalism that is behind the New Age movement, which looks for shelter in some elements of Eastern religions and begs for a "return to nature". This "secular spirituality" reminds me of the ideological proposal of Avatar. A more promising future for humanity is not found in Pandora and its "tree of life" (quite a reactionary and regressive proposal), but in the splendid possibilities of its mechanical inventions.

Human society is not a eusocial society, but in any case, "to every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven." We need clowns and artists as much as we need scientists and computer programmers, but I just wouldn't frame a striving secular society with the phony, shallow ethos of New Age spirituality.

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Greta
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Re: Secular Spirituality

Post by Greta » Mon Jan 15, 2018 6:04 am

Conde Lucanor wrote:
Mon Jan 15, 2018 5:21 am
Greta wrote:
Mon Jan 15, 2018 12:57 am
Conde Lucanor wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 11:52 pm
Whether it was tone, style or whatever that did not allow me to embrace the content of the article, I don't put in doubt that the content does reflect what "secular spirituality"is all about. I guess that means that as a secularist, humanist and atheist, I cannot endorse this "secular spirituality" thing.
Do you not endorse secular spirituality for yourself or for everyone? Have you thoughts on this?
Some people are so attached to logic, sensibleness and practicality that they find it distasteful to "let go", aside from accepted conventional areas of release like sex and thrillseeking. So they contain their own capacity to rhapsodise, to become carried away - and then they scoff at believers for rhapsodising (because what feels right on the inside can appear silly from the outside) ...

In a eusocial society, you need both types - and any other types too. We need hard-headed gatekeepers and cynics who try to keep everyone grounded and honest. We also need maniacs to inspire and amuse.
I don't endorse it for myself and I would hope that most people decided to endorse a different type of secularism, free of the romantic anticapitalism that is behind the New Age movement, which looks for shelter in some elements of Eastern religions and begs for a "return to nature". This "secular spirituality" reminds me of the ideological proposal of Avatar. A more promising future for humanity is not found in Pandora and its "tree of life" (quite a reactionary and regressive proposal), but in the splendid possibilities of its mechanical inventions.

Human society is not a eusocial society, but in any case, "to every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven." We need clowns and artists as much as we need scientists and computer programmers, but I just wouldn't frame a striving secular society with the phony, shallow ethos of New Age spirituality.
Are Richard Dawkins, Carl Sagan, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Max Tegmark and Roger Penrose new agers? If so, then I agree with you that New Age romanticism and secular spirituality are synonymous. Seriously, why paint with such a broad brush? I thought you'd be more rigorous.

Whatever humanity is, it's far closer to eusocial organisation than any other organisational model. Neither you nor Dubious will be able to point to any organisational model in nature that is even nearly as close to the way humans organise themselves as eusociality. Basically, humanity is developing an extension of eusociality.

Whatever, the point is that diversity is needed in a society that organises itself so people of different temperaments are needed, including those who think everyone should be more like them :)
Last edited by Greta on Mon Jan 15, 2018 6:24 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Greta
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Re: Secular Spirituality

Post by Greta » Mon Jan 15, 2018 6:22 am

I would like to add that I see secular spirituality as secular - not religious superstition without the Big G.

Remember, Marj, Belinda and I don't subscribe to any school of thought about this; we simply define "spirituality" in an individual way that resonates with us personally. I doubt any of us care much for any orthodoxy, aside from that involving basic decency.

Speaking for myself, I see spirituality as everyday, something that all but the most damaged routinely engage in. Kindness, consideration, amiability, cooperativeness, empathising, nurturing, defending, supporting, entertaining, listening, appreciating, passionate enthusiasm - these are all spiritual behaviours IMO. Unlike religions, I don't think about any gate that determines X to be a spiritual person or Y not, aside from the worst psychopathies and those who are too wounded to feel happiness.

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Re: Secular Spirituality

Post by marjoram_blues » Mon Jan 15, 2018 9:56 am

For anyone just joining the discussion, I think it is worthwhile to read and reflect on this post of fooloso4, particularly this first paragraph.
So far, we have focused more on what 'spirituality' might mean, rather than look at what 'philosophy' might mean.
I'm not sure that is true that secular spirituality might be the ultimate goal of philosophy, as suggested in OP.
There have been many discussions on what philosophy is, or what it means to the individual. Some accuse it of being too academic and elitist. Solomon seems to accuse contemporary philosophy of becoming too narrow. I'm not sure if this is true either. Given the categories on this forum alone - clearly some have more of an interest in religion, than say aesthetics or politics. Sometimes they overlap...either way, it is not helpful for some to characterize their own as 'deep philosophy' and dismiss others as 'stamp-collecting'. Thoughts welcome.
fooloso4 wrote:
Wed Jan 10, 2018 9:24 pm
We should keep in mind that the term ‘secular spirituality’ covers a wide variety of meanings and practices. A major problem that will prevent mutual understanding in our discussion is a type of guilt by association.

Robert Solomon was an accomplished teacher of mainstream Western philosophy. As a quick reading of the preface to his Spirituality for the Skeptic makes clear, on the one hand he wishes to rescue the meaning of the term spirituality which has been taken over by religion, and on the other hand he wishes to rescue philosophy from the narrowness of contemporary trends . In addition, it should be noted that he is disdainful of what might be called “new age spiritualism”.

What Solomon calls his Hallmark-card phrase “spirituality as the thoughtful love of life” seems to me to be wholly consonant with the meaning of philosophy as the love of wisdom. Although we would probably never find it on a Hallmark card, we might put Socrates’: “the unexamined life is not worth living” together with Solomon’s. As Plato reminds us, the lover of wisdom desires but does not the possess wisdom. That is the source of both the comedy and tragedy of life.

We fundamentally misunderstand spirituality as long as we posit a disjunction between the physical and the spiritual or the rational the spiritual. The desire to be wise shows them to be aspects of a whole. But it is a whole that is incomplete because the philosopher never possesses what is desired. The circle is never closed. We desire the good life, but we remain tentative in our understanding of what that is and powerless to secure it for ourselves.

Analogous to the aporia of Plato’s Meno, we do not know what it is we desire when we desire wisdom because unless we possess it we cannot know what it is. Here we may fall victim to promises of answers from religion, spiritualism, mysticism, etc., or to the despair of longing. The thoughtful love of life may lead most to wisely conclude that the love of wisdom is not the proper pursuit for them. The love of thought and thoughts of love may lead one to see that there are other things their spirit desires more than an empty and abstract notion of wisdom. As Nietzsche’s Zarathustra discovers, what he loves most is life itself. Is this then the abandonment or fulfillment of philosophy?

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Re: Secular Spirituality

Post by marjoram_blues » Mon Jan 15, 2018 10:05 am

Conde Lucanor wrote:
Mon Jan 15, 2018 5:21 am
Greta wrote:
Mon Jan 15, 2018 12:57 am
Conde Lucanor wrote:
Sun Jan 14, 2018 11:52 pm
Whether it was tone, style or whatever that did not allow me to embrace the content of the article, I don't put in doubt that the content does reflect what "secular spirituality"is all about. I guess that means that as a secularist, humanist and atheist, I cannot endorse this "secular spirituality" thing.
Do you not endorse secular spirituality for yourself or for everyone? Have you thoughts on this?
Some people are so attached to logic, sensibleness and practicality that they find it distasteful to "let go", aside from accepted conventional areas of release like sex and thrillseeking. So they contain their own capacity to rhapsodise, to become carried away - and then they scoff at believers for rhapsodising (because what feels right on the inside can appear silly from the outside) ...

In a eusocial society, you need both types - and any other types too. We need hard-headed gatekeepers and cynics who try to keep everyone grounded and honest. We also need maniacs to inspire and amuse.
I don't endorse it for myself and I would hope that most people decided to endorse a different type of secularism, free of the romantic anticapitalism that is behind the New Age movement, which looks for shelter in some elements of Eastern religions and begs for a "return to nature". This "secular spirituality" reminds me of the ideological proposal of Avatar. A more promising future for humanity is not found in Pandora and its "tree of life" (quite a reactionary and regressive proposal), but in the splendid possibilities of its mechanical inventions.

Human society is not a eusocial society, but in any case, "to every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven." We need clowns and artists as much as we need scientists and computer programmers, but I just wouldn't frame a striving secular society with the phony, shallow ethos of New Age spirituality.
There is no sense in which I started this discussion with a view to 'endorse a [particular] type of secularism'. There seems to be an instinct to attack any interest in this aspect of the human condition with false accusations.
There is no attack on materialism as suggested.

Belinda
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Re: Secular Spirituality

Post by Belinda » Mon Jan 15, 2018 10:57 am

I agree with Conde Lucanor that New Age gives the word 'spirituality' a banal connotation. I mean, we all love hippies, but we don't much like po-faced but silly arguments.

However there is more substance to ideas of spirituality than many New Agers express.

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Re: Secular Spirituality

Post by marjoram_blues » Mon Jan 15, 2018 11:57 am

Belinda wrote:
Mon Jan 15, 2018 10:57 am
I agree with Conde Lucanor that New Age gives the word 'spirituality' a banal connotation. I mean, we all love hippies, but we don't much like po-faced but silly arguments.

However there is more substance to ideas of spirituality than many New Agers express.
I am sure that Condor is intelligent enough to realize this.
I think there is a suggestion of playing the devil's advocate.
A useful tool to enable further clarification of thought for the sake of debate.
Last edited by marjoram_blues on Mon Jan 15, 2018 11:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

Dubious
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Re: Secular Spirituality

Post by Dubious » Mon Jan 15, 2018 11:58 am

Greta wrote:
Mon Jan 15, 2018 6:04 am
Whatever humanity is, it's far closer to eusocial organisation than any other organisational model. Neither you nor Dubious will be able to point to any organisational model in nature that is even nearly as close to the way humans organise themselves as eusociality. Basically, humanity is developing an extension of eusociality.
Ant and termite societies are usually considered the default models of eusocial organization. In fact the word "eusocial" was first used in describing the behavior of bees and other insects. E.O. Wilson extended it from there giving it a human aspect but a debatable one. The term is far less distinct, amorphous when applied to humans.

So unless I misunderstood something, (always a possibility), your statement doesn't sound right or needs more clarification. Also, what would an extension of eusociality look like since the word already incorporates the highest ranking in the hierarchy of sociality? It would seem another word containing "social" must define the extension. To properly do that one must at least have an idea what it means to go beyond the eusocial.

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Greta
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Re: Secular Spirituality

Post by Greta » Mon Jan 15, 2018 12:26 pm

Dubious wrote:
Mon Jan 15, 2018 11:58 am
Greta wrote:
Mon Jan 15, 2018 6:04 am
Whatever humanity is, it's far closer to eusocial organisation than any other organisational model. Neither you nor Dubious will be able to point to any organisational model in nature that is even nearly as close to the way humans organise themselves as eusociality. Basically, humanity is developing an extension of eusociality.
Ant and termite societies are usually considered the default models of eusocial organization. In fact the word "eusocial" was first used in describing the behavior of bees and other insects. E.O. Wilson extended it from there giving it a human aspect but a debatable one. The term is far less distinct, amorphous when applied to humans.

So unless I misunderstood something, (always a possibility), your statement doesn't sound right or needs more clarification. Also, what would an extension of eusociality look like since the word already incorporates the highest ranking in the hierarchy of sociality? It would seem another word containing "social" must define the extension. To properly do that one must at least have an idea what it means to go beyond the eusocial.
I have generally found EO Wilson's arguments persuasive. Consider the definition in human context:

1. cooperative brood care (including care of offspring from other individuals) and 2. overlapping generations within a colony of adults
- childcare, kindergarten, schooling, extended family, wards of the state, adoption & foster care

3. a division of labor into reproductive and non-reproductive groups. The division of labor creates specialized behavioral groups within an animal society which are sometimes called castes. Eusociality is distinguished from all other social systems because individuals of at least one caste usually lose the ability to perform at least one behavior characteristic of individuals in another caste.
- by the same token scientists, nurses, musicians, construction workers and so forth are also often not readiliy interchangeable.

Still, my main point there is that human society is structured in such a way that people must specialise, and this has consequences both in the desirability of diversity in expanding a society's capabilities and on an individual level, because we are so co-dependent that we tend to be individually incomplete, incapable of surviving away from the protection and resources of "the nest".

Belinda
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Re: Secular Spirituality

Post by Belinda » Mon Jan 15, 2018 1:09 pm

Marjoram-Blues wrote:
I think there is a suggestion of playing the devil's advocate.
A useful tool to enable further clarification of thought for the sake of debate.
I agree that devil's advocate is a useful tool.

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Re: Secular Spirituality

Post by marjoram_blues » Mon Jan 15, 2018 3:44 pm

Belinda wrote:
Mon Jan 15, 2018 1:09 pm
Marjoram-Blues wrote:
I think there is a suggestion of playing the devil's advocate.
A useful tool to enable further clarification of thought for the sake of debate.
I agree that devil's advocate is a useful tool.
Yeah, I noticed already.
My sweet honey-tongued spirit medium and guide told me to look out for angels bearing forks :evil: :)

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