on humanism and environmental crisis

Archive for the ‘What will happen to the mankind’ Category

Open letter to all humanists.

This is an open letter to all humanists and this is a great majority of all humans. Most of them do not realize that they are humanists. I want to bring this fact to the open : the King is Naked! The term and the meaning of humanism has been hijacked. Most of us are rational, educated and concerned with human problems( including personal, family and tribe problems). But many of us are still working on the childhood fears of the unknown. We think that if we stick to material, scientific or scriptural, “factual” Universe – we will be safe and if we manage to suppress and deny the unknown- we would win.

It is why in my town of Chattanooga, Tennessee,  a group of 20 or 30 ex-baptists or ex-catholics (like me) huddle every month for the Humanist Assembly meeting. It is how we try to handle the fear of the unknown. Next door in hundreds of churches, few synagogues and mosques hundreds of thousands faithfuls respond to this group by desperate or happy clinging to the religious way to handle the unknown.

The more we resist, the more they persist. But we are the species created by evolution! Like in every species, handling unknown is an essential part of survival. Every stupid animal knows it. Cavemen knew it, medieval men knew it-see all these cathedrals- the renaissance men knew it- read Shakespeare!  The imagination, the art, the poetry and the divine- they are all part of the unknown and of the beautiful and awesome human nature, human myth. Also the competition, arrogance, naivety and cruelty – you pick, literally.

The origin of species was described 250 years ago, but it is not in our bones yet, not in our deep, deep worldview.

Get it! Celebrate the unity of man, his creativity and achievements. Not a second too early. Stop fighting! Instead, try to understand and work together on our fears, on the fears of each of us. The ship is sinking (remember The Tempest?), we are the last hominids remaining. Our ancestors survived  several threats of extinction and almost extinction. The scientism like religions make us tiny, helpless, divided and..wrong. The evolutionary thinking shows clearly how over millions of years we created and named all we can see. We can, this time not by luck, but by reason, duck, sneak out and survive again.

Humanists of the world unite!

 

 

 

Niche crisis

Niche crisis (this essay has new, expanded version as Niche crisis II)

 

This species is on the brink of extinction. Each species survival relays on the quality of its niche. The resilience of the species depends on ability to adapt to environmental changes. The organisms, members of a species, use energy to build size of the niche , diversity and complexity. 

 Human’s niche is shrinking , diversity is dwindling and the complexity is built to drive these processes  instead of protecting niche and diversity. Quality of life is rapidly decreasing: people are frightened, worried, angry, impoverished physically, emotionally and intellectually.

  This happened before to many other species and they were extinct, including all six species of earlier humans.

  But only our species can observe this happening. 

Can we use this unique fact to  reverse the trend?

 

I will never know, my children might, my grandchildren will know for sure.

 

To survive we need stop fighting- we need to conquer out tribalism, nationalism and religious divides.

 

To survive we need recognise our unity as a species, as a group of fellow travellers on the same leaking boat, develop friendships, admiration to each other and learn how to cooperate.

 

To survive we have to quit being materialistic, learn ourselves   and teach our children from the crib to cherish and be happy with experiences not with things, 

 

To survive we need to shrink our world population and our economies, develop new education system with emphasis on humanities, art, music , theater and philosophy.

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?

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.

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.