Sunday, 11 June 2017


Two Ways To Perceive The World
The separate selfhood that we grew up with.
The universal consciousness that we can realize.

Two Ways To Perceive Society
Acceptance of the status quo.
Recognition of the need for a fundamental transformation.

Optimal States
Now: both universal and revolutionary consciousness.
Potentially: universal consciousness in a transformed society.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

In The Beginning...

In the beginning, there was neither a Creator nor a Designer but unconscious being.
Being is realizing its potential to become conscious.
The development towards consciousness was necessarily unplanned, undesigned and unconscious.
Many unconscious processes sustain consciousness.

Bodily functions and even many mental processes are unconscious.
Social processes are mediated through individual consciousnesses.
However, individuals may remain unconscious of the nature of social processes.
We were preceded, and are surrounded, by unconsciousness.

The revolutionary party tries to organize the most politically conscious members of the working class.
Zen meditators practise consciousness of mental processes.
Neither individual nor social consciousness has yet been fully realized.
Any hypothetical superhuman consciousnesses must also have risen from unconsciousness.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

A Time Of Legends

(St Paul and the philosophers. Dig it. That is where I would be.)

SM Stirling, The Scourge Of God (New York, 2009), Chapter One.

Catholics and Wiccans find that they are living in a time of legends and do not like it.

"'But even Our Lord was refused when he asked that the cup pass from him.'" (p. 46)

This I do not get. What happened in antiquity?

(i) Pagans sacrificed animals to many gods.
(ii) Jews sacrificed animals to one God.
(iii) Jesus' followers believed that he was the Messiah who would lead them to victory...
(iv) ...but were traumatized by his execution as a criminal - conclusive proof that he was not the Messiah.
(v) Therefore, they reinterpreted scriptures as prophesying that the Messiah must suffer, then rise.
(vi) Paul interpreted the Crucifixion as a perfect sacrifice ending sin, the Law and every other sacrifice.
(vii) Pauline Christianity fitted the Roman Empire which wanted monotheism without divisive dietary laws or repeated animal sacrifices.
(viii) But do we now believe in the efficacy of sacrifice?

I do not understand how this belief can make sense now. Of course, if someone believes that the Resurrection happened, then they have to believe that the Crucifixion also happened and has some significance but what? I do not buy:

all have sinned;
therefore, all have deserved to suffer and die;
but Jesus took it all on himself;
but, being perfect, could not stay dead;

CS Lewis' soft sf assumes the truth of Christianity. Poul Anderson's and SM Stirling's Christian characters discuss their beliefs. Christianity remains widespread in the real world. So it merits discussion.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017


Zazen is:

"Neither trying to think nor trying not to think;
"Just sitting with no deliberate thought."

I have been trying not to think. Zazen is just sitting with awareness and natural thought. How do we remain alert and prevent abstraction?

I have also been trying to be aware of each natural thought as it arises. However:

to think about x is to attend to x;
to be aware of a thought is to attend to the thought;
thus, I have been trying to attend to the attention to x.

I can become aware that I have been attending to x but, at the moment when the natural thought arises, I am attending only to x. Zazen is becoming aware.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

One Detail Of Sikhism

Sikh men are surnamed "Singh" whereas Sikh women are surnamed "Kaur."

"Singh" means "lion" so does "kaur" mean "lioness"? See SM Stirling, The Sunrise Lands (New York, 2008), Chapter Eight, p.  187. If so, should the two words not have the same root but with an affix for feminine gender?

When learning about Sikhism, I was told or read that "kaur" means "princess." See here.

The Wiki article here tells us that "kaur" means "prince" but is applied to women as a sign of their equality.

Fictional Religions And Philosophies

In fictional works by Poul Anderson, we read about:

the Cosmic religion
Jerusalem Catholicism
the Ythrian New Faith
Ishtarian religion
Veleda's myth
the Johannine Church

SM Stirling presents the Anglo-Indian religion of the Angrezi Raj, the debased cult of the Peacock Angel (see here and here), a Theosophical "Church Universal and Triumphant" and a Wicca that is more neo- than pagan (see combox here).

Robert Heinlein presents the Angels of the Lord, the Fosterite Church of the New Revelation (for both of these, see here) and a new Martian religion.

In at least two of these cases, Cosmenosis and Wicca, it is possible to get into discussing whether these are viable world-views. Do the Wiccan Gods literally exist in this alternative history of Stirling's? A "Son of God" is a divine agent. "The Sword of the Lady" would be also.

Friday, 31 March 2017

Logic And Timelines

When I studied logic at University, I learned:

if p, then not not-p;
not (p and not-p);
either p or not-p.

For example, if it is the case that Socrates was executed in 399 BC, then it is not the case that Socrates was not executed in 399 BC - unless there are alternative timelines, in which case logical consistency is maintained by making our propositions, p and not-p, more specific. Thus, if it is the case that Socrates was executed in 399 BC in timeline 1, then it is not the case that Socrates was not executed in 399 BC in timeline 1.

This may seem obvious but I meet people who get their idea of logic not from Aristotle or his successors but from Mr Spock. "Logic" means something like thinking rigidly and unemotionally instead of just thinking and speaking consistently which everyone tries to do. No one openly contradicts himself on a matter of fact, then says, "I am free to contradict myself because I am not bound by logic like Mr Spock." And anyone who did say that would not succeed in telling us anything. "Socrates both was and was not executed in 399 BC in timeline 1 and I am free to contradict myself..."

It might be imagined that a rigidly "logical" thinker, having denied that Socrates could both be executed and not be executed in 399 BC, would then compound his rigidity by denying that there can be alternative timelines. Merely to reply that Mr Spock experiences alternative timelines is to confuse a conceptual question with an empirical question.

A conceptual question: Are alternative timelines possible?
Answer: Yes. There is no reason why not. No contradiction is involved.

An empirical question: Do alternative timelines in fact exist?
Answer, within the framework of the Star Trek narrative: Yes. They have been discovered and entered.

Not only Star Trek. We are grateful for the alternative timelines of Poul Anderson, SM Stirling and Harry Turtledove.