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Destroying Disciplinary Divides

The Center for Critical Interdisciplinary Studies (CCIS) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Our mission is to destroy disciplinary boundaries to provide the public with new plateaus of interdisciplinary perspective that broaden understandings and deepen questions concerning human existence and the many challenges we face therein.  

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San Francisco Bay Area

San Francisco Bay Area





CCIS Ethos Quotes

CCIS Ethos Quotes

“…We must learn how to teach new generations a new worldview, from cosmology to consciousness, from the ‘inside to the outside.’ This new worldview must not only engender a different lifestyle but also a different and deeper way of human knowing….

It can only result form a life-sustaining cosmology, an eco-cosmology that gives rise to an eco-philosophy, the foundation for a new ecology of thought and purpose for education, economics, social life, organizations, government, and politics. Creating this will be a tremendous challenge, but the potential negative consequences of not creating a life-sustaining cosmology are equally tremendous.”

“We are Earth becoming conscious of itself.”

-Gregory Cajete

‘Humanity is nature becoming self-conscious.’

-Elise Reclus

“The Plains Indians arranged their knowledge in a circular format—which is to say, there were no ultimate terms or constituents of their universe, only sets of relationships that sought to describe phenomena. No concept could stand alone in the way that time, space, and matter once stood as absolute entities in Western science. All concepts not only had content but were themselves composed of the elements of other ideas to which they were related. Thus it was possible to begin with one idea, thoroughly examine it by relating it to other concepts, and arrive back at the starting point with the assurance that a person could properly interpret what constituted the idea and how it might manifest itself in concrete physical experiences.”

“The old Indians, as Rising Sun noted, were interested in finding the proper moral and ethical road upon which human beings should walk. All knowledge, if it is to be useful, was directed towards that goal. Absent in this approach was the idea that knowledge existed apart from human beings and their communities, and could stand alone for ‘its own sake.’ In the Indian conception, it was impossible that there could be abstract propositions that could be used to explore the structure of the physical world. Knowledge was derived from individual and communal experiences in daily life, in keen observation of the environment, and in interpretive messages that they received from spirits in ceremonies, visions and dreams.”

“Can any philosophy transcend its cultural barriers and speak to the larger question of how we perceive and interact with the world around us? What is the potential for philosophy to help us make sense of our lives? The West has certainly not solved that problem; it has only used its tremendous political and economic power to render the question moot.”

“Western civilization seems clear, orderly, obvious, and without possibility of reform primarily because it defines the world in certain rigid categories…. Western civilization seems to have a multitude of ‘commonsense’ propositions, and as common sense is such rarity, what we actually mean by this statement is that we have a certain set of propositions that we have agreed not to question.”

-Vine Deloria Jr.

“Native American science is incomprehensible to most Westerners because it operates from a different paradigm….

In order to appreciate and ‘come to know’ in the Native American science way, one has to understand the culture/worldview/paradigm of Native American people. For Thomas Kuhn, a paradigm is a whole way of working, thinking, communicating, and perceiving with the mind. A paradigm includes tacit infrastructures, which are mostly unconscious, pervading the work and thought of a community (Bohm and Peat 1987). What is the Native American paradigm about?

The Native American paradigm is comprised of and includes ideas of constant motion and flux, existence consisting of energy waves, interrelationships, all things being animate, space/place, renewal, and all things being imbued with spirit.”


“There are basic assumptions about western systems of government, economics, class structure, education and spirituality that will continue to stifle authentic and widespread efforts to teach college students to become virtuous and active participants in the process of creating healthier communities. Until the dominant culture fundamentally investigates and modifies its essential worldview with one more in harmony with that of traditional indigenous tribes, such as those of America’s first nation peoples, moral education and effective civic engagement will remain another failed effort at ‘school renewal.’”

-Four Arrows

“Idealism and matter of fact are… not sundered, but inseparable, as our daily steps are guided by ideals of direction.”

-Patrick Geddes

“In terms of the mystic psychology of Taoism according to the Complete Reality school, this refers to the so-called ‘mysterious pass,’ the central switch post or ‘opening’ between the rational and intuitive modes of awareness, described… as intentional observation of the apparent and dispassionate observation of the subtle. Taoist practice involves ‘opening the mysterious pass’ to allow the mind to work in both modes without interference.”

“…Transmission of Light illustrates quintessential techniques for realization of satori, showing how this experience transcends time, history, culture, race, gender, personality, and social status.

 Zen writings commonly refer to satori as realization of the ‘original mind’ as it is in itself, the universal ground of consciousness, concealed beneath the temporal conditioning that forces people to experience life through outlooks arbitrarily limited by their cultural, social, and personal histories. This realization is considered the essential initiatory experience of Zen in that it allows the individual access to a range of mental potential beyond the limitations of outlook defined by ordinary processes of acculturation, socialization, and education. In classical Taoism, the Chinese forerunner of Zen, this is known as ‘the use of the unused.’

Satori is therefore said to be the key to inner freedom and independence, the door to higher knowledge, realized by all enlightened people. …satori… as radical liberation from needless constraints of inculcated worldviews.”

-Thomas Cleary

“The overall assumptions of modern rationality remain largely intact, and even geographers doing ‘postcolonial’ studies remain largely unwilling to step out of their epistemological frameworks for a moment and consider different ways of understanding the world… The colonial mentality holds: the modern worldview is ‘real’ even if it is socially constructed; other worldviews are not. Thus the critical turn has yet to decolonize the discipline truly and still leaves us in a disenchanted world without inherent values.”

-RDK Herman

“One of the primary objects of discipline is to fix; it is an anti-nomadic technique.”

"What interests [me] in the "already said" is not established authority but rather the breadth and variety of experience to be found there."

-Michel Foucault

“It was Proust who said "masterpieces are written in a kind of foreign language." That is the same as stammering, making language stammer rather than stammering in speech. To be a foreigner, but in one's own tongue, not only when speaking a language other than one's own. To be bilingual, multilingual, but in one and the same language, without even a dialect or patois.”

-Giles Deleuze

“Reading good books is like having a conversation with the most distinguished [people] of past ages, namely their authors—indeed, a carefully prepared conversation in which they reveal to us only the best of their thoughts.... Conversing with people of past centuries is rather like travelling…. But if you spend too much time travelling you will end up being a stranger in your own country.”

-Rene Descartes

“You must do something, but inasmuch as with your limited capacities it will be impossible to make anything easier than it has become, you must, with the same humanitarian enthusiasm as the others, undertake to make something hard…. Out of love for mankind, and out of despair at my embarrassing situation, seeing that I had accomplished nothing and was unable to make anything easier than it had already been, and moved by a genuine interest in those who make everything easy, I conceived it as my task to create difficulties everywhere.”

-Søren Kierkegaard

"Only that which has no history is definable".

-Fredric Nietzsche

“An answer is valuable only in so far as it stimulates further inquiry. This holds true even in the exact sciences where the hypothesis serves as a springboard for the searching mind. In a still higher degree it holds true in the realm of philosophy where answers are merely fertile formulations of problems. “Let us know in order to search,” says St. Augustine. The favorite answer of an age, however, is often one in which only a minimum of problems is preserved and which has been promoted to its place as favorite because it seems to render superfluous all further questioning. It closes all doors, blocks all ways, and just because of this permits the agreeable feeling that the goal has been reached and that the rest is granted.”

-Martin Foss

“Archetypical Man as a divine being forgot his true essence and mistakes the material universe (which is part of him) as separate and external, since the Fall. Physical man is but a material shadow though endowed with a divine spark.”

-C. L. Knowles

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, 
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”


“…The important thing is not the finding, it is the seeking, it is the devotion with which one spins the wheel of prayer and scripture, discovering the truth little by little. If this machine gave you the truth immediately you would not recognize it, because your heart would not have been purified by the long quest.”

-Umberto Eco

"If you immediately know the candle light is fire then the meal was cooked along time ago"


“Throughout much of the time since the establishment of the clockwork universe as the primary model of reality, occultism has looked to science for ideas and analogies. This influence is one that science in turn generally denies, because “Science” would prefer to believe that occultism is irrational. Instead, it would be more correct to view Occultism as trans-rational: rationalism can easily be viewed as a useful system for training the mind, even if rationalism, itself, is not capable of discerning the highest mysteries.

In fact, in following this line of reasoning, scientific discoveries have long been a source of inspiration to occultists. I have already mentioned how the geological theories of catastrophism surely played a role in Mackey’s conception of the dangers of pole shifts. Later in the [19th] century, it was occultists who embraced the Theory of Evolution, because the biological system was such a good analogy for the perceived spiritual system.

The problem with embracing science in this way is that science changes. This shift was characterized thoroughly by Thomas S. Kuhn in his landmark work, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Known now as paradigm shifts, scientific theory exists in a slowly changing matrix of concepts. The problem is that most people believe that the beliefs of their own time are Absolute Truth. Scientific theories also fall into this belief. Consequently, when we examine Papus’ carefully wrought “science,” we may groan at some of the anachronisms. Similarly, if more dangerously, the raging sexism and racism of so many of the occult works of this period… reflect societal attitudes that nonetheless were enshrined as scientific “fact”...”

-J. Lee Lehman

“Most of [the] problems of the world stem from linguistic mistakes and simple misunderstanding. Don’t ever take words at face value. When you step into the zone of love, language, as we know it becomes obsolete. That which cannot be put into words can only be grasped through silence.”


“…For Darwin’s widely read narratives in the nineteenth century, many people in the twentieth century Euro-centric west pay evolutionary physical anthropology the homage of their assumptions. What has been read from fossils and simians becomes common sense, becomes the foundation of other stories in other fields constituting what can count as experience [(i.e. it becomes part of one’s ontological regime(s). Evolutionary theory is a form of imaginary history…. …Imaginary history is the stuff out of which experience becomes possible.”

“One man is black, the other white; they seem in perfect colleagueship, peering at the remains of a shared past to establish the hope of a shared future. But the caption shatters that message: “Richard Leakey and assistant in the field in Kenya.” Aristotle could have written the phrase; the master and his tool are in perfectly harmonious relation, the one with a name, the other indicated by a function. It feels like a mere question of syntax, surely not the stuff of global history? But syntax like this is precisely the stuff of the semiotics of master and slave, of the other who labors in the name of the one, the linguistic structure of the human story.”


“The endless cycle of idea and action,
Endless invention, endless experiment,
Brings knowledge of motion, but not of stillness;
Knowledge of speech, but not of silence;
Knowledge of words, and ignorance of the Word.”

-T.S. Eliot

“Denying previous evolution of man we must [also] deny any possibility of future mechanical evolution of man; that is, evolution happening by itself according to laws of heredity and selection, and without man's conscious efforts and understanding of his possible evolution.”

“Our fundamental idea shall be that man as we know him is not a completed being; that nature develops him only up to a certain point and then leaves him, either to develop further, by his own efforts and devices, or to live and die such as he was born, or to degenerate and lose capacity for development. Evolution of man in this case will mean the development of certain inner qualities and features which usually remain undeveloped, and cannot develop by themselves.” 


“Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself, 
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)”

-Walt Whitman