on humanism and environmental crisis

Posts tagged ‘worldviews’

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 #2: What is the universe made of?

Plato’s Phaedo 65d: There is such a thing as absolute Form (pattern). It is the essence or real being of everything. It is apprehended by the intellect (not the senses).

Plato’s Timeaus, 37d: [the Demiurge] began to think of making a moving image of eternity: at the same time as he brought order to the universe, he would make an eternal image, moving according to number, of eternity remaining in unity. This, of course, is what we call “time.”

Subquestions and everyday applications        

  • What is? Ontology (the model of being).
  • What is Your Universe made of?
  • Where are you, really?
  • Is the matter all it is? Can science describe it fully?
  • We like stuff. We chase stuff, we want more and more. What is it actually, is it worth it?
  • Does matter matters? Are things you can grab better or different than things you can feel?
  • Are you a materialist or an idealist or neither or both?
  • In the USA, we have more and consume more than anywhere in the World. We also have the highest percentage of believers. Do gods smile on us?

The philosophers, as a part of the “what is” dilemma, argue always about dualism and nondualism.

As of 2016,  according to folk psychology,  The Universe has eight(!) distinct natures for you to pick from.

  1. There is God, he is lately rather not a bearded white man, more and idea not a guy.
  2. The World is permeated with the divine presence, it is everywhere, something more than the things. The New Age gone mainstream, Buddhism, Taoism, Gaia hypothesis, etc.
  3. There is a real world. It is solid, reliable, measurable, and scientific. What you see, it is what you get.
  4. There is also the soul, me, self,  it is more than science, it may be even immortal if we’re lucky. It may be quite separate from a religion.
  5. The Subjectivity: the opinions, aches, personal “experiences”, it is pretty scientific, but it is slightly beyond the exact description.
  6. The Sub-consciousness, the murky, dark world of psychics, dreams, psychoanalysis and hypnosis.
  7. Then, it is a loose group of beings , and it is ok to believe in them or not. There are ghosts, aliens, zombies, demons, dead people, devils, and angels.
  8. At last, there is the quantum science, pseudo -science and  just plain weird facts. The expanding Universe, uncertainty principle, anthropic principle, string theory, the multiverses, dark matter, non-linear time a’ la “Groundhog Day”, and some half-dead cats… 

How to work on the answer to Question #2

“What is” and ” what’s real” seem to me completely unanswerable or so obvious that you just open your hands with “huh?” gesture. But if you just slightly attach to them the value shade of “what’s important” they make more sense.  Your home brings values, the church brings beliefs and myths, the school and media bring ” ten thousands of things”.   How do they sit together in  you ?

 View  answers on Philozophy.com

An example, by Ricky Newins: “Pragmatically speaking that which we come to know via science. Is there more to it outside of science that we will perhaps never know? Quite possibly.

 Psychotherapy

Clarifying these issues  is very important for the people who worry about the money, which is about everybody. Some worry more than others, some realize it more than others… How to know if I need to go to school some more, invest, retire?  This question helps also people  with the anxiety of their importance… or lack of importance- these often go together.

 We are in the Center of the Universe.

I think we, humans and other beings on Earth, are in the center of the Universe. We are in the center of our Universe and this is the only Universe that exists. It is important to ponder this as if it is really so, it brings a lot of the responsibility to us, humans, as the squirrels and dolphins , as pretty and smart they are, they won’t help much.

As a philosopher, I think that the solution for the present pickle will come from the maturing of the human mind rather than from more successes in the technology.

An idea that we are in the center of the Universe seems like the fine place to start from!

I have been studying the mechanisms of the evolution for the last 35 years and the idea of the personal Universes comes straight from the evolutionary neuroscience. Every animal’s brain evolved to fine tune animal’s behavior in given environment. Perceive, see, understand, adapt, this for the animal is the same thing. It is what an animal does, without splitting it into categories. The animal’s world  (Nagel’s “What it is like to be a bat” will not tell you much…) is very different that mine and yours. It is not subjective and it is not objective- there is no self to make this distinction. It is obviously dependent on the observer, made by the animal’s peculiar, primitive perception and memory, but it is out there. Birds’ migration shows that they can coordinate complex actions, but the sharing is automatic, not via intentional communications. So, the animal’s world is outside, around the each animal, built mostly over the eons of the evolutionary time, with just a little of it built during the life of the animal- to allow for diversity beneficial for the species survival.

Even if the evolution created homo sapiens with the vastly improved brain, the communications ability, and thinking skills, each of us still builds his or hers personal world, with the Universe getting bigger and bigger around us.

The mess is here, on Earth, we are in the center and the safe heaven moved somewhere to the galaxy next door.

I have my life, my world which is interconnected with 7 billions of “you’s”.

You are in the exactly same situation, these are all assets we have, and if we are not extremely careful, we are going to blow them out in the nuclear holocaust. Or starve slowly, take your pick.

After the last human dies, a computer in some deep bunker will still continue to churn out data revealing new “discovery” based on Cosmic Microwave Background measurements.

  But it will be no CMB, this term will become completely meaningless. And it will not matter whether the report is in English, Arabic or Chinese. If there is nobody to read it, there is no CMB, period.

Really, see- “micro” means nothing, “wave” means nothing, “back” means nothing – there is no front so can not be back, there is no “ground” and no “cosmic”.

 OK, you say “ let’s continue this story, and in a million years, the aliens discover this planet and this computer printout”… Not so fast: you can not discover anything is there is no concept of “discovery”. There are no years if there is no spring and winter, and if nobody is born and dies , the time is meaningless and useless. Without the human, there is even no story.

Yes. We are the center of the Universe.

To reflect exactly my opinion, this answer should be followed by several caveats.

But if you are asking this question in the sense “isn’t it true, what science tells us, that we live as a tiny, insignificant specs , on the small planet, on the periphery of the remote galaxy, with the huge , cold, unknown cosmos around us?” , then the answer is resounding – NO.

Some scientists are trying to cheers us up, like Primack and Abrams in “The view from the center of the Universe” and Tom Yulsman in “Origins”. They made it worse, their wishy -washy argument and wishful thinking goes from reassurance that our size is just right (sic!) to the hope that future science will alleviate our wretchedness to stating that the Universe does not have the center, therefore we can not be off it.

  My caveats which include the glossary and concepts pertaining to my philosophy may seem in the beginning slightly controversial, but if I worry too much about it, I wouldn’t even start.

First, talk about “the center”.

We automatically think about “the center’ like a cartographer, or as a boy scout- “we need a flag in the center of the camp”. The Universe is “everything” and has many, many dimensions.

On the top of the obvious ones, like space, mass, magnetism, time, think  of “the center of ethical and emotional concern”, “center of complexity “, “center of the information density’ and “ center of consciousness”.

We could now get bog down in the nightmare of definitions controversies.

But this we will not do, it will not be necessary.

Hold this thought and let’s go to “the Universe”.

The only Universe I have is my Universe, and the same is true for you, and for you.

The “we” means 7 billions of us , right?

Again it looks that I am trying to trick you and left you with the play on words. Not in the least.

If we find out that the center is more or less similar for everybody, then we will not need to argue about “my Universe” vs “our Universe”. Like you and me, who have been building mine and your Universes since mine and your conception.
Now imagine 7 billion personal worlds all mingled, shared, interconnected. Then add 14 billions of the mom’s and dad’s worlds which were the base of the each of our personal worlds, add all the ancestors’ worlds, further and further back in time.  All sentient beings contributed to the process of building subsequent generations of personal worlds.

All the dimensions we mentioned and many which we did not count were the product of this incredible complexity masterpiece, including  space, the time and others. The main function of the evolving animal’s nervous system is to create understanding, in other words -the cognition. And this works through categorizing, naming, creating semantic shortcuts, the metaphors.

According to the Gaia hypothesis , kind of similar to my philosophy, the interconnected sentient beings create super intelligence, like interconnected neurons and dendrites, create the conscious brain. To me, these connections  between humans are mostly related to ancestors via genes and culture via instincts and the core of human nature. These connections make possible for each of us to become conscious and create a meaningful world.

During the last 80 years, science and philosophy are grappling with the explanation of the observed vs observer dilemma. From Bohr and Einstein to Maturana and Varela and Thompson , the concept of observer-built reality is gaining ground.

And, of course, about 50 000 years ago, the culture and the technology for the engineering reasons developed “the agreement universe” so we could hunt the mastodon or build the bridge or a spaceship. The other names for this are “nobody’s universe” or “reality”.

But while the scientists still ( and will forever ) argue, this should not make us feel like the insignificant specs, excused to be helpless and small, waiting for the creator to help us, please!

We are at the center of human experience, as we are building personal worlds, the Universe consists of. We are responsible for it and every of us 7 billion, matters.

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.

How to Use this Manual

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 manual has two parts. In the short part one, we talk about general problems and pleasures of creating your personal worldview. Working on this project for the last two years we learned a lot and I will share with you insights and tricks. Part two consists of 13 chapters, one for each question.

When you want to work on the particular question, you go to this chapter and you find tons of support.  Every chapter has the similar organization.

First, I’ll quote a famous philosopher.  

Then, the pompous philosophical question is softened by the number of “subquestions”.

We were trying to figure out the relationship between the problem representing by the question with your decisions in the everyday life.

Working on the particular question will address specific worries, problems  or even psychological weaknesses- I will point that out.

I will also quote my favorite answer published on Philozophy.com. You will get a working version, maybe a story related to the question, rather than the abbreviated, condensed “end product”.

I will encourage you to study the question by reading “suggested readings” and links to the history of the particular question.

 

   Everybody has a Worldview, but our worldview is mostly implicit. If you, my reader, are like the most of us, humans, this set of personal principles and values lives inside of you in the form of memories, stories, fears, hopes or instincts. A mixed emotional bag, most of which you are even not aware of.  And yet, you function somewhat, you make decisions, choices, you make plans, you can even attach some reasons or explanations to them.

 

   The other part of my thesis is that if you work on building a personal, written down, Worldview, this work creates substantial benefits.

I strongly believe that this work would make you smarter, happier and more resilient in the crisis. Secondly, it would make you more productive, efficient and successful whatever are your projects.

But the third is the most important: it would make you better, I mean “gooder”, more compassionate, non-violent, tolerant and cooperative.

This claim is pretty risky and big isn’t it? I know but look, it is our only hope. The smartest people on the planet, the mystics, the intellectuals and wise men unanimously say that digging into the core of the human nature, brings good, levels boundaries and makes peace.

And it is what you and I embark on.  And not a second too early, I say….

 

I hope we are going to work on this project of the personal worldview together. Of course, I would like that this manual was exciting, captivating, and beautiful. But I am not a writer, and if I’d worry about that, I would never write this thing. I am a pediatrician and I care about children. Naturally, my concern is the most clear and emotional when I think about my own children and grandchildren and the children I know personally.

 

    There are lots of books about the Worldview, most of them, at least in English, about Christian Worldview. Nothing wrong with that. What is wrong is labeling, is boxing yourself in, is the desperate search for the name of your worldview, preferably with the “-ism” ending.

“Oh, it is who I am!” Noooo, you are you, critically and mystically thinking individual human of the 21st century.    The World is trying to define itself. We witness the paroxysms of the violence of the heroism, the faith, and nihilism. But all of that is nothing else but the sum of each human personal struggle. People define themselves by living their lives, and desperately trying to make sense of it. For millennia, some of them attempt to express this in literature, art, and music. For yourself, for your children and for my children, I am going to work with you on building a personal explicit worldview. Yours.

 

    The philosophers distilled the concept of ‘Worldview’ to several basic categories, represented by the infamous “Big Questions”. This is the worldview. It is how you see the World, your opinions, your attitude and your guts. In the innate, experiential form, or implicit form- it is in the everybody’s bones.

In modern times, as more and more people, are educated, reflective, even obsessed with mindfulness and examining your own mind, the explicit (written down) worldview has become more popular. The domain of philosophers, religious doctrines, and scientific theories has become the object of TED talks, self-improvement books and even party conversation.

In Philozophy.com we are trying to encourage and help an ordinary thinking person to work on his or hers worldview. We think that the answer, or as Vidal call it, ”position”, should be short enough to be easily digested and compared with others, but long enough to be meaningful and personal- yours. We arbitrarily decided on the wording of each question, but we included alternative wording or “sub-questions”.

These statements, if they feel yours and true, we believe, can be the very important signposts in your journey to living full and good life.

 

      In our site, we combined personal exploration, almost a “self-improvement” thing, with a game and a social experiment. You will be invited to answer 13 “big questions” with the very condensed answer – 250 characters max. As the philosophers grappled with the answers to these questions for millennia, so how can you or I add anything interesting?

Yes, we can. Every  decision we make is related to our “take on the life”, our attitude, our belief system. They are related to big questions, even you do not think that the way you talk to your friend depends on your opinion of “the nature of the mind” – question #6.

Or does it? How about “origins of evil and good” – #3 and 4, and of course:” how do you find the truth?” – #8.

You pack for vacation, throwing socks and underwear into the suitcase.  But somewhere in the back of your mind, it is the travel, unknown, beginning and ending, and even death – #11, the meaning of life – #9 – and how do you find happiness – #7.

Scrambled in the subconscious puzzle these questions are all there.

 

In books about worldviews, it is always reduced down to 6 to 10 questions, with different exact wording, but they are the same questions, “the buck stops there” questions.

Nobody can change them into “lighter, less philosophical”. They are the concentrated, distilled problems of the human mind and of our civilization.

Look at the questions and start with the one your heart resonate with. Write the answer with the idea that it should be changed and improved and refined many times.

It does not need to be the exact answer, the truth, the definition. This is for you, not for me.

On my hook, please hang your own coat… or hat, or umbrella.  Browse and score the answers of other people, they are all real people, like me and you — some try to be funny, some pompous, some academic or religious.  But they have this in common. They had the courage to answer these questions and share these answers with us.This the sign of courage, of the open mind, of course, but also of freedom. They will read and comment on yours if you’re lucky; otherwise, they will ignore them.

Compose your answer….and edit and edit and edit until when you look at it, you will be able to say: “yes, this is me”. I bet you will be surprised. I was.

 

Then if you have time, pick another one, browse, discuss, score. It is your own brave journey inside your brain and heart – maybe the last frontier.

 

  This text can be interesting in itself, but it is meant to work the best with your browsing and your activity on our website: philozophy.com. The name of the domain is catchy, but it might mislead you. This site not much of the philosophy, most philosophers are very ponderous and not practical. This site is the place where different worldviews live together, they mingle, the participants comment on them, borrow them from each other, discuss whatever they want.

So, this manual has four main separate goals:

  1. Invite you to go with your work to Philozophy.com, browse, express your opinions about others’ work, comment and discuss. .
  2. Assist you and lead you by the hand in this arduous task of creating your personal explicit, written-down worldview, distilled to a philosophical Haiku, 250 characters max.
  3. Encourage you to join others and publish your answers in this abbreviated form, allow others to benefit from your hard work, see what they say, respond to comments and most importantly keep editing your answers.  
  4. Build a social experiment. See if creating your worldview can be interactive. Explore the fears and inhibitions in the society. Can we learn something about us, can the participation be fun?

In case you skipped the “invitation for cooperation”, I will repeat:

Both Manual and the Philozophy.com are completely ideology-neutral. This is the place where different worldviews mingle, all are welcome, their only defense consists of the human values and benefits for humanity. But we have preferences; we are for individualism, for cooperation and for the freedom of expression. We are against mob mentality, mindlessness, and stupidity. We are against the fear of being yourself, against the fear of exploring and against the fear of individual thinking.

 

 

Existentialism and human nature

Motto: “existence precedes essence
nurture precedes nature
subjective precedes objective
facticity precedes transcendence”
There is no author, these things are just there.

The center of the existentialist philosophy is the denial of human nature. Sartre says: “…man first of all exists, encounters himself, surges up in the world- and defines himself afterwards. If a man as the existentialist sees him is not definable, it is because to begin with he is nothing. He will not be anything until later, and then he will be what he makes of himself. Thus, there is no human nature, because there is no God to have a conception of it……he is what he wills.” (Being and Nothingness, p. 55) This statement is true to their, existentialists, absurd colors because it is almost impossible to write anything which would be not about human nature. Everything written, is written by a human ( not counting- pardon the perfidious pleasure- the scriptures composed by gods), and thus it reflects the human experience, therefore it informs us about our, human, nature. Paradoxically the existentialists, while denying human nature’s very existence have something important to add to the dispute about it. And there is an illustrious list of thinkers writing about human nature- explicitly.
Darwin: “ The Descent of Man”
Kenner: “The Tangled Wing”
E.O. Wilson “On Human Nature”
Teilhard De Chardin “The Future of Man”
Milne “ Winnie the Pooh” etc, etc.
The world we read about in “Man’s search for meaning” is bad, very bad. It is the world where most of the people forfeit their ability to “will” themselves into the authentic beings. Instead, they gave to the powers and fears and desires of the demoralised society. Only a few tried to be free, even fewer survived the attempt. But Frankl believes that this attempt, however hopeless, changes everything. It makes suffering, even death, meaningful. It gives a deep insight into the idea of human nature. It proposes the revolutionary worldview in which the subjective world of an individual has all important qualities of freedom, or the lack thereof, of authenticity, meaning and even happiness.
It’s almost like we need to talk about the two human natures: the one dictated by the survival and fear- the existence of which the existentialists deny- and the second one, subjective and transcendent, seen as a possibility of freedom and authenticity. The human nature seen as a capacity, the chance, to live free and authentic life, no matter how horrible or cripplingly comfortable are the circumstances and facticity.
I think De Beauvoir would like this concept. This subjective world of human nature would have no constraints of traditional rationality and sexism, would be naturally authentic with all the ambiguity related to rich and wise emotional feminine.
Sartre would be also delighted. The subjective world is being created from moment to moment as we live our lives. There is no other way like seeing it as being “willed” into reality by the authentic action of the man! This vision is almost too optimistic for the Eeyore-like existentialist. The “objective “ human nature can be easily thrown into the trash. It would represent human malfunction, immaturity or ignorance. All the vices, cruelty and mistakes, all too human, would have to be moved from the top shelf of human attributes to the garbage can of the failure to be really human.
The mixture of the emotional life and rational life is pretty normal in our subjective world.
First person philosophy galore, we can even be scientific in the most modern way with the full attention being paid to the observer, not only to the observed, and we can explore human experience as equally valid as human “objective” knowledge. And this would make the phenomenologists like Varela and Thompson rejoice.
And now I am going to bring another supporter, the one from the unexpected domain.
His name is Darwin. Contrary to the popular belief, to have subjective world one do not have to have consciousness. Actually the opposite is true. We know now that the consciousness is not all or nothing concept anymore,( “ God giveth it to a man, maybe some to a woman, but not to the beast”). On the evolutionary pyramid, the more consciousness the animal has, the more capacity for the reflective thinking it possesses and the more ability it has to split its world into subjective and objective. Simple organisms with their primitive brains lead instinctive lives organised around survival and primitive emotions of fear, pain and pleasure. They have only subjective worlds. The same is true of babies, they live mostly by the emotions and feelings, a lot of activities in the old brain, not much of the prefrontal cortex.
It is what we can learn from the existentialists about human nature, it is what other famous guys, mentioned earlier, missed. If one attempts to be authentic and ethical, one has to direct one’s attention to the personal subjective world. This is the one which one builds from the scratch since birth until one dies. It is made of the subjective worlds of your ancestors via the worlds of your mom and dad, your teachers and friends and lovers… Forget the notion that because it is subjective it is ephemeral and elusive, like a mood. It is always new and shifting, but it is real and solid and all important. Like the subjective human nature, the nature of constantly re-creating yourself of hope and curiosity and relationship.
And now, there are the last two rabbits in my hat. The first: if we find the subjective human nature so useful and hopeful we can also talk more about subjective and personal values, subjective happiness, subjective meaning of life etc, etc.. And then, we can get tired of the “subjective” adjective and drop it, omit it, forget about it…..
The last rabbit is so big that it is almost impossible to pull off: can then the other, good for nothing, objective human nature, objective world, objective big Universe— disappear?

 

Sarte and Camus- authenticity vs worldview

I am taking a class on the existentialism at the UTC, this is a naive, but sincere essay:

When one lives an authentic life, the set of values one lives by are one’s own. The developmental psychology refers to the values being “interiorised”. For the existentialists, especially for the atheist bunch, like Camus and Sartre, this was a tall order. Without God, with the world being unreasonable, and the life full of absurdity it was difficult to create a system and call it their own.

And yet, the thesis of my paper argues that both of them, Camus and Sartre, were obsessed with moral issues and authenticity. The second part of the thesis (and of the paper) will attempt to make the reader consider the idea that the world is not absurd. Instead, it is tautological, full of bootstrapping (in the good tradition of Baron Munchausen), which might look like absurd.

For Camus the world is absurd. Mr Meursault from “The Stranger’ is perfectly normal, logical, reasonable man. This leads him straight under the guillotine. Even more absurd is the fact that he is not punished for killing a man but for not crying at his mother’s funeral. And if we are not able to figure out the reason for living, the logical solution is to consider suicide. “Does the Absurd dictate death?” Camus asks in the essay “Suicide: the only truly serious philosophical problem”(page 3). This problem “calls for an unjust- in other words, logical-thought” and “it is always easy to be logical. It is almost impossible to be logical to the bitter end.” (idem, page 3). We live a practical life, as he called it, fairly well, but if we start to ask big questions the meaning of life become elusive and vague. We have to find our happiness in absurd. Whether going every day to the senseless, repetitive work  or pushing a big rock up, and up, eternally, it doesn’t matter. Logical, bourgeois Sisyphus is tortured, but by embracing the absurdity of Universe, the life without meaning- this open doors to happiness. “At each of those moments when he leaves the heights and gradually sinks toward the lairs of the gods, he is superior to his fate. He is stronger than his rock.“( Albert Camus. “The myth of Sisyphus” pdf, page 121).

 

From Camus and Sartre (and yours truly, too) perspective, it seems that living in the twentieth century provided a lot of evidence that all the established rules, myths and morals are to be trampled and destroyed. The Germans, an ancient nation of genius musicians and philosophers go crazy, murder savagely 6 millions of members of another ancient and wise nation, not to mention 8 millions of other less ancient guys. The world unites to defeat them, then immediately splits into two camps working earnestly to annihilate the planet. The old Russia creates communism, heaven on earth at last, then quickly transforms it into one huge concentration camp. Black and brown and yellow people suddenly decided to be equal us, whites, have their rights and have their own, free countries. And the philosophy and science are not far behind: god is dead, but Schrodinger’s cat only maybe dead, atoms are mostly empty, and maybe they are just waves, the relativity and uncertainty are the names of the game.

 

Our Western civilisation is fiercely individualistic, we have to make our own choice. Camus’ writing shows how these choices, while logical, lead to absurdity, but his style is lighter, more “athletic”, more dealing with the body, the women, the beach.

Sartre is more abstract, artificial and stuck-up.  His fighting against the bourgeois philosophy is more fierce, desperate, maybe revealing the ambivalence related to his personal past.

Contradicting oneself and lying to oneself, consciously or subconsciously, seems unavoidable, but Sartre makes out of “bad faith” whole philosophy. “Bad faith then has in appearance the structure of falsehood. Only what changes everything is the fact that in bad faith it is from myself that I am hiding the truth. Thus, the duality of the deceiver and the deceived does not exist here. Bad faith, on the contrary, implies, in essence, the unity of a single consciousness. “ Sartre, “Bad faith” (pdf, page 3). Being sincere which is opposite of bad faith is easier said than done. The more one is trying to figure out who you really are, the weaker are one’s chances to become, to be spontaneous, sincere and authentic. It seems that only the loving and compassionate relationship with the Other can save the day ( and make Sartre flip-up in his coffin) but this is already “ post- existentialistic new-ageism”…  

Back in “No exit” Sartre shows that bourgeois social values are deeply absurd , which makes our relationships suspicious and actually a priori a condemned failures.  “There is no need for red-hot pokers. Hell is -other people” jeers Garcin (page 45 ).

So , while existentialism is preoccupied with being authentic, in the same time makes it almost unattainable. The traditional  values of the “enlightened West” were a really easy target. The religion and capitalism, the materialistic and conservative bourgeoisie went in flames in Camus and Sartre’s writings, and, I would say, good riddance.

But it is much easier to demolish the old values and systems  than to build the new ones- ask Nietzsche.

          

Still, if we’d be up to building an imaginary New Order, I’d respect Camus and Sartre’s rebellion ( and nausea ) and I’d take from each of them at least one valuable lesson. From Camus I would take his humanness. He experienced a terrible fatherless childhood, he was condemned to be a stranger in his native Algeria and a stranger in beloved Paris, even stranger to his own body, with a chronic cough and tuberculosis.  And yet, he managed to love the earthly pleasures, had a beautiful smile, played soccer, loved women and wine, naturally counterbalancing the philosophy of absurd and social rebellion.

From Sartre I would take his brilliant insight about being subject and the object in the same time. Being an individual, self, living in the subjective world demanded continuous choices and the desperate search for ultimate freedom. Being seen by other, being and object required sticking to his principles: anti-establishment at all costs, tormenting himself with denouncing the family, the democracy, and common sense as the tainted values of traditional western civilisation.

         I grew up in the post-war Poland, where to the previously mentioned list of twentieth-century follies we could add some local ones. “Liberated”  from German occupation by (of all possible “liberators”) our eternal nemesis, Russia, Poland falls into 45 years of the twilight zone. Poland is independent, but ruled by Russia, there is no freedom, but people talk freely, sometimes people are arrested, but most often not, there were elections but there was no choice etc, etc. Naturally the intellectual elite, so-called “inteligencja”, was fascinated by the existentialism and absurdism. So I sucked it with the mother’s milk, all the jokes were absurd… “do not worry if one of your legs is shorter: the other one is longer!” But I become a scientist and a doctor instead, or maybe it is why.

My intellectual journey took me from the theories of immunity to the theory of evolution, from Darwin, via Dalai Lama to Varela and Evan Thompson. At the beginning of the essay I defined the authentic life as the life led according to values which are my own. And I was wrong, or at most half right.  The term “authentic” comes, I think, from the world of arts. It means true, not fake, but not only that. Nobody would call authentic the real picture made by a 6 years old child. The second, slightly hidden part of the term is “master”. The “authentic “ means “original, by a true master”. So the same, even more hidden, assumed, is the part of the “authentic life” definition.  It is assumed, well, I assumed and naively thought that everybody did,  that when I’d followed my deep values,  my true heart, when I’d  be spontaneous, authentic, becoming – I would do good. It is enough to shed off all the pretense, all social anxiety, fears and hypocrisy – and one stands naked, like a sculpture of the Greek god inside the block of marble for the ancient master sculptor. Just chop off these unnecessary stones and one will be beautiful and virtuous. This is where the guys mentioned in the beginning of this extremely long paragraph come in. The Great Myth of the Human Nature.

I do not find this assumption in the writings of Camus and Sartre. Maybe I did not read enough, maybe they just did not have enough optimism.  I imagine that they experienced so much evil, saw so much negativity in the world, that the absurd, the” no sense”, nothingness  was somewhat an improvement, sensible point to start being.

In the Sartre’s talking about the Other I find an aura of a foreboding distrust and anxiety. “For example, the potentiality of the dark corner becomes a given possibility of hiding in the corner by the sole fact that the Other can pass beyond it toward his possibility of illuminating the corner with his flashlight.  This possibility is there, and I apprehend but as absent, as in the Other; I apprehend it through my anguish and through my decision to give up this hiding place which is “too risky” (Sartre, Being and Nothingness, pdf, page 264). A little boy in the evil world of Others.

But, by Jove, this Other is our only hope! We are hypersocial species, every human baby ( I know about babies) builds her world with the pieces of the worlds of Others. First the Mom, then the rest of the family, then the teachers the friends, the society… We take, we soak “the existence” of Others, put it in our brains and hearts as “observations” or “experiences” and then , and only then, they become the pieces of our personal world, “our essence”.  This set of data, at first very simple, emotional and primordial, later more sophisticated and complex create our world. Our brain can not heap these experiences “as they come”, randomly dump them in the memory, like we cannot learn the language from the dictionary.  As the brain structure develops as the myriads of neurons migrates and connects  according to genes and the environment, creating a human being, these experiences, in the similar fashion, create the rules and beliefs and paradigms. This is similar to Chomsky’s language structure- this is genes-led-experience-becoming-knowledge structure. That is the worldview. One’s world and the worldview is being built simultaneously, from the birth to the day one dies.

 

So, I believe, the existentialist were right, l’existence précède l’essence, but the world is not absurd. We see our world through the prism of human nature, a solid, species-specific brain architecture and its content, our worldview. These are our stories and it is all that is. This includes The Myth of Human Nature. And our darling dance of nature versus nurture, or facticity versus transcendence will always be with us. The trick is to practice being mindful of it.

 

Bibliography:

Camus, Albert. The stranger, First Vintage International Edition, March 1989.

Camus,Albert. Suicide: the only truly serious philosophical problem. (pdf )

Camus,Albert. The myth of Sisyphus (pdf)

Sartre,Jean-Paul. No exit and three other plays, Vintage International Edition, October 1989.

Sartre, Jean-Paul. Bad Faith (pdf)