The Soul and Its Imperatives. Moore is a clinical psychologist. He sees patients that have symptoms.
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These symptoms are viewed as the "voice of the soul. For example, when the soulfulness of work is not acknowledged in the information technology workplace, the symptoms of depression, alienation, and boredom arise. If a technology is released that lacks soulfulness, then that can cause symptoms, such as alienation, physical illness, and even violence. Thus, the soul has its imperatives, and if these are not satisfied or attended to, then the soul expresses its unhappiness through symptoms of various kinds.
We can see these symptoms manifesting in the information technology workplace. Gary Chapman reported a study that found that no college major has a higher rate of dissatisfaction among its graduates a few years after graduation than does computer science .
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This is not because the work intrinsically lacks soul. Rather, it is because the individuals involved in this work are unaware of the soulful aspects of their work. Moore is neither a materialist fundamentalist nor a religious fundamentalist. Most of us know what a religious fundamentalist is, but what is a materialist fundamentalist? The robotics researcher, Hans Moravec, characterizes himself as a physical fundamentalist in his book, Robot .
Other belief systems may have social utility for the groups that practice them, but ultimately they are just made-up stories. Page , Moravec . It is unfortunate that Moravec characterizes religious knowledge in such a naive way. After all, the stories are merely the most superficial aspect of religious knowledge, an aspect that is intended for little children. Nonetheless, Moravec does provide us with a useful description of physical or, materialistic fundamentalism. In fairness to Moravec, I would like to add that his book Robot presents a soaring vision of what robotics and artificial intelligence is all about, a vision that borders on the mystical.
Moore wants nothing to do with fundamentalism of any kind, be it religious or materialistic. No one needs to be told that we live in a time of materialism and consumerism, of lost values and a shift in ethical standards. We find ourselves tempted to call for a return to old values and ways. The key to lost spirituality and numbing materialism is not merely to intensify our quest for spirituality, but to reimagine it. All page numbers are for Care of the Soul  unless noted otherwise.
He goes on to assert: "The cure for materialism, then, would be to find concrete ways of getting soul back into our spiritual practices, our intellectual life, and our emotional and physical engagements with the world. I realize that this sort of language might make some academic computer scientists uncomfortable. However, it is probably the case that the majority of actual practitioners of computer science are spiritual people with spiritual values.
It may be that academic computer science is more skewed towards materialist fundamentalism than the computer technology workplace where most of our students will work. My own belief is that computer science as an academic discipline is too important to surrender to the forces of materialist fundamentalism. That would be just as dangerous and as destructive to the human spirit as surrendering computer technology to any form of religious fundamentalism.
We need to acknowledge different voices and different perspectives. Computer technology must serve and acknowledge the human reality, in all of its diversity and mystery. Unfortunately, there are materialist fundamentalists who work in computer technology and who wield tremendous influence in the development of that technology. The computer itself, in its refinement of the concrete particulars of life in digital mathematics and light graphics, is, for better or worse, a kind of spiritualization or disembodiment of matter. Let us note in passing that the empirical data that indicates high rates of job dissatisfaction among computer science professionals might be interpreted to mean that some of these professionals are being recruited into information technology monasteries without a full appreciation of what they are getting themselves into.
They are drawn into the computer monasteries by the lure of money. They do not realize the price that they will have to pay for this Faustian bargain. The distress that the soul feels in a soul-destroying workplace is what Moore would call a symptom. In such a context a symptom is a sign of health. It represents the possibility of rebirth and rejuvenation.
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It can give the computer professional the desire and the motivation to escape the monastery and to find a more soulful situation. It might even give the computer professional an opportunity to transform the monastery into something different.
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It is when the symptom is ignored that the computer professional runs into trouble. Surrender to a soulless reality is a kind of spiritual death. It is not overtly religious. It is non-sectarian. It is a theory concerning mental health that does not distinguish between mental health and spiritual health. Moore states that psychology is essentially spirituality. I think there is a growing realization within the psychological community that this is the case. There is much empirical evidence that spiritual people are less prone to depression than those who do not have spiritual beliefs.
Human beings need a deep spirituality in order to be happy and fulfilled, to enjoy the richness of soul.
This does not mean that human beings need to adhere to a particular sectarian or theological belief. What human beings do need is an understanding of their own souls, of the human reality that the soul enshrines and reveals. In the introduction to his book, Moore informs us that his concept of soul derives from spiritual writings of the Middle Ages and especially the Renaissance. He repeatedly refers to the works of Marsilio Ficino and Paracelsus.
He describes their books as self-help books of that era. But, these self-help books were quite different from the modern day variety that emphasizes self-improvement, a term which Moore uses with some contempt. He sees self-improvement as a device for adjusting to a culture that is out of balance and out of touch with its own soul.
For example, if a slave learns how to haul twenty bales of cotton instead of just ten, then in the context of a slave-based economy, this can be called self-improvement. But, it has nothing to do with the health of the soul. Here is how Moore describes the Renaissance approach to spirituality and mental health:. While Moore mentions many twentieth century authors, none appears more frequently than Carl Jung, one of the few psychologists of the Freudian era who acknowledged the importance of religion and spirituality.
Consequently, Moore draws upon the concept of archetype, which is important in Jungian psychology. In addition, Moore takes advantage of many examples from Greek mythology which illustrate the archetypal dimensions of the soul and psyche. When Moore attacks "monotheism," he is attacking narrow concepts of God that deny the polymorphic revelation of the Divine.
There is one God, but God takes many forms. He captures our attention right from the start with the following observation about "loss of soul":. Obsessions, addictions, violence, and loss of meaning are all ideas that arise in discussions of the social implications of computing. Moore does not attempt to define soul. However, he does offer us the following:.
Definition is an intellectual enterprise anyway; the soul prefers to imagine. We know intuitively that soul has to do with genuineness and depth, as when we say certain music has soul or a remarkable person is soulful. Soul is revealed in attachment, love, and community, as well as in retreat on behalf of inner communing and intimacy.
One such concept is that of power. We are not talking about tyrannical or abusive power here. We are talking about the satisfaction that the soul derives from a sense of competence, from a sense of autonomy, from the experience of artfulness and mastery, and from the feeling that derives from playing a decisive role in the unfolding of events. If an information technology worker does not feel a sense of power, then this will give rise to some of the symptoms that we discussed earlier, such as depression or fatigue, or even anger. Moore devotes an entire chapter to work and work related issues, such as money, creativity, and failure.
Near the beginning of his chapter on work, Moore makes the following observation, based upon his work as a clinical psychologist:. I have found in my practice over the years that the conditions of work have at least as much to do with disturbances of soul as marriage and family. Yet it is tempting simply to make adjustments in response to problems at work without recognizing the deep issues involved. Certainly we allow the workplace to be dominated by function and efficiency, thereby leaving us open to the complaints of the neglected soul.
Indeed, the next two sections of this essay are devoted to elaborating upon this concept. In the end, the result was an arcane product imagined mysteriously to be gold, the stone of the philosophers, or a potent elixir. Its play with chemicals, heat, and distillation was a poetical project in which substances, colors, and other material qualities offered an external imagery for a hidden parallel process of the soul. We work on the stuff of the soul by means of the things of life. This is an ancient idea espoused by Neoplatonists: ordinary life is the means of entry into higher spiritual activity.