Existentialism and psychoanalysis both view human life as containing tragic elements and hard limits -- we are free, but we can't have everything we want. According to Carlo Strenger, of Tel Aviv University: “The tragic dimension (of life) is no longer popular in our culture that perpetuates the myth of ‘just-do-it,’ and repeats the mantra that happiness is a birthright.”
As long as our culture denies life's tragic elements, as long as our science refuses to acknowledge that there may be any limits to our eventual mastery over life (we'll eventually develope Artificial Intelligence ... we'll eventually understand how "mind" reduces to "brain chemicals" ... we'll eventually prolong human life indefinitely and download our consciousness and reach "the singularity" and all you have to do is click your ruby slippers together three times and believe ...) then philosophies that teach us how to live with and through the human condition - however true and useful - will seem out of touch with a culture of Hollywood endings.
On the Rethinking Complexity blog, Saybrook Organizational Systems faculty member Kathia Laszlo makes a fascinating point: "There is no environmental sustainability without social sustainability."
Is this true? Does solving our planet's environmental crisis mean also addressing the social needs of its citizens?
I think she makes a compelling case. Let us know what you think in the comments section.
Photo by Patricia Ripnel
What’s that? There was widespread cheating on standardized tests in the Atlanta school system?
Surprise surprise …
It’s gotten to the point where you can reasonably expect: if a school district or state doubles down on standardized testing, forces teachers and schools to be held accountable for student scores, and then announcing amazing gains, a major cheating scandal will follow like night and day.
Texas, Washington D.C., Atlanta … all of the “miracle”gains caused by overemphasis on standardized tests have been increases only in smoke and mirrors.
So our emphasis on high stakes testing isn’t actually increasing student learning … and it’s causing what one analyst called “management by fear” in school systems. That can’t be good for teachers or principles.
It’s worse for students. As the Triple-Pundit blog noted, standardized testing actually impedes students’ ability to engage in systems thinking … exactly the kind of creative problem solving most valuable in the 21st century.
What are we doing? Why would we constantly push an educational practice that creates climates of fear, encourage cheating, hurts creative systems thinking, and doesn’t even improve performance?
Why do we do that?
In a recent essay for The New Yorker, Louis Menard recalls the first time a student ever asked him “Why did we have to read this book?” It’s the more direct way of asking: what is this education good for?
It was, apparently, the first time he’d ever thought of the question himself.
I could see that this was not only a perfectly legitimate question; it was a very interesting question. The students were asking me to justify the return on investment in a college education. I just had never been called upon to think about this before. It wasn’t part of my training. We took the value of the business we were in for granted.
The answer, he decided, depends on what college is for – and nobody’s really sure of that, anymore, are they?
The Existential Humanistic Institute is hosting a Learning Community on Thursday, July 7, to connect people interested in existential therapy and see how a vibrant existential culture can address local and global needs.
A Learning Community is a social forum in which people who share a common interest can get together and network, share resources and ideas, brainstorm, and build a local support system in the psychological world at large. Learning community meetings can look very different depending on who organizes them, but the common thread which they all share is that they bring people together who have diverging interests. It is also helpful to invite people from other professions (e.g. – the artistic community, the teaching community, the medical community) to create an integrative grassroots forum.
The EHI’s Learning Community meeting will be held:
- Date: Thursday, July 7th, 2011
- Time: 7:00 - 9:00 PM
- Location: Laguna Grove Care
- Address: 624 Laguna St. Map http://tinyurl.com/427obrj
- San Francisco, CA 94102
For more information, contact Candice Hershman
"Taking stock of peace: Inspiration from Peace Movements World Wide" launches the recent publication of Peace Movements Worldwide, a three volume anthology of the global peace movement. Its chapters cover the history, culture, strategies, and successes of the worldwide peace movement, among other topics.
Co-editors Marc Pilisuk, a member of the Human Science faculty at Saybrook university and longtime peace advocate, and UC Berkeley Professor Emeritus Michael Nagler, will be joined by some of the peace anthology’s other contributors to discuss the state of the peace movement around the world.
Taking stock of peace: Inspiration from Peace Movements Worldwide
Sunday, October 30, 20112:30-5:30pm
Berkeley Society of Friends -
2151 Vine St. in Berkeley
James Gordon, M.D., Dean of Saybrook University’s College of Mind-Body Medicine, has announced that he will launch a training effort for over 300 health and mental health professionals, community leaders, and educators in Gaza City.
This training in Mind-Body Medicine techniques is designed to help address the overwhelming mental health needs of children in the Palestinian territories.
The trainings will be provided by the Center for Mind-Body Medicine, which Dr. Gordon founded and directs.
The training program focuses on psychological self-care, community building, and spiritual renewal. Participants will bring what they learn personally and professionally back to the communities they serve to create a sustainable system of psychological self-care and support, and to help alleviate the posttraumatic stress disorder, stress, depression and anxiety that plague Gaza’s children and youth.
During this visit, Dr. Gordon and his CMBM team will meet with their local Israeli and Palestinian leadership teams, including CMBM-trained clinicians and educators, and visit some of the 160 ongoing groups practicing self-care techniques of mind-body medicine.
Anybody who's had to work for a living knows that we have a "work self" that is noticeably different from who we are outside of work.
Maybe we're more guarded, or more serious; maybe there are important parts of our lives we don't talk about.
At Rethinking Complexity, Dennis Rebelo has an interesting post asking about the stories we tell ourselves about who we are at the office. It's a great piece, work a read. It also raises the question: how do we integrate our work selves with who we are the rest of the time? Do we like it's a seperate person? Or a costuem? Or a side of ourselves?
How do we navigate our professional obligations while maintaining personal integrity?
If you have some thoughts or advice, leave them in the comments section below.
Real scientific breakthroughs of that scope don’t have to announce themselves. Fake ones do, because evolutionary psychology never produced a lightbulb and “artificial intelligence” never built a car. They certainly made advances, they contributed, but the wild claims that they would change everything about human society were the lonely mating call of scientists out on a limb.
If your ears are open, you can hear neurobiology making that same sound.
In this month’s Atlantic, neuroscientist David Eagleman is crowing about the way his field is going to forever change the criminal justice system. Apparently it has proven … or is on the verge of proving … or probably will eventually prove … or could in theory at some point arguably argue … that there is no free will, only differences in biology.
Eventually, at some point, probably, possibly, maybe … let’s hypothesize … this will have a huge impact on the way we assign blame in criminal cases.
The fact that it hasn’t done so yet is merely an accident of timing. Science, Eagleman tells us, will come through: We’ll get those flying cars eventually. We always have.
The trouble is that the case he builds is based on two premises – one of which is indisputably true, and one of which is horrifically wrong.
Great advice, Shakespeare, but could you help us a bit with that first part? What’s a “True self?”
“Experimental philosopher” Joshua Knobe recently wrote a New York Times blog in which he suggested that the true self is whatever one is ideologically disposed to believe it is: conservatives think it’s the rational self which tames the impulses, liberals think it’s the romantic impulses that chafe at rationality.
A blog in The Economist, meanwhile, responded that the “true self” is in fact an illusory product of evolution: it’s adaptive if we have “selves” that others can trust, therefore we create the image of selves: