“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Object-Oriented Buddhism 6

The Tibetan Kagyü, Nyingma and Shakya lineages (at least), along with Japanese Zen and many other forms of Buddhism, have developed an approach to studying the mind that reminds me of Ian Bogost's concept of “carpentry”—sort of hands on philosophy (it takes up a whole chapter his excellent forthcoming Alien Phenomenology, which is about 20% of the book). Learning things by making things.

As Heidegger argues it's simply not the case that praxis is untheoretical, and theorizing is impractical. Sometimes you can only really find out about something by using it.

Instead of studying the mind (inevitably as an object “over there,” present-at-hand in Heidegger's terms, laden with the baggage of “common sense” prejudices), these traditions study the mind by doing something with it, by using it to meditate.

The idea that meditation is useless navel-gazing is an absurd mistake.

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