anyone interested in REAL philosophy?

Discussion of the SES, particularly in the UK.
Christoph

interested in philosophy

Postby Christoph » Sun Oct 10, 2004 8:22 pm

There has been a lot of talk about secrecy. I suppose I?m lucky that in my two times in School, I had tutors that were a) a bit rebellious themselves, and b) regarded the secrecy thing as ?so much twaddle?. We were never told to keep it secret - in fact, what my second tutor said was, ?talk to whoever you like, just don?t become dogmatic or evangelical. If people disagree with you, that?s their right, and there?s no point pushing philosophy down the throat of someone who just doesn?t want to listen?. I regard that as healthy.

As for blind obedience to a tutor, I only encountered one like that, who had been through the infamous Youth Groups with McLaren, Lambie, et al. If he ever tried it on with me, I simply ignored him, and then it was his problem. Most tutors seem to be reasonable.

erikdr says ? The lower classes (first 5-7 terms, until initiation) are mainly Ouspensky based, the higher ones where you are actually in are mainly Vedanta based in the material ? This has not been true for a long time. The Gurdjieff / Ouspensky material disappeared for lower groups when the material was extensively re-written in the early 90s. I think that?s a pity myself - at least as far as Gurdjieff is concerned (I?ve little time for Ouspensky who was an abstracted intellectual on a different planet most of the time).

?But the problem is that by choosing other quotes from those same thinkers and artists, they could as well be used to show support for totally different doctrines? The classic example is the Sankaracarya?s words in answer to Dr Rolls of the Study Society - he actually comes over as witty and wide-ranging. The answers given to Leon McLaren (used widely in School) are restricted to a seemingly narrower range. This does not reflect on the Sankaracarya, of course, but on McLaren and the questions he asked.

grobchok: you said ?I am not very keen, personally, on the argument that physics at its outer edge is having to acknowledge God... Vivekananda, who died just over a century ago, said that there are two sources of knowledge. One of them is science, and deals with things by looking at them from the outside. The other is what he calls the Veda, ?that which is known through the subtle, supersensuous power of Yoga?, or in other words that which is known inwardly. I cannot see that there is any bridge between these two. ? I think I agree with most of what you say, it?s just that the use of the word God is problematic. I was lazy in my use of the word, as I don?t believe in a ?separate being out there?. Where I disagree is your final sentence - I think there is a bridge, and it?s through mystical experience. I.e., I think what Vedanta is saying is ?once you know the inner fully, you know the outer also, as they are one and the same in essence?.

grobchok
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Postby grobchok » Sun Oct 10, 2004 10:49 pm

Christoph: I think your view that the outer can be reached through the inner is right. I've been a bit imprecise as well, thanks for pointing that out.

What I was trying to say was the opposite - that you can't get to the inner through the outer ... science will never come to the inner by itself. I think that the idea that it will do so is a kind of capitulation by people who really believe that science has them on the ropes, those who should be speaking up for philosophy and pointing out the limitations of science. This is not to say that science is wrong in itself, of course. But its modus operandi means that it is incapable of direct perception of the real.

Erik, You may well be right. I don't know much about Amsterdam except that there was some kind of bust-up at the time of Leon MacLaren's death involving the people who were in charge then. They didn't accept the new leadership and split off from the main body. What I heard about them was that they were into the Gurdjieff/Ouspensky stuff, which sounds like what you're talking about.

I can only talk with any authority about my experience of the present day in the UK, which doesn't tally with what you describe. However, it wouldn't surprise me if those kind of attitudes persist elsewhere.

Anyway, you seem happy with your alternative path, so good luck to you.

Christoph

Science and philosophy

Postby Christoph » Mon Oct 11, 2004 10:06 pm

grobchok - all I can say is 'hear hear'! It does seem that science is hoist with its own empirical petard, or should that be test-tube double-blind petard. Yet I wonder if this is only a temporary blind alley? There was a time when science and philosophy were the same thing. Perhaps about the time of Pythagoras and some time afterwards. Then there was the great divergence, which I suppose was inevitable for science to get the insights that it needed to in order to give the view of the universe we have today.

My vision is that science, philosophy and religion should get back on a road to convergence - not fully, I suppose, but at least talking sensibly to each other, rather like the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim philosophers happily did together in a civilised fashion in the Middle Ages. I feel that might be the only way that fundamentalism and extremism are banished to history.

Is this a pie-in-the-sky notion, or can it be realised?

grobchok
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Re: Science and philosophy

Postby grobchok » Tue Oct 12, 2004 11:10 am

Christoph wrote:There was a time when science and philosophy were the same thing. Perhaps about the time of Pythagoras and some time afterwards. Then there was the great divergence, which I suppose was inevitable for science to get the insights that it needed to in order to give the view of the universe we have today.


My view of all this is influenced by Sitaram Jaiswal, the man who translated the dialogues between Leon MacLaren and the Shankaracharya. He's one of the few real thinkers in the SES - for me, he alone makes the whole organisation worthwhile. I remember a talk he gave in which people were asking him about what India had to tell us about the "Laws of Nature". What they wanted was a kind of mystical version of Vedic science, I think. He responded, "Well, the Yogis didn't go to the moon!" and went on to praise Western science - up to a point. On another occasion I asked him about Darwinism and its conflict with religion and he said "No-one can oppose Darwin. But Darwin doesn't satisfy the emotions. That is why we need philosophy or religion".

I agree that science has to be the way it is to get its insights. If philosophy or religion try to fight science, they will lose, as they always have. But there isn't a conflict. Science needs an ethical compass to guide it, so it needs philosophy. People need spiritual experience, so science is never going to be enough. There doesn't have to be a rapprochement between the two, both are aspects of human intelligence. Philosophy's better though!

Guest

Postby Guest » Tue Oct 12, 2004 8:13 pm

My view of all this is influenced by Sitaram Jaiswal, the man who translated the dialogues between Leon MacLaren and the Shankaracharya. He's one of the few real thinkers in the SES - for me, he alone makes the whole organisation worthwhile. I remember a talk he gave in which people were asking him about what India had to tell us about the "Laws of Nature". What they wanted was a kind of mystical version of Vedic science, I think. He responded, "Well, the Yogis didn't go to the moon!" and went on to praise Western science - up to a point. On another occasion I asked him about Darwinism and its conflict with religion and he said "No-one can oppose Darwin. But Darwin doesn't satisfy the emotions. That is why we need philosophy or religion".


I am amazed you think that these rather banal and typically woolyminded 'all things to all men' statements made the exploitation of young children "worthwhile." (St James was SES).As one who was there i can tell you it most emphatically was not. You can pick up such meaningless pontifications by any number of swami's at any new age bookshop for a few quid, you don't have to spend years beating young children into submission to find them.

best
lowpass.

lowpass
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Re: Science and philosophy

Postby lowpass » Tue Oct 12, 2004 8:19 pm

grobchok wrote:My view of all this is influenced by Sitaram Jaiswal, the man who translated the dialogues between Leon MacLaren and the Shankaracharya. He's one of the few real thinkers in the SES - for me, he alone makes the whole organisation worthwhile. I remember a talk he gave in which people were asking him about what India had to tell us about the "Laws of Nature". What they wanted was a kind of mystical version of Vedic science, I think. He responded, "Well, the Yogis didn't go to the moon!" and went on to praise Western science - up to a point. On another occasion I asked him about Darwinism and its conflict with religion and he said "No-one can oppose Darwin. But Darwin doesn't satisfy the emotions. That is why we need philosophy or religion".




I am amazed you think that these rather banal and typically woolyminded 'all things to all men' statements made the exploitation of young children "worthwhile." (St James was SES).As one who was there i can tell you it most emphatically was not. You can pick up such meaningless pontifications by any number of swami's at any new age bookshop for a few quid, you don't have to spend years beating young children into submission to find them.

best
lowpass.

grobchok
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Postby grobchok » Tue Oct 12, 2004 10:43 pm

Well lowpass I think it's a bit of a jump from what I have said to supporting the beating of children. You obviously have a few 'issues' there pal. I would refer you to the title of this thread ...

I've heard a lot of crap in the SES and I don't doubt that you've been on the wrong end of some of it. But I don't agree that St James = SES. I think SES is potentially a very positive thing but I don't think my children have to go to St James for that season. For the record, my own children went to St James 1996-2003, a period in which no corporal punishment was used by any teacher. One of them was in total heaven the entire time, and the other found his teacher an over-strict fraud. Having moved away, the first is less happy at school, the second more happy. Neither is, it seems to me, permanently scarred. I also know people who were there in the early years and presumably went through all the stuff you did, but still speak up for it. It's an individual thing. I have no interest in defending the kind of stuff you suffered, but things have moved on a lot.

One man's woolly banalities are another man's wisdom, I suppose. But I don't think the New Age slur will do. Perhaps I am not reporting the man properly. Does it help that there is a large section of the more conservative SES that hate him and all he stands for? Probably not.

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Postby a different guest » Wed Oct 13, 2004 11:59 am

well call me "banal" but I reckon its all a pile of crap. Colonic irrigation for the mind eh? *g*

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adrasteia
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Maths!

Postby adrasteia » Wed Oct 13, 2004 12:19 pm

grobchok wrote:...But I don't agree that St James = SES. I think SES is potentially a very positive thing...


St. James/St. Vedast = Ses, or it is influenced infinitely by it, even today.

But Ses doesn't necessarily = St. James, there's more to it than the day schools.

grobchok
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Postby grobchok » Wed Oct 13, 2004 1:17 pm

a different guest wrote:well call me "banal" but I reckon its all a pile of crap. Colonic irrigation for the mind eh? *g*


Perhaps you mean that philosophy (the subject of this post) is a pile of crap. Or that the SES is. You are not terribly clear. And colonic irrigation would presumably be something you would do to get rid of it? Which would be .... ?

Guest

Postby Guest » Wed Oct 13, 2004 5:28 pm

grobchok wrote:Well lowpass I think it's a bit of a jump from what I have said to supporting the beating of children. You obviously have a few 'issues' there pal. I would refer you to the title of this thread ...


Correct. The 'issues' as you so patronisingly put it being the ones that tend to concern individuals unfortunate enough to have spent the first 11 years of their life in a religious cult and subject to extreme physical punishment from the age of four.

grobchok wrote:I also know people who were there in the early years and presumably went through all the stuff you did, but still speak up for it.


You insinuate I 'imagined' 'invented' 'exaggerated' my childhood experiences. Your presumptions are incorrect. The small size of SES and St James meant that members and students were able to recieve very individualistic treatment. (The size of ones personal income for example had a rather large bearing on the manner of a members passage through the organisations.)

grobchok wrote: It's an individual thing.


A redundant statement.

grobchok wrote: I have no interest in defending the kind of stuff you suffered, but things have moved on a lot.


The point is that you consider SES as a totality 'worthwhile.' So it follows that earlier victims were merely collateral damage. Do you really know from what - to quote your own words- it has moved on from?

grobchok wrote:One man's woolly banalities are another man's wisdom, I suppose. But I don't think the New Age slur will do. Perhaps I am not reporting the man properly. Does it help that there is a large section of the more conservative SES that hate him and all he stands for? Probably not.


'Probably not' is correct.
A large proportion of SES used to hate trousers. As a kid I remember being amazed at the sight of woman armed with hacksaws wearing long flowing billowing dresses being ordered to climb up trees in the wind and rain to hack off branches to be used as fuel for the archaic heating and washing systems.

Statements like "Darwinism does not feed the emotions" "the indians never put a man on the moon" "science needs an element of spiritual guidence" are about as banal, new age and wooly minded as I think it is possible to get.
best

lowpass.

Christoph

Real philosophy

Postby Christoph » Wed Oct 13, 2004 7:37 pm

Anonymous wrote: You insinuate I 'imagined' 'invented' 'exaggerated' my childhood experiences. Your presumptions are incorrect.


As someone who has (mostly) positive experiences in the SES (and the negative ones were mostly concerned with people with no sense of humour and an overbearing sense of their own importance - but no violence, no cruelty), then I am genuinely sorry that your experiences were so different and so lasting. But there seem to be many threads on this message board where you would get some sympathetic ears and feedback.

I was hoping that this particular thread was going to deal with wide philosophical principles, touching on religion, science, and other philosophies, without getting bogged down in the pros and cons of the SES. But perhaps this is my mistake, as this is a message board about the SES!

I have read some interesting things from people like grobchok and others, and I would genuinely prefer if we could get back to them (without wishing to diminish your experiences in any way - please don't infer that.) What do other people think?

Guest

Postby Guest » Thu Oct 14, 2004 9:31 am

A reasonable point Christoph.

However as st James was run on particular 'principles' derived from their philosophy, my experiences are a direct expression of (to coin an old SES term) ideas made manifest.By their works you will know them......
As a child I found the SES philosophy confused.(I was a member from 6 an SES prodigy) However a few things stood out, being introduced to Plato was a positive thing. By the age of 10 I had already read the complete works. Its clarity and lucidity (even if the content was often absurd) was a refreshing change from the confused ramblings I was subjected to in the evenings.

What do you think is the philosophical reasoning behind sending woman in long dresses up trees in the rain? I was always curious about that one.

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Postby grobchok » Thu Oct 14, 2004 9:33 am

Lowpass

"The point is that you consider SES as a totality 'worthwhile.' "

Yes, I do. But I'm only talking about what it is now, and I am expressing a personal opinion. It is worthwhile to me, now. I say that in full awareness of the past, but that isn't the same as saying its entire past history is therefore excused or vindicated.

I am disgusted that stupid people were put in charge of you at a tender age, and if I saw it happening today I would be furious about it and would act to stop it. I'm sorry if my reply came across as dismissive of what you went through, that wasn't really appropriate.

But I am with Christoph on this. If you want to talk about the things you suffered, that is a valid, though different discussion. But it isn't this one. If you want to talk about the ideas that have been discussed at some length in this thread, critically or otherwise, pile in mate!

Christoph

real philosophy

Postby Christoph » Thu Oct 14, 2004 9:12 pm

Anonymous wrote:What do you think is the philosophical reasoning behind sending woman in long dresses up trees in the rain? I was always curious about that one.


Nothing philosophical whatever, I would say. Just the white eccentric middle-class English sensibilities of a group of people who played 'follow my leader' with great enthusiasm and lack of common sense.

Returning to philosophy and science - what do others here think of Richard Dawkins? To me, he's a great scientist in his field, but it seems he becomes irrational when it comes to people with even the slightest religious inclinations. He treats them all as 'pointy-headed Creationists', deriding what he sees as their fundamentalist agendas. Yet isn't he an evangelical fundamentalist when it comes to genetics? I sometimes think his creed is 'I believe in One God, Genetics, His only Son, Charles Darwin, and the Unholy Spirit of chaos and random accident." I do wish scientists would stick to their field unless they are driven by the spirit of genuine curiosity and enquiry. I think our friend Dawkins needs some Buddhist meditation!


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