A Few Things

It’s getting harder and harder to find anything good to write about. New situations do show up most of the days, but what is getting written about them is usually the same old same old. What is most bothersome is what is not being written about. The President, even though he is expert at getting the headlines, is not the whole story. I even wonder sometimes whether there is some strategy here. “Keep the limelight on me while the destruction goes on mostly unnoticed. I can get attention to my executive orders, allowing my people at the helms of the Departments to clean house.” The newish slogan of the Washington… Read More

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Attention, the Brain, and the President

“Attention” has been in the news more than usual lately. Among the many mental features of President Trump written about every day is his short attention span. Besides the obvious issue in taking in the necessary inputs to confront the complex problems that merit his action, inability to pay attention is a sign of how his brain works. Attention is name for the complex processes by which the brain takes in and processes inputs from the senses. Attention determines what kind of world shows up and, consequently, how we act and the kind of person we are seen to be. According to Iain McGilchrist in The Master and his Emissary:… Read More

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The Problem of Labels (Especially Political Ones)

I have been tuning into the latest misadventure of our President with more horror than usual. His reading of the events in Charlotteville is plain and simply wrong. His being our President makes the wrongness even more egregious. Once the painful response to the wrongness of his position settled down, I turned to all the comments about the situation coming from the media of all stripes. that is from “both sides.” What I see is more evidence of the unreality of public (and probably much of private) life in America today. The reality of Charlottesville is that Nazism is absolutely not acceptable. Nazism was an aberration of humanity that was… Read More

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Context and the Brain

The divided brain model suggests that the two worlds that show up in our brains display many opposing features. Today, I want to focus on just one pair: contextual (right) vs. decontextualized (left). Flourishing arises from a contextual perception of the world, one that exposes the relationships of the actor to the world. Context is the source of meaning. It relates the content of whatever shows up in the conscious field to one’s historical experience. Meaning is basically historical. It arises in the temporal flow of living. A mere snapshot of what is out there is simply a collection of objects. Each one is distinctive only to the extent it… Read More

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Flourishing and the Right-brain

After a much longer time than I had planned, I have sent off the heavily revised manuscript of my new book to the publisher. I consider the time well spent because I was able to integrate materials from McGilchrist’s, The Master and his Emissary, the book about the divided brain I wrote briefly about in my last blog. While its findings about the brain did not affect my basic theses about flourishing, it provided much additional evidence in support. It made clear that flourishing is fundamentally about living in the present moment under the influence of the right brain. It is not anything possessed by the body. It pertains to… Read More

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The Master and his Emissary

I mentioned I had come across a very interesting book that has enabled me to ground my arguments in my new manuscript even further than I had previously. I did not mean to keep the book a secret. I was waiting until a better time to discuss it. The book is *The Master and his Emissary; The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World* (Yale University Press), by Iain McGilchrist. The author is a British psychiatrist and Professor of English. The book is an amazing amalgam of his scientific thinking and ability to present ideas that challenge one’s thinking about how we do think. McGilchrist revivifies the lateralization… Read More

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I Am Fine, But the World Is Not

I know I haven’t been posting for several months. I have been hard at work on my book, making revisions to the manuscript. I have been reading a very interesting book that has both solidified my arguments, but also forced me to do some serious editing. I will be discussing the book shortly as I plan to start my regular posting schedule again. I am very tempted everyday to write about the political situation, but there is very little to say that isn’t being said elsewhere. I do not think a lot of repetition is a good idea as, if others are like me, it begins to dull the senses.… Read More

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An Important Insight about Scientific Truth

I found myself reading an old (1944) paper by Erich Fromm while I was digging into one of his books, *The Sane Society*, I have just discovered. Having read a lot of Fromm, who is one of my prime sources of inspiration, I was delighted to find yet another equally meaningful work. I won’t comment on the book’s main theme here, but will say that his questioning the sanity of societies like ours is as valid in 2017 as it was in 1955 when the book was published. The following excerpt comes from an earlier paper of his that Fromm used for this book. The paper, “Individual and Social Origins… Read More

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Keep Digging Deeper

John Searle, the American philosopher of the mind I often draw on, wrote that institutional facts are “the glue that holds civilization together.” I find this assertion very important in this time when our civilization seems to becoming unglued. To understand this, you need, first, to know what Searle means by institutional facts. Searle divides the world of facts into two classes, brute facts and institutional facts. Brute facts are assertions about manifestly real states. I am a male. My house is in Lexington, MA. The Earth is approximately spherical and about 93 million miles from the Sun. Light travels at about 186,000 miles per second. The validity of such… Read More

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Beware of “Trust” as a Sign of Performance

Our class at HILR this week revolved around looking at a lot of data expressing trust in government as a potential explanation for the recent election results and some longer-range trends reflecting societal satisfaction. The survey documents were not available so I have to guess what kind of questions these data were based on. The labels on many of the figures suggest that the primary label was “government,” whether at the federal, state, or local level. For me, this means both the data and the discussion are suspect. The first problem comes in the use of trust as the operative concept. Trust is always some sort of assessment about the… Read More

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