On Perspective

Joseph M. Felser is a professor of philosophy and, after adventures in worldview that snowballed during his teaching career, something of a pragmatic mystic. I love his book The Way Back To Paradise because almost all his descriptions of how he experienced the world when young, and sometimes later, resonate with me so. For him, the world has a mind, our business (as Gurdjieff said) is to wake up, and Time is Nature’s way of keeping everything from happening at once. More to the point, for a guy who talks about having things like out-of-body experiences he is refreshingly matter of fact.

Sometimes he writes things that make me simply wistful.

Our (materialist) cultural common sense tells us that life sucks, then you die. Our everyday experiences seem to confirm the wisdom of popular cynicism. There are the countless hurts, large and small, given and received. There is the gratuitous rudeness, the crude competition of bloated, fragile egos fighting for superior position at every turn, from the highway and supermarket aisle to corporate boardrooms and school classrooms. Not to mention the inevitable losses and betrayals of time and failing bodies, folding relationships and foolish choices. Ignorance, pain, and mistrust seem to stalk us at every turn.. You would have to be an idiot not to know that the world is shit…

But… What if joy, delight, and playfulness are not self-indulgent therapies for the unsophisticated, the unsaved, and the uninitiated? What if these experiences express an important insight into the true nature of reality?

I am very, very cynical myself.

But I like a mystic who can say “shit.”



8 thoughts on “On Perspective

  1. I think Western Philosophy with only Stoics is cold. Western Philosophy with only Epicurus is shallow. Combine the two and there is a someplace to start thinking, feeling, and working on what we call living.

  2. I’ll have to look into that book. I read enough of Gurdjieff to convince me that it would be faster and easier for me to wake up to reality than it would be to finish his book.

    The more I look around, the more I tend to think that yes, the world is a festering shithole, but that might not be the point. Denying the festering shitholiness of the world is a fool’s errand, and yet … there seems to be choices, here and there, to add to it or to get a breath of air and maybe pull someone else up out of the muck with you for a second. Not forever, but just long enough to make it bearable.

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