Search Results for ego
In Sigmund Freud‘s psychoanalysis, the ego is the conscious, structured and reasoned aspect of the id. The ego is not present at birth but emerges from the id, acting as mediator between the often conflicted demands of the id and the superego.
In Carl Jung‘s analytical psychology, the ego is a highly continuous “complex of ideas which constitutes the centre of [one's] field of consciousness.” As the psyche’s “point of reference,” the ego’s partly biological component is offset by cultural influences. Its function is to balance the forces of the collective unconscious, the personal unconscious, external society as well as ethically good and destructive influences from both internal and external stimuli.
Jung borrows from Aristotle‘s idea of ‘effects from a First Cause’ by saying that the ego stands in relation to the self as “moved to the mover.” The ego is said to arise from and, in some cases, is at risk of being overtaken by the collective unconscious (as in inflation). Jung claims that many people mistakenly regard their egos as the total self. To compensate for this limited perspective, the collective unconscious tends to assert itself. Because of the almost limitless power of the collective unconscious, this can be a tricky time for the ego, which must represent the forces of the unconscious through language, symbols or art to maintain its autonomy.
In comparing industrialized mankind to so-called primitives, Jung sees the Western ego as a high achievement of humanity (recall that Jung is writing during the modern period). He says that the egos of modern individuals are better differentiated and less luminous than those of their, as he sometimes implies, cruder ancestors. Although no longer wholly identified with the numinous, modern egos are surrounded by a “multitude of little luminosities”–-that is, the unconscious affords different ‘lights’ to ego consciousness without overtaking it entirely. And different individuals exhibit different lights from the unconscious.
Although offering an important alternative to the psychoanalytic wisdom of the day, Jung tends to make sweeping generalizations about the ‘normal’ Western ego, revealing that he too, at least in part, is a product of his times. And his archetypal theory tends to downplay the idea of wholly spiritual influences from above, or at least, constrain these influences into his somewhat limiting theory.
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A Gregorian Chant is a non-harmonic, unaccompanied melody of the Roman Catholic Church, usually but not only sung in monasteries for worship and spiritual elevation.
The earliest surviving manuscripts are from the late 9th century. The authorization of the chants for liturgical use is often attributed to Pope Gregory the Great.
Numerous recordings of Gregorian Chants are available today for listening among the general public. Some of these recordings are made by actual monks and others by scholarly musicians, such as the Ensemble Organum directed by Marcel Pérès.
Most lay people play this music for purposes of relaxation or contemplation. Among music scholars, however, there’s an ongoing debate about how best to perform the chants. The problem is that early forms of musical notation are notorious for not clearly indicating the timing of certain notes. So some may think a certain note should be longer, others shorter. This uncertainty leaves much room for rhythmic interpretation.
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In Freud‘s psychoanalytic theory, the superego is the conscious or unconscious element of the ego that is formed from the child’s internalization of parental values, beliefs and prohibitions.
Because the superego is internalized in childhood, its moral injunctions are partially based on imagined rather than actual parental demands.
A common mistake among popular psychologists is to equate the superego with the conscience.
Although influencing moral attitudes, the superego differs from the conscience. Internal conflicts can arise between the superego and the conscience or between the superego and more recently acquired attitudes and beliefs.
» Censor, Conscience, Defense Mechanism, Dreams, Ego, Electra Complex, Introjection, Psychopath, Repression, Totem
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Michael Clark, Ph.D.
Roland Barthes (1915-1980) was a French semiologist, best known for his book Mythologies (1957). Barthes argued that most of what we assume to be natural could be products of history and culture. More specifically, linguistic and artistic representations play a crucial role in the naturalization of arbitrary and morally ambiguous historical events.
By way of example, politically active gay persons usually challenge the following argument:
Homosexuality is ethically bad because it is unnatural, and heterosexuality is ethically good because it is natural.
Critics will say that, according to this line of reasoning, a deadly rattlesnake could be good for children because it is natural. And this seems a valid critique of this kind of argument. Regardless of one’s beliefs about the joys or horrors of homosexuality, to challenge it with this type of reasoning is philosophically weak.
Barthes also makes a distinction between readerly and writerly text, outlined well at Wikipedia:
A text that makes no requirement of the reader to “write” or “produce” their own meanings. The reader may passively locate “ready-made” meaning. Barthes writes that these sorts of texts are “controlled by the principle of non-contradiction” (156), that is, they do not disturb the “common sense,” or “Doxa,” of the surrounding culture. The “readerly texts,” moreover, “are products [that] make up the enormous mass of our literature” (5). Within this category, there is a spectrum of “replete literature,” which comprises “any classic (readerly) texts” that work “like a cupboard where meanings are shelved, stacked, [and] safeguarded” (200).
A text that aspires to the proper goal of literature and criticism: “… to make the reader no longer a consumer but a producer of the text” (4). Writerly texts and ways of reading constitute, in short, an active rather than passive way of interacting with a culture and its texts. A culture and its texts, Barthes writes, should never be accepted in their given forms and traditions. As opposed to the “readerly texts” as “product,” the “writerly text is ourselves writing, before the infinite play of the world is traversed, intersected, stopped, plasticized by some singular system (Ideology, Genus, Criticism) which reduces the plurality of entrances, the opening of networks, the infinity of languages” (5). Thus reading becomes for Barthes “not a parasitical act, the reactive complement of a writing,” but rather a “form of work”¹
However, this distinction seems spurious, for readers are always interpreting and creating as they take in a text, regardless of if being a so-called “classic” text or an “avante-garde” text. In fact, avant garde texts usually emerge within some new kind of clique or arts group that can be just as “bourgeois” as traditional groups. This was made abundantly clear whenever I attended a Cultural Studies class in university, which usually reeked with the snobbery of style exuded by some students living on their wealthy parents’ credit cards.
¹ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roland_Barthes#Key_terms. See more on this distinction here: http://www.arts.uwaterloo.ca/~raha/700_701_web/BarthesLO/readerly.html
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Bahai is a relatively recent world religion. Adherents of Bahai claim that God is progressively revealed through a sequence of teachers, including Abraham, Moses, Zoroaster, Buddha, Jesus, Mohammad, and its Persian founder, Baha’u'llah (1860′s).
The religion is monotheistic, emphasizing monogamous family life, obedience to government authority, personal honesty and cleanliness. Bahai schools and media programs are flourishing.
Baha’u'llah originally went by the name Mirza Hoseyn, a Shi’ite Muslim. Hoseyn aligned himself with the Bab, head of the Babis, a Muslim sect claiming to have privileged knowledge about ultimate truth. The Bab was executed for treason by the Iranian government and Hoseyn was then exiled by orthodox Sunni Muslims.
Hoseyn went to Constantinople (Istanbul). There, in 1867, he declared himself to be the Imam Madhi (“rightly guided leader”), as foretold by the Bab.
Violence ensued and he was banished to Acre, where he developed the contemporary doctrine of Ba’hai: Universal brotherhood and the unity of all religions. Pilgrims from Iran and the USA journeyed to Acre to learn about his teachings.
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Confucius (551-479 BCE, Latinized from K’ung-Fu-Tzu = Great Master K’ung) was a Chinese philosopher and statesman.
Born in the state of Lu (modern Shantung), Confucius was orphaned as a child and grew up in poverty. Despite this, he devoted himself to education at age 15 and married at 19. He became a teacher in 531 BCE, and in 501 BCE Governor of Chung-tu. He was then Minister of Works, and later Minister of Justice. His quest for societal reform was popular among the common folk but political enemies forced him to leave Lu. As a result, he traveled a great deal.
Do not do to others what you would not have them do to you.
Do to others as you would have them do to you (Matthew 7:12, Luke 6:31, prefigured in Leviticus 19:18).
In vain I have looked for a single person capable of seeing his own faults and bringing the charge home against himself.
You hypocrites, remove the plank from your own eye first, then you will see clearly to take the speck from your brother’s eye (Matthew 7:5).
A man with clever words and an ingratiating appearance is seldom a man of humanity.
Beware of false prophets who appear in sheep’s clothing but underneath are ravening wolves (Matthew 7:15).
Concerning this latter comparison, Confucius believed that humanity is, at heart, good (jen). If taught and guided by rules (li) that are in accord with the mandate of heaven (Tao), a young child naturally grows into a decent human being and attains nobility (chun tzu).
Apparently Confucius said that at age 50 he learned to control his speech, at 70 his actions were naturally aligned with the “Mandate of Heaven” and at 80 he gained mastery over his thoughts.
But some of Confucius’ ideas are rooted in ancient cultural biases that don’t fly today. For instance
Women and servants are most difficult to deal with. If you are familiar with them, they cease to be humble. If you keep a distance from them, they resent it.
This is interesting historical material but hardly a universal, timeless teaching. Following Confucius’ death in 479 BCE, various schools of Confucianism arose.
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† Confucius quotations from Wing-tsit Chan, A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy, Princeton University Press, 1963.
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Confucianism is a Chinese teaching of morality, right action and right education, based on the ethical teachings of Confucius. Up until 1382, statues of Confucius were common in public places. Every city had a shrine dedicated to Confucius and at least two state festivals were held in his honor during mid-spring and mid-autumn. The roots of Confucianism can be found in the ancient Chinese scholar class, the Ju. They were experts on rituals, sacrifices and the connection between heaven and earth.¹
Following Confucius’ death in 479 BCE, various schools of Confucianism arose. These Confucian schools are often contrasted with the more mystical aspects of Taoism. Confucianism is usually associated with precise rules of behavior and the State education that persisted in China early into this century. Taoism, on the other hand, is usually associated with the free-floating, unregulated ideas of Lao-Tzu and Chuang-Tzu, as popularized by Alan Watts and others.
But such a contrast is arguably overemphasized due to Western misunderstanding.
The rites of Confucianism (li) are meant to guide our natural and inherently good human potential (jen), they are not meant to oppress or stultify. Rules ideally are like stakes guiding a growing plant. Oppression arises when li are distorted or corrupted because a ruler is out of sync with the cosmic harmony (Tao). Notably, Confucius was not a snob. He believed that all people could attain ethical correctness and thus become noble (chun tzu).
These fundamental ideas belong to both Confucianism and Taoism. Differences were arguably not categorical but more about emphasis. The Neo-Confucian Mencius favored following personal intuition instead of adhering to external rules. But he certainly knew that one must calibrate one’s actions to one’s social circle, which, sociologists will tell us, always implies a kind of structure and rule. Mo Tzu highlighted the importance of universal love. Meanwhile, Mencius stressed the importance of love within one’s immediate circle, which, again, to be effective must take in to account socio-cultural rules and expectations.
Earlier Chinese religion practiced divination through oracle bones and the belief in a great cosmic being. But Confucianism generally tried to steer thinking away from the transcendent toward the humanistic. This trend is found in the main Confucian texts of the Analects, The Book of Rites, The Great Learning and The Doctrine of the Mean.
¹ S. G. F. Brandon ed., Dictionary of Comparative Religion (1970: 203-205).
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