Communiqué to The Public
The Third Philosophical Council of Keeferton
KNOW BY ALL YE PRESENT, that on the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth days of July, in the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Fourteen, there took place in the Lands of Keeferton, County of Rockbridge, Commonwealth of Virginia, the Second Philosophical Council (hereinafter “Council”) consisting of Messrs. Timothy Eaton, Turello, Robert Banta, and Craig Banta, and Madames Leslie Banta and Janelle Banta and hosted by the Steward of Keeferton, Timothy J. Keefer, Esq.
As the world awaited the outcome of this Third Philosophical Council, the participants continued on the theme of Keeferton Councils past and engaged the question of “How shall we then live?” this time addressing the question of uncertainty in a changing world. The Council also debated the responses to its earlier Call for Sentences, and tabled the unfinished business from the First and Second Councils. As documented below, the event again demonstrably helped to answer the questions that hinder all of mankind.
- Uncertainty in a changing world is to be embraced. By embracing such change we mature both individually and collectively.
- Finding No. 8 from the First Philosophical Council is held over to the next Philosophical Council.
- Dan Turello was named as one of the Trinity of Philosophers as a result of the presumed death of The Immortal Chopkins, in light of his absence of over 20 years.
- The Council considered that uncertainty in the world calls for attention. General discussion on the meanings of life and death; the roles of story and action; and how we resolve questions both personal and of policy through emotion and reason. The Council addressed this matter in the following collectivized narrative story by the Trinity of Philosophers:
What would you do with unbridled freedom? Cultivate your garden? For some, their judgment is not that good. Perhaps you would be rummaging through other peoples’ gardens. You would be a man-child Peter Rabbit. That may be, however, an aggressive characterization. Maybe you will only take a few bites of a green squash.
Uncertainty is tied to expectations. But is not having expectations a form of desperation? Uncertainty comes from a loss of trust or confidence in our institutions and ideas. But our institutions are ourselves; made up of people. Do we lose trust in ourselves? Consider though that institutions are not a reflection upon us; they reflect the people that control them.Some say that the only thing we can count on is the market. We also have more distractions so we have less contentment. But we have more freedom to design our lifestyle. And does this provide more uncertainty? If we say so, is this part of giving up as an individual and species?
There is uncertainty about things that were meant to be certain. And the truth is, we always live with uncertainty. But we assign certainty to things even if they are uncertain in order to cope. We adopt the fiction of certainties to cope. But they are not so. This is falsehood. If we had the will to change those things, we could. It is how we emotionally respond that defines our characters. We should look to that which is in our control – and better, at things outside our control. That’s how we find our bliss.
Be careful. We need to get away from one-size fits all policies as applied to individuals. Empathy is a part of being human – as we flourish it is part of being human. But is this is not a value judgment? Some say that more choice is better. Yet, too much choice can lead to uncertainty. The days of the Cold War provided comfort in the certainty of the division of the world. Now, hostility pervades life – it is multi-directional and people are invested in this hostility.
If we look at the realms of agnosticism and Zen, we are left with: I don’t know and I don’t care. So you need a third leg of the stool. Authentic emotion is detachment from expectation. Can we maintain equanimity when results do not materialize? Agnosticism leaves us to distinguish between known and unknown. Indeed, the more knowledge you have the more you push out the unknown. This is why we should have little tolerance for willful ignorance. Certainty in knowledge in the face of changing circumstances and facts is willful ignorance of reality.
Discussions of the past year have brought to the fore: following one’s bliss – and The Alchemist. There was plenty of suffering. The role of story is to provide a detached distraction and illumination to the suffering. Stories are uncertain, until you get to a certain ending; and our lives have so much uncertainty. Stories are to provide assurance or illumination. Do we tell ourselves stories in the face of uncertainty to make ourselves feel better? We have more uncertainty as we become adults, and we react by denying and looking to the stories of childhood or by embracing it. By embracing it we become more mature. Stories can highlight uncertainty, or the neat and tidy. Uncertainty need not be a bad thing. Who is in favor of reality?
How do we know what reality or the truth is? There could be many ways. We make decisions, both personal and policy, through emotion and reason. To do this, we need information. What about people who hold to a position without full information because they do not like being uncertain? In actuality, they want certainty. For them, it needs to be wrapped up and resolved and they do not want to let go. Is this why people hold so strongly to religious or political views in the face of contrary information? That seems to be the case; yes. For example, think of all the questions that have been raised at this Council.
The meaning of important words carries so much baggage that it is hard for two people to have understanding. The desire to label is a human need. I could say that you are all about action. You may think that you are all about being. And religious references and stories are means of explaining uncertainties. Conversations cause others to have to choose to respond. The concept of god is in the mind of each person. It is a matter of perspective and experience. But what religion or philosophy try to do is to provide a more unified understanding of particular concepts. Apparently humans want this. We want this because of evolutionary results – cohesion, success of the tribe, explaining the uncertainties in a way that provides a common understanding. Myth and folklore in the form of story provide this.
Does the Zen-agnostic-authenticism approach of one man alienate him from the cohesive story of his people? From family, friends, and society at large? Not if he finds another tribe. You can find others who think similarly to you. You have to find new tribes. Yet, even in a new tribe, you still need story. Indeed, you always need community – and the Christian story is compelling, some say the greatest story ever told. One could argue that you can get rid of uncertainty as long as you can back up your certainty.
But can we govern from a position of uncertainty? It is doubtful because we need a founding myth and belief. When we look back on an uncertain time, [the 9/11 example was offered] we rally around our story. Interpretations and responses have been different, but you know the story. But do the different interpretations and responses create a lot of uncertainty? It is why leaders especially need the people to share a common view of what those stories mean – this is true of government, religion, or any human institution. Otherwise you will have division, dissent, or even people working against you. Take a look at any culture – there is a story of education. There are enough similarities in the story to unify. The Story does that for us. It serves its purpose to unify, because people need that. It’s ingrained in humans through evolution.
The problem is, you get to a point of rationality playing a greater and greater part in ideas, as opposed to emotions. The American experiment is riddled with contradictions – yet there is no other country that some would rather live in. Here we have E.O. Wilson’s divergence in evolution of physical biology and society. We are aware of our tribalism and we are recognizing the need to get along in a universal consciousness. This is the advancement of rationality. At the same time, we are hearing about how we need to embrace older parts of our being, and reconnect with physical vitality. Adrenaline is only supposed to be triggered with a life-changing situation; but now it is triggered every 10 minutes because of our style of life. We have over-stimulated and are exhausting our adrenals. Yet there is still optimism that we are moving toward greater consciousness, awareness, and less violence.
Despite so much news about war and conflict, the actual amount of death is lower than at any point of history. And isn’t that a problem? Population levels are increasing because of the lack of widespread violence and disease and hunger. We have not yet become collectively aware that we do not need to reproduce at the levels we are. A large percentage is starting to internalize this, but a larger percentage is driven by ego or consciousness patterns. Perhaps this is just instinct. But there is a level of rationality that some have achieved. As humans, though, do we not use religion or family or other considerations as justifications for human biological instinct? We just come up with new reasons. And this is where naturalism comes into its limits, and why we need rationality. When we get into meaning, beauty, romantic love – the stories are there because you like the stories and you attribute them to natural characteristics. Some would say that we like them because they resonate with something ingrained in our biology. Then we are left with how do we get meaning out of physicality? At some point we come to rationality – we are making choices.
We are driven by our biology but we take our free will very seriously. The moment we have consciousness it introduces a supra biological factor or element. And here is where we turn to brain development. Every emotional and developmental pattern has a biological correlate that is reducible – yet, there is something going on in that biological structure that permits self-reflection. We live with the assumption that we have choices that have meaning. And this consciousness is a result of evolution, and everything evolves. Change is constant. We have to comfortable with uncertainty; and the notion that there is an entity. But what is the entity? This is why some are Deists. There is an indiscernible entity which is your consciousness which can determined how the neuro-transmitters are firing that depend on your thought. Perhaps we mean the soul? Consider it. We don’t know. Is everything biological-chemical? Everything is either within biological-chemical development or there is something else.
You must choose for yourself.
- FINDING No. 8 held over from First Philosophical Council: In recognition that early human storytelling was dominated by animal myths, the Second Council is asked to take up the meaning and importance of the late appearing animal themes during the First Council which include: The Owl Princess; The Dream Mouse; The Mystical Cat; The Seventeen Magical Turkeys and the myth of “The Woodpecker and the Double Lanternpost.”
RESULT: No action taken.
The Call for Sentences:
Commentary is located in the Endnotes, below. The reader is encouraged to review them.
No. 1. “i command the lightning’s hand” – hyperbole, warning, or promise?[i]
Result: ACCEPTED, as being stated as a warning.
No. 2 Being is like doing, but only less.[ii]
No. 3 Life is a play; choose your part.[iii]
Result: ACCEPTED, as modified that there is no one director and that life writ large is one giant play with a near infinite number of scenes taking place without a script.
No. 4 Suffering: To be or not to be, that is the question.[iv]
Result: ACCEPTED, as modified: “Suffering can raise the question of whether to be.”
“A purpose-driven life, or a purposeless-driven life?” Timothy Keefer
“My judgment is not that good. I would be rummaging through other peoples’ gardens. I would be a man-child Peter Rabbit.” Timothy Eaton
“Turello prefers to be the mist upon the fog.” Timothy Eaton
“Humility is the least regarded but most necessary characteristic in the world of 2014.” Timothy Eaton
“I am very proud of my humility.” Timothy Keefer
“Keeferton is an abode for healthy doubting – just that much closer to heaven; saving us all from the certainty of hell and the hell of certainty.” Dan Turello
“You’re all about action,” Timothy Keefer
“I’m about being!” Timothy Eaton
Entered this, the 1st day of August in the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Fourteen, and in the Thirteenth Year of Keeferton, by our hands:
C. L. Banta, INSINVwAPEA
Janelle J. Banta, MSW
Leslie Grimes Banta, Artist
Robert Dean Banta, Author
Timothy Wm. Eaton, A.E., T.P.
Rdr. Timothy J. Keefer, Esq., T.P., Steward of Keeferton
Daniele Turello, Ph.D., T.P.
ENDNOTES – Identities masked to protect against bias.
[i] [The Chair has been tabled.]
1 – You are the puppet master. What is the context?
2 – But there is freedom even without the context.
1 – It is hyperbole; it is posturing.
3 – Concurs with hyperbole.
2 – It is warning – as a literal interpretation.
1 – This is a claim, not evidence. Let’s talk about the nature of promises. We can agree on what a warning is – alerting to the possibility of danger. Is a promise only effective if one has the capacity to fulfill it? Are these physical or philosophical terms?
3 – Raises the question about philosophical possibility.
All – rejection of promise as a possibility.
2 – It is warning – and therefore, you must be concerned about that. It is a statement that I am dangerous. Hyperbole is certainly possible though. But the warning is, you need to be careful because I command the lightning’s hand.
3 – You have to look at prior context. Assuming it is a mortal, who does not command the lightning’s hand. But without that context, it would be a warning.
1 – The lyricist is saying that he commands the lightning’s hand, so it has to be hyperbole.
2 – I agree that I have to suspend disbelief in order to accommodate the warning nature of the statement. It can be viewed in terms of story or myth. Speaking in the voice of the character.
1 – Was going to capitulate that it was warning if the lyricist was projecting the nature of the source.
3 – Calls for a vote.
1 – Hyperbole.
3 – Warning, given the lack of context.
2 – Warning.
1 – Concedes that it is stated as a warning, but in a context may be hyperbole.
Unanimous consensus that as of this writing we agree it is stated as a warning.
[ii] A – Being is more than doing.
B – Being does not require doing; and it can be more valuable. In a Daoist, existentialist state, in order to do, we must be.
A – Which is why being is more important than doing.
C – Being is passive, doing is to put being into action.
A – Being is always active because it involves the action of cells. No life = no being.
C – To be, always means to do.
A – Being is doing.
B – The connotations of doing are too physical.
A – No woman = no cry. Woman is being; crying is doing. No woman, no cry. Doing is part of being (B agrees – it is subordinate to being).
C – You can’t do without being.
All – Unanimous, sentence is rejected.
[iii] I – “Choose your part” has limitations – physical, mental, societal, but ultimately, within those confines, you have free will to make your decisions within the part you choose to play.
II – It’s easier to choose your choices than your consequences.
III – Objects to proposition because it presumes one director. It is actually many plays. It needs to be specified that there is no one director and that life writ large is one giant play with a near infinite number of scenes taking place, without a script or direction.
All – Unanimous acceptance with the clarification.
[iv] ☆ – Moves to table as non-sequitir.
★ – Move to table the motion to table to permit further discussion to discern some meaning.
⇒ – I have always had to explore the language. Perception is reality.
★ – Recommend to take this on, and define the terms.
☆ – Moves to table and have author revise and resubmit.
⇒ – WE CAN encapsulate this into following your bliss, or your blisters.
[break] – The Trinity suffers in answering these sentences so others don’t have to.
☆ – There is no syntax to the sentence, no structure.
⇒ – Wants to go forward.
☆ – Wants to table.
⇒ – It requires suffering to respond to this sentence.
★ – Pressing forward is a responsibility of the Council and Trinity. Agreed to.
☆ – At what point does suffering justify non-being?
⇒ – Part of being is pleasure, but also suffering is part of being. This is following bliss and blisters. ☆’s is a different interpretation.
★ – Can reformulate to: Suffering raises the question of whether to be.
[Agree to, though the Council struggled to understand the meaning and came to four possible interpretations, but chose to answer only one.]
☆ – Yes it does.
⇒ – I understand how it can raise the question, but my exposure to suffering is that it is part of being.
★ – You can’t suffer unless you are. If you are suffering it means you are alive.
⇒ – You can’t hope to exist without suffering.
★ – If you no longer are, you no longer suffer.
All -Modified to be Suffering can raise the question of whether to be.