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Old 11-24-2004, 09:57 PM
cgrindahl cgrindahl is offline
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Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 1,310
Default Re: A few semiotics, if you please... (II)

During graduate school I studied psychopathology with a wonderful professor steeped in physiology and body based approaches to psychology. We did a bit of study of William Sheldon's work on body type and temperament. As an experiment one day we divided into the three primary categories Sheldon postulated, ectomorph, mesomorph and endomorph. We self selected and as a round man I knew I belonged in the endomorph group. We were given the question, "what is the meaning of life." The experience was quite magical for me since I'd never before sat with a group of men and women of the same body type. I recall vividly peering around the circle, meeting the smiling gaze of the others in the group. In the background I could hear the chatter of the ectomorphs and mesomorphs as they struggled with the question. Our group NEVER even began considering possibilities. We simply shared the joy of being together.

I mention that not to suggest my way of being in the world is better than yours, simply to observe that what you take as a high order of accomplishment, to understand HOW you experience what you experience, seems to me a fruitless exercise. I'm quite content to simply experience it. I don't need to know what moves me in looking at a beautiful sunset. In fact, I would suggest that stepping out of any experience to analyze it is to destroy it. We will never know what it is about a beautiful piece of music that moves us.

That being said, I have no argument with the attempts to use rational thought to make the world a better place. I would simply observe that our moral capacity for managing our great scientific apparatus remains very stunted, leading us to the world we inhabit where great suffering is ignored and great inventions are used to create even more suffering. Buddhists mount very few armies...

In my humble opinion, we need more poets and fewer technocrats. Curing cancer while homeless people die on the streets of starvation is not a very glowing endorsement for human values. I respect a capacity for empathy far greater than the ability to solve a quadratic equation. And I don't believe we grow into our humanity, we can never be other than fully human. That suggestion comes from a deficiency model, that, incidentally, lies at the heart of western religions. It took a group of western psychologists almost half an hour to explain to the Dalai Lama the concept low self-esteem. In his culture, the thought of not valuing self is unheard of...
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