Morality Without Religion

I recently heard Harvard-based sociologist, Robert Putnam, discuss his recent co-authored book, The Upswing. He claims that US society has fallen to a level of separateness not seen since the 19th century Gilded Era. His research shows an I-we-I pattern with a “we” peak around 1960. Levels of economic inequality, political differences, frayed social capital, and rampant individualism are higher now than in the 1890’s. The social “we” has virtually disappeared. Putnam and Garrett argue that restoring “communitarian virtues” is critical in reversing this trajectory. In the 1890’s, the Gospel Revival supplied them. In today’s secular world, this source cannot… Read More

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Drop the Irrelevant Adjectives

Who is Pete Buttigieg? He is the Secretary of Transportation. He is a gay man. His is married to Chasten Glezman. He is the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana. He is the only child of Jennifer Anne Montgomery and Joseph A. Buttigieg. He is a Christian. He is a Rhodes Scholar. He worked as a consultant at McKinsey. He drives some sort of automobile. He lives in a house with so many rooms. All this and more is in the Wikipedia article about him. So why whenever he is being covered in the news does the commentator begin with… Read More

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Fraternal Twins (Part 6)

God Does Not Dwell in Religion’s Quarters. Ross Douthat’s column, “A Guide to Finding Faith” in the NYTimes today (8/15/2021) is basically a plea to find and hold onto faith in a transcendent God. I found the column difficult and very confusing to read and take in. And I believe that there is a very good reason for that. Douthat, like most others, mistakes faith in God for the experience of transcendence, which belongs in a different category and arises from a different side of the brain. In this post, I will argue that faith in God is a form… Read More

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Framing a Flourishing Future

This post is a version of a message I posted on the SCORAI list serve recently, but also make good sense as a standalone message. SCORAI is a global coalition of academics and others drawn together by the idea of “sustainable consumption” and related subjects. I was responding to a post focused on World Transformation Movements that began with this sentence: “The Transnational Institute, Oscar Reyes’ Change Finance Not the Climate, suggests that in order to get the needed change we need to change what Lakoff calls, the frame.” My response follows. The first sentence in Tom’s message is absolutely… Read More

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Looking at Critical Race Theory

Arguments against teaching anything that smacks of critical race theory (CRT) are largely based on a misunderstanding. Perhaps this short primer will help calm the waters. Critical theory, in general, argues that behavior within institutions is shaped by structural elements that are not immediately conscious to the actors, and leads to harmful unintentional consequences. For CRT, the argument focuses on the continuing “enslavement” of Blacks by the activities of many social institutions, such as criminal justice, labor markets, housing, health care, etc. Critics of teaching CRT argue basically, that the acceptance of the systemic features of CRT points the finger… Read More

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Spooked

Yesterday, as is my usual pastime, I was solving some crossword puzzles. I do three or four a day from the NYT, WaPo, and elsewhere. This one was a “Classic” from the WaPo. One of the clues was “popular type of sunglasses.” My first guess was “aviator” which fit the space. A few clues later I had to change this because it no longer fit. My next entry was “Raybans,” helped along by a couple of crossing letters. It was correct, but that’s not the story. Today, I got an unsolicited email from Ray-Ban Sunglasses, advertising a clearance sale. I… Read More

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Fraternal Twins Part 5

The Real Me The last few posts have been concerned with the routine ways we behave within and without institutions when our actions are controlled by the left brain. In this post, I shift to the other side as the master, which change also affects the basic nature of our behaviors. Again I include the table of behaviors for comparison purposes. I am using the word, real, in the sense of the existential use of authentic, but as the table and this series of posts have indicated our various modes of behavior suggest that we have multiple personas, each related… Read More

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Fraternal Twins Part 4

Good and Bad Habits As I have been doing, I will start by adding the table I have been using to show the principal forms of human behaviors. Basic Behavioral Mode Master Hemisphere External World Mode of Being Behavioral Type Left Institutional Undifferentiated Routine Left Familiar Inauthentic Habit Right Familiar Authentic Caring Neither Anywhere Occurent Curiosity–Learning Neither Laboratory Occurent Scientific Study Right Anywhere Pure Occurent Wonder I have discussed the first line, focused on routine behaviors within institutions, in the previous two blogs. Today’s discussion centers on a similar behavioral pattern, habits, that is, repetitious actions in familiar situations, but… Read More

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Fraternal Twins (Part 3)

Routines, Institutions, and Unintended Consequences Much of our time is spent acting within institutions without even thinking that our actions are being driven by a lot of rules and resources. From the moment of our birth, we are embedded within the structures of many intersecting institutions, and much of our time awake we act according to the peculiar structures that constitute them. The first of such institutions virtually all of us encounter from birth onward is family. Institutions are human creations. We create them by establishing their structure and keep them in place by re-embedding the structure through the actions… Read More

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A Passing Hero

One of my intellectual heroes passed away a few weeks ago (May 6). Humberto Maturana was 92. For those of you who may not know him, Maturana was a Chilean biologist and philosopher. I have collected a few snippets from the web below. Maturana and his student Francisco Varela were the first to define and to employ the concept of autopoiesis. Aside from making important contributions to the field of evolution, Maturana is also a founder of radical constructivism, a relativistic epistemology built upon empirical findings of neurobiology. In his own words: Living systems are cognitive systems, and living as… Read More

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