Wisdom

Wisdom


A Nightmare About America

America November 13th, 2022

While jogging at sundown one day in April 2003, I had a very moving experience, one that may indeed have bridged my conception of the spiritual and the worldly. My wandering mind juxtaposed my impression of American Indian culture, spirituality, worldview, and morality with the current state of affairs and mentality in European-American culture. I experienced a combination of seemingly coincidental events that struck me as conveying great meaning: that we may come to face a startling reckoning for our legacy and lifestyle.

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Skepticism, Belief, Doubt, & Evidence

evidence November 9th, 2022

We all believe some things without sufficient (or, perhaps “good”) evidence to support the belief. It is often innocuous—”My son is going to win his game this Saturday!”, or “Our financial problems will get better, don’t worry, honey”, or “Go Pats!” However, belief without evidence is highly questionable. This blog gets into religion, politics, and such from the perspective that belief in something should, by and large, be apportioned based on what the balance of solid, dispassionately-perceived evidence indicates.

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America: Land of …. What Exactly?

lost in America October 21st, 2022

This blog is a social critique of America, and makes the point that the United States has had some endemic problems written right into the Constitution, and in regard to the racist, genocidal, patriarchal, and overly-capitalistic values that were there right from the get-go. By many measures, things have gone downhill since…

I am using the late, great lyricist Neil Peart’s song “Beneath, Between and Behind”, which he wrote in 1974, to make my points about America. He hit the nail squarely on the head, and hard. I love this song, and I hope you will take an interest in what it has to teach us.

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How to Find Happiness in Modern America

happiness October 18th, 2022

Attitude is everything, so they say. There is truly something to that. According to one strain of research, our happiness is about 50% “determined” by our genes. There is little we can do to stray very far from our “set point” level of happiness. A death will bring us very low, and that “new car smell” will give us a happiness bump for days, perhaps weeks. A promotion will engender some greater satisfaction, but it’s effect, too, will fade (perhaps only leaving a somewhat larger paycheck and potentially greater stress associated with increased or different responsibilities). The point is, If genes account for 50% of one’s level of happiness, what does that leave us with? This is a blog about psychological research, applied philosophy, and values and virtues such as personal growth, free will, and responsibility.

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Aristotle’s View of Humanity’s Highest Aspirations

humanity's highest aspirations September 29th, 2022

Aristotle is the grandfather of ethics and human flourishing; his book The Nicomachean Ethics has been a classic read in philosophy and ethics courses at universities since about 340 B.C.E. He studied with Plato and is largely credited with inventing logic and natural science. In this blog, I will share a brief outline of Aristotle’s first section entitled “The Human Good”, including a few quotations about humanity’s highest virtues.

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Do Humans Deserve Climate Catastrophe?

climate catastrophe September 13th, 2022

Does America deserve to survive and thrive on into the future? We are facing a veritable climate catastrophe, yet our sense of alarm is about “3” on a scale of 1-10. Does that mean we deserve (morally) to suffer whatever fate the gods have in store for us, if you will? I am talking here about responsibility, wisdom, and proactivity. Bottom line: there really is no excuse; we are out of time; it’s a climate catastrophe that should trump Trump, cultural disputes, and the status quo.

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Ignorance is Often Not Bliss

ignorance September 9th, 2022

There is a saying that passes as folk wisdom: ignorance is bliss. That is, if a person ignores information, facts, and wisdom (and remember that ignore comes from the same root word as ignorance, of course), or is otherwise benighted, misinformed, mentally lazy, or superstitious or biased to an adequate degree, then they will be happier, so it is claimed. Not so! I consider it dangerous, not a route to happiness. What follows are some thoughts I have about what a state of stupidity we humans seem to consistently find ourselves in. It’s a species-wide flaw!

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Cosmos: Science, Hope, Wisdom & Inspiration

science July 28th, 2022

Famed astrophysicist Carl Sagan’s obituary featured the President of the National Academy of Sciences, Bruce Alberts extolling him thusly: “Carl Sagan, more than any contemporary scientist I can think of, knew what it takes to stir passion within the public when it comes to the wonder and importance of science.” The television program Cosmos has been a reliable, interesting, educational experience for me and for millions of others; it’s like Sesame Street for this millennium. If you want to learn more about science—astrophysics, astronomy, geology, and even the history of science—this is the show for you.

I will say a few things about it and share a number of quotes from a diverse group of individuals.

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What is Socratic Dialogue?

Socratic dialogue July 17th, 2022

“In order to improve yourself, Socrates insists, you have to know yourself,” said philosopher Judith Barad. Socrates hasn’t been around since ancient Athens, Greece, but the method of inquiry and self-examination he pioneered is still valid and has a lot to recommend it. “Socrates was the first to call philosophy down from the heavens and establish it in the towns and introduce it into homes and force it to investigate life, ethics, good and evil,” according to also-significant Roman orator Cicero. “Socrates’ method was to go about, as he said himself, ‘cross-examining the pretenders to knowledge and wisdom,’ and by the cross-examination, showing them that they were in error, that what they supposed they knew, they did not know,” noted the luminary Mortimer Adler. This blog is about Socratic dialogue – how to appreciate it, and what it can do.

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What Can Values & Virtues Do in Dark Times?

July 12th, 2022

Someone recently asked me what my “main take-away” is, my most distilled version of my message. In other words, what am I thinking about when it comes to Values of the Wise, my 2022 book on wisdom, considering the state of the world, and based on all the readings I’m doing these days.

What follows is a concise encapsulation of what is on my mind and in my heart when I think about personal growth, and what psychology and philosophy mean to me:

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