Monthly Archives: November 2013

A Brief Analysis of Stoicism

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This week ending 1 December is the second annual international Live Like A Stoic Week. When I began research a few days ago in order to rush out a quick post for the event I had forgotten how much I was inspired by Stoicism, and consequently I my essays are too involved to finish in time.

After some pestering, Toby Coe has kindly come to the rescue with this brief analysis. He said he read the Meditations, so I hope he didn’t mean Descartes’ or this is going to be a very short post indeed.

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The Roman Emperor and Stoic, Marcus Aurelius (pictured) writes:

…philosophy doth consist in this, for a man to preserve that spirit which is within him, from all manner of contumelies and injuries, and never do anything either rashly, or feignedly, or hypocritically…”1

This is a very elegant summary of one of the core features of Stoic philosophy, namely, a moral and spiritual view of the task of philosophy. Philosophy is to provide a man the ability to cope with misfortune and not to be dominated by the passions that often make us attached to things that are fragile: fame, wealth and security.

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Encountering Henri Bortoft

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This UNESCO World Philosophy Day, 2013, I thought it would be good to look for thinkers who are under appreciated. The (recently) late Henri Bortort is, I suspect, such a thinker. He was a phenomenologist whose major contributions revolve around our approach to complex systems, phenomena which find significance in environmental science, linguistics, business, and digital technology, among other disciplines. (Please excuse the few grammatical errors- it’s a great piece from a fascinating blog.)

Transition Consciousness

Now that I am beginning to lecture and teach complexity, many people are asking me about who I teach, and what my key references are. This is quite a difficult question to answer on a number of levels, especially when you are trying to teach people that “thinking” is just one of the ways of knowing the world, and that “sensing”, “feeling” and “intuition” are just as important.

One very key person who I admire greatly and who I base much of my work around is that of Henri Bortoft, author of the book “The Wholeness of Nature: Goethe’s Way of Science”.  I remember reading this book for the first time around February 2009, in preparation for my MSc in Holistic Science at Schumacher College.  I had been recommended this book since Henri teaches the first week of the MSc, and Henri’s philosophy provides one of the foundation stones for…

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Can you kill a goat by staring at it? A critical look at minimally invasive education

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Happy World Philosophy Day!! Here’s an excellent piece on educational innovation and the need for philosophical skills to supplement e-learning. Click through to the site to read the whole article.

philosophyfoundation

In his renowned ‘Hole in the Wall’ experiments in developing countries, Dr Sugata Mitra gave children access to an internet-connected computer and left them to learn what they could, unsupervised, with apparently remarkable results.

Photo 1 (Hole in the Wall 1)

At an internet kiosk in a New Delhi slum, local children figured out how to search the Web, learned English, gleaned information from a variety of websites and taught each other what they had learned. Similarly, with access to a streetside computer in a south Indian village, Tamil-speaking kids managed to figure out basic principles of DNA replication by playing around with English-language web material on their own. ‘Minimally invasive education’ is how Dr Mitra describes this method, alluding to the high-impact, low-disruption techniques of minimally invasive medicine.

Photo 2 (Hole in the Wall 2)

Hole in the Wall: Minimally Invasive Learning Stations designed by Dr Sugata Mitra. Top photo: source unknown. Bottom photo by Philippe Tarbouriech, Jaipur, Rajasthan.

This novel educational approach has garnered…

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Poppies For Peace?

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The elusive peace poppy - but does it do justice to the fight against militarism?

The elusive peace poppy – does it do justice to the fight against militarism?

In 2011 Prince William called the (red) poppy “the universal symbol of remembrance”, and from my experience of England it would be near-impossible to disagree with him. In late October / early November, in every kind of workplace it is expected for people to wear them, in public most people are wearing them, and on television they are evidently compulsory. It is not just this social conformity that we must be suspicious of, but that this potent symbolism has permeated our daily lives to the point of ubiquity. Read the rest of this entry

Yucky Girly Nature

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Some robust points here which I fully agree with; click the link to view the full article. // My comment: In this age of soundbite tweets the term ‘ecofeminist’ is useful firstly just to save the effort of writing both environmentalist and feminist. Secondly, it marks out an environmentalism which, rather than being a single-issue concern with fixing climate change to save our own arses, is grounded in a consistent life ethic, a set of values that give us guidance across all moral questions. These values are feminine in the sense that they are the humanistic values that have been emphasised from the types of experiences that have historically tended to be those of women. No claim to gender essentialism is necessary, but it is important for women to challenge patriarchal ideology that domination, for example, is a much higher value than care.

lizmckinnell

This is one of those needing-to-get-something-off-my-chest posts, or to put it a more gendered way, one of those things-that-get-on-my-tits posts.

Something that I have come to notice in a few discussions lately (in academic articles, conference papers and on internet discussion forums – it gets everywhere) is a particular identification of women with nature. Of course, this is not a new thing – it has been around for thousands of years. I have been seeing it come up in order to make points supposedly in support of feminist ideas, and also in support of pretty silly anti-feminist ones that should have been consigned to the dustbin quite some time ago.

So let’s get something straight – as a woman I do not have privileged access to the secrets of life. Having a vagina, breasts and a womb does not put me in touch with the sacred feminine. I do not…

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