View Full Version : Introduction

03-11-2003, 03:50 PM
hi, i have just become vegan a few days ago and am very excited about it. it has been a confluence of many considerations: ethical, ecological, political, economic, health, etc. what intrigues and motivates me most, however, is transcending the conventional distinction between the self and the environment. if we move from the skin-bag-model of the self to the view that we are an integral part of the environment, a strand in the web of life, then the difference between protecting the environment and protecting our-selves disappears. on this, i have been inspired by the norwegian philosopher Arne Naess and deep ecology and by Gregory Bateson, who asserted that the skin-encapsulated model of the self is the epistemological error of western civilization. i would be very interested to hear your thoughts on this.

i have moved from Germany to Somerville last fall and am currently finishing my dissertation in political science on the European Union.

are there any vegan stores in greater Boston? our 3 cats have told me, that they would also like to become vegan. i know about vegancats.com, but i am looking for something closer. might start another thread with that.

03-11-2003, 03:54 PM
wolfgang!! it is already apparent that you rock very much :D

i'm glad you found us. welcome!!! :banana:

03-11-2003, 04:22 PM
Yeah, what she said! :D

Although your "skin-bag" philosophy mostly makes me think of a Star Trek the Next Generation quote (a microscopic crystalline alien intelligence calls humans "ugly bags of mostly water" LOL!), I like the idea that if we see ourselves as connected to the whole, there is no longer a distinction between taking care of ourselves and taking care of EVERYTHING! Very Pagan. Good stuff.

Are you from Germany??? If so, what part? How do you like the US so far? etc... If not, what were you doing there? ;)

Congrats on going vegan and welcome to VRF!

03-11-2003, 04:41 PM
dear penfold, thank you very much for the warm welcome! i LOVE the rocking banana, makes me :happy:

dear herbi,

i grew up in Michelstadt, in the region Odenwald, about 50 miles south of Frankfurt and just a little bit north of Heidelberg.

i was an exchange student in Anoka/MN, got my BA in international relations in Petaluma/CA, which got me completely hooked on the san francisco bay area, did my MA in political science in Paris and a postgraduate degree on the EU in Strasbourg.

i taught political science and did research in Trier, Frankfurt, Fulda and Luxembourg.

i LOVE the diversity of the US and i very much enjoy living in Greater Boston, which is so rich, especially in intellectual/academic and institutional terms.

could you elaborate on what you mean by 'pagan' a little bit, please. just curious.

03-11-2003, 07:33 PM
Ooo! I love Trier!!! Heidelberg too! My Dad was in the Air Force, so I actually lived in Germany for 3.5 yrs when I was a kid. We were at Hahn AFB, and lived in the teeny village of Barenbach, which is the exact geographic center of Rheinland Pfalz, not that anybody cares. :) I really want to go back to Germany; I remember it being so beautiful, esp. the Moselle valley with all the castles etc. (My German is a little rusty, but I like to think it would all come back to me if I were suddenly surrounded by it again!)

I guess when I use the word "Pagan" I use it in a very loose sense, referring to a general category of pre-Christian European religions (Wicca would be a more specific example) that tend to embrace similar ideas. The particular idea that seemed relevant here was that everything on earth is sacred and interconnected, because we/they are all manifestations of different aspects of the Divine. I think this comes up in certain "eastern" philosophies as well, but because of my interest in medieval and pre-medieval european mythology & culture, I've always felt more comfortable thinking about things from that point of view.

Looking back, although you spoke of transendence, you did not reference any sort of divinity or sacredness, so perhaps my analogy isn't 100% valid. (I will have to read a bit about/by those philosophers! Add it to my reading list...) But the way you expressed your revelation that you were not separate from that around you sort of reminded me of something that some practicing pagans/wiccans like to remind eachother: "THOU art God(dess)." The creative life-giving force of the universe is not separate from you, it IS you. That can be a very empowering idea. But I am babbling now about something I have only a modest background in! I tend to browse through various philosophies and dabble in them as they appeal to me, and I'm afraid if you start asking me in-depth questions about pagan theology I may disappoint! :) Hope that answered your question though.

03-15-2003, 10:34 AM
Originally posted by Wolfgang
if we move from the skin-bag-model of the self to the view that we are an integral part of the environment, a strand in the web of life, then the difference between protecting the environment and protecting our-selves disappears

i guess you've read the wonderful "The Book: on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are" by alan watts then...? :)

03-15-2003, 01:37 PM
no, i haven't even heard of it, but am very curious about it. please also fill me in on the other quote and it's author!

what inspired me was the central epistemological concept of buddhism, dependent co-arising, which reminds me very much of german sociologist's niklas luhmann's social systems theory, where systems re-produce themselves by re-drawing the distinction between themselves and their environments.

what also inspired me was joanna macy's 'world as lover, world as self' and gregory bateson's 'steps to an ecology of mind'.

i am excited about your responses! :)