Search Results for Object
In Freudian theory the object is that which a subject directs energy toward in an attempt to gratify instinctual desires.
Just how a person relates to the object varies according to their psychological maturity.
In Freudian discourse the object usually refers to another person, aspects of a person, or a full or partial symbolic representation of a person.
When an object refers to another complete person replete with human rights and dignity, the object is a whole object.
Search Think Free » Cathexis, Fixation, Projection, Repression, Splitting, Stages of Psychosexual Development
Charles Rycroft, A Critical Dictionary of Psychoanalysis, Harmondsworth: Penguin 1977, p. 100.
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According to Buddhist legend, the Bodhi Tree the tree under which the seated Buddha-to-be resolved to find Truth.
Apparently the future Buddha was first pursued by demons and then received what he believed were heavenly visions.
Rejecting both as temporary and unreal, he attained Nirvana, which for him and his followers is the ultimate, true and unchanging reality.
The term Bodhi Tree also refers to a number of trees that Buddists believe are descendents from the original Bodhi Tree. Wikipedia explains:
The Bodhi tree at the Mahabodhi Temple is called the Sri Maha Bodhi. According to Buddhist texts the Buddha, after his Enlightenment, spent a whole week in front of the tree, standing with unblinking eyes, gazing at it with gratitude.¹
Buddhists preach about non-detachment and anatman (no-self) and yet, like adherents of most other religions, tend to venerate a whole series of ritualistic objects, from this kind of tree to well-kept rock gardens. In fact, one could argue that some Buddhist monasteries – not unlike some Christian monasteries – appear more like well-funded middle class havens instead of a place where any kind of real letting go of worldly things occurs.
That would be fine if admitted as such. But the sanctimonious preaching about renunciation that often comes from these places sometimes seems facile and, perhaps, a touch hypocritical.
Related Posts » Buddhism
- Why Bodhi Tree? (vijayaraman.com)
- March 18, 2013 Critical Commentary: THE HOLY BODHI LEAF AT MAHABODHI TEMPLE (worldreligionnews.wordpress.com)
- Under the Bodhi Tree (lifeisavacation.wordpress.com)
- Roots (cloakedmonk.com)
- Buddha Groove Adds New and Artistic Buddha Statues (prweb.com)
- Zen (noontimephotography.com)
George Berkeley (1685-1753) was the Anglican Dean of Derry (1724), bishop of Cloyne (1734) and an important philosopher belonging to the school of idealism. Born in Ireland, Berkeley moved to Oxford in 1752 and became one of the so-called British empiricists.
Berkeley believed that the material world exists as an idea created in our minds, ultimately by God. In his New theory of Vision (1709), he argued that our sense of distance isn’t directly perceived but inferred from the repeated association of visual and tactile cues. All of existence, itself, is a group of interacting minds, connecting with archetypes, which themselves derive from God.
He uttered the famous line, perhaps adapted from Shakespeare,
To be is to be perceived or a perceiver.
This means that existence is either a mind or stimuli in a mind.
One way that Berkeley tried to support his view was to note that the idea of heat – what the philosopher John Locke called a “secondary quality” – is somewhat relative. If one of our hands is cold and the other hot, and we place them into warm water, the one hand feels hot and the other cold. Anyone can do this little experiment and see that it’s true. However, Berkeley added that Locke’s so-called “primary qualities” (e.g. shape, quantity) were also dependent on a perceiving mind. Berkeley, in fact, challenged the entire distinction between primary and secondary qualities, as elaborated upon at Wikipedia:
Berkeley maintains that the ideas created by sensations are all that people can know for sure. As a result, what is perceived as real consists only of ideas in the mind. The crux of his argument is that once an object is stripped of all its secondary qualities, it becomes very problematic to assign any acceptable meaning to the idea that there is some object. Not that we can’t picture to ourselves (in our minds) that some object exists apart from any perceiver—we clearly think we can do this—but rather, can we give any content to this idea in any particular case?¹
A slightly different take on the belief that the material world doesn’t exist independent of the mind has been popularized in many books reporting recent discoveries in sub-atomic physics, such as Gary Zukav’s The Dancing Wu Li Masters and Fritzoff Capra’s The Turning Point.
- Influential Figures in My Life: Locke, Berkeley and Hume (jonathanhockey.wordpress.com)
- A View From Here (o50328b.wordpress.com)
- Behaviorism (earthpages.wordpress.com)
- The Mess of Me at the Moment (brittavalentin.wordpress.com)
- Part 9: Beyond Atheism – A History of Western Philosophy (coppellpianoshop.wordpress.com)
- Matter and Mind (middlepane.com)
- Rewrite Your Life (barbarasreality.wordpress.com)
A creed (Latin credo: I believe) is a general or precise set of religious beliefs which (apparently) are written in unambiguous language.
The philosopher of religion Thomas McPherson maintains that saying
I believe in God
is quite different from saying
I believe that God exists
The former statement, he argues, avows an attachment, commitment and basic trust in the subject matter. It’s a statement of faith. The latter statement is simply a neutral opinion or, if not perhaps neutral, it’s certainly a cooler, less emotionally involved statement.
By way of contrast, consider
I believe in my country
as compared to
I believe that my country exists
McPherson says these statements are similar to the pair of statements about God’s existence. But he also claims that saying you believe in your country doesn’t entail the same degree of involvement as saying that you believe in God.
McPherson’s claim that saying “I believe in God” reveals the most passionate of all beliefs is questionable. Dialectical materialists forwarding in the work of Karl Marx, for instance, sometimes seem tremendously passionate about their “faith” in the object of their belief.
A good example of a dialectical materialist who seems to “believe in” Marx’s ideas with great intensity can be found in J. D. Bernal, whose Science in History, Vols. 1-4. follows the Marxist ideology pretty closely.
But not only Marxists can get passionate about their beliefs. Social thinkers like Roland Barthes have argued that American patriotism, particularly during the 1950s, arguably had all the intensity of a religious faith. That is, the idea of the American Spirit connoted a intense set of beliefs about the superiority and moral goodness of America.
- Eddy Laing: Why Historical Materialism Matters (dogmaandgeopolitics.wordpress.com)
- Holy Father’s Wednesday audience: “Do not be afraid to go against the grain to live your faith, and resist the temptation to conform” (en.radiovaticana.va)
- Sinner’s Creed: A Memoir (therockriff.wordpress.com)
Comparative Religion is the academic study of world religions to determine differences, similarities and points of equivalence.
Most scholars cite Max Müller (1823-1900), Sir E. B. Tylor (1832-1917) and Sir J. G. Frazer (1854-1941) as the most important figures in the birth of comparative religion. And some will also mention Joseph-Francois Lafitau (1681- 1746).
But this can be misleading because as far back as Xenophanes (6th century BCE) we find writers comparing different religions. Plato and Aristotle also discuss diverse worldviews. And, as S. G. F. Brandon points out, several lesser known ancient Greek and Latin writers realized the importance of discerning similarities among different religious beliefs.¹
In the 19th century scholars of comparative religion tended to believe that their work was objective. They also assumed that mankind evolved from primitive to advanced states of being. Moreover, Christian biases were often present. Ruldolf Otto (1869-1937) is often criticized in this regard.
More recently, far more subtle Christian biases can be found in the works of Mircea Eliade and C. G. Jung. Before the second Vatican Council Catholic theology studied other religions mostly to demonstrate their allegedly misguided or, worse, demonic status.
The notion of objectivity was challenged by poststructuralism in the 1960′s to 1990′s—that is, the very idea of scientific and (most forms of) absolute truth were questioned.² But this kind of thinking isn’t terribly new. It’s been present for centuries with figures like Friedrich Nietszche and Pontius Pilate.
Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” (John 18: 37-38).
Today the poststructural perspective has permeated religious studies. And a recent branch of ‘postmodern theology’ offers compelling arguments for the deconstruction of Biblical and related religious assumptions.
Meanwhile, comparative religion usually involves theory and methodology courses to grapple with issues of subjectivity and interpretation vs. objectivity and truth. And also, a sociologist might argue, to try to legitimize itself as a “scientific” enterprise, which usually increases eligibility for grants, funding, and the like.
¹ S. G. F. Brandon ed., Dictionary of Comparative Religion (1970: 202).
² Ironically, some second-rate historians still talk about historical records as if they “prove” (rather than suggest) this or that point of view.
Christianity is the religion based on the life, teachings, moral example, crucifixion and resurrection of the New Testament figure, Jesus Christ. Jesus was the son of a young Jewish woman, Mary, who conceived while engaged to her carpenter fiance, Joseph. The Jesus story tells us that Mary didn’t have sexual relations with Joseph but, instead, was visited by the angel Gabriel who told her that she’d become pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit—a calling which Mary willingly accepted. So technically, Joseph was Jesus’ foster father.
Founded in Jerusalem, the Christian religion emerged from the Jewish scriptural tradition, which Christians today call the Old Testament. Jesus, in fact, is seen by his followers as the long awaited prophet promised in Jewish scriptures.
As with contemporary Christianity, Early Christianity was shaped by the Jesus story. But this isn’t all. There’s also the living grace which believers claim to experience. So rather than their religion being a dry routine based on some distant past event, believers say they can feel the Holy Spirit acting in their lives, here and now.¹
These two elements – the teachings and example of the earthly Christ along with the perceived guidance and indwelling love of the heavenly Christ – forged an unshakable belief in many of Christ’s early followers.
Some early Christians believed that Christ’s promised return – signalling the end of the world – was imminent. In one letter St. Paul chastises believers for not working due to their misguided belief about the end-times occurring within their lifetimes (2 Thessalonians 3:10, Matthew 24:36, Mark 13:32).
The religion spread throughout the Mediterranean’s Gentile (non-Jewish) population for about 20 years after Christ’s death. It was declared an “illegal assembly” under Roman Law. And the tyrant Nero publicly blamed Christians for the great fire in Rome of 64 CE.
Cruel and barbaric persecutions at the hands of the pagan Romans followed but the religion continued to spread. While some Christians denied their belief in Christ when threatened with horrendous torture and death, a good number willingly – some even joyously – went to their deaths at the hands of the pagan Romans.
The graceful and heroic courage of Christians being fed alive to lions in the Colosseum at Rome impressed some of the more sensitive Romans, leading to their conversion to this new monotheistic religion. Conversions didn’t just take place among the poor, as commonly believed. By 96 CE the radical egalitarianism of Christianity became increasingly apparent as members of the Roman Imperial family also converted away from their pagan past. By the end of the 2nd-century, Christianity had spread into Britain.
Why was Christianity so successful?
Some sociologists suggest that the Christian message gave hope of eternal reward to the powerless and oppressed. In other words, it’s a religion for losers. But historians more correctly note that the religion cut across all class lines, fostered warm communal love and complete forgiveness for past wrongs, along with the promise of power over demons and everlasting life in heaven. Theologians add that the spiritual power of the living Christ has always been present among believers in the form of the Holy Spirit, giving life, love and direction to their religious worship.
In 313 CE Constantine issued an edict of toleration in Milan, enabling Christians to worship without fear of persecution. In 381 CE Theodosius made Christianity the official religion of the Roman empire.
Some Christian sects in early Christianity emphasized either Christ’s humanity at the expense of his Divinity, or conversely, his Divinity at the expense of his humanity. The Church took great pains to officially resolve these as “heresies.”
Christianity continued to expand through the Roman empire. When the Western empire fell in 476 CE, the barbarian invaders were converted.
During the so-called Dark Ages, the Papal court fell into disrepute. Several Popes become blatantly corrupt. Murder, intrigue and absurd rationalizations for grave evils abounded. The flame of Christianity, however, was kept alive in the European monasteries. Monks by and large were disgusted with the scandalous and violent practices of the Papal court.
In the East, Christianity continued as ‘Byzantium’ until overrun my Muslim invaders in 1453 CE.
The Orthodox Church had become split by the 11th-century. Apart from subtle theological differences, the Western Church recognized the Pope while the Eastern Church did not.
Several additional heresies were squelched by the Western Church but the 16th-century rise of the Reformers and the Counter-Reformation created a decisive split between Protestants and Roman Catholics.
Protestant Churches, themselves, began to splinter, with many new denominations rising up, usually at the bidding of some charismatic reformer claiming to rekindle the “original truth” of Christianity.
Despite doctrinal differences among various branches of Christianity in the 21st-century, almost all Christians believe in the doctrine of the Trinity. This is the belief that God reveals himself in three ‘persons’ of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. These three distinct persons are said to be equal, eternal and also a unity, sharing the same substance.
Today Christianity is a world-wide religion of over 2.2 billion followers, largely the result of colonization and missionary work among various Christian denominations.
¹ Problems arise when different believers claim opposing ‘truths’ based on the apparent experience of the Holy Spirit. Quite possibly some individuals mistake a kind of vital, perhaps even biochemical, energy for the true love and peace of the Holy Spirit.
- History of purgatory (divinelightblog.wordpress.com)
- Can’t we just work together? (tolivelifetothefull.wordpress.com)
- A Long Oral Tradition: Step four in the development of early Christian faith (mikerivageseul.wordpress.com)
- Changing the Face of Christianity Reports on the State of Christianity Today (prweb.com)
- rants: a pagan or atheist at heart? (christiannoob.wordpress.com)
- Our Righteousness in Christ (missiontopapua.wordpress.com)
- This is Good News – A Devotion (lthomason.wordpress.com)
- What Happened to the Old-Fashion Religion? (5ptsalt.com)
- Christianity Is Not a Religion!!!! (encounterss.wordpress.com)
- The Uniqueness of Christianity: 12 Objections Answered (insightscoop.typepad.com)
Ch’an Buddhism is the Chinese equivalent of Japanese Zen Buddhism. Based on the Sanskrit word dhyana, Ch’an apparently was brought to China in the early 6th century by the Buddhist Missionary Bodhidharma (also said to be the first to develop the koan).
Ch’an essentially is a meditation school. While interpretations differ as to the character of its ultimate goal (i.e. Buddha-mind), generally it can be described as a stillness where no distinctions exist between subject and object, good and evil and where emotion is brought to a place of quiescence or indifference. In other words, Ch’an claims to offer a path that leads beyond duality.
These lines sum up Bodhidharma’s teaching:
A special transmission outside the scripture
No dependence upon words or letter
Direct pointing to the soul of man
Seeing into nature and attainment of Buddhahood.¹
It should be noted, however, that Ch’an doesn’t scorn conceptual knowledge. Instead, it tries to avoid excessive intellectualization. This is an important distinction that many Buddhists and, perhaps, Gnostics seem to miss. There’s nothing wrong with thinking and forming concepts, Ch’an says. As human beings we simply must do. And healthy thinking can even extend to trying to map out ultimate concerns—that is, to develop a cosmology. The problem, as Ch’an sees it, is when we cling to intellectual ideas without enough spiritual experience to justify doing so.
We find this kind of excessive intellectualization not just in Asian religions, but in any immature fundamentalism where people “think” about what’s right and what is, without any truly elevated experience behind their ideas. These people latch onto or proclaim a pet theory because doing so gives them social comfort and, perhaps, pays the bills (as in fundamentalist organizations that demand or pressure workers to believe in a particular interpretation of sacred scripture).²
Another interesting feature of Ch’an is that its insights do not rely on seated meditation. Instead, a great deal of creative physical activity goes hand in hand with the inner quest.
As D. Howard Smith puts it:
The search for direct communication with the inner nature of things and the vision of a world beyond all opposites led to a great outpouring of creative art in China and Japan.³
So with Ch’an we don’t always find navel gazing meditators who artificially try to remove themselves from all that the world has to offer. Instead, there seems to be more of a creative integration between the contemplative and creative aspects of the human self. This path arguably comes closer to the Hindu ideal of karma-yoga (the yoga of action).
¹ Cited in S. G. F. Brandon, ed., Dictionary of Comparative Religion (1970), p. 186.
² Whether or not these workers actually believe in and privately follow what they outwardly display through their sugar-coated, squeaky clean work personas is another matter altogether.
³ D. Howard Smith in S. G. F. Brandon (1970), p. 187.
- Ethics of Zen and Buddhism (dranilj1.wordpress.com)
- American Zen: A Brief History. (Part I) (elephantjournal.com)
- Group A Blog 4 Ed Austin (perspectives9.wordpress.com)
- Blog 4 (Group A) (perspectives9.wordpress.com)
- Week 12: Group A (perspectives9.wordpress.com)
- Buddhism and Your Own Traditions (greenteakarma.wordpress.com)
- San Francisco Zen Center Strives to Transform the Work of Caregivers by Offering a First of its Kind Course Based on Buddhism (prweb.com)
- Digital Bibliography of Chinese Buddhism 中國佛教電子書目 (warpweftandway.wordpress.com)
- Common Goals (perspectives11.wordpress.com)
Causality is the belief that a second event is the consequence of a first event. This is usually described as a relationship between a cause (first event) and an effect (second event).¹ Not everyone sees causality as a belief. But from a mature philosophical perspective, that’s exactly what it is.
The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle saw causality in terms of four interrelated causes or explanatory factors:
- The material cause: The raw material used to make an object (e.g. wood)
- The formal cause: What the object will be (e.g. a chair)
- The efficient cause: How the object is created (builder)
- The final cause: The object’s function or purpose (it is used for sitting)
This teleological perspective is based on Aristotle’s belief that a valid distinction can be made between a thing’s essence and its observable form.²
Perhaps in keeping with Aristotle’s idea of a “formal cause,” Michelangelo said that, when sculpting, he simply removed the stone that hid the figure already existing within.
The idea of one event causing another event has been critically examined. The philosopher David Hume suggested that the idea of causality is nothing more than an expectation based on past experience and human limitations.
Hume’s critique of the belief in cause and effect challenges our conventional way of seeing. All we can be sure of, says Hume, is that certain events occur one after another in a given region and for a certain duration.
In billiards, for instance, the white ball appears to cause the motion of other balls when impacting them on the gaming table. But here’s the radical part. Hume says that all we can truly know is that, in the past, the first ball impacted and the other balls moved. We cannot prove that the first ball’s impact will always be followed by movement of the other balls. And for Hume, there is no rational way to demonstrate a causal connection:
Reason can never shew us the connexion of one object with another, tho’ aided by experience, and the observation of their constant conjunction in all past instances. When the mind, therefore, passes from the idea or impression of one object to the idea or belief of another, it is not determin’d by reason, but by certain principles, which associate together the ideas of these objects, and unite them in the imagination.³
Put differently, from prior experience we build up a series of expectations and habitual ways of interpreting observations. Hume calls these “ideas.” But ideas they simply are. Although we expect the billiard balls to move, we have no way of proving or knowing that they always will.
At first, this may seem absurd. But Hume’s critique of causality had a profound effect on one of the most important thinkers in the history of Western philosophy, Immanuel Kant. Mortimer Adler says “…Kant tells us that David Hume awakened him from his dogmatic slumbers.”4
In addition, developments in subatomic physics, especially concerning particle reaction chambers, have challenged many longstanding assumptions about causality. On a quantum level of reality, contemporary physicists claim that observations of subatomic particles support the ideas of probability and simultaneity instead of linear causality.5
¹ Wikipedia gives a standard definition that most would accept: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Causality
³ David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature (1896 ed.), SECTION VI.: Of the inference from the impression to the idea, paragraph 278.
4 Adler, Mortimer J. (1996). Ten Philosophical Mistakes. Simon & Schuster. p. 94, cited at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critique_of_Pure_Reason#cite_note-2
5 Some argue, however, that it’s invalid to compare quantum and macroscopic levels of reality because subatomic particles exist in an entirely different arena, and behave in different ways than the larger aggregate objects which they make up.
On the Web:
- The Problem of Induction (plato.stanford.edu)
- David Hume and the Theatre of the Mind (exploringphilosophy.wordpress.com)
- Quantum causal relations: A causes B causes A (eurekalert.org)
- Causation Warps Our Perception of Time (psychologicalscience.org)
- David Hume’s final moments (person) (everything2.com)
In psychoanalysis, Charles Rycroft says cathexis is a term coined by Sigmund Freud‘s English translators to indicate an “investment” of libidinal (sexual) energy that attaches to an internal object, representation or mental structure.¹ Some years later, Rycroft’s assertion has been expanded on in Wikipedia:
Once inside the head, so to speak, the libidinal energy can transfer from one mental structure to another, much like troops positioning around a battlefield.
According to Freud’s theory, cathected energy may attach to one mental process in order to repress another. Sooner or later there’s a build up of energy. This results in psychological dysfunction, or more positively in sublimation, where the energy is redirected toward some socially acceptable outlet (such as creating artwork).
Object cathexis refers to mental energy invested in an external object instead of the self. It should be noted that Freud’s use of the term “object” includes people. “Object” for Freud simply means a recipient of instinctual drives. So an object can be inside one’s own head or outside in the environment.
Also of note is how Freud never considers the possibility that pent up libidinal energy could be redirected to the spiritual life. On this score, many saints and mystics attest to the importance of celibacy. Without it, they say, their spiritual work (e.g. intercession) just can’t get done. Many go even further, describing chastity not as a kind of unavoidable necessity but as a great gift and virtue. This positive attitude lead St. Frances de Sales to say
Chastity is the lily among virtues and makes men almost equal to angels.³
Sadly, many people still on a materialistic level of consciousness find this difficult to understand. As a result, some predominantly spiritual people may suffer ridicule and persecution, even by their apparently religious peers. Even more sad, it seems that some potential spiritual sensitives are, themselves, duped by the status quo viewpoint. So instead of flowering into sainthood, they may end up in psychiatric wards.
Related Posts » Abreaction
¹ Charles Rycroft, A Critical Dictionary of Psychoanalysis, Harmondsworth: Penguin 1977, p. 16.
³ Cited in The Voice of the Saints, ed. Francis W. Johnston, Tan Books, 1986 , p. 55.
- Displacement (earthpages.wordpress.com)
- Dreams (earthpages.wordpress.com)
- The Century of the Self (pulsemedia.org)
- Review: ‘Freud’s Last Session’ at the San Jose Rep (mercurynews.com)
- Quiz – Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development (psychology.about.com)
- Sigmund Freud my Quest for Peace (sexymomma884.wordpress.com)
- Freud Philosophy (trinadlambert.com)
- What is the libidinal economy of collective sovereignty? (jdeanicite.typepad.com)
- Freud & Jung in “A Dangerous Method” (psychologytoday.com)