NANFA-- Off topic: For the philosophers among you

Sajjad Lateef (
Tue, 24 Oct 2000 14:57:28 -0500 (CDT)

Ethnobiologist Gary Paul Nabhan once had this reaction to a
seminar speaker's conventional advice that wisdom begins with self
"As I considered the premise put forth in the meeting room: that
the shortest road to wisdom and peace with the world is the one that turns
inward, away from direct sensory contact with other creatures. I will not
assert that meditation, psychotherapy, and philosophical introspection are
unproductive, but I simply can't accept that inward is the only or best
way for everyone to turn. The more disciplined practitioners of
contemplative traditions can turn inward and still get beyond the self,
but many others simply become swamped by self-indulgence. There are far
too many people living in our society who forget daily that other
creatures--five kingdoms' worth of them--are cohabiting the planet with
"Over half a century ago, Robinson Jeffers suggested that it may
be just as valid to turn outward: 'The whole human race spends too much
emotion on itself. The happiest and freest man is the scientist
investigating nature or the artist admiring it, the person who is
interested in things that are not human. Or if he is interested in human
beings, let him regard them objectively as a small part of the great

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