Tuesday, 15 September 2015

The Zen of Galen Strawson



After ten years of apprenticeship, Tenno achieved the rank of Zen teacher. One rainy day, he went to visit the famous master Nan-in. When he walked in, the master greeted him with a question, "Did you leave your wooden clogs and umbrella on the porch?"
"Yes," Tenno replied.
"Tell me," the master continued, "did you place your umbrella to the left of your shoes, or to the right?"
Tenno did not know the answer, and realized that he had not yet attained full awareness. So he became Nan-in's apprentice and studied under him for ten more years.

If Galen Strawson were to be put into that story would his answer be ‘what umbrella?’?

I can understand his position as he has outlined it in his Aeon essay
life story
which incidentally seems an incipient classic in the ‘what it’s like to be ’ genre. He is steeped in the reality of the present moment and there he joins Bergson. Duration is the nearest we can get to the compressed rolled up history of the past. There is no need for a story because it is all there in the instant. It was Sartre in Being and Nothingness who reminded us that our most intense moments have no element of the ‘reflective cogito’ and how everything that we are can be wrapped up in a gesture or a walk. In the same way we can offer a dubious simulacrum of ourselves that apes that gesture. This is ‘bad faith’.

Does G.S. have ‘madeleine moments’ which cut a plane through through the ‘memory cone’? He doesn’t say.

Suggested correct answer to : Did you place your umbrella to the left or to the right of your shoes?

If you say another word I will hit you with it


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