ian.ellis-jones's blog

Charles Baudelaire and Seeing Things-As-They-Really-Are

‘But what can eternity of damnation matter to someone
who has felt, if only for a second, the infinity of delight?’
- Charles Baudelaire.

I am fascinated with the person and poetry of Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867). I am sure that says more about me than I would like to know or share.

Some Greek Philosophers and Mindfulness

In this short article I will discuss the ideas of some (for the most part) early Greek philosophers with a view to delineating what there is of value to us today as regards the regular practice of mindfulness.

Mindfulness is not a philosophy in itself. However, there are a number of philosophical ideas and principles that can be said to underlie the practice of mindfulness in its secular and non-sectarian form, and some of those ideas and principles are of quite ancient provenance.

The Christianity That Might Have Been

Prior to the Christian era, Athens reigned supreme over Alexandria as a centre for the study of philosophy and higher learning. However, Athens was ‘too intimately associated with the faded glories of polytheism to dispute with [Alexandria] the supremacy’ writes the Rev William Fairweather in his book Origen and Greek Patristic Theology (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1901, p 3). By the middle of the Second Century CE, Alexandria had become one of the intellectual capitals of the Roman Empire, in large part as a result of the hard work of the Ptolemies.

What is Right?

What is ‘good’? What is ‘right’? How should human beings behave toward others? These questions are not just the stuff of religion. Indeed, they belong most properly to the realm of ethics, and Humanism is, at the very least, concerned with ethics and ethical conduct. However, is it at all possible to speak meaningfully of anything being ‘good’ or ‘right’ in a post-postmodern world?

Living Mindfully is the Answer to the Absurd

‘If sub specie aeternitatis there is no reason to believe that anything matters, then that doesn't matter either, and we can approach our absurd lives with irony instead of heroism or despair.’--Thomas Nagel.

Life is absurd---and I will hear nothing to the contrary.

Albert Camus on Living For This Present Moment

Ever since studying French in college some 45 or more years ago I have loved the works of Albert Camus and, in particular, his 1942 novel L’Etranger (The Stranger/The Outsider).

There is a philosophical tension in Camus’ philosophy of life. On the one hand, life is absurd, irrational, futile, and manifestly unjust, but on the other hand we are rational beings—at least in potentiality—and therefore not absurd. Additionally, it is possible for us to be happy even in a world of tragedy, irrationality, manifest injustice, and suffering.

Enlightenment Without the Bullshit

I have a great interest in Zen. Now, Zen is not a religion or belief-system of any kind nor is it a philosophy as such. It is a way and view of life. The practitioner of Zen seeks to attain enlightenment---I’ll have more to say about that shortly---through a direct and intuitive insight. Zen is difficult for Westerners to understand as it does not belong to any of the formal categories of modern Western thought. Now, what is enlightenment---without the bullshit?

John Anderson--Philosopher and Controversialist Extraordinaire

'There are only facts, i.e., occurrences in space and time.'--John Anderson, 'Empiricism,' Australasian Journal of Psychology and Philosophy, December 1927, p 14.

Mindfulness and Mysticism

The essence of the mystical experience is this---to see, feel, or otherwise know that you are or have become one with all that is. One with the ‘wholly other.’ The mystical experience involves more than just feeling. It usually takes the form of some direct and immediate and unsolicited apprehension of something wonderfully immanent or transcendent (or both) that is both self-sufficient and of ultimate significance (at least to the recipient of the experience if not others as well).

Plotinus, that great Neoplatonist philosopher of the ancient world, expressed it this way:

A Rational Faith: Humanism, Enlightenment Ideals, and Unitarianism

This paper looks at the influence that Humanism, itself infused by and with Enlightenment values and ideals, has had on liberal religion in the form of Unitarianism.

An address delivered at State Parliament House, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, on 20 June 2014, in connection with World Humanist Day 2104 Australia--Symposium--'Enlightenment: The Roots of Humanism'.


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