Education, Honesty, Human Nature, Intellectual Honesty, Language, Learning, Life, Living, Logic, New Idea, Quality of Life, Reason, Skeptical Thinking, Thinking

Three Pillars of a Well-Educated Mind

SUMMARY: There may be several pillars of a well-educated mind, but to me, the three most important are intellectual honesty, open-mindedness, and critical thinking.

(About a 12 minute read)

“Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.”  ― Margaret Mead

Like most people who do not suffer from a crippling over-abundance of sanity, I am a staunch believer in the notion that we could do a much better job than we are doing in teaching people to think.

Saner people might point out the many ways in which American culture discourages teaching people to think.  For instance, there is a deeply rooted strain of anti-intellectualism in our society that has been present ever since the 1820s or 30s, and which most often manifests itself as contempt for anything exceeding a narrowly practical education.

I freely concede that making a living is of periodic importance in life, such as roughly during the period between the ages of twenty and sixty or so.  But to me, that doesn’t mean you should so focus your education on getting a good job that you fail to develop the skills necessary to lead a fulfilling life.

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Ethics, Honesty, Human Nature, Intellectual Honesty, Liars Lies and Lying, Life, Living, Morality, Morals, Truth, Values

Lies, Liars, and Lying

SUMMARY: Humans learn to lie instinctively, but generally frown on all but a few kinds of lies.

(About a 5 minute read)

Many people who do not believe humans have much in the way of instincts confuse instincts with reflexes.

A reflex is a fixed response to a given stimulus.  No matter how often the stimulus occurs, the reflex is the same each time.  Tap someone on the knee just so and their knee jerks.  Do it again, and again their knee jerks. And that’s pretty much it for reflexes.

Instincts are different.  For one thing, they involve learning.  Your knee doesn’t get better at jerking with practice.  Nor does it learn to jerk in more ways than one.  But an instinct for, say, tool use is open to a person learning how to make or use a whole variety of tools.

In effect, instincts are prompts for learning.  An instinct for tool use, for instance, is a prompt to learn how to use tools.  An instinct for language is a prompt to learn how to speak.  And so forth.

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Belief, Citizenship, Community, Elections, Ethics, Freedom, Honesty, Idealism, Ideologies, Intellectual Honesty, Knowledge, Morality, Morals, News and Current Events, Obligations to Society, Political Ideologies, Politics, Reason, Skeptical Thinking, Society, Thinking, Truth, Values

“With Freedom Comes Responsibility”

(About a 6 minute read)

“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”  — Martin Luther King, jr.

 

In high school, I had a math teacher — who I blogged about here — who was something of a political outlaw back in his day.

He was a member of the John Birch society.  A political organization founded by a millionaire that espoused, among other things, the notion Eisenhower had been a communist agent of the Soviet Union, and that had even attacked the nation’s parent-teacher associations as somehow subversive of American values.

The Birchers had been cast out of mainstream American politics by William F. Buckley, the most influential right-wing political thinker and pundit of the time (They would not return to the mainstream until our own age, in 2010).  Buckley considered them dangerous fools and radicals.

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Abuse, Cultural Traits, Culture, Equality, Equality of Opportunity, Fairness, Freedom and Liberty, Honesty, Mental and Emotional Health, Morality, News and Current Events, Oppression, Quality of Life, Racism, Society, Values

The Two Kinds of Racism

(About a 5 minute read)

Some years ago, I had a contract to supervise and manage for a corporation its small call center of about a dozen people.  One day, my client informed me that a vice-president of the corporation had come to her more or less demanding that a young friend of hers be given a job as one of the callers.  Consequently, I was forced to bring the young woman on board without going through the normal hiring practice.

I forget her name now, but she was about 20 years old and black.  The day following her first day on the job, all three of my other black employees approached me — one by one — to privately warn me about her.

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Abuse, Bad Ideas, Competence, Cultural Change, Cultural Traits, Culture, Equality, Equality of Opportunity, Ethics, Fairness, Fantasy Based Community, Freedom and Liberty, Guilt, Honesty, Human Nature, Idealism, Ideas, Ideologies, Intellectual Honesty, Justice, Liars Lies and Lying, Morality, Morals, News and Current Events, Obligations to Society, Oppression, Political Ideologies, Political Issues, Politics, Privilege, Quality of Life, Racism, Reality Based Community, Reason, Shame, Skeptical Thinking, Society, Thinking, Truth, Values, Village Idiots, Work

Who is Privileged and Who Is Not?

(About  5 minute read)

Growing up, I had a keen sense that I could get away with a good amount of rule-breaking.  Not just little things, but some fairly sizeable offenses too.  I didn’t usually push things as far as I sensed I could, but I did have the perception I could get away with a whole lot of things — if only I wanted to.

The sense stayed with me when I got older, although it became a little vaguer.  When I was in my late teens, early twenties, majoring in philosophy I was aware that I wouldn’t have much trouble getting a good job upon graduation — despite some warnings that my major was impractical.

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Bad Ideas, Community, Conservative, Cultural Traits, Culture, Donald Trump, Ethics, Fantasy Based Community, Honesty, Intellectual Honesty, Liars Lies and Lying, Morality, Morals, News and Current Events, Political Ideologies, Politicians and Scoundrels, Politics, Reason, Science, Society, Truth, Values, Village Idiots

“Truth Isn’t Truth”

“Truth isn’t truth”  —  Rudy Giuliani, NBC “Meet the Press”,  August 19, 2018.

(About a 4 minute read)

In Western philosophy, the notion truth is relative dates back at least 2,400 years to the sophist Protagoras, who is stated by Plato to have said, “What is true for you is true for you, and what is true for me is true for me.”

In the East, the notion goes back perhaps another 100 years earlier to the Jain teacher Mahavira, who seems to have been the first to teach Anekantavada, a doctrine that has been described as advocating religious pluralism.

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Courage, Dying, Fun, Gratitude, Honesty, Human Nature, Impermance, Life, Play, Quality of Life, Spirituality, Wisdom

Cheryl: Skipping Like a Child Into Her Night

(About a 7 minute read)

I worked after hours when I was in high school in a funeral home owned by perhaps the kindest and most compassionate man in town — in a town with a decent number of kind and compassionate men and women.

In addition to both his kindness and his compassion, H.P (for Herbert Paul) combined a matter-of-fact realism about death with an easy going attitude towards it.  For instance, he had a number of gentle — but wholly appropriate — jokes that he was apt to tell to the families at visitations in order to soften their grief.

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