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Thread: Participatory Thought & Planet Plundering

  1. #1 Participatory Thought & Planet Plundering 
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    Participatory Thought & Planet Plundering

    David Bohm informs us that in early culture we humans exercised “participatory thought”; this form of thinking is still common today—people felt that they were participation in the big picture—plains Indians felt that there were many buffalo that were displays of the spirit of buffalo and that in hunting and eating this buffalo the Indians participated in this world spirit—likewise the Eskimo felt similarly being a participant of the spirit of seals—these people felt that in their thoughts they participated in these worldly spirits.

    Modern man has converted somewhat from such thoughts “We want to have a thought about something where we don’t participate, where we think about it and know just what it is.”—the form of thought which we modern man prefers are what is called “literal thought”.

    Literal thought is intended to reflect just reality as it really exists—it is thought that focus on “just the facts mam”—technology aims for literal thought--the scientific method enthrones literal thought

    Some compare this attitude about literal thought as being a form of idol worship—when we construct an idol it is a representative of some force, after awhile the idol becomes in our thoughts that force—example is when the flag becomes a literal thought of a nation—thus we overvalue the symbol—literal thought and participatory thought stand side by side but generally those things that we value most involve participatory thought—“the tribe and the totem—we are identical”—when my country is attacked, I am attacked; when my conclusions are attacked I am attacked.

    Explicitly we give supreme value to literal thought—tacitly we give supreme value to participatory thought—literal thought makes technology possible and participatory thought went underground, the crazy aunt in the attic.

    Participatory thought creates a sense of belonging; it does not create a separation of subject and object. “That way of thinking would not lead anybody to plunder the planet.”

    Participatory thought however has some dangers. When Indian tribes thought of them selves as human beings and ‘human being’ became a word for tribal members then when engaging other tribes in battle that tribe were not ‘human beings’. Likewise in Hitler’s Germany a similar situation prevailed.


    As society began to develop larger groups literal thought became more prevalent; these societies need much better organization. They organized society by saying “You belong here, you do this, and you do that…They began, therefore, to treat everything as a separate object, including other people. They used people as a means to an end.”

    How do these characteristics of thought affect our ability to communicate and to “just get along”?


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  3. #2  
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    In my work - which is renovations and finish carpentry - I tend to what might be called "participatory thought". I care for the material itself, for example the trees that in my mind are the living wood I strive to do justice to. I consider what I'm doing in context of centuries, and the history of the region. What the customer thinks e.g. "until I sell the house" is secondary or even at odds. Sometimes I will refuse a job because I feel it contrary or even insulting to my ethic. I don't come out and say it that way, but rather pitch some outrageous price tag as smokescreen.

    I had a great time building furniture in Japan, because that culture is saturated with "participatory thought" and readily acknowledges it, ennobles it. For example, the folks I'd buy lumber from, would talk about Malaysian forests, and heirlooms, and how to treat wood well. Respect. I observed this attitude in many fields. It's presumed. It promotes quality over quantity.

    The dollar stores awash with Chinese goods were something else. One can buy an import wood rasp for a dollar (¥100), and it is in fact a rasp. That is, it is formed like a rasp. All the little teeth will rub off and embed into softwood the first time you use it, but it is in fact a rasp. That really steams me up! What a waste of metal. Damn those bastards I could punch them so hard. I mean... words fail.

    Meanwhile I live in what could easily become the world's clean hydroelectric power solution. But we're gonna sit on this because each and every one of our hundreds of high volume watersheds are sacred and not for plunder by man. And we're going to restrict immigration to this huge expanse of pristine land, to protect it. Bangladeshis may go to hell. Of course we pretend "oops didn't notice you guys overcrowded there." Refugee applications must have gotten lost in the mail.

    So, yeah, Coberst, these characteristics of thought affect our ability to communicate and to “just get along”.


    A little topical tidbit, since you mentioned Indians: Canada's Inuit (Eskimo) as idealized igloo dwellers were largely a product of federal sovereignty efforts over the High Arctic. We literally relocated native families off reserves in Quebec, to survive as "Canadian citizens" on remote frontiers like Baffin Island. They were told they "belong" there, that the lands north of the tree line are their "ancestral lands".


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  4. #3  
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    Pong

    Excellent post. Things that I have never thought of before. You might want to consider taking your message to more forums. We need badly to awaken citizens from their bovine habits.
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    Meanwhile I live in what could easily become the world's clean hydroelectric power solution. But we're gonna sit on this because each and every one of our hundreds of high volume watersheds are sacred and not for plunder by man.
    This seems a bit ironic, considering the resistance is coming from (I am guessing) the Cree indians, who are objecting to the destruction of their participatory lifestyle by the construction of new hydroelectric plants. (I don't have a side on this particular issue, not knowing enough about it.)
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  6. #5 on thought 
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    Cobest, on his comments about participatory thoughts/literal thoughts on the face of it rings of insight rather learned or invented. however it clearly denotes complete folly. one should be careful of words and how they are used, in describing these two thoughts he makes a connection between there impact on whoever(for lack of a better word, adhere to them)

    the thoughts have no meaning or connection to anything other then a educated explanation to the educated.P-thought he states connects to a esetorical veiw of the world whereas L-thought connects to a humanistic veiw. Please

    The rehtoric reminds me of another misused word Change. nothing that we know has ever underwent a change, all is as all was and all will ever be. to use this word change to describe something in life or cognition to explain a difference is just that a difference, but by using change we think of the difference as a metaphorical event where one thing turned completly into another thing, it never happen it never will. evolution cant even poport to change, so ape became man and all that man is had to be seeded in ape thus no change however if you take out the words ape and man and replace them with life form the difference from one to the other is palable.

    the same holds true for P-thought and L-thought call the thought process the thought process and leave it like that.
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  7. #6  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury
    Meanwhile I live in what could easily become the world's clean hydroelectric power solution. But we're gonna sit on this because each and every one of our hundreds of high volume watersheds are sacred and not for plunder by man.
    This seems a bit ironic, considering the resistance is coming from (I am guessing) the Cree indians, who are objecting to the destruction of their participatory lifestyle by the construction of new hydroelectric plants. (I don't have a side on this particular issue, not knowing enough about it.)
    I was thinking about British Columbia, but the irony applies to much of Canada. In my province we have locally powerful (corporate, bureaucratic) interests that to line their pockets must keep land from falling into the private market-driven domain (only a small percentage of the province is privately owned). They habitually invoke a smokescreen of protecting nature from crass exploitation - Native and environmentalist groups play right into that. Greenpeace was born here, of all places, it enjoyed the moral and financial support of government. My point is that in some places, "the people" vs. "the man" have traditional roles reversed.

    In a federal context, citizens are agents of national participation which justifies the state. The Inuit relocation project being stark example. Entire provinces receive support payments to maintain a traditional lifestyle very much tied to nature. Newfoundland is supposed to keep up the fishermen, even if there's no more fish. Because fishing is a right and noble Canadian occupation. Well OK technically they did plunder the planet and will continue to do so, but they don't mean to. The main thing is that our pawns of global plunder, in themselves, conform to rustic ideals. They really do love fishing the Grand Banks, and living as a part of it. The coast guard may fire warning shots across the bows of Portuguese vessels, to great cheering.

    Contrast Vancouver city, mostly recent immigrants, mostly Asian. And the truth is we are "planet plunderers" to the core. If we could get our hands on it. The city government imposes fines for cutting private urban trees now, for sake of appearances . Development land for new homes is trickled carefully by government. The idea is to keep this ravenous mass restrained to one small corner of the province, so unnaturally dense that urban planners worldwide say "Vancouverization" to mean ultra-high population density. In spite of our total disregard for participation with nature, in spite of our overriding obsession with good commute times and dividing more bedrooms into a given square footage than the Joneses, our "planet plunder index" is relatively low. Hives are not very wasteful.

    So on what levels are participatory vs. literal thought engaged in? Within the individual, it's obscure. How can anybody know just what I'm thinking as I sharpen a tool? How about between individuals, e.g organizations. Are ego/id (conscious/unconscious) analogies any good here? What is the "United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples"? Superego?
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  8. #7  
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    Pong, apologies for placing you at the wrong end of Canada. The irony however, begins in the OP. Was the participatory thinking of the Indians who stampeded the bison over the cliffs at Jumping Pound (a bit closer to your neck of the woods than Quebec :? ) somewhat lacking, for they killed far more animals than they could eat. Not much big picture thinking there.

    I think that, in simpler terms than the muddled OP (which Google informs us is posted on at least six other forums), participatory thinking is not automatically a better form of thinking than so-called literal thinking. But it's not even clear to me if that is the claim being made.

    What group is the participatory thinker thinking in? Any group he likes at the moment. That group could be carpenters, tall people, pastry chefs, Armenians, dog lovers or Hindus (who are already used to that sort of thing). The whole world perhaps - well we could try, but then the stakes are so big and the problems so complex that we have to both break them down into smaller ones and apply some analytical thinking, which does not seem to be in the spirit of the fuzzy holistic paradigm that I think is being proposed. And once you break them down into manageable parts you have countries, political parties and American Idol.
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  9. #8  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury
    What group is the participatory thinker thinking in? Any group he likes at the moment. That group could be carpenters, tall people, pastry chefs, Armenians, dog lovers or Hindus (who are already used to that sort of thing). The whole world perhaps - well we could try, but then the stakes are so big and the problems so complex that we have to both break them down into smaller ones and apply some analytical thinking, which does not seem to be in the spirit of the fuzzy holistic paradigm that I think is being proposed. And once you break them down into manageable parts you have countries, political parties and American Idol.
    Think globally, act locally. Which global? How local? You're right, it's just redrawing borders on maps, switching channels.

    I do see "They began, therefore, to treat everything as a separate object, including other people. They used people as a means to an end." This comes of treating humanity as environment. We are wired to exploit our environment. Built to seek out problems and attack them. One would think that where "a person" (off limits) ends is clear cut but it isn't clear - people have property, goals, time, ethics, habits, many vague extensions that form a sort of jungle space we might prowl through and hack at. Road rage comes to mind.

    I try to keep my talons off humanity by fixing on purely material problems. Man vs. nature. That sounds almost heretical these days.

    Coberst touched another level though - the personal.

    Zen? Here is no "man vs." anything. The idea is to quit looking for trouble outside the self. Letting molten rakuware just do its thing when dumped indifferently into water or leaves... is about as participatory as is possible. You do all this work, then invite chance to take a final whack at it.
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