A Short Bio
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Name: Erik Douglas Common Alias/Nom de Plum: GreenLantern Location(s): Berlin, DE - Derbyshire, UK - Vancouver, BC, Canada - Portland, Oregon, USA
Interests/Angles: Green Political Activism - Philosophy - Spiritual Mendicant (Taoism X Buddhism)
I am very active in several green parties around the world, including the Oregon party, the BC party, the Derbyshire party, the Canadian party, the US party and probably soon the German party. I am a "wonk" - most of my efforts are directed to creating a genuinely democratic organization founded on the Four Core Pillars and Ten Key Values of most Green Parties. So I spend a lot of time looking at party process and procedures as well as the formal blueprints of such systems (e.g., party constitutions and bylaws). I also occasionally run for office, but I am mostly a behind-the-scenes activist. I also do policy development, and I am working to get a non-expert driven, bottom-up structured, green think tank off the ground based in a virtual village I am undertaking to create that is associated with the Cascadia region (a bio-region in the North-west of North America that includes Oregon, Washington and British Columbia). It is work in progress, but it is/will be located here: CascadiaGreensor here in its development phase.
I am similarly involved in a project to develop a more general democracy thinktank: The Four Pillars of Democracy. This is not necessarily "green" - but rather is an attempt to create a P2P based institute dedicated to the polis and the political. This work is a cross-over between my political work and my more philosophical/theoretical work, and it began with my attempt to understand what "democracy" means and in what it really does and could consist. Like many projects, sometimes these things are put on a back burner to simmer.
P2P philosophy and principles are playing a progressively ever greater role in my thinking in all of the above ventures.
My background academically was originally mathematics and science. I was driven as an undergraduate and graduate student to understand the scientific nature of consciousness, but the nature of the questions quickly brought me to the liminal regions of science. Thus, I turned then to philosophy to provide a better cognitive framework to pursue answers to the above riddles.
My work in this area saw two kinds of fruit grow. The first is my reasonable certainty that "science" as sincerely conceived can approach the big questions surrounding consciousness and its origins. However, a serious need to look at the way we define our terms cannot be overstated. At root of greatest mystery in this poly-discipline - what is sometimes called the "Hard Problem of Consciousness" but which is just a dressed up name for the "Mind-Body Problem" - is the nature of time. Time or temporality itself is no less mysterious when approached honestly. It is my thesis that these two concepts (Time & Consciousness) are so related, they are likely of one in the same essence, and a physicalist understanding of either will lead to answers about the other. I believe that the necessary metaphysical foundations will likely be found in a complete theory of quantum gravity, and I am generally persuaded by Roger Penrose's thinking. However, I suspect that new kinds of temporal logic will need first to be developed. I have been involved with time researchers around the world, and I am developing an academic/general Website dedicated to these issues. On account of necessity, my energies have turned significantly to the political in the past two years.
The second fruit to grow was considerably more sour/bitter. I am now of a mind that the traditional institution of the academy is really in its death throws. That is to say, the social pressures of the past century have finally killed the spirit of investigation and exploration that first kindled in the Enlightenment, notably the influence of corporate and capital driven models of organization and respective definitions of goals and success. However, I remain an optimist with respect to the human spirit, and all of our crumbling ivory towers will in time be swept away into the dustbins of history.
I am inclined to regard most issues of a spiritual nature as highly personal and frequently ineffable. Nevertheless, I have occupied myself for considerable periods of time trying to accomplish something like "enlightenment" roughly as understood in some Buddhist and Taoist texts. Besides looking at walls and killing graduated Zen monks, I have wished to work towards bridging the domains of the "spiritual" and the "intellectual" - I am grateful for my many friends and colleagues who are undertaking this work (e.g., Mushin Schilling). It is curious that on the one hand I would say that my appreciation of the Tao lies central to all my metaphysical, philosophical and political work, and I could elaborate at length on how and why, but I am extremely reluctant to say more about the Tao itself. I guess I do not want to get a-head of myself like old Wilbur.
Putting bread on the table:
Were I independently wealthy... I work when I must as a consultant, entrepreneur and investor. I have become very adept at management, systems and organizational theory, and I do consult on such. I have also worked as an editor, translator, website developer and explored numerous other trades in my younger years.