Sunday, November 25, 2018

Could be getting better

Some writers like Stephen Pinker ("Enlightenment Now") and the recently deceased Hans Rosling ("Factfulness") show us that many current adults have impressions of the world that are out-of-date.  Still, humans are living longer, are better educated, and more in communication with each other than has ever before. It also seems to me that ways of understanding ourselves and each other are on the increase.  

You may know that Rene Descartes (1596-1650) is famous in the world of philosophy and in math.  He is the inventor of the way we use graphs to depict trends and interactions. He is said to have sought rigorously to get his thinking onto a very firm basis and used the principle "Cogito, ergo sum", [I think, therefore I am].  He worried that he might be a puppet manipulated by some wily puppetmaster but his principle of recognizing his own thoughts reassured him that he was himself and not an illusion.

It is difficult in any era to think clearly and helpfully and one of the dangers in his time was running afoul of the church authorities.  Since we humans take solace in believing that our souls or some part of us will live and matter longer than the century we hope to inhabit as living creatures, it seemed to Descartes and to many before and since, in any part of the world, that the mind and consciousness were different in kind, basically something quite other, than the body.  So Msr. Descartes and others, again, before his time and since, have done much of their thinking and theorizing and philosophizing mostly about our minds and not so much about our bodies.

We realize the bodies keep coming to an end and we don't want an end.  So, much of the time, we ignore the wrinkles and the arthritis and keep our eyes on the horizon, ixnaying anything to do with any kind of "end."  However, you can pick up signs here and there that we may be getting more able to think of the mind/brain along with the body. Witness books such as "The Body Keeps the Score", "Your Body Knows the Answer," and "Bodyfulness."

At the same time, using scans and other tools, answers about how our brains work are getting clearer.   "Evolving Dharma" by Michaelson, "Focusing" by Gendlin and the many sources on meditation, seeing into our minds and the way we use them seem to me to be moving us toward deeper understanding of ourselves and others.  I realize that many articles and sources today mention divisiveness, polarity and lack of appreciation of those who disagree. Nevertheless, I suspect we are beginning to see new ways forward more clearly.

Popular Posts

Follow @olderkirby