knowledge

knowledge


Cosmos: Science, Hope, Wisdom & Inspiration

science April 24th, 2020

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 (now in its third season) 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 by that, I mean astrophysics, astronomy, geology, and even the history of science, this is the show for you. Now that the third season is out, I have collected some quotes by those involved with the show, those who are practitioners of applied science, and so on. Especially in a time when every single day folks are hearing public health officials, physicians, and biomedical researchers speak on television (the pandemic), there is both a desire for diversion, and there is an “attunedness” to applied science. If Trump and others are turning out to be the buffoons and the charlatans in this crisis, scientists, doctors, nurses, paramedics, nursing home staff — even meat packers and workers at Amazon.com — are the bright lights in the dark.

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Knowledge, Education & Wisdom in Colonial America

knowledge July 12th, 2019

Philosopher/psychologist and distinguished man of letters, Daniel N. Robinson, says much about knowledge, wisdom, and education in the citizenry and the founders at the time of the Declaration of Indpendence and the crafting of the U.S. Constitution. It is very enlightening, and he takes pains to connect the state of affairs then with our horrible political, social, and educational predicament that is so clearly exemplified by corporations, Donald Trump as President, and social media bickering today. It’s not a pretty picture, but one worth taking a long, hard look at. I then follow up his incisive commentary on the Founders with quotes about knowledge, wisdom, and education in modern America. Recall that education is not just about keeping the economy rolling: “The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty,” wrote the main architect of the Constitution, James Madison. And this is very important; as modern progressive author, Thom Hartmann puts it, “We need to begin paying attention to the wisdom of the Founders and Framers [of the United States] if our country is to survive.”

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Can Wisdom Be Found in Books?

wisdom in books April 7th, 2019

All due respect to Tom Morris, who is an intellectual titan. He wrote this piece in a LinkedIn post. At first I was very excited to repost it as a blog. It had a decent length, and the title – wow! – I figured it had to be good. Well, it wasn’t, exactly. The issue with the post was not that it wasn’t fair for Morris to use that title to draw readers to his works of fiction. I am fully willing to grant that his books are about wisdom in the indirect sense, and like many fantastic and hallmark examples of literature throughout the ages – Tolstoy, Austen, Hemingway, Jong – we can find much in them to enlighten and move us. Topics and ideas and nuances that shed light on major questions in the philosophical and personal growth realm. Morals, existence, values, wisdom, etc. My issue was simply that he was pointing to his books as examples of art that extol and explore issues such as wisdom. In my blog of the exact same name (hat tip to Dr. Morris), I would like to explore the question in a much broader and deeper way.

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Wisdom Quotes: Enlightenment and Inspiration

wisdom quotes from the wisest individuals January 20th, 2019

Interested in wisdom quotes to enlighten, inspire, and educate? Consider this wisdom quote from psychologists Christoper Peterson & Martin E. Seligman: “What distinguishes wisdom? It is a type of intelligence but not one synonymous with IQ, general intelligence, or academic honors. It is knowledge, yes, but not reducible to the mere sum of books read, lectures attended, or facts acquired. Perhaps it has something to do with living through hardship, emerging a better person, able to share what has been learned with others.” In this blog I want to discuss the idea of how wisdom quotes and quotations that have to do with values such as wisdom can be useful and why they might be even better than extensive reading or seminars.

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Is Education 2nd or 3rd Place at Elite Universities?

education February 17th, 2018

I am on a liberal education trip these days. I have zipped through books with titles such as In Defense of a Liberal Education; Education’s End: Why Our Colleges and Universities Have Given Up on the Meaning of Life; and Beyond the University: Why Liberal Education Matters. It’s a fascinating subject, considering I like things ancient, think Good Will Hunting and Dead Poet’s Society were fantastic movies (can you tell that I miss Robin Williams!?), and spend a heckuva lot of time reading and recording fantastic quotations about values. My latest acquisition is by scholar William Deresiewicz and is entitled Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite. In this blog, I highlight some interesting quotations about education and reflect a bit on the Ivy League, America’s values, and what education means.

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Knowledge and Progress: Liberal Arts Education

knowledge and progress January 12th, 2018

Liberal education is often about individual development and personal growth. In the wonderful, well-researched, short but stout book In Defense of a Liberal Education, noted columnist and historian Fareed Zakaria laments that the humanities are no longer as popular as they were in America’s more prosperous decades. As manufacturing is under severe threat and jobs are increasingly lost to foreign countries or automation, Zakaria maintains that “to succeed today, you need creativity, lateral thinking, communication skills, and, more than anything, the ability to keep learning – precisely the gifts of a liberal education.” In chapter five, entitled “Knowledge and Power”, the author looks at humanity’s progress and connects it to some of the skills that liberal arts education can inculcate in the young. In addition to my summary of the highlights, many quotations relevant to knowledge and progress will be presented. What follows is a summary and review of chapter five of this engaging book.

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Ch. 2 Summary: “In Defense of a Liberal Education”

education January 1st, 2018

In my previous posting on historian and political analyst Fareed Zakaria’s book In Defense of a Liberal Education, I introduced the topic, shared how it was that the author came to value a true and deep kind of education, and extolled America’s great history of “an education to all that was not skills-based.” The “Great Books” approach found fertile soil in the United States in the 1930s and in the ensuing few decades. Now, in an era of iPads, Slurpees, and 300-horsepower cars, most students want to study business, psychology, or marketing. Fareed Zakaria and I believe that skills, such as STEM learning, are useful, but that it is not the entirety of what a distinguished and wise strain of thinkers from Socrates on thought was going to make the best, most well-rounded person. In this blog, I will review and summarize chapter two in the book, which is essentially a history and encapsulation of the approach to education known as liberal education/liberal arts.

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Review of Ch. One: “In Defense of a Liberal Education”

liberal education December 28th, 2017

Liberal education is not typically prized by parents. “What you are not supposed to do is study the liberal arts. Around the world, the idea of a broad-based ‘liberal’ education is closely tied with the United States and its great universities and colleges. But in America itself, a liberal education is out of favor.” This is a sad and even ironic state of affairs. In the wonderful, well-researched, short but stout book In Defense of a Liberal Education, noted columnist and historian Fareed Zakaria, called “the most influential foreign policy advisor of his generation” by Esquire, laments that the humanities are no longer as popular as they were in America’s more prosperous decades. As manufacturing is under severe threat and jobs are increasingly lost to foreign countries or automation, Zakaria maintains that “to succeed today, you need creativity, lateral thinking, communication skills, and, more than anything, the ability to keep learning – precisely the gifts of a liberal education.” What follows is a summary and review of chapter one of this engaging book.

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An Exploration of Wisdom: An Interview

an exploration of wisdom December 2nd, 2017

Wisdom is the heart of the enterprise Values of the Wise, so I look forward to today’s discussion here on the radio show, Values and Ethics: from Living Room to Boardroom. Wisdom is an apparently simple, yet surprisingly elusive matter, so I’m geared up to interview two capable and conversant individuals who can speak with me and help us all understand wisdom a bit better. First I have Wes Nisker on the program; he goes by “Scoop.” Usually I call the guest by their first name, with permission, of course; however, today I will see if I can call Wes, Scoop! He is an author of a best-selling book called The Essential Crazy Wisdom, an underground classic.

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Socrates: Still Relevant After 2,400 Years

Socrates November 5th, 2017

Few persons are relevant 2,350 years after they died. Confucius, The Buddha, and Jesus of Nazareth all have deep and lasting legacies. Socrates is certainly one of the most influential individuals ever to live. Considering how many ancient Greek documents and texts have been lost, we are lucky to have any information about him at all. He never wrote anything down! I will share a few thoughts and quotes about Socrates, one of the best teachers of wisdom and most interesting thinkers in history. He is a great guide to us in the waning days of empire here in the United States, just as he was in the tumultuous period in which he lived in ancient Athens.

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