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Old 08-28-2009, 12:26 PM   #21
Erick Mead
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Dojo: Big Green Drum (W. Florida Aikikai)
Location: West Florida
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,407
Re: How To Teach Power & Harmony?

Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
PAG. I think you are using "indulged" rather loosely here. Entering the Jesuits and having that final cigarette, drink, or chocolate seem to me quite different.
Ah, I see -- the kami compelled you ...

Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
PAG. This seems somewhat schizophrenic to me. I agree that seeing the images pass by (stream of consciousness) is one way of reading a text, but it is not the only way. Since I was brought up on I A Richards and F R Leavis, I prefer their more comprehensive approach.
Leavis and Richards in the same sentence -- And you call me schizophrenic? Actually, I don't care for Richards but find Leavis congenial even if I think Fr. Hopkins is overblown. I prefer Ecclesiastes' seasonal modality -- I just think that men's souls have shorter seasons and cycles that the sun knows not.

Do not the salary-men seem to require the excuse of drinking to approach social matters in a different mode of thought? I don't think anyone considers them schizophrenic - though one can reasonably question other aspects of that adaptation.

I see no difference in intellectual terms in areas where intuition must play at least as large a role as linear connection -- making space for them both to differentiate from one another and yet not break their essential unity. (If unity were broken, that would be schizophrenic, FWIW).

Finding good structure for intuitive practice, it seems to me, is a significant key. There's an aspect of MacIntyre's thinking. The increasing lack or abandonment of the same in Western culture is a powerful draw to any alien system that seems to lay claim to one -- such as Aikido -- and a chief source (IMO) of much wooly-mindedness. Your effort is doing much to dispel some false notions underlying a great deal of the wooly-minded and undue presumptions of the integrity of tradition behind the "myth of Aikido."

And in one mode of mind I heartily agree with you, but in the other mode of mind I find the effort to be doing a disservice to the genuine and legitimate yearning behind the problem. While (as with those of like mind to Richards) it deconstructs much, it seems to build little in its place, or offer any way to surer refuge. A ramshackle raft it may be, but let's not commit everyone to the mercies of the deep blue sea just yet.

O Sensei sought such an intuitive practice within a tradition he understood and let his intuition guide him within it and in departing from (and enlarging) the strict sense of that tradition along his own intuitive lines. It seems to me this operation of intuition within structure is part of the teaching of St. Ignatius also.

Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
PAG. Two points: (1) I do not switch between any modes when I consider a text, and (2) there is much scope for woolly-mindedness here that you do not deal with.
But the task of close reading is simply the structural reflection of the text upon itself to discover implicit patterns within and drawn from it. Some of that may amplify, diminish or wholly alter the facial, or shall we say, the omote reading. If you like Richards then I can see why you were so successful teaching in Japan. Nearly every sentence in Japanese seems to me an exercise in deconstruction.

Since I find structural metaphor to be helpful as image, I liken close reading of a text to seeing a scene through a window or mirror. One can in a close reading turn the glass at a severe angle and see much more of the variable internal structure of the medium though which the light of the scene is transmitted, to see how much the ordinary view distorts the scene -- but the scene is severely distorted in that sharply angled view -- and in case of a mirror, the same scene is no longer even in view.

Another approach is to layer different texts, different glasses through which to see -- and then bring them so close as to read a scene through them together. In that regard, the scene is not so much distorted -- but the exercise reveals something interesting about not only about the exceedingly fine differences of curvature in the structures of the media, but also of the structure of the light passing through them. e.g. -- Newton's rings

Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
PAG. There is also much scope for woolly-mindedness here and it is your summarizing that is the issue for me. You link together Hugh of St Victor, 'established categories of more purely philosophical thought', phronesis, MacIntyre and Rawls. My own studies of four of these do not yield such a link, so I would need to 'unpack' the thought and see more clearly where the link allegedly lies.
The cause of the problem in summarizing is likely unavoidable for reasons I will explain shortly. If you will bear with me for a moment, I have in other settings given a structural analogy of how people who think I like I do work. In a forensic setting it is invaluable. The unpacking may or may not help -- because it is in overlaying that the patterns I see are evident.

But first, and summarizing once more, Hugh is the root of a conjoined-twin tradition of intuitive, imaginative practice with rigorous systematic practice, in regular alteration with one another. St. Bonaventure represents the better balance of this tradition of "two-step," if you will, than, for instance, St. Thomas Aquinas, in my view, for whom the late intrusion of mystical insight stopped his systematic thought utterly. He seemed unprepared. The Christian humanists of the early Enlightenment more nearly captured it for our age -- until the wars of religion almost snuffed it out entirely (and literally in the person St. Thomas More, who embodied it). This deeply divided the rational from the mystical and mythical. That point of departure is exactly where MacIntyre diagnoses our current crisis arising -- which is furthermore cross-cultural, as is easily seen in Japan, well before the late War, and seems to follow a similar pattern.

The preference for the "vaguness" of phronesis over the categorical exclusivity of sophia is from the examples of isolation and disappointment seen in very different ways in Wittgenstein, or Neitzche, say, compared to Husserl or Whitehead, who, seemingly remain much more connected to the richness of living. The latter tried in their own ways to reconstitute the broken way of more integrated thinking in those two alternating recursive modes - imago et systema which begin to echo Hugh's sacramental theology. The inherent pitfalls of such attempts at reconstruction occupy much of MacIntyre's thought. Rawls' thought seems to be relatively flat, sterile and tool-like by comparison -- as though an "original position" can be posited without invoking the ghosts of First Causes' past, and like an instrument designed without a telos in view.

As to why summary is the practical limit of what can be managed here:

A linear thinker (let's call him "L") traverses a straight line path from point A to point B. A non-linear thinker (let's call him "N") traverses a series of partial ellipses that collectively form a flat spiral traverse of the same general line. (You can draw these two figures with a pen on piece of paper.

At the end of these two processes, L demands of N a single clear line of thought from A to B --which poses a deep problem. If N reproduces his actual line of travel it will be far longer than the line of L, and recurrently doubles back into the general vicinity of areas passed before. On the other hand, it will encompass far more of the planar geography between A and B than did L's straight line.

Now something close to a straight line path can be derived from the the traverse of our elliptical excursions. At the edges where they tangentially overlap, something close to a straight line is evident. To the nonlinear thinker these often widely separated but parallel paths are equally valid -- and equally partial -- as linear representations of their path.

But to the straight line thinker those "constructive" lines will seem to start offset with respect to A and traverse to a point offset with respect to B, or if it attempts to show a centerline transect from A to B it will seem to "skip over" many intermediate steps. So, a straight line explanation -- while it can be shown by the elliptical path -- is only ever a rough approximation of the linear path desired by L or of the elliptical path actually followed N. Hence, it is the source of much misunderstanding between people of different turns of mind. It is nearly as powerful a perceptive filter as color perception is for those who see red distinct from green and those who see shades of one "color." While for N the line is convenience -- for L the line is necessity.

In fact, if the material is not itself linear or planar (in the sense of our proverbial "Aikido Mountain," for instance) , the nonlinear or elliptical way may be actually be more efficient and take less time and energy -- depending on the lay of the land -- than the straight line path transects across the mountain. On the other hand, explaining why following that path was entirely natural is a bit tricky, unless you actually followed it. Certainly, there are many non-linear paths that are less efficient also. The point of preference being -- for those in the middle of the spectrum between the extremes of N and L -- the more rugged the terrain traversed the more likely that the strictly linear path is not optimal.


Erick Mead
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