Category Archives: History & Hallowed Memory

Now Trapped in the Material

We are now trapped in the material realm, thus for an age the test has shifted from obedience to deduction.

There is still enough divinity in us, though it be a muted fraction, to enable us to recognize its origin lies outside the material universe.

That part of you that doesn’t seem to belong in time, space, energy and matter — doesn’t.

That pebble in your shoe is your soul. You aren’t supposed to step on it, as if you could crush it. No, you are meant to stand on it to get a better view.

We all feel it. We all sense it, and have from our earliest moments on this Earth: we’re passing through.

Do you have the courage to peek through the window in your prison cell and see all that lies beyond the concrete and barbwire that surrounds you? It is amazing how many prisoners don’t even look outside any more: they have forgotten the glare of sunlight and the heat of the sun.

All the orphans who deny this do not pass the audition.

The children do.

Come to Light.

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Benedict Spinoza (1632-1677)

I. General Notions

Of the two problems left unsolved by Descartes (the determination of the relationship God and the world and between the soul and the body), Spinoza answers the first by affirming the unity of substance and reducing the world to a modification of this single substance. Neo-Platonic thought and the definition of substance given by Descartes (that which so exists as to need no other for its existence) justify, as far as Spinoza is concerned, the abolition of all duality, and the affirmation of the oneness of substance. This accomplished, he logically and inexorably develops all the pantheistic consequences implicit in the oneness of substance.

The second problem left by Descartes (the relationship between the soul — “res cogitans” — and the body — “res extensa”) remains open and unsolved in Spinoza. He reduces these two Cartesian substances to two attributes; and to explain their mutual dependence he is obliged to affirm dogmatically the existence of the psycho-physical law, in virtue of which what happens in the “attribute” of the soul automatically finds its correlative in the “attribute” of the body.

II. Life and Works

Baruch (or, as it was often rendered in its Latin equivalent, Benedictus) Spinoza was born in Amsterdam in 1632 of Jewish parents who had emigrated to Holland from the Iberian Peninsula. He received his early education in the Jewish academy of Amsterdam, where he acquired a knowledge of Scripture and of medieval Hebrew philosophy. The rationalism of his thinking while he was a student for the rabbinate resulted in his being invited to retract certain heterodox views. But in 1656, when he refused to make the retraction, he was expelled and excommunicated from the Synagogue of Amsterdam, and exiled from the city by the Protestant authority.

After a brief period of wandering, he settled down at The Hague, where he lived quietly, absorbed in the formulation of his system of thought. He provided for his limited material needs by preparing optical lenses. A small group of friends also gave him aid. During this time he refused a professorship at Heidelberg rather than compromise his freedom of thought. Wasted away by tuberculosis, he died at The Hague on February 21, 1677. His worldly possessions were barely sufficient to pay the debts contracted during his illness.

His principal works are: Tractatus brevis de Deo, De homine et ejus Felicitate (Short Treatise Concerning God, Man and His Happiness); Tractatus Theologico-Politicus (Theological-Political Treatise), which is unfinished; and Ethica More Geometrico Demonstrata (Ethics Demonstrated Through the Method of Geometry), his greatest work, which was published posthumously.

III. Metaphysics

Spinoza begins with the Cartesian concept of substance: that which exists by itself and which is conceived by itself — which means, that thing whose concept has no need of the concept of any other thing in order to be formed. Spinoza logically and rationally develops the latent pantheism of this Cartesian teaching to its extreme consequences.

For Spinoza, substance is the unconditioned, the absolute, God. It is unique and embraces all reality (this is pure pantheism); it is eternal, outside the limits of time, infinite, endowed with infinite attributes or perfections.

Of this infinity of attributes we know only two, thought and extension. Thus Spinoza abolished the Cartesian duality of substance (“res extensa” and “res cogitans”), reducing them to two perfections or attributes of the single substance.

Substance and its attributes constitute the “Natura naturans,” God. From God conceived of as “Natura naturans” necessarily proceed, as the unfolding of God’s very nature, man and the world of things, which Spinoza calls modes or modifications of the substance of God (Natura naturata”). The modes are determinations, temporal and finite aspects, of the divine attributes, thought and extension. They can be likened to the whitecaps on the ocean; they appear for a moment, only to be reabsorbed by the same waters that have produced them. We are thus in the realm of pure monistic-immanentist pantheism, whose terms are represented by substance, attributes and modes.

The supreme law which governs Spinoza’s reality is necessity: ironbound laws bind God to His attributes, and also determine these attributes in their modes of realization. God is free in the sense that nothing can impede the necessary and spontaneous unfolding of His nature, and not in the sense that He can choose different means of self-determination. Causality in God is a natural and necessary process which excludes all purpose or finalism.

Another fundamental law of Spinoza’s metaphysics is that of psycho-physical parallelism, which regulates the world of attributes, both in the divine substance and in its derived modes. The attributes of thought and extension are irreducible, according to the Cartesian concept, and any transition from one to the other is impossible.

Still, the series of phenomena manifesting themselves in thought coincides perfectly with the series of phenomena of extension. In other words, the order of ideas coincides with the order of bodies. This coincidence is guaranteed by the unity of substance of which such phenomena are the appearances or manifestations. Granted the irreducibility of thought to extension, no interaction between soul and body is possible; but granted psycho-physical coincidence or agreement, every manner of being and of operation of thought finds its equivalent in the being and operation of extension. Thus on the one hand there is the idea of a circle and on the other hand, corresponding to it, the actual existing circle.

In virtue of this psycho-parallelism and of the irreducibility of thought to extension, truth for Spinoza does not consist in the agreement of the mind with the thing, but in the correspondence of the mind of the knowing subject with the mind of the known subject.

IV. Man and Ethics

In a pantheistic metaphysics such as that of Spinoza, in which there is a single substance and all things are but finite and temporal modifications of this substance, there is no place for the traditional concept of man as a separate substance existing in himself and composed of a rational soul and a material body. Man, for Spinoza, is a derived mode of the attributes of God; the spirit is a mode of the attribute of thought, and the body a mode of the attribute of extension. Granted the principle of the mutual independence of thought and extension, it would be impossible to have any action of the spirit on the body.

Nor is there place in the metaphysics of Spinoza for an ethics in which the end of man is attained through human actions proceeding from free will. Free will is denied by Spinoza as impossible. Acts of the will can be reduced to cognitive acts, because by virtue of the psycho-physical law every act of knowledge has its corresponding act in the practical sphere.

Even though Spinoza denies the existence of the soul and the freedom of man, he recognizes various psychical activities in both the rational and the physical order. He envisions three stages of knowledge: As a further application of his psycho-physical law, he believes that there is complete parallelism between these three stages of knowledge, their three practical consequences, and the three degrees of morality corresponding to them. He explains this as follows:

  1. Sensible cognition is a subjective, inadequate and imperfect method of knowledge. It apprehends the world in the multiplicity of individual beings and not in relation to the eternal, to God. In this stage, man considers all beings as absolutes, contending with each other and opposing him. The practical aspect of this grade of knowledge is passion, for man is here in a state of passivity in his relation to things. Errors appear when man believes that he can make things different from what they actually are, that he can act upon them. The moral condition corresponding to this stage is slavery, for man lives in actual dependence as regards the external world.
  2. General rational knowledge embraces things in their indissoluble bond which, at the summit of the chain of causality, connects them with God. Things are known “sub specie aeternitatis.” This is the stage of science. In its practical aspect, such knowledge frees us from passion. Man is in a state of contemplation of the impassible and imperturbable order of the universe. The moral attitude here is Stoicism.
  3. Intuition is the knowledge of the finite essences in their origin through the consideration of the necessary and immutable order of the infinite essence of God. On this level, the diversity of beings is known in the unity of the divine substance, and man, while he is still limited by time, quantity and number, is freed from the consequences of the mutations and imperfections of nature. This mode of knowledge corresponds in the practical order to intellectual love of God, which is joy and enthusiasm deriving from the knowledge of a particular thing, together with the knowledge of its cause, God. For Spinoza, this love of man for God is returned by God, not as love between persons (for personality is excluded from his metaphysics), but inasmuch as man is identical, in a pantheistic sense, with God. This is a moral state of perfection in which the love of man for God is identical with the love of God for man, as it is merely love of God for Himself.

V. Politics

Spinoza treated the political problem and the religious problem in his Tractatus theologico-politicus.

The methods of government of state and Church, for Spinoza, are not conducive to the elaboration of a rational philosophy. Actions performed in view of the temporal and eternal punishments threatened by the state or by the Church depend on fear and hope, which for Spinoza are irrational passions. For Spinoza, too, the ultimate end of man is, as we realize, for him to know God through reason and to act in conformity with this knowledge. The state must aid man in this rational knowledge of God.

Spinoza holds that the state arose from a pact entered into by men, who at first lived in a condition of irrational nature and in perpetual war. Through this pact the members now composing the state renounced the use of force and violence in favor of authority or a sovereign who is the center of the state. The sovereign may use violence and force against the irrational instincts of his subjects. But this use of force is limited by rationality. Thus, if it should happen that the subjects are more rational than the sovereign, then by psycho-physical parallelism the state would fall, to give place to the rise of another state more rational than the first. Thus, according to Spinoza, has come about the passage from the natural state to the rational state, with a tendency to perfect rationality.

VI. Conclusion

Spinoza developed Cartesian Rationalism to its extreme consequences. He begins with the concept of substance, which, because it does not require another concept in order to be understood and to exist, is a clear concept and must be one. But he concludes with the most absolute pantheism.

Spinoza’s system did not meet with good reception at first, perhaps because it was not understood. Idealism took it over because it found in it the principal lineaments for a metaphysics in the idealist sense.

Continued…

Original article: Benedict Spinoza

The End of Civilization As We Know It? Part 2

If an ice age is coming soon, how will our lives be affected? In my first blog post in this series, I described the latest scientific research that demonstrates how continued global warming will bring on the next ice age and approximately when we can expect its onset. In this post I will describe the consequences the onset of the next ice age will create for modern civilization. In the final post in this series I will briefly summarize our options for delaying the dawn of the next ice age and review what preparations we should make ahead of its arrival.

Ice Age Consequence #1: Too Much Ice

Right now, only about 10 percent of Earth’s surface is covered by ice. At the height of the last ice age, about 23 percent of Earth’s surface was covered by ice. Figure 1 shows the regions of the northern hemisphere that were covered by at least 3 kilometers’ thickness of ice. In the southern hemisphere, New Zealand, Tasmania, and the southern part of Chile were covered with similarly thick layers of ice.

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Figure 1: Maximum Extent of Thick Ice Cover of the Northern Hemisphere during the Last Ice Age. The turquoise-colored parts of the map indicate those regions covered by at least a 3-kilometer (2-mile) thickness of ice. Winter sea ice extended as far south as Mexico in the Pacific and North Carolina and Spain in the Atlantic. Image credit: John S. Schlee, United States Geological Survey and Hannes Grobe, Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research.

In addition to those parts of Earth covered by ice 3 kilometers thick, there were many other regions covered by tens or hundreds of meters of ice. For example, in North America ice cover sufficient to prevent agriculture and the building of cities and transportation arteries extended south to Southern California.

Ice Age Consequence #2: Too Little River Water Flow

Regions of the world not covered by ice fields also would suffer. People there would find the water flow from rivers that they depend on to grow food largely locked up in ice that is not melting.

Ice Age Consequence #3: Depletion of Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide

Growing food would be a huge challenge for another reason—the depletion of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The greater the percentage of Earth’s surface covered by ice, the less concentration of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere.

This consequence occurs because greater ice coverage and lower global mean temperatures alter ocean currents. As a carbon isotope study revealed, these altered ocean currents remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and transport it to the deep ocean where it remains stored until ice coverage recedes and global mean temperatures rise.1

During the last ice age, the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration dropped down to 180–190 parts per million.2 The minimum requirement for plants to make any food at all through photosynthesis is 150 parts per million at sea level, 167 parts per million at 3,000 feet elevation, 187 parts per million at 6,000 feet elevation, and 210 parts per million at 9,000 feet elevation.3 At levels of 150–500 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, there is a direct correlation between that CO2 level in the atmosphere and the amount of food plants can produce through photosynthesis. Thus, it would be impossible to grow enough food to feed more than a billion humans under ice age conditions.

Ice Age Consequence #4: Extreme Climate Instability

It would be impossible to feed that many humans under ice age conditions for yet another reason. Only for the last 2.59 million years of Earth’s 4.566-billion-year history has there been an ice age cycle. Except for the past 0.009 million years, the ice age cycle has been characterized by extreme climate instability (see figure 2).

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Figure 2: Temperature Variability during the Last Ice Age. The blue and purple tracings portray the global mean temperature indicated by the GRIP and NGRIP Greenland ice cores, respectively. Image credit: Leland McInnes/Wikipedia Commons, CC-by-3.0.

This climate instability was characterized by unpredictable global mean temperature swings of up to 20°Fahrenheit (11°Celsius) on time scales of 2–3 centuries. Such radical climate instability explains why humans living during the last ice age were unable to launch and sustain any kind of large-scale civilization or sustain a large population.

Ice Age Consequence #5: Species Extinction

Because the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau are continuing to rise to higher elevations as a consequence of the ongoing tectonic collision between the Indian subcontinent and Asia, geophysicists confidently predict that the next ice age will be more catastrophic to life than the previous one. Specifically, they demonstrate that very likely the next ice age will result in even greater ice coverage, lower global mean temperatures, and lower atmospheric carbon dioxide levels than the previous ice age.

Most species of life presently on Earth, with appropriate human assistance, are capable of surviving these more dire consequences. However, many are not. The probable extinction of hundreds, if not thousands, of species of life will inevitably disturb ecosystems and eco-balances. Such disturbances will then impact human civilization.

Technological Fixes?

Today, we possess the technology to ameliorate some of the more dire consequences brought on by the next ice age. For example, we could build glass-enclosed greenhouses on top of the more stable ice fields. We could heat these greenhouses and, at appropriate time intervals, augment the carbon dioxide concentration inside them. Since soil would be in much shorter supply and difficult to transport, we could employ hydroponic technology to grow crops inside greenhouses. Since fresh liquid water also would be in short supply, we could use a variety of energy sources to melt the abundant ice. However, no matter how much technology we marshal toward food production, it is highly unlikely that we could produce as much food as we do today.

In my third blog post, I will discuss other possible technological fixes aimed at ameliorating the consequences the next ice age is bound to bring. I will also briefly summarize to what degree we can use technology to delay its onset and review the preparations we should undertake right now in anticipation of the arrival of the life-altering event.

Original article: The End of Civilization As We Know It? Part 2

The Message of Lu-diĝira to His Mother

1-8. Royal courier, start the journey! I want to send you to Nibru — deliver this message! You are going on a long journey. My mother {is worried, she cannot sleep} {(1 ms. has instead:) is too (?) …… to sleep}. Although the way to {her} {(1 ms. has instead:) the closed} woman’s domain is blocked, deliver my letter of greeting into her hands, {as she keeps asking} {(1 ms. has instead:) and then she will not keep asking} the {travellers} {(1 ms. has instead:) wayfarers} about my well-being. Then my mother will be delighted, and will treat you most kindly (?) for it.

9-20. In case you should not recognise my mother, let me describe her to you. Her name is {Šat-Eštar} {(1 ms. has instead:Šimat-Eštar}, {…… by her words} {(some mss. have instead:) ……} ……. Her body, face and limbs, and outer appearance are ……. She is the fair goddess of her city-quarter. Her fate has been decided since the days of her youth. Single-handed she keeps in order the house of her father-in-law. She serves humbly before her divine mistress. She knows how to look after Inana’s place. She never disobeys the {orders} {(1 ms. has instead:) wishes} of the king. She is energetic and causes possessions to multiply. She is loving, gentle, and lively. By nature she is a lamb, sweet butter, honey, flowing ghee.

21-31. Let me give you another description of my mother: My mother is like the bright light {in the sky} {(1 ms. has instead:) on the horizon}, a doe on the hillsides. She is the morning star, {shining even at noon-time} {(1 ms. has instead:) providing plenty of light}. She is precious cornelian, a topaz from Marḫaši. She is the jewellery of a king’s brother, full of beauty. She is {a cylinder seal of nir stone, an ornament like the sun} {(1 ms. has instead:) a cornelian jewel, an ornamental drinking cup} {(1 ms. has instead:) a cornelian ……, an ornament of nir stone} {(1 ms. has instead:) a …… jewel, a beautiful drinking cup}. She is a bracelet of tin, a ring of antasura metal. She is a nugget of shining gold and silver, {but which is living and draws breath ……} {(1 ms. has instead:) …… and breathing} {(1 ms. has instead:) …… place ……}. She is an alabaster statuette of a protective goddess standing on a pedestal of lapis lazuli. She is {a polished rod of ivory} {(2 mss. have instead:) a living figurine (?)}, {with limbs full of beauty} {(1 ms. has instead:) ……} {(1 ms. has instead:) full of pleasure}.

32-39. Let me give you a third description of my mother: My mother is {rain from heaven} {(1 ms. has instead:) timely rain}, water for the finest seeds. She is a bountiful harvest of {fully-grown fine barley} {(1 ms. has instead:) ripe, exceedingly fine barley} {(1 ms. has instead:) heavenly ……} {(1 ms. has instead:) ripe maturity (?) ……}. She is a garden of {……} {(1 ms. has instead:) delights}, {full of laughter} {(1 ms. has instead:) filled with rejoicing}. She is a well-irrigated pine tree, {an adorned juniper} {(1 ms. has instead:) adorned with pine-cones}. She is early fruit, the {products} {(1 ms. has instead:) garden’s yield} of the first month. She is an irrigation ditch bringing fertilising water to the garden plots. She is a sweet Dilmun date, a prime date much sought after.

40-46. Let me give you a fourth description of my mother: My mother fills the festivals and offerings with joy. She is {an akitum offering} {(1 ms. has instead:) the akitum festival}, awesome (?) to look upon. She is the offspring, {the child} {(1 ms. has instead:) the daughter} of the king, a song of abundance. She is a place of entertainment set up for delights. {(1 ms. adds:) …… fruit …… abundance.} She is a lover, a loving heart who never becomes sated with pleasure. She is the good news that the captive will return {to his mother} {(1 ms. has instead:) to celebrate}.

47-52. Let me give you a fifth description of my mother: My mother is a palm-tree, with the sweetest fragrance. She is a chariot of juniper wood, a sedan chair of boxwood. She is {a fine cloth} {(1 ms. has instead:) a good ……} perfumed with refined oil. She is a bunch of grapes, a garland (?) {growing luxuriantly} {(1 ms. has instead:) perfect in luxuriant growth}. {She} {(1 ms. has instead:) My mother} is a phial made from an ostrich egg, {overflowing} {(1 ms. has instead:) full} with {finest} {(1 ms. has instead:) perfumed} oil. {(1 ms. adds:) She is a fair woman, accompanied by a protective goddess ……. She is a woman who will show you compassion like (?) Aruru, …… born …….}

53-54. {When, thanks to the descriptions I have given you, you stand in her (?) radiant presence, tell her: “Your beloved son Lu-diĝira is in good health.”} {(1 ms. has instead:) The descriptions I have given you describe (?) her (?) appearance. A most fair woman accompanied by many protective goddesses, she is my mother. Pay attention, …… joyfully ……: “Your beloved son Lu-diĝira is in good health ……”, tell her …….
1 line fragmentary}

Original article: Ludigira’s Message to His Mother

The Short Life of Zoey Daggett

Zoey Daggett

A tragic photograph captured grieving parents holding their 5-year-old daughter just hours before she died.

Casey and Ben Daggett of Fairport, N.Y., knew their daughter Zoey did not have much time left when they woke on July 4, but they were not aware that the picture would be the last one taken before she died.

“We were noticing that her [Zoey] fingers were turning bluer and she was getting more pale,” Casey Daggett told People. “We had the nurses come and visit in the morning and we were just sitting with her. They knew that she was getting closer [to death]. So we sat with her and held on to her. We all just sat with her and waited.”

Zoey took her last breath almost exactly two years after she was diagnosed with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), the family said. The family spent the day listening to music and watching one of Zoey’s favorite movies, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” NBC 2 reported.

“Midway through the movie that was it,” Ben Daggett told NBC 2.

At 4:17pm on July 4th 2018 the firecracker of a daughter that we named Zoey Catherine Daggett was finally allowed peace and left her beautiful body. She came into this world on 10/17 at 9:17pm with a flurry of commotion and she left just as quickly; just one day shy of 2 years since her first symptoms of DIPG appeared.

Zoey was full of life, spunk and happiness and we know that she was loved by so many. We ask for your thoughts during this time of sadness.

The father said his daughter stopped responding to radiation about one month before her death.

“It was probably a month ago we kind of figured out that the radiation wasn’t working anymore,” he said.

The Daggetts said their daughter received the devastating diagnosis after she fell at the park and began limping. They took her to see if she had any broken bones but she was fine. A few days later, Zoey was transported to the emergency room after losing mobility in her hand. There, doctors found a brain tumor.

Casey Daggett recalled the nurses taking the photo of her daughter just hours before her death.

“We were both talking to her and crying,” she recalled. “I was saying, ‘It’s OK. It’s OK to let go. You’re gonna be OK. You’re gonna see people that you love. Just let go.’ I was trying to talk her into letting go because I knew her body had already gone through so much. It was so sad.”

Zoey’s funeral was held on Monday.

“I’m gonna miss her snuggles. [She] just had to be with me all the time and I miss that,” Casey Daggett said. “I loved her laugh and the way she always wanted to talk to people and say ‘hello’ to people. She was so outgoing and would run up to people and give them big hugs. It was who she was in spirit. She was a giant ball of happiness.”

Original article: The Short Life of Zoey Daggett