Saturday, 24 October 2015

Restoring the mysterious Self

Great essay about the relationship between the humanities and neuroscience:

http://www.thenation.com/article/humanism-science-and-the-radical-expansion-of-the-possible/

The author, philosopher and novelist Marilynne Robinson, defends the humanities and the existence of 'the self' on the basis of recent scientific developments, showing that some of neuroscience's claims like the denial of the existence of 'self', are unscientific.

Some quotes:

Mentioning the birth of humanism in the Renaissance: "The disciplines that came with this awakening, the mastery of classical languages, the reverent attention to pagan poets and philosophers, the study of ancient history, and the adaptation of ancient forms to modern purposes, all bore the mark of their origins yet served as the robust foundation of education and culture for centuries, until the fairly recent past."

Discussing the discovery of quantum entanglement (with some bearing upon Jung's concept of 'synchronicity'): "The phenomenon called quantum entanglement, relatively old as theory and thoroughly demonstrated as fact, raises fundamental questions about time and space, and therefore about causality. Particles that are “entangled,” however distant from one another, undergo the same changes simultaneously. This fact challenges our most deeply embedded habits of thought. To try to imagine any event occurring outside the constraints of locality and sequence is difficult enough. Then there is the problem of conceiving of a universe in which the old rituals of cause and effect seem a gross inefficiency beside the elegance and sleight of hand that operate discreetly beyond the reach of all but the most rarefied scientific inference and observation. However pervasive and robust entanglement is or is not, it implies a cosmos that unfolds or emerges on principles that bear scant analogy to the universe of common sense."

A great mind, this lady.

Thinking of the rampant materialism as demonstrated in postwar, establishment 'new music', where the mystery of the inner space of music was denied and the magic of the capacity of expression scorned, this essay may provide a means of understanding of what so many artists of today try to recapture: in painting, reflection of reality and experience, in architecture: the humanism of classical idioms, in music: the restoration of tonal traditions with their highly-developed sense of expression and communication.

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