Apprehending the World
Our perception of the world is mediated by the objects of consciousness in our mindscape. We are currently living in a world, where the dominant operating system is largely based on materialism. Such ideology contours the way we look at things in the world, including the way we see and value ourselves. However, where does the meaning of things come from? Is there any intrinsic meaning of things? What will happen if we strip away all the mental concepts from the things we perceive?
This week’s content will introduce the concepts of materialism and instrumental rationality, and discuss their implications and consequences in our contemporary society. We will also reflect on a world without meanings by comparing the perspectives of the French existentialists and the Daoists. Finally, we will talk about the possibility of imagining something immaterial, like God.
READ AND THINK
Our dominant operating system today is largely based on materialism. It, together with the associated ideology of instrumental rationality, programs many of the choices we make in our individual and social lives.
This video will outline the basic belief and propositions of materialism. We will also explain the concept of instrumental rationality and illustrate it with reference to scenes in the film Baraka.
Dualism is an important aspect of the materialist operating system. It separates the spiritual from the material, highlighting the latter as the foundations of our lives. But can the material and spiritual dimensions be separated in this way?
This video will unpack such dualistic way of thinking about the spiritual and the material. We will reflect on this issue with a metaphor of a banquet.
Things and Meanings
Under the logic of materialist operating system, material existence is the basis of reality. Given that our mindscape is a ’subjective’ world, is it less “real” than the material and objective world out there? Can something intangible be more powerful than tangible reality?
In this video, with different examples, we will argue that the world of intangible objects of consciousness in our mindscape is just as real as the world out there.
Gnarly Root and Useless Tree
We have different mental concepts on things we perceive. For instance, when it comes to a phone, we paint this object with different ideas – different objects of consciousness – like ‘useful’, ‘high-tech’, ‘smart phone’. What if we try to remove all these mental concepts in order to attain a direct consciousness of things in their pure materiality?
In fact, some philosophers did make this kind of mental experiment and reflection. This reading will introduce to you the perspectives of French existentialists and Daoists. We can reflect upon those perspectives to think of the ‘true’ meaning of things.
Imagination is a unique human capacity. We can put ourselves in other people’s shoes, imagine ourselves being the others and feel for them. We can even imagine beings without a material existence like spirits and gods. We can try to see the world from those perspectives, and live as if those beings and dimensions exist.
This video will lead us to think more about whether and how we can imagine gods.