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Ethics

Burning of Sodomites for Homosexuality

Burning of Sodomites for Homosexuality (Photo credit: Jesus In Love)

Ethics is a branch of knowledge and philosophical inquiry concerned with moral ideals, choices and the good or bad actions which may or may not follow from those choices.

Ethics may focus on personal, social and spiritual issues, separately but often in relation to one another.

Within world religions, ethical decrees might seem fixed within a given faith tradition. But various schools of interpretation usually coexist, usually with some degree of tension—e.g. the Protestant acceptance of female and in some instances homosexual ministers vs. the Catholic rule of an exclusively male priesthood and homosexual acts being specified in the catechism as “intrinsically disordered.”¹

¹ See http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/para/2357.htm



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Eternal Return

Hāfström - The Eternal Return

Hāfström – The Eternal Return (Photo credit: Julian Stallabrass)

The eternal return is an idea that the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche believed in, as did the Stoics with their belief in ‘conflagration.’

Basically, the eternal return is the belief in an eternal cycle of cosmic destruction followed by identical recreation of what previously existed. Since all elements cyclically repeat just as they were for all eternity, Nietzsche believed our universe (and all life contained in it) forever disappears and then reappears exactly as in the previous cosmic cycle.

To this amelo14 adds:

I think that the point of Nietzsche is not so much a cosmological idea (he was not a scientist) but more a thought experiment which is done by Zarathustra. It involves thinking about living one’s life exactly as one has lived it and in the same vein affirming it so in the absence of any divine project to sustain its purpose.

BOOK IV of Nietzsche’s “The Gay Science” is crucial in this respect. » See in context

And P Will adds:

I believe N considered eternal return beyond just a simple thought experiment. It is useful to think of life as if you had already experienced it but what good what it really be if it were untrue in a cosmological sense? I believe N’s idea of eternal return has ground in Einsteins theory and i believe it makes sense with quantum mechanics. » See in context


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Extrasensory perception (ESP)

Example of a subject in a Ganzfeld experiment.

Example of a subject in a Ganzfeld experiment. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Extrasensory perception (ESP) is a type of alleged psi phenomena. ESP is sometimes used as an umbrella term for many types of alleged paranormal phenomena but it properly refers to the ideas of telepathy (reading another’s thoughts) and clairvoyance (‘seeing’ without the eyes).

Some Fundamentalist, Protestant and Catholic Christians have a knee-jerk reaction to this idea, saying ESP is the workings of Satan, a delusion or evidence of mental illness. However, in Catholicism some of the more advanced saints claim to have been given similar gifts, usually called the reading of hearts. Indeed, some Catholic mystics claim to know another’s thoughts and/or feel their emotions near or at a distance with no observable cues.

Reading of Hearts. The knowledge of the secret thoughts of others or of their internal state without communication is known as reading of hearts. The certain knowledge of the secret thoughts of others is truly super-natural, since the devil has no access to the spiritual faculties of men and no human being can know the mind of another unless it is in some way communicated. But knowledge of the secrets of another’s heart may be conjectured by the devil and transmitted to a person, or they may be surmised by a deluded individual who takes his conjectures to be supernatural illuminations.¹

From the above it should be clear that Catholics – or, at least, sane Catholics – are cautious when it comes to mysticism. Central to Catholic mysticism is the idea of discernment or “the discernment of spirits.” Discernment is said to be a gift and acquired ability that enables one to differentiate supernatural experiences and abilities that come from God from those that do not.

¹ AUMANN, J. “Mystical Phenomena.” New Catholic Encyclopedia. 2nd ed. Vol. 10. Detroit: Gale, 2003. 105-109. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 29 Apr. 2012.

Relates Posts » Alien Possession Theory, Paranormal, Randi (James), Psychokinesis, Remote Viewing, Sheldrake (Rupert)


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Eros

Eros

Eros (Photo credit: virgi.pla)

In Greek mythology Eros is the son of Aphrodite and Ares. He is portrayed on ancient vases as a highly attractive athlete, as a boy with wings and arrows, and later, as a pudgy babe.

As the god of romantic love he is praised in Hesiod‘s hymns as the most beautiful of all the gods. In popular myth and classical art he’s depicted as shooting arrows of love into the hearts of soon-to-be lovers. The Orphic mystery cults deemed his creative powers great enough to regard him as the creator of the world. Hesiod wrote that Eros sprung from Chaos, representing instinctual, sexual and creative energy.

Sigmund Freud hypothesized a general life instinct which he called eros, in contrast to an opposing death insinct, thanatos (Greek = death). C. S. Lewis and many others use the term eros to describe emotional romantic love as opposed to Agape, or selfless love.

Plato used the term eros to signify a desire to seek the transcendental beauty of the eternal Forms, which is partially recognized in particular instances within this changing world of becoming.

Eros is paralleled by the Roman god Cupid and in Latin is Amor.

Related Posts » Animus, Dreams, Id, Libido, Orpheus, Philia


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Ereshkigal

Statue c. 1792 - 1750 BC that represents an an...

Statue c. 1792 – 1750 BC that represents an ancient Babylonian goddess, possibly Ishtar or Ereshkigal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ereshkigal is a Sumerian goddess and ruler of the underworld. Her sister is the heavenly Inanna/Ishtar. Her husband Nergal, an earth god scorched by the summer sun, forced her to share her power with him.


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Eratosthenes

Eratosthenes' measurement of the Earth's circu...

Eratosthenes’ measurement of the Earth’s circumference Ελληνικά: Η μέτρηση της περιφέρειας της γης από τον Ερατοσθένη (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Eratosthenes (276-194 BCE) was an Ancient Greek who apparently was the first to calculate the circumference of the Earth with remarkable accuracy using math that involved measuring the angles of shadows.

He also invented the idea of longitude and latitude, the leap day, and may have calculated the distance from the earth to the sun.


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Erasmus Desiderius

Desiderius Erasmus (1466/69–1536) in a 1523 po...

Desiderius Erasmus (1466/69–1536) in a 1523 portrait by Hans Holbein the Younger. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Erasmus Desiderius (originally Gerrit Gerritszoon 1467-1536) was a Dutch scholar, man of letters and statesman born in Rotterdam. His humorous and insightful writings about religion during the Renaissance, especially the practices of the clergy, won him renown and gained controversy among the intellectual and religious elites of his day.

A former Augustinian monk (1487) and priest (1492), his most famous work, In Praise of Folly, (1509) apparently was written in only a week as an idle pastime while visiting, and for the benefit of, Sir Thomas More. But its numerous scholarly references suggest that it was re-worked prior to publication.

Holding many views that would not seem out of place for a contemporary thinker, Erasmus has the extra benefit of not being swayed by contemporary scientific materialism. Insanity, for instance, is said to be of two types:

One kind is sent from hell by the vengeful furies whenever they let loose their snakes and assail the hearts of men with lust for war, insatiable thirst for gold, the disgrace of forbidden love…or some other sort of evil…The other is quit different, desirable above everything, and is known to come to me. It occurs whenever some happy mental aberration frees the soul from its anxious cares and at the same time restores it by the addition of manifold delights.”¹

Probably due to his keen intelligence, he was never persecuted for his views. He seems to have mastered the art of getting the knives of notables to butter his bread instead of stabbing him in the back.

Erasmus was a humanist who believed that the ethical principles of religion were more important than its rules, regulations, doctrines and ceremonies. He took great pains to illustrate that the clergy was rife with hypocrisy and corruption. Colloquia familiaria (1519) was a parody of abuses and degeneracy among the clergy.

After some time Erasmus denounced the Reformation figure Martin Luther, whom he had formerly praised. Luther’s dogmatic theology was too rigid for Erasmus’ free-style thinking. Among his other works, Erasmus was the first to translate the Greek New Testament.

¹ Erasmus of Rotterdam, Praise of Folly and Letter to Martin Dorp, 1515, trans. Betty Radice, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1973, p. 121.

Related Posts » John Calvin


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Equal Rights

Zygmunt Bauman (b. 1925), Polish philosopher

Zygmunt Bauman (b. 1925), Polish philosopher (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sociologists like Zygmunt Bauman often point out a fundamental tension between two social ideals:

(a) Equal Rights, including the right not to be harmed by another, and

(b) Personal Freedom

To put this into everyday terms, it’s great to have equal rights and the freedom to do what you want. But at the same time, if that freedom to do what you want impinges on another person’s human rights, a problem arises.

Problems usually arise when two or more conflicting belief systems meet head on. For instance, is a Catholic mother justly concerned about a gay high-school teacher imparting apparently “bad values” to her young and impressionable son or daughter? Should her taxes contribute to that school’s funding? On the other hand, is a lesbian woman justly concerned about a Catholic professor teaching her impressionable female partner at university? Should the lesbian woman’s taxes contribute to the funding of that college?

Another dimension of this problem comes out, especially in America, with the issue of free speech. CNN’s Andersoon Cooper talks about this problem almost on a daily basis. In a nutshell, it’s not always clear at what point the right to say what you believe conflicts with the rights of others who hold different beliefs, and who deserve to live in a world without fear of being discriminated against.

The question of free speech takes yet another interesting twist with the internet, where posters can use anonymous names, thinking that this gives them a ticket to be abusive or libelous. A recent lawsuit, however, shows just how wrong those anonymous posters can be. See That Nasty, Lying Anonymous Internet Post Could Cost $13.78 Million.


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Epicurus

Epicurus

Epicurus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Epicurus (c.341-270 BCE) was a Greek materialist philosopher, born on the island of Samos who founded a school at Mitylene in 310 BCE. In 305 BCE he opened a school of philosophy in Athens, leading an exemplary life of simplicity and temperance.

From a few extant letters and fragments, we learn that Epicurus believed that happiness was the highest good and that life ended at the point of death. This was not the path of wanton hedonism, as some medieval Christian opponents suspected, but rather deliverance from pain and worry.

The Christian disdain for Epicurus, aside from his disbelief in the afterlife, was exacerbated by some of his followers who advocated sensual pleasure-seeking as the highest goal in life. While Epicurus did see pleasure and pain as standards against which to measure a successful or unsuccessful life, he also advocated restraint. And his understanding of pleasure was more akin to the notion of tranquility than a succession of ephemeral thrills.

Related Posts » Epicureanism, Epicurism


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Epicurism

Epicurian Postcard           /       Epicure d...

Epicurian Postcard / Epicure de Rappel (Photo credit: Pierre Metivier)

Today, epicurism usually means the pursuit of pleasure, as in fine cuisine, wine-tasting, etc. This everyday usage distorts the original doctrines of the philosophical school of Epicureanism.

Related Posts » Epicurus

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