One of the highlights of the year for many in the ethereum space, the art focused ethereal summit which was just too cool last year, apparently finds itself in some controversy after listing Deepak Chopra as a speaker.
First of all, we must admit we had no clue who Deepak Chopra is, but apparently everyone else has heard of him. Which might explain his 3.3 million twitter followers.
Our quick research shows that Chopra can best be summarized by this statement he made yesterday: “All perspectives are just that – perspectives. Truth is elusive.”
His perspective seems to be that “consciousness” drives all things, with material matter, or “reality,” a mere obedient follower. If reality exists at all, because he seems to think you can just create your own:
“Chopra: HIV may be a precipitating agent in a susceptible host. The material agent is never the cause of the disease. It may be the final factor in inducing the full-blown syndrome in somebody who’s already susceptible.
Robbins: But what made them susceptible?
Chopra: Their own interpretations of the whole reality they’re participating in.”
We’ll be charitable and interpret the above as a his way of consoling HIV victims by in a way encouraging them to ignore the tragic reality, to escape it in effect, so that they can more gradually deal with the shock.
And that’s, more widely, our charitable interpretation of this whole genre. It’s a form of art, which rather than having characters do fictitious things, instead creates a fictitious world with the real individual, or the believer, as the character.
Like a book, it only works when you enter the world of the book and in a way “believe” whatever event is unfolding there. Because here too you gradually outgrow this fictitious world Chopra has built and get on with your life just as you do after finishing a fictitious book.
The problem with this art form is that for it to work one needs to believe it, at least briefly. Teenagers are of course most susceptible for they are just learning about the world. But the question is, whether this real-fictious is harmful or just a harmless escapism engaged by, you’d think, mostly individuals that find themselves in difficult times.
There could be studies done on that, such as measuring whether someone really doesn’t use a condom because they really believe “their own interpretations” have priority over cause and effect.
But perhaps we’ve been charitable enough, because this confusion itself can be harmful, as instead of addressing the cause, it encourages one to escape it, with the cause thus remaining there.
In the process of escaping it further creates this fictitious world which can’t be reconciled with reality, thus potentially prolonging depression or a difficult situation.
Moreover, one has to take issue with this idea that all is open to interpretation and an external reality does not exist. That 2+2 is merely an abstraction, rather than the summing of 2 sets of apple that become 4. Or indeed that “Charles Darwin was wrong. Consciousness is key to evolution,” as Chopra said.
For here, we’re no longer dealing with some form of art, or even an interpretation, but with a denial, and even an assault, on rationality.
Making Chopra thus a new age priest of sorts, with a new kind of religion that instead of empowering you, enslaves you to whether you are trying hard enough to think some good thought.
Instead of seeing thoughts and reality as two very distinctive things, this new age merger of the two, which claims thoughts can directly affect cause and effect, can create a pretty scary subjective world where the supranatural is brought back into the mind of believers.
In the process, certainty vanishes and one no longer knows anything, so making Chopra a metaphiscal god who alone possesses the truth, with his followers thus enslaved through a complex web of play on their emotions.
Which means this is not art at all, for art aims through beauty to elucidate truth. It can be subjective, but it always aims to discover something or express something that has its foundations in reality.
While new age thinking has no ambition of any truth and proclaims instead that truth is very much a fiction and non-existent. A statement that can be very appealing because it is far easier to speculate nonsense than to discover rules of cause and effect. Just as this speculative nonsense is far less fulfilling and rewarding than real knowledge which actually aligns with reality.
“Why is this fraud allowed to speak at this conference, part 2,” Buterin says when Deepak Chopra’s invitation at ethereal was highlighted.
“ConsenSys strives for radical inclusiveness regardless of someone’s gender, race, background, or beliefs. A lot of people may not agree with his philosophy, but you cannot deny he is a prominent author and thought leader for his readers.
Having him at the event is no way an endorsement of what he does by ConsenSys. It is merely an attempt to get unique perspective from someone who has a lot of experience in a certain field,” says someone who claims to work at ConsenSys, the conference organizers.
In reply, an etherean says: “This would be like inviting a church pastor to speak at a mathematics conference because he might bring a ‘new perspective’.
Deepak Chopra has no perspective which would be relevant or helpful to blockchain because he doesn’t deal with real world issues. And by the way, saying that Deepak Chopra is controversial is like saying flat earthers are controversial.”
If we had to guess, his invitation might perhaps have something to do with Chopra maybe using blockchain tech to secure book rights or some other aspects.
We have no information on the point, but he appears to be a prolific author because presumably writing subjective things that don’t need much actual work of factual discovery is fairly easy.
So one interesting use case of blockchain tech might be securing such authors rights or perhaps facilitating publishing and so on.
But we do think ConsenSys should seriously reconsider whether Chopra’s attendance might distract and perhaps even overshadow what we hope will otherwise be a splendid event where art meets blockchain tech.