Posts Tagged ‘ancient’

introspection, courage, and shame

April 13, 2012
Human Eye

Human Eye (Photo credit: Manav Gupta)

Introspection is a  word meaning “insight” and “looking within” and “self-examination” and “inner perceptiveness” and “wisdom” and “self-awareness.” The Ancient Greek philosophers such as Socrates gave the instruction to “know thyself,” which is a concise reference to introspection

Raphael's "School of Athens"

Raphael’s “School of Athens” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In fact, introspection is the subject matter of the entire realm of psychology as well as so much poetry, spirituality, religion, and philosophy. Jesus Christ provides one of the most famous proverbs relating to introspection:

Luke 6:42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

I also think of the entire realm of mythology to be a set of stories to display human patterns of interaction. For instance, the term narcissism (from psychiatric diagnosis) comes directly from the ancient  myth of Narcissus, which is a story about a common stage in the process of introspection, the stage of a relatively infantile fascination with such things as one’s own physical appearance.  We might not even consider attention to one’s own physical appearance to be “looking within,” but all forms of self-discovery have an element of introspection.

Narcissus

Narcissus (Photo credit: pogobee)

How broad can introspection be? How much can it cover? What about an introspective exploration of our patterns of language and other behavior (since language is fundamentally behavioral, though also neurochemical and anthropological)?

Or, what about experimenting with diet and exploring the principles of developmental physiology and biochemistry? What is the boundary between looking within and any other looking?

When I review my own experiences of external phenomenon, “where” do I label those subjective experiences? Are my personal experiences external or internal? Isn’t experience relational- like a particular way of relating to some thing as either “out there” or “in here?”

If I study anything about humanity, isn’t there an element of introspection inherent in that study? If I study ecology or physics or geology or trees falling in a forest, am I not there as witness, as student, as explorer?

Am I a linguistic being or a physical being or a spiritual being or what? Is there any biochemistry in me? Am I completely unrelated to ecology, or merely a tiny mobile unit branched out from an ancient root of geology and terrestrial evolution?

If there are aspects of myself that I have repressed as unsafe or evil, that could be called shame. Obviously, there must be some value to such repressions or they would not be so common, right?

However, what if introspection can bring courage and appreciation to the exploring of subject matter that might

Narcissus also known as the Mazarin Hermaphrod...

Narcissus also known as the Mazarin Hermaphrodite or the Genius of eternal rest marble 3rd century CE (Photo credit: mharrsch)

even be kept private because of shame or modesty? What if it is functionally unproductive (or even counter-productive) to say certain things in certain ways, at least in certain company? To learn discretion and discernment and discrimination are major stages in personal development, maturity, and emotional intelligence.

Ultimately, everything on this blog has a prominent aspect of introspection to it, from the humor to the investment analysis to the nutrition research and political commentary. As for investments, my experience after 9 years of accurate forecasting has included many experiences of intense criticism and resistance to the primary forecasts (all of which have proven accurate). Many people may be terrified of experiencing clarity about the relative degree of sustainability of a variety of economic and political trends.

Shame may be defined as the repression of the experience of terror- as in the ability to maintain a certain marginal level of functionality even while “in shock.” Courage may be defined as the pattern of taking action even in the midst of fear and recognized ignorance (admitted lack of information which would be relevant, but is not evident).

Courage could be considered a type of blind faith, an uncertain faith that may not be especially graceful. Courage is the first step of introspection and the resulting self-knowledge. Shame is that which propels us toward courage and introspection.

introspection

introspection (Photo credit: twenty_questions)

[C17: from Latin intrōspicere  to look within, from intro-  +specere  to look]

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/introspection

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Know_thyself

Matthew 7:3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank  [obstruction]  in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

http://bible.cc/matthew/7-4.htm  http://bible.cc/matthew/7-5.htm

New Living Translation (©2007)
How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye?

English Standard Version (©2001)
Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?

New American Standard Bible (©1995)
“Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye?

King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.)
Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

International Standard Version (©2008)
Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when the beam is in your own eye?

Aramaic Bible in Plain English (©2010)
Or how do you say to your brother, ‘Let me cast out the chip from your eye’, and behold, a plank is in your eye?

GOD’S WORD® Translation (©1995)
How can you say to another believer, ‘Let me take the piece of sawdust out of your eye,’ when you have a beam in your own eye?

King James 2000 Bible (©2003)
Or how will you say to your brother, Let me pull the speck out of your eye; and, behold, a beam is in your own eye?

American King James Version
Or how will you say to your brother, Let me pull out the mote out of your eye; and, behold, a beam is in your own eye?

American Standard Version
Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me cast out the mote out of thine eye; and lo, the beam is in thine own eye?

Douay-Rheims Bible
Or how sayest thou to thy brother: Let me cast the mote out of thy eye; and behold a beam is in thy own eye?

Darby Bible Translation
Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Allow me, I will cast out the mote from thine eye; and behold, the beam is in thine eye?

English Revised Version
Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me cast out the mote out of thine eye; and lo, the beam is in thine own eye?

Webster’s Bible Translation
Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thy eye; and behold, a beam is in thy own eye?

Weymouth New Testament
Or how say to your brother, ‘Allow me to take the splinter out of your eye,’ while the beam is in your own eye?

World English Bible
Or how will you tell your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye;’ and behold, the beam is in your own eye?

Young’s Literal Translation
or, how wilt thou say to thy brother, Suffer I may cast out the mote from thine eye, and lo, the beam is in thine own eye?


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