Archive for the ‘circumscepticism’ Category

“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”

You may or may not recognise this quote and its author. One of the interesting things about it, is that it could easily be the fruits of the mind of an atheist, an enlightened Christian, a scientist, or a devoted mystic, or in fact, anyone who simply has a thirst for the truth, unadorned by the filters of a conditioned mind.

It is, of course, a quote from the Buddha. I am currently immersed in Buddhist thoght and practice and I find that its central tenets agree perfectly with the circumsceptic creed: “don’t simply accept the opinions of others: go see for yourelf.”


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I know what you’re thinking. ‘Great. Another one of those hip hybrid terms to add to my bulging 21st century lexicon.’

But let me beg your indulgence. It’s the first word I’ve ever invented and I am a proud, gushing daddy. Give it your attention as it dodders out into the world on its tiny little legs. You might find it more than just a cute addition to our lexical playground.

I found it absolutely essential in defining my own philosophical orientation.

So bear with me – I promise this will be a short introduction rather than a lengthy treatise. I plan on expanding on definitions and qualifications as we proceed.

Working out what we believe and, more importantly, why we believe it, is an essential step in understanding who we are. However, most of the world seems polarised into two warring camps.

Skepticism* has a rather dodgy public image. Which, I might add, is generally unwarranted. I have a great admiration for the majority of the high-profile skeptics – most of them are brilliant thinkers and well-rounded individuals. Nonetheless, when most people hear the word ‘skeptic,’ they usually conjure up impressions of a stern, unforgiving academic with a long beard, debunking anything that introduces a little mystery into our mundane lives, popping our mystical balloons with a cold, clinical relish.

One of the skeptic movement’s failings is that they tend to lump everything outside of science together into some mystical blancmange, that is fuelled by gullibility and wishful thinking. The hard-core skeptical culture even uses nicknames like ‘woo-woo’ to describe anything that falls outside science’s boundaries.

Well, I am here to welcome you to the exciting new territory of the inbetween – circumscepticism.

A circumsceptic worldview is not polarised into believer or skeptic; they look at both ends, and are especially on the lookout for hidden existential and philosophical agendas, and are generally a little more comfortable with sequestered juries of the mind than most people. They are happy to suspend final judgement until they are satisfied they have reached a final truth. That doesn’t always happen, but they have learned to embrace uncertainty.

A circumsceptic is someone who doesn’t rush to believe every hare-brained notion, yet does not believe that science can furnish them with the last word about reality. Neither extreme — unquestioning belief or diamond-tipped doubt — can reveal ultimate, fundamental truths about life, consciousness and purpose.

I am a sceptic, make no mistake about that, I am an avowed critical thinker, but I’m not a card-carrying member of any skeptical body, nor do I subscribe to their philosophical charters. I guess you could say I am soft-core, but I have a very pointy end. I am very comfortable inhabiting that no-man’s land between belief and hard-core skepticism.

The fence I sit on has two feet hanging over the skeptic’s side, (as will become obvious as I examine specific paranormalities) but I am very comfortable perched up here.

Now that there is a clear and present danger of mixing my metaphors, (a fence in no-man’s land?) it is time to let my new baby have his nap time.

I’ll have more to report once he wakens. We might even all wake up together.

(*scep/skep is just a cultural spelling issue – the US uses the ‘k’, and I am an Aussie, a race with few prejudices, so I will use both)

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