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January 18th, 2012

“English Wikipedia anti-SOPA blackout”

Originally posted by baron_waste at “English Wikipedia anti-SOPA blackout”


From the Wikimedia Foundation

To: English Wikipedia Readers and Community
From: Sue Gardner, Wikimedia Foundation Executive Director
Date: January 16, 2012


Today, the Wikipedia community announced its decision to black out the English-language Wikipedia for 24 hours, worldwide, beginning at 05:00 UTC on Wednesday, January 18 (you can read the statement from the Wikimedia Foundation here). The blackout is a protest against proposed legislation in the United States – the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the U.S. House of Representatives, and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the U.S. Senate – that, if passed, would seriously damage the free and open Internet, including Wikipedia.

This will be the first time the English Wikipedia has ever staged a public protest of this nature, and it’s a decision that wasn’t lightly made. Here’s how it’s been described by the three Wikipedia administrators who formally facilitated the community’s discussion. From the public statement, signed by User:NuclearWarfare, User:Risker and User:Billinghurst:


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Nosebleed Log

At 4:30 am i awoke with blood dripping (felt like pouring) into my CPAP.  Made two efforts to stop it.  Thje second one seems to have worked.  Bleed stopped about 5:15.  I'm going back to bed.

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The book i am now reading is Fung Yu-Lan's A Short History of Chinese Philosophy which at the time of its publication in 1948, was regarded as the best introduction for Westerners to Chinese Philosophy.  Fung was, at least at the time Neo-Confucionist/Marxist, so i hardly expected his treatment of Taoism to be to my liking.  But the book is full of surprises, given my ignorance of China, one of which will probably occupy me for a long time to come.

Fung states the Confucianism, Taoism and the other eight (or 100) "schools" are not religions but philosophies.  He said that philosophy played the role in China that religion did in Europe.  The Chinese masses were often "religious" in their way and elements of Confucianism, Taoism and other philosophies made their way into the Chinese Folk Religion but Confucianism, Tao chia, (The Taoist School which is the Taoism you get from the Lao Tsu and the Chuang Tzu) and even Fo Hsueh (The Buddhist Learning, which is pretty much Zen Buddhism)  are not religions.

If Fung is correct (and a definition is only incorrect if nobody accepts it) and Philosophy is systematic reflection on life (including ethics, the universe, and knowledge); while a religion is a philosophy "with a certain superstructure, which consists of superstitions, dogmas, rituals and 'institutions,'"  it seems to me that, conversely, philosophy is religion with that superstructure stripped away.

So, what is lost if a person or a society centers its life in a "philosophy" rather than religion.  Well, that is what modern societies supposedly do; the number of state religions in industrialized societies has dwindled to a few, and even those are not taken too seriously (as long as alternative religions are also not taken too seriously).
Fung is not very specific; he thinks a philosophy is every bit as good as a religion but doesn't go much beyond that.  Well, of course the "superstitions, dogmas, rituals and 'institutions;" are gone.  or are they?  Certainly  rituals are an important part of the Confucian agenda.  Of course, the sage knows that these are to ensure social order and not to please gods or ancestors, but the masses are not discouraged from believing this.  And what is this "proper position of men and women?"  That's got to be either a superstition or a dogma or an "institution," if not all three. 

But what about prayer, and meditation, and mysticism.  Do they have any place in "philosophy."  Fung says nothing (well, i haven't read the entire book so i don't know this) about prayer  But Confucianists and Ch'an Buddhists certainly endorse it.  Tao Chia is quiet on the subject of prayer (maybe Taoists are praying silently?)

Meditation is endorsed by all three philosophies.  Of course, says Fung, meditation is the path to a mystical approach which is necessary to at least one of the objects of philosophy, the Universe.  I invite you to read the last three pages of A Short History....which Google Books has graciously  put in its ad.--

A short history of Chinese philosophy - Fung Yu-Lan, Derk Bodde - Google Books

The via negativa is as essential to philosophy as to religion.  It is the only systematic way to investigate the unknowable and uninvestigatable.  The end of philosophy (like the end of religion) is mysticism.

Like a good "spiritual director" Fung insists that a good negative method must be preceeded by a good positive philosophy,  But like many spiritual directors, he does not comprehend how philosophically challenged some of us non-philosophers are.  Were it not for the via negative, i would have no via at all.

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