Lost for Words

I begin tonight a little depressed, which is rare for me. The courses I have been taking at the Harvard Institute for Learning in Retirement (HILR) are over and I miss them. One was an examination of the history of liberalism, starting with John Stuart Mill and finishing with the views of contemporary political theorists, like Isaiah Berlin or John Rawls. At the end, we had a wide-ranging discussion of the place of these ideas in current American political conversations. Compared to the extraordinary careful attempts at defining the concept, words like liberal, liberty, and freedom are being thrown around without a whit of concern for their meaning. This course… Read More

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Rooting Flourishing in Reality (Cont’d)

I had lunch today with an old friend who has been mucking around in the trenches of constructivism as long as I have. It is rare that I can have an unencumbered conversation about the two distinct worlds that come forth when we distinguish the material, objective world of mechanistic objects from the subjective world of meaningful objects. They co-exist, but we humans make a moment-by-moment choice of which one we want to guide our life. If you do not understand this difference, go back to the blog of April 29th and dwell on the two quotes from Maturana and Rorty, about the middle of the post. I do not… Read More

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Dogma, of Any Variety, Is Still Dogma

The last post was long and dense, but contains my latest thinking. This one is a continuation. I have generally avoided political comments on this blog, but it is hard to let what is happening these days go without comment. Like unsustainability, political chaos is a systems issue. Indeed, almost all life’s serious problems are systems issues. Further, almost all of these problems show up inside of complex systems. Unless one has an already well established familiarity with any system and has begun to understand it, quick fixes generally will not work. Complexity always requires understanding, not ordinary knowledge. Complexity problems virtually always require some form of inquiry that will… Read More

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