Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category


October 22, 2008

There is a strange synchronicity at work! I have become more reflective about my work as a psychotherapist. The new posts here may reflect that. The couple dialogues I facilitate are powerful and impact me as well as the clients.

What are the exact roles that are involved in those dialogues, and the place of language in those roles? The ideas of Hendrix and Rosenberg are important to me. Are they really right that only one partner needs to make a commitment to dialogue?

I return to my roots in Psychodrama. I am doing that in many ways. One is that I will be a trainer in the CITP next year, and also furthering my own training as a Trainer, Educator and Practitioner. I mean roots! What is the nature of the method? The psyche, the drama, roles, and mostly what is the sociometric method. What is the place of healing. I am such a thinker. I have previously written about sociometric criteria for group explorations. See Moreno in Wikipedia for a good summary.

I was inspired listening to Richard Moore, and “Dynamic Facilitation” which they distinguish from Bohmian Dialogue.

And then Pscience, which leads to Bohm via another route, though I had forgotten he even exists.

And Bohm, leads to creativity. He is vitally interested in that subject, like Moreno. He wrote several books on creativity. Which makes me feel like my passion for art is tied in with this larger project. I am so pleased with my couple of years of intensity in that dept!

I am delighted by the unity in my work, the coming together of threads. Even my old interest in politics is included.

So, more on all this will follow.

Alan Lightman

October 16, 2008

Alan Lightman is a novelist, essayist, physicist, and educator. Currently, he is Adjunct Professor of Humanities at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

I got interested listening to him being interviewed, with the first part of the interview mainly about the relationship between art & science.

Click to play, right click to download
Kim Hill last week

Heartening because he & Kim were able to broach this interrelationship at all. That is what makes this such a treat to listen to. He is a writer & a scientist. He is married to a painter.

Frustrating because he sees a gap between the sciences and the arts, creativity, that need not be there at all. I am thinking of the science that Moreno advocates, and I write about in my paper, see this post & link here.

He speaks about how the idea is more important in science than the presentation. But is it? Beauty & truth are more interrelated than that. Also the expression about the world is always a map, the nature of the correspondence between the map & the territory is varied but at this level e=mc2 is a map in much the same way as the Mona Lisa.

True, the terms are defined in scientific language. But language itself is also defined, with more fuzzy, and hence often more effective rules. Science has not learned the sociometric method yet. Just wait till it hits the world! The sociometric revolution is yet to come.

Murray Gell-Mann

August 20, 2008


Murray_Gell-Mann: Home

book Amazon

book Amazon

I want to quote one review from Amazon:

4.0 out of 5 stars The True Meaning of this Book, November 11, 2000
By Leonardo Motta
I decided to write this review because I thought none of the reviews really mentioned the main focus of this book. This is not a book about Quantum Mechanics, nor molecular biology, nor neurobiology. In this book, the great Gell-Mann exposes his ideas of why all subjects of science (from physics, to chemistry, to biology, to psychology) must be studied together, why they are related and also he shows models of how to do this unified study. He defends that reductionism is not the only way of doing science, in opposition of the philosophical ideas of Steven Weinberg and Richard Feynman. This book is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, because there aren’t many books that are against pure reductionism written by reductionism defenders. Gell-Mann is not against reductionism, but against PURE reductionism; he think its nice to explain a complex phenomenon based on the theory of its contents but its also important to study the phenomenon in his actual level, studying the way that the complex works. Not only the simple. Thats the origin of the name: Quark, the simple, and the Jaguar, the complex.

Beauty is Truth

August 20, 2008

Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

Ode on a Grecian Urn – John Keats

I just listened to a

Click to play, right click to download
TED talk by Murray Gell-Mann

He is eloquent about how beauty works in the investigation of truth in science. Beauty is not just in the eye of the beholder, there is pattern in nature, there is symmetry and self symmetry.

Why this is such a great talk for me is that it ties in with an essay I wrote a few years ago (and it is still under construction) about practice based evidence in psychotherapy. I write about a profound knowing that happens in psychotherapy that is scientific, and not at all like the physical sciences. Nor is it part of the social research that looks scientific but is just pseudo science.

Psychotherapy & Science

especially the section on Alice that concludes:

Finding repeating patterns in what might at first glance appear to be unrelated material is very like the scientific endeavour in the physical world. Once a pattern is clearly seen then we have established a law of nature. To think of the work with Alice – which is typical of our psychotherapeutic work – as a form of research requires a shift of perspective, but it is clearly in a similar realm.

The dynamics that repeat independently of the content are understood through a visceral experience, tears and laughter. When yet another instance of the pattern is spotted it corroborates and often extends the understanding. When the dynamic is evident, though in a minor way in the psychotherapy itself it is a full experiential knowing that is shared in the psychotherapy space. Both the psychotherapist and the client can easily use such words as knowing, understanding which are the very things that scientific research aims for.

Matthew Collings, deep and shallow

November 16, 2007

I listened to a podcast today for the second time – Kim Hill interviewing Matthew Collings. I realised I had blogged it before in Thousand Sketches, and there is a link there too – I recommend it.

If this is an age of shallowness then it is sort of deep to be shallow. Kim: “Shallow is the new deep”.

I don’t buy that though. It is an age where we are more conscious than ever and we flee. There are oceans of depth and we flee to the shallow. But not everyone. The “long tail” comes into play. At the top of the zeitgeist it may be shallow, ironical & tabloid, but down the tail it gets more interesting, there are activists, thinkers, and people having real relationships.

Anyway, it was a good listen even for the second time, happened cause I was cleaning up after re-installing a backup.

Layout back to normal.

September 21, 2007

But what it looked like  was something like the Socio site.  My image, also on Thousand Sketches is used as the masthead.

The encounter symbol.  Nice.  It does draw my attention to the difference between up and down as opposed to left & right.  Horizontal implies equality, or perhaps more neutrally, it implies similarity.  The up/down  in this encounter symbol seems like different entities interacting.

Up /down has some power implications, or is that just cultural? Maybe it is OK!  Maybe it is always good to know, who is earthy, who is airy.   Maybe every encounter is a meeting of earth & sky. The “masculine” aspect is the top one it would seem, but the overvaluing of that is probably cultural.

Great podcasts – Friendship

September 8, 2006

BBC – Radio 4 In Our Time – Philosophy Archive

This is a treasure page. I have to be in the mood for this rather heavy stuff, but they are worth the effort. I have subbed to them and have a back log on my player. Unfortunately they are only streaming them there at the moment – Total Recorder would get them though. I particularly enjoyed the history of friendhip one today.


It seems that with Imago we have a philosophy and a practice of love, built on all the traditions before it, and still those old traditions, even on friendhip, can amplify our notions of love.

Assertive Outreach by Peter Ryan and Steve Morgan

August 13, 2006


Assertive Outreach: A Strengths Approach to Policy and Practice by Peter Ryan and Steve Morgan

 A Strengths Approach to Policy and Practice

This book gives a comprehensive, evidence-based account of assertive outreach from a strengths perspective. It emphasizes developing a collaborative approach to working with the service user, which stresses the achievement of the service users own aspirations, and building upon the service users own strengths and resources. The book provides a comprehensive, authoritative approach to the subject, that combines an overview of the policy and practice issues. It makes use of extensive case study material to illustrate individual and team circumstances.

My last post pointed to the Author, Steve Morgan’s website.  The blurb above sounds excellent, and it seems there is a strong focus on practice-based evidence and I am now more curious about the “strenghts” approach which I have seen introduced top down with not much success.

Practice-Based Evidence

August 13, 2006

Practice Based Evidence – Welcome:

Contemporary mental health services are challenged to address ‘evidence based practice’, but is this at the expense of ‘practice based evidence’?

At first glance there is a very welcome movement here for an approach that can avoid scientism in psychotherapy. I am enthusiastic that this will blend well with the sort of sociometric exploration that Moreno developed. Using the words practice-based evidence there is a swag of good stuff that comes up in Google. 

Brights – nice name for this breed of athiests

August 7, 2006

A Jungian Notebook

Dolores Brien is one of my favourite bloggers.  This post is typical of why.  In the recent post on various scientists etc I was attracted to science on the one hand and repelled on the other.  Got something clear: I am repelled by the brights.  Good to see Freeman Dyson is not among them, I’d like his blog too – does he have one?  His daugter does – she uses flickr! Some athiests are more spiritual than religious people – dyson is one & maybe Dolores too.

Although Dyson is not a religious believer and as a distinguished scientist is eminently qualified to be a “bright” should he choose to do so, he tells us that he himself sees religion as a “precious and ancient part of our human heritage.” Dennett, on the contrary, “sees it as a load of superfluous mental baggage which we should be glad to discard.” What is missing from Dennett, as Dyson sees it, is the recognition that science is only one way of understanding. “Science,” Dyson writes, “is a particular bunch of tools that have been conspicuously successful for understanding and manipulating the material universe. Religion is another bunch of tools, giving us hints of a mental or spiritual universe that transcends the material universe.” If you use, as Dennett does, only the scientific tools, you will never understand religion. “We can all agree that religion is a natural phenomenon, but nature may include many more things than we can grasp with the methods of science.”

Connected knowing and Role-Reversal

August 3, 2006

Imago World

A short article: Receiving Sexual Pleasure by Sylvia Rosenfeld, LCSW, again has that Imago reference to “connected knowing”:

The goal of Imago Relationship Therapy is to create the conditions in a relationship that will encourage positive change in partners. The right environment retrains the brain. The behavioral component of sex therapy does this as well. The integration of both therapies can help a couple move from “separate” to “connected” knowing. Dialogue and behavioral assignments, especially sensate focus, create the continual repetition, through words and actions that translate what their “brains” know to what their “hearts” know as well.

I just had a thought that this might be what Psychodramatists call “Role-Reversal” in a sense couples become more empathic as they dialogue, to the point where they have a knowing of each other that goes beyond empathy, they know so many of the dots that it is easy to fill in all the dots (if you get my drift). I can grasp these things more when I can relate them to my primary modality, that is where I learnt things in a visceral way.  In Psychodrama the role reversal is enacted where people literally change places and enact the role that the other had.  It is an important technique.  However it is also used as a way of speaking about an ability people have to step into the shoes of the other.  Again to mix modalities, someone with a narcissitic wound can’t role revers – that is the same wound.  It is also one of the latest stages of child development, and builds on other skills such as mirroring.

I heard about how in the grieving process for a miscarriage the parent role-reversed with the spirit of the child. They had named the unborn baby Martha. In the role reversal the child revealed many feelings and some gratitude for its brief in utero time on earth. She also made it clear that she did not like the name Martha & would they please change it. What sort of knowing is that!

Connected Knowing – turning up in the wrong places…

August 2, 2006

Catholic University Au

Later: Thursday, 23 October, 2008 – the link to the specific page & the Kandinsky is dead.

Finished up at this page looking up epistemology stuff for my article on Psychotherapy & Science which I am rewriting. I am putting it here on my blog partly ’cause I love the Kandinsky. Also because the “connected knowing” theme has found its way into Imago via Helen Hunt’s feminism. Science & Psychotherapy paper is, I believe a way expand connected knowing idea as a way of doing science.

There seems to be some truth in this, despite the sometimes degrading treatment of the sexuality of women (humiliating stereotypes and a ‘double standard’ which applies in many cultures). It is important to speak from the different contexts of women’s experience and bring to theological reflection a closeness to and integration with bodily processes. This is what a number of feminists call ‘connected knowing’ which contests the one-dimensional rationalist thinking which has dominated Western progress thought. We are challenged by this Feminist experience to question certain patterns of thought which justify the exploitation of people (women, workers and the poor) and to replace these patterns with a connected and Conciliar process that is more sensitive and just.

Following Hermes and Serpents – Archetypes of Cyberspace

August 24, 2003

fUSION Anomaly Has a quote from Hakim Bey The Obelisk :

It is Hermes who bridges the gap between the metalinguistic and the sublinguistic in the form of the message, language itself, the medium; he is the trickster who leads in misleading, the tremendum that echoes through the broken word. Hermes is therefore political, or rather ambassadorial — patron of intelligence and cryptography as well as an alchemy that seeks only the embodiment of the real. Hermes is between text and image, master of the hieroglyphs that are simultaneously both — Hermes is their significance, their translatability. As one who goes ‘up and down’ between spirits and humans, Hermes Psychopomp is the shamanic consciousness, the medium of direct experience, and the interface between these other forms and the political. ‘Hermetic’ can also mean ‘unseen’.

The full article is here. Also this from Erik Davis, Techgnosis: Myth, Magic & Mysticism In The Age Of Information:

Already in Homer, Hermes is a multitasking character. The figure who flits through the _Iliad_ as a messenger and thief becomes in _The Odyssey_ a guide of souls and a shamanic healer, curing Odysseus from Circe’s witchy poison. But the god really doesn’t find himself at center stage until the pseudo-Homeric _Hymn to Hermes_, written around the sixth century b.c.e. The poem begins with the nymph Maya, lately loved by Zeus, giving birth to a boisterous child. Leaping instantly out of his crib, the babe Hermes dashes into the outside world, where he happens upon a turtle. He kills the creature, takies up its shell, and invents the lyre, becoming the “first to manufacture songs.”

Translated version of Das Begrabnis der Seele in die technische Zivilisation

July 22, 2003

Translated version of

Wolfgang Giegerich has an essay – The Burial of the Soul in Technological Civilization. It is on the C G Jung Page, but only in German. I snipped a bit an searched for it in Google, found the page and then clicked the Translate this Page link. Back came a translated version of the article. Here is a sample:

Certainly, if I give the title to my lecture: Funeral of the soul into the technical civilization, then would like to seem it, as if I also into the same long-known horn of the dissatisfied ones to push and over the Seelenlosigkeit of the technology, which wanted to complain uneasiness in the culture. But so simply it does not stand around the word funeral of the soul. It does not have simply a negative, devaluing meaning, as we are bent today’s ones however to assume, because we do not have relationship to grave and funeral. That was for example with the old Egyptians completely different. These created the products of their entire culture activity to a large extent for the only purpose to let it disappear to buried and on Nimmerviedersehen in the grave.

“Interesting” English. The machine gave up about half way through as if from fatigue.

I am not sure what Giegerich is saying exactly – but it seem to fit that technology has taken the soul out of his essay – all very appropriate. Fun!

Funny that the machine could not translate “Seelenlosigkeit of the technology” – perhaps it was just too offended by the phrase!

In paragraph above I hear him saying something like this:

Technology has ripped the soul out of the world. We would be having a funeral for the loss of soul in the world if funerals were not part of that very soulfulness we have lost. The machines have won. We lost and we don’t even know it.

I don’t think like that myself. The soul has jet lag perhaps. But no, I think it is actually faster than all of our speed of light wonders. When it comes to technology the soul is like the planet Mercury – fast – and invisible a lot of the time. It takes a while for us to see it. Old technology shows off its soul but with new stuff the soul is shy, hiding behind glitz. We can see the soul now in an old ZX81 – I wish I still had ours. I think he might be saying that too, somewhere in the essay, but about wrought iron.

Here is an interesting bit, I think he is saying what i just said:

Could the winter not its own yardstick have and its own language speak, and couldn’t it not us be demanded to go along and the movement of immersing into the hellignuechterne water supportless follow the course of the yearly, so that we are with our heart in it and from it, with its measure, the world to see?

So should we learn to appreciate the soul in the new world?

He proposes the idea that we give up our disdain for technology and dive into the holy water of our sober culture…

To dive into the hellignuechterne water would mean to learn by patient hearing of the cold and speechless things of the technology a new language with its own rules and its own idioms a language, which is not our native language, but the foreign language of the concrete walls, airplanes, moon rockets, television sets, computers, atom bombs, in addition, the language of the advertisement, the statistics and the modern economy coined/shaped by multinational companies.

OK, he proposes it but does he advocate it? I am not sure about Giegerich, but it would seem William Gibson does just that in Pattern Recognition where we are steeped in the foreign language of our familiar iconised world.

I am doing Giegerich an injustice by not grasping the essay but just playing with it all. I don’t have a clue what he is saying, but I love the topic. I love some of the words: hellignuechterne which is in the opening poem: In the holy-sober water and Seelenlosigkeit I love the idea of the romantic world being the summer and us now being in the winter of the soul – just not sure if that is his idea or not!

Probing Hermes

December 27, 2002

Lit review for my Archetypes of Cyberspace essay:

The Art of the Classical World

This is a nice image of the staff and makes me think of the sign for Mercury and is pertinent to the strange debate about the symbolism involved. Here is a link to a site that claims the caduceus is not the medical symbol at all.

In other words, the Caduceus was just the wand of a conniving god of thieves who helped folks to Hades, and had nothing to do with medicine, let alone healing.

More on that here. With a more traditional image of the caduceus:

Fuller discussion here and here.

Ginette Paris argues more convincingly for two medicines that need clarifying: Hermes and Apollonian.

Interesting too is the link between Hermes and the later Hermes Trismegistus, here is a page light & clear.


June 26, 2002

Meg Hourinan in O’Reilly Network: What We’re Doing When We Blog [Jun. 13, 2002]:

What distinguishes a collection of posts from a traditional home page or Web page? Primarily it’s the reverse-chronological order in which posts appear. When a reader visits a weblog, she is always confronted with the newest information at the top of the page.Having the freshest information at the top of the page does a few things: as readers, it gives a sense of immediacy with no effort on our part. We don’t have to scan the page, looking for what’s new or what’s been changed. If content has been added since our last visit, it’s easy to see as soon as the page loads.

Additionally, the newest information at the top (coupled with its time stamps and sense of immediacy) sets the expectation of updates, an expectation reinforced by our return visits to see if there’s something new. Weblogs demonstrate that time is important by the very nature in which they present their information. As weblog readers, we respond with frequent visits, and we are rewarded with fresh content.

Cyberspace is what we called it but cybertime might have fitted as easily. Space is shrunk so we have a global village (perhaps) and time has altered the notion of now. It has altered it to the extent that we have to use words like “real-time”, synchronous, asynchronous. The passage by Meg Hourinan draws attention to this simple phenomena, the use of time… not unexpectedly in web logs. Yes the content is “fresh” or stale… but a strange thing happens, by logging it old content becomes fresh. I think so anyway. I often log old items here, because I think they are still fresh. Sometimes because they are particularly old, like my notes on Huxley’s Crome Yellow. The asynchronous nature of email and web groups is a way that the now has stretched. But for it to be experienced as a stretch we need to see the date. This dating of items is needed so we can get the timing right on the wave we are surfing. Dating items on the web was there from the early days with the conventional Last Updated line at the bottom of the page. With weblogs it has promoted itself to the top. Hmmm, as in newspapers, hence the weblog is more like journalism. Journals too have dates. Rebecca Blood mentions

In early 1999 Brigitte Eaton compiled a list of every weblog she knew about and created the Eatonweb Portal. Brig evaluated all submissions by a simple criterion: that the site consist of dated entries. Webloggers debated what was and what was not a weblog, but since the Eatonweb Portal was the most complete listing of weblogs available, Brig’s inclusive definition prevailed.

All this is of particular interest in that it echoes what happens in the psyche. From the outside it looks as if people in therapy are examining the past, but that is not so. What they bring to a session is “fresh” — because they brought it! And why? Because the pattern of the past will be repeating in the present and the pattern is the interesting thing. Patterns of the soul – archetypes – are worth catching. To be fully there – the ‘past’ also needs to be time-stamped — it is impossible to imagine a specific feeling without a specific moment (or span of them). The underlying pattern is outside of time. Fits with the idea that the soul is eternal. e-ternal, not a reference to the e words but just wondering if it means outside of time?

BookPage Interview February 2000: Peter Matthiessen

June 21, 2002

BookPage Interview February 2000: Peter Matthiessen

To the suggestion that such attention to detail is part of his appeal, Matthiessen replies, “I think in any writing you’re paying attention to detail. E. M. Forster made that wonderful observation that good writing is administering a series of tiny astonishments. The astonishments aren’t things you never knew. What they are is sort of the first articulation of something you knew but you’d never seen set down in print. And you say, Ah, yes! How true.”

I have been listening to a tape: The Zen of the Writers life – Loving it – a lot of the good stuff is also in this interview.

Blogging, audience, oral tradition and the difference

June 19, 2002


But for all its pretensions to be an extension of this everyday orality, blogging is instead a) textual and b) radically public. In the blogosphere there’s no possibility of controlling audience boundaries and the numerous voices I use to speak to those many audiences who don’t overhear my conversations with the other audiences. Blogging requires me to choose one way of expressing my thoughts on a subject, one persona, for all possible audiences once and for all time. The fact that I can later elaborate or change my mind or my tone pales in comparison to the massive reduction of that oral multiplicity of audience and voice I described above to a single text which is not only archived–thus welcoming exegeses to which an oral conversation is rarely subjected–but which all potential audiences anywhere in the world can read upon its first posting. There is a rather severe sense in which blogging makes impossible any flexible, modulated negotiation among audiences; there is only the One Audience, the Mass Audience, and it imposes a good deal of constraint on how you speak and what you decide to say at all.

I post this because somewhere I just added to the already stale notion that emails and weblogs are somewhat of a revival of oral tradition. Turbulent Velvet (pseudonym) writes on the refreshing ufobreakfast. There are comments on the site, and there of course the more usual idea that this is a conversation is defended.

McLuhan Interview

June 18, 2002

mcluhan interview

People are beginning to understand the nature of their new technology, but not yet nearly enough of them — and not nearly well enough. Most people, as I indicated, still cling to what I call the rearview-mirror view of their world. By this I mean to say that because of the invisibility of any environment during the period of its innovation, man is only consciously aware of the environment that has preceded it; in other words, an environment becomes fully visible only when it has been superseded by a new environment; thus we are always one step behind in our view of the world. Because we are benumbed by any new technology — which in turn creates a totally new environment — we tend to make the old environment more visible; we do so by turning it into an art form and by attaching ourselves to the objects and atmosphere that characterized it, just as we’ve done with jazz, and as we’re now doing with the garbage of the mechanical environment via pop art.

I was looking for something on the theme that old media is transformed by the new. I had in mind how the Saturday matinees I used to go to as a child have gone, and were replaced by TV. But movies were not replaced by TV or video for that matter. The presentation on the big screen with big sound and comfortable seats were part of the come-back. I found some interesting items… related but not quite what I was looking for. This classic is one of them. I think I read this in the original at the time. I was a McLuhan fan in the sixties. I have originals of his books. I think he had more than a touch of genius. I have maintained a page on McLuhan since I started this website.

Art, the Net, the collective unconscious

June 3, 2002

Shakespeare’s Royal Self

by James Kirsch, M.D.

The root of all neurosis is the refusal to accept conflict consciously; once an unconscious conflict becomes conscious, it is no longer neurotic and neurotic suffering is replaced by authentic suffering, which brings about the healing of neurosis

This is by Ediger – found it in my old EditThisPage Weblog File (will post that up soon.) I like the quote and did a search for it, but only found my original post. PLUS other nice stuff.

Particularly the item linked here by James Kirsch. The cgjungpage is such a great resource! What struck me most was the quote from Jung. I am relating this to my earlier posts re Hillman and also to the nature of the NET.

The Net is an expression of the collective unconscious – like all great art. That is a BIG idea.

Art, by its very nature, is not science, and science is essentially not art, both provinces of the mind, therefore, have a reservation that is peculiar to them, and that can be explained only from themselves. Hence when we speak of the relation between psychology and art, we are treating only of that aspect of art which without encroachment can be submitted to a psychological manner of approach. Whatever psychology is able to determine about art will be confined to the psychological process of artistic activity, and will have nothing whatever to do with the innermost nature of art itself.

What contribution can analytical psychology make to the root problem of artistic ‘creation,’ that is, the mystery of the creative energy? . . . Inasmuch as ‘no created mind can penetrate the inner soul of Nature,’ you will surely not expect the impossible from our psychology, namely a valid explanation of that great mystery of life, that we immediately feel in the creative impulse. Like every other science psychology has only a modest contribution to make towards the better and deeper understanding of the phenomena of life, it is no nearer than its sisters to absolute knowledge.