A Plea for the Arts & Humanities

David Brooks wrote a very interesting oped piece the other day (Jan 28), commenting on the “sad, lonely, angry, and mean” state of the US society. It’s basically a plea for more humanities, especially art, in our lives. I don’t always agree with Brooks, but this piece is spot on. Additionally, he is following, very closely, the work of McGilchrist, although I doubt if he knows that. The article, in very different words and from a different platform, is pointing to the left-brain domination of our society, just as McGilchrist does. The problems he points to are the result of… Read More

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Free Speech Is More than a Libertarian Slogan

J. S. Mill may not have invented the idea of free speech, but his influential essay, On Liberty, certainly established it as a cornerstone of our political system. Here is the essence of his argument for protecting it: ..the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth; if wrong, they lose, what is almost as… Read More

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The Error of Explication

  The idea of a Gestalt is central to this book: by which I mean the form of a whole that cannot be reduced to parts without the loss of something essential to its nature. The experience of understanding involves a shift from what seems initially chaotic or formless, to a coherent stable form or picture, a Gestalt – or from an existing Gestalt to a new and better one, that seems richer than the one it replaces. (Iain McGilchrist: The Matter with Things) One of the key differences between the two brain hemispheres, according to Iain McGilchrist is the… Read More

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Cleaning Up Messes

Neologisms, like polycrises, often appear to clarify what has been confusing and intractable, but are also often unnecessary and continue to obfuscate, not clarify. Certainly the world is facing the multiple crises, but the proper response is not to convene ever more scientists to produce ever more scientific truths or ever more engineers or economists to produce ever more fixes. All these crises have profound impacts on human beings and involve solutions that inexorably have ethical consequences. A couple of planners, Rittel and Webber, in a now classic paper, called these kind of problems, wicked problems, to distinguish them from… Read More

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Caveat Emptor

This is a short follow-up to the last blog post. Yesterday (1/6/2024), the NYTimes ran an article with this headline: “Clashing Over Jan. 6, Trump and Biden Show Reality Is at Stake in 2024. The focus on “reality” is critical because reality shapes the outcome of our actions. The MAGA movement and its leader have been trying to re-create the realities that determine the way our lives will unfold. Two realities, but one much more important than the other. As I wrote, one is the natural world which operates according to a set of rules that have been in place… Read More

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The Return of the Flat-Earthers

Twenty-five percent of Americans say it is “probably” or “definitely” true that the FBI instigated the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, a false concept promoted by right-wing media and repeatedly denied by federal law enforcement, according to a new Washington Post-University of Maryland poll. (Washington Post, January 4, 2024) Flat-landers or flat-earthers was the name given to those who believed that the earth was flat, not the almost spherical object it really is. A little research tells me that this belief was not as ubiquitous as I thought it was. Even the Greeks held beliefs that the… Read More

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Polycrises and Pragmatism

This post adds to the last few entries. Recently, I had a short comment rejected by the GTN network on the grounds that it did not contribute to their general discussion of how to use the resources of the many communities involved to initiate action. Their call included this sentence, “The time has come for embarking on a new phase that shifts emphasis from the realm of ideas to the realm of action.” My argument was primarily that their call to action was premature because they had not properly identified the targets that they should be aiming at, nor have… Read More

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Getting the Job Done

The big problems the Planet is facing can be traced back to a root cause: domination. Climate change and other “environmental” concerns arise from human activities that dominate the natural world. We impose our will through actions resulting in changes that upset the natural order. Social concerns also arise from the same cause whenever humans are compelled by other humans to act in undignified ways, that is, to act according to someone else’s intentions. Domination, per se, is not necessarily a bad thing. Dominating the natural system did not create significant problems for many millennia because it was sufficiently resilient… Read More

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I’m Back

Now that my wife and I have settled into our new digs, I will be returning to blogging. Not sure how reliably, but a few comments have been very encouraging, so will move along. We are now living in a CCRC, Brookhaven, still in Lexington, MA. We lucked out and got a great apartment. The move and down-sizing were quite traumatic, but things have quieted down and we are very happy in our vey new, different life style. Once I have gotten used to the long line of walkers outside of the dining room, life has come back to a… Read More

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Letting the Rear-view Mirror Be Our Guide

Again, I apologize to my faithful followers for the silence on this blog for quite a while. No excuses really. I just haven’t felt i have much to say for a while. Some things have changed for me. My wife and I have moved into a senior living community after many decades in a big house. We have yet to finish unpacking, but are feeling very positive about the change. I hope to continue the blog on a more regular schedule once we are more settled. In any case, here are some thoughts i have been having lately. This post… Read More

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