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Philosophy and Life

Recent writing and occasional thoughts on assorted matters.

  • The fractal consciousness of Dantes’ Divine Comedy Jul 20, 2021- I've a piece on Dante just published at Aeon. Dante Alighieri was early in recognising that our age has a problem. He was the first writer to use the word moderno, in Italian, and the difficulty he spotted with the modern mind is its limited capacity to relate to the whole of reality, particularly the spiritual aspects. This might sound…
  • Dante and the Divine Masculine Jul 18, 2021- Categories like feminine and masculine can constrain as much as illuminate. But there is no denying that men and male entities play a major, often surprising part in Dante's journey through the Divine Comedy. This talk complements my look at Dante and the Divine Feminine, now considering Dante's encounters with figures such as Belacqua and Statius, Bernard and Cacciaguida. Archetypal…
  • Dante and the Divine Feminine Jul 16, 2021- Categories like feminine and masculine can constrain as much as illuminate. But there is no denying that women and female entities play a major, often surprising part in Dante's journey through the Divine Comedy. Saints including Beatrice, Lucia and Mary, historic figures such as Piccarda, Francesca and Cunizza, and mythological entities like the sirens all figure. In this talk, I…
  • Homo Spiritualis – The New Science of Human Evolution Jun 26, 2021- [MP3 version here.] The standard big history of human evolution, exemplified in Yuval Noah Harari's bestseller Sapiens, sees religion and spirituality as a byproduct of survival, at best a necessary fiction. But new science is telling a different story. Research done by Robin Dunbar, Agustin Fuentes, Robert Bellah and others is showing how engaging with invisible worlds and supernatural vitalities…
  • “I give you the end of a golden string” – Blake, the Gita and God Jun 18, 2021- I've notice a tendency to downplay the divine element in accounts of William Blake, and to reduce his understanding of the imagination to a human artefact, from its true status as a supernatural capacity that he knew. In this talk I consider 5 ways in which this can be resisted: - Blake's insistence that "there is no natural religion". -…
  • Matters of Life and Death – conversation with Rupert Sheldrake Jun 16, 2021- Covid has brought the reality of death into the centre of our lives, but what can we learn about death in response? This episode of the Sheldrake-Vernon Dialogues, with Rupert Sheldrake and Mark Vernon, is prompted by a sense that part of the anxiety arising from the pandemic is living in a culture that has forgotten how to know death…
  • On Physics, Evolution, Mind at Large & Projections – Bernardo Kastrup & Mark Vernon Jun 8, 2021- An extended conversation that begins with thoughts on Owen Barfield, participation and the meaning crisis, Schopenhauer and Jung, moving through the state of modern physics, to the nature of evolution, the nature of mind at large, the role of dissociation and projections, and freedom. For more on Bernardo's work see - https://www.bernardokastrup.com For more on Mark's work see - https://www.markvernon.com…
  • Beauty‚Äôs Philosopher – Anthony Ashley Cooper Jun 8, 2021- Anthony Ashley Cooper (1671-1713) may be the greatest English philosopher you have never heard of. In the 18th century, he was said to be the most famous philosopher in Europe. His ideas suffered in England, as those of his empiricist tutor, John Locke, took hold. But they inspired figures from William Blake to Adam Smith, and are, in my view,…
  • Dante on the Trinity May 30, 2021- The Divine Comedy aims to deepen and broaden our perception of reality, often by exploding preconceptions. Nowhere is this more true than in Dante's take on the Christian perception of the Trinity. For Dante, it is way more than a doctrine. It is a mode of seeing that reveals reality as dynamic and dancing to its depths. For further talks…
  • What is psychotherapy? May 25, 2021- A short discussion of psychodynamic psychotherapy, talking about the experience of suffering, the ego, the past and present, and the future change as people move through three zones - which might be described as hell, purgatory and paradise.

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