How Do We Know What’s the Right thing To Do

I have been puzzled ever since I was introduced to McGilchrist’s divided-brain-model as to what determined which hemisphere would dominate at any moment. That is a different question than asking which one was dominant over a long time. The second relates to the overall character of individual behaviors, as well as the general character of institutional behaviors, from the smallest, like families to the largest, that of societies as a whole. My own work echoes McGilchrist’s finding that modern, industrial societies act as if they have a collective left-brain that has dominates the cognitive domain. My path, however, to this… 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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