Welcome to the Speakings podcast! My name is Sondra: I'm a writer, philosopher, and lover of (among other things) trees, artisan chocolate, old bookstores, and other human and non-human beings. Both my philosophical and creative projects explore ways of being-in-the-world that are more rational and more connected to the broader body of the earth. In this podcast, I hope to capture the dynamism of philosophical and spiritual thought by speaking in an unscripted manner, belonging to the moment as fully as possible. If you have questions, comments, or suggestions for future topics, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also check out my website at www.sondrawriter.com, where you'll find my essays and links to my memoir.
You can find the synopsis of this episode, further notes, and a convenient place to comment here. I will also periodically update my thoughts on this episode's content at that same link.
Here are some key points in today's "speaking":
Humans must analogize in order to self-define: are we a little lower than the gods or a little higher than the apes?
All disciplines are founded on a key “as if,” a founding tautology that cannot itself be explained (the system cannot explain that which possibilizes explanation). Philosopher Alfred Lord Whitehead wrote that all first principles are “metaphors mutely appealing for an imaginative leap.”
In other words, all worldviews are built not on facts, but on metaphors.
Today's modern "Western" worldview is biased towards the biologically abstract while excluding the biological senses (e.g. it's not true, it's just hormones, a chemical imbalance, etc.).
Bias is seen as impediment, as if the person were an obstacle to truth. Rather than defining truth as a gathering/composite of diverse perspectives, we see truth as the exclusion of particularity— particular persons and particular bodies.
I believe that all experiences are "true" and that the truth is always in excess of those experiences. My experience cannot exhaust reality and it cannot be reduced to a single cause either.
In Meghan O'Gieblyn's book, God, Human, Animal, Machine: Technology, Metaphor, and the Search for Meaning, she describes the founding metaphor of cognitive science as the computer. Thus, not a single intelligible statement can be made about the brain (within cognitive science/ neuroscience) outside of this metaphor. This is only dangerous when we begin to believe this is the only metaphor that can be used to speak of the brain, or that the brain can be reduced to a single metaphorical framework.
Idolatry (speaking conceptually, in the manner of Jean Luc Marion) occurs when the gaze gets trapped in the object. Our self-defining gaze is highly prone to becoming trapped in the objects we make.
Example of conceptual idolatry: philosophers and physicists (like Neil deGrasse Tyson, Nick Bostrom, David Chalmers, and others) claim that there is a high likelihood that we are living in a computer simulation. This is a strange reversal of the technology-creator relationship in which the created object is seen to have pre-existed and invented the creator!
There is no way to properly understand the origins of the human without invoking (at some point) a mythology. We understand ourselves through conceptual tools, but the hammer did not invent the carpenter, and evolution is not our creator-god.
Reality—humans included— cannot be reduced to any explanation, religious, scientific, or otherwise.
Intro and outro music is L'épisode cévenol by Circus Marcus, from the Free Music Archive. License type: CC BY-NC.