Why we need Philosophy

To many of my friends out there: I’m concerned you don’t appreciate the utility or function or nature of philosophy, apart from pop-culture’s pallid understanding.

When you say things like “Philosophers often have the luxury of thinking continually without conclusion or an end state” it is very concerning, because you are assuming all too much, and throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

There is good philosophy, and there is bad philosophy. But philosophy is chiefly concerned with getting to the bottom of things so that life and living can be improved upon. The word philosophy literally means “the love of wisdom”. And wisdom is defined as “the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment”. It is concerned with good “judgement” or the ability to decide the quality or soundness of things.

Philosophy is responsible for EVERY single school of thought or academic discipline today.

Biological sciences, mathematics, physical sciences, astronomy, psychology, economics, archeology, paleontology, neuroscience, anthropology, aesthetics, sociology, ethics, engineering, politics, etc etc etc etc.

And they all very much have an end in mind.

It’s called refining the quality of our thoughts, so that they reflect “reality” and improve our “utility” as humans striving to live optimally.

Discarding faulty or poor assumptions, uncovering false assumptions, shedding light on self-deception, probing deeper into arguments, into the nature of things, the relationships of things, etc.

Talking and asking questions is not necessarily “philosophy”. If its meandering or pointless or noise, its called “bullshit”.

Everyone should study philosophy, and practice it regularly, and employ it in their daily lives.

It would improve society from being so mindless, from not challenging bullshit dogma by self proclaimed and often deluded “experts” or “authority figures” that spew hot air which may sound good, and may be emotionally appealing or temporarily self serving, but is just…. total… utter… garbage. Because it’s false or deception or lies or fantasy or inaccurate or outdated, etc.

Philosophy is the process or vehicle of getting us quality information about our world and our relation to it, and refining and improving our understanding of this process.

Before mankind thought about these things, he asked questions: how? what? why? when? where? who?

The first philosophers conversed with his fellow man, who shared their reasoning and their experiences. They continually challenged each other’s experiences, their perceptions, their “reasoning” and came up with rules for good arguments, formulating formal and informal logic, and examined the very nature of perception and experience.

Overtime, from the Greeks until now (and before the Greeks the Egyptians and Babylonians and other civilization’s contributions we lost in the fire of the Library of Alexandria), these conversations coalesced and became more specific, with specific ends in mind, and they developed into separate conversations, or schools of thought.

These schools of thought now comprise the disciplines or studies or “majors” we encounter in academia today.

When you have exhausted the fundamental understanding of each of these disciplines, you are considered a “doctor of philosophy” or Phd. You can now expand the bounds of this school of thought, and add additional knowledge to the cannon of that specific discipline.

Unfortunately “modern” academia doesn’t teach people “how to think” or educate people on the process of philosophy like they once did, which was always considered the “queen of the sciences”.

Now they just force you to memorize what everyone else already thought, and you don’t challenge it. Just sit there. Read and memorize. Don’t question.

This is a problem.

This is a problem because we need thinkers, we need people who can think originally, who can generate new information and perspectives to problems all on their own, and not rely on others or outside knowledge to guide their way. This not only prevents the spread of false knowledge, it stimulates inquiry into new ways of thinking, and generates new questions about things and problems and dilemmas previously overlooked.

This is exactly why I believe our society needs more philosophy.

Modern Education: The Efficacy and Necessity of State Dependent Learning

For a long time I’ve had qualms with our modern education system. My biggest complaint is the impersonal, dry, rigid, and seemingly irrelevant approach to memorizing and reguritating information. I often argue, as many people do, that formal education isn’t practical, that if fails to instill true comprehension and understanding, to fully engage a students mind and passions. I had an epiphany today that shed light on what this means exactly.

When I take tests, it’s typically in a hollow classroom on stiff chairs and cold desks. My ability to recall information with proficiency depends on massive inundation with a text, repetition of words and concepts, until I’ve drilled them far enough in my skull so that when I see a question with a certain combination of words, my mind retrieves the appropriate associated content. But this is not learning, per say; it’s regurgitation. My body and mind exist in a single state, an “academic” or school state, where all the information goes in and comes out the same way.

On the other hand, I often find myself in a certain context, a specific situation or circumstance, and I’m able to recall and converse and argue and expand on information and knowledge that many would be hard pressed to guess was residing within me. The ability to perform these acrobatic feats of comprehensive cognition requires that I’m in a specific state of mind which is engaged with the moment, the situation at hand. In every new circumstance, with every new set of problems I encounter, my perspective, and therefore mind, shifts and I enter into a state of consciousness that is perfectly adapted to produce solutions due to previous experience in that state.

What it all comes down to is recognizing the importance, nay, the all encompassing relevance, of state dependent learning. This is where school fails.

The ability to critically think requires engaging different perspectives. But school doesn’t necessarily teach diferent perspectives. Sure, they may encourage studying abroad and joing extracurriculars and what not, but real learning takes place within a specific state produced by a specific context, and all knowledge is born out these contexts and the problems inherent within them.

What modern education needs to emphasize is state dependent learning. Teach philosophy by philosophizing, by asking questions, by creating dialog and conflict and then seek resolution through thoughtful discourse. Teach math by providing postulates and propositions, then a problem, and have them prove the problem. Teach economics by evaluating a real company. Teach communications by role playing a real problem or agenda with real unpredictable variables. Teach accounting by throwing a person into a company and having them learn by going through and asking questions.

The reason for experiential learning is that all knowledge is procedural and therefore state dependent.

When education learns how to provide an environment that effectively presents material in this fashion, students will thrive.

What key determinants are responsible for a graduate’s starting wages?

The following is a report I compiled with two friends to determine which factors had the greatest impact on a college graduate’s starting wages. Though the calculations are sound, the report has not been edited for grammatical errors or clarity. Our data was based on publications from 2010.

Continue reading “What key determinants are responsible for a graduate’s starting wages?”

The Concept of Mind: Structures of Experience

After many conversations with friends about experience vs. reflection, I decided I should attempt to extricate how it is I grasp consciousness and its inhabiting structures. These are simply ongoing notes and reflections written for my own personal reference. Though it may not be immediately obvious, there is a certain logic to the order in which these thoughts are introduced.

Being

A living organism is a subjective being, and a subjective being possesses a body. A subject possesses a perspective, while an object is possessed by a perspective.

Stimulation

Stimulation occurs due to a change or transference of energy, otherwise called an affect. Stimulation acting on the body produces an affect which leaves an impression on the mind. Sensory stimulation occurs due to an affect on the sensory organs located on the body.

Reflection

Memory is produced by recalling past impressions

Reflection is a synthetic process which integrates past memories with present experience; by retrieving past impressions, of varying quantity and quality, and creating new associations.

Reflection extricates concepts from their originally generated, or prior applied, context and introduces the concepts into the present consciousness.

Experience

Experience is a feature of all living beings, rendered by responding to stimulations derived from the external world.

Experience is feeling: the production of sensations on the mind.

Experience, prior to the introduction of any and all structural concepts, is a swirling chaos of pure feeling and sensation, with each sensation represented to varying magnitudes and degrees. The absence of any order is confusing, swirling, melting, blooming, variegating; a storm of senses, containing  every color, sound, smell, touch, taste; with all the accompanying pain and pleasure; boiling of shade, hue, tint, tone.

Experience can be conscious or unconscious.

Consciousness

Consciousness is produced by active reflection. Unconsciousness is produced by inactive reflection.

Consciousness is marked by reflection: it is the feature of reproducing impressions—memories— and hold them before the “mind’s eye” for consideration (for application or entertainment).

Reflective consciousness may produce the feeling of experience by reproducing memories of prior experience, otherwise known as imagining, but this experience is not actively “living”, but presently “dead”. According to the sensations produced, that which is living is fluid and changing; while that which is dead is static and persisting.

Consciousness has many levels: it is not simply being “alive”. There are many levels— or orders— of consciousness. Higher order consciousness arises in proportion to complexity: the greater the complexity, the greater consciousness.

The complexity of consciousness is proportional to the quantity and quality of reflection. By quantity I speak temporally of “how often”, specifically done. By quality I speak spatially of “how many”, specifically kinds.

The faculties of consciousness relate to both the sensory input organs and the sensory integration organs. The five senses constitute the input organs, while the integration organs relate to associative memory.

The sensory input organs are developed according to their sensitivity which arises from exposure. Each input organ develops independently from or in combination with other input organs. Independent exposure produces depth; while combinatory exposure produces breadth, with depth increasing in proportion to exposure of combinations..

The integration organs break down further into two aspects of integration, being intelligence and creativity. Intelligence relates to efficient associative memory, while creativity relates to effective associative memory.

Efficient associative memory arises from similar stimulation, repetition, or repeated exposure, or routine; which produce strengthened habits of thought.

Effective associative memory arises from dissimilar stimulation, instances, or diverse exposure, or novelty; which produce weakened habits of thought.

Conceptual Structures

How concepts structure experience into knowledge:

Concepts render conscious experience; that is, concepts render experience conscious.

Concepts are the lens, the paradigm, the filter, the mold, the scope, the structure, the order with which experience is made conscious.

Conceptual structures arise from reflection.

Concepts order experience; they serve to distinguish distinctions among the spectrum of colorful feeling so that colorful feeling can be indexed according to its kind and utilized when the appropriate context calls for it.

All knowledge resembles a polyhedron bi-pyramid. Each domain of knowledge (experience or thought) is a triangular face on the pyramid, with every domain representing a specific context, or culture or social structure.

Concepts are geometric shapes or tools; they exist as structures that organize the integration of experience.

When I imagine what a single concept is within a single domainmy thoughts produce a two dimensional geometric shape that resembles a snowflake.

If the concept is complex and developed by experimental experience, and incorporates many domains of thought, I imagine a three dimensional solid, with one face visible to the domain, and the interrelations with other conceptual blocks hidden from sight, existing internally within the pyramid.

Context

A context is the associations established among objects by circumscribing the area around the location of a given point.

A context is determined by the degrees of relation among objects proximate to the given point of a subject’s location.

A context is an ecology and system: an ecology is the entire sum of objective demands acting within the context; a system is a series of connections produced by cause and demand.

The context produced by conscious experience is a domain of thought; a perspective of mind.

Each context is a unique, temporally and spatially located, experience with specific environmental demands, being physical or social. Context is the situation of a given organism or subjective being, in present or past.

Context is defined as the problem; the environmental demands. Every organism is programmed to self-preserve: survival is an organisms priority. As such, every context poses a problem, with the ease of the problem increasing in proportion to the level of adaptation.

The greater the problem or struggle or chaos or confusion, the greater the need for reflection, and the greatest potential for generating new concepts.

Concepts are always generated within a specific context, to solve the problem of context and its individuated environmental demands; therefore concepts are anchored to the context in which they were generated. Concepts may be unanchored when they are reproduced through reflection, introduced to the consciousness, and applied to the context of present or past experience.

Division of labor diversifies contexts by delineating and indexing concepts according to the specific context in which they were generated. In this way division of labor acknowledges the utility of context and the accompanying specialization of concepts.

Each face of the geometric solid represents a the conceptual structure of a single perspective.

Environment is determined by the temporal and spatial location of a subjective being in an external world constituted by finite matter composing infinite entities.

Particulars

All particulars are ideas of consciousness:: All facts are particulars of experience.

All ideas are indexed concepts; ideas are truth, and cannot be challenged by experience.

All facts are indexed experiences; facts are probable, and can be challenged by experience.

An untested fact is only an idea.

A tested idea is a fact only in the context in which is was tested.

All premises must be grounded in experience.

All facts must be grounded in experience.

Convergence

Convergence occurs due to association.

Convergent lines  intersect at angles which represent logical connectors, or operators or associations.

Operators connect or hold the concept together and give it shape.

Dualities of Consciousness

I come to possess concepts in two ways: passively or actively.

1. Passive concepts are yielded deductively, as given ideas.

2. Active concepts are yielded inductively, as created facts. .

1. Knowledge is ideas that have been passively structured with concepts: knowledge is rote, analytic, two dimensional, logically sequential, abstract and monochromatic

2. Wisdom is experience that has been actively structured with concepts: wisdom is intuitive, synthetic, three dimensional, holistic, concrete and colorful.

1. I passively receive concepts through books or passively listening to lecture or discourse. These concepts arrive prefabricated and incomplete. In this way passive concepts exist a priori to experience until the extent of their full nature fully tested through experimentation and the geometric solid can be developed. These concepts are linked

When I receive a passive concept, each sentence or logical operation produces or adds black lines, points, or angles to the shape. The lines are the premises; and the angles are the operators. The concept itself is hollow and possesses no internal color and therefore no way of distinguishing it from other similar concepts without an external indicator. In fact, when I think about an abstract concept, it’s sometimes difficult to see where premised lines begin and where they end, which angles of logic are part of the line or part of two separate premised lines intersecting.

2. I actively produce concepts though the process of organizing chaotic or confusing experience. That is, a problem imposes disorder on my experience and by turning over the problem within my mind— by reflecting and describing and rotating its nature; and asking how and why and when it works and where it comes from and what it associates with— I produce an erect a structure which orders the experience. This structure is a concept.

Every actively produced concept is a result of applied pressure, applied work, constantly squeezing, testing, stretching, challenging, and undermining its ability to yield a concept that orders and explains experience.

Synthetic Unification

New concepts are constructed when the particulars of mind converge in a context, as a result of reflection.

Wisdom is synthesis of contexts, or disparate domains of knowledge, and the concepts located within.

The process of testing particulars yields experience.

The process of testing concepts within a context yields understanding.

The process of testing concepts in various contexts yields wisdom.

The bipyramid capstone is the unifying concept; the pinnacle is the all seeing eye; the concept located at the highest point is the higher order self, or a consciousness that is fully aware of its self, due to reflection.

The top of the pyramid is where synthesis occurs: all concepts exist under this synthesizing capstone.

Structuring Consciousness

No matter what the domain, there is always a single unifying concept at the top, which resembles a capstone, in which all other concepts are built upon. This concept possesses the same shape and is positioned in the same location for every domain. Reaching the very point of this  capstone requires emptying all concepts from the mind, and feeling entirely. When this occurs synthesis can occur among other domains of thought and their concepts.

The concepts extending from under this unifying concept all resemble irregular geometric shapes. The farther down, the more irregular, and the less compatible with concepts horizontal to it. Extending away from the unifying pinnacle located at the tip of the capstone, the base extends down infinitely as each additional concept justifying existing concepts indexes a new aspect of experience.

Each concept possesses very unique features that allow it to integrate seamlessly with other concepts that possess inversely congruent features, so that they rest stable on one another. In this way all compatible concepts are inversely related (dualistic), like puzzle pieces, possessing a supply or demand that links them together, a void or an instantiating, a cause or effect, a deficit or surplus. Every concept contrasts with an interlinking, compatible concept in which it is connected.

New domains of knowledge cannot be built up from passive concepts. They can only reconstruct an existing domain of knowledge. Passive concepts can build down, developing or elaborating new concepts, from existing domains of knowledge.

Only when the unifying concept located at the point of the capstone is established can active concepts build up new domains of knowledge.

Adaptation and Evolution

Adaptation is an equalizing response; adapting is a response which creates equilibrium between two objects.

Adaptation is the appropriate response to environmental demands.

Adaptation of a subjective being is the appropriate response to proximate objective demands imposed by the given context.

The necessities, struggles, and demands original to a context does not guarantee adaptation.  If the subjective being is perfectly adapted to its environment– the objective demands of its context–, appropriate responses will occur fluidly and seamlessly.

Energy must be supplied to a system to produce change.

If a subjective being  is produced by the context, it is perfectly adapted. Wherever energy is highest, adaptation is fastest. Potential energy allows for future adaptation.

Concepts allow for adaptation by producing appropriate responses to changing demands.

Access to concepts and active reflection is imperative to adaptation.

Concepts without reflection cause functional fixation because they only consider the concepts—and the context in which they were generated— presently occupying the consciousness, which is incompatible with the demands of the current context.

Some personalities possess a chronic struggle which produces creative thoughts and solutions: madness of creative genius, anxiety, bipolar, depression, and the like.

 

Talking Pineapples: Unreflective Education

Just finished reading an article titled Talking Pineapple on 8th grade New York State Confuses Everyone.

How does something like this happen? And how often? I’d like to know when the education system fully embraced its role to inculcate and train students with nonsensical, abstracted theory rather than educate students with sensible, relevant material rooted in experience. Has education replaced religion as the perpetrator of unreflective dogma? Or I am being too harsh?

Do educators believe students are simply too dumb and unreflective to realize that they’re being duped?  What is actually being tested here? Abstracted relationships with no foothold in reality. This leaves the mind way too open for programming. When you don’t have a foot in experience, when you’re holed up in a classroom, in a car, behind a computer, in front of your phone the majority of your life, you are liable to be believe the craziest, most nonsensical rhetoric.

When I train an animal— a dog for instance— I train it using extrinsic rewards. When it performs an instructed action, I say “good doggy”, pat it on the head, rub its belly, and produce a succulent morsel of food. When the dog behaves in an unacceptable way, I blow my whistle, scold him, place him in time out, give him a smack, or perhaps withhold food and treats. I use these rewards or punishments to condition his responses, however illogical they appear to be (what is logic anyway?). I could have him stand on a ball, balance a fishbowl on his nose, and have him howl a song. He doesn’t care how ridiculous it looks, just so long as he gets fed and a pat on the head. All he knows is that there is a reward at the end, every time.

When I train a human, I train him using extrinsic rewards. When the person performs an instructed action, I say “good boy”, put him on the back, give him a gold star, an A+ grade, or perhaps produce some dollars. When he behaves in an unacceptable way, I yell at him, scold him, place him in time out, take away his star, give him an F, whip him, or starve him.

It’s the same way for humans. When the instructions become so insane they don’t reflect our personal experience, and we’re alright with that, you can be sure you are being manipulated, that something is not right. “Why would I ever have to consider thinking about pineapples and cannibals in this way?” you might ask, “When have I ever in my past?” And they reply “Never mind, don’t think about the content of the story,” and say, “just remember what we told you in class, remember the answers, the response we told you to produce when you see the question.” It’s not education, it’s training. Education means  “to lead out”, such as when we lead someone to a new terrain, to new pastures. Training means to “drag out”, like when you drag a mule, or pull a slave by the collar.

(Educate comes from educere ex- “out”+ ducere “to lead”, from the PIE root *deuk- “to lead”, where Duke is derived. Training comes from trahere “to pull, draw,” from PIE root *tragh- “to draw, drag, move”)

I have been giving thought to similar problems I encounter throughout our education system and, more broadly, culture.

This is an example when theory trumps experience. What the hell does that mean? I mean schools don’t teach you how to reason from open experience, they train you to reason from closed theory. They prioritize syntax, structure, and empty relationships among symbols, among words. Pure abstractions.  There is no emphasis on content, semantics (associated meaning and feeling), and comprehensive understanding. Am I being too hard?

I don’t think I am. In our classrooms it doesn’t matter if you know what the worldly implications of an answer are so long as you answer it correctly on the test. It’s not like students ever experience or encounter the object— that is, what the words and relationships among them actually refer to—  as they sit for hours in their crammed classrooms. Most of education is abstraction. They teach you how to reason from principles, and the constructed relationships between them, that you’re instructed assume, ad hoc, to be true. When we simply believe words or principles are true, we commit the same error that religion commits. Words and authority don’t make something real. Just because the pope says the bible is the word of god doesn’t mean that Jesus was the son of  god— like we even know what god, which god, or who Jesus meant when we spoke of “god”; God could simply be enlightenment, desire for understanding, thirst for knowledge, or faith in your self, which is my favorite interpretation since it contains explanations for all the preceding.

As far as I’m concerned, there is one reality, one god, and it’s found deep within each individual if they dare to venture within and search it out. Reality does not exist outside of the mind: to be is to be perceived. Symbols, words, tokens, signs— they all seek to transcend the authority of personal experience with impersonal theory, and they are very persuasive, especially when “logic” knits the story together so convincingly.

What makes something real must be real according to you. I always suggest that you peer review your experience with others who have shared that experience, but ultimately the utility of your conclusions must be left for you to decide. Do not give the authority of your experience over to the authority of another due to complex justifications or compelling rhetoric.

*

Regarding this article and our culture, I believe we’re in a time where the sovereignty of an individual’s internal experience is on its way out, where individualism counts for nothing anymore.  We’re witnessing the rise of pedantic educational, political, and economic institutions that are similar to the rise of parochial religious institutions, all of which serve one purpose: enslavement.

How is this possible? How can this be?

I would bet it’s the natural corollary of civilization. Every civilization reached a point where ridiculous dogma and metaphysics governed the masses. And we think we’ve escaped the ignorance? We think that science has somehow saved us from ourselves? That is prideful ignorance.

Repetition causes words to lose their meaning. Scarcity creates value. And values prescribe action. But when there is no common experience, and control must be exerted, you must appeal to some values, some feeling for influence. What feeling can universally move the masses? We’ve discarded religion due to its incompatibility with the profits that science and technology can provide— But religion did work so well for so long! Wage labor a far better way of incentivizing work and extracting wealth than tithing is anyway: so what is the common value of industrialized society, for America? Materialism! i.e.  money and the “things” we can accessorize our experience with!

All that we do revolves around the pleasure of goods, the gratification of indulging in “things” or pleasing corporeal experiences. But what happens when there is no more scarcity, there is no more value, there is nothing unique about the human experience? What happens when your individualism becomes null because there is nothing in the world that hasn’t been felt by everyone else?

That’s why experience is so important, that’s why feeling is so significant, why authenticity is the reigning value of all values. Where you are your own god who creates your own meanings.

And what to I mean by god? I do not mean perfectly “omniscience, omnipotent, omnipresent”. That is for fairy tales. The god I am referring to that you possess within you is the ability to create meaning and value and visions and worlds and relationships for yourself. Without having to rely on some external superior power or governing authority.

Yes. You are your own god. Does that terrify you? It should. Is a slave terrified without his master?

You must learn to become, as Emerson said, Self-Reliant. The power exists within you, within the imagination, the depths of reflection, where memories mix and meld with reason and will, the desire to thrive and flourish.

manifestum philosophiae

I want to start a culture. Specifically, a school of thought. This school will operate independently from any existing cultural institution; moreover, it will remain free from the influence of any existing governmental, religious, academic, or community organization. It will be a community school ipso facto, a social organism composed of collaborating individuals. To attend, you must be a participating citizen who lives and works within the community.

The following is a preliminary framework in which this culture will embody:

This evolving draft is the culmination of all the principles of wisdom I have distilled throughout my life.

These are the core ideas embodying this manifesto: Subjective, Objective, Synthetic, Exponential, Evolution.

praefātiō

I exist. Specifically: the statement I exist posits the objective from the subjective.

Existence is paradox.

Paradox is contradiction. Specifically: Paradox is conflict.

Within the space of the present moment is duality:  a priori and a posteriori: infinite and finite, divisible and indivisible, continuum and locus, composite and prime, even and odd, whole and part, totality and partiality, relation and position, dimension and point, possibility and necessity, subjective and objective, relationship and entity, essence and existence, type and population, abstract and concrete, concept and fact, mental and physical, inclusive and exclusive, spiritual and corporeal, mind and body, passion and reason, deduction and induction, wisdom and knowledge, intrinsic and extrinsic, holism and perspective, monism and pluralism, conclusion and premise, God and man, ad inifinitum. (Consider exploring the following: sufficient and necessary, antecedent and consequent, fluid and static, life and death, )

Composite is the whole.

Prime is the parts.

The greatest number is one, 1. Specifically: One establishes a subjective perspective.

The second greatest number is two, 2. Specifically: Two establishes an objective perspective.

Each subjective perspective establishes a relationship with the other. Specifically: the apprehension of a second perspective is impressive.

Being the first odd prime number, three, 3, Δ, is the most divine, the most excellent, the strongest.  exemplī grātiā: triangle, logic (two premises, third conclusion), et cetera.

The number three represents change, as delta, Δ.

Given two points, any third point may be deduced. Specifically: given an infinite series of points, the existence of any two points establish a third point. More precisely: Presented with a third, the established relationship between any two exclusive subjective perspectives establishes an inclusive objective whole. The triangle signifies this inclusive relationship, Δ.

I.

terminus a quo: all “matter” exists as static energy. Specifically: “matter” is equivalent to static energy.

Energy is present totality. Specifically: energy is the existing universe.

Energy is an indirectly observed quantity. Quantity is an assigned value, a symbol denoting a numerically assigned point of magnitude or multitude.

Energy is observed as a transference, a change, Δ, in state, between objects.

“Matter” is an object that occupies space and possesses mass.

Space is the n-dimensional extent dictated by underlying structures within a boundless continuum in which objects and events possess a relative position and direction. Specifically: Space is context.

Mass is a quantitative measure of an object’s resistance to change, Δ. Specifically, the greater the mass: the greater the inertia; the greater the gravity, ergo the greater resistance to change.

II.

terminus a quo: the universe exists in perpetual flux. Specifically: the natural world exists as continual change. 

Flux is change.

Change is exponential. Specifically: change is signified by increasing returns. More precisely, change: progresses or regresses, increases or decreases, expands or contracts, develops or diminishes.

Where there is no change, there is equilibrium. Specifically, the absence of change is: homeostasis, preservation, status quo, routine, habit.

III.

terminus a quo: all life, all living organisms, exist under a single axiom: “Self-preservation”. Specifically: the preservation of body and/or mind.  More precisely: the preservation of the living organism’s body or mind; genetic or psychological information. “Self-preservation” is homeostasis.

“Self-preservation” is the product of evolution. Specifically: the ability of an individual organism to adapt to its natural world. More precisely: the capacity of an individual organism to adapt to the context in which it is presently situated.

Adaptation is evolution. Specifically: Adaptation is flourishing. Ergo, evolution is flourishing.

IV.

The ideal culture must embody two axiomatic principles: “Know thyself” and “I know that I know nothing”.

Combined together they form paradox. 

Paradox is conflict, contradiction. The presence of paradox produces the elemental state of the evolutionary life: synthesis.

Synthesis is creation. Specifically: understanding, resolution, harmony, union, learning.

V.

Regarding the first axiomatic principle: to “know thyself” requires apprehension of self. Specifically: acknowledging the extent or bounds of your individual subjective consciousness. The subjective consciousness is finite part.Thus, terminus a quo, “know thyself” is finite knowledge. It exists in parts and i through action, through experimentation, through testing of your self, your reactions.

Regarding the second axiomatic principle: “I know that I know nothing” requires apprehension of world. Specifically: the extent of the general objective world.  The objective world is infinite whole. Thus, terminus a quo, “I know that I know nothing” is ignorance.

Thus, the synthesis of the first two axiomatic principles is paradox. 

VI.

The process of mental evolution, termed “learning” or “education”, will embody a key tenant: “praxis“. More precisely: a posteriori inductive experience and a priori deductive reflection. Specifically: action and reflection, empiricism and theory, experimentation and hypothesis, divergence and convergence, doing and thinking.

Praxis embodies two features: “novel experience” and “meditative reflection”. More precisely: broad stimulating exposure and deep introspective thought. Specifically: gathering new sensation and establishing existing memory.

VII.

Synthesis is a process that individuates conscious experience, holistic phenomenal consciousness, individual subjective perspective.

The external world provides the parts. The internal world provides the whole. The process of synthesis occurs through reflection.

Synthesis is a product of the will to power.

VIII.

Will to power is a manifestation of the first axiom: “self-preservation”. Specifically: will to power is the manifested intention to “self-preserve”.

Will to power is the driving mechanism of the process of synthesis. Specifically: synthesis is a result, a consequence, a corollary, a conclusion

Will to power is produced through a conflict of intention: through struggle, through frustration, through challenges, through obstacles, through pain, through confusion.

IX.

Conflict is exists either externally or internally. Specifically: the phenomenon of conflict exists a posterior experience or a priori thought; body or mind.

Conflict of intention achieves synthesis through active inquiry, through inquisition, through curiosity, through wonder, through asking questions.

Critical inquiry or critical thinking is the process of recalling the two axiomatic principles as a means of identifying subjective theory, or latent mental assumptions, and criticizing or challenging new experience or information about the world.

X.

Recall: The more mass the more resistance to change.

Education and Genius: Boredom and Learning

If you are having a conversation with someone and you find yourself struck with boredom, chances are it is not a failure on your part, not a result of your mere laziness. I would bet that the failure rests with the person your speaking to, your interlocutor. I’m under the opinion that there no boring ideas. Just boring people.

After all, we’re sensual creatures. We thrive on stimulation. Nearly all of communication is nonverbal (Knapp). Sight and sound comprise 94% of our sensory inputs, 84% and 11% respectively. The American educator Marva Collins said that “The essence of teaching is to make learning contagious, to have one idea spark another.” I couldn’t agree more. I believe that at the heart of this contagion is a resonating passion, an enthusiasm that generates a visceral reaction, a mutually shared connection with another person.

Regarding education, why do we find that the responsibility for learning and adequate understanding rests with the student? Assuming that students have a vested interest in gaining knowledge of the material, why would we dismiss them as merely lazy or unmotivated when they find it unbearably difficult to fight through boredom and apprehend a classroom lecture?

When a student enters a classroom prepared to learn new material, they begin without a context. Even when reading the text is a prerequisite to coming to class, there is still an absence of ultimate relevant context: why should a student be expected to understand the relevancy and relationships within the context being presented? They shouldn’t. But this is the prevailing attitude maintained by formal education.

The result of an attitude insisting that the better part of learning rests in the hands of the student rather than with the teacher is a system of education where disengaged teachers instruct and lecture to students who are discouraged to engage in critical, mutually beneficial dialog, but sit as semi-passive observers to be inculcated with remote, vague ideas devoid of a context that is immediately relevant to the schema they bring with them to the classroom.

What kind of thinking does this promote? I would bet that the direct manifest of this classroom emphasis produces analytic, auditory-sequential thinking. This type of thinking is rote, routine, automatic, and poor in relevant context necessary for robust comprehension. Outside of what meaning is directly issued by the dictated insistence of the educator, there is no meaning. As a result students know all the words to all the questions, but they fail to ever develop a comprehensive semantic web that poises all the questions, and therefore lack the capacity to critically inquire, to ask original questions, for themselves. The contrary of analytic, auditory-sequential thinking is nonsequential, visuo-spatial thinking characteristic of geometric visions of reality.

I recommend reading Two Ways of Knowing for a preliminary elaboration on the virtues of auditory-sequential learning (left brain hemisphere) versus visuo-spatial learning (right brain hemisphere). To briefly note, highly gifted individuals utilized visuo-spatial thinking, exhibiting greater brain activity in the right brain hemisphere. But allow me to continue this line of thought a little further down. (Also another interesting article on Temporary and Spatial Processing)

Wonder. This word encompasses the attitude of children— model geniuses in their own right. They are absorbed with curiosity, captured with wonder, and intensely interested in the prismatic, multifaceted world around them. Children learn at exponential rates, partly due to their physiological development, but even more importantly, due their excitement for discovering novel experiences and the process of knitting new understandings regarding how these experiences work.

But what happens to that childlike wonder? Where does it go in age? In the past psychologists speculated that the brain is programmed for critical periods of development that allows for exceedingly fast neural growth in childhood that eventually tapers off with age. They posited that brain plasticity and cognitive fluidity wanes as knowledge becomes more crystallized with age. Due to recent research dispelling notions that brain plasticity declines and ceases with the onset of adulthood, and due to my own experience with learning, I do not embrace this paradigm.

Instead I would like to introduce a paradigm that explains how sparkling wonder for the world fades as individuals become more enculturated, as their questions about the world are met with more of the same answers, the same flat predictable responses. The corollary? They grow more desensitized, their brain is starved of stimulation, and their minds slowly harden and calcify into a crystallized understanding of the same old  phenomenon they find themselves routinely bombarded with.

In effect, the loss of childlike wonder, the lack of curiosity for the world and all its treasured enthusiasms for understanding, is a result of mental oppression. Sounds harsh, right? While this may sound like an overt plot by big brother, I assure you it is not. Rather it is the natural progression of culture.

Allow me to digress momentarily and introduce my thoughts on the sociological philosophies of Bourdieu and Althusser.

Bourdieu discusses the phenomenal progression of enculturation that begins before we are born, beginning with a room and crib and name and clothes assigned to us by our parents. As we emerge from the womb and into this world with an open mind, tabula rasa, we adopt the world that has been carved out for us. Aside from the aforementioned articles, our parents may even have an idea of what kind of person we’ll be, what personality and character they believe we should possess, what religion we’ll practice, and maybe even what job they envision us to have one day, perhaps as a doctor, or lawyer, or entrepreneur.  As we grow older, we learn the various cultural conventions that should govern our behavior appropriately within the context of our given family practices, within school, within church, or within the public domain, such as how to think, how to speak, how to act. We are corrected whenever we venture outside the realms of customary convention, such as when we use foul language in certain public settings, and are reprimanded and corrected, otherwise censured.

This external censure slowly becomes adopted and internalized by individuals until they no longer need external ques for regulating inappropriate and appropriate behavior. In a sense, we learn to censure ourselves. We learn the act (or art) of self- censorship. The proper behaviors we adopt are cultural capital endemic to the social or cultural context in which we find ourselves most exposed to and influenced by.

Bourdieu describes this as the habitus, or the set of socially learned dispositions, skills and ways of acting that operate unconsciously without our awareness. When we do become aware of this habitus, it is often when we find ourselves in a foreign or unknown context that allows us to recognize the incongruencies in behavior, say when a well groomed wealthy elite finds herself at a barbecue in the deep south.

I apologize for the digression but the point I’m making is all important, so allow me to state it plainly: the education system of today fosters a habitus that discourages self-guided open-ended critical inquiry in favor of directed, closed, routine memorization. I am speaking in absolute abstracts, of course, but if you take time to draw parallels to your experiences with formal education I am sure your true conclusions will be the same as mine. The reason why this is the case falls with the aim of education: to produce a work force proficient at undertaking assigned orders, finding answers to given questions, and completing a set of tasks dolled out by superiors. If you look at the hierarchical structure of the classroom as a training ground for the hierarchical structure of the workplace, this doesn’t seem like such a preposterous explanation of education’s existing state.

The individuals proposing and influencing education policies, the wealthy elite, can only think in terms of their own self-guided interests. What benefit would it serve them to have a free thinking, critically minded, independently motivated work force? While I would argue that it would do our nation a great service in terms of creation, innovation, and invention, from an executive’s perspective I can’t see how that’s the most desirable employee. On the contrary, they want workers who work quietly and do the exact job they are given. More precisely: to passively accept what they are told and perform accordingly to expectations.

But in my opinion that’s an outdated paradigm organizational and labor systems. Societies are organisms, like cells or animals, where every part of the whole is as important and valuable as the next for operating at maximum efficiency and effectiveness. To deny the capacity to openly challenge and critically think about work processes is a form of self-sabotage. Fortunately there are organizations such as Google and 3M that employ the practice of critical and creative thought in their workplace.

But again, I digress. And allow me to clarify a point: I am not diminishing the role of intelligence in formal education and the work place either. In fact, it is the only facet or trait of an individual of any worth in contemporary education. What is intelligence? Does it differ from problem solving? Let’s explore these questions.

In the mainstream sense, intelligence is the ability to arrive at correct answers. Sounds good enough. In Greek, intelligence translates as intelligere which means to “select among” from inter meaning “among” and legere meaning “to gather”. More precisely, intelligence is a convergent style of reasoning that utilized deduction to arrive at conclusions. It is analytic and sequential. Does it differ from problem solving? Not if the problem is defined among a given set of premises or facts.

But what if a problem exists as open, without any apparent premises or facts with which to reason from? What if the questions are not given? This is where the utility of intelligence breaks down and an indication that some other important element necessary for problem solving begins gaining apparency.

Allow me to cite Leonardo de Vinci’s response when asked of the secret of his creative genius: saper vedere. In Latin this translates as “to know how to see.” From this brief phrase we can draw some tentative conclusions about what he might have meant, namely that creative genius, or rather problem solving, is the ability to formulate a novel perspective, an original point of view, that rearranges and reprioritizes the saliency and valuations of phenomenon, of facts, within the context of a given problem. This is where visuo-spatial thinking is paramount.

It would seem that the ability to gain the proper perspective necessary for solving open-ended problems rests with the ability to think divergently through a visuo-spatial context of thought. That is, to diversify and differentiate different modes of thought, perhaps through analogy or metaphor, in order to gain an alternative and, ideally, an original point of view.

So I must ask: What type of thinking does our contemporary formal education system encourage? One that deviates from the “norm”? One that tests various processes of reasoning through problems? One that explores alternative solutions to a given problem? Or how about the most striking question of all: Does contemporary education encourage independent thought or novel perspective in the classroom?

If I were to generalize all my experiences in education, and even defer to the data regarding increases in standardized testing, my answer to all these questions would be a resounding no.  Is more standardization, more conformity and uniform perspective the answer? No and no again.

What we need are better teachers who are more adequately equipped to facilitate open discussion and lead critical thinking. In addition, we could do away with rigid, inflexible curriculum’s and standardized tests, as well as the stifling behavioral expectations of structured class settings. We also need to toss out this notion that intelligence— the ability to utilize deductive reasoning to converge at correct answers from a set of given premises— is not the only measure of value, and that other critical thinking skills— such as those that produce an ability to transcend bias, create new perspective, and generate novel questions and original solutions— are being totally overlooked and underutilized.

Standardized Testing and Extrinsic Motivators

The primary aim of compulsory education is to ensure the proficient attainment of knowledge in a variety of predetermined areas. The benchmark standards for proficient knowledge and the areas of expected proficiency are established by the state and federal governments. Measuring student performance in this a way not only to assess a student’s knowledge proficiency, it provides educators and policy makers with a method for determining the efficacy of school policy and teaching strategies. Because there are many factors and contextual issues that influence a student’s performance, a challenge for educators and school administrators today is finding ways that accurately measure knowledge proficiency in an effort to develop policies to improve student performance.

The current method for measuring student performance is through standardized tests that cover a handful of core subjects that are deemed as accurate indicators of a students knowledge. Standardized testing was introduced as a means of providing a statistical distribution of student performance. This method allows scores to be quantified against the relative aggregate population of test takers in the areas of critical reading, math, and science. These tests can only measure a limited number of outcomes, the scores of which are simply ordinal numbers that measure the relative position of any given student – the innumerable number of factors at play cannot all be taken into account by a series of general tests. While it is useful for determining abstract averages of student performance based on ordinal analysis, it fails to determine the factors which contribute to improving achievement. As a result, its ability to determine the performance of specific schools and their districts and provides little insight into the specific factors responsible for the successful policies.

Research confirms that increased emphasis and spending on standardized testing does not produce measurable increases in student performance. As evidenced in the graph below, increased emphasis on standardized testing through the costly implementation of broad national education policies such as the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) produce virtually no performance increases in the presumed indicators of achievement. Despite exponential spending on such policies that promote more required standardized testing, there is no indication that these policies effectively increase student performance.

Instead, research has shown that standardized tests work to the detriment of student learning as teachers are incentivize to focus on test preparation. Rather than encouraging conceptual comprehension of the material, students are instead forced to memorize irrelevant facts and improve test taking efficiency. Furthermore, this reorientation of focus shifts classroom goals that cater to improving average scores which increases teacher attention on the average students and leaves struggling and gifted students at the far ends of the spectrum without adequate attention or support. In addition, test scores have direct repercussions on a students future, faculty tenure, and school federal grant money. The consequences of such a premium on high test scores increase the likelihood of competitive behavior between students. This detracts from the overall quality of their education and encourages unethical behaviors from students and teacher and administration. In recent decades there has been a growing problem with the proliferation of student cheating and news of countless scandals involving teachers and schools manipulating test scores for personal gain.

Recalling that standardized testing is an ordinal measurement, there is only so much value that can be derived from the interpretation of aggregate scores as an interpretation of knowledge proficiency. The varying content and difficult of any given test can only provide a crude indicator of performance that is relative to other test takers and dependent on innumerable variables which cannot be captured in a single test.

In light of this evidence there is good reason to initiate a shift away from standardized testing towards better indicators of student achievement. Research indicates that societal factors, emotional factors, the learning environment, and methods of teaching are better predictors of educational success. Additionally, there is strong evidence suggesting that high quality schools are represented by high quality faculty and administration.

The various stakeholders within education reflects the complexity of the issue. Standardized testing reinforces extrinsic motivations within society that diminish self-efficacy and reinforce values that emphasize instant gratification without long term investment. The consequences of this testing reverberate through the students and extend throughout society, affecting every facet of our culture. Solving the issue will require addressing factors relating to the classroom environment by supplying highly qualified and incentivized teachers who engage in meaningful relationships with their students, praise individual experience and inquiry over abstracted ideals, and encourage work ethic over results.


References
Citizens League. (2008, June 11). How does standardized testing impact students’ motivation to learn? . Retrieved from http://www.citizing.org/data/pdfs/sso/SSOIssueBrief_StandardizedTests.pdf
“Inflation-Adjusted Cost of a K-12 Public Education and Percent Change in Achievement of 17-Year-Olds, since 1970 | Intellectual Takeout (ITO).” Intellectual Takeout (ITO) | National Debt, Education, History, Economics, Great Depression, 5th, 4th Amendment, Patriot Act, Energy, & Human Nature Info. Web. 07 Dec. 2011. <http://www.intellectualtakeout.org/library/chart-graph/inflation-adjusted-cost-k-12-public-education-and-percent-change-achievement-17-year-olds-1970&gt;.
Popham , J. W. (2009). Why standardized tests don’t measure educational quality. Using Standards and Assessments , 56(6), 8-15. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/mar99/vol56/num06/Why-Standardized-Tests-Don’t-Measure-Educational-Quality.aspx
What’s so bad about standardized testing? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.msu.edu/~youngka7/cons.html
Winerip, Michael. Standardized Tests Face a Crisis Over Standards. 22 March 2006. 19 April 2009 <http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/22/education/22education.html?scp=4&sq=standardized%20test&st=cse&gt;.

Revolutionary Humanity and Progress: Atheism, Skepticism, Man, Mind

There appears to be a growing number of people converting to skepticism and atheism in recent years. My concern is that the ‘bankrupt’ values of Christianity are just supplanted with the ’empty’ values of materialism.

The atheism and skepticism being adopted mainstream, in my opinion, isn’t properly justified: it’s simply because religion is inconvenient. There are no values to bolster the atheism, no justification to support the skepticism, no emphasis on understanding, reason, learning, mind. It’s just the best way to accommodate a nihilistic relativism. And I’m referring to the mainstream movement, the cultural phenomenon of suddenly self-identifying as a skeptic or atheist after reading one Dawkins or Hitchens book because it was a NYT best seller.

But perhaps that the average atheist does everything I questioned (read, reflect etc.) Suppose they do more than the average christian does. Studies show that the more educated you are the more likely you are to be an atheist, so I must question whether this phenomenon is simply the result of peer pressure or conformity. Perhaps being an atheist for an inspiring number of people is a product of thinking critically, logically etc. It may be that these atheists can have moral codes and strong beliefs grounded in a hope for humanity (not nihilistic).

Could it be that a lot of the surge is because there is more discourse about these issues and that it’s less taboo? We also understand a lot more about natural day-to-day phenomenon that at one time seemed supernatural. It may not be the case that people are necessarily better at thinking critically overall, but they most certainly have the tools to think more critically about religion and their place in the world now more than ever before.

But why do people think atheism is preferred or justified? What does it mean to be a skeptic? Do people (new self-proclaimed atheists) understand how science works or why its methods justify its claims? Why science is ‘good’?? Or why it is better than Christianity? Does science provide any values? Explain how to live? Do these mainstream atheists know any more about justification of atheism than the justification of Christianity they gave up? Do they know anything about their history? As a country? A world? Their ancestors? Do they read any of the humanities seriously? Philosophy? English? Classics? Economic theory? Do they read at all? What are the reading? Pop or mainstream garbage that’s mass-produced, perpetuated and fed to them? Only the myopicly interesting, the narrowly fascinating, astigmatically entertaining? Do they know the arts? Know the significance of art? Historically? It’s impact on our culture?

Do these self-proclaimed skeptics know what logic is? What sound arguments look like? Do they know what man is? Do they know who or why they are? Do they know the relations between themselves as an individual and others in their community, state, country, culture, or in relation to other cultures? I would say, no, most generally. Or not to the satisfactory extent they should to be any more justified in believing in atheism and skepticism over religion. There seems to be an absurdity to the the mainstream trends of atheism and skepticism that are just as absurd as Christianity or any other religion they gave up. Though I would like to think so, I am not convinced that this movement is a result of a more intelligent, better read, more cultured populous. Actually, I would love to think so, but given what I observe, their habits, how they spend their free time, I can’t let myself be persuaded.

I don’t believe we have a generation culture that is anymore critically adept at thinking than the past. I believe these skeptic and atheistic trends are more of a product of our emphasis on relativity, of values or perspectives, and the respect we owe to tolerate such perspectives, than because we’re any more knowledgeable or thoughtful as a culture. I may be gravely mistaken, but most atheists I speak with can give me reasons why Christianity and religion is intolerant and oppressive and dangerous, but they can’t provide much justification for why their position is sound or correct or justified. On the contrary, they usually provide cliché responses derived from their teachers or textbooks or the history channel, much like people similarly repeat their pastors and priests or the religious texts. They don’t provide any more justification for why their reasoning trumps that of any other reasoning.

Our culture, our emphasis on tolerance and openness is great, but as a culture I don’t believe we’re taking advantage of its value. Instead it seems convenient, or allows for a nihilistic relativity, an “anything goes” mentality where all is equal and free. But I believe such values embodied in freedom and equality provide us with the vital ability to progress to a higher plane of consciousness and living than the past afforded, not simply accommodate all perspective irregardless of whether they actually contribute to this progress.

But what values are being replaced? Christianity not only offers a world view, an etiology, it provides many important values that allowed our culture to progress, puritanical values and ethical values, most of which are necessary for progress, for guiding action, although there are arguably just as many that hinder it. But in replacing Christianity, specifically its values, what will take its place? What values will allow community and a uniform drive for enlightenment or higher understanding and action?

Most, I tend to believe, would agree that the nihilistic or “anything goes” mentality is harmful and present in atheism today, and that’s something they get a lot of flack for. Many hope for a kind of humanist “faith” that has a combo Kantian-utilitarian twist. But that seems to be asking a lot. Could the “ignorant masses” handle that thinking? Can we have faith in human reason? Can we love thy neighbor without being told to do so in some superannuated religious texts? Many believe we can all be inspired by human achievement and have a faith in the utility and power in this construct of human understanding that is bigger than us, and all the extraordinary things humans can do and have discovered and all the exemplary individuals who exist and have existed to inspire. Do we need a god for this? Does intellectual refinement or a push towards “civilized” living really ground us in something other than base, brutish impulse? Perhaps scholasticism, religion or theism did not civilize anything. Perhaps it is this will-to-power and a better than thou art mentality or goal did that.

If atheism, skepticism, or whatever is supplanting religion is to be taken seriously there needs to be a more cohesive idea of what direction the human race should be going. People need to “give a shit” and self reflect, but they can’t unless they are comfortable doing so. They don’t care to care. It seems that, for the poor and down trodden, or because of them, atheism won’t work.

I suppose what I am fearful of is a cultural regress that disregards the historical tradition for understanding, for better living, for man and mind. A regress that overlooks thousands of years of study in the pursuit of understanding man, his free imagining mind of infinite possibilities, as well as his relation with the world and others. It seems our culture does not appreciate the traditions that provided us with these democratic luxuries that hold the individual mind, the self-reflective consciousness, as the highest aim for understanding and progress, luxuries such as freedom, equality, autonomy, etc. I am fearful that this regress will take us to barbarism, where sensuality, instinct, passions, and the like are the rule. I feel that I observe this manifest in our culture with our emphasis on the material, the sensual, the pleasurable; this overlooks thousands of years of intellectual refinement, of cultivating the mind, refining the passions to function through thoughtful reflection, sound reason and expression, instead of brutish impulse, emotional living.

But I feel that there is a serious responsibility that comes with freedom, equality, etc. And I believe that this responsibility is not being realized. Atheism, skepticism, and critical inquiry most generally, requires work in my opinion; it’s not a convenient label, it’s not a religion that just accepts what you’ve been handed as unquestionably true. It’s not what’s popular or accepted. It’s a serious position that, in my opinion, needs sound and thoughtful justification.

And what of this will-to-power? We all have, as did great thinkers in the past, our subjective perspectives of consciousness, of the good and understanding, but, in my provisional opinion, they were accommodating to other perspectives, they tried to synthesize other veins of thought, other historical traditions to render a higher more complete understanding. They did this through dialogue, discourse, dialectics, and careful study of their culture and history,  as well as its relation with other cultures and their histories. So long as their pursuit for understanding and refinement was selfless, as far as that’s possible, they were not megalomaniacs who wanted the world to think as they did. That, I believe they realized and appreciated, would lead to the opposite of their aim.

I suppose that’s my problem: There’s needs to be a cohesive idea of a general direction for humanity, or at least our culture, that is accommodating yet very clear in its aim. But, as I mentioned, this requires critical and thoughtful reflection and “giving a shit”.

So what of Plato’s philosopher king to guide the ignorant masses? The philosopher king idea was, in theory, pretty magnificent. Could it be that, for atheism to work, we all need to be philosopher kings? Or at least impress others so much that we function as their gods? This idea sounds cult-ish, and it sorta makes me cringe at the possible tyranny of thought that could result if improperly applied, but there is something reasonable to having great thinkers, selflessly devoted as a civil servant to asking the right questions and solving societies problems. As we observe time and time again, people are too unreliable to do so on their own. “Let someone else tell me what to think and do, etc.” Religion is easy, and since the weak are supposed to inherit the earth, everyone seems to buy into it, even the weak or poor or disadvantaged.

But more importantly, regarding our most significant societal needs, it is necessary that we possess a culture that reflects as a whole and give a shit collectively, like the Greeks embodied to some extent at one time. Leaving it up to the philosopher kings is probably no better than leaving it up to the politicians or priests. What is required is elevating the collective consciousness, the public awareness. But this lack of self-reflection, lack of critical thought, lack of culture and knowledge and self-understanding is, I believe, a result of a cultural malaise rather than a problem inherent to individuals, or the poor or disadvantaged. Our culture has misplaced values, i.e. materialism that fuels sensualism rather than mindful reflection and reason that fuels understanding. We value things more than ideas. Matter more than mind. Or so it seems

We might be closer to knowledge than in the past, but having the luxury to reflect on this stuff either requires money (you’re comfortable anyway) or being humble (you’re not pissed others are “above” you) or bona fide enlightenment. It’s inarguable that the internet is transforming things. But for all the good it does and can do, the Internet can be just as debilitating. How do the majority spend their time on it? Entertainment more than self-improvement. But I’m generalizing again. Perhaps, regardless of whether people spend more time bullshitting online, they’re spending more time doing ‘productive’ stuff, or at least being exposed to more views than their neighbors or the church Parrish hold. But that may be far to generous.

I suppose it’s simply because of what mainstream media and culture perpetuate, and I may be taking that as a reflection of our cultural values and priorities. Maybe it’s not and simply a reflection of capitalism, but I may be finding it difficult to make a distinction It seems right to say that this materialism and greed hinders mindful thinking. It also seems right that Capitalism is a major part of it. Though, perhaps it is “human nature” that’s to blame. What is success? Possessing and dominating? Is this biological? While this is another debate, I’d like to think, to a large extent, this is the case.

But I don’t think that the will-to-power necessarily is the primary impetus of humanity’s progress. I believe it was another, selflessly distinct  ‘drive’, or “will to understand” man and mind, as embodied by very few individuals throughout the ages. The will-to-power manifests quite naturally and beautifully in autocracies and dictatorships, but I’d argue these are hardly periods of humanity’s growth. Quite on the contrary. But I may be mistaken.

I agree that the will-to-power is most likely responsible for the capitalist’s contributions to humanity. But the corollary, in my opinion, isn’t to the benefit of humanity as a whole
Maybe short-term, maybe for few, but not long-term for everyone. I think I’m being too Pollyanna. I feel like these dilemmas are what Plato and all the other thinkers have contemplated for all time. However, with technology and semi-universal access to
so much info, I think the environment may have changed in an incomparable way to the past.

I’m just unsatisfied with how I observe people and our culture handle or deal with these values of freedom and equality. People seem to take them for granted, like they are inherent in everyone, but I don’t believe people are necessarily free and equal. I believe that this comes with work, with education and refinement and understanding. It’s not something we already possess, it’s something we must acquire, an expectation to be realized. We have a responsibility to earn freedom, earn equality. It may sound crazy, but I believe if we don’t work to realize and understand them, we’re more animals. How can someone be free if they don’t know what freedom is or looks like or behaves? What a free mind or consciousness undertakes, reasons or contemplates?  We don’t inherently possess freedom or equality, but we all agree to grant it to each other (ideally) when we form a society because the alternative is “fucked up”.

A slave is a slave because he is born a slave, believes himself to be a slave. He never challenges his condition because he doesn’t know to think differently, isn’t acquainted with any alternative. It is an impoverished state of mind, a deprived state of being. And I believe that our cultural consciousness is exactly that: impoverished and deprived.  But when it isn’t realized, when we take it for granted, at what point do we realize, or are capable of recognizing, that we’re neither free nor equal? (I may be being too harsh, too critical, too general and uncharitable, but I’m experimenting with these ideas)

Perhaps this occurs when we look at what other people have or control and are like, “fuck.”(Wall Street protests?) I think this is a growing sentiment, but even though people may be able to identify incongruities I’m not sure they know how to articulate the issue collectively. I’m not sure if they can articulate the fundamental problems without looking and pointing and grunting in vague mass protests. And I’d probably argue that those people may be part of the problem, may be creating or contributing to it. But I have to think more on this point.

Perhaps in a generation, when it gets bad enough, when people are forced to consider these ideas and understanding out of necessity, we’ll witness an awakening, a revolution of sorts.

I guess I’m not sure how you change things any other way. A lot of ignoramuses certainly join in and act all silly because they desire to be a part of something larger than themselves but don’t know what they’re doing, but I like to think the ideas behind them are solid. I would probably go so far as to say that there seems to be an intuitive injustice that even the most ‘undeveloped’ mind could pick up on by simply observing the inequality in light of our cultural democratic tradition. But I’m also fearful that this will simply lead to socialism, that the correction will be a superficial remedy that allows passive unreflecting sensual thought but saves equality. That the knowledge of a problem without the understanding of a why will cause more problems when we attempt to fix it. I’m also fearful that we’ll be high jacked by demagogues, by soothsayers, and end up even less free. Is it wrong that I think these scenarios are unavoidable? That’s not to say we can’t strive, but do I really think 300 million people can get their shit together in our lifetime?

I guess I believe in the power of influential leaders to cull the social consciousness from its stupor, to awaken it, to appeal to higher good and better living. But I may be being Pollyanna again. Think of the Gandhi’s, the MLK’s, the Socrates, etc. But this leader would have an unprecedented, monumental task like never before. It may be far too big of a task for any man, even a Jesus.  I guess similar, crazy things have happened in the past, but definitely not on this scale. As far as I can tell anyway.

Evidence Review: Cost Effective Policies for Improving Health and Longevity in America: Education and Maternal-Fetal Nutrition 
Barker-Hypothesis Policies

Introduction
Cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, and other obesity related health complications are among the top killers of American adults today. As these illnesses have grown increasingly more prevalent over the years they have taken the lead as the greatest contributors to rising health care costs. The aim of this paper is to identify how these diseases develop and address ways for preventing the onset of  chronic illness in order to improve health and longevity as a means of potentially curbing the rising cost of U.S. health care. Citing strong evidence, I posit that the single-most significant factor for improving national health is the proper maternal nutrition during the critical intrauterine, neonatal, and postnatal periods of child development. Additionally, I hypothesize that while maternal education programs may result in positive changes to a mother’s diet during her pregnancy period, it is the cost, availability and ease of access to quality nutritional foods which are tied to a country’s cultural lifestyles, and individuals’ socioeconomic class that primarily influences the success of this education policy.

Continue reading “Evidence Review: Cost Effective Policies for Improving Health and Longevity in America: Education and Maternal-Fetal Nutrition 
Barker-Hypothesis Policies”

Random Reflections

Modes of Expression:

Hard/ complete: Georg Cantor- Continuum hypothesis: Embodies rationalist/ modernist/ analytic movement

Soft/ incomplete: Godel- Incompleteness Theorem: Embodies relativist/ postmodern/ creative movement

Synthetic: Hegel/ James- Dialectics/ Pragmatism: Synthesizes these two perspectives for subjective ends according to their utility to solve and achieve dilemma/ inquiry

All modern studies and disciplines, being defined by prescribed rules and expectations, are limited in their ability and scope, and will be inhibited in adequately addressing novel problems.

In addition, Hegel, and Neils Bohr, saw necessity in taking counterfactuals or contradicting ideas, and holding them together in the mind, suspending their rigidity, dissolving boundaries, and creatively synthesizing their properties into a single, third, idea that is able to satisfy the initial counter-facts.

Relativist attitudes: revolution, creation, destabilization, individuality, synthesis, deconstruction.

Will to power- those who master language are the masters. Masters of language- more specifically, masters of delineation, or description- are the creator of causes.

Those who possess language, and the ability to manipulate language- proliferate perspectives and justify actions for everyone else.

To not have language, to not have education, is to be dispossessed, to be dominated. He who develops language, specifically his own language- be it borrowing from others or creating neologisms- can manipulate and dominate. Nietzsche understood this: the jews were masters of language- specializing in the oral and written tradition of the torah- owned and mastered language and eventually used this strength to manipulate the language of their ‘masters’ or the ‘gentiles’ by inverting their values of their language to subversively overpower and dominate them—see the New Testament, or Christ’s message.

The use of existing language can be used to justify by assimilating it into a final vocabulary by removing it from its original context. Decontextualizing is the ability of the pragmatic and creative types: they use existing language (tools), to manipulate and justify a unique (individual) end/ intention (action). Derrida attempts to capture the gestures of decontextualization. He seeks to pervert the internal semantic structure of words and language in order to recontextualize words, or leave them totally suspended in semantic ambiguity.

The reason manipulation can occur is that terms/ facts/ meanings are formed within a ‘present’ context. When the word is borrowed at a later time, it is referring to a previous/ past context, yet its use is always in the present. No two perspectives are alike, for all are subjective and indexed to individual/ unique direct experiences and the prevailing ideology of the context/ culture mutually shared by your social peers.

Language is social. Perspectives, thoughts, are formed to due direct experience, i.e. senses, impressions, experimentation, and ideologies, i.e. the semantic code and historically rooted structure contained in the language maintained by peers.

Perspective takes direct subjective experience and indexes it to the inherently ideological lanugae of yoru social peers. In this way subjective experience (individual consciousness) is censored by language. Likewise, language is compromised by ‘misusing’ semantics (metaphors, metonymies) and ‘decontextualizing’ it from its prevailing paradigmatic ideology.  Rorty alludes to this practice when he refers to the accumulating and building of “final vocabularies”.

The ability to use language is the ability to control the mind. Religion once controlled all language, and priests were the arbiters of its meaning—the interpretation of the bible, gods word, his divine will. This allowed the priests and prophets to govern the thoughts, and therefore actions, of their people.

The world tells us—leads us to believe—that language captures facts and truths. This is a form of ‘natural’ domination. ‘Natural’ in that man lives and persists through the “will to power” which enables them to thrive (dominate) in society by leveraging the minds of other men. This “will to believe” is uniquely distinct from other animals in that animals do not leverage the minds or ‘intentions’ or other animals. Instead they possess a “will to survive” which manifests through killing (predators) or compromise (prey).

Pragmatism recognizes the utility of using language—its conventions, rituals, customs, traditions, and accepted practices semantically assumed it contains – and uses it to justify intentions (ends/ actions). Continue reading “Random Reflections”

Thoughts

My favorite activities, in serial order, consist of: ‘Increasing my value as a person’, through meaningful work or study, and engaging in relationships. I do not enjoy relationships if I do not believe I have any value to bring to them. My relationships are most enjoyable when I believe I am positively contributing some of my own value to them. I am most fulfilled when I am studying, accreting new experiences, or achieving some worthwhile purpose or aim.

These are random thoughts- know that I’m a humanists, not a male chauvinist, and that I believe in equal rights and conceptions between men and women:
In The Republic Plato wrote that literature is feminizing and that combat is masculinizing. I’ve wrote about this before, but I think that education, on a certain level, is feminizing because it requires the passive consumption of information. This is why, I think, there are more women in school and, on average, they do better than their male counterparts. Men as not passive, on a whole, but more active. They challenge and are not as receptive to authority.  In this way men are creative and more apt to spread their influence and dominate through their own authority. Even though there are more women in the education system and even though they do better than males on average, it is not often that they contribute to higher knowledge in a profound and paradigm shattering way. If you look at Nobel Prize winners, the vast majority are men. This may be because we live in a gender biased world. However, it seems that men are more apt to create and dominate and challenge accepted views and authority more often then women. This may be attributed to the common notion that men are, on a general whole, not passive consumers but active creators. More later.

Working Dreams

I’m looking forward to entering the workforce. Living by myself in a one bedroom apartment in some new city, working for a company who sets my goals and pays my bills, was exactly the dream I’ve been working so hard for. That’s a lie, actually. I haven’t actually been working that hard, and that was definitely never a dream of mine. Life’s easy when you believe in what you’re doing. What’s hard is doing what you don’t believe in. That’s the position I’m finding myself in now.

As a child I always wanted to be a ‘businessman’, the one with the sharp suit, slick tie, shiny shoes and silver watch.  I wanted to hold the leather briefcase, wear the million dollar smile, eyes gleaming with confidence, and walk into work knowing that my decisions that day would change the world. Of course, you don’t consider the years in between, the entry level positions, running yourself to the bone for someone else’s promotion. Nor do you imagine the lonesome tired nights spent standing at your apartment window, staring over the suburbs and city, searching memories for the last time you’ve shared an intimate experience outside the workplace. I didn’t exactly dream of the dinners by myself, the long commutes, the coworkers that I affectionately love and hate, because while I chose the job, I didn’t choose them. I didn’t think to conceive what it would be like starting over again in a new place, time and time again, and how it would feel to cultivate new friendships, new conversations and tastes, new social networks in alien cities with every new promotion and transfer. I didn’t choose them, and I didn’t choose my loneliness. I chose success, the harder work and longer hours, the lack of leisurely weekends.

So nice to see you! I pull my cheeks upwards and release a smile. We talk about their new job, about the company they’re so excited to work for, about their entry level position that they didn’t see themselves in, but now they love it. Now they love it, because the dreams they once had didn’t consider the dull reality that was waiting for them. Disappointment is hard to swallow.

We were told that our education, our hard work, makes us special, gives us a life of opportunity. Sometimes I believe it.

Teacher

The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”
—William Arthur Ward

Keep this in mind when you communicate: you cannot escape the reward of your action. Consider that each time you communicate with someone you are revealing something about who you are and what you know.

“Every man I meet is my superior in some way. In that, I learn of him.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

We learn from every man, and every man learns from us. In this way we are teachers. Instruct the prying eyes with inspiration. Let it seep from your intention and into your action. Do not waste time living mechanically or methodically. These are the grossest representations of transcendent man. Instead, become imbued with exuberant ecstasy, let your revelatory enthusiasms erupt with escalatory elation! Be a great teacher. Inspire with greatness.

 

Goal of Education

“The principal goal of education in the schools should be creating men and women who are capable of doing new things, not simply repeating what other generations have done; men and women who are creative, inventive and discoverers, who can be critical and verify, and not accept, everything they are offered.”
— Jean Piaget

Do you think this is being accomplished? What can be done about it? What is the utility of raising generations who only know how to repeat rather than think? A well trained and well behaved populous? Perhaps the cause of a generation caught in cyclical misfortunes?

I just read an article by NPR that detailed the lack of critical thinking, reasoning and writing skills being learned by college students today:

“….[the study showed that] more than a third of students showed no improvement in critical thinking skills after four years at a university was cause for concern…”

“Part of the reason for a decline in critical thinking skills could be a decrease in academic rigor; 35 percent of students reported studying five hours per week or less, and 50 percent said they didn’t have a single course that required 20 pages of writing in their previous semester.”

I am inclined to say that it is of no fault of the university. Rather, it is indicative of the protypical American culture. Payment does not guarantee education. It requires work, vision, and sacrifice, something that very little of the populous is inclined to embrace.

At every university, however, there are students who defy the trend of a decline in hours spent studying — and who do improve their writing and thinking skills. The study found this to occur more frequently at more selective colleges and universities, where students learn slightly more and have slightly higher academic standards. Overall, though, the study found that there has been a 50 percent decline in the number of hours a student spends studying and preparing for classes from several decades ago.

This is sad.

I’ll add to this post and write more later.

A quote:

“Modern schools and universities push students into habits of depersonalized learning, alienation from nature and sexuality,obedience to hierarchy, fear of authority, self objectification, and chilling competitiveness. These character traits are the essence of the twisted personality-type of modern industrialism.They are precisely the character traits needed to maintain a social system that is utterly out of touch with nature, sexuality, and real human needs.”

–Arthur Evans

Oppression: Education and Femininity

A recent study was published and reviewed in the NYT that detailed growing pressures in education and its affect on well-being.

A particular passage stood out in the essay:

Professor Sax has explored the role of the faculty in college students’ emotional health, and found that interactions with faculty members were particularly salient for women. Negative interactions had a greater impact on their mental health.“Women’s sense of emotional well-being was more closely tied to how they felt the faculty treated them,” she said. “It wasn’t so much the level of contact as whether they felt they were being taken seriously by the professor. If not, it was more detrimental to women than to men.”

She added: “And while men who challenged their professor’s ideas in class had a decline in stress, for women it was associated with a decline in well-being.”

I don’t want to extrapolate, but I saw a connection regarding education, gender and the suppression of the critical consciousness.

Continue reading “Oppression: Education and Femininity”

Pedagogy of the Oppressed Review

Chapter One

  In chapter one Paulo Freire addresses the matter of humanization, or the problem of dehumanization. Initially the reader is left wondering what it means to be fully humanized. As he talks of these hierarchal roles of subject-object, of oppressor-oppressed, he refrains from explicitly prescribing what it means to be fully human. This is not unintended, for such a prescription would vitiate his message by qualifying the very structure he seeks to eliminate. For Freire, humanity is not a thing to have or possess, but rather a responsibility towards freedom that allows being more fully.
 
Continue reading “Pedagogy of the Oppressed Review”

An Analysis of Paulo Freire’s Critical Pedagogy and Modern Education

Freire’s educational philosophy is largely political and social in nature. This aim of his message is to bring attention to the structures that govern our perceptions. These structures are generative themes that frame perceptions and our real consciousness. In doing so an ‘awareness’ can be achieved. It is this very process of approaching these structures that develops our critical consciousness, or a phronesis of practical wisdom, which uses the praxis of reflection and action. Freedom is achieved through the development of this critical consciousness as we confront reality.

Exploring and confronting reality need to occur for knowledge to be acquired. It is the critical consciousness that is responsible for this task. However, he believes that we all operate in generative themes that are framed by real consciousness that contains limited perceptions. He sees that a critical consciousness using praxis of reflection and action takes one beyond real consciousness into the potential consciousness where new themes can be generated. A supposition for the confrontation of reality is that an objective reality exists independently from the consciousness that can be explored. However, he believes that our understanding and knowledge is limited by the generative themes, the perceptions of this reality, which are historically and culturally rooted. Since all humans exist independently and are integrally experiencing reality, he believes that communal discourse allows for reality to be mutually explored which in turn yields a much more comprehensive understanding.

The mutual exploration requires that humans see each other as equal subjects.  As subjects, we should exercise our critical consciousness to solve the pressing dilemmas that are relevant and approximate to us. We should live as beings in ourselves, as ends in ourselves, fully employing our creative faculties of freedom to confront the demands of reality that lead to a fulfilling life. According to Freire, “People are fulfilled only to the extent that they create their world (which is a human world), and create it with their transforming labor. The fulfillment of humankind as human beings lies, then, in the fulfillment of the world. If for a person to be in the world of word is to be totally dependent, insecure, and permanently threatened- if their word does not belong to them- the person cannot be fulfilled. Work that is not free ceases to be a fulfilling pursuit and becomes an effective means of dehumanization.” (145)

In sum, every human possesses the ability to exercise their critical consciousness, to reflect and act on the world, in order to transform it to meet their approximate dilemmas. This is their labor. We are ends in themselves.  In contrast to animals which merely live in the context appropriate to it, and do not transcend contexts and communicate about it, human activity is characterized by reflection and action, theory and practice. This is how knowledge is garnered. Knowledge is simply the product of reflection and action.
However, due to the oppressive structures that characterize their existential experience, many people do not develop a critical consciousness. As a result, this critical conscious is underdeveloped. Oppression, in all the manifestations mentioned, subdues this critical consciousness.
You cannot separate freedom from humanity. It is distinct. Likewise, you cannot separate knowledge from humanity. As long as humans exist in reality there are themes that give it context and meaning. The question is whose context and meaning. Are the people generating these themes, this knowledge about the world and personal problems, themselves from their direct experience? Or are they prescribed or dictated these themes and knowledge by other people?

Freire’s message is that oppression robs people of their freedom to confront their own problems which thus subdues the critical consciousness. Oppression occurs when humans objectify their fellow man instead of see them as subjects. This translates to subjects who own, and objects who are possessed. This manifests as those who own labor, and those who are labor; those who prescribe knowledge, and those who receive knowledge; those who make rules, those who follow rules; those who teach, those who memorize.  To retain power and dominance, the subjects do not want the dominated objects to develop a critical consciousness as subjects and think. This would upset the power balance and strip the oppressive subjects of their ability to control.
Learning occurs when problems are posed and the critical consciousness confronts and rises above the current perceived limitations of the real consciousness. (113) The aim is to for the critical consciousness to move beyond the real consciousness into the potential consciousness where generative themes can be synthesized to solve the pressing problems. It is important to recognize knowledge as cultural and historically rooted. It is relative to the place and problems of the people. To substitute direct experience and the contradictions that arise from that experience is to strip life of its meaning.

Our current academic institutions operate in this oppressive teacher-student, subject-object, dichotomy under the banking method, where knowledge is transferred from a teacher who is ‘enlightened’ to a student who is ‘unenlightened’. This is the wrong way to approach education because it reinforces the oppressive structure by preventing the student from developing their critical consciousness, thus suppressing their ability to critically cognize knowledge for themselves. The transfer of knowledge in this method is static, absolute and lifeless.

On the contrary, education should be a dialogical in a mutual, cooperative, co-intentional exploration of the problems relative to the individual. Under the problem posing method, a teacher is not the ‘teacher-of-the-student’ but rather a ‘teacher-student’, and the student is not the ‘student-of-the-teacher’ but rather a ‘student-teacher’. Mutual learning takes place in dialog between the student and teacher as they unveil reality together. There is a trust, humility, and love that unites the teacher and student to address the problems relative to the student. Knowledge in this method is treated as changing, relative, and lively.
Who are these teachers? They are those who have developed a critical consciousness and see the student not as an object, but a fellow subject, a fellow ‘I’, that aids in the exploration of reality and problems. If those who have a critical consciousness make the student an object, and thus manipulate and divide and conquer, they are not practicing the problem posing method characterized by love, trust and humility. Instead they are oppressing, just like the banking method. A human being as an object in the world and not as a subject suppresses their freedom, submerges the critical consciousness, and limits access to the potential consciousness which gives rise to developing our humanity more fully.

What effects would manifest in an oppressive society that is structured to suppress this critical consciousness? Regarding the malaise of our modern culture, let us suppose that the democraticAmericawe know and love is actually an oppressive system composed of an oppressive hierarchal structure composed of elites and the populous.  In a world flooded with information and knowledge that has been pre-cognized and pre-objectified, where all of our answers have been prescribed for us, what does this do to our humanity, our critical consciousness and freedom?

All information that is not derived from personal experience is sloganized and robbed of the approximate and relevant meaning to the individual. News and media is simply precognized knowledge or propaganda presented and perpetuated by those who ‘know best’. I have to wonder if the repercussions to such oppression manifest as psychological ailments of society. What if there are no ‘Learning disabilities’, or if ‘depression’ and ‘bipolar’ and the like, are simply the manifestations of an oppressed humanity, an oppressed freedom, that cannot cope with the prescribed expectations and seemingly irrelevant and foreign demands of our culture?

If family structures reflect societal structures, then the majority of households operate within this oppressive structure. If this is the case with our current society, then most family structures are characterized by authority in the home, usually a dominating patriarch. In my own life, I found that I could not escape the oppression at home, or in school. When I attended school, or church, I was met with the same authoritative structure that dictated foreign demands and expectations. Teachers would lecture in front of the classroom and I was expected to engage in rote memorization, as if I were an empty receptacle to be filled with someone else’s cognitions of the world. In school, students are not given the opportunity, nor are they encouraged, to engage the world’s contradictions and coin relevant meaning. Instead, students are expected to passively consume someone else’s lifeless narrative of how things are. These structures suppress the critical consciousness, the curiosity for life and the world, by delegitimized our own ‘word’ and experience with the world. This oppression turns into listlessness, depression or rebellion against authority. These expressions are simply a result of ‘oppression’. Rebellion is a revolt against this authority. With this oppressive structure in mind, it’s queer to see how society treats us as problems and seeks to ‘prescribe’ its remedies. Children nowadays are diagnosed with a concoction of physiological dysfunctions that ranged from mood disorders to learning disabilities. Psychiatrists and psychologists attempt to assess and ‘treat’ patients with their own ideologies, and yet the rebellion continues.

I was personally met with this seemingly inescapable oppression which eventually drove me into rebellion as I sought escape from reality through drugs and alcohol. It wasn’t until after high school, when I was kicked out of my house and forced to live on my own that I experienced true freedom. For the first time in my life I was met with a profound freedom. The realization that I could be whoever and do whatever I wanted, that I could transform my life according to my passions and the dreams of my heart, that I experienced true joy in life.
From that point on I no longer struggled with substance abuse (although the habits and dependencies that had formed created challenges), nor did I see learning as a chore, a mindless endeavor of rote memorization with no significance or context. I could engage reality freely, independently, and create meaning and context as according to the passions and curiosities that affirmed my being. Everything came to life.
Any human, be it parents or teachers, should lay foundations of trust and love and humility as the starting point for all human development. Exploration of reality should be a cointentional effort.

However, one must wonder if there something lost by appeasing the undeveloped and nascent thematic understandings of reality in people. As much as Freire advocates a horizontal playing field where every relationship and community is to be considered valuable and legitimate at illuminating themes as a whole, understanding all people as equals creates an imbalance.            People are at different stages of reflection. How can one expect effective discourse to take place when illiteracy and proper reason, poisoned by superstitions, is rooted in their minds? Freire addresses this in the opening preface by referencing a meeting with peasants where a fear of freedom led some to think that this revolution of the critical consciousness could lead to a fanaticism. He mentioned the factory worker that described his transition from being naïve to critical and that while he still didn’t have all the answers, he did not experience a collapse of his world.

If one argues that there are principles that first must me ‘instilled’ in students before exploration can begin, they are overlooking the very freedom contained in humanity that allows him to explore and transform and learn from reality. If these principles exist, we need to be critical and ask their origin, as well as what their functional aim intends. This objective reality is not privy space accessed only by the elites, but an objective reality that can be learned by every human so long as there is a relevant problem to be solved. While these principles seem to offer a starting point for reason and reflection, by exploring reality with a critical consciousness, these principles can be derived from direct experience. In this way people can come to understand and utilize these principles in a way that gives meaning and context while preserving their humanity.

Bibliography

 

Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed.New York: Continuum, 2000. Print.

 

Multitasking State of Mind: Technology and its affects

A journal response/rant to an essay by Joanne Cavanaugh Simpson titled Multitaskinbg State of Mind

I agree with Simpson. These are not new thoughts. I feel more disconnected with the world now more than ever. I feel like a puppet master that articulates gestures to the world through mediums apart from me. I can tweak these gestures and reveal carefully chosen facades to the world.

I am exhausted, no doubt about it. I come to class in a stupor. My mind is in distant lands. It’s not whole, that’s for sure. When I say whole, I’m referring to a mind that’s all together at one place at a time. Instead my thoughts drift in all sorts of directions, leaving me spacey and unenthused. Why unenthused? My ability to conjure passion for a subject and the idiosyncrasies it posses are virtually nonexistent. Let me tell you, it is a daily struggle to pry myself from the grips of the web. I can watch my mental state degenerate as I log in time on the computer. At the beginning of the day I find myself refreshed. I usually stay away from the net as long as possible… but once I’m there… it begins. My mind, its quiet thoughts that usually dwell on solving important priorities in my life, are off tending to random information consumed through news feeds. The news itself is usually enlightening… for a moment. Once I bring in new enlightening information it flees and usually never returns. I never have an opportunity to synthesize it, make sense of it. I’m constantly barraging myself with multisensory distractions.

The shame in all this is that I was raised in a family that shunned electronic devices. No cable TV, 30 minutes a day on the internet. When I was living at home I had to make fun. It was great. Today, and when I say today I’m referring to my life at college, I am a pathetic party pooper. I didn’t start off this way. Oh no. Upon prepping for college I was a voracious reader, pumping out four books a month the year prior to landmark. I would write in my journal for hours at a time. I was motivated and focused. I taught myself coping mechanisms that I could bring to landmark. That was before the laptop came into my life. Once this happened, and I was very conscious of it the moment it entered, I lost all self control. It was a slow loss of control at first. It came with justifying my internet and web surfing usage bit by bit. Hey, everyone’s doing it. All the cool links that fill up you inbox from your friends. I felt like I was missing out.

I remember restraining myself from using the net. Turning off the wireless function, limiting myself to ONLY school related programs and sites. Bit by bit however I found myself delving into the horrific world of instant gratification. Stimulus and reward had crept into my life. It is a horrifying realization of course. At this point I’m graduating… and I am absolutely, 100% full of CONTEMPT for technology. It has ruined my ‘chi’. It has destroyed my spiritual peace of mind. I am no longer in the present, aware, and disciplined. I have been infected by a virus that seeks only new information… whatever interests me and rewards these impulses. My mind seeks these out and grows wary in most other stimulus inquiries. I say it’s a virus because it has grown worse and worse, almost ravaging me, and now I can say I am a participant that drags other fresh untainted minds into the realm of stimulus/ information consumption.

I HAVE tried ridding myself of this virus. I have planned and allotted time for quality reading and thinking. I do journal. I do seek peace on walks and reflections on nature. But, alas, I find myself in front of the computer at the end of the day, checking emails, and there they are- more distractions, links and stimulus. I hate it. Nay, I loath it.

As some one with ADHD… I NEED control. I CRAVE it. I have accepted that I cannot necessarily control the way I learn, so I adapt and learn to control other factors. I create novel ways with learning. I choose my environments wisely. These actions offer me a control to work around myself. But nowadays, in my current state, I feel helpless. Out of control. My mind wanders to the technology and it it’s robbed and abused. The satisfaction is so temporary that it genuinely leaves me with no lasting feelings. I must feed off it.

The concentration element is another story. My concentration has been so corrupted that even my desire and goal to achieve meaningful tasks has grown into a heaping obstacle. This actually coincides with the communication aspect. Because my concentration has been so abused, my ability to initiate meaningful conversations has dwindled. How? People, unlike the web pages and images that plaster the internet landscape, have depth. This depth needs to be explored… and people do NOT readily present this information. Nope. You are required as a human people, to become genuinely interested and do some work at finding it. Digging it out. Communicating requires a certain level of interest where digging into that depth is achieved. In this way a connection can occur. Problem is, people don’t have links covering their body. They don’t advertise the interesting stuff. It’s buried deep within them. To get it out, you must seek, dig, and poke around. You must concentrate, use some working memory, make connections and discover them.

ALAS, people in this era have lost the patience for such an art. Book reading is the same way. Books are long, with complex plots. They require an interest and concentration that allows you to dig up and make associations. Articles on the web, short summaries, twitters, wall posts and status updates hardly required this level of though. It goes in and just as fast as it goes it, it leaves.

So, would I agree with Simpson? Hell yes. She is on the money.

Do I think this multitasking trend is a good thing? Nope.  But I could argue the other way as well. In terms of health, absolutely not. In terms of adapting to the cultural trends, of course it’s a good thing. How would you survive in today’s fast paced, information crunching culture?!

But our minds, bodies and spirits have not evolved with these trends. We need quiet contemplation. It rocks my world this non-stop stimulation. It’s not even physically taxing. Simply mundane. It adds no REAL value to my life. Networking online with other virtually faceless profiles is an unfulfilling practice. We are only furthering a narcissistic urge to advertise our uniqueness to the populace. LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ALL THE FUN I HAVE! MY COOL QUOTES! MY AWESOME PICTURES! LOOK WHAT IT CONNOTES! DENOTES!

The truth is… it is not bringing us closer to our goals… UNLESS that goal is to flatter ourselves. Swear to God. What the hell are these networking sites for anyway? To get ourselves out to the world!?? ‘Look at me!’ we say with our profiles, ‘I am special and unique and bring value!’ The HUGE problem is, I find that most people, including myself, put MORE time into the networking aspect, than to the value they are trying to project.

How a person spends every second of their day defines who they are. If we got real with ourselves, we’d realize we spend diddly-squat time reading and doing the things we advertise as our passions when we COMPARE the time we spend on technology. Compare the time people spend leisurely listening on their IPODS to music to actually making music. Or the people who browse art ALL day long on the internet, but how many hours a day do they spend painting? COUNTLESS other examples…

I can’t imagine all the damage we’re doing to ourselves.

In the end its all about perspective. I’m not really convinced this technology revolution will aid in the overall health of those involved. I believe in simplicity. Mathematics, physics, and all other great sciences, depend on simplicity. I believe, in our life, we need it. A life with focus is a life with direction. What focus can people say they have? Perhaps this whole trend of multitasking is a focus itself…

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(I wrote this personal journal entry in January as a natural response to my own ruminations about the effects of the internet:

I’ve been wrestling lately. With thoughts. I’m wondering if the Internet is a bad or good thing. Most of my free time is spent reading blogs, e-mailing, watching videos, reading the news, checking updates or just plain surfing. I find that traditional reading has become more of a chore than it used to be.

It’s sad to think that’d I’d prefer to e-mail or message someone instead of call them on the phone. Catching up is done online. Catching up and conversing over a cup of coffee is almost unnecessary. I almost need something to do, like an activity or event to make our time a worthwhile experience. It seems like a waste of time when it’s all been said. After all the updates are read and all the blogs are perused, what else is there?

This is not a new thought or debate by any means. I feel that as much as this technology has made it easier and brought us together, I feel that we’re grown more alienated and impersonal than ever before. Even now I express these thoughts electronically, publicly.

I have a hard time remembering when certain people really knew me. When our relationship was something special and unique. That only a handful of people had the opportunity of knowing my day to day thoughts. I’ve become so transparent I feel lost. Where is the fidelity of a deep friendship?

Maybe this is a temporary feeling. I don’t know. I suppose I’m speaking to a very niche crowd. I know there are many nonconformists who live free of the networking hassle.

 

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Multitasking State of Mind: Technology and its Effects

A journal response/rant to an essay by Joanne Cavanaugh Simpson titled Multitasking State of Mind

I agree with Simpson. These are not new thoughts. I feel more disconnected with the world now more than ever. I feel like a puppet master that articulates gestures to the world through mediums apart from me. I can tweak these gestures and reveal carefully chosen facades to the world.

I am exhausted, no doubt about it. I come to class in a stupor. My mind is in distant lands. It’s not whole, that’s for sure. When I say whole, I’m referring to a mind that’s all together at one place at a time. Instead my thoughts drift in all sorts of directions, leaving me spacey and unenthused. Why unenthused? My ability to conjure passion for a subject and the idiosyncrasies it possesses are virtually nonexistent. Let me tell you, it is a daily struggle to pry myself from the grips of the web. I can watch my mental state degenerate as I log in time on the computer. At the beginning of the day I find myself refreshed. I usually stay away from the net as long as possible… but once I’m there… it begins. My mind, its quiet thoughts that usually dwell on solving important priorities in my life, are off tending to random information consumed through news feeds. The news itself is usually enlightening… for a moment. Once I bring in new enlightening information it flees and usually never returns. I never have an opportunity to synthesize it, make sense of it. I’m constantly barraging myself with multisensory distractions.

The shame in all this is that I was raised in a family that shunned electronic devices. No cable TV, 30 minutes a day on the internet. When I was living at home I had to make fun. It was great. Today, and when I say today I’m referring to my life at college, I am a pathetic party pooper. I didn’t start off this way. Oh no. Upon prepping for college I was a voracious reader, pumping out four books a month the year prior to landmark. I would write in my journal for hours at a time. I was motivated and focused. I taught myself coping mechanisms that I could bring to landmark. That was before the laptop came into my life. Once this happened, and I was very conscious of it the moment it entered, I lost all self control. It was a slow loss of control at first. It came with justifying my internet and web surfing usage bit by bit. Hey, everyone’s doing it. All the cool links that fill up you inbox from your friends. I felt like I was missing out.

I remember restraining myself from using the net. Turning off the wireless function, limiting myself to ONLY school related programs and sites. Bit by bit however I found myself delving into the horrific world of instant gratification. Stimulus and reward had crept into my life. It is a horrifying realization of course. At this point I’m graduating… and I am absolutely, 100% full of CONTEMPT for technology. It has ruined my ‘chi’. It has destroyed my spiritual peace of mind. I am no longer in the present, aware, and disciplined. I have been infected by a virus that seeks only new information… whatever interests me and rewards these impulses. My mind seeks these out and grows wary in most other stimulus inquiries. I say it’s a virus because it has grown worse and worse, almost ravaging me, and now I can say I am a participant that drags other fresh untainted minds into the realm of stimulus/ information consumption.

I HAVE tried ridding myself of this virus. I have planned and allotted time for quality reading and thinking. I do journal. I do seek peace on walks and reflections on nature. But, alas, I find myself in front of the computer at the end of the day, checking emails, and there they are- more distractions, links and stimulus. I hate it. Nay, I loath it.

As some one with ADHD… I NEED control. I CRAVE it. I have accepted that I cannot necessarily control the way I learn, so I adapt and learn to control other factors. I create novel ways with learning. I choose my environments wisely. These actions offer me a control to work around myself. But nowadays, in my current state, I feel helpless. Out of control. My mind wanders to the technology and it it’s robbed and abused. The satisfaction is so temporary that it genuinely leaves me with no lasting feelings. I must feed off it.

The concentration element is another story. My concentration has been so corrupted that even my desire and goal to achieve meaningful tasks has grown into a heaping obstacle. This actually coincides with the communication aspect. Because my concentration has been so abused, my ability to initiate meaningful conversations has dwindled. How? People, unlike the web pages and images that plaster the internet landscape, have depth. This depth needs to be explored… and people do NOT readily present this information. Nope. You are required as a human to become genuinely interested and do some work at finding it. Digging it out. Communicating requires a certain level of interest where digging into that depth is achieved. In this way a connection can occur. Problem is, people don’t have links covering their body. They don’t advertise the interesting stuff. It’s buried deep within them. To get it out, you must seek, dig, and poke around. You must concentrate, use some working memory, make connections and discover them.

ALAS, people in this era have lost the patience for such an art. Book reading is the same way. Books are long, with complex plots. They require an interest and concentration that allows you to dig up and make associations. Articles on the web, short summaries, twitters, wall posts and status updates hardly required this level of thought. It goes in and just as fast as it goes it, it leaves.

So, would I agree with Simpson? Hell yes. She is on the money.

Do I think this multitasking trend is a good thing? Nope.  But I could argue the other way as well. In terms of health, absolutely not. In terms of adapting to the cultural trends, of course it’s a good thing. How would you survive in today’s fast paced, information crunching culture?!

But our minds, bodies and spirits have not evolved with these trends. We need quiet contemplation. It rocks my world this non-stop stimulation. It’s not even physically taxing. Simply mundane. It adds no REAL value to my life. Networking online with other virtually faceless profiles is an unfulfilling practice. We are only furthering a narcissistic urge to advertise our uniqueness to the populace. LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ALL THE FUN I HAVE! MY COOL QUOTES! MY AWESOME PICTURES! LOOK WHAT IT CONNOTES! DENOTES!

The truth is… it is not bringing us closer to our goals… UNLESS that goal is to flatter ourselves. Swear to God. What the hell are these networking sites for anyway? To get ourselves out to the world!?? ‘Look at me!’ we say with our profiles, ‘I am special and unique and bring value!’ The HUGE problem is, I find that most people, including myself, put MORE time into the networking aspect, than to the value they are trying to project.

How a person spends every second of their day defines who they are. If we got real with ourselves, we’d realize we spend diddly-squat time reading and doing the things we advertise as our passions when we COMPARE the time we spend on technology. Compare the time people spend leisurely listening on their IPODS to music to actually making music. Or the people who browse art ALL day long on the internet, but how many hours a day do they spend painting? COUNTLESS other examples…

I can’t imagine all the damage we’re doing to ourselves.

In the end its all about perspective. I’m not really convinced this technology revolution will aid in the overall health of those involved. I believe in simplicity. Mathematics, physics, and all other great sciences, depend on simplicity. I believe, in our life, we need it. A life with focus is a life with direction. What focus can people say they have? Perhaps this whole trend of multitasking is a focus itself…

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(I wrote this personal journal entry in January as a natural response to my own ruminations about the effects of the internet:

I’ve been wrestling lately. With thoughts. I’m wondering if the Internet is a bad or good thing. Most of my free time is spent reading blogs, e-mailing, watching videos, reading the news, checking updates or just plain surfing. I find that traditional reading has become more of a chore than it used to be.

It’s sad to think that’d I’d prefer to e-mail or message someone instead of call them on the phone. Catching up is done online. Catching up and conversing over a cup of coffee is almost unnecessary. I almost need something to do, like an activity or event to make our time a worthwhile experience. It seems like a waste of time when it’s all been said. After all the updates are read and all the blogs are perused, what else is there?

This is not a new thought or debate by any means. I feel that as much as this technology has made it easier and brought us together, I feel that we’re grown more alienated and impersonal than ever before. Even now I express these thoughts electronically, publicly.

I have a hard time remembering when certain people really knew me. When our relationship was something special and unique. That only a handful of people had the opportunity of knowing my day to day thoughts. I’ve become so transparent I feel lost. Where is the fidelity of a deep friendship?

Maybe this is a temporary feeling. I don’t know. I suppose I’m speaking to a very niche crowd. I know there are many nonconformists who live free of the networking hassle.

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tinkin tings.

well… I miss being in love with learning. The acquisition of knowledge for the sheer sake of furthering my understanding… motivated by sheer passion and will.

I recognize that I’m often confused. I don’t know if that makes me any more or less of a man, but I’m open to it. I do know one thing for certain. I will be successful. In what way? I usually struggle to find that answer… but I do know I’ll never ever settle. At the end of the day I strive and reach and grab that which is most excellent. I always call on the best I have to offer. Sometimes I undermine myself but such is life. It’s a learning experience.

I don’t want to be one of those people you see that’s all smart.. and has all this potential… but you look at him and he’s not doin too much. You look at his life and he’s in some kinda perpetual transition. Still finding himself, or the ideal situation. I recently read that if you’re waiting for something to turn up, the first place you should try is your sleeves. Nothings gonna happen for you unless you make it happen.

I always wonder if I’ll find those ideal circumstances that I dream about. Then I wonder if it’s just about me making those ideal circumstances. So I do my best to hone the skills and attitude and emotional resilience to make the absolute best out of my situation. I practice seeing the best in every one, everything, everytime.

I won’t lie.. I’m not flawless at this. I lack patience and sometimes throw my hands in the air and let it all out. Maybe my integrity gets jaded for a time being but thats ok. Thankfully I always remember that which I value most- passion to excel. Arete.

If you’re gonna spend time and energy thinking, exerting your influence upon the world through your thoughts and feelings, mine as well do it on your way towards something worthwhile. Like a goal, or an ideal. My fruitless thoughts, superfluous time wasters, and fickle attitudes should be given a direction.

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Making up our mind is powerful. Putting yourself around the right people might actually be more powerful. It is easier to pull others down than to pull others up. Doubt it? Try dragging someone up a hill. Now drag them down it. Hm.. not the same you say? Put yourself around a group of people. Now try being as happy and optimistic about your ideals, goals, aspirations as possible for a week. Notice their response and reaction. Now be morose and careless and negative for a week. Notice the response.

That paragraph above is silly. I just needed to illustrate the importance of choosing your friends and influences wisely.

Powerful:
Every thought we think is who we are.

If you want to change who you are, change what you think. Moreover, change how you think.

It’s that simple- you can be anything. Do it long enough and these thoughts become habitual, and you start acting on them. Next thing you know your character changes. Your integrity, the collection of your past actions and their influence on your present and future actions, changes.

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9 More days till I go home to FLORIDAA! Can’t wait! Sunshine, beaches, warmth, relaxation!
I’m buckling down this week. It’s tough. I’ve been very lax the past few weeks with Thanksgiving and all. That’s over now. I’m a machine. Tranchina Machina. I get things done. I am proactive. I control my attitude which, in turn, controls the outcome of my life.

🙂

Can’t wait to go home and read my books! Read read read! Write! No pressure! No guidelines.. no one tellin me what they wanna hear. Just me and my opinion weighing against my experiences. Lovely!

Successful and Lazy People: The Learning Process

Learning is an incremental process. Most people trying learning things all at once, or expect to get it all at once. The only way this ever happens is if previous understandings of similar concepts are in tact and referenced to the new information to construct a similar schema. Even this isn’t true understanding. To really learn or understand something, the idea and concept behind it, repetition needs to occur. Seeing something once only provides sense of information that stores in the rote memory. It has no meaning and therefore the information cannot be fully elaborated on and expounded upon.

True, learning is exponential, but anything new needs to be continually analyzed and thought to explore the dynamics. This sheds insight on the relational behavior of the information. Life is about relationships. Identifying what works with with and when and how and why. When you understand this and the unique functionality of information you can explore any new reality with a new set of eyes. Information takes on multiple dimensions and new possibilities and understandings erupt into a display of viable processes.

I say this because anytime I see new information I know in my head that i need to continually hammer at it and entertain creative possibilities, maybe induce some analytical trial and error experimentation within my mind in order to test my conjectures. I know, however, that its through this repetitive dwelling on the content that I gain this better understanding. Learning isn’t meaningful if it just happens. Ofcourse you can draw similar conclusions to information is tons of relatable information and schemas are available to contrast and compare to (I call this being able to bullshit really well) and I can do that, but I am no better off than I was before I knew the information to see its unique place. The behavior of information may not be that distant from any other piece of information, but it’s place and why it’s there is vitally important. It’s what gives it meaning.

People need to take a more proactive approach to learning. To see it as a process, a active process, instead of a job of memorizing someone elses ideas. Someone to thought into creating the concept based on very real premises- and anyone who encounters the information: it should be thier job to question and challenge the validity compared to your own very real experiences, as well as being open to thiers. Never question if what you know is right- BUT- make sure you metaphysical and semantic understandings are based on a philosophy seeking truth.

Incremental. Learning occurs in stages. Its not a overnight thing. It doesn’t happen in one sitting. You need to be observant and you need to think conceptually. You need to be actively involved and you need to .create ideas with each experience. When this happens you can learn from every moment of your life, every situation, every action, and every thought you decide to conjure. When you don’t do this…. you are falling farther and farther behind with every chance to grow as a person.

Don’t ever approach something with the attitude ‘ I can’t’ or ‘It’s hard’ or ‘It’s taking too much time’ or any other pathetic excuse to get you out of thinking and actively experiencing life’s challenges. Every challenge is unique opportunity for growth. If we never took them on we’d never grow. Imagine if life was easy. If we didn’t have to need to know how to much of anything.  We’d never need to grow. Imagine never having to learn anything. We’d honestly have no need to add knowledge to our data bank. Unfortunate the knowledge we have, and the reservoir of experiences and intuitive understanding we’ve gained to this point, is a result of the challenges we’ve faced and overcame in order to cope and survive. The more successful you are as a person, the better job you’ve done being able to decipher what work’s from what doesn’t.

Jump into every situation you can to grow. STRIVE to accept challenges. NEVER approach situations or experiences with the idea that it is a waste of time or it will be useless. Everything you know will help you in some way and make you better than the next.

the degenerating fear society perpetuates

        “It’s ironic. Radicals dream midnight police raids, or sit around over coffee and talk with glittering eyes about Repression–about those internment camps that are waiting empty. And all the time Miss Jones does her quiet thing with the kids in third grade. People like to chat about the fascist threat or the communist threat. But their visions of repression are for the most part romantic and self indulgent: massacres, machine guns drowning out La Marseillaise. And in the meantime someone stops another tenth grader for a hall pass check and notices that his T-shirt doesn’t have a pocket on it. In the meantime the Bank of America hands out another round of high-school achievement awards. In the meantime I grade another set of quizzes. God knows the real massacres continue. But the machine gun isn’t really what is to be feared most in our civilized Western world. it just isn’t needed all that much. The kids leave Miss Jones’ class. And they go on to junior high and high school and college. And most of them will never need to be put in an internment camp. Because they’re already there. Do you think I’m overstating it? That’s what’s so frightening: we have the illusion that we’re free. In school we learn to be good little Americans–or Frenchmen–or Russians. We learn how to take the crap that’s going to be shoveled on use all our lives. In school the state wraps up people’s minds so tight that it can afford to leave their bodies alone. Repression? You want to see victims of repression? Come look at most of the students at San Diego State College, where I work. They want to be told what to do. They don’t know how to be free. They’ve given their will to this institution just as they’ll continue to give their will to the institutions that engulf them in the future.”

                          –Jerry Farber

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        What’s to be feared most of all in our civilized western world is actually more nauseating than any senseless act of violence. I actually become emotionally burdened when I think of the utter disgrace we experience on a routine basis, continually throughout the course of our lives, as we breathe in and live a doctrine that condones a repression of our desires. What should be feared most is the complete lack of thought we give to the choices that should matter. I state the problem once more: LACK OF THOUGHT. This makes me want to grab people by the neck and shake them as hard I can in hopes that they gasp and wake from their state of servitude and rip off the shackles that have been holding them down. Rousseau declared it best when he wrote “Man was born free, and he is everywhere in chains”. Our society perpetuates this lack of thought. We accept what we’re given! From our parents, our teachers, our bosses, our government, our religions- and FAIL to realize the responsibility we have to ourselves are free human beings to do anything and be anything we want. We simply have been told what to think and we discredit any thought we do of our own. In the civilized western world there is a mentality that has molested our minds and has caused us to halt all self-motivated advances in fear of failure, punishment, or just about anything that stands to tear us back down.
The commentary by Jerry Farber is illustrating a problem that has persisted throughout time. We are in bondage. We have no lack of excuse. We are now more than ever before submersed with knowledge and insight, yet we continue to let the milestone around our necks grow heavier as we grow tired. We are trained, programmed, and tied down. Fed answers and taught to obey and surrender to someone else’s ideals, passions and revelations while we silently suffer suffocate inside. This is an epidemic that is sweeping the world we live in. We hang on the words and promises of those in power, yet receive nothing for the lives we were conned to forfeit. There is no reward at the end of it all. There is no great cause. There is no great war. We were manipulated and lied to. Now we are empty and sad and slowly growing pissed. There is a great depression. That depression is our lives. There should be no wonder why we lie, cheat, steal, and take the lives of others. The civilized system that governs over us lies to us, cheats us into thinking happiness is around the corner, steals our dreams and takes our lives. No wonder.
Jerry Farber illustrated the brutal truth of the matter by exposing the broken lives all around us. Depressed and hungry for some truth to aid their exasperated lives in the aimless search for content. The perception that there is something dangerous out there and we need to rise up in arms. There is nothing to fear out there. There is no one bashing down our door. There is a war, but this war exists at home. The battles are fought in the hallways and classrooms of our schools. The heartbreaking reality is the population is losing. We are taught to surrender our will to another’s. If our founding fathers in this western world were the radical thinkers, we over the generations of time have become the passive non-thinkers.
The fear to be recognized is the void that exists in the spirit of men when we fail to recognize the responsibility we owe to a life we own. We fail to distinguish our individual value and the infinite potential inside us. We are told what to think, what to learn, what to fear, and we surrender our will in the process. Fear is the complacent attitude of the relinquished control of our lives.

Abridged Essay- Locus of control and Explanatory Style- Summary and Reflection

Locus of control is an expression of awareness regarding responsibility on a continuum ranging from internal or external. Internal Locus of control is the realized responsibility one has for causes of meaningful circumstances, whereas external locus of control is where the responsibility for circumstances is placed on external causes. Keeping yourself motivated is difficult when you maintain an external locus of control. You believe there is little you can do to bring you to where you want to be. An internal locus of control is accepting that factors for getting you to where you want to go are in your control. When you have an internal locus of control the responsibility you have to yourself for achievement is greater. When you believe your abilities, task difficulty, effort, and luck are internal, stable, controllable, and specific you no longer struggle with the idea that things are beyond your control or that you are flawed. You directly increase motivation by this empowering mentality.
Authors Schulmulsky and Gobbo conducted research with LD’s that pointed out a correlation between students with an internal locus of control and their explanatory style. While having an internal locus of control is the first step towards assuming responsibility and being open to progress towards achievement, the explanatory style in which they face circumstances in paramount in dictating their success. Research showed that LD’s tend to carry a more internal pessimistic explanatory style that directly relates to their diagnosis and their self efficacy. This causes them to view negative behavior or circumstances as something they are responsible for but out of their control, something global and stable. The internal optimistic explanatory style viewed negative behaviors or circumstances as a personal responsibility but view them as more unstable, controllable, and specifically caused. The study showed that an optimistic explanatory style correlated with higher levels of self esteem, self-image and self efficacy while an internal pessimistic explanatory style associated with depression, anxiety and hopelessness.
I scored high on the assessment towards an internal locus of control. This is no surprise as I am fully aware of the responsibility I have to making myself a success, something I attribute to no other. I’ve developed immensely throughout the years, and most recently experienced more life changing epiphanies than any other time in my life. In hindsight, I recognized the times I associated with a more external locus of control caused the most direct stunts on my personal development. As I matured and I developed an understanding of myself and my responsibilities, I leaned all the more toward an internal locus of control. The major turning point in my progression has been the change from that of a negative explanatory style to that of an optimistic explanatory style. I no longer care what the formal education system or diagnoses say about my abilities (or disabilities interpreted as lack of ability for a long time). I know what I want, and I have willed myself to put faith in shaping the life I expect to achieve through the appropriate time and energy allocated to factors within my circle of influence that would ensure success. No one will get me there but me, and no one can tell me what abilities I possess or don’t possess that will dictate whether or not I succeed, because I will do or learn whatever it takes.
In conclusion, there is nothing that will circumvent the resolve of a determined soul. I recognize my responsibility to search for solutions that would pave the road for success. A positive mentality or an optimistic explanatory style is the only suggestion I need to lean on as thoughts pass to and fro within my mind. Weeds of negative thought must be constantly groomed and constant attention to the positive qualities I’ve accumulated through persistent effort. The only factor that would hinder my success is the lack of a positive mental attitude (and to not grow, adapt, change, remain open to new ideas…you get my point). I would feel very disappointed knowing it’s a responsibility I have to myself to succeed and knowingly let any excuse of lack of ability or doubt in my expectations be the reason for failure.

Good Article- Interesting take on effective teaching techniques and learning

Bad Link 😦

Fascinating article I found about the stimulating effects of ‘controversy’ (challenging arguments) as a constructive- more efficient- teaching technique in the academic world.
A recurring thought I constantly find myself stumbling over is that class is usually boring and unstimulating ( I do believe that you get out whatever you put in); and teachers, in my opinion (despite what they might say on the contrary) don’t challenge the students to think for their own good and find intrinsic value in material relative and personal to them. As this article indicated, controversy is vitally important in the learning process. By challenging predisposed perceptions of information, you need to think deep using logic and many other thinking abilities to dig up knowledge that would support or end the argument or stance. I sorta feel that teachers are so rhetorical with their course we don’t put much thought into it for ourselves. We more or less let the information ‘float’ on our thoughts- so its there to recall when we have a test or just till the end of the course- when it should be saturating itself in our mental faculties as we weigh importance and significance to our lives and every day thought processes. By challenge, I want to “figure out” why I’m being told what I’m being told as opposed to being told why I know, and why I shouldn’t know.
I could go on but you get the idea. Interesting article if you also don’t think that the academic environment of college or highschool or “the formal education system” is engaging as it probably should be. I get more out of reading the material of interest on my own time and simply surrounding myself (hanging out) with people who have the same interest to exchange ideas and controversies ( shoot the breeze) about why I interpreted it as I do. You know what I’m talking about if you’ve ever had a good conversation with someone that left you with those feelings of certainty, confidence, intellect, and a wider world view of things. You challenged your brain and you rose to the occasion, fully engaging all your mental faculties.