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My worldview

As I am embarking on the task of teaching how to write your worldview, I thought I need to publish my own. The answers to the unanswerable questions are short, like at the Philozophy.com. In that way they can serve as a brief note to yourself, a reminder. It is also easier to compare them with others and to discuss them.  Here you are:

 

1.How did the Universe begin?

 

My Universe began with my conception. As I am learning from others and my experiences, my world shifts, gets bigger and more complex.  Where my understanding ends, on that edge, reversing the arrow of time, there and then the Universe begins

 

  1. What is the Universe made of?

 

My Universe is built from my birth with my instincts, my experiences and the experiences of other people I learned from. It is also solid and real. Maybe there is a Nobody’s Universe, independent of our personal worlds, but I doubt it.

 

  1. What is the origin of good?

 

Eusocial hominids, using mirror neurons, created and genetically encoded altruism and friendship. Surviving evolved into the drive to cooperate and to understand. The wisdom -understanding- translates socially into good, true and beautiful

 

4.What is the origin of evil?

 

Survival instincts and natural selection. We supposed to grow up and transform fear and greed of the caveman into the understanding and wisdom. I guess, we need to work harder on that. Tempus fugit.

 

  1. Is there free will?

 

As I have built my world, I am responsible for it and for my actions, even if sometimes I don’t know what I am doing. I feel that I have many freedoms, but in the same time I realize that I am a part of the cosmic interdependent web of causality.

 

  1. What is the nature of the mind?

 

The Mind is a cluster of functions of the brain. Thinking and feeling create my experience while consciousness, memory, attention make possible of me being aware of the performing these very functions. It is a concept, like a joy or pain.

 

  1. How do you find happiness?

 

With effort and intention of love, curiosity and gratitude, the results exceed expectations. It is transient, subjective and trainable. Practice to become happiable- ready for happiness.

 

  1. How do you find truth?

 

Truth is relative and mythic. It is what has been working for long time and for many people as a human nature and it is civilization dependent. So, I am trying to find wise books and wise friends to trust and then to ask.

 

  1. What is the meaning of life?

 

Being curious, doing good and having fun. It is how I am trying to do projects bigger than me. Working with people makes it meaningful and significant and beautiful.

 

  1. What is the role of evolution?

 

The evolution is probably the most important algorithm human invented to understand the world. It tries to explain how simple organisms evolved in Time and how the level of entropy and complexity can be so uneven across all dimensions.

 

  1. What happens after death?

 

I will live in others. If one does good for the reward after death, one will not be rewarded, if one does good to avoid punishment, that is one’s punishment. The judgement? It occurs inside our heads. Immortality? Sure, what you sow, you reap.

 

  1. Who or What is God?

 

The animal and then human intelligences were built through the process of the evolution. It is an awesome system, which we are trying to understand, often heroic and Divine. Gods are the parts of human mythology, therefore a part of human nature.

 

  1. What is going to happen to humankind?

 

Miraculously we will understand our unity, stop fighting, stop overpopulating, stop wasting resources. We will see our relatedness as Love and Friendship between us. Only then we will build a better world. A piece of cake but we need to hurry.

 

  1. What Question is missing?

 

What is the human nature?

Is Philosophy Dead? What Would Husserl Say?

(reading Husserl for my phenomenology class)

 

                    “Dead? Yes, he is dead… But not completely dead.”-

                            The Sorcerer about Wesley from “Princess Bride”.

 

                       “The entire universe of science is constructed upon the lived  world. And if we wish to think science rigorously, to appreciate precisely its sense and scope, we must first awaken that experience of the world of which science is the second-order expression.”

                             Maurice Merleau-Ponty “ Phenomenology of perception” p.9

 

     The future of philosophy is tricky. Science will continue its march into realms traditionally occupied by philosophy- the structure of the Cosmos and the nature of the Mind. But reading Husserl’s discussion on science’s shortcomings one can get a glimpse of the future philosophy as (as always) the queen of the human knowledge, with phenomenology providing absolutely necessary grounding for all human endeavors.

    Stephen Hawking, arguably the smartest scientist on the planet, in his book The Grand Design, declares that philosophy is dead. Obviously, the killer is supposed to be triumphant science. But if one reads this book further, very soon one realizes that the very same author washes his hands like Pontius Pilate and abandons the murderous plot. Hawking is interested exclusively in the building the model of the universe which agrees  with the maximal spectrum of the empirical data in the broadest possible spectrum of domains. He excludes from “his science” the big questions: what is, why, and what is the human place in this model.

   So I am not worried about Stephen, smart people are not a threat for philosophy. I am worried about the Trumps of the world, the stupid, scared and insecure people are the threat. They create and thrive in a shallow, greedy consumer culture fed by countless forms of fear and violence.  People do not read books, they don’t have the  skills and habits of conversation and dispute. The critical thinking and self-inquiry are rare.

One would say then , that Husserl, in his writings about the live world and the pre-given world of science is barking at the wrong tree. Well, maybe he is not so useless…

  Kant and after him, Husserl, both made a distinction between the noumenal world- that what really is, and the phenomenal world – that what we experience. But for millions of years animals and later humans used neither. They used a system of behaviors which helped them survive, i.e. the pragmatic “what works” world. By and by, they developed the senses,  perceptions, instincts, memory, and the motivation mechanisms of pain/fear vs pleasure. The behaviors became rules, laws, and commandments, the system became the science, and humble in-between noumenal and phenomenal space mushroomed enormously and became, well, the Universe.

Husserl, himself a mathematician and treating himself as a scientist, points out that in this magnificent world of science, the human experience comes first.  He writes:” In this world, we are objects among objects in the sense of the life-world, namely, as being here and there, in the plain certainty of experience, before anything that is established scientifically, whether in physiology, psychology, or sociology. On the  other hand, we are subject for this world, namely, as the ego-subject experiencing it, contemplating it, valuing it, related to it purposefully.” E. Husserl, The way into phenomenological transcendental philosophy. P.152. He investigates the world which can be experienced and can be shared through intersubjectivity: “ Thus in whatever way we may be conscious of the world as universal horizon, as coherent universe of existing objects, we, each “I-the-man” and all of us together, belong to the world as living with one another in the world; and the world is our world, valid for our consciousness as existing precisely through “living together”.  Ibid , p154. This world existed always, way before the era of science and should the basis for our thinking and especially feeling.

   So, science operates in the pre-given world, disregarding that its nature and origins might be not so obvious. It presumes its ultimate reality and bulldozes forward leaving humans with their unique conscious, transcendental experiences, behind. In Husserl’s words: “ Science is a human spiritual accomplishment which presupposes as its point of departure, both historically and for each new student, the intuitive surrounding world of life, pre-given as existing for all in common.” ibid, p. 163. And: “ If we made it clear for ourselves, the obviously an explicit elucidation of the objective validity and of the whole task of science requires that we first inquire back into the pre-given world.” ibid p. 163.

   Husserl proposed his new type of philosophy as the solution. Fantastic, phenomenal! (pardon the pun). “ There has never been a scientific inquiry into the way in which life-world constantly functions as subsoil, into how its manifold pre-logical validities act as a ground for the logical ones, for theoretical truths. And perhaps the scientific discipline which this life-world as such, in its universality, requires is a peculiar one, one which is precisely not objective and logical but which, as the ultimately grounding one, is not inferior, but superior in value.” ibid p.165. He argues that the study of the intuitive, pre-given world of our experiences can ground  science. And without it, without philosophy (in the Husserl’s case, without the transcendental phenomenology) scientific results will lack the experiential connection with human existence.

   In general, I agree, but I see two problems with his solution.  First, scientists don’t seem to worry about their science lacking life-world, intuitive, experienceable grounding. They actually abhor subjectivity and  are trying to be as “dry” as possible. Neither does general public: “If planes fly and the ATM pays cash, everything is fine.” Secondly, speaking from personal experience, phenomenology has little chance to become a worldwide popular movement or a Facebook’s darling. It carries all the foes that philosophers have grappled with for millennia- nobody listens to them, nobody cares about them, they are lonely and mostly forgotten. It is because phenomenology is intricate, difficult and without everyday applications.

 And here is the trick, I was talking about at the beginning – Houdini escape from the cold academic halls and dusty libraries straight to the 21st-century mass media.

There is a small chance that there is a trend in the evolution, which together with the complexity and explicitness of communication also increases the  organism’s individuality. This trend might be augmented in humans by mirror neurons, by culture, by democracy, education, and by the internet. So far it has shown up in the individualized shopping, weird hairdos, and tattoos. But maybe, just maybe, as the world population grows older, more lonely and more confused, more people will ask big philosophical questions. The personal worldview is something that everybody has, in his guts, in his heart, and in his dreams. This is the implicit worldview.

        But, what if a personal, experience-based philosophy can help a person with work on what until now has been a subconscious set of opinions and worries? Then these opinions and worries, as old and primordial as the humanity, and as important as birth and death, can be transformed. This personal worldview can be made into the explicit form, into the language, conversation, and written form. This can help a lot of people and save philosophy.

 

 

Big Question #13: What is going to happen to the mankind?

“You are a child of the Universe, no less than the tree and stars: you have a right to be here.  And whether or not it is clear for you, no doubt the Universe is unfolding as it should ” Desiderata.

Subquestions and everyday relevance

  • What is going to happen to your grand-grandchildren?
  • Where are we going? What is your prediction or model of the future?
  • Imagine the year 2050.
  • Can we save ourselves?
  • Can somebody else save us?  How?

It is only recently that we talk about the future constantly. Also, your future can be easily limited to your family life, but if you think about the future of your grandchildren you automatically relate it to the whole mankind… The modern notion of things changing and even newer of “trending”, combined with the idea that we can influence the future made this question really an everyday topic. Global markets, geopolitical trends, global warming- from the esoteric become the cafeteria’s daily…For example the idea of the “lawn 2050 competition”-  how will our grandchildren live and what will they like, what criteria would they list? will they be rather techie/nerdy or social/new-agey or paleo/survival types?

How to work on the answer to the Question #13

I am somewhat fixated on the year 2050. Not so close, not too far, just right… to be concerned and scared. Our grandchildren will be grown ups. If nothing happens, the life on Earth will be rather difficult. If something happens I think it can be divided into three categories: 1 Incredible new technology, 2. Some kind of Armageddon- the game changer. 3. The massive change in our worldview, the change from within.

An example by Kaukab Naseer: ” Immediate future will be androids, evolving into one connected mind, which will be the God of distant future creating and guiding life forms.”

View more answers on Philozophy.com

Psychotherapy

Working on this question broadens your perspective, gives you different look on the daily nuisances. For those excitedly self-centered it helps to look around and see others.

Homo historicus, or the musings on the humanists’ agenda

Exploring the human nature from the evolutionary perspective.

This is the core, this is who we are. These are the biological restraints one can not escape.The human nature is the topic of many books by the famous scientists and philosophers: Darwin, E.O.Wilson, Teilhard de Chardin, Jacob Bronowski to name a few. Some of these books like “ The Tangled Wing” or “Incomplete Nature” declare by their titles the mixed feelings we humans have about our nature, but our past and the future is the source of our values, our intelligence, and our concerns. Deep understanding of the evolutionary mechanisms is the base of our worldviews.

Recognizing the values of the ancestors and teachers

This the origin, this is where we come from. Exploring the human nature leads obviously to great respect and love to our parents,( we share the genetic and epigenetic traits) our ancestors and teachers. Equally important is the relationship with our children and our students. As we live our lives, we learn, we figure things out, we teach and we show by the example.

Acknowledging being the most complex, curious, empathic and individualistic species on Earth  ( I believe: in the Universe).

During the last one 100 000 years, our species went on hyperdrive: The brain complexity and social complexity went into the positive feedback loop. This resulted in the characteristics of the species which we see and categorize now as curiosity, empathy, and competition/cooperation traits. Our major tool is the communication skills which grew exponentially and parallel to the social and the brain development. The ability to share our personal worlds allowed for the creation of technology, the consciousness, and the critical thinking.

Belief in free will and personal growth

The evolution teaches us that we build our world since birth until our death. The same is with animals, they try to survive, try to be better than their ancestors, because only these survive, mediocrity dies out. Along comes human evolution and transforms animal survival into the human attempt to understand and to make sense. It creates art, stories, mythology and science.Thes biological and historical facts make us responsible for our lives and believing in the free will. This humanistic responsibility to work on your personal world makes the belief in the free will an obvious part of the humanist mind.( Strange as it seems, it makes the opposite camp made of unusual bedfellows: the free will is very questionable both for the hardcore materialists with their determinism and for the pious religious people depending on the Almighty). This responsibility also makes the personal practice and personal growth a natural demand and sometimes fun. This part is not unlike Sartre’s principle of becoming.

Exploring the human nature in your personal relationships and in society

All the above makes a humanist a very individualistic creature. We think and feel for ourselves, we hate only a few things- the mob is one of them.  The healthy competition makes us trying to be the best we can be. The cooperation in the society works through skills to love, to create friendships and to be grateful. Also to be playful, funny and happiable (able and trying to be happy). All the goody-goody characteristic of the humanists and the humanitarians come naturally, as a part of exploring the human nature. We see the other human in everybody we meet, we believe in the democracy, equality for races, women, gay etc. Of course, we worry about overpopulation, violence, the depletion of natural resources, of habitats, all that. We seek an elusive balance in the society between competition and cooperation. We believe that the work on the personal growth leads to the more sophisticated values, above money, power, and sex. The peace, beauty, and harmony come to mind, these would align well with the survival of the homo sapiens as the meaning of life.

We recognize the dark side of human nature. We all sometimes behave like animals or worse. The diversity and competition feed fear and greed, the work is never done, the work on “shadow” in each of us.

Embracing all myths as a source of wisdom and cultural diversity.

We think that all children are the humanists until taught fear/nationalism and fear/religion. We think that most of the naturally normal people remain humanists for the rest of their life. They follow naturally guts and instincts of the human nature but some, on the top, follow the belief in the Divine, according to their particular Myth. We believe that all the Myths, from most ancient to most modern, are created by human intelligence and they are true, as they teach us the valuable wisdom and lessons. Thus, everybody can practice any religion, but should not force this on others. Make sure that everybody has the same freedom (as per UN charter of human rights) and that include the members of the family and community, especially in the lower position of power. One’s religious practices should not override or interfere with the local customs and lifestyle.

The Humanists’ Quest: To create our own, new myth.

This is  the only one new myth we need, and we need it desperately: The survival of the Homo sapiens. Can a small, unlikely, unwilling and confused group of people create a shift in the Universe, like a magic power of the old time heroes ?

The plan

Define the Humanists positively: we are the members of the human species, with the free will and evolutionary created human intelligence, which defines and creates our worldview. We are a curious and a hyper-social species and we are learning how to combine competition and cooperation to survive as a species. We have a famously grand pedigree of learners: the mammals, the apes, and the best learner – homo sapiens. All our DNA is full of ultimate skills in figuring things out, our instincts, the senses and, recently, our civilizations.

This means that all children, until indoctrinated, are humanists, and later are still humanists plus some extra beliefs. It also means that the mythology is a form of learning, a tool to grow up. There is little objection to that, regarding ancient myths, like Sisyphus or Prometheus or Noah and the Deluge. But we should treat more modern myths, in the same way, the way to learn from them and to grow up through them, including the myths of Jesus and of Mahomet, of Kremlin, of Mao, of the Wall Street and of the Supercollider .

In this way, since pre-history, we are basically all humanists. The religious people are the humanists too, they are extra-humanists, they believe in some supernatural intelligence, but we see this as a myth, true, useful, but just a myth, as the hundreds of other myths. Getting huff and puff about it is really primitive and killing people for it is just ridiculous .

French people say “if you resist, it persists”, the Taoists say “the Master leads doing nothing and the people are led not feeling it”. Let’s bring all strange folks to the human folds, let’s start exploring the way of the empathy and cooperation and try to avoid the annihilation. What can a minute group of Humanists do, few in number, vaguely defined  (mostly by the negation of something which does not exist (sic!), with no political or moral force?

For Goodness sake – literally- and for the sake of our grandchildren, we have to reinvent ourselves.

Big Question #7: How do you find happiness?

“All you need is love, love, love.

  Love is all you need.”   The Beatles

Subquestions and everyday relevance

  • It is all important because it is what we all want.
  • But is it important to mull it constantly and ask yourself “are you happy?”
  • Is it useful to chase it, or maybe it will make it harder to get?
  • How about discussing the subject with others?
  • How should we act? Praxeology (theory of actions).
  • What to cultivate? Is giving better than receiving?
  •  Do we have to suffer?
  •  How do you personally search for happiness?

How to work on your answer to Question #7

Fake it till you make it. Your answer should make you smile. Browse our Philozophy.com answers. You’ll learn a lot. Honest answers of the real people.

Ricky Newins: ” Being true to our nature. The difficult thing is finding out what our nature is.”

View more answers on Philozophy.com

Psychotherapy

Work on it when you’re happy. More importantly come back when you are sad and get help. Read the “Book of Joy” by Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu.

An Interview

I am sitting in the office of Dr. Zibin Guo, an anthropology professor at the University of Chattanooga, my Tai Ji teacher, and my dear friend.

   Me: Ok, Zibin, the Big Question # 7 in my personal worldview project is “ How do you find happiness?”

Zibin: This is a very “loaded” question.

Me: ??

Zibin: To me, the concept of happiness is really very simple, but deceptively simple. No one wants to say “there is no happiness”, no one want to say: “I don’t have happiness”, and yet nobody is able to explain what happiness really is. In society we use ideas, but many of them can not be explained or there is no standard definition generally accepted.

  To illustrate this problem, let me tell you a story. One day, a few years ago, I ‘ve got a call, really bad news, from the ex-wife of my old friend from Harvard. He was a brilliant man, he did fantastic work in Botswana, a societal model based on chaos theory came to Harvard where we work together and become good friends, then I moved to Tennessee and we somehow lost touch. Last I heard from him, it was about his divorce, personal problems and plans for the new ethnographic research for the military. This time Mary, his ex-wife told me that he divorced again, lost job, can not drive, and lives alone in a shelter for homeless people in Virginia Beach. He was apparently depressed but too proud to ask his rich family for help. “It would be great if I visit him.” I was shocked, for me he was my model of the American Dream, an epitome of the success, the brains, the money, the status… This was the guy I always looked up to and now this?

  That very weekend I was driving from Chattanooga to Virginia Beach to see my friend. I planned to arrive in the evening, have dinner with Mary and her new husband and then to go see my friend. Around the DC area the traffic got terrible, also there was a storm, gusts of wind and tornado warnings. On the road around me, there was the chaos and accidents everywhere, people running, everybody upset and stressed. This did not help my already anxious and sad mood- thinking about my friend and being stuck in the traffic. I reached Virginia Beach 6 hours later, at night. At the Tunnel, the traffic was detoured again and I got lost. I called Mary around 1 am and she was not asleep. There was an another crisis, this time in her family, her daughter, a single mother with some mental problems become suicidal and they spent in the Emergency Room all evening, now coming back home. At last, all exhausted, we sat at their home around the table at 2 am. Mary looked at me and asked: “are you happy?” I was flabbergasted. What did she mean? Happy? Was it about seeing her, being safe after this terrible drive, was it about my friend or her daughter, about the world or my life in general? The absurdity of the question, the absurdity of American obsession with happiness shocked my exhausted and stressed brain so deeply that I still remember that moment vividly after several years.

  I see happiness as a pretty useless social construct. It supposes to reflect, to describe the state of somebody’s mind which is fleeting and do not serve that person or anybody else and has nothing to do with reality.

 Our American civilized society consumes more psychotropic medicines than the rest of the world combined. And you walk around even here on the University campus and see young people stressed and upset. When they talk to you they will be smiling, but there is nothing behind this smile like a poker face

Me: Well, if not happiness, how about the joy?

Zibin: Joy is obviously transient, it is different. But the concept of happiness is abused. It is supposed to be a goal, a promised land, something permanent, achievable. And it is an illusion, a vague state of mind, which does more harm than benefit. Instead of clarity, it produces confusion. The human emotions are very complicated and everybody can exhibit all the spectrum of them- joy, anger, jealousy, sadness, and the myriad of others, one should not try to simplify it with the term “happiness”. This is not valid concept and object of the inquiry. When the society promotes one desired state of mind, the result is almost opposite. The more you’re trying to be happy, the more impossible this become, it leads to faking it, to depression even suicide, like Robin Williams.

Me: Does this obsession or confusion exist in China?

Zibin: No. In many languages, the word happiness doesn’t even exist! People would not even understand you.”What are you talking about?” they would say. “What you mean – Happy?” It is not like in American culture which constantly revolves around happiness. If you keep asking “ Are you happy?” one is forced to say yes or no and either is a lie. So you try to say, I am fine, I am ok, and still is this problem with naming your emotions as something like a permanent quality or ability. Life is much more complex, it is not about happiness or unhappiness, life is a journey, the emotions change. The goal in life, being good or happy is the social construct. Enjoy your life, enjoy its simple pleasures, help people the best you can but do not make goals do not try to save the world. Without using the concept of a happiness people would be much happier.

 

 

Big Question #3: What is the origin of good?

These virtues are formed in man by his doing the actions … The good of man is a working of the soul in the way of excellence in a complete life.”
Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics

Subquestions and everyday application

  • What is good and what is evil? Axiology (theory of values);
  • Are humans basically good? Why do good?
  • Human nature- what is it? Can goodness be explained by human nature or we need something beyond?
  • Is good an absence of evil,  or is it something more beautiful?
  • Is cooperation the same as friendship?  Who are my friends and how?
  • Is giving better than receiving?
  • What does goodness mean for you?

How to work on the answer to Question #3

Working on this question should make you smile, should make you good about mankind. Think about a good person, he or she could bring a good story.  How  has goodness started in your life?

Example by Vinny Zembruski: “The birth of a child. Pure, innocent and uncorrupted”.

View more answers on Philozophy.com

Psychotherapy

Some people are sad, hopeless and cynical. They will benefit from this question.  They should edit their answer  until they smile and weekly afterward.

An Interview

It was an autumn hike in Tennessee. We walked noisily, deep in dry, golden-red leaves. I asked Sophia, my daughter, and the co-author of Philozophy.com, whether good is just the opposite of evil and both concepts are inevitably “glued” to each other, or whether it is possible to talk about good as a separate entity.

Sophia: An even more basic question is whether the concepts of good and evil make sense, or the World just is, not good, not evil, just is…. But humans make stories and in a story there is always a battle between good and evil, one or the other are winning, like the balance of the scale.

Me: (Somehow, I wanted the answer to be that good and evil are separate and different) But, look, Sophia, the caveman had to choose between competition and cooperation. Cooperation was good and independent of evil, while competition was separate from it- one person was winning which was good for him or her; the other was losing.

Sophia: More questions than answers… Another one is the obvious difference between bad and evil. And there are no clear opposites of these two. In our discussion, we think about that good which is the opposite of “evil”, it is almost like “good intention” or “goodness.” It is different that the simple good /bad distinction.( “I broke my leg”, versus “I did not break it!”)

Me: Ok, next question: what would 10-years old Sophia think about the origins of good?

Sophia: Let’s try 20-years old Sophia. She would think that the World and its Creator are essentially good. Therefore, all things are created for a reason even if they seem to us bad or evil, they are ultimately good because of the ultimate goodness of the Creator. Well now, I think that 10-years old Sophia might have said that nature was good before the humans came along and messed things up, everything was good, the humans are the source of the split into good and evil.

Me:  Can you think about a life event that contributed significantly to your present position?

Sophia: “ I think I am still figuring these things out. But surely, my professional education was this life event. I always had curiosity and creativity, and this helped with this drive. But only when I realized that I can help other people, can create good, can help them to create good for themselves… that felt really good.”

Me: “How would your answer help people representing different worldviews to talk about values, to talk about good and evil? (I think, it is education again?)”

Sophia: It is not my “answer,” it is what I do. And sharing how I am figuring out my place in this world might help. This brings a more important conversation: “what is the origin (and practice) of my creating good?” If I can, for example, help to create a system which allows teachers to teach better. And for others, it can be something completely different: like making some pretty babies or picking up the trash from a park…And inevitably this brings up the other side–what is the origin of my evil?

Me: Wow, interesting!

Sophia: Yes, I have to think about that often in my work. Am I impatient with somebody who isn’t following my workshop? Am I belittling somebody who doesn’t agree with me?

Again, other people might have different problems, but we all have to carry out “internal audits.” We have to be aware of our own “negativity bias”.

Me: ?

Sophia: Humans pick up and experience bad things easier than good ones, a brain remembers worries and hurts and fears 10 to 20 times easier than praise and acknowledgment and gratitude.

Make a “laundry list”–and mine is different than yours–to see how to be an agent of good and avoid being an agent of evil.”   

Me: Thank you, Sophia, we did not solve any philosophical questions, and this is good because all philosophical solutions are wrong. But we talked and thought about them, and this type of conversation brings incredible benefits of working on your personal worldview.

Sophia: (laughing) I feel better already.

 

Big Question #1: How did the universe begin?

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”attributed to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Subquestions and everyday relevance

  • Where does it all come from? Does the World seem very old?How does Your World begin?
  • Do things in your life begin all the time? Popping out from nowhere?
  • Do things in your life, in the World , as you see it, just circle round and round?
  • The scientists think the new things are “emergent”. Are they really?

Since the beginning of life, we are constructed, the genes and the beliefs, to organize the things around the birth and death, beginning and the end, the days, the seasons, the projects and the cosmos. Every time you breathe deeply, every time you reflect,  automatically you position yourself, according to your gut feeling, somewhere along these beginnings and ends.

In our version of the set of Big Questions, four of them deal with the beginning, the change, and the trend. The three of them explore the beginning of the Universe (#1), the fate of the mankind (#13) and the business of dying (#11) and they are old and primeval as the mankind itself. We always bury and mourn the dead, gaze the stars and worry about the future.  Heraclitus of Ephesus  said famously: “no man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man”. After he thought for a while he added: “there is nothing permanent except change”. The fourth one is (surprise!) about the role of evolution.

Jacob Bronowski about the beginnings (a paraphrase) :” The science is a systematic attempt to establish the closed system, one after another. The scientific discovery opens the system again.

Every act of imagination (new connections, new symbolism, new language, new formulae) is the discovery of likeness between two things which were thought unlike- like Newton’s apple and the Moon.”

How to work on the answer to the Question #1

When confronted with the task of answering these Big Questions, I was not sure if I should try to find some deep truth of Universe ( like Heraclitus?) or say something that would be personal, uniquely mine, important to me. One can also answer ”Big Bang” and be done with…(still much better than “how the Hell I would know?”, which is again better than not being here with us at all)

 This is my advice, but as it is your worldview, take it or leave it. If some universal truth feels interesting and helpful, go for it, but if the personal insight sounds more like you to you, that will be more beneficial. As it happens, I believe, that both worlds-  the Big One out there and my personal world are the same, but most people do not. So here you are.

View answers on Philozophy.com

An example: (my answer) “My Universe began with my conception. As I am learning from others and my experiences, my world shifts, gets bigger and more complex.  Where my understanding ends, on that edge, reversing the arrow of time, there and then the Universe begins.”

Psychotherapy

Working with the Question #1 is especially useful for anxiety, depression and procrastination, that include just about all of us. It sounds like the excerpts from the Dr. Bach’s Herbal Remedies :“Mustard- good for the unexplained dark cloud”, but you will be surprised by the effectiveness of the process. Remember, the benefits increase exponentially with the every edit, starting after the third one.

An Essay

For me, the question of the beginning is absolutely associated with my mother. Biologically I obviously grew in her belly according to her and my father’s genetic blueprint. Then, as an infant, I began to build my world, with the identity still merged with my mom. The baby’s initial world is created with the very little activity of the prefrontal lobes, mostly it is sensory combined directly with the emotional and instinctual behaviors. It is wired in the old, mammalian parts of the brain, the humanness present mainly as a capacity, possibility, and preferences. These were the emotional and the personality beginnings that stayed with me until today. Then I learned , mostly from my mother and the family (aunt Mary, the Granny, there was not much of the father) the human ways of the world. I was curious and more curious, and trying to understand, I was cautious, but ambitious explorer, I was selfish, but I was shown how to love and cooperate.

 Now, 72 years old, during the meditation I talk to my Mom often. I asked her about her beginning.

I: “ You bore three sons. Each one was a beginning, wasn’t it?”

Mom: “ Not really. Every beginning is nothing more, than the phase of the process, when the situation requires a switch of the dimension, or as you say in America nowadays “the conversation”, when the old way of seeing just would not do… With my first son Christopher, it was as always – the struggle to extend the relationship with Edwin, your father. He was a strange genius, complex and far away, in his own world, the poet, and the philosopher… and a healer. He was tormented by the generations- long inability to commit and love- I was trying to help him, help us, go deeper into love…

And we succeeded and failed to sustain the success, as always, and with Peter, my second son, it was the beginning… of the end. Then it was the war.  It ruined our lives, the families, and careers. But I would not give up, against all odds, you, Tommy, were conceived and born. When the communication failed, when the raw sense cried “no!”, the biology and, I guess, subconscious commitment did the job. It was the most strange beginning in my life….

I: “the end of beginnings?”

Mom: “Yes, now I see it, as an investment.”

I: “Mom, but we in Poland did know anything about the investments”.

Mom:”No, Tomeczku, this beginning was not an investment in the material things, like in America. I had to invest fiercely in my life principles. It was a terrible choice between reinventing myself to follow the love to the very imperfect man, against  my family and the faith or to throw away the love. I did the later and now it is the ” Dr. Zofia’s Myth of Beginning”.

I: “And you followed Jesus. I remember you in the mornings, up before anybody else, busy in the kitchen, already back from the shop with the fresh bread,  before going to the Clinic and visiting the Church on the way.”

Mom: “yes, I loved these mornings.. and the evenings,  kneeling at the bed  and thanking Jesus for the another day with God.”

I: ” Thank you,  Mom, thank you for the myth, thank you for the lesson, I will talk to you soon.

Same Time, same Space.”

Using Philozophy.com

This post is going to be published as a part of Worldview Owner’s Manual.  It is posted on my blog to invite you to cooperate in this project.                                           

At that moment, this is going to be a very short chapter, the membership is being slowly created, the etiquette is practically in diapers.

We hope to create a community of like-minded, curious explorers of the last frontier- of the self, in the best Socratic tradition of having your life examined. We hope that this group will grow, will enjoy the benefits of working on the worldview and contribute to the progress in the building a prosperous, democratic and free society. I am worrying that this idea’s time has not yet come, but the future of the mankind is in the individuality, education and freedom of expression, all of them are promoted by the Philozophy.com. Conversely, I believe, if we won’t do it ( I mean if we don’t change our wicked ways and do not befriend each other), we all, or most of us, die in about 30-40 years.

Work on your worldview, share, comment on the others’ work, have fun.

If you’re ready to work on your worldview now click here

How to Build your Personal Worldview

This post is going to be published as a part of Worldview Owner’s Manual.  It is posted on my blog to invite you to cooperate in this project.                                           

This is the first chapter in which I’ll discuss the process of working on your personal, unique worldview. I promise that this process will be interesting and rewarding and will make you a better person and the world a better place. It might appear that the two distinct parts of the process can be distinguished: the making of your worldview, conceiving it, and writing down the answers into philozophy.com web site. But it is much more complicated, and you will see it as soon as you begin.

First, you are not creating it, you are teasing it out from your subconsciousness, from your past, from your image (or rather images) of yourself. Like going to hell and back.

The writing it down requires some skills and some courage and some freedoms, and one doesn’t know , really can’t know whether one has them. And when you find them you are a different person from the one you have started with… The writing is the creative process and the form can not really be separated from the content.

Secondly, as I mentioned before, one usually goes through the phases of the working on it:

      1 Browsing

  1. Writing “placement” answers (like “I will tell you as soon as I know” or “human cognition is not yet equipped to handle this question” etc.)
  2. The jokes and/or expressing the dislike towards the site, the questions, us, etc.
  3. The answers where you start to see a glimpse of you.

The benefits are visible from the level 1, the first answer you browse through, but naturally they accumulate and accelerate as you are walking the walk.

Thirdly, there are two sites to work on, the present one  and the future one, the one I am hoping for.

We ( Sophia , our friendly developer and I) are planning to remake and uplift the site.

  1. so , how to do it. No hurry , step by step. Remember , you are the human, the Curious One.

The questions will stay there, and that or this way, you will be trying to understand them to the last day of your life.

I suggest these steps:

  1. Read the Manual (or a part of it). This will slow you down, allow for the reflection and the introspection. Enjoy and repeat. Make notes, how exciting you are doing something completely new, this is rare in our secure lives, and the other rare thing , you completely  do not know the end result. It is like going to a sport event and the rules change every 10 minutes. And it is a bit like a mortal combat (unlike “Mortal Combat”), the results will be with you at the deathbed.
  2. Browse, this is again a shifting target: the more people participating , the richer and more interesting will be browsing. See how silly-heroic-insecure and brilliant people are. There is no ”party line”, each answer comes from the real person like you.
  3. Browse the “famous philosophers” collection which is slowly growing. Even these “giants” had a hard time with the succinct answer to the big questions.
  4. Respond, click and note the answer which can be useful for you, wise or just beautiful.
  5. You may find an answer (or answers) which you really like- “reuse” it, make it yours for now. This would be your first, ginger start of the budding personal worldview.
  6. Pick the first question, out of 14, which you are going to work on. I suggest an area which you are familiar with, thought a lot of it, like it a lot. To choose easier, read the beginning of the Part Two chapters. The philosophical questions become more practical, everyday things, may be related to your very personal story.
  7. Write this story, or a joke or an insight. This is your answer. For now, no hurry.

If the story is too long, put it as the “comment” (the future version will have separate “laboratory” space) and it will help you to formulate the  answer condensed to 250 characters. We wanted the answer to be long enough to show unique opinion, but short enough to be read, understood and commented on.

  1. This point is the most important. Return and edit the answers. Like “real” writers, they edit and edit and edit, they have hundreds of pages to edit, you – 3 or 4 lines…

Then, return after several months, knock yourself on the head, does it sound like metal? you are not a robot, you are not dead, you changed. You’ll be surprised unless you are still on the “early answers”, they reflect not who you are, but your “issues”. And those tend to persist…

 

Move slowly, answer more and more questions: notice that later questions, those you did not like, are more difficult. They correspond with your hang ups and figuring them out will bring the most personal benefits.

If you’re ready to work on your worldview now, click here.

 

Why invest time and effort in working on your Personal Worldview?

This post is going to be published as a part of Worldview Owner’s Manual.  It is posted on my blog to invite you to cooperate in this project.                                           

     “You are a hero!” I repeat this several times a day. It is what I say in my office to a mother who brings her new baby and tell me that she is breastfeeding. Many of them will quit in few days, some will breastfeed for weeks or months. But she is a hero, and in the same way you are a hero. You are attempting to work on your worldview. This statement urgently needs two clarifications( so urgently, that I will proceed at the peril of mistake of not starting with the thesis of the chapter.)

First, I have to remind you that you are not going to reveal any Truth about the Universe. If you are, you are going to get the Nobel Prize, become a prophet or be invited by Oprah. But it is a test, a test of you being unique, individual thinking being. The dogs, cats, the robots, the mob members should not apply. We are going to work on the essence of your experience, of your story. We are going to work on our personal worldview.  

Second, I need to say something about the term “to work on”. And it is more difficult than it looks from the distance. Because you are my hero, you are already working on it. Actually, nolens-volens everybody is working on it. Our every action is an attempt to understand our world and ourselves. And we have been working on it since birth, and our species has been absolutely famous of working on it since we jumped down from the branch. So, our work here is just an “accelerated method” or “advanced course”. We will be transferring our gut feelings and deep instinctual worries and hopes into written, short, crisp thoughts.

 

     In this chapter, I will discuss the dilemma of “why to do it”. And it is a real dilemma. Billions of people never have done it and they go their more or less happy way. Initially, we thought (really!) that the fun of working on it would be so great that no elaborate cajoling would be necessary.

Be advised: this work is arduous and takes longer than expected. Many famous philosophers never did it. If you’ve been to counseling, you know about spilling your guts – and justly so, this metaphor doesn’t sound very inviting.

But it is worth it.

      The most obvious benefit of this work is of course , personal. The personal growth that is.

The term of the personal growth may seem rather vague, but not for a worldview owner. You go from the question to question, you write down your answers and you’re learning about yourself at the every step. Usually, you start with the questions which are most familiar and finding this out very often is  in itself a revelation. Like “am I really worry about the death?” “Is material more important than spiritual?”. You go through several answers and the picture of a human emerges.

Is it you? Or no picture emerges. Oh -oh… You might find yourself in the unfamiliar “territory”. Look, this is great! And you can stop and review and edit.

It is similar to the psychotherapy but more interesting and profound. As you go further and further, you’ll observe that these “late” questions are harder and more revealing. If it is difficult to condense your answer, I suggest that you write a longer version in “comments” and come back other day and finish the job. I have never revisited my worldview without an insight and editing. The most beneficial times to work on it is during the crisis- you’ll be surprised how much it helps to get clarity of the feelings.

There are professional philosophers who would work on big questions with you for a fee, as some sort of therapy. They claim to make you happier and more resilient. I agree, but having it written may be people liking it or commenting on your answers, has for me an additional element of building your own intellectual and emotional castle. You can just hide there if needed, or you can add another tower!

Think also that working on the personal worldview may and should “branch” into the conversations about personal freedoms and personal values. They also deserve to be transferred from implicit to explicit.

Of course, there is always the anxiety that the worldview that emerges from your writing might be incompatible with what you do, who you are. Well, there you are and it is good thing that you got confronted, isn’t it?

     These goodies are all personal, but I believe that this work can have an impact on the society. Does everybody need the personal, unique worldview? In the same way in which everybody needs good education- yes, everybody does. And then people can choose- to be a savage, easterner or westerner , are they any other options? I believe that the people who did the worldview are not only more successful but also easier to talk and negotiate with, they know where they stand. Creating one’s personal worldview can be beneficial for the society, especially if people in charge, people with power will do it and bravely share it with the rest of citizens.

Lastly, participating in the growing community of the worldview owners adds to our knowledge about the society and its values.


     At the end just a hypothesis: The more one works on transferring one’s implicit worldview into the explicit form, the more one become a humanist. And this, by itself, is beneficial for this person and for all humans. Now, I mean the humanist as a person who explores and promotes and holds dear the human values and it includes both religious and non-religious people like Dalai Lama, Martin Luther King, my Mom or Kurt Johnson, a prominent force in the Interspirituality Movement.

The Worldview: An Old Concept and a New Idea

This post is going to be published as a part of Worldview Owner’s Manual.  It is posted on my blog to invite you to cooperate in this project.                                           

In my effort to define and to illuminate the concept of the worldview which is fascinating to me, I am in the bind, facing a paradox.

The concept of the worldview, in this or that form, for millennia, was the domain of philosophers.

From the Vedas, Lao-Tze and Plato to Vidal and Merinoff, all of them were talking about Big Questions.  Funny thing (hint, hint) that they talked much more about the questions than the answers….The other funny thing about these questions is that the more these philosophers divide, categorise and put them in separate domains – like ontology, axiology, praxeology etc, the more they stay the same.   So, Immanuel Kant was apparently the first to use the term Weltanschauung, but in the more perceptual sense, Adler wrote in late 20th century huge treatise summarising our concepts of the worldview, but the best information about worldview I found in Clement Vidal’s brilliant and funny paper “Metaphilosophical Criteria for Worldview Comparison” 2008.

Kenneth Funk from the Oregon State University wrote a nice essay about the worldview and he quoted a good set of definitions including his own. He discussed following  aspects of the worldview:

  • epistemology: beliefs about the nature and sources of knowledge;
  • metaphysics: beliefs about the ultimate nature of Reality;
  • cosmology: beliefs about the origins and nature of the universe, life, and especially Man;
  • teleology: beliefs about the meaning and purpose of the universe, its inanimate elements, and its inhabitants;
  • theology: beliefs about the existence and nature of God;
  • anthropology: beliefs about the nature and purpose of Man in general and, oneself in particular;
  • axiology: beliefs about the nature of value, what is good and bad, what is right and wrong.

 

This booklet is not for the philosophers (even, as I know some of them, they could benefit greatly!), it is for the modern, 21st century curious, educated persons. So, the worldview we want to talk about is somehow different than the thing in the philosophical books. It is much more practical, personal and useful. I want to demystify the worldview, I want to take it out from the hands of philosophers, out of academia, out of the doctrine, no matter which authority it may follow.

It is why the plan for this chapter has changed. After all books, all research, I think, that philosophical history of the concept is unnecessary for the creating of the personal worldview. You do not need PhD in psychology, political science and (often) criminal justice to vote. You did not read Sun Tzu’s Art of war before you were sent off to Vietnam and the problems of entropy shouldn’t bother you at the gas station. Similarly, a modern human needs to be aware of his or her worldview without being  a professional philosopher. On the other hand, the more we explore the everyday life the deeper it leads us.

 

The worldview we are going to work on is the set of rules and values you live your life by. Your human nature and your life experiences, including possibly spiritual ones, made you who you are. Now, the processes and forces that are responsible for creating you, the human being, are controversial and are the part of your worldview. But everybody has one and uses it all the time to make every decision, every move. Most of this system are automatic, subconscious – always or almost always. I get up in the morning and go to work, I am a pediatrician, and there is always the tapestry of mechanical routines, joy and pain, worry and searching for solutions. Big Questions are not there but are floating further or closer, or out of sight, for a moment.

So, this is it. This is the hard act to do- we need to shift and shift and shift- from the abstract, primordial dilemmas of humanity to the simplest, warmest human pain and joy.

 

   In the books, the criteria for the worldview evaluation was very simple: the truth. If it is true it is my worldview, if it is mine worldview it must be true! The problem is that if you look at the big questions, again and again, the only answer you can truthfully give is “ I do not know” or “I am not sure” Well, let’s close the shop and go home. But we can’t. We need to live the rest of our life and live it well. Also, we can see that we have lived the first part of our lives as if we would have known the answers. So now there is an obvious task: to tease out them from the life we lived, fine tune them, make them more clear and coherent and live the rest of the life more “examined” as Socrates would put it.

   

   We do not know these answers, but still we would like to believe in the true values and principles, rather than in false. We’d like to be working on the answers which feel true to us, trying to build a coherent worldview. So, at the end of the chapter about the concept of the worldview I am going to leave you with that: there are no true answers, nobody knows true answers, the smartest people’s definitions did not help us the slightest. If your answer is a piece of a story, a metaphor or even a joke and if it resonates with you as your own, you are a million miles ahead, stronger, with more integrity and resilience.