Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Metzinger: Spirituality & Honesty

Spirituality and Intellectual Honesty is a 30 page essay by German philosopher Thomas Metzinger, author of The Ego Tunnel (a book strong on the idea that the self is a bit of an illusion).

It's a mildly heavy intellectual essay, not sure I would necessarily wish it on anyone, but there were a few ideas that stood out to me.

We could see vipassana or mindfulness as something that teaches us to see things as they are, to see things clearly.  Along these lines, Metzinger sees spirituality as an "inner ascetism", an incorruptibility towards oneself, something that requires us to let go of our comfortable inner prejudices in order to see reality.  He sees intellectual honesty as a special form of spirituality, and as the opposite of dogmatic religion.

I tend to look at the enlightenment game as potentially encompassing this broader view where one might go in the direction of actually letting go of many beliefs, in a sense back towards "ground zero".  That view would contrast with the idea of those people that we could consider to be conventionally enlightened, but are still operating within a religious framework that I would consider to be "extra" layers of belief.


  1. Your line of thought here trends in the direction of suggesting that enlightened people should be without concepts or even thoughts. Do you care to indicate which kinds of thoughts and concepts seem appropriate and which are "extra?"

  2. In terms of a purely theoretical direction to lean, to a certain extent I would agree, as a pointer, with the no thought direction. It's kind of hard to say that a thought is wrong in the sense that it's just something that is happening, and we can learn to become pretty okay with everything that is happening. But we were indoctrinated into that kind of thing (language, symbols, concepts, self identity), and generally speaking there is a grasping for that kind of thing that can be let go of. We also tend to pick up a lot of specific concepts and conditioning that end up being unskillful or unnecessary that can be flat out let go of. Ultimately it is important that at least the attachment to these prejudices are released.