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Salon One

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Below are some notes of what we discussed at the first salon. They're
far from complete, but I welcome others to extend them.

Attendees: Tristram, Lydia, Bergey, Talia, Heather, Brendan, Jimmy

I presented some of the underlying and deeper motivations for
developing a salon: the possibilities inherent in entering into the
salon as a process of individual and group development. We went
around and introduced ourselves and mentioned something of our
interests.

I proposed the problem of what will characterize the coming era. This
seems to me a time of considerable change, and like multiple distinct
groups (Globalists, Americanists, Liberalists) are struggling over the
soul of the future.

We argued about the significance of individuals and mass movements in
characterizing time periods. It was argued that the modern era works
very differently with respect to how ideas shape the future because of
the role of literate masses.

We discussed current trends: increasing globalization, significance of
scientific knowledge, demographics shifts.

We discussed the constructed nature of economic globalization (IMF,
World Bank globalization).

We discussed Scientology, when we realized that the near future would
be primarily affected by the oncoming return of the aliens.

We discussed post-modern art, and academic post-modernism and settled
on a distaste for the idea that you can't say anything.

We discussed relativism and settled on a kind of pragmatic cultural
relativism: we can't assign objective significance to "should"
statements and so we need to be wary of applying them outside our
cultural sphere, even in the most extreme cases; at the same time, we
all saw a role for such value-based reasoning beyond deciding our own
actions.

We discussed the problems of choice and how this relates to the
problem of children: choice is almost a universal benefit, but it
can't be taken as entirely passive, particularly in the case of
children, who (it was generally considered) do not have full capacity
to make their own choices.

We discussed happiness vs. the considered life: increasing either
happiness or self-reported happiness seemed useful, but some people
argued for an alternative more important goal of considered-lifeness.

We discussed materialism (which we defined as highly valuing the
possession of objects), and distinguished it from consumerism (an
economic system of consuming beyond need). Recent centuries have
shown an increase in materialism; recent years perhaps a decrease.

We discussed the role of discussion in the construction of the next
era.

Submitted by jrising on Tue, 2006-07-04 19:06.

I remembered the anthropolgist whose name I forgot: Margaret Mead. I have a lot of respect for plenty of anthropologists, but the same way people say "the Bard", if I say "the Anthropologist", I mean Mead. If anyone isn't familiar with the observations in Sex and Temperament in Three Primitive Societies and Warfare is Only an Invention - Not a Biological Necessity, they're required reading!