Changing What’s Expected – When Introspection Becomes A Norm

Changing What’s Expected – When Introspection Becomes A Norm

General Insights
The value of deep introspection for one’s life is enormous. Learning to listen to your own instincts and have some degree of trust for them (obviously not going overboard) is extremely important for a rich life. You can’t have a fulfilling existence without it, unless you have attained some kind of enlightenment through the so-called ego illusion. But I’ve come to think that how we treat introspection as a culture and as a people says a lot about the state of our civilization, our culture, and our development. How we regard introspection (and self-understanding, self-trust, etc.) should be a very important question. Now that we’ve mostly agreed that human rights, rule of law, etc. are givens, we should hold the value of introspection much much higher.  And we should judge ourselves…
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Getting Comfortable with Being Misunderstood

Getting Comfortable with Being Misunderstood

General Insights
It seems people are more scared than ever to be misunderstood. At any minute you could be called a traitor or a bigot or any number of horribly damaging things.  It could mean the end of your career, people say. It feels critically important to manage our reputations and chase after the opinions of others. For our culture, this is almost a death sentence for virtues like spontaneity, originality, and authenticity.  No wonder comedians, the standard bearers of these virtues, are scared to perform on college campuses, where mob rule has become the norm in recent years. If we’re misunderstood, we get concerned that our reputation, what some call our most valuable asset, is ruined. But our reputation is something that ensues from our genuine and original actions.  If you adjust your actions…
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Is There a Crisis of Meaning?

Is There a Crisis of Meaning?

General Insights
Is there a crisis of meaning? You’ve heard the story – suicides, addiction, depression, tribalism.  Ben Shapiro said, “There is a god-shaped hole in the American heart and we are filling it with tribalism and partisanship and rage.”  Similarly, David Brooks is talking about the importance of community. But “god” and community are neither necessary nor sufficient conditions for filling that hole.  Consider that American youth faced an enormously consequential “crisis of meaning” in the 50s and 60s, at a time when there was plenty of god and community – maybe too much. We’ve neglected some very simple, even common sense practices and principles that, in times of crisis like this, people have the opportunity to rediscover. One of the most egregious failures of our society is that young people generally aren’t expected to cultivate their…
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Hunger for Wonders

Hunger for Wonders

General Insights
“The lack of a balance of intellect and vision in our lives leads to the pursuit of doubtful cults of the supra-rational.”   – Theodore Roszak Humans require a balance of “intellect and vision”. We need to remain deeply grounded in reality with the help of reason and logic (intellect). And we need a belief system to direct us (vision). “Intellect” is pretty easy to define (which is itself highly consequential, as we shall see). “Vision” is more difficult to define.  The word “vision”, as Roszak uses it, really is just a symbol to represent something. But we all know what it is even if we have never heard it described clearly.  And don’t be fooled by the clowns managing your office when they put the word “vision” on powerpoint presentations.…
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The Generation of Sheeple

The Generation of Sheeple

General Insights
“Nothing is more useful or fitting than to be a normal human being; but the very notion of a ‘normal human being’ suggests a restriction to the average.” – Carl Jung, “Modern Man in Search of A Soul” Curiosity, rebellion, moral courage – the traits we usually expect to see in young people, seem to be in short supply among our promising youth. Take a look at college graduates of top universities. We can see that most of them are robotically marching into a couple of the same professions where they will hold the same job titles and try to fit themselves to a handful of standardized descriptions written by corporate managers. They are smart and “excellent”, but are apparently directionless and without purpose  (even without the basic idea that it…
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The trim tab principle

The trim tab principle

General Insights
“Something hit me very hard once, thinking about what one little man could do. Think of the Queen Mary—the whole ship goes by and then comes the rudder. And there’s a tiny thing at the edge of the rudder called a trim tab. It’s a miniature rudder. Just moving the little trim tab builds a low pressure that pulls the rudder around. Takes almost no effort at all. So I said that the little individual can be a trim tab. Society thinks it’s going right by you, that it’s left you altogether. But if you’re doing dynamic things mentally, the fact is that you can just put your foot out like that and the whole big ship of state is going to go. So I said, call me Trim Tab.” –…
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“In Search of the Miraculous”

“In Search of the Miraculous”

General Insights
“The lack of a balance of intellect and vision in our lives leads to the pursuit of doubtful cults of the supra-rational.” “Beyond such formal, religious affiliations, the hunger for wonders expresses itself in countless forms of pop psychiatry and lumpen occultism which thinly disguise the same impetuous quest for personal salvation.” – Theodore Roszak, “In Search of the Miraculous” In his essay “In Search of the Miraculous”, historian Theodore Roszak looked at what he called the “hunger for wonders”.  This is an insecurity that comes from the human spiritual impulse that he claims is starved in our time. This probably comes about when one feels that their life fails to realize their potential. We are told that everyone is unique and has something to offer while we sit in…
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A dangerous kind of thinking in modern life

A dangerous kind of thinking in modern life

General Insights
Large decisions that people make in life often have no connection to any moral ideal or any principle that is personally valued.  We take this for granted nowadays, even though it’s quite a remarkable thing that may have dangerous consequences for human well-being, fulfillment, and ultimately the growth and productivity of society.  Charles Taylor points this out in his book, The Ethics of Authenticity, and suggests that this non-morality to our lives is a pervasive characteristic of our modern world. People in modern society are expected to make all kinds of decisions based on purely mechanistic, rational calculations. In other words, the starting point contains no awareness of the importance of adherence to one’s own moral vision, principles, belief system, or originality. For example, I choose a city in which to…
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Rediscovering Discovery

Rediscovering Discovery

General Insights
Most of us have some familiarity with a sense of being engaged in the act of discovery.  We may not consciously think of it using this word but it might happen when we have a unique idea about a situation or are applying a new solution to a problem.  Different people’s attitudes vary in the extent to which they value this “discovery”. On one end, some think of the world as having nearly endless opportunities for the discovery of all kinds, given their own initiative and intent.  It is this that gets children genuinely excited about school, for instance. On the other end, some see the world as a place where one lives inside of a fixed system. In this view, the only role you play is one where you just…
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A Divided America: the Role of Intellectual Conformity

A Divided America: the Role of Intellectual Conformity

General Insights, Politics
One of the world’s most stable, advanced, and forward-thinking societies is more divided than ever.  When people around the world think of the United States today, one of the first things that comes to mind is how divided the population is. In American society, people with different political views are more distrusting of one another than in even the oldest of people’s lifetimes.  Pundits often speak of an inability for people to engage in basic dialogue. What’s really going on here?  The discussion of this issue usually doesn’t go too far beyond “it’s the triumph of tribalism”. While a complex issue, it seems to me that one of the biggest factors in creating these divisions is widespread intellectual conformity.   By intellectual conformity, I simply mean adopting the views of others…
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