Posts

Transcendence and Immanence

The opposition between what’s beyond us in some way - transcendent - and what is inherent to us - immanent, is one of the big tensions in history. But I think all opposites are fake. Take a company as an example, is it transcendent or immanent? We often talk about corporations as if they’re transcendent things, actual Beings that rule over us. But if you’ve worked in a corporation you know it’s not simple, people like you and me work in corporations, so they’re us in some way. They’re immanent. But they also go beyond us in some ways, nobody within an organisation actually controls it. There’s transcendence there.

Language is the same. I’m using these words, but I didn’t invent them, they’re transcendent to me in some way. But I can also shape them myself, have some choice how to use them; they’re also immanent. All things are both transcendent and immanent, at the same time. We often miss that I think, looking for transcendences like ‘God’ or ‘the government’ or ‘capita…

Our Peaceful TImes

Data and visuals suggesting strongly that today is easily the most peaceful time in human history. Also shows that States or governments - the things many have a passion for destroying today in their hatred of government and politicans - have always historically been associated with massive reductions in violence.

Finally the slides ponder why we've become more peaceful over time, and assumes this must be because of something people are doing differently. I don't think it's that, it's because we've built things called 'technologies', that are actually social webs of people. People alone will generally fight to the last person standing, you need objects to bring peace.

https://ourworldindata.org/slides/war-and-violence/#/end-slide

Machines are us.

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Our politics looks like society is at war, but actually we live in some of the most peaceful times in human history. It’s impossible to understand that paradox I think if you only look at humans. An example - trains. When trains first came to towns, they didn’t just bring transport and freight. The train linked the people in the town directly to people everywhere else. Goods brought into and taken out of town set up relationships between the people in the town and the producers of the goods. Suddenly a fisherman on the coast had a customer in the bush, and the two now had an ongoing tie between them. Etc. 

I think this is how society is actually held together. Technology isn’t a tool, it’s a complex web of social ties. Here is also the world’s first org chart, which a railway also produced. You can see directly on the chart how those social ties were beginning to be created. All of those people were now connected in an ongoing way, their lives and work were reliant upon …

Posture. The Great Big Rump.

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Many of us work in offices, where a large part of every day involves sitting at a desk. Something we practiced for years at school as well. Musculoskeletal disorders have emerged to reflect this, with a proliferation of different forms of strain and injury caused (apparently) by all of this desk work.  And in recent years there has been even more alarming news for desk workers, with claims that too much sitting can even be lethal, this sort of thing: https://www.washingtonpost.com/apps/g/page/national/the-health-hazards-of-sitting/750/

Is sitting really so terrible? It seems the most innocuous and gentle of human activities. Arguments will be made that it's the amount of sitting that we now do which is the problem, that we're more sedentary than our ancestors. That sedentary idea is important here, much of the danger of sitting relates to it (again, apparently) being a static, unmoving thing, unlike walking or running for example.

That's a framework which needs a bit of t…

Two ways to approach presence. One hopefully much easier than the other.

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Presence traditions, particularly mindfulness, are popular and making inroads into both personal and professional life, including into medicine. 
The basic approach is as simple a thing as you could imagine. Just let go, let things be as they are, discover the power of letting yourself automatically respond to things rather than always reacting to them. To not try to make things right or any particular way, but to let them them just be as they actually are. Whether that be in your body, in your activities, or whatever. 
Common training in achieving this sort of presence includes people being encouraged to learn again how to pay attention to things, to focus on their senses; on what they see, hear, smell, touch, and so on. It's this attentional workout that can lead people astray, however, or at least get them stuck in years of repetitive, fairly meaningless sensing. A sort of trap, where people continue to be as reactive as they always were, while simply changing the focus of the…

OMG. God stuff.

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Look down after rain and you'll often see this, leaves and other plant material arranged neatly into long arcs, with silt banked up on the concave side. Sometimes there are many rows of these arcs. This is the way that bare ground is often re-vegetated, the wall of plant debris traps silt, which builds up new soil behind the wall. Grass and other plants then grow in this soil, and what was previously bare ground is now covered.
What's wonderful about this is that it happens all by itself. Looking down at these soil traps, in their regular rows, it would be tempting to assume somebody had organised the whole thing. But the water and plant material and soil do all of this by themselves. 
In the debates between atheists and those in traditional religions, there is a lot these little walls of leaves have to teach people. Most of these debates revolve around the nature of design and purpose in the world, about whether somebody or something (God) is behind the scenes pulling string…

Why organisational culture, values and leadership might be things to leave alone

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(No it isn't.)
Anybody who works in an organisation, particularly a large organisation, will have noticed in recent years much talk about 3 things:

1) organisational culture
2) organisational values (and mission), and
3) leadership.

I'm going to suggest that if you're focused on these things, you may be barking up the wrong tree. And it's a long story as to why this might be.

To cut the long story short, for hundreds of years if not longer, much of the West has used a distinction it calls the "fact-value distinction" (Hume for example codified this clearly). Or in other words, it's made a sharp split between what "is", and what "ought to be", claiming that you can't argue what ought to be simply from what is.

This extends into values more generally. So it's one thing (apparently) to have some sort of facts about the world - how the world is - but another to overlay these with how you value these facts. For example, under this s…