Category: Uncategorized (page 1 of 4)

The Centre for the Transformation of Habitual Perception

What is habitual perception?

In his renowned work, Philosophy as a Way of Life, Pierre Hadot uses the following observations made by Henri Bergson to convey something of the character of habitual perception:

Life requires that we put on blinkers; we must not look to the right, to the left, or behind, but straight ahead, in the direction in which we are supposed to walk. In order to live, we must be selective in our knowledge and our memories, and retain only that which may contribute to our action upon things.

Habitual perception is a very useful type of perception – it allows us to do things in a world that requires action of human beings. In other words, in order to do things, we must act, and habitual perception can be a streamlined type of perception focusing on how to get things done quickly and efficiently.

Furthermore, for obvious reasons, we want drivers, pilots, surgeons, engineers, etc., to be masters of habitual perception. They need to get a job done, and not think too much about thinking while doing the job. Reflection on what they do should come after they have done it. They can then adjust what they will do next time around based on their reflections.

Why transform habitual perception?

Since the industrial revolution, human beings have found themselves in situations where there is less time for reflection. People work long hours to earn the money that is required for survival, sometimes having little or no down time. In other words, a person’s life is often directed by habitual perception entirely.

One can describe the plight of the human species as one driven by habitual perception. Human beings have focused so much on becoming experts on their “actions upon things” and, to speak generally, so little on their reflective capacities, that we have become a global civilisation of consumers. This has come at immense costs to human well-being and ecological sustainability.

Transforming habitual perception

Hadot quotes Bergson again, this time in an exploration of the idea of non-habitual perception. Hadot and Bergson are interested in non-habitual perception as compatible with the idea of philosophical perception, but soon I will branch out beyond the context of philosophical perception:

When [people who have undergone a transformation of habitual perception] look at a thing, they see it for itself, and no longer for them. They no longer perceive merely for the sake of action: they perceive for the sake of perceiving; that is, for no reason, for the pure pleasure of it … That which nature does once in a long while, out of distraction, for a few privileged people; might not philosophy … attempt the same thing, in another sense and in another way, for everybody? Might not the role of philosophy be to bring us to a more complete perception of reality, by means of a kind of displacement of our attention?

As a philosopher, I am interested in philosophical perception, and I have experimented with numerous ways of displacing my attention in a manner that is in tune with the song that Hadot and Bergson are singing. I can say with certainty that in transforming habitual perception, a person will find themselves perceiving the world, and their place in it, in ways that have remarkably therapeutic implications for the individual and for the broader social and ecological problems arising from the historical over-emphasis on ‘action upon things’.

A program for displacing attention, or transforming habitual perception

As a daily practitioner of methods that displace attention from ‘instrumental thinking’ to ‘inherent value thinking’, I know first-hand what Bergson and Hadot are on about. I practice philosophy as a way of life as far as it is possible for me to do so in my own life.

I have done the research that justifies why one should transform habitual perception – see my PhD (LINK).

Realising the importance for myself, as well as for rising to some of the challenges facing humanity, I have put theory into practice and I have constructed a menu of methods that can be employed to displace habitual attention and transform habitual perception.

I am pursuing further research into these methods, and I am working on emphasising the importance of implementing programs for the transformation of habitual perception in various contexts – academic and educational, corporate, political, and in more ‘down-to-earth’ settings where ordinary people come to ‘work on themselves’ for their own well-being and in turn for the improvement of some conditions that are less than ideal in the greater ecological, social, spiritual, and economic scheme of things.

Contact

Contact me if you would like to participate in my program, which can be tailored to suit different contexts, e.g. high schools or universities, businesses or corporates, political groups or environmental ones, etc.

 

(Small-scale Solar Energy) + (Positive Sacrifice) = Sustainability

Renewable energy will not save us!

Neither will more efficient energy production. See, for example, the Jevon’s Paradox, which I will mention again soon.

What we do with what we have, on the other hand, is worth talking about.

Thomas Princen, in his excellent book Treading Softly, describes what positive sacrifice is all about. I talk about this briefly in my podcast conversation with Anton Botha (LINK).

Let me be the asshole to state, for the record, that replacing your fossil-fuel powered energy source with a renewable energy supply of the same kilowattage is not going to help stop human-caused ecological decline. If you currently use, for example, above a kilowatt of energy at night, and wish to keep doing so with ‘renewables’, you will need a large array of batteries that take minerals and energy to produce, and the batteries will need to be replaced every 2 to 7 years, depending on how you use them.

Yes, batteries may become more efficient, and other technologies may become available to store energy more efficiently. But as the Jevon’s Paradox shows, the historical trend has been that when a technology becomes more efficient, as legislation supports the spread of the said tech, and as the tech becomes cheaper, the more quickly that tech spreads and production of goods and services accordingly increases as well because energy costs are lowered and funds are channeled into production. After all, the world is run by die-hard capitalists. Good for the economy, but not good for ecology. And what is not good for ecology, is not good for the economy in the long run. But we will have to learn that lesson the hard way.

My contention is that the only thing that human beings can do in order to proactively respond to the challenges posed by the ecological crisis, is to make positive sacrifices. Thomas Princen says the following about positive sacrifice:

Positive sacrifice is exemplified by the parent who sacrifices time and resources to raise a child. The typical parent will hardly express her efforts as sacrifice; it is just what parents do, part of having children. It is, in short, inherent in the role. To put it more caustically, if one does not want to sacrifice for children, one should not be a parent. Similarly, an artist sacrifices income and job security to do the art. It is not a negative sacrifice, because “doing the art” is what it means to assume the role of artist. It is sacrifice, though, because one is giving up economic and social benefit for the higher value of doing the art. One willingly “makes a sacrifice.”

Do I think that human beings will willingly make positive sacrifices of this kind in the context of the ecological problems we have created and that will increasingly effect us? No!

Do I think that we will, eventually, have to make these kinds of positive sacrifices because the current ‘order’ becomes unfit for purpose, and unable to continue due to the human-caused collapse of natural ecosystems? Yes!

I am not one to sit back and wait for the fan to hit the shit, so I took matters into my own hands – which is the only thing I believe we can do, rather than wait for some political party to fix things, or for some new technology to ‘save us’.

One of the things I have done is set an ‘energy goal’ that embraces the concept of positive sacrifice. I did my homework and saw that the large battery banks generally used in big solar energy systems are disastrous for the environment, which means disastrous for us, because human beings are part of the proverbial environment.

So, I decided to calculate the smallest size of battery storage that would get Emma and I through the night in relative comfort. We would use LED lights and our laptops at night, and be able to power a car stereo in our cabin. That’s it. We would positively sacrifice all the other devices and appliances that people tend to power at night, which requires either grid electricity or a big battery bank.

So the battery bank we use consists of only 2 deep cycle batteries, each of which has roughly 225 amp hours storage capacity. These are connected into a 24 volt battery arrangement – I will spare you the details of why a 24V arrangement has benefits over a 12V arrangement (mind you, there are also benefits to having a 12V arrangement…).

During the day, my 24V batteries are charged by the 650 watts of solar panels on my cabin’s roof. In full sun, it takes less than an hour and a half to fully charge the batteries after their usage from the night before; in cloudy weather, it can take up to 3 hours. When the charge controller moves from the ‘bulk’ setting to the ‘absorb’ setting, I switch on the 24V camping fridge. When the controller changes to ‘float’ mode, I can turn on the 300 watt inverter and charge our laptops and 2 cordless power tools, and a few other small devices like cell phone and torch.

In this manner, the batteries never discharge by more than 90%. They should last over 7 years. The more they are discharged (e.g. if they power the fridge at night), the shorter their lifespan. The power produced by the panels during the day after the batteries have been charged is excess power, and the issue of more efficient storage capacity is irrelevant. That said, when the batteries need to be replaced sometime after the 7 year mark, I will purchase the best replacement batteries available. But then, as now, the question of how to structure one’s energy usage is more important than the efficiency of the batteries, in my opinion.

During a cold front, it can take a little longer to charge the batteries. Sometimes I don’t switch on the camping fridge at all during stormy days, but then the temperature is cool enough during such weather conditions for the fridge to not warm up much anyway.

If everybody took a similar approach to their power usage, then the world would be a very different place. Of course I do not think that everybody is able to do this, for various reasons that I won’t mention here. But everybody is able to make some positive sacrifices in their own lives, in ways that are specific to their own contexts. And, may I add that a society in which people are willing to make positive sacrifices because they understand that everything is interconnected in a living system is a society that I think is worth sustaining.

This positive sacrifice of instant energy-usage gratification resonates with my commitment to a frugal lifestyle, a commitment that I made based on many years of thinking about what to do in response to the challenges posed by the human-caused ecological crisis. See, for example, my PhD and some of my academic articles (LINK). I have made other positive changes in my life, with the support of my partner, Emma. I am happy to come and talk at any event about any aspect(s) of our journey to a rustic off-grid lifestyle. Contact me if you are interested.

You can also contact me if you would like me to install a small-ish solar power system – of course, this would need to be in the Eastern Cape region of South Africa.

If you would like to consult with me on how to make positive sacrifices in your own life, or about how to approach the topic of renewable energy in a manner that is in tune with nature’s cycle, contact me and we can arrange an online meeting. Or we could meet in person if you reside near Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

 

 

Podcast: Anton Botha, former Mandela-Rhodes and Fullbright Scholar, and United Nations Employee

Anton joined me on the podcast to chat about some ideas he has after his time working for the United Nations. We start with his thoughts in this regard, and branch quite far out from there. 

Follow Anton on Instagram: LINK

His less regular Tweets: LINK

A recent Thoughtleader.co.za article by Anton: A new world awaits: Who is brave enough to imagine it? 

Support the podcast – see my offerings at the perspectiveproject.co.za homepage. And support through patreon

Podcast length: 1 hr 31 minutes 

Podcast size: 72.1 mb

Download podcast here (opens in new window, look for google download button, perhaps top right of page): Download

bidorbuy South Africa - Bid, Buy or Sell cameras, computers, diamonds, coins, cars & more on auction at cheap prices

Article: Know thy Systemic Enemies – Mechanisms that Prevent Transformation

Published in the journal Politikon in July 2019.

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02589346.2019.1642030

Abstract:

Despite the hopes and political promises of the 1990s that socio-economic transformation would occur in South Africa, the country continues to be plagued by high levels of poverty and inequality. The question of why this transformation deficit exists arises, often with debate surrounding answers where forms of binary logic are foregrounded, for example, coloniality/decoloniality and Eurocentrism/Afrocentrism, among others. I depart from binaries-based approaches and instead focus on analyses revealing mechanisms that prevent transformation. These mechanisms are evident in Mill’s analysis of the development of democracy, Marcuse’s critique of advanced industrial society, Deleuze’s commentary on disciplinary and control societies, and Princen’s descriptions of traffic control measures. Outlines of these analyses are offered in the spirit of ‘knowing the enemy’ that is a mix of structural mechanisms, identifiable without over-reliance on binary relationships, oppositions and tensions. Oppositions and tensions of this binary nature have been prominent in transformation rhetoric in South Africa, but the country’s transformation deficit indicates that a new language (Wallerstein, Princen) might still be helpful in dealing with various conceptual and practical challenges. Adopting a manner of expression less inclined towards emphasis on binaries may be a step in the direction of the new language.

Contact me for a link to a page with a limited number of free copies.

Rocket stove sauna version 2.0

My first rocket stove sauna heater worked well for just over a dozen firings, and then crumbled. Too much water sprayed directly onto bricks. And the thing was badly designed, with an undersized chimney. In fact, I should never have called that unit a rocket stove. It was just a masonry stove, and an inept one at that!

After a few years of research and tinkering, and a few more builds of properly designed and built rocket thermal mass heaters, I arrived at version 2 of the sauna rocket engine. The stove could heat a warehouse. Instead it heats just less than 6 square meters!!!

System size is roughly a 20cm diameter, or an 8 incher. The sauna is up to temp in 25 minutes when the stove is run on full power. Thereafter I let it die down to about half power so that I don’t kill myself and whoever I have managed to lure into the oven with me.

New thermal mass rocket heater for tiny cabin

A Brief Introduction to Yoga and Meditation for Seniors

No, this is not a post about feet! It’s a post about yoga, specifically yoga for senior citizens.

I, David, did not write the post. Someone named Harry Cline did. Harry contacted me and asked if I would post it to my site, and I said yes. If you would like to contact Harry, here is his email address: [email protected]

Here is what Harry produced (.docx attached):

A Brief Introduction to Yoga and Meditation for Seniors

It is easy to dismiss yoga and meditation as just another health craze, but the body of research surrounding both practices has only increased over the past few decades. Science is now more convinced than ever of their potential for physical and mental health, and it has also never been easier to start practicing them at home. This is great news for seniors, who are under a lot of pressure to create healthy routines that sustain and nourish their mind and bodies.

How Yoga and Meditation Work

Yoga in the original Hindu sense is a series of movements designed to prepare the body for meditation. Nowadays, we use the term yoga to define a series of different practices that combine precise body movements with breathing techniques. Some are geared toward meditation and spirituality, while others are similar to a conventional workout.

Similarly, the origin of meditation is ancient and religious, but it is now becoming a practical tool for relaxation and stress relief. While there are many forms of meditation, the most common involve deep breathing combined with visualization or body-scanning techniques.

So, why are these practices beneficial? And what do these benefits mean for seniors? The answer is made up of a combination of elements:

  • Movement – Yoga involves a series of postures that work on flexibility, balance, and full-body strength. Flexibility and balance tend to deteriorate naturally with age, while muscle loss (known as sarcopenia) is strongly linked to lack of exercise. The health benefits are also more complex and wide-reaching; exercises like yoga can boost gut microbiome, leading to improved gut health and a healthier digestive system.
  • Breathing – Both yoga and meditation involve controlled deep breathing. Deep breathing has several health benefits, the most well-known being its potential for stress relief. This is a large part of what makes yoga a mental health practice as well as a physical one, and what makes it so ideal for seniors struggling with mental self-care.
  • Spirituality – Yoga and meditation started out as spiritual and religious practices and, for many, they still are. According to the Conversation, spirituality can be an invaluable tool in dealing with the challenges of growing older. Engaging with the spiritual part of yoga and meditation, not just the practical parts, can greatly boost the benefits.

How To Get Started

Yoga and meditation are easy for seniors to start at home. It is a good idea to start by clearing out a dedicated space in your house, as this can help with motivation. If you don’t have a lot of room, you can move around some furniture or even put some clutter into storage — this in itself can be great for your stress levels. Just be sure to budget for the added monthly expense.

Then, just go online. There are thousands of free yoga videos available, with the gentle style of Yoga with Adriene being a worldwide smash hit. You can also pick up a yoga mat on Amazon for $11.99 (before shipping). For meditation, you need only search the words “guided meditation” to open up a whole world of mindfulness. You can also download a free meditation app. Headspace is a great beginner option, with a 30-day free program that gently introduces you to all the core concepts. After that, monthly subscriptions are $5.74 to $14.95.

Yoga and meditation came come a long way. From their humble beginnings in India several thousands of years ago to their current status as wellness cure-alls, their influence has been long-standing and complex. Nowadays, we are lucky to live in an age where we have science-backed proof of their effectiveness as well as free, easy ways to bring them into our lives. Seniors should start taking advantage of this opportunity and reaping the rewards.

A Brief Introduction to Yoga and Meditation for Seniors (Attachment, .docx of this article)

Podcast: Das and Clara on Shamanism, initiations, conscious living, meditation, and more

In this episode of The Perspective Project Podcast, Das and Clara answer my questions about their respective backgrounds (Das was born in Scotland and moved to Dubai at a young age, while Clara was born in South Africa and lived in Spain as a young woman) and about how they found themselves on their different Shamanistic paths in South Africa.

We cover a lot of thematic territory: initiations (what counts as an initiation), conscious and unconscious lifestyles, lineages, the questioning of everything, questions surrounding whether we self-direct in living consciously or are we tapping into something external to ourselves, personal epiphanies, the bolstering psychic abilities, ways of increasing our connection to all that is, connecting with heart, transformative experiences, starting with meditation and cultivating a practice… and more!

Warning: there is a cell phone buzz near the hour mark that comes back a few more times to haunt the recording. Cell phones are herewith banished from the recording area! 

Check out the work Das does at Instagram HERE and HERE

Support the podcast: Patreon.com

Podcast length: 1 hr 15 minutes 

Podcast size: 53.4mb

Download podcast here (opens in new window, look for google download button, perhaps top right of page): Download

Article: A philosophical situation: democratic capitalism, the ecological crisis, and the issue of choice

Published in Acta Academica:

http://journals.ufs.ac.za/index.php/aa/article/view/3695

Abstract

Democracy is an open system, while capitalism is a gated one. Yet the dominant global political economy is democratic capitalism. The presence of a gated capitalist core within democracy results in the political prioritisation of capitalist business as usual, thereby resisting substantive changes to the political economy because economic growth is a prerequisite of capitalism. Responses to some of the challenges facing humankind – challenges such as the ecological crisis, which has arisen in part from unrestrained economic growth – cannot occur if economic growth dictates the democratic political agenda. Acknowledging this open- closed problem means acknowledging democratic capitalism’s incapacity to deal with some of humanity’s current challenges, such as the ecological crisis. A pressing question arises: what does one do? Arguably, if ecological decline is to be slowed or averted, choices must be made that result in ways of thinking and ways of living notably different from those systematised under democratic capitalism. The need for choices incommensurable with democratic capitalism is a sign that a philosophical situation has arisen, because, as explained by Alain Badiou, part of the role of philosophy is to confront incommensurability. In positioning democratic capitalism (and its implications for ecology) against incommensurable alternatives, a full philosophical situation arises. Permaculture is an example of an arena offering such alternatives, and an outline of an implementation of permaculture principles is provided in order to illustrate what a potential remedial candidate entails.

Podcast: Mike Raimondo from Green Renaissance (Short Inspirational Films)

Thanks to Mike for a great conversation about the passion project that is Green Renaissance.

“We are a passionate collective of four creatives, on a journey to share positive stories. We make films that excite us – we call these our passion projects. Everywhere we look, we see a world filled with inspiration. Sometimes it’s capturing a conversation with someone who appreciates the true beauty in the world. Other times it’s meeting interesting people who are inspired by nature. Ordinary people doing extraordinary things. With your help, we will be sharing at least one new film each week”.

Check out the amazing short films at greenrenaissance.co.za

Support Green Renaissance at Patreon.com  

Podcast length: 1 hr 10 minutes

Podcast size: 51.4 mb

Support the podcast: Patreon.com

Download podcast here (opens in new window, look for google download button, perhaps top right of page): Download

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