Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Philosophy - pushing at the edges and Item 1a) on the Design Tour

Well as we've reached the end of Nagel's 'What Does it all Mean' in our CityLit Key Themes class there was an opportunity to move beyond the barriers of the traditional Western philosophy to put our delicate feet into the pool of what might be considered Eastern Philosophies.
The Doors of Enlightenment 

The reading and videos associated with the penultimate session were around Buddhism and these from a Japanese/American  perspective featuring a brace of Suzuki's (Messrs D.T. and Shunryu Suzuki) - well I took some time ahead of the lesson and read and watched what I could,

I was somewhat puzzled by the nature of what they said and was hopeful of illumination from the class.

What concerned me was 'is this philosophy - it felt in places from the descriptions and debate that Buddhism might be more like a religion, which I'm somewhat embarrassed to admit set up my hackles.

Playing against this view some of what was described did seem to relate to the questions that Philosophers in the Western tradition had asked but the answers offered seemed to be more associated with sacred texts than  'conclusions' reached at by the probing of solutions with rational arguments.

Scott (our teacher) had some challenges in bringing the idea to the class, he described the practice of Zen Buddhism from his own experiences and another of the class described his experience in Wales (this one perhaps?) of taking part in a Buddhist retreat (my description) where mobile phones were not permitted and participants were taken away from distractions  and therefore required to 'confront themselves'.

Scott also spoke about The Archer Paradox' where the divisibility of space  points towards separation being something of an illusion.

He also posited that Western Philosophy was typically about what can be described in words (it does sometimes seem to get bogged down in this) whereas the Eastern Philosphy was (perhaps) more experiential.

While I felt that the lesson was worthwhile my 'personal' view is that those who 'use' such methods are using a 'coping' tool much as those in the business of Freudian and other analytical  Psychology  might argue against CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy)  as a full answer to Psychological issues.

[Footnote: Odd that the excellent  In Our Time (with Melvyn Bragg) should be looking at Zen as part of its examination of influences this week]

 Item 1a) on the Design Tour

And that Museum

Well I'm beginning to put together my first go at a Design tour and today I visited the Design Museum again, I've decided to have two possible openings, one uses The AK47 as the first element .

That gun
The selection is  perhaps controversial but should help get people engaging with the issues.

The designer of the AK 47, Mikhail Kalashnikov died earlier this year - he is said to have regretted that the design which he's remembered was an effective machine for killing people.

What we might note from the success is that it has performed it's task well it has been used for something more than 60 years and it remains iconic where guerilla warfare  is undertaken.

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