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"To say that we own ourselves is, oddly enough, to cast ourselves as both master and slave simultaneously. “We” are both owners (exerting absolute power over our property), and yet somehow, at the same time, the things being owned (being the object of absolute power). The ancient Roman household, far from having been forgotten in the mists of history, is preserved in our most basic conception of ourselves—and, once again, just as in property law, the result is so strangely incoherent that it spins off into endless paradoxes the moment one tries to figure out what it would actually mean in practice. Just as lawyers have spent a thousand years trying to make sense of Roman property concepts, so have philosophers spent centuries trying to understand how it could be possible for us to have a relation of domination over ourselves. The most popular solution—to say that each of us has something called a “mind” and that this is completely separate from something else, which we can call “the body,” and that the first thing holds natural dominion over the second—flies in the face of just about everything we now know about cognitive science. It’s obviously untrue, but we continue to hold onto it anyway, for the simple reason that none of our everyday assumptions about property, law, and freedom would make any sense without it."

— David Graeber - Debt: The First 5,000 Years

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shrinkrants:

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Ideology’s job is to make people believe that their prison is a pleasure dome.

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"Those who know nothing of foreign languages know nothing of their own."

— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (via cosmogyros)

(Source: languageguru, via containslanguage)

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"You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive."

— James Baldwin (via observando)

(via shrinkrants)

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Intellectual / Social

The sociology of mind is not a theory of how intellectuals are affected by “non-intellectual motives.” To frame the question in this way is to assume that thinking normally takes place independently, in a pristine realm driven by nothing but itself. But thinking would not be possible at all if we were not social; we would have no words, no abstract ideas, and no energy for anything outside of immediate sensuality… Thinking consists in making “coalitions in the mind,” internalized from social networks, motivated by the emotional energies of social interactions. My concern is not with “non-intellectual motives” but to show what intellectual motives are. (Randall Collins, The Sociology of Philosophies, p.7)

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"Belief is a caricature of religion exactly as knowledge is a caricature of science."

— Bruno Latour, “Thou Shall Not Freeze-Frame” or How Not to Misunderstand the Science and Religion Debate

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"So how does anything as mundane as ritual give rise to anything as exalted as enlightenment? The prejudice contained in this question still haunts our ability to understand the powers of ritual practice in Zen or in any other religious tradition. Reducing ritual to mechanistic habit, we fail to understand how a practice of ritual can bring about a disciplined transformation of the practitioner, in this case how Zen ritual can give rise to Zen mind. The key, of course, is the gradual, even imperceptible, scripting of character through mental and physical exercise. In the Zen tradition, ritual is a thoroughgoing disciplinary program, imposed at first upon the practitioner until such time as the discipline is internalized as a self-disciplinary, self-conscious formation of mind and character."

— Dale Wright, Zen Ritual p11

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"There is nothing extravagant, spiritual, or mysterious in beginning to describe religious talk in this way. We are used to other, perfectly mundane forms of speech that are evaluated not by their correspondence with any state of affairs either, but by the quality of the interaction they generate from the way they are uttered. This experience—and experience is what we wish to share—is common in the domain of “love-talk” and, more largely, personal relations. “Do you love me?” is not assessed by the originality of the sentence—none are more banal, trivial, boring, rehashed—but rather by the transformation it manifests in the listener, as well as in the speaker. Information talk is one thing, transformation talk is another. When the latter is uttered, something happens. A slight displacement in the normal pace of things. A tiny shift in the passage of time. You have to decide, to get involved: maybe to commit yourselves irreversibly. We are not only undergoing an experience among others, but a change in the pulse and tempo of experience: kairos is the word the Greeks would have used to designate this new sense of urgency."

— Bruno Latour, “Thou Shall Not Freeze-Frame” or How Not to Misunderstand the Science and Religion Debate

(Source: bruno-latour.fr)

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“This original Cartesian error continues to infest contemporary cognitive science. When the brain areas in the left hemisphere correlated with understanding speech light up and one says, “This is where speech comprehension is occurring,” the mereological fallacy is alive and well. Speech comprehension is not something that occurs inside the body. Persons comprehend speech, and they do it out in the “external” world (the only world there is). Positing representations that exist inside the body is an instance of the mereological fallacy, and it is so necessarily, by virtue of the communicative element that is part of the definition of “representation,” “symbol” etc. Neither any part of the brain nor the brain or nervous system considered as a whole interprets anything. The key to a natural semantic of intentional predicates is the realization that they are predicated of persons, whole embodied beings functioning in relation to a larger environment.”

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"For more than 200 years now the doctrine has been increasingly held that there is such a thing as mental illness, that it is a sickness like any other, and that those who suffer from it should be dealt with medically: they should be treated by doctors, if necessary in a hospital, and not blamed for what has befallen them. This belief has its social uses. Were there no such notion we would probably have to invent it."

— Erving Goffman, “The Insanity of Place”

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"Metaphysical questions are indeed misleading, for they express an unclarity about the grammar of words (e.g. of the use of ‘I’, ‘mind’, ‘space’ and ‘time’) in the form of a scientific question. Unsurprisingly, the typical metaphysical answer appears to specify a putative truth about the world. The only gold one can extract from such ore is in the form of rules for the use of words. But most of metaphysics is dross, to be discarded as nonsense. Wittgenstein’s account made it clear, as most previous critics of metaphysics had not, why metaphysical assertions — that is, assertions about the world which seem to be necessarily true — are so compelling, and what modest grammatical truths lurk behind them."

— Peter Hacker, Wittgenstein’s Place in Twentieth Century Analytic Philosophy, p118

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"One of the greatest impediments for philosophy is the expectation of new, deep revelations. For the human craving for the arcane is present in philosophy no less than in other walks of life, manifesting itself in the desire for hitherto undreamt-of mysteries about the mind, thought and language. But in philosophy there are no mysteries, only the mesmerizing confusions engendered inter alia by our entanglement in grammar. Here too, as in psychoanalysis, there is often an underlying tacit motive for cleaving to error and illusion. Hence, ‘if you find yourself stumped trying to convince someone of something and not getting anywhere, tell yourself that it is the will and not the intellect that you’re up against’ (MS 158, 35)."

— Peter Hacker, Wittgenstein’s Place in Twentieth Century Analytic Philosophy, p112

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"The Benedictine Rule had called for manual labor, as well as prayer and reading, and it was always assumed that this labor could include writing. The early founders of monastic orders did not regard copying manuscripts as an exalted activity; on the contrary, as they were highly aware, most of the copying in the ancient world had been done by educated slaves. The task was therefore inherently humiliating as well as tedious, a perfect combination for the ascetic project of disciplining the spirit."

— Stephen Greenblatt, The Swerve: How the Renaissance Began

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"When particular ‘things’ are necessary elements of certain practices, then, contrary to a classical sociological argument, subject–subject relations cannot claim any priority over subject–object relations, as far as the production and reproductions of social order(liness) is concerned. The stable relation between agents (body/minds) and things within certain practices reproduces the social, as does the ‘mutually’ stable relation between several agents in other practices. Moreover, one can assume that most social practices consist of routinized relations between several agents (body/minds) and objects. At any rate, the social is also to be located in practices in which single agents deal with objects … and in this sense also the objects – television sets, houses and brownies – are the place of the social insofar as they are necessary components of social practices."

— Andreas Reckwitz, “Toward a Theory of Social Practices” p253