Gaia is the word for "unity-of-life-processes". The experiment here is to unify the various threads of voice and sense of self together into an undivided unity. Spirituality, economics, politics, science and ordinary life interleaved.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

You May Now Comment On Articles

If you have a registered ID. Hopefully it will be engaging cool conversation.

Go for it!

Burke's Reflections, Part Two: Is A Servant Leader an Astonishing Innovation?

After reflecting at length on the Golden Revolution, Edmund Burke describes or suggests that the monarch ought to be or profess to be a servant. This is an astonishing claim! Elsewhere he stands against suddenly changing old traditions, and changing the title of the king from lord to servant seems like quite a great change, to say the least!

Why does Burke make this suggestion?

First, for Burke, the entire state is a living being, a spirit and a body. So each part depends and benefits the other. The old story by Livy about the aristocracy as the stomach of the people is for Burke a simple fact of nature. So the role of the king as the head of state is to govern the rest of the body by humbly providing service.

Second, Burke wishes to avoid the fulsome speeches in praise of monarchy and adhere only to a simple classical dignity of service. How realistic this is, and has been, is evident from the existing exotic English royal tradition.

Third, it seems out of character for Burke to suggest this, if he would have the majesty of the monarch preserved. But he is thinking, it seems, only of the protection of the monarch from the predations of the French revolutionaries. It is as if, out of anxiety to avoid a new revolution, Burke makes an unconscious Freudian slip in suggesting a sudden change in the midst of speaking in the strictest conservative terms.

A word on method:

Burke's mode in the Reflections is to circle around historical events, extracting essential insights. And next, he circles far and ancient and unfolds the fascinating reforms of the Magna Carta for us. And that is the subject of our next post.

When I read Burke on historical events I feel a keen desire to read Churchill's History of the English Speaking People, to discover what another great conservative had to say about these events. But these books (historical books) have been by and large put away for another time, and I am loathe to unpack them. During my long study of philosophy they had proven a distraction and been set aside, and now they invisibly draw me from their storage place!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Ten True Facts About Edmund Burke's 'Reflections on the Revolution in France'.

1. I am reading Edmund Burke's great letter, 'Reflections on the Revolution in France'. It really needs to be broken into sections with headings.

2. I have finished the first proper section, which I shall call "On the Glorious Revolution of 1688". In it, Burke establishes the primary principle of conservatism, which is realistic adherence to tradition as the only true basis for genuine social progress and improving change.

3. Burke speaks slightingly of the metaphysicians who can only imagine the abstract application of a political principle, and not the practical adaption to reality. In this respect he agrees with the qualified realism taught by the Thomists, it seems to me: reality is real regardless of our limited understanding of the principles whereby it operates.

4-7. I can see why this letter was so influential: Burke simultaneously refutes, teaches, explains, and exemplifies this basic conservative principle. In 15 pages of simple speaking, Burke refutes the preacher of the principles of the French Revolution, teaches us the true principles of the English Revolution, explains how the English Revolution respects the English character, and exemplifies the conservative distaste for the violence and insult to the French character done through the French Revolution.

8. I must admit, while Burke was refuting Doctor Price's oddball preaching, I could not help but think of the progressivism of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Indeed, what could be more telling of the American character than the way Emerson (founder of the American secular religion, according to Professor Bloom at least) was ejected from the churches of his day for preaching a doctrine considered heresy by his contemporaries? Whereas Emerson's English counterparts might work within existing sects and creeds, the American conservative makes of the rupture with the existing social fabric a kind of a new American conservative creed.

9. Is Burke's explanation of the Glorious Revolution of 1688 history, or historiography? It seems a patchwork history; it alludes to events we must be aware of already, such as the bad character of King James, with an uncommon frankness. It is however a good report of the times, from someone with a sound understanding, sharing the same spirit as those whose events he reports (which is Hegel's definition of a true history from his 'Lecture on the Philosophy of History'). So it is a history, although an intermediate one to the basic histories which one must have read to make sense of the story. 

But is it also a historiography, a theory of history-making? I doubt it. First off, Burke is not being theoretical at all, but simply reporting the facts from within the British sphere of comprehension. Burke frankly admits his Englishness, and limits himself to speaking solely from within it. (If only all political commenters had the same prudence and politic zeal to stick to the limits of their sphere of power!) But in the exact same sense, he is advancing a historiography of common-sense practicality: he is expressing the natural division of history into nations and traditions which are indisputable norms for those cultures. So, maybe it is historiography.

10. Lastly, is this hagiography? Is Burke making a saint of the British tradition? Evidently not without qualifications. Burke admits many times the compromising human quality of political deliberations in his description of the Glorious Revolution. What is evident, however, is his passionate love of and desire to protect the English people. The threat of the French Revolution occasions this book, but it is Burke's love of the English revolution that actuates it.

Monday, March 02, 2015

The singularity is here.

I just realized that for all the techno-millennial romanticism, we are the ones living through the technological singularity, not the characters in books. The global AI is the web; the superintelligent power is human consciousness newly connected. The prosperity and economic problems are fast being solved. The singularity is here.

follow me on Twitter