Recently ….

So I’m back, and have posted next to nothing – typical! This isn’t for a lack of things to say, so much as a lack of time and space in which to compose my thoughts and write them down. I have been fascinated by the news reports lately … I look at the ‘POTUS’ and think to myself, Marty McFly must have done something horribly wrong, because Biff is in the White House! But that’s how life goes sometimes … comedy, drama, suspense, and in modern times, apparently all uploaded to Twitter in the dark hours of the morning!

I also decided to add a contact page to this blog – for me, it’s better than posting my Email address and I’m happy to see that WordPress has made this option available for us bloggers!

I hope Ostara went well for all you readers, and hope the emerging Spring will allow some fertile sanity to grow amidst the madness that seems to have overrun our society!

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AI

Artificial Intelligence  – this article from Reuters, describing Elon Musk’s claim that we will soon have to implant technology into our brains just to keep up with the output of AI-enhanced computers of the near future, opens a philosophical side to the topic by asking whether or not augmenting our brains with computers will have an impact on our sense of humanity. I think this is a good question to ask, and I think it’s a discussion that needs to happen at all levels.

First, although I grew up with plenty of science-fiction, I’d like to clarify that I have very little fear of robot monsters prowling through time and space, subjugating life on our planet. I fear the human monsters of politics, economics and outright madness. Who commands the most money and influence will obviously command access to the better technologies; and will thus command a massive advantage over those who do not. Looking at the world today, I see a tendency to do this already, I worry over the potential to enhance it with the kind of AI Musk imagines for us. Flaws in any system, intentional or not, are to be expected – I’m wary of implanting something in my brain that might pick up a virus from an unfriendly group, government, corporation, or even a simple madman with time on his hands and a point to prove.

I think the Reuters article asks a valid question. My answer is that I do not believe AI itself will affect our sense of humanity. I believe instead that it will simply amplify our ability to act upon whatever sense of humanity we already possess. Looking at the world today, I can see where this could be both blessing and curse. Let us hope that our common senses of humanity and good-naturedness somehow evolve faster than AI technologies.

Relative Being, expanding

Some readers will already be familiar with my work concerning the meta-religion, On Relative Being, as I’ve mentioned it and linked to it a few times in this blog before. I have decided to expand this work by giving Relative Being its own series of pages in this blog, where I will further explore topics that I have previously only scratched the surface of. This will be a process – I’m not introducing this as a book, where all the chapters are already written – it is rather something I intend to add to as time progresses. I welcome input from readers when it comes to this meta-religion I’m in the process of creating; and as I have tried to build Relative Being to be a perspective all could share and take part in, I think it only makes sense when mine is not the only perspective represented during the process of its creation and refinement.

For anyone interested, I have created a link at the top of this blog (next to my About, Copyright and Paganism pages) that leads to a preface, a table of contents showing what will eventually be covered, and the individual explorations, themselves. All pages, with the possible exception of the table of contents, will be open to comment and discussion.

* Upon further reflection, I decided that a different name might be more appropriate and descriptive for this work, that being AEON (Animated Echoes of Nature). I have changed the name in the pages referred to in this post to reflect this, and edited this post on 13. May 2016 to clarify this change.

Sum, ergo ego

Elsewhere on the internet today, someone asked a question about why it seems like everyone is hating the ego these days. What I thought would originally be a short response turned out to be a little more involved – since I think this question and my response to it would fit here, I’m posting it :-)

“Funny how words get changed over the years. ‘Ego’ at its root simply refers to the self.

I think the problem is more with inflated egos than with ego itself; and I think a lot of people don’t understand the difference … it’s a sort of mass knee-jerk reaction, where people hear about the dangers of inflated and overly-gratified egos and think elimination of the ego is the best solution. I knew a man once who tried to kill a mosquito with a shotgun – it’s much the same with ego. There is also a trend in Western society to embrace elements of Eastern philosophy; which to some extent advocates an attempt to eliminate the ego. The attempt, like any attempt toward the ideal, is not designed to succeed – however through the process of attempting, the ego achieves a lesser state of gratification (this is why I say that Eastern philosophy advocates the elimination of ego ‘to some extent’).

In Western philosophy, the school of Stoicism, to which I adhere, pursues not the eradication of ego, but rather the replacement of the selfish ego with a more altruistic focus. This seems to me to be more in line with my concept of what is Natural … we all have an ego, it is a part of our Natural condition, and trying to sweep it under a rug and pretend like we don’t have one tends to solve nothing. I prefer the approach that allows this to be, yet focuses on ways to make the ego lean and healthy, rather than inflated to a point where it can serve no purpose other than its own continued inflation. Consumerism is, therefore, anathema for me – it does little more than promote excessive ego gratification for the purpose of making money that doesn’t belong to us anyway.

From psychology, we often hear about the perils of narcissism, and I’ve seen in a lot of places where people are confusing pathological narcissism with hyped-up egos … actually, the converse is true, as clinical narcissists tend to have egos that are locked in the darkest dungeons of their psyches. Such people find it difficult, if not impossible, to receive gratification from within and must therefore seek it from external sources. In a society fixated on consumerism, where there is a mass knee-jerk reaction that tries to vilify the ego and shame people for having one, it’s scarce wonder why narcissism seems to be getting closer to epidemic status.”

Between science and religion

I just finished reading an article, published on the Huffington Post US Edition, discussing a recent scientific study that suggests our faith and our reason are located in different portions of our brains. The article suggests that this study supports the idea that in order to experience either faith or reason, we must first suspend the other. I’m excited by this article for a few reasons, first and foremost among them being that I am generally pleased when modern science treats faith as something other than an unfortunate mental condition!

Another reason why this excites me is because it (the supposed ‘conflict’ between science and religion / spirituality) is a topic that I went to great lengths to discuss in my essay, On Relative Being. This essay introduces a meta-religion of my own creation that, among other things, bridges the gap between science and religion. Relative Being incorporates both belief and reason as a part of the same experience, while providing a history on where this supposed schism came from. It is on this ground that I disagree with the point raised by the Huffington Post article, that the different perceptions of experience being housed in different parts of the brain in some way lend validity to the separation of these two ways of perceiving the Universe: different regions of one brain are still parts of the same brain. We can experience belief and reason simultaneously.